Thursday, May 19, 2016

35 thoughts on my life

This is an ongoing list that began on my 25th birthday back in 2006 in China.  Just something to look back on.  It's a bit of a read, but there are some nuggets in there.

(Edits made in May 2011.  More edits made May 2016)

1.) Not really a moment, but I really enjoyed the summer of 2000 when I got to get to know a really great girl. We worked at camp and it was fun working together and going to campfires together and hanging out on the weekend.  At the end of the summer I must have tricked her into being my girlfriend and now I am in the clear as we are married for almost 5 and a half years.

EDIT 2011: We have been married for almost 9 and a half years! Can you believe that?  Barbara is the patient, loving, tender, giving wife and mother of my dreams. And she’s had 2 kids and still looks very good looking.

EDIT 2016:  Still together;)  Planning a nice trip to Quebec for our 15th!  She's had 3 kids, 2 for us and one for her best friends, and she's still a babe.

2.) A moment I really enjoyed is playing street hockey this past Christmas with Bryce, Barry, Jeff, Rob, Mike, Brent, Jesse and Cody. We played until we could literally no longer see anything because it was so dark.

EDIT 2011: We played street hockey in China a couple of times.  Our homemade sticks would break all the time. An old man picked up a stick and tried it once.  A monk picked up a stick and tried it once.  I hope that I can get the hockey going again here.  Street hockey is my favorite sport and I have a lot of fond memories with it.

EDIT 2016:  Jonas is my hockey buddy.  He dreams of playing in the NHL.  His confidence is sky high.  He thinks that Eberle is a better skater than him, but he's convinced that he has a better shot.

3.) Playing poker with the boys in high school after basketball tournament and late on weekends.  One time I almost lost 7 dollars in nickels and dimes! Playing with Robbie, Neilson, Quincy, Kevin, etc...

EDIT 2011: We play poker here in China.  I learned a lot about the craft from local expert Dustin.  No matter who is in or out of town, we always find time to get a few guys together for a fun night of poker and Qing Dao beer.  It is a little sanity in the midst of what sometimes seems like a lot of insanity.

4.) Playing high school basketball in grade 10.  We lost to Spruce Grove in the finals every year of junior high, and then beat them in overtime in grade 10.  That was my favorite basketball team that I have ever been on.

EDIT 2011: Still a great memory. It was sweet justice for all of those losing seasons. Definitely a highlight of tenth grade.

5.) Driving down to Boston from Montreal for a day back in 2000 with Jeff and Gina.  We left Montreal at 8am with a rental car, drove through Vermont and the like, and then came to Boston much later.  We walked around Harvard, drove by Fenway Park and we ate pizza at a place with a bathroom in the kitchen.  I opened the stall door to a man cutting onions.  Jeff got a parking ticket.  Then we left Boston and drove through the night.  Jeff was speeding and we got pulled over by a highway patrol guy.  We prayed, he let us off and Jeff pulled over to sleep a little.  I was uncomfortable in the back seat so I stayed up and just stared out at the rain on the window.  A trucker pulled up, probably to sleep, but I thought he was going to kill us.  He didn’t and we made it back to Montreal with about 20 minutes to spare with our 24 hour rental.

EDIT 2011: Someday I will go to a game at Fenway Park and that will be on this list.

6.) We were little kids and dad would set up an open sleeping bag for Bryce and I to wrestle on.  It was like a wrestling ring and Bryce was always, and always will be, stronger than me.

EDIT 2011: I wrestle with Miles and Jonas now.  I still dominate them but they are only 1 and 3 years old so it’s not really fair.

EDIT 2016:  I can still out wrestle the boys, but Barbara has said more than once that they already "out-sports" her.

7.) One time when we were little, Bryce and I and the neighbor Doug all decided to have a picnic on the back of Doug's dad's cool work truck.  We all went in to get food from our moms.  Doug got something normal, like a luncheon meat pack or something.  But our mom made kool-aid and good sandwiches and other good stuff.  She made it all right away.  We gave her no warning of the picnic.  It took me a few years to be mature enough to realize what a great thing our mom did for us that day.

EDIT 2011: My mom loves me.  She gave me a Valentine in my lunch in high school.  On my 18th birthday so brought Dairy Queen ice cream pizza for everyone in my biology class.

Once again, a few more years of maturity and I learn to appreciate that stuff.  I’ll have to remember that with Miles and Jonas when I drop them off at college and want to kiss and hug them goodbye.  Jonas will probably literally murder me.

EDIT 2016:  Mom posted a baby picture of me on Facebook and gave me a nice card.  So that's still a nice thing.

