Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Planning the Last Day of 2008

Traditionally as a Pastor I have led the “Watch Night Service” at the church we were pastoring at the time. It was a Christian thing to do in a church on New Year’s Eve – away from the booze and bellering of the bar scene – or wild parties at someone’s home. This happened for a lot of years.

But as we grew older and so did the church – most of the “booze and bellering” happened in people’s homes as the Old Christians went to bed early. We stopped the church scene with aging.
The only “Walton Scene” in these homes on a New Years Eve was the lights going out one by one… and someone calling, “Where is the glass for my teeth dear!?” or “Harry, WAKE UP and turn that TV down… get to bed… goodness sakes… we are too old to stay up!”

The common word describing the other world is “BLING” – you know fancy jewels, fancy clothes and people cheering wildly as the New Years comes in. It is the worldly world that some once knew.
Kind of funny really. As we aged and went to bed earlier and earlier. We lost the zip and the desire to stay up too late.

A group of our friends have invited us to go out late tonight to do the town up big time. It will only cost us $5 to attend a number of events up and down the main street of our city.

Now let’s see… can we do it?

One guy is lame and struggles from his bed to his big chair. I think he has knee problems. Another guy needs his motorized wheel chair to get around any distance. Walking the main street aint likely going to happen.

Now add to that our wives love to shop… it comes with this age. At Midnight on the main street of our city – there aint nothing open to shop in.

Add another factor to that… some hearing problems in the group and the loud bar scene – or local talent show will be more than too loud. We would all listen from the street as the guitars and drums thumped their way into the New Year. So why pay $5 to get in when it is all too loud!

“Bling” is gone… or maybe quieted to a gentle “blunk”. The only clink that you will hear in our homes will be the sound of teeth being dropped into the waiting water glass. We put them there so we know where they are in the morning… or at least should be in the morning.

I would really like to play board games (the kind with dice etc) this evening. You know – just get together with friends at someone’s home, beside a warm fireplace, with steaming hot chocolate or hot apple cider and do fun stuff.

We can laugh a lot and joke about our ailments. We can remember the good old days gone by.

We can… probably do that sometime this afternoon… then be able to drive home before it gets too dark because some of us hate driving after dark.

You know…. We could set the clocks ahead a few hours and when the clock strikes 12 AM… even though it is only 6 PM… it will be dark where we are… and we can cheer loudly…. “Yippee… Happppy New Yearrrrr!”

With any luck some of us that need to can be in bed by 8:00 PM and start tomorrow rested well.
One thing about this plan… there are no hangovers afterward. Some of our group will have to get up three times during the night after too much hot chocolate or cider… but that is only one more time than usual. Usually we are just tired from waking up so many times all night long to go to the bathroom anyway.
So here is my offering to my more “experienced friends” – Happppppy Neeeeew Yearrrrrr! ….done a little earlier in the day for all you Bling Lovin Guys and Gals.

~ Murray Lincoln ~
The following poho is (from Left to Right) Murray, Winston and Terry - going off one last time! Yipppppeee!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Source of My Power

In one of the games that our grandkids received this Christmastime – they needed the batteries placed in the control units. So in our preparation my wife made sure that we had enough batteries in the house to make it all happen.

At the same time we were preparing for the gift opening, three battery operated things quit in our house. The power was all used up.

People are something like the Clocks or Game Controllers – they run out of power at times and need recharging. So it seems. Groups can be the same way too. Things that were happening can fall apart when the source of power runs out.

I came across a statement made by a man named Roy Lessin. He states in his small book “Just Think”… “In His great generosity, God has given to you freely, bountifully and joyfully. He has given you the finest, the highest, the deepest, and the fullest measure of His Love. All that He has given He will continue to give you all the days of your life.”

Personally – God is my engergizer… my source… my Big Battery for life or the place that I recharge.

We bought a new cell phone recently. One thing that is different about it from the last Cell Phone is the amount of time that can store on the new battery. The old Cell Phone would die before one day was up… the new one seems to go for almost a week without a need to recharge it.

But in the end… even the hardiest new electrical appliance will need to be given a new source of power.

Roy Lessin’s statement caught me as I read it again. God is there for me… when I most need him. I need only to recharge again… and perhaps often – in order to get up and running again.

Groups can be that way too. They need to charge and recharge again. I suspect that Governments are like that too. Every once in a while the leadership will shuffle the crew and new people will be given new tasks. A vote can do that too.

Some are kind of taken back when I mention Government and God in the same breath. Yep it even works for them. It is made up of people that need to be recharged as well and GOD’s Help. The ones that I have met over the years are more than happy to know that God is still there – and that someone prays for them.

My contact with my friends in these last few days has shown me needs that can only be answered by a Great Big God. That is because they have Great Big Problems… that only he can meet or sort out.

It is a simple post today… we each need a source of power. The question is where do we get the help we need? Where can we plug in to be recharged again?

After God – I need friends. They are God’s incarnate in my life. What would I do without them and Him? Wow!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

I invite you to take a look at…
Ontario Provincial Chaplaincy Blog
My Personal Web Site

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ready To Help

Dear Stephen, Michael and Dean;

I am A Canadian. I am a concerned resident of Peterborough, Ontario and Dean Del Mastro is my MP.

I am writing to ask if there is some way I might suggest that “we” can find a way that “you” can work together in a better way in this coming few months. As Canadians we are watching as the soon approach of the end of January is coming and the resuming of Parliament will take place under your leadership.

I would like to suggest a simple story that may help you see how “we” can work together better.

My Story…
The setting… I whisk you to a place quite a few years ago when the Winter was very cold and our family lived in a remote part of early Canada. Through some tragedy we lost our log home to a fierce fire that raged for hours.

Two leaders lived in the community at just the right time. These leaders were well known for being able to build and everything that they had done had been excellent up to that point in time.

The community neighbors met to discuss the events that had taken place for our family. All the community decided to contribute a portion of their own goods and even their labor to help us re-build the home. Everything was ready and we could build – but none of our community knew how to build – except for the two leaders that we have living among us.

The reports had come to state that the winter coming would be extremely harsh. It was not a good time to be without a sturdy home. Everyone was aware of what was happening and what potentially could take place for those of us in trouble.

After a community decision was made to appoint the two very good leaders to lead this project we were all happy.

But information began to come our way and our personal tragedy was made worse. Time was slipping by and the winter days worsened. The leaders were fighting over who would lead. One refused to sit with the other to even talk. The other made things worse by giving his personal views to everyone whenever he could about how bad the other leader was. Worse yet reports came to all of us that one leader had been in contact with people that start the fires that burn houses down.

Who would we trust?

Disgust began to take control of the whole community. Imagine – these leaders cannot get together to get the job done. The whole community was discouraged and feels complete loss.

I pause here in my simple story to say… that the leaders kept fighting over whom would do what. We simply had to find other places to live until the weather changed and things improved. As a community we lost faith in the two great leaders and wondered why anyone even thought they could lead – let alone that they would lead us out of the terrible problems that we faced that fateful year.

Stephen, Michael and Dean, may I suggest a radical approach as a possible answer to our present head locking issues in Ottawa?

Why not have members of Michael’s men and women sit with Stephen’s men and women to discuss the huge problems that we are all facing in our communities? First we have to stop the stupid fighting! Then we can tackle the Financial Issues at hand.

Could it be that Michael’s people would have good suggestions as to how we would face this present crisis of finances? Could it be that Stephen’s people might have some good suggestions as to how we would face this present crisis of the finances as well?

Imagine if both sides could put something of value on to the table and every idea could be included – we might get some where soon. We might be an example for other countries to work together.

I know as a Pastor and leading people all these years – if each can contribute something of value – everyone will vote for it and be happy.

How could Michael’s people say that is ridiculous – if it is their idea? How could Stephen’s ideas be rejected if his people put them in as well? Together they might be somebody… alone they are not.

If we talked about the ideas and looked carefully at the problems as big as they are – it is very likely that there is only one answer. We need to build a “sturdy home” for all of us to survive the coming hard winter.

If we don’t talk about the problems and soon come up with an answer – it will be too late.

On the side…
In Peterborough we have some great Pastors. These men and women have lead multi-million dollar community endeavors. They are very good at what they do. They listen to people that are squabbling in families all the time.

