Saturday, April 30, 2011

May 2

May 2nd is election day in Canada. we still have a 2 party system in Canada but that is only because the 3rd major party has never been in power. we have a right leaning party on the right and 4 other parties on the center or left. naturally there's a lot of vote splitting on the left that makes it so that we have only ever had 2 parties in power over the course of this great country's lifetime.

i come from a family history that does not vote. the reasoning is a spiritual one; they did not desire to be part of the world's system or to be out of the will of God so they did not vote in case they picked the party that did not win. this logic NEVER worked for me. from my youth i wanted to be involved in helping to choose the course of my own life and that meant engagement in discussions that were difficult to be a part of. i voted in the first election i was old enough to vote in and i have taken part in every election since.

i remember in my first election i went down to the Conservative party's office to ask some questions and have a discussion. my riding had been Conservative forever and i considered myself small "c" conservative in nature so it seemed like a good fit. i ended up voting Conservative in that election and it remains the only time that i did vote Conservative in my lifetime. i remember in those conversations in the Conservative office that someone said that they figured i was actually pretty much a Liberal as i discussed things and brought up questions. it's funny though, i've never voted Liberal in my lifetime.

i have voted for the New Democratic Party in every election i can recall. i came to that place after i figured that the trickle-down economic theory of right wing folks was just not working. if the rich never let anything trickle down then how could the poor ever get some help? one of the reasons that i went into social work was because i feel compelled to help the poor. i have some pretty strong opinions of small "c" conservative types who vote Conservative because they consider themselves conservative in nature. i see that among Christians in general and Christians in Western Canada in particular.

let me say this plainly ... if you are poor, the parties on the right side of the political spectrum are not looking out for you. the parties on the right are looking to prop up the big boys in this country in the hope that the big boys will in turn carry you along for the ride. what if the big boys just decide to be out for themselves? that's the inclination of the human heart isn't it?

the way i figure it, the big boys are big enough. i need to try and help the little guy. that means that i'll need to try and pick a political party that i think will try to protect the little guy.

the NDP in Canada has it's roots in unions and in co-ops. that speaks to me of the common human. they want to protect pensions and they want to help health care be more available across this country. that'll speak out for more folks who'll need to rely on their pensions and need to find a family doctor when they need it. the rich already have their own doctor standing by, it's the poor, the guys i see everyday who don't have a clue what they'll do if they get sick because they don't have access to a family doctor. i'm serious, i see that every STINKING DAY.

if you are poor in this country you have to decide who you're going to be behind. i am not poor in this country in truth. if you're reading this on your own computer then you're probably not poor either. let me urge you anyway to try and pick who you'll support for your own reasons. if my words help you decide then ... good. let me urge you further to do all you can to help the poor if you can, in every way you can.

i know how i'll be voting on May 2nd. make sure you vote too.

An Expert's Audit

i write a monthly baseball column for during the baseball season and i write a monthly hockey column for during the hockey season. here's my first column of the baseball season.

Welcome once again to An Expert’s Audit – baseball edition. In this article we take a look at the fantasy team of a reader to see if there are areas we can improve so that we’re moving down a winning road. At the very least it’s a month’s worth of conversations from one baseball fan to another. If you’re interested in getting your baseball team audited you can begin the procedure by emailing your league and team particulars to

Steve Kostoff is a golf pro. In all honesty my golf game sucks donkey balls so we didn’t have much to talk about in that area since I don’t like to admit that I’m not amazing at everything, I’m pretty shallow that way. It’s a good thing that we could focus on a baseball league instead. It’s not like I’m all skills on the diamond either, an appropriate nickname for me might be E6 but as far as this fantasy baseball thing is concerned … I’m actually pretty decent.

