Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Prayer

"May God make your year a happy one!
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,
and by making you anxious to be there to help.
God's love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead." (Anonymous)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What A Wonderful Christmas

If your family is anything like mine Christmas day doesn't usually come and go without some sort of roadblock or mini-disaster.  Last year it was a flood at my grandpa's house right before we served Christmas dinner.  This year my brother called Christmas morning saying that he, his wife and my little nephew wouldn't be able to come for Christmas since he and his wife were quite sick.  When we found this out we knew we had a choice to make- focus on what we weren't going to have or focus on what we did have.  And so we continued on with our plans.

Christmas morning we had my grandfather and aunt and uncle over for a traditional McNulty Christmas breakfast.  The highlight of this being our stocking opening.  This has become somewhat of a legend in our household.  Our banister is packed with everyones stockings (at last count I think we had eight) and most of us contribute to filling them with unique and creative things.  This year the stockings were such a hit that we didn't have room in our stockings for everything that people brought!  After our stocking opening was done our company left so my Mom and I did our gift exchange and then had some downtime.

In the afternoon most of our extended family, along with my sister and brother-in-law met up for Christmas dinner at my aunts house.  It was great to get to see everyone and we had such a good time!  After our delicious dinner we had our 2nd Annual Baking Contest.  How it works is that everyone brings their entry (either a cookie, bar or square) along with a small entry fee and they are numbered so it's anonymous who made what.  We do a taste test of the entries and cast our vote for the winner.  The winner gets a cash pot, which suited me just fine because this year I took home first place!  

On Boxing Day after church we all gathered again at my grandfathers house for another family get together and of course, more games and contests. First was a dress-up contest where everyone came dressed up as a character from a Christmas movie and had to recite a line or two from the movie.  There were prizes for best costume and most convincing character and it was hilarious to be a part of!   My sister and brother-in-law even went so far as to do a scene from Christmas Vacation on my grandfathers front lawn.  I have no idea what the neighbors thought but I thought I was going to be sick from laughing!  This is the first time my family has done anything like this and I don't think it'll be the last!

Finally to wrap things up we played a game that I created this year called "Sing It, Act It or Say It".  I made it for a Christmas party I hosted earlier this month and it turned out to be a really fun game to play as a group so I decided to do a re-run on Boxing Day.  I've been encouraged to make a non-Christmas version of it and copyright it but I think it's something I'm going to keep for just family and friends...

So those are the highlights of my Christmas of 2010- how was yours?

Friday, December 24, 2010

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.

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 wisemen, but what the birth of Jesus set in motion. Events that had been pre-planned by the ultimate God of love. Through Jesus coming to earth and dying for our sins, we were given a second chance. A way to restore our relationship with God. Our own story of Redemption.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Favourite Time of Year

I love this music video. It looks like the people in my Christmas village come to life :) The band put a lot into this and they did it all without the support of a label- impressive!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Meeting Timothy

This past week has been one of the best of my life and it's all because of a bundle of joy weighing 8 pounds and 14 ounces.  My nephew, Timothy Ryan McNulty, was born at 10:41 on Tuesday morning and he is absolutely amazing!  From the moment I got to hold him shortly after his birth feelings of love, connection and protectiveness flooded in and they were amazing things to feel.  There's something so precious about a newborn baby.  When I get to hold this little guy it's like time stands still and all is right in the world.

I'm so thrilled to finally be an aunt and I'm excited to be able to be a part of his life.  I'm also so proud of my brother and sister-in-law.  No matter how many curve balls they were thrown throughout the labour and delivery they just rolled with the punches and kept their focus.  It was a truly amazing thing to witness and I'm thankful that they were so open to sharing the process with us.  We spent most of Monday and Tuesday camped out at the hospital and it was an interesting experience to say the least!

On Tuesday night after coming home from the hospital I went and "randomly" flipped open my Bible and wouldn't you know it, but the page opened on 2 Timothy!  My eyes fell to this verse and I knew at that moment that God has some remarkable plans for this little life: "Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 2:1)

Thank God for little miracles!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Christmas Prayer

A few years ago I came across this Christmas prayer written by Henri Nouwen.  It's a powerful one I've found myself thinking of quite a bit these days:

"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."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Keeping Focus (even when life gets crazy)

While there are a lot of benefits to being able to work out of your own home, there are some downfalls too.  One of them being those moments when you realize that you haven't stepped outside in a few days (yes, it has happened on more than one occasion!).  The other one is that there is no punch clock at the end of the day.  If there is work to be done, it doesn't matter if it's 6:00 and you should be calling it a day, you've got to finish.  And I don't know if it's Murphy's Law or not, but at least with the various jobs and commitments I'm involved with, it seems like when it rains, it pours and I'm left desperately trying not to get wet (or miss a deadline)!

