Sunday, December 21, 2008

God With Us

"All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)." (Isaiah 7:14)

God with us.

One of the most stunning truths about the Christmas story to me can be summed up in three words: God with us.

The same God who was the mastermind behind creation confined Himself to a baby's body. The same God who ruled over creation was content to be brought up by human parents. The same God who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was willing to humble Himself to die for those very beings who refused to worship and obey. God with us.

When we're tired. When we're discouraged. When we don't feel like we can make it through another day. God with us.

I can see evidence of God with me everyday. I see it in the sunrise that streaks across the sky. I see it in the music that moves my soul with every note. I see it in the people He sends across my path just when I need them. I see it in the circumstances He orchestrates into a brilliant set of events, otherwise known as my life story. God with us.

Not just today. Not just tomorrow, but forever. No matter what life events arise. No matter what our days hold, we've got God with us and that fact changes everything.

It puts the hope in the hopeless. The peace in the turmoil. And the love in what otherwise would have been lonely. God with us.

That's the Christmas story. Not just sheep and wiseman, but what the birth set in motion. Events that had been contrived by the ultimate God of love. A gateway for all mankind to enter that would allow them to once again fellowship with the Father. The ultimate story of Redemption.

This Christmas as we laugh, eat, and exchange gifts, let's remember God with us. Not just today, but for all eternity. We're not alone and never will be and that eternal presence of God is worth recognizing and celebrating.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Prayer

In preparation for the ever so quickly approaching Christmas day, I thought I'd share a prayer with you that I found online. It was written by Henri Nouwen. He prayed:

"Lord Jesus, master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"

As I look at the packed calendar, busy stores, and crazy next couple of days as I travel out of town, that prayer is on my heart and my mind. In the busyness, I truly desire to seek quietness and I pray that in the midst of all the distractions, we all can see Him clearly this Christmas season.

Monday, December 08, 2008

City of the Year

GQ has named Chicago it's City of the Year. I couldn't agree more.

I've always been somewhat fascinated by the city and after visiting Chicago this past summer, that fascination has grew into a slight obsession. I cannot say enough good things about the city. The people, the scenery, the parks, the architecture, the food, the shopping, I could go on and on and on.

Out of the places I've been to, it's by far my favorite city and I'd love to go back. In fact I've already started giving subtle hints to the rest of the family that I think we should go back there this summer. I can dream, can't I?


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Politics, Politics

Politics can be a dirty business, but I don't think that I've ever seen as dirty of a move as what's been going down in the Canadian parliament these days.

We just had an election in October. The Canadian people had spoken. The Conservatives were given a mandate to be the leading political party. And now three other parties are crying foul and deciding to go through the backdoor in an attempt to grab power.

A lot of things bother me about this situation and what it says about democracy, but one of the things that bother me the most is the lack of respect being shown for the voters choice. Not to mention those who voted for the Conservatives, but even for those who voted for the NDP and the Bloq. They voted NDP and Bloq for a reason- they had different beliefs in what's best for the country than the Liberals or Conservatives do. But in one swift move, the leaders of those parties are trying to take the votes that were given to them and are trying to hand them to another party. That's essentially what is happening.

What does that say about democracy? When we went to the polls in October, all voters knew that whatever party had the majority of the seats would lead our country. The voters gave the Conservative Party the most seats. Love them or hate them, that's what happened. So now to go and try to reverse that at some attempt to align parties that couldn't be more opposite looks like nothing more than a desperate attempt to grab power.

As much as I would have said a few weeks ago that I wouldn't want another election, I really believe that's the only option we have if we hold democracy dearly. But that choice belongs to the Governor General. And whatever the Governor General ends up deciding, I do believe that this is an attempt that in the end will backfire. Anyone who voted NDP or Bloq will probably think twice about voting that way in the future because look what happened to their vote.

Oh the messes we make...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

While You Wait

My article "While You Wait" has been published on The Ooze. Click here to check it out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tiger Woods Golf

On Tuesday I had minor surgery to correct some foot problems that I've been having since I broke my toe earlier this year. So this has been a week filled with lots of down time for me, but I've found something to occupy my time: an addiction to Tiger Woods Golf on my xbox 360.

I've had this game for months, but I've really gotten into it over the past couple of days. Maybe it's because the game is filled with summer images and it's so cold outside. Maybe it's because I wish I could really drive the ball over 350 yards in real life. Or maybe I'm just sick and tired of TV. I don't know. But what I do know is I'm loving it.

Off to spend more time on the links...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wisdom from Saint Frances

"Lord, make me a channel of thy peace
That where there is hatred I may bring love,
That where there is wrong I may bring the spirit of forgiveness,
That where there is discord I may bring harmony,
That where there is error I may bring truth,
That where there is doubt I may bring faith,
That where there is despair I may bring hope,
That where there are shadows I may bring thy light,
That where there is sadness I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather
To comfort- than to be comforted;
To understand- than to be understood;
To love- than to be loved;
For it is by giving that one receives;
It is by self-forgetting that one finds;
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven;
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life."

Saint Frances of Assisi

Monday, November 03, 2008

Moment of Truth

So tomorrow is the moment of truth as we'll witness who the American people choose to be their countries next leader. Now while a change in leadership can be a good thing, I am a little concerned over what is going to happen after the results are read out tomorrow.

Why? Because not only is this election going to be a very close one either way, it also is one that all voters have been submerged in for quite some time. Sides have been chosen. Positions have been staked. And someone tomorrow is going to lose, leaving nearly half a country full of people who didn't get their way or their leader.

So will they still be willing to follow? Will they still be willing to set aside their differences a move forward with a candidate who they might not believe in, but can come to respect as a person in a position of authority? Only time will tell, but in the meantime we all should be praying for unity whether the next person in the White House is a democrat or republican.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ch Ch Changes

So earlier this month I posted about seasons of change and since the decision has been finalized and announced to those who need to know, I can tell you one of the things that I was talking about.

Starting in this week I've decided to shorten the length of MAD down from four-hours to three-hours. Now I know to most people you might think what's the big deal? But I've been doing a four hour show for nearly seven years and it's something I enjoyed doing, but just like seasons change, the time for a show that long has come and gone and it's time to move onto something else. Something I believe will be better.

By not having that last hour to host, produce, and prep for every week I'm hoping to have more time to invest in the rest of the program. And even though this is only week one, I'm already noticing a difference. Where normally I come up with contests at the last minute, I've already got the Christmas contest and other details relating to holiday programming planned and ready to execute.

Change can be good and it can be refreshing in many ways. I guess it all depends on how you look at it and how tightly you hold on to the way things were once done.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day of Decision

Today we Canadians are heading to the polls to decide who's going to lead our country during these turbulent times.

There has been a lot of criticism about the timing of this election and whether or not it really needed to be called. And to that I say absolutely! In our current state, the power cannot be this divided. If all of the parties were willing to work together to do what is best for Canadians it would work, but when that's not happening, something needs to change.

In these economic times, the reigning government needs to be able to have the power to act in order to prevent problems across the country. While the idea of a minority government is nice in theory, it's just not working for our country. When more time is spend arguing than acting, you know there's a problem.

So today I'm voting and hoping for a majority government who can lead us with integrity into this next stage of our countries history.

Let's get out there and vote!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Changing Seasons

Well fall is in the air and I'm still stunned at how fast the summer flew by.

I spent last weekend at my aunts cottage. As I was canoeing across the lake and watching the leaves blow across the surface of the water, I was reminded of how the seasons change in our lives.

Sometimes the change in seasons come unexpected to us, not always as predictable as something that can be recorded on a calender, but they do come nonetheless.

At the same time though I was reminded that while a change of seasons might bring change into our own lives, change isn't always a bad thing. Without fall, there would be no preparation for winter and without winter there would be no blooms of spring.

Change is inevitable but I'm learning to be okay with that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jesus

These past couple of weeks I've been busy doing research for my book. I'm working on the last section of the book, which is about the characteristics of Christ and during my reading I came across this quote that I thought I'd share:

"Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the Child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His Divine manhood.

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a Cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying—and that was His coat. When He was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Such was His human life—He rises from the dead.

Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the Centerpiece of the human race and the Leader of the column of progress. I am within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life." (James C. Hefley)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

True Cleansing

It's been said many times that we all make mistakes and while that's true, it doesn't make us feel any better after we've made one, does it? When we've disappointed someone or disappointed ourselves, we're launched into a feeling that most people hate to feel. We feel broken. We feel ashamed. We feel inadequate. We feel human.