Steve plays in a 12 team 6x7 H2H keeper league with a couple category twists outside of standard. This league tracks R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG and OPS along with W, K, CG, SHO, SV, ERA, and WHIP. The extra pitching category makes your pitching that much more important and that’ll affect your auction and/or draft accordingly. Speaking personally for a second I like OBP more than OPS since it takes small ball into account better and I don’t like CG or SHO at all since they’re such rare categories that a small sample size (like 1 in a week) will default you an entire category in a championship matchup. Well anyway, nobody asks me about such things when they set up a league. In case you’re wondering about how to set it up the next time you’re putting it together then I suggest OBP and HLD to create a nice little 6x6. It should also be noted that this league has a 2 transaction per week maximum so that streaming/cycling is discouraged. If you don’t know what that is then you should probably find out, particularly if you’re in a H2H league.

Without further ado let’s take a look at Chasing Royalty.

C Buster Posey SF – this guy will be anchored into your lineup for the next decade. LOVE the idea of rostering this kid in a keeper. I’d resist just about every trade offer that comes in for this guy.

1b Prince Fielder MIL – he’s going to have a monster year. Hear me now and believe me now. He’s going to pad those stats so that he can pad his wallet in the offseason. Teams will be lining up to sign him and he’ll pretty much write his own ticket.

2b Juan Uribe SF – the AVG isn’t going to be anything that you’ll like for your team but who doesn’t want 20 HR pop out of a guy eligible at both MI slots? You’ll be living and dying with him for what will seem like an eternity before Utley is due to return.

SS Jose Reyes NYM – heaven help you if he gets injured because you don’t have anything to back yourself up with here … unless Utley returns. There is a lot of speed here at a scarce position so if he’s staying healthy then you get a big bonus.

3b Jose Batista TOR – he’ll break 50 again this year. What? Too soon to say something like that? I don’t care, I’m calling it now.

LF Luke Scott BAL – he’s asleep offensively but most of that is because he’s battling aches and pains already. I still expect 30 HR power from him this season but you’ll need to be patient.

CF Chris Young ARI – he K’s too much and the AVG hasn’t been anything to brag about in any of his seasons so far but there is some all around game here that is very appealing for fantasy. He’s got two 20/20 seasons and I see plenty of potential for a handful more.

RF Jason Heyward ATL – this kid is going to be special player. He was Minor League Player of the Year in 2009 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leap into elite OF status as soon as this season. He can easily anchor a fantasy outfield and that’s exactly what he is for your team.

UT Nick Swisher NYY – it is my belief that Swish can be a 30/100 option for the Yanks. He gets opportunity and he’s just plain streaky offensively. He’s also done virtually nothing through the first month of the season. I still believe but I’m just a dreamer that way.

BN Denard Span MIN – Most of his fantasy value is in SB’s but in a league like yours that also tracks OPS then his value is lessened because he has little extra base power. He’s a decent guy to keep around your bench so that you can spot start him while your regulars have a day off.

BN Coco Crisp OAK – he’s Denard Span except he’s old and brittle. I don’t think you need 2 guys of the same ilk on your bench so I’d look to move one of them somehow.

BN David Murphy TEX – he doesn’t get enough AB’s to have any real value for your team although I’m pretty sure there’s 20 HR power here. For the most part he has little value in a standard 12 team league though.

SP Felix Hernandez SEA – I’m thinking he’s got a shot at the title of best pitcher in the AL. He’s a fantastic anchor for any fantasy or real staff.

SP Wandy Rodriguez HOU – for each of the last 2 years Way-Rod has loved the home cooking going 16-8 at home and 9-16 on the road. So far this year he’s 0-1 at home and 1-2 on the road but the best bonus with Wandy is the nearly full K/IP that he puts up. If you’re after K’s then start him all the time but if you want all around numbers then I consider spot starting him on the road by taking into account his own history.

SP James Shields TB – four out his five starts have been QS’s and the last third of April has shaped up to be absolutely dominant. He’s most successful when he’s keeping the other team off balance by changing speeds. He’s more than solid right now but I’m not one to say that he’s the next Cy to come around. His value might not be higher this season than it is right now.

RP Jose Contreras PHI – when Lidge got shelved I expected Madson to step into the closer role. Now that Contreras is shelved then finally Madson got the job. Check out the waiver wire additions for a suggestion of a guy that we added to this fantasy team.

