Monday, August 31, 2009

The Art of Eating . . . In Space

Sometimes when I watch my daughter Trinity eat stuff, I can't stand it. She drops things, smears them on herself, puts her fingers in her food. I can feel my blood pressure rising the longer I watch! But compared to what astronauts have to go through, I guess I can learn to handle it. At least she's not eating in zero gravity. Check out this video about what it's like to eat in space. If you want more info about the evolution of eating in space, check out this article from Neatorama. Interesting stuff! I'm scared to ask what going to the bathroom in space looks like . . .

Friday, August 28, 2009

Open House Work Day

Well, we are selling our old house, and so we've spent the past week or two madly doing repairs and painting. Thanks to Lee, Karen, Brian, Tracy, and everyone else who has assisted us - you people rock! Tomorrow though is the big day, the last day before our first open house. We still have a ton of things to do: mostly painting and installing some stick down tiles - it looks pretty daunting. If you like painting (indoor and outdoor), feel free to give me a call on my cell at 612-2588 and we'll find something for you to do. And we'll feed you as well!

I've put an ad for our house on Kijiji, saying that there is an open house this Sunday. My stats on Kijiji show that almost 1200 people have clicked on the ad, so hopefully we will get a few people out and maybe even an offer or two! I have sold and rented properties through Kijiji but I have never tried an open house with a private sale before. We are praying for a good response.

Oh, and if you know us, you should check out my wife's blog here.

ASBO Jesus Friday: Heart Monitor

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Physical Boundaries In Dating: Fun Times!

Occasionally during my time as a Briercrest dorm intern, youth pastor, camp counselor, camp director, and now relationship counselor I have had the honor of talking with Christian couples. Sometimes about what's working and sometimes about what's not. Many times I have had couples come to me and tell me they were struggling with staying pure. Almost in every single case when I would ask them what their physical boundaries were as a couple, "the rules," they say something like . . .

"Um, well, we're not really sure. . ."

If a couple has no agreed upon rules, I'd estimate their chances of staying pure are at 4-9%. If they do have rules it goes up to about 30%. If they have very specific rules the chances rise up to about 40%. And if they discuss rules and introduce them before they get serious their chances at staying pure rise to about 80%. And (this may be controversial) if a couple discusses and agrees to specific rules before they start seriously dating and the guy takes the lead in staying pure, the chances go up to 90%. Of course these numbers are based on anecdotal stories shared with me, so take them with a grain of salt.

Rules seem unromantic to many, but for a dating couple they are so necessary. Boundaries make relationships safe and enjoyable. I often tell dating couples that if they can't talk about their sexual boundaries that they aren't mature enough to be dating! One way to go about establishing them is to consider three things; the commands of God, the conscience of the girl, and the conscience of the guy. If the couple knows where the boundaries are, based on God's word and each other's conscience's and commit not to push past them their chances of staying pure are very good.

Did you have rules when you were dating? When did you implement them and how successful were they? How important was the other person's conscience to you? My theory is again that as long as no one's conscience is betrayed and God's commands about sex and lust are obeyed your chances of enjoying purity are excellent.

By the way, I think sexual purity is one of the best aphrodisiacs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Well, we've moved! Everything has been quite exciting for the past few days. Here are a few random highlights:

1. Before moving I began experiencing a strong sense of peace . . . and dread. Weird to get both at the same time.

2. To mark the occasion of leaving our house (the only one Trinity has ever known) we found a hidden corner in the house and wrote "The Westman's were here 2004-2009." We then signed it and had a little prayer where we each shared what we were thankful for about our old house.

3. I was very scared to drive a 26 foot long u-haul but it wasn't so bad. I only skipped one curb. I felt quite a sense of accomplishment when I dropped it off - it was definitely a step out of my comfort zone (thanks Jay and Keith for being my co-pilots - much appreciated and you made it fun).