That's what the last few weeks have been like for me.  On top of my regular commitments, I've had quite a few unexpected things come up as well.  But even as challenging as it's been to get everything done, it's been good in the sense that I haven't allowed myself to become completely overwhelmed by it either.  Through doing this kind of work, I've learned my lessons (often the hard way) and as a result I've got quite the system for my to-do list.  I have it set up so at a glance I can see what needs to be done, who it's being done for and when it's due.  And when I finish an item I cross it off and don't start a new list until Monday morning.  It gives a sense of accomplishment when you look at your list and see more items scratched off than left on, doesn't it?  Well maybe it doesn't for you, but for me it does and it allows me to stay organized and keep my focus on what matters.

Another thing I've really learned the value of is saying "no".  In fact, the only reason I got through the past couple of weeks is because as certain areas of my life increased their demand on my time, I had to put aside other things.

But it isn't easy to say "no" or "I can't" or "not this time" because no one wants to let someone else down and it's also not easy to accept and embrace our limitations, but it's not healthy if we don't.  I've learned (the hard way) that I can't be all things for all people.  Over the last year or two I've been on the journey of deciding what's important in my life and what things, jobs, people, ministries, and relationships I want to invest my time in and go with that.  Of course that list is a work in progress and as things come up, I do re-evaluate, but keeping that in mind has allowed me to have the boundaries I need in my life to be well-balanced and keep my focus on what's important.

Because when I look back on my life I don't want to look back on one disorganized mess of a life where I was so busy running from one thing to the next that I didn't get anything done.  No, I want to look back and be able to say that I was faithful with what God gave me and what I did, I did well.  No one's perfect and I know I have many mistakes ahead, but at least this is one step forward on the journey... 

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Music That Makes A Moment

Recently I've been spending quite a bit of my time working on making videos. The more time I spend on projects like these, the more I enjoy it. There's something about telling a story with a mix of video, pictures and music that appeals to me.

With the latest video project I'm working on I've really noticed how it's the music that truly makes the video. You could have the best mix of photos and video clips and transitions, but if you don't have the right music playing in the background, you lessen the impact of the moment.

Whoever said that music speaks to us was onto something. And it's not just the lyrics that we can relate with or the melodies that catch our attention. It's the memories that we attach to the music we listen to that is truly a powerful thing. That's why you can be transported back in time just by hearing a song playing in a grocery store or you could have so many different emotions raised just by hearing a song on the radio. Music is something we identify with and carry with us on so many different levels.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Night Before Christmas

I love Christmas music, mainly the classics, but every once and a while a new song comes out that catches my attention and makes it onto my favorites list.  This song from Brandon Heath is one of those songs.  He released it last Christmas and it's a powerful one worth checking out!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I've been thinking quite a bit about the Sabbath lately. I have to admit taking a Sabbath day every week isn't something I've always done. There have been seasons when I did, but slowly but surely, my commitment to taking a day set apart would fade.

Recently I re-committed to taking a Sabbath day a week. One day completely void of work and filled with a combination of rest and time spent with people and God. I don't do this because I believe it's a requirement to get into heaven or something that we as Christians have to do, but I do it because I believe that the reason God instituted it is because He knew it has great value for us. Not only just for rest in our busy worlds, but also as a good reminder of who is in control at the end of the day. As Peter Scazzero wrote in Emotionally Healthy Spiritually,

"We stop on Sabbaths because God is on the throne, assuring us the world will not fall apart if we cease our activities."

So last Sunday instead of catching up on work or undertaking a project or scratching an item from my to-do list, I just took a time out from it all. I enjoyed a challenging church service, then went out with friends for lunch afterwards. In the afternoon I spent time thinking about that mornings service. I took a rest, played some video games, and did some reading. The after supper I spent some time with my family, watching our first Christmas movie of the season. It was a very enjoyable day that recharged me. And sadly, it was filled with things I would have missed out on if I was still pursing my to-do list or trying to fill my time with things I view as being "productive".

All in all I agree with what Andrew Wylie said: "The Sabbath is the link between the paradise which has passed away, and the paradise which is yet to come."

Friday, November 19, 2010

MAD on Facebook

Yes the rumors are true, the MAD Christian Radio Show is finally on facebook. Click on the badge below to connect with the page and click "like" to add MAD as a friend.

The MAD Christian Radio Show |

Monday, November 15, 2010

Things Are Not As They Seem

A few years ago I read this quote on the back of a HM Magazine and it impacted me so much that I wrote it down and kept it for years in my "quotes file":

"David was the youngest son of a shepherd, but he became the greatest king of Israel. Paul ardently persecuted the early church, but he became the one who would spread the Gospel to the Gentiles. Mary was an ordinary teenage girl who became the mother of the Messiah. There are times in our lives when things seem almost hopeless but God wants to use us all for great purposes. He does not look at our current condition, but at what we have the potential to become. We should view others and ourselves in the same way...We should try to view all things with the faith and hope that God can and will transform us into the people He wants us to be."

It's a good reminder to me that "things are not as they seem". Sometimes I know I can be cynical and think that because I can't see something happening that the ending has been written in stone. Well I've been learning more and more over the years that the exact opposite is true. God can do anything and often His work comes in the most unexpected ways and in situations we've written off as hopeless and lifeless. We follow and serve a God who cannot be fit into a box and with whom all things are truly possible.

