Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Making Mistakes: Part 2

Mistakes are a funny thing; when we do them we long for forgiveness and grace from others. Yet, when others do them to us (and we suffer) then we want justice! Punishment! We want that person to feel bad! So they never do it again . . .

This is of course an overstatement. But seriously, when it comes to accepting others mistakes we often need to take the log out of our own eye - we are hypocrites. So how should we respond when someone makes a mistake and it hurts us? I would argue that we need to be extremely gracious and extremely wise.

A year ago Jobina spilled some coffee on the keyboard of our ancient iMac. I was a little annoyed, but not too bad. Things happen right? And haven't I ruined a few of her things (for instance I'm not allowed to do laundry anymore)? So no big deal, Jobina agreed to keep coffee away from the computers and my friend Jason gave us a keyboard and all was good. A few days later I came home and Jobina seemed a little "strange." Eventually I got out of her that she was downstairs and placed her coffee cup near my beautiful little laptop (at this point I felt sick to my stomach) when "all of a sudden" the coffee fell over and spilt hot liquid into the back of my iBook! I ran downstairs and my laptop was making some funny noises - it was gone. The motherboard was fried. Now keep in mind that Jobina had just spilled coffee on our keyboard a few days ago. My first reaction was anger! My poor little iBook! I started to punish her verbally, but as I did, I started to think about how bad she obviously felt and how punishing her would not do any good in the long run (if you disagree strongly with this I would bet you probably are having some serious relationship problems with others). Since I too have made mistakes and because I'm a Christ follower - I had to forgive her. It was tough, but the only logical thing to do. She appreciated the forgiveness and though I had a few regressive episodes it is now something that we can laugh at.

When we punish someone (and by punishing I mean attacking who they are as a person for making a mistake), we are telling them a few things. First we are telling them that we are better then them, that we don't make mistakes. This is of course pure hypocrisy! Secondly, we are telling them that their mistake is enough to actually offset the relationship - "I love you, but because you made a mistake, I'm going to hurt you." This is unhelpful because mistakes are true tests of love - how is the person going to respond when things get tough? Lastly, punishing people for mistakes is reaction; you react by wronging the person who has wronged you.

Now you might say, "But Mark, how will people learn if we don't punish them? We can't just always forgive people - if people are never punished they will keep on making their mistakes!" I would say that what people need is not punishment but consequences. Punishment is a reaction that attacks the whole person while consequences are a logical response to specific actions. This is a subtle but powerful difference. Usually when we punish someone it is to make us feel better, consequences are intended for the good of everyone.

So when someone makes a mistake (even big ones) we need to forgive them (and the sooner the better). Not just for the relationship's sake, but for ourselves. Studies show that unforgiveness and bitterness destroy a person's health. Yet, we also need to act with wisdom - carefully thought out consequences that will limit further mistakes, protect those involved, and hopefully allow for trust to rebuilt. A brother who steals from his sister needs consequences more then punishment - punishment only works short term while consequences work long term. An abusive spouse needs forgiveness but also consequences - consequences that protect the spouse from abusing and the other spouse from being abused. As I noted in my last post, mistakes can be wonderful learning opportunities but if the lesson isn't learned, appropriate consequences (applied with tough love) need to be applied. It's the loving way to respond.

As I was writing this, Jobina came in and let me know that I had made a mistake about something and she wasn't happy about it (let's just say it involved leaving some food residue in our extremely hot car overnight). She told me how she felt about it (annoyed) and I said I was sorry. She accepted it, and left to run some errands. Hopefully I will learn from this but if I do it again, most likely consequences will come my way. She didn't punish me though and for this I am grateful. May you offer the same grace to those who's mistakes affect you today and may you deal wisely with them as well.

May Light increase!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Making Mistakes: Part 1

"The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything." - William Connor Magee

I read this quote recently and was encouraged by it. Why is it that people (myself included sometimes) are so scared to make mistakes? Mistakes are a sign that one has taken action on something, that one has taken a risk, and that one is unhappy with the status quo and has done something about it. Sure, mistakes are to be avoided as much as possible, but I know some people who are absolutely paralyzed by their fear of messing up. When I was a camp director I was often amazed at how receiving some negative feedback (information about one's mistakes) could empower some staff to new heights and cripple others. Why is this?

One of my theories is that people develop unhelpful beliefs about mistakes. For instance, some people believe things like "If I make a mistake . . .

I am a loser.
I will fail everyone.
I won't be able to recover.

I'm worthless.

People won't respect me.

God won't love me.

I am a bad leader/mother/friend/co-worker/Christian/etc.

