Tag Archives: trust

 Where is God when you need Him?

I love my friends!  I’m blessed and very fortunate to say that I have many.   Not just acquaintances or people I merely like, but many genuine and good friends.  My friends are diverse and come from every walk of life.  They’re a melting pot of humanity and experience.  I love them all! (I love each of you dearly).

I learn from each of my friends and sometimes, I learn from their interactions with each other.  Occasionally, those interactions strike a chord within me and compel me to reflect on what they’re saying and what it causes me to think.  The outcome, is the result of how I understand their dialog and what it has caused me to reflect upon based upon my own understanding and experience.

One such occurrence happened recently between two of my friends. Let’s call them… Thelma and Louise.   Thelma made an initial post on Facebook which almost made it past me (almost).  It was within the context of the following dialog with Louise which challenged me to consider how I felt during the unfolding of their discussion:

Thelma: “Perhaps, God is with us all the more in the worst of times.”

Louise: “I’d have to disagree. That would make his presence dependent upon our emotional condition. That is no God at all.”

Thelma: “You’re right. But my point was that if it is in the worst of times that we feel alone and without God, HE IS THERE. It is just hard to see him… If that makes sense. It’s easy to see God in the good, harder in the bad… That’s what I’m trying to say.”

I wanted to write to both, but specifically to Thelma.  While writing my reply to her, I was really challenged to understand what this question looked like in my own life experience.   The result is this blog post.

As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve come to find and sense God throughout my day(s).  In some ways, it seems odd for me to say that, because sometimes… I doubt!  I’ve been witness to miracles and yet… I still, sometimes experience doubt.  When I thought about this question in the context of my doubt, I realize that my doubt is rooted in my frailty and need, not in the lack of God’s presence in my life… He’s there, but my emotion and need crowds Him out at times.  This is especially ironic since I’m the one calling out to Him in my moments of need and vulnerability.

I have felt as Thelma describes, but as I’ve grown to know God, I realize, as Thelma and Louise both say, He IS there.  It’s in my times of sadness or despair however that I sometimes still feel alone.  Being on my own for the past number of years, you can imagine I’ve had opportunity to experience this feeling more than once or twice.  Moving away from my home of 42 years was particularly challenging because I was moving to a place where I really knew only two people.  Of course, there were more than that, but local to me, there were only two.  I felt very alone and isolated.  Bless those two friends for their seemingly infinite patience.  They’ve helped me forge some great new friendships as did the Pastor of my new Church family.  I was welcomed from the moment moved to my new community and when I walked through the front doors of my new Church (Bless you YAC).

So… need!  Yep, we all have them and that’s not a bad thing.  In fact, knowing and understanding our needs is very healthy for us as they will guide us in our relationships and their definition.

Occasionally though, our needs can get in our way.  Knowing who we are and what makes us tick, understanding the things that motivate us and define who we are is essential; but letting those needs overwhelm who we are is where we can get off track.  Sometimes, we may need so much that the need in itself becomes fear… and who wants to live in fear?

So, to get back to Thelma’s question, is God more prevalent or present in the worst of times?  Well, if you sense God more in the worst of times, Bless you because at least you know you’re not alone, but as Louise states, He’s always there!  I think it’s a matter of us needing God more when times get tough.  When things are going well, most of us (if we’re honest) will say “thank you God” and move on with our day.  Sometimes, we’ll offer praise and thanks, but good times are easy to let happen, even take for granted.  It’s in our times of great need or even fear, that we’re compelled to cry out!  It’s in those moments that we more acutely need to feel God’s presence and so, we pray, weep, get angry or whatever we feel we need to do in the moment.  Notice a thread here?  Who’s doing the changing?  God’s is constant and consistent, but WE change with our need.  During good times, we need less or maybe, are less dependent, than we are during times of trial or desperation.

