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Dumped On

There is no other way to say it. “This last week we got dumped on.” The Great Canadian North backed the truck up, filled the telescopic rod with hydraulic fluid and let ‘er’ go. Services stopped, vehicles were stuck, people were sent home, and the dig-out started and lasted all week. We had been prepped the week before with a practice run, but the alert for this last week somehow eluded us.
In my conservative opinion, small ‘c’ not to be confused with our political, which is our second or third favourite past-time, I think we got more snow in this last week than we did all last year. But, I’m no weatherman.
Life as we know it had to stop and alter its course. Some of my ‘usual’ got canceled, and that affected others and delayed their arriving home which rippled all the way down to the babysitter, who may have been cheering for the extra dollars; or, maybe not.
Things changed, babies were conceived, at least that is true from the last dump that happened here several years ago, and life had to reorient if only for a moment.
All that rearrangement, without apology, for gentle white snow that landed with a wallop.
What about you?
Have you ever been dumped on, I mean metaphorically speaking?
Have you ever had to alter, reorient, change, or stop life as it is to redirect?
Probably if you haven’t, you are barely old enough to read. If you have lived life in the real world, the chances are high that the telescopic rod has lifted and thrust its load your way.
So, what do you do when life unloads on you in a moment of time?
The first thing you’ll do is to stop. You’ll probably have to. Once you have picked up your shovel, snowblower, or backhoe, you begin to sort your way through the mess. But, when the mess keeps coming, that is when you will need to try a different tactic.
Take Job, pronounced ‘Jobe,’ for example. Here is a guy who has a book by his name contained within the Bible. He got dumped on. Just when he thought he had more than he could bear, the ‘B’ train unloaded.
Job handled his life and his tragedy with amazing patience and trust. You can catch this fantastic example and the message from this ancient stalwart of a man. Forty-two chapters, which is about thirty-six pages, maybe an hour and a half read, or two coffees will impact your life exponentially. Try and read it in one go; you’ll be glad you did.
Then, you can also catch some of my thoughts on this from Conflict #5 in my online book, Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl. Just follow the links.

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Address the Fear: Metaphor to Real

Two weeks ago, I had the incredible privilege to get some R&R at the beautiful Lake Louise Alberta.

If you are not familiar with it, it is just breathtaking in its winter splendor. It has a multiple of options for people to engage with the outdoors from hiking, skiing and skating to name a few.

My first day I took the 2K hike to the end of the lake, it was flat and level. It fulfilled all expectations and looking back at the hotel made for a stunning, soul rejuvenating view.

The next day I looked for a little more adventure. I decided to make the climb to the “Lookout,” forty-nine stories up according to my iPhone. “You access the trail behind the boathouse,” the barista told me as I was formulating my thoughts out loud.

“Is there any active wildlife this time of year?” I asked.

“The only thing I would be worried about,” she said, “would be the bears, but I think it’s too cold for them now.”

The temperature was hovering about -10c, it had just snowed the night before, and the four-foot-wide path looked somewhat used. It wasn’t entirely isolated. In and up I went.

About halfway up the trail, that had now narrowed to about two and a half feet, barely wide enough for a single person; I replayed the conversation. Yah, I agreed, it’s too cold for bears.  They would be in hibernation, wouldn’t they? I stopped caught my breath and looked around. Snow, dead quiet. I continued up the path.

I wonder if there are any cougars? Quieter. No, noise, just my deep breathing. They stalk. A three sixty look around. No stalkers.

Back to the climb. I wonder if this area has any wolves? Trying to sure my footing, maybe ten seconds from my last thought four-legs and black exploded past me, brushing my leg. My heart and body froze. Now staring me down not ten feet ahead and up from me was this huge black, motionless wolf, with… a collar? It took a few seconds to process what just happened. It was a dog, in the middle of nowhere and it wasn’t wagging its tale. The moment was still precarious, but at least now it was domestic. The dog was up the path, and so we were eye level.

What would you do? Exactly. I talked to it. In a microsecond of time, I remembered my dad’s words, fifty-two years earlier, “Don’t let him know you are afraid.” I kept the lilt in my voice and told it to go find its owner.

It blasted past me again and then it was gone.

A little unnerved, actually, a lot unnerved I kept going to the lookout.

