Friday, June 29, 2007

Happy Canada Day!

"When I’m in Canada, I feel this is what the world should be like."
-Jane Fonda

Just wanted to wish all of my readers (yes, both of you) a happy Canada Day. May your patriotism runneth over! Hope you celebrate in style . . .

May Light increase!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Space Diving

Bungee jumping, sky diving, and cliff diving a little too tame for you? Maybe you need to take it up a notch. Check out the future of extreme sports: space diving. Popular Mechanics has posted a story about this Intriguing idea which is in development. I've posted the start of the article below:

Scenario 1: Sport
Sixty miles up, you sit in a chair on the open deck of a small rocket, admiring the stars above, the Earth far, far below. The vacuum beyond your visor is cold, but it would boil your blood if your pressure suit failed. You give your parachute straps a reassuring pat. It’s utterly silent. Just you and your fragile body, hovering alone above the Earth. “Space Diver One, you are go,” crackles a voice in your ear, and you undo your harness and stand up. There’s nothing for it now: You paid a lot of money for this.

You breathe deeply and leap, somersaulting into the void. The mother planet is gorgeous from up here. You barely perceive that it’s rushing up toward you, and your body relaxes. You streak into the atmosphere at 2,500 miles an hour, faster than anyone’s ever gone without a vehicle. The sky lightens, the stars disappear behind the blue, and a violent buffeting begins. You deploy your drogue chute for stability; an uncontrolled spin in this thin air would rip you apart. The thick lower atmosphere slows you to 120 mph—terminal velocity. After a thrilling seven-minute plummet, you pull your main chute at 3,000 feet, hands shaking, and glide in for landing. A mile away, your rocket retro-thrusts its way gently to the ground.

Scenario 2: Safety
Sixty miles up, you float easily in the cabin of a small rocket, admiring the stars above, the Earth far, far below. Suddenly, alarms sound. Space debris has pierced the ship, and it begins to break apart. In seconds, the air is gone. It’s utterly silent. Pain gathers in your face. Your tongue and eyes seem to be boiling. The captain rushes over and flips down your visor, and you feel better. Then he screams “Go!” over the radio, and pushes you toward the door. There’s nothing for it now: You don’t want to die.

You close your eyes and leap, tumbling into the abyss. The curved horizon spins wildly. You let out a scream of terror as it rushes up toward you, and then you black out. Minutes later, a sudden jerk wakes you. This must be death, you think—your flesh meeting Earth at horrible speeds. But it’s the tug of your chute deploying at 3,000 feet. You realize you’re going to be all right. You glide in, touch down, and collapse in convulsions, traumatized. Through your tears you see your friends nearby, similarly undone but alive. You spot smoke on the horizon where, a mile away, your ship returned to the ground in an angry hail of twisted metal.

For sport or safety, hurtling to Earth from space without the protective shroud of a heavily engineered space vehicle seems like sheer lunacy—a hellish descent punctuated by intense heat and terminal, well . . . splatter. But believe it or not, the physics actually works out. With a heat-resistant space suit and the right kind of chutes, such a daredevil plunge should indeed be possible. And with the right people involved, it edges into the realm of the probable. . .

May Light increase!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Jeremy: I'm Too Sexy

My friend Jeremy is an amazing speaker, not to mention an overall great guy. Today I added his blog, Oceans of Noise, to my blogroll. The picture on the right is him speaking at Beaver Creek Bible Camp in 2004 (I think he was talking about how hard it is to carry around all of our stuff and how we need Jesus to help us - or something like that). Below is a link to one of my my favorite posts from his long running blog (I still can't believe he did this!) :

May Light increase!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Too Much TV . . . Apparently.

So, the other day I'm typing at my desk in my basement office (aka, The Cave) when Jobina comes down stairs carrying something. I look up. It's the TV. "Uh, oh." I think to myself.

