\”Concepts create idols, only wonder grasps anything.\” – Gregory of Nyssa

Physical Challenges

The Defeat of Self Doubt and Planting of New Seeds with My Neighbours

Planting SeedsAh, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” – Jeremiah 1:6

Jeremiah was a young man and it seems he felt boxed in by the the pressures of his society’s and cultural expectations for qualification and vocational purpose. It was in his own thoughts and mind that the people around him and the fellow Jewish countrymen would find him lacking. He was too young, lacked in education, failed in pedigree, and generally had no authority for speaking on behalf of God or truth.

It seems like things have not changed much since those days. So often we fall into the patterns of society’s expectation of boxed in rules, perimeters, and requirements for the right to be considered qualified to speak or enact visions for change or mission. Success is even margined by the cultural expectations of independence, self sufficiency, and quality being judged through numbers or profit. It seems authority and power always comes back to that which the individual presents over that of others.

These social and cultural expectations scream at us, “You are not good enough!” “You cannot achieve or act because your not gifted enough, educated enough, wealthy enough, old or young enough, in the right titled or position of authority!” “You lack the abilities to succeed!” It is a worldly noise that fills our minds with the distractions of self doubt to the point that we just simply give up. We don’t even bother to try, and why should we? The world knows we will fail and we know we will fail.

It was here, in this mind set of self doubt, that God spoke to Jeremiah and like him, unless we are willing to quieten our own self defeat, we will miss hearing and listening to our creators voice and calling.

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 1:6-8

Jeremiah would not find his authority in the world’s expectations but rather would only find it in his relationship with the Lord. He was not to look to his society’s or cultures expectations of character and abilities but rather that of God’s character and abilities entering into his life and personhood.

God has placed you and I in a very special community and neighbourhood! When we look at our neighbours we are not under their judgements but rather sent to them by God’s presence in our lives to speak with his words, love and act with his understandings, and deliver a Spirit of freedom from the worlds expectations of success, power and authority. We live not within the boxed categories of the worlds view but that of our creators view of abilities, talents, and gifts which with him in our lives is endless!

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,” – Jeremiah 1:9-10

My neighbour is from Toronto and is a huge Maple Leaf fan. Try as I might, I can’t convince him that the Calgary Flames are a far better team! I must admit, I know I’m dreaming here a bit but, the hope of another 2004 Stanley Cup run just can’t leave my heart. Why am I sharing this story?

Despite the political differences my neighbours and I might have, the reality is God has placed all of us over this separation or relational gap. My neighbour and I can cross over the thresholds of our sports, political, ethical, and religious boundaries and embrace a conversation to which God can speak through and to both of us. We don’t have to have all things in common to relate as it is God’s presence that bridges the words and worlds between us.

to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.

Listening to the voice of God in the relationship I have with my neighbours begins to break down the barriers of communal self defeat. No longer are they strangers, they are friends and they impact the person I am today. As we share in life together we begin to find parts of our worlds coming together which shape the meanings to authority that we have and our relationships with God.

It is in these relationships that I can plant seeds of thought through my actions and words which can bring God’s presence just a little closer to my neighbours and friends lives, whether they know him or not. In some sense, I see them doing the same with me. Together we are building community which in relationship with God, becomes a building of the Kingdom.


Unconditional Gratitude – An Open Letter to Brian McLaren

LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS 1I tend to like the dark. Truth is, I spend most of my best reading time in the dark; staying up late into the night in bed with my book in front of me and my small little reading light curled over the top of it as I envision the author standing before me speaking the words I’m reading as though we were engaged in a deep conversation. I’m not sure why but I feel like my mind is just more focused that way, more willing to engage in what the text is saying.

It was a few nights ago though that after starting Brian McLaren’s new book ‘Naked Spirituality‘ that I came across a conversation he expressed having about gratitude that deeply disturbed me. I usually am greatly inspired by his writing which is why it took me back so much when reading it. Try as I might, the discontent would not leave so I thought it best to put pen to paper and express my thoughts in an open letter here. Will McLaren every read it? I do not know but, I hope by verbalizing it we might all grow to find a deeper, more unconditional spirit of gratitude.

Dear Brian McLaren,

I remember the first time I ever picked up one of your books. I was in  a Chapters book store here in SW Calgary looking for something different and came across your writing of ‘A New Kind of Christian‘. Like most other times in book stores, I began reading it in one of the aisles and found I could not put it down. Most often I like to read apologetics or theology books and it is my wife who reads the narratives and biographies but your thoughts in this book where mesmerizing! Needless to say I was finished it in 3 days and on to find the 2 follow ups after it.

Since then I have gone on to read a number of your other books including starting most recently your latest work in ‘Naked Spirituality‘. After hearing so many of your thoughts in your other books though I must admit to being a bit distressed in a story you speak of regarding a spirit of gratitude. You say,

When I was still a teenager, my friend Mary asked me, “How much money would you give to keep your eyesight if you knew you were going blind?”

“A lot,” I answered. “Everything.”

Then she asked, “What if it was your ability to walk – if you had a disease that would leave you wheelchair-bound unless you could pay for a cure. How much would you spend?”

“Everything,” I said. “I’d liquidate everything I own and go as far into debt as I could to save my mobility.”