8.) In high school our football team worked a concession at the Eskimo football games and we did concerts as well.  I signed up for the U2 concert (who wouldn't?).  Craig and I got there early to see the big Lemon being set up and the big "Pop Mart" arch.  All of our food was gone by the time the opening band was finished.  As we were cleaning up I enjoyed watching people slow dancing next to the trash cans outside our booth as Bono lent out his voice to another one of his ballads.  Later we watched the rest of the show from the side and I remember that as being the day that the song "where the street have no name" changed me.

EDIT 2011: No edit actually, that was an amazing night.

9.) Going to former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's funeral by myself in Montreal in 2000.  Thousands of people and no room to move outside of the Church.  There were big screens set up outside and I watched one of his sons cry out a good-bye message to his dad in French, which I still do not understand.  A man my age was climbing up a power box next to me to get a better look at the celebrities coming out after the service.  He said Leonard Cohen was there.  I saw Fidel Castro standing 30 feet away from me across the stage from Jimmy Carter.  Then Castro got into a car and drove away.

EDIT 2011: I have since seen Leonard Cohen again, live in Edmonton. I was once again by myself. It was my favorite concert to be at and probably the only artist I could think of that I wouldn’t mind going to see alone.

EDIT 2016:  Leonard has since put out 2 more amazing records.  He is still my favorite.  You should listen to him.  The son reading the eulogy was Justin.

10.) Last summer I went with Barbara and her family to Manitoba to a reunion at a cabin.  The cabin was one that they went to for many summers.  The water from the lake is pumped directly into the cabin's taps and you can drink it!  The health people tested it and it is THAT CLEAN!  We floated on the lake, read books, and went storm chasing.  Summer nights on the Prairies are good nights to be alive for.

11.) Our wedding was nice.  I liked wearing a suit for the first time in my life and feeling important.  I remember Barbara all smashing and enchanting and I remember Dan Sabo's bow tie.  I thought that the video that Bryce made for us was classy and something to remember.  Later, we drove away and got a sprite slurpee from 7-11 in St. Albert wearing our wedding attire before driving to our apartment for the first time as a Mr. and Mrs.

EDIT 2011: I think our wedding cost $2500.  We cut corners and it still turned out to be quite a unique event.  Since then people have photographers that charge more than $2500.  Barbara wore a veil and people don’t do that anymore.  Things have changed in the wedding department.  I am kind of glad we got hitched before the expensive wedding trend.

12.) The Calgary Folk Fest last summer.  A picnic with 10 thousand of your closest friends!  We ate curry and Naan bread and laughed at Buck 65 and Hawksley.  Seeing my favorite singer Jeff Tweedy up close was a treat.  Dancing to Arrested Development on Saturday night was the best.  I’ve got a good picture of it.  That was the debut of my deer sweater.

EDIT 2011: I wore the deer sweater the other day.  It is still faithful to me.

13.) Driving in the city of Edmonton on a hot, hot summer's day with Bryce, Jeff, Craig S and maybe Brent.  We were at a stoplight thinking about getting ice cream when a truck turning ahead of us had a door fling open on the side.  It was a Haagen Daz ice cream truck and 2 quarts of Chocolate Thunder flew out the door.  Then the door closed.  We pulled over to pick them up.  One got squashed but Jeff grabbed the other one.  Then we went into the closest restaurant (Taco Bell) and ate it.  We had to use forks but it was cold enough to do that.  Someone asked us where we got it from and we told them it flew out of a truck!  I almost peed my pants that day, laughing so hard. That is a TRUE story.

EDIT 2011: This is the miracle that proves that life is meant to be enjoyed.

EDIT 2016:  Still feels like a dream.  I confirmed with Bryce the other day that this did indeed happen to us.

14.) Barbara and I were in the states at a wedding when we heard that her grandmother had died and we needed to go home on a Greyhound bus. Well, the bus driver never told us where to get off and we missed our stop on our way to Canada. We went from Bozman all the way to Spokane, Washington!  We needed to wait there for our bus back to Montana.  It would leave in 9 hours.  So Barbara and I shopped and she bought a hat she would years later forget in a Nepali Taxi.  We went to eat at Red Robbin.  A picture of us there was on one of our Jones Soda wedding favour bottles. It was a nice time to spend together even though the Greyhound people are cranky jerks, that is unless one of you works for them.  If so, then all Greyhound people are nice.

EDIT 2011: Still have not been on a Greyhound since.  China’s buses have better service than Greyhound.