The path had narrowed to about a foot wide and then without warning it happened again, this time it bumped me harder. I was losing confidence that this dog wasn’t just going to be on its way. Still, no owner was in sight. After a few moments of stare-down and lilt(y) one-way conversation, the dog was off down the trail.

Finally, I arrived at the lookout. It was amazing.

 

Here’s the Take-Away.

The devil is not omniscient; he doesn’t know everything. He is only a created being. He doesn’t know what you are thinking. He’s waiting for you to cut and run.

He will try and block your way to beautiful and purpose. He will do his best to make you afraid. He’s been defeated. Expose the lie. Tell him to go home. Find your refuge in God through Jesus. Keep on your journey to amazing!

Address the Mess; Emotional Duct Tape #1

Here’s how it plays out. I have watched this happen over and over.

We’ll call them Darrell and Amanda.

Darrell and Amanda opt to use emotional duct tape.

This time the disagreement is over whether or not Amanda should have bought the new upright Grandfather clock for $683.00 regularly priced at $999.00. Previous arguments have been in the $400.00 range.

It starts by Darrell walking in from work and seeing the new purchase in the entryway to the living room.

As it turns out, this purchase was not planned in the family budget nor was it even on their radar as a discussion item.

Amanda swears by the fact that this is something that she always wanted and that this price was the best price ever, probably never to happen again.

And, so the stage is set:

Darrell – What is this?

Amanda – I know isn’t it the best thing ever?

Darrell – It’s a grandfather clock!

Amanda – I know. I’ve wanted one of these all my life.

Darrell – This is the first I’ve heard of this.

Amanda – Darrell, it was the best price ever.

Darrell – How much?

Amanda – I saved over $300.00

Darrell – How much?

Amanda – I can use my reimbursement from my taxes last year toward it.

Darrell – How much?

Amanda – Just over $600.00.

Darrell – You did this without asking?

Amanda – I didn’t think that I had to ask for my own money. You are acting just like your father. So, demanding.

Darrell – You said that we would talk about our purchases beyond $200.00 Obviously I can’t trust your word.

Plenty of emotion, ample innuendos, and the ‘taping’ begins. Amanda wipes a tear from her eye, and Darrell leaves the house without saying a word.

He misses supper that night and gets home late.

Nothing said that night and the next day there is a strange silence in their home. Amanda knows better than to ask what is wrong and Darrell struggles for words.

About the third day, they start to acknowledge each other in the room, and things begin to calm down.

By the fifth day, things are great, and the marriage is incredible until…until the tape let’s go. Emotional Duct tape actually works, for the moment. The problem happens when used as a permanent solution. It then becomes thoroughly inadequate.

Instead of dealing with the issue in their marriage, these two choose to take the ‘easy’ way. They fix it with EDT and have a solution. Temporary at best.

Address The Mess: Sick! (Next)

Second: See the previous blog

The next thing that became a game changer was that I needed to be sensitive to the nudges and prompts that God gives out for those who are willing to be responsive.

I was prompted in my thoughts, “You were wrong in your dealings with Sam (not his real name) when you told him to get his act together regarding his marriage.”

Years earlier I had lost patience with a dear friend. He was struggling in his marriage, and I had coached and prayed and helped in all ways that I knew how. After many months of doing this I lost patience and just said one day, “Sam when are you going to get your act together?” I was only partway out of my legalistic tendencies. I was still learning how to live free and full of grace toward others.

Moments like this are pivotal, but I didn’t recognize it at the moment.

It was years later in a conversation with God when he brought this up. God had me. Guilty as charged.

I knew my next step was to contact Sam, own my stuff, and Seek forgiveness. I did and was able to grow from this ordeal. I hope he did as well.

It is so easy to fall from Grace. A nuance, a proud moment, a frustrated goal, all can take you into doing things your way and falling away from God’s ability and empowerment. It wasn’t my first encounter and probably not my last.

We need always to be walking humbly with God, Micah 6:8, but it is easy to morph to our own path.

I learned that to have and live a grace-filled life I needed to know how deep my mess went. It was deep.

I learned that we are no different. If left to my own devices, if my background, my family, my life and contextual circumstances were exactly like yours, I would make the exact same decisions that you have made. Every part, every dysfunction, that you experience would be mine and conversely mine would be yours. That is what addressing the mess looks like.

I am susceptible if I try to do life on my own.

