Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Friends!

Here's to 2011 bringing you much love and happiness!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Over the Christmas break I had the chance to play for Estonia in the Canadian Multi-Cultural Hockey Championships in Toronto. Going into the tournament we knew we weren't going to win.

Kind of like Norway at the World Juniors.

We lost all 3 of our round robin games and, while I hate losing, I still enjoyed it immensely. I don't know what it is about hockey, but I love it. Watching Pens-Caps on HBO 24/7 is addicting! Just being out on the ice and shooting a puck is such a release for me. No need to go away for Christmas, just give me some time on the ice and it's like a vacation.

Maybe next winter I'll build a rink in the backyard.

What's your escape from reality?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It Wouldn't Be Christmas...

...without some drama.

People who don't want to spend time with certain other people.

Wondering how a certain person will react to the planned Christmas festivities.

Hoping for good weather (and no motion sickness) as we spend lots of time in the car.

I used to think I was the only one who had to deal with these odd dynamics, but apparently I'm not alone. And despite the drama, barfing dog, "crawly feet", and quarantine, this Christmas was a good one. I got to spend time with family, shared some laughs, played some games and had a solid Christmas.

After 4 days off from work, it was tough to get up and come in to work today. Good thing it's a short week.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Claymation Christmas

It seems like every family has their own Christmas traditions. Crystal's family has home-made "houses" that are stuffed full of candy and sweets.

My family has the Claymation Christmas Special. Each year we'd break out the betamax and watch the half-hour special before December 25th.

I managed to find it on YouTube (is there anything you can't find online?). My favourite was always the Carol Of The Bells

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas - More Than A Baby

The Christmas story is more than just a baby in a manger.

More than a virgin giving birth in a stable.

It's more than angels, shepherds, wisemen and a jealous king.

The Christmas story is the story of a God who wants to restore that which was broken.

A God that came to live among us.

A God who sent his son to die at the hands of those he came to save.

I think this video from a church near Atlanta tells it well.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Top 5's For 2010

Scott Jackson posted his Top 10 list for 2010 today, so I thought I'd post my own.

Except I'm doing a Top 5 to cut out the more mediocre stuff.

1 - Ben Rector - Moving Backwards
2 - Brooke Fraser - Coachella
3 - Needtobreathe - Something Beautiful
4 - Switchfoot - Free
5 - Anberlin - The Art Of War

1 - Inception
2 - Exit Through The Gift Shop
3 - To Save A Life
4 - Shutter Island
5 - Law Abiding Citizen

1 - The Social Network
2 - The Tillman Story
3 - Countdown To Zero
4 - Despicable Me
5 - Toy Story 3

1 - Moving into our new house
2 - Whitewater Rafting the Ottawa river
3 - Quebec City with Crystal for our Anniversary
4 - City Chase Toronto
5 - Volunteering at the Barrie Film Festival

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teddy Bear Toss

The Teddy Bear Toss is a tradition in the CHL. During the Christmas season, fans bring stuffed toys to the game, and when the first goal is scored they throw them on to the ice. The players then take the stuffed animals to children's charities in the area.

It has been moderately successful in Central Ontario, but nothing compared to the success in Calgary.

Here's a clip of what it's like to have 23,000 stuffed animals pelting you, your neighbour and (eventually) the players on the ice.

I'm buying my tickets for next year's Teddy Bear Toss now!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Never Shovel Alone

The past week and a half we have been HAMMERED with snow in Pine River. Last Monday the snow was nearly waist deep on the street, so we were snowed in.

It was that fateful Monday that would be a tipping point on our street. All the guys were out shoveling our driveways, when it occurred to us that it would be more fun to shovel with each other. So we gathered on Earnest's driveway and started to make our way around the court.

We made a deal with each other, "No one shovels alone." Even though it has been snowing (seemingly) non-stop for the past 10 days, the promise still holds.

Sunday night Crystal and I were eating dinner when I heard the familiar sound of Claudio's snowblower. Turns out he was out clearing our driveway so I could enjoy dinner with Crystal.

Last night Crystal and I were out until about 9:30, and we came home to a cleared driveway.

Tonight Marty and Claudio teamed up and had our driveway done in about 10 minutes. I went out to help, but ended up watching as they laughed their way up and down my driveway. Once they finished our driveway they headed next door and cleared Noel's drive.

I feel so lucky to have such great neighbours. They lend me their tools, clear my snow, water my lawn and play with my dog. A 180-degree difference from living in the condo where people are posting notices about noisy pets and signing petitions to remove board members.

Best of all, there are still 5 more lots for sale on Lions court.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Tree

This is our first Christmas in our new home, it's also the first Christmas that we can have a real tree! (The condo's fire code forbid any real trees.)

Last week we went down to the SPCA and bought ourselves a tree. With it being dark, and all the wrapping on it, it was difficult to tell what the tree actually looked like, but we thought we made a good choice.

