Monday, November 30, 2009


I have had a hard time wanting to blog anything the last few days. Ramona Reimer, a beautiful person and was one of my most faithful Morweenite staff people when I was a camp director, has passed away. When Jobina told me, I was quiet for a minute as I felt it sink in. Ramona was very special. Her and her husband Earl were what I called my "A1" staff types - super high in competency and character. Ramona was very intensely ministry focused and very teachable - traits that endear you quickly. I was so thankful for not only the ministry that Ramona had with her campers (I remember her as a novice counselor excitedly sharing at staff meeting about her campers coming to Christ ) but her example for other staff as well. She wasn't perfect of course, but I don't ever remember sharing feedback with her that she was not open to. She was courageous and her integrity was at the highest levels. I really admired her. When she and Earl finally got together Jobina and I were very happy for them.

Sadly after only a few months of marriage, Ramona was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2006 and valiantly fought until a few days ago. She fought well. I heard so many people tell stories of going to visit her to encourage her and instead being encouraged and ministered to themselves! Her faith and spirit were contagious. Ramona was a saint in the truest form of the word.

I won't lie - a part of me struggles with this. I don't like how God allows special people like Ramona to be felled by cancer. I have protesting thoughts and questions. I know all the Christian answers (and believe them) but grief is not about answers, it is about loss and hurt. I know that God is acquainted with such sorrows and that he feels our pain and confusion. I take comfort that Ramona is free of pain and with Christ, yet I grieve for those she has left behind. If you think to, please pray for Earl and Ramona's family. The funeral is this Wednesday. I expect that her memory will continue to inspire others, just as her life did. If you'd like to read more on Ramona's journey, feel free to check out her and Earl's blog here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Conspiracy

Advent Conspiracy '09 (TMP Promo) from TMP Vids on Vimeo.

You may have seen this video (or a derivative) somewhere in the past, but it sums up for me so many of my thoughts and feelings towards Christmas lately - the giving part. May all my fellow Christ followers have a meaningful advent season. . .

Friday, November 27, 2009

Picking Power

There is an old saying:

"You can pick your friend, you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose. If you try it will get messy!"

When it comes to interacting with other people we need to remember; we can't make them do what we want them to do. Whenever we try, it gets messy.

I find that most of us need to be reminded of this basic fact, especially as it relates to how we approach our family and friends. You can only change yourself! You may know what is wrong with your family member - and you may even know what to do about it. But until they are convinced that their current behavior is a problem to them and experience a real desire to change, nothing worthwhile is going to happen. If you try to get them to change, and those elements aren't present in them, they won't change. And if you try to force them, they will resist and you will only get frustrated and eventually damage the relationship. . .

Thursday, November 26, 2009


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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Getting Through To Your Man

Agree or disagree?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Miss Lonelyhearts and the Three Dealbreakers

I was reading the Winnipeg Free Press yesterday and happened upon a column called "Miss Lonelyhearts." It's basically an advice column, one which usually leans to the seedier aspects of relationships but as a relationship counselors I'm often a sucker for reading these kind of things. Anyway, in one of Miss Lonelyhearts' answers to her readers she mentioned something called the three relationship dealbreakers:

1. Infidelity.
2. Addiction.
3. Abuse.

What do you think of this list? Basically I think she was saying that any of these things warrants a person choosing to end a relationship - faith has been broken. Do I agree? Yes and no. From a Biblical perspective I would say that only one of these is mentioned within a marriage context (infidelity). Even then many spouses choose to forgive and their marriages eventually recover (and many are even better then they were before). I would argue that all of them are justification for separation (depending on the severity and circumstances). Although God's heart is for marriage I don't believe He feels that people should remain in the same home under any circumstances - separating with the intention of reuniting is occasionally a necessary and wise way to work for your marriage. There have to be boundaries and consequences for relationship destroying behavior, correct? Separation should truly be a last resort (as it is risky), but is sometimes what is needed to help a spouse "wake up" to how much of a deal breaker their behavior is.

If you are simply dating someone (even long term) breaking up would certainly be warranted over these three dealbreakers. For engaged persons this list is also good - getting married with any of these hanging over your head and undealt with (again depending on the circumstances) is just asking for trouble.