Any of these strike a chord? Notice how many of these move from a specific action (making one mistake) to a universal judgment ("I'm worthless.") This is a mental stretch that almost all of us do occasionally. The problem is that these universal judgments just aren't accurate. And when we start believing them we are essentially deceiving ourselves and the results aren't pretty. Whether it's self-condemnation or decisional paralysis, believing that one mustn't make mistakes is crippling to ourselves and to those around us.

Besides being renowned businessmen, what do Donald Trump and Sam Walton (founder of Walmart) have in common? They both had to declare bankruptcy! Yet either of these men allowed their mistakes to destroy them, rather they lived & learned and became incredible successes. I have been tempted to be destroyed by my mistakes many times before. When one of my staff got injured at camp a few years ago, I was initially despondent and started believing things about myself that were not accurate: "I'm a bad leader. I shouldn't be running this camp. I don't deserve to be in command." Thankfully, after a few hours I could see things more clearly. Yes, I had made a poor judgment call and made a mistake that had bad consequences. But the stuff I was telling myself was simply not true. I reminded myself of all the times I had made good judgment calls and reminded myself that my mistake was specific and did not equal who I am. I reminded myself of my fallen nature and the grace given to me in Christ. Lastly I embraced the grace given to me by others. We all will make mistakes. The question is what are you going to do and think when it happens? Contrary to what you may believe, the decision is up to you.

May Light increase!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Happy Birthday!

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not.
- Mark Twain

No wise man ever wished to be younger.
- Jonathan Swift

Thirty two years ago today my mother brought me into this world on a hot summer's night. As I reflect on my birthday today I am reminded of both my mortality and the grace shown to me by others. Peace to you all.

May Light increase!

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Ethics of Bottled Water

Fact: 2.6 billion cases of bottled water were sold in the United States in 2006.

Is it ethical to drink bottled water? This is the question I was pondering today after I read this story:

Aquafina labels to spell out source - tap water

The story is about how there is a growing disapproval about drinking bottled water based on several reasons. From what I can tell, these are the ethical arguments against drinking bottled water:

1. Water, an essential human need shouldn't be controlled by corporate interests.
2. Bottled water is bad for the environment: the bottled water industry adds plastic to landfills and uses too much energy by producing and shipping bottles across the world.
3. The bottled water industry causes people to lose trust/faith in the public water systems while much of the world doesn't even have access to clean drinking water.

I admit that I occasionally drink bottled water, usually for health reasons (I don't want to drink a sugar-laden soft drink). Usually when I have made a conscious choice to drink bottled water I've actually felt proud of myself . How blind I was! Thus it was a bit of a paradigm shift to realize that drinking bottled water is actually unethical for many people. So will reading this article cause to rethink drinking bottled water? Quite possibly. Will I start drinking more tap water? Oh, mama, probably not. Our tap water tastes like cholorine concentrate. I grew up in the country where well water was heavily laden with iron and guaranteed to put hair on one's chest. I guess the solution is a filter? Anyway, I was perfect happy drinking bottled water before but now I will always feel a little bit of guilt. How about you? Also, were you surprised that Aquafina water comes from the tap?

May Light increase!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Today I ordered some summer reading material. I love ordering books on line because it's fun to get books in the mail and because it's much cheaper then in the bookstores. Here's what I got:

Did You Spot The Gorilla? - Richard Wiseman
The Children of Húrin - J.R.R. Tolkien
Island Of The Lost
- Joan Druett
Happier - Tal Ben-Shahar
Scarlet - Stephen Lawhead (pre-ordered)

Coincidentally, all of these books are available for sale in my bookstore, so feel free to click on the links if you like! It seems like I read more during the summer. Lazing around and reading a good book (with a cold drink nearby) is one of life's simple pleasures. I'd probably feel guilty except that I am also stretching my mind (which is a form or work) and learning new things as well. Also, I justify it by believing that I'm easier to live with. Whatever works, right?

May Light increase!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Power of Team

: Two horses can pull about 9000 pounds.
Question: How many pounds can four horses pull?

If you are like me, you probably said 18,000 pounds. It sounds reasonable - but you're wrong. The answer is that four horses can pull over 30,000 pounds! How is this possible you ask? It is the power of synergy - people working together can perform significantly better then the sum of their parts. Thus 1+1 does not = 2. Instead (due to synergy) it may be 3, 5, or even 12. When we work together with others we can accomplish so much more then when we try to do things solo.

