The Barbecue

My friend is a real host………I am captivated by her skills. There was so much warmth, mirth, kindness and sincerity from the welcome and smiles at the front door to the open door policy and the decorated back porch. This has so resonated with me that for the first time in my life, I feel I should, could host a barbecue too.

You see this family is Christian and if I am to paraphrase JJ John……people want to become a christian or not become a christian for one of two reasons, they either met a christian or they haven’t met one. I believe that the way they host is exactly what is expected of us from Hebrews 13 v 2, and also is what Jesus meant at Luke 14 v 12-14 when he said ………” I was a stranger and you welcomed me….”and most certainly what Peter was referring to at 1 Peter 4 v 9. 

I first heard the term ‘barbecue’ at high school. Each year this was a major fundraising event. Truth be told, since that time I have been trying to figure out if it is a noun or a verb or a little bit of both. On this particular occasion, I got my answer- for there was barbecuing at the barbecue. With that in mind, I have decided that when I visit home I will host a barbecue………or should I say a jerk (dunno).

So as I mentally think of my guest list and literally created a menu. ……..pickles, cheese, onions, chips, mustard and mayo included and then it occurred to me that I cannot host this at home without some fish, Red Stripe Beer, log wood and coal……And what about dessert? ‘Corn pone’, drops, grater cake too??????Barbecue J’can style…….not even the term ‘barbecue’ is HOMOgeneous…..now don’t get me started on that prefix.  Then my dear friend at home, informed me that we should host a barbecue when I come home (no, she didn’t know of my little plan)………..so there you go I have a venue.

I won’t be able to replicate the eclectic mix of cultures as my friend did, we are not so diverse at home. For at hers there were continents in one place……. But I know for sure we can find the numbers, the sunshine, the games, stories, laughter and some music……… for you see when you host anything in paradise there must be music.

Mood Swings

Sometimes my mind is a blank slate……and other times it feels like a minefield.

Its raining…….the most rain I have seen here, but still not the most rain I have seen in my short life. Its called a storm, but my description would be its just continuous rainfall. Its amazing how we can always find words to narrate an occurrence. According to Jodi Picoult, ‘we cannot extricate the storyteller from the story’….I need to always remember that. It is the same with pain, isn’t it? And incomes, and how much junk we hoard…..I may see it as excessive, whilst for another person its just enough.

Sometimes I love my decisions……and other times I am just swimming in regret. Decisions are not to be hastily made, neither should we think that they impact only us or are felt only in the short term.  We invariably pull others into our circle and they have long-reaching implications. Maybe if I had known this sooner I would have made different decisions, but then no choice is without consequence. That said, I love who I am, (I am still a WIP however) and I love the path I am on.

Some days don’t have enough hours……..and other days well…….they just can’t end.Paul said in Philippians 4 v 11-13 that he knows how to be when there is plenty and he also knows how to be when in need. Who among us doesn’t know what boredom, monotony, drudgery and a whole lot of times on our hands mean (and we may not been imprisoned). I hope we also know what it is to not have enough time to ‘scratch your head’. Which do I prefer? Do I have to choose? One thing I can say for sure, and its that we need both…….as much as we need day and night………

Sometimes I feel full of faith……and then the next minute I can’t define faith. I think faith looks a lot like courage and patience, humility and obedience and love at any given time. I like to think too that peace in the storm, creates a lot of faith……….and that faith is definitely not hope. Faith is about now, hope is futuristic. So does that mean that faith is sight?? Not quite……Look at Hebrews 11 v 1……and lets reflect on those bible heroes in that same chapter.

Some days I just want to talk and talk and talk……….other days I want solitary confinement.

Some days I am happy to be here…………………other days I just want to go home.

Some days I want my mother…………………..other days I am really glad to be an adult. 

 

 

 

Wisdom from Above

DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU SEE……

I have always heard I should believe none of what I hear and half of what I see. There is a scripture in Matthew which speaks about the eye…….the eye being the lamp of the body, so if the eye is bad the whole body is bad. God’s words NEVER fall empty to the ground. The other scripture I wish to quote here is ‘ judge not……..’ This is my most recent experience.

