Divine Appointment  # 34

Business travel lost its glory many years ago. Boarding a return flight on a Friday afternoon from Fresno after a long week found me going through the normal mindless steps of boarding not knowing I had one more appointment this week waiting for me in 22C. 

Sitting next to me in 22D was a  light haired woman perhaps close to 40 years old wearing a blue hoodie and casual wear. Her face was friendly and her mannerisms kind. After a little small talk about my business travel I asked her what had brought her out to Fresno. She told me about 19 year old Son who was “finding his way” in California. I learned they were from St. Louis and she had been out to help her son get set up. It so reminded me of my three sons. Each heading out as they each had come of age in their own unique way. 

As I continued to talk with my row 22 seat mate, I felt like I was peeling an onion back one layer at a time. I sincerely hung on every word she shared and as her story unfolded I could feel my heart opening up for a mother who was hurting for her child. She shared the details of her sons struggle with substance abuse as well as the surreal experience of moving him into a halfway house. Her strength and sense of resolve emminated to the point that I shared the many strong women in my life that I am thankful for specifically, my wife to whom I affectionately refer to as “The Hammer”. I prayed with my seatmate, we wept abit and I felt a strong sense of the Holy Spirit and a sense of peace. 

As we continued to fellowship, she shared eecent encounters where she felt Gods presence. God had been  leading her out of her comfort zone and as she faithfully followed, she would find God presence waiting for her. These encounters she called Divine Appointments. I had never heard of divine appointments and was intrigued. I was impressed with her level of recollection of each of these appointments. In Divine Appointment #22, I was running around the block………

I was unprepared when she gave me one of the biggest compliments of mylife, “Raymond, thank you for being my Divine Appointment #34. 

I leave you with a prayer request for this young man  that he may find his way, find peace, and that the his hero in the blue hoodie will have her son back, God Bless them, Amen.

“In Sheep’s Clothing”

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Recently finished a good read, George Simon’s “In Sheep’s Clothing”.   Luckily for me, this is not a book report as Mrs.Van Zant, my 7th grade English teacher would definitely be looking for more content. I did however want to share Simon’s well defined potential outcomes and my take on potential outcomes if you chose to continue a relationship with a manipulative person.

1. You lose/They win
The ultimate prize for the manipulator. You have been defeated and are under their control. Why would the manipulator change any behaviors? The manipulative person  has exactly what they want. The outcome: you continue to be bound by the unhealthy social contract you signed with your submission to the MP. Standby for the next round of torment. Although you may not deserve it, you are asking for it.

2. You win/ They lose
Talk about petting the cat backwards! In my experience manipulative people tend to be parasitic in nature slowly drawing life’s blood from their host. Much like ripping a full tick off a of dog, the head will likely remain and burrow ever deeper toward ones soul. At all costs, this outcome is nowhere to be found in manipulator’s  playbook.

3. You Lose/They lose
Disturbingly this IS acceptable as compared to the “you win /they lose” scenario. To lose control of their targets(and control is what this is all about) is to lose everything. A sobering example is murder/suicide where the, “if I can’t have you(control you), nobody will” plays out.

4. You win/They win
Ding! Ding! Ding! Simon proposes and I have to agree that allowing the MP to win at least at some level will allow them to “turn tail and run” with some dignity intact. It will also show what mercy and compromise looks like.

If this Manipulative Person is someone close to you, perhaps a relative. A sibling or parent, it might be worth honestly looking at your own tendencies as well. Perhaps Together you can recognize mutual unhealthy tactics, making these unhealthy manipulative habits the target rather than each other. This truly would be a Win/Win
Peace.

