Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011


The last few weeks have been a bit challenging around our house. A few week ago we put in a bid on a house with more bedrooms and actually won the bidding war. Amazing. After the jubilation ended we were left with trying to figure out how to sell our house - shall we go private sale or a realtor? Recently the realtors have been forced to open up the MLS so we decided to try and sell privately on the MLS with a flat fee broker. It's much cheaper, but more work. The thing is that we only have a week or so to sell the property and so it's been a bit stressful doing the cleaning, moving stuff out, redecorating, fixing, babysitting the kids, etc. This weekend is our open house (Sunday 1-3) with offers to purchase the following Tuesday. Jobina and I have both felt quite overwhelmed sometimes (OK, I have felt overwhelmed) with business and worry and when I hit that place I start to lose my perspective on what is really important.

Then I saw this yesterday.

Seeing those pictures dumbfounded me. I felt intense grief, grief that children have to suffer like that and are suffering like. I also felt incredulous that a few moments ago I had been worrying about how much money I was going to be able to get for my house when there are literally millions of people who are worrying about if they are going to have enough food to feed their children. Suddenly reality (and God's reality) got through to me for a moment. All I wanted to do was something to help. All my internal worrying and whining about not having enough was shown for what it is - stupidity. I am blessed to have more then I'll ever need.

There is massive famine in Africa right now. But there are people trying to do something about it. I saw an add this morning for Samaritan's Purse who is doing relief work in the drought stricken areas of Africa. Check out some of the details here. And the Canadian government is doing something cool - matching any donations for Africa given to Samaritan's Purse, if it is given before September 12th. Feel free to donate at this link. If you feel lead to give something I know you won't regret it. And please pray for those who are suffering!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reason: Stop Babying Your Kids!

Perhaps our desire to protect our children has gone too far - this is the premise of the book and blog "Free Range Kids" whose author espouses a more "hands off" approach to parenting then many of us our used to. It is difficult for us to realize that the way we protect our kids (yes, I'm talking to you helicopter Mom) is simply based on our beliefs about kids/the world, and not on fact. Check out how resourceful kids are in areas of the world that do not have the luxuries that we do:

And I was excited when our kids could get their own cereal in the morning!

Friday, May 6, 2011


You've heard of the horse whisperer, the baby whisperer, and the dog whisperer. And now for something completely unexpected. Check out this video for something beautiful and paradigm shifting:

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Working on My 4 Hour Body

As I mentioned previously (in this post) I have been reading through The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris. Definitely a fascinating book. As a fan of experimentation, I asked Jobina if she would like to try doing the 4 Hour Body fat burning diet for a month to see how it goes. I actually have been experimenting with parts of it already (between that and the death diet, I have already lost 10-15 pounds) but I want to see if I can lose 5 or 10 more. Essentially I'm curious and I want assist Jobina with her own goals. This plan is actually quite simple:

1. Avoid "white" carbs
2. Eat the same few meals over and over again
3. Don't drink calories
4. Take one day off per week (yes, a cheat day)

Yes, that's it.

This of course is only the beginning, in addition to this I plan to use other powerful techniques the author has tested including:

-daily track my total inches, body fat, and weight
-use thermal loading/cold techniques to quicken my metabolism (ex/ ice water on awaking)
-take a photo of everything I eat and post it on weight loss blog
-use social awareness to increase adherence (public blog charting progress & bets with friends)
-take an unflattering "before" picture and put it in a prominent place
-when I get mid-week cravings, write down the foods I crave and plan/look forward to eating them on my cheat day

Most of the above techniques are psychological and have been proven by research to assist people in their goals. Tracking your progress is by itself sometimes enough to help people lose significant weight. I am 100% convinced that if I follow through on my plan I will lose the weight, possibly all within a month or two. I invite you to visit my experiment blog (here) to ask questions, shout slogans at me, tell me I'm out to lunch, or just say you've stopped by. Please do, it will help me out! After I lose the weight, I plan to experiment with Ferris' other techniques for gaining strength, adding muscle, and increasing endurance. . .

Short Book Reviews

Well, I just finished my busiest month ever counselling wise and my schedule is starting to slow down now. Although I haven't been blogging I have still been thinking, reading, and reflecting (when I have the time!) and here are a few books I've read since the start of the year:

Mark of The Lion Series by Francine Rivers: This trilogy of books is written by often maligned (especially by myself) author Francine Rivers. While lower on the expected romance then I was gritting my teeth for, it was high on sex - shockingly so. Not in graphic detail, but definitely on subject matter. Of course the books are set in ancient Rome shortly after the death of Christ so most of it is understandable. Yet even so I found myself unsettled by it. Perhaps it was the author's intent? I would describe it as Danielle Steele meets Stephen Lawhead, "Gladiator" meets "Acts." I had lost a bet with Jobina so I had to read half of the 1st book but after 4 chapters I was hooked and read them all. I was actually very moved in my spirit with the stories of faith. I rate these books "R" for content and A+ for readability, 4 ninja stars out of 5.