But when it comes to mistakes, there is one person who doesn't feel that way. And that's God. He looked at the human race and instead of seeing inadequacy in our mistakes, He saw a people worth dying for. So that's what He did. Jesus came down to earth to die on the cross for our mistakes.

Jesus came to forgive sinners, to forgive those who've made poor choices, and to forgive those who are bound to mess up again. When God looks at us, He doesn't see the stain of failure, rather He sees the blood of Christ and in His eyes, that is enough.

It's enough to cover the biggest mistakes. It's enough to cover sin. It's enough to cover broken relationships. When the blood of Christ enters your life, it washes every part of you clean. Kind of reliving too know that that kind of forgiveness and that kind of cleansing is only a prayer away, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Weekend of Solitude

This past weekend I did something a little different for my time off: I spent the weekend by myself in the bush.

I've had the feeling lately that I needed some time to just be still and so when I found out that I could borrow the cottage for the weekend, I jumped on the opportunity.

I spent a lot of time reflecting, praying, reading, and searching. I didn't have any jaw-dropping moments, but I did have a feeling of peace inside and the experience just being able to be still in the middle of God's creation was a great one.

I did some biking around the lake and went out every day in the canoe. It was so nice to be able to glide across the water with the warm sun overhead. I think weather wise it was the nicest weekend we've had all year!

While in the bush I also did quite a bit of writing for my new book. I'm about 95% done writing the book and it's exciting to see how it's all shaped together. Over the next few weeks I plan on putting some finishing touches on it and then seeing where things go from there.

Good times.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Examined Life

For the past couple of years I've used some of my spare time in the summer for brainstorming, praying, and dreaming over the various ministries that I'm involved in and for myself personally. This summer has been no different.

It was Plato who said "The unexamined life is the wasted life." And since I don't want to waste a moment, I figure that I have better keep examining. Some questions that I've been asking myself include:

-what is the purpose behind this?
-where do I see this going?
-is this area of my life or ministry producing fruit?
-do I still feel called to serve here?
-how can I get others on board?
-is there anything I can or should be doing differently?

Through this time of examining, I've seen the hand of God. Both through looking back, feeling His leading and seeing Him answer prayers. Some of these answers have come in unexpected ways, but that's what makes life interesting, isn't it?

The road hasn't been easy to get to this point, but I can honestly say that I am very excited about where God is directing both my life and the ministries that I have a privilege of being involved in. Changes are coming yes, but I'm convinced that change truly is a good thing!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wisdom from Dickens

"Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some." (Charles Dickens)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pumped Up

I'm so pumped up right now. This week I found out that the MAD Christian Radio Show is going to be aired weekly on a secular radio station in Indiana!

This is exciting to me for four reasons:

1. This is the first secular station to start airing the show.
2. I just was in Indiana and while driving through the state thought "Wouldn't it be nice if MAD was aired somewhere here too?" Then two weeks later I get an email in my inbox- sweet.
3. The show is being aired right before Ryan Seacrests show, which professionally means a lot.
4. And most importantly, this is a huge opportunity for people who might otherwise not hear the Gospel get a chance to do so!

So please pray that God continues to give me the words and that He uses the words and the music to touch the lives of whoever tunes in!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Football

When I was in Green Bay I picked up a small Green Bay Packers football. I've kept the ball in my office and it's replaced my mini-basketball as something I toss around while I'm brainstorming or just bored.

Last night I had the opportunity to toss a real football around as some friends and I played a game in the park. When I was younger we used to play football all the time, but it had been a while.

We made some really good plays and some really bad ones. But better than that, it was great to be in the outdoors getting some fresh air and exercise and good to be in the company of friends.

I think I'll be planning another game soon :)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Lovin' It

For the the past couple of weeks I've consistently fallen asleep before 1:30 am! For someone with a normal sleep pattern that's no big deal, but I've been struggling with insomnia and sleep problems for years and falling asleep between 4 and 5 am had become the norm.

In order to correct my sleep pattern I have tried numerous natural and pharmaceutical remedies and much experimental treatments, but nothing had worked, until now. At the beginning of July I started a new medication and it's doing the trick!

Needless to say I'm loving being able to fall asleep at a more normal hour. With the more normal hours I've also had more time and energy to do some reading, which has been great. Over the past couple of weeks I've finished the following books:

-The Shack by William Young
-Flashbang by Mark Steele
-Wrong Way: The Fall of Conrad Black by Jacquie McNish and Stewart Sinclair

All great books. All highly recommended!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Rain

The other week I sat listening to the rain fall and it sounded like drops of tears were hitting my roof. Crying for me over the loss of time, health, opportunities and relationships.

But somewhere in hearing those rain drops hit the roof, I also heard hope. Because rain doesn’t just darken the sky and make the outlook bleak. Rain soaks a thirsty ground. It brings life to what is dying. And it washes away impurities.

Rain can be depressing. But even the darkest storm brings life to that which would have otherwise died. Maybe that’s the same for you and I.

In John chapter 12, Jesus teaches us that a kernel of wheat that is planted and grows remains alone. But a kernel of wheat that is planted and dies produces a harvest of many new lives.

That’s contradictory. After all, what person would go through the effort of planting something, only to hope that it would die? But that’s the teaching of Christ. That sometimes it’s only in death that true life is found.

For some, death is a physical separation. For others it’s emotional. For others it’s the loss of something so profound that it paralyzes them. But in that death, we can hope, because we know that in the Kingdom of God death makes way for new life.

So now when I hear the rain, I no longer feel like crying. Because I can see that each one of my losses have fallen to the fertile ground of God’s kingdom. And it’s only there that they can spawn to produce new life, better life.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Back Home

10 days and nearly 3000 kilometres of driving later, we arrived back home from our summer vacation on Sunday night.

It was an amazing time away. We had the opportunity to see so many things that it would be hard to re-cap them all, but here are some highlights:


Dutch Village
In Holland Michigan we stopped in at the Dutch Village. At first I thought it would be kind of corny, but it ended up making a really awesome day. I learned a lot about the country of my ancestors and enjoyed some really good Dutch food.


Chicago
I can't say enough good things about Chicago. It's been a dream of mine to visit the city for years and to actually be there was incredible. It's such a beautiful city and one of those big cities that still has a small town feel. We got to see a lot during our few days there including the Shedd Aquarium, Alder Planetarium, John Hancock Center, Magnificent Mile, Water Tower Place, and Navy Pier. We even went on a double decker bus tour and a boat tour of the Chicago river. I would go back in a heartbeat.


Lambeau Field
During our time in Wisconsin we stayed an hour away from Green Bay and since we were so close my brother and I insisted on making the drive to see Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. The tour didn't disappoint. We were taken to a lot of "behind the scenes" places including the Packers private box and the tunnel that the players run through to get to the field. It an experience of a lifetime to see the place where so many legacies were made.

Blue Harbour Resort
We spent the last five days of our vacation at the Blue Harbour Resort on the shores of Lake Michigan in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It was a beautiful hotel that we were fortunate to be able to stay at because normally their rates are pretty expensive, but we were able to get a reduced rate, plus two nights free! While there we made a lot of use of the hotels waterpark and I made a lot of use of the Starbucks in the lobby.

The Bull
Our hotel had a deal with The Bull (a Jack Nicklaus course) so we hit the links. The course was outstanding and was the nicest one I've had the privilege of playing. It was so fancy that our golf cart even had a computer with a GPS in it so that we knew exactly how far we were from the pin at any given time. Classy.

So yeah, it was an incredible time away. I haven't been on a vacation that long in many years and it was overdue. Just to be able to take a break from the routine and explore new places and meet new people was great. Wonder where next year will take us? Any suggestions?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Back in Ten

Gas: $1.45 a litre. Golf clubs: $245. A ten day vacation: priceless.

I'm off on our ten day summer holiday! I won't likely have internet access while we're gone, but I will post a full run-down along with some photos when we get back.

In the meantime, here are some sites worth checking out:

Reuter's Oddly Enough

The Fischtank

97 Seconds With God

Monday, July 07, 2008

Reading & Writing

I've gotten into the routine of writing every night before I turn the tv on and it's been paying off. Over the past two months I've written over 30,000 words, mostly for my next book. It's been amazing to watch it all come together and I'm very much looking forward to working on it more in the coming weeks. My hope is to have the manuscript finished by the end of August.

Speaking of books, I've really been enjoying the wisdom found in "It's A Good Life" by Robert Benson lately. He talks a lot about balance and uses Benedict as a model of how to balance our lives. It's given me a lot to think about.

Last week I also started "The Shack" by William Young, but after a few pages I decided to save the rest for our vacation. We leave Friday and I wanted to have a couple good books with me and I can't stop hearing good things about "The Shack", so I figure it's a good one to start with!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Canada!