Here it comes. "I was just amazed at what a good time we had visiting Dwight and Lorna and I was so amazed that they didn't have TV and how they had such a great family life. I thought maybe we should try going without a TV for awhile." Pause.

The gauntlet was dropped. How should I respond? After all, that is my TV she has in her hands, my beautiful TV. OK, maybe it's our TV, but hey, it's mine too! I have a right to watch that TV, right? Who does she think she is just making this decision without me?

She's staring at me, waiting for my reaction. She looks so beautiful and innocent standing there (with my TV in her arms). I know that she is sincerely wanting to improve our life and try something new. I give a long inaudible sigh.

"OK," I say.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Today I have no time (or energy) to write a well crafted post (even by my sad standards) so instead I'm just going to share some miscellaneous stuff that stood out to me.

-First, I'm having a stressful week; I have three major assignments due by Friday (one of which I need to tour a place that I can't seem to get an appointment with), I'm working 5 shifts at Olive Garden, I'm trying to work on my investment property, I need to fix my own house, and I'm trying to sell some vending machines that I bought as part of a business. All in one week. When I start thinking about it, I have to stop; it's too overwhelming. I don't usually feel overwhelmed, but I can feel myself approaching the naked edge of it. I guess the idea that I may not be able to do all of it (or even enough of it) is enough to scare me because it means I'm not in control. Personally, being in control (or at least the illusion of it) is very comforting . . .

-My friend Evan got engaged and I just wanted to say a public "Congrats!" You are the man Evan . . .

-The other day at Olive Garden I was enraged at one of my tables. I actually witnessed a woman emotionally abusing her thirteenish year old daughter. When I came over to the table I heard this woman threatening to leave the restaurant and telling the daughter that she was useless and the cause of all her problems. This kind of treatment continued throughout the entire meal. I actually felt rage inside because (A) I couldn't do anything and (B) I know what the results of this kind of thing are - emotional abuse is often as damaging (or worse) then physical abuse. The girl just covered her face and looked . . . beaten. Needless to say, I felt traumatized after seeing this abuse, it broke my heart. If you think to, please pray for her. If nothing happens, she will grow up thinking she is as worthless as her mother tells her. . .

-This Sunday, our family headed up to Mennville, the church where I used to youth pastor. We hadn't been there for a long time and it felt good to go back. We went to attend my good friend Terry's big 25th Anniversary Party but before the party we were invited out to lunch at Dwight and Lorna's (members of our old leadership team). We had such a great time hanging out on the farm. The kids got to play with kittens, newborn chicks, and Dwight and Lorna's kids. Seeing out kids playing outside with animals on the grass . . . just seemed so natural. Jobina even started talking about moving out to the country again. As for the party, that too was really cool; Terry and Eloa seemed to have a good time and we had a lot of fun catching up with old acquaintances. It made me think about my future 25th . . .

-Today I helped my friend Dylan put up drywall in my rental property (we're fixing some water damage). I am now officially a man! Finally . . .

May Light increase!

Friday, June 22, 2007

So . . . What Are You Listening To?

The other day I asked several of my co-workers what they were currently reading and posted about the experience. The more people I ask, the more intrigued with this question I become. Sometimes though I get this response; "I'm not reading anything." I've discovered that there are lots of people out there who don't read anything. As an avid reader I was pretty shocked at first ("um . . . do you know how to read?") but then I realized that not everyone enlightens themselves in the same way. So non-readers, do not be ashamed. It is time to embrace your non-readingness!

So here's a different question for you; "What are you listening to?"

I have no answer to this as I am:
a. Not musical or artistic.
b. Too cheap to spend money on music.
c. Not a music pirate.
d. An avid reader who cannot read and listen to music at the same time.

However, I am still curious to know what others are listening to, what they are getting out of this music, and what about that music inspires or "moves" them. Is talking about what one listens to even more personal then what one is reading? Try the question and see what results you get.

May Light increase!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rated . . .