If you as a “Government Family” are not able to get along, I am offering you a Team of Peterborough Expert Counselors – TOPEC – that would be willing to come to Ottawa and listened to both sides of your great families. I am sure that we could come up with some kind of solution where we could work together. (Now if there are other Ministers closer to Ottawa - that would like to join us... they are very welcome.)

I plead with you as a Concerned Canadian – “Let’s find some way to work together… PLEASE!”

Ready to help,
~ Murray Lincoln ~

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Not Everyone was Happy at Christmastime

In the midst of our recovery from the hilarity of the day before the door bell rang. It was Boxing Day. I could see the hovering form pressed to the side of the door waiting for some one to respond. I opened the door to see who was calling.

The man was snow covered and cold. He peeled off his sun glasses and then his hat. Under the covering was an individual that has caused no end of grief for many people. Now he stood inside our home’s entrance.

He has been in our home a number of times. But after his last visit he did some more terrible things and then turned even more angry against myself and others around him. We are pretty sure that it is the results of more drug use – both prescription and street drugs. And there is nothing anyone can do.

Death is an option I was told as he stood inside of our front entrance. I was told that he had walked all the way across the city because there was no bus service on that day. But – it is the same as times before I can believe nothing that he says in that he is an absolute liar in everything that he says. The drug addiction transforms the best of men into moral monsters in order to survive.

Not everyone was happy at Christmastime this year.

Not far from where we live is a quiet home. A new baby arrived over Christmas. But not everything is good. The new mother has fled the home with her baby… heading back to another apartment. Before she left she hurt her baby – jerking him roughly as he continued to cry. The sobbing grandmother poured out her story of agony.

I didn’t see it so I cannot report it. It could be hearsay only and to intervene would make people even more angry and bitter. The tears flow as the grandmother shared he deep pain.

This is the second set of two that have dropped by or called to let me know that they are in deep trouble.

My “pastoral heart” broke as I listened to the stories of pain. One year ago as the Pastor of Northview I would have gone into hyper-pastor mode and found a solution to the problem. I had the resources and the ability to help. This year I have referred them to call someone else for help. I am not sure what has happened in my referring.

Not everyone is happy at Christmastime.

You see as a non-pastor I am in an insecure place. I have no longer the protection of the church leadership. I am a loner. I am not in a secure place with insurance and the protecting power of people standing with you in legal battles.

Simply put… when the dude that has comes calling at my home on Boxing Day decides to commit suicide because of my bad counseling services at my front door – some one could lay a law suit that could take the rest of my nothing.

I have walked for two days with a sad cloud hovering over my head. I can do nothing to help these hurting people. I can only pray.

Is prayer enough? Does God hear what I say? Is this lonely feeling something of a seasonal affect disorder? Yep. It is probably all mixed together in a mash of old human feelings that are just plain impossible to deal with.

For 39 years of pastoral ministry I have prayed and spent time with God. Yesterday again I was alone with God. So simple… so easy… that quiet time with him. Just being away and alone was so important.

Then the telephone rang again. It was a horrible and miserable man that I had tried hard to help for the past few years. He was calling to let me know that he was wishing us a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. He reported on how he was doing and it seems much better. He is happy and thankful for all that I had done for him in these past years.

Not all bad…
One week ago I met a very sharp looking young adult. He grabbed my hand and pumped it hard with his greeting. He beamed from ear to ear.

“Do you remember me?” he asked earnestly. “My name is Lee. You talked to me seven years ago and tried to help. I took your advice and stopped drinking. I am dry now and have been for five years. Thanks to you and others… I am doing very well. I own my business and have been blessed in so many ways. Thank you Pastor Murray! Thank You!”

I gulped and thanked him for his kind words. He was a trophy of God’s Grace. Thank you so much.

I am sorting through great big emotional waves in these quiet times as I discover the new role God has given me.

This morning early as I opened the pages to direct my prayer for my leaders in the Provincial Government there was John O’Toole, MPP for the Durham Region. I have not yet met John… but I prayed for him by name. I haven’t yet met Marilyn Pearce, the Mayor of Town of Port Perry… but I have prayed for her. And I believe that God heard me.

This is the last Sunday of 2008. A very reflective time for people like me – that have spent so many Sundays in church – every year and then look back on what has happened – over and over again.

Nor everyone is happy at Christmastime… but I am committed to help the ones that I can. And at this time it is simply to pray.

And if you can – would you pray with me? There is Jen, there is Rich, there is Paul, there is Lee, there are so many…

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wii and Mii – The Olympic Athlete in Training

In my old age I have discovered a new ailment. Holy Mackerel – I thought I was OK! The ailment started about two months before Christmas and has occurred off and on for almost eight weeks. And I thought I was doing okay physically. Not so… it appears.

I have not been to a Doctor yet… and likely will not go. I am too embarrassed to tell him what it is all about.

I have not gone to the emergency department of our hospital yet – either. And this will be the LAST PLACE I will go. This is especially true because of one question that they ask each time you enter that facility… “Where did this injury take place?”

It is embarrassing enough to tell them that you cut your hand carving wood and that you did this while you are a wood carver… and professional wood carver at that… and that you knew better… but the cut on your hand was bad. The last time of cutting myself happened just after I had received the newest ailment – that really hurt.

I have considered lying to the hospital staff or my own Doctor… but I cannot come up with a good story to describe what the ailment is all about.

Are you ready for this? Here goes… even my Doctor doesn’t know what this ailment is all about.

It is called “Wii Arm”. “Wii Arm”? Yep… it comes from trying to get good at the Game entitled Wii.

In November my daughter bought it for her kids and stored it at our home. I decided to make sure that it was working okay before they wrapped it up for Christmas.

I played Tennis, Baseball, Golf, Bowling, and Boxing.

The Golf game is fairly quiet and peaceful as you follow a great course through all the holes. The sand traps and water traps are very realistic. And you never get tried from carrying your bag or walking back to the Golf Cart. Pretty cool and with a challenge to boot.

The Bowling is so much like the real thing in a Real Bowling Alley. Wow! And you never have to put your sock feet into those well worn rental shoes again – you know the ones with the white powder spray masking the lethal “athlete foot” germs… or “boggo boggo virus” from the last player that rented the shoes.

Tennis is so cool. The ball reacts just like the real ball does on the Tennis Court in real life. It is so good in that you can play Tennis even while it is snowing outside in the dead of winter. You can smash hard and play the ball past the man or woman on the screen. You cannot smash the ball sitting down… a standing position works better.

The Baseball allows you to pitch and also bat. The difference with real baseball and the Wii Baseball… is that you do all the pitching and all the batting for your whole team… for all of the innings. If you pitch slow the other team hits home runs each time. So you have to pitch fast – very fast… and you can pitch the other players out! And when you hit – you have to hit hard to get a Home Run. And if you swing too early… or too late… the crowd will let you know that you suck.

Then there is the real work out – Boxing. The player on the screen that is you… weaves left and right as you weave. The arms of the On Screen Player fly as you throw the Left, Left, Left… and the strong Right Upper Cut. The hand controller shakes as you punch the daylights out of your opponent and he or she falls with a sickening thud to the matt. The sound effects are too good. The action is only too real.

If you win the three rounds out of the potential five rounds of Boxing – 3 minutes a round each… you advance to the next level… which presents a tougher and meaner opponent… who does not fall down as easy as the first fighter did. In fact as you advance, your own person gets smashed so often that you have to fight harder and harder – moving faster, throwing more punches, weaving from side to side, hitting harder and harder… until you can smash this dude on the screen.

I think the new ailment happened somewhere after the Boxing Match where I advanced to the 15th level… or maybe it was after I tried for two hours in a row to advance past the 15th level over and over again. My punches were getting slower at the end and I had to go to bed.

The next morning my right shoulder hurt so bad that I couldn’t move my arm past my waist. I had a hard time putting on my coat. And shoveling snow was not so good. Tylenol helped.

My daughter told me that one man had lost 40 pounds while playing the Wii Boxing. I believe her.

When I hurt my shoulder I switched to Tennis… not the same motions and you can hit easier… less sweating when you play this game. In Boxing I had to strip down to my waste as my shirt was wet. Tennis is a little easier. And you only need to swing hard from your wrist…snapping or turning your wrist to get the spins, the curve and the slices to the tennis ball – thus fooling your opponent and winning points. It took a few days of playing to get that winning way about me – so I could progress to the Silver Medal level – which I was granted at about 12:30 PM… and the crowd went wild with its cheering.

