Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Children's Ministry quotes.wmv

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Wednesday morning, December 9th, I was sitting in my office with a tenacious salesman. He wouldn't let go let me tell you! Jenn, one of the staff members at the church, interrupted saying I had an emergency phone call from Dave Edwards. I went on  missions trip wiht Dave when I was 13! What kind of emergency could he be needing me for?

Turns out he wanted to let me know someone had hacked into my Facebook account and was posing as me asking my friends for money. Good news is the salesman left (Mr Salesman if you are reading this sorry in advance)! I tried to get onto my Facebook account but my hacker friend had changed my password. So I tried to sign onto my email to see if the new password could have been mailed there, and he had also changed my password to my yahoo account. So all that day, off and on, I nervously got into all my other accounts and changed the passwords there and slowly got my facebook account shut down. A day later I was able to reclaim my yahoo account and send emails out to everyone apologizing for the annoying behavior of my evil twin.

Sooooo - I did pick up a few security lessons learned so if you are interested I am sharing them here for you:

1. Secret questions should be really hard. I think this was my hackers first entry portal. He creeped my FB account, got a few pertinent details about me, and was able to change my yahoo password by answering two secret questions correctly. These questions were way to easy. Anyone can find out what high school you went to so your high school mascot is a worthless question. Same with your favorite sports team if you have ever blogged or twittered or updated your FB status talking about your team. Most sites let you choose your own secret question, so develop one like "Where were you on December 14th, 2004? or something obscure like that.

2. Do not use the same password for your many accounts. No one wants to hear this. I have accounts with Facebook, two banks, Yahoo, ebay, Google, Paypal, Blogger, Amazon, Kidology, Blackberry, Chase Visa, my work email, and lots of other sites. The ones where damage can be down to your bank account or your reputation are the most important to protect.   My Facebook and Yahoo were the exact same password and many of the others were a derivative of that password. Not anymore, they are all very different. I have had to work out a system to help me memorize these passwords. UUUGH!

3. Hide your information on Facebook. Set security so only your friends can see your information. I would still leave my name and picture there for old friend seekers but nothing else. Do not even use the "friends of friends can see" your info option.

4. Remember your secret question answers. It took me a whole day to get my yahoo back because one my secret questions was my youngest son's nickname. Now I have five sons who have multiple nicknames and I couldn't remember when I answered this secret question. It took me a day to get it right. I possibly could have saved my facebook account and not requested for it to be shut off IF I could have gotten on to my yahoo address and had a new password sent there. It was taking too long and I didn't want the hacker out there psoing as me any longer though.

5. When possible with your Facebook and bank accounts and other online accounts have two or even three emails linked to them. that way if one email gets hacked into and then gets used to request access to a site and change a password, this request gets emailed to all your accounts. If I would have had another email address linked to the Facebook account I could have had a request to change the password back to something I knew and sent to another of my email accounts and the hacker would have been cut off.

So five lessons I learned. I have always been Mr. Slacker when it came to security, but I have learned my lesson! I am just thankful most criminals are stupid and for those of you who got the requests for money you knew right away it wasn't us!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Door within Trilogy book review

It has been awhile since we did a Martin family book review. One big reason is we have been reading some series. We finished the Warriors series and also read a Christian fantasy series, The Door Within trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson.
Here is our families review (5 star scale):

Marty 5 stars - As the father of five boys I love quality Christian fantasy and this series fits the bill. We read every night together and during this series we all could not wait to gather on the couch and hear of Aidan's quests and then meet his new friends as they fought side by side for the One True King!

Patsy 4.5 stars - A great adventure and fantasy plus great Christian values. It really taught the importance of witnessing ot others even when its hard.

Blake - 3.5 stars - It had a lot of action and you get hooked on the book and don't want to stop reading it. I just did not find the ending very sastiyfing.

Tanner - 5 stars - It was so good! They were Christians and it showed a great example. I loved the unicorns and knight and dragons and fighting the evil guy who is trying to take over their world.

You can read more about the series and the author at his blog:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2 broken legs

I recently heard a mother of young children fantasizing about having two broken legs and how wonderful that would be. As I sat and listened to her, I found myself grinning like an idiot, because I too have had such daydreams. In fact, as I looked around the room full of mothers, I noticed that all of them seemed to relate to this fantasy. We laughed about it, and then we all divulged our guilty little secrets to each other. One of these woman had recently had a minor surgery and was explaining how much she had looked forward to being in the hospital for an enforced recovery period. I, myself, have often wondered if the reason I agreed to have a second child was because of my mothering instinct, or my need for the relative relaxation of the hospital room. Sure, you are only served ice chips and jello, but at least you don't have to prepare it. No one requests that you get out of bed and do some laundry. The nurses don't ask you if you can help them find things, and sweetest of all....YOU control the remote on the TV! OK, so the choices on the television are usually pretty lame, but the power to control those lame channels is all yours!

Until this time, I had often wondered if I was the only strange and twisted woman who would choose to go through this pain in order to completely relax. Now, I realize just how wide spread this goes. There didn't seem to be many mothers in the room that couldn't relate. And that started me Dad's ever dream of being laid up in bed? Then they wouldn't have to cook, help with homework, do laundry, clean the toilets...OK. I've answered my own question haven't I? No, they don't! But, I think Dads may be on to something here. Maybe (and I do mean maybe), in some small way they are smarter than we are. I mean, let's look at this in depth. Let's say your child is leaving the house for school in shorts and the weather is only slightly above freezing.

Mom would...

1. Scold the child for wearing inappropriate clothing and instruct them to turn around and

put something warmer on.