I think the healthy path here is to try to walk with God ALL of the time.   It is a friendship… a relationship.  When you value someone, you make time for them.  You go out of your way for them, because the relationship is important to you.  That can become difficult at times, because we can become focused on our lives.  We tend to focus on what’s in front of us.  It takes effort to maintain a relationship.  If it’s a healthy relationship, that effort may appear “effortless”, but make no mistake, you’re still making a choice.  The same holds true in our relationship with God.   We need to make time to acknowledge and spend time with God!  That effort may be through prayer, reading scripture or going for a walk and simply talking to God.

I try to include God in my day, wherever I am or go.  I have grown to a point in my faith that God simply IS!  He’s a part of me and I walk with Him through all things, good and bad.    That doesn’t make it easy or easier, I just permit myself to allow God and His wisdom into my life, no matter where I am.    While that hasn’t always been the case, I’m grateful to say that I think my relationship with God is for the most part, fairly balanced.   What I mean to say is that I believe I have a reasonably healthy relationship with God.  Sometimes, I have to remember to let him have a part in my walk, but that doesn’t happen as often now.   With that said however, I find that I will cry out more when my need or dependence is greater, though I think that’s true in most any relationship.  It’s OK to ask for help and in fact, it’s healthy as long as you also appreciate that when we ask for help, we must do our part too and accept that help.  Sometimes, the help may not be what “we” want to hear or see, but if we’re going to learn or grow in the situation from the help we receive, we need to put our ego down and reflect!

Where is God when we need him?   I can’t answer that for you, but I can tell you that in my experience, He’s always been with me.  On one occasion, I even demanded he show up!  I was feeling very alone and vulnerable!  I very much needed to feel his presence in my life!  I was on my knees sobbing and utterly vulnerable.  My understanding of His presence in my life wasn’t enough… I really needed to “feel” God’s presence and in that moment He came through for me!  It was personal, but I was touched and assured of His love, compassion and presence.  I’m truly grateful for God’s love in that moment, but I had to do my part too.  I had to ask!  I had to be willing to be vulnerable and ask!

Your relationship with God is between you and God.  Some might say that it seems one sided.  I’ve even felt that way in the past, but I realized I was being selfish.  I realized that God is with me everywhere I go, all of the time!  I realized that because faith is a part of my relationship with God and that since He’s always there long before I need him, I have to do my part to ask for help, look for or listen to Him.

Is God more prevalent during our darkest hours, our times of trial or deeper need?  No,  It’s just happens that in those times, we’re more dependent and in need of consolation or reassurance.  If you feel I’m wrong, then ask yourself this… when you’re in a troubling situation, do you phone a friend, reach out to your Mom or Dad or someone you trust, simply because you don’t want to be alone?  We’re wired for relationship and need more when times get tough and that’s OK, because the alternative… well… that’s another post!

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Love in the face of truth…

If you know me, you know how important love and relationship is to me.  You know that I am someone who loves friends, friendship and quality time spent with someone to whom I am deeply committed and connected.

Many times, love has found me… or was it love?  I know the feeling of love was a part of the relationship, but was it truly love?  You see, I almost always allowed my heart to rule my head.  I let the feeling or perception of my deep feelings guide my willingness to engage and commit to someone.  That’s not a good thing, if you’re not doing a “check up from the neck up”.  So many times, I have hoped for the promise of a great relationship filled with love, but I ignored the signs which indicated that an actual relationship with that person was simply unwise or unavailable because they weren’t ready or we didn’t share the same values and goals.  I’ve been in relationships where the “friendship” and love was undeniable and powerful, but there were mixed values or life goals.  I could go on and on, but the right combination of things seemed to somehow elude… both of us and yet, we carried on in the hope the other would change.

I spent many years wondering… “Who is going to be able to settle on and accept this conundrum called Tim?”, “Who is going to accept me for me?”… and equally importantly, find me accepting the other person too; accepting them for the right reasons and not just because they were amazing and loving!

