Monday, May 21, 2007

The end is in sight...

Wow. It's been a long time since I last posted- I even lost Survivor steam. (BTW, was that not the most riveting final tribal council ever? totally stunned by what happened there...).

In any case, I am about four days from wrapping up my final project for the John Paul II Media Institute, a short film entitled Why I Don't Go to Church. It's an interview based documentary that explores the reasons why three genXers disengaged from regular church attendance as part of their practice of faith.

For any of you that can make it, it will be screened at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at the church hall at St. Thomas Aquinas (corner of Jubilee and Oxford in Halifax, NS).

One other short is scheduled to air as well.

I'm both relieved and excited. This project has been awesome, and I have learned so much about both media production and, more importantly, what it will take to reach a generation that has so little connection to the Church. The three guys who I was able to interview were amazing, and they really impacted my life and outlook on outreach.

If and when I post this to youtube or the like, I'll let you know. Otherwise, you'll have to pop by in a week and half to see it. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Episode 8: The Leaning/Wavering mind of Lisi

Once again, I breathed a deep sigh of relief at the end of a second straight episode. Last week, it was out of thanks to not have to hear Rocky gripe and macho-preach at everything and everyone.

This week? The emotional roller coaster that was Lisi got sent packing. To sum up her exit from the game, we go back to the merge when Lisi was the odd survivor standing after the teams were picked and had to go to Exile Island and she had a pouting fit, threatening to leave the game then and there.

Upon her return to the all-male Ravu, Lisi somehow wiggled her way back into the good graces of Edgardo and Alex (who was particularly perturbed with her for her elitist and condescending attitude towards Dreamz and Cassandra as recently as the day before the merge). She helped whack Rocky, and then proceeded to "just be honest" and confess her wavering commitment to the game in front of the entire tribe.

Thereafter, she recanted, only to reiterate her loss of will and inconstant drive to win AGAIN. The dagger in Lisi's future? Trying to convince Alex and Edgardo ten minutes before leaving for tribal council to get rid of Dreamz in a third total about face.

What followed the spasms of decision and another Ravu loss in an immunity challenge was one of the best tribal councils in a long time. Lisi danced around the issue and tried to minimize her waffling, and Probst was just about willing to let it go when Dreamz put the question to her straight and crystallized who had to go: do you want to be here?

To a man, the rest of Ravu answered without hesitation and left Lisi looking like the wishy-washy player she was. I also loved how Dreamz put Lisi on the defensive even when she was trying to come aboard him and make him look like a quitter- his question was simple: when have you ever seen me quit or give up? Give me a specific example, and if you don't have one, then you're done talking.

Early on, I wondered if Dreamz, like Rocky, was a little too extroverted to go far in the game, but he has showed great game lately, and he has a clear picture or what's going on and what he needs to do to win, and he is willing to consider shaking the game up to get it done. Dreamz is a factor, and I won't be surprised to see him get a lot further in the game if he makes the merge and can reconnect with Cassandra and a couple other key players like Yao Man and Earl.

I wonder if this is Probst's last season with the show. I remember the look on his face when Osten quit and the absolute disdain he showed when Osten walked down the path. Now he almost takes it in stride when people talk about quitting. I was glad to see Dreamz press Lisi for the real story, because Probst should have been the guy doing that. He has hammered on other players for a lot less than Lisi's lack of desire to even play the game.

And who knew that Earl could shake his groove thang like that? He rocked the Fijian dance like a pro. You also had to take your hat off to Yao Man, who picked his spots perfectly, sitting out the dance and killing the projectile challenge. Moto just has some winning mojo right now- I think it will be tough for Ravu to break the cycle of losing- Moto just has a huge head of steam and great luck to go with it.

As for next week, I think that if there's one more immunity challenges before both tribes merge and Ravu loses, I think Dreamz might be the guy that gets whacked. Ed and Alex are rightfully worried about Dreamz jilting them after the merge to work out an allegiance with Cassandra and whoever else suits his purpose, and with Mookie disposable at any time should there be no more merge for two more tribal councils and the immunity idol in hand, Dreamz needs a big immunity win this week or a merge to stay in the game.

If it's Moto going to tribal, I hope that Earl has the good sense to get rid of Boo now. Moto is not a cohesive tribe right now, and Earl needs to shift the balance of power between the two original tribes in case of a merge. If they're silly and shortsighted, then Michelle finds a way to get the guys to vote Stacy out.

Now that Rocky and Lisi can't fill the air with silliness, I hope to see some improved gamesmanship all the way around, especially if someone can get some of the alliances to soften up in anticipation of a merge...

Until next time....