2.Listen to the child complain that there are no clean pants in their drawer.

3.Walk up the stairs to check the aforementioned drawer and find that there is, in fact, one pair of pants left.

4.Listen to the child whine because they HATE those pants and everybody in school will laugh at them.

5.Force the child to wear these perfectly good pants and then drag them back down the stairs crying and pouting.

6.Listen for the phone all day because she knows that when her child left the house, they were in such a bad temper they will probably do something at school that will get them in trouble.

7. Meanwhile, she does 6 loads of laundry to help her feel better about the humiliation she is now convinced her child is suffering.

That is what Mom would do. Now, let's take a little peek at how Dad would handle this...

“See ya later, son! Have a good one!” At which point he would turn back to Mom and say, “What? He's wearing a coat.” See what I mean? Is Dad really smarter than we are?

Now I am not advocating that we all act like Dads. I believe firmly that God created woman because he knew man could never find his keys by himself. But, I am wondering if some of the stress that we moms experience could be avoided. And just so we are clear on this point as well, I am not of the opinion that breaking both our legs would be a very good thing. I have on occasion been laid up in bed for a day or two and my husband has jumped right in to help around the house. He is a very good man. However, he is a very poor housekeeper. Of course he maintains that I am just too picky when it comes to the house. And maybe I am, since I like made beds, flushed toilets, clean dishes, appropriately cooked food, etc. Silly me!

No, what I propose is that we take just a single page from the book on “How to Be a Great Man”. I would like to experiment with the page that tells dads how to come home from a hard day at work and completely ignore the problems of the household while they take a little time to unwind. What is it about Dad that allows him to drop whatever he is carrying in his hands onto the kitchen table that is half set for dinner, step over the “oops” that the family pet left on the floor, turn a deaf ear on the whining child that has been driving Mom crazy for the past hour and settle himself comfortably on the couch with the television remote in his hand. It is a source of amazement and frustration that he is completely unaware of the chaos he has returned to at the end of his day. And I must admit, the ability that man has to look up with complete sincerity on his face and say things like, “Do you need my help, Honey?” has left me speechless on more than one occasion. This guilt-free ability to walk through a mine-field of family turbulence and relax is a talent that most women would pay dearly to possess.

There are days when I am so tired by the time the children are in bed that my feet are literally throbbing and I am ready to drop. Yet, to my utter dismay, I find myself unable to relax until the pillows are put back on the couch, the shoes are picked up off the floor and the toys are at least piled into a corner instead of strewn about the room. Only then can I sit down with my husband for a few relaxing moments before bed. WHY?!?! Men, I don't know how you do it, but if someone figures out a way to bottle this relaxation technique and sell it, they would make a fortune. Yes, the awful truth is that for some of us, the ability to completely unwind will only come about in a sterile hospital room (or possibly a padded one). Dads, in this instance, I have to admit, I have “daddy-envy”. But, don't get too proud of yourselves. You still have to work on other areas like the toilet seat, bodily function noises, morning breath, the inability to deal with pain and maniacal driving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Free Perfromance on Friday Nov 27th at Forward Baptist, Cambridge Ontario, 7 pm

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dead Sea Scrolls

This past weekend we visited the Royal Ontario Museum to see, among other things, the Dead Sea Scrolls display. These little scraps of the Old Testament and other extra-Biblical texts have suffered more wear and tear in the last 60 years than the previous 2,000+ years. Some of the Biblical Dead Sea scrolls are almost 1,000 years older than the next-oldest-know copies of the Hebrew Bible. Now
I know there is some "controversy" over the extra-Biblical texts, which some are using to attack the Christian faith and Christ himself. But forget about that. What I took away from the visit is how amazing that there was virtually no change in the wording of God's word after 1,000 years of time passing. I remember learning in college how painstacking the scribes were when transcribing the Words of the torah and the prophets, completely starting over if even one grammatical error was made in the copying process.
Because of its importance and its claim to be the very Word of God, the Bible has suffered more vicious attacks and attempts to destroy it than any other book in history. From early Roman Emperors like Diocletian, through communist dictators and on to modern-day atheists and agnostics, the Bible has withstood and outlasted all of its attackers and is still today the most widely published book in the world.

Throughout time, skeptics have regarded the Bible as mythological, but archeology has confirmed it as historical. Opponents have attacked its teaching as primitive and outdated, but its moral and legal concepts and teachings have had a positive influence on societies and cultures throughout the world. It continues to be attacked by pseudo-science, psychology, and political movements, yet it remains just as true and relevant today as it was when it was first written. It is a book that has transformed countless lives and cultures throughout the last 2000 years. No matter how its opponents try to attack, destroy, or discredit it, the Bible remains; its veracity and impact on lives is unmistakable. The accuracy which has been preserved despite every attempt to corrupt, attack, or destroy it is clear testimony to the fact that the Bible is truly God’s Word and is supernaturally protected by Him. It should not surprise us that, no matter how the Bible is attacked, it always comes out unchanged and unscathed. After all, Jesus said,

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31). After looking at the evidence, one can say without a doubt that, yes, the Bible is truly God’s Word.

As I saw the pesher scrolls of Isaiah 10:22-11:5 read "A shoot will issue from the stump of Jesse and a bud will sprout its roots. Upon Him will be placed the Spirit of the Lord and His delight will be in respecting the Lord," it sent chills up my spine to see the written prophecies of the Messiah transcribed before His appearance! Of course even the pesher (commentary) of the scholars and scribrs of this time believed that a Messiah from the line of David would come and fulfill this prophecy (Jesse is David's father).
So if you are living in Ontario I would highly recomment going to see the scrolls before they leave on Janaury 3rd!