Choosing a relationship is confusing and scary because it’s such a dynamic process.  Being honest with the other person while “you” are unveiled and vice versa can be dizzying because it sometimes happens at a very rapid pace.   Even if you both choose to start out “slow”, the relationship will dictate the pace at which it will unfold and often, we succumb to it.  If it’s right though, you will find a balance in the pace which will be comfortable for both of you.  You find that comfort because you can be honest with yourself about what you feel and what you see!

The statement about choosing a relationship was once very true for me, but I am grateful to say, I think that is finally a thing of the past for me and for one very important reason.  I think I finally value myself enough to choose wisely and to be honest with myself when I consider being in a healthy relationship, because I’m willing to act in the light of what I see; in both me and the other person.

In the past, I was always ready to set myself aside.  What I mean by that is, I would ignore simple truths that I would see.  I would not rise to question the obvious differences or be willing to make a stand in the light of what I valued.  I was always so concerned about giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, because I saw that they were a good person and deserving of love.  I also, selfishly, wanted the intoxicating feeling of being with someone.  I can recall example after example, but in the end… they were excuses made by me.

At the end of the day, when you’re in a relationship and you’re serious about it, it’s OK and necessary to talk to your partner about your feelings and part in it!  If they don’t value what you value or they’re not in the same place (relatively) and don’t see themselves moving forward in a way similar to you… then it’s time to be honest with yourself and them and then make a decision.    Once you’ve made your decision (which may be to leave), it can be hard to let go and put the relationship behind because it satisfied many things for you.  Unless it satisfies all the important things though, it’s wise to cling to your decision because after all, you saw enough to choose to leave in the first place!  We are who we are which doesn’t make us bad, it just makes us unique.   Two people can be great friends and love each other desperately, but that doesn’t make them right for one another.

I’ve always said “It just shouldn’t be that hard” and that’s the truth when you’re in a healthy relationship unless you’re both really expert at lying to yourselves and each other.  When you meet the right person however, it simply isn’t hard because it’s easy to live with them and the truth at the same time!  Hard questions aren’t that hard to share or face.  This is the rest of your life… so you’d better do your best to be honest, get it right and make sure the person you’re with is the best for you.  It’s great to find someone who makes your heart go pitter pat, but that gets old fast when you can’t count on their commitment when the going gets rough.

What’s worse still is when you find that special someone who understands you utterly, who makes you feel very loved and accepted and they find you the same.  They struggle and simply can’t allow themselves to commit to you no matter how hard they try, because they’re fighting a conflict within themselves that’s obvious, but that they desperately want to deny… you aren’t right for them!  You don’t match THEIR values or goals!  You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t question it and they’re cheating you if they’re not honest about it.  It might be easy to be with them at a love and friendship level, but that lifelong choice thing, that’s another matter entirely.  Choosing to be with someone should be easy because “EVERYTYHING” is obvious.  It’s obvious you’re attracted, it’s obvious you share passion for each other, it’s obvious you share laughter, but it’s also obvious that you both share the same values, goals and honesty too.    Honesty about everything!

There is nothing worse than dancing around an elephant in the room, and lying about it only makes it worse because someday you’re going to have to deal with what the elephant leaves behind.  You see, life brings both good stuff and crap too.  A couple’s willingness to engage in good and bad together, while sharing an abiding respect is what defines the basis of a good and lasting relationship.

If you value a good career and financial stability, choosing someone who is entrepreneurial and frequently lives on the bleeding edge of financial ruin because they’re a risk taker is probably not a good fit; no matter how incredible they are to you.  Sometimes, our partners are completely honest with us… they want or don’t want to have kids.  If raising a family is something important to you and non-negotiable and your partner doesn’t want to have kids, you have little choice no matter how great the rest of the relationship!  Staying is keeping you from being with someone who values the same things you do and it keeps them from achieving their life goal too.  Choosing not to stay doesn’t make the other person bad for you, but does make them a bad CHOICE for you!  If however, your family choices are negotiable, and foregoing a family life is something you can live with… well I guess your choice may not be so difficult.  As long as you’re willing to be honest with yourself about what your partner shares with you, you can make healthy choices.  If you choose to leave, they will respect you because you’re valuing and respecting them too!

