my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard
June 24, 2009, 4:08 am
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , ,

does anyone know what that means? i have yet to figure it out.CRW_0829(i was going to put a nice romantic picture of the two of us in here, but it’s more fun to put her angry face one. i swear it was the mosquitos ticking her off, not me)

i made my first move on my wife at an ice cream place over a milkshake. we hadn’t really talked at that point, but she had my eye. i was going to say she had me at hello, but then tom cruise would sue me, and renee zellweger would be legitimized as an actress. we can’t let that happen, so i won’t say it. but she had a hold of me. there was something there before we had spoken a word. she had driven up to go to her friends college graduation ceremony, who also happened to be my friend. and so as luck would have it, i got the chance to meet her. i was a sorry looking mess the first time she saw me. my hair was long, my jeans were torn from top to bottom, and i was wearing some hippy 3/4 length band t-shirt. those are so 1990’s. and so as i couldn’t take my eyes off her, i was sure that she had quickly passed hers over me. luckily, our mutual friends gave me a second chance. we went driving that night. i remember it vividly. 5 of us crammed in a car. in a little town with nothing to do, we followed the flames we saw on the outskirts of town. farmers were burning the stubble in their fields, and so we got out and walked through the flames. i kept stealing glances at that beautiful woman named melissa. there was something about her that wouldn’t let me go. she was quiet, gentle and shy. but her eyes were on fire, and that soft smile took me to another place. the firey bundles of whatever it is that farmers burn in their fields allowed me to sneak longer glances at her as she was blinded by the light, and so i found myself captured and staring. i’m sure she caught me on more than one occasion. we then went for ice cream where i performed the famous, “let me get that for you” trick. she had no spoon for her ice cream, and in a dramatic and chivalrous act, i offered my services. smooth as butter…or something. after church the next day, we were standing together as she waited for her ride, and i noticed she was cold. perfect time to shine. my dirty old bright red petro canada wind jacket was all i had with me, but i offered it to her, sure that this was the moment i would know whether the feeling was mutual. she graciously accepted, but i wasn’t sure if it was out of kindness/pity or if she liked me. she drove off and i felt alive. 

depending on whether you ask her or me, the next part of the story is a little different. i emailed her soon after she left, which i know was soooo desperate of me. but i didn’t care. i made some cheesy joke about watching the discovery channel. she wrote back with an LOL, and i knew we were close to being BFF‘s. but i was sickly insecure. i had never asked a girl out before without knowing 100% that she would say yes. it was always one of their friends saying, “hey idiot. ask her out, she likes you.”  but no one was pushing me forward with melissa, and so i made the life changing decision. i picked up the phone…and called our mutual friend. i didn’t say i was smooth. but i asked her what she thought, and she said to go for it. so i got her number and i called. here is where we differ. i felt brave for calling her. she gives me grief because i waited two weeks. but i think i’m awesome, and this is my story, so i’m going to go with bravery. and we talked for hours. every night. and i hate the phone. i remember with my previous girlfriends that i hated the phone. i despised the phone. and so they would call and i would just sit there waiting for the moment i could get off and go to sleep. but this was different. i couldn’t wait to talk to her. i couldn’t get enough. i still hadn’t asked her out yet, as we were just getting to know each other. but i felt inspired. i felt like someone understood me. and as crazy as it sounds, i knew i was falling in love. before we were even dating. 

and so she came up a month after our original meeting for the high school graduation, and the electricity was there. i knew she returned the feeling because there was no reason for her to be at high school graduation. she didn’t know anyone graduating. but she came. for me. we held hands that night for the first time as we sat around the campfire. people slowly trickled away until it was just me and her. we sat for hours talking. we sat for hours in silence. and it felt right. this girl who i had only met once before had a power over me that i had never known. it was only our fourth day together, and as crazy as it sounds, i thought this could be the so called “one” people always speak of.