Today we celebrate Canada Day and I know I'm majorly biased on this, but it really is a great place to live.

To commemorate, here are some random facts about my home and native land:

-Canada has the world's longest coastline: 202 080 kilometres.

-The Trans-Canada Highway length (using the Perth-Peterborough-Parry Sound route) is 7604 kilometres. It is the longest national highway in the world.

-The world's largest island in a freshwater lake is Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, 2765 square kilometres.

-Canada is the second largest country in the world, with 9,971,000 square kilometres of land.

-The world's highest tide is in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. The mean large tide range is 16.1 metres.

-And finally, Canada is the home of the following inventions: basketball, the electric light bulb, the electric range, the electron microscope, standard time, the television, the telephone, and the zipper.

Happy Birthday Canada!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Follow the Leader

I've been so tired these past couple of weeks, even more than normal for me, so I was very grateful for the opportunity to get away for a few days. We left Friday night and came back late on Monday.

It was a good time in the middle of God's creation, getting refreshed and having the chance to just take it easy for a change.

While out in the bush I saw the scene to the right play out. A mother duck leading her little ducklings down to the lake. It was so cute and yet a profound lesson at the same time. These little ducklings had only one thing in mind: following their "leader". They weren't looking around at the scenery or watching for obstacles or wondering what I was doing with a camera. Instead, they were just focused on following in their mothers footsteps.

It reminded me of the journey that we are all on in our lives. We're called to "follow the Leader". And as much as we'd like to say that we chase after Him with no hesitation, the truth is often we get distracted by the scenery or start questioning the direction He's leading us in.

I wonder what life would be like if we were as trusting as these ducklings were? They didn't question the orders of the mother. They had no way of knowing that she was leading them to a lake that would provide them with food. They didn't know if the path was safe. They just trusted that she wouldn't be leading them to a place that wasn't good.

Oh that we could have that same level of trust in Someone much greater! A God who moved heaven and earth to show us just how much He loves us and a God who leads us down the path to everlasting life. May we all follow that God with reckless abandon.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Story Of Your Life

Story Of Your Life - Ali Slaight
Do you ever stop and wonder
Where this road will take you
Whats around the corner
Will it make or break you
Is this your destination
Or is it the start of something new?

What will you accomplish
Which way will the wind blow
For every door that closes find an open window
And everyone is watching as you write the story of your life
Of your life

CHORUS
And you won't look back
Cause it feels so right
And no matter what it'll be alright
In the brightest day or the darkest night
You will find yourself in the story of, in the story of your life

Will you do the choosing
Or be the lucky one that's chosen
Will you recognise the greatness in your smallest moments
And every step your taking,
you'll write another chapter
In the story of your life.


This week the "story of my life" took an unexpected twist. I don't mean to be evasive, but this is a piece of news that I'm not quite comfortable sharing the particulars of, yet. But trust me when I say it's definitely one of those "life shifting" things.

So many plans, so many dreams seem to be indefinitely on hold and I'm looking to walk down a pretty long road that I never fully expected.

So this isn't the path that I planned, but at the same time I've become very much aware that it is a part of the story of my life that God wrote before I was even born. This latest turn in the story is no surprise to Him. He's allowed it to come into my life and He's going to give me the strength to walk through it.

In the meantime, I'm learning what it's like to, as the song says, "recognize the greatness in the smallest moments". Life doesn't have to be full of emotional highs and perfect moments to grasp the deepest meaning. Instead I'm learning to find joy in the simple things: a drink of my favorite cup of coffee, talking about faith with friends, late night snood battles, standing outside and breathing deep the clear and crisp air.

Life is never perfect and it's not always easy, but our life stories are ones that are more than worth living.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Online Trip Planning & Saving

I love the internet. Trip planning has never been so easy (or affordable).

For the past couple of months I've been researching hotels on TripAdvisor. Once I picked out my top two in each city, I've been checking their websites randomly, waiting for a price drop or sale.

Tonight I secured the last hotel that we'll be needing for the summer road trip and I was able to get it at a price that was amazing. Gotta love the online specials!

In all three cities that we're staying in we've got hotels that are super-nice for a fraction of the cost we would have paid to reserve over the phone.

In fact, one hotel worker that I spoke to advised me to book online because they can give out cheaper rates on their website than they can over the phone most of the time.

Here's to a great trip at a much lower cost!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

This Moment

It's amazing how fast life can change. All it takes is one split moment and suddenly your world can be turned completely around. Have you ever had such a moment? A phone call telling you to rush to the hospital where a loved one lay gravely ill? A few words out of a doctors mouth in an office? A split second decision where you make the wrong choice?

Everything we know. The fabric of our lives. All could be changed in the time it takes the second hand on the clock to move one notch.

We hear of these moments all the time. And while we've become quite good at not letting them fully sink in as they scroll across the evening news, there are times when the tragedy hits too close to home to ignore. And it's in those times when we realize just how fragile our lives truly are.

The truth of the matter is, we are never guaranteed any moment beyond the one that just passed. It doesn't matter how well we live or how much we serve those around us, there are no guarantees. We are only given life moment by moment and sometimes it takes a tragedy to make us realize that.

But when we do let that sink in, something inside of us changes. And it should. For such mortal beings, we have no business wasting our days and counting on an endless amount of tomorrow. As mortals we should never assume anything beyond today.

So what does that realization look like? It means never letting a day go by without telling those around us that we love them. It means never wasting an opportunity that God gives us. It means living each day as it were our last- fully, completely, and with the love of Christ radiating out of our hearts and souls. It means living our lives in such a way that if the next moment doesn't come or comes in a way other than what we expected, there are no regrets or things left undone.

Because the truth is, we just don't know. We don't know how long we have on this earth and we don't know how long our loved ones have with us. We don't know if the opportunity we have today will be given again tomorrow. We don't know anything beyond this moment. Sure we can make plans, sure we can have ideas, but no where are we promised that we'll have the time we need to live them out.

And while to some this is a scary concept, if you truly know and trust the living God of our lives, you know that what He has planned is good. He knows the number of our days and He has blessed us to live in the here and now. So let's learn to appreciate and fully live each moment that we have. Because life is a gift, this moment is a treasure, and there are no room for regrets in a life lived one moment at a time.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Music & Writing

It's been a different couple of days. I'm finally starting to get back on my feet, literally. Tonight I wore socks and shoes for the first time in nearly two weeks- I'm very proud of myself.

Now that I'm more mobile I've got some catching up to do from things that I left undone over the past two weeks, but I'm taking that one day at a time.

One good thing about being flat on my back is it gave me a lot of time to listen to music and I mean really listen, not just have it on in the background. I was given the remastered version of U2's "The Joshua Tree" as a get well gift, so I've been playing that quite a bit.

I've also been doing a lot of writing. I think this week I wrote around 5,000 words which for me is pretty good considering all the other stuff I have going on at the same time. All of the writing was exclusively for the devotional type book that I'm working on. It's really starting to take shape and I'm excited about the prospect of possibly finishing it much sooner than I anticipated. At first I was hoping to have it done by Christmas, but with the way I've been writing I could see myself finishing it by the end of the summer.

With writing this book I'm reminded of the advice A.W. Tozer gave: "The only book that should ever be written is one that flows up from that heart, forced out by the inward pressure. You should never write a book unless you have to."

That was the case for Walking Through A Fallen World and the same could be said for this project too. I can't not write it and that's exciting to me.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Broken Bones, Boredom, and Blessings

I never thought I'd say it, but I'm bored. Completely and utterly bored.

Because of my foot injuries and the "blood bubble" (yeah it looks as lovely as it sounds) that formed over the break, I've been having a pretty monotonous week.

Check work email. Ice foot for fifteen minutes. Elevate foot for 45 minutes. Repeat.

The swelling has gone down a little on the break, but the blood thing is still giving me a lot of pain and making it rough to get around. I had to go to the hospital again on Thursday and that was a challenge.

So until the "blood bubble" disappears and the swelling goes down, I'm basically stuck at home on the same routine. Which has given me the most unproductive week I've had in a long time.

But as bored as I have been, there have been a lot of sunny spots. I've been spoiled rotten by my family. I don't even have to ask for stuff, I'm just getting things left, right, and center. Usually I make coffee, but I've gotten door to door deliveries every single day, without asking. Also things I need just seem to magically follow me around the house- my laptop (awesome for watching TV in bed), my ipod, books, water, pillows, everything. I swear my Mom is "very very sneaky" (yes that's a Mr. Deeds reference- I've watched way too many movies this week!)