If someone pursues you after the relationship has ended, it’s easy to be tempted back because, after all, it wasn’t all bad.  It’s sometimes hard to honour our choices because let’s face it… being alone sucks!  But hanging about and playing with the fire of a past flame keeps you from moving forward and finding the right relationship for you.  I’ve struggled with that too, but I’ve learned my lesson after having been burned by playing with that very fire.  Fortunately though, I was not scarred because I feel I’ve learned from my experience and now have the ability to be honest with myself and make hard choices when necessary.

I’m not saying that you can’t feel completely connected to someone who is different to you, but you have to be certain that difference is something you can live with; because giving and committing your heart to someone should be about a forever choice!    “Every rose has its thorn” might be true, but if you can’t live with the pain you feel from what is otherwise something quite beautiful, it’s better to leave it alone.

Too many times, I held onto hope while waiting on the other person.  I waited and hoped that that the depth of our love would conquer our differences, but each time, that hope found me disappointed and ultimately… alone!  Sometimes, I chose to end the relationship and sometimes it was the other person or a mutual decision.  Thankfully though, it ended because continuing to live in the expectation or hope that I or the other person would change our mind would have resulted in frustration, anger and likely bitterness or resentment.

A very good friend of mine offers “Granny’s” advice.”  “It’s better to be alone than wish you were!”   Damn straight!  It’s scary to choose someone, but it’s worse when you hold onto someone when in the back of your mind, you know you shouldn’t be there.  Because you think the world of them however, or because you don’t want to be alone, you choose to remain in something that’s not right for you.  That’s just the wrong reason to be in a relationship and more… it’s really selfish!

It can be hard to be honest, but when you’re with the right person, they will accept what you have to say, knowing that it’s probably hard for you to share, but because they value integrity and because of their self-respect and integrity too, they listen knowing that you have their best interests in mind.

I have waited a very long time to find someone who sees me as I am, who finds me devilishly handsome, makes their heart go boom, accepts all of the idiosyncrasies that comprise me, who accepts and shares the goals and values we both have and who, in the light of all of those things is willing to talk honestly and openly about our life.  That is someone I can make a commitment to because that is someone within which I can place my trust.

The hardest part of being in a relationship when it first begins and then throughout is being honest.  It can be hard to be honest with yourself and then with your partner because sometimes, the message isn’t easy.  Of course, there are many other parts too, but it all starts with honesty!  Without it, you can never have integrity, honour or respect.  Often, when we find love, it feels easy, but without honesty and respect, it’s shallow and baseless!  Finding a great love, a love in which you share, values, goals, respect and above all, honesty… that’s not so easy, but it’s so worth waiting for!

I’ve spent the last 3 years of my life more or less on my own.  I’ve shut down my small business and joined a large software company, moved my home after 42 years and started another part of my life.   I’ve had to undergo a lot of scary stuff and become very honest with myself about who I am and where I’m at!  I’m not willing to toss all that aside for the first bit of “feel good” that comes along.

When you find the “right” person for you, you’ll know, but only if you’re willing to be honest… with you!  Here’s hoping you find the right person for you!

Soul Pic

Expand on your faith???

Recently, someone called me out on a statement I’ve been known to make from time to time.  I’ve been quoted as saying that I’m “Christian, but not religious”.  That person really called me to task and asked me to expand on what that means to me exactly.  I think I’ve always had a comfortable understanding what that means to me, but I’ve never had to paint that picture or define what I truly mean when I make that statement.  Going through a period in my life where Faith is truly all I have to lean on, I was challenged to discern my feelings, situation, experience, challenges, triumphs and relationships to arrive at a response that is not just “off the cuff”.

Having recently moved to a new community and beginning the process of making new connections can make for a lot fun and excitement, but there are significant periods of time where, it’s just me (of course, God is there too).  It’s during those times where my faith and my relationship with God really gets put to the test.