“How about your hearing?”

“The same,” I answered.

“How about your sanity – your mental health, your intelligence?”

Finally I asked, “What’s your point?”

“I’m just trying to save you from BYTS – the Big Yellow Taxi Syndrome,” she said, evoking the newly released Joni Mitchell song. “If you were to loose any one of these abilities, you would pay millions of dollars to recover it, so each one is worth millions of dollars to you. You would rather have the ability to see or hear or move or think then tens of millions of dollars in the bank. Well,” she smiled and gave me a little shove, “you have them! Which means you’re better off than a multimillionaire! You have to know what you’ve got before it’s gone.”

Box FramingI realize that we live in a world that likes to box frame such things as success, richness, blessings, normality, and capability but in honesty I can’t help but feel personally towards this story. In open truth, here I am, in a wheelchair, paralyzed as a quadriplegic after a car accident 18 years ago, reading this story, and what I’m hearing is you would rather do anything, including go as far into debt as possible, then become like me!

Why? What is wrong with me? What am I lacking that makes your abilities more valuable then my own? Should I then go and do “everything” to not be this person in a wheelchair?

Let me share a story with you which comes from an experience I had prior to the car accident that has placed me in this wheelchair and is strangely similar to your encounter under the stars. It was about a year before my life would change in such a dramatic way and like most days I was found dribbling a basketball down the street. I was always athletic competing in just about everything and being a 6 foot 210 pound 15 year old I was as invincible as you could be!

Growing up in the church I understood the concept of God but I really didn’t take the conversation seriously. Anyways, there I was, dribbling down the street towards the courts and I distinctly remember an inner voice speaking to me. It said, “How would you like to be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life?

Now my mother had worked with people in the health care industry before who had been in wheelchairs and so it wasn’t like I wasn’t aware of some of the challenges these people face in life. Still, without really taking notice of who I was talking with and the implications of what I would say, I shot back, “Sure, I could do that! It would make me cool, unique, and I’d be some what revered!

Let’s be honest here; I had no idea what I was talking about. More to the point, I had no idea who I was talking too! Looking back now I can honestly say that I know I was talking with God that day and he was preparing me for what was going to become very shortly, a new projection to the pilgrimage of my life. Still, what was I looking for here? What was the deeper desire? Maybe even, what would make me grateful to be who God created me to be?!

Let’s look at it from the perspective of the secret vision of Jesus. (Thought you might like that term ;) ) Jesus’ disciples loved asking questions and they were constantly asking him about the “why’s” in life. One time they were walking on the streets of Jerusalem and they came across a blind man begging on the side of the street. His followers turned to him and said, “Teacher, why is this man born blind and disabled since birth? Is it because he himself has displeased God or did his parents offend God?” (John 9:2)

Jesus looked at them and answered, “It is neither because God is displeased in this man or offended by his parents. It is so that he can do the incredible works of God through being who he was created to be!” (John 9:3) Blindness was seen by Jesus not as a lacking or deficiency  but rather a personification of God given character and identity. This man was special, unique, and cool because of who God made him to be!

I have been in a wheelchair for many years now and gained much more wisdom and appreciation for the gifts God has placed in my life because of the wheelchair I live in. As such I must admit to recognizing that you probably are writing this false understanding of gratitude without realizing the danger nor damage this sense of false gratitude can create. But, we must see beyond the world’s sense of segregationalized and marginalized gratitude. Our eyes must be blinded by the glory of the cross which drives gratitude straight to the hearts of the segregated and marginalized!

I have been around some incredible people who face incredible physical and mental challenges in life and one thing that has been greatly impressed upon me is the real spirit of being able to accomplish all things through Christ’s inspiration and guidance. (Phil. 4:13) Perhaps something I am most grateful for is the encountering of Christ’s presence through such relationships and events!

We have met one time before a few years back when you came to Calgary to speak with Bob Goudzwaard on your book ‘Everything Must Change‘. After your talk I came up and shook your hand while you signed my copy of ‘A Generous Orthodoxy‘. Perhaps this is something else that must become more generous in recognition and must change in our society’s understanding of appreciation. A real spirit of gratitude is not an appreciation for what we quantify as the justifiable right in our life; but rather the physical, mental, and spiritual diversity and beauty God has placed in each one of our lives both individually and communally. Sharing those things together as equals and sharing full equity between each other despite differences; those moments are truly miraculous and filled with the glorious spirit of eternal gratitude!


Broken

Broken

I starred blankly at the news screen as they described the story of a stranger who was listening and after hearing the faint cries of a baby, leapt into a garbage bin. After peeling away the layers of garbage they took off their shirt and wrapped it around a new born boy who with its umbilical cord still attached was rescued from the clutches of death. It wasn’t until later that the stranger would find out that he was not a stranger at all but the unexpecting father of the child.

Let’s face it; it’s a story we have all heard so many times before. We cry out in frustration, “What’s wrong with that person!” “How can they just not know…?”

A Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces is arrested and charged with sexual deviance, rape, murder, and other horrific charges. Teenagers are found gang raping teenagers in the school yard. And prostitution is legalized in certain states and provinces. It all seems so wrong, so decayed, so grotesque, so… Broken.