Sometimes I try to do things on my own. I think things like "it's just easier," "it'll be quicker," and my old favorite "I can do it myself." I'm probably working two or three times as hard as I need to. Working closely with a team of people is almost always a better use of resources. Though tricky sometimes, synergy is always the smartest way to go. So are you a team player or an individual? This affects you in marriage, church, ministry, business - everything. The power of synergy is there, the question is: are you using it?

May Light increase!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cool Optic Thing

Thanks to Dale for this one.

Monday, July 23, 2007


“Car sickness is the feeling you get when the monthly car payment is due” -Anonymous

Lately I've been feeling dissatisfied with one of our vehicles. It's not the obvious choice - our 92 Camry with 350,000km and rust galore. Truthfully I love that car. It's the other one, our sweet 2002 Mazda Protege 5 hatchback. Though it's a great car, it just seems small and not . . . well . . . what I want anymore.

The Camry is old and rusty but my only expectation on it is that it runs and gets me places without breaking down. It does and since it rides nice, is quiet, is powerful, and I since I don't care about the exterior I end up loving it. The Protege 5 is a sexy car, but I want it to be the perfect car and it isn't.

So my question is, how does one justify trading in one's car and getting a new one? If you have a car and it's working decently (and you haven't just had another child who won't be able to fit in the car), I find it kind of hard to justify replacing it. Cars have always been a weakness for me (the pinnacle of my materialistic leanings). I don't want to unnecessarily pick up more debt (if I upgrade) or choose something new when I have a really a fantastic overall car already. I feel blessed, yet I want more. How do you know if its justified to get a new car? I need some input here. How do you decide when its time to get a new car?

May Light increase!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Gift

Saturday morning I went outside to get something from my backyard. Now my neighbor has this cat named "Beat It" (yes, that's its name, don't ask me why)." I really like this cat and I think it likes me. Though small, it is fairly aggressive with other members of the animal kingdom. I know this because Beat It left us a present outside our door - half of a squirrel left there like an offering. Yes, the neatly severed remains (the back half by the way - I can still picture those little legs and tail) of the squirrel was a little shocking but then I thought "Hey, this is a gift!" and I felt kind of honored. This kind of gift doesn't come along every day after all. Perhaps we need to look less at the gifts we get and more at the heart of the giver to truly appreciate them.

May Light increase.

Friday, July 20, 2007

One Of My Favorite Stories

I recently finished rereading one my favorite books (again): Paddle to the Amazon. I absolutely love this book! On June 1st 1980, Don Starkell along with his two sons embarked on an epic canoe trip from Winnipeg, Manitoba to the mouth of the Amazon river. The trip took them two years and it is an absolute miracle that they survived it! Their odyssey took them to the edge of their endurance and beyond. "If we'd known we were going to make it, the challenge would not have been the same - we might not have gone. If we'd know what lay ahead, we certainly would not have gone." So begins the journey that would end with the record broken for the longest journey ever made by canoe.

Twelve thousand miles is a long way to paddle. Along the way they were arrested, shot at, taken for spies, and set upon my pirates. The sea, food poisoning, and starvation almost killed them as well. The cool thing about this book is that it's just a guy from Winnipeg with his sons going on a crazy canoe trip. Because it starts in my own back yard (Winnipeg), it feels so real. The books is quite readable and is divided up by journal entries for their days. Maps show their progress. You also get an insiders view on the incredible tension this kind of trip puts on a family and wonder if you could handle it. Paddle to the Amazon is a book about canoeing, family, luck, finding oneself, and the beauty/depravity of man. I highly recommend it (4.8 ninja stars out of five).

Recently I found that there is a documentary available on the trip which I'm hoping to procure. If I get it, I'll have a "Paddling Party" and all who are interested are invited! Here's the trailer:

May Light increase!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Stigma of Counseling

Today I was thinking about the stigma of counseling. For most people, going to see a counselor has very negative connotations. Am I right? People may be quick to suggest someone else go see a therapist, but few are quick to go themselves. What does going to a counselor mean to you? Here are some of the ideas I've come across (or had myself):

If you go "need" to see a counselor:
1. You are crazy.
2. You are spiritually weak.
3. You have no discipline.
4. You have no other choice (at the end of your rope).
5. You can't "handle" your own problems.
6. You are one step away from the nuthouse.
7. Etc, etc.

People see nothing wrong with going to a doctor when they are sick (well, most people) but seeing a trained counselor, psychiatrist, or therapist is somehow different. People are quick to get medication for their depression, but slow to let a counselor partner with them to work on the issues that cause/continue it. Someday, when I am a counselor I'm going to encourage people to come in a few times of year for a checkup, just like going to see your doctor. This way, maybe I can help decrease the stigma. Think you don't have the stigma? Ask yourself:
Do you think people who see a counselor "are weak?" Do you think Christians who see a therapist are spiritually weaker then those who don't see a therapist? If you said yes, you've got it. Sadly, I have the bias myself (though it's decreased since I have experienced therapy for myself). My goal is to try to see a counselor at least once a year for the rest of my life. Why? To help me grow.

