Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, August 27, 2020


Some hilarious parent posted a photo on social media that said, “How I disguise my snacks from the lazy, unemployed people who live here.” In her hand, she holds an ice cream sandwich, hidden behind a large leaf of lettuce. Her children play in the background, oblivious. Funny, right? I laughed too.

Later, I imagined what it might be like to show that picture with its caption to a family living in a place where children must work. Where if the entire family isn’t employed, they starve. Where the parent may not have eaten today because they gave their share to the child. No one in that family would understand the joke.

Experts predict half a billion more people are at risk of being pushed into extreme poverty due to the impact of Covid-19. My goal in sharing this is not to make you feel guilty if you’ve been able to eat and feed your family today. Rather, I want to encourage you. You can do more than you think from home to help those in dire circumstances, thanks to people in the trenches who were already doing great work before the pandemic hit.

You can read a wonderful example on Compassion Canada’s website which describes how a woman named Meseret and her 15-year-old daughter, Saron, sold everything they could and took any work just to cover another month’s rent on their tiny, primitive dwelling. Eventually, they were evicted. Meseret felt reluctant to turn to the Compassion center that Saron had been part of since the age of five.

“I didn’t want to bother them,” she said. “They’d already done so much when they provided food support for us at the start of the pandemic. I’ve always believed in working and overcoming my problems, but I knew I could not overcome this by myself.”

Then she received a call from the director of Saron’s Compassion center. She had called to check in, as she and the rest of the center staff have been doing regularly during the pandemic with all the families in their care. Compassion helped Meseret with six months’ rent on a new place—which to her, felt like six years.

“I felt seen and heard by God,” Meseret says. “Her phone call brought a sense of hope and a promise of a better tomorrow. They always know what to do.”

Wouldn’t you love to be part of those kind of stories? For the first time ever, Compassion Canada, World Vision Canada, and Food for the Hungry Canada will unite for a virtual concert led by incredible artists such as Hillsong, Toby Mac, Kirk Franklin, for KING & COUNTRY, Michael W. Smith, and more.

You can watch the concert live on Facebook or YouTube this Friday, August 28 at 7:30 p.m.  Unite to Fight Poverty is a FREE two-hour concert event benefiting families in the developing world who are most vulnerable. You’ll receive an opportunity to support COVID-19 relief efforts in areas of the world with the greatest needs.

God put you here for a reason. You have a part to play in his kingdom work.

Tune in online:




Friday, August 21, 2020

In Defense of 2020

People treat this year as though it’s the black sheep of the family. The kid on the playground who stinks so bad nobody wants to go near him. A laughingstock. If you spend any time on social media, you’ve seen the variety of memes dedicated to, “If 2020 were a …”

If it were a playground slide, it would be a twelve-foot long vegetable grater in the painful direction.

If 2020 were a beverage, it would be a colonoscopy prep.

If 2020 were a bag of chips, they’d be orange juice and toothpaste flavored.

A hilarious video shows a dozen guys trying to roll out a rain delay tarp over a ball diamond in a deluge. The tarp seems to be folding in on itself, forcing them to roll it all up and try again. It’s labelled, “If 2020 were a tarp.”


Someone asked, “At what point can we just start using 2020 as a swear word?” followed by examples of how that might work. “Well, that’s a load of 2020,” or “What the 2020 is that?”

We need to laugh, don’t we? Especially if the only alternative is tears. But I detect an underlying assumption that 2020 is unique. We gleefully anticipate 2021, believing it will somehow, magically, be better.

I don’t want to be a gloomy Gus, but what if it’s not? A few months ago, I wrote about the wonderful reunion we’d enjoy when church services could resume. I imagined the hugging and the laughing. Now that we’re resuming, it’s nothing like I predicted, and we don’t know how long it will be until we’re free to hug or to sing our hearts out without masks—if ever.

Who knows what fallout effects of this year’s tragedies will continue to plague us for decades? Who’s to say another virus won’t surface on the heels of this one, as bad or worse? What if, in 2025, you find yourself longing for the good old days of 2020?

This year is getting a bad rap and bullying it isn’t helping. Good things have happened, too. Babies have been born. Couples have bravely taken the plunge and gotten married this year despite restrictions. At least it will always be easy to calculate their age or anniversary year.

Personally, 2020 is the year I released my first self-published book. It’s also the year I signed a contract on my fourth novel, to be released in 2021. I’m pumped about seeing this book distributed, and why wouldn’t I be? I’m a 61-year-old with a lung condition living through a pandemic. Those factors only increase the sense of urgency.

And when forced to wait for something, you can know God is in the waiting time with you. A song I love says, “We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds tomorrow. Knowing this, we’ll live above the world and all its sorrow.”

The nightly news is grim. It can easily fill our hearts with fear and anxiety. What if instead, you used the news as a daily reminder that—whatever’s going on around you—you are here today, in this moment. You don’t need to wait a minute to do what God put you here to do. If you’re not sure what that is, Philippians 4:4-9 is a great place to begin.

Who knows? 2020 could turn out to be your best year ever.


Friday, August 14, 2020

Confessions of a Snoopy Pants

With these hot summer days, I’m taking my walks in the cooler early morning and have discovered unexpected benefits. I walk farther. I encounter less human traffic and more pets, bunnies, and squirrels. Plus, it’s a lot more satisfying to shower when I arrive home knowing the exercise portion of my day is over and I can get on with life.

On most of these treks, I haul my carcass over the Tupper Street bridge for the added calorie-burn, then straight on until I come to Crescent Road. I usually then take the sidewalk on the north side rather than the walking path along the lake. I tell myself there’s more shade and less goose poop, but really it’s because I am snoopy. I love a close-up view of the homes and yards. I’m mind-boggled by the gorgeous landscaping, vibrant flowers, shrubs trimmed to perfection, rocks arranged just so with nary a weed. How do they do it? I could do yard work full time and my yard would still be mediocre. Not that I’d want to. And therein lies the secret, I suppose.

This adorable "Hobbit door" can be found in my home town.

I enjoy walking around Portage and seeing the variety of homes all jumbled in the same neighborhood. I love sizing up old houses and imagining what they originally looked like and who lived in them. It’s delightful when a hundred-year old house looks well kept but depressing when it’s not. Sometimes I’ll see an overgrown yard with perennials that might have been planted half a century ago fighting through weeds. Crumbling brick flower beds attached to the front of the house. Once gorgeous porches in shambles. My heart breaks a little whenever I see boarded and broken windows, knowing someone once loved and cared for that home.

My place would neither break your heart nor wow you with its beauty. I need to find other ways to bless my community and when I’m out walking, I can think of three. The first is simply that by keeping my body healthier, I’m bringing a better self to the world around me.

Secondly, I make a point of picking up at least one piece of litter every time. Sadly, I can always count on lots of options. Lately I’ve seen more face masks littering the ground than I see on faces. Seriously? I know my readers aren’t litterbugs, but I don’t know for sure whether they are litter picker-uppers.

Thirdly, I try to remember to pray for my community as I walk. You don’t need to know the people you’re praying for. Someone hasn’t found time to mow their grass? Pray for them, they’re probably under stress. These folks are renovating? Pray for peace in the household, because you know they’re going to need it. This house has a wheelchair ramp? Pray about all the challenges attached to living with a disability, both for the disabled person and their family or caregivers. See toys or a swing set? Pray for those children. That business. This school. That church. Every step you take can bring a blessing to your community, whether you see it or not.

 Happy snooping! I mean, walking.