it was getting cold, so i decided to start the fire again, as it had burned out while we were talking. and i almost lit her hair on fire. like i said, there is no smoothness in this guy. there is something about that first kiss with someone you really care about. and i say that because lots of people have kissed people they don’t care about, and kisses can be really mediocre if you kiss someone you don’t care deeply for. but when it’s someone who has your heart, the kiss could go on for hours in the blink of an eye. and it was there we had our first kiss.

we drove around until the sun came up. we decided to drop her off in case someone thought something untoward was going on. we were at a christian school, after all. no PDA, as i was always told (public display of affection). the only thing worse than public displays of affection was being caught staying out all night. rumors run rampant on christian campuses. i had already destroyed my reputation, but i wanted to hold hers in check. i went home, showered and couldn’t sleep. i was waiting for 2 hours to go back and wait for her to wake up. we spent the day with friends laughing, but no one was on my mind except for her. the time came for her to leave. we said our goodbyes, and i thought i was in a dream world. apparently i was, as i had forgotten to ask her out…not even joking. in the midst of our amazing weekend, our amazing kiss, and spending every waking moment with her, i forgot to make the contract official. so i called her that night, and she must have thought i was a player until i called. i am so not a player. i don’t even know how to use my milkshake. but she laughed at me, as she now does quite often, and graciously accepted me into her life. 

we were brought together in a flash, and now have a lifetime to grow. if there is one word i could think of to describe my wife, it would be a combination of the words “gracious” and “sexy”. so if you put those two together you get…”graciexy”. let’s just make it “gretzky” for easy to remember purposes. so next time you see wayne gretzky, you can think of my hot and gracious wife. she has put up with a lot from me. i have put her through hell many times over, and she has always held on to me. i’ve never understood the love of God until i experienced the way she loves me. i constantly disappoint her, hurt her, and live selfishly. yet she loves me. deeply. intensely. with her whole heart. and i’d be lost without her. i’m not sure what it is she sees in me. maybe it’s my muscular abs. probably not, though. we got our first dog together. bought our first house together. have two beautiful children together. we’ve lived life together. and i wouldn’t have it any other way.

plus, i’m practically married to wayne gretzky.


get out of my church
June 21, 2009, 7:25 pm
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , ,

2379767006_da2ea02323_oi remember being in a church building one time after a sunday service and watching a smelly, unkempt old man come through the door. he was aboriginal, and his skin didn’t match the rest of the people in the room. let’s just say this particular church building wasn’t so culturally diverse. well, it was, but only those from other countries. the ones from Canada who weren’t immigrants were absent. like they are in many churches. the room was packed, as it was the usual custom after the preach to visit in the foyer. and so i sat on the opposite side of the room and watched as the man made his way from one side to the other. no one looked in his eyes. no one shook his hand, except for one mentally challenged guy. isn’t that saying something about us when a mentally challenged person acts a whole lot more like jesus than we do? says something about becoming like a child. and so he walked through. you could see in his eyes that he was lost and not sure what was going on. i suspected he was high or drunk, and as he walked up to us it was confirmed by the smell emanating from his breath and his clothes. he continued right past us on his circle around the room. as far as i could tell, he didn’t say anything. he didn’t ask for help, although i knew that’s why he was there. for food. money. anything we could offer him. but he didn’t ask. he just continued walking and looking around at people he passed, none of them willing to look into his eyes. a few even looked at him with disgust as they caught his smell coming towards him. they did what most of us would do in that situation. they lowered their gaze and pretended they hadn’t noticed him. finally, he had made a full circle and was back at the front door. desperate and proud, not wanting to beg, but desperately needing the help. and while the hundred or so people in the room hadn’t acknowledged him when he passed, they now snuck glances to the door, anxious for the moment he would leave. an usher, who i am certain was concerned about the comfort level of the “church”, simply worried about his “flock”, politely opened the door for him as he was given the bum’s rush, quite literally.

i walked out after him and asked if he wanted to go for a quick bite to eat. i can’t claim holiness, and if you think i am you are way off base. because if i was one of those people who was caught off guard by him, i most likely would have done the same thing. i wish i could claim holiness, because then i would have been justified in going back inside after lunch with this man and turning over some tables, prophet style. but i only did it because of guilt, and because i had seen him be rejected by hundreds of “church” people. i most certainly didn’t want that to be his last experience with God’s so-called people.