4. We had tons of people helping us move. Guys from our church came over including Mark (and his sons), Dan, Scott, Keith, and more. Also, two of my best friends Jay and Jason came out to help as well. This was excellent, but then we were totally surprised when Ryan brought the Cornerstone youth group to help as well! Suddenly we had over 20 people helping us, amazing! We were very blessed. The whole move, including loading and unloading took less then four hours. Thanks everyone who helped us move, you all are awesome!

5. After moving in on Sunday we had to live without appliances until yesterday. Needless to say we have eaten a lot of junk food and fast food. I may never eat potato chips again. We also didn't get phone/internet until today - something that was very hard on Jobina. We felt cut off from the world.

6. I bike to work and it is sooooo good. Good for my body, my mind, and especially my soul. It only takes 5 minutes to get from my house to my office.

7. My next door neighbor is a cop. I told him "Wow, you're the perfect neighbor!" (I was thinking for safety reasons). "Not everyone thinks so!" I think he may be right . . .

8. We are living in boxes. Boxes everywhere! The initial euphoria of the new place is replaced by despair at the sea of boxes everywhere. It's getting better though, hopefully everything will be done by the end of the week.

9. I didn't sleep the first night after we moved. Not sure why, I didn't feel particularly anxious or anything. But my next day was pretty rough. The next night I was fine though.

10. Keith's wife Lee blessed us by taking our kids during the move and then giving us some cinnamon buns for our first breakfast. This was not just encouraging but life saving. I ate 4 of them for breakfast the next day, thanks Lee!

11. Our house is far from perfect. Every day I discover more things that are wrong/damaged etc. Of course we are discovering hidden things as well. One cool thing is that we have a new couch set left by the previous owners. Also, our location just gets better and better. I love our street. Quiet and across from a park. I had known it was a good location, but I had no idea how great it really is. I am instantly spoiled.

12. We have huge trees on and beside our property. I hadn't realized how much I missed having "real" trees around but I love them. I relax a little everytime I see them.

13. The tree thing, combined with our location, and my rediscovery of my collection of Outside magazines has helped me to rediscover my passion for the outdoors. Somehow through school and getting my counselling practice started I lost this part of my identity. It's back baby! I can feel it. I'm ready to start exploring again.

14. The kids seem to be adjusting fairly well, especially Riker. Because we are in the midst of repairing/painting our house (feel free to come by our old house tomorrow if you like painting - I have some inside and outside for you!) so we can sell it we haven't been able to spend much time with the kids. I feel sad about this but don't know how to avoid it right now. We are planning to spend some family time together on Sunday and I'm excited about that. Maybe Jobina and I will even get to go on a date sometime? There's lots of places to explore around here. . .

Anyway, now that life is returning to normal, expect regular blog posts again. Choose to have an exceptional day!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: Prayer Duel

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Forgiveness Vs. Pardoning

With the Lockerbie Bomber being released recently (a convicted mass murderer who was convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103) on compassionate grounds, many are divided over their personal reaction to the story. There is general outrage in the United States and much of the world. Abdel Baset al-Megrahi always insisted he was innocent, never showed remorse, and never showed compassion towards the victims or their families. Now he is terminally ill. Someone in Scotland (where he was being held) made the decision, on compassionate grounds, to allow him to head home to Libya. The world erupted in anger. The Libyans are welcoming him back with open arms with some calling him a hero, incensing many in the West even more. Is this letting Megrahi go an act of Christlike forgiveness or it is a travesty of justice?

It brings to mind the topic of forgiveness. Should we forgive someone of such a heinous crime? And what would the grounds be? I heard a really interesting interview on the radio this morning with Wilma Doerksen, a woman who knows about justice and forgiveness. Her daughter, Candace was kidnapped, killed in Winnipeg in the winter of 1984. Wilma has struggled with the idea of forgiveness and mentioned that she thinks about our response to being victimized in terms of two terms: forgiveness and pardon. She thinks that forgiveness is a long process that everyone must eventually go down for their own healing. It doesn't depend on specific response from the victimizer. But pardon is different; pardon must depend on the posture of the victimizer. Are they remorseful? Have they changed? Are they unsafe?