I was four years old when I was exposed to the realities of a broken world. My mother worked long days and would leave me at a day home behind our condo in SW Calgary. I remember the lady running the home would keep us locked in the basement all day exclaiming, “That’s where children belong.” Usually with a few “F” words in the mix.

It was here that the eldest daughter of the lady who ran the home began taking me with her to the darker corners of the basement. I don’t remember much, but I remember that I spent most of my childhood trying to hide it and make sure no one ever found out. Most importantly, I tried to make myself forget it ever happened because I thought it was my fault. I was Broken.

I was broken and because I was broken the world will never look the same to me again. The world has become a place of overt violence with battlefields in every marketing advertisement plastered on the billboards and storefronts in shopping malls and road ways; in snippets of film, movies, television, and commercials as they provocatively  exploit the psyche of human relational conjecture; in the one liner jokes we so innocently speak to one another with; and in the headlines of news media leading to social judgements based upon the bias of social and personal exclusion from the stories context.

My Brokenness has caused me to become angry. Why can we not see the exploitation of human sexuality and relational identity as the violence which it truly is? Why has it become normal to treat human sexuality as a consumer product and individual right rather then a relational identity and spousal gift? I suppose the reality to which I found is that I am broken, just as everyone is has been broken. The world is Broken.

Jesus’ brother James gives us something we can use in our brokenness. He wrote and called us to, “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” and promised us that, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16-17)

I don’t have all the solutions to the broken realities of our world but I do believe James is right. We need to first recognize our own Brokenness; and once we’ve accepted that we need to expose it, confess it to those around us, and talk about it. When we can be open and real with one another about the struggles we have, the challenges and fears that are a part of our lives; we can be honest in the midst of communal grace and truly seek to transform those realities. Then we can see the real beauty, the real gifts God has placed in our lives.

Secondly, we need to pray for one another as well as ourselves. Speaking to God about our need for healing and openly asking for his hand in our broken reality brings an internal connectivity which reaches to the very depth of our created being as it was meant to be. In Jeremiah God speaks to us saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

Lastly, we must live with grace for one another; accepting that we are all Broken in a reality to which none of us can ever fully understand, experience, or comprehend. Forgiveness is not always easy to work out but, judgment is never ours to make lest our own judgments come upon our own brokenness.

This world will never be the same to me as it will never be the same for you. I will pray for you though just as I pray for the Broken people which I wrote of in the beginning of this post. I hope you would do the same for me.


To Save a Life – Youth Event

To Save a Life


I Believe in the Enigma of Expressions

“Where were you when Crosby scored the golden goal?” That was the question I woke up to this past Monday morning as I sat there sipping my hot coffee and watching the Global Morning News. Like 85% of the rest of Canada I was sitting on the edge of my seat in front of the TV praying for a miracle!

As I watched the highlights one more time the theme song of “I Believe” crept into my thoughts and I began to wonder, just what is it that I believe in? Over the past few weeks Canada has been swept away in a spirit of national and global pride, of communal unity, and the celebration of gifted success in athleticism. But that belief also came in the form of unique and diverse accomplishments of greatness.

As a follower of Jesus I believe faith is united through the crux that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah and Lord over all of life and creation (John 3:16-17). But I also believe that this enigma is expressed through each individuals passions, gifts, and talents as they grow in relationship with Jesus (Matt. 16:15-19). I suppose that is where the story of Expressions Community begins and why I follow a mission of Seeking Expressions of Jesus as Lord in Life and Community.

This mission has led and continues to lead Bonnie and I through some amazing Expressions of Jesus such as our Re:Genesis group which offers support and inspiration to those who face challenges in life. Re:Genesis is meant to inspire people who face many challenges; and not necessarily just physical examples either but all trials in existence, to find a sense of new life and values which encourage us with purpose and significance in God’s calling.

God at the Movies has found Expressions of belief and truth in today’s parables and silver screens. I laughed as my friend Mike who is not a follower of Jesus (yet) began to grow in faith as he said to me, “Going to watch a movie and talk with my friends at Expressions just didn’t seem like going to church!” I couldn’t help but see the paraphrase in Jesus’ words to his disciples (Matt. 13:10-17).

Expressions has also led us to take on many transformational missions such as Conversations in ESL and Expressions of Compassion at the Mustard Seed each month. I am particularly looking forward to our Adventures in Mars Hill mission this April as we lead a group down to the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo to share about a Kingdom which makes the unknown God known to those who are seeking the truth (Acts 17:23). We did this last September 2008 and were blown away by the miracles we experienced. We were touched after receiving a letter from Perry who we had developed a friendship with while at the Expo as she wrote, “You were the unplanned special gift that will hold a sacred place in my heart when I think of my Calgary trip. The light and radiance you two send out into the world is like a magnetic veil of pure unconditional love.”

The mysteries of belief are not always an easy road to travel as even Jesus said, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matt. 7:14) I count myself blessed and privileged to be one of those who finds himself in the midst of expressing that enigma of belief.
Perhaps you are asking too “Who do I say Jesus is?”, “What is it that I believe?”, and “How do I express that belief?” Perhaps we can explore that enigma together and what it means to follow Jesus as Lord in Life and Community. Perhaps together we can find Expressions of Jesus – www.expressionscommunity.org.