When writing my response, I didn’t have to hesitate, I just had to try to define what my walk looks like.

Here’s the result….

“Expand on my faith… hmmm… that I can do. It’s odd you should ask me this… today especially. I was recently in the office of the pastor of my Church. We’re in the process of getting to know each other and becoming friends. I was telling him about my faith and what it’s based on.  Beyond what we were talking about (though some of this was a part of the discussion), It’s not based on my showing up in Church on Sunday, singing on a worship team or serving people in some way in the hope that I’m doing something good or of value.

Faith is about trust, respect, and integrity. It’s knowing that while Christ was here, he was not here to tell people how to live their lives, but rather, to show us.  He did not want to force us, but to give us an alternative, an example. Mostly though, I believe Christ was here to love us. This is not some fantasy I believe. Far from it. I truly believe Christ was here, I believe he lives on and I truly believe that one day (which no one will know until it happens) He will come again.

Faith is not something you talk about, or some expressions you make, it’s something you live. Just because I talk about Jesus with confidence doesn’t make me faithful. Trusting in Him, in what He’s teaching me and acting on that understanding reveals my faith.  Trusting that He’s here with me and walking with me, even when it would be easier to depend on what I know or what I can see is an example of my faith.  For me, faith is trusting what Christ is trying to show me in order to choose to truly live the life He’s created for me.

If you’ve chosen to read this far, I’ll share with you that I don’t use God or Jesus 10 times in each sentence. I don’t say “praise God” or “Hallelujah” every other sentence.  Words don’t make me faithful or reveal my faith.  I’m just a regular person like everyone else. My life is not perfect and I suffer the same trials as everyone else. Choosing to follow my life in faith does not guarantee that it will be perfect or that I am perfect. I’m just as flawed as anyone living on Earth. To be honest, there are many “people of faith” who do more to steer folks away from a possible relationship with God because of their “religious” views, expressions and actions than there are who lead others to him because of how they choose to demonstrate their “belief”.  It’s much harder to love someone you don’t agree with, whose viewpoint you don’t share and whose lifestyle choices clash with your own than it is to point a finger at them and tell them you don’t agree with them or that they’re wrong.  Don’t misunderstand, sometimes we need to share the kind truth with each other, but we must be careful to ensure it’s more about truth than our comfortable perspective.

I don’t live my life following Christ because there’s a set of rules I must adhere to. I do not live in fear, but rather, I live my life with a healthy love and respect for God. I want to understand why God shares a path for us in the way that He does. He doesn’t ask us to follow Him because he’s a control freak. He’s God. He doesn’t need to. Instead, I truly believe that he has our best interests at heart and wants us to learn why he provided the wisdom and path that he has. This is not blind obedience we’re called to. It’s really no different than the love a parent would show and guide a child with. God’s word to us is for our benefit and it is shared out of love and a desire to see us thrive.

I could go on but I’m pretty sure you get the picture. So… if you would like to have an honest and open discussion about it sometime, I’d be more than happy to share time with you. If not, I completely understand, but this is who I am. God put within me a heart of love, though it’s taken me years to finally come to the point where I may be humble enough to share it with someone. Time will tell that tale.

Cheers,
Tim”

We never did share that conversation, though I did receive a reply which let me know what I shared was understood and appreciated.

We don’t need to agree to live and love together, but we do need to be respectful and that…. sometimes, takes faith.

Have a great weekend and remember while you’re following your nose, there is much you can lean on because you’re loved and valued.  In that, you can have faith.

Life lies beyond our fear

It’s been a long while since we’ve chatted, or more accurately put, I’ve poured out my heart and mind.  Thank you once again for your willingness to read if you choose to do so.