Monday, November 08, 2010

I Will Lift You Up Again

I wrote this in the summer when I was out at my aunts cottage and it's been playing on repeat on and off in my head ever since. It's a reminder to me that I have a choice whether I'm going to believe the lies that are being whispered or not. It's also a reminder to me that those whispers couldn't be further from the truth when it comes to what God thinks about you or I.

I Will Lift You Up Again
Satan tells you that you're insignificant
Not worthy of even love
He whispers you've gone too far
Your mistakes can't be undone
He's told you your dreams are over
Happy ever after isn't for you
You know his words are lies
But you still believe they're true

You've added your mistakes
They seem too count too high
But you're neglecting the truth
Don't you remember who's on your side?

God says,
You've fallen, but I will lift you up again
You've failed, but I still have a greater plan
You're broken, but hearts are what I mend
You're down, but I will lift you up again.
I will lift you up again, I will lift you up again.

Yes you may have disappointed
Those regrets might keep you up
But God hasn't stopped forgiving
Let Him redeem you with His love

Cause He says...
You've fallen, but I will lift you up again
You've failed, but I still have a greater plan
You're broken, but hearts are what I mend
You're down, but I will lift you up again
I will lift you up again, I will lift you up again.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Sudbury Getaway

On Friday I headed down to Sudbury with my sister and sister-in-law to do a little bit of shopping and have a change of scenery. We had never done a trip together just the three of us and since my sister-in-law is due in a few weeks, we figured it was as good of a time as any to have a little getaway.

We stayed one night and had a great time together. We hit up a lot of stores, had a delicious dinner at Respect Is Burning and enjoyed our hotel. It was also a good chance for me to test out the new camera I bought earlier last week. As much as I loved my previous Canon, this summer it bit the dust and I didn't want to be without a camera, especially with a niece or nephew on the way, so I invested in the Canon SX30. So far it has not disappointed. The first picture below was taken through the hotel window while the flag was going nuts in the wind. I love the responsiveness of the camera and the zoom is pretty amazing. The second image was taken through a (rather dirty) car windshield while the car was moving. Eventually I would like to save up for a real DSLR, but for now this will definitely do the trick!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Back to December

I'll admit it- I am a closet Taylor Swift fan. When "Speak Now" released last Tuesday, I did buy it on iTunes and I have to say, I'm loving it.

It's one of those albums that is really written from the heart and many of the songs are relatable to me, especially right now. I don't know if I should admit this or not, but yesterday at church I couldn't get one of them out of my head.

Here's a performance of one of my favorites "Back to December" that Taylor did today on Ellen:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Best Question Ever

So last night brought about the end of "The Best Question Ever". It's a course that I've been helping out with at my church for the last six weeks.

The series is presented by Andy Stanley and it's one of those things that you can watch over and over again because there are just so many valuable truths in it. In fact this was my third time going through it and it hasn't tired on me yet.

Andy's "Best Question Ever" is "In light of my past experience, current circumstances and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?" He says that by asking this question in our decision making we can truly foolproof our lives and I believe it.

I've gone through many DVD series in small group settings and on my own and honestly, this is the best one I've ever participated in. No matter where we are in life, we all have decisions to make and since the series is all teaching us to make wise decisions, it's one of the most applicable things I've ever watched.

Some of my favourite quotes from the series:

"No one plans to mess up their lives, but we don't plan not to mess up either."

"We can talk ourselves into anything and make a bad idea sound like a good idea."

"We make bad choices because our hearts deceive us."

"Unwise decisions set us up for moral failure... we justify our unwise decisions by saying there's nothing wrong. That's why we need to ask not 'what is the right thing to do?', but 'what is the wise thing to do?'"

"For most of us our greatest regrets were at a time when we were consciously running from God. We knew 'I'm not going to listen, I'm going to say no' and then we wonder why that's the chapter of our lives with the most regret."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Emotionally Spiritually Healthy

Right now I'm reading a book called "Emotionally Spiritually Healthy" by Peter Scazzero (and I highly recommend it). Through reading the book one of the things I've been challenged the most about is facing things head on. As he wrote in the chapter I'm reading now: "When we deny our pain, losses and feelings year after year, we become less and less human."

In my own life often the temptation has been to sweep things under the carpet, especially when it comes to pain and hurt. But through the pages of this book and my own spiritual journey as of lately, I've been learning that denying the pain or dismissing the hurt is not the quick way to joy. Often it's only through embracing our feelings about something that we fully do come alive.

But this is something that takes courage. It's not easy to reopen wounds or look unpleasant things in the face. It takes a heart that is ready to be challenged in order to be healed. But when we arrive at that place, we do find something unexpected there- life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What About Today?

Recently I re-read my copy of "No Compromise", a book that tells the life story of Keith Green, a radical Christian musician who passed away in a plane crash when he was only 28 years old.  Just one year older than I am right now.