I am sorry

Three simple words , without knowing the context, have endless implications/applications. A simple accidental bump into someone,  if you interrupt someone, a common courtesy, These type of apologies are typically immediate. The phrase is a polite gesture allowing us to coexist in a somewhat civil society. Making amends can also vary culturally. For example, in Japan the word for sorry is “gomen”. If you are at fault in a car accident, even before judgement and damages are awarded, you are culturally expected to offer what is referred to as “gomen money”. Those familiar with the Far East understand that “saving face”, a karma centered ideology, yields a population of humility and tolerance. I admire the Japanese tact that it in a sense, requires a time of reflection as well as setting the stage for the more western ideology of forgiveness. 

Humility and forgiveness go hand in hand

I have often wondered if it is possible to forgive without an apology. Additionally, must you forgive when an apology is given. For me I believe the answer is simple. If the apology is sincere, it makes it easy to forgive.

However, If insincerity is present does the apology mean anything? I remember when I was around 10, being full of myself, sharing with my Dad Tony, how someone had wronged me and the next day she had apologized to me. I smugly shared, “I told her I didn’t accept her apology”. He immediately scolded me and made it clear that if someone makes the effort to apologize, you damn well better accept it. Looking back, my not wanting to accept the apology was a lapse in judgment in the form of wanting to hurt, those that hurt me. The apology and her taking ownership was the key to breaking the cycle of vengeance and arrogance. We are human, as the Bible says in Matthew 5 23:25, if you come to the altar with a gift but have conflict in your heart with your brother, leave immediately and go to your accuser so that you may resolve the conflict, and then once again return to the altar with a clear heart. 

If an apology never comes? That’s where forgiveness in order for you to move forward is so crucial. 


Peace to you. 

“A Creek Runs Through It”

Summer days fishing for rainbow trout, wading through a snow melt creek of British Columbia with my older brother Danny,….those days could never be long enough.

Before the Cocahalla freeway was built, it was a 4 hour drive from Lynden, Wa. along winding mountain roads to Merritt. First through Hope, Boston Bar, Spences Bridge and then finally “Merritt, Copper Capitol of Canada, a Lake a day, as long as you stay” the sign read.
Just before getting to our Grandfather’s house, your nostrils were filled with the sour mash-like scent of the wood mill. If it were after dark, you might see a series of sparks ascending from the metal domed screens of the scrap wood furnaces. The embers danced like fireflies twirling to escape into the pitch black abyss of the Rocky Mountain sky. Magically they transformed into the stars that shone so brightly, you felt you could reach up and touch them. This was my First Nations homeland. For over 10,000 years, land of the Shuswap nation.

Long before Feng Shui, Grandpa’s small wood tar-papered house provided all of life’s essentials, Running water was found at the kitchen sink, Heat was a Wood burning stove in the living room. Security- At night the front door was locked by a hunting knife wedged between the door and the jamb. The Entertainment center was the laminated kitchen table with a pint of 5-star Canadian Rye whiskey, deck of cards and a cribbage board.
I remember thin fabric hung over the kitchen sink window, futile in its efforts to filter out the intense mountain sun. On the window sill, there was a miniature prank outhouse that when you opened the door, a little boy figure would pop out and whiz water on you. The sweet smell of Old port cigarillos and scent of rye whiskey hung in the air. For a 10 year old boy, the best place in the world was sitting on Grandpa McIvor’s lap during a poker game.
“What a bunch of fisherman I’ve got “” “boy you’re a real smart feller”, Grandpa would say, waiting to see the gleam in my eye at being praised then like a skilled showman , ” “oh I meant a fart smeller”… What kind loving man Ernie McIvor was. Watching him surrounded by his grandkids was to imagine a king with his treasure.

“Well we better dig some worms if we are going fishing.” Grandpa would declare. Outside the foundation of his house stood a one foot high berm. This was home to a bounty of Canadian crawlers. With a coffee can full of worms Danny and I jumped into Grandpa’s truck and off we went.

Just on the edge of town, we would stop for some Old Dutch salt n vinegar chips, and always the generous one , Grandpa would treat us to penny candy.