I need Gods empowering every bit as much as you or anybody else because if left to myself, I would fall, I would do ‘human’ every time.

So, Grace is God’s empowering for us to do what we cannot do for ourselves. It is the outworking of who the Holy Spirit is in us. If I fall here all I need to do is address the mess, confess it to God, obey him, and once again recalibrate.

Then, only then, I can reach out and be helpful.

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Address The Mess: Sick!

I had completely forgotten about my legalistic tendency.

I was raised in a Christian culture, and my family was considered godly.

Maybe they were, but I was challenged with a legalism which I have come to know is anything but godly.

We had a doctrine of grace and could teach it to you, but an unwritten code of performance. I, being a ‘good’ leader, in kind, passed that on. Grace was given with a smile, but adherence was expected to follow in a not too distant place. Remember, none of this was written down, just expected. I would probably be called delusional for bringing this up because like Jell-O, this code could not be nailed down.

You can only imagine the mess that this spawned.

In this regard, I was like Saul, before he became Paul, knowing that I was accomplishing big things for God, but in fact tying nooses around other’s necks and posturing a righteousness that indeed wasn’t by faith, and indeed wasn’t righteousness at all.

I am so incredibly grateful that this absurdity broke in my life.

There were two significant moments where this was driven home to me.

First:

It had been bothering me for a while, but when I showed up at family functions, I would frequently tell all that would listen about all that I was accomplishing. I couldn’t get the exploits out fast enough. I needed to let everyone know how well I was doing and how neat things were going for me, at least in my fanciful dreams. It was obsessive.

One day, while contemplating another gathering, I realized how I was ramping-up my preparation for the next day. I actually said out loud, “Phil you are sick!”

In a moment of clarity, I knew that my posturing days were over and I was able to walk free.

I started then and continue now to rest in the work that Jesus did for me. One of my favourite passages of scripture reads like this, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV) This passage is actually saying that God has taken our mess, all of it, and has given us in exchange his righteousness. No posturing, no performance, just righteousness.

God has taken my ‘sick’ and has given me right living, if I want it, in its place. I find that unbelievably incredible.

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I will share Second: next time.

Address The Mess: Not So Perfect Picture

We can assume that it is our job to address someone else’s.

Most of the time that is not the case.

Cruise2017aI recently shared this picture on Facebook, and I love it. It captures the sass and the fun that my wife and I frequently have with each other. One of the comments by someone who knows us reasonably well was that it captures our personalities.

What it doesn’t show is the regular, the mundane, the hurt, and the pain that life can hold and sometimes deal out. It doesn’t show the low moments, the struggle moments, or the confusing moments that accompany every relationship and every life. It doesn’t show the hours of conversation or the short nights that it sometimes takes to work through the mess.

We can naively carry on thinking that others have a perfect life and “If I could only have it like them then things would be great.”

Everyone has snapshots that if captured and presented would represent a moment of bliss or euphoria. I am not so concerned about those moments. Instead, I want to address in this series the other 99.99%.

I can think that life is pretty good. I can take care of ‘my side’ and believe that everything is okay. My problem is that I often start with me and work out from there. However, that may not always be the best measurement, and much of the time it can be skewed.

Even though I can look good in a moment to you, or I can look good in my thinking to myself, I also have the potential to affect others, and that will not always have me in a great light. I struggle like you with being human, with getting it right.

I can even go to the scriptural extent that I’m busy trying to take out a sliver from your eye while I am oblivious to the log in my own.

I need to Address The Mess in my own life. That is where I start. Once I come to terms with how short I have fallen, how much I need, how far I have missed the mark of perfection, then maybe, just maybe I can begin to help someone else.

God provides tons of help and encouragement, but it is only available when I can be honest with myself and real with him.

Address The Mess Series: Emotional Duct Tape

 

I had just turned 50. My wife and family gave me an amazing birthday gift of a Fly-In-Fishing trip into Ryan Lake Alberta, in the Canadian Shield.

I, in turn, bought a place for my son as a graduation gift and we coerced a friend to come with us. The three of us had the lake, lodge and three brand new boats and motors to ourselves for five whole days.

The very first day probably not even an hour on the lake and my brand new fishing rod snapped. Yup? I was angry. I was fortunate in that I had brought an old faithful spare rod.

We had a fantastic trip, and I have tons of stories about it.