So what do you think? Is this list fair? Would you add or subtract anything?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Terrible Shock

Carl Jung said, ‘To become acquainted with oneself is a terrible shock.’ It’s hard admitting that our lives are full of error and self-deception. But this very admission, though painful, makes possible its opposite– a differentiated life, lived with integrity. Tears of recognition and relief often flow with the dawn of self-awareness.

But while the truth will set you free, remember the psychologist Erich Fromm’s observation of humankind’s attempt to escape from such freedom. The truth is liberating– but only when you have the courage to live it.

-from David Schnarch’s "Passionate Marriage"

I read this today on and it kind of stuck in my mind. I too have felt the terrible shock of newfound self-awareness. Sometimes it is beautiful, other times terrifying, and occasionally life changing. Ever had such an experience?

I can think of two times right off the back. Once was Jobina sharing with me something about the way I treated her - something I hadn't wanted to see in myself. Another time was while reading "The Shack" in Belize - and realizing a big part of my heart that I was ignoring. I liked the above quote because it ties the importance of self-awareness with action. Action is essential for self-awareness to be worth anything. As a counselor I help people come to new levels of self-awareness often. Some clients are simply surprised and others feel struck by it. I find that what is most important is not how emotional such awareness makes them, but whether the awareness sparks them towards action or not. All the self-awareness in the world is useless if it doesn't help us to act, to change. My wish for us all is that we will dare to be honest with ourselves and after we have done so, we will act . . . and grow.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Greatest Commodity

Money is great (personally, I'm a pretty big fan of it). You can do a lot with it; buy things, influence people, make differences in people's lives. When we got married we put "presentation preferred" on our invitations so people knew that we would prefer monetary gifts. I know lots of people who adore money - in fact their whole existence in built around finding it, spending it, or not losing it. Money is an essential part of life and even if you don't like it, it does make the world go round.

Yet as desireable as money is, it is not nearly the greatest commodity that we possess. So what is then? I would argue that is simply this; time.

Time is the greatest commodity. Everyone, no matter how young or poor only has a certain amount of it. You can't buy more of it, yet you can waste it frivolously. Sometimes people ask "What can you give the person who has everything?" My answer is always the same: time. Time is the most precious thing you can give. I have heard so many people argue that their spouse or kids should know they love them because of how hard they work for them, for the gifts they buy them, for the comfortable living they procure for them. But then their relations object; "But you hardly spend any time with me." Time is our greatest commodity and one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. Manage it well and teach those around you as well. Spend it wisely.

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of."
-Benjamin Franklin

"There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing."
-Brian Tracy

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Playing Nice

"It's good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling."
-Mark Twain

"One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it. "
-Knute Rockne

Monday, November 16, 2009


"If you are right, but rude, you're wrong."
- Loosely quoted from Rick Warren.

This saying was mentioned during a wedding sermon I heard on the weekend and I liked it. A lot. No matter how bad, evil, or "ignorant" someone is, if you become rude in you're response to them, you are automatically in the wrong. Doesn't matter what it is. Nothing justifies you (or I) being rude - ever. As it says about Love in 1st Cor 13, "it is not rude." How much is rudeness a problem for you?

Friday, November 13, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: Hasta La Vista

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Great Attitude

A brief conversation with my Grade 1 Son this morning as we were waiting for the bus:

Me: "So Riker, are you going to have a rockin' day today?"
Riker: "Dad, when do I not have a rockin' day?"

With an attitude like that, I have a feeling he'll go far! He assumes he'll have a good day and so in his own way chooses to. It was a good reminder for me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Living With Our Mistakes

When I was a camp director, I felt like I did a pretty decent job. But one mistake I made haunted me for a long time. It was the last day of camp and we were and we were just about finished the end-of-season clean up of the facility. I was with my assistant director and a group of guys who were taking refuse to the garbage dump. We had a really heavy little trailer loaded up with things but when we got to the gates of the dump they were closed and locked. Our little trailer was quite heavy but some of the guys came up with the bright idea of picking it up and lifting it over the gate. My first instinct was that this was too dangerous but I waffled. We were so close to being done and to wait for someone to track down the key (or to unload the trailer, throw it over, and reload it) seemed like an eternity. Everyone was in a terrible hurry to get it done. My assistant director chimed in "Let's just do it." Against my better judgment I agreed and we tried to lift it over.

