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


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.


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 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.