Other pluses: I've had a lot of time to be quiet, think, reflect, and pray. I've gotten to read two fiction books from cover to cover, which I haven't done in a long time. And I've gotten a new appreciation for what a gift God has given us with life. It doesn't matter what is going down, it doesn't matter how hard the road gets, every single day we have is a gift from above and deserves to be cherished. So yes, there are blessings even in the midst of broken bones and boredom!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ugly Break

4 hours spent at the hospital. 3 x-rays. And one diagnoses. I've got one pretty ugly broken toe. And I'm very lucky that's all that's broken.

On Saturday night I came upstairs to find a candle my mom had lit on the stove burning out of control. The flame was huge and wax from the candle was pouring everywhere. In a second of panic, I blew out the candle and grabbed the cast iron dutch oven on the stove to move it out of the way of the flowing wax. Big mistake.

As I was moving the dutch oven, the very heavy lid slipped off and landed directly on my foot.

Instantly my foot exploded in pain. My Mom heard the crash of the lid hitting my foot, then bouncing off on the floor, so she came running and made the wise choice to take me to the hospital.

She called my brother who was out with the car and as soon as he got home they helped me hobble into the vehicle so that I didn't put any weight on my throbbing foot.

I got in pretty much right away, took a wheelchair ride to get some x-rays done and after a couple hours was told that I broke my big toe pretty badly. I was also told how lucky I am that the lid didn't land even an inch higher on my foot. If it had, it would have broken more than one bone in my foot and it would have been a messy recovery.

So for the time being I'm pretty immobile. They can't cast a toe, so I have to be very careful that it remains undisturbed so that it can heal. If I do what I'm told, it should be much better within a week. So my mission now is to keep my foot elevated as much as possible and to put ice on it so that the swelling comes down. Right now my big toe is at least three times the size as normal. The two next to it are pretty swollen as well.

But as bad as it feels and as hard is it is to walk, I'm very thankful because it could have been a heck of a lot worse!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is it wrong to envy a dog?


It wasn't enough to have a dog bed. A carpet under her food dish. And a towel for sitting in the corner by the window. Now she's converted our heat vents into a sauna.

Do I sound bitter? Maybe a little. But she is cute, isn't she?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Burning Question

If there are two sides to every story, why is it that so often we only want to hear one?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Closing and Starting

Today brought about the close of one year of my life and the start of another. To commemorate, I thought I'd fill you in on a little look back on my 24th year and a look a head to what 25 has in store:

Highlights of 24:

Favorite memory:
-Week spent with my family in Traverse City, Michigan.

Worst memory:
-Well that's one advantage of having a sleeping problem - I don't remember things well. So maybe not remembering is my worst memory. Yes, I'm weird.

Favorite CD listened to:
Toss up between Paul Alan - Drive It Home and Jack's Mannequin - Everything In Transit

Top three books read:
-The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg
-Crowded Skies by Tara Leigh Cobble
-Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne

Surprising Accomplishment:
-Learning how to cook.

Song that best described my year:
-Walk On by U2

Five things to look forward to for year 25:

-Four state summer vacation
-Cottage season!
-Finding answers for my health problem and getting it under control
-Finish writing my second book
-Learning more about how live and minister in the same way Christ did

Monday, May 05, 2008

Macbook :)

Yesterday I picked up a new acquisition: a macbook!

I've been wanting to get a macbook for quite some time now and with my job/ministry commitments, not having a laptop is really awkward at times.

So I've been keeping my eyes open on ebay, the newspaper, etc and on Friday I came across an ad online for someone local who was selling their macbook, so inquired and ended up buying it yesterday.

It's just over a year old and has all the features I've been wanting. And the bonus was the price- very reasonable.

I'm very thankful for this new addition. I can't tell you how many times I've wished that I had a laptop. With work, C&C, and the radio show, it's going to make my life a lot easier. Plus it's a mac, which means I can take my video editing and graphic design to the next level.

What a nice early birthday gift :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Writing and Such

Yes, I realize it's been over a week since I last posted. My sister's wedding was last weekend and I underestimated what my role was going to be in the pre-wedding preparations. I had no idea our phone could ring that much. I felt like a secretary.

But somehow in the midst of all of the busyness I also found that I feel like a writer again. I've been kicking around four ideas for my next book and I think I've settled on two to start on.

The first is another non-fiction book that'll be a devotional type book. I'm still in the early stages of planning it, but I've got around 3000 words down on paper and I feel inspired to keep writing.

The second project I'm excited about is a novel. I mentioned before that I was thinking about writing one, but this is actually a different story idea that came to me than before (I guess I'll leave that one in the "idea's" folder for now). I don't know if it's ever going to be something that I'll want to try to get published or not, but it's one of those stories I feel that I can't help but write down. I was working on it the other night and within a half hour I had the entire story mapped out from start to finish. So I'm going to keep writing and see where that takes me.

A quote to leave you with:

"Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering." (Ida Scott Taylor)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Not Knowing

Tomorrow I'm set to walk into another doctors office and I have no idea will what the appointment will bring.

Will I finally get the answers I've been seeking for what seems like forever?

Will it lead to more tests, more possiblities?

Will I be stuck waiting for a diagnoses? And in the meantime have no clue what I can do to get rid of these trying symptoms?

I don't know.

But I do know that no matter what happens in that doctors office tomorrow, Someone already knows how it's going to go down. He promises to walk with me through every part of life, both the highs and the lows.

So I do know Who will be with me. And right now, that's all I need to know.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love." (Romans 5:3-5)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Cave

Right now at College and Careers we're working through a video study based on the book "If You Want To Walk On Water, You've Got To Get Out Of The Boat" by John Ortberg.

I read this book for the first time a few years ago and through prepping for the studies, I've been going through chunks of it again. A quote that caught my eye this week:

“Sometimes you are in a cave and no human action is able to get you out. There is something you can’t fix, can’t heal, or can’t escape, and all you can do is trust God. Finding ultimate refuge in God means you become so immersed in His presence, so convinced of His goodness, so devoted to His lordship that you find even the cave is a perfectly safe place to be because He is there with you.” (John Ortberg)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Life To Give Away

I read this tonight and it really hit home. It comes from the blog of Jon Foreman (Switchfoot). You can follow the link at the bottom of this post to read the whole thing.

"Pieces of us, significant ideals and dreams, now reduced to dust and ash drifting away. Washing away. In every moment there's always the option to run from the momentary pain. momentary little alters to momentary little gods.

But maybe that's just what we've been given: a life to give away. time. meaning. love. we lay these, our gifts on the alters of our choosing. Memories, knowledge, wealth, friends, scars- these are what we accumulate. But these do not come cheap: these possessions will cost us our very lives. We lose ourselves whether we like it or not. This is not a choice. "Listen man, if you lose yourself for my sake you'll find yourself, try and hold on to yourself and you'll lose it."

Yeah, I suppose even Divine love is like that, erosion. washing over us like the rain or the sun or the shore. But to compare the two is absurd. One is life the other is death. But it takes time to tell them apart- I can usually tell which is which a few weeks down the line. The creator's love is creating, additive, purposeful. I feel more complete, more whole, more at home in the "in" and the "of". Make no mistake, he takes things away, and it hurts like hell. It sometimes hurts worse than the other sort of pain, the numb deadening sort. Maybe partly because your more alive, more aware. Or maybe because you're the hands of a friend.

But I suppose thats the difference between the doctor and the dealer: one is the touch of a sculptor one is the glove of a thief."

Read the rest...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Portable Seminary


Today my day started with one of my favourite things: getting a new shipment of books.

I save up cash and every couple of months order a couple books that I'm interested in. By ordering them all at once I save on shipping and it forces me to be self-controlled and read the ones I already have first.

Anyway, today the book that came in that I'm most excited about is called "The Portable Seminary". It's a huge book- about 700 pages and the purpose of it is to go over a lot of the topics that you would learn if you went to seminary.

Now the people who write the book say themselves it in no way replaces a seminary education, but for people who are interested and can't afford to go or don't have the time to, this gives you a starting point for many of the topics you'd see covered there.

So I'm excited to dive into it. Some sections that look pretty appealing:

-Old and New Testament surveys
-ethics
-systematic theology
-apologetics

For myself I'm hoping this serves as kind of a diving board to get me started on studying topics that I've been interested in for years, but have never really taken the time to look into fully for myself.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Paul Alan

For years I've been a Paul Alan fan. I've made it no secret that in my opinion his CD "Falling Awake" is one of the best Christian albums that has ever been recorded.