May Light increase!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Transformed (TM)

I feel like my life has been transformed! Yesterday I went to see the Transformers movie in the theatre, and today Riker got about 10 transformers as birthday presents (Happy Birthday Son!!). During the festivities of the day I have been figuring out how to transform Riker's toys and playing with him and the 'bots. Not only that but my buddy Jay let me borrow his Transformers: The Movie DVD and some Transformers graphic novels.

I'm loving it.

I grew up with Transformers, especially the TV show. I have a have a huge place in my heart for them and when Optimus Prime's life was threatened in the movie, I felt a little sick to my stomach. We took Riker to a park today and after awhile he told me "I miss my Transformers." I totally understood.

Like father, like son.

May Light increase!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Honeymoon: Part 4

Ok, in my final installment of honeymoon stuff I thought I'd share some of my honeymoon tips and advice. I'm certainly not an expert though, so please feel free to add your own wisdom under the comments area.

1. Don't be cheap on your honeymoon. You can only go on your honeymoon once (well, per marriage anyway). There is a time to be cheap but your honeymoon isn't the time!
2. Don't spend too much time travelling.
3. Hope big but have low expectations. Yes, you heard me right! Not everything will go according to plan on a honeymoon (physically, relationally, trip-wise, etc).
4. Expect conflict, it will happen. When it comes deal with it - it's not the end of the world.
5. Surprise your lover with something new everyday.
6. Sleep in. If you get up early every day, you're not on your honeymoon.
7. Document your trip with pictures, video, journal writing, diary, etc. These will be treasured items for the rest of your life.
8. Buy some souvenirs, no matter how cheezy.
9. Tell someone where you are going (in case of emergency).
10. Bring along some romantic items (candles, massage oil, risque clothing, incense, etc)
11. Spend a little "individual time" alone everyday (esp. if you are a Christ-follower).
12. Savor every moment.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Honeymoon: Part 3

"We lie in each other's arms eyes shut and fingers open and all the colors of the world pass through our bodies like strings of fire." - Marge Piercy

To truly have a great honeymoon is not rocket science. There are only a few essential elements. Here are what they are:

1. The couple.
2. Privacy.
3. Time.
4. Lack of distractions.

Take any one of these elements away and thinks just aren't as good. For instance, taking away privacy on a honeymoon is very problematic (unless you are an exhibitionist and even then it becomes problematic - for others!). Or if you take away time. I've know several ambitious couples who spent the majority of their honeymoon travelling! Of course when you are traveling there are other things that you are not doing (at least if you want to travel safely) and I've had several men tell me that if they could do it over again they'd do way less traveling. Or how about distractions? Some couples plan so many things to see, do, and explore that they don't have time to do these same things with each other!

Jobina and I planned our honeymoon in the Whiteshell Provincial Park in Manitoba. After our first night at Marriagi's, we stopped by our apartment and opened up all of our presents (which were mostly cash gifts). This was incredibly fun and all the cash made us feel even freer as we packed up the car. We stopped at Safeway and went food shopping together (very cool to do this together for the first time) and then headed to our first resort, Jessica Lake (less then two hours away) where we stayed for five days. We then moved onto Caddy Lake Resort for two days and then we stayed our final day/night at the just opened Falcon Trails Resort. Caddy Lake wasn't very impressive, but the Jessica Lake was the perfect place to hole up for five days and Falcon Trails was the perfect way to end (saving the best place for last). Why the Whiteshell? Well, we got married in early September so the crowds were gone but the weather was still summery. Also, it was close to Winnipeg (and I didn't want to spend much time traveling). Lastly, we both love the outdoors and the Canadian Shield is a beautiful and romantic place. Add to this that the Whiteshell wasn't familiar to either of us (thus mysterious and exotic) and had some luxuriously appointed resorts.

Jobina and I planned nothing in stone except to eat and enjoy ourselves. We had plenty of options of things to do when we left the cabin (hiking, canoeing, eating out, swimming, driving to nearby Kenora) and we did all of these things. We just didn't do these things as much as we thought we would. Being newly married is pretty exciting stuff and quite frankly we didn't see as much of the sights as the Whiteshell Park had to offer. And when we did go out, it seemed like we always found an excuse to head back to our lodgings. Ah, l'amour!