When my tennis wrist started to hurt I switched to baseball. I shouldn’t have tried that one at that time. The already sore right shoulder started to REALLTY HURT when I pitched that fist inning so hard. YES I had the safety strap on so that the controller wouldn’t fly from my hand and go through the TV Screen. I did drop it once as I pitched that fantastic strike out – IMAGINE I threw that sucker out with a 97 MPH pitch.

After winning the game of baseball I slid under the covers that night remembering my youth again when I played the position of PITCHER and struck so many out in a row.

But something was wrong as I pulled up the sheet around my neck… my right arm and shoulder felt twice the size as me left arm. It was throbbing. I got up and popped two Tylenols… and it seemed to help. The next morning was a real problem holding the HEAVY COFFEE CUP.

That is my secret… and you can now see that telling the Emergency Room nursing staff that I blew out my right shoulder and wrist playing my grandkids unopened Christmas gift – is almost impossible.

However if I had experienced a massive coronary while Boxing I might have had to say something. But then Alida might not have found me until the morning… Now there is a headline… “Local Retired Minister Kills Himself Playing His Grandkid’s Wii.”

Recouping time… was good. I read two books in that period of time.

Christmas Morning arrives..
When the grandkids opened this Wii Game on Christmas day the Box was empty. The game was already set up and ready to play in our basement. They were so excited.

I sat and watched Clifford, my 13 year old grandson, try all the games and then keep on going and going and going. He never tired. My arm still aches and I moved it gently through my self prescribed stretching exercises… oh boy!

Clifford and I played baseball against each other… he whipped me. We bowled and I beat him the fist game. Boxing is still impossible so I cheered loudly as they all tried that game.

The most fun was watching my 87 year old mother sitting on a chair and bowling. She hit at least three strikes in her 10 frames of bowling. The ball rolled very slowly down to the pins… but it got there.

The Grandkids left their Wii Game with Grandpa to help him play while they are away for a few days.

I have discovered Table Tennis and Snooker in some of the games.. much lower impact and you can sit quietly while you play.

Recouping from Christmas 2008…
~ Murray Lincoln ~

Thursday, December 25, 2008

For My Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or any other faith group… or a person of no faith friends! I Love You All!

(Photo of Marion Nell Lincoln - my mom with six of her great grandkids)

Merry Christmas and A Blessed and Happy New Year from our Home to Yours!

This Blogging has become a brand new ministry in my later years. It is a little like the old days for me and the Radio Ministry. It is like Radio in that you spend time putting together your thoughts, writing it out, then you sit in front of a machine that sends out your “voice” to people that you never see. You never quite know what is happening – but you can trust God that someone some where will be reading.

On Tuesday Feb 28, 2006 I posted my first Blog Posting as I encouraged people to pray for my friends Hervey and Helen Shank. You can view that are Hervey and Helen Shank - February 28. That was the first post of 2 years and 5 months of posting. And when I stopped posting on that Blog in June 2008 – my last day as Pastor of Northview church there had been over 22,800 visitors… and 31,900 pages read. I stopped posting on this Blog at the request of the Church Board… changed the name at the top… but left it in tact. Even after 6 months of no posting it averages 45 people a week from all over the world – dropping by for a visit. Each Google Search (and any other search engine) picks up the an average of 6 people per day.

That is where it is unlike Radio… you words are there forever.

Blogging is dangerous however. It can make people upset. In those early months of almost three ago I told some stories that some thought I should never tell. I told about the results of immorality in our church and its deep affects on the life of the church. Yikes – in 2006 – you should never tell about people sinning!

Even the prayer and posting about my friend Hervey Shank drew great criticism in that People wanted me to not be so open about something so private. But they all read it to see what was going on. The greatest critics read the most – and still do!

On June 30, 2008 I posted my first post on this Blog – that was 180 posts ago. Since that day there has been 6,348 people drop by to read what is written and 7,906 pages read. There is now an average of 50 people a day dropping by. When I preach to an audience of 150 people – I am lucky to have that many people listen to what I say any one morning.

I am publishing this Link to the World Map of Site Meter – for today Dec 25, 2008… (but you can also go to the Site Meter icon to search it out) however when you look in on this page in days following Dec 25 2008 – it will be different again. Today it shows – visitors from Korea, Australia, Pakistan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom – Britain, Brazil, and dozens of places across the USA and Canada.

What started as an idea to reach out to our own church community has leaped way past that to a world that is waiting.

In the past - all the people that listened on the Radio – in Canada and the USA and later in all parts of China – never spent one second in our church… nor did they care about it.

I am honored to have a number of Islamic people dropping by often to read the Blog. The amount of time that they spend reading is amazing. Yes you can see that along with the exact kind of monitor screen size, which program they are using and a whole bunch of information on every one that visits the Blog.

You can see it for yourself as well. Go to the small icon/button at the bottom of the Blog posting page… click on Site Meter and take a look at who is visiting.

When I reported on a tragic airplane accident in Africa and then published the names of the victims – telling the world that I was praying for these families – hundreds of people from all over Africa dropped in to read what was said about the accident. Even today there are still people going back to read that posting.

I say all that to say that Blogging is a powerful tool that reaches thousands upon thousands of people. And I state her that it is worth ever hour of every morning that I have written.

I say Thank You to you as a Reader – as someone that drops by for a regular or occasional visit. You are why I do this.

I hope that you will be blessed today. I hope for peace where you live and for your family. May your family be prosperous and find the security that you so need in our troubles world. And YES – I say MAY GOD BLESS YOU – whether you are Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or any other faith group… or a person of no faith! I love you all!

~ Murray Lincoln ~
Friend of the Waiting World

For your reading and research pleasure you can look at…

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it

Chuck Swindol said…
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Hmmm… “10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it”… That is one powerful statement.
Yesterday Grandpa(that’s me) cleaned the Grandkid’s Clocks in his first ever game of Monopoly with them! It was a grand moment of victory. I can hardly tell you the wonderful feeling of destroying “my financial enemies”. I was tycoon of the day. I was “Donald Trump”. I made a fortune – but in doing so I broke my opponents – Emma, Clifford and Grandma.

First Emma landed on my property with three houses on it. $Kaching$ – she didn’t have the money to pay up…so Grandma encouraged her to fold all her assets into Grandma’s fortune – then Grandma paid her Emma’s debt – and Emma took over Grandma’s place while she prepared lunch.

Next Clifford landed on another property that I owned with four houses. $Kaching$… $KACHING$ – and it was over for this tall young man, handsome, bright, smart…. But not as good as Grandpa! With a groan he gave up everything to me! It was a sweet moment to say the least and I roared with delight… I mean I ROARED!

Then Emma sitting in her new place of wealth and power with all of Grandma’s wealth backing her… rolled the dice. Oh Yah, Oh Yah… OH YAH!... she landed smack dab on my next big paying property with four more houses…. $KACHING$…. $KACHING$… $KACHING$! It was all over. I HAD WON EVERYTHING! WAHOOOOO! How sweet it was.

Emma was quiet… and left the room. Clifford challenged me to another game RIGHT NOW… “Come one Grandpa… let’s play again… just you and ME!”

A little later Clifford found Emma laying on the bed downstairs… he came back with the report that she was crying. Come on… get a life. It was just a game!

Grandma guilt tripped me into going to talk to Emma and tell her I am sorry for treating her that way… But I DIDN’T TREAT HER BADLY… I just beat her at Monopoly! She will have to live with some losses in her life – why not start now?

I swallowed hard knowing that lunch would be together… and went to where Emma was laying on the bed. I hugged her. I told her that I was sorry that I had so much fun at her expense… kind of sorry….

She rolled over with a big smile and a twinkle in her eye and said… “I am okay.” There were no tears! That little fink had beaten Grandpa into submission. She had won – really! The gleam on her face told me what she was capable of for the rest of her life! She had complete control of me. She had got me to come begging for forgiveness.

But… but… Donald Trump never says he is sorry! But then he has never met Emma. Doh!

I heard that Clifford engaged his other Grandpa, his dad and some others in his second game of Monopoly that day. Clifford won easily! $Kaching$... When his other Grandpa Doug Lindsay told me the story… “Clifford beat us all… He was good!”

