Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Feel free to live vicariously through our blog or better yet, take a similar trip yourself.
To christen our travels we have begun a new blog in its honor. Please go there now as Angie and I will be updating it regularly. We even shelled out for a swanky new camera so you'll be able to see what we see, for the most part. We don't leave for another 23 days but the posting has already begun. Please visit us often and be liberal with your comments. It'll help us feel. .. connected. As far as this particular blog goes, it too will be taking 4 months off so please let it vacay in peace.
Many thanks to our good friend Kyle Nielsen for the excellent blog title. It looks good man.
See you in the New Year everyone! We hope to be back in Calgary so come visit us. The first 100 to do so will recieve travel vouchers. And by vouchers we mean sticks of gum or those little candy hearts.
John and Ang
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
How is this an event let a lone an OLYMPIC event?? I watched it for like 40 min one day, it was a stay inside lazy day ok, and damn - its intense. I wondered at one point how a person might qualify for such an event, especially since it requires SO much skill. I've narrowed it down to 3 qualifications:
1. Must be white.
2. Must have been bullied all through grade school.
3. Must currently be homosexual.
Come to think of it, some of you could have qualified. Ha ha, jk.
Moving on now. (remember 119)
I'm not sure what to think of Heaven. I'm pretty sure Hell involves speed walking while listening to Joel Osteen podcasts but heaven, that's a mystery. Some think its a literal place, others think its a state of mind, others think its all around us while others think its a myth. I usually vascilate between all these things although after Sunday, heaven may be a little more clear.
As my family and I descended the stairs leading into our church fellowship hall the word surprise came flying toward us. We stopped dead when we realized that the 175 mouths were open and smiling directly at us. Turns out, our good friends Ty and Hope had thrown us an EPIC going away party and had invited all our dear friends. You can't prepare for moments like these. All I can say is it felt like Heaven as we walked into a thunderous applause before finally managing to take our seats. The night continued on wonderfully for another 3 hours and I haven't laughed and cried that much in a very long time. Besides all the great food, humbling words and Epic video by Ty, our church proved that money can grow on trees. We were able to use that money towards a 12 day mediterranean Cruise of a lifetime that will hit such cities as Rome, Florence, Naples/Pompeii, Athens, Olympia, Izmir and Istanbul, among others. Italy, Greece and Turkey. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (that's my excited scream). The most amazing thing about the cruise is we had really wanted to go to Greece and Turkey on our trip but had ruled it out due to the cost. We will always remember that night as the time we dined in heaven. And we will always be thankful for friends like the ones here. The kind that love you more than you deserve.
Thank you Maryvale. You had me at "you're hired."
Monday, August 18, 2008
The Olympics celebrate the best one has to offer. Over the past 2 weeks, I've watched Canada's athletes give of theirs. Obviously not you say, else they'd won some more medals eh. Perhaps. Or. Perhaps not. When Mike Brown squeezed into his spandex last week (a process that takes 30 min) he wasn't competing against the Japanese Champion on his left and the Australian on his right. He was competing against the champion in the middle. (hint: its himself). All Mike was focused on was swimming faster then he had ever swam before knowing if he could just do that, he would have a shot at a medal.
The amazing thing about OUR Olympians is the majority of them have eclipsed personal bests while shattering Canadian records. Unfortunately, due to the stiff competition from the rest of the world, it hasn't always resulted in a medal. For instance, in the 200 metre breastroke Mike shattered the Canadian record yet still managed to miss a medal by .09 of a second. Point. Zero. Nine. A whole fingertip. In the 4x200 freestyle our 4 Canadian swimmers obliterated the Canadian record by 8 seconds yet still missed out on a medal.
Shameful? Really? Perhaps the shame lies with us.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Second, Canada is ridiculous. Nobody's that bad.
Third, my littlest Lex lost her first tooth the other night. We are a plastic only house and it was after 9pm when it happened so poor Lex got snubbed in the financial department. Oh and the Tooth Fairy doesn't work after 9pm either. (that was my excuse). Before you rain down the judgement, she was amply rewarded the following evening with a ziploc full of copper. Little Lex. Aww.
And now, the star of the blogning. . .My Mother. (Blogning, like evening but more fun)
My mom turned 60 today. That's a lot of life where I come from. Depending on how you look at things, she'll croak anyday or she's got a third left. For the record, I'm hoping for the latter, frogs are slimy. My mom is quite the specimen though. While most humans that age would be getting jacked about back menu specials she's just still perusing through lifes appetizers. In the past 5 years she has moved to another country, taken a high profile job at a university in the youth ministry department of all departments, completed a Masters degree and is currently halfway through a Doctorate program on her way to becoming a Shrinkette. Counselor. Plus she's competing in the Olympics. Fencing. You know what they say "the best fencer is a motha fencer." FYI -They are weird.