i found out he had been in the military when he was younger. he walked with a limp which he confirmed was from a war injury. nightmares about the war came every night as he tried to sleep on concrete slabs around the city. one can imagine sleeping on a park bench or concrete would be hard enough, but imagine trying to sleep through screaming visions of your past coming back to haunt you in the one moment that should be peaceful for a homeless person. i don’t remember much more about our conversation. only that he was open and thankful. he was open because it had likely been a long time since someone had listened to him. and so when you find someone who is willing, you cut through the bull and get right to the heart of the matter. and he was thankful because of the food, but more for the dignity of a human interaction. to be honest, i was incredibly uncomfortable. and while he was thankful, as was i, i noticed another emotion well up inside me. deep, deep shame.

because i was no holy man. i was simply a guilt ridden and broken soul trying to make up for years of passing people just like him on the street. there have been many times in my life that i have passed the homeless person without so much as a second thought. i have made derogatory comments towards them. “why don’t they just get a job and quit drinking?” it’s that simple, right…? and i felt a deep, deep shame. i was listening to a talk show the other day, and the host was discussing the “problem” of pan-handlers. his suggestion to everyone was to walk by and pretend you don’t notice them. because to acknowledge them is to enable them. i could barely hold back the anger, and if anyone saw me in that moment, they would have seen me yelling and slapping my dash, looking much like a homeless schizophrenic myself. how arrogant and heartless do you have to be to not even acknowledge someone? it’s no wonder the homeless often start to believe that they aren’t worth anything with people like that promoting self-interest over compassion and heart. yes, i am a bleeding heart left wing liberal, and proud of it. your labels can’t hurt me.

i felt shame not only for my personal empty and void life, but for God’s so-called people. this is just one church at one point in time in one city. and i know there are many out there doing great things, but that doesn’t seem to be the norm. the church too often seems to be the ones that close the doors in the face of the broken, rather than opening them up and welcoming them to the one place they should always find peace.

this same church had a large sum of money they had started collecting in order to move somewhere else. the neighborhood they were in was full of people like this. dirty, drunk, homeless, different colour, just…different. and the people of this church…well…few of them lived in this neighborhood. they were wealthier for the most part. had their lives together, at least it appeared that way on the outside, which we all do to a certain extent. and they started raising money to move. and they did. to a nice middle class neighborhood. i don’t know if they moved ‘just’ to get out of that neighborhood. i can’t judge their hearts, even though i’d like to. and that makes me no better. i’m sure many genuinely had pure motives. after the move happened, i heard someone from that church talking about all the great things they were doing in their new neighborhood. and i couldn’t help but wonder why they hadn’t done more in their old neighborhood? they were waiting until their location met their comfort level, and then it became alright to do the Lord’s work. great things are happening in that neighborhood they moved to. but…where is the old neighborhood? who is there to reach them? 

and i don’t think that’s the way “God’s people” should act. maybe i’m picking on this particular church. maybe there were other circumstances that went into the move. maybe this drunk guy had hit them up for money before and they were tired of seeing him drag his drunk body into their building every sunday. maybe…but who really cares? if he was there every sunday asking for money, does he deserve to have the people who love God, who hang on his words, who emulate his life…simply turn their backs to him? and do God’s people have the right to spend a million dollars to move to a better neighborhood when they are located in the place which need’s God most? and do they have the right to spend money on a new building when that money could have gone a long way in serving the community? well, i guess they do have the right. but rights are overrated, at least they are when it comes to the rich and powerful. God’s church is big, and it is doing some big things that are serving the world. but most are doing small-minded things. and ignoring the people who need help the most. at least my shame was good for one thing. it forced me to do the right thing. and my prayer is that God will shame his church. that he will bring us to our knees so we can start actually living in His Kingdom, and not our man-made castles. may we begin to start doing the right things out of love rather than shame. because God’s people are better than that. the world deserves more than that from God’s people. if we are followers of Jesus, then he demands more of us, and we must start giving more.

so put that in your pipe and smoke it. happy father’s day.