Monday, November 09, 2009

When I'm mad

One of our boys who will remain nameless had an bit of an explosive outburst of anger last week so in talking to him both of us decided to write a lsit of ten things that we can do when we are mad to clam us down. Here is my list:

1. Count to 10 backwards

2. Take three deep breaths

3. Say a small prayer

4. Be silly

5. Whistle

6. Go into another room

7. Think of Patrick on Spongebob

8. Ask myself WWJD

9. Visualize whirled peas

10. Think of Walt Disney World – the happiest place on earth

Do you have a list?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The heart that embraces

This past week our family welcomed Brendan back into our home. We felt such a loss in our hearts when he left and now he is back in our family for good. We have such joy in our home over this. I remember when my wife and I were first getting serious about our relationship and she said she was OK with not having any kids and I said I wanted a big family. Well sweetie who got their way?
On a serious note as I look into his eyes and see him looking at me I can tell there is a lot of tentativeness still in Brendan’s little heart. He has been in six different homes in his 3 ½ years and I imagine he is still not sure this is his last stop. In his eyes and in the eyes of so many kids I see Jesus there. I see Him picking up a child a loving the little ones who so desperately just want a simple love. There are times I know where kids are like the raptors on Jurassic Park, testing for the weakness in the electric fence of the household rules. When they are in this mode they don’t seem like the innocent little children Jesus spoke of. But they still are. Their hearts are more open to love and truth than any adult could ever imagine. They are also more vulnerable to hurt and evil.
So as I took little Brendan in my arms and gave him a huge bear hug and drove home and tucked him into bed I lay there thinking of what he may become one day and how God might use our small family to impact his life. It often strikes me that the older I get the less ambitious I become to “change the world” or to make my impact on the injustice and hurting in this world. There is so much and yet the one thing that we really think will help it all out, money, does really nothing long term to end suffering. It is a band-aid. And then the question is where to choose to put my funds? To end AIDS or cancer or childhood diabetes. To provide clean drinking water, end child prostitution, help the homeless, provide clothes for war torn areas, help missionaries bring eternal hope, translate the Bible into a new language, or buy slaves in the Sudan? So many more worthy causes could be named. We do support some worthy causes. Three of my favourite are Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse and St. Jude’s hospital.
But in the end its just money and money always creates as many problems as it solves. We still need to give, but in the end it’s not enough. So then we come to doing. Here too we often feel things like short term missions trips, volunteering at the homeless shelter donating baby supplies to the Pregnancy Care Center is “doing our part”. These are also good things but they lack the one thing that truly brings change, long term commitment to a group of people.
While there are many ways to do this, for me I wish to sound the bell that adoption and/or foster care is an amazing way to have an eternal impact on a life. Let me first say that any time you invest this amount of love, time and energy into some one you are guaranteed to feel a lot of pain. But in the end wading through the pain, letting it shape us more into the image of Christ and showing His love through it all is true transformational living.
There has never been in an age like we live in with so many millions and millions of orphans. Is a box at Christmas or buying some fancy water at Starbucks or going to a U2 concert where it starts and ends to address this? What is Christ calling the church to and more importantly what is he calling you to?
When one day we stand at the end of history and look back at those who made the greatest difference who will we see? Ghandi, Benjamin Franklin, Hitler, Osama bin Ladin, Julius Caesar, Bono, Churchill, Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, John Wesley, DL Moody, Steve Jobs, or any other name you can come up with. I don’t think these names are the true movers and shakers. As William Ross Wallace said “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Better yet the heart that embraces a child changes history. I made that up myself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Always something