Too Small To Ignore by Wes Stafford: Jobina's friend Lee (who she recently went to Ecuador) lent me this book and it pretty much rocked my world. Wow! It is the best book on the importance of children I have ever read. Stafford is the founder of Compassion International and so it's not surprising that he cares about children. How much though, and why - now that is surprising. Stafford shares with much vulnerability and honesty how his growing up years in Africa shaped him and how God used his painful experiences to develop a super passion for children the world over. Excellent book whether you read it is as a biography or as a treatise on the importance of ministry to children. I rate this 4.6 ninja stars out of 5.

Multiple Streams of Income by Robert G. Allen: I picked this up at my local library and have renewed it twice. This is a great overview of several different streams of income (stock investing, real estate, network marketing, business, internet, etc) that is essential reading for anyone interested in finances. Though a little outdated and a little weighted toward American readers, I learned alot. His view of balancing the different kinds of income is actually done in a conservative way and I think even the most picky person could find at least one form of wealth growing that work for them and their family. If you go to Allen's personal website, you can actually email him for a free copy of his book. I rate it 3.8 ninja stars out of 5.

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: This is a classic of American literature and while it is over 75 years old, it's truths are completely applicable today. Carnegie shares the simple but often forgotten truths that help us out in human relationships. This book is about how to influence people in powerful ways, not by control or power but by creativity and patience. Some might see his techniques as manipulations but I didn't take them way. It's funny, 10 years ago I would never have been able to accept many of these principles but Carnegie uses stories to illustrate their power and effectiveness in every day life, especially in business. The principles aren't perfect, but useful to anyone in a significant relationship. I've already recommended this book to several of my clients. I give it a rating of 4.5 ninja stars out of 5.

Monday, April 11, 2011


“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.”
-Lao Tzu

Sorry I haven't done any updates in the past while - my practice has suddenly gotten very busy and I'm working to adjust to my newly full schedule. While this change of pace is welcome it is also somewhat disconcerting. Lately I find myself saying to people how busy I am. Important people including friends, my kids, parents, etc. At first glance being busy seems like a good thing, does it not? After a little reflection I'm not so sure.

Being busy and being productive are not the same same thing. Neither is busy the same as being happy, joyful, content, or fulfilled.

I am thinking that having a full schedule and being busy are often two very different things. When I read the story of Mary and Martha, I get the sense that Martha was busy and Mary was not. Yet both had a full schedule. Learning to choose Mary's way vs Martha's is challenging to me. Being slothful is not good, but neither is being over busy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Deep Question

At my small group I kind have a "question of the day" to get us thinking and discussing. Last week the question was "Which of the 7 deadly sins do you find the most difficult to resist and which are the easiest?" Like me, the questions are kind of random and are usually tied to whatever I'm thinking about lately. So here's a question I've been thinking about lately:

If a spouse denies their partner sexual intimacy for an extended period of time, is this a form of unfaithfulness?

Just curious what you think . . .

Saturday, March 26, 2011

She Left Me!

Yes, my wife left me.

For Ecuador.

Jobina is doing a self propelled missions trip to Quito, Ecuador with her friend Lee. The two of them are delivering supplies to a pregnancy crisis center that is in the start up phase and is being started up by a couple from our church. Jobina is going to have a very full week of holding babies, visiting orphanages, encouraging her hosts, singing in prison, and helping out at a daycare that's situated in a dump. Luckily my wonderful mother in law is staying with us to help out on the homefront (which is awesome!) but I have a few prayer requests for Jobina if you think of her this week:

-pray for her not to get altitude sickness (Quito is 10,000 feet above sea level!)
-pray for safety in travel to/from/and in Ecuador
-pray for the ability to connect with babies, children, and mothers from a different culture and language and show them God's love

Also, feel free to pray for those who are left behind. I'm very proud of my adventurous wife and I hope that God really challenges and blesses her!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Above All Else . . .

I have been reflecting on these words the past week:

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
24 Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.
27 Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Thia is wise counsel for any young man, and even "older young men" like myself. I find that by focusing on this daily passage for awhile that my thoughts and habits are altered. What scripture have you been reflecting on lately?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Places To Visit: Nyiragongo Crater

When I saw this picture it redefined to me what "a campsite with a view" could mean:

Isn't that amazing? The rapidly changing lava lake at the bottom of Nyiragongo Crater is located in the Congo, Africa. It is actually an incredibly dangerous place to visit - the crater has occasionally overflowed with lava and destroyed nearby villages. Until the expedition where this photo was taken happened, no one had survived going down close to boundary of the lava. The winds can quickly change sending 1300 degree heat and/or poisonous gases your way which can quickly be fatal.