Today I found this interesting site that will "rate" your blog. As you can see mine is rated "PG." Strangely enough, I was kind of disappointed, surely I could get at least a "PG-13" or "R"? Check out what your blog is rated by clicking here. Let me know what you are rated.

May Light increase!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Two Faces of Self Control

For some reason as I was washing dishes today I was reflecting on self control. I was thinking about several things that all seemed to have self control as the common denominator (procrastination on homework, household chores, physical exercise, sexual purity, shopping restraint). And yes, my mind does wander alot while washing dishes, thank you for noticing. Anyway, it struck me that really there are two kinds of self control.

First, there is self control that allows you to say no. This is the kind that I am not too bad at. I like to think I don't give into peer pressure alot. I've never been drunk, rarely broken the law, can stay away from sweets when I want to, and rarely buy something that is more expensive then I can afford. This kind of self control, the ability to restrain oneself, is useful to stop oneself from financial ruin, addictions, overextending oneself, and other vices.

Secondly, there is the self control that allows you to stick to doing what you decided ahead of time to do. This is the kind that I am not so good at. I do most of my assignments the day before they are due, I put off doing routine maintenance on everything (my poor house and car!), I allow personal projects to go way past their target dates of completion (ah, Howardville videos), and I find it very difficult to keep up regular exercise. The ability to have self control in doing things allows people to excel, to succeed, to be a role model, and to gain honor in other's eyes.

Complicating this discussion is that "self control" is a fruit of the Spirit. "God, please grow this fruit in me!" Now, if you'll excuse me I must get back to my paper . . .

May Light increase!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

So . . . What Are You Reading?

I was bored at work last night and so I asked one of my fellow servers this question. I got such a great response! She told me all of the books she currently had on the go and what she found interesting about them. You really learn a lot about a person when you ask them what they are reading. When you ask a person this question you are asking about something rather personal but it doesn't come across as so. I asked another server and she told me that she was reading Dawkin's "The God Delusion." This led into a great discussion about the faith required for both atheism and religion which was enlightening for both of us. Why not try asking your co-workers or family this question and see what you learn about them?

In case you are curious, I am currently reading Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad which I bought at the big used book sale at the St. Vital mall. I really enjoy anything by Twain, he is pretty much the quintessential American author and a master of wit at one's personal expense. Before that I read some counseling books and another travel adventure book Paul Theroux's The Old Patagonian Express : By Train Through the Americas which I didn't like very much and would not recommend (The Happy Isles of Oceania : Paddling the Pacific is 10 times as good). The book I'm hoping to read next will either be Tolkien's Children of Hurin or Druett's Island of the Lost : Death and Survival at the Edge of the World which is about 2 separate groups of sailors shipwrecked on a remote island (one of the groups thrives, the other destroys itself). Fiction or historical adventure? It will be a tough decision (unless someone buys me one these and makes the decision for me)!

So how about you? What are you reading?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pursuing One's Dream

Sometimes you find something beautiful when you least expect it (like in a "reality" TV show). Check out this truly touching moment (thanks to ysmarko) on Britain's Got Talent. The contestant is a mobile phone salesman, but he dreams of singing opera. Warning: you may find your emotions a tad engaged after watching . . .

May Light increase!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day Sermons

First, I would like to wish a happy Father's Day to all! I've had an enjoyable day today; Jobina and the kids made me breakfast, gave me a new bike helmet, and then we went out to Boston Pizza with my parents). I hope everyone gets sometime today to reflect on the positive contributions fathers have made in their lives, not to mention our heavenly Father's as well.

Now for my rant.

I actually don't listening to the sermon on Father's Day Sunday. Why you ask? Because, unlike Mothers day (where the Mom's are simply appreciated and adored) Father's Day sermons are almost always about "You need to be a better Dad." Seriously! The implied message is "you need to do better." Imagine if it was reversed and the Mother's Day sermon was all about how Mom's need to improve their motherhood (and then gave advice on how to be a better Mom)? That poor pastor would be killed before the end of the sermon! But somehow we as men/Father's just sit there and take it. In fact, we expect it. "He's right, I should be doing more."

