Archive for April, 2014

Charlie’s Mountain

Posted: April 23, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Charlie’s Mountain

Easter long weekend came rolling along just in time. Megan and I had been working pretty tirelessly since we’ve first arrived in the Yukon in January and we were in desperate need of a long weekend. We decided late Thursday night that we would take a road trip to Alaska, and Haines would be our destination. Friday morning we rushed out the door to make sure we’d catch the hour long ferry ride from Skagway to Haines Alaska in time. After a whirlwind of packing and loading up kids, snacks, diapers, clothes, bottles, soothers, Ipads, drinks, and toys we finally turned on the truck and started our vacation. The beauty of the Yukon is once you are in the car, the vacation has begun. Simply driving out of town alone gets us excited to see the mountain ranges, lakes, valleys and wildlife. Every corner is a new adventure.

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We finally got past Whitehorse which meant from that point on we were on all new ground for us. It was an easy drive as the road options here are limited so we drove one road, the Klondike Highway, which led us straight to the border crossing and into Skagway Alaska. The further we got from Whitehorse the more amazing the mountains became. A few moments in our rush to the ferry I found us at a crawling pace in the middle of an empty highway literally gawking into the skies at rock walls that shot straight into the heavens. Bends and turns, rocky roads and guard-less cliffs, we rolled along to our destination as the clock forced me to gawk less and drive faster. We finally arrived to this beautiful little fishing town but had no minutes to spare. As we pulled up to the ferry dock, we were able to finally breathe so with the few moments before the ferry boarding we jumped out and inspected the little harbour in the salt water port. Crab fishermen with their crab and shrimp traps, old and tired fishing boats taking rest, spools of rough fishing nets. Beauty 360 degrees around and our cameras did what they could to capture natures glory, but ultimately failed.

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After an inspiring ferry ride and priceless views we landed in the ever quaint and quiet Haines Alaska. Greeted by friendly faces and folks eager to offer us directions, (as roads had no signs and houses no numbers) to our Waterside Bed and Breakfast, we hustled to get settled in so we could explore the new world we had arrived in before it got dark.

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Portage Cove, Mud Bay, Chilkat River, cobble stone beach fronts and tired harbours. We were absolutely floored with this new landscape hidden in the cold corner of the world. A few days of treasure hunting, picture taking, hikes and long drives and our trip was coming to a fast end. We decided Sunday morning to find a church to celebrate the risen Christ in as it was Easter morning. Being in a world of new Megan, myself and our kids have become adapt to finding new places to worship in and this morning was only a little different, as this church offered food as well! We notice a free Easter breakfast sign on a midsized Presbyterian church and, while it’s not a denomination I’m used to we decided, for the sake of a free breakfast, to take the plunge.

 

As we walked into the antique basement the stairs creaked loud enough to scream “NEW COMERS”. A few elderly women came around the corner to greet us as we came down the steep incline. They welcomed us with enormous smiles and handshakes, and hugs for our kiddies. They instantly received us in for breakfast and pulled out the highchair for our littlest one. An incredible spread of warm breakfast foods awaited us (including grits), and with a quick raise of Megan’s brow I knew we were both thinking the same thing. ‘Great Decision!’break

We sat and ate while people from the congregation came to greet and welcome us to the church. We sat across from a wonderful white haired lady surrounded by her teenage grandchildren and she started to ask questions and get into our story. Finding out who we were and why we had come (as a result of God’s calling) to the north brought a tear to this dear lady’s eye while she immersed herself into real conversation with us for the short time we spent with her. She was a wonderfully kind lady who held no judgement to my untamed beard and shorts/hoodie combo, (while clearly the church maintained a more fundamental type of dress code). We spoke for a while and when I found out that her entire 60+ years had been spent in the west, and that last 47 years spent in Haines Alaska, I asked if she ever got tired of the beauty that was all around her.

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“Never, every morning the mountains are different to me. The seasons, the fog, the water, snow and ice, the weather, the colour… every day the same mountain shows me a new beauty.” Wow. I was so amazed to hear that. Surrounded by mountains her entire life and she never fails to recognize the beauty that has been created for us. She goes on to tell me that when her kids were young they had a teacher named Charlie. Every morning when he entered the classroom he’d point at the mountain behind and ask “Did you see the Mountain today class?” Eventually the town came to know the mountain as Charlie’s Mountain.

haines 2I couldn’t help but connect with her story on a different level. I told her that reminded me so much of Jesus. That the mountain, like Jesus, never changes. It never moves, never falters, never fails to be there. Every day his beauty is new and we can see him through so many lenses depending on our season in life. God provides for us a completely new view view of Him when we become parents for the first time, from when we were teens, or children. Through great loss and suffering we can see God present his greatness in new ways and different filters. From birthdays to graduations, funerals to weddings, the colours that shape our lives give us new and fresh ways to see God, His majesty and His beauty.

