Saturday, November 19, 2016

Moments of Silence

What did your moment of silence say to you this year?

My workplace is a bustling charismatic place filled with communication and activity. I get there early in the morning, mostly before anyone, and it’s a little more peaceful. As people roll in, it starts to get going and then it doesn’t stop all day long. But this past week we had silence. Right in the middle of the busiest hours, the announcement went out to honour our fallen heroes with a moment of silence.

I can’t help think that silence is a special and valuable thing to many of us. To others, it’s the nightmare of reflection that demands a constantly denied response. Many of us spend our day running from the truth of the silence. Stopping to think, reflect, and be observant demands gratefulness and the honouring of those who provided the good things the silences remind us of.

Thank you to those who fought and those who lost so that I can enjoy the freedoms of our country.

Last Sunday our four oldest and some of their friends from our Bobcaygeon church travelled up the road to play for the service in Fenelon. I was the chauffer. So, we arrived about a half hour before the service and the kids practiced through their music and did a sound check. There were a good number of elderly folk in the sanctuary enjoying the practice. A lot of them stopped by to ask me who I was, and my systematic response was “I’m the girls’ dad.”
“Ohhhh, you’re the one..”
Hmmm.. Yup. I’m the one. Haha.
 After a few folks passed by me, and we neared the completion of the practice, one of the older men in front of me turned and just started talking to me. “You know… seeing those kids up there, having worked so hard to be involved like this.. well… You know we always say this and that about the young people today. But these kids give me some hope. There are some good kids around after all.”

What ever happened to respectfulness and gratefulness? Shouldn’t these folks who lost loved ones, and lived an honest life, and paid their taxes, and voted to keep us free, and helped provide us our lifestyle, meet with more honour than we in our generation greet them? Should it be so hard for them to find hope for when they’ve passed on?

Last Sunday our next-door neighbours were completing their move. The boys had helped them all week. Bob, our kind old man next door, (only to be replaced with another kind old man named Bob by the way.. lol) has taken to adopting our kids as his “grandkid neighbours”. Sunday when we got home from church we were a little surprised to see Jeddy doing math… voluntarily… in the afternoon… when it’s do-whatever-you-want time. Come to find out, the kid is getting his math done so he can help Bob finish moving during school time on Monday morning and see him off. I cried. I wish I had been that type of kid. A kid who honours the elderly, and shows love by his works. Before Bob left he told the new Bob, “You’re going to love these kids. They’re like my adopted grandkids. They’re the best-behaved kids I’ve ever seen…”
When I hear comments like that I can’t help but think how glad I am these kids turned out like me and not like their mother. I kid.. I kid..

We’ve been so blessed with great bonfire weather this year. We’ve been pretty much bug free for a couple months now, and yet the nice nights keep coming. It’s nice now because the sunset is early enough that we can have an after-dinner bonfire instead of staying up so late for it. A couple weeks back, I scheduled a bonfire on a Thursday night. I told everyone and they all thought I was joking. I was not. I love our fireside music practice and cuddle time by the fire. As I sit comfy in my cedar Muskoka chair on the porch in mid-November with my laptop and cup of tea, writing this, I am thinking tonight might be a good night for one too! Even though I love a good bonfire, the kids, having been busy all day and just finished their work for the day, have better things to do. Initially when I told everyone that Thursday on my way home that I was skipping dinner and heading straight to the fire pit, no one was really interested. I figured I would just enjoy the perfect evening and stars all by myself. I started up what was, in my opinion, the best built fire of the year, and nestled into my chair, feet up on the edge of the pit, looking up into the sky as the constellations slowly began to reveal themselves one star at a time… It was dark quickly, and though I could see the house I couldn’t see anything between me and the house. I heard the door, and someone heading down. It was my Hunny.J She was carrying a cup of coffee for me, and coming to join me. Then I heard the door again, and again, and slowly everyone came down the hill carrying their chair and some instruments too. I knew none of them wanted to be out there. But they did it for me. They were unselfish with their time for me.

Today, there is a dearth of honour and respect. There is a plague of laziness and selfishness. I say today, but really, it’s nothing new. It’s a symptom of ease. It’s a diseased fruit of our natural course. The culture today is one towards self-respect, and self-honouring, rather than honour and respect for the honourable.

Years ago, when I was working on the nightshift, I would often enjoy my lunch break outside watching the sunset while I read my Bible and had some time to reflect. One gentleman I worked with would often join me. We didn’t agree a lot of the time, but we enjoyed many gentle conversations about everything from Creation, to child-rearing, to the end of the world. He had a religious mind set, and really, we had the ideal respectful discussions, though we almost always disagreed. There was a mutual respect and honouring of each other that allowed us to be kind, and present our thoughts, and then gently disagree.

I started chatting with a man from another part of the world in an online game I used to play. We had a lot in common personally, including our conservative lifestyle at home, our homeschooling, and our large families. However, he is a knowledgeable and faithful Muslim and I am a Biblical Christian. In that very understanding, as we began to discuss our differing and agreeing opinions on matters of our faiths, we decided to be respectful and honour each other’s opinions. We spent many hours discussing important and valuable details with respect. He is more than a victorious argument to me. I respect him. I care for him. I pray for him. I wonder if we who claim to be people of faith were so kind in our discussion of all things, say, politics for instance, if we wouldn’t find a more peaceful forum for convincing others of our opinions. Maybe we would understand each other more if we were less about winning and more about love for our neighbours.