The beauty of the honeymoon is the time, privacy, and lack of distractions that make it possible to get to know each other (yes, I do mean in the Biblical way). This is the whole purpose of this excellent custom. If you've already had your honeymoon, I hope you look back on it fondly. And if you are anticipating it in the future, I wish you a thrilling and exciting time that you will treasure for the rest of your life. In my next post I'll conclude my series on honeymooning with a few thoughts and advice.

May Light increase!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Honeymoon: Part 2

“Conversation like television set on honeymoon...unnecessary.”
- Peter Sellers

Some say a honeymoon starts at the wedding but I believe it starts instead at The First Night. The First Night is in my humble opinion, one of the coolest things that God has ever designed. For us it was magical. First of all, we planned a wedding reception that would be a maximum 3 hours. We were so set on this that we had our limousine (rented for the day) arranged to pick us up three hours after the reception was to begin. Also, we started our reception early enough that we wouldn't get back to our "first night" suite too late.

Immediately after we got engaged I went "first night room shopping" with my best man. The room had to be extremely romantic, close, exotic, and just oozing sensuality (not cheeziness). Marriagi's Theme Suite Hotel fit the bill perfectly. Located in the Winnipeg Exchange district, it has only has 8 super premium theme rooms, but they are all amazing. I booked the Sahara Suite which has among its amenities: a huge bed with Arabian canopy, jacuzzi, palm trees, ivory white steam/shower, modern TV/stereo system, bar area, two person hot tub, and fireplace. Marine stereo speakers are inside the steam/shower unit. With the Moroccan statues, pictures and artwork at every corner and with incense burning in the air (if you like it), it's truly an exotic and sensual experience. Rooms purposely don't have a phone and the hotel is full of character and luxury. It was $250 a night back then but worth every penny.

Anyway, it was my job to choose and surprise Jobina with the place for our first night. After we left the reception we just drove around in the back of our limo for an hour relaxing and talking about the days events. Eventually I mentioned to her that I had forgotten to get a place for our first night until the last minute and almost everything had been booked. Luckily (I told her sheepishly) I had found one place but it was downtown and pretty run down. I apologized profusely and she looked disappointed but said that she was OK with whatever. When we drove up to Mariaggi's (which looks completely unassuming on the outside) she looked a little concerned. After we were inside though, and were shown to our room, she was shocked (in a good way) at the luxurious accommodations and I knew my ruse had worked. The hotel person proudly wanted to show us every exotic detail of the room but after a few minutes of that Jobina got extremely impatient and politely told him to leave.

Ironically, I had arranged my best man Jason to drop off our luggage and some refreshments for the evening but he was a few minutes late. So here we were, waiting for him to stop by. That 10 minutes or so was probably the longest 10 minutes of my life. Finally we opened the door to our room and found that he had discretely dropped off our stuff outside our door. We quickly grabbed everything and threw it into the room. After that . . . fireworks.

May Light increase!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Honeymoon: Part 1

“Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation” - Unknown

Immediately after the fateful night when I proposed to my bride, Jobina was consumed with planning the wedding. What the date was going to be, who would be invited, where would it be, etc, etc. I too was immediately set upon with the desire to plan; the honeymoon of course.

Ah, the honeymoon!

I love the concept of the honeymoon. Is there anything sweeter, more beautiful, more exciting, more passionate? I took to planning my honeymoon like a fish takes to water. Like a bird takes to flying. Like Donald Trump takes to money. As a young Christian male, the honeymoon, (and all it entailed) seemed to be my ultimate destiny for which I was designed (and waiting for). To me, the honeymoon cannot be beat. First of all, you get to have sex. If you and your mate have already had sex, honeymoon sex will be special. But if you haven't had sex yet, honeymoon sex will most likely be out-of-this-world, mind-numbingly awesome. Secondly, honeymoons are traditionally a trip (usually about a week) where you get to go away on an adventure to a beautiful place. Thirdly, a honeymoon is a vacation; time away from work and responsibilities. Fourthly, a honeymoon is extended time with the person you are in love with with very little distractions. Fifthly, it is an experience that you cannot really do again with your spouse. You can have more then one romantic vacation, but only one honeymoon. Personally, my honeymoon was one of the top experiences of my life. Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on this topic!

May Light increase!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Genius or Stupidity?

I saw the following article and was immediately "I want to do that!"

Oregon man takes lawn chair up to 13,000 feet, travels 193 miles

So the question then, is this guy a genius or a fool? Is it crazy to risk one's life like this man did? And what about his wife, was it crazy for her to give her blessing to it? Some say that life is risky enough without pulling these kind of stunts. Or is it risky not every risk anything and live a long, peaceful, and boring life?