Saturday we brought the tree in and started to decorate. I had to make a run out to the store (a couple stores actually) to pick up some more lights, but other than that slight hiccup, I think it went pretty well.

The tree is up and we're ready for Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Future Of Worship?

The future of worship?

No instruments.

No set-up.

NO. I don't think so. It's still pretty fun though.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

T'is Better To Give

It's Christmas time.

A time of giving.

A time when people look to give some of their hard-earned money to a worthy cause.

I was in Mississauga at the One Hope Benefit Concert at my parents' church on the weekend. It was a production put on by the church, with 3 charities as the highlited causes to give to. All 3 causes are totally valid and deserving. (The production was phenomenal by the way)

For each of those causes, there are dozens of other charities doing something similar. Clean Water, Human Trafficking, Education for African Orphans... the list goes on. There are so many worthy causes you can give to at Christmas. There are so many options if you want to give this season. No matter what your passion, you can find a charity to give to.

But why does it have to stop after Christmas? Why not look for ways to give year-round? Yes, it's top of mind around Christmas time, but if you have a passion for the abolishing human trafficking why not support one of the many non-profits year-round?

It's great to give, and you should give to something this Christmas season. Salvation Army Kettles, the local Pregnancy Centre, or even LIFE 100.3. But why does the giving have to stop once January hits?

Maybe it's why I'm the fundraiser, but I love to give. Maybe God has blessed us, so that we can bless others? Just imagine what God could do (in and through us) if we adopted a generous attitude year-round?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Family Ties

This year Crystal and I are working through Rediscovering Christmas together.

Yesterday our assigned reading was Matthew 1. Normally I'd skip over the genealogy, because (to be honest) it's boring, and I can't pronounce half the names. This time I was doing it with someone else, so the pressure was on, I HAD to read it.

AND an amazing thing happened...

It spoke to me.

As I was reading through the list of names in Jesus' family tree, it struck me... His family was screwed up!

Not only did the verses tie Jesus back to David (fulfilling OT prophecy), it also listed some questionable characters along the way. Most of the names mean nothing to us in 2010, but when Matthew was writing this to the Jews these names carried a lot of meaning.

There are some spiritual superheros in there, David, Jacob, Ruth (a WOMAN!) and Solomon. There are also some sketchy characters listed. Liars, adulterers, murderers and back-stabbers. Tamar (not a Jew) was seduced by, and bore illegitimate twins with her father in-law. Rahab (not a Jew) was a prostitute.

Normally women aren't mentioned in these sorts of genealogies, so why did Matthew include them? Wouldn't it introduce doubt into the whole "messiah" debate? Why wouldn't God place his son into a more respectable family?

Maybe for the same reasons Jesus wasn't born in a palace. If you look at the big picture, it fits. Jesus came into the world to save those very people. He spent time with the "un-clean" people of society. All through the Bible, God uses the broken, the hopeless and the losers to accomplish his goals. Jesus came from the screwed up, to save the screwed up.

THAT is the good news of Christmas.

(At least for screw-ups like me)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Music

We've officially gone all Christmas music here at LIFE 100.3.

Somehow I got this reputation as Scrooge, saying I don't like Christmas music. That is untrue.

I like this Christmas music.

I also like this

and finally... this song.

So, let's get this straight.

I DO like Christmas music!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sorry I Missed You Brooke

Tuesday night Brooke Fraser played the Opera House in Toronto, I wasn't there. Wish I could have been, but it was a sold out show and I wasn't sure if I'd have the night off.

It seems like everyone I know was at that show. Even Ben Davy was there!

So I missed it. By all accounts it was a fantastic show. Thankfully my friend Allie took some video so I could get a sample of the fun.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Change vs Consistency

I had an interesting discussion with Crystal a couple days ago.  We were talking about different management personalities, and which ones we preferred to work under.

Crystal's management is constantly changing things.  Changing the way things look in the flyer (she works in advertising).  Changing what the emphasis is on.  Changing the way things are positioned on the page.  It drives her crazy.  There is little consistency.

I work for people who love consistency.  Just keep doing what you're doing, and do it with excellence.  Change?  It's a four letter word.

It makes sense, advertising needs to keep doing something new and fresh, otherwise it becomes white noise and people ignore it.  People tune in to the radio to hear consistency.  They want to hear their favourite songs, weather and news.  They don't want to be surprised by what comes out of the speaker.

But I am naturally wired to push for change.  I like change, like to try new things (so what if they fail!), like to push the envelope and stretch people.  In my mind if you maintain status quo, then you'll soon be passed by the innovators, the people who are looking for news ways to do things.

I was at a conference a couple years ago where the speaker talked about AmTrak, and how they viewed themselves as in the "train business" not the "transportation business".  That decision is the reason they are saddled with debt and no longer own the transportation industry the way they once did.