Sweet! I have passed on my greatness in the “Christmas Battle for Top Tycoon”. I can die happy now that I have passed on my deep understanding of manipulation and greed.

“10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it”
Ouch! Sorry Chuck… but you haven’t played with my family. Winning is important… very important. Otherwise why play? Second Place – is the FIRST LOSER!

A Long Time Ago…
As I played yesterday I rolled back the memory clock about 55 years. I was 9 years old – like Emma is now. We were sitting around the big round table in Grandma Kirk’s kitchen in the farm house in southern Saskatchewan. There was a gas mantle lantern hissing on the table to provide light. There is no electricity on the farm yet. Everyone was squeezed in tight around the table playing Monopoly.

Three of my uncles were in a mounting contest for supremacy leading to Monopoly King of the NIGHT! Two of these guys would end up as ministers. Another was good in business. Another was my dad along with at least two of my competitive aunts. Then there were a few of us kids that played along, trying to keep up to the rules that were explained and argued over.

My dad was beside me… as I was brought down and lost all my money. He took over and played hard for our family honor. But in the end one of the uncles Trumped us. One of them cleaned everyone’s clock.

My kind and careful aunts both walked away from the table with accusations that their brothers cheated!

55 Years later – nothing much has changed….except now I can win.

“10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it”….hmmm?

In the next few days as our family is together quite a few times over Christmastime… Clifford is waiting to play me at Monopoly again. My dilemma is do I retire now as the Top Tycoon Winner… or do I go down in defeat to a this tall young man, handsome, bright, smart… that isn’t ready to be Donald Trump just yet… It is a moral dilemma of a family kind.

Hee… hee… there is a way to win… too funny. You simply go to the game closet… and take out another game that they have never played yet… and Wahoo…. Oh Yah Oh Yah… Oh Yah!

~ Grandpa Murray Lincoln ~

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Casting Doubt – Producing Fear - Crippling

Have you ever sat and listened to someone give just a little bit of the story that they know? Have you ever wondered that there must be something more to what was said… but couldn’t figure out what is was? Have you ever walked away from that “listening”, questioning either the story teller or the one that was talked about?

If you have been there and heard something like this – you have been to the world of “Half Truth”… which is likely a world full of “Baloney”. It is just enough of a truth to make the listener feel that the story teller knows everything – but in fact they know nothing. The only truth about the story is the name of the people they are talking about!

The fact that “Half Truth” sounds almost good… in that it includes the word “Truth” makes it harder to deal with. It is in reality a “Half Lie” (or a “Whole Lie”) – but we never speak of it that way.

It also can fall under “insinuation” – another terrible place to be especially if you are the one that has been the target. And when it happens to some one without their knowing it will destroy them.

We have all seen it happen. We have all watched someone be destroyed by what has taken place.
So why write about it? Why be concerned with the possible results? Why bother?

Peterborough like other places has it fair share of “Half Truth-i-tis”. It may happen here more than other places just because we have so many Tim Horton and Coffee Time Coffee Shops. Someone said it is because there are so many seniors in our community and so many of them support the quickly growing coffee shop business. I am sure that the seniors are the reason for so many Half Truths being spread around…

Well there it goes again. With a short blast of a few chosen words – Seniors are guilty of heinous crimes of gossip and it all revolves around their having coffee together all the time. I have started another Half Truth. With just a mixture of a wee bit of truth, stirred in with a touch of fact then brewed by personal conjecture – Seniors are Criminally responsible for 99% of the lies spread in our community! Ooops – I really meant Half Truths… but extending that further – Seniors are Liars.

Now I know I should stand ready to defend the onslaught of Senior Rage and a Flaming from their shaky old computer hands… but I am pretty safe in that most Seniors suffer from a Slow Senility that prevents them from ever learning any more about technology. In fact it is said that anyone over 55 years of age are technologically slowed and near the frightening stages of Old Timers.

Double Ooops… there I go again – Seniors are not only Liars – but also Technologically Stupid. Oh my, did I say Liars and Stupid???!
You see – it is very easy to start a rumor that can hurt and harm the least expecting.

In the local church world there has been a spreading rumor that certain young adults are morally loose. Added to that, certain young couples have been on the verge of divorce – after having had affairs and participated in all kinds of horrible loose living. Imagine.

The fact is this. One young couple, Couple One, got into a fight and have suffered greatly within their relationship. They then stopped coming to church because of embarrassment. Another couple, Couple Two, couldn’t get out to church because of personal experiences. Some dear folk put it all together and now are telling people that Couple Two, are getting a divorce because of “his” infidelity… and she is silly enough to put up with it.

Needless to say that Couple Two are no longer coming to church either because of their embarrassment. People have seen them together in a store recently and spoke to the gal – telling her of their admiration of her sticking it out with her husband. He stood there listening to what was said and was dumb founded. Go figure. Half Truth-i-tis is the hottest virus in town.

How do I know? Well you see… I have this garage that I carve in. People keep stopping in to visit my garage and all my carvings. And when we visit they talk. And some times they are hurting real bad.

Déjà vu…
Christmastime gives me the shivers in Peterborough. 10 years ago when we arrived here, a really stupid little man started a rumor that Pastor Murray teaches from the Satanic Bible. Pastor Murray had helped some young people that were thoroughly messed up and one thing that they did was to involve themselves in Satanic Worship. But that wasn’t their biggest problem. The stupid little man – decided that Pastor Murray needed to go – so he started the rumor to get rid of me.

The rumor raged for 10 years and is likely still floating around the community – imagine a Church Minister that teaches from the Satanic Bible.

I am still here and the silly little man (note a kinder tone/word rather than stupid) has been moved from here to another area. The latest I heard was he was kicked out of a few churches in the area that he moved to… imagine.

But then that is a half truth too. I think that they moved from one community to another and perhaps with the move – changed churches.

When I heard the story of my teaching from a Satanic Bible – I was dumbfounded! I couldn’t believe where it came from… or why it came. For more than two years our church board was hounded by questions from concerned congregants about that rumor/story.

So what is the point of the post? Casting doubt is easy. Producing fear is simple. Then the finally crippling can take place – disarming your opponents. It is so easy.

In Ottawa we have watched this happen time and time again. If our leaders will show us such a good example – why wouldn’t we try it too?

So if you drop a hint that certain things have happened… be forewarned I will ask how you know this and if you tell me something about someone… I WILL CALL THE PERSON TO LET THEM KNOW – that YOU have shared this with me. I can’t wait for the results that will follow.

So did you hear the one about George? How about Tilly? You will never believe what I heard about Terry!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Monday, December 22, 2008

Meet Christopher Terrance – the Christmas Miracle

Meet Christopher Terrance – the Christmas Miracle… my newest little buddy. He arrived on Wednesday night after many hours of struggling. It was a kind of nip and tuck for him in those first hours of his “break out” of his nine month residence. Actually he only stayed there for 37 weeks and was anxious to get going into life!

This post will describe the on going, real life work of my life as a Pastor. It describes for you my joys and some of my great disappointments that are in my life after many years of trying to just be there when I am needed. I am not sure I can tell it all – so here is a snapshot of real ministry.

It all began quite a few years ago when Debbie and Terry came into my life. Terry had been diagnosed with cancer. There was little hope for him. His fellow workers at his place of employment brought his name to our church for pray. Together we prayed that Terry would find help and even healing for his sickness.

There were good times and some bad times as we walked through this journey together. But finally five years ago on Boxing Day, a day after a Christmas celebration together, Terry died at home with most of his relatives standing beside the couch that cold afternoon. The scenes of that afternoon will never leave me. It was very hard.

Family had been an issue for Deb and Terry for along time. When they were dating in those early teen days of their life together – they came home to the worst news any family could receive. Terry was the oldest son and child of family of four. The police met with Terry and Deb to tell them that Terry’s dad, mom and little sister had been killed instantly in a head on crash. Terry was from that moment the primary care giver and provider for his siblings… and with Deb’s help they did it.

The bank that held the mortgage on the family home wasn’t so kind. Within a month the kids were evicted from their home. Merry Christmas kids – your parents are dead and you are out! God Bless you richly! This part of the story that I know lets me know that not everyone cares!!!!
Terry died that cold winter day and we had the funeral.