This is of course wrong and I am not the only person who has noted this contradiction. My Dad told me that just today he heard a sermon on the radio by Charles Stanley who noted this bias (Stanley then spoke today an affirming and encouraging sermon to Fathers). Where does this biased approach to sermons come from? I have two theories; one is that most pastors are men and so they feel comfortable telling a man how to improve as a Father but aren't comfortable telling a woman how to improve as a mother. The other is that we have a belief that Dad's don't really need to be thanked and appreciated to the extent that Mom's do. Where does this thinking come from I wonder? Mother's day is the busiest day of the year in the restaurant business. Father's day? No where close!

I think pastors need to let Father's Day sermons be as affirming of Dad's as Mother's Day sermons are affirming of Mom's. It all starts with a little chat with your pastor . . .

May Light increase!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Frisbee Bliss

I've been in class all week and working most nights so tonight we had a "family day." After an amazing supper by Jobina we all walked over to the park to hang out. On a whim, I grabbed a frisbee to take along. I don't know if ever really used that frisbee before, but I thought it would be fun to toss it around. Lately I've been pretty convicted about exercise (or my lack thereof), not because I want to lose weight, but for health reasons. Exercise is so good for one's physical and mental health that you have to be an idiot not to do it. Anyway, Jobina and I started playing frisbee. It was so much fun! For both of us! It felt so new and exciting and then I realized that it was; not once when Jobina and I were dating did we do anything physically active together besides going for walks. We've done a few outdoor trips together after getting married, but not many. Certainly nothing that would fit into the category of "kind of like a sport." This both excited me but made me sad at the same time. The whole time I wooed her we never played frisbee - all those missed opportunities! On the other hand, the idea of doing "sporty" stuff together in the future makes me smile. Discovering something new and fun to do together as couple is a blessing and gift from God.

May Light increase!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Makeup As A Form of Oppression

I've been taking a class called Gender Issues this week. Today's discussion was on women's body image. We were talking about how most women hate their bodies and are much more preoccupied with their bodies then men. We found that as men in the class, it was difficult to relate and really understand what it is like to be a woman (even though the women tried); men do think about their bodies but seem to mostly be at peace with them. This is often not the case with women. Ironically, women high on the beauty scale have been found to not be statistically more happy with their appearance then women lower on the scale! Women hating their bodies profits many groups of people (fashion designers, diet industry, abusive men) but not women it seems.

Women who are unhappy with their appearance are often tempted to change it. We talked about women having cosmetic surgery (breast implants, lyposuction, etc) and how in a sense it can be immoral (though not always). When I was talking about it with Jobina (who disagreed) I explained it this way; if a person is seen as a whole they are a combination of their spirit, mind and body. Thus if a woman hates her body isn't she really hating herself as a person (who God has created)? Our professor (a woman) thought that it was impossible to hate one's body but not have it affect one's spiritual life. Thus doing cosmetic surgery to oneself becomes a moral and spiritual issue.

One of the girls in class brought up the issue of makeup - is that the same as cosmetic surgery? My friend Dylan jumped in with how he's always considered makeup to be a form of oppression against women. This topic of makeup (and questioning it) seemed to produce tension in the room. Dylan noted that he, like many men, don't honestly care (or don't want) women to wear makeup and that he considers it a form of female oppression. I think that I agree with this. Our professor had told us that when it comes to beauty enhancement that her rule of thumb is that "if I have to do it or I can't stop it, it's problematic." Thus, if a woman can't not use makeup, what does that say?

May Light increase!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Answer is . . .

Waiter: "And would you like soup or salad with that, Sir?"
Guest: "Yes."