2014 was a whirlwind and a roller coaster to say the very least.  There were many harrowing moments in the past year which caused me to have a good look, take action and allow significant change into my life.  Of course, most of my troubles were (and are) first world problems and really, if I’m honest, they were about risking my comfort.  While that’s not an entirely fair statement, the choices I made were important to my growth as a person, a man and a Christian and they were voluntary.  I had a choice in the matter.  It was mine to choose in terms of what direction my life would take.  I’m so very blessed and fortunate to have the gifts and abilities that I’ve been so very abundantly provided with.  I’m grateful to God every day for the many talents and abilities He’s given me.  I truly hope I’ve honoured Him in the way I choose to use them and in how they make me feel.  I honestly believe that by using our talents, by enjoying and reveling in them, we honour and please God.  I’m sure He delights in seeing us use our gifts and abilities in ways that are both joyful and steeped in servant-hood.

It’s been my experience that when we enter a relationship with God, we have to do one very important thing.  We have to give our “yes” to Him.  What does that mean exactly?  I can’t answer that for you, but I can describe what it’s been like for me.  When I first accepted God into my life some 30 years ago (this June), I was aware that change would come as a result of my new found relationship, but I didn’t take the time to really consider what that meant.  I didn’t take the time to truly learn what being a follower of Jesus was or that I even needed to.  I was just a fan!  I stood on the sidelines of my faith and did little to engage or encounter God.  Sure, I was definitely in love with God and his abundant creation, but I was little more than a kumbaya Christian.  Let’s all feel nice and treat each other nicely.  While that’s a noble and worthy pursuit that we’d all do well to engage in, there’s an awful lot more to living out this life in a relationship with God (thanks to a very good friend for teaching me this about myself and my journey).

A long story made short, I floundered for some twenty years and then, one day, I met someone whom I confidently believe God used to speak to me and say “OK sonny… enough is enough!”  I’m grateful that in his gracious way, He used a kind hand to speak to me rather than grabbing me by the scruff of the neck to get my attention (believe me, he’s let me hit the brick wall a few times too).  In this case, my heart was involved because of another of his children but because of that encounter, He and I had the opportunity to get to know one another.  I hear myself say that and realize that’s not what I should truly say.  God was there and waiting for me the whole time.  It was up to me to say hello or at least, to return His hello.  I did nothing of the sort because I had my ideas and had locked God neatly away within them.  I put God into a storage box and pulled him out whenever it was convenient.  How nice for me!  That all changed for me one day nearly 11 years ago now and the change progression has been slowly and steadily increasing for the better.  I’ve learned that while I still have moments of being a fan on the sidelines of faith, more and more, I’m an active follower of Jesus!  If you know me now or are someone who calls me friend, you know that my faith is core to who I am today.  It’s been a shaky, scary, bumpy and often frustrating and terrifying process, but I’m still here and I’m still hanging on!  I won’t let go and there’s a reason.

There are those who would say… “Hey Tim… that’s just what you believe.  I get ya, but I call it something else entirely.”  To that I would reply… I’m glad you see it that way and I’m glad you are willing to give me the space and grace to walk out this path that I’m on.  I’m just as willing to respect you in your journey too.  Hopefully along the way, we can check in with each other to see how each of us are doing and describe what our experience has looked like during the course of our lives.  You see, I think that’s how God (in part) works.  He lives within us and as we share and struggle together, we get to know Him through one another.  That’s not a romantic notion I hold.  I truly believe that’s part of our purpose while we’re here.  We encounter God (in part) though our interactions.

Anyway, I digress… what I’m here to tell you today is that I’ve learned something valuable in the last few years… this last year especially.  Life lies beyond our fears!  If  you know me, you know that’s quite a statement for me to make.  I like my life to be neat and tidy (not just my kitchen counters).  Change is not something I do well.   Sure, there are some forms of change that embrace well, but for the most part, when it comes to my life, I like things to be exactly where and how I place them.  Stepping outside my comfort zone is not something I do or do as often as I should.  That all changed for me last year.  I decided to shut down my personal consulting practice and join a large software company.  It was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done.  It shook me to my core, but something told me that I needed to do it.  At the time, I thought it was necessary in terms of dealing with my physical and emotional health, but I’ve come to learn that there was more to it than that.  I truly believe that there was a part of my life that needed to change because God has been preparing me for something.  What that fully is has yet to be revealed exactly, but I do know that I’m being prompted to change and trust during this season of change because my growth requires it.  I can’t begin to describe how uncomfortable has made me feel because in the midst of the process, there is so much self-doubt.  Am I doing the right thing?  Am I making the right choice?  Can I trust what I’m doing?  The common theme there is ME.  I’ve not been acting with any faith that what I’m being drawn to do can be trusted.  I know (and fully believe) that it is up to me to choose what I do from day to day.