A lot of years have gone by. Terry and Deb’s son is Jason. Jason has lost his vision as a result of his severe diabetic condition. Jason and I have walked through huge issues of health and family together. Yesterday they almost lost Jason again… emergency surgery was done to drain his lungs.

Deb’s daughter is Jen. Jen sparkles and has so much potential. But Jen picks up losers and brings them into her life. She does it like some people pick up stray cats. Jen and I know only too well how much and how long we have worked together to get her on track. I cannot begin to tell you how much prayer and effort has gone into Jen’s life as the years have rolled by.

33 weeks ago Jen called me in great distress. She had found out she was pregnant and she had no idea what to do. The guy that had planted his seed was a jerk. He regularly threatened Jen and hurt her. She was frightened and had called the police a number of times. This stray was a drug addict and an all round mean person that demanded his own way all the time. The fact that he had kind of “God Fearing” – sometimes church attending parents made little difference – he was a jerk.

For weeks and months prior Deb and myself tried to warn Jen… but the attraction was just too great… or the force of the stray too great… Now she was pregnant.

Through the sobbing on the telephone she told me she was planning to get rid of this horrible remembrance of the relationship with this jerk. She wanted nothing to do with him ever again… and the thing inside of her was only a terrible reminder of what had happened.

I took a deep breath and explained how special this brand new little person inside her was. I talked about how he was going to be a “some one special”… and what this baby might accomplish in days and years to come. It was not a long conversation on the phone that day… I left Jen and had to get on with some other crisis that had come my way.

A day later Jen called and thanked me. She had been to have the Ultra-Sound done. She had seen the tiny guy inside her and was not going to lose him. She was going to have this baby all by herself.

37 weeks later we sat in the room holding a small but mighty miracle… Christopher Terrance Dagg… and all of his six, beautiful pounds smiled up at me as I held him close.

As I held him, his mom looked at me in tears and said, “Thank you for helping me make the right decision to not get rid of him. Thank you Pastor Murray… Thank you.”

I am old and experienced in many things. I could be considered hard at times as well. But yesterday as I held Christopher Terrance… I gulped and swallowed hard. The old softy in me came alive again… and this one is almost like one of mine.

Now Deb is like a daughter to me… Jen is like a granddaughter… and Christopher Terrance is – ouch like a Great Grandson… oh boy! The extended family will mean much to this little guy over the years to come.

Sadly – his own real daddy is in jail now. He has no idea that he has a “Christopher Terrance” as a son and could care less.

At the end of June 2008 I ceased being the Pastor of the Church. I had talked to Jen not long before. I thought then that the next Minister will pick up the threads… but that hasn’t been possible yet… so guess what… Jen still has a Minister… and in days to come… maybe when it is warmer and everything is somewhat more settled down… we will dedicate a small, beautiful, baby boy in Grandma’s back yard.

Thank you God for Christopher Terrance Dagg. He is something special – and you know it!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Pain

Being very careful to do the right thing can be the hardest thing I ever do. But doing the right thing is what I do best. It is what I have to do.

My heart aches today with a hidden problem and for an extremely lonely man. It aches from “Christmas Pain”. “Rob” has experienced the “Christmas Pain” along with me.

On last Friday evening all dreams were dashed for “Rob”. Everything that he has hoped for over the past 7 years has come crashing down. In a small way my dreams with him and for him also tumbled into a heap of disappointment along with his. And it has all happened just days before Christmas.

“Rob” is an ex-offender that is now living in our community. Because of his crimes we still treat him as an Offender – it is not just… but we do that to protect ourselves. We distrust him because he is bad… or at least was bad. “Rob” is also sick and will likely die in the next year. His situation is growing worse each day as the sickness in him grows larger inside of his body.

Together “Rob” and I have prepared some Christmas gifts over the past 4 months. His plan was to have them all done and then on a specially arranged trip he would deliver them to members of his family – his kids. Tomorrow was to have been that day.

On Friday evening the final word came that one of his family members, his wife, would not cooperate – and the trip will not happen. It is over for now. Her anger is too great. Her excuses were too easy. The pain that she could inflict was just right. She knew his hopes were high – and with one simple statement she shut it down – completely. Anger that will never leave is horrible.
“Rob” called me late on Friday and said in a low voice… “Murray it is all off. We can’t go to see my kids. I will have to wait.” The tone was flat and the sound of a defeated man came in short sentences – that told me hope had died.

For Alida, my wife, and myself we had hoped that this would bring some small joy to some children and to one man, “Rob”. As volunteers we give our time. And especially with our time at Christmas we try harder. This year instead of having a group of ex-offenders over to our home for Christmas – we concentrated on one man… and one day that we could bless him. Now it was over. And it hurt us as well as “Rob”.

Doing the right thing can hurt. Doing the right thing is something I hate doing at times… because it costs me in time and heart ache. I hate doing the right thing… because others don’t want to or simply won’t – because their anger is too great.

Now it is not my first time as a “do-gooder”. “Do-gooding” has been my specialty for a long time. I do it and then get blamed for being stupid. I do it and pour too much of me into something – then get burned or spurned.

But being a “do-gooder” places you close to where the pain is. It let’s you see how people hurt deeply. We use the politically kind expression – “volunteer” to cover “do-gooders” actions.

But it is not about me. It is about “Rob”. “Rob” did something really stupid and as a result he hasn’t seen his family for over 7 years. Crime split things up really bad. He has paid dearly for a stupid decision. But now it is over… but no… it isn’t.

I write today so that people like you will know what the hidden world of prison is about – at least a small part of that hidden world that you will never think about.

Today I ask you to think about these men and women in Prison – in Canada. Read the link given below from

Stats bring this home…
In Canada at this time there are just about 14,000 men and women in our Federal Prison system. That is about 14,000 people that will not be home for Christmas again – maybe never. Add to that there are about 516 (in 2005/2006) that live in community correctional facilities. On top of that there are about 23,000 people in the Provincial Correctional 116 facilities. That is roughly 37,000 that will not be home to open gifts this year.

But in reality there are about 153,000 individuals under supervision in Correctional Service Agencies in Canada.

Cost of incarcerating a Federal prisoner (2004/5): $259.05 per prisoner/per day
 Cost of incarcerating a Federal female prisoner (2004/5): $150,000-$250,000 per prisoner/per year
 Cost of incarcerating a Federal male prisoner (2004/5): $87,665 per prisoner/per year
 Cost of incarcerating a provincial prisoner (2004/5): $141.78: per prisoner/per day
 The cost of alternatives such as probation, bail supervision and community supervision range from $5-$25/day.

Now add in a few “Prison People Unions” demands to the above totals, cost of living increases, demands by staffers… and the figures that every man, woman and child in Canada bears because of these people not being home for Christmas – it is staggering!

Using a rough average of $90,000 (averaging the cost of men and women in prison each year) multiplied by 14,000 that are actually in prison = $1,260,000,000 EACH YEAR. Read that again - $1 Billion, 260 Million dollars in 365 days. Only about $42 per Canadian/per year – man, woman and child in you family! If you have four in your family Federal Prison costs you $168 each year…but that is every year since you were born!

NOW ADD one more figure… there are at least one angry Victim per one offender – hurting in the community somewhere. When “their man” went to prison and is well looked after for “X” number of years – their lives stopped and were over in most cases. However in most cases it is not just one person, there are parents, brothers and sisters, a spouse and many kids that suffer – BIG TIME!

In “Rob’s” situation that number is about a dozen… with the immediate hurt involving 5.

Let’s use “Rob’s” family as an example and apply it to everyone… that is 14,000 X 5 = 70,000 Victims & people affected by the crime… that is for just one year – that will never open Christmas gifts the same way again!!!!

I am not sure that I can pull it off – but maybe I can get “Rob” to come over for some Christmas with us. “Rob” isn’t going anywhere this year – again. He is back in his “cell” – a small room in our community – waiting and waiting and waiting…

Why bother…? Why bother writing about it…? Because I care is my final answer. And when “Christmas Pain” comes again – like a plague… someone has to do something.

~ Murray Lincoln ~


Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Party Anyone?

Thank You Brenda… I needed this. It is the Light Side of Christmas and Office Parties etc.

After spending last evening in a PST and GST Tax Seminar, then driving home from Lindsay – we ended up at the Emergency Department waiting for tests to be completed for my Mom – only a heart problem… no big deal… we all headed home for a long sleep and a late getting up.