I've known my mom for 32 of her years and she's always been just what a son needs. If I was lacking confidence, she'd say I was the greatest, if it was 5am and I was hungry for some two eggs, she'd make em. If I was sick and had just puked all over her, my dad, their bed, she'd say "not to worry, I'll clean it up, you go back to bed." I always would you know. I always would. She was even there at my games to cheer loud enough so the other team could laugh and poke fun at me, the mother boy. It felt good. But her greatest gift was her listening ear. I was an immature messed up kid in my 12-31's so you can imagine the issues she was forced to help me deal with. No wonder she became a Shrinkette, decades of experience.
In the world of best mom's, mine's up there. Good and high.
Happy Birthday Mom. Don't burn down your house when you light the cake tonight.
Friday, August 08, 2008
I was awoken this morning by a middle child exclaiming "the Olympics, the Olympics are on." I rolled out of bed and headed for the living room just in time to catch the parade of athletes. A few minutes later Canada strolled out to a generous ovation. Thanks Beijing, unlike most schools, you had class today. My wife slunk into the room just in time to catch Canada and before long her Olympic tears began their quick descent down cheek mountain. I say her "Olympic tears" because every 2 years when the Olympics are on she wells up with emotion. It's strange actually. Let me explain by way of judgement and sarcasm.
I like sports. All kinds. If it was up to me they would always be on. The TV, the radio, even a live feed streaming directly into my retina. Angie on the other hand loathes them. She hates all the sports streams. For one, they "take her husband away from the family." But even more importantly "they are the most pointless thing on the planet not to mention a huge waste of time, money and effort." With that in mind, you can imagine my confusion each and every time the Olympic tears come out. She says its different. At least here they are competing for their country rather then for a cup or a team they'll ask to be traded from the following year. A solid point I must concede.
I rolled up to work this morning in my freshly washed car and once inside I began idle chit chat with the Administrative assistant. She used to be the secretary until human rights got involved. One of the things we chitted and chatted about was the said Olympics. I used my excitable voice when asking "the Olympics began today, are you gonna watch, are you, are you?" She replied, using her unimpressed voice -" no, I don't usually get into the whole Olympic thing but especially not this year when the host nation is guilty of crimes against their own people." A solid point I must admit, but still, its the Olympics.
Shortly after that TREMENDOUS let down I went online to check my morning Facebook. Once on, I engaged in some more idle chit chat with another she. A Chelshe. Using my excitable font I said "the Olympics are on." She said, and I quote, "OH, Meh." What is the deal with these silly women? Its the OLYMPICS. What do you mean MEH? I think Chelsey picked up on my horrified reaction which is why she said "its mostly the summer Olympics I don't like, the winter are ok." Wow. Chelsey is a fantastic wife to Peter, mother to Eva, follower of Jesus, photographer and friend/cousinkinda to me but when it comes to her Olympicness, wow girl, you're not off the hook, you're like so not fly or hot with it.
So yeah, the Olympics are on. Yeh!
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Now that I have a beard I feel a bit like the artsy thoughtful kid after receiving a ball glove from his clueless father. I don't grow cheek hair. I’m not that guy. I'm Mr. baby face. It's weird though, I feel like I need some sort of training or certification- at the very least a dependable grooming kit. Even if I get one, will I know how to use it? Or more importantly, when to use it? I fear I won't and I'll either wait too long becoming the dirty gross dude or I'll trim too soon and just confuse people – making them wonder if I'm just lazy. It's important I figure this out because the line separating white trash from sexy bad boy to distinguished mature beard man is only a shadow away. And as of right now, I'm not sure which image is worse.
I mentioned my daughter turned 10. She did indeed, July 31. It's weird having a daughter so old. I feel a bit like the artsy thoughtful kid after recieving a bat from his clueless father. I don't have kids in double digits. That's for old guys with beards. Oh I see now. I remember when Maddison was born. I was 22 and felt like a kid myself so seeing my own was amazing. I had wanted the name Maddison for a girl but Angie wasn't convinced until she saw her. I remember we chose the name Maddison because we wanted something unique. I know but seriously, in 1998 Maddison wasn't the household name it became in 1999. That was annoying.
I was still in school when Maddie was born and Angie worked half days doing home care so I was able to spend lots of time with her. We snuggled, read books, played games, went for walks and watched Pooh and Friends. She was a fantastic baby, the kind you could take out in the world. I remember one time, when she was like 6 weeks old, we took her to the theatre because we wanted to see the summer blockbuster Armageddon. To this day, it’s still the loudest movie I've seen yet Maddie slept through the entire thing. It was then I knew God had smiled on me. Or something. The truth is, Maddie is quite something. She is not the typical girl or even 10 yr old girl. She prefers reading and learning to most everything else and when all the other girls were dreaming of becoming a princess she dreamt of Archaeology. Truth be told she reminds me a lot of Rory from the Gilmore Girls. Maddie still maintains she’s gonna be an Archaeologist, which makes sense because both her parents had similar dreams. Europe is gonna rock her little world. All our worlds.