One of the things that inspires me most about Keith's story is that while he could have never known that his life would be tragically cut short at such a young age, he lived like a man who was very aware of his mortality, making sure every day he had on this earth counted for something.  It challenges me and causes me to question myself because I certainly don't always have such passion and drive.

Isn't that sadly the way it goes?  We often get so busy thinking about tomorrow that we forget about today.  And in forgetting about today, we forget that tomorrow is no guarantee.

So the question that I ask myself, that we all need to ask ourselves, is "if today was it, would it have been enough?  Did I really make it count"

None of us are born with an expiration date stamped on our foreheads.  We don't know when our time on earth is coming to a close, so that makes it that much more important that we live life to the fullest everyday, leaving nothing undone.  As Paul instructed us, 

"Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out.  Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." (Romans 13:11)

So how do we live embracing today, knowing that we aren't promised a tomorrow?  Well  I believe it comes from sharpening our focus and getting serious about making a mark everyday.  That manifests itself in a variety of ways- of leaving nothing unsaid with friends and family and making sure that everyone in our lives are well aware of where they stand with us.  Of not putting things off for tomorrow that can easily be done today, whether that's talking to those around us about our faith or reaching out to the person who's been tugging on our hearts for a while.  And ultimately it means not allowing today to slip by without realizing its purpose and significance in the grand scheme of things.  

If satan can convince us that today is just another day and really doesn't amount to much in the end, slowly our purpose slacks and we become a people satisfied with saving everything for tomorrow and then the next day and then the one after that.  Soon our lives turn from being ones filled with passion and zeal into ones defined only by our lack of direction and motivation.  As Donald Miller once wrote: "It occurs to me it is not so much the aim of the devil to lure me with evil as it is to preoccupy me with meaningless."

We all have a choice of what we are going to fill our time and our minds with.  And I'm not saying that we always have to be doing something- there is also great purpose found in "being still and knowing that He is God".  But it comes down to the daily choices we make and often the smaller the choice appears, the bigger impact it can have in the long run.

Are we going to choose to spend hours in front of the television?  Or tonight are we going to turn off the tv early and pick up the Word of God to see what He might have to say?

Are we going to spend yet another evening reading status updates from people we might otherwise pass by on the street?  Or are we going to call up that person who could really use some company right now?

Are we going to join yet another activity, sports team or club to occupy and invest in ourselves?  Or are we going to take the talents we've given and use them to invest in other peoples lives and eternity?

Are we going to choose to continue in a cycle that finds us trapped in sin?  Or are we going to stop being complacent and do what we know needs to be done so that we can walk in freedom?

These are the choices we're faced with everyday and they are the choices that define what today means for us.  This day is not just another one on the calendar- during these 24 hours God could literally change the course of your own life or someone else's life through you.  So are you going to give it everything you have?  You might as well- there's no use holding back for a day that isn't guaranteed to come anyways.  As Theodore Epp said "Live as though Christ died yesterday, rose from the grave today and is coming back tomorrow."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Crossing An Item Off

Many years ago I started my "list of things I want to do before I die" otherwise known as my bucket list. The original list had probably fifteen items on it and I've since added many more items and crossed off quite a few as well. Well this last weekend I got to cross another one off and it was unexpected.

I'm not big into bowling, I go maybe a couple of times a year, but a few years ago I decided that one of my things to do before I die is to one day bowl over 300. I knew it was a long shot, seeing as though I don't normally come anywhere near getting that number, but I added it on the list nonetheless.

So on the weekend when I went bowling with friends as part of a birthday extravaganza, I was shocked and thrilled when on my second game I hit 310! It was great to hit this goal with friends cheering me on and it was nice to be able to come home and cross another item off of my list. That's the fourth item I've been able to cross off during the last year, the other three ones being:

-have lyrics of mine put to music (accomplished x6 this year thanks to a talented friend)
-see a musical (saw the Sound of Music last fall in Toronto)
-visit an art museum (went to the Art Gallery of Ontario in March)

So now that I've been crossing off items, I'm thinking I need to start adding more to the list. My next goal is to start working on the travelling section of my list, but we'll see how that goes!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Summer So Far

So I've been pretty absent from the blogging world lately. There's a few reasons for that. I've been having a little writers block lately when it comes to blogging, article writing, etc. Usually in the summer I'm more inspired than ever to write, but that hasn't been the case this year. I think mainly because this has been a very different summer for me and my routine has been off.

Since July I've calculated it and I've spent more nights away from home than I have at home and that's a big change. So where have I been? All over the map. I've spent just over two weeks at my best friends house throughout July and August, helping out with some babysitting, which actually has been a blast. It's amazing how differently kids view the world and the more time I spend with them, the more I appreciate the difference. They have such a wide-eyed wonder that we seem to lose when we get older and it's amazing how the world is a much more exciting place from their perspective. It's been a refreshing change to see more of that this summer.

July also brought about a week of holidays from work, so I packed up and went to my aunts cottage to spend my time off there with said friend and child. It was a great week and I felt so refreshed during my time there that it was a major effort to leave and come home. One of the biggest blessings of my time there was it led me on the journey to acceptance which isn't an easy thing to always find.