Friday, March 30, 2007

Episode 7: Rocky Gets Knocked Out

I surmise I am not the only person grateful that Rocky's shtick wore too thin with the gang at Ravu. I don't know that I have ever seen a player with such a poor sense of the relational aspect of this game as the megalo-Bostonian did. I don't doubt that he was being himself- that he was not well suited to subtlety was apparent from the start. At least he was consistent... But to treat everyone as you would a lifelong friend come adopted brother out of Southie and berate everyone that moved as if you were recovering from a street war and due to fight another in minutes? Perhaps the most incongruous statement in recent Survivor history was when Rocky dressed Anthony down in tribal council for having no social skills, and then informing Anthony that he acted like a little girl and he needed to "take off his skirt a little."

Perhaps these shortcomings would have been overlooked had Rocky actually been a factor in challenges. Reminiscent of Adam last season, Rocky didn't even do anything to win even ONE challenge. He was a total O-fer, no wins, all losses, and losses he was highly unimpressive in. You can't be a mouthpiece non-stop and not deliver the goods, and Rocky was all talk (negative, insulting, sexist, macho, self-absorbed) and no action.

Lisi managed to navigate the debacle at the shuffle fairly well, though it helps to have someone like Rocky grating on everyone's nerves at all times to accomplish rebuilding your image. She did manage not to be bossy and condescending, something she was often enough at Moto to motivate Alex to consider the value of continued alliance with. I will be interested long term to see if she can survive if Ravu loses again. Dreamz has not forgotten his treatment by the old Moto, and in Mookie, Dreamz has someone who is playing the game with his eyes open.

Gotta say that Earl and Yao Man's strategy to combine for the immunity idol gives the game a new wrinkle, though it's readily apparent that Yao Man will need to play it long before Earl does. It will be interesting to see if Earl can unearth the discontent that Cassandra felt in the old Moto and leverage that to gain the swing vote if the new Moto heads to tribal soon.

The new Moto continues to impress. Clearly nowhere close to the new Ravu in physical prowess, the tribe makes up for in glue, teamwork and guts. Had to love the silenced look on Mookie's face when Yao Man made the reward challenge too close for comfort- Yao Man is a competitor, and resourceful. The ability of Moto to think a couple steps ahead may be the difference in getting to the merge ahead in numbers. Only Alex and Edgardo are really scheming for Ravu, and it will take something big for Dreamz and Mookie to break the three now.

Good challenges this week as well- loved the skull bashing immunity challenge. Did you laugh as hard as Lori and I did when Michelle went head over heels off the platform while shouting directions? Awful, I know, but it was classic slapstick...

I wonder if we're not in for a wrinkle next week. With the way this season started so slow and the tribes still so close, I have a hunch that the merge might come sooner rather than later and make the immunity idol that much more important and critical earlier in the game.

I also suspect that the merged tribe will reside at Ravu beach. I'll be disappointed to see the merge-makers living it up in luxury- it's Survivor. Let's see who can go the distance, carry their weight at a camp where nothing comes easy and still keep their wits about them.

Who's next? If it's Ravu, don't be surprised to see Mookie walk at the hands of the ex-Moto crew. If it's Moto, I hope Earl and Yao Man do the smart thing and make Boo the target with the immunity idol in play...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Episode 6: The Whiner and the Jerk

OK. Thankfully, the tribes got shuffled. This was shaping up as the most lopsided season in Survivor history. Analysis of the team selections you say? For now the new Moto looks great because they won the first challenge, but at the time of the picking you had to wonder what Boo was thinking taking Michelle instead of Rocky. With Edgardo, Mookie and Alex staring from the Ravu mat, representing three of the most powerful physical players in a game where strength has dictated victory, you pick the smallest girl in the game? Michelle picks Cassandra next, and the new Ravu gets Dreamz AND Rocky.

While I think team chemistry will be better with Moto, the ex-Moto members of Ravu will not be sitting back at camp whining about how hard it is like Rocky and the Ravu Tear Droppers did. They already showed they could get food, and they showed that they will be competitive in challenges, which the old Ravu rarely was. The new Ravu won't be content to me an emaciate, emotionally beaten group.

The big question is how much of a factor is the luxury camp now for the new and much less physically competitive Moto? Does it even the field? Time will tell.

I have to say that I was praying for a second glass bottle to emerge for the new Ravu when they lost the challenge- I wanted desperately for them to need to get rid of Anthony AND Rocky.

Anthony was unbelievably timid and passive, and his constant sighing and anxiety monologues were wearing. You don't go to play Survivor with a mindset to be everyone's whipping boy or anyone's easy to pick on nerd/geek/dweeb (as he described himself). To do so is to walk around an easy target and a sure thing to get whacked early, and that's what happened.

