Redemption by Bryan Clay

Redemption Brutal. Analytical. Honest. That is what Bryan Clay was as a young person, and that is how he wrote his book Redemption. This is the story of a child with extreme anger and control issues and walking down a road toward incarceration at best if left unchecked. But as the title of the book suggests, this is also the story of redemption, and it walks us through how God continually speaks to and works in the lives of people who would otherwise be given up on.
I felt my heart wrench throughout the reading of this book. The accounts of early family struggles and conflicts, separation and divorce, and remarriage are all too familiar in today’s world. But the surprising ways that God turns up in this story are riveting and clearly establish Bryan as his spokesperson.
Bryan takes us into the psyche of a champion decathlete. However, he is not your “run of the mill” champion. He has beaten all odds to be acknowledged as the best athlete in the world. That takes tenacity, perseverance, and in his case, intervention from God.
After reading his book, I looked forward to seeing Bryan compete in 2012 at the Olympics. It turned out he did not have a good event. In fact, some would say that he exhibited character flaws at the Olympics in London. Reading his book can help you understand what happened, but more importantly, realize that Bryan, just like you and I, is a part of God’s ohana – a Hawaiian word meaning “extended family” or “community.” We are flawed, but we are family.
BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Upside Down

photoThis is my niece, Anna.  Upside down and flying through the air with the greatest of ease.  The feeling that must accompany being upside down and flying through the air like that is something I can only imagine.  I’ve never been the “gymnast” sort – my particular body was not designed to go aerial, at least not in this way!  When you are upside down physically or any other way, your perspective on the world is totally different.

Anna looks quite happy being upside down!  Some of us seem to deal with topsy-turvy circumstances with ease.  Others of us have just a little bit harder time dealing with the unusual perspective.  And some of us might just wonder if a right side up perspective will return or think perhaps we will fall on our head!

The Pickle

Well, I have got myself into a fine pickle of a mess in my life once again.  And in thinking about that, I remembered this little writeup of meeting a fine young fellow who referred to himself as a pickle.  Much the better pickle to dwell on!

January 2007

Well, today was a great day. I have been quite low for some time now, dealing with situations that are either consequences of my own poor choices, or simply bad situations that unfortunately seem to occur over and over and over again in my life. Sometimes, I get the feeling I will never shake these circumstances – the “pickles” I somehow end up in – I must somehow be inviting recurring bad circumstances into my life. But not today.

There is no “real” or what you might think of as “tangible” reason for today to be a great day. I’ve had a severe cold or flu for one week and had to miss work last Thursday and Friday. On those two days, I was awake for about 12 hours out of the 48 hours. I forced myself to stay up for longer periods on Saturday and Sunday. Because of this illness, I missed lunch plans that have been in the making for months as well as a trip to Saskatoon with my friend Jocelyn to visit one of my favorite people in the world – Irene Stiller – a 90+ year old model of good living, I believe, and a new but dear friend. Oh how I would have loved a visit with Irene.

My project at work is plugging along at what seems like the pace of molasses. I’m running into stumbling blocks that are training me well, but putting me behind. There are good aspects of the delays as we are discovering gaps in data processing that need to be rectified, but I continually hope I don’t let anyone down, yet fear that I will (see paragraph one of this post for reasoning).

But, I’ve certainly prayed for some relief for what seems like a long time to me, so I attribute today’s removal of my feelings from my circumstances to God’s hearing and answering my prayer and his continued demonstrated mercy in my life.

The flu has not entirely left me yet – and so, at 4:30 today, I petered out and made a hasty exit from work. I just missed my bus, but hopped on another one that would require me to transfer. I met a few ladies on this bus and we had a good chat. Little groups form on these popular bus routes — groups that see each other only or mostly on the bus. Relationships develop and bonds grow. These ladies today were in my age category and in all different categories of life – married, divorced, single, with children, without. Half an hour later, I transferred to the bus that would take me close to home.

I climbed on the bus, and just a moment later, a little boy, perhaps 4 years old, climbed on the bus, marched up to and plopped down in the seat next to mine. His feet did not even come close to the floor. He had a mop of reddish brown curls poking out from under a red hat with ear flaps that was quite askew on his head. I looked at him in surprise. His returning impish grin spread to his light brown eyes. I looked up to see his older brother sit down across the aisle and then saw his mom smiling apologetically at me – I shook my head to negate the apology. I can’t resist conversations with the little ones.

So, I spoke to the little guy, “So, if you are going to sit next to me, tell me your name.”

He mumbled something like Peter, but my cold prevented me from hearing correctly, and I made him repeat it several times. Finally, his mom told me, “He’s been telling people his name is Pickle.”

I was surprised. “Pickle? So, Pickle, it is nice to meet you. My name is Onion.” He laughed quite charmingly.

Then he said, “My name’s not Pickle, it’s Dar…..”, but again, the cold in my head prevented me hearing the full name and after attemping several times, his mom helped again and said, “His real name is Darien.”

“Ah, so you are Darien the Pickle, and I am Kathy the Onion.” That earned me another giggle from the youngster.

