Monday, February 28, 2005

Inspired by a strong friend/Burden sharing

Craig Bartholomew gave a great sermon on burden sharing within the Christian community at First CRC not so long ago. That sermon really helped put some things into perspective for me. There is a difference between complaining and burden sharing. I've really tried to orient my brain and heart toward sharing of information because I need help from my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jenn van Breda shows this burden sharing in this post about her family's struggle with HD. My family has been struggling of late too. Many of my friends are somewhat aware of what is going on with my Mom. But this weekend at home deepened things. It has all been weighing on me. So I'm going to blog about what is on my mind, I'm going to share it with you.

At the end of January I wrote this post (read the first half) about what was happening with my Mom. She had been recently diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis. You can check that post for a more clinical description of SS, but the short and long of it for my Mom has been a huge decrease in mobility; to the point where she has been in too much pain to even think about getting out of her bed. Last year wasn't too bad. She recovered in the spring and had a good summer and fall. Then in the fall she started to feel familiar twinges in her back and legs. It progressed rapidly. Many treatments were unsuccessful in relieving her pain or helping her back. The doctors realized that she cannot remain on morphine and Tylenol 3's forever. The most recent Dr., a specialist in Kingston has got her scheduled for surgery.

The surgery is scheduled for this Wednesday. Though she could be bumped to a later date as her procedure is deemed elective. The surgeon is hoping to open her up and grind off many of the calcifications, bone spurs and growths. He will also remove the pieces of floating bone and spurs that are attached. My Mom is quite anxious about this. She had another back surgery when I was 5 that was a similar deal.

My Mom is also reeling from some family issues on her side of the family. Her younger brother, Doug is a bi-polar cocaine addict. When I came home on Thursday my Dad informed me that Uncle Doug was missing. He has never gone missing before. He did come home, around 5:30am and told my Grandparents (whom he lives with) that he had attempted to take his life but was unsuccessful. My Grandma has been paying off his drug dealers and while he was missing it seems he was also betting on horse races. His cheques bounced and my Grandma paid them. Obviously my Mom and her older brother Steve are upset about all that is going on and very torn about what to do.

Also, the church my parents go to has just had their pastor removed. Our family is quite close to the pastor and are hurt and confused by her very recent removal. As a result of her absence the pastoral charge (the two churches she was pastoring) is falling apart, quickly!

My Mother is not a strong Christian. No one in her family is. She had been talking to her pastor about many of these things but she is unable to. Fortunately she is able to talk with my Grandma Stewart and myself about these types of things. She is spending much of her day crying. She has so many questions and so many anxieties. We are trying to encourage her to give all of these things up to the Lord, but it is hard for her. It is hard for me.

So yeah, these are a couple things that I've been wrestling with lately. Thanks.

Did you hear about Marleah?

"Great, I have scabies now!" - Marleah Joanna Moelker, Monday February 28, 2005

Saturday, February 26, 2005


If you're into Michael Ondaatje (and really, who shouldn't be?) you might want to check this out:

Thursday, February 24, 2005


"Eighty-five percent of spirituality is a good night's sleep!" - Howard Hendricks

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

An encouraging thought

Today in my Pentateuch class we were talking about the book of Exodus. For awhile we talked about the names God gives for Moses to call Him. One that most Christians are familiar with is I Am Who I Am. Dr. Wolters made a special note of this name. He said that the Hebrew tense of that name isn't that cut and dry. The name could also be translated as I Will Be Who I Will Be.

I Will Be Who I Will Be. I have to say that as majestic and powerful as the great I Am is, I'm much more excited and encouraged by the I Will Be. Of course it fits in perfectly with the convenant that is being solidified at that point in the Bible and throughout redemptive history. But for me in this time it says that God will always be the perfect God He says He is. He is not human and will not randomly change one day. He is unchanging and that is very comforting because it seems that I am always changing. It is so amazing to have Someone there who is steadfast, loving and never hypocritical.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Fleetwood Mac

Although Stevie Nicks has a trademark voice can take you on any adventure, I would rather drown in the deep river of Christine McVie's vocal talent.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Back to the world of highspeed

Hello, sorry for my absence. I went to the scary world of dial-up from Wed-Today. I could not deal with the shakes and inevitable cat-throwing episodes that would result from trying to post via dial-up. Please forgive me.