By the way, the picture above is a bit deceiving; the surface of the lava is still about 400 feet down. If you want to see more pictures and see how close this brave scientific expedition made it to the lava, check out this link:

The pictures are really quite extraordinary - they are equally beautiful, mysterious, and kind of scary!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Delicious Library

If you own a Mac (sorry PC users your out of luck as there is no PC version), you may want to check out this great little program called Delicious Library 2. Using your built in iSight camera as a bar reader, it can scan the UPC codes on any book and automatically enter it into your personal library. Besides the surprising fun of simply scanning and adding books, I find the program to be useful for several reasons:

1. You can in not only books but DVD's, music, toys, video games, tools, etc.
2. Want to borrow out a cool book to a friend? Easy, you can do it just like a real library. I wish I had stumbled on this years ago as I have so many outstanding books (with no way to track them) that it's not even funny!
3. You can make a back up of your library (great for insurance purposes) or post it to the internet for others to take a look at.
4. You can look at your library as a list, or in a bookshelf mode that is pleasing the eye.
5. For older or rare books you can input the book info manually and even take a picture of it.

I really love this program as scanning and looking at all of my books made me aware of (and interested in) some old books that I had forgotten I had. I'm thinking next year I'll make it a goal to read mostly books from my own collection (over 300 books). Anyway, thought I'd highlight this great little program (available for $39 on the Mac App Store) or from the Delicious Monster website.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Preview: The Four Hour Body

I'm currently reading "The 4 Hour Body" by Tim Ferris, the author of the bestselling "The 4 Hour Work Week." I'm absolutely fascinated with this book, so much so that I'm making notes on it as I go through it. It is a rather unorthodox approach to body hacking and has "how to" ideas on things like:

-rapid muscle gain
-fast weight loss
-strength building quickly
-improving your sex life (and sperm count!)
-being fully rested on 2 hours of sleep
-living longer
-increasing your endurance to ultramarathoner levels

Check out his web page for more details. And here is the rather unique trailer for his book:

P.S. Warning: this book is not written by a Christian and some people would find his writing style and some content objectionable.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


My wife asked my daughter this morning "So, when you grow up are you going to be a great chef in a restaurant or a great cook for your family?" Trinity thought for a moment, smiled, and said "Both!"

I love her answer.

Too often I am the victim of what I call "either/or" thinking. Either/or thinking is when you feel like you can only have one thing or the other - not both. So you settle. For instance we sometimes feel like we have to choose:

-Your spouse's dreams OR your dreams.
-Financial security OR a job that I enjoy.
-The acceptance of others OR standing up for what you believe.
-An exciting sex life OR life long monogamy.
-Sacrificial servanthood OR ministry we enjoy.

Much of the time I believe we have too little vision, too little faith too see that surprisingly you can sometimes really have your cake and eat it too. It just takes creativity, perseverance, and the belief that maybe, just maybe you can have and accomplish two noble things that at first seem incompatible with each other. It's not always possible, but I believe that for most of us we often miss the possibilities simply because we don't believe they could exist. These kind of "can I have my cake and eat it too?" problems are great to help us test our creativity and practice finding solutions to things. And they reveal much about our personality.

Of course, many people con others by tapping into their desire to have naturally conflicting things ("get rich with no work" is one that comes to mind) so it is still necessary to be discerning and wise. But too often we go to the other extreme: intellectual closed to possibilities. I kind of think of it on a scale:

Gullible ................................................. CREATIVE & ......................................Sceptical & Must
& Naive......................................... OPEN TO POSSIBILITY ............................... see to believe
(Too open) ...................................... (open but discerning) ............... (closed to most possibilities)

Where do you think you are on my little scale? This scale is a work in progress (feel free to suggest changes) but basically I want to be somewhere in the middle. Open, discerning, and challenged to find ways to make the seemingly impossible or incompatible work.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Power Of Illusions

Illusions are funny things. They seem so real that you begin to accept them as reality. But reality is real, not illusion.

I don't know about you, but when I watch a magic show I don't want to know how they did it - I want to believe in the illusion. But with people, in relationships, these illusions can be incredibly destructive. Like the illusion that we can (or should) be able to control people. The reality is that we can't.

By the way, did you catch any of the sleight of hand in this video?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Fasting

Well it's been an interesting month.

In "The 4 Hour Work Week" author Tim Ferris talks about how for some people they read too much. For such people, reading becomes a distraction that dilutes their knowledge and stops them from applying. Considering my last year's goal was to read a book a week, this idea intrigued me. Am I reading too much? Would it be helpful to take a break? Perhaps I could really increase my productivity towards achieving the important goals in my life. I played with the idea a bit and decided to try it for the month of February. As today is the final day, it strikes me that my experience has been eerily similar to the first time I tried fasting from food.

During my first year of Bible College my friend Jason and I tried experimenting with fasting. It was pretty pathetic. We decided to fast for a day or two (I can't remember exactly) but we spent the whole time complaining to each other how hungry we were. Not only that but we fantasized on what we would eat - dreaming of the food we would happily ingest as soon as the fast was done. We went from fast food to buffets to massive self cooked feasts. Finally, as the hour was drawing near we decided to go simple - we'd go to the local grocery store and buy some canned pasta and stew and "gently" reaquaint our systems to the food. We counted down the hours, went to the store and bought several cans of food and went back to our dorm. There we joyfully broke our fast and then proceeded to eat way too much processed food, way too fast. We both felt sick. As for the spiritual fruit of the exercise? Not much! We spent the whole time focusing on what we didn't have, not on what we wanted (closeness with God).