So where's the balance?  I don't think you win by maintaining the status quo, but too much change isn't a recipe for success either.  What do you think?  Which do you prefer?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Favorite Things

Yesterday was a big day for the Wonderdog, after five and a half years on The Slam, I introduced my final Slam song. I moved on to the daytime (10-Noon).

It's an exciting time, and here are my 3 favorite things about the change:

1 - I Can Date My Wife Again
Crystal and I have been married for 4 years, and the majority of that time we have worked opposing shifts. Meaning we only saw each other (awake) on weekends. Now we get to hang out at night and make dinner together.

2 - I Feel Like I'm In My Sweet Spot
Along with the midday on-air shift, I'll also be doing fundraising and I feel like it's a natural fit. I've had a couple meetings with people and each time I've left the meeting feeling like I'm in some sort of super groove.

3 - Small Groups
I haven't been part of a community group since I moved to Barrie, and I miss it. The friendships, doing life together, growing spiritually and being stretched. I can't wait to join a group. (I'm looking at you Andy Walker)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Most Important Person In The Room

I had the pleasure of attending the Hope In The City breakfast for the Salvation Army this morning. Ben Davy did a FANTASTIC job hosting, and Pinball Clemons hit a homerun with his keynote speech.

But what amazed me the most was not Pinball's inspiring talk.

It wasn't Pinball's seemingly endless amount of energy.

It wasn't they way the crowd reacted and participated.

It happened once the breakfast was over.

People lined up to talk to Pinball. To get him to sign their jersey, bobbleheads and programs. And for each person, he took his time, asked questions and seemed to be genuinely interested in their story. He made each person that came up to him feel like a star.

Incredible! This guy is the all-time leading rusher in professional football. He's one of the biggest names in the HISTORY of Toronto sports. And he treated each person in line like they were the most important person in the room.

Yes, he was a talented football player, but the way he treated people this morning put him in a totally different airspace from other elite athletes.

I left thinking, do I do that when I meet people? I'm in no way a celebrity, but when I interact with people, do they feel like they are the most important person in the room at the time?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Air Raid 18

Air Raid 18 is in the books.

A hot, sweaty, sold out crowd enjoyed the musical talents of Hearts In Stereo, Manafest and Superchick.

Sounds like everyone had a good time and enjoyed the latest Air Raid offering. Now we work on Air Raid 19!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Funny

No intro needed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lighten Up

The last couple posts have been of a more serious tone, so I thought it might be time to lighten things up on the Wonderblog.

Smile away.

For more laughs, check out Between Two Ferns with Zack Galifinakis

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Truth Project

I began the day with an interesting conversation with a couple friends. You see, I attend a church that has a reputation as being soft on truth.

Where that reputation comes from... probably from people who have never been on a Sunday morning. (But that's another post for another day)

While talking to my friends, (who work at the church) this rumor came up in conversation, and they said it could not be further from the truth. In fact, the lead pastor takes quite a firm stand on truth.


[cue self reflection]

Which way do I lean? Both friends said they lean towards grace over truth. I think I would agree.

I struggle with speaking truth to people. If someone is making bad decisions, say eating unhealthy, it's hard for me to say "you should quit the fast food and try eating a little healthier." Or if a friend is watching some inappropriate movies, I'd probably not speak up and say they shouldn't do that. That's between them and God.

Maybe it's because I've experienced my share of judgemental Christians who do not speak truth with any love or tact. Maybe I've vowed to never be like them, and in response have swung too far the other way?

I spoke to our Jr High students about judging people inside the church, and how we're supposed to hold our Christian brothers/sisters to a higher standard, but it's not easy. I struggle with it.

We are saved by grace, nothing we do (or don't do) can punch our ticket to heaven. But we as Christians ARE called to a higher standard of living right? It's tough.

Where are you on the scale? Am I alone in these struggles?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Christmas Wish List

We're just a few weeks away from Christmas and I should probably get out and start my shopping. I doubt my family has started their shopping either, because I haven't received the annual email: "what do you want?"

What do I want?

I don't really need anything.

I guess I want Inception or a hoodie, but I could probably do without either of those.

We need blinds for the house, some paint to throw on the white walls, some accents to make the house feels more like a home. But people don't buy you that stuff for Christmas.

Here's a can of paint son. Merry Christmas!

I think I'd rather give up my Christmas... kinda like this.

The story of charity: water - The 2009 September Campaign Trailer from charity: water on Vimeo.

Here I am asking for something totally unnecessary, while there are people that don't even have clean water.

Would you consider giving up your Christmas?

***You can read the incredible story of charity:water HERE***

Friday, November 5, 2010

Broken & Beautiful

Last week I posted about my odd like for abandoned buildings. I came across this intensely beautiful video today.

Six Flags New Orleans shut down in 2005 in preparation for Hurricane Katrina. It never reopened. This is a 6-minute video tour of the park today.

In other news, watch this world record sudoku attempt.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Complications Arise

We're hosting Christmas this year, so a couple weeks ago Crystal and I bought a dishwasher to prepare for the mountain of dishes that will appear after our Christmas dinner.