There have been lots of players who have demonstrated emotional depth coupled with incredible guts. You can be sensitive and tough, but Anthony showed up convinced that he could only be one or the other and let past experiences dictate that it was going to be sensitive. It's a shame, because I think he could have won a lot of respect by at least holding some boundaries and being clear about things. He tried at tribal, but it was too late for him.

Rocky is an obtuse and self-righteous megalomaniac. He's not able to look in the mirror. His rant, while containing some good tips for Anthony, wandered way too far into buffoon territory (like Donald Trump has in standing up to Rosie O'Donnell- make your point- you don't need to assassinate people while you're at it. Outbullying the bully isn't right or going to win you points with anyone, except the meathead crowd.) Calling him effeminate, saying that he should take his skirt off- WOW. Anthony missed a golden opportunity to ask Rocky how many challenges he had won single handedly yet. Rocky has been a big a disappointment as anyone on Ravu for all his he-man braggadocio, and should be the last to point out weak gamesmanship relative to competition.

He's not even remotely playing the game beyond a physical competition standpoint, and the only way I can see him lasting longer in the game is if the new Ravu goes on a streak and makes it intact to the merge, or if someone wise, like Alex and Edgardo, realize that Rocky is a perfect take along and throw away alliance member at the jury stage. Everyone would understand getting rid of the guy because he's just so arrogant and abrasive, and no one would bother listening to him rant at a final tribal because everything that comes out of his mouth is a sexist, macho caricature of men on steroids and too much beer.

I don't think anyone can stomach carrying him that far in the game though, and they would have to carry him, because he's not someone who scares anyone in straight up physical competition.

One thing I would like to say about tribal council- Probst is losing his ability to point out flaws in games equitably. Piling onto Anthony and letting Rocky's rant, which CLEARLY made everyone in the tribe kick the dirt and cover their eyes, go without challenge was awful. I like that he used to point-counterpoint with clashes at council, giving to each opponent equally, but far too often over the last few seasons he seems to be happy to shape the game so that loudmouths stay around and make big stink (Adam vs. Jonathan last season comes to mind- Jonathan got it from everyone, including Probst, where Adam, save for one immunity win, was as competitive as a coconut husk). I don't like that he is becoming a bigger factor in the flow of the game- there was value in interjecting some objectivity into tribal council discussions, but it's shifted to making one player squint under the glare of the spotlight.

Finally, how dippy did Lisi look in pouting over not being chosen and getting sent to exile? Any player I have ever seen cop to giving quitting and going home serious consideration has never recovered in the game (remember nurse Stephanie last season?). She, like Rocky, is abrasive an know-it-all, and has yet to demonstrate any subtlety to her game, with her faith for victory firmly based on her impression that she and Stacey could she-pout and manipulate their ex-Moto male alliance members to do whatever she wanted. Now that she has left the impression that she could care less about the game and would be better off at home, don't be surprised to see her take the long walk without a torch very shortly.

I have to give Dreamz props for being able to do more than just hype and gripe. Where Rocky just assumes everyone will worship at his shrine, Dreamz gets that relationships are built and alliances earned and developed cooperatively. At one point I questioned if he would be able to reign in some of his extrovert tendencies to be able to navigate the finer points of the game, but he is impressing recently. He's also a guy who won't be afraid to make big moves to shake the game- he knows who he's there to play for, and that gives him a focus not many others seem to be showing right now.

Glad to see the game shifted. That was close- this season was one more boring week away from being banished to my exile island of shows not worth watching. Here's hoping the new Moto stays undefeated one more week and we get to see Rocky either dance for his dinner or go phony-Boston apey after getting blindsided by the rest of the Ravu men...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

working through it...

One of my biggest wrestlings in life is with the call I have felt to ministry without the call to full-time ministry. I have always identified with the model of the Apostles who went about building the church yet having a marketplace trade or skill they regularly used and practiced.

Though I was never able to articulate it, I was always perturbed with the unspoken statement at youth camps, retreats and conventions that the really anointed or gifted people were destined to go to bible college and be pastors. The only youth you saw on the stage or esteemed by leaders were those who were clearly on the track to attending bible college. It was like if you weren't like them, you didn't matter as much and that you intrinsically had less to offer in building Jesus' church.

This same feeling hits me when I see how little space there is within the church to hear and learn from people whose calling isn't to full time ministry yet have a clear anointing and impact on the church, especially within their local church community. I admit that I shake my head whenever I look at brochures or publicity for church conferences and see that the only voices and perspectives represented are paid clergy.