During my book fast month I started out well, but then began to dream (literally) of being able to read books again. I also cheated, twice people caught me reading a book here and there (both times I had just picked up the book and without thinking started reading - doh!). I also started telling people about my fast - telling people about your fasting is of course a big no-no in the world of spiritual disciplines. Not content with these things, I then began to distract myself with other things - instead of reading books, I watched a little more TV and did a lot more surfing. Fasting from something and then replacing it with other, non-productive things isn't very helpful. Lastly, as the last few days came upon me, I remembered that I had some gift cards and so I began dreaming about what books I would buy with them - and then I made an order for 6 books! It's like gorging myself after fast except for instead of food, it's on reading. Yikes.

Now I could beat myself up for my lack of progress with this book fast experiment, but I can't help but smile thinking about how my first food fast went and the similarities to this one. The truth was that I learned alot about myself by "failing" with that first fast and I think I learned some great things this time as well. I think it is never failure if you learn something important through an experience. I think I'll do it again next February but I will prepare myself better for distractions, keep it private, and prepare myself in advance for the temptation to start thinking about books right til the very end. I did experience a small increase in productivity this month and I'll aim to increase it for next year. But I will do it a lot more humbly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2011 Goals

"A goal without a plan is just a wish." - Antoine de Saint - Exupery

After much thinking, some discussion, and some prayer, here are my goals (if the Lord wills it) for the year:

2011 Goals

As a Christ follower
-Verbally (out loud) submit myself to God daily, every part of me
-Pour myself out serving God and others, investing in their lives
-Using my money, time, and resources store up treasure in heaven
-Spend quality time with God twice daily
-Invite someone to church
-Pray weekly for family, friends, clients
-Do at least one 24 hour Solo retreat (scheduled)
-Set aside some extra giving money for missionaries/compassionate needs
-Reboot confession/accountability with an old friend

As a husband
-One Date every month with Jobina (scheduled)
-One weekend getaway with Jobina (scheduled)
-10 hours/week quality time, meeting our most important emotional needs
-No screens in the bedroom, ever
-Set Up specific boundaries around computer/TV/reading time

As a father/family leader
-Family vacation (scheduled)
-Go down to a maximum three nights a week by end of March
-1 overnight get away with each of my kids (scheduled)
-Minimum 1 hour a week quality time with each of my kids
-2 “dates” with each of my older kids during the year (scheduled)
-4 family day excursions per year (scheduled)
-Rethink how we celebrate Christmas, make own traditions

In terms of my physical health
-Get to bed by 11, 5 days a week
-Minimum once a week aerobic activity (scheduled)
-Purchase winter exercise equipment (ex/ rollers or skis)
-Purchase bike rack for van
-Reduce my caloric intake by at least 20%

As an adventurer
-Two Weekend Adventures (scheduled)
-One day solo adventure (scheduled)

In terms of my financial health
-Do Pay Yourself First (every month) and invest it
-Make 50% on my stock investing
-Make an extra $1000 a month income

In terms of professional/personal development
-Transition to checking email twice a day (a la Tim Ferris)
-Notes: Summaries, next session planning
-Learn Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

I found it hard to come up with specifics for my spiritual goals, so I'm just going to rate each on a scale of 1 to 10 now and then compare near the end of the year where I rate them then. My theme is "doing what works" so most of what I'm aiming to achieve I've already done for short periods of time or I've done as an experiment but quit for some reason. A good example of this is scheduling - I find I get way more of what I want to do when I simply schedule it on my calendar. I'm finding my goal setting is becoming more of personal journey, but I post them here to give myself incentive to not forget about them as I will report on them at the end of the year.

It's past January, so I feel I can realistically finalize these goals after the cold, hard realities of life have supplanted the giddiness of New Year's. Here's hoping I'll have a meaningful and productive year (and I wish the same for you!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Getting Away

This past weekend I had a great get-a-way. Myself and two other guys went up to Pinawa for a combination XC-Ski adventure and personal retreat. I came back feeling. . . refreshed.

The trails at Pinawa are top-notch and they obviously have a very dedicated ski organization there as the trails were so well laid out and maintained. The warming huts on the trails were really nice log cabins which were very inviting. The first night we got to Pinawa we went for a night ski. This is where I found out that 1. I had forgotten how to descend on XC skis (with spectacular results) and that 2. one of my ski bindings was broken. Still had a good time though. The next day we we spent our morning and evenings doing solitude stuff but did some amazing skiing (me with a new set of skis) in the afternoon. I'm pretty out of shape so by the end I was tired and had done some pretty amazing crashes (the other guys took turns skiing behind me so they could witness these things) but it was still tons of fun. It's taken me til today for my body to not to feel in constant pain but that's OK because I consider that kind of pain to be a good kind!