Re:Genesis With Dr. Jeff Koep – Finding Health in the Midst of the Greatest Challenges

Last November we had the honor of my friend and chiropractor Dr. Jeff Koep coming and sharing his faith with our Re:Genesis group. He had quite the testimony and spirit for encouraging holistic faith and health while we spoke for about 1 1/2 hours! Jeff offered five practices of holistic health which when applied with our faith can give a real representation of what it means to find health in the midst of the greatest challenges. Here is a letter which he offered at his practice of South Trail Chiropractic Family Wellness Center in the following weeks.

To see a write up on our January Re:Genesis gathering Click Here.

Believe it or not, my goal in last week’s newsletter was not to depress you! In fact, it was meant to a) honor an incredible woman and b) to get you thinking about who in your life might be taken from you prematurely if they keep living the way they are living. You see, that man who died in the gym could have been anyone; even someone you know right now. It could happen to someone you know tomorrow or 20 years from now if they don’t change. I also wanted you to think about what YOU need to change so that you can live life fully right now and for many years to come; so that you can fully enjoy your family, your work, your passions, and your purpose. It is our mission to help you and your families achieve that.

The “part two” of this is that there absolutely IS a better way to live that will ensure a long healthy life. But most people do not live that way. We here at South Trail Chiropractic are dedicated to teaching you this way of living, which we call Maximized Living. There are Five Essentials to Maximized Living and all are extremely important if you are planning on living a full and healthy life and raise the healthiest children on the planet! The 5 Essentials are:

1) Maximized Mind – includes time/stress management, sleep, spirituality, and positive relationships.
2) Maximized Nerve Supply – the power to heal and be healthy is in the spinal cord. When the nerves are interfered with (subluxation), the body cannot function or heal properly.
3) Maximized Quality Nutrition – food provides the fuel and building blocks that your body needs to continue to power and heal itself on a daily basis; you are what you eat!
4) Maximized Oxygen and Lean Muscle – Exercise allows your body to take in higher levels of oxygen and creates lean muscle that keeps both your body and mind healthy.
5) Minimize Toxins – toxins affect our bodies in a negative way and inhibit us from functioning at optimal levels eventually leading to illness and disease.

The 5 Essentials are the core foundation of Maximized Living. Without any of these Essentials, you are unable to live the long, healthy and fulfilled life that you are meant to live. Each of these Essentials work together to keep your cells in optimal shape and your body functioning at its highest levels. If you only focus on one of these essentials, such as exercise, you are leaving out other core elements that keep your body healthy. Of course, your adjustments and spinal correction exercises are taking care of Essential #2, which makes sure that the brain-body connection is fully functional, but what about the other four? Again, we are dedicated to teaching you about them! Starting in January, we will be holding bi-monthly advanced health workshops teaching you the Five Essentials of Maximized Living. As well, we will be holding a one day Maximized Living Makeover to teach you how to regain your health in 40 days.

The exciting part of this is that you CAN regain your health; and you CAN save a life by sharing this information with your friends and family. The North American lifestyle is literally killing people and many don’t see it happening until it’s too late. We will be asking you to bring guests to our events to make sure that we are all reaching out to those who need us. Again, I ask you, what if you gave a dying person the information they need to LIVE? You CAN save a life.

Maximized Blessings, Dr. Jeff


Returning to a State of Just Wondering…

It seems like forever since I’ve been writing here on Just Wondering… In the same sense my time of sharing my thoughts on SE Calgary News over the last three months came and flew by. During that time a friend of mine asked if I would share some of my articles here on Just Wondering so I thought I would return to my reflections on Ecclesiastes as well as interjecting them with some of the articles I wrote for SE News.

Life has been busy here not only with work but with our involvements in our Expressions Community. Anyways, as an opener I thought I would just share some musings which have poked my life as of late!

I have been reading this. – It seems an odd choice I know for my Missional friends but has offered me an argument to wrestle with; if for nothing else the willingness to let the “other side be heard”.

I have been listing to this. – I have come to love this band and would welcome the opportunity to go and hear them live anytime!

I think this is the most incredible thing I have ever seen and only hope I might get to take the great leap myself one day… oh’ya, one day!

I am going to this.

I can’t wait for this.

I am Just Wondering… what is God going to do next?!


A Brief Reprieve from Just Wondering to SE Calgary News

Recently I have been asked to take over a bi-weekly column in the Faith & Life section of SE Calgary News by my friend Rick Bayer (Click Here to Check it Out). So I just wanted to let my faithful readers know that I will be taking a brief reprieve from Just Wondering… until November.

O’ya! You can find me here too: @RUJustWondering.


For Such A Time As This… I Have Arrived

TimeCheck it out for yourself: Ecclesiastes 3

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11

Time. It is a perplexity of life and something which we seem to never escape. In honesty, I had thought of many things I might want to share with regards to my thoughts of time and the way in which we treat it. Ways which seem to treat time as though we poses it and have the right to use it as we see fit to our own desires. I think often of the statement “Don’t waste my time!”