So you can imagine how excited I was to find out that he has released a new CD! It's called "Drive It Home" and after ordering it, I got access to download the album and after listening to it a couple times, I think it is fair to say it's another classic!

Right now my favourite song on it is "To Bring You Back". Check it out on his myspace page and be amazed!

Paul Alan - To Bring You Back

are you thirsty
standing in the rain
not sure where you are
or how you lost your way
hey, hey, hey
are you drowning
in some bar outside of town
searching for something given…
not found
a crowd of people and totally alone
at the front door
but worlds away from home

light up the night’s last regret
burn your only safety net
step to the edge
it’s such a long way down

I left the ninety nine to find the one
and you’re the one
I’ve walked 1000 miles in this desert sun
only to bring you back…

are you tired of chasing the wind
underwater…
do you aspire to breathe again
are you dying
is that the best that you can do
’cause you can’t find your place in a world that wasn’t meant for you

I left the ninety nine to find the one
and you’re the one
I’ve walked 1000 miles in this desert sun
only to bring you back…

hello it’s me
I couldn’t sleep
I was just counting sheep and I’m missing you…

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Weekend Seminar

So this weekend I attended the Growing A Healthy Church seminar at my church and wow, was it ever good!

Often I find we tend to overcomplicate things and with church and ministry it's no different. But this course wasn't something to add to the confusion, but rather to clarify it all. To remove all of the extra's that man has added over time and to focus on how Jesus lived His life.

So using Jesus' ministry as the framework we learned how to effectively live out a life that multiplies and blesses the lives of those we come into contact with. And this applies both on a personal level and a ministry one.

I took a lot of notes and we were each given a workbook, which I'm going to be going over many times in the coming weeks and months. I see there are a lot of areas where I can improve how I minister to others and how I grow myself. Not so much by following steps a, b, and c, but rather by having a different mindset in the way I do things.

I'm sure as I process the lessons learned I'll be posting more on it in the near future, but for now I'll leave you with a couple quotes from the seminar that are still swirling about in my mind:

"Because we're busy we settle for what's easy, but not for what's best."

"Your attitude towards people reflects your attitude towards God."

"Sunday morning is a reflection of what is taking place in people's lives throughout the week."

"You can teach skills and you can teach knowledge, but you can't install a heart for God and service in someone else."

"Because of his humanity, Jesus faced limitations like we do. Even though he passionately loved all people, he could not be everywhere at once. He knew that to reach the masses he had to invest in a few- so that the masses could be ultimately reached."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Growing A Healthy Church

This weekend I'm pumped to be attending a "Growing A Healthy Church" seminar that's being held at our church.

I've heard nothing but good things about this course and even though I'm no pastor or church planter, I'm hoping to learn lots that can help me with leading College and Careers and hopefully in other ministry areas as well.

Speaking of ministry, I got some pretty amazing news yesterday. Supposedly some Wal-Mart stores in the US are now carrying my book! I don't know how many stores have it in stock or if it's selling, but that doesn't really matter. I'm just thrilled to know that such a big chain of stores somehow got a hold of something I wrote. And through the grace of God, maybe just one life can be changed.

Stranger things have happened.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Saying "no"

Today I said no to something that I was asked to do and I can't tell you how good it feels. By nature I'm somewhat of a people pleaser (which I think deep down most of us are). So when I get asked to do things, I have a really hard time saying 'no'.

Over the years, I've gotten better at this, but I still find it difficult sometimes when I'm asked. Mostly because most of the requests I get are for good things. Great things even. But sometimes a good thing can turn into a bad thing if you're not the right person for the job or you're over-committed as it is.

So I said no. I explained that I've got a job that I love that is my focus. Ministries that are my passion. And family and friends who I'd like to spend more time with, not less.

It felt good to have the freedom to say no. I wish I could have learned this very important lesson years ago- it would have made life a whole lot less complicated.

Friday, March 21, 2008

NCAA March Madness

I don't really know very much about college basketball. If I had cable, I'd probably watch it. But I don't, so my knowledge is pretty limited.

But still something about March Madness draws me in year after year. I keep track of teams that I can't recall the names of at any other time of the year. I check stats. I watch the highlights online. And I do this all because of some genius idea: brackets.

Every year with my limited knowledge I take a random shot in the dark and pick my bracket (basically you call which teams are going to win and advance). Then I have fun watching "my teams" and seeing which ones advance.

There's probably better things I can do with my time, but I really enjoy it. And there are prizes which makes it all the sweeter. Two years ago I nearly won an awesome prize pack, but lost on the tie-breaker question.

So my bracket has been entered and until the tournament is over I'll be checking the scores and keeping track of the games. At last check I'm 11 for 13, so we'll see how well this year goes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On A Hill Too Far Away

With the Easter season upon us, I have been re-reading parts of one of my favorite books "On A Hill Too Far Away" by John Fischer.

If you haven't read it yet, I can't recommend it enough. I'm not one to write in the margins of books, but this one had so much meat in it that I couldn't not jot down thoughts and underline paragraphs.

One quote that has really struck me today:

"Sin is what prevents even the most well-meaning of us from completely conquering the evil in our hearts. We may climb the highest mountain and yet descend to the lowest form of greed. We may find a cure for AIDS and yet be powerless against the bigotry, prejudice, and self-righteousness that festers in the hearts of gays and straights alike. We may give much of what we have to feed the poor but not be able to come up with even a morsel for the hunger in our own souls. We are a study in contrasts. We all ate of the fruit. We are filled with the knowledge of both good and evil at the same time, and we cannot always choose correctly. Something went wrong. The cross tells us that. If something hadn't gone wrong, we wouldn't need a cross." (On A Hill Too Far Away, p. 67)

The truth is no matter how hard we try, we'll never "arrive". Which is why the blood of Christ is vital and His grace is needed to carry us through each day. There truly is wonderful power in the blood.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hound of Heaven

"As for me, I look to the Lord for his help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord Himself will be my light." (Micah 7:7-8)

Those verses have been the cry of my heart for the past couple of months because of a certain situation that I've been watching unfold. And while for a long time it seemed like the situation was covered in darkness, I am now seeing cracks of light break through into the darkness.

So I wait in faith and I trust that one day very soon the darkness that fell like a blanket will disappear completely. Not because of anything I've said or done. But because while an army of believers have been on their knees praying, the hound of Heaven has been leaving the 99 to pursue the one who is lost.

And I trust that one day soon that lost sheep is going to be found.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

MAD Media & Design

For the past couple of years I've learned quite a bit about creating websites. And what started off as a hobby has really taken off.

I designed a site for the MAD Christian Radio Show and from that two people saw it and asked me to make similar sites for them and it has kind of snowballed from there.

I'm currently maintaining 10 different websites and with the increased workload, I figured it was about time I set up a website for myself. After all, what looks worse than a web design business that doesn't have its own website?

So I've launched a site under the name "MAD Media & Design". MAD being in tribute to the MAD Christian Radio Show. You can check out the new site at www.madmediadesign.ca.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Longing

Today I felt a longing I haven't felt in months. I want to go back to school. I miss it.

I miss completing assignments. Learning all kinds of neat stuff. And being in that kind of environment.

Don't get me wrong- I love my job and I wouldn't stop it for anything. But if things were back to normal with my health, I could have the best of both worlds. Work on finish my schooling and work part-time, like I was doing before the summer. After all, the last time I checked there isn't a huge demand for people who have 3/4 of a degree.

Actually, maybe it isn't the school that I'm missing the most right now. Maybe what I'm missing most is what 'normal' used to be.

Getting up early. Driving my siblings to work. Picking up a cup of steaming hot coffee. Stopping in at the gym. Putting in a full day of school work and a couple hours of work work in the evenings. Going out with friends. Taking part in sports. Having hobbies. Experiencing restful nights and fruitful days.

Life has changed and with that change has come a 'new normal'. And maybe not having school is only a small part of the equation. Because the longer this goes on the more the 'new normal' starts to look just like the 'normal' and that can be a hard thing to swallow sometimes.

Is it wrong to so greatly desire something that you used to have? I don't know. But I do know that what I don't have here is temporary and truly, I could be a lot worse off. I know that and I'm grateful. I also know that those who are 'missing something' are often the ones who end up with the most in the end, just not in the ways they thought.

Tonight I'm comforted by the words of Rob Lacey as he interpreted the beatitudes:

"I'll tell you who'll laugh the last: the people who don't think to much of themselves, who know they're a mess- their ticket to heaven's already in the post (first class).

Who'll be happy? The people who know about grief, who don't shove the mess behind the sofa, but face it- God himself is going to put his arm around them.