SO Brenda helped me today. I can certainly understand poor Patty Lewis - Human Resources Director… enjoy…

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Christmas party anyone? - Five Short Days of Organizing!

FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 01, 2008
RE: Gala Christmas Party
I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We'll have a small band playing traditional carols... feel free to sing along. And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 pm. Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's pockets. This gathering is only for employees! Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time!Merry Christmas to you and your family,


FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 02, 2008
RE: Gala Holiday Party
In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on, we're calling it our "Holiday Party." The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.

Happy now?

Happy Holidays to you and your family,


FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 03, 2008
RE: Holiday Party

Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table ... You didn't sign your name. I'm happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA Only"; you wouldn't be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this? Somebody? And sorry, but forget about the gifts exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy.



FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
To: All Employees
DATE: October 04, 2008
RE: Generic Holiday Party

What a diverse group we are!? I had no idea that December 20 begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees' beliefs.

Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy. Will that work?Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms.

Gays are allowed to sit with each other.
Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each group will have their own table.

Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men's table.

To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks that no cross-dressing allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms.

Sorry.We will have booster seats for short people.

Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet.I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food. The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first.

There will be fresh "low sugar" fruits as dessert for diabetics, but the restaurant cannot supply "No Sugar" desserts. Sorry!Did I miss anything?!?!?


FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All “BLANKETY BLANK” Employees
DATE: October 05, 2008
RE: The “BLANKETY BLANK” Holiday Party

I've had it with you vegetarian IDIOTS!!! We're going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so quaintly put it, and you'll get your “BLANKETY BLANK” salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them scream right NOW!

The rest of you “BLANKETY BLANK” weirdos can kiss my *ss. I hope you all have a rotten holiday!

Drive drunk and die,

The B* from HE*^!!!!!!!!
FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: October 06, 2008
RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party

I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery and I'll continue to forward your cards to her.In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay.Happy Holidays!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tim Hortons in Kandahar

My friend Wilma passed this along to me. I know some of you will eventually receive this as a “Forwarded Email”. Because it is so good to read that I just had to pass it along to you. Since the son of our neighbour died in Afghanistan I have thought much more about the war. Every time I see the huge Canadian Flag hanging on their house – I am reminded again of a huge conflict that rages somewhere – while I am safe and happy at home.

This week as I order a “Double Double” – I will remember what Jennifer Jones has written. I hope you will also.

The explanation is as follows…
Jennifer Jones spent six months working at the Kandahar Tim Hortons. Here’s how her stint in war-torn Afghanistan gave her a greater appreciation for our soldiers – and our country.

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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By Jennifer Jones...
My alarm goes off just before 5 a.m. I pull on my bathrobe, pad down the hallway and open the plywood door to a gravel road and a line of large rounded tents surrounded by concrete highway dividers. The sun is already up, and hundreds of birds have congregated in the few trees to bid the morning welcome with their cheerful chatter. It is almost cool, but the promise of 50-degree heat hangs in the air.

I walk over sand and gravel to the shower trailer. This early in the morning I have the place to myself, which doesn’t happen often. The trailer is ripe with the smells of chlorine and disinfectant, and I hurry back to my tent where I’m living for six months and change into my uniform. I put on sand-coloured pants and a shirt, my name tag and a desert camouflage hat. As I arrive at work, there’s already a line up, so I hustle in the side door. My coworkers are bustling about, making coffee and stocking cups. I grab a hairnet, put it on under my cap and take my place as the doors open.

Not an average job
This is no ordinary Tim Hortons. I work on the Kandahar military base in Afghanistan.

The store is roughly in the middle of the base. In the centre is a large sand-and-gravel field where the Americans play football and the Brits play cricket. There’s a ball hockey rink right outside our store where we watch the Canadian troops play enthusiastic games of hockey in the sweltering heat. Other food outlets and stores line two sides of the boardwalk in the sand.

The store is actually a trailer and in the mornings, with six people behind the counter, it’s a busy place. We rush about in a practiced ballet of coffee and doughnuts, calling out orders and dodging the bakers as they come to fill up the showcase. Sometimes I marvel that we don’t crash into one another.

The usual
We can often tell what someone will order just by looking at the uniform. The Canadian troops usually just want a double-double, known as a NATO Standard over here. Sometimes we tempt them into an apple fritter.

The Americans prefer honey dips with a regular coffee, whereas the Brits can’t turn down a Boston cream or a Canadian maple. They’re also partial to French vanilla cappuccinos When the cappuccino machine is temporarily out of service, we almost have a mutiny on our hands.

“No French vanilla?” a group of four British soldiers gasp and moan. “What are we supposed to do?”

“What will you do when you go home?” I ask. “You’ll have to start a franchise in Sussex.”

“Oh, we’ll just order the French vanilla online then.” They grin and buy two cans of the mix to tide them over.

I enjoy seeing our regulars as well as the new faces that arrive all the time.

“Good mornin’, m’love! And how’re you today?” one of the older soldiers from Newfoundland lilts. His face is tanned and his blue eyes sparkle as he smiles. I return the smile and say, “Just great! And you?”

“Oh, livin’ the dream,” he laughs and orders his morning coffee. I know he’ll be back three or four more times before the day’s end.

The Tim Hortons caps we wear are perhaps the most in demand.

“Can I have six double-doubles and a hat?”

“How much for your hat, darlin’?”

We hear these questions all day long. Conversation is mostly casual and light-hearted.

“Make my coffee better than his,” one soldier jokes, pointing to his friend. “Give him the old stuff.”

“Are you still here? I thought you’d be home by now! When do they let you out?”

‘We’re prone to rocket attacks’

Of course, we’re the only Tim Hortons where the majority of customers come in fully armed. But by now I’m used to the sight of a soldier with a rifle in one hand and a coffee in the other We’re also prone to rocket attacks on the base, and when the alarm sounds, we have to get all the customers out of the store and sit in the back until the all clear sounds. There’s a heavy thud, a feeling of impact and then the eerie wail of an old air-raid siren. That’s the signal to get to a bunker, or to the back of the store, if I’m working.

The first time I experienced this I wasn’t really scared, but it gave a note of seriousness to my job that hadn’t been there before. We sat on the floor and waited until the all-clear alarm went off like a British police siren.

Some days are harder
Because of the hot weather, we make a lot of iced cappuccinos, and I often dance a little when I make them. I sway back and forth, moving my hips to the sound of the mixer. I tell the customers it tastes better that way. It never fails to get a smile.

There are days when it’s hard to be upbeat, though. We’ve had six ramp ceremonies since I’ve been here. A ramp ceremony is when we send soldiers home in the very way we don’t want to – in a coffin. It’s a very formal event, with the troops marching out in formation. Those of us with the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency are put in our own ranks. We march behind our troops and take our place on the tarmac in front of the plane that will fly the bodies home. Other than the sound of marching feet, all is silent.

A brief service is usually conducted by the padre, a military minister. We pray, then the troops salute the caskets draped in Canadian flags, which are carried high on the shoulders of other soldiers. A bagpiper follows behind. I don’t think I’ll ever hear the sound of bagpipes again without remembering these ceremonies. Sometimes I cry, a little – for lives lost, and for families I’ve never met.

When we get back to work the mood is somber; soldiers come in with grief on their faces. They give their order quietly, avoiding eye contact. I can sense that tears are close for them. It can be hard to speak in those moments. Yet most of the soldiers appreciate our smiles and jokes. When we celebrate life, it helps us all deal with death a little easier.

In need of a change
I applied for this job in August 2006. I was wrapping up a contract job with an arts festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., processing donations and sending out membership packages. I was looking for something different to do with my life; something that would feel like I was helping out a larger cause. I didn’t think I would get this job.

I’m 35, and although I’m not married and don’t have children, I assumed I’d be bypassed in favour of younger adventurers. But I found a range of ages and experiences when I was accepted into the two-week training course. One of my coworkers, Chantal, 24, from Timmins, Ont., signed up because her husband is a soldier here and she wanted to support him and their friends who are serving in this mission.

We work long hours, and there are no days off. By the end of a shift, I’m tired as I walk back to my tent. My little room is home, for now, and though it’s only the size of a small car garage, it’s comfortable. I have a bed sheet for a door and a curving tent wall above my head. When it rains hard, as it sometimes does, the tent often leaks.