My Dad is a minister, and being a minister is the only thing I have ever seen him do in terms of vocation in my life. I have a profound respect for those that give their lives in full-time service, so the issue isn't that clergy don't really have something valuable to say, because they clearly do.

What I fight with is that it seems the only voices Christianity is willing to provide air time to are paid clergy. We spend all of our time hearing from the temple and next to none hearing from those building the church in the market. Check the list of speakers at your favourite conference next time and see if there are any lay people or anyone who isn't the pastor of some large church or highly visible ministry.

It leaves me in a position wondering where the room is in ministry for lay people who have a calling to speak to the church, and whose lives and testimonies are lined with riches bestowed by God to be a blessing and source of wealth to the body.

One of my Dad's peeves is how little esteem there is in the public eye for clergy people- they often rank with used car salesmen or politicians in polls when it comes to trustworthiness. I wonder, though, if we haven't created such an insular culture within the church that we have developed a worship of pastors and devalued the voice and lives of laypeople to the place that the body has forgotten to hear the voice of lay leaders and tuned out the only other voice it hears- the clergy.

One of the other consequences of the way we overburden clergy and underburden lay leaders is that clergy burn out far too often and experience much harder falls when they do fall morally or otherwise. Does Jimmy Swaggart's fall from grace do as much damage if the load of leading, shepherding and teaching within that congregation is shared according to the principal of the priesthood of all believers?

This paradigm has also contributed to the delinquency and non-engagement of the rank and file believer. Because the expectations on clergy are so steep and they do so much more than they should be and the expectations on believers who should be growing and maturing and shouldering a much more significant responsibility for the work of the church are so lax, we have generations of believers who are used to doing nothing other than showing up to be entertained on Sundays.

So, what I am seeking? Speaking engagements? A TV ministry? Not at all. Nor am I suggesting that we devalue the role of clergy- we do that at our peril. Somehow there has to come a shift within the church where clergy shift the focus of running the work of the church to empowering believers to carry out their reasonable service with the giftings and talents God has entrusted them with.

I really believe that the western church will not realize the growth and potential it has in our culture until this dynamic tension comes back into calibration. Until that time, losing clergy in churches will have a far more devastating effect than it should and legions of overfed and underengaged believers will languish in immaturity and inaction.

I am believing for a time when conferences in a city or a region will feature homegrown leaders whose life message will carry weight every bit as significant as the most known international church leader, a time where pastors can be relieved of the burden of having to make the whole church move and grow and believers at all stages of growth can mature knowing that they are critical partners in building the church and accomplishing Jesus' dream on earth and that they will find every opportunity to use their God given talents and abilities to maximum fruitfulness to contribute to a kingdom that knows no end.

I believe it's coming, and I will continue to serve and do my part in my local church in partnership with my pastor and fellow believers. I will look for opportunities to use the things God has put in my life and take up my responsbility and call so that no one else carries a weight that God intends for me to shoulder and steward. I'll be at my place on the wall until the gap is closed and the breach repaired. Looking forward to visiting your spot when it's all done...

Loads of love from Halifax...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Homework Complete

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This week's homework asked us to create a clip or sequence (I did both) and use and modify at least one LiveType template, to save the titles created and import the LiveType project files into the Final Cut Pro sequence for use instead of rendering out each title individually.

This project uses three different NTSC titling templates from LiveType. All fonts were changed, with some resized.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

March Break! Hooray!

Today is the first day of March break here in the Halifax Regional School Board. I kicked mine off with an extended Saturday morning snooze with my wife, Lori, the most fabulous woman on the face of the planet.

Next on the agenda was some online jigsaw puzzling with Jonah (found some VERY cool jigsaws of trains, which he is particularly jazzed about) before we ate some breakfast and dined with Lois, who was ravishing in her white terry sleeper and smelled like a million wearing her pink Johnson's baby lotion.

Jonah and I played a rowdy game of troll under the blanket (read: wrestling with lots of noise and tickling while pretending to be trolls...), and made bacon and eggs for the family. He's quite a chef. I used to worry that he would be keen to explore the laws of thermal dynamics being so close to the stove, but he's a tremendous listener when I show him how to stir things and where not to put our hands so we don't get burned. I like our chances in a scrambled egg making combination against any duo in the world....

I have some homework to do for my film class this afternoon, and we have a date to enjoy some tourtiere Lac St. Jean courtesy with my folks courtesy of our friends from Lennoxville, the Cheals, this evening.

I am looking forward to a visit with my sister in Summerside for a couple of days to get out of town and spend some time with her. Rumor has it that there is a large John Deere dealership not too far from her house, so a visit of the showroom is a very real possibility for Jonah and I....