Does God hand pick each of my steps?  Well, I believe He creates a path for me to follow and that I’m free to follow it.   I believe God creates a healthy and orderly path for me to follow, but that path will also be intertwined with what life brings.  That’s the tough and challenging part of faith.  God is not a puppet master!  He gives each of us the gift of choice or free will… but trusting in the path I perceive He’s created for me allows me to put my faith into action and also aligns me with His  will.  I absolutely believe to my core that God wants nothing but good for me and I also believe he’s not going to put me in harm’s way.  It is up to me to learn, to listen and trust to God when I’m choosing a new path.  Sometimes, our parents give us a nudge out the door or in a direction that they feel is in our best interests and I don’t think God is any different.  I honestly believe I became stagnant in my life.  I was waiting for stuff to happen and became entrenched in the sidelines while waiting.   During that time however, God has been teaching me and equipping me for the change I’m now embarking upon.  He was teaching me that He’ll be there throughout and if I just trust in Him… I’ll be OK.  That’s not to say that life won’t get hard or messy, even dangerous, but I can count on his constancy and sovereignty to see me through because I can trust in His love for me and His desire for me to thrive.

Life begins beyond our fears… what a great statement!  It certainly does, but what’s even more encouraging and exciting though is that God will be there waiting to help us each step of the way.  There’s no place I can go where He won’t be with me and I find that very comforting.  While I may have moments where I’m scared and unsure, I also know that my potential and growth will be limited by my fear if I allow it.  I don’t for a moment think that living in fear is what God has in store for any of us.  Giving my YES to God each day and saying… “I don’t know what’s coming, but I know I can trust you for what I need in the days that are to come”.   Stepping forward in faith and living through it is what I’m going to do!  I don’t know what life will bring, but I do know that if I trust in what I’ve been taught and am being taught, I’ll be just fine… no matter the circumstance.

Sometimes, being a follower and not just a fan means taking action in your own life as much as it does taking action in the lives of others.  Sometimes, we need to take care of ourselves in order to be a bigger part of the Kingdom!  Fan or follower?  Sometimes, I’m still a fan, but more and more, I’m finding myself to be a follower  and I’m so grateful for what that brings in my life.  Laying our lives down may seem a tough thing to do, but what’s exceptional about it is that God will give us all kinds of grace in the process.  We just need to be willing to let Him in and to learn to trust Him.

For what it’s worth, it’s just like when I let go of the airplane when I tried skydiving, I not only felt exhilaration when I let go, I also felt the peace that followed during the journey to the ground and my friends waiting there.  Skydiving started out to be a terrifying roller coaster experience filled with terror, uncertainty and excitement.  Learning what I needed to be able to skydive was filled with scary moments which were followed by confidence and then fear again.  When I finally got into the airplane to make the actual jump… the reality of my situation became acute and I once again found myself terrified!  The coolest part of the experience though, was when I said to the jump-master “I don’t think I can do this”.  He calmly said “Just lean forward and let me check your pack and chute and if you still feel the same, you don’t have to go.”  From that moment forward, what I’d learned that day kicked in and I just followed what I’d been taught.  It was easy because I was able to step out on what I’d been shown with some confidence and faith.  I still didn’t know what the outcome would be, but I’d been well prepared for the experience.  Life is like that too.  All we need to do is trust in what we have and what we’ve been given… and the rest… that’s the journey.