We stayed at Wilderness Edge Resort in downtown Pinawa. This is an old, massive AECL dorm that has been converted into a group use facility. It was very cheap. We got a great deal on a 2 bedroom suite and had all of our meals taken care of (including a pig roast on Saturday night that was absolutely amazing). I would say we were quite coddled there but the time not preparing meals meant we could put more time into skiing and solo reflection times. I don't recommend the complimentary skis at this resort - many of them were damaged and it was hard to find a decent pair. Next time I go here I will rent skis in Winnipeg.

One of the guy's core values is hot tubbing so we spent a lot of time doing that - at least once a day. What I found interesting was how much time we spent talking. We talked about God, relationships, personal growth, giving, psychology, church, finances, child-rearing - almost everything. We must have spent at least 8 hours in deep discussion about all sorts of things and everyone ended up sharing really cool things. I definitely learned alot. Every night we were up past 2am talking about really fascinating stuff. That alone was probably worth the entire weekend - never mind the exercise and personal time with God (which were very good).

I also spent some of my time refining personal goals for the year. I will post these at a later date.

Yup, it was a great weekend. I definitely feel different coming back. Sometimes I need to get away from my regular life for awhile. It helps me remember what is really important: God, my family, ministering to others, taking care of myself, and growing. One of my core values is exploring and so this need gets met as well. We plan to keep on doing it at least once a year (this is the 3rd or 4th year and other men are always welcome. Let me know if you'd like to be contacted with the details. The more the merrier.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Death Prayers

I was talking with a friend the other day and they confided me that they, and their family, had been praying for the death of a loved one. I had never really thought about this unique prayer before. It was a little unsettling.

My friend's family was praying for the death of someone with terminal disease and who was in a great deal of pain. Not being able to handle their suffering, the family prayed that God would take this person home. It made me think - Have I ever prayed that someone would die before? I don't think so.

The Bible has people praying for death - of themselves and their enemies. Job prayed for death sometimes and David prayed that God would kill his oppressors. Perhaps there are other examples? I can think of a few different reasons you might pray for someone's death.

1. Compassion at someone's suffering.
2. Justice for a great wrong.
3. As permanent protection from an abuser.
4. For revenge.

Can you think of any others? And have you prayed for someone to die before?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fitness Craze Madness!

Warning: This Post May Contain Trace Amounts of Ranting and Sarcasm

This Sunday we were heading back from Church in the van. Jobina mentioned yet another person she knows who was enjoying her Zumba class. Zumba, in case you didn't know it, is the latest fitness craze. How do I know? Because everyone is talking about it of course! And because they are leaving behind their old fitness crazes to do it. I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about Zumba but I find the slogan on their web site compelling:

"Ditch the Workout, Join The Party!"

If you go to their website you can see from the pictures that the people are very, very happy. Perhaps they are just having a party and noticed that they were getting fit? I'd be happy too!

When the kids asked what Zumba was I explained it like this; it is the latest fitness craze. Every 6-12 months a new craze comes out and everyone abandons the past craze to take on the newer, shinier one. Then people stay in it for awhile, gushing to all of their friends how they have lost a few pounds and are having so much fun. You have to try it, they say. Then you buy the DVD or join a class. After a few weeks (a couple of months if you are serious about working out) most people stop working out all together. They remain quiet and look at the floor when people ask them how their ________ class is going. Sadness and depression sometimes sink in. Then, just when it appears to be too late, the next fitness craze comes around the corner. Thank goodness! Everyone is saved! Then the cycle repeats itself . . .

My theory is that fitness crazes will continue to be successful (but with short shelf lives) because they do two things. First, they promise a way to make exercise fun again that is very compelling. Our human nature that craves creativity and variety will find almost all exercise to be repetitive rather quickly and so we jump at the chance for something new. It's like crack cocaine to us. Secondly, fitness crazes usually appeal to our sense of laziness. We want to be fit without putting in too much time, effort, and sweat. Thus, each craze suggests that their way is the most efficient way to get fit quickly and with minimal effort. "Only 12 minutes a day!" "Workout while you watch TV!" "Easier then getting up!" (OK, I made that last one up, but you get the idea).

The problem is that exercise is tough. It takes something called discipline, it requires work, it hurts, and even with creativity it is very, very repetitive. Nothing will change that. Even Zumba is little match for reality. The people who do well with fitness crazes are the ones who possess the discipline, work ethic, time, and willingness to suffer that all people who eventually get in shape have. The rest end up with a closet full of fitness DVD's for things like Tae-Bo, Military Boot Camps, P-90X, Pilates, Wii Fit, Pole Dancing, Richard Simmons, Belly Dancing, etc. that mostly gather dust.

