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Everything Changes

The more messed up this world gets, the more God makes sense.

Tuna & Pasta

Thursday, July 24, 2008
No matter where life takes me I will be content.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

[ Philippians 4:12 ]

I wonder wow many people can truly say that.

For me, it comes down to a simple decision. I am either content with the life circumstances I find myself in or I worry, complain and fear what tomorrow holds. And the latter doesn't help me or change anything.

So when the cupboards are left with a couple of cans of tuna and some pasta, I will be thankful for food to eat. I learned that lesson when I lived in Brazil. No, not because I didn't have food in my cupboards, but because of the Brazilians who would welcome me into their homes and gladly serve me a plate of rice - the only food they had - without embarrassment or shame. Just the opposite - they were honored that I, an American, had come to their home. And they were happy to let me be served first as their guest.

Tonight I met a man in my city that would be considered poor. Not by Brazilian standards mind you, but almost as poor as you'd find in Canada. He has no wealth and is living in an apartment that is funded by social services. We chatted about coffee shops and the new downtown renovations. He told me his age and that he moved here in 1991, the same year I landed in Canada.

Although I have seen this man around town many times I have never talked with him. And in the 5 or 10 minutes that we chatted it was obvious that he was enjoying some conversation. That's when he invited me to join him for supper - every Monday and Thursday at 4:30PM - at one of the local "soup kitchens".

Perhaps he was a perceiver and knew about the tuna and pasta.

I told him that I would come one day - on a Monday or Thursday. Maybe I could learn more about being content.

Oh yeah. How could I forget.

The secret to being content will probably help too.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

[ Philippians 4:13 ]

Even if that means eating tuna and pasta.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

There are nine requisites for contented living:

HEALTH enough to make work a pleasure
WEALTH enough to support your needs
STRENGTH enough to battle with difficulties and forsake them
GRACE enough to confess your sins and overcome them
PATIENCE enough to toil until some good is accomplished
CHARITY enough to see some good in your neighbor
LOVE enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others
FAITH enough to make real the things of God
HOPE enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Virgin Generosity

Sunday, July 13, 2008
Last night I received a call from back home. My dad was taken to the hospital. He was having chest pain. The doctors decided to keep him overnight and today I drove to the States to see him.

On my way back home I got stuck in construction traffic, which turned into accident traffic, and I was getting frustrated. What should have only taken me about an hour was turning into an adventure.

I had my Virgin Mobile cell phone with me but I didn't have a minutes. My balance was only one cent. You can't make a call or send a text message with only a penny on your phone. So I decided to call Virgin's customer service (which you can do with or without a balance on your phone) to see if I could arrange a top up.

The customer service agent seemed like a nice guy and was very willing to help me. (Most Virgin agents are.) I told him I was stuck in traffic and didn't want to be without cell phone access. As he attempted to process a credit card top up he informed me that their system had just shut down. I asked him how long he thought it would be but he told me he didn't know.

Even more frustrated now, I told him that I'd have to wait until I got home to top up my cell phone via the Internet. That's when he said something I've never heard from a customer service representative say, never mind a PHONE company!
"Since I was unable to help you due to a system failure, and since you're stuck in traffic and in need of cell phone service, I am going to add a couple of dollars to your phone as my way of apologizing for not being able to assist you."

Cell phone minutes. GIVEN to me by Virgin Mobile.

Now THAT'S a cool company.

Music Download

Thursday, July 10, 2008
As a musician and publisher, I'm all for legal music downloading. That's LEGAL downloading. Figured if Derek Webb is gonna give away his music then I can support that. Maybe you should too!


Monday, July 07, 2008
The deviation IQ scoring system, which takes 100 as an average score, is based on extensive testing of people of different ages in many parts of the United States and on the statistical computation of mean scores for each age group. In computing these average scores, psychologists use a statistic called the standard deviation, generally denoted σ, to signal the extent to which no average scores deviate from the norm. As a result, an individual's score may be at the mean, or it may be one or more standard deviations above or below the mean.