Mill Creek was a ways past Lundbum Lake with gravel roads, steep drop offs and hairpin turns.

Grandpa would drop us off at the the top of the mountain , “see you guys at the bridge this afternoon”.

Our hearts would flutter as we hiked into the trees toward the creek. As the sun warmed the trees you could smell the sweetness of pine sap and hear the dry grass and twigs snap under your feet. At times snow stubbornly hung on in the shade.

For bait, we carried a Band-aid tin with worms, tackle boxes were a few split shot and hooks in our shirt pockets.
Our poles were 6ft branches with plenty of fishing line wrapped around one end.
Our stringer was a snapped off “y” shaped branch that looked resembled a divining rod. We left one part of the y long and snapping one short.
As we stepped into the water for the first crossing of a pool, I could feel the icy water flood through the eyelets of Converse Allstars, it took my breath away. I could feel life’s challenges melt away in the purity of that pristine snow melt creek water that was Mill Creek.
Working our way through the pools of crystal clear water, we would dip our lines in and shadows in the rocks would come alive . The small trout would flash in the sun as you felt that exhilarating tug of your first bite. One time I got so excited, I yanked my line out so quickly that I flung my poor trout far behind me into the woods.

While threading our long stem stringers through the trouts gill and out it mouth, scarlet blood residue was a sure magnet for horse flies and bees.
Walking down the creek it was almost best to stay in the frigid water as to keep your legs numb. Once your got out and they began to warm, they ached as the circulation returned, sending shocks to every nerve as if turning on a power grid.
All too soon our shadows lengthened as approached the bridge where Grandpa was waiting. Welcoming us with a chuckle and a wisecrack, we would head back to Merritt with a handful of small rainbows and a lifetime memory.
For those times so long ago, I still cherish them today. Thankful for two great men in my life, my brother and a loving father figure. Ernie McIvor, May he rest in peace, Amen

History Note from my Aunt Sharon McIvor:

“Wonderful Ray. The Mill Creek area is our traditional territory It is called Zoht in our language. The Creek runs right by where your Grandma Suzy, great Grandma Mary, great great Grandma Enulx and their ancestors lived and many were born there. It is traditional unceded Nlekepmux (Thonpson) territory. Grandma Suzy and her siblings fished that creek as did me and my siblings. When you got to Boston Bar that was the beginning of our Territory. It runs all the way to.kamloops. Kamloops is the beginning of Scwepmux (Shuswap) territory. Your Grampa Ernie was Swepmux although he was born in Merritt .”
Thanks Aunty.

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“Ferry Tale” Modern day Cinderfella

“Ferry Tale”
Frantically I walked along the shoreline realizing that I had lost my right shoe.
It was midday and I found myself wandering further away from the ferry departure terminal in search of my shoe.
The overwhelming feeling of walking onto the ferry with only one shoe trumped the anxiety of missing the next sailing. Were this a third world country, or a warmer climate, being half shoeless might not be noticed. For the life of me, I couldn’t even remember what my missing shoe looked like. Inexplicably, I was unable to look down at its match which I wore on my left foot.
Limited to the knowledge of how my left shoe felt on my foot was all I had to identity my right one, made me a bit uneasy.
Perhaps I would recognize my shoe when I saw it. Had I become a quasi-Cinderella looking for a shoe with a perfect fit?

Leaving the shoreline, I crossed the asphalt street onto a compacted dirt road. The dirt was light in color and almost clay like in texture. Walking on the road was comfortable and soft as an industrial grade fatigue mat.
The dirt was dry yet with each step, no dust would rise. Immensely Tall eucalyptus trees bordered the road. A gentle breeze swayed the sage green foliage. The warm sun caressed the stomates on the feather like leaves to open, releasing a soft menthol fragrance into the roadways air. The scene was reminiscent of the the movie cover for the movie “Rainman”.
Nerves aromatherapeutically calmed, I hopped down the down feeling the sun on my back.
The road dirt slowly turned to white sand, leading to an underpass.
As I neared the underpass, the bright sun, made it difficult to clearly see the several figures standing in the shadow of the overhead road. As I stepped into the shade, the sand felt cool on my right shoeless foot. I sensed the absence of subtle fragrances and warm sunshine. Three young men in jeans and T-shirts arrogantly acted oblivious to my presence. My gut told me otherwise.