There is something thrilling about consciously risking one's life. I can think of being at the top of a hill on my mountain bike, looking down, and thinking, "yes, this could seriously maim or kill me." To consciously choose to do something that has the potential for great harm can enliven my spirit like nothing else!

And yet, there is the other side. What about family and friends who love you and depend on you? Is it fair to them? I often think of professional ice and mountain climbers (who's life expectancy is way below the average man or woman's). It seems to me like they are taking inordinate amounts of risk upon themselves. To me, without a noble goal in mind, these seems a little foolhardy.

So I guess my personal philosophy is to make sure I risk life and limb occasionally (to remind myself that I'm alive and what's important) but to not endanger myself needlessly the majority of the time. Think of it as "risk-lite." For my family, I need to be both a person of relative wisdom (to make the most out of life) and daring (to inspire myself and others).

May Light increase!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Sad Story

Ever have a really sad story that you hear on the news or in the paper that just kind of haunts you for a while? I'm kind of experiencing that right now. If you live in Manitoba you've probably heard this story, but on June 8th a man and his son were fly fishing on the Red River near Lockport Manitoba. According to the Winnipeg Free Press (check out story/video here):

An RCMP boat from Gimli is searching today for 41-year-old Viktor Hergert of Oakbank and his nine-year-old son Andrean, missing and presumed drowned last night in the Red River north of the Lockport dam.
Witnesses said Hergert jumped into the water in an effort to save Andrean, after his son slipped while fishing just before 8 p.m. last night.

Viktor Hergert had caught a fish, and Andrean was helping to land it, he said. “The younger fellow was trying to pick up a fish. The boy went to net the fish, and he slipped and fell in the water,” Cooney said.

Cooney said that he is not aware of any life-saving equipment available on the banks of the river. “I’ve been here five or six years, and no one’s ever mentioned it,” he said. RCMP spokesman Sgt. Steve Colwell said that RCMP have no other details to release about the missing father and son. “There’s only the daughter who speaks any English,” he said.

Bystander Mike Brandt, 22, said the father jumped into the river to get his son after the boy slipped just before 8 p.m.

Brandt said the boy and his father were carried down the river, bobbing up and down with their arms flapping. He said the son was a little bit downstream of his father, but they were probably within a metre of each other initially. But Brandt said the boy went under fairly quickly.

“The whole incident took about 30 seconds and they were gone,” said Brandt's girlfriend, Ashlee Rempel.

Brandt said the mother of the child and her other children started running alongside the river. Bystanders called out to them to get away from the bank.

Bystanders said the family was German, with only one little girl able to speak English.
The boy had curly, dark hair. Rempel said the father had black hair and she guessed he was about 5-foot-11.

Rempel said the rescuer pulled from the river had bloodshot eyes and could barely walk when they got him out.

Brandt said there was no lifesaving equipment nearby to throw to the pair in the river. “I could have saved a life if there was.”

Brandt said the father was wearing hip waders and was fishing while standing in the river up to his mid-thighs. There were about 15 people in the area.

Selkirk RCMP Const. Greg Zaborosky said last night that police were still in the process of figuring out what happened and talking to witnesses.

As the light faded last night, boats were out looking for the boy and man downstream of Lockport and Zaborosky said it was too early to say whether the pair could have survived.

Lockport is a popular fishing spot, but locals tend to realize it's unsafe to stand in the river because the current is so strong. The Red River is unusually high this month.

This story saddens me on so many levels. Mostly I feel so bad for a wife and children who watched as their husband/father and son/brother drowned in front of them. That kind of pain, so unexpected and so seemingly unfair . . . happening during a family fishing trip - it seems almost inconceivable to me. This family is completely undone. Words just can't describe how awful it is. If this happened to my family . . . well, I don't want to even think about it. Please pray for this family and for the bystanders who I'm sure were also deeply effected. Also, pray that some good can come out of such a horrible tragedy.

May Light (and peace) increase.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The iBible

It's funny how simple a thing it is to read the Bible, and yet how difficult it can be. There is always some new program or "method" that promises to help make reading the sacred Book of Christianity less of a discipline and more effortless. When I was a youth pastor I was tempted to get my students the "30 Second Bible!" Something about this parody video on the topic of the Book made me laugh (some inside jokes only evangelicals will understand) but also think soberly. Thank to ysmarko for the link. Enjoy!

"That's Not Lasagna!"