My last first was our house selling. I'd be a liar if I said it was a stress free process. Calgary has the reputation of being boom town which is fine if it was still 2005 but it's 2008 and the boom is over which only means KABOOM "nobody wants to pay good money for your house John and Angie." We listed our house after May long and in the end had to come down 25g's to get it done. BTW - if you have ever considered moving to Calgary, now's the time. You'll find hundreds of "motivated" sellers.
The good news though is we did sell which means our plans to travel are no longer just plans but reality. That being said, we did take a hit so we'll be cutting our trip in half, putting off Asia for another day. As disappointing as that is, we still get to travel Europe for 4 months so please save your empathy for Africa. We fly out September 19 and we should arrive back in Calgary mid January. From there nothing is for sure but I could see us ending up on the West Coast.
A lot of firsts this week. It’s been good.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
We ended each day as a team, sharing our highs and lows . For 45 minutes, 18 people spoke of things that both amazed and challenged them. “My high is seeing how happy the kids are with so little.” “My low is that we have to leave on Friday.” One morning I asked the team to share some of the things they had learned. A theme quickly emerged. “I’ve learned you don’t need stuff to be happy. All a person needs is family and friends.” As human beings, we know this to be true. In fact, we know this to be obvious. It’s just. . .
For 35 minutes, the teens tried unsuccessfully to calm Ricardo’s tears. When it became clear the well was not going to dry up anytime soon, I encouraged the teens to say their final goodbyes and gave Ricardo a hug of my own. We watched him stand up and begin to walk away, slowly disappearing down the dirt road. As he walked he frequently turned around to see if #1 – we were still there and #2 if we were still there. Of course we were, how could we go? I think I'll remember that walk forever. Slumped shoulders, head bowed low, legs dragging his wilted body forward. Just when he or we had seemingly survived the moment - he fell to his knees. A few moments later the teens emerged at his side, resuming the grieving once more. It was heartbreaking to watch and one of those moments you don’t forget.
Short term missions are rarely about THEM. We act like they are because it’s hard to raise funds “so WE can have a life changing experience” but ultimately, that is the reason we go. The impact of a sobbing Ricardo on a group of Western teenagers is far greater in the long run than any impact they’ll have on him. Ricardo will grow up and soon forget about that week in 2008 but the teens will never forget. It will forever be etched in their memories even when emotions no longer accompany it. I’ve lead 3 trips of this kind and people from the first trip still talk about Tijuana like it was yesterday. Something occurs deep inside of us when we meet people living a life we know to be true. Beyond the bare necessities, the kids have nothing. Their houses, clothes, roads, are all falling apart. They have no cell phones, computers, or trends. They’ve never checked their Facebook or received a text message. They have no tickets to watch their team or hats to show they cheer for one. They have no urge to see The Dark Knight. Yet in spite of all this, they don’t act like they are missing out or rage because of their unmet needs. They live like they have all they need. How is that possible we wonder? We wonder, yet we know.
As we rumbled past the Mexican border on our way to LA the scenery quickly changed from a dirty grey to a sparkling green - almost like we had passed through a dimension in time and ended up in paradise. We arrived at our Castle Hotel about 7pm and after checking in, we quickly departed to the local theatre to catch the premiere of The Dark Knight. We ended up getting tickets to the final showing at Midnight - which meant we now had 3 hours to kill in Disneyland. FRICK. jk. We ended up killing time by going to a restaurant in downtown Disney. Apparently the restaurant requires reservations months in advance but they fell for the charm that is The John and let all 18 of us in immediately. One of the teens that frequents the land of the Mick said "John, my mind is blown." haha, I do what I can teeno.
After the restaurant we went to the theatre to sit in line for an hour because as you all know, purchasing the ticket is only step 1 in the movie experience. The doors opened and hundreds of LA batman junkies poured into the theatre. The excitement level was high and remained high throughout the movie as the audience clapped and cheered throughout. The Joker was mesmerizing and I remember thinking I hadn't seen a performance of that magnitude in years. Mr. Ledger may very well become the 7th grave-dweller to secure an Oscar nomination. In fact, I predict he will.
We arrived back at the hotel just after 3am and after prog reports, we fell into a deep sleep. We woke up 3 hours later so we could enjoy the FULL Disneyland experience. Did we ever. 15 hours and 20 rides later we arrived back at the hotel even later and more exhausted then the night before. What a rush.
The next day we flew home and after bragging to the parents about their wonderful teens I went back through security to catch another plane to Vancouver Island where I am now vacationing in Crofton, an ocean town of 2000. I've swam in the Ocean, played with dead sealife, climbed mountains and just yesterday lept off one, paragliding for miles. As huge of a rush as that was, my realtor called me this morning to inform me he had finally sold our house. Because of the crap market we were forced to sell it for tens of thousands less than we originally wanted but in the end we still walk away with tens of thousands more so I choose thankfulness instead of the other kind.