I'm amazed at how often I get this answer to a rather straightforward question. Usually the "yes" response is followed by an awkward silence at the table as the other guests think about how to help out their friend/wife/family member without making them look like a complete idiot. It's obvious to everyone else at the table that when given an "either/or" choice, the answer can't be "yes."

Or can it?

I was thinking about this today. Am I a cat person (cats are just the cutest) or a dog person (dogs are loyal and faithful)? The answer is yes. Am I a Calvinist (coming to faith in Christ is predetermined) or an Arminian (we come to faith by free will). Am I an environmentalist (the envioronment is most important) or a capitalist (economics are the most important)? The answer again is yes.

God himself is the ultimate "yes" answer to. Is God loving or just? Is he judging or gracious? Is he Three or One? The answer is yes. Living with apparent contradiction is something I'm realizing is just part of being a Christ-follower. Do you see God as rational or mystery? I hope your answer is yes.

May Light Increase!

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Lost" Addiction

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but I love the TV show "Lost." Jobina and I wait for the season DVD to come out and then we "binge watch" them in the fall. A month ago I lent my Lost Season 1 DVD to my buddy Cole at work. "Be careful," I said," it's addictive." I've lent the DVD to others and they have really, really enjoyed it. Almost too much. Jobina and I once watched 5 episodes in row. It's kind of like crack cocaine . . .

Cole though has been impervious to Lost's charms. Every time he has started to watch it he falls asleep. Now Cole is a pretty busy guy; he's training to run from Calgary to Winnipeg this summer. He works at OG alot and when he's not doing that he's running or working out. "I'll watch it tomorrow," he says but he never makes it more then a few minutes.

The other day I asked him yet again if he'd watched Lost yet. Again he had not. But he told me that one his friends who was visiting him started watching it. I laughed and told Cole it was good that someone was enjoying it. He agreed except that his friend began enjoying it a little bit too much. Apparently he came over to Cole's a lot more there. He also was staying over night. And apparently he was enjoying Lost so much that he was calling in sick to work.

I guess his work didn't like him calling in sick so many times to they fired him! Yes, Cole's friend lost his job because of his Lost addiction. Wow.

Has anyone ever heard of someone becoming so addicted to a TV show that they lost their job? It just goes to show that anything can become an addiction when it interferes with one's quality of life. The next time someone warns you that something is addictive, make sure you take them seriously. You're job may be on the line.

May Light increase!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Big Read

A funny thing happened to me on Thursday night. I'm taking a course next week (Monday) at Prov called "Gender Issues" and the professor sent us an email on Thursday letting us know when the course was starting and ending each day. She also "reminded" us that our reading was all due (3 books), as well as two reading reports at the start of class on the first day. I say "reminded" because although I had the syllabus, I was an idiot and had not read it. The horror. I have three days (2 of which I work) to read 900 pages!! I am a pretty fast reader, but this will be rough, even for me. Wish me luck!

May Light increase!

Friday, June 8, 2007

A Chapel In The Woods

Do you have any dreams for things you'd like to do someday? One of my dreams is to operate an outdoor retreat/counseling/equipping center. I've been told that if you dream it, it will come to be! If I close my eyes and imagine, I see a small eco-friendly resort on the edge of a major lake system with easy access to the backcountry via hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and biking. The retreat center itself will be mostly a basecamp for doing wilderness based activities. I'm not sure what the buildings will look like yet, but I guess that yurts would be part of the initial set up. I also imagine two secluded chapels; one will be more of a stone ruins type sacred place that will be far off the beaten path. The other will be more of a modern building, closer to the main buildings, but still designed in such a way as to include the beauty of creation in it. This second idea came to mind when I picked up an architecture magazine and saw this:

This is the Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. For a cool write up on the history of this magnificent structure, go here. The reason I like this design so much is that it really lets the outside in. Also, the inner ambience is not controlled and is constantly changing depending on what the weather and seasons are up to. Most churches, chapels, etc. try to dominate the impressions they give to worshippers; the Thorncrown Chapel (aptly named as the architecture brings to mind a crown of thorns), lets creation and Creator decide this. Lastly, I like it because it was designed and assembled to put as little stress on the surrounding nature as possible. I could see myself relaxing into God's presence in such a place.