June 17, 2009, 6:44 am
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , ,

“WHERE THE H**L IS MY AIRPLANE!?” i yelled at no one in particular.

the problem with yelling this when your 6 years old is that you are never alone. and so inevitably my mother heard. i was getting ready to go to school , and i needed my toy airplane for show and tell. i couldn’t find it. and it was that important. last time i went, i had taken my toy truck mom had gotten at a garage sale, and all the kids made fun of it. this was life and death. and somewhere along the road i learned that swearing is a great way to release that pent up frustration. it really works. you should try it sometime. just kidding. but seriously…

that was the first time i remember swearing. i may have done it before. but i didn’t remember until this point. and my parents made sure i didn’t forget. they kept me home from school. they washed out my mouth with soap. my parents are awful. seriously. my mom just fools you. her ridiculous ability to be kind and make the most amazing cinnamon buns are all a ruse. she is secretly terrible. and her cinnamon buns are really poisonous.

but it makes sense. i mean, i teach makena how to call people poo heads. or stinky butt is another of my personal favorite makena terms. but i’m sure there will come a time when she crosses the line and i must teach her that she can’t say those types of things. most of you probably think that already is crossing the line. sorry about that. not really, though, cause it’s hilarious. 

i’ve always had problems with holding my tongue in this regard. in grade 4, we were playing soccer and i was in net. curtis kaleta shot what i was sure went over the post, which was only a dirty old sweater. so it’s fair to say that the answer was unclear. he disagreed. i told him if he though it was a goal, that he was a…insert a couple choice words at this point. i got high fives a plenty from my teammates. it was cool to swear. in grade 7, we were in our junior high bible study. a guy i looked up to then, and also do now, was our teacher. we’ll call him tim m. no, that’s too obvious. maybe t. mcmillan would be better. without even realizing it, i dropped and f-bomb in the middle of one of my responses to a question. in bible study… there was also my grade 10 year, in which i thought it would be a larf to give the camera the finger during our class photo. when the pictures came back, the call immediately came for me to go to the principals office. they showed me the picture and asked what i was thinking. you know that face you make when you give someone the finger? you bite your lip a little, and scrunch up your face in an angry way. yeah…i even had that look. somehow i managed to convince them it was an accident.

“i swear i didn’t mean to. i was just trying to put my hands in my pockets, and my middle finger got stuck on the outside.” 

you already know the story of t-bone and b-rock. so i won’t repeat that one again. in grade 12, i was a dorm assistant, which meant i was in charge of keeping the law amongst other students. or at least i was until someone saw an email i had sent a friend. for some reason, i had thought it a brilliant idea to have the first sentence be as many swear words strung together in a row as i could possibly think of. i guess they don’t like that in a christian school. as the donald would say, “Your Fired.” i think most christian schools function by wwtdd. what would the donald do.

i work with kids all the time. and some of the words i hear come out of their mouths are appalling. shocking. vulgar…and identical to the things i used to say on a daily basis. and whenever i find myself judging them, i remember the word i just let slip as i got frustrated hearing them say their word. and to sum it all up, i am a hypocrite. i don’t know why cusswords are so easy to let slip. someone once told me i just needed discipline. and i’m sure that’s true. just make it a habit to control your language. the problem is i suck at discipline. whether it’s that last donut or buying the new backstreet boys album even when i know it will never measure up to ‘backstreet’s back’, i have trouble with self-control. swearing has always been one of the most difficult things for me to control. so i’m working on it, and i don’t swear very often. every time i do, melissa runs over my foot with the car. no word of a lie. she is a harsh disciplinarian. she even makes me run around the block afterwards. 

i just realized i slandered my mother and my wife in one blog. now i’m really…going to get in trouble. you see, the soap and broken feet have paid off.