Maybe I'm cheap (likely), or maybe I just like to do things myself (also likely), but I wanted to do the installation myself. I talked to my Dad (the expert) and we agreed on Thursday morning as the install date. I went out last weekend and got everything I thought I needed.

This morning I slept in a little and got ready for my Dad's arrival. I wanted to get started before he arrived, so I figured I could drill the holes in the cupboards for the hoses to run through. I got my drill, the correct bit, and was about to drill when I thought: do I drill it high or low?

So I called my Dad. (Higher than the pipe the hose drains into.)

So I started to drill. I barely finished my first hole (of three) and my drill died. Stupid battery. Luckily I keep the second battery charged for such a time. Second battery is also dead. Crap!

So I put the battery to charge, check my email, do some laundry and wait for Dad to arrive.

Dad arrives and we get crackin. We head into the basement where the electrical for the dishwasher is roughed in. A quick inspection and everything seems to be in order. He tests the wires, and there's no power running through them. That's good.

However, we discover that the drain hose is too short. I head out to Home Hardware (great customer service) and explain my problem to the guy. He hands me 10 feet of hose and 2 clamps. Great! One trip and I'm good to go.

I get home, announce I've arrived with the solution to our problem and we're set. Except the hose is too small to connect to the dishwasher.

I return to HH, this time with the old drain hose in hand, and explain that it needs to be different sizes at either end. The guy is stumped. Luckily there's a plumber (Trevor) in the store who gives us the solution.

I return home and everything runs smoothly. Dad has already hooked up the intake lines and electrical, and we quickly attach the drain hose to the washer and the pipe.

All set!

I head to the basement and flick the breaker for the dishwasher... nothing.

What is going on!?!?

We check the electrical, and there is no power in the wires. ARGH!

I call the builder and leave a voicemail. Meanwhile Dad heads north to drain the pipes at the cottage.

The builder calls back and says they never tied the dishwasher lines into the box. 5 minutes later the dishwasher has power and the install is done. I run a quick test to make sure everything is kosher and it's all good.

Until I see a little stream of water slowly emerging from under the dishwasher. What the...!?!?

Apparently we forgot to tighten the drain hose that attaches to the dishwasher. I don't have time to mess around with this anymore, so I cut the power, throw the shamwow on the ground and head off to work.

My Dad stops by on his way home, tightens the hose and we're gravy.

It sounded so simple. Attached the hose that brings the water in, attach the hose that takes the water out, and hook up the power. Should take an hour or two tops.

Not exactly.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Remember Eek The Cat? (I used to love that show.)

There was a character on that show named "Sharky The Sharkdog". He would chase mailmen and terrorize Eek the Cat.

Since Crystal and I do not have any children to dress up, we decided to dress up our cockapoo, as a shark.
Not nearly as viscious as Sharky, but she did her best to bark at any trick or treaters that looked like they might cause trouble.
The best news? We have a TON of candy left over!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Music Thursday

A couple months ago I wrote a post about 4 musicians/bands I had recently discovered.  Well, I think it's time for another.

Brooke Fraser is not a new artist.  She is a big deal in New Zealand, going 7 times platinum in 2003.  She joined Hillsong, and gained some followers in the Christian subculture with her renditions of Desert Song and Hosanna.  She's had one song crack the playlist on LIFE, with minimal success.

Seeing as the majority of her success came outside the Christian music industry, she has elected to go back to the mainstream.  A couple weeks ago she released a new album, Flags, which has been getting some serious attention on my iPod! 

I came across these guys on a couple of the blogs I regularly read, but didn't really pay much attention.  That is until Relevant Magazine did an interview with them.  I've really been into the celestial instrumental sounds lately (it's good working music) and these guys are at the top of the list

Keeping with the instrumental theme, The Album Leaf was recommended to me by Justin Piercy.  If some of their music sounds familiar, Rob Bell uses their songs for his Nooma videos.

Allie Spencer introduced me to GRO.  I checked them out on Grooveshark and liked what I heard.  They've been in regular rotation since.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Beautiful Decay

I was talking with Justin Piercy earlier today, and he was showing me some of the photos he took at an abandoned factory in Orillia. 

Beautiful stuff.  (The guy has some talent.)  Made me want to take my camera and go explore an abandoned warehouse/factory/airport.  I don't know what it is about abandoned buildings, but I see beauty in them.

Beauty in decay?  Yes.  I can't explain it, but those pictures move me.

Check out this series from BlogTO.  Beauty!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Collaborative Consumption

Earlier today i saw an interesting video on collaborative consumption.  The video makes the case for collaborative consumption as the next big thing.

Do I believe it?  I think so.

I see myself participating in more bartering, sharing, swapping and trading.  Let's be honest, culture isn't really into big spending right now.  When the economy recovers maybe?  Maybe.  But I don't think we'll reach that point in the next 10 years.

