Thursday, November 19, 2009

Year of Trial

I was perusing this blog recently, and I have been avoiding it lately.  For one, its very personal, and I think, why put my heart out there?  The other is that this has been probably the hardest year of my life.  Trials.  Pain.  Suffering.  Grief.  It all fits this year's description.  Have you had a year like this ever? 
I wouldnt write it off as just a nightmare year though.  Have you ever found that even in the most dire of times, you can look back fondly, like a precious scar, at the trial and say it was too precious to discard altogether?  I have a beautiful wife.  I have three amazing children.  Those I suffer with this year are dear to me and when you suffer with others, it draws you together and bonds you intimately.
To those who are suffering, in pain, carrying grief or walking through trials, I say, hold on.  When life flips you on your keister, let others know. 
Find the joy of the moment and cling to it.  Escape into lighter fare of thought.  Cuddle in to your Creator's parental embrace, He cares and will show himself.
Having said that, let me make something clear.  I have had enough drama.  I have learned a couple of things about people in the last while.  Trials reveal your true character, in both positive and not so positive light.  People fail you when you suffer.  They may just be trying to help, but often when immaturity reigns supreme, wounds compound.  Don't be a compounding factor.  If a person expresses doubt or disappointment, no matter how tempted you are, don't try to placate your need to feel better by putting a pathetic bandaid on the wound.  Sit with them.  Pray.  Be affected.  Often God is calling people not to fix things, but to suffer with those who are under trial.  Jesus will touch your wounds.  There is a deeper healing in this.  Not touching, mind you, to fix the wound but to touch in compassion for the suffering.
Trials are markers of life.  They are guarantees.  They are also inconvenient and messy.  Do you have a neat life, selectively harnessed to only accept those people who fit your comfort zone?  God is not calling you there.  Nope.  Sorry.  Comfort is for the suffering.

Just a couple of thoughts about trials I wanted to share.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Inspired by Failure? this
Hope you find this encouraging.
I have failed a lot in my life and beat myself up mentally easily about stupid things I have done.  Watch this, grace is amazing.

Friday, June 26, 2009


How can we get through dark times? Coping is part of my job's focusses, as being a drug and alcohol counselor, its important to be hyper aware of how we as humans develop coping strategies and skills. These are ingrained from the time we are too small to think about it abstractly.
For me, hard times must have reprieve. I have done great during my darkest hours, and not so great as well. I learn from these moments of rawness. One thing I know is unhealthy for me is to holeup completely and not connect with others. On the opposite end of the spectrum of coping, I have known to keep to busy to be a sign of unhealthy coping too! Never reflecting for me is a way of not processing what has happened, and i need quiet reflective time for that, and relatioinships to help perspective.
I think my strength in who God made me to be includes the intense desire to create. Creating better, more celebratory memories helps me to feel that the weight of hard times can be lifted, shifted and perhaps appreciated. I take pictures for this reason. I also make people laugh intentionally for this reason! Being 'funny' is a coping mechanism unique to me and my family of origin. Without humor, I don't think we could have made it. Humor is a gift like no other. Just ask my wonderful wife, who is constantly calling on me to repeat what happened to me, whether dignified or not, just so she can join in on the laugh, one of her coping mechanisms. It helps to release endorphins, which lift our mood. It relaxes us, rewards us and sedates us. It also for me, helps to put things into perspective in a way. Mocking the 'hard time' seems biblical. Like thumbing your nose at grief, pain and loss. Where 'o' death is your STING?
Running has become a new mechanism for me as well. I can celebrate my health and the strength God has blessed me with through it. Again, endorphins are released causing very helpful side effects during times of duress.
Music is another major component. Infact, combine any of these elements and you get a triple threat. For example, at one point in my life, I was going through some transition and felt 'stuck' in life. What could I do to get out of it? I auditioned for my very first role in any production at the age of 30. New memory, it was a musical, and I could be creatively funny! BINGO! This catapaulted my understanding of my 'stuckness' into a completely different mindset.
Oh, and I do like a hunt for a good deal...some call it shopping, I call it the HUNT. This gets my mind in different places.
I wonder what you might know that you do to 'unstick' yourself.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Emerge From Cinder and Ash

I have had a rough year so far. I just wanted to challenge you with this difficult saying:
"In this world you will have many difficulties..."
Straight from the Saviors mouth. That's a promise. But I always get surprised by its practical truth. No exception this year.
And it WILL get worse!? Really? How much worse? When? Do I brace myself each day for the worst? It has seemed this year more apparent than ever that I am not prepared for the worse. But it always could be!
I have told people things that were happening this year which made them swear out loud, just totally dumbfounded for words, and it was just what was happening, not imbellishment or dramatic license.
I think I'm done. No more. Stop now and let me off this crazy ride. Now I sound like Im on an episode of the Jetsons!