A whirlwind tour of my reading break (please try not to fall off your chair with excitement):
  • went on choir tour (read other blogs, i'm sure they chronicle it better than i
  • found out some of the things i am allergic to
  • went to Brighton to spend time with my parents
  • cooked and cleaned
  • didn't do enough reading and writing
  • bought some necessary items
  • went to my parents' heathen church
  • watch Daytona
  • made chocolip (chocolate chip) pancakes for my cold farmer Father this morning
  • drove back to the hammer

There, wow, I can scarcely believe it all happened to me!

I have one of those busy weeks coming up (like so many of us Sr types do) with the papers and the mid-terms and the working today 5-9, tuesday 11-close, wednesday 5-10 and thursday 11-close and then driving back to Brighton to spend time with my Mom before her surgery. Eek.

I love you guys.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

What up from Barrie

Hey, just wanted to continue being a nerd and blog while on tour. I'm in Barrie right now at Unity Christian School. Our concert last night was the best one yet. It came after a good butt kicking from Dr T that we really needed. This tour has been really compact and busy. We have been doing two a day concerts for a lot of the time then hopping on the bus and going somewhere else. Makes us kind of tired and strung out. We will head to Whitby for the last concert tonight.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Choir Tour

i'm going on it...til Tuesday.



Last night Jay and Kat and I were talking. Jay told us about this study that said that people who sleep 6-7 hours a night live longer than those who sleep less or more. We discussed some of the things that would buck that trend and I said that smoking 8 packs of cigarettes a day would likely cut down on your life span.

Then we calculated the logistics of that:
  • 192 cigs a day
  • sleeping 6 hours a night
  • that gives you 1080 minutes of awake time
  • and means you would have to smoke a cigarette every 5.625 minutes for 18 hours of the day
  • sick!

Eve Was An Alto? Maybe Not.

If you've ever been in a choir you know about the plight of the Alto. We are as Karen Burke would say, the hamburger of the choir, the meat. But it isn't the ground beef that gets the glory. It is the well toasted bun or the fantastic sauce. We play second fiddle to the tiny, good looking Sopranos and their soaring melodies. We don't get scores of swoons for tender Tenor notes or oohs and awws for deep basement Bass notes. We just plug along with our leaps and sixteenth runs. We also get blamed if anything goes wrong.

It is always the Alto's fault. Or is it? For the longest time I had been making the half joke that Eve must have been an Alto as she receives so much blame for being deceived in the Garden. But after some serious recent thought I'm not so sure there is any truth to that.

Here are some of my arguments:
  • Eve had a man, everyone knows that Altos don't get the boy
  • She was deceived by the serpent, Altos are question askers, we don't listen that well, plus since we do everything wrong if Eve were an Alto she would have eaten the bark of the tree not the fruit
  • She then got Adam to eat the fruit, Altos cannot seduce a man to anything let alone to defy his Creator
  • Deception is not an Alto game, especially with men, we're just so happy that a boy is talking to us in the first place
  • Eve was naked, Altos are not usually the type to be exhibitionists
  • She was just wandering around in the Garden, Altos are doers, there is no chance that if Eve was an Alto that she was just sitting around waiting for things to happen

So where does this lead me? I would like to propose that Eve was not an Alto at all, but she was indeed a Soprano.

Dum, dum, dum!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Lessons Learned From the Pit #2

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover
Case Study: Melissa Cates and Heather Lockie

These girls started work at the Pit in September. When we hire a batch of newbies the managers gather together and try to guess which ones will wig out and leave in a fit of tears. My guess was Cates and Lockie.

For the first couple weeks it seemed as if these two were always scheduled together and I couldn't remember which one was which. So making a play on their well coiffed appearances I took to calling them Mary-Kate and Ashley (names that have stuck and perpetuated themselves). Part of this name calling was launched from my view that they were princesses. They came into work with their hair done nice, make-up, earrings and irresistible smiles. I honestly didn't think that they had it in them to come into the restaurant weekend after weekend for long overnight shifts where they would be dealing with droves of crass drunks and thankless service. Boy was I wrong!