Watch the video and discuss.

Is collaborative consumption the way of the future?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sure Thing

While Barrie, Toronto and pretty much all of Ontario's elections were up for grabs tonight, one thing was for sure...  Hurricane Hazel McCallion would score a 12th term as Mississauga's mayor.

She did it with zero promotion, and still scored 75% of the vote.  (Cause for concern?  She's usually north of 90%)

Growing up in Mississauga, there were a number of times no one ran against her.  Why waste the money?  Hazel is about as close to a sure thing as you can get.

Would you rather have a sure bet like Hazel, or the suspense/tension/excitement of a real mayoral race?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Asking For Scorpions

Do you know anyone who has walked away from their faith because God doesn't answer their prayers?

I know I've found myself wondering what's up when I pray, and pray, and pray, and God doesn't answer my prayers.  Maybe you've experienced something similar?

Maybe you've been praying and praying to get into one specific school?

Maybe you've prayed and prayed for that job?

Maybe you've fasted and prayed and pleaded with God to have a baby?

Read Luke 11:11-13:
You fathers—if your children askt for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

When you read those verses you see that God gives good gifts.  If you pray for a fish, he won't gift-wrap a snake for you.  Makes sense right?

What if we flip the script on this one.  What if you asked for a snake or a scorpion?  He still wouldn't give it to you. 

No matter how long you fasted.

No matter how long you prayed.

No matter how many times you ground your face into the carpet pleading with him.

Sooooo... (try to follow along)  What if we think we are asking for an egg, but really it's a scorpion?  God won't give it to us because he only gives good gifts, but we see it as God ignoring our prayers.

We are like the 14 year-old kid throwing a tantrum when her parents don't let her go to the party.  We stomp our feet and yell something to the effect of "I HATE YOU!" or "WHEN I'M 18 I'M OUTTA HERE!"

We walk away from our faith because we think God a) doesn't care, or b) doesn't exist.

Reality is, he won't give you a scorpion.  Even if you ask for it.

I Kept It

I showed Crystal the jacket this morning and she loved it!

It's a keeper!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Movember is fast approaching and I have a decision to make... do I grow out the teen 'stache?  Maybe I should try out the goatee?  Do I do anything at all?

I haven't talked with Crystal about it, but I'm pretty sure she'd vote against any growth on my face.  Not only because it's uncomfortable for her, but because my facial hair grows dark in some spots, and white in others. 

Yeah, it ain't pretty.  What do you think?  Maybe some mutton chops?

A Beard Film (stop-motion) from Ian Robertson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Man's Best Friend

Ever have a really crappy day?

Coming home to a dog that's happy to see you and covers your face with sloppy kisses makes you forget all about it.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Jen Melanson used to go to TIFF every year, and it made me jealous.  I wish I could go to a film festival.  You see, I love film.  I'm a wannabe film-maker, and one day hope to buy a video camera and editing software of my own.  Film inspires me.

Last year  I found out that Barrie has its own film fest.  You don't get the big name celebs out at the screenings, but it's still a film festival.  A surprisingly good film festival.  Last year I went to two screenings, and vowed that "next year I'll get involved."

Well, "next year" has arrived and I'm volunteering at the BFF.  My first shift was Saturday, and I loved it.  Hanging out with other people who love film, making some new friends and enjoying some under-the-radar work.

My favorite film from this past weekend was Exit Through The Gift Shop.  A film about street art by (the legend) Banksy.  It left me with a new appreciation for street art, and the intelligence and creativity that goes into it.

Next weekend my hit-list includes The Tillman Story.  I have been interested in this story since Sports Illustrated did a story on it a couple years ago.  (Yes, another documentary)

If you have some time over the next week, hit up the Barrie Film Festival.  You might be surprised at how good the film is.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hearing Voices

"God told me I'm going to marry you"

I still remember that day.  My friend came to me and dropped the G-bomb on me.  Apparently, God told her that we're going to get married.  (I was very tempted to her her that people who hear voices belong in institutions.)

Did I believe God speaks to people?  Sure. 

Did I believe it that time?  No.

I think people use "God told me to do this" as a way to rid themselves of any responsibility that may come with the action in question. 

"God told me to break-up with you."

"God told me to burn the Quran."

"God told me to stand on the street corner and yell hurtful things at people."

Apparently God tells people to do all sorts of crazy, destructive, hurtful things.

Maybe I am a crappy christian, but God has never spoken to me in an audible voice.  Sure there have been times where I've felt God leading me to something, but I can't remember any point in my life where I've been able to say "God told me to do this." 

I'd describe God speaking to me, as more of a stirring of my spirit.

In my experience God stirs my spirit through film. 

He stirs my spirit through music. 

He stirs my spirit through nature. 

He stirs my spirit through other people.

So does God speak to me?  I think so, but not in an audible voice.