The first time we tried I realized the trailer was much heavier then I thought and it scared me to think what could happen. At that moment I wish I had put a stop to it but I didn't. On the second try we just about had it over when something slipped. Suddenly a sharp piece of metal slashed my hand as myself and our maintenance man for the week tried to catch it. I heard a scream and noticed that the maintenance guys fingers were drenched in blood and a few looked half severed. My own hand was dripping blood as well and I felt panic rising in me. A few minutes later the nurse came by (an incredible blessing) and we asked her to patch up our man's hand as best as she could and rush him to the hospital. Then I sat down and promptly passed out (at least that is what I was told, I don't honestly remember).

Back at the camp I was sitting, still in shock over what had happened and getting my hand patched up and I remember feeling a powerful wave of regret and anguish come over me. I felt so terrible for what I had allowed to happen that I was momentarily overwhelmed with the burden of it. My staff person Dayna was there to offer support and encouragement but I could barely hear it. I was already into full-blown blaming and self-loathing. I had made a terrible mistake and someone else had suffered for it.

It took me a couple of months before I fully forgave myself for my lapse in judgment - my failure to stop what my gut told me was too risky an action. When something like that happens to you, you start to beat yourself up. Strange and toxic thoughts get stuck in your mind, things like "I deserved for this to happen," "I'm a failure", or "I'm incompetent." Eventually I had to dispute and challenge these thoughts. With the help of friends and family, I tested these beliefs and found them to be . . . lies. I trusted in God for his grace and chose to forgive myself. I had to accept my imperfection and move on. It was hard work but with it came freedom.

Is that where you are? Are you beating yourself up over some terrible mistake you made? If so, I encourage you not to keep your struggle to yourself. Share it with someone and expose the secret to the light of truth. Everyone makes mistakes, don't hold onto them longer then you need to.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Power of Context

How big is Antarctica? Apparently it's this big. Wow.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend Smile

Ah life, sometimes it is amusing. Like when your wife calls you in a panic because she forgot her car keys at church and has 10 minutes to get your son to a birthday party. You are out on an epic bike ride with the only other set of keys. It's funny because after much panic she resorts to taking a taxi (and she hates taxis). Later when she comes home she finds that her car keys were sitting on her kitchen counter. Luckily she has a supportive husband who wouldn't think of bugging her about this . . .

I still smile about this every time I think about it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: Dark

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Beware the Lazy Marriage!

"The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing,
But the desire of the diligent shall be fully satisfied."
-Proverbs 13:4

There are several things that make for successful, passionate, satisfying marriages. The least sexy factor is what I call the laziness factor. Laziness is like poison for your relationships.

So often when a couple gets together they go out of their way to serve the other person. They put huge amounts of time, energy, and money into the relationship. But sadly, after marriage most couples get lazy. They redirect their attention and priorities off of their spouse. I say cautiously that men may be more prone to this as soon after marriage many will switch their attention and drive to other things like their career. But women do it too (kids, friends, etc) and it just kind of creeps up on you. Suddenly your couple time is spent in front of the TV or maybe you don't even have any couple time at all. Your dating life is in the toilet (along with intimacy) and you start to get bored. Too much of these times and you start to lose hope. Can we ever be close again? Can sex be exciting again? Why can't we have fun anymore?

When I was dating Jobina (my wife) I never in a million years would have imagined that I would have to constantly "work" at our relationship after we got married - I assumed it would be natural just like when we were going out. Sadly true love is not enough. Like most couples we go through periods where only one of us (or neither of us) is investing much in our relationship. These are always the most difficult and least satisfying times in our relationship.

Combating relationship marriage is not a one time deal. It takes constant attention, initiating, and work. Here are a few pointers:

1. Go on dates - at least once a month, preferably more. Why date after getting married? Because its the best way to show the other person that you are still pursuing them, that you still care, that you still want to enjoy life together. Dating gets you out of your routine. It also gives you time alone to talk, catch up, and inquire into each other lives. Regular dating is probably one of the best ways to avoid marital laziness, infidelity, boredom, and depression. What's your excuse? If it's finances, let me ask you: How much would a divorce cost you? Is it babysitters? I've yet to meet a couple who couldn't get access to a babysitter - if they really wanted to. Is it time? Well, then maybe you or your spouse need to drop something. Stop making excuses and get moving! Even a stay-at-home date can be satisfying - as long as it's fun.