So what did I need to accept? Well as most of you probably know, I have struggled with health problems quite a bit and while previously I had tried a ton of different things to help, nothing worked. That is until I tried a certain medication last spring. At first the change was incredible. I felt like a new person and for the first time in years I had hope that my struggles were behind me. That feeling lasted for a few weeks, but then the bottom fell out.

Not only was the medication extremely pricey, which put the strain on, but the longer I took it, the worse the side effects that came with it became. Until finally it came to the point where I had to make the choice to stop taking the pills, which was one of the toughest choices I've ever had to make. Because while no one likes side effects I was very much aware that to stop taking the medication was choosing to go back to the way I was and I would have done anything possible to avoid going back there. But back there I went within weeks of stopping the pill and no pun intended, that was a hard pill to swallow. But it was during my holidays that I started the journey towards acceptance and in the weeks following I have found that place of acceptance again. Even though it's not pleasant, I really do trust that God has a reason in all of this and I'm finding my way back to the solid assurance that faith brings especially when life isn't easy.

This month besides celebrating a wedding and doing more babysitting between work, the radio show and other life responsibilities, I also headed off on my one real road trip of the summer. In the past it's been a tradition to always go somewhere in the summer and where in the past my travels have taken me to
Southern Ontario, Chicago, and Traverse City, this summer was a different story and circumstances dictated that I was going to be sticking closer to home. So some friends and I took a weekend trip to Sudbury just under two weeks ago. We took in Science North, did a bit of shopping, shot some crazy videos, and enjoyed some pool time at the hotel. It was a fun weekend and while I still have a real burning desire to travel and see the world, I was reminded that you don't always have to go far to have a good time!

So that's what I have been up to lately. So where has summer taken you so far?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Who I've Been Hates Who I've Become

This week I wrote a new devotional for the MAD Christian Radio Show. It's called "Who I've Been Hates Who I've Become". Check it out:

Relient K has a song that is titled "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been", but sometimes don't you feel the reverse, that who you've been hates who you've become?

As Christians we experience a remarkable life change when we come to know Christ as our saviour, but that doesn't take us out of the running when it comes to trials, temptations, doubts, and disappointments.

Sometimes there are days when we look in the mirror and can't recognize the face staring back at us. And when we arrive at this place, this crossroads, we have a decision to make.

Are we going to ignore our conscience and run full steam ahead down a road that we know is leading to destruction? Or are we going to humble ourselves before God, confess our sin, our fears, our doubts and our disappointments and ask for His help in experiencing real change? That is what we are instructed to do in James.

James 4:7-10: "So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor."

You want change in your life? Those verses in James are the formula. Humble yourself before God and instead of letting the gap exist and grow, draw close to Him and He's going to draw close to you. Instead of giving the devil free rain, resist him and he's going to flee. Let yourself experience sadness over what's happened as you humble yourself before God, but here is the key- don't stay there! As we're told in that verse when we humble ourselves before God, He's going to lift us up in honor. And when He does, Satan is going to want nothing more than to keep you down in self-condemnation- be aware and choose not to go there!

The truth is, God is a God of forgiveness and grace. 1 John 1:9 says "But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."

That verse doesn't say that God only forgives some people and you are not one of them. It doesn't say that if this is confession number 299, you're out of luck. The verse says that God is faithful and just to not only forgive our sins, but cleanse us when we confess!

Remember that God loves you, mistakes and all. If you've come to a place in your life where who you've been hates who you've become, know that you don't have to stay there. There is grace, love, and forgiveness waiting for you, just a prayer away.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Before The Morning

I've been listening to a lot of music lately. Even more so than normal, which is a lot! I guess I've been really trying to fill my mind with good things and reminders that God is with me no matter how hard life gets or how gloomy it seems outside.

One song that has really been clicking with me is "Everything Falls" by Fee and the second that has become my theme song of the moment is "Before The Morning" by Josh Wilson. If you haven't heard the song before, take a minute to watch the video below. It includes the very powerful lyrics and if you are anything like myself, you won't be able to help but be moved as they sink in. I love the line in the chorus that says "Cause the pain that you've been feeling, it's just the dark before the morning."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What I've Been Up To

It's been a while since my last post and while some might assume that means I haven't been doing much writing, in fact the opposite is true. I've been spending most of my spare moments finishing up the book manuscript that I started last summer. It's hard to believe that it is nearly finished. When I started writing last July I never dreamed that the pages would take form like they have and I am really excited about the message that it contains.

I still have no idea when or if it will ever be published, but I am excited about it all the same!

So what's it about? Well it's about the times in our life when we're between one thing and the next. In the upcoming months as the final words are constructed and the last chapter is closed, I will share more. But for the moment, here's a little excerpt for you. It's from a chapter called "So I'm In The Desert, Now What?":

So you're stuck in the middle between where you were and where you want to be. Life took an unexpected turn and it feels like your life is a phone call that has been stuck on hold for way too long. If that's your journey, you're not alone. Let's take a look at a few people who experienced very similar situations.