Missing home
I miss simple things, like having a bathroom in the same building as my bedroom and walls that go all the way up to the ceiling I miss picking berries and making pies and jam. I have a friend who recently died of cancer, and I wish I could have visited her, or at least called her more easily and frequently. I have even missed winter. But at night in Kandahar, I look up and see the same familiar constellations that hang over the sky in my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ont., and I know I’ll be back there before long.

I rest easy knowing that my home is where roadside bombings and landmines are unheard of. I have a huge appreciation for Canada – I always did – but this experience is magnifying it.

Making a difference
This job has given me more patience and shown that I can live through difficult circumstances with a smile on my face. I came here with very little understanding of the military culture, and I will leave knowing that our soldiers are proud to serve us this far from home; they want to make the world better for their own families and their country.

For the soldiers, being able to feel normal by ordering “the usual” helps make their tour more bearable. Just the other day, a soldier told me, “If it weren’t for this place, I’d have gone crazy by now.” So when a young soldier comes in and gives me a thankful grin because he can finally get an iced cappuccino after six weeks out in the desert, I feel that, even by just serving a coffee, I can make a difference.

Jennifer Jones worked at Tim Hortons in Kandahar for six months. When she wrote this essay, she was a month away from returning home.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Zenith Satellite II – Model SZ2537K

The Twenty Five Year old National Graphic Magazine lay on the table in the small restaurant that we sat in. The magazine is tired after twenty five years of people leafing through it. The pages were worn. Many of the pages were doodled on as someone killed time,

As I turned it over, there on the back page was an advertisement for a Zenith Satellite II – Model SZ2537K Television. It brags that this new model has a capacity for 178 Channels – because of “Smart Set in Zenith’s Computer Brain”. It offers a “Space Command Remote Control” as well as an “Exclusive Ready Plug” – whatever that was…?
The date of the magazine was December 1983… 25 years ago.

My how things have changed in 25 years! The articles in the magazine alone testify to the way it has changed.

I have been thinking of that old Zenith Satellite II TV – that graced the living room of so many homes 25 years ago. WOW – it brought so many memories flooding back.

But the imagination trip didn’t stop there it kept flying backwards to earlier Zenith Radios that I have known and listened to.

When I worked for my Uncle Neal Kirkpatrick in 1958 and 1959 as a summer farm hand we listened to a Zenith Radio in his front room. The radio was likely a 1930 to 1940 floor model that had a green eye on the front top. As the signal was strong the green eye indicated the signal strength.

After that summer of working for my Uncle Neal I bought a Transistor Radio by Zenith. It cost me a bundle of money but its compact size was amazing. It was about the size of a large soft cover book today. It was my one main purchase with all the money that I had made working with my uncle for the whole summer.

I was 15 years old and Zenith was a very big name back then – only 49 years ago. But now when you Google Zenith Satellite II – Model SZ2537K Television – you don’t get much… if anything about the TV. You get offers of information for other stuff – but not this particular TV.

I was reflecting on some of this aging process – when I saw the advertisement for the old TV. It is kind of like my life…maybe yours too. Remember when your own Body had a new “Smart Set in Zenith’s Computer Brain”. It offerd a “Space Command Remote Control” as well as an “Exclusive Ready Plug”…? Remember when what you were doing was cutting edge – standing out against whatever your friends were doing? Remember your job was really something?

I stood in a computer store not long ago and when the youngster asked if he could help me with anything – I said no. He asked if I understood what this new computer would do? He asked if I have used a computer before… CAN YOU IMAGINE the LITTLE upstart… asked me if I knew what a computer was – or have I used one before. I couldn’t answer the silly little store clerk.

He was not even 21 years old! When he was born I had already had 28 years of computer experience.

I wanted to turn and ask him if he knew what a Zenith Satellite II – Model SZ2537K was? I wondered if he had any idea what a “Space Command Remote Control as well as an “Exclusive Ready Plug”…was?

His biting words simply added more weight to burden of the reflective moments… I am older than the Zenith Satellite II – Model SZ2537K which you cannot get parts for and may be able to buy one at a garage sale when someone really old has an estate auction. I am the same age as the Green Eyed Zenith Radio Receiver.

OH Boy!

Yesterday my Best Man “Gord”, from our wedding, turned 65 years old. He is much older than me. I was also his Best Man at his wedding. Gord is old now.

When we talked on the telephone it was fun. We only needed to greet each other to have the flood of memories come wafting back over us. We paused a few times as we both savored the memories that we share. We have promised to not tell our kids some of things that we did together… dumb things that our own kids wouldn’t want their kids knowing.

I think we’re are so much like “Zenith Satellite II – Model SZ2537K” – so amazing in its time – but now not so amazing.

We agreed on the telephone that we still had much in common – still married to our amazing wives that look into their “Zenith Satellite II – Model SZ2537K” - model Husbands and see something.

Both Enid and Alida are ladies of GRACE – sent from God Himself. Amazing! And they have stuck it out for a LONG TIME!

Now if this sets off a FUNKY Mood in my old friends that read this far in a blog… I apologize and say get over it!

We have things that the LITTLE UPSTARTS in the computer department cannot understand… we have dust, we have a hum, and we have blinking Green Eyes that they cannot understand. Hey – we are good!

As for me – I do not want to change a thing… being a “Zenith Satellite II – Model SZ2537K” is so cool!

~ Murray Lincoln ~


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Promises Promises

At the coffee shop we met another Grand Parent that described her orders/instructions/want list from her granddaughter for Christmas. The list was long and detailed. The granddaughter is now 9 years old – same as our granddaughter Emma.

We laughed at the items on the list as Grandma described them. Now if Grandma wants to stay in her granddaughter’s good books she must fulfill the promises that are perceived to have been made. Quite a task when Grandma still doesn’t know what some of things are on the list. This particular Grandma is now researching some the items to find out what they actually do!

This is Christmas 2008 when promises are made, questions are asked and items demanded/requested of the Shopping Mall Santas that sit in big throne like chairs and listen to all the kids that come by to talk with them. The Mall Santa can make many promises – because we all know he is NOT THE SAME SANTA that delivers on Christmas Eve. The one on Christmas Eve is able to get down a Chimney and place the around the Christmas Tree. And if you don’t have a Tree or a Fireplace – somehow he gets in (that is called B&E in the court system and in jail – but that is another story for later).

I point to Santa, Parents and Grandparents – because of “promises”. We all make PROMISES. And with every promise there is at least one set of ears and eyes that will have great expectations. When a promise is made some one is expecting a promise to be kept.

Offering Promises… WOW – what a 2008 issue!

A promise is only as good as the person who makes it. Someone has observed: "America(and Canada) is always a land of promise during an election." The political candidate who promises jobs and a utopia but can't deliver; the bridegroom who promises lifelong commitment, then is unfaithful to his wife; the soldier who pledges loyalty to his country but goes AWOL--all demonstrate that promises can be empty.

A politician can make promises and someone else will have to deliver. He may well be voted out – but a promise made is expected to be kept – specially if it was a popular promise. When he doesn’t keep these promises his career is soon ended.

In the case of the couple getting married at the altar of the church – there are expectations with the promises they make on that special day.

A soldier is the same… he promises upon his swearing in ceremony to stand with his comrades – as if his life depends on it. Their lives do depend on his oath or solemn vow.

Now a days – when people walk away from the promise they make and the solemn vow that they take – they think nothing of it.

In every situation it is so sad when the promise is broken… if the solemn vow is broken – so what?. People lives are broken, people die because of it and the whole community suffers.

I have had this happen to me as well. I am sure that you have as well.

A man recently told me of a former boss that buttered him up with all kinds of promises. He had heard wonderful and even glowing reports of the new boss and the new work place. It wasn’t long until the “baloney wrapping” was off and my friend discovered that the promises made were just that – BALONEY. (for those from other countries reading that Canadian colloquial saying – Baloney is CHEAP MEAT).

This man’s life was changed as he believed in the Promises made… and then altered radically as the Promises were not kept.

I talked with the young wife of a young husband that left her and the kids. He couldn’t/wouldn’t keep his promises that he made a few years at that church altar in front of me. He was a jerk to say the least.