Likewise, we never seem to exist in the moment of time which we are currently in. When we are at church we are thinking about what we will do when we get home. When we are at home we are thinking about what we will do when we are at work. When we are at work we are thinking about what it will be like to be on vacation. The dichotomy we create between what our bodies are doing and what our minds are doing develops such a rift that I wonder if we ever really truly arrive in the moment to which we are presently in.

It was when I was in this thought pattern that a friend of Bonnie’s and mine wrote an email to us that just seemed to strike right at this thought of time and our inability to see the whole picture to which God was present and aware of. We met Katie about five years ago as she lived in a group home here in the SE side of Calgary while adjusting to living with MS. She has since become a good friend of ours and in many ways an inspiration to following Jesus. A part of the Center Street Church community, Katie is greatly involved with social activism and fights for many of the rights for the disabled community here in Calgary and Alberta. She also is a very talented creative arts painter and promotes her work on her website www.oralart.ca/.

In any sense I felt moved by the timing of her email and wanted to share it with you as part of my devotional to Ecclesiastes 3 and For Such A Time As This… I Have Arrived.

When do you know that you have arrived? Have you arrived when you get married and move into the house of your dreams? Have you arrived when you have your first child? Have you arrived when you get the perfect career and have assured your security? When you have grown old and actualized all of your goals?

I started taking my trip on a bright red, reliable and strong bicycle to get to the ends of the earth and find adventure. I soon came across a Village of Fatigue and crossed over a bridge of Uncertainty. I came upon a dirt road that led to many scary turns and frightening hills. I had to get off my bicycle and I had to stop in a worrisome and unpredictable city called Exacerbation.

My tires started to go flat and I had to lay my bicycle down since my kickstand broke off while navigating around a rock of Depression. While momentarily stationary, I found a place to live, found some work, got a cat, and found love but I never found rest or a sense of direction.

Overnight, my bicycle was stolen, my house burned down, the business went into receivership, my cat died and my boyfriend left me. In desperation, I caught a bus that ended up on the road that was muddied and impassable. It eventually crashed in Suicide Gulch and I became broken. I was lost.

While in the hospital, I was introduced to a wonderful Man [Jesus] who tried to comfort me and heal my wounds. He became my new Map Reader. The road continued to be long and hard and my pain continued. We were unable to find a place to convalesce. There was an Apartment of Despair, a Townhouse of Inequity, and finally a House of Horrors.

We continued to reach dead ends but I think that my misplaced self-reliance kept grabbing the map out of the Man’s hands. I needed to follow. His acute navigational skills found me in a House of Care with a backyard that stretched out for miles. The old house still needs some major renovations but I was safe. In the backyard, I was planted in enriched soil, grew strong roots, and was sheltered from unpredictable storms. My many gardeners fed, watered and pruned me and soon I was able to learn some gardening skills of my own.

I was able to plant bright, sweet smelling flowers of fun, excitement, confidence, perseverance and gratitude. I spread grass seeds of hope that grows lush and green every year, provides comfort when I lie down and its fragrance reassures me. At times though, I still feel sad and grievous when some of the blooms fail to open but I am optimistic some will thrive in the next season.

I grew trees that scattered pollen of awareness that attached themselves to anyone who was willing to listen. I started to paint fences of isolation, with my art, to inspire and motivate those who were weary.

With a convicted spirit, I took the harvest of my garden and shared it with others who were able to change the landscape, pave roads that were once unsafe, to find those lost on their journey and to relieve them of their heavy loads.

I have a new bicycle now. It sits in a sturdy bike rack called trust and I take side trips to build my character. It’s a bicycle built for two because my Map Reader needs a comfortable place to sit. My journey is over and I am now on a mission. I have finally found a new Place — in my heart — called Joy and Contentment. I have arrived.


Re:Genesis – Finding New Life in the Midst of the Greatest Challenges

regenesis-designDo you face physical challenges in your life? Emotional or psychological challenges? Or are you connected to anyone who does?

It is said that, “Adversity is the foundation of virtue” and together that virtue can lead us to new life and a community of friends which can support and lift us up. We will find friendship, inspiration, acceptance, spirituality, purpose, and transformation as we hear encouraging words and engage with one another.

Join us in gathering once a month for an Engaging Speaker, Dinner, and time to find fellowship with one another. Together we can Find New Life in the Midst of the Greatest Challenges.


Re:Genesis Project

O.K. So I have been preparing for a new group which I am hoping will meet once a month starting on Saturday, January 17th, 2009. My thoughts are that it would be a support and social group for local people who face great challenges in their daily lives. I am thinking that it would be mainly for those who have physical challenges but I would like it to be open and inclusive to those who face other challenges too whether they are psychological, emotional, physical, or spiritual in nature.

To start it off in January I planned on us gathering for dinner followed by my friend Brad sharing his thoughts on how we can “Find New Life in the Midst of the Greatest Challenges.” Something which I thought could be a bit of a catch phrase and theme to the group. Anyways, I was designing some logo images to share with the community and was unsure which would be the best one and I wanted to share them here and see what you thought of them.

Which image do you think is the best fit?

regenesis-ii

regenesis-iii

regenesis


Expressions Movie Night: Music Within

Richard Pimentel (Ron Livingston) begins his life as a fighter, and his life’s work becomes a process of fighting for the rights of others.