Other than that, I'm hoping to sleep in once (ok, maybe twice), catch a movie and spend some time in the editing suite at JP2MI doing some Final Cut Pro tutorials. Mostly, I'm just excited to be at home with my wife and kids and enjoy every minute.

How do you March break at your house? If you've had yours already, hope it was awesome. If you haven't, hope you've planned for some R&R and quality time with the ones you love.

No Survivor next week, so depending on what happens, I might have some neat pics to share instead.

Gotta figure out how to get this blog on track and give it some form and rhythm so it's not so boom or bust. Any ideas the blog gallery has about resources to help build a better blog would be appreciated.

Check you all later.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Somebody please wake me when this season gets interesting. Ravu is awash in loser-vibes- they are possible the very worst tribe in all of Survivor history. They don't do anything well- physically they can't compete, and mentally they are about as shadow cast on a wall 50 feet away from a candle.

I thought maybe there might be some compelling moments what with the faceoff between Dreamz and Rocky being included in the upcoming hilites last week, but even that was a total wash.

I thought Adam was a total flub last season, but at least he won one challenge. Ravu just isn't even in the game.

HOPEFULLY with the scenes from the next episode including a tribe shake up things will get moving and we'll see some real action in the game. Watching so far has been like watching grist go through the mill as far as excitement goes.

That said, I think Alex and Edgardo are the two brightest minds in the game to date. The Moto woman-twins are just obnoxious, and I have never seen a tribe so arrogant follow a plan through its execution (see the demise of the 5 women vs. Chris a few seasons back- they had it in the bag, and then they got paranoid and forget about the man in the game...). Not that I believe in karma, but the law of sowing and reaping is immutable- those two rude and exclusionary women will pay the price for mistreating Dreamz and Cassandra AND for ignoring Alex' counsel that it was far too early in the game to act like it was all over.

Can't wait for the merge. If it doesn't get interesting soon, I might have to watch the hypefest known as Grey's Anatomy instead. yikes....

Friday, March 02, 2007

Episode 4: Breaking the Cardinal Rule

Stunned. That's what I am about Moto's decision to forego immunity and keep the fatcat luxury digs over keeping the hammer and forcing Ravu to jettison yet another member.

Mark my words- this is HUGE shift in the momentum of the game, because despite being undefeated, Moto stands equal with Ravu now. Moto needs to look over its shoulder and see that the difference between winning and losing the last challenge was one or two fortuitous key selections on Michelle's part for Ravu.

With Gary gone and Lilliana, clearly the most physical woman for Moto, ousted bitterly and secretively, Moto is about to enter the next phase of the game a divided tribe. Whoever didn't know about Lilliana going will be on the warpath to break up the five who did at first chance, and don't think that Alex won't be looking for reasons to harpoon members of his alliance given their awful decision making in getting rid of her.

I have never seen a tribe OPT to vote someone out and live to tell about it in all the years of watching this game. In the team section of this game, numbers are everything, and you NEVER let up- you mow through the competition and keep the hammer so that when you hit the merge you have the luxury of sticking to the stragglers or wooing people desperate for some safety in numbers.

Ravu isn't losing because they're hungry- they're losing because their team is weak. Rocky is one rant from going supernova, and you saw the beginnings of his exit in the way Earl talked about Anthony being a good guy and wondering how he could keep him around. Ravu won't tolerate Rocky's sanctimonious speeches about mailing it in if he continues to be hard on every and deliver next to nothing in challenges.

For Moto not to see how close they are to putting the nail in Ravu's coffin so that they can sleep in a nice bed is folly, and now they are out Gary (who would have been simple to vote off at any time because he posed no physical threat at all and showed no drive to navigate the interpersonal politics that are part of the game) and stuck with Cassandra (who is mainly a candidate to sit out one of every two challenges so long as there was a numbers advantage) and Lisi, who will drive the team to distraction with her controlling tendencies with an explosion about what bothers her (because just about everything does, if you listen to her asides).

If I am Ravu, I am totally re-energized by the shift in the game. Our tribe barely lost the last challenge, which is reason for optimism, because only two challenges ago, we were getting HAMMERED every time we competeced.

All you have to do is look at last season and the way that Aitu, small and badly outnumbered, found some unity and cohesion and stuck it to Raro, dominating the rest the way to a final three of all Aitu members.

Momentum is key- if Ravu can steal a win and send Moto reeling, this game could look very different in two weeks.

On another note, you have to love the message in a bottle. Twice it has been the catalyst for huge shifts in the momentum of the game. For Raro, it cost them TWO members. For Moto, it cost them one and brought things back to even. Nice touch by the show's planners to add wrinkles season after season. I can tell you this- given the detriment the bottle has been to the two tribes that have won it in challenges so far, I might be tempted to tank a challenge where winning meant getting it.... (Then again, that would be the season the bottle gives the winning tribe the right to vote off someone from the opposing tribe instead of the tribe voting off one of its own. Are you reading this Probst? You can have that one for free....)