What did you think about in your moment of silence? What was it you were honouring? Who were you giving respect to? Or was that just an annoying archaic practice that wasted a minute of your year?

Take a few moments of silence today, to stop and think, to reflect, and to honour those who hope for the future in you.

“The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” – Proverbs 15:33

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Kiss Her Today Like It's Your Last Kiss

Some time ago, when I moved from the night shift to a normal office hour schedule, my wife and I started something that I hope never ends. Each morning as I leave, no matter how late I may be, she's getting a big wet kiss on the cheek. 

I hope she gets to wake up to that in the morning. She should wake up to my love. Sure sometime she wakes up to "I can't find my wallet" etc etc, or me dropping half our stuff in the bathroom fumbling around half dead at 5:30am. But I always hope she stays asleep just long enough so when I go to leave she wakes up to my kiss goodbye and me telling her I love her.

Last year, in the dead of winter, it was a risky driving morning. Thankfully I can usually get out on to the road and get going without a problem. But this was a glistening icy-coated morning. I went to rush out the door and get moving so I could get to work as less-late as possible. As I got about halfway down the stairs I remembered that I hadn't kissed her goodbye. And it occurred to me, what if my drive didn't go well and I were to have an accident? What if I never got the chance to kiss her goodbye again? I slowly walked up the stairs and leaned across the bed to give her a long sweet kiss. She smiled and I went on with the day.

"Tomorrow" is something we take so for granted. For those of us that believe in eternal life in Christ and expect to live forever with God, I think we even more so may be taking tomorrow for granted, since it is - granted. But tomorrow here on earth is something hoped for but not guaranteed.

"Next time" is something we often expect will happen. We are such frail and temporary creatures, and yet we live like we control destiny, chance, and circumstances. We don't. We have today. 

When the triplets were born they were so small. They were just in and around four pounds each. Thankfully, they were very above average in health, really problem-free. Thank God for answering ours and many other folks' prayers during the circumstances of life we experienced in those days. 

One thing the triplets did need was drops of vitamins every day - I think it was twice a day. If I remember correctly it was something to do with strengthening their lungs - which let me say - that stuff really worked. Especially for Eve. Wow. Definitely no long term problem for these girls with lung strength! 

Just a couple days after they were home we gave Prayer her vitamins from the little tiny eye-dropper thingy, and they went down the "wrong tube". She choked them up and coughed and coughed and gagged. I thought we had just drowned the kid. Then she just didn't breathe. Not freaking out or choking anymore, just seemed like she was sleeping and very lazy breathing. Very similar to how they were after they were born and the nurses would rub them to make them cry and breathe to dry out their lungs. Every once in a while she would take a gasp as she lay on her belly and slept. Then a few seconds. Then another breath. Scary for me. So scary, I couldn't sleep. That whole night I lay awake and I was Prayer's bed, as she slept, breathing awkwardly on my chest with her little fuzzy head just under my chin. I kissed her head and thought, "What if this is the last night I hold this baby?" 

I guess you know she turned out okay, other than the suspected brain damage thing. 

(Please excuse the nudity but this is a picture of that next morning)

Probably I was overreacting a little. I do that once in a while when it comes to potential dangers, germs, boys looking at my daughters, my daughters looking at boys, multiple instruments and conversations happening in the same room at high volume at the same time, slow drivers, and, of course, insects in my face. For more information on these and other of my flaws, please feel free to ask my teenage daughters. Expect eyes to roll before each corresponding response to the above list. 

I was at work a few weeks ago and one of my favourite workmates reminded me that he and his partner were expecting their first child in less than a month. I may be completely useless at most things, but when it comes to preparing to have babies, I've got a few pointers to pass along. Later that day, I heard him speaking about this conference, and that meeting, and a really busy work schedule for the coming month. I took him aside and I was very direct with him just one-on-one as I said, "Let me clock out for a minute and speak to you as a friend. I am very blessed to have had 9 children, and I hope you are blessed to have as many as you may decide. However, if circumstances dictate that this is your only child you ever have and you miss the first few weeks of your child's life for the slight difference it may mean at a company, you will hate yourself. That would be a tough decision when you realize how unimaginably fast each of those first and most delicate stages pass. If I were you, and when I was, I did put family ahead of work. There is always more work." 

We look at life as though all that we planned and prepared to do will happen, and nothing we expect to avoid would ever happen. But the truth of life is that you have absolutely no idea what may happen, so be who you should be, with who you should be, today. 

Tonight, my wife and I will slip out before our church event and we will go alone for dinner and have some time to chat and focus on each other. We've always done that, at least once a month; a lot- a lot of dates, making memories together, in case they are someday soon only memories. 

You don't know if you'll have tomorrow. So kiss her today like it's your last kiss. And kiss her like that for the rest of your life.


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