Like Charlie asked his students, do I ask myself every morning, “Did you notice God today?” Did I see his great truth, never ending, never failing? did I stop to take notice at the majesty, beauty and glory that is right in front of me, or have I become complacent. God I hope not. God I hope I see You in my children, my marriage, my work, my family in all my blessings. I pray I also see you in my failures, in my suffering, in my weakness and brokenness. Whether it be snow and ice, fog and rain, or green sunshine that mountain is still there, never changed.

Like Charlie’s mountain that stretches endlessly into the sky – God is unfailing and unmoving. He is the truth that is never changed, never falters, never fails. Each day, each heartache, each blessing and in every season we need to look to that mountain to see him in a new fresh way. I have been able to see God more clearly in the past few years in my life then ever before because for the first time I am willing to see him for who He is, not who I want him to be. From training to fight in Mixed martial arts, to driving through the mountains towards an unknown future God has shown me his unchanging truth in countless ways.

Often times in my life people will say in conversation “If God was real he would just make himself known.” Or “I’d believe in God if I could just see Him” oddly enough I don’t disagree, and I’ve said the same thing many times in my life in my doubts and searching for God. The beautiful thing is God HAS made himself known, and we are all capable of seeing Him. We’ve put a condition on God on how we want to view him and how we want Him to reveal Himself to us, and those conditions do nothing more than just limit our ability to see Him. Once I learned to remove my own stipulations and expectations of how I want God to reveal and show himself my world has been blown apart. I CAN just see him, He HAS made himself known. In every corner of our dying planet, every aspect of life and creation, every place of darkness or light, every moment of death and life… In everywhere, in everything I can see God working, moving, loving, building, pursuing. Calling out to his creation!

Look every day at Charlie’s mountain and you will see unspeakable beauty.

God is in the Gravel

Our new experience of living in the Yukon has brought us some new amazing adventures and along with it, some new and challenging perspectives on life. The advent of spring in particular has brought on a new excitement and new flavour that this icy white kingdom has yet to offer us. For the first time since we moved here in the dead of winter we are seeing blades of grass, buds on trees, water through the ice, and a gravel base has appeared from beneath the thick layers of ice they call roads. The sun is finally able to stretch it’s warm fingers this far north during the day and can finally melt and warm the region while the shortening cool nights fight against it and freezes all the progress the melting has made only to start the process again the next day. The stronger of the two win the battle and from now until August, the victor is the sun.

My wife and I were going for an evening walk with our girls recently, and my youngest, (now almost two) is starting to get a taste for independence. She’s a ferocious little nugget when she wants to do things herself and is not allowed, she often resorts to screaming, yelling, maybe some push back and a lot of whining. Zoey has the most beautiful smile and most amazing temperament. She loves to scream “DADDY” and give me the longest, tightest hugs you can imagine. She’s amazing, but she’s started to build her personality with that comes some real….gusto. I call it spice, and Zoey can get real spicy if she wants to.  She has yet to know that there are things I simply won’t let her do, no matter how much she fights it, however she is also learning that there are some things I’m willing to let her do and try and even let her fail at. As we went for a saturday walk to feel whatever warmth the sun would offer, Zoey started to climb out of the wagon and decided that she wanted to help daddy pull it. My little girl didn’t want her daddy pulling her anymore, but she did want to help me pull so I was happy to oblige.

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It was only moments into our pulling duet that Zoey decided she no longer needed her dad. I warned her that she wouldn’t be able to do this alone, the gravel road -which was now exposed – left some bumps and obstacles that her limited strength couldn’t handle alone. I told her we can walk this path together and I’d let her direct the wagon, but I’d keep her close and protected and I’d help in the rough gravel. Regardless of my offer and advice, Zoey wrapped her tiny fingers around the handle while pushing mine away. She pulled the “little Miss Independent” card and demanded that she do the pulling alone. She didn’t need me (or so she thought). I pulled away. As a parent I saw the failure not two steps away for my little but growing 2 year old girl, but for the sake of learning I stood back to watch my baby struggle alone with her burden, trying to pull it without hope through the thick gravel and ice.

Within a moment her frustration builds and she slips and landed hard on her little knees on the gravel. She begins to cry so I offer to come to help her, but she yells “Stop Dada!” and furrows her brow. She was spicy, and quite angry at me (I’m not quite sure why) but unwilling to compromise in her predicament. She climbed to her feet and began to pull again. A few moments in she got her plastic tire stuck behind an oversized piece of stone and looks at me with her wrinkled little brow and with her limited ability to talk she starts to babble angry nonsense at me. She’s mad. She’s mad that I left her, mad that she can’t do this alone and she’s stuck, she’s hurt, she’s wet and everything is a mess. She plops to her bum in the an ice mud puddle on the road and begins to cry, she puts her arms out and I swoop to her rescue. I love my baby Zoey.