Who'll be content? The modest, gentle types, who don't go round grabbing- they'll be given the world.

Who'll be laughing? The people who only want to do the right thing, like it's their food and drink- their 'good news in tray' will be piled high.

Who'll be laughing? The people who don't hold grudges, who forgive and forget- they'll get treated likewise.

Who's laughing, deep down, already? The people who aren't polluted with stuff that mugs the heart- they'll get to see God.

Who's laughing, deep down? The people who stop fights and start friends, who turn fists into high fives- they'll get known as God's children.

Who's laughing? The people who get slapped down for doing the right thing- they get given the security code to heaven's gates."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Things I Want To Do

When I was younger I made a list of things that I want to do while I'm alive. Over the years, I've been able to cross some items off my list. But I've also added more.

So here is my list. Any suggestions? What do you want to do throughout your lifetime?

Things I Want To Do
*items in bold have been crossed off. Although for most, I wouldn't mind doing them again :)

-Travel to: Chicago, Nashville, Colorado, California, Europe (Holland, Switzerland, Italy), Cayman Islands, Panama, Israel, East Coast of Canada, Washington DC, South Carolina
-Set foot on an aircraft carrier
-Go on a missions trip
-Get my boating licence
-Learn how to ride a horse
-Write a book
-Ride in a helicopter
-Take an extended road trip or train trip on my own
-See U2 in concert
-Work in Christian radio
-Go white water rafting
-Go to GMA Week
-See an NHL hockey game
-Be an extra in a movie/tv show
-See a baseball game at Wrigley Field
-Get a hole-in-one
-set foot in all of the Great Lakes
-Complete an Incredible Adventure
-Go whale watching
-Learn how to fly a plane
-Ride a camel
-Go rock climbing
-Learn how to take really good pictures
-Open my own business
-Drive a BMW
-See an article of mine in a big magazine
-See a musical
-Visit an art museum
-Drive a motorcycle
-Master digital video and audio editing

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Paradox of Faith

Do you ever feel like faith can be a huge paradox sometimes? That's the way I feel right now. It's not that I don't trust God, it's just that I don't know how to act based on that trust.

I have been praying for something for over a year now. There is a situation that needs God's intervention but the people involved seem to be ignoring His leading every chance they get. So as a bystander who really cares about the people involved, what do I do?

Does moving towards acceptance mean that suddenly I'm more passive in my prayers? Or is there a way to to accept what's happening while still 'storming the gates of heaven' for change?

I'm not sure. As hard as I try, accepting the situation 'as is' seems all too close to giving up faith that it would change. But at the same time I don't want to live at odds with reality.

Thus the paradox.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Depressing Math

I was bored the other night and so I decided it would be 'fun' to figure out how much television I've watched over the past year. Big mistake.

It's not an exact number, but it's pretty close. With my insomnia being so bad, in the later hours of the night, I've turned to television. Because I have a hard time reading now (I have ADD like symptoms from sleep deprivation), I watch an average of four hours of TV a night. So...

4 hours x 365 days
=1460 hours of TV in one year

That's 60.8 days gone to TV in one year.

It's depressing. First off, because I've always been careful about limiting my TV consumption and can't stand wasting time. And secondly, because there are so many other things I'd rather be doing with my time. But at 3 am, there's not much else to do.

The only 'plus' to these stats, is that where the average person sleeps 8 hours a night, over the past year I slept around 3-4 hours a night (never thought I'd see that as a plus!). So in effect, I've substituted TV for sleep. Not intentionally, but it times out right.

And I wish I could say I see an easy solution of how to change this trend, but there doesn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. I can't focus on books. I can't go out and do something physical at that hour. And I'm not supposed to work or do other activities that could be seen as 'stimulating'.

So for now it's just me and my TV family* consisting of Jonas, Nora, Eric, Lucas, Barbara Jean, Harm, Don, Sydney, Emily, and Sophia.

*A prize for anyone who can guess at least 8 of the 10 references.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ladies Retreat 08

So as mentioned in the previous post, this weekend was the ladies Christian retreat and as always, it was such a good weekend.

The topic that the speaker was speaking on was prayer. Not just surface "you should pray more" messages, but real talks about prayer. Its history, its place in our lives, and its power. I don't think I've ever heard a speaker be so real about the subject of prayer and the disappointments that can come when our prayers don't seem to be answered. Some interesting points brought up by the speaker:

-In the New Testament, prayer is spoken of more often than any other activity in the church.
-Just because you don't see an answer to your prayer, don't be fooled into thinking that there isn't one. Prayers are operative until the time is right and they are complete.
-God reveals Himself as He walks with us in the bitterness and pain of life. How do you ever know the God of Comfort if you've never shed a tear?
-a spiritual life is a lifelong process of opening ourselves to God. We need to make room for Him in our lives.

I walked away with a lot to chew on and I've been challenged to start making more room in my life for God. Even by taking more times of silence. Too often I think I cut the "listening" part of the relationship off and that's something that has to be changed.

On Saturday I ended up delivering the workshop to the teens and it went really well. A huge thanks to everyone who prayed, it was pretty amazing! Beforehand I was a little worried about my energy level for delivering such a workshop since I was pretty wiped out. And being "on my game" for an hour and a half straight hasn't happened in over a year. That was until Saturday.

A few minutes before the workshop started I felt pumped full of energy. If I were to ever down a Red Bull, I imagine it would feel something like what I felt on Saturday. I was able to thrive through the whole workshop and actually remember the points I was trying to make- bonus! And then after the last girl left the room it felt like I was a balloon that was starting to deflate.

While I was disappointed that the energy high didn't last, I was very thankful for it. I haven't felt that good in over a year and a half. So I know it came from God and I know that He gave it because He wanted to use what was said to reach the teens who showed up. And I'm just very thankful that I was able to be a small part of that.

So thank you for praying. While the speaker spoke all weekend on the power of it, I got to witness it firsthand on Saturday afternoon and it's something that I'm not going to forget, no matter how tired I get :)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Retreat

After nearly two months of getting ready for it, the Ladies Retreat is this weekend!

While twice over the past couple of years I gave a five minute talk to the teens, this year I'm going to be doing a complete workshop on Saturday afternoon. And I'm really looking forward to it.

It's called:

God Wants To Use You
Through Your Past, In Your Present, For Your Future

So if you could spare a prayer or two, I would really love to be covered in prayer for the workshop. Things you could pray for:

-that those who attend would be impacted by what we talk about
-that it would only be God speaking, not me
-and that God would give me strength and clarity. Because I'm so sleep deprived I sometimes struggle with expressing my thoughts clearly and my memory isn't the greatest. So I'm going to have to be counting on Him 110%. Which I guess is the way it should be after all!

I don't know how much blogging I'll have a chance to do over the weekend, but I promise a full report once the retreat is done.

Blessings.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reaching Across The Globe

Ever since I've been quite young I've heard about the crisis' taking place around the world. For many years it seemed unimaginable to think that people exist who don't have clean drinking water or enough money to feed their children. And for far too long I turned a blind eye to the suffering because I couldn't figure out what I, a person living so far away from them, could do about it.

But a few years ago I was connected with an organization that could allow someone like me to actually make a difference. And that organization is Compassion International.

Through Compassion my family and I get to sponsor a six year old boy named Manuel who lives in Mexico. While $32 a month doesn't go that far here, for Manuel it has made the world of difference. It helps him and his family have what they need to survive and thrive. He can go to school. His medical needs are covered. And he gets the opportunity to learn about Jesus.

And Compassion has not only changed his life, it's changed mine too. A few months ago I received a letter from Manuel. Before the letter was over, he asked me "do you know that God died for you?"

That's a statement coming from a six year old child. A six year old child who probably find a long list of things to worry about. But his concern is that I know that God loves me so much that He died for me. God is doing something in that young child's life.

And He's doing something in mine. It usually takes a lot to move me to tears. But more than once I have cried after reading Manuel's letters. Not tears of sadness, but tears of joy, for the privilege of being connected to this young boy. It's been a life-changing experience to say the least.

Food for Thought

"We have put so much emphasis on avoiding evil that we have become virtually blind to the endless opportunities for doing good. We have defined holiness through what we separate ourselves from rather than what we give ourselves to. I am convinced the great tragedy is not the sins that we commit, but the life we fail to live." (Erwin McManus, Chasing Daylight, p. 36)

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Necessary 'Evil'

In the pre-valentine's day hype, I heard a lot of talk about how it's such a commercial holiday. Something that keeps the flower and chocolate industries alive. And something that shouldn't have to be celebrated since love should be expressed everyday, not just on Valentine's.