2. Quality time. How much quality time do you and your spouse spend per week together? Willard Harley, a successful marriage counselor says that healthy marriages need at least 10-15 hours a week of quality time (dedicated to giving each other your attention) just to maintain the health they already have! More is needed if a couple is not doing well or is in crisis. I have sat with many couples who have tried to convince me that they simply couldn't find that much time but when they realized their marriage was on the line they were able to sacrifice things and make it happen. Most of the time there is a huge improvement with less fighting, more sex, and more feelings of enjoying each other. How much time do you and your spouse enjoy together each week, without distraction? Quality time together meeting each other's emotional needs (affection, sexual fulfilment, conversation, recreational companionship, etc.) is not a luxury, it is a requirement. Without it, all relationships will begin to get lazy and wither.

3. Money. I know lots of people who will generously give money to their church, the United Way, or even a street person but balk at the idea of spending money on their relationship. Think about it, what other institution do you know that can run successfully without money? That's right, none. Money may seem unromantic as far as being necessary to a marriage but as the Bible says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." If you care about your marriage you will put your money behind it. It doesn't matter if you don't have lots to spend (and I realize some people are financially hurting) but really, do you want to be cheap with your most important relationship? Dating, going on romantic vacations, flowers, lingerie, going for cofee, chocolates, cards, retreats, etc all cost money. How much money do you spend on your relationship? Is it in your budget? What do you need to change?

So there you go, three areas we get lazy; dating, quality time, and money. Investing in these areas is not a guarantee to a perfect relationship, but if you are lazy in these areas it will be extremely difficult to have a great marriage. So what are you waiting for? Get on it! You don't want to end up like the people in the picture do you?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Depression Linked To Processed Food?

Back when I did my one month vegetarian experiment I told people that I felt better when I wasn't eating meat. It was hard to explain - yes my stomach felt better and I had more energy but then today when I read this article, I was able to flesh out that feeling better. I think that when I was eating more vegetables I actually felt better in my mind and spirit - more positive. I think that what you eat can really affect your mood and research seems to back it up. Some people are more sensitive to diet then others but if you are struggling with some depression or anxiety, why not try improving things by changing your diet? If you are really crazy add some exercise and discipline yourself to sleep more and I guarantee you will feel a difference. Has changing your diet ever helped you feel better?

Ikea Tech Secret

Ever wonder how IKEA makes their furniture sturdy yet so light? National Geographic went inside an IKEA factory in Poland to find out. The secret is the honeycomb skeleton inside their tabletops:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Slowly Wading VS Diving Right In

While I was at church this Sunday I started thinking about the ways people approach change. I liken it to swimming. When I was a kid I used to just dive right in, but when I became a teenager I switched to slowly wading in. Now, as a full grown man I do both: sometimes I dive in and sometimes I slowly wade in. Getting into a pool or lake is the courageous act of changing one's environment . . . and the metaphor works for change in general.

Our church got a new pastor this summer. Pastor Kelly is very charismatic and creative. When he came in he changed a lot of things and quickly! Quick change can produce tension and anxiety and I admit I felt some of these feelings myself. I talked to several people who also felt this way and we had a few families actually leave the church. For a few Sundays it was kind of depressing to look out in the sanctuary and see fewer people. But many of the changes that our new pastor introduced were not just different, but good changes and the new approach while repelling a few has attracted many more. This Sunday we were packed and there was positive energy which was invigorating. The quick change had borne good results.

Rapid change is exciting but carries it with a higher element of risk and a higher element of reward. Sometimes it seems the best way to do things. On the other hand, slow change can also be good - introducing change by slowing wading in to a new experience of things. Neither is more right (or wrong). All I know for sure is that embracing change is essential to growth. One way or another we need to get off the beach and into the water. Some people say "I fear change" but not changing is an illusion - we and our environment are always changing whether you want it to or not.

Most likely you either like quick changes or slow ones. The danger is when you try to universalize your experience - demand or expect that those around you should change the way you do. I sometimes do this with my kids; "Just jump in!" I say and get impatient as I wait for them out in the water. The loving thing to do is simply this; encourage people to change and allow them do it at their own pace, even if their pace is different from yours. Trust me, your relationship will be alot better if you don't impose your own change style upon them.

Monday, November 2, 2009


The Return from Iraq - For more of the funniest videos, click here

Parents, your mere presence means more to your children then you will ever know . . .