Rising up from a childhood in a dysfunctional family, armed with a talent for public speaking and a winning personality, the young man makes his way to a Northwestern college, confident that he will ace his try-out for his idol Dr. Ben Padrow (Hector Elizondo), the coach of the winningest team in the history of the College Bowl.

But Dr. Padrow shatters his dream when he rejects him. Richard’s immediate reaction is to enlist in the army for a tour of duty in Vietnam. During combat, the young recruit loses his hearing to a bomb blast, and has to deal with this newfound disability on his return to civilian life in Oregon.

Richard discovers that his disability and the struggle to transcend it is a defining moment in his fight for what he believes in. When he tries to help his friends, vets like himself and others with disabilities, to get work in an environment that treats them with pity at best and disdain as a matter of course, he realizes that he can make a difference. The friends who make up his close-knit clique are: Art Honneyman (Michael Sheen), a student wheel chair user with cerebral palsy who uses his rapier wit to deflect the prejudice that greets his disturbing appearance; Mike Stoltz (Yul Vázquez), a fellow veteran with a lot of rage and nowhere to put it; and then there is Christine (Melissa George), the passionate libertine who strokes Richard’s ego and initiates him into the world of free love.

Together, the friends experience the currents of those turbulent times, and the wild, joyful energy of winning through confrontation and humor. Without his hearing Richard is all the more prepared to listen to the message deep within himself, and to carry that message to the thousands of people whose lives are improved by the movement he helps to organize.

Expressions will be hosting a screening of the movie ‘Music Within’ upon invitation due to the limited amount of space. Thank you for your interest.

When: Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

For more information on the movie please visit: http://www.musicwithinmovie.com/


Simple Acts of Kindness

This has quit possible been one of the most difficult weeks of my life. I feel completely and absolutely exhausted; not only physically but emotionally too. My wife Bonnie has dealt for several years with chronic infections and has been treated with so many antibiotics that her body now can no longer respond to these treatments. As such the doctors pursued surgery on Tuesday with the hopes of stopping the constant attacks of infection.

The follow up was appalling as she was discharged that day with the instructions that we were to contact Home Care for assistance. On the other side was Home Care stating that the hospital can only make the contact. And so the political burocratic circle begins. “No, it’s not our responsibility. It is their’s!” “No, I’m really sorry but, it’s not our responsibility either. It’s theirs!” Why does political paper work take more concern over the health and welfare of the human being? Does no one care for others anymore? Does no one care about my wife and I?!

It was a difficult moment and in truthfulness I was prepared to remove some heads. That is when some close friends of ours responded to our call. Geraldine is what I would call a 70 + year old marathon runner. No word of a lie she showed up on our door step with a box of freshly baked breads, home made soups, and a tin of cookies which were still warm from the oven. With tears coming down her checks she hugged us and said she was praying and felt a calling from Jesus to contact Anne who was a Home Care nurse in our church. Anne would be visiting us that afternoon (Thursday). Following Anne’s visit, Bonnie felt waves of relief as she promised to return this coming Sunday. It was the greatest news and blessing we could ever have received this past week!

The week has yet to finish out and Bonnie and I are still waiting to hear the results of some biopsies which they took during the procedure. However, I can honestly say that I have felt Jesus with us throughout this week. At times it has been extremely difficult but it is then that we have felt the simple acts of kindness which only faith could have provided us. The many emails we’ve been sent – Jesus wrote. The many phone calls we’ve answered – Jesus spoke. The simple acts of kindness which we have received – Jesus was there!!!

“Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!”

Psalm 105


Don’t Give Up!

Probably one of my favorite Musicians: Eagle Eye Cherry!


Shaw TV Interview with the Calgary Aikikai Dojo

A couple of days ago my friend Todd contacted me about an interview which he was setting up at the dojo with Shaw TV. Of course I agreed to be part of it despite dealing with an on going shoulder injury making it difficult to use my right arm. To tell you the truth, with little time to practice I felt as though I did pretty poorly. I gave it a go though and thankfully the TV crew did not spend too much time focusing in on my techniques. As a slight correction to the commentary however I might say that prior to being in a wheelchair I spent 3 years studying Karate. Following my car accident in 1994 I studied 9 years of Kung Fu and for the last 2 years I have been involved here at Calgary Aikikai Dojo with Aikido.

Anyways, take a look and let me know what you think of the video!

My Apologies as the video has now been taken down by Shaw and I was unable to attain a copy!


Shake Hands with the Devil: Movie Night

Expressions of Courage

“How many lives can be saved in a fight against indifference when your only weapon is the courage to stand alone.”

Shake HandsYou are not alone in the search for global justice! Tonight is a time to gather and find inspiration as we watch the film ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’; a true story about the Canadian Lieutenant General Romeo A. Dallaire and his experiences in Rwanda, Africa. Following the film will be a short presentation from Ricot Leon regarding his ‘Heart for Home’ and the dream he has to bring hope to the nation of Haiti. Popcorn and refreshments will be provided.

There is no official cost however; we ask that you might make a donation of any amount to ‘Heart for Home’ in the effort of supporting there work in building the hopes and dreams of the Haitian people.  Together we can all find courage, strength, hope, and the ability to take a stand and make a difference in the world today!