RP David Aardsma SEA – when he returns he’ll be a solid closer option … however the M’s offense is so poor that I don’t see loads of opportunity for him to get a bunch of saves. Still, he’ll be ok when he’s back.

P A.J. Burnett NYY – he goes in streaks and judging by how he has started the season this looks like it might be one of those really nice seasons for him. I like him for the K potential that he so very naturally puts together.

P Clayton Richard SD – he’s had 3 QS’s out of his 5 starts so far this season. He’s got an outside shot at doing some damage and making a little noise as a nice young option. However the drawback is that he’s pitching for the Friars so run support and W’s will be hard to come by.

P Anibal Sanchez FLA – I’m picking this guy as someone who could really break out this season. He’s only owned in 37% of yahoo leagues right now and he’s already got more K’s than IP. The window for having this guy on standard teams is closing and I’m telling you he could end up as the Fish #2 by season’s end.

P Johnny Cueto CIN – he’s been bringing down the ratios with every successive season and he still gets to start in front of an elite offense. I could see W’s in the low teens and his first start of the season could still happen right at the beginning of May.

BN Bud Norris HOU – he’s a fireballer who is getting more and more print. If he can keep his ratios low, which is kinda doubtful actually, then things will go well for him.

BN Brandon Webb TEX – he’s been gone for 2 years and he’s still several weeks away from helping any fantasy team. I’m staying FARRRRRR away from him in any format I can think of. I’ll need to see some signs of significant improvement before I’ll be adding him to my squad and that’s probably going to mean that he won’t be on my team since I’m not willing to gamble on him anymore.

BN Adam Wainwright STL – he’ll have zero value this year but this is a keeper league … so you might not want to just drop him either. Unfortunately there’s absolutely no guarantee that he’ll ever be again the pitcher he once was.

DL Chase Utley PHI – yes he’s an elite option at 2b but also he’s apparently made of china. I’d be shopping him to see what option you could get, particularly if you can land a 2b and an upgrade elsewhere.

It should be noted that just before I came on the scene with this team Steve traded C.J. Wilson and landed Chris Young. That certainly helped his OF a lot but it also hurt his pitching which is where most of the work needed to be done on this team. Having said that I certainly didn’t disapprove of that trade since CBY is an exceptional talent to secure in a keeper league who can easily turn into a 20/20 option for a lot of years to come.

Waiver Wire Options

Brian Matusz BAL – he was 7-1 from August through the beginning of October last season and I took that as a major sign that some big things are about to happen for this kid. I love the idea of adding a kid like this to a starting staff and by the middle of May you’ll begin to reap some benefit here.

Brennan Boesch DET – I couldn’t believe some of the poo-poo’ing going on over this kid. The lad’s got some skills and a hitting streak over the last half of April is just a little indication of what could be on the horizon. I could see a decent source of runs, a little bit of power and some decent bat control stats out of him.

Ryan Madson PHI – he’s quite possibly my favourite holds guy but when the closer role is in question then he gets a shot at some saves too. Presently he’s in the closer role and he’s got a decent shot at having more saves than holds by season’s end but either way they use him he’ll have plenty of MR stats available for many formats.

Sergio Santos CWS – the Pale Hose are a mess at the back end and right now Santos has taken the closer role so that I don’t see anybody taking it out of his hands anytime soon.

All of these options were added to your team and that started to improve your pitching and bench situations a good deal. You got yourself some saves coming in and you bolstered LF where Scott was hurting your team.

Trading Options

We needed to look at some OBP options who are affordable and it’ll always be wise to look at upgrading your pitching wherever possible.

You were in negotiations for a couple weeks to trade Chase Utley and A.J. Burnett to Twizzlo for Martin Prado and Brandon Morrow – negotiations continued but this article had to be submitted at the end of the month. I really do think there’s something that can be done here since Twizzlo has the flexibility in his lineup to wait for Utley to return and he’d get the better 2b option when he does return. In the meantime Steve could roster an excellent young 2b with decent stats while he pursued the better K pitcher coming out of this deal.