me and this guy would have gotten along.

my deepest condolences
June 2, 2009, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , ,

i’ve been thinking a lot about death lately.

someone i am not close to, but knew from way back, lost their 3 year old son to cancer a few days ago. i cannot comprehend what that would feel like. some people can, but i can’t. my wife lost her younger brother when she was 8 years old. he was 5. 5 years old. 3 years old. in these moments there are no answers. a young child. so innocent. so naive. so beautiful. and life is gone. there is nothing you can say. nothing you can do. no right way to feel. no possible way to move forward. in all that happens in this crazy messed up world, there is not much that shakes me as much as the death of a child. it is one of the few moments where i really wonder, “where are you, God?” 

i went home after finding out about this and found my wife and daughters had gone for a walk. i knew where they would be, so i hopped in my car and made the short drive down to the park, where they go every day the weather will allow. most days, i would go home and sit in the quiet, maybe read or play online poker until they got back, but today i needed to see them. my heart lit up at the sight of my daughter running back and forth from the bottom of the slide to the top. before i even got out of the car, i could hear her laughing. i made the short walk over and as our eyes met, she yelled ‘DADDY! i’m so glad to see you.’ and there was nothing she could have said that would have sounded better than that. i kissed my wife and knelt down to see my other daughter asleep in the stroller, her deep and heavy breath fighting through the summer heat. she was at peace, and as i felt that breath as i leaned down to kiss her, i was so thankful. images-2makena had never flown a kite before, and so i drove home to get her kite as the wind had picked up. i knew she would love it. she is always so adventurous, so excited to try new things. flying that kite was easy as anything that day, as the wind would pick it right up off the ground and take it wherever it wanted. any other day, i would have held the string tightly as makena held the handle, to ensure it didn’t blow away. and i did for a minute, but gave up soon as i realized it stopped me from being able to watch her. and so i let go and watched. i watched her run with the wind blowing her hair into her mouth and the kite going higher and higher. i knew she wouldn’t be able to hold on if the string got out too far, but it didn’t matter. because she was so happy. so alive. and i needed alive in that moment. because death is terrifying. and a 3 year old boy had died that day. and i was wondering where God was. and i needed to see life. sure enough, she let go and the kite went soaring across the field and into an old ladies house. the string was tangled in her tree, and she was annoyed, but i didn’t care. i know that makes me a rude neighbor, but my daughter was so happy in that moment, i didn’t care. i needed to see her alive. and i hope i don’t sound heartless, speaking of a moment with my daughters that will forever remain with me while someone else has lost someone so dear to them. because it breaks my heart to know the pain they are going through. i just so badly needed to see some beauty in that moment of feeling totally broken and helpless. because if that did happen to my daughters…i would be lost. i wouldn’t know what to do. 

life isn’t fair. and someone can be alive one moment. and they might be gone the next. and we feel powerless. we feel hopeless to control the steady march towards death. most days we manage to ignore it. we push it beneath the surface and pretend we are invincible. we pretend time will never catch up with us. and then a 3 year old dies. and time stops. and we wonder, “where are you, God?” and that’s okay. it’s okay to ask those questions. i have to believe that God is okay with that. if i really wanted to be cliche, i could tell you the story of the footprints on the beach. or i could call up this distant acquaintance who just lost their 3 year old, and tell them, ‘he’s in a better place, now.’ that might be true, but i think those christian cliches mean little in the face of tragedy. but i do believe God is with us in the midst of that pain, stupid footprints story or not. and so if, God forbid, i ever lose someone the way these people have, please don’t hit me with christian cliches. because i might punch you. right in the mouth. because i am wondering today where God is in the death of a 3 year old, and i don’t have an answer. and neither do you. i can’t see him. i can’t understand why he let’s this happen. and i’m angry. and trivial words spoken with positive intentions can’t stop the pain of those who have lose someone. but i believe God can. and i believe he is there in the wreckage of life. and as people on this broken earth, we can’t offer much.

but we can sit. and wade through the pain alongside them in silence.