Place: Oak Park Church – #11263 Oakfield Drive S.W. Calgary, Alberta

Day & Time: Saturday, March 8th, 2008 @ 6:30 pm – 10 pm

For more about the film visit: www.shakehandswiththedevilthemovie.com/.

For more about Ricot Leon and ‘Heart for Home’ visit: www.heartforhome.wordpress.com/

Thank you for your interest and support. If you would like any more information please email erik@ecfcommunity.org.


Mouth Painting Expressions

A good friend of Bonnie’s and mine has recently taken up the practice of mouth painting. No… it is not painting pictures with your mouth nor is it pictures of peoples mouths. Ha, ha! Katie deals with the effects of having Multiple Sclerosis (MS for short) and as a result has for a couple years now been unable to use her arms and hands as effectively. That does not stop her from expressing the “Artist” (French ascent intended now!!!) that she is becoming!

“Fun in the Sun”

Fun in the Sun

“Little Black Dress”

Little Black Dress

“Little Black Purse”

Little Black Purse

Which Action Hero Are You?

You scored as Neo, the “One”, Neo is the computer hacker-turned-Messiah of the Matrix. He leads a small group of human rebels against the technology that controls them. Neo doubts his ability to lead but doesn’t want to disappoint his friends. His goal is for a world where all men know the Truth and are free from the bonds of the Matrix.

Neo, the “One”
71%
William Wallace
63%
Lara Croft
63%
Captain Jack Sparrow
58%
Maximus
58%
Indiana Jones
54%
The Terminator
54%
El Zorro
54%
James Bond, Agent 007
50%
Batman, the Dark Knight
46%
The Amazing Spider-Man
42%

Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com


The Parkinson’s SuperWalk: Wheeling for Healing

“There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.”

Kin Hubbard

Every year I wheel in the ‘Parkinsons SuperWalk’ in the hopes of raising funds towards the pursuit of finding a cure for this disease. My good friend Mike has battled the effects of Parkinsons for several years now and in his own way is ‘Racing for a Cure’. He and a group of Christian Drag Racers have been traveling around Alberta and B.C. talking about the desease and racing in a 1980 Cutlass while being sponsored by The Parkinsons Society.

As a Christian, I always hold hope to God making a way for healing and a cure. At the same time I recognize that by living incarnationally we too have a responsibility to pursue healing in others in whatever way we can. Jesus told his disciples in Luke 10:8-9, “Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.” Perhaps that act of healing is expressed through prayer and caring for them; maybe it is in practicing and learning the skills and art of medicine, and maybe it is as simple as participating in raising funds in the hopes of financially supporting those who have the desease or sickness. All the better when you can do all three!!!

Anyways, on Saturday, September 8th a group of us will be gathering in the Glenfield area of Fish Creek for a time of fellowship and excersize. If you are not doing much on that day and would like to participate in the pursuit of a cure for Parkinsons, Click Here to register online and we will see you there!

If you would like to make a donation towards the cure of Parkinson’s Desease, Please Click Here. Thank You Very Much for being willing to exemplfy a Christ likeness in your heart and life!

Psalm 71:1-6

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
   let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
   incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
   to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
   for you are my rock and my fortress.
 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
   from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
   my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
   you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.


Life Without Limbs: An Incredible Story

Bonnie and I watched this incredible story this morning about Nick Vujicic. I think the scariest moment for me was when he jumped in the pool! Dispite any fear, Nick is a great inspiration and I thank God every day for working through and with people like him. If you want to hear more about him Click Here. Anyways, I had to share this with you!!!


More Happy Quads

“Sometimes I wonder if I’m a member of an endangered species – one of the remaining members of the happy, well-adjusted, “just glad to be alive person with a severe disability” tribe. Now I’m not Marry Poppins, and I don’t go around singing show tunes all day, but I’m definitely genuiunely loving my life these days – even though I’ve been a wheelchair-using quadriplegic for the past twelve years.”

Barry Lindemann – ‘The Happy Quad’ (Spinal Columns Magazine 2007 Summer Issues Page 34)

This past weekend I was flipping through the most recent release from Spinal Columns and I came across an article by my fellow quad and friend Barry Lindemann. I have known him ever since we were floormates in the same wing of the old General Hospital shortly after we were both injured in 1994. Actually, he might not know this but I once took his electric wheelchair for a joy ride when he went home one weekend to visit his family. Man, I think I set some speed records!!!

Anyways, his article was a personal reflection to what it meant for him to be a quad and face life with a positive and Happy outlook. Beautiful to listen too and Barry, if you get to read this I hope you take heart in knowing that you are not alone in being a “happy, well adjusted, ‘just glad to be alive person with a severe [physical challenge]‘”. Reading Barry’s thoughts, emotions, and insights really led me to reflect on my own resons as to why we can all be “Happy Quads”; which I hope to perhaps convey and express here.

Live life to the holistic utmost of all of your abilities. I think to often we tend to submit to this unwritten prejudice that if “part” of are body doesn’t work we will neglect and suspend any physical activity at all. We tend to ask others to do for us rather then doing things ourselves not so much because we can’t do it but because it is easier to and/or quicker to have someone else do it instead.