And while a few years ago I probably would have agreed with those statements, I've come to see holidays like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Birthdays, etc as almost a "necessary evil". Hear me out.

Life these days is anything but simple for most people. We have places to go. People to see. And in the busyness of life, it's easy to forget about the important things. Random acts of kindness for those we love. Saying important things. Spending quality time with those we care about.

And while in a perfect world we shouldn't need advertising to tell us how and when we should honour those who are important to us; I wonder what might happen to some relationships if we didn't have these days set aside with the purpose of honouring those we love? Maybe if it weren't for these special days, many would forget to express love to those in their lives all together.

It would be amazing if we could all feel the love expressed on Valentine's everyday. But for those men and women who only feel it on February 14th, I can understand why it holds significance. And maybe in some way Valentine's for them is a spark of hope. That maybe what they feel and receive today could be carried over to the other 364 days of the year.

And so if Valentine's and Mother's Day and such occasions serve to remind just one person how special they are and how much they are worthy of love, then all the hype and advertising and sales gimmicks just might be worth it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Lasting Legacy

February 12, 2003. The day was exactly five years ago, yet how clearly it stands out in my mind.

After a week and a half of pleading and wrestling with God, looking for miracles, and holding onto hope, my heavenly Father called someone very precious to me Home.

This is the person who was a part of nearly every good memory I have from birth to that day in February. This is the person who taught me so much about love, life, friendship, and compassion. This person was my grandmother.

Words can't describe the feeling devastation that was felt when she suddenly took ill. Just the night before we were laughing and playing games and planning our summer trip together. Then suddenly I'm hearing medical terms I'd never heard before. Words that were complicated, but all meant the same thing: medically speaking there wasn't much hope.

So for ten turbulent days our lives revolved around a hospital room, praying for a miracle and trying to deny what seemed inventible.

And then the moment came. When she made the transition from this world to the next. And her family was left behind feeling such a profound sense of loss.

But over the years while I've grieved for her loss and still do, I've also come to realize that she has left me with so much. She taught me so many lessons, that while most were never spoken, resonate so loudly. And while writing them all out would take much more space than what's available here, I thought I would share a few.

She taught me about lasting friendship. When she moved to Timmins she became friends with a neighbour. That friendship lasted for over 45 years and was a stronger bond than I've seen exist in most families.

She taught me about compassion. Often she would quote that verse in Isaiah that says "share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless and poor" and she lived it.

She taught me about the power of marriage. She and my grandfather were married over fifty years and it's because of their example that I still believe that a good marriage is possible when two people are willing to give.

She taught me that risks are there for the taking. She was a war bride who married my grandfather (a Canadian solider) after knowing him for only a few months and then moved to a country where she knew no one and was well aware it would be many years before she could return back home. But she took a step of faith and didn't let anything hold her back from what she knew she needed to do.

She taught me the value of laughter. Too often it becomes easy to stop laughing when times get tough and if anyone had the right to stop laughing it would have been her. I can't comprehend what it would have been like growing up in a country that was occupied by the Nazi's during World War 2. But she didn't let her life experiences there or here stop her from laughing and living life to the fullest.

And she taught me the value of family. While I was growing up we referred to my grandparents house as "grand central station" and in many ways it was and still is. Their door was always open and we always took advantage of that. Whether it was spur of the moment visits or planned family dinners or evening get-togethers, something was always happening. Even on our family vacations and our weeks spent at the cottage, my grandparents were there and it made those times that much more enjoyable. In good times and bad, there was never a doubt that their door would be open to us and I can't imagine what growing up would have been like without them both in my life.

So today while I miss her, I'm also thankful for the legacy and lessons that she left me with. And I can only hope that one day I'm a fraction of the person she was and leave the kind of impact that she did.

Friday, February 08, 2008

News to Share

Last week I got my MasterCard bill in the mail. While opening the bill is not normally an event that brings a smile to my face, this month was different.

When I had originally signed up for the card it was an ebay credit card. Meaning they gave you points to spend on ebay for every dollar you spent. It was free so I thought there was no damage done to place my purchases on it.

But last year the ebay deal went out the window. Either ebay or the credit card company retracted the deal. To make up for it, the credit card company bumped my account up to have "premier rewards". A service they normally charged for, but gave it this time for free. I didn't really get what a great thing this was until I got my January bill in the mail.

Every January they take the sum of your total purchases on the card and give you a cash back bonus depending on how much you spent.

So imagine my sweet surprise when I opened my bill only to find I owed only $5.17! The coffeemaker I thought I was buying with my Christmas gift money is now free. My membership to zip.ca is completely paid for. And suddenly I have some extra cash in my bank account. All thanks to the good folks at MBNA Canada.

That really made my day. Well okay, made my week. And since then I've been telling everyone who will listen what a great deal that card is and how awesome the benefits are, especially when January rolls around.

And tonight a little bit of conviction rolled in when I realized that some of the people I so excitedly shared my news with are the same people I hesitate to share the Good News with.

Give me cash and I'll tell the world. Give me eternal life and suddenly I clam up. Doesn't make much sense now does it?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Representing Christ

Mondays and Tuesdays are always the busiest days of my week, but they are almost always the most enjoyable. Why? Because it's these two days that I have devoted to something that has been a big part of my life for the last six and a half years: the MAD Christian Radio Show.

When it started up, I had no idea how far it would go or how much I would enjoy doing it. It's been an incredible blessing to me and from the feedback I've been getting, it's also been a blessing to others.

How amazing is it that when God designed us He gave us gifts and abilities in certain areas? And even more amazing is that it's often in those same areas that our heart leaps because it's what we enjoy the most. What we're often most passionate about.

That's probably why I don't like the term "serving God". Because that kind of implies some sort of slavery system. Maybe a better term to use is representing Christ. Because that's what we do with every choice we make, every action we take, and every word we speak. And representing Christ, whether it's in ministry or in the day to day, truly is a great privilege.

"The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." (Frederick Buechner)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Of Darkness & Light

This week someone gave me a flashlight. It's the smallest flashlight I've ever owned. About the size that it's perfect for a keychain.

Despite it's size, every night this week when I've needed to make the walk from my office upstairs to my room downstairs, trying not to disturb others by flipping on all the lights, it's provided the perfect amount of light. This small flashlight makes a big difference.

It illuminates obstacles. Reminds me where the staircase starts (always good to know!) And takes away the fear of the unknown shadows.

While during the day my flashlight sits on my desk unnoticed and unused, when the darkness settles I appreciate having this light by my side.

And this has gotten me thinking of how often do we wait until it gets dark in our lives before we appreciate the greatest gift that has ever been given to us? Christ. The light of the world.

Last night was a dark night and today was a dark day in my life. I witnessed the desperation of someone's hopelessness, the pain of prayers that seem to be going unanswered, and the side effects of living in a sin filled world. Yet in the midst of this darkness, I have come to have a further appreciation of the light that Christ brings to my life.

No it doesn't take away the darkness, but it does provide us with a safe place in the midst of it. A place where we can come to rest. A place we can come to refocus. And a place we can come to be refreshed.

Tonight I'm very thankful for that light.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Strength that Endures

"We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul- not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bring and beautiful that he has for us." (Colossians 1:11-12, The Message)

As I've shared here before, I read those verses for the first time while sitting on a hospital bed, waiting to go in for surgery.

When I read those verses I had no idea how much I would hold on to them and see truth revealed over and over again. The only thing I knew at the time is that it was very significant and God was most definitely speaking to me through it. What He was saying, I wasn't sure then.

Two and a half years later, those verses are still speaking.

They spoke to me after the surgery when the pain was so intense that I counted down every minute to my next dose of morphine.

They spoke to me when my body was filled with infection from that surgery and I was so sicker than I've ever been in my life.

They spoke to me during my six month recovery, through many re-infections and the process of building up my strength.

They spoke to me when less than a month after I was healed from that ordeal I was told that I might have to go through it all again.

They spoke to me when I was healed of that cyst and would no longer require yet another surgery.

They spoke to me when my energy started draining, my joints started hurting and sleep became less frequent.

They spoke to me through a doctor's diagnoses and my struggle to accept what having sleep apnea really meant.

They spoke to me through over 365 nights and counting of darkness, praying for sleep when none would come.

They spoke to me through over 365 trying days and counting, attempting to function with the world when all I want to do was crawl into bed and stay there.

They spoke to me through many "I don't know" diagnoses and attempts to figure out what was wrong.

They spoke to me in the gut-wrenching situation I'm working through. Losing someone I love dearly, who is techically still here, but emotionally so far away.