David was one of these people. For many years of his young life, he spent his time in the fields working alone as a lowly shepherd with little recognition. In fact he was considered to be so low on the food chain that when it came time for Jesse to go meet Samuel with his sons in order for Samuel to recognize which one of them would be the next King of Israel, David was left at home. Talk about what had to be one big bruise on his ego.

Once David was finally confirmed as God's choice for the next king, he didn't immediately get on the throne. In fact he had many years ahead of him filled with lots of difficult experiences before he finally put on his crown. He worked as an armor bearer, he played his harp for the king, he defeated Goliath, his life was threatened and he was forced to go and hide in a cave in the middle of no where. He fought battles and he wandered like a nomad with no permanent place to call home.

He had the promise of a future as king, but he still was forced to live for many years in the in between.

Jesus had a similar story. He had a pretty remarkable event of His birth that attracted much attention, but growing up His life looked pretty similar to that of other sons of carpenters. Here we have the Son of God and instead of attracting crowds at 16, He was likely putting in long hours, helping Joseph at work. In fact it was only when Jesus was 30 did He make enough waves to be recognized in history when he started His public ministry.

If it took King David, the man after God's own heart, years of preparation before he was ready for what God had for him, who are we to think that we don't need a similar time of waiting? If it took Jesus, the Son of God, nearly 30 years to be prepared for His three and a half years of public ministry, why do we think that we can shortchange our own times of preparation?

Instead of trying to speed up our journey from point a to point b, we really need to learn what it means to bloom where we are planted. As Mother Teresa once said "I am not called to be successful, but I am called to be faithful."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

You Hold Me Now

I heard the song "You Hold Me Now" by Hillsong United for the first time yesterday and it really spoke to me. Sometimes it's easy to get so caught up in the pain and darkness in front of us that we forget the hope that we have in Christ.

"No weeping, no hurt or pain
No suffering, You hold me now
You hold me now
No darkness, no sick or lame
No hiding, You hold me now
You hold me now

In this life I will stand
Through my joy and my pain
Knowing there's a greater day
There's a hope that never fails."

Saturday, May 08, 2010

From 26 to 27

So tomorrow I make the transition from age 26 to 27. To celebrate, I'll be hiding out in the bush with some of my favourite people in the world. When I think of the fact that I'm already going to be 27, it floors me. Yet all it takes is a quick look in the mirror to see the grey hairs that are accumulating to confirm that yes, I am getting older.

But getting older is not necessarily a bad thing. Because with age comes wisdom and maturity. And I'm much more comfortable with the person I've become at 27 than the person that I was at 17.

So to commemorate another year in my life that's come and gone, I've decided to take a quick look back on my favourite things of year 26.

Favourites of 26:
Book: Jesus Wants To Save Christians by Rob Bell. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I'm not being over dramatic when I say I think it's one that every Christian should read and then re-read. There are so many valuable lessons that can be learned and I love the way that Rob captures the whole story of our redemption from Old Testament to New Testament.

Movie: The Blind Side. My favourite kinds of movies and books are those based on a true story. Something about that just adds an element of validity to it in my mind. I'm also a fan of sports movies and Sandra Bullock, so all things combined, how could I not love this movie? The storyline was great and the acting believable, I highly recommend it.

Album: Alter The Ending by Dashboard Confessional. My brother introduced me to Dashboard Confessional a couple years ago and I've been a fan ever since, so I was very excited to find out that he was coming out with a new CD this year and had to pick it up. It did not disappoint. Until Morning is a catchy song that has also become my ringtone and the album is filled with other outstanding tracks like Get Me Right, Belle of the Boulevard, and Hell on the Throat. I love the spiritual undertones that sprinkle this whole album- it's fantastic.

TV Show: The Good Wife. I love reading books and watching movies and tv shows about lawyers, but ever since The Practice left the airways (and I'm talking about the original Practice), I had yet to find another lawyer based tv show that I really loved. That is, until The Good Wife hit the air. While the story revolves around lawyers and their practice, it also adds an interesting element regarding political scandals and marriage. Plus it's set in my favourite city- Chicago, so all things considered, it became pretty much an instant favourite.

Experience: Year 26 was a hard year in a lot of ways, but in others it was definitely one of my best. It was packed full of new experiences, like venturing into songwriting, seeing a musical, and taking my first trip to an art museum. Fun moments, like my brothers wedding, a trip down south last summer, and many amazing weekends at the cottage. Growing moments, like working on my next book (more on that to come!). And many learning experiences. To pick one experience that rises above the rest is an impossible thing to do, which in itself is a good thing because I've been blessed with so many of them!

So the chapter on year 26 has come to a close, but I am looking forward to year 27 and the possibilities that it brings.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wisdom from Merton

"My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean
that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone."
- Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The new pain & energy meter

Have you ever gone to a doctor's appointment and they ask you to rate your pain or energy on a scale of 1-10? I've been asked that question many times and it always throws me. It just seems to be too vague. For pain, do they mean a 10 is the worst pain I've ever experienced? Or the worst pain I could ever imagine experiencing? And when it comes to energy, that's also vague because my energy levels can change from one hour to the next.