It’s always fun to make moves but my first reaction in the first month of play is to refrain from transactions until you know what it is that you have. Now having said that, your team absolutely needed to make some moves in the early going because you didn’t have options available to you where you needed them. You had to add some pitching because you were drastically short there, you had no real RP options at all. Your stat cats focus more on SP options but you really needed to pursue 2 RP options so that you might squeek out a win in Saves from week to week.

The addition of Matusz off the wire is going to be significant for your team when he’s back on the bump. He really turned a corner over the last third of the season last year and the O’s have beefed up their offense this year. He’ll still have to compete in the AL East which is a daunting task for any hurler but I’m really taking that 2 month period last season as a significant sign that he’s on the verge of some big things.

As for the suggested trade, negotiations continue. You’re offering up a stud 2b in a keeper in order to get a really underrated OPS option eligible at 2b and the better pitcher in the offing. The options available to try and trade for include Shawn Marcum or Max Scherzer and you can certainly build an offer that includes A.J. Burnett or James Shields.

Well, off you go there golf pro. Your team is underway and you’re already in 1stt place. You’ll be fine kid.

Friday, April 29, 2011

monthly fantasy baseball updates

i'm REALLY into baseball and i play fantasy sports in pretty much every major sport. after one month of play in the baseball season i stand in various places with each of 7 fantasy baseball teams.

i'm in 1st place in the Dobberbaseball Readers League. this is a league that i was "asked" to host after i finished a dismal 11th last year in the Expert's League. i've made some pretty shrewd pickups in my opinion and i look to be only one of a few who have seemed to have figured out the league settings here. it's pretty key to have enough SP's to get you to 200 starts on the season and everything else is unlimited. i traded Shawn Marcum for Victor Martinez because i'll easily hit my 200 starts quota and i was desperately in need of an elite catcher.

i'm in 2nd place in my work league full of folks who work in my building. i won the hockey league with these same folks and i'm the reigning champ in this baseball league. i haven't even looked at any trading options here yet because a lot of what i need i've found on the waiver wire. i'm also buried in injuries in this league but i'm hoping to trade for some more pitching once my hitters come back to form.

i'm in 5th place in my H2H 20 team dynasty league. i took over this team last year and took a 14th place team up to 9th by season's end. the growth has continued although i still don't consider myself a top team here. i'm hoping to finish top 6 this season but we'll see.

i'm in 1st place in my CanAm fantasy point league. i realized too late last year just how important starting pitching is so at season's end last year i loaded up on young pitching and just hung on to them to start this season. my pitching is leading the way for me and my sticks are decent enough to keep me in the lead so far. i'm hopeful.

i'm in 1st place in my H2H World League. this is a league i've been in for about a decade full of guys i've never met but it has always been competitive so i've stayed in it. i'm not a big fan of H2H leagues but i've won this league like 4 of the last 5 years or something so there's no way i'm complaining about it now.

i'm in 10th place in my roto World League. this is ironic because this would be the World League that i'd actually prefer to win and actually did win in back to back years ... 3 seasons ago. i just can't seem to figure out the right mix of players in this league and i hate languishing near the bottom of any baseball league.

i'm in 11th place in my 14 team H2H league. i care about this league the least actually but i made a trade last week to add a good young hitter in Ike Davis and all it cost me was Zach Britton who i believe will drop off in stats over the course of the season. i expect to be moving up in this league and i should be competitive over the course of the season.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Enneagram question

so if i assume that i am a 9 with a 1 wing ... as i move to a healthy space i move to 3 but does my wing also move? i ask this because i keep seeing parts of me that seem very 3ish with a 4 wing.

is that possible?

one of the problems that i have with the idea of being a 9 is that they view themselves as "nobody special" and that just doesn't fit me. i do have a significant part of me that screams "i am special, notice me!" and that's very 4 of me.

just a pondering recently.