Personally, I could try and fight against the fitness craze but I'm too canny for that. Instead I introduce to you the newest fitness craze:


Cold Yoga was developed either in the frozen wilds of Siberia or by elves at the North Pole (whichever seems to better received by focus groups). It's based on the fact that people like Yoga (and that Hot Yoga is already being replaced by Zumba which is yesterday's news) and . . . science. Yes, powerful science! Research has proven that if you stay for extended periods of time in very cold temperatures you will definitely lose weight! In fact, people who go winter camping, for instance, can't actually gain weight, their bodies burn it off too quickly no matter what they eat. Cold Yoga consists of you doing Yoga outside in the snow and in extremely frigid conditions. And it's soooooo fun!! Sometimes people will even throw snowballs at each other and stuff. And go ahead and eat whatever since your body will metabolize things as you battle frostbite. The pounds practically melt off! Look for official DVD series "COLD YOGA: Stop being warm, start being fit" at a retailer near you. Or look for classes at your local fitness studio, equipped with artificial snow, -20 temperatures, and branded ear muffs. Tell your friends!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Control Freak

Sometimes when I'm meeting with people they will tell me that their significant other (or kids) has told them they're a controller (or a control freak). Often they can't believe it - how could they say such a thing? Most people see themselves as caring very much for these people and they can't understand how their loved ones could see them this way. Perhaps you've had these labels applied to you?

When clients share this with me I like to help them to test if they are guilty of controlling or not. First of all, I help define controlling for them:

Controlling - using control behaviors.

Control behaviors - behaviors which are used to influence someone else's decision making, but in a way that does not respect their right to choose their own destiny (or without accepting the person's freedom to say no.) Control behaviors include demanding, angry outbursts, manipulating, guilting, pressuring, nagging, lecturing, bribing to control, silent treatment/withdrawing to control, etc.

Whenever we use these behaviors, not recognizing other people's rights to say no/choose their own actions, we are trying to control them. If we try to get them to change without controlling, it is influencing. People ALWAYS resent control behaviors. It is built into our DNA, we resist other people not respecting our freedom. When we trying to control others we damage our relationships with them, build resentment, and act in an unloving way towards them (control and love cannot go together). Because people make their own choices anyway (even if they feel controlled, they still choose their actions), control is always an illusion. You can't control anyway, so why try?

God doesn't control us . . . because he loves us. Control and love cannot co-exist. You can only control yourself (and that's really tough). We think controlling actions work but they don't. We may have someone go along with us in body, but not in their heart. And of course it's the heart that matters in the long run.

One of my clients has begun using this info on control at work (where he is a supervisor) and it is transforming his life. It's remarkable actually. He's way less stressed (and angry), has won the respect of his co-workers, and is teaching others. He's a recovering controller. Like me! My favorite control behavior to use was manipulation (makes sense coming from a counselor right?) but I've used them all. I pass on this info to others because it was very helpful for me. I'm definitely not perfect, but I'm recovering slowly. How about you?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Getting Away

"Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul the work of the soul, and good for either the work of the other."
-Henry David Thoreau

One of my goals for this year is going to be to get away at least twice to do some reflection and spend time with God. Another goal is going to be to do 2 outdoor adventures. On the 4th and 5th of February it looks like I will be able to do both! I'm planning on getting together with two other guys and going up to Pinawa for some monastic stuff, some hanging out with other guys stuff, and some XC skiing. Good for the soul, good for the body. I very much need it! We have some extra space available so if you know me and would like to come along, feel free to email me for the details!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Today I took my kids to the library. It felt different, usually when I'm in the library I like to take out several books but today I just couldn't bring myself to take out even one. I think it's a mixture of things.

In The 4 Hour Work Week (an extremely radical book), the author Tim Ferris theorized that one of the reasons people aren't more productive or more successful (even possibly less happy) is because they read too much. Yes, that's right too much! His thinking is that we waste alot of time reading about things that aren't really helpful or that we won't ever apply and so we read too much. That's a pretty simplistic summary of his argument, but it got me thinking. Is it possible I read too much?

Ferris challenged people to try fasting for a month or two from reading books, newspapers, and magazines and see how productivity increases. This is just the kind of radical experiment that I would like to try. I'm kind of trying this but I'm not doing well (so far I've read three books of fiction). But the idea of fasting from reading feels like something that might be helpful for me for a season. So this is one factor that has kept me from actively searching for books to read.

The second thing is that the books I have read so far have impacted me in wanting to move closer to Christ. I suppose God used them (along with other things) and I have enjoyed feeling more appreciative and humbled before Him. The closer I feel to Him, the less I feel like reading (Christian and secular books). And if I do read, it feels different. I find myself reflective and searching and trying to enjoy being with God as opposed to learning about him. When I'm in this mode I find that even when I'm reading the Bible I limit how much I'll read in a sitting.

The third reason I find myself pausing in my reading is that I learned so much last year with my "book a week" program that I feel like I need to time to reflect and then take action. In some ways it was like trying to drink from a fire hose. This causes me to see new books as something for the future, after I've implemented what I've already learned.

All of this to say, that I'm feeling a desire to pause in my reading of books. Kind of.