The road shows who you really are, just ask anyone that has been on a missions outreach.  I think that this trip was a serendipitous time where Barbara and I were able to be alone together without people thinking that we were skanky.  We learned that we could keep each other company for long periods of time.  The rest is history.

EDIT 2016:  When speaking of this trip Barbara reminds me that, while on the bus, I elbowed her in the head multiple times.  I was just trying to put on my hoodie and misjudged how close she was.  Since then I have yet to elbow her again.

15.) Working with Grandpa Jack Derman in his backyard last spring. It was nice to hang out and work together and help out the old guy.  Grandma would make us a really good lunch every day and they insisted on paying me.  I joke that they were my grandparents and employers and that my employer made me lunch on dishes that my mother probably came home from school to eat on when she was a kid.  Grandpa Derman is one of the funniest men I know, and if you meet him you will agree.  Grandma is also very much the same. She is very thoughtful and remembers a lot of important things that most people would forget.  I have a picture of her on my office wall of her standing in Sunflowers taller than her.
G & G Derman with Miles

EDIT 2011: Beautiful Grandma Derman passed away last summer.  She was very thoughtful.  I gave her a gift of micro machines when I was little and later on, after I was married, she still proudly displayed them on a shelf in the hallway.  After she passed, Grandpa Derman gave us some Flintstones cars that Grandma had been collecting for the boys.  Where she got them, I do not know, but the fact that this cute, frail little lady thought that the boys would like them is amazing.  The cars are still apart of their vehicle fleet.

EDIT 2016:  Grandpa Derman passed away probably 3 or 4 years ago now.  His love was often hidden in his heart, so often difficult to see.  He cared greatly for his family.  The last time I saw him I kissed him for the first time.  He was surprised by it, but I hope it made his day.  I miss them.

16.) Playing soccer when we were 8 or 9.  I played with Reagan, Craig, and Brent.  We had yellow shirts and we beat everyone that year in the final tournament.  But since we were so young no one got any special medals because it would probably make the other kids cry.  But we beat them all and remember being so happy that we were so good.

EDIT 2016:  Miles and Jonas played a year of soccer last year and are now in baseball.  The circle of life.

Miles first goal ever!

17.) Having BBQ's on our balcony last summer when we lived at Sarah's apartment.  We ate hot dogs and smokies.  Sarah does not eat that kind of food anymore.

Edit: BBQs on the deck in China rival those ones.  I had a birthday party up there once.  I love BBQs.

18.) Christmas's when we were young.  We slept under the tree and by the fire.  We ate food with zero nutritional value.  Barry was so small that he slept between 2 mattresses.  One morning Bryce and I kept opening Atari games as presents and we were getting mad because we did not have an Atari.  Later, when we opened an Atari we felt a lot better and realized that that was dad's plan all along.

19.) So, when I was younger no one would want to play street hockey as much as me. So, I would dress up in goalie gear and go out and flick the ball at myself.  People laugh about it now but I liked it.  I always played hockey or football or basketball by myself.  I think it is because I had seriously convinced myself, for a couple of years, that I was going to be a professional athlete.  Even though I am now not a pro, I still do not regret shooting the ball at myself or kicking the football through the pine trees that looked like goal posts next to the Tober's house.

EDIT 2011: Contrary to popular belief, I am actually very proud of this one.

20.) At Christmas the cousins would go take out the skidoo with tubes attached to the back. That was fun.  Then when the winter's started getting browner and we all started getting busier/moving away.... we stopped.

21.) Working at the skate park with Brian and Becky and getting 10 and 11 year old kids to teach me how to skate while I was 23 years old.  I landed 3 out of 1000 kick flips and I could Ollie over a 2 by 4 once in a while.  But Becky and Brian and good people to work with and be friends with.  We had a lot of laughs.

22.) Football. City Champs in 1997. We were really good, but St. Albert was better and we did not make provincials.  It was fun and we were on TV sometimes.... because we were so freaking good!  Barbara thinks that she watched that final loss to St.Albert.  I think she was watching her boyfriend play.  Little did she know that she was also watching her husband play.  I had a crappy game though.

23.) Barbara and I were in Nepal and we had to get up at 6am to hike up a mountain to teach English in a village.  Barbara actually got to ride with Denny on the back of a motorbike and I had to walk.  It was always cool with frost on the ground.  The Himalayas kept staring at me as I rounded the northern part of the mountain.  A Buddhist monk would greet me sometimes and I got to take a short cut through the monastery.  We played volleyball at the top and once in awhile the ball would go about 100 yards down the mountain.  No problem though as kids would race to see who would would get to it first.