Lesson learned Zoey. You need your dad. The parallel to our human relationship with our creator couldn’t be avoided. We ignore the direction, the warnings, the help and the plan. We tell God we don’t need him, were strong enough, smart enough, creative enough and independent enough that we don’t need our “Dad” anymore. We remove “our father” from our schools, our lives, our Sundays and our weekdays, our holidays, our bedside tables, our marriages, and our workplace because we are strong enough without out him… or so we thought.

We crash, we burn, we divorce and we hurt. We are empty, and broken, sad and lonely. We are weak, and sore, tired and frustrated with life. We are in debt, in excess, diseased and corrupt. We are perverted, and violent, lustful and selfish.

In the midst of our darkened state we lift our furrowed brows to the heavens and ask the world:

  • “There’s no God, If there was a Dad a God he wouldn’t let this happen. He wouldn’t put me through this.”
  • “There is a God but he is too big, and too far off to be involved in my life.”
  • “There is a God but he is cruel to leave me alone, and broken. To leave our world a mess and distraught.”
  • “There is nothing, no one, no god. we are alone.”

But that is not it at all is it. That’s not the picture from above looking down on the scene, that’s not how this has played out, it’s just all were able to see in the moment.

“Zoey I was here all along. I was just waiting for you to come back and ask for help. I want you to run into my arms when you hurt your knee, or to let me come embrace you when you were frustrated. From the beginning I was here and to the end I’ll still be here.

At the start we walked beside each other, we were hand in hand walking together, but then you told me you didn’t need me. I gave you freedom (knowing what you would do with it), but wanting you to see that you need me, I let you walk away. It was painful for me, hard not to jump in.  You took that freedom and ran away from me to where you couldn’t see me anymore. But I never left.  I was there right behind you.

I love you so much I have decided to give you the freedom to choose me, to choose to ask for my help or to come to me so I can heal your broken wings. I’m your dad. I’m your father, I created you and that will never change”.

God hasn’t left. He isn’t turning his back and he isn’t non-existent in this world. He is very much present, very much alive and simply waiting for you to return to him, your creator and your Dad. Waiting for you to embrace him, his plan, his words, his message and walk alongside him once again.

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(kezzy pulling Zoey earlier that night.)

Jerameiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”

Ephesians 1: 4-14

4 Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,to the praise of his glory

For God’s Sake, FIGHT!

Posted: April 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

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“I’m not going to end you, but I’m going to break you if it makes you stronger.” -Chad Laprise

I will always remember one day at the gym very clearly; in fact, this day in particular is the reason this entire experience came to fruition. Up to this point in my life, this session was probably one of the most pivotal moments in my spiritual journey. It was early into our training, and God decided to reveal Himself to me in the most unique and painful way. This specific day was going to be terrible; I knew it from the beginning. I had just come off a night shift two hours earlier. I had been beyond sick for two weeks prior and I had nothing but a banana for breakfast. I entered the gym knowing that I’d be in terrible shape that morning. To my credit, regardless of my tiredness and my sickness, I didn’t want to say “no” to Chad, so willingly and ready I showed up. After an hour of an absolutely brutal work out, interrupted multiple times by trips to the bathroom to toss up my breakfast banana, Chad told me to put my gloves back on as we were going to spar in the ring for the last few minutes of the session.

No. Sorry, bud. I was gassed and I was done. I wasn’t just exhausted — I had nothing left. The tank was empty. I told him, “I’m done”. I stopped, or so I thought I did. What I didn’t realize was that as we talked and as I argued through the final moments of our session, we made our way into the ring and, from the training earlier, I still had my gloves on. At this point, according to Chad, stopping wasn’t really my option. Chad set his feet, raised his gloves and started coming at me. He was slow to start, but he relentlessly pursued. I told him a few times, “Seriously, man, I can’t. I’m too weak and I’m done.” He threw a punch and landed it square in the middle of my forehead. My hands were down at my waist. “Hands up!” he yelled, and he drew in again for another shot. He launched a hook hard at my right, but my hands were up, so I just barely blocked it. Again I reminded him, “Chad, really, I’m done.” I turned around and walked towards the ropes. It was then that everything in my life changed. It was one of those moments people talk about —a life changer, a turning point. In that ring, at that moment with me turned and walking to the ropes, my life got changed. POP! POP! POP! POP! Four hard punches landed on the back of my head. Did Chad actually just punch me in the back of my head? Chad (and God) screamed a lesson into me by punching me four times hard in the head. Appropriately enraged, I turn around, planted my feet, and raised my hands.

“Chad, seriously, I’m done! Back off!” Then he says it — my spiritual revelation. He didn’t hear it coming out of his mouth the way I did. It was amazing.