Last night I had this really quiet, emotionless, business-like guy and his girlfriend come in. The guy had one of those super low voices, impossibly low. So low that when he's talking to you at normal volume you still can barely understand what's he saying. But it doesn't matter because the tonality is so cool. Anyway, him and his girlfriend order some drinks and some mussels to start. Everything is good. That is, until his meal comes. He ordered a "Tour of Italy" which has chicken parmesagna, fettucinni alfredo, and lasagna. I always tell people that you can't go wrong with the Tour.

I was wrong.

I put the meals in front of the couple and ask if there is anything else I can get them. The man just stares at his meal. Then he starts prodding his lasagna, poking it with his fork. I can tell he's having trouble forming his words. Finally, with great emotion in his voice he asks me "What . . . . is . . . this?" There is of course no good answer. Obviously it is lasagna, but this isn't what is coming to his mind. "Lasagna Classico?" I venture meekly. "THAT'S NOT LASAGNA!" he nearly screams. I (and clearly his girlfriend) are shocked by this display of passion. "This isn't lasagna, look at it, does this look like lasagna to you?" It certainly does, but again, this is not the answer he's looking for." "It does look a little flat," I say quietly. "This is Sh--!" he curses, "I can't eat this!" "Can I get a replacement for you, sir?" I say, "it will only take a few minutes." His response is "I'm not eating this, this isn't lasagna!" His rage is amazing, he can't even answer my questions coherently." "I will remove it from your sight," I say calmly. "That's not lasagna he says, I should talk to the manager." He says it like a threat, but it's not a threat to me, it's my salvation. "Absolutely, the manager will be by in a moment." I take the lasagna away on a small plate and go to find Steve.

Amazingly, throughout the whole exchange I did not feel upset at all. For whatever reason my guest kind of lost it over his slightly less then perfect lasagna and that is OK. We are all weak sometimes. I used to get freaked out by this but not anymore. As long as you don't react in a bad way, all is good. Eventually, Steve brought the man another piece of lasagna which looked only slightly better and the man asked me box it up. I got Steve to take his whole meal off the bill and the couple paid and left, with a wish for a good evening from me. Later on when I went by the table, he had left me a 30% tip (the standard by the way is 10-15%). Even more interesting was that his girlfriend had left me a couple of more dollars on the table as well (perhaps she was embarrassed by her man's conduct?). It just goes to show that people are emotional but that when handled correctly, you can actually profit from them being rude or obnoxious. Some servers hate the rude customer, but I find they usually tip better in the end. The trick is to not to resist their rudeness, but to go with it. They are daring you to fight them, instead join their team. It's kind of like offering them the other cheek "Go ahead and slap me again, here's the other cheek!). Suddenly they have no where to go - 9 times out 10 they will relent and feel sheepish. It usually doesn't even take very long. I don't think this lesson in handling angry people is just applicable to waitering either . . .

May Light increase!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Deep Question?

I've saw a book once that said that being honest with oneself was the first step on the way to health. So then I was thinking about deep questions, you know, the kind of questions that are almost too scary to ask yourself. One of these I think is, why do you wake up in the morning? Honestly . . .

I'd like to give you my answer right away, but I'm going to take a day to think about it. And if your initial answer is "I don't know" or "I don't know," don't be too disheartened. I'm thinking that sometimes these kind of answers aren't immediately at the top of one's consciousness. Or, it may take time to find them. May God guide you into finding and understanding your purpose. . .

May Light increase!

Thursday, July 5, 2007


"The man who radiates good cheer, who makes life happier wherever he meets it, is always a man of vision and faith."
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I heard an interesting interview with Tal Ben-Shahar, who is a teacher at Harvard. Apparently, one out of every four students takes his course on Positive pyschology which focuses on the idea of achieving personal happiness. Ben Harar has many good things to say about how to be happier (which is the title of his best selling book, Happier. He says that happiness is both simple and incredibly complex, for instance he defines happiness as:

happiness = pleasure + purpose

I like this definition as it includes the important aspect of purpose. A lot of people I think try to be happy by chasing pleasures (we all do this) and then being dissapointed when those pleasures ring hollow. I think that it is only when life is lived with purpose that we can truly enjoy the pleasures that do come our way.

Ben-Shalar also believes that one of the biggest things that people can do to become happier is to act towards their happiness. Action is the only way to achieve happiness. Everything meaningful takes work (action). This fits with what I am reading in Eclessiastes about enjoying one's work.

May Light increase!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Mixed Emotions: Part 3

The grandparents are taking the kids so Jobina and I will be "kidless" and "free" for the next two days. This kind of freedom will mean we can go out a moment's notice and just do whatever we want (those of you who have kids will understand, for the rest, sorry) and one of the things that I anticipate doing will be to spontaneously go see a movie. As my topic has been emotions, this made me think of movies that I have cried at.