ok, i've just read a bunch of stuff about the 4 and i'm convinced that i'm not nearly flambouyant enough to be a 4. i'm not saying that i can't have a 4 wing though, that's still possible.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mortimer the pig farmer - in Memoriam

way back in the day i was the intern pastor at a small rural church for the summer of 1988. it was the summer before my 4th year at Bible College. i was sent to this small church to learn from a pastor to see what church life really is. it was a time when i would've liked to have worked in the church after leaving school, perhaps doing missions, maybe doing youth work ... i actually didn't know what direction i would go. i was put in a small office that doubled as a library and storage space at the front of the church, right next to the organ in the sanctuary. i would only work half days in the church and i'd go work as a hired hand at the pig farm of the Chairman of the Board at the church.

i used to love to tell the children's story to the kids before they shuffled off to Children's church while the rest of us endured the sermon on a Sunday morning. i would do my best to try and take spiritual concepts and bring them down in understanding so that the smallest of the little ones could understand that God loved them. one Sunday morning i told the story of Mortimer the pig farm owner and the handsome young hired hand that he had working for him. it was a lesson on looking out for one another and it was a thinly veiled story to poke a little fun at the chairman of the board and the beautiful friendship that was developing between us. i don't believe the kids got who it was that i was talking about but they weren't supposed to anyway, i was trying to speak to the adults while i was expressing a spiritual truth to the kids at the same time.

my good friend Glenn, the Chairman of the Board, Mortimer the pig farm owner passed away last week. we sent word to his wife of our love for Glenn and just how much i will truly miss the man. that summer was torturous. the pastor i was supposed to learn from was removed from his job amid a huge cloud of controversy and i was left under the good care of the church board in general, and the chairman of the board specifically. Glenn was a bright light who heard me in my struggles and easily forgave the sins of youth in me. he encouraged a kid who worked on a farm for the first real time of his life and he gave me room to find ways to belong in a space that was sorely wanting for direction and life. i watered trees, painted buildings, moved, fed and marked pigs in my own creative ways and all the while he just smiled and shook his head at just how different this kid was for this environment he had been trapped in. Glenn didn't really understand me but he was perfectly fine with the idea that he didn't have to. he just let me run with whatever it was that i am. he was the perfect foil for what i needed that summer and it was a summer that changed me in that i gained some freedom to be more than what i might've been otherwise.

i will miss you Mortimer. thank you and i'll see you again my friend.

The Lord is Risen!

He is Risen INDEED.

i was dreading Easter and was hoping for it at the same time. what if i got through the dreadgery of Lent and there was no light at the end of my long night? what if God was not faithful? what if there was no resurrection after my mourning? what if i was doomed to be forgotten and left to sit outside in my darkness forever?

i'm not saying that i have definitely reached my emotional Easter morning but i do see more light of late. my relationship with Wendy has seen much more light as we've each studied more of what it's like to be sharing a life with a person of our particular type. she has most definitely been reacting differently to me over the last month or so and it has budded into some new paths of relating to one another. i've enjoyed that my love, thank you.

it's a brighter day. i raced to the tomb and i found it empty. He is risen INDEED.

i spent my Holy Week with friends, talking about spiritual things. some reached me on levels that few reach me. i basked in their joy, i shared their light and they hugged me.

Good Friday was more pleading for Sunday morning. prayers continued that the Wind of Gabriel would blow on the hollow bones (thank you Mark Heard). Good Friday service continued the somber feelings of my previous 6 months ... a continued longing for light and resurrection.

Sunday was coming. i just had to sit and mourn, wait and pray. yes i have done a lot of waiting and praying.

i was on sound for our 830am Easter service so i was the first on the scene at church. as i opened the door the rector of the church who hosts our community in her building pulled up so she could prepare for a big day in any church's life. she looked at me and smiled her beaming smile to say "THE LORD IS RISEN!" and to hear from me in a beaming response "HE IS RISEN INDEED". she had no real idea of my pain over this period, or the joy in being able to say that and search for light on that morning. i hugged her and thanked her for sharing her light with me on this morning.

the church is a beautiful thing. we share our lives and we help each other along the path.