Its been an incredible ride, these past few weeks. I think about all the things I've experienced in that time and I realize some people will live a lifetime and never experience any of those things. Like Ricardo. He may never see LA. I'm guessing he'll never go to Disneyland, or wait in line for 2 hours to see the hit movie of the summer. He'll never fly across the world, paraglide off a mountain or sweat for 2 months for fear of only making 5 figures on his house instead of the expected 6. Neither will 110 of his 120 amigos. What do I do with that? Should I feel guilty? Do I purge myself of all that is The Western World and live like Ricardo? Should I spit on my own countrymen judging them for living a life opposite to our Mexican friends? It's tempting, believe me. But, in the end it wouldn't be beneficial. Certainly not for Ricardo. And probably not for me. So I do better.
I will learn from Ricardo. I will love much and lust for little. And I'll reserve my smiles and tears for the things that really matter. You.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Gotta be honest, I was actually looking forward to my bacheing time. Eat whatever I want, watch whatever I want, wear whatever I want, fart on anything I want. . .truth be hold I've done all these things. And its been fine. But here's the rub: I've discovered I'm the kind of guy that needs his wife. Needs his kids. I thought I didn't but I do. I thought I could go without but I can't. Angie's my best friend, the kids add energy and joy to everything I do. Without them I've felt lost, almost floating.
The good news is me and the cat have kinda bonded. Turns out Rusty's not that bad. Every night when I get home there he is meowing at me to open the door and start the party. And its not just some normal meow, its a low moaning meow almost like he's saying "I need you master. I need you to feed me then stroke me." * haha, I could insert an Angie joke here but nah. I was gonna take old Rust to the SPCA because I'll be gone for 3 weeks and then we're traveling for the year. I was gonna, but I couldn't. Which is a real surprise. The other 4 who live with me wouldn't be lying if they told you they 'd seen Rusty airborne, tumbing out the door many a time. Its true. Sometimes he annoys me. But lately he's made me soft. er. So I didn't take him. And I haven't thrown him. Instead, I'm leaving him at home while I'm gone and asking the trusty neighbors to keep watch and insure his dish is always full. See, people can change.
As I said, I'm headed to Meh hee ho. It's Mexico actually but I've pronounced it like that as long as I can remember. It makes me feel kinda neat. I'm taking 17 people with me, so it should be intense. We'll be teaching the ins and outs of God's love to 120 kids each morning while engaging in light construction in the afternoons. The evenings will be spent enjoying Tijuana's culture. Unfortunately not THAT culture. Can't expense THOSE things to the church. Can't stroll into THAT red light distri. . .I've taken 2 other groups before and its always been amazing. Arturo and Lupe are amazing hosts. In fact, they're the hostess with the mostess. Such great people. We're ending off the trip at Disneyland July 19. It'll be great. All of it. This is the kind of stuff I live for as a youth minister. We leave in 20 hours.
Before I yo quero Taco Bell myself away I should probably update you on our house and travel plans. Our house continues to be visited by many people (12 this week) but no buyers as of yet. In spite of that, we are confident it will sell eventually. It has to. Our travel plans have stalled as of late, we were hot and heavy at them for months and have kinda taken a break. We are still excited we're just more cautious I guess since our house is still for sale. That being said, we have nearly finalized our Europe plans (Sept 19 - Dec 30) and I just paid the balance on our tickets. So we're going. . .no matter what. The only thing that may change is how long we go. Should be 10 months, could be 4. It all depends on how loving God is. haha. just kidding God. I know, I know you ARE love.
And there you have it. My life for the past 3 weeks. Oh yeah, I also went to a family reunion where I saw Mark and Blair and Pete and Chels and all my other cousins/friends. The sucky thing was nobody won the Close award this year. It's wierd because we invented the award - which begs the question -why can't we win our own award? I thought I should have won. For obvious reasons. Or even Chelsey. She's nice. Granted, she's not really a Close and she charges a lot for her pictures but she was there, at the reunion, and was pretty nice to everyone. Anyways, they could have given it to me. Or Chelsey. Me or Chelsey. Or just me. . .
Friday, July 04, 2008
It was revealed this morning that of all the G8 countries, Canada is second to dead last on efforts to chill out Global Warming (this last phrase further proves my lack of sciencyness) Canada, often thought of as more liberal and socialist then our southern neighbours, is now more like them then ever before. Depending on your worldview, this may be a good thing. For me, not so much. (I love Americans I just hate their sin) Because what it means is the 2 richest countries in the world are now united in doing next to nothing to care for their planet while at the same time raping it of its natural resources faster then you can say Al Gore got robbed in 04.
From what I understand, Global Warming is what occurs as our Globe gets warmer. I could be wrong but I'm really relying on the name here so hopefully I'll be ok. All jokes aside, many reputable scientists and one past presidential candidate strongly believe that due to our reckless use of the planet's resources, namely fossil fuels, things are literally heating up causing rapid weather changes, melting ice caps, damaged coral among other things. The negative effects can be seen most notably on the plants and animals living in these areas. Weather, Coral, Icecaps, what's the big deal? Well, for starters, the latter has as many grams of fat as a Big Mac. True Story. But secondly, entire ecosystems are said to be in danger. If you've seen An Inconvenient Truth, you'll know what I'm talking about. When the temperature of the earth changes even a degree, numerous things are effected. In the last few decades, the rate at which this temperature has increased is greater then any time in recorded history - which is why scientists and Mr. Gore are pointing the fingers at us, and our misuse of fossil fuels.