I woke last Friday to rain……..I had recently bought an umbrella so I felt no anxiety. Its weird that I shelter from rain and not from snow…….why???? That is just not making any sense to me right now, as I am trying to figure out which is better or worse. But be that as it may, as I approached the bus stop, I saw the young man who is my ‘bus stop companion’, albeit we conveniently pretend to not see each other. He was not sheltered from the rain in any way, I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to offer him cover under my umbrella. I was tentative, and I started conjuring the usual reasons why I shouldn’t……”its just a light drizzle, he is accustomed to it, that’s not the culture here to offer, he will say no so don’t ask, blah blah blah”.

Anyhow, I mustered the courage and did ask, and he politely refused. But guess what, I didn’t feel offended or marginalized- I felt good, I am maturing. This is exactly what I am learning…….. when you do the right thing it feels good- irrespective of the outcome. I wish to view this little activity too as part of my practice in courage. I can never tell how these daily opportunities will come, but they never fail to arise. Maya Angelou once said “you learn courage by doing small things, courageous things……we are not born with courage”. Upon reflection, I was grateful for this little courage muscle activity.

Then, I realized the real lesson was not even in the act itself; it was instead in the thought that visited my mind as I stood there waiting for the bus to arrive. It suddenly hit me that for the passersby (those walking and driving) I may be looking quite selfish, although it didn’t occur to them to stop and offer us a ride either. Selfish, as I was sheltered and this lad (poor lad for that matter) for that’s how we tend to view things outside of us (one person as victor and the other as victim) was getting wet. But then I realized most forcefully, that I have been those passersby on multiple occasions. I reminded myself right then and there that my sight is biased……what I see may not be what I get, neither should I conclude for others. I must always hear both sides of the story and then wait for the truth…….then again we have to be careful too that when we act we just do the right thing and not worry about the perceptions. I am praying about my judgmental vein…….

IMPATIENCE HAS A PRICE……..

You would think that practice makes perfect……and I believe it does, but how many times do you have to do something before it becomes a habit and then, even when it becomes a habit…..will you ever always get it right thereafter? My Achilles heel I would say is impatience, Below I chronicle my most recent experience…….

My friend is coming to visit me, and I am excited and of course writing the itinerary…..with her input of course. I am responsible for the visit to Banff……..two months ago I started the research for one-day tours that allow me to kill two birds with one stone. I found only two companies that offer the configuration I want. The two companies however are vastly different in terms of price, personalized experience, and reviews. The more expensive one comes out on top, however there is a problem. And there always is a problem……life has taught me that. They only had, at the time of my inquiry, both of us expressing an interest. They will need, I was informed, at least four to make the trip. I had to wait…….and I decided to wait because somehow I didn’t like the other option so well, even though it was cheaper and was giving me a similar trip. I am trying to teach myself to follow my intuition.

So two months into the wait, and 10 days before the day I still heard nothing from my favourite tour company. I was in a quandary as I didn’t want to waste that day, what if I waited and they never go and then when I am ready the other company is fully booked?  In fact these days I am learning to make the most of a moment, the most of a day, the most of an opportunity. I decided to fall back on my second option…….reluctantly and to my chagrin. But my mistake was, I didn’t pray about that….I acted without guidance. As fate would have it, the very moment the booking confirmation came to my email, would you know it, that my first option advised me they would be going on the day I wanted and that the were inviting me to book. What should I do now? I thought about it, and thought about it and the unmistakably small voice whispered……make the most of the time. This was then confirmed in my next day daily devotional from Ephesians 5 v 15-17. Opportunities are either seized or missed…..it was up to me. I decided that this one I would seize despite the obvious costs. I have a feeling, just a little feeling that this particular configuration of Rita and I, Banff and Calgary may never occur again………too many other places to visit, too many unforeseens and just that life sometimes gives you only one chance. These days too, I am making an effort to do things right, the first time. Rita of course, graciously agreed to do whatever I decided. I have great friends……that I am sure of.