Monday, January 17, 2011

5 Ways To Find Investing Money

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again."
– Ecclesiastes 11:1

Saving is good, but I've heard it said that saving money makes losers of us all. How you ask? Because saving money usually ends up in you losing money, just not as fast as spending it. Let’s say you are making 2% a year in a savings account. If you realize that you will be taxed a significant percentage of that and that inflation will increase faster then your interest rate you’ll see that you are actually making minus percentage points. Yikes. One alternative to this slow bleeding of resources is invest and make your money grow. But how do you get the money to start investing with? Here are a few ideas:

1. Pay Yourself First. Almost everyone could put 5 to 10% of their income aside (first) every month and then invest it. This is by far the easiest and most productive way to raise money for investing. It is a great habit to get into. If you are on a salary, you could start with a small amount and have it automatically taken off your cheque and put it into an account until you have enough to purchase an investment or asset that will make you money.

2. Windfalls. Most people over their lifetime will receive a windfall, an unexpected blessing of money. Maybe it will be a lottery, a contest, an unexpected tax refund, an inheritance, etc. Instead of blowing it all on something that will depreciate quickly (like a car), why not put the lion’s share into an account for investing? That way when opportunity knocks you’ll be ready.

3. Sell something (or somethings). Most people have between $500 and $1500 of things around their house that they could sell. Or if you have a $20,000 vehicle, you could sell it and buy one for $10,000 leaving you with $10,000 to invest. Your $20,000 vehicle will only depreciate anyway, why not use some of it’s value to make yourself some money?

4. Use the equity in your home. Many people look forward to the day they pay off their house, but in the meantime that equity (the difference between what you owe and what your home is worth) is doing nothing. Why not unlock some of it and use it? We did this to purchase our first rental property – we didn’t even have to take any money out, we just used it as collateral. Another great way to use your home’s equity is to get a line of credit. The interest on a l.o.c. is often extremely reasonable. Just be careful that you invest in something relatively safe when using borrowed money.

5. Work a bit more. Doing a little work on the side (consulting, babysitting, etc) or even working overtime is a great way to make some extra money to invest. Even $100 extra a month is $1200 a year.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

James and Me

I'm reading through the Book of James right now. Although Martin Luther called it "a right strawy epistle," the book of James is very special to me. It was the first book of the Bible that I read and . . . it hit me. I mean really hit me, the kind where you find yourself convicted, crying, and connected to God. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in my room, home from the first year of Bible College and enjoying my summer. I had read through the Bible during that year but and although I learned lots and enjoyed it, it was nothing like I felt that day. I opened my Bible and randomly picked James and as I read everything suddenly got intense - and I became super focused. Every word burned in my heart and the conviction was almost unbearable. I found tears in my eyes as I felt God speaking to me through his Word. I sensed his will for me. It was all very unexpected and wonderful.

I don't feel that way very often when I read the Bible, but when I do I am extremely thankful. That day was a gift and a reminder that God can indeed speak to us powerfully. And I still never tire of reading James' letter and his call to action:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
James 2:14-19

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Financial Goals

I just read this morning that research shows that writing down your goals makes you much more likely to accomplish them then if you just visualize them. I was thinking about financial goals and their importance. Do you have any financial goals for the new year? Would you like some (or even one) but aren't sure where to start? Here are a few potential ones:

1. Give (consistently) a portion of your income. Whether it is the classic 10% or something more or less, giving is perhaps the greatest financial habit you can master. Why? Because it makes us feel good and shows us that we are not slaves to our income - we are the masters. For Christians, giving is a unique form of worship that is both a command to be obeyed and a blessing to be experienced.

2. Spend less then you make. The reduction in stress one feels when one keeps one's spending below what one is making is huge! I have met many people who make less then $40,000 a year who are much more at ease and less stressed then their "wealthier" friends who make 2 or 3 times what they do (but spend more then they make). The first kind of couple are wealthier - they have something left over at the end while their "richer" friends are in the hole.

3. Pay off debt. Setting aside a portion of your income to pay back debts builds your self esteem and reduces your stress. Even paying off smaller debts has great benefits.

4. Buy some assets. Purchasing things that put money into your pocket (instead of taking some out) just makes sense. It is short term gain (going without that new TV or car) for long term gain (seeing your nest egg increase, adding to your monthly income). Assets include stocks, real estate, small businesses, etc.

5. Pay yourself first. Putting aside a percentage of your income every month to invest will pay off in 5, 10, or 20 years (depending on how aggressively you invest). After giving, this is in my mind the most important thing you can do for yourself financially.

6. Track your income. Also known as (ahem) budgeting, tracking your income causes you to face the truth about where you are at and find ways to achieve your hopes and dreams. Budgeting takes a lot of discipline at the start but when it becomes a habit you'll wonder how you ever lived without it!

7. Increase your income. Instead of complaining about how you don't have enough money to meet your needs (or wants), take action. Set a goal to increase your income by a certain amount. If you don't know how, then brainstorm and research. Ramit Sethi has a lot of ideas in his "An Extra $1000 a month challenge."

8. Learn something new. If you aren't quite ready to take action, maybe you can inspire and educate yourself. There are plenty of good books out there that will not just tell you things but inspire and motivate you to do better with the money God has given you.