“Marshal, you think just because YOU’RE done, the fight’s over? You think because you’re tired the enemy will stop pursuing? The fight isn’t over until the bell rings”

Amazed, stunned, blown away, challenged and maybe still angry, I stood silent. There was nothing I could say. He was so right, and I was so wrong. Chad continued, “I know how much you can handle; I’m not going to end you, but I’m going to break you if it makes you stronger.”

Then we were done. That was it. That was our lesson, our session for the day. Wow. Are you kidding me, Chad? This is amazing! God is revealing Himself to me through punches to the back of my head. Feeling a bit excited about this revelation, I raised my gloves. Shoulders burning, head spinning, thighs wobbling, I charged. Eyes centered, feet planted, jab, jab, cross, back off. I closed in and he fired, but I raised my gloves. He landed, but I was protected. We grappled, and I managed a few shots underneath. Focused, tired, burnt, bruised — but still focused with feet planted, eyes centered. I laughed, knocked gloves, and hopped out of the ring.

It’s amazing how God used getting punched in the back of my head to teach me something. Just because we want to walk away from the battle, just because we don’t want to be in the ring, and just because we turn our backs, doesn’t mean that we can walk away. The enemy doesn’t stop. The attacks don’t stop just because we aren’t willing to defend against them anymore. The vicious blows hit us again and again, regardless of where and how we stand in that ring.

Sometimes it’s hard to fight. Whether it’s a constant battle at work, school, in our family, even in our church, it’s often just so exhausting. Sometimes we are so tired, so broken and so bruised that we can’t keep pursuing the battle. God knows those times. God knows what we can bear and what we can handle, and how much devastation we can take before we completely collapse. But God offers us the training to stand up and not only attack, but also defend ourselves. In a fight, raising your gloves has two purposes: sometimes it’s to land a devastating blow on our opponent, and sometimes it’s just to defend ourselves. Maybe we are tired, maybe we are hurt, and maybe we need time and space to plan our next move. We still need to raise our gloves. Dropping our gloves leaves us open to devastation and defeat. Pick up your gloves. I know you are tired, but raise them high. I know you are exhausted, but plant your feet. I know you are weak, but stay focused and centered on Him.

I’m not going to turn and run and just accept blows to the back of the head. For God’s sake, I’m going to train, develop, learn, and grow. I’m going to finally turn around and stand my ground. Plant my feet, center myself and square my shoulders. For God’s sake, I’m gonna fight so I can say, at the end of all things, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). For God’s sake, let’s fight!

I AM A CELL PHONE.

Posted: April 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Proof that I’m a Cellphone.

At the end of every work day I make my way home from the office after picking up my two girls from day care.  We walk in the door and the barrage of childish requests (complete with whining and frantic sobbing if not met immediately) instantly begin.  Before I can sit on the couch for even a moment’s breath – Zoey, my two year old needs a snack,a sippy cup, a toy, her bum changed – nose wiped – and hands washed, her toonies (cartoons) a blanket, her stuffy and an ipad.  Kezzy, my 4 year old, needs her snack too (and heaven knows she will not come in second to Zoey, so her whining has to be louder and stronger), then she needs access to her play-dough, toy bin, crayons, markers, paper, drink box, and her cartoons (not Zoeys) and of course, the other ipad. 

I’m a cell phone! (hang in there, it’s coming)

Once all that is done and I’m ready to sit on the couch I realize it’s 5:00 pm and Megan (my wife) will be home from the clinic soon.  I haven’t even started dinner yet, the house is a disaster, dishes are mounting, Zoey is pouring her grape juice on the cat, Kezzy has gotten on a chair, is standing on the counter and has gotten into the bin full of permanent markers…and I have yet to go to the bathroom.

I’m a cell phone (wait for it)

I finally sit for a moment (in-between dinner prep, poops, diapers and snacks) to check my phone and I realize that it’s blinking recharge.  last night when I went to bed, I went to bed to late and didn’t plug it in for long enough, I woke up too early and it didn’t get a full charge.  I took it to work, but  I used up what I had in energy all day at the office and when I got home it was almost dead.

I am my cellphone.  I try to stay up a bit late so I can have some quiet moments to myself, but end up plugging into the sheets to late.  The alarm screams at me just before I’m fully recharged, so I’m forced to unplug myself too soon.  I expel my almost all my battery life at work (working for the man – or persons to be politically correct) and by the time I get home I have one little tiny battery cell left.  My kids quickly and wonderfully drain that, and I’m left basically unusable by the time dinner is done and cleaned up, kids are bathed and put to bed.  I sit beeping on the couch with Megan. both of us forcing one eye open to catch our 30 minute sitcom… then off to the charger.

I’m a cell phone, see?

Marshal Burnham