A friend and I were discussing this the other night and it turns out I'm not the only one who has trouble answering these questions. So we came up with the idea about doctors using a concrete scale that people can relate with. We came up with a few ideas of ways to measure pain, then the other night when I had a little too much time on my hands, I finished it.

So for anyone who's ever had trouble determining if your ache is a 2 or 7, this is for you:

Pain meter
0 - Happy as a clam
1 - Someone poked you (not on facebook, real life buddy)
2 - Paper cut
3 - Stubbed toe
4 - Fell playing hockey in the snow
5 - Body slammed into the wall
6 - Punched in the face
7 - Finger stuck in a car door
8 - Fastball to the face
9 - A car ran over your foot
10 - Your arm just fell off and someone just dropped a cast iron pot on your toe.

And then of course, there's the lack of energy meter,

0 - Red Bull was named after you.
1 - Your sleep is solid and you feel like a million bucks. If only you could transfer feelings into dollars...
2 - The world seems like a much better place when you're sitting on the sofa with a remote in hand
3 - You just downed an energy drink and still have trouble remembering your first name
4 - You're winded from that long journey to tie your shoelaces
5 - Energy? Like money that's a foreign concept
6 - Yawn isn't just a four letter word, it's the only one you manage to keep saying over and over again
7 - Your speech is slurred, and it's not just from all the alcohol last night
8 - Brain is on neutral, eyes need to be supported open by toothpicks
9 - Brain is off, but you still know it's there. Or you suspect it is.
10 - The amount of energy your body has when you sleep. Or at least you think it does.

Just bring this with you to your next doctors appointment so they can know exactly what you're thinking and feeling! lol

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Trip Down Memory Lane

Kodak Gallery is having a sale on photo prints, so I decided to tackle a project I've been putting off for years- getting my digital prints developed. I bought my first digital camera back in 2003 and since then most of my photos have been saved on a hard drive, not printed for an album or displayed.

As I've been going through thousands of photos this week, it's been like taking a major trip down memory lane. Photos from trips, birthdays, graduations, retreats, weddings, and events I had all but completely forgotten about passed before my eyes this week.

Two things really stood out to me as I've been going through visual representations of the last 7 years of my life. The first is how quickly life can change. When I look back I can see how everything is different now even compared to a few years ago. Life is always changing!

The second thing that struck me was the value of community. As I looked at snapshots from my life from over the years I saw many important faces. People who I've laughed with, grown with, leaned on, and had the time of my life with. And while many of the experiences I've had in my life have been great in and of themselves, it was often the people I was with who really made the memory. I was reminded of something that C.S. Lewis once wrote:

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." (CS Lewis)

Really is there anything better than journeying through life with other people by your side? I have a feeling the community we experience here is a small taste of the joy and love we're going to experience in the afterlife. God knew what He was doing when He designed community. No, it's not perfect and yes, there are times when people will let us down. But if we don't take that risk, we're never going to experience the blessing that can be found in the people we journey through life with.

"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what is is made by the friends we choose." (Tennessee Williams)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Darkness & Light

On Sunday I returned home after spending a couple of days in Toronto. I had a doctors appointment and we decided to spend an extra two days exploring the city afterwards.

One of the these days we went to the Art Gallery of Ontario to view the King Tut exhibit. While the exhibit was fabulous, the gallery itself was also pretty incredible. I love photography and was thrilled to explore the large exhibit they had, mostly of black and white prints. They also had a whole room dedicated to the masters of the details- Freud and Rembrandt. I was surprised to see just how many sketches Rembrandt did of Biblical scenes. I think he captured the story of Abraham and Isaac more profoundly in one picture than I've ever seen or heard it explained before.

On the way out I stopped by the store and while browsing, I came across a painting by Lawren Harris that I really connected with. At first glance I know it's not the most amazing painting that's ever been done, but there's something about his use of darkness and light that really resounded with me:

To me this painting speaks to the truth that many times in life there is a lot of darkness in front of us and it's easy to just focus on the darkness, the ugliness, the despair. But if we take our eyes off of the foreground and look at the whole picture we can get a glimpse of the light, and the hope, in the distance. Light and hope which we are moving towards, not away from. At the same time, the light can cast on even the darkest things, as we see with the outline of the trees in this painting.
So needless to say I ended up buying a print of this painting and will be hanging it on my office wall. A reminder that even in the darkness, there is light and hope in the distance.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Words I Would Say

Over the past couple of days I've been thinking a lot about comings and goings. Maybe that has something to do with getting ready to take a trip, but I've been thinking about our "hello's" and "goodbye's" in life. In my case now I might be only leaving for a few days, but what would I change if I knew I was leaving and never coming back?

Would I change the way I talk with my friends, my family? Would I spend more quality time with them? Would I see that person who lives ten minutes away, but might as well live 10,000 miles away for all we see each other? What would I do differently?