This Christmas is about Promises. A promise to love with an expression through a gift that is given. Now what happens when a gift is given – and a promise to love is not kept? It is very hollow.

There are so many stories and accounts that could be given. But I must stop here…

The single most important thing for me is this – I must keep my promises. It is my simple and single duty to keep a promise. That defines who I am and what I do from that moment on. Promises Promises – and then credibility.

Now the religious/preachy part. Guess who never breaks a promise? His name is big – just like he is… GOD.

He is not like a failed Santa Claus… or a broken politician… or dead beat dad or mom… or a very poor example of a boss that is a zero… that never delivers.

He is GOD and he keeps his promises.

He doesn’t always agree to all that I demand – but He enjoys me spending time with Him as I ask – even when the requests are selfish. Then he gives me what I really need…not what I really want.

Take a good look around you as promises are offered. Read the coupon books of life – and then check to see if the world around you offers you what they promise.

Next take a good look at your own promises. How are you doing? I hope you are better.

Now I have to get ready to complete three more Christmas presents today – I made a promise or two and I must get them done.

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Community’s Horror Comes Close To Home

“Now that it's all over, what did you(we) really do yesterday that's worth mentioning?” ~Coleman Cox

I began yesterday’s post with this quote. Today it is even more important.

Early Sunday morning December 14, 2008 little Ava died in a house fire in Peterborough. It happened on Herbert Street, close to St. Stephens Presbyterian Church. Ava was three years old.

Late last evening I discovered that Ava was part of our church. Yesterday when we prayed in church for the family and all those involved we didn’t know how close she was to us.

Ava attended our Day School at Northview. She was a lively little girl looking forward to Christmas and all that would happen soon for her. Ava also attended our Sunday School just a year or so ago when we ran the Sunday School bus. She was very small then when her mom sent them on the bus each morning. We had a question whether someone so small should come without parents – but mom had reassured us.

As the story has been reported today a teenage boy was babysitting five kids at the house while the parents were working night shifts. He was standing outside helpless with three of the kids while the other two were trapped inside.

There is a helpless feeling in all of us today as we wonder what could have been done to make the place safer for the children. We wonder what we could have done to help the parents. We wonder what happened to cause the tragedy.

I wonder how the teenage babysitter is doing today as he remembers the horror of that moment he discovered the fire. He will think forever of the moments that he collected three kids – but not number four and five.

I wonder today what the single mother is going to do… struggling already with life and working all night to support her three kids… and now her little Ava is gone and Ava’s 18 month old little brother is in a hospital in Toronto.

I wonder what the firemen are feeling like today with the memories of picking up the children in the fire so vivid in their minds… then coming to grips with the end product of the fire.

I wonder today about the other families in the townhouse units. Five Units were burned up and the sixth one severely damaged as the fire moved down the whole unit.

I wonder about the Northview Day School Staff today. These teachers and staff loved little Ava.

I am overwhelmed with a need to support – but have no idea who or how that will happen.

It is reflective to post this statement again… but it is the only one that makes sense right now…
“Now that it's all over, what did “we” really do yesterday that's worth mentioning?” ~Coleman Cox

Why is it close to home for me? Well a short 8 years ago, November 11, 2000, we arrived at the front of our daughter’s home on Eva Court, Whitby, Ontario. We were just popping by for a minute before we headed home to Peterborough. At that moment our daughter Anda was running with her last son from the house screaming for help. Her house was on fire. Her husband Bill was hunting and away for a week. She had just slammed the door as I grabbed her in my arms.

The fear was paralyzing for all of us. I looked into the house and the hallway was so filled with smoke that you could not see an arm’s length into the house. The fire was small but the damage great. I shudder even now – we could have lost our youngest daughter and three grandkids.

This recent community horror has come close to home for my wife and me. Very close… but what can we do?

What else can I do but pray…?
I am praying for a mom today with her great loss and continued struggles. I am praying for a teenage boy that tried hard but it wasn’t enough. I am praying for Firemen today that go home to their own kids and check them at night. I am praying for our Northview Day School staff… you folks are amazing – and you did your best. I am praying today for the six family units that have lost everything.

“God – I ask that you would help them all… please God please..”

~ Murray Lincoln ~


Sunday, December 14, 2008

What did you really do yesterday that's worth mentioning?

“Now that it's all over, what did you really do yesterday that's worth mentioning?” ~Coleman Cox

Great quote as I end a week and begin another. So what happened this past week that made a difference? What did I do that touched people, making a difference to those around me?

I guess that kind of sums up a month and a year as 2008 closes down forever. Now we are contemplating how 2009 will go. Economic things are stretched. Relationships are ready to snap in some situations. Now couples that I know are splitting. “Now that it’s all over… hmmm?”

I listened to a person tell me a brand new fact that I had never heard before. She explained how she and her family had packed off and left one church for another. After quite a lengthy description of how they arrived at the decision to leave – she said, “The timing on leaving a church is crucial. If you do it when the pastor is leading the church, he will think it is because of him. It you do when the new pastor arrives, he will think it is because of him coming. It is very difficulty to leave.” I didn’t know that it is that carefully calculated… I didn’t know!

(I should explain that our setting in our city has a whole smorgasbord of church possibilities to attend. You can go to a different church each week and never repeat your attendance for more than two years. It isn’t like the old days when you attended the same church from birth to death… now choice is the driving force.)

I have noticed that a few couples left our church between June 2008 and December 2008. Six months has made a difference for the church – a big difference.

I reflected on this fact as they leave. They held on until we completed our work at the church – then they left. They were supporting – yet apparently yearning/ready to leave.

We had been warned a few years ago when the stats came out that about 47% of the congregation any Sunday morning is ready to switch churches – to go some where else. One of my assistant pastors had mentioned that fact in his sermon at the time and shook a few people with the statement. Needless to say – the shook up people left the church. I guess they didn’t want their secret revealed – nor did they need to wait until I was done.

The quote again by Coleman Cox states… “Now that it's all over, what did you really do yesterday that's worth mentioning?”

It didn’t say… “Now that it's all over, what did you get out of yesterday that's worth mentioning?” or “What did you get of value there… and is there some where else that I could get better value?”

I just bet there is someone that will plant a new church entitled, the “Value Village Church” – soon. Much like the store – everything will cost less… shorter sermons… less money has to given… less involvement… yadda yadda…

Alvin Klien was one of my Sunday School Teachers when I was a boy. He had taken on a class of boys that never listened to anything. We were a teacher’s nightmare. With two class clowns and a group of boys that would laugh at anything and everything – laughter was what we looked forward to.

I can’t remember one thing from the Bible that Alvin taught us – or one point that would stick with us – EXCEPT ONE. Alvin said one statement over and over again in the class… “Boys you will get out of life what you put into it.” His needed to say that was because our class was a circus and we put very little into it… he was asking, begging, pleading with us to realize that what we put into the class – we would get out. If we goofed off all the time – we would get only that from the class.

Alvin was patient to say the least – and absolutely right on!

Church is like anything else – what you put into it – you will get out of it. In marriage it is the same… “in” equals “out”. Business is the same. A job is the same.

We all can and should ask that question… “…what did I really do yesterday that's worth mentioning?” It will be talked about at your funeral – why not have it talked about before that time. (On the side – at Funerals – sometimes the Family and Friends have to lie about what actually didn’t happen!)

In this new Carving Business (Misty Hollow Carving) that I am involved in I have much time to think about what has taken place. I have reflected a lot on the years that have rolled by. I have seen the great value and the lives changed. I have also witnessed with some shuddering that there have been times that I wished it would have been different.

Now with a fresh picture in my mind I will survey the yesterday and last month and this past year. I can see the value and the good things. I now plan well into next year – the next steps that will come along.

The one connecting item that makes such a difference is the people that come along – each day.

Speaking of the Misty Hollow Carving Business… it is carried out in my garage. The fact that a number of people are dropping by from time to time is super. I am not alone. Report after report comes through the door. The needs come with each person as well. Many stories are shared from the heart. Some of the joy is mixed with some problems. I am a wood carver but always a Minister/Pastor… and the door is always open.

So as I reflect on “Tomorrow”… I am looking at “Yesterday”… with an eye of what I am doing right now….

Finally… what did you really do yesterday that's worth mentioning?

~ Murray Lincoln ~