My point in this post is not to deal so much with the science of Global Warming, way beyond my expertise, but rather its theology. Yes, theology. You may not think global warming could have theological implications but apparently it does because millions of North American Christians believe Global Warming is a myth. Think about that for a second. Millions of North American Christians believe Global warming is a myth. Now this is just a guess but I'm thinking that the average NA Christian doesn't have advance degrees in science nor have they ever really researched this phenomenon - which means, like me, they don't know jack squat about global warming. Yet, yet, they claim its a myth CREATED BY AL GORE to make money. Meanwhile, ecosystems continue to disappear.
My question today is what on earth does Global Warming have to do with a person's spirituality that causes them to not believe in it? Why do they deny its reality? What threat is that reality to their faith? If you are one of those people, please, for the love of God's ecosystems, tell me how the belief in Global Warming could interfere with your relationship with God. I really want to know.
For me, its the opposite. Global Warming has everything to do with my relationship with God which is why I DO BELIEVE. In the book of Genesis, we see God giving his planet to man for one reason - to care for it. (Genesis 2:15) In the beginning the earth was a gift from God to us. Yet ever since then we have been taking that gift for granted to the point where we now knowingly inject millions of metric tons of posinious gases into the air each day and only give it a second thought when tree huggers attempt to hold us accountable. Btw - a tree hugger is anyone who loves the planet. Apparently.
Seriously though guys, this is one fact that can't be denied. We knowingly inject posion into the air each day. I think every single person would agree that this occurs. So why is there so much controvery when scientists tell us that this same poison is beginning to affect the earth in negative ways and so we should dramatically cut down on our poisioning? Shouldn't this be expected? Its like a doctor telling his smoking patient that his habit is literally killing him and the smoker responding "your diagnosis is a myth and your just trying to make money off of your research." If we heard any smoker use this arguement, we might question their sanity.
So, what it is then? Why do so many Christians live in denial? It would be highly judgemental to suggest that these conservative, republican, suv/hummer driving/ Iraq supporting / Oil lovers would be against Global Warming for personal reasons so I won't go there. So, my only guess is they think by admitting Global Warming is occuring they are somehow implying God is no longer in control of his planet. What they forget is God gave up that control the same day he created us with free will. And when we use that free will to poision our own planet spawning Global Warming, its our bad, not his. The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, says the psalmist, yet the Lord gave that earth to us. And so our misuse of it has become his lack of control?? Can we honestly be ok with this?
This is a loaded topic, one I've wanted to write on for some time but haven't, not feeling inclined to poke the hornets nest. But after reading about MY COUNTRY'S EMBARASSING second last place finish today, I couldn't contain my thoughts any longer. If I have offended you, please know that I think your great, I just disagree with your opinions on the weather. That being said, I'd love for this to turn into a conversation so please, comment away!
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
People ask me if I'm excited. The answer is yes. How could I not be? I'm pursuing my dreams of world travel. But. . .(there's always a but, a big hairy pock marked but) we still haven't sold our house. It's true. We thought we had sold it a few weeks ago but at the last second the deal fell through. Something about the buyer's limited credit. That one hurt. I think I struck every moutain on the way down from cloud 9. Since then, we've had a number of lookers, but that's it.
My dad was telling me about a dream he had the other night. Never before has he done this. In his dream God appeared to him and said "I'm really gonna make John sweat on this one (referring to the trip)" That was it, that was his dream. I was dumbfounded. I'm really gonna make John sweat?? What? Why? And why gossip to my dad about it? This whole thing is very unlike my dad, he doesn't typically share his dreams or even subscribe to an audible God. But. .. he also never lies and I've been sweating so. . .
When Angie and I made this decision, we knew it wouldn't be easy. I remember saying to her that most people work their whole lives to realize their dream so chances are we're not just gonna abra cadabra sell our house and alacazam fly off into the sunset. It'll be a grind. Well, it has and it is. Yeah we still have a couple months to sell our house, yeah everything will most likely work out in the end, but in the meantime this Island of Uknown sucks bigger then the Wings stealing Hossa today.
The unknown is a worse hell then the tragic known. At least you can move forward when you know. I've watched good friends live on this Island for years at a time only to discover the tragic known. Currently my friend Jordan and his wife Kari live there, waiting and wondering if their 10month old son Drew will overcome whatever it is that he might have. I can't imagine the soul ache they must feel.
Everyone we talk to tells us they just can't believe we have the courage to do this. They say things like"we'll never regret it, if we don't do it now we'll never do it again, that it will change our lives forever." Many have even said they live with regret today because they didn't do the same thing.
Those are the exact reasons we chose to do this. Hairy pock marked but. . .we still wonder.
Are we doing the right thing?
What if our house doesn't sell?