It might sound radical but, why not try and make the the bed yourself, or cook rather then ordering in, or push up that impossible hill no matter how long it takes. When we are willing to embrace the challenge with a positive solution, regardless of new technique or time frame, that is when miracles happen and we end up blowing our own minds away at the possibilities and abilities to which we have!

Serve to bring a positive transformational presence to your community, city, and the people around you. I have a close friend who several years ago commited to going to Poland with a group of students and serving with a team that would teach English as a second language to a group of school kids. Thing was, he was born with Cerebral Palsy and would be spending the majority of the traveling time negotiating wheelchair access and/or the lack there of. Despite these challenges, he made an impact that will forever change and inspire the lives of the kids he taught not to mention the other students that traveled with him throughout the country side.

We can make a difference whereever we are. It might be standing up for the care and treatment of those in group homes and institutions, by writting and speaking to our representitives in the government. Maybe, we can join community or social programs dedicated to saving and taking better guardianship of our natural resources and the environment.  It can even be as simple as saying you will go down once a month and serve at the Mustard Seed.

By being willing to serve others outside of our own needs we can find strength and encouragement while dealing with our own sufferings and life obstacals. Francis of Assi once said, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” We can no longer afford to wait in our living rooms, watching TV and dreaming about what we could and should do. Intead we can go out into our communities and city, serve to make a positive transformational presence, and witness the joy and happiness it brings to our own hearts and minds.

Pursue and Embrace the passions, visions, and dreams that are deep down within your heart. I honestly believe that each one of us has at least one dream or passion that is sometimes buried deep within us and is despritley trying to be expressed through our pursuites and goals. Sometimes though, I think we suppress these hopes thinking we can never accomplish them because of our own physical challenges. It is true, we may face larger, more complicated issues then others who do not have these challenges but even if we pursue those dreams in different ways then the accepted “normal” way, we can find that the pursuite itself brings us even greater joy and excitment.

Brad ZdanivskyIn the summer of 2004, Vancouver’s own Brad Zdanivsky embraced and tackled his dream to be able to go Mountain climbing inspite of being a quadriplegic. Growing up he had always enthusiastically been envolved with rock climbing. He had even been spending years before the summer of 2004 preparing and developing the equipment and proper techniques that he would need in order to scale a Mountain side. Finally, it had all paid off and Brad’s dream became a reality when he and a group of friends together climbed Mount Squamish Chief. His impossibilities became his exemplified abilities; and his dreams became his reality!

David the Psalmist had a dream, Ghandi had a dream, Mother Theresa had a dream, Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, Brad Zdanivsky has a dream, I have a dream, and yes you too have a dream! Together we can pursue each others dreams; encouraging, developing, equiping, and experienceing all the joy and happiness that comes out of them.

“All the way to heaven is heaven.”

Cathrine of Siena (1347-1381)

Seek out the real truth in all things beyond the expectations and false realities that this world and society profess to you. Over two thousand years ago there was a wise man named Paul who writting to a young follower of his gave the advice to “Fight the good fight of faith.” (1 Timothy 6:12) It was a deep belief in following truth and not what this society or world enforced or dictated as a false reality.

Yes, I know, if you have looked around at the other articles that I have published on this site it is true that I myself am a Christian and follow a belief in Jesus as the embodyment of absolute Truth and as such we can then all be in relationship with him in a subjective and contextualized understanding. However, when I say seek out the real truth in all things I am not saying that you must conform to the concepts which express my faith. No, I am encouraging and attempting to persuade you to continually ask yourself the deeper questions which shape and lead to your own beliefs and faith.

I suppose my resoning for saying this is because after years of being in a wheelchair myself, I have seen so many people who have faced physical challenges, for whatever reason, and simply assumed the conclusion that life is over and they are unable to take part in any envolvement with the people around them as a result of believing in a world view that excludes people who face such physical issues (few, that was a mouth full).

It is true, we live in a society that dictates that people with physical challenges are some how less capable then the rest of the average population. Their are people who will descriminate and be less accepting of us (people with physical challenges) and most likely persecute us because of it. There is a corporate “spirit” if you will, that can and sometimes will exploite the lifestyles created by our new physical needs (those of you on AISH or apart of any government or political subsidy or have delt with any Home Care Product Need know exactley what I am saying I’m sure!)

These are all false social expectations and realities! They may be practiced and repeatedley thrust into our face but, they are wrong and untruthful. We as people, as human beings have an even greater power then to accept these falsehoods that most people go through life without being aware of. We have the power to choose!!! To ask the real questions like “Why can’t I do this?” – “How can I do this?” – “Who am I really?” – and “What purpose can I fulfill as a created being?”

X-FilesSeveral years ago I can remember watching a really popular show called ‘The X-Files‘ and every time they show the beginning credits they would include this quote; “The Truth is Out There“. The Truth really is out there but if we really want to find it, we have to get out there too! We have to be willing to ask the really tough questions and accept the fact that even if people do not accept the realities of our truthfulness we are still in a relationship with them and over time and hard effort we can bring about positive transformation resulting in existential joy.

I suppose that is enough to say for now when I think of what brings me happiness. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Barry Lindemann my quad brother and friend for making me ask that deeper tougher question myself. This list is also far from complete and perhaps, you are now asking yourself the question; “What makes you HAPPY?”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 295 other followers