He showed me a stamp on his hand, and I asked him where he was that he got that stamp. He told me quite a story, most of which I could not understand, but it sounded as if he was at his “Nana’s”. I simply nodded in agreement at most everything he said, and added “oooohs” and “ahhhhs” at appropriate times, and he seemed to think I understood. Listening to his chatter and watching his expressions was indeed a pleasant way to spend the time on the bus.

He asked his mother for a cookie. “Now, why would a Pickle want a cookie?” I asked, and was promptly rewarded with the laughter I was seeking in the first place. Ahhhh, how I love to make a child laugh!

He showed me how he chewed with his mouth closed, and we continued to talk in between bites and chewing. All too soon, we approached my bus stop. The Pickle’s mom asked Darien if he wanted to say goodbye, and to my absolute surprise and delight, he turned and gave me a big, huge hug and waved and said “bye” until I was well off the bus I am sure.

Ah, Lord, thank you for sending me a Pickle today!

Tum Tatty Tum! (Repost)

‘Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” ‘
Matthew 18:2-3

Tum Tatty Tum!

Now, that title makes absolutely no sense at all . . . unless your name is Kathy and you are looking into the earnest big blue eyes of a little two and a half year old girl named Ava who is tugging your hand and trying to lead you somewhere.

Ava is very special to me. She was the first little baby I got to know when I moved to Edmonton two years ago. Jaycee, Ava’s mom, and I were both participating in promoting the move to our new church — now North Pointe — and I offered to watch Ava while Jaycee was being filmed. Oh, that little Ava was a charmer. She was quite attentive at that time and her eyes saw everything I did — in her eyes, you could see information was being processed. We sat in the hall, and Pastor Bob came down for a visit, too. Her eyes followed him everywhere from then on!

Anyway, I talked with Jaycee just a little and then we parted ways. That weekend, I went to the St. Albert Farmer’s Market with my friend Patti. As we were strolling around looking at specialty foods, fragrant soaps, pottery, etc., I noticed a cute little rubber ducky and could not resist purchasing it for Ava. I gave it to Jaycee in church on Sunday. Shortly after that, Jaycee and I were at a Women’s Ministry event and Jaycee told me that her little boy had received the gift of a rubber ducky when he was a baby, too. Lori Lorence had given him that gift, and though I never met her, Lori played a huge role in my becoming a Christian three years ago. When Jaycee told me about the rubber ducky, it seemed as if God was letting me know I was walking on His path still.

So, I have felt a bond with Ava since the day I met her. That the feeling has been mutual on Ava’s part has not always been clear. In fact, in the last two years, I believe there were three days that Ava actuallly seemed to like me. Typically, when our paths meet and I call out a “Hi, Ava!”, a big “No!” comes back along with an attempt to hide behind her mother. If I persist, the blunt “No!” turns into a wailed “Noooooooooo!” so I have learned not to persist. ( Wait a minute, shouldn’t the kids learn from the adults?)

But on those three days that Ava liked me, I felt like a Queen. Like I could write the book on “Winning Ways With Children.” Like I had learned the combination to a highly coveted club or something. You know what I mean, right? I would live in that bubble until the following Sunday when I would hear “No!” again. Don’t misunderstand me, I knew that Ava was not actually rejecting me with her “No!” and I never took it personally. But those days when there seemed to be acceptance were just very special!

I’m housesitting for Jaycee and Derek for the next couple of weeks, so I went over for dinner last night to get the “low down” on my temporary abode. I wondered how Ava would react to me in her own house. After knocking on the door, Jaycee letting me in, and the dog Griffin greeting me, I turned and said hello to Ava. She grinned her impish little grin and showed me a couple of her toys. After that, Jaycee began showing me around. Ava wanted to show me more toys, though, and came and tugged on me. “Tum Tatty Tum.”

We continued our tour of the house, and then it was time for dinner. A wonderful spaghetti, meat sauce, garlic bread and delicious salad dinner was served. I recall Ava trying to fit fistfuls of cut up spaghetti in her mouth as fast as she could, and she ended up being the first to be done. She got out of her chair and Jaycee washed her hands. Ava came over to implore me with her big eyes and little voice again…”Tum Tatty Tum.” I heard that several times as I finished my meal as quickly as I could so I could experience whatever little treat Ava had in store for me next. “Tum Tatty Tum.”

She grabbed me by the hand and led me upstairs once again to her room. She wanted me to read her “Pooh Bear” calendar to her, so I did. She showed me her baby and her baby’s brush, more toys, and books, too. Jaycee was hosting an Epicure Spice party, and people began arriving. I headed downstairs to join them, but halfway down the stairs, I heard a protesting little voice — “Tum Tatty Tum.”

I continued downstairs and joined the party. What a great time — we tasted a variety of dips and spices and chocolate. Throughout the evening, Ava would look at me from across the room, or come stand by me, or even sit on my lap and sample chips and dips. She would look at me in that special way she has — “Tum Tatty Tum.”

All in all, it was a great evening. Looking back on it now, I realize how truly fortunate I am to be a part of a group of people that includes families like Jaycee, Derek, Ava and Zach. And as I remember Ava’s pretty blue eyes pleading with me, I once again hear God’s voice in my ear . . . “Come, Kathy, Come.”