Wendy, Craig, Jane, Roger, Lyle, Kerry, Reba, Ed, Stu, Kathy, James, Rob, Dorothy, Norm you all have reached me in the last week. you have all touched me and brought me light. you helped me make it to Easter morning and although you didn't all say the words that the Lord is Risen, your lives all spoke the words to me and my burdens are less today because of it. i have not arrived, i just see the light of morning a little more clearly. i was never alone, even when i thought i was a xenophobic wonder.

He is Risen Indeed.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Greatest Story Ever Told

the following is a guest post from a member in our community that i absolutely ADORE. Jane is like your favourite aunt, the kind of woman who you want to make proud of you and who will do all she can to reach and help you. we have continued our Film Fest "Jesus in our Living Rooms" and we went to Jane's place to see The Greatest Story Ever Told. after the movie she related this story and drew a line to how Jesus must've been seen in his travels. she's a gem and i love her dearly.

I realize you get what you pay for, so to speak, and that includes leading worship. If you are the leader, you reap the biggest rewards, not in the actual experience itself, but in all that leads up to it. The pay off is beforehand.
I have never led a Good Friday service before in our church community.
But for the last few weeks my antenna have been up……seeing meaning in many things that might have passed me by. Also added the worship prep is the series of movies our church has been holding in Holy Week, one or two a day from Wednesday to Saturday, with the theme of Jesus in there somewhere….sometimes more blatant than other times. Wednesday night we saw Cool Hand Luke. Beautiful colors and photography and a of subtle Jesus imagery that I missed the first time I saw it. But I didn’t have my antenna up when I watched it back then.
So Thursday I was trying to get to Superstore early, to beat the crowd and get my Easter fruit and chocolate duties accomplished. I stopped at the light, tapping my fingers on the wheel and glanced out the passenger window. There, walking briskly and purposefully through the grass on the boulevard was a young man, maybe mid thirties with a scarf tied around his head. My first thought was “gang bandanas”, then I looked down. He was wearing two long sleeved T-shirts with a dress shirt over top, cuffs undone and open at the front. I continued to look down. Grey jeans rolled up at the ankles and socks and runners. In his hand was a large brown leather bag, kind of like what a middle aged woman would carry in the 1960’s. Mmm…. I summed him up…not a gang type, not gay, poor and probably had some mental issues. Such a purposeful walk though. Where was he going? The light changed. Superstore was in sight. My foot was on the gas but he lingered on in my mind. Again, the gift of being tuned in, I think……which when it happens is truly grace…..would I have given this man a second look had he been walking purposefully on the sidewalk, dressed in a business suit and with an attaché case in his hand? How weird did Jesus look to those who just saw him passing by? Was he quickly written off as, “just a little off”? Poor and a few mental issues? I have returned to thinking about that 30 something year old often in these past few days. Who can ever know where God is? Who can ever know what God looks like? Who can ever know?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cool Hand Luke

the following is a guest post from my buddy Craig. i love to sit and talk with Craig and just pick his brain on many topics but there are a select few topics that i just know i can ask for his opinion and sit back to enjoy the ride. one of those topics is movies; particularly movies that speak out spiritually for those who are keen enough to see it. Craig is a keener. recently Craig has been the impetus behind our church-community's Jesus in our Living Room Film Fest and last night was the first night in what is certain to be a Fest indeed. when i heard that Cool Hand Luke was the opening flick to the Fest my first thought was, what does that have to do with Jesus? i've seen that movie ... and i don't think Jesus is mentioned in a good term once. Craig and Cool Hand Luke surprised me as i journeyed my way through an unexpected Jesus story.