"...but take heart, I have overcome the world." These words are solid too. In fact, I look at them as the only hope we have. Things will not get better, we will continue to suffer and go through trials. There is a way through it though. Not an easy thing to get through something. But not alone, and not without help.

I saw a picture while running the other day. It was an aftermath of a bomb, debris and ashes everywhere. Total destruction. Then in the middle of the cinder and ashes, new, untamed life emerging, bursting throught he deatha and decay. Green. New. Hopeful. Naive, yet powerful. That was something inside me. It showed particularly during a Coldplay concert. The language of my heart is music...and something inside me wanted to burst forth, be expressed, be hopeful. I just wept and allowed the pain to resolve to care from my Creator. He is constant, He has overcome. He lives in me, so He can do this bursting forth for me, with me , through me. More to come I am sure.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Little Naked Runaway

So, I took my boys to the public pool the other day. One 9 years old, one 3 years old. We were getting out of the pool and changing. When the lot of us were in our birthday suits to change, my youngest son got a sneaky look on his face, and began to edge away from me, towards the hallway that led outside to the lobby. I looked at him and asked "where are you going?"...he pointed towards the door. I realized that I was naked and therefore it would not be prudent to run whilst my dangling participles were loose in the men's lockerroom (which was packed with men my age). I noted that the outside door, just out of sight from where I was, was most likely too heavy for him to open all by himself, so I didn't think he would get anywhere.
I was wrong.
I quickly realized that executing my urge to follow him had to happen AFTER I got some pants on. So I rummaged calling out for my son to stay there, not to leave! Once I found my underwear and pants and quickly pulled them on, I rushed to the door to see that yes, indeed he had left the changeroom stark naked!!
I pushed the door open and looked around panicking as to where he might have taken off too, with my bare chest and feet exposed. There he was, right beside my father in law who had not yet looked up from his book. My father in law was sitting in front of the large window in the lobby which overlooks all the swimmers in the public pool. When my father in law looked up at me and then at my 3 year old naked son standing spread eagle against the large window where all the swimmers were, he burst out laughing.
I am so thankful he didn't go outside.
Lesson? Heck ya, dont be naked when your kids are naked at the pool, it is leverage they can use against you.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I work in the Drug and Alcohol field. Specifically in prevention. Much of my job relates to education.
B.C. Canada is a leader in a new way of tackling the woes created by drug and alcohol abuse. Its name is Harm Reduction. Its premise is that of not warring with those who do drugs rather reaching out to them. Part of the main strategy is to bring information about what they are doing that they may not already have. I like this strategy. Ignorance does create problems. But I am no Oprah disciple. I do not concur with the Utopian mindset that pervades our Star Trek first-world arrogance, that if we are just educated enough we will see change and pace and gather like Who-villers and sing happy songs of harmony. But education is a good part of good decision making never-the-less.
I believe that we need to keep distinguishing between being educated and being wise. Wisdom does not come from a place of an open book. It comes from hard knocks, from loftier pursuits, and above all, from relationships. Yes, relationships help in our understanding of the world. Not all relationships can bring wisdom. But wisdom can often only be passed through relationship.
I can be smarter than a whip, but not wise. Wisdom is not an automatic friend of knowledge.

I can teach people that weed is bad for your brain, but it takes wisdom to know that the brain is important enough to take heed of warnings. I can teach that premarital sexual activity is risky, but it takes wisdom to know that sex is precious and costly.