I am fascinated by the people I've been meeting in my city. Mostly downtown, in the city center. People spawned by a society of poverty, ignorance and neglect. Delinquents, many of them, born out of a chronic, unending sickness that pervades cities.

Psychology books would describe some of them as "...socially maladjusted, having character disorders or sociopathic behavior; destructive, immature, impulsive, manipulative - with a disregard for the needs and feelings of others. A deficit of conscience and judgment; inability to feel guilt and shame."

A product of their society.

In addition to the delinquents there are the addicts, the lonely elderly, the autistic savants, the single moms, the homeless. Many, also, a product of their environment or the company they keep.
A society is a grouping of individuals characterized by patterns of relationships between these individuals that may have distinctive culture and institutions, or, more broadly, an economic, social and industrial infrastructure in which a varied multitude of people or peoples are a part.

The word society may also refer to an organized voluntary association of people for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purpose.

As I meet these people on a daily basis I ask myself a simple question:

Is it my responsibility to change society?

Even I know that I can't change society. But I could create a new one! An "association" that would enable them to find freedom from the destructive patterns that have made them what they are. An "organized" society that could provide resources and support, teaching them the basics of life. After all, these people need society, and a better one than they are currently a "segment" of.

Can you imagine what that would look like?!
The castoffs of society will be laughing and dancing in God,
the down-and-outs shouting praise to The Holy of Israel.

For there'll be no more gangs on the street.
Cynical scoffers will be an extinct species.

Those who never missed a chance to hurt or demean
will never be heard of again:

Gone the people who corrupted the courts,
gone the people who cheated the poor,
gone the people who victimized the innocent.

[ Isaiah 29:17-21 | The Message ]

Creating a society like that will take time, but I think it is possible.

'Overweight trailer caused fatal crash'

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Dan Nolan
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jul 2, 2008)

Virginia State Police have determined a fatal crash that took the lives of three members of a Hamilton family was caused by their overweight trailer.

William Smith, 33, his wife Sandra, 35, and their daughter Kaylee, 7, were killed last Thursday night on I-77 in Virginia when their vehicle and trailer went out of control and struck an oncoming tractor-trailer in the northbound lanes.

Two other children, Madison, 9, and Genna, 3, were treated at the Wake Forest University Baptist Center in Winston Salem, N.C., and were expected to be released into the custody of their grandparents by yesterday.

"It's been determined the weight of the trailer did cause the crash," State Trooper O.J. Lilly said Monday, adding it was a "terrible and tragic" accident.

Smith, an HSR bus driver, and Sandra, who worked in the accounting department of Turkstra Lumber, were driving a 2005 Dodge Durango and it was pulling a 35-foot trailer built in 2004.

The family, who had left their east Mountain home Thursday morning, were on their way to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with two other Ontario families. The accident occurred about 5.6 kilometres from a campsite where the three families were planning to spend the night.

Lilly said the Smith's trailer weighed about 8,000 pounds (about 3,630 kilograms) empty.

"Once you start throwing in bikes, camping gear and portable water tanks and sewage tanks and propane tanks, that makes it heavier," he said.

Investigators determined the vehicle and trailer were travelling down a four to five per cent incline on the Wythe County highway that stretches for about 1.6 kilometres.

"There was the downhill incline and in combination with the weight ... he hit the brake and the trailer started swaying on him," Lilly said.

"Once it lost control, it went into the median strip and then into the northbound lanes."

The surviving girls' grandparents, John and Jane Poulton, live in Florida and travelled to Winston Salem after being contacted by police.

Lilly said the couples travelling with the Smiths were "mentally in shock" after the crash, but assisted police with the two injured girls.

They stayed with the girls at the local community hospital and then at the hospital in Winston Salem until the grandparents arrived.

Meanwhile, a trust fund has been set up by friends and family to help the Smith family pay for ongoing expenses such as medical bills, transportation, funeral costs and the long-term needs of Madison and Genna.

The Smith Family Trust Fund has been set up at Hamilton Community Credit Union, with branches at 698 King St. E. and Mohawk Road.

The account number is 3196800, Branch No. 828, Transit No. 21152.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.