EDIT 2011: The vivid memory is walking along up the mountain, turning the corner, and in the quiet morning be greeted by the sun lit Himalayas.  It was personal.

24.) Going to Central Tibet last year on a bus for 20 hours. It gave me new ideas of what hell might be like. When I say that I am talking about the 20 bus ride.  You don't understand 18 000 feet elevation until you experience it.  I was sick from the altitude for 4 days and did not sleep a wink for 3 nights.  The forth night I slept through a drunken raging party across the hall, but I woke up to my alarm clock ringing.  It was a blessing.

EDIT 2011: It’s more coincidence than purposefully, but I still have not been back down that road.

EDIT 2016:  Never did go back.  

25.) Finally being here. We have our house all fixed up and people always coming over.  It is nice to see this dream come true and to see where it leads us.  Our house is in an area that is 2 blocks from the university yet on the outside of the city.  We walk through old soon to be redeveloped farmer fields to get to class.  It is nice to feel like we live in the country yet still be so close to the city.

EDIT 2011: Things change. Now in our 3rd apartment, we are directly across from the University.  The farmer’s fields are all done and replaced with a giant apartment complex where Barbara and a local are in the process of opening a Kindergarten.

EDIT 2016:  Whoa, man.  Big time changes.  Kindergarten was a success, but it signalled the end of our time in China.  Barbara put her heart into the school, and the stress and day to day dealings took a lot out of her.  She lost weight, she cried a lot.  In all honesty, it felt like someone had died.  It was pretty awful, but also good in a way I have yet to be able to articulate.

26.) A few weeks ago, Barbara and I went with Dustin and Ginny to the little doctors office down the street to buy some pregnancy tests for the girls.  But the “doctors” inside told Barbara that she should just take the test there in their office.  So she did.  The one doctor looked at it and said that Barbara is pregnant.  Barbara says that when the lady told her she had a concerned look on her face and was studying Barbara’s face to try to see what her reaction would be; if she was happy about it or sad about it.  She was happy, of course!  As the girls were inside, Dustin and I were outside tossing the football around, the one he got at Jennifer’s yard sale.  Barbara came out and as she quickly walked over to me I could see some tears and some smiles, so I knew.  So to celebrate, we took a picture of us in front of the doctor’s office and we had the football in our arms to “stand-in” for the baby.

After that we walked to the park.  We had some laughs and took some more pictures with each other and the football.  Now we have pictures of each of us and the “stand-in” for our future child.  That was a really good time, thanks to the football and the pregnancy test.

EDIT 2011: Football, pregnancy test and the Hendersens! They found out a week or so later that they would have Seth.  Soon after we all moved in together for what was to be some of our best times here.

EDIT 2016:  Good times with the Hendersens, Wilsons, Yorks, Lindemans, and the rest.  These people will always have a chunk of my heart.  

27.) Now for something that might be hard to understand.  We were in a dry place in our lives in 2009.  The Christian life was seeming to be an impossible hill to climb.  More like a cliff.  I had the weight of the souls of this entire Province on my introverted shoulders. I felt guilty.  I felt like I was some sort of soldier who just wanted to write poems and put flowers in the barrels of the enemy’s guns. I don’t know; be me.

Then we went to Thailand for a conference.  A man spoke at the conference.  A horrible speaker he was.  I had no idea what he was saying until it clicked on one morning.  That click did a lot for me.

To this day, hundreds of people will tell you that that conference was a waste of time, even detrimental to society as a whole.  Some would say that the man had a skewed view of God.  That may be true in some ways, but once things clicked for me I was on a new journey filled with a revelation of a glimpse of what might possibly be the tip of the iceberg of mercy and love.

All I know is that I was blind but now I see.

EDIT 2016:  Continuing the journey.  We have a great community out at Nakamun and a great Church to learn at Gateway.

28.) We are living with the Hendersens.  Barbara is in the bathroom.  The Hendersens and I are in the living room hanging around.  Suddenly, the bathroom door bursts open and Barbara spills out in a pile of tears and laughter.  She was pregnant.  Thus, Jonas Darrough came into our lives.

My second son was born less than 2 years ago but somehow I feel like he’s been with us all along.  He is the spark that sets our family on fire.  Miles has a good time with his bro, but boy does Jonas ever stir the drink.  I am sure that if he was not around we would be very boring people and Miles would already have skipped ahead into Harvard.

It is an honor for us to name Jonas after or great friend and mentor Kevin Darrough and his lovely wife Kim.  Kevin passed away a little over 2 years ago.  He was the funniest man I know and, right now, I am sure that he must still be pretty funny.