And as I thought about this more, I realized how important it is in life to never leave things undone. Because while I've booked a return ticket to come home after my trip, we never really know what life has in store for us or the people we love. Nothing is a guarantee and that said, we shouldn't get too comfortable with the idea of a certain tomorrow. Not that we should freak out and never plan for tomorrow, but we should never leave things undone or unsaid because the truth is we really don't know.

Monday, March 01, 2010


I've always been a fan of the Olympics, but I can say with certainty that I've never before gone as "Olympic crazy" as I did this time around. I think having the torch pass through our community on the way to Vancouver helped in reminding me what our great country is all about and what it really means to be patriotic. Then watching our athletes rise to the top on home soil? That just sweetened the deal.

But the Olympics are about more than just winning gold medals. They are about countries coming together who normally would not stand next to each other. They are about lowering the walls the divide us. And they are about victorious moments when athletes surpass what seem to be insurmountable obstacles in order to stand on the podium, representing their country.

Yes, Canada won more gold medals than any other country has ever won at a winter Olympics game, but that's not why I'm proud to be Canadian. I'm proud of our never give up spirit and I'm proud that even in a country that is as spread out and as diverse as we are- we still can come together and stand as one. And isn't that what the Olympics are all about after all?

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Weekend In Review

This weekend started off in a rather weird way on Friday night when I heard the doorbell ring after dinner. I opened the door only to find a guy with a ski mask and goggles and a sign that said "come with me". It turned out my "fake kidnapper" was commissioned by a group of friends who wanted me to come out to watch a movie and chose a rather interesting way to pass on the invitation! For someone who rarely gets surprised, I have to say they did a pretty good job getting me.

Saturday was a beautiful day weather wise so in the afternoon we grabbed our skates and headed out to the skating rink. The conditions were great and it was good to be back on skates again. We always had rinks in our yard growing up, so I pretty much grew up skating and sadly don't skate nearly often enough now that I'm older.

Sunday morning brought about a great service at my home church. Our pastor spoke on pursing excellence in our lives and I was challenged to be more mindful of where I'm investing my best. Is it towards my relationship with God? Sadly not always, but that's something I'm going to work on.

After church I went over to my grandfathers house to meet up with the rest of the family, which was followed by dinner at my brothers place. After dinner I went to a friends place to watch the Canadian men's team take on the USA in the Olympics. While Canada ultimately came out with a disappointing loss, it was a good effort and I enjoyed the game. Here's to hoping the team makes out better when they face off against Germany on Tuesday!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Best Question Ever & Fearless

Life's been good and I've been learning a lot lately.

At College and Career's we've been going through a series called "The Best Question Ever" by Andy Stanley and it's been quite eye-opening. Andy's best question is not "What is the right thing to do?" or "What is the moral thing to do", but "Based on my past history, my current situation and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?". It's one of the most applicable series I've ever gone through and I highly recommend it for small group or personal study.

At the same time I'm also going through the book "Fearless" by Max Lucado with my best friend. We've been reading through it a chapter at a time, then taking time to discuss what we've read and go through the questions in the discussion guide that's at the back of the book. I believe we're only at chapter 4 and already the content has been worth the price of the book. Some of my favourite quotes so far:

"Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or cower to their timidities did that. But fear itself? Fear herds us into a prison and slams the door. Wouldn't it be great to walk out?"

"Feed your fears and your faith will starve. Feed your faith and your fears will."

"Fear at it's center is perceived loss of control."

So what good books, DVD's or studies have you been into lately?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Some thought provoking quotes

Here are some quotes that have been circling in my mind over this past week:

"Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you're alive, it isn't." (Richard Bach)

"Unbeing dead isn't being alive." (E.E. Cummings)

"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else." (Emily Dickinson)

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare." (Japanese Proverb)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shocking Story

There's a shocking story in the news today about parents who are fighting doctors who want to remove their baby from life support. According to the story, these parents were handed a letter saying when the doctors planned on taking their baby off life support and were surprised as they had not made the decision themselves to do so. Now they are caught up in a court battle in order to fight to give their baby more time.

Isn't that scary that decisions like that have been removed from our hands? It used to be that a family would make a choice depending on their own beliefs and what their loved ones wishes would have been. Now a medical team can make a choice and even if you disagree with it, they'll proceed unless the courts intervene on your behalf (the Terri Schiavo case was a very sad example of this).

That's one of the reasons I believe it's so important to have a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. Not only does this give you the chance to legally appoint who you would like speaking on your behalf in a situation where you could not, but it gives you the opportunity to clearly communicate your wishes and it's all recorded on a legal document (to download the form for Canadians click here).

I know it's not pleasant to have to think about what might happen if, but in a society where there are more grey areas than black or white, I feel it's important that we make our opinions known if we feel strongly one way or the other.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Josh Wilson

You're stuck in an airport during a security breach. It's packed and people are getting very impatient. So what do you do to help the situation? Well if you're Josh Wilson you start leading an impromptu sing-a-long.

Check out the amazing video below and if you haven't heard Josh Wilson's music, I highly recommend checking out his album "Trying To Fit The Ocean In A Cup".