9. Find a mentor. Do you want to handle you money wisely? Then find someone who does so and ask if you can learn from them. Most people who are wise with finances learned it from others and are more then willing to share. Arrange to meet with them once a week/month/quarter to hear what they have to say and let them speak into your life.

10. Pray about your finances. Many people believe that the more faith you have, the less you think (or care) about money. Yet the Bible is full of advice, thoughts, warnings, and encouragement about how to use the money we get. God does care about these things. Praying for wisdom, control, balance, and that He would take care of you and your family when it comes to finances is a great thing to do. To make sure you are praying healthily, it is good to study what the Bible says about money and keep those thoughts in mind as you pray. God isn't Santa after all.

So there you go, 10 basic potential financial goals for the new year. Let me know if you think of any more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Goal Setting for 2011

Are you setting any goals for this year? If so, what are your reasons for/against? At one of my recent family gatherings I asked people if they had any goals for the year or if they were making any New Year's Resolutions. Almost all of them said no. Most of them said no adamantly. Several said something like "My New Year's Resolution is not to make any New Year's Resolutions!"

It is not my goal to judge those who have this view, but I will say that setting goals is really helpful for me personally. For me, to aim at nothing (and hope for the best) doesn't work - too frequently I get what I aimed for! Currently I'm brainstorming possible goals and weighing them in my mind. I plan to have measurable goals in the following areas:

-As a Christ follower
-In terms of my physical health
-As an adventurer
-In terms of my financial health
-As a husband
-In terms of professional development
-As a father

I told Jobina that I want to take 24 hours and go find a quiet place to pray and finalize these. To keep myself accountable I'll post them on my blog.

In my mind you have two choices: One big fat hairy audacious goal (like I had last year) . . . or several ambitious (but not too impossible) goals. Either way works. What are your goals for this year?

I think alot of don't make goals because we are afraid of failure, disappointment, or having others know we failed. But like I tell my clients, it is always better to strive after something and fail then to not strive for anything. It is in the striving that we grow, are stretched, and produce character. If we achieve our goals we celebrate, and if we fail to achieve them we learn and grow from it. Either way, we win. The only way we lose is if we don't strive for anything at all.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Costly Gift

Sometimes around Christmas I'll receive some gifts of appreciation from my clients. One particular client is a person gifted with a great intellect, a compassionate heart, and a sincere faith. But due to setbacks in his life he is very financially challenged. I know how small of a living space he lives in (smaller then most of your bedrooms), how much money he lives on, and how he doesn't have enough to take care of some of his most basic needs.

He surprised me recently by giving me a Christmas card with a Tim Horton's gift card in it. I was very moved by this gift. You see, it was the costliest gift I'd received this Christmas. It wasn't a lot but it was a huge gift. How so you might ask? What this man had freely given me was a much larger percentage of his income then any of the gifts anyone else had got me this Christmas. Wow. I was greatly humbled and greatly blessed.

His generosity reminded me of this passage:

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Top 10 Books From My 2010 Book A Week Challenge

OK, here are my favorite books that I read this past year. If you've got some Christmas money kicking around and you wanted to pick up something enlightening to read, here's a few ideas:

1. Last Child In The Woods - Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
by Richard Louv. This book reinforced why nature is so important for our kids and what we can do to help them rediscover it. Seriously this book blew me away.

2. When The Game Is Over It All Goes Back In The Box by John Ortberg. If you are feeling a little unsure about your purpose in life, this could be a great book for you - especially if you are task oriented, materialistic, or prone to people pleasing.

3. The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns. This huge book is now an essential part of my counselling library. If you are hesitant about going to see a counselor but need some practical help for your anxiety, depression, or other common problems in living - this book is like a psychologist in box. So very useful.

4. The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey. Trust is the only way to live, conduct business, and feel good about yourself and others. This book was like an ethical slap upside the head to me. For those wanting to build the trust of others, this book is essential reading.

5. The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. Easily the most radical book I read this year, I'm still reeling from his ideas. So many of our most common ideas about work, retirement, and living life are exploded and reconstructed here that you will be left feeling like Pandora's box has been opened and you can never close it again. . .

6. The Richest Man In Babylon by George Clason. Short and poignant stories of wisdom on how to handle your money wisely that if applied would benefit everyone. I only wish I'd read this when I got married! It's that powerful.

7. Switch -How To Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. A great book - I was shocked at how easily the authors put together what is necessary to change self, others, and groups of people into short, easily understood instructions. Amazing and insightful.

8. The Sex Starved Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis. This book is hopeful, empowering, and super practical. My new favorite sex book to recommend to others - whether your marriage is sex starved or not.

9. Every Man's Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. This book is not a magic trick that if you read it, you will always be able to withstand sexual temptation. But the ideas and stories are real, and if you take the author's advice to heart, this book can really help you.

10. Rich Kid, Smart Kid by Robert Kiyosaki. The best way to help your kids manage their money is to teach them - preferably a lot of the ideas in this book. Though not an instruction manual, it has so many good things and as a parent you will certainly learn as you teach. So helpful.