Verbal is only 10% of communication right?  Perhaps God's audible voice isn't his primary way of communicating with us?  Maybe he uses people to speak for him?  *GASP* Maybe God can use a non-believer to communicate with his people?

How many times has a "secular" (I hate that term) song/show/film spoken to you on a spiritual level?  A number of times while watching Lost, God stirred something in me.  He "spoke" to me. 

I think God is trying to speak to us, to connect with us, but we so often miss it because he's using someone/something we don't expect because it's not "christian".

Does God speak in an audible voice?  I doubt it. 

What about when you get that feeling you need to go talk to someone and it turns out to be exactly what they needed?  Yeah, God can stir up something inside of you, but that is NOT an audible voice. 

I think we can get to a place in our relationship with God where we are constantly in the presence of God, and in that case God can communicate with us through that still small whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12) which is NOT an audible voice.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Couchsurfing Update

When I signed up for couchsurfing, I didn't really expect to have many people crashing at our place. Well, last week we had a couple from Germany take up residence in our guest room. Crystal and I were unsure what to expect. What would they be like?

Turns out they were GREAT! Super friendly, very polite and clean too. I didn't get to spend much time with them, but Crystal spent a couple nights hanging out with Barbara and Jochen and loved it. They watched a movie, made a fantastic dinner (for $12!) and played Settlers Of Catan.

Apparently Germans get right down to business and don't make "nice deals". They simply take over the entire board.

Crystal said it was a fun experience, (one that I wish I could have experienced with her), and she's ready to do it again. All we need is someone who's looking to visit Barrie.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Smell Like A Monster

You know you've effectively infiltrated culture when Sesame Street does a spoof of your commercial.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


The last person I'd expect to see in this music video is Chris Tomlin.

Maybe his image consultant recommended a cameo to up his street cred?

Any way you slice it, I like it.

Objects On Monitor Are Not What They Appear

Earlier this year (April) Crystal and I couchsurfed in Erie, PA and the experienced was good. It stretched us, moved us out of our comfort zone, and opened our eyes to a new way to travel.

Starting tonight, we are on the other side of the couchsurfing experiment. A couple from Germany is travelling across Canada and for the next 2 nights, they will lay their heads on our futon when they go to sleep.

Last week I attended a seminar where the speaker said 92% of people trust the word of an acquaintance. That is why websites like TripAdvisor and Epinions are so popular.

When I received the couchsurfing request, the first thing I did was check out their profile to see what kind of ratings other people had given these guests. All positive. I don't know any of the other people, but for some reason I trust them. I believe they are telling the truth.

Weird, huh?

It's very easy to massage the way you present yourself online. We untag ourselves from embarrassing photos on Facebook. We are very careful to put out exactly what we want people to see.

Have you seen anyone tweet that they just fought with their spouse and want a divorce?

Has one of your friends posted pictures of themselves with puffy eyes and bed-head?

How many people blog about their lack of devotional time or that they have given up on God?

We present this polished image of ourselves online. I do it. You do it. We all do it. Online, we are perfect.

But we're not.

I'm not saying we should go online and intentionally post pictures of our acne-scarred teenage years, or blog about how we elected to watch an episode of Jersey Shore instead of spending time with God. No one needs to know that you're struggling with lust and you're having a hard time staying faithful to your spouse. (Actually you probably should talk to someone about that)

All I'm saying is that you need to be careful, because not everything you see online is entirely true.

I'll let you know how the couchsurfing thing turns out next week.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

He's The Best

He had the most wins for a pitcher that had never been to the playoffs.

He was already being called a hall of fame player.

He wanted to win, so he left Toronto for the friendly streets of Philly.

In Philly he pitched a perfect game, and tonight he threw the first no-hitter in the playoffs since 1956. (The Leafs have won a Stanley Cup more recently)

Glad to see the Doctor doing well.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Environments & The Death Of The Office

I took Crystal to the dentist today, and instead of sitting in the waiting room reading magazines from the Clinton administration I elected to go to Chapters and read something current.

I stumbled across Rework (a book I had been hoping to take out from the library) and sat down to read it.  It wasn't a very tough read, so I finished it before Crystal called me to say she was done.

The chapter I found most interesting was about work environments.  I'm a big proponent that the environment has a HUGE effect on the experience.  The environment makes or breaks a concert.  The work environment has a huge effect on a) productivity and b) morale.

The book said that you cannot intentionally create the work environment.  The environment is a byproduct of the way management treats the employees. 

If they aren't trusted to do their job, and are management is always looking over their shoulder to make sure they are "on-track", then the work environment will be more like a prison than a community.  If management encourages socializing, joking and building relationships within the office walls, then the work environment will be more enjoyable and more like a community of friends.

But what about productivity?  If the employees are socializing, then their productivity suffers.  That is partly true.

They did a study and found that when employees are given more rope/freedom, their productivity goes up by nearly double. 

They also mentioned that you need to have people on board that buy into the vision.  If they don't buy in, then they shouldn't have been hired in the first place.