Great books require repeated readings to really be appreciated - I read somewhere that if you want to understand a book you should read it seven times. I couldn't think of any books I have read that many times (except maybe, Cat in the Hat), but I do know of movies I have seen at least that many times.
Last night I watched Cool Hand Luke for maybe the 12th time (approximately). This is a movie where I know every scene, and a lot of the dialogue. And like a great book it continues to reveal things. Now, there are many essays and pieces of film criticism on the internet about the symbolism of this film (just google the title and Christian and you will see what I mean), so in this short post I am not going to name all the cross symbols, communion symbols, and assorted scriptures that may or may not be referred to (the screenwriters have consistently denied such allegorical claims). Rather I'd like to talk about "following."
Regardless of your religious bend, Cool Hand Luke's story is familiar. It is a story about a leader that rises, gathers followers, is eventually rejected, dies (sorry: spoiler), and the followers are left with only their stories. What struck me on this viewing was the needs of those followers, in this case the prisoners - an apt metaphor if there ever was one. They needed someone to rise above to show them the way. When Dragline (Luke's prison mate, in George Kennedy's best role of all time) asks, "Well, what are we going to do now?", I am reminded of Frodo saying he will take the ring, but he doesn't know the way. It is in our nature to look to leaders to show us the way - and we all need those leaders, from the weakest to the strongest personality types. Just as true, we will turn away and reject those leaders when they fall. Luke succumbs to the Boss - he cries out to not be hit anymore, and that his mind is right. It is a hard scene to watch, both because of Luke's pain, and because of the rejection of his followers - who we believe would react the same way to the beating down. Luke comes back to the bunkhouse, stripped of his humanity, physically and emotionally demoralized. His cry, "Where are you now?", is chilling.
I couldn't say what this taught me about myself, how this parable of a movie works on my soul (as I think the great movies do). But during Holy Week, as I ponder the life of a carpenter a couple of millennia ago, I find myself asking the world, and more importantly, myself, "Where are you now?"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

... sitting in the dark ... in silence

sitting with writer's block trying to figure out why it is that i get so preoccupied with my fears and anxieties. just when i figured i had cleared an emotional hurdle and was ok with it then i end up right back in the same place having to answer the same emotional questions about why i feel what i feel or don't feel what i should feel. i sit here on my lunch break and try to sort what is either anxiety that i carry around in my chest or is it indigestion from the turkey sandwich i just scarfed down.
the chapter from McLaren's "A New Kind of Christianity" that we discussed last night had to do with "what do we do now that we've asked all these questions of ourselves and our journey?" and for me the chapter boiled down to "Include and Transcend". i have had a long journey over the last couple years that has tried to be inclusive and tried to rise above a simple reading of my life and faith. i've struggled to know what it means to include but i've tried to be merciful and i've tried to preach the beauties of mercy and justice around me. transcending has been harder for me. i don't move easily. i don't change easily. i also don't wait nicely. it is insanely hard for me to sit and trust and wait for an answer. sitting in the dark, in silence has not been a pretty experience for me.
God, do you hear me? am i alone here? will my fears swallow me up? will this garden burst forth or will i sit in the wilderness longer? will i continue to sit here in the dark? is there a crack of light anywhere?
this is Holy Week but for me the last season has been one long night before Easter morning. at least i'm hoping that Easter morning is close by. i can't be sure. i long for resurrection. i'm crying out for new birth ... i just wonder if i still want it on my own terms or not. but God doesn't work that way, does he? i couldn't dream up the good things that he promises are there.
someone send some hope my way. bring a light and sit with me awhile ... til the morning comes. you don't need to say much, or anything actually. just sit and let's share the light.

sometimes i just need to write stuff down and get it out of my soul. some things just feel like poison inside me and i need to burst my soul open so that i can bleed out the pain.
pray for me. it's dark outside and i have a long way to go yet.

Lord have mercy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

things heard during worship

the valley of death.

"It is the essence of God to take dead things and to bring them back to life."

i want to see Lazarus brought back in my life. i want to be brought back from the brink, from the margins, from the ledge.