What if we don't deserve to go and that's why our house isn't selling?
What if. .. what if. . .what if. . . it's the twin Hell Island to the Unknown.
I return to my dad's dream. "I'm really gonna have to sweat." I have felt the sweat. Yet, I move forward anyways encouraged by the words of my good friend and fellow world traveler Kori Jones. "If it was easy, everyone would do it. Just keep the faith and move forward."
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I have a ton of respect for dudes who can Father. I've already mentioned my own but I also think of people like Wayne McKeage. Wayne's barely 60 but you'd think the guy was my contemporary. He lives his life like he enjoys it and helps everyone to do the same. I think that's why his kids enjoy him so much. They see who he IS.
I also think of Colin Hattrick. Colin is my contemporary but he fathers with the same dedication and love of a 60 yr old. I often joke that Natalia is a magician because at 2, she's managed to wrap her grown daddy around her pinky. Its true, but every time I see the way he looks at her I'm reminded to get up and father for real this time. Angie says I'm a good father blah blah blah, I just rarely agree. Too often I'm too distracted, busy or gone to be at the level of a Wayne, Colin or a John S Close. I realize this. I recognize this. Which is why I resigned.
Yeah yeah, God called me to ministry - but the reality is there are 38 others who could replace me tomorrow and the teens would be just fine. And they will be. But no man could EVER replace me as Maddison, Ethan and Alexa's father. I'm all they got. They're all I got. Which is elementary and profound at the same time. So easy a concept, so difficult a follow through.
Beginning this September, I am taking 10 months off to travel with my family through England, France, Spain, Mallorca, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Egypt, India, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China and beyond. The plan is to work together, learn together, be stretched and challenged and formed together. Most of all, the plan is TO BE TOGETHER. It's always been the plan.
Only now, I'm following through.
Friday, June 06, 2008
"Out of the multitude of understandings of religion, spirituality and faith; out of the varying views of the origins, nature and purpose of life; out of the countless individual experiences of what might be called divine; out of it all may be distilled a core that, very simply put, is love.
This core message carries its own authority. It needs no doctrine to validate it, no external expert or supernatural authority to tell us it is right. Love is quite demanding enough as a foundation, sufficiently complex and challenging without the requirement of additional beliefs, unbelievable to many. The church the future needs is one of people gathering to share and recommit themselves to loving relationships with themselves, their families the wider community and the planet.
Such a church need not fear the discoveries of science, history, archaeology, psychology or literature; it will only be enhanced by such discoveries. Such a church need not avoid the implications of critical thinking for its message; it will only become more effective. Such a church need not cling to and justify a particular source for its authority; it will draw on the wisdom of the ages and challenge divisive and destructive barriers. Such a church, grown out of values that transcend personal security, self-interest, and well-being, could play a role in the future that is not only viable but radically transformative and desperately needed."
- Gretta Vosper
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
If this sounds like a scene from a horror movie, let me assure you its much worse. For the past 5 days Calgarians have woken up to the Lall family. The first few nights I slept ok, but as the story continued to unfold I slept less and less. It's one thing if you're dealing with a psychopath, a maniac, a sick bastard. But Joshua wasn't any of these. He was a loyal husband, loving father, involved community member, and dedicated employee.
This case has messed with my mind, my sense of what's black white. The grey is slowly making me crazy. How could a loyal, loving, involved and dedicated human being do something so inhumane? Sources say in the weeks leading up, Joshua had been hearing voices . These same sources point to a phone call he had made to his parents only 2 days before, expressing his distress. His parents were concerned enough to board a plane and fly to Calgary, arriving only hours too late. Others say he was overwhelmed by work feeling incredible pressure to maintain his perfectionistic lifestyle. Still others are saying "psychotic episodes of this kind rarely materialize this quickly and so warning signs had to have been missed."
Every day a new theory, email, source seems to emerge as people, press and parents try desperately to find the rational in the irrational, the sense in the nonsense. God knows I have.
In the end though, no matter what is uncovered, discovered, recovered or just covered, nobody will ever know what possessed 34 yr old Joshua Lall to do what he did. His crime will forever lie shrouded in mystery known only to the killer and his maker.
Does this make me feel better? Hell no. What could?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
In other news, John and Ang put their house on the market 5 days ago. They have a showing tonight which makes 2 in 5 days. Not bad, for a cooling Calgary market. Now we just need an offer!!!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; Having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts to build a new earth,we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes; And to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.
- Sir Francis Drake
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Ask most to define prayer and they'll say something to the effect of "talking to God." The liberal may say "talking WITH God." Either way, conversation is implied. The problem is, most of our conversation to/with God is done via 911. For example:
"Help me God *puke puke* Oh God please *puke* I promise *puke* I won't ever *puke* do *puke* that *puke* again. Thank you Jesus. *wipe face* Thank you God"
"Please God, help me pass that test tomorrow."
"Dear God, I know I haven't talked to you in awhile but I really need you now. Everything's falling apart. Please God, please Jesus, help me now."