May Light increase

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Are You Codependent?

Three people, one of whom was a codependent, were in line to be executed at the guillotine. The first person stuck his head in the hole, the rope was cut, and the blade fell, only to stop an inch above the person's neck. The executioners saw it as a sign from God and so decided to let the person go. The next person put his head in the hole, the rope was cut, and again, the blade stopped an inch above the person's neck. That person, too, was released.As the codependent walked up for his turn at the guillotine, he turned to the executioner and said: "You know, I think I know how to fix that."

Recently I took an addictions class. It was really quite interesting and one of th biggest things I took away from it was the idea of codependency. Codependency is a condition that results in a dysfunctional relationship between the codependent and other people. A codependent is addicted to helping someone. They need to be needed. This addiction is sometimes so strong, the codependent will cause the other person to continue to be needy. This behavior is known as enabling. The enabler may purposefully overlook someone abusing a child, will call in sick for someone suffering from addiction, will put roadblocks to prevent their child from becoming independent, or even keep a sick family member from getting the treatment that would make them well.

Usually, in order for an addict to sucessfully live their life and maintain their addiction, they need a codependent (or enabler) to keep them functioning. As an example; an alcoholic's wife or husband may clean up their addict spouse's messes, call in sick, lie to the neighbors, buy alcohol for them, and generally rescue them from the natural consequences of their addictions. This rescuing enables the addict to keep up their addicted lifestyle and perversely gives power and purpose to the codependent. Often when a couple comes in wanting help with a long term addiction, both the addict and the codependent both need serious counseling. The addict must be weaned off the substance and the spouse must be weaned off their enabling behaviors.

Codependency and enabling apply more then just to addictions. In relationships sometimes one person enables the other person to abuse them. Or in churches the church body enables their pastor (or a church bully) to commit ungodly behavior with immunity. Also counselor can become codependent as well. Some argue that everyone is codependent and perhaps this is true to some extent as we all sometimes enable others. But true codependency is not just an occasional thing, it is a constant way of being.

Codependency Test: Take this test to find out if you're helping people who need or needing people to help:
1. Do you feel demeaned, hurt or offended when someone you love tells you they don't need your help?
2. In the last year, has anyone resorted to arguing, begging or raising their voice to get you to stop trying to help them?
3. If you had plenty of money and your child, sibling or parent had an addiction to drinking, spending, gambling or drugs, and they asked you for money to help with their necessary expenses (food, rent, clothes, bills), would you give them the money?
4. When someone shares a life or relationship problem with you, but doesn't ask for help, do you offer help or advice, anyway?
5. When you survey your relationships, do you find yourself surrounded by mostly people who need you?
6. Do you ever find yourself making excuses for the needy people in your life?
7. If someone you love has a substance abuse, emotional, spending or gambling problem, do you avoid confronting them?
8. Do you measure your self-esteem by how much someone depends on you?
9. Do you ever remind people where they would be without you?

A. If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, read an article on codependency and monitor yourself for the next 3 months to verify your answers.
B. If you answered 'yes' to 3 or more of the above, you may have a codependency problem. Read the rest of this article, get a trusted friend who is independent of you to keep you accountable, and read a couple books on the subject of codependence.
C. If you answered 'yes' to 5 or more of the above, do 'A' & 'B' above and ask your friend to attend an alanon, narconon or codependents anonymous meeting with you. Personal counseling (which is almost always helpful anyway) might be useful to you.

In the interest of posterity, when I took the test, I answered yes to one and there were two other ones that I was kind of iffy on (more of a "sometimes" answer I guess).