She thinks that because the Lockerbie Bomber showed no remorse that a pardon was unjustified. Compassion is good but her compassion for a terminally ill man does not override her compassion for the families of the victims of Flight 103. Therefore a pardon doesn't fit for her. I haven't thought about it alot but I tend to agree with her.

Perhaps you are struggling with forgiveness. Interestingly, Wilma mentioned that forgiveness is a process and there is a pressure to forgive that is put on victims. Although it is a command of Scripture, it is not one that we should try to impose on others by use of controlling behaviors like pressuring, guilting, or manipulation. Instead we ought to remind each other, be patient, and not demand it. And we need to realize the difference between it and pardoning. Forgiveness does not mean we must pardon people for their crimes or wounding. May we have the grace to forgive those who trespass against us and the wisdom to pardon those for whom it makes sense to.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Reasons Why Pro Athletes Usually Go Broke

"My family got all over me because they said Bush is only for the rich people. Then I reminded them, 'Hey, I'm rich.'"
-Charles Barkley, on why he voted for President Bush

"We might make a lot of money but, we also spend a lot of money."
-Patrick Ewing, discussing fans' perception of NBA players as they were on strike for more money.

Ah, superstar athletes. They earn millions playing pro sports and doing product endorsements, yet consider these surprising statistics:

-Similar to lottery winners, with no financial prowess or discipline, most pro athletes go completely broke in less than 10 years after retirement.

-60% of retired basketball players go broke in 5 years, and 78% of football players in 2 years! Athletes are often forced to sell their homes, sell their championship rings, and file for bankruptcy.

Crazy eh? Here’s an interesting article on the 6 main reasons pro athletes go broke after their careers are over: Link.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Most Radical Prayer

"Thy will be done . . ."

I have been thinking about those four words all day today. I have often prayed them, usually as part of the Lord's prayer and often without thinking about them. But they are perhaps the most radical prayer . . . ever.

If you are a Christ follower and you pray this, do you realize what you are saying? Are you (am I?) really saying that we trust God enough that we are willing to submit everything for his will to be done? It is a powerful prayer of ultimate submission, giving God your blessing for Him to do anything he thinks necessary.

What if God's will meant that you would have to endure hardship, pain, even extreme suffering? What is his long term plan meant short term pain for you? You can see why this is a radical prayer. It requires radical faith to go along with it. I wonder - in our coddled North American church how many of us have this kind of faith? Our penchant for avoiding any "unnecessary suffering" is so strong. Anyway, if you are looking to contemplate and meditate on some scripture lately but don't know what - I encourage you to start with the radical stuff. May we pray along with Jesus - "Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven." And may we mean to mean it from the bottom of our hearts . . .

Monday, August 17, 2009

Faithful With Little, Faithful With Much

Have you ever heard of people putting ball bearings into their bathroom cabinets or medicine cabinet before company comes over? Suddenly if you hear a loud clatter, you know that your guests are snoopy. You know it, they know it, and your guest's feelings of awkwardness are off the scale. Genius!

I recently read of an interesting experiment, written in a financial newsletter that follows a similar vein:

"I had a friend who would always leave a dollar bill on the floor of his office and give people time in his office alone. He told me that he was often amazed at who stuck the bill in their pockets – essentially stealing – and who would put the bill on his desk. When he applied the same test with the same people, substituting a TEN-dollar bill, the same thieves still stole, and the same honest people still put the bills on his desk.

How comfortable would you be with an accountant who arrived late, forgot his files, or didn’t return phone calls promptly? Body language, punctuality, personal grooming and dress, spelling mistakes in e-mails, website links that don’t work, foul language on Facebook – all clues. I sent someone an important e-mail to which I received no reply, however I noticed that he took the time to participate in infantile, mindless games and “look alike” sessions on Facebook.

