Do something tedious

I am one of those foolish people who believes that hard work would still have existed without sin in the world.

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There is something refreshing for the soul in tedious tasks such as weeding a walkway. We do so much in the way of working towards more leisure time that we do not realize how much wasted time we spend on leisure. Leisure in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it does not take a whole lot of thought to realize that working towards leisure becomes tiresome as a goal. And we soon get bored with the very leisurely activity that we chose to achieve. There is however something to be said about taking time to work on something that is not ‘work’. By this I mean working on something that is not your vocational focus and requires all of your weekly energy. Your work may be your passion and delight, but it may very well be the thing that is wearing you down.

Let me be clear here, I still dread on occasion the idea of going outside and working on something that isn’t on my schedule or does not seem like ‘fun’. And I can remember growing up how much I avoided the fact that I needed to go outside and weed the garden as I was told to do so by my parents. But I can also remember how when I actually took the task at hand and began to do the work, I realized that I was also more relaxed and I was able to collect my thoughts while working on this tedious task. Somehow, the tedious became leisure, and my soul would learn to become refreshed by doing so. Even though it was a chore it was as though God was teaching me a lesson on how to relax, collect my thoughts, and think through life . In turn, it made me a better worker for the things I saw as important. I learned that it both emptied and filled me simultaneously.

Today was a good reminder to take on the small tedious tasks that refresh the soul.

Parking Lot Parents

Dear Mom & Dad,

I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation with your child in the parking lot of the hotel as we all prepared to check-out. It was kind of hard to miss as mom’s voice kind of bounced off every wall around us, and all the birds and small animals went silent. It must have been a tiring and long trip considering the level of patience you were exhibiting. So, I figured I would write you this letter for future consideration regarding your parenting, and what it could look like in future generations.

My wife and I discussed what your ‘private’ parenting must be like if this is what happens in public. Most people tend to be a little more guarded about their actions and social perception, but we could be wrong here. If it is true for you, I truly feel for your children. I don’t say that lightly. We all lose our patience, we blow up from time to time, say things we should not have, get depressed, dehydrated, stressed out, and even adults need to have a ‘time out’ occasionally. (OK, some need more than an occasional ‘time out’) There is a range of acceptability on this for all of us as we grow into adulthood. It is the journey from childhood, reliant heavily on the examples we are given. Partly this is adulthood, part of it is the call of parenthood, moving people from home to the workplace as functional individuals in society.

It is part of the reason God created us in community, especially in the smallest form we call family, because this is how we keep ourselves in check. Our children learn how to develop their own system of personal accountability and agency by this means. Otherwise we become a nation of tyrants trying to appease an angry insatiable beast of want from within. That is bad. If every parent chose to live as individuals we would encounter a generation of adults who either shut others out, or expect others to fulfil all their internal needs. At the very least, they will assuredly know they are a burden in the setting of which they had no choice being placed.

For example, dropping F-bombs as you lean into the van, and using terms like “You’re just like your father”, while he is loading the van, may not be the best route to developing Kingdom-class adults. I’m almost certain that last statement was not meant to be a compliment to the man to whom you are betrothed. Just a guess. Consider for a moment that you are the first image of nurture, and the man holding the bags is the first insight into honour, and then reconsider your words. The interpretation of a life of love & respect are in your hands, until they pull themselves from your grip, and you will only be able to observe what they saw and experienced in your care.

A good friend once shared with me his view of parenting in a small apartment above another small family dwelling. His concern was that they only judged his family by the sounds produced when things got tense, but they could not hear the sounds of forgiveness and peace. There is an immense amount of grace available to those who choose to accept and share it. God grants this for all, and He is able to redeem all situations and relationships. But that involves us allowing it into our situation. If mom & dad do not accept and share grace, then kids struggle with it well beyond their upbringing.

So mom & dad, I will pray for you. I would love to be able to walk up to every vehicle in a parking lot and offer up a corrective, but that is usually frowned upon. Especially in an already tense scenario. My hope is that you encounter grace, and learn how to live in it for the future generations you impact through the home you are creating.

Sincerely,
Eric

Right to Bear Arms

20140805_170251_AndroidTravelling through the US this week I have seen my fair share of bumper stickers, t-shirts, and signs about the 2nd ammendment. It also happens to be my 20th anniversary today. Those 2 items have a lot in common, especially since my wife is an American.

I am reminded again and again of how young Mindi and I were when we got married. There was plenty of pressure to not go forward with our decision, to gain more life experience, to discover who we truly were, and make sure this was the right choice for our lives. I look back on it now and realize that if I had waited to find out who I truly was, Mindi would still be waiting at the altar, and I would have 4 less amazing people in my life. (Not counting all the amazing in-laws I acquired) I am still learning who I am, who God desires me to be, and thanks be to Him, Mindi continually does the same. What a lot of the advice-givers of yesteryear did not know then, but seemed to be pretty clear to me at the time, was that even in their ‘age of wisdom’, they were still making plenty of stupid mistakes. Some still are. Age did not seem to be a good indicator of maturity and wisdom back then, and that continues to be a truth I observe today.