Looking forward to the Rocky vs. Dreamz tilt next week. Have to admit I'm hoping the cheerleading coach hands it to the former Bostonian Balboa wanna be. I'm a little weary of the whiny bartender...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Episode 3: Going downhill fast....

Wow. Has any tribe been this bad at challenges since the Andrew Savage led Morgan tribe back in Survivor Pearl Islands? Ravu just doesn't have a game face.

The slip and slide challenge was a joke- complete domination by Moto, and then the immunity challenge was embarrassing. This is a tribe headed nowhere fast, and if they don't get it together and win something, this could be the first tribe eradicated and the first survivor where a merge isn't even necessary...

A couple of things I did like about the show. Hats off to Ravu for taking into account the possibility of the immunity idol when figuring out how to vote this time around. Good thinking overall- make your priorities and vote decision ahead of time to make sure you get one of your top two stragglers off.

Secondly, hats off to Mookie for voicing what everyone else was thinking about Anthony's abysmal effort and showing in the eating challenge against Gary. When players dominate they get credit. When they don't, everyone dances and talks about how valuable they are, when the truth is that they are usually killing the tribe. Anthony isn't doing anything to help the tribe, and you have to be accountable for what you do or don't deliver. I at least give Sylvia credit for owning her awful performance in the slip and slide and making that clear to Ravu.

Anthony's snipe about not questioning someone's will to win was weak and petty. When you get annihilated in an eating challenge (as in you didn't swallow ANYTHING by the time your competitor finished their plate), be prepared for questions about your guts and desire... If Ravu tanks it again, look for Anthony, who apparently gets emotional and paranoid next episode, to walk the long trail by himself at the end of tribal next week.

Here's hoping we see more head-to-head competition. If we're going to see more puzzles, I hope we see them where you have to beat someone one-on-one to help your tribe win. At least there would be high drama with puzzles....

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jesus has a big hand...

One of the things I pray over my son every night is that God holds his life in His hand, and sends big angels to watch over him all through the night to keep him safe.

The other day we were driving in the car on our way to do some errand as a family rocking out to a little Raffi when Jonah pipes up and says "Mommy?" (which is not an uncommon precursor to any number of discussion starters).

Turning down the music to hear what he has to say, Lori kindly asks what's on his mind, to which Jonah says: "Mommy, Jesus has a big hand." Not quite sure that she heard him correctly, Lori asked him to say it again and he did. Still not making it out, I filled her in, and then Jonah continued to tell her that Jesus keeps him safe in His big hand.

What was amazing about Jonah saying all of this was the smile on his face and the calm with which he said it- on some really important level to him, the reality of Jesus' big hands holding him tight and keeping him safe really mattered. It reminded me never to underestimate the ability of little people to understand really profound spiritual things.

So this past Monday morning, when I sat in the emergency room of the Cobequid Communicty Health Centre hearing that the results of the catscan and EKG done to figure out if I had either fractured my skull or concussed my brain after fainting in my bathroom twice within 3 minutes and smashing my head on the corner of the counter and the lip of the bathtub respectively were BOTH negative for anything signficant, I closed my eyes and thanked God for his protection. And quietly, Jonah's words came back to me in a smile I enjoyed with my eyes closed.

28 years his senior (and well over 200 pounds heavier), the reality of Jesus big hands holding me and keeping me safe meant every bit as much to me on that gurney as it did to Jonah in the back of the family Hyundai... For a minute I was tempted to worry about how badly I could have been hurt, but then I realized that God does watch over me, and that my life was spared undue harm.

David had it right:
Psalm 63 (New Living Translation)

1 O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.

3 Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you! 4 I will honor you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. 5 You satisfy me more than the richest of foods. I will praise you with songs of joy. 6 I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.

7 I think how much you have helped me; I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings. 8 I follow close behind you; your strong right hand holds me securely.

Love that big hand, Jesus...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Then there were 17...

And we learn once again that you must be in control of yourself at all times. Why is Erica sitting at home while Sylvia continues to be loathed at Ravu? Because it's all about impressions, and early in the game when you haven't built enough relationships to leverage them in the game, you better not give people pause to think of you at the top of their who-do-I-vote-off-next list.

Freaking out at everyone in a challenge where the team needed to work together to win is just the ammunition people need to change their minds. It continues to amaze me how poorly people understand the stages of the game and how it changes.