It's an interesting concept.  I've worked in some environments where socializing with co-workers is strictly forbidden.  I have also worked in environments where socializing took a huge bite out of productivity.  I think it's a delicate balance. 

I'd say the best way is the evaluate people is not by how much time they spend in the office, but by the outcomes of their goals.  If they hit their goals, why does it matter how much time they spent tied down to their cubicle?  If they are only in the office 2 hrs a day, but they nailed their goals, isn't that a success?  Maybe they work best outside the office?

With the advancement of technology, I'd say the "office" is almost obsolete... but that's a post for another day.


Monday, October 4, 2010

A Little Bit Of Country

Yesterday Crystal and I decided to try out this "date your family" thing our church was trying.

(Granted it was easier for us because our "family" is the 2 of us)

We decided to go to Rounds Ranch and try the corn maze. Crystal had done it in the past with a friend and wanted to try it again with someone new. (me!)

We elected to try and find all 12 stations in the maze before attempting to find our route to the exit. After about 25 minutes of wandering Crystal "accidentally" led us to the exit.

(I think she wanted to prove to me that she is an amazing navigator.)

Having solved the maze, we ventured back in searching for the clues we managed to miss on our first pass.

We were moderately successful, finding 11 of the 12 clues. We decided not to go through the maze for a THIRD time and headed out of the maize.

There was lots to do (if you're a kid) including a haunted house, wagon ride, pumpkin patch, obstacle course and corn cannon. Seeing as we were one of the only couples there without kids, we thought going to the kids activities might be a bit creepy awkward uncomfortable inappropriate... we decided not to do it.

We did however take a ride on the bucking bull.

It was a fun afternoon on a beautiful day. I liked "date afternoon." And we'll be sure to visit Rounds Ranch again once we have kids, then I can play on the kiddie rides!

Friday, October 1, 2010


I grew up in a large church in Mississauga. One church, one location, one building.

I now attend a mid-size church with 2 campuses, Barrie & Orillia. One church, 2 locations, no building.

Which the "right way" to do church? I don't know. I have enjoyed both, I have been frustrated with both.

I'm not a fan of James MacDonald or Mark Driscoll, and I don't know who the other guy is, but I found this video interesting.

Multiple Sites: Yea or Nay? Dever, Driscoll, and MacDonald Vote

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Resilient Parasites

What’s the most resilient parasite? An Idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.

Inception is a FANTASTIC movie. If you haven't seen it, you need to.

I recently read that there are 3 kinds of people in the world. The Dreamers (those with lots of ideas), The Doers (those who get the job done) and The Incrementalists (those who have ideas, then make them happen). Unfortunately I am a dreamer.

I have A TON of ideas. Ideas how to create environments for non-church people to encounter Jesus. Ideas how to create a work environment that inspires people to do great work. Ideas how to awaken the creative spirit God created us with. Ideas how to reach youth and young adults that ditch church as soon as they leave home. Ideas how to create a radio station that challenges Christians and attracts non-Christians. Lots of ideas.

I can give you a million ideas, but actually executing them is not my forte. Some of the ideas aren't feasible. Some of the ideas require more money than is available. Lots of the ideas get stashed away for "another day." I tend to dream too big.

But what about the ideas that can happen today? Those ideas that can be implemented now? It ain't gonna happen. Why not?

I'm not a doer.

It's not that I can't do it, it's that I don't. Why? I don't know. Maybe I'm lazy. (Although I've taken a couple tests that say I'm prone to being a workaholic) Maybe I have the ideas, but I'm not in a position where I can work on seeing them come to life? Maybe I need to wait.

I hate waiting.

Good thing ideas don't die.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mow 'Em Down - Update

I have been domesticated.

My birthday list, which used to include things like a bike, tv, or hoodies, now consists of exciting items like blinds, snowblower, landscaping and a lawn mower.

Not just any lawnmower, I wanted a push reel mower. No engine, no gas, no emissions. PLUS it actually cuts the grass better than your typical gas mower.

Well, I got my wish. My parents got me a reel mower for my birthday and I was SO happy. I took it home, assembled it and cut the grass the next day.

It was tough.

The grass had grown pretty long, so when I hit the long, dense grass it was some tough sluggin'. I was unsure how long I could keep this up. I actually put the reel mower away and brought out the electric mower I had borrowed to finish the backyard.

I probably would have done the front with the electric too, but I ran over the extension cord.

Since our rough first date, my reel mower and I have made up and I have cut all our grass with the reel mower three times. I love it. Not only is it good for the environment, it's a good workout for me, and I love how it makes the lawn look.
The Wonderdog gives manual reel mowers two thumbs up!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Quebec City - Day 4

Our final day in Quebec City began with another fantastic breakfast, followed by the packing (and repacking) of our suitcases before we checked out.  Our flight wasn't until the evening, so we left our bags with the hotel and went on one final quest to see a few final pieces of Quebec City.