Monday, April 11, 2011

priorities, obligation and expectation

this came up in a discussion with my wife last night. my football assignor emailed me to ask if i'd be available to work a football game on an upcoming Sunday morning but this would directly conflict with Sunday morning worship. i asked for Wendy's opinion and she stated that it's something that could be done but not something that should be done regularly since we've made a commitment to our church community that should be honoured.

i looked at her quizzically and didn't make the argument that came through my head. here's my argument.

haven't i also made commitments to other things in my life? don't i get to choose my priorities and go to those places that give me the most joy? aren't i the one who gets to choose my own path?

yes i have. yes i can. yes i do.

if someone were to ask me why it is that i'm not in worship on a given Sunday morning then my answer would be quite honest ... because i was reffing a football game ... or i was umping a baseball game ... or i was sitting at home watching tv, or reading a book or enjoying a cup of coffee and a lazy morning around the house. my point is that i get to make that decision and i get to move in directions where i think i will find the most for my life in that time.

yes i realize there is selfishness attached to the words i'm writing here but i'm not saying that i'm not going to go to church. i'm saying that i will choose where i think i can be best served given my priorities and desires in my live and in a given moment. many times my choice is going to be to sit in my regular chair in the front right of our little semi-circle of our community but sometimes the right position for me is to be 8 yards behind the quarterback with a flag in my pocket and a whistle in my hand.

i'm at a stage where i'm reacting to the "rules" right now. i'm sure that my obligations will remain in place as i set my own priorities. if anyone is inquiring into my whereabouts i'll be very honest about where my priorities sit at any given time. so i'll be reffing a football game on an upcoming Sunday morning if i actually get assigned to it. it could be that i won't get assigned in which case i'll likely be sitting in my regular chair in my regular spot in my regular circle. but that will also be my choice, and i'll worship in my own way sometimes.

Friday, April 8, 2011

making the rounds

i heard a story this week about a man who had the exact same name (except with the first and middle names reversed) as another man who died in a traffic accident this week. he was saying that he had to make numerous phone calls to family and friends to assure them that he was indeed fine and safe. he even called agencies he was involved with to be sure that they knew that he was fine. amidst all his anxiety and all his family's anxiety he had to "make the rounds" of his life to assure people that he was fine.

this week we talked about prayer in my church community and i thought about how it is that i pray when i'm spiritually healthy vs how i pray when i'm spiritually decrepid. i "make the rounds" when i'm spiritually healthy. my favourite way to pray is when i'm on the bike as i commute to work. i pray for those that i love as i pass the street on which they live, it's one of the great things about being apart of a community that encourages each other to live nearby one another. i started riding my bike to work yesterday and it was a giddy experience to pound the pedals as i rode the dirty streets of Winnipeg amidst melting snow and ice and the leftovers of sand that has blanketed our roads for 5 months. it's a dirty, wet ride that i have LOVED for the past two days. it's difficult to "make the rounds" on the bus because everything happens so fast as i whiz past the streets of those i love plus i have found it difficult to pray while life has been so cumbersome for me for the last several months.

being on the bike has helped me pray though. at least a little.

a friend reminded me today, "You are just realizing that you are the only one that can fix you. It may seem like a lot but it is necessary to keep going inward. You will make it past the empty and the anger and the sadness to a soft gentle place that is the truth of who you are. It is worth it. Keep going."

i'm still chewing on that.

solitariness has helped me go inward, to explore my loneliness, my aloneness and the feelings of rejection and abandonment that i have felt. it also has helped me to make the rounds, even if making the rounds has meant building up the walls of my own existence and self worth and all the praying i do is just about trying to fix me.

i saw another friend today and i told him that i am struggling. i'm hoping that he's making the rounds too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

foolish boy

some days i say and think and do the stupidest things.

i am a fool. i put my index finger between my lips and run it up and down with a bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb.

i guess i better work on that stuff a little.

Monday, April 4, 2011

mmmm ... Beer

Top 10 reasons why Beer is better than Religion...

10. No one will kill you for not drinking Beer.

9. Beer doesn't tell you how to have sex.

8. Beer has never caused a major war.

7. They don't force Beer on minors who can't think for themselves.

6. When you have a Beer, you don't knock on people's doors trying to give it away.

5. Nobody's ever been burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured over his brand of Beer.

4. You don't have to wait 2000+ years for a second Beer.

3. There are laws saying Beer labels can't lie to you.

2. You can prove you have a Beer.

1. If you've devoted your life to Beer, there are groups to help you stop.

h/t Hackman's Musings