"God, please help my house to sell. My family and I are planning to travel the world and have already booked tickets and accomadations."
The problem with these prayers is they're it. Our entire conversation to/with God. Instead of communing with the divine we ingest a lucky charm (they're magically delicious). Weeks, even months go by, meanwhile, we live our lives not giving God a second thought until. . .TRAGEDY STRIKES. Stress becomes too much. Or most often, our moral failings catch up with us and we're forced to deal.
Here's the harsh reality. If we only pray when we're in trouble, we don't want God, we want magic which is why we resort to superstition; closing of eyes, bowing of head, bowing of knee (optional) and mumbling of words to an unknown being. How must this seem to God?
Here's a challenge for us all. Go one week without calling 911. Only talk to God to become more like him or to thank him for allowing you to live in a country free of cyclones and earthquakes. If you're feeling especially eager, pray on behalf of the hundreds of thousands who've lost their lives and the millions who feel like they have. Try it and see what happens. You'll either realize how superstious you really are or you'll be relieved to know you actually care.
Friday, May 09, 2008
I barely even know what to say. What military regime is so twisted that it would deny life saving food and medical supplies to thier own countrymen all because "they're wary of outsiders"? The Junta have behaved appalingly and should be ashamed. Part of me wonders when it becomes time for outside interferance, although in saying this, I realize the implications and the thousand cans of worms it would open. For instance, many would argue the U.S. "interfered" in Iraq and look where that's gotten us. At the same time, the Allies "interfered" in Nazi Germany and virtually all would feel good about that.
Bottom Line: Injustice sucks huge.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
It's difficult for North Americans to know what to do in these situations so usually we avoid these kind of things. I can't tell you how many people I know who actually refuse to read the paper or watch the news because they don't want to be constantly reminded of "depressing things like this." Amazingly, when these same people experience tragedies of their own no amount of Emails, Facebooks, Blogs or Bulletins could cover their hardships enough. I don't mean to be harsh here, I just don't think closing our eyes, plugging our ears and repeating "a la la la" is what God's Kingdom Bearers are called to do. I think we're called to more.
Here's some of the more:
Prayer is usally option #2 after "a la la la" and it's a good option. We can ask God to soften the hearts of the Junta. We can ask God to blow open the Burma borders so salvation can roll on in. We can ask God to stop the disease from spreading. We can ask God to comfort the heartbroken and bring hope to those in despair. We can even ask God to soften our own hearts so we're available to be his hands and feet.
We can send money. Many organizations, including World Vision, are right now accepting donations. Millions of pounds of food, water, medical supplies and clothing will need to be purchased. You can get involved by helping with that purchase.
Perhaps most importantly, we can live grateful lives. Next time you or anyone you know complains about the "stupid weather" you have my permission to smack them with a newspaper and then tell them to read the front page. Oh the things we complain about in Eden.
Most of you who read this thing live in Calgary or Regina, which means you are living in two of the richest cities in North America. Live grateful lives!. And for God sake, don't plug your ears. Educate yourselves, stay in the know. How can you care if you don't?
P.S. You may remember Kori and Lisa went to Myanmar just a few months back. Go here to relive their favorite place. And actually, Kori just penned his own reflections on this tragedy so make sure you check them out. As usual they are thought provoking.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
The first time I watched this movie, my heart pounded. While I share very little in common with Harold, as I watched, I realized that I too boarded the same conveyer belt. . .and it scared the hell out of me. I have watched the movie 3-4 times since and each time the pounding returned, as if my heart was trying to tell me something.
It's funny how easy it is to ignore one's heart. For years mine pounded but I listened to conventional wisdom instead. In many ways, coventional wisdom is little more then "security salesmen hocking fear at the cost of our lives." I have written about this before so I will swiftly move on but it's worth noting again as it explains this.
2 months ago we got off. No more belt riding for the Closes. In an act of pure insanity we decided that we would puruse our dreams instead. As long as we can remember we've wanted to travel the world, experiencing other culture's worldviews and beauty. Like most people, our dream was constructed in a pipe, and like most, we never inhaled. Let me tell you, that first drag was amazing. We were dizzy for days. "We're gonna travel the world?!??!?!?!?" I remember wondering "are we even allowed?" Indeed. Conventional wisdom had done its work.
Since then, we've had our heads buried in travel books, maps and monitors. Apparently the world's a big place. A full year's devotion to its exploration only allows the speediest of travelers a brief peek. It's been a mixture of pain and exhilaration saying yes to some destinations and no to others. Just recently we decided the $1500 wasn't worth it to see Paris for 3 days, especially when, for the same money, we could live in Laos for a month. Pain and exhilaration. We've also ruled out South America, Eastern Europe, Africa minus Egypt, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand to name a few.
That being said, we have said yes to some including England, France, Spain, Italy and Austria this Fall and Egypt, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Borneo and Myanmar in 2009. Yes, the same Myanmar in the news right now.
We will spend about 40% of our time volunteering, helping people on their organic farms in Europe and teaching English in Asia. We will school our kids on the road giving them an education that will hopefully change them, and us, for life.