Well, it's always something,” as Rosanne Rosanadana would say. (OK, so now you know my little secret... I used to watch Saturday Night Live way “back in the day”.) Anyway, that little phrase that Rosanne used to conclude her news segment has come back to me on an almost daily basis since becoming a mother. This lastest instance involved our 4 year old son. (It seems that quite a lot of these little issues involve him....I wonder why.)
Our family recently moved from the US to Canada. That meant a lot of changes for us. One of those changes was finding a new family doctor. Let me stop right here and make one thing perfectly clear...I am in no way promoting, or bashing Canadian healthcare. It is different from the way healthcare is run in the US (not better, not worse, just different). All systems will have their positive and negative aspects. Since I am used to the system in the US, I was simply a little unprepared for finding a new doctor in Canada, that's all. We were informed by good friends that one of the first things we needed to do when coming to this country was to find a family doctor and put our names in. That sounded very reasonable to a mother of boys who seemed to enjoy infections and injuries, so that is what we did. We called a new clinic that was just opening up and asked to have our family records transferred. They told us they would put us on the waiting list and call us when it was our turn to meet the doctor. Being from the US, I thought that was kind of cute...we would get to “meet” the doctor. They said we would probably be called into the office by September. I smiled and managed to convince myself that there would surely be no need for a doctor between June and September. I wish my 4 year old had understood this as well.
You have to understand that this child was brought into our home with double ear infections and has been in a constant battle with his ears ever since. He has had two sets of tubes put in and we have our own supply of prescription ear drops for him. Now, I am not one of those mothers who advocate over medicating your children. But, when our little man smiles at me and says those magic words, “Mommy, my ear is coming out..” it means one of two things. Either, he has a clear fluid draining out of his ear and it will be gone within 48 hours, or he has a slight draining and he will be up all night spiking a 106 temperature with a ruptured ear drum by morning. (He doesn't believe in giving us a lot of warning when it comes to medical emergencies.) Anyway, that is the reason we have the prescription ear drops. Our family doctor was kind enough to order them for us before we left the US in case we needed them before we could find a new family doctor.
Well, September came and went and we had still not gotten a call from our new doctor. The ear drops were running low and I was starting to panic. I know it seems like a silly thing to panic about, but all you mothers know what it means to have to stay up all night with a sick child. Not only are you deprived of a night of sleep, you are also subjected unending whining and crying through out that night. Then you realize as the sun slowly starts to rise, this child is feeling no better and now you are so tired no amount of coffee will take the edge off your utter exhaustion. Your husband will soon be waking and possibly complaining about his interrupted night's sleep. And as he leaves the house for work that morning, you find yourself crying and asking why he gets to leave the house and not fact, you might even be surprised to find yourself stamping your feet in anger and yelling, “It's not fair!!” (OK, so maybe I'm the only one who throws temper tantrums when I am tired. Let's just forget I mentioned it.) Anyway, I was panicking.
By October, I was wondering if possibly we had somehow missed the doctor's call and had lost our place on the waiting list. (OK, so I am neurotic. Haven't you figured that out by now?) Anyway, my husband finally placed a call to the clinic to check and see if we were still scheduled to see the doctor and he was kindly informed that we were on the list, but our meeting was now scheduled for November. My blood ran cold. November!?!?! I was absolutely certain we would be out of ear drops before that! This was a tiny little bottle! Really tiny! That is the only excuse I can offer for what happened next. It wasn't exactly a was more like a grabbing a life preserver as you head out to sea in a leaky boat.
The nurse said she felt bad for making us wait that long if someone was really sick. I guess it all depends on how you define “really sick”, but I took that to mean “can't wait until November”. Anyway, we now had the one needed appointment. My son would be able to see the doctor a week from Wednesday. My heart felt so much lighter that even the load of guilt I felt at the slight deception seemed of no consequence. I kept telling myself that all mothers call a doctor for a sick child, get the appointment and then find that as soon as they are ready to take that child to said appointment, the child miraculously shows no signs of sickness. With a jury of my peers (which would have to include at least one mother) I would never be convicted. Of course, I also prayed for an ear infection before the appointment. Of course, God, in His infinite justice, decided to keep my son's ears clear that whole week. So, I did the only thing any self-respecting mother would do....I sent my husband with my son to his doctor's appointment. I figured the whole office was going to know my son wasn't really sick, but maybe if they didn't actually see my face, they wouldn't connect me with the “fake” visit when we had to make later “real” visits. (I know what you are thinking, but I was weak...and my husband is a much stronger individual than I am.)
Anyway, Wednesday came and I stomped down all my guilt feelings as I watched my husband and well child drive off to the doctor's office. I busied myself around the house doing extra house work, and telling myself I would make it up to my husband later. I was therefore, faintly surprised when my son didn't come back from his appointment as soon as I had expected. In fact, the phone call that I received from my husband telling me they were in the Canadian equivalent of an emergency room, came as a complete shock. It seems that though my son's ears were relatively clear, there was a question of a foreign object that couldn't be removed from his nose. I can't begin to tell you the thoughts that ran through my mind as I waited for the next hour and a half. What would they find up my son's nose? And would it be incriminating for myself and my husband? Was it a result of our poor parenting skills? Was it a judgement from God? Such was my guilt over the whole situation that I barely contemplated the probability that my son was the main cause of the problem.
Finally, the phone rang and my husband said one of the doctors thought that the object might be one of his ear tubes that had somehow dislodged and worked it's way into his nose. They were going to freeze his nose so they could try to remove it. Now, I was really panicked. How did a tube get from your ear to your nose? What had I done to cause this medical emergency? Why hadn't I seen the symptoms before this? Was this all the result of forcing him to eat the green beans that he said would “make him sick” the week before?
My husband soon came home with a smiling 4 year old and a small plastic bag in his hand. What was it? A Lego. Yes, a Lego. My husband said that after several doctors had examined the situation, finally one came in and said, “Why don't we just ask him to blow his nose?” It seems that after a few significant blows, the Lego worked it's way to the end of my son's nose and was retrieved relatively unharmed. Smilingly, my little boy said, “Mommy, I sneezed and a Lego came out of my nose!” He is so proud. I on the other hand, must admit that I feel a mixture of shame and relief. I am ashamed of my part in this farce that was played out in our new doctor's office, but on the other hand, at least I have not been branded as an “over-protective mother who sees illnesses where there are none”. I am now proudly baring the title of “careless mother who leaves inappropriately small toys around for her little ones to play with”. I can live with that. As Rosanne would say, “It's always something, if it's not a major ear's a Lego up the nose.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


We mad this video for a training event we did at Forward.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jar of Marbles parable

3900 Saturdays And 1,000 Marbles
3900 Saturdays And 1,000 MarblesThe older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.
A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it:
I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whom-ever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles.” I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say–
“Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. It’s too bad you missed your daughter’s “dance recital” he continued.”Let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities.” And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.“
“You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.“
“Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now, stick with me, Tom, I’m getting to the important part.It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays.“
“I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear.“
“Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight .“
“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.“
“It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 Year old Man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!“
You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter.Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “
C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.”“What brought this on?” she asked with a smile.
“Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.“
p/s … “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” – Winnie the Pooh

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Another retelling of the Good Samaritan