Peoples’ choices and actions reveal their values, beliefs, and priorities, and predict how they will behave and what choices they will make when it comes to serious money and events. Someone who can steal ten dollars from you can also steal a few thousand dollars from you: faithful in little, faithful in much. If someone lacks the self-respect and self-discipline to honor their word and fulfill their obligations in small matters, they will definitely let you down when it comes to large matters. Test in a small way before spending big. Give people a few small tests and evaluate their performance. Don’t believe a word they say, but believe everything they do."

-Robin J. Elliot, Joint Adventures, # 195

I like this reminder to be faithful in the little things. I believe it applies to relationships too. How many people ignore the "small things" that should tip them off that the choice they are making in a romantic partner bodes ill? Too many I think . . .

Friday, August 14, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: Ministers

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When was the last time you treated your pastor like you would want to be treated?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ant Ingenuity

Ants are my heroes!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why It's So Hard To Get A Date Out Of Your Husband: A Developing Theory

OK, this might seem a bit convoluted but stick with me.

Today I was meeting with one of my co-workers when I came up with this theory. I was trying to figure out what kept me procrastinating on filling out some forms; forms that once processed would allow me to be an official Province of Manitoba therapist for working with victims of violent crime. As I was reflecting I realized that part of why I wasn't applying for it had nothing to do with the obvious reasons that had been in my head (I'm so busy, it's such a pain). My theory is that I wasn't applying for it because I was worried about if I could do it. In essence then I was procrastinating because of how I feel about myself as a counselor, specifically I was worried about how I would do counselling victims of violent crime (a type of client I have not had experience with yet). In short, I procrastinated because I was afraid. Afraid of not knowing what to do, afraid of going out of my comfort zone, and possibly afraid of failure.

This made me think, where I seen this kind of thing before? Aha, husbands in therapy who procrastinate on going on dates with their wives! Often I have given the task of going out on a date to a husband only to see him procrastinate on it for weeks or even months. When I inquire as to what's stopped him from doing it there are always the obvious answers (time, finances, forgot). For some these are the real reasons, but I wonder if there is something even less obvious: a real fear of failure and fear of rejection mixed with performance anxiety. When a marriage is stale or hurting, it takes huge effort to initiate something like a date. At least for men, most women (even the really angry ones) seem open to going on a date, no matter how bad things are. But for men, well, many struggle. They feel intense pressure to perform - to be romantic and to initiate something. So many resist. In therapy they commit and say it's a good idea but then their fear holds them back. This dissapoints and angers their wives even more who got their hopes up. The man knows he's dissapointed his wife and the distance between them grows . . .

Perhaps if the women could empathize and undestand their husband's fear, they could do things to make the action of dating easier for there men (via not putting on the pressure and offering acceptance/reassurance). Or perhaps it's the language of dating itself shouldn't be used as so many men hear pressure in it. But I think that if a man can honestly name and face his fears, he has a better chance at following through and getting back into dating his mate. So what do you think? Does my theory hold any water? Feel free to critique, add to it, or throw your own out there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Forgot

Yesterday I forgot to blog. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I truly forgot to do this. What does it mean? Is this the begining of the end for Random Enlightenment? Or will our hero overthrow the evil Dr. Forgetfulness and Count Procrastination and safe the day? Find out tomorrow . . .

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Speakage (Part 2)

Well, tomorrow I'm speaking in Mennville again. Unusually, I am not feeling that stressed and I feel like I at least have the makings of a decent speak (usually I do most of my sermon prep the night before). Feel free if you are the praying type to pray for me; my sermon prep, delivery, etc. My speak is tentatively titled "How To Deal With Annoying Christians."

Friday, August 7, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: We Dehumanize . . .

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Praying That Something Bad Would Happen To Someone

I really liked this post:

Stuff Christians Like: Praying something bad will happen to so someone so they'll see how good God is

I admit, I've done it. Not recently, but I am guilty none the less. You?

