Tag Archives: breaking chains

“Day in Court”

I was 15 years old, visiting my Dad in Edmonton Alberta during my high school Spring break in Washington State. Strangely He and I went on a shopping spree. Blue plaid suit, deep blue shirt and a white tie. 


The next day we got up early. Dad standing in front of me shirtless freshly shaven, smelled of Aqua Velva, and his fine thin brown hair still wet. A lit Export “A” cigarette hung in his lips, the neglected ash fought the forces of gravity as he struggled to complete a full Windsor knot in my new tie. Looking me over, it was if he was searching for something he had lost long ago. 

Securing each button on his dress shirt, his “Born to Love” jailhouse tattoo on his chest slowly disappeared from sight…….
Sitting in a narrow hallway of a provincial court, for what seemed hours, little did I know, I was to be Exhibit A in his “day in court”. Dull humming of the flickering fluorescent lights was interrupted by a “Click, Clack” as the court door opened. “Raymond, come in here”. Wincing I entered the brightly lit court room. Unaccustomed to the tie, my throat tightened as I saw a room full of serious faces. I sensed that a dialogue had been taking place and I was about to become part of it. My ears were ringing, I felt like I was looking through a fisheye lens. My Dad glancing at me with out making full eye contact. (He was somewhere else mentally) “Raymond,tell everyone how old you are”. 

I blurted out, “15 years old sir”. 

All eyes were on me, still oblivious to what was going on. Through the fog, my Dad was pointing at me, I heard “Your Honor, this how I looked!” “This is how old I was when I was arrested for joyriding in a jeep and sent into general population”! Still a bit puzzled, Dad gave me a quick glance of reassurance, and escorted me back in the hall. 

The story continues with me coming to understand the high level of abuse and mistreatment my Father experienced as a teen while in “custody”. During one particular incident he was forced to clean up the room directly under the gallows. 

I hadn’t heard these details until I was sixteen and with his death shortly after that, I put these stories away. It was too much to carry as a teenager. 
If this was my Dad’s “day in court”. Why had I felt judged? Why did I feel the weight of the chains that seemed to still bind him? 
Was the click of the courtroom door the securing of an emotional lock for which I had not the key? 

What had I done? Answer? Not a damn thing! 
As a teen, part of the burden was simply knowing that injustices such as these even existed. Wanting to rectify the injustice against your loved one is only natural and I had to accept the fact that this was HIS “Day in Court”. Those were HIS choices, and not mine. I would and still have many of my own mistakes to pay for.

There is importance in speaking out against injustice. Getting a “Day In Court” may seem ideal but a sobering fact is that justice as you perceive it may not prevail. 

Secondly, understand who “The Court” is before asking for them to pass judgment. Otherwise, be not surprised when “the judgemental” judge you. 

Finally, as a Dad of 5, the only one wearing a blue plaid suit to MY “Day in Court” will be me.


RIP GJR 

Peace. 

Forgiveness

“Forgive others and you will be forgiven” ,”Forgive and forget”.
In Luke 23:34 Jesus said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. 

All familiar phrases. We love to provide this advice to others.

Others that we might not have any idea what they have experienced. 
Then, as he only can, C.S. Lewis hits you between the eyes with, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea… Until he has something to forgive.” 


Recently myself and loved ones experienced deep emotional wounds caused by those who we had thought to be trustworthy friends, almost like family. As merciful time has provided some healing of these wounds, a mental inventory tends to naturally take place and much like hitting the refresh button for a website, an evaluation takes place on the status of personal relationships. Personally as I described in an earlier post, “Human Nature”, A simple approach to the worthiness of a personal relationship can be evaluated by what others do while you are at your most vulnerable.if they cut your jugular, this is a reflection of their character and more importantly, NOT YOURS. At that point it’s not about forgiveness, all that matters is having enough self respect to sever ties to that person. Although it may sound harsh, to engage with them is to engage with a fool or a drunkard. 

Lobbing Social Grenades

With a seemingly endless supply of pompous self righteous memes at our fingertips, within 3 taps on our smartphones another passive aggressive zinger/ “gotcha” post is on its way. It is so gratifying isn’t it? At least for the moment. I once had two older colleagues that had never met face to face but being in the same industry had nonetheless clashed while pursuing the same business. I knew for a fact, neither were on social media(i.e. FB) With me in the middle, I would hear each of them talk trash about the others shortcomings. By chance I was to meet with each of them at the same venue. What a surreal moment as I introduced them to each other. There was an awkward silence, eyes met and they shook hands. They exchanged niceties and even managed to smile. I realized then that It is so easy to throw a grenade at someone not knowing the extent of the damage it might do. But as these older gentlemen showed, it is much more difficult to take a shot at another within point blank range when no doubt you could have blood on your hands. Point being this type of behavior is nothing new. Much like missile carrying drones.,social media just makes destroying and attacking others easier and more precise. Recently it has been a struggle for me as I felt wronged by many I thought to be friends. My only real path to finding peace was to ACCEPT the “status” of my relationship with each of them. In that acceptance I had to take ownership of whether I might be tempted to lob “grenades” their way. If that temptation was there, I unfriended them. Against conventional wisdom, I choose to keep my friends close and my enemies, a little farther away. Peace to you all. 