Once there was a woman who lived in the town of Nursery. Nursery was located in an out of the way part of churchland. Now most people avoided the road to nursery because of the strange smells and sounds that came from there. They also questioned the devotion of those who dwelt there because of their claims one could worship God in the nursery as well as the sanctuary!
One bright and sunny Sunday morning this woman, the mayor of nursery was left alone with 14 children because of all the nice weather no one showed up in nursery that morning. The mayor did not know what to do, the babies were crying, they needed to be fed and the paging system wasn’t working! She prayed and hoped that someone would walk down the seldom traveled path and would help her.
At last someone did come, a deacon member of the exalted board. He saw the poor woman, dishevelled and wide-eyed pleading for help, but he said I am sorry I cannot help you. I am a deacon and I have a very important meeting to attend immediately after the service, and he passed by on the opposite side of the path.
The woman was in despair; someone had passed by, someone very spiritual, and had just left her there to fend for herself. Surely no one else would come, but still she cried out to God for help! Suddenly from around the corner came a choir member. At once the woman felt hopeless. She knew that no one from the choir would help, but she had to try. “Please come and help me,” she begged. The choir member saw the bugged eyed woman and began to run. As she turned the corner she called out “I’ll find the children’s pastor – after I’m done singing!”
Now the mayor of Nursery was left alone to waller in her despair and dirty diapers. There was no hope anymore. Yet still she mumbled out a feeble prayer of mercy. Then out of nowhere came one of the dreaded inhabitants of student ministry. This young man with a mop head surely would not help. Had he even passed the background check?
Then suddenly he stopped and saw the woman with a glazed look in her eyes. He asked her if she needed help. “Help, yes I need help, I am alone in here with 14 children. We are surely above ratio, she replied. So the young mop head took out his cell phone and texted his mom, his sister and three of his friends and told them the place to be was Nursery. He even offered to pass out Cherrios and tell a story to lend a hand.
Now I ask you which of these three showed love to his neighbour?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wii don't serve alone

what an incredible messeage in this simple video. If people in the church can take this simple concept of everyoen lending a hand we could turn the world upside down!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ode to a Lego

I think that I shall never know
The awesome power of the tiny Lego.
Why doest Thou bring the young such joy?
Is there some chemical imbalance in each girl and boy?

OK, enough bad verse. But I have to admit, I don't quite understand the strange attraction in this little piece of plastic. Now, don't get me wrong. I do not have any ill feelings towards the Lego itself. In fact, I will go so far as to say that I rather enjoy building a little house out of them now and then. And I did participate in building and racing my own Lego car a few weeks ago at the Lego store with my sons. (Yes, I won! I don't believe in letting someone else win when my skills are obviously superior. I think it builds a false sense of accomplishment. Let no one accuse me of building my childrens' self esteem on a false foundation.) Back to the Lego. It is a wonderful toy that stimulates the imagination and is so versatile that it can be transformed into almost anything. This goes without question. I see it's attraction, I just can't believe the strength of that attraction. My oldest son, for the first time, has a bedroom of his own. His own private sanctuary. A place to retire when life (and parents) are so unfair. A place of solitude from the crazy life he shares with his brothers. In short, a refuge. However, he has willingly given all that away in order to build a place of security for his Lego creations. Yes, he is once again sharing a bedroom with his younger brother and has turned his room into “THE LEGO ROOM”.
The need to store his Legos securely began when his 3 and 4 year old brothers developed a strange need to carry small Lego men in their pockets. Since they did not own any small Lego men, they of course “borrowed” their older brothers. Strangely, even after they got small Lego men of their own, they still continued to “borrow” from their big brothers. In fact, the “borrowing” continued through disciplines too numerous to mention. The final battle ended with a Sponge Bob Square Pants Lego man circling the bowl before being launched into the depths of the septic tank forever. Now, as sad as it was to see Sponge Bob go down, I had no intention of digging up the septic tank to retrieve him, as my son suggested. Though we replaced the entire Sponge Bob set, the need to keep his Legos safe sat heavily on my son's mind. He would run to the bathroom any time he heard the toilet flush and ask, “What did you just put down there?” He would stand guard in front of his bedroom door when his little brothers were playing in the room across the hall. If he was the first one awake in the morning, he would wake his youngest brothers and make them follow him downstairs while he ate breakfast. He admitted to have nightmares about Legos going down the toilet.
Believe me, my son David is the world's greatest flusher. In fact, I firmly believe that if flushing improbable objects down the toilet was an Olympic sport, my son would certainly be a gold medallist. We will never truly know the depths of his flushing accomplishments. The things that have been retrieved before the point of no return are many. The number of things that have been written off with no chance of resurrection are far greater. However, the unusually high percentage of things that are “missing in action” around our house, leads me to speculate as to the true capacity of our septic tank. So, I do share my eldest's frustration with his little brother's habits. In fact, I have on occasion, been tempted to run into the bathroom myself after hearing a flush and demand, “What did you just put down there?” However, I have yet to succumb.
Yet, toothbrushes, dog toys, underwear and the countless other objects that have taken “the big swirl” are not as traumatic as watching a Lego hit the drain to the dark depths. Our family was on high alert for several days before we came up with the Lego Shrine solution. Not only has my son given his room in protection of the tiny toy, but we have also installed a locking doorknob on said room. Oh yes, even Dad was willing to shell out the bucks to buy a new doorknob in order to restore peace in our home once again.
I do have to admit that the room does hold some attractions for me that I had not thought of earlier. For once, I can confidently walk into my sons room at night to close a window, or retrieve a lost cup without the pain and agony of countless little Legos adorning the bottom of my feet. Also the words, “clean your room” are no longer a source of horror for the boys. (I have not been brave enough to utter the words “clean the Lego room” yet.) As strange as it may be, the Lego room has been a good solution to our family crisis. However, I still have a hard time understanding the depth of devotion it takes to give up your own private bedroom for the sake of a toy. My understanding will probably never reach that level. I am still grappling with the age old question of whether Lego sets were meant to be built and then kept together to be played with, or whether they are to be built and taken apart to be re-built into numerous other creations. That's one argument I have no intention of trying to sort out. It will take far greater minds than mine.