Passing by them I immediately felt them following me. As we all entered the sunshine, one of the young men with a pixie/Peter Pan like haircut and intricately detailed tats on his left arm asked me “what’s with the shoe”? ….”You tell me”? I replied. He cracked a crooked smile, I could tell he was amused and willing to help me in my plight.
Peter Pan and his posse led me over a few concrete road partitions to a burgundy Chrysler voyager van. He told me I could use it to make my way back to the terminal and wished me good luck in finding my right shoe.

I started the van and drove down the white sandy road which I noticed ended at a sandy beach.
Suddenly the road became dramatically steeper, the sand was deep and the accelerator was stuck. I literally stood on the brake but to no avail. As I anticipated crashing into the sandy beach, I noticed several other vans stuck at the bottom of the hill, deep in the sand. My mind shifted back to the ferry departure time and not wanting to get stuck in the sand. I shifted my feet from the brake to the gas pedal and floored it. As I neared the bottom of the hill, I spun the van around making a 180 degree turn. I sped back up the hill, gained control of the van and headed toward the ferry.
I parked the van at the terminal, left the keys in it and walked aboard the ferry.
I took stock of still being in one piece (although still short one shoe) and went down to the lower deck prior to departure to relax .

A heavy galvanized steel loading dock hung over the shore dock. As the ferry rocked in the waves, The emerald green water was shallow, sandy, and spotted with a variety of underwater ocean foliage. Much to my surprise, I noticed what appeared to be a men’s right tennis shoe. Immediately I knew it was mine.
I knelt on the steel loading ramp and reached into the water, it was just out of reach. If only the ferry would rock inland on the next wave, I might be able to reach it. On the next wave, the vessel moved inland, now was my chance. I got into a prone position, reached out, but just missed it. Unfortunately, my efforts created underwater currents, bobbing the shoe even further away.
My final hope was to stretch across to the shore dock and pull the ferry closer.
I reached out and grabbed the rusted angle iron on the dock, dug my finger tips into the wood decking and pulled. The ferry stubbornly moved toward the dock.
Not a moment to soon, I realized my hands were in danger being sheered off between the ferry plank and the edge of the wood dock. Quickly I moved my hands just as the ferry ramp clamored on the angle iron.
Rolling to my right, the shoe was within reach and I grabbed it out of the water. Dripping wet, I brought it on board and threw it to my right.

Cell phone ringing, (was it midnight already?) I was startled from a sound sleep. It was my customer calling. Looking out my windshield I saw a ferryman with a flashlight directing me to start my vehicle and exit the ferry. I had arrived at departure bay in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and fallen asleep in the drivers seat.
Once clear of the dock, frantically, I drove to the nearest side street to gather my thoughts,,, “ok I’ll be there around 1030”, I told my customer. Rounding the corner, I stopped to grab a Starbucks. My left shoe was on but the right one was missing(imagine that). I stepped out of the car with my left foot standing on the wet asphalt. I slid the drivers seat back. Surely it had slid under the seat while I slept…. Not there. Looking over far on the passenger side floor , my right shoe… Just out of reach…. “Venti mocha please”.IMG_6596.JPG

Rose Colored Glasses

Why I prefer Rose colored glasses? God Please Give me the strength to be pleasing in my words and actions. Amen
Red colored glasses. “Seeing Red” -Being judgmental angry and hateful. A feeling of emptiness.

Clear Glasses you can be blinded by the light instead of feeling its warmth and seeing the color of life.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19 NIV) Amen.

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