The last day we needed to use up our supplies and did I tell you that the friend that I brought was a chef? Let’s just say it was an amazing week, and we ate like kings. But, this last day we had to use our steak, veggies, apples, whip cream and oatmeal. So, Peter made an apple crisp pie and baked it on the BBQ. The only thing I had to do was use the wisp and get the whipping cream whipped.

The whisk was taking so long and not seeming to produce much, so all of a sudden an idea hit me. I call it a Red Green moment.

I had a reel that wasn’t being used, Duct Tape for an emergency and a wisp that could use some torque. Within minutes there was pure whipped cream sitting there waiting to add the fifth star to the restaurant review in the middle of nowhere.

Image 3

We laughed, ate, and laughed some more. The only thing missing was our wives, a maître d and a bottle of wine.

Duct Tape is made for a moment of need. It isn’t usually meant for a long-term fix.

It just occurred to me yesterday that we have tried to use Emotional Duct Tape to solve long-term problems.

I want to also explore this in future posts.

 

Here is the connect to my recent book, Path Out-Eliminate the Swirl

(Here’s how you can get a copy. https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/)

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Address The Mess Series: Intro

So, I was raised in a religious family culture that pretended to deal with mess. Oh, if it was on the obvious top five, or on the faux pas list, as long as it was the other person, it was exposed and dealt with in great manipulative, religious style. But, if the mess were on ‘my,’ the person’s in control, shame list, the embarrassing, face-saving list, depending on whose face was being saved, you would be told to forgive and forget about it.

A prayer would be given, and hushed ‘biblical’ counsel would quickly be cited.

“… Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV)

The idea was that the bible supports dropping and leaving important things with a prayer. If that text weren’t enough, you would be given another.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV)

The bible was used to silence pain and create shame misrepresenting the passage and misrepresenting a loving, healing, and forgiving God.

A rule-keeping setting such as what I grew up in is a ripe environment for pain and shame to flourish. Many people experience life-long struggle trying to get over the dominating guilt-induced system of yesteryear.

I’ve come to learn that you cannot forget what you continue to relive on a daily basis.

I’ve also come to know that you can move on and sometimes even forget, once you have stared down and addressed the intimidating and overwhelming.

It really is possible for a person, you, to heal, be restored and be renewed, like it never happened, having the pain, shame, and humiliation gone.

Over the next days/weeks, I want to talk about what that process looks like. I want to talk about how you can walk free and live totally well.

My new book, Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl will serve as a tool in this process.

(Here’s how you can get a copy. https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/)

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The very first step to moving out of the swamp and milieu of inner despair is to call it what it is. You need to address the mess, “My life in this area is a mess. I’m no longer hiding, no longer protecting, and no longer excusing the mess. I will, with God’s help take the journey to health and wholeness. So God, will you come right now to me in the middle of my mess and help me? In Jesus powerful name, amen.”

Joseph Series: You Cannot Move Forward Until…

Owning your stuff, finding forgiveness, and trusting in the one who can make a difference, is the new normal; it was for Joseph’s brothers.
The brother’s lives depended on it, and they couldn’t move ahead without it.
Joseph had his brothers, his father, and their entire families move to prime real estate, the best Egypt had to offer. They moved from absolute need to unbelievable provision all because of who they trusted. They once despised him, but now they trusted Joseph with their entire lives and future.
Joseph’s brothers could not have been saved from their dilemma without this trust.
Joseph was a picture of God’s provision to his siblings and all of their families. He was deliverance from their dilemma, healing from their past, hope for their future, and their new way of life.
History shows; the Bible shows; even Broadway shows that they made the right choice and they trusted the right person. It took them a while, it took incredible hardship, but they finally got it right.
Joseph was left for dead, despised, rejected, and unjustly suffered alone. He was raised to a position second only to Pharaoh himself. Joseph used the new position of ‘fortunate’ to provide for everyone else, especially his brothers.
Anyone else in Egypt couldn’t have and wouldn’t have provided for the brothers. Only Joseph had the answer and the help for their deepest needs; it could be argued that this was unfair to others, narrow and extremely exclusive or it could be accepted that this provision was uniquely designed for their personal lives.
Your future life, your new purpose, your hope for what is yet to be are found here; just as Joseph foreshadowed his family’s future hope and provision, so Christ foreshadows yours.
Now, it is your story, your new normal.
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has its foundation in a true story, which when applied, will change your life.