Blake gets a pie in the face

One more year until he enters the teen fray. He has his embarassed look going here. This was at a resturant called Moose Winooski's.

Niagra Falls from Maiden of the Mist

I visited Victoria Falls in Zambia in 2005 and thought I would not be impressed with Niagra after seeing them. However the view from the maiden of the mist boat is very impressive. The sheer volume and power generated by the horseshoe falls makes me wonder how one can not see the majesty of God in his creation.

Lego Race

We have a lego store not too far from our home!

Tanner gets a scooter

Tanner is now in the double digits! This scooter works great around the farm!

Bob the llama

Bob is hungry here! He now lets us feed him carrots from our hands

Visiting the nieghbors

Great living in farm country!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lemonade Missionaries

Promisland at Forward (Promiseland is our kid's church) is supporting two kids, Paula and Jim, in Peru. Two great girls at our church sold lemonade to raise some extra money. They made $80! Kids can do some amazing things. Way to to go Madeline and Amy!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Right of passage

I have read four books that have had a profound impact on my fathering philosophy of boys. The first is the Bible which is filled with tons of bad examples, some good examples, and the best example of all, Father God. The other three books were Bringing up Boys, King Me and Raising a Modern Day Knight. Taking all these into play I am big on dad taking a huge role in communicating with his son and helping him in the perilous journey to manhood. Every journey has to begin somewhere and for this journey to start there should be a rite of passage.
Blake just turned 12, and for my boys I chose the age of 12 to kick off this three person journey (dad, son and God) with a rite of passage “Journey to Manhood Campout. I chose age 12 for a few reasons. It is the beginning of puberty, it is the Jewish custom to celebrate bar mitzvah at 12 and it is the age Jesus got left in the temple talking scriptures with the scribes. Twelve is also a very important number in the Bible and some scholars would point to its meaning as an earthly completion.

So what did Blake and I do.
First of all I got a purity ring for Blake and we talked about staying pure sexually and in his heart and mind, and making a pledge to do so. Soon his mother and I will sit down and he has said he wants to take this pledge.

Secondly I had several important Christian men in his life write a note of encouragement to him in his walk. His Grandpas, some of his uncles, his former youth pastor and I all wrote about being a Christian man and how we are pulling for him.
We went camping and went tubing down some white water rapids. Part of being a Christian man is embracing your “wild heart” and sense of adventure that God gave men. This comes in many different forms (you don’t have to throw caution to the wind to have a sense of adventure), but it is important to me that my sons do not see Christ and Christian masculinity as being effeminate and only for girls. God made us the way we are and living for him is an adventure. It worked out nice that i was thrown off my tube and Blake not only rescued my tube from floating down river, but was able to stop himself and in a way rescue me! This was not planned but I thanked God for working this out. Part of a dad’s job is helping his son see what he can do even at the age of 12. He is no mere child anymore.

We went fishing and hiking and this allowed us to have fun but also talk about guarding his heart and giving it away too young, what he thought he might like (character qualities) in a future wife, STDS, driving a car, finding his calling in life and what is a man and how there is always a bit of boy in every man (hey I love Legos and Squirt guns too!). These activities were designed to give us a chance to talk and experience God’s earth.

So this was my first time and I am sure I made mistakes. When we returned home we had to reassure him that this was only the beginning of the journey and that he was not expected to be man yet. He was a little stressed for a bit there about that. Thanks to everyone who wrote him a note and prayed for him.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Awkward Questions about Jesus

So funny. Isn't it sad that adults no nothing of their faith that they stammer over questions like this?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

When It's NOT OK to laugh as a Mommy

All Moms know that there are times when your children make you smile warmly and there are times when they make you giggle with joy. But there are times when they do funny things and you are not allowed to laugh. It's in the Mommy Rule Book. It's easy to spot some of

these "unlaughable moments" like when your pre-adolesent falls down over his own feet. Or your large dog knocks your toddler over. The rule book clearly states that Moms are not supposed to laugh at their children's pain. We are supposed to give comfort and sympathy, not share in their humiliation. That's the easy part. But then, there are the harder moments...

These moments seem to lurk on the edge of our total frustration. In other words, they occur when we should be at our angriest. I believe that we have a built in release valve that kicks in once our children have sent us over the edge. My theory is that our children have the capability to make us so angry we will literally explode. So God caused Moms to have a laughter reaction that releases some of the pent up negative energy that leads to physical explosion. OK, it's just a theory. There is no other way to account for the need to laugh when I should be at my "Mom's on the War Path" best.

Recently, my two youngest children were told to clean their room and put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket. They are 3 and 4 years old. This should not have been too difficult for them. Pull a comforter over their wrinkled sheets and put dirty PJs into a football shaped clothes hamper. I was pretty sure they could do the job, but was expecting the worst. Or so I thought.... My idea of the worst was blankets on the floor and PJs under the pillows. Imagine my surprise when I walked into a room that had no clothes on the floor and blankets pulled up on the beds. Then imagine my confusion when I realized there were no pillows on the beds, no pillows under the beds, no pillows in the closet, in fact no pillows at all. I walked over to the clothes hamper to view their dirty jammies neatly piled into the football. Again, I was surprised to see no pillows in the hamper, and no jammies either. In fact, the football hamper was completely empty. I gave my two little men a very stern look and said, "Where are the dirty clothes boys?" Chase gave me a sweet little smile and said, "I show you Mommy." Then he took my hand and led me to the front yard. There, piled in the bushes under their bedroom window, lay the missing pillows, dirty clothes, odd assortment of toys and stuffed animals and books. Oh, did I mention it was raining at the time?