DECISIONS DO NOT IMPACT THE MAKER OF THEM ONLY……….

Choice comes with consequences and actions have reactions…….no escaping, this is a cause and effect world. I have been seeing examples of these types very frequently in my readings……so much so that I am wondering if they were there all along and I just wasn’t seeing them, or whether it is I am choosing to read now that which has these undertones.

Either way, what is coming to the fore, is that mine, yours and all decisions impact multiple persons……..it is never about you alone. It therefore means we must ‘ look not only to our own interests but also to the interest of others’. I have had many many things that I have forgone because I was thinking about others- and some of them regrettably so. I am not blowing any trumpet here, or seeking any likes I am just very cognizant of the fact that ‘I reap what I sow’. Now that I live in an apartment building, the sense of shared community is even more in my face and this thought resonates with me deeply. I have had hives wondering if I turned the stove off and unplugged the iron, left the pipes on, am laughing too loudly and vacuuming too late……. I guess the neighbors feel the same (maybe)………living like this has certainly taught me how important it is to be my brothers’ keeper, even though I don’t know my brother.

In the same stead too, when I left home I didn’t understand fully how many persons would be touched by such a personal, individual decision. First and foremost. everyone I know must have been asked by me, at some point of another, to get my mom to call me. Secondly, my cousin has to accompany my mom to Kingston to see the doctor and then all my friends up there have had to pick up and drop her off at the doctor or bus terminal thus far…………

And one other thing, our attitude impacts others around us too. Have a cheerful, positive outlook and demeanor and you will attract a lot of ‘bees’, goodwill and content.  But a negative, complaining, grumbling spirit is like poison. It seeps into your bones and before you know it, it has started distorting your facial features. Whilst I can concede that on some days there is nothing to smile or laugh about……..we can still be vestibules of joy and peace. Easier said than done I know, for joy and peace are fruits of the Spirit. They are not automatically displayed and especially during trying times.

LIES, LIES, STUPID LIES…………. 

I believe the biggest obstacle to a relationship is a lie or lies ……..no matter how difficult it is to say something- say it, don’t allow the other party to assume……speak the truth, speak it sooner, speak it often and connections are bound to flow. You owe no one any obligation but still- respect is due, at least if the relationship means anything to you. Albeit all this, we find it easier to lie, way easier to lie. It always seem like the better option but only until the lie is told or omitted.  I am a Christian so I believe there is never a good reason/excuse to lie……but cut me some slack here, it hard not to lie especially by omission. The worse kind of lie though, in my mind is the unwarranted one. It stands to reason therefore that it is most inimical to relationships, as it breeds all kinds of contempt, mistrust, confusion and anger……..the person on the receiving end cannot fathom it, and we all know that when we cannot find an explanation for something its worse, never mind the fact that there is always a reason. But worst than that, often times the liar doesn’t even know they are found out…………this is exactly what happened between two people I know recently, who obviously are no longer friends. That you see was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

And there is something else too, when you lie, you always tend to want to overcompensate…….either way, you are not on the right path.

OPINIONS…..

We all have these. Some are restricted by law, others by conscience but at the end of the day, we find some way to express our opinions. Its the one thing we own, that’s for sure. However, in these days of human and animal rights, pro- this and anti- that, semantics and ambulance-chaser lawyers, some people are afraid to say much as someone is always offended. Now I don’t know of a time, when there wasn’t some repercussion for speaking your mind- overtly or covertly. The only thing that is different now, is the Internet and social media. And here-in lies the problem, as so many people now have wings to fly, a voice to speak, and a smart phone to take videos…………….so many opinions abound and people are abused…….maybe I am late, but I have never before heard of so many people being criticized for their views as they are nowadays, and anonymously too.