May Light increase!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

iPhone Parody

Apple has recently posted three new iPhone commercials stating the release date (June 29th) of the super hyped device that is Apple's latest "big thing." With all the expectations surrounding the device (not sure when it is due in Canada), the iPhone has spawned some great spoofs like the one below. Click here to get more info on the iPhone and here to see the official commercials. I am cautiously optimistic that Apple will have yet another hit on their hands.

May Light increase!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Happiness Part Deux. The 80% rule?

Scott Adams (the author of Dilbert) recently posted an interesting post on his blog entitled "The Golden Happiness Ratio." Basically he says that you can predict how happy people are – and perhaps how successful – by their ability to tolerate imperfection. The Golden Happiness Ratio is about 4/5ths right, also known as “good enough.” Once you achieve about 80% rightness, any extra effort is rarely worth the effort. Adams considers himself to be "a master" of the 80% rule, using his comic as an example. This made me think; is happiness really based on how successful you are and is that success based on doing things "good enough?"

I think he has a point.

I wonder how this applies to the great artists though. Did Beethoven, Picasso, and DaVinci all just do good enough? And what about doctors, investment counselors, and pastors. Is "good enough" enough effort from them to be considered masters? Maybe it is. I think that if it is true, this fact should be driving all the perfectionists out there mad. When was the last time you met a happy perfectionist?

When I was a camp director, I considered myself a jack of all trades and a master of none. Truly I was not great at anything but OK at most things. Is this why I was "successful" (or at least not fired)? Maybe I was unconsciously fulfilling the 80% rule. I'm going to try consciously living out this rule this week and see how it goes. I may even write down a follow up comment on this post about it. Unless this post is good enough already.

May Light increase!

Monday, June 4, 2007


"I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live." - Solomon, Ecclesiastes 3:12

Recently, around the campfire on our backpacking trip, the subject of happiness came up. We were talking about what it was that we all wanted in order to be "truly" happy. Does God want us to be happy? Is it his will for us? I wonder if it something that we can ever truly attain by our own work, or something that just kind of "happens" when we are least expecting it. Think about this question for a moment: what would make you truly happy?

It seems to me that we are always chasing the next big thing that would make us happy. When I was in high school, I thought that a car would make me happy. When I was in college, I thought that a wife would make me happy. Soon after, a house. After that, good marks in seminary. All of these things I have achieved and they seem to have made me happy - for awhile. But it seems there is always something else to obtain . . .

Maybe we'd be a lot happier if would just enjoy the things we have now, and not the things we hope for. By always looking towards the future (something I am so guilty of), we miss the ability to truly enjoy the things that should make us happy now. It's like we sabotage our happiness. I wrote a short list of things that should make me happy:

1. My health.
2. Being at peace (and loved) by God.
3. Money in my bank account.
4. My beautiful wife and children.
5. My family on both sides.
6. My tent (seriously, I love my tent)
7. All of my outdoor experiences.
8. Great friends.
9. A promising future.
10. A safe and prosperous country to live in.

My goal is to let myself be happy now. What is the secret to happiness? I am searching. I've finished reading the Psalms and so now I'm going to start Ecclesiastes. Solomon too went on a great search for happiness . . .

May Light increase!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

It Feels So Good When You Stop: Backpacking

From last Wednesday to Friday I was on an outdoor adventure. At 7:30 in the morning my bleary eyed friends Terry, Dawson, and I left on my first ever backpacking trip, located on the Tilson Trail loop in Riding Mountain National Park. It's very difficult to sum up such an experience in a short post, but I will attempt it. Here are some of the highlights:

Day 1 (8 km)
It takes about 4.5 hours to drive to the south west entrance of R.M.N.P. from Winnipeg and it rained on us the entire way, boding ill. However, when we arrived the rain stopped and we looked for the trailhead. It didn't seem to be where the map said it should; we found a trail but strangely it was unmarked so we just assumed that this was how things went when you backcountry hike. We were wrong. What followed was a hour long jaunt through the private trails of the local warden which did not take us anywhere (but did create some angry sentiments). Eventually the warden's wife showed us where we had passed the trailhead and we got underway. The trail was quite scenic with lots of elevation change. Also, there were many woodticks which we found out that Terry has quite an aversion to. It seemed fitting that he got the record for most amount of ticks at one time; 36! We hiked hard for 2.5 hours and did 8km and arrived at the first camp area. We expected to find a grassy field and little else, instead we were shocked to find several fire rings, a view of the lake, a chopped wood supply/shelter, and an outhouse! Very luxurious. It didn't rain but it was quite cold with a strong wind. We stayed up late talking around the fire and then retired to my snug "3 man" tent for the night.

Day 2 (15 km)
After breaking down camp we boiled some lake water for drinking and put it in our Nalgene bottles. Note: boiling purifies water but doesn't do anything about the taste. Ughhh. Even after mixing in tang it still tasted like lakewater. We headed out and went through a nice "valley" where our trail joined with the central trail that runs all the way to Wasagaming in the center of the park. Here I noticed that my heels were getting quite tender. Then it started to rain. Then I discovered that my waterproof jacket and boots weren't actually waterproof (curse you Columbia!). It rained hard on us for several hours until we were completely soaked and miserable (well, at least I was). When we finally got to our next campsite (called Birdtail), we used the woodshed there for shelter while Terry did the impossible and built a fire in the middle of the rain. We ended up hanging out in the wood shelter for many hours until the rain stopped and we could set up the tent. The time in the shelter was for the most part quite pleasant except for the noxious gases that were sometime emitted. We got most of our clothes dried out and then went to bed, listening to the loon's haunting calls over the lake. Just before turning his light out Dawson spilt a third of his Nalgene into his sleeping bag, soaking it! I nearly strangled myself to keep from laughing out loud and tried to sound compassionate.

Day 3 (15.5 km)
I got up early in the morning (thanks to Dawson's loud and varied snoring) and headed over to the lake to read the Psalms. While hanging out by the water I looked across the lake and saw an elk staring back at me. Very cool. We packed up the tent and this time we came up with the perfect water idea; use a sock to filter the water into the Nalgene bottle and Pristine (available at MEC) chlorine solution to kill the germs and lakewater taste. This concept worked very well and I recommend it to all. This day was very hard on all of us as the sun came up and baked us (I got so sunburnt) nicely) and our blisters became very pronounced. One cool thing; we came upon a small bear. We waited until it saw us and after it had lumbered off we preceded down the trail making lots of noise. Eventually we made it back to the car which was a good thing because Terry's feet had become one big blister and my feet were not feeling well either. Next we celebrated our 40km trip with a stop in Neepawa for some pizza and perogies. By the time we got home were all wasted but Jobina had kept the kids up and they greeted me with such enthusiasm and love that I had enough energy to smile and give them all big hugs.

Would I recommend this trip to people? Absolutely. It is definitely a difficult trail (especially the last two days), but is doable by anyone in decent shape. The campsites could easily fit a group of 20 people or more. The trail is the most difficult on the first 12 km and then the elevation changes are not so dramatic. A few recommendations; don't wear cotton base layers, make sure you have decent raingear (curse you Columbia!), wear in your boots before going, and pack as lightly as possible. Also, don't be like us and not bring a camera. I used trekking poles (old aluminum downhill poles that I bought at Goodwill for $5) and I really liked them (good for self defense or threatening your fellow hikers). I'd also suggest going in early spring or later fall to avoid the bugs and crowds. This trail is a good "introduction" to real backpacking I think. I'd give it a 3.7 ninja stars out of five rating.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Catching Up

Just got in from my backpacking trip tonight so I will update the blog properly tomorrow. In the meantime, are you a sucker for catchy newstory headlines? I am. So here's a title that's guaranteed to get you to click:

Defective automatic trousers hurl pilot from plane: Rogue expando-pants amok in Wallace & Gromit style devastation

May Light increase!