These two have become a couple of our best employees and a joy to work with. They are also quite surprising in their lives outside the store. If you looked at Cates you would never know that she is indeed a HUGE geek! She has all of the episodes of the X-Files somewhere in her collection, she comes from Aylmer (she does more geeky things but they aren't coming to mind right now). (Souv) Lockie seems like she is a good natured Daddy's girl, but when you talk to her about her high school days or her recent piercing you find out she has wild side.

I love these girls, I look forward to my oppourtunities to work with them. Thank you Pita Pit for reinforcing a Biblical principal I should have already been living.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


So the season of Lent starts in a few hours and like most years I am intending to make the most out of it. The things I choose to do or not do during this time have come to be a reflection of my Christian walk at the time. This year is no different. Some of the things on this year's list do require a certain amount of accountability: this is where I need the help of my readership. Many of you I see on a regular basis, please, if you see or hear me slipping hold me to task.


Here is the list:

I will not eat McDonald's.
I will not have food delivered to me.
I will write a note of encouragement to someone everyday.
I will spend 1 hour or less doing things on the internet (unless for legitimate research).
I will not swear (including the Dutch
I will not speak about things of a non-virginal nature.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Choir: Cult or Group of Like-Minded Friends?

There have been a lot of jokes for a lot of years about the Redeemer Concert Choir being a cult. Most of the time it is all in good fun. But sometimes when it comes from a volleyball player, a senate member or someone who isn't involved in anything the jest is accompanied by some stinging.

I know that as a choir we don't do much to dissuade the joke. Especially when we show up to the same place repeatedly dressed the same. All the same I really don't think we are a cult, or at least not any more than the varsity volleyball teams.

At fifty-plus members we are one of the larger groups in the school. We are also one of the few if not the only that has (essentially) the same large group meeting multiple times a week for the whole year. We have a strict year-long commitment. Until this year, we had more choir rehearsal time then we had time in any class. In addition to the amount of time we spend in group rehearsals we also have to spend time rehearsing on our own and with small groups.

Now this whole money thing and the choir. It is true that we cost a lot of money. BUT, we also bring in a lot of money and we are at the beck and call of the front office. When was the last time there were a thousand seats sold to watch the Men's basketball team or they asked Women's volleyball team to open up the annual business partnership night (with less than one day's notice)?

Many complaints seem to come about tour. Why should the school spend so much money so you guys can hop on a charter bus and get to travel the east coast and the U.S and WHAT you're going to B.C next year...? Here is the dilly, we don't choose where we go, neither does Dr. T. The Admissions department does. There is a direct co-relation to where we go and to where they are trying to target as admissions goals. When we tour we have an admissions rep with us who speaks at all of the concerts. Yes the tours are fun and as a group we reap many blessings but these tours are hard work. We put countless hours of preparation into the music. We stay in often bizarre billets (not nice hotels...old ladies' houses), we don't get a lot of sleep, frequently we do multiple concerts in multiple venues in one day, we are a bus with the same people for a week or so, we don't eat a swanky restaurants and visit some very unexciting places (such as Lansing, MI or Whitby, ON, or Trenton, ON or Edmunston, NB).

Now there is this whole thing about how we only hang out with people that are in the choir. If you want to ask Jen, Amy, Adrienne, Ashely, Mira, Simon, Alaina, Dylon, Erin, Sarah, Amy....etc if I hang out with them or not they might say that I'm busy but that I still love them even though they aren't in the choir. I think the deal with choir people hanging out is that we are a large group who spends a lot of time together in rehearsal where talking and frolicking are frowned upon and sometimes we need to get all of that talking and fellowshipy type stuff out. Also as a group we share a lot of the same interests so many of us would naturally be friends anyway. There is also the factor of so many of us being in the choir for so many years together.