To those of you who’ve been a part of my journey, those brave souls who’ve been willing to listen to me vent my fear or trepidation, thank you for your kindness and support!  I cherish each and every one of you!  To my Dad… thanks for being such a good example of patience, grace and honesty and for always being there.  To Scott… Seriously dude… I think we’re finally getting even  J To John & Christine… thanks for always being willing to be there and for teaching me the true meaning of friendship.  To Larry & Barb, Brian & Dar, Mike & Liz, Tim & Melissa, Anthony & Jana, Tim & Jo, Don & Chris, Arden & Pat, Barry & Lynda and the countless others who’ve been a part of my growth, words escape me, but thank you and I love you!

Fan or Follower, you must decide that for yourself, but try to remember to be kind to yourself in the process.  It’s not easy to follow, but I can promise you this… if you do follow, God will not ever leave you stranded.  He’ll always be there for you because I can tell you with certainty… He’s always been there for me!

Appreciating those in our lives…

It’s easy to overlook important relationships in our lives. It seems that we more easily maintain work relationships, or those with close friends whom we relate to best and see often because there is something in it for us; gratification, a sense of belonging, validation, you pick the reason.  There are however, relationships that should be closer to us but take a great deal more effort to maintain for whatever reason; distance, dissimilar interests, age… again, you pick the reason. I lump myself into the latter category too. I’m a very busy, self-employed man who has little trouble filling in the hours and minutes of the day and I often have to work to stay connected to those that matter most to me…. I’m not always successful and in fact, I believe I often fall short. It’s when I read a story like the one at the bottom of this post that I’m reminded of the importance of nurturing important relationships… whether they are with our Mother, Father, Sister, Brother… or most especially, with Jesus. That’s right… I have to remind myself that he’s an active part of my life and I have to remember to invite him into it. It’s easy to pray, offer thanks… the easy, warm and fuzzy stuff, but I need to remember to allow him into my life as my Lord, brother, confidant, accountability partner and friend.

Making time for someone special in your life doesn’t need to be a big production. It can be a coffee, a phone call, a trip to the mall or the dump, fishing, you name what works for you… in the end, a two minute phone call to let someone know that they’re a part of your thoughts that day. Letting them know that they matter to you can become a memory that lasts a lifetime.

My Mother died six years ago… I often think of her and I truly miss her. I remember how we shared time together but also how we did not! I know she would have liked to have been a greater part of my life and it was significantly in my hands to allow that to happen. I often reminisce on how I’d planned to take her on a road trip to Whistler, BC for the day… just her, me and the wind in our hair. Many years and plenty of excuses later, she’s gone and sadly, that trip didn’t happen. I have forgiven in myself this situation and prayed for forgiveness to God also. The point here is, it doesn’t have to be a trip to Whistler; it could be a drive to the coffee shop, the park or just a drive through the country to share time together. Making time form those who are important to you is what makes the difference between a casual, convenient relationship and one that is worthy of the person who loves you and affords you the same.

My Dad is always willing to say “Yes… of course” when I ask him. Last week, I asked if he’d like to come for a ride with me… just to purchase some food for my Dog. Yes was the answer and even though it was only a half our trip, we enjoyed ourselves and shared time. I’m grateful for that simple memory and the countless others I have of my Dad as I remember him on his 79th birthday and this Father’s Day!
I pray we can all make an effort to care for those important relationships that take more work to maintain but have such great value. This writing was not out of guilt or hard memory, on the contrary, it was spawned out of the lovely memories I have of my Mom and Dad and the other friends and family who have shown me such great love and care over the years… it’s a reminder for me to continue to make the extra effort to connect and remain connected.
So… all of that said, Happy Father’s Day.

Do have a great week, make time to connect with those significant relationships in your life and enjoy the read below!

Tim

PS… I’m not responsible for the story below, I just found it very touching. It’s what inspired me to write the preface above.

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After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked.

My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. “I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s. “I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. “It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said. “Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded. During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her. Sometime later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”