As Life Rolls On

As a friend of mine always says, "We plan, God laughs." You never know what life will bring, but the ride can be a blast!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oh, My Aching Head

For almost 2 weeks, I had the worst run of headaches I've had in along time. It began with a migraine that came on quickly and then just continued to linger. I took my first day sick off in about 5 years. As usual, I just tried to push through it and took medication when I needed to to stay on my feet. This past weekend however, it got the best of me. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, I was 9, pushing 10. We have what here in Alberta is called an Acute Care Centre right across the street frrom us. It is in essence, a small town emergency department that is open from 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM (for new intakes) for anyone with minor ailments and injuries (after 10:00 PM you have to go to the hospital in the next town over). At 8:00 PM Sunday night, Bruce took one look at me and said it was time to go to the hospital. I hate going to the hospital. The last time I went was over 2 years ago, but it was that bad, so I went. We left prepared to be away from the house for several hours (ER waits here average 4 hrs in Calgary). We left the house at 8:05 and arrived at the Acute Care Centre 2 minutes later. They took one look at me, took my info, did a quick triage, then put me in a dark, quiet room. Within 5 minutes, the Dr came to see me, and 5 minutes later I was given a shot. We were back home by 8:30PM. I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT! To top it all off, the bedside manner of the nurses and the Dr were absolutely wonderful. They were empathetic and compassionate, and took everything Bruce had to say seriously. So to all those Dr's and nurses who have to deal with the different personalities that come through ER's everywhere, and who must learn how to determine what must be done for who and how and how quickly, I say THANK YOU, for your commitment, for your compassion and for your willingness to give back to others day in and day out.

PS: With some therapeutic massage, and with the shot from Sunday, things are improving.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Date is Set Based on a Special Friendship

Well Jason and Alyson have set the date for their wedding. I figured the best way to let everyone know is through the blog. Originally, they were looking at June 2, however Jason's best friend Zack, who is in the military, has to be off for summer manouvers or something as of the end of May, so he wouldn't be able to be there for June 2. Zack is very important to Jason, so the date was changed to Friday May 18, 2007. James will have arrived back from Korea just in time to join in the pre wedding "parties" and Zack will not have left for the summer. Jason is a happy camper.

Jason and Zack have known each other since they were in Junior Kindergarten, and went to school together right through high school. When Jason was going into grade 1, we moved, however Jason was still in the same school district. One day he came home from school to say that he wanted to go play at Zack's house, I said no of course, because it was in a different neighbourhood and was too far away for him to walk to. But then what did I know! Zack's family had moved as well, to a house just down the street.

When Jason was going into grade 7, we moved again, farther north and out of the school district. I was able to arranged with the school however that Jason be able to continue to attend where he had been. When he was enetering grade 8 however, Jason made the choice to change schools and attend the little country school in our area. We fully supported that, but the one thing that made me sad was that he might loose contact with Zack. Boy was I wrong again. Zack moved again that summer...........right around the corner from us.

Needless to say, the boys became inseparable. They spent hours by the creek, fishing, building forts, and just hanging out. Over the years they, along with another couple of friends, have canoed and camped together in Algonquin Park, spent a week fishing in Magnetewan, and simply hung out together whenever they could. When Zack is home on leave, Jason will drop everything to be able to spend some time with him. It has been one of those special friendships every boy should have, one of those friendships that will last a lifetime.

The Fort

NOTE: I tried to post a picture I have of Jason & Zack, but it wouldn't upload????

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Cultural Divide"

At a meeting on Friday, it was shared with me that there are many Christians who struggle with the concept of Pastoral Care & Chaplaincy vs Spiritual Care. Through further conversation, it was stated that in reality, this struggle has created a "cultural divide" within the "church".

I have spent a great deal of time thinking through this over the last several days. I have never really thought of this phenomenom as culturally dividing the church, but more as a philosophical divide. It is a divide between the "right" and the "left" of the church. There are those who feel that no matter what, we must always align ourselves with those who are Christian, must speak about Christ with everyone we come in contact with, and as we are working with those God puts in our care, we must speak to them about God every chance we get. There are others who feel that we need to truly be in this world, however not conform to the world's ethics and philosophies, that our actions truly speak louder than word, and that actions will open the door for words the words of Christ to be spoken.

To be completely honest, I truly struggle with the first. For myself, I find that it is somewhat condesending and creates a societal cultural divide. In my work with the homeless and society's disenfranchised over the past decade or more, over and over again I have seen how people watch the actions of others and questioned those actions. This includes the actions of those who say to them that God will make everything all "better", that they will be a "better" person if they become saved, yet some of those same individuals behave in such a way that clearly shows a life that is truly screwed up and not "all better." There was a church when I was working at the shelter in Toronto who came to me and said they wanted to bus the guys to their church for a special dinner one night, no strings attached. After the event, the guys reported to me that when they arrived at the church they were escorted to the sanctuary, where they were told there would be a service first, and only those present for the service would receive a meal. When the guys shared this with me, they stated they felt like children, and felt that if they did not listen, they would not be considered "good enough". Are we not supposed to be building others up, and displaying through our actions that God accepts and loves everyone unconditionally, not setting up a system of hierarchy!

So I guess you figure out where I stand on this one. God is a God who expects us to be "Christ like". Christ did not turn people away when they came for healing and feeding if they wouldn't listen to him first. Quite the opposite. Most people's eyes were openned as a result of his actions. In our society today, showing Christ's love through our actions is critical. Over the years, I have had many people say "there is something different about you, what is it?" Let's make it perfectly clear that I am in no way perfect, that in actuality in many many ways I am very flawed. That one single statement however has opened the door for discussions, further questions, spiritual, theological and philisophical debates, and alot of searching for answers for myself and for those with whom I have had these discussions. The greatest priviledge God has given to me with this approach is that over and over again, I have had people from other religions who have begun searching for answers through the Bible and Christ's words. There was the 2 Muslim men who asked that I sponsor them as they became baptized in Christian churches. There was the Muslim woman who had stayed at the family shelter who called me for support after her husband died, and who is now attending a church. There was the Hindu staff member who fled an abusive relationship, who reached out for unconditional support and who is now a part of the pastoral care support team for Hindu clients who want to fully understand Christianity as it relates to their middle eastern culture.

In conversations and debates with some from the "right", it has been stated that my approach is "hiding" my Christianity, because I am not actively speaking of it all the time. To the contrary. I feel that by wearing it on my sleeve, my actions speak louder than words. These two totally divergent ways of thinking are a philosophically and culturally different. With everything that is happening in this world, I thank God on a daily basis that we can have these differences and be able to think as individuals, but I also pray that these philosophical and cultural differences do not divide us.