The thing is,  if I cannot get to voice my opinion I may just get shingles. There are many days when I don’t feel free and at peace until I say what I need to say…..I don’t know if it’s the same with others. Now that said, I also know that sometimes saying anything at all to some people is like flogging a dead horse, save your breath. And still in other cases, it is wisdom to restrain your words, don’t try to teach a mule anything new or anything at all. For some others still, they already know everything and cannot learn anything from anyone who they perceive as inferior to them.  I struggle with not speaking my mind because as a Christian, difficulty is trumped by trust in God and obedience. If I need to speak I must speak, however I am learning too that I must not throw caution to the wind, take a look at Proverbs 23 v 9, chapter 9 v 8 and 12 v 15……..

And one last thing, when you have the opportunity and the privilege to speak your mind- be grateful for I know a few persons who have no voice…….and these persons do not live in either North Korea or Russia. Persons who over time have voluntarily given their voice away to others……..and are now swimming in regret, what a painful existence that must be. That said, I don’t know how to describe someone who would want to hold someone hostage like that……….

BODY LANGUAGE……..

“We learn body language before we learn to speak”…….that’s what I read recently. The other day as I washed dishes from the upstairs window I looked down on the conversation that was ongoing between two ladies and a gentleman in the apartment foyer. I had no idea who they were or what they were about, but what was interesting was the fact that they were speaking inaudibly to me of course, but with their body in such a way I could almost get the gist of their conversation. Hands were pointing, and fingers were twirling, heads were nodding, eyes were focusing and bodies were moving. It was so enthralling I stood for longer than I should just to watch……..their body language in fact told me it was a professional/business meeting and not a casual exchange. And just to confirm, yes I love to people watch……….

ACCOUNTING….

Since this is something I know a little about, it hit a nerve when I found this scripture. Proverbs 23 v 6-7….. I didn’t even know this was in the Bible, but I can assure you that I know a few people who are like this. Now since Solomon knew some too, then I can surely believe that there is nothing new under the sun………..

 

The way we are………

We are more alike than different,…..

  • We all like free food……race, gender and ethnicity aside. We have preferences but free makes an otherwise undesirable meal worth a try. We get suspicious when things are free too, yet the best things in life are free. Hugs, laughter, sleep, love, family, friends, prayer, salvation, forgiveness, silence and even exercise…and the next best things they say are expensive…… Even ‘free’ health care…..as no matter where it is offered free……it comes with a cost, sisters and brothers one of which is waiting.
  • We all talk too much at some point……..just give us the right company, moment and circumstance and even the introvert will not shut up. I especially pay attention to myself in this regard.
  • We are all afraid to speak the truth, we all manage expectations, we all hide and cover behind many things, some are very dangerous things too.
  • We all love our comfort zone but hate routine. We all curse the heat and hide from the cold.
  • Everywhere you go, bad things happen to good people. For example, people have mishaps on buses, in taxis and on trains…the difference with here is you can’t ask the driver to give you a stop for a roadside leak or a bathroom stop. So I guess you got to do what you got to do…..unfortunately.
  • I dont know of a driver who doesn’t try to beat the red light……..
  • We all hate to carry ‘garbage’ around but some of us do it anyway, and this one is ubiquitous. So I got to thinking……why are some places so nasty and filled with garbage and others aren’t? Why are some places such a dump? Are we products of our environment or do we dictate what happens in our environment? Well I figure, garbage disposal has to become a science if you want to get it right. Its no magic wand or special people phenomenon…….its about having an efficient collection system, having a disposal unit every couple steps and ticketing those who disobey and are caught. Canada is applauded for being clean, yet I still see garbage strewn around at times……I find it very confusing as its usually a few steps from a garbage can. Unless its the wind…………
  • We all do irrational things in the name of sports and ‘red yeye’…..oh yes that one is universal. Sports is one thing that is seemingly immune to economic recessions too. I guess because its an outlet……just like Facebook. The worst part is when there are no boundaries or limits, that’s when I say “God please help us.” With everything evil lurks in the shadow of good.

 

 

Am I blaspheming?

Hockey is to Canada, what soccer is to Brazil and Football is to USA, athletics is to Jamaica…….