Silly me! I was wondering if they had the capability to make their beds and put their clothes away. I should have known that removing a screen from the window, tossing every loose article out the 2nd story window, replacing the screen and making their bed was well within their ability. I should have know this since they had already shown a remarkable ability to sneak into their big brother's rooms and come out with a large assortment of lego men stuffed neatly into their pockets, all without seemingly being anywhere near their brother's bedrooms.

As I tried to come up with a punishment that seemed fitting for this latest behavior problem, I started to think about what would happen if they had leaned too far out the window and fallen. That was all it took! Anger and fear seemed to rise from the base of my feet and threatened to completely engulf me. That's when I developed my exploding theory. I have no other excuse for what happened next. I was standing in the rain, in the middle of my front yard, with my two youngest sons at my side and when I should have been developing my "Mommy Look" and devising terrible consequences for them, I felt the overwhelming need to laugh. I don't have to explain this feeling to any Mom; we have all been there at least once. I ran into the house with a shouted "Get this stuff back in the house this minute young man!" and hid in my room until I was once again under control. Luckily, my abrupt departure was interpreted as overwhelming anger by my sons and they immediately started to correct the situation. Luckily, my husband arrived home just about the time they finished bringing wet clothes, toys, pillows and books into the house. It seems he did not possess the anger release laughter valve. He was not only able, but willing to give them the discipline they needed and do it all without laughter.

I'll have to find his secret for non-laughter soon, since I just told my 3 year old to "get your tail up to your room this minute" and he turned to me and said very sweetly "Mommy, only dinosaurs have tails."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I have read George Barna’s Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, Larry Fowler’s Rock Solid Kids, Post Modern Children’s Ministry by Ivy Beckwith, Raising Kids to Love Jesus by H Norman Wright, Mark Holmen’s Building Faith at Home, The Last Christian Generation by Josh McDowell and a bunch of other related books. More significantly I have been a children’s and family pastor since 1992 and have watched a whole lot of kids turn into teens and then young adults.

I am fully aware that we in North America are losing another generation of kids. As a pastor, father, uncle and as a Christian this is alarming and very sad to me. I have spent lots of time talking, praying, strategizing, agonizing and thinking on this one issue. It has gripped my heart. It is my holy discontent that we turn this tide. Through the last few months I have really thought why is that the North American church is losing this battle when the Christian faith is so dramatically growing in the Asian, African, Hispanic, Eastern European and even Muslim countries.

I think the problem is of course a spiritual one but also a practical one. Issues stemming from the church, the family and the culture are all playing a part. So I want to express my thoughts on some of the major causes that somewhere between 60-90 percent of young adults have rejected Jesus (not wanting to mince words here).

1. Abdication of spiritual development – the church and parents have teamed up on this one, buying into the lie that the spiritual development of children and teens is best left to the experts at church. Completely unbiblical.
2. Spectator churches – too many pew sitters. Not only are there not enough people in the church not willing to invest time love and energy into young people, but the whole concept of church as a social hour or a stadium event isnt appealing to young adults
3. Lack of spiritual warfare – simply put we are not praying and fasting enough for this generation.
4. Disconnected generations – Grandparents in too many cases are either not involved due to location or family disposition. In many other situations grandparents have become the new parents, who are MIA.
5. Media saturated kids + uninvolved parents = an undiscerning generation. Do you know what your kids are watching, playing and listening too?
6. Parents still in high school. I’m not talking age here but mindset. Children are not fashion accessories, church is not a place to show off your new outfit and sometimes your kids need you to sacrifice your social time for them.
7. Death of the family meal – people have their kids in way too many things and when they do eat together it is too often in front of the TV. As the series Parental Guidance puts it, we are making our kids experience rich and relationally poor, primarily with us. And another little sidebar here drop and run activities for kids should really end. If you are going to get your kids involved in an activity, you get involved too.
8. Not enough plain talk – our kids need us as parents to be honest, open, un-embarassable and nosey.
9. Church leaders unaware – the senior leadership in churches too often see this issue as one of many issues facing the church or fail to even see the problem at all. This is the defining issue of the next 10-15 years for the North American Church. We win this battle or loose the war.
10. Denominational garbage – nothing turns off a young person (or me for that matter) than silly denom. superiority complexes. No one is totally right anyway. It has hampered effective ministry for too long.
11. Tradition is more important to us than effective ministry. Enough said.
12. Our kids are not being taught a Biblical world view or what sets Christianity apart from other world religions. If it is not the one and only way then who cares if they walk away? But if it is more than a religion but God’s hand of forgiveness and salvation stretched out to mankind than nothing matters more.
13. The Magic prayer – We have at times reduced the conversion process to raising a hand or “saying a prayer after me”. Becoming a Christian is about humbling yourself, realizing you can’t save yourself and then submitting to the lordship of Christ. A hand raised in a crusade or children’s church many times gives a child a blurred vision of what it means to become a Christian, reduces the process to a one time act and often a person grows up in the church and has said the prayer (multiple times even!) but has never had a genuine surrender to Christ.

Of course these are entirely my thoughts and do not necessarily reflect the views of any church I am or ever have been affiliated with. Nor am I saying that these churches have huge problems, but rather this is a North American problem.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Life in Canada so far

Two weeks and change in Canada so far at our new church and new home and new church home. Life during a move is crazy and leaves little room for time to blog! But for my own sake and the sake of posterity I am making myself sit down and share some random thoughts on moving our of the US and into another nation.