They speak to me now at 2:30 am while the world sleeps and I keep glancing at the clock, exhausted, but unable to shut down. Still having no answers as to what is going on and what I can do to make it better.

So what do those verses say? They say a lot.

They say that God gives us strength beyond our wildest imagination. And He doesn't do it all at once. Just when we think we're running low and can't make it any farther, He fills us up to press on.

They say that joy comes even in the midst of sadness. That light can still be found in the darkest night. And that His peace is never far away.

And they say that God sees beauty in our pain. Like the master painter, He's shaping our life canvas one brush stroke at a time. Sometimes the places He paints or the colors He uses don't make sense to us, but He sees the whole picture. And one day we too will see that beautiful creation called our life story.

Until that day comes, I've choosen to hold onto those verses and trust this great artist who I've come to know as my best friend. And as the years go by, I know more than ever that He is worthy of my trust.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Different Perspective

Today I received a copy of "The Word on the Street" by Rob Lacey. For those of you who are not familiar with the book, it's a paraphrase of the Bible, but with more of an urban flare to it than "The Message".

Tonight as I was browsing through it, I already found myself being refreshed by the words. Sometimes a different perspective on the same text can make a big difference. Consider Isaiah 53:1-6:

"Who would credit it? Who'd have foreseen this plot line in God's liberation story? He grew up vulnerable as a sapling in a concrete yard. Not especially attractive; nothing particularly regal about him: he didn't stand out in a crowd, your Mr. Average. He was dissed by most, given the cold shoulder by many. There was a sadness about him. You could see in his face that he was on personal terms with grief. People blocked him out, verbally abused him, didn't rate him.

But whoa! Step back a sec! Weren't those our weakness he took on? Wasn't that our sadness he carried? But we were convinced he'd been rubbed out of God's good books, punished by him, held down by him. How wrong can you be?! He was messed up by our mess. He was knocked down for our slip-ups. The slapping we should've got- he got. And we got serenity instead. His punishment beating left him half-human and us whole and fully human. We've all wandered off like lost boys, all followed our own directions. And God's punished him for everything we've done."

While obviously paraphrases aren't study Bibles, in my personal devotions I have a feeling I'll be enjoying this one!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New Website

If you're really observant, you've probably noticed that there is a new link in the column to the right. It's for the site klmcnulty.com.

Before I had another domain name set up for a website for my writing, but ran into tons of problems with the hosting company and to make a long story short, it was easier to start over than fight it out with them.

So I registered a new name and with it set up a new design. There's not a ton of content there. But I plan on using it as a place to keep people informed about what's happening with my writing. And if you visit you can see it's also a place for people who stop by there to be re-directed here for this crazy thing called a blog.

So if you have time, give it a looking over and let me know what you think. I'm open to suggestions :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Taking Onesimus Back

The book of Philemon is really small. So small in fact that you can't help but read it in one sitting. And it's a different book of the Bible because it reads more like a personal letter than the other books of the Bible do (well at least is does to me).

But the message of Philemon is very important. You've got a slave named Onesimus whose name literally means useful. But this guy hadn't been too useful to Philemon. In fact he took off and deserted him. The circumstances around his running away isn't clear. But what is clear is that Onesimus has had a change of heart. He's come to know Christ and he wants to do the right thing and go back to Philemon.

So Paul writes Philemon and asks him to take Onesimus back. Not just as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. Now no where in this letter do we know what happened after Philemon received Paul's letter. We don't know how he responded or if he took Onesimus back. But what we do know is what's expected of us in similar situations.

I don't know what your life is like, but right now I've got a 'Onesimus' in my life. Someone who messed up royally. Has done hurtful things. And doesn't have the greatest track record. But now they are looking to come back.

That leaves me in a dilemma. Do I choose to forgive and trust, knowing I could very well be hurt again? Or do I put an arms length distance between myself and this person?

If Paul's letter to Philemon is any indication, I've got no choice but to accept this person back as who they are- my sibling in the Lord. And how could I not? Because chances are one day I'll be knocking on someone else's door, needing grace extended back to me. And when that happens I can only hope that the person on the other end has the same grace and love as Paul had for Onesimus. The same grace and love that Christ has for me. And the same grace and love that I need to have for everyone who I cross paths with, deserters or not.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blessed

It's only Tuesday (well I guess now it's technically Wednesday), but it feels like it should be Friday. Usually Monday and Tuesdays are my busiest days, but this week they were plain insane!

Yesterday I worked an 11 hour day between work, radio show, and ministry stuff. Today was 14 hours with only a break to cook dinner and eat. Yeah that's right, cook dinner.

It's no secret that I don't usually spend time in the culinary arts, but that's changing. It started two years ago when I found out I liked to bake and no one got sick from what I made. Today my Mom was out and I knew she didn't have time to make dinner, so instead of falling back on leftovers or kraft dinner, I decided to make something real. It actually turned out pretty good and I'm discovering that I do enjoy spending time in the kitchen.

I guess it's about time. It's pretty sad that at 24 my Mom still makes my dinner. In my defence though, our house could nearly be classified as a restaurant. My Mom spends most of her days in the kitchen and not only feeds us and two other family members, but often sends meals out. But I still should take the time to learn a thing or two from her...

So while today was crazy busy and I was doing a lot of juggling, it was good. It's a great feeling to be able to go to bed, even if it's later than I'd like, knowing that I did get something done. And I'm very grateful that I get to do what I do on a daily basis. I may not be able to be in school right now because of my health situations, but somehow by the grace of God I still get to do so many things that I love.

I'm blessed and I'm very much aware of that tonight.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Food for Thought

Lord, by this sweet and saving sign,
Defend us from our foes and thine.
Jesus, by thy wounded feet,
Direct our path aright:
Jesus, by thy nailed hands,
Move ours to deeds of love:
Jesus, by thy pierced side,
Cleanse our desires:
Jesus, by thy crown of thorns,
Annihilate our pride:
Jesus, by thy silence,
Shame our complaints:
Jesus, by this parched lips,
Curb our cruel speech:
Jesus, by thy closing eyes,
Look on our sin no more:
Jesus, by thy broken heart,
Knit ours to thee.
And by this sweet and saving sign,
Lord, draw us to our peace and thine.

Richard Crashaw, English Poet (1612-1649)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Jotting Thoughts

Suddenly I feel this overwhelming desire to write and it's a great feeling. For the longest time that desire was very suppressed. Trying to complete school while keeping up with work and ministry, all while having limited energy because of my sleep problems meant that at the end of the day (or night) I had nothing left to give. But now that I'm out of school for the time being and I've got my own little office set up, so I'm free to write into the late hours of the night without bothering anybody and it's great. And I am excited to write.

Write what? I'm not quite sure yet. I do a lot of writing for work, which is great. I write devotionals for the radio show. But I want to write more than that.

I've been toying with a novel idea for a few years now and it suddenly seems like the right time to start putting words down on paper. I don't know if it will ever progress into a full-length novel or if will sound as interesting on paper as it does in my head, but I'm trying it out.

I'm also flooded with material for a workshop that I'll be putting on next month and suddenly it's looking like there's potential for much more beyond the workshop. So I'm collecting information, jotting thoughts, and seeing where that road is leading.

These words I write may go no further than the four walls of my office. But to me it doesn't really matter. I'm doing something I love and I'm doing it with absolutely no pressure. There's no deadlines or teachers or editors waiting to read what I write. There's just me, God, and a keyboard. I'm taking risks. I'm going further than I've gone before and it's an exhilarating experience.

Words are good.

"Paul didn't know where he was going, but he did know why." (Erwin McManus)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ushering In The New

It's another new year. With a new year brings new challenges, new obstacles, but also new opportunities for joy.

As I look a head into 2008 I can see many good things coming my way. I'm pumped up to be leading a workshop for teens at a ladies retreat in February. This summer my brother, Mom, and I are heading out on a killer vacation. And between work and ministry, I've got a lot of things to look forward to.

But at the same time, there are challenges a head. My sleep (or lack thereof) is still a huge problem- one that doesn't yet have an answer or solution. And I'm facing a situation right now that is spiralling out of control and the only thing I can do is learn how to let go.

But in the midst of the good and the bad I'm reminded that we serve a God who is very consistent. A God who loves us very much. And a God who offers us a loyal love with no comparison:

"'For the mountains may depart and the hills disappear, but even then I will remain loyal to you. My covenant of blessing will never broken,' says the Lord, who has mercy on you." Isaiah 54:10

In 2008 I hope to, above all, get to know this loving and merciful God better. To experience more of the richness and joy that can be found in even one moment with our loving Saviour.