Now you would think that since I am encroaching on foreign land that certain things I would know, well I didn’t. And it hit home when I was invited to dinner………..

I was greeted by a sea of orange and blue jerseys ( the colours of the Oilers) well at least I knew that much. The Oilers are in the NHL playoffs and apparently some matches had been held before and they had won a few and there was more to come…..None of these important, life-threatening facts I knew……(I guess I need to watch more TV or be on social media or have more friends)…..but of course I kept this to myself.

Needless to say, I couldn’t help but wonder if I were committing Canadian Sin…….except that this time I didn’t feel I need to repent of my sins and worse than that I felt apt to repeat the sin. I am sorry Oilers and Hockey fans in general, I just dont have the energy or the interest to learn a new game……that’s hard work. Much the same way that I feel I will break out in hives, I figure -if I study anything more for the rest of my life.

Next morning I noticed something was going on with all the flags on cars and the sea of orange and blue………Thanks to a friend I now know the name Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid…..

And today I feel vindicated too as I found a Canadian ‘soulmate’, someone who does not love hockey. He however warned me that I must at least know who won a game…….Thanks Bob.

 

Why I Exercise……..

I ate so much junk the other day, I knew I had to do something to remove the ensuing guilt. I was less worried about my arteries.

So I got home, got dressed and set out…….I wanted to challenge myself to something new. The steps I thought………

As I walked to the bus stop a child no more than 5 years old rode past me on his bicycle. I was awashed with shame….. “how hard can this be?” I thought. That’s my new project for the year……at least that’s safer than skiing. And furthermore a bicycle has to be cheaper than ski equipment and gears. Then I could ride more………funny how we always do better when the thoughts are in our heads.

I run and walked to the steps after leaving the bus. I was excited…….I took off, up I went two at a time. In no time I was out of breath and energy. By this time, others were running and walking past me, up that incline. ” I think I can”…….. “I think I can”……….although I dare not even think, I have never breathed harder.  Number 111- and I was busted. At least I have a good view. Now I was being lapped left right and center, by those running and walking. “This is my sixth time”I heard a lady tell another lady…….”six times” I thought I will not make it past two I am sure. And for the first time I understood why people had their water bottles. I was at war and I wasn’t rigged for it. I made it to the top….the view and the air were spectacular, now those are good motivators. I did my routine twice just as planned although I couldn’t do another one even if I wanted to, and going down was just as bad as going up. My legs were heavy and I was just ready to pass out. I got down safely and decided to cross the road to the park on the other side of the road.

As I trudged through the trees, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe some of those wild beasts may be around. Especially since I didn’t see any other humans over there. I found myself praying and asking God to please don’t let any of them be anywhere around. It was only when the ordeal was over that I thought how weird I must have sounded to God. Usually it’s people I would be asking for protection from, not animals.

I hate  drudgery, predictability and routine…..however, I accept that life is that way. Just like I have no control over time or the seasons (imagine waking up this morning – Mid April to snow) I have none either over the how life ebbs and flows. So every now and then I will challenge myself to something new…….like the 250 step trail up that darn hill. Because doing so, as hard as it is, is a break to the monotony.

The Refuge

I was always of the view that everyone left their homes for the same reason…….. I can be really naive at times. But I seriously thought that. Makes me wonder if we see objectively or judgmentally? Many days the boredom get to my head…………

Since I came here I have met a few people from varying countries. And of course conversation leads to conversation and so things come out…..one thing that I am finding is that people are here due to varying conditions at home.

Some because of the safety of their kids, and for their kids to just be kids and get a chance to play.

Others are escaping a grueling and competitive education system that causes children to commit suicide in droves.

Others are escaping war and persecution- yes the perennial reason.

Many have escaped a life of real poverty and despondency.

And then there are those of us, who have no such real and compelling reasons to come. We came because we could and because the grass looks greener over here and we are just ungrateful and greedy. And just like pepper pot soup we all mix up now in the same pot…………trying to figure out the Canadian dream!!!