So next time you are going to joke about the choir being a cult you may want to rethink your jest and audition to become part of a group of friends who love each other and love worshiping the Lord through some of the beautiful music that has been created for us.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Camel Swallowing

by Drew Dyck
Swallowing a camel is tricky work - almost, some would say, impossible. For starters, camels are hotheaded. An aspiring Swallower faces the Herculean task of wrestling the obstreperous creature into submission. And camels are clever. One hint of your intention to consume and a camel takes to thrashing, making the swallowing step excruciating. Even after subduing the camel, you still face the highest hurdle -the sheer size of the beast. You can probably imagine stretching your mouth wide enough to accommodate a tail, or perhaps even a hoof. But the head and haunches (not to mention those massive humps)present a formidable challenge. Some literature suggests the animal be dismembered, citing the paltry capacity of the human mouth and esophagus. The subsequent instruction, however, allows for no such concession. We will not acquiesce to constraints of anatomy. We mean to swallow camels; not camel parts. No, despite the impediments, after this short lesson you will be able to ingest the entire creature.

The inherent difficulty of the job demands an interdisciplinary approach. My most startling breakthroughs came when I employed techniques perfected in other fields. For instance, I discovered helpful analogies in the practices of many Christians. Now, we all know that without prudent editing, the commands of Christ can be quite unsettling. They call for bizarre action: treating the beer-soaked bum on the corner like the Son of God, caring for total strangers, loving enemies, abandoning violence. Such commands are clearly outlandish. Unfortunately they are also clearly in the bible. Like swallowing a camel, remaining a Christian while ignoring these central aspects of the faith is no easy task. It involves tremendous discipline and ingenuity. And yet it is accomplished on a wide scale, with relative ease. When I stumbled upon this phenomenon I knew I had the answer. By carefully extrapolating their methodology I met with unmitigated success in the practice of camel consumption. Soon I had swallowed my first desert dweller, humps and all.

The primary tactic is distraction. Here I must confess my deep indebtedness to Christian friends. For most churchgoers, focusing on the lofty mandates found in the gospels only leads to cognitive dissonance and bowel irritation. In an effort to avoid these problems, one Christian I know hides virulent racism behind a perfect tithing record. Another scrupulously avoids alcohol while nursing a grudge against her neighbor. Still another uses flawless church attendance to exempt his antipathy for the poor.

You can learn much from their example. As you attempt to swallow your first camel, avert your eyes from the beast. Busy yourself with a useless, but tedious task - something that demands your full attention. Remember the examples mentioned above and do likewise - simply focus on something easier to stomach and whoosh, the camel will slip right down your throat! The distraction technique has a paradoxical beauty: the smaller and less significant your preoccupation, the larger the camel and the more effortlessly you can swallow it. As I like to remind my students: Aim small to swallow big. Strain out the gnat and the camel will go down like candy.

However, the distraction method will only take you so far. You must still do your stretching exercises. Because forcing a full-grown camel down your throat is nearly a physiological impossibility, increased flexibility is of the utmost importance. Again we turn to the Christian example. Theological flexibility is crucial for a Christian walk that dispenses with the teachings of Christ. It calls for a very supple hermeneutic. I remember the unbridled awe I felt hearing one preacher justify decadent living in the name of Jesus - a homeless, marginalized Jew. "You'll be rich," he promised his parishioners, "because Jesus was rich." Wow, I thought, as my credulity stretched and snapped. That takes flexibility. He had transformed the servant Messiah into a ruthless, esurient billionaire. Don't laugh. That's no easy task, especially in a world where one- third of the population goes to bed hungry. The preacher knew the value of rigorous stretching. He had also conquered the gag reflex. For such an expert, a 900-pound camel is a mere dinner mint.

Well, now you know the technique, but the application is up to you. I hope you're getting hungry. Shut your eyes. Open your mouth. Then tackle your camel with confidence. Just remember the procedure outlined above. If you execute just right, you may never even realize what you've done.

(Drew Dyck is a freelance writer currently pursuing his Masters degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.)

You know what makes me sick...

...when I get home so late/early that I actually meet the paperboy on the road and stop to get our paper from him so as to save him the trip to the end of the cul-de-sac.