I guess I never saw how terrible it is to pray pain onto someone. Sure we have "good" motives but that kind of "the end justifies the means" is not really Christian. This kind of praying definitely breaks the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Yikes! It's funny (and scary) how easily one's concern for someone's well being can be corrupted into attempts to pray that bad things will come upon them . . .

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Truth

Just in case you needed reminding. Have a great day!

P.S. Get it on a T-shirt here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stop Awfulizing, Musturbating, and Shoulding Yourself!

Perception is more important then reality.

Think about it: two people lose their jobs. One gets depressed and shuts down, one shrugs and finds a better job. What is the difference? Only their perception of what the event means to them, about them, and/or about the world . . .

In Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) clients are taught that it is the interpretation of events in life that are crucial, not the events themselves. All of us are prone to making mental errors when confronted with circumstances that are beyond our control. For instance do you ever do any of the following:

1. Awfulizing. Psychologist Albert Ellis coined the term awfulizing to refer to a distortion of thinking. When we awfulize, an event or situation is thought of in overly negative terms. It's a kind of negative exaggeration where, for example, a minor setback is seen as a major catastrophe. Or a feared event is seen as so awful is it seems impossible to endure. Awfulizing can set into motion a chain of self-fulfilling thoughts, feelings and actions; the mere expectation that things will get worse will cause them to get worse.

2. Musturbating. "Musturbating," a term coined by Albert Ellis, is defined as strong desires and goals that have mutated into absolute musts, shoulds and demands. We put immense pressure on ourselves saying "we must" get something accomplished (or be a certain way) or else! Irrational feelings of guilt and anxiety haunt us when we have strong musts and are not obeying them.

3. Shoulding. It is the same with "shoulding" ourselves. Every time you say "I should. . ." you put an irrational demand onto yourself. Why should you? Or why must you? Is it the end of the world if you don't? Again, guilt, anxiety, and depression follow the person involved who thinks or uses the word "should" alot. For those who use it on others ("he should do this") the result is anger, rage, and controlling behaviors.

Awfulizing, musturbating, and shoulding yourself - all symptoms of irrational beliefs that at the best will rob you of your peace and at the worst will leave you with depression, guilt, or anxiety. Challenging these unhelpful beliefs and replacing them with truth is way to enjoy the freedom that God has given us. Sometimes all we need to help us deal with things is someone challenging our unhelpful perceptions . . . and the courage to do so ourselves.

OK, that's enough psych theory for now . . .

Monday, August 3, 2009


nostalgia - (noun) the longing for something past.

I've decided I don't like moving very much. It's not so much the stresses of having to pack up and leave. It's the going through your stuff. When I go through my stuff I get terribly nostalgic. I am reminded about things and it makes me wistful, sad, emotional. Today I found:

-A picture of myself when I was Riker's age.
-A map of Belize (where we went on our second honeymoon).
-Old bike magazines and pictures.
-Letters from old friends.
-Memento's from my days as camp counselor (that I kept to remind to pray for my campers).
-Notes from those who I've ministered to and ministered to me.
-Maps from outdoor adventures with friends and family.

There is something very personal and unsettling about looking at one's old stuff. I find I don't want to throw anything out. I'm worried that if I do I will forget the precious memories and people who my "junk" reminds me of. I get nostalgic and I find myself almost overwhelmed by quick floods of emotion. Jobina is at camp this week with the kids so it's even worse. I find I have to take breaks from the packing just to keep myself together! Weird, usually I'm fairly even keeled emotionally.

Perhaps for me, moving is actually a good thing. It helps me to look beyond the immediate and remember the past. Remembering God's goodness and his blessings gives me joy but it also makes me sad. But I think it's a good kind of sad. The sad that brings a lump to my throat but a lump that I savor and don't want to go.

Well, that's enough of a break - I've got to get back to packing . . .