Amatuer Philosophy 

Being hurt or angry doesn’t mean you are bitter as bitterness requires you to hate. To those that hate, look inward as the bitterness you sense in others might simply be the stench of your own caustic guilt.Expressing your anger with another just means that you’re healthy and confident enough to communicate that another’s will is not welcome in your personal universe. 


A reassuring thought to those with a weary heart is that peace CAN be given even when trust and respect have yet to be earned. Peace.

Learn by doing


In honor of my Stepdad Tony’s birthday in heaven, I wanted to share one of my favorite stories is about him. When I was about 10 years old, it was a beautiful spring day, in Lynden, WA. The sun was shining with a soft breeze. Tony and I had been planting trees(more like sticks we had ordered from the back cover page of The Family Weekly magazine) and we took a break. We sat on the soft pine needled ground under the shade of a big tree. Cars zipped by on Northwood Road. We were enjoying a Shasta soda talking about how nice the weather was.
Suddenly I felt something biting me on the legs, I jumped up, started dancing around, brushing away the ants that had crawled up my pant leg. Tony and I both burst out in laughter in response to my unscheduled ants in the pants routine. You always knew when Tony was busting a gut laughing as he sounded like Frank Burns of the TV series M*A*S*H. As I sat back down, Tony was still chuckling as he took a drink of his pop, “Oh Ray, I’m sorry haha but man that was funny”…suddenly his face had a startled look, he started spitting out soda as he scrambled to remove the ant that was now biting his lip.(apparently one had crawled on his can)

I cherished the times we would work on thing’s together, I learned by doing with Tony. Including learning how to laugh at yourself. RIP Tone, Love Ya Man and Happy Birthday. 

Passionate Anger

For the most part I try my best to entertain uplift and be a support for others. Selfishly it fills my cup 🙂 Simply put, a form of social ministry. Good or bad I also strive to be honest and transparent. Recently I have felt a level of anger to where I wished ill will on others. As anger grew inside of me, I could hear the chains of hate and revenge rattling forth binding my inner peace that I cherish. I have unfriended ignored and avoided people I once considered friends. When I was a young child, I witnessed a lot of violence, abuse, and the like. During my adolescent I did my best to avoid confrontation perhaps as a defense mechanism. 

As a survivor, over the years, I have learned that confrontation is not bad if you come with when your intentions are honorable and are calm enough to let others be heard as well. How does the saying go? “Stand up for what you FEEL is right”….perhaps that is where the anger and frustration comes from. I FELT I did just that. Unfortunately there is also the saying (probably Dr Phil) “Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are”.


 I have heard Christians also referred to as “Believers”. 

I think it is fair to say that as compared to the average population these practiced “believers” are convicted and Passionate in what they believe and feel, Passionate in Love and if evil has its way, “Passionate in Anger”.

Peace and May God Bless Us all. Amen. 

Pastor David:A Tribute

Contemplating my next post which are typically comprised of those who have shaped my outlook on life, none have yet to be my junior. Pastor David O’Toole is the exception. I can only tell  my story and will not give mention to those of a contrary opinion as this is not a pity party but rather a tribute to a good man.

Over 10 years ago I sat in the back of our local church praying for my one of my three sons to find a path to peace. Zachary as many 14 year olds was an angry you man trying to find his way. Zach recently had moved in with my wife and me in our small Ohio town. A glimmer of solace was listening to Zachary teaching himself guitar. It never dawned on me that God was about to answer my prayer.

David had been hired as a youth minster but also played in the worship band. He seemed preoccupied with his teen group and committed to his duties. I can remember we were in the church gym when I had the opportunity to talk to David about Zachary. I explained some of his struggles and his interest in guitar. David took Zachary under his wing and as any mentor, Zach was not always happy with David and probably vice versa but the relationship was genuine and grew strong to this day.I had the privilege of watching the band Strength Within, a Hard Core Christian band perform in which David was the lead singer and Zach eventually would play guitar in. I appreciated the edginess and the youth that attended the performances. It opened my eyes to a Christ worshipping raw subculture that did not tolerate hypocrisy. I was impressed.

During one of the youth summer trips David asked me to do all the cooking and it was then I saw his talent for organizing events. “Ray” he said, “there are three key factors that make or break a youth trip, the food, the location and the activities.” I still chuckle to day thinking about. “on that last day I want some much food, like a half chicken each for the kids,,,snacks at 11,” ….Good memories.

Once I had the honor of speaking to a recover group in which I whole heartily gave my testimony of my experience as the child of and addict. I mean I felt like I had given part of my soul away. The next day I was riding with David to lunch and I was explaining how I felt. He called it an “Emotional Hangover” , where you so much of yourself away that the next day you can physically and mentally feel the effects. This gave me a small glimpse of what pastors must experience on Monday mornings.

I could go on about others that I know David has effected positively but as for me I am forever grateful that God used Pastor David O’Toole to deliver my son who is now, Pastor Zach Roy, to us so many years ago.

Thank you David O’Toole and May God Bless you.

Otooles and roys
Hailey Roy, Celeste O’Toole, Pastor David O’Toole and Pastor Zach Roy