On a different note, I loved that Anthony worked with Rita to try and make the vote a little more interesting. I wished for players this season that would force the game to be played, and it looks like Anthony is at the head of the pack that is prepared to consider alternatives to the boring everyone-needs-to-vote-the-same ideology that leaves too many people on the outside too early. Looking forward to seeing some more of that flavour as the game goes along.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

20...uhhh...less than 20 questions....

One of my daily blog reads responded to this set of questions from one of her daily blog reads and challenged anyone taking in her blog to pony up and do likewise. So I'm bringing it Lori B- here goes (italics mine):

1. What’s the most fun work you’ve ever done, and why? (Two sentences max)

My last year of teaching grade 2 at McLearon in P-A-T, QC. I grew so much as a teacher that year, tried so many new things with my students and shared in so many of their successes. Also had a student teacher that year- really enjoyed that dynamic and think we helped each other develop as teachers.

2. Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did? (One sentence max)

Split decision- draw/create art, and write poetry.

3. Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting it off? (One sentence max)

Take a trip to Poland and Ukraine with my Dad and Gido to experience the roots of our family with the layers of generations together....

4. What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why? (Two sentences max)

Be more consistent in the little things in life, like prayer and devotions and working out/running, and how to coach football. The consistency in little things makes such a huge difference in the rest of your life, and coaching football because I love the game so much and enjoy connecting with young people.

5. If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it, be and what would you hope to learn? (Two more sentences, max)

I would love to have been part of Jesus' group of 12 disciples. He was such an amazing teacher and leader, and to be able to have that imprint on your life- look at what the 11 accomplished for God...

6. What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?

Loving, reliable, passionate

7. Now list two more words you wish they described you as…

Humble, patient

8. What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes– three sentences max)

Becoming a disciplemaker, being a great husband and dad, learning about and using technology. A disciplemaker, because that's the greatest legacy anyone leaves- to walk with people and help them grow in God with the help of Holy Spirit, a great husband/dad because I'm the only one my wife and children will ever have, and technology because it's always changing and developing- it's a constant challenge to learn all the new things it can do and accomplish.

9. Write–and answer–one more question that YOU would ask someone (with answer in three sentences max)

What would you say is the turning point of your life- the moment that helped start you on the road to becoming who/what you are right now?

It was my last year of university, and I had a crisis of faith. I either had to turn my back on what I was raised with or dig in and find out if it was real for me- so I dug, and I found an overwhelming love that really changed my heart. Since then, things seem much simpler and clearer, and I have a focus that never wavers, no matter what's going on...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ready... Set...Start?

With the crush of recent changes/additions slowing, life is regathering in a new rhythm for me- normal is re-establishing itself, albeit in a form somewhat different than before (which is OK- what's normal always shifts in life. You gotta flow with it).

What's not changing are the things that have been in the back of my mind for a while that I know are so important yet I never seem to get down to doing and being consistent in. Maybe it's the New Year vibe that's stirring this, but I also recognize the quiet prompting of God in it. He loves me too much to let me stay the same and miss out on change and growth that will make me more like him.

So the question is, how do you start to start doing the things you've always had trouble starting to do? Things like establishing some much needed consistency in devotional time and spending time reading scripture, like getting on track with some kind of physical exercise and sticking with it, like dusting off those dreams that light your soul up and actually doing something about them...

And no, I don' t have the answers. That's why I'm asking- I'm all ears. Any advice from the blog reading public would be greatly appreciated. Hit me back people! Chat later...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

What heaven must sound like...

If you haven't heard this story yet, you are missing an incredible one. The boy pictured, Shawn Hornbeck, now 15 years old, was kidnapped over four years ago when he was 11. He was recovered by police this weekend when they tracked down another boy, Ben Ownby, (completed unrelated to this one) who was abducted this week and found both of them in the home of their common abductor.

He was found in a town less than an hour away from his real home.

Watching the press conference live on CNN, the parable of the lost sheep hit me like a truck. The joy on the faces of Shawn, his mom Pam and stepdad Craig and the rest of his family was something only those who know how much Shawn is worth and loved can understand. I realized that this was a picture of the rejoicing there is in heaven when any person who turns their hearts to God through faith in Jesus Christ does so, each and every time.

The other thing that hit me was that God wants to "find" people everywhere, including those in immediate proximity to me and to you. Making sure that we support those that feel called to reach people in far off places is critical to be sure, yet I was challenged again with the call to be light and salt to those that I touch every day with my life.

Help me Jesus to "find" lots of people and play a part in their homecomings with the help and power of Holy Spirit....

Deja wow...

Sometimes you hear things you say all the time said or sung by other people and it's really amazing to hear something you treasure through the hearts or voices of another person.