EDIT 2016:  Kim passed away from cancer, too.  Honestly, these guys were given a shitty deal with the C word.  They were the best.  They were so encouraging and challenging.  They were the best thing to happen to us out of YWAM.  I am so happy their name carries on with Jonas.

29.) The blessing of being handed film equipment to be in charge of led me to the manuals and trying to figure out how the stuff works and failing, thus leading eventually to a 3 month film course in Hawaii.  That was a great time and laid a foundation to what I hope will be even bigger things in the future.  It was great to be around 20 other people who love films as much as I do.  Totally worth it in so many ways.

EDIT 2016:  I am in charge of the film stuff at Camp Nakamun.  It's nice to continue to learn and continue to use the skills I learned from the film school.  Though, someday I still want to make a movie.

30.) Jonas is about as affectionate as a cactus.  Miles hands out kisses and hugs to everyone but Jonas is a closed book most of the time.  So today when I was putting him to bed it was nice to catch a little glimpse off his unique method of comradely. 

He insists that we sing the theme to “Little Einsteins” before he goes to bed.  I was singing it and then there is a part with a key change and you make the sound of a rocket going up in the sky.  My throat was sore so my voice kind of cracked.  Now, the whole song until then he was looking to the ceiling, listening to the song.  But when my voice cracked he looked at me like I was crazy.  Then he smiled and laughed at me a little.  Then he imitated my cracked voice to perfection.  I laughed with him and then went on to continue the song.  But he cut me off and made fun of me again, imitating me once again.  He was totally making fun of me. He was kind of bullying me in a way.  But I will take that as comradery and will hope to build on that tomorrow.

In all honesty, the boys are the best things that ever happened to me.  They are also the best things that ever happened to our marriage.  If I am depressed or worried about life, I can always be interrupted by Miles asking me where the Whoopee cushion is.

EDIT 2016:  Jonas loves me, this I know.  He wants to hang out with me all of the time.  He is sports crazy, so I do what I can.  At night, he gives me kisses so all is well.

Jonas out on the lake

New for 2016

It's hard to think of new ones since our time in Canada.  We've been here for almost 4 years.  Life is a lot busier here, so it takes longer to think back.

31.)  One of the reasons we came back to Canada when we did was to say goodbye to Barbara's dad.  He didn't have much time left, and when he went into the hospital one last time his girls took turns taking care of him.  I'd bring the boys in to see him from time to time, as they would take turns pushing him around in his wheelchair.  

I remember bringing in a gingerbread house that the boys had made.  They wanted to show it to him.  He stared at it for a moment, that cracked off a piece and crunched away.

The funeral was a celebration.  The place was packed solid.  He even had the foresight to make a goodbye video that I am sure gave people a lot of good feelings.  It's still a kick in the gut that his grand kids didn't get to spend more time with him, but at least they have a few good memories to look back on.

32.)  Working at Camp Nakamun.  It's been great.  Sharing a office with Luke and working alongside a bunch of great people is the right place for me.  We do a great thing there.  I hope to be able to continue to develop and understanding of just how significant it is to work at a place that's main purpose is to help kids grow and give them break from real life.

32B.)  Little Rosalie being born.  My little niece is so little, has always been, but that doesn't stop her from running around and being little cutie pants.  In fact, I am sure it is the main cause of her cuteness.

Little Rosie thinking of her Uncle Brett

33.)  Another thing that's really helped my life is running.  I've been running consistently since January 1, 2015.  Over 530 miles.  I feel a lot better.  It's fun to set goals.  I've raised a bit of money for a race and hope to do more.  

Seriously, though.  I feel healthier than when I was 30.

34.)  Gateway Alliance Church has been great for us.  I remember going there for the first time because we heard that they were going to show a movie that my teacher from the film course had made.  The movie is called Hellbound?  It's the kind of subject that the church should be encouraged to talk about.  And so I figured that the church would have that same feel.  They sure do.  

The boys love going to church and have invited some of their friends from school.  Barbara's friend has since become a part of the church.  It's a nice place to learn.  I am an introvert, so it will still take a while for me to get to know a few people, but that's okay.

35.)  Élodie Elaine Webb.  Barbara carried our friends' baby for them.  Here is a link to a video celebrating their friendship.  

When we decided to do this for them we agreed that it would be the coolest thing we've ever done, and 2 years later I still feel the same.  She is great.  Her parents are amazing parents.  It is only the beginning!

The boys with little L.