Crying is not something I usually enjoy. Whether it was socialized into me, it's innately not done, or whatever, I always feel a little sheepish whenever I cry. It just feels "unmanly." Especially if I cry and Jobina says "Whoa. . . are you crying?!" Why is crying any worse then laughing (or shouting)? I think because somehow I have this belief as guy that crying makes you weak. This is of course crazy talk as you could be crying and lifting weights, crying as you replace a tranny, or crying as you beat someone up. Since crying is actually supposed to be healthy and therapeutic, I need to nip this (in a manly way) crying phobia in the bud.

Thus I will attempt to be authentic and vulnerable. What were the last movies that you cried at? Sometimes I will be watching a movie and I find myself getting misty eyed and I'm shocked. Where did that come from? Doh! Here are some movies I can distinctly remember crying at:

1. Mr. Holland's Opus: Can any guy not cry at this one? The interplay between a father and his son hit so many nerves in me, I couldn't help it. I saw this one in my teens.
2. Braveheart: OK, how many guys didn't cry at the end of this one? You know the scene, William Wallace is being tortured because he won't give in to the English. He is publicly having his entrails torn out, yet he refuses to recant. Right at the end, he's staring off into the distance and he cries out "Freeeeeddooooommmm!!!!" It's the most noble moment ever.
3. Click: this one is comedy by Adam Sandler. I was watching this one alone at my house and was suprised to find that the storyline about a Dad missing his family grow up hit me hard. I was a blubbering mess and I didn't even know why!
4. The Transformers Movie (the old one): When Optimus Prime died, my heart died as well. I don't know if I will ever recover from that. Someday when I'm 60 and in therapy, I'll be on the couch talking about Hasbro's cruelty in killing him off.

So, what movies have you cried at and why? Or am I the only one?

May Light increase!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Mixed Emotions: Part 2

I thought this was interesting. A recent study shows that if you name your emotions, you can tame them. Brain scans show that putting negative emotions into words calms the brain's emotion center. That could explain meditation’s purported emotional benefits, because people who meditate often label their negative emotions in an effort to “let them go.” This is a huge benefit of being aware of one's emotions! Name your emotions, it's good for your health.

This is kind of a wake up call for me, because I would rather ignore my emotions most of the time (anyone else do this?). I don't think that this research says that I should give myself over to them, or focus on them completely. Instead, this mean being real with myself about how things are making me feel. Kind of like ending my self deception; instead of thinking "I'm OK" I can think "I'm feeling disillusioned (or numb, or ecstatic), and that's OK." Bottled up emotions do incredible damage to the health of one's body, labeling one's feelings is a great way to let that pressure out.

When I started my Counseling Psych degree I had to be taught how to describe feelings! In my world, there weren't many words beside: angry, sad, happy, and confused. Now I know that there are many other. Like "disingenuous" for instance. When you ask a lot of people "How are you feeling?" they will actually tell you what they are thinking instead (I used to do this). So here's a little experiment; click on the link at the top and read the short article Then take two minutes to think about how you are really doing and then write/type/say out loud a few words describing that feeling(s). You will find that you feel a little bit better and little more authentic with yourself. Also, if you are brave enough to write down your emotions in the comments, I'll put your name in a draw for a prize from me!

May Light increase,

Monday, July 2, 2007

Mixed Emotions: Part 1

"Let's not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it."
~Vincent Van Gogh

Most of the time, I think of myself as pretty "even keeled" (as my friend Terry describes) when it comes to my emotions. I like to think of myself this way because I associate weakness with showing too much emotion. Also, I have this idea that losing control of my emotions is not good for myself or those around me. I try not to think of this trait (low emotional expression) as a good or bad thing; it's just the way I am and I'm mostly comfortable with it. There are good and bad points to experiencing lots of emotion.

The truth is that though I think of myself as the Spock/Vulcan type, I really can be quite emotional. Do I feel anger, joy, fear, and sadness? Absolutely. And if I think of times where I have been really motivated to change or grow, they have been in times of strong emotional feeling. Here again emotion is a good thing - part of the essence of being human really.

So why do I (like many people) catch myself suppressing my emotions so often? My guess is it's because emotions are a double edged sword. Powerful emotion has been at the root of both the best and worst of human history, achievement, and experience. Somehow the mind must have mastery over the emotions so that they are not out of control, yet give them the freedom to empower us and allow us to feel life's sweetness and sorrow.

May Light increase!