Each night, Jonah and I say prayers together, and we never fail to give thanks to God for Jesus and his amazing love towards us, for showing us how to live, love and change the world, for paying for our healing with the harm he suffered to his body, for making a way for us to be forgiven so we can be God's friends in such a way that no human relationship can compare and for the hope we have of salvation, of spending eternity with God in heaven to celebrate him and his goodness. It's the greatest treasure we have, and at the risk of being monotonous, I know it's so important that we never lose sight of the mercy and love of Jesus Christ that saves and transforms us every day.

So when I heard Paul Baloche's tune Because of Your Love the other day, it was like hearing something dear to my heart put to music. Not only is it a fun tune to rock out to, but I wept through the song about 12 times on repeat as I recounted the goodness of God in my life and remembered the love that changed my life. This one is definitely going on the "ride to work" CD to start my day with three times a week....

Check out Paul's website at For those that lead worship, you can download the chord charts and lead sheets for free.

Goodness you can touch and feel...

Today I am awash in the afterglow of the birth of my second baby and my first daughter. Lois Janine was born yesterday at about 6:10 pm in the IWK Grace Health Centre in Halifax, NS. She weighed 8lbs6oz, and she is beautiful like nothing else I have ever seen. (more pics here)

<=== Feast your eyes...

I wrote last time about how careful we need to be about letting our faith get hard to just how incredible God is and how limitless his ability to work things out is.

I don't know how to describe how overwhelming it is for me right now. Everything I see and experience in my life- when I walk in the front door of the house I really was starting to believe I was never going to have, when I kiss my wife, the woman I once almost believed I wasn't ever going to find, when I lift up and hug my son, who I once almost believed would never come and leave our family name to evaporate, when I hold this baby girl who is just killing me with how beautiful she is- seems like a dream that is almost too good to be true.

When I think about how little faith I have had for some of these things, I am blindsided with the reality that God really DOES love me more than I know, that he really DOES have a future and a hope for my life and that no matter what life looks like in the natural, he's reaching and working and putting every resource he has to use in causing favour to flow into my life and setting blessings in motion that will chase me down like the hounds of heaven. It really is about how good he is, because it's sure not about how stout or unwavering my faith is...

When my Grandpa lived here in Halifax, his favourite worship song was Jonathan Barnett's rendition of Psalm 34. I have learned to live the first words of that song- I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Dating back ten years, things have been really hard, either with wrestling with my identity and calling in Christ, or with remaining faithful to both despite not having full-time work and having to postpone dreams because of finances and logistics. I have learned to carve out a place of rest and refreshing in the hard places of life so that my heart remained soft and sweet. Those lessons are gold to me, and I will cherish them for my whole life.

What I am finding now is that they leave me woefully unprepared for how to deal with a season of plenty. My ability to worship from a real heart of love in the dry times has been well-developed after nearly a decade. Now I feel like a total novice- I don't know what to do with myself because it's like being punch-drunk after getting one blessing-hook after another to the spirit man.

In any case, I am thankful that my heart's reaction hasn't been to scramble for the comfort of the season I am used to, but to take a deep breath and let myself get whirled away. It feels strange, but I feel new again, and I'm just so thankful to God for it all. What an amazing feeling to be able to love with a heart in two places and be just as real in both of them.

I'm full and running over God, and it's only because of your goodness. Thanks for everything, and for my baby girl. Hugging her is like grabbing hold of your heart for me- I plan on doing that as much as possible...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life flies....

Wow. Over a month since my last entry, and so much has happened. We have completed the renovations on our new home (photos to come, when I get a second to inhale AND exhale..), packed, moved and unpacked and made a house a home.

As I write, Lori is in the early stages of delivery, and if our baby doesn't come forth on its own in the next 24 hours, our doctor has scheduled Lori to be induced on Friday.

I have been amazed in the last few weeks at the light speed God can move with in lives. Dreams that ripen for years that seem like lifetimes came together and full fruition for Lori and I in a matter of weeks, and it's been a real eye opener for me to realize that it's easy to slip into a complacent faith when you're contending for dreams and prayers in the long run and forget that nothing really is impossible with God or for God, and that it's so critical that we find space to dwell on who God is and connect with him so that we don't lose sight of his awesome power or incredible heart of love for us.

For all those who have prayed with us, chalk up a notch in the prayers answered column, do a little victory dance and stick it to the devil for a moment and celebrate God and his goodness. Then, if you don't mind, please stand with us for a safe and healthy delivery for Lori and baby by Friday...

Believe me- with a newborn as inspiration and subject of photographs, I can't go a month between blog entries. Stand by.... :)