So what have I learned in 20 years?  Plenty. But 2 facts stand out clearly above the rest, both from my American brethren, and I think they are really God-given choices in every circumstance we encounter. The freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. Each involves a choice in all circumstances. Many choose the latter as their right, alienating the other party for the sake of what they feel is theirs to own, and the relationship becomes a battlefield. Soon, every encounter is a war based on honouring self and destroying the other. We have that capability. It is not what God intended, but He allows us to make all the enemies we want over the stupidest issues we can manage to create.

But freedom of speech, that is an awesome gift. I have the gift of gab, and words spoken is considered my main love language, so I get this. When someone does not feel heard, I feel their pain. It is also my main weapon, as not hearing the right words can knowingly hurt another. We have a choice in every matter to speak truth and love into a situation, and it means a change to that situation. Further, it changes the other person. When we choose to speak, to work out each circumstance, we grow and bring life to the other. We cause oneness to be more than an ideal.

It is difficult to overcome our pride. Scratch that — It is difficult for me to overcome my pride. When we are hurt, when the other person seems malicious in their actions, when we are not understood, we take up arms. It becomes a right we think we need to exercise. Words becomes swords, actions become landmines, thoughts foster exaggerated fiction of what the other ‘might’ have meant/felt/intended. The most difficult battle we encounter in a committed covenanted relationship is to extend grace we ourselves do not deserve.

Mindi and I have encountered many tough circumstances. Had many heavy heart-to-hearts. Struggled, rejoiced, cursed, screamed, kissed, etc. etc. But through everything, she is the one I chose and believed to be the wife God intended for me to have. We are more in love now than ever, and have had the joy of learning from one another through the years. Age has nothing to do with the outcome thus far, only the resolve to grow closer through every circumstance we encounter together. And much of this has depended greatly on choosing not to bear arms, but rather speaking life into those circumstances.

You want the simple lesson learned over 20 years?
Listen.
Say the words you know need to be said.
Stop waiting for the other person to say what you think they should say.
Fall in love with the person who stuck with you, and learn to show them this is the truth.

Throwback Thursday #tbt

So I decided as a special treat, and in honour of #tbt, I would repost the first blogpost I ever published on a Thursday. Turns out it was a great memory, and a good reminder for life and ministry. I really looked up to my uncle, so his funeral stood as a mile marker on my personal road.

Enjoy!

I’ve had the privilege of witnessing more than a few funerals in my time. There is something special about grieving with those who grieve, honouring the life that was and considering the hope of what is to come. We do definitely remember the best in a person as we lay them to rest. A week ago Sunday I was blessed. As we cherished the memory of my uncle, packed into the church to pay our respects, there was an overwhelming sense that everyone there had been impacted deeply by his life and ministry. There were no patronizing cliches. No empty words. No forced sentiment. Just testimony upon testimony of a man bent by God, and by being faithful to Him, inspired, encouraged and influenced everyone he met. I was inspired. There was joy in remembering. There was encouragement in the many stories of a life lived faithfully. There was a challenge to live by God’s calling.

Lord, thank you for funerals that remind us to live the life you have called us to live.

Creative Bible Time…

How do you connect with scripture?
Do you discover creative ways to engage your faith with the Bible?
I gave this page of symbols to a group of students to share my personal list of connecting points when I read scripture.
What do you use?

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Making the News

What does it take to make social media abuzz? Not bombing along the Gaza strip.

All my social media apps were resounding with World Cup glee while this was going on. I like to think I have a fairly diverse group of friends and followers, yet only 1 tweet alerted me to what was going on.
1 tweet.
I was a little shocked. First that no one was talking about it. But second that I did not stumble upon this news sooner. I cannot blame social media for making me dependent upon it for my awareness in the world. That is my job.

Germany beat Brazil yesterday in the World Cup. Did we miss anything else in the meantime?

Making Big Kids

So do you have some definitive lines set in your mind when it comes to development?
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I think everyone does. And for the vast majority of people, parents especially, we get to develop along with our kids. Circumstances, relationship, personal maturity, better understanding…all those things seem to take their toll on our ultimatums and lines-in-the-sand. For some the process is harder than for others, but we all adapt according to the time and people we have been given. But growth happens.

Have you ever encountered people unwilling to grow through the changes?

It is difficult to watch and some of the conversations are like a recurring nightmare. When we refuse to grow with others, adapting to what God needs of us in order for the other to grow, we actually hurt ourselves. The other hurts too, but if you are stuck in a rut you will rarely see it. Developmentally, the other person will make a lot of moves in life based on these ultimatums and lines drawn. It is a prison. They themselves cannot see how reactionary their life will continue to be, so long as they hold onto these things.

But they can grow past it. That’s the beautiful part. When people realize they are not involved in a ‘one size fits all’ method of growing up.