This is why I love the reality of mentoring. Wisdom can be passed through mentoring, because then its not just about smarts, it becomes about wisdom. Wisdom will tell a girl that guys want to get sexually active not for relationship sake, but to just get off. Most importantly, wisdom will teach about the preciousness of a person. Self-esteem can be passed through relationship. Mentors can teach a young girl the value of being a woman, the value of a better life than sleeping with anyone who asks.

So I stand in front of classes doling out the knowledge I have about various drugs and about drinking, but I know to be truly self-empowered, it will take relationship connectedness to teach a person the value of a better life. Knowledge is a smaller part of prevention than we think.

I also believe that wisdom is God-originated. Isaiah speaks of knowing and acknowledging who God is (fearing) is the beginning of all wisdom. This is like prioritizing what is really important in life. The top is our Creator, then those whom the Creator deems as important according to his map of life.

My faith is not always on display so blatantly at work. I have what many would consider a secular job. But if you listen hard enough, I attempt towards pointing people towards wisdom above knowledge. I keep a humorous outlook on life to keep things real, and not so daunting. I hear a lot about how educated people need to become, and how this will fix our sorry state, but I disagree. Anyone int he counseling field will tell you, especially in the youth arena, that relationship is much more an effective means to change. This is because wisdom is found in these places. Love is the centre and hope for a better way is the launcher to freedom.

What Do I Expect From God?

An issue has been pressing on my heart as of late. Well, actually, it never leaves my thoughts and this has been years.
It has to do with expectancy in worship. I worship Jesus, the risen Christ. We all have immediate reactions to this. Some nod in solemn agreement with an amen. Others, Jesus who? Is he Spanish? And still others think "Cuckoo Cuckoo! I never knew he was nuts!"
Looking around at how often Jesus is portrayed in our first world culture, I can see why. I believe it was the adult oriented cartoon "The Family Guy" who had a white Jesus introduced on Jay Leno as a guest on his show. It was a quick joke, depending totally on people's immediate characterization of who they thought Jesus was. The robes, the beard, the sandals, you understand. Placing him on Jay Leno as a guest was funny in a way, because what is this ancient icon doing there? HA! But not.
As those who have found faith in Christ will attest, there are several camps that we can throw ourselves into or be pigeon holed into. One is the conservative camp. The other, the Charismatic camp.
I have spent time in both camps, and I must say that even though I attend a rather "conservative" church right now, I believe myself to desire to be a Christian mystic. Ooh. I love that term, it sounds so mysterious and ethereal.
What I mean is, I have had many experiences that have blown my preconceived notion as to how I see Jesus out of the water. I have learned more about expecting him to do so, to disassemble my perception of him and revitalise my interaction with him as a result.
I believe that as it happened is scripture, so it happens with us. So through experiences we have, our beliefs are formed. If we never expect God to come into a room, we will not perceive it has happened when he actually does. This is faith. This is also how pigeon-holing works. If among my friends I have an experience with Jesus in a prayer time, say he speaks to me and I cry, like all people, my friends will quickly reference what their experiences have been and it either legitimizes their belief or it throws them for a loop. Throwing for a loop is uncomfortable. I know, because I have been thrown so many times. "That's weird," I would say to myself, "they must be faking." Or "Amazing! I want some of that too!" The part that feels uncomfortable wants to distance the possibility of it happening to me too as quickly as possible.
But walking with God is a journey. I believe what the scriptures say about the miracles, about who Jesus is/was on earth.
I also believe that I share the ignorance of Paul on his way to Damascus, the need to see for myself as Peter, the slow-on-the-uptake side of the disciples as the chat with Jesus after his death when they drag themselves back home. I share all these traits, and yet in order to grow I have had to lay my own perceptions to the side so that I can fully appreciate the revealed Savior. Only then can my life be healed, can I rise above my addictions and leanings and can I love more purely.
Back to worship. I need to experience God. I can't understand life properly without interaction. I have had enough paradigm-shifting to know that I should expect paradigm shifting in my life. God is interactive. How can I be more interactive, because its not He who needs the interaction for his own good, but me. Whether its contemplating a U2 song or reading the Psalms or watching my kids play, I still need to allow for more than just my end of the relationship to be active. Its how anyone come into a relationship with him, really. He is the initiator.
I need to come to the Cross just as much as anyone else and watch the "old man" of my life, as spiritual a he claims he was, die. The new man is then born.
More to come.