We have 4 months so a lot more planning is still to come but that's the big picture anyways.
We fly out September 20. At this point, we don't have a targeted date for return. One of the things we wish to do is open ourselves up to God and see what he shows us. Perhaps we'll come across a need and wish to stay longer or more permanent. Perhaps not. Either way, we expect this year to change our lives, at the very least forever eliminate life on a conveyer belt.
We'd LOVE for you to join us along our journey, even for a week. Truly, we already have people who are planning on doing just that and we'd love to add your names to the list. Let's experience Planet Earth together!
John and Ang
Monday, April 28, 2008
For those of you who don't know, for the next 6 weeks, these Fab 4 are heading to a remote part of India to help Ray McMillan and his mission. To me, these guys are living examples of the kind of thing I wrote about in my previous post. Instead of doing the SECURE thing (working) they are using $4000+ of their own money to invest in something much bigger then conventional wisdom. In short, they are living their lives. And I have nothing but respect for each one of them. Nice job guys. I pray dozens follow in your footsteps.
P.S. Speaking of security, this morning I announced my resignation to the church. We've decided to follow our dreams and travel the world for a year. We leave September 20! I'll write about it soon.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Anyways, I've had some thoughts running suicides in my head as of late so I figure its time I got them out. They'll be disjointed. But so is your mom.
Growing up I feared my own shadow. Sure it was my size but it was dark and juxtaposed, plus it followed me everywhere. It wasn't just that though. One time some friends of mine convinced me there was a midget living 1000 yards from my house in some old pipes. The midget was small but mean as the dread pirate robert. Even worse, he was always listening, which meant if I told my parents he'd slit my throat while I slept. I wasted two weeks living in mortal fear until one night I couldn't take it anymore and I burst. When I awoke the next morning I realized the midget couldn't read thoughts or. . . my friends were lying bastards. The midget was never found, so I'm pretty sure it was the latter. Paul Quilliams was a mean little man. But I love him now, especially his drawings.
As I grew up and became a man I disobeyed the bible and didn't leave childish things behind me. I still lived in fear, although, now I feared injury, illness, needles and heights. As a result, I was ineffective at hockey, a wimp with the flu, I couldn't donate the blood that was apparently "in me to give" but even worse, I never experienced the pleasures of balcony life. If you think those are silly, I also feared other people's opinions of me, never finding a girlfriend, and my walk. It was a silly walk. Still is for the most part. "For the last time, no, there is not a broom up there."
Time passed, as time does, and I finally met a girl who fancied my nose. I felt like the luckiest man alive, still do actually. I was in my 2o's now so you'd think fear would have been a forgotten part of my youth. But it managed to keep following me. Manifesting itself in other more "adult" ways. Rides at the midway for instance (ok, so not so adult), walking home in the dark, getting in a fight, dying of a heart attack. The list goes on. At least I was funny. Yeah, that's about all I had going for me. Because the truth is: I was a timid, yellow bellied coward. Courage was NOT my middle name. It was George. Like the monkey.
I turned 28. As the year began, something was different. Like my brain had suddenly realized 30 was no longer a lifetime away. The next few months were dominated by conflicted thoughts. The thoughts grew in intensity until finally they burst. One night, I had a full blown panic attack and the attacks continued on and off for 2 months. At the time, I thought I was dying, that my heart really was being attacked - just as I had feared for so long. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I couldn't think. I even checked my blood pressure on the machines at Safeway every day fearing the end was near. I was trapped. Caught up in a fear box. And it was quickly being nailed shut. As scared as I was I finally realized my life literally depended on my getting it together. So I did the unthinkable.
I looked fear in the eye and didn't avert. In that moment, I think for the first time, I saw fear for what it was. A scarecrow. Mean veneer, nothing inside. I realized I had lived my entire life fearing straw.
Since that realization I've made a life, literally, by confronting my fears. Embarassingly so, sometimes. To cure my fear of needles and nausea, I actually went to the hospital ER and just. . .walked around. I booked a doctors appointment and requested that they take blood. I went to the carnival and went on all the rides. I went to highrises, road up to the highest floor and for the first time enjoyed the pleasures of balcony life. Last month I went SKYDIVING in South Carolina which for someone with my FEAR history, was a miracle.
The point is, I no longer live in fear. In fact, most of the time I live fearless. I'm convinced half of the 4 people who read this thing, live in fear of something. Don't do that! You have 1 life to live and have never been assured it'll last 90 years.
I am convinced the god of this age is not money, but SECURITY. Financial, physical, emotional, spiritual. We work and live to be secure and why do we do that? No where in scripture will you ever find Jesus living to be secure. If anything, his lack of security is what got him killed. Jesus was fearless KNOWING he did not have 90 years. So he lived his life for today.
Besides, what would you gain if you secured the world but in the end lost your soul?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
While I don't agree with many things Harris says, I do find his quest for reason admirable and I believe Christians, if they can grow thicker skin, stand to learn a lot from the things he says.