  • Still getting used to milk in a bag, two dollar coins, gas by the liter and front page hockey news

  • hundreds of words that are a bit different here, not just pop and soda

  • life on the farm has been great - so peaceful
  • Forward is such a friendly church, so very welcoming

  • I sense a greater peace in my life and less stress than I have in probably a decade

  • Back to Chicago style driving

  • My role is shifting (and needed to shift) from being Marty the pastor to the kids to Marty the pastor to the parents and volunteers. This means some letting go for and some embracing some change I have longed for. I think this would have been too much a move for me, the kids, the volunteers and parents in Roanoke.

  • Patsy gets to be involved in worship and children's ministry here! She has such a beautiful voice if you have ever heard her sing (sorry Parkway folks but you missed out!). She chose kids over the glory of sanctuary praise for the last six years and I will always admire her for that - her example of choosing the humble things to confound the wise.

  • So far not having TV has been amazing! Not sure if we will do it forever. Patsy and I have tons of black and white movies and we have watched some of them and the boys have some DVDs they have watched. We take more walks, play more family games and now have a garden! But there will come a time when the Bears start playing. Honestly I have not missed seeing the Cubs. I do listen to an ESPN station out of Buffalo in the car though.

  • I think I may have a queen now?

  • There are some great passionate, committed people at Foward involved in Chidlren's Ministries.

  • The farm we rent has like eight horses and a llama named Bob.

  • Blake and Tanner are slowly meeting friends. There are some neighbor boys who invited them over to swim! Tanner won suckers for his age group in church so he was a big hit.

  • I got a really nice portable computer for work and a Blackberry for my new phone.

  • David and Chase are doig wonderful and love the big yard and big house to run around in.

  • Still trying to sell our house. The sale fell through the second time. Still have peace.

Well that's good for now! We miss all our friends and the kids at PWC! God bless.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

160, 16 and 1

Sorry I haven't posted for awhile. Moving, adopting, showing the house, applying for passports and all that you know. So let me sum up the last three months in 160 words16 pictures and 1 video

Last night of Awana lost an Oreo eating contest and had my picture in the paper.

Baptised 12 kids on May 3rd.

Mother's Day

Family portrait session

Redid two ceilings and dropped the price of our house. Sold it finally!

God provided a farm house for us to rent in Canada until we find our home

David turned 4!

Visited the Moberlys in Aurora

Creation science Museum in Cincinnati

Bounce town with the Moberlys

Breakfast at Machine Shed with Grandpa and Grandma

Grandma March's 84th birthday in Rockford

Romantic getaway to Biltmore turned into a special time with sicky Chase

Patsy and Gloria painted the jungle scenes in the Kid Kove Jr. area

Blake earned the Timothy Award in Awana


Chase turns three

Monday, April 06, 2009

99 Balloons

As we soon let go of our foster son Brendan I was reminded of this video I saw a few months ago. So many people focus on the negative side of foster parenting, the possiblity of saying goodbye. In our case we are very blessed to give Brendan to loving Christian parents who will give us glimpses of Brendan growing up and not into a situation that is scary for him.
Still this morning as I was brushing my teeth and shaving and Brendan was in the bathroom just looking up at me studying my actions, like he was trying to learn what a man was all about. The other day I was talking to him about his new home and his new daddy and he grabbed my face and looked right into my eyes and said, "you are my daddy".

Wow, this is hard. But I think of this video and how this father saw the wonder of every day we have with our chidlren. None of us is guaranteed anything not even a certain amount of time on this earth, but Christ can guarantee us more than that.

So we have been given 415 days with Brendan, and my hope and prayer is that God used that time to shape His image in my heart and to give Brendan a loving and safe home until he can be with his forever parents. Forever mom and dad if you read this we love you guys and we love Brendan. We know God has a plan for him and he will have a wonderful family to love him.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Talent Night 09

We held our annual Talent Night on March 25th 2009. Tanner did a great Elvis song and we had lots of other greats talents. Blake showed two of his stop-motion animation videos, Bob in Plane and Bob in Time. Enjoy the video and the pictures.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mayberry, NC

Barney Fife: [Barney is writing a song, doesn't know Andy is standing behind him, sung to the tune of Clementine] "In a jailhouse/down in dixie/fighting crime and risking lives/live a sheriff/ and his buddy pistol packing Barny Fife. Oh my daring/oh my daring/ oh my daring Barney Fife/He's a deadly crime stopper/what a copper Barney Fife. Then one day there/came a ridin'/two bad men to rob a bank. But Fife was tricky/a deadeye dickie/now they're locked up in the tank.... Andy Taylor: ...Oh my Barney/Oh my Barney/had a jail but couldn't lock it/had one bullet for his pistol/had to keep it in his pocket" - From a great episode of the Andy Griffith Show

I love The Andy Griffth Show and especially the Don Knotts character Barney Fife. There are so many great moments in the show and they are still funny today after all these years. I have always wanted to visit Andy Griffith's hometown and Mayberry inspiration, Mt. Airy, North Carolina. After almost six years of living two hours away from the place we finally took a day trip earlier this month. It's nothing major but it was fun to see some of the memorabilia, from the show, meet the real life Floyd and eat at Barney cafe! Enjoy the pictures.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Daniel Hannan MEP: The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government

A voice of reason, A shot heard around the world or another yellow light towards the end of freedom and the end of western civilization?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Patsy and the boys star on the big screen

Patsy was recruited to be in an intro video for a sermon series Parkway did called God's Drive Thru window

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Three days after their adoption Pastor Ott dedicates David and Chase!!!