We hadn't found the "cannonball tree" as Crystal called it, so we did a quick Google search and off we went.  It was right on the main drag, which I thought was kind of odd, considering the battlefield was a good 15-20 minute walk away.
After "cannonball tree" we marched on towards the Plains Of Abraham, the site of a famous battle in 1759.  I was expecting more statues, memorials or some sort of markings to commemoerate the battle.  We read online that the Mortello Towers were pretty cool to tour, but when we got there they were closed.
We were pretty hungry at this point, so we started to trek back into Vieux Quebec to pick up some souveniers for friends back home, and then grab some crepes for lunch.
We stopped off at the maple museum, picked up some maple candy and continued our cross-town walk to grab lunch.  When we arrived at the restaurant (voted to have the best crepes in town) we discovered they were closed on Mondays.  (As Steve Jones would say: "DRAT!")

So we ended up hiking back up and across old town, past the maple museum, to the other crepes restaurant.  They were good, but we were kind of annoyed at having to walk back across town to get them.

After lunch we walked back to the hotel and caught a cab for the airport, and our trip home.  The Quebec City airport didn't have a Porter lounge like Toronto did, so we sat in the row of chairs, (with no free food or coffee), and waited for our flight to board.

The flight home featured free dinner and drinks (we love Porter), and landed in Toronto without too much excitement.  Our 4 day getaway to Europe Quebec City was over.
Some Random Thoughts
- I heard a lot about how people in Quebec treat you badly if you are an anglophone, but we were treated so well, perhaps better than in English speaking Canada.
- I found myself actually thinking we were in Europe a number of times.  Loved it!
- I spoke Estonian at least 5 times, thinking the other person would understand me.
- Who wants/needs turn down service?  Seriously. 
- I liked walking to get around.  Had we been driving to a bunch of different destinations the trip would not have been nearly as enjoyable as it was.
- We walked around the Chateau Frontenac.  It's a lot nicer from the outside.  The inside is kind of boring.
- I hope Quebec never seperates.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quebec City - Day 3

Day 3 got off to a later start. We took some extra time getting ready, went back for an extra round of breakfast and were in less of a rush.

We planned on finishing the walking tour that we had abandoned the day before, and our fist stop was the farmer's market. Crystal loves the market. She mentioned a couple times how she'd loved to have a permanent market like this in Barrie, so she could grocery shop there. From fruit & veggies, to wine to fresh pasta, the market was well-stocked and active.

After touring the market we headed to the St Roch district. This previously run-down, crime filled portion of the city has been restored thanks to some funding from the government. As you walk under the freeway and enter St Roch you are greeted with colourful frescos on the previously cold, grey concrete pillars.
We toured around St Roch for an hour or so, making stops at St Roch church, St Roch's garden and Benjo (a massive toy store with a TON of toys). Once we had conquered St Roch we took the free (we love free) elevator back up to upper town.

It was lunch time, so we went on the hunt for some Quebec poutine. The concierge at our hotel had told us to go to Chez Ashton if we wanted poutine.

She was a bit disgusted when we said we wanted some real poutine, instead directing us to a fancy Quebecois restaurant before we assured her we wanted to eat junk for lunch.

Chez Ashton was a fast food restaurant, not really what I expected, but we wanted poutine. Crystal ordered a regular poutine and I elected to go with the sausage poutine. The sausage turned out to be a boiled hot dog, but it was still quite tasty.

After lunch we entered Old Quebec and continued to explore. There was a performance happening in the square by the Chateau, but the elderly clown was less than captivating so we continued to walk along the cliff overlooking the St Lawrence.

It's amazing the size of the ships coming down the river, and the fact they don't hit the tiny sailboats that seem to be buzzing around the waters.

We headed back towards the square, and this time found a gymnast who would walk on his hands almost more naturally than on his feet.
We planned on an early dinner because we had to be back in Old Quebec by 8:00 for our walking tour, so we started to head down the stairs into Petit Champlain and towards our hotel. We stopped a couple times along the way to check out potential stops for our meal, and settled on Bistro Sous Le Fort, a small restaurant at the bottom of the funiculaire. We made our reservation and headed to the hotel for a change of clothes.

Dinner was very good. Crystal had a chicken dish that she claimed was her favourite meal so far. I wanted to try some authentic Quebecois food, so I ordered an elk burger. Pretty tasty. Grainier than a normal burger, but still very good. We polished off the last of our meal and made our way towards the Morrin Centre for our ghost walking tour.
TripAdvisor (& Jeff Brodie) recommended the ghost walking tour, and I thought it sounded like a fun way to see the city and learn about some of its history, so I booked it for Saturday night. I got an email once we had arrived in Quebec that Saturday night was not going to work, they had booked that night for a kids with cancer group. So we had to reschedule for Sunday night.

The tour was ok, not really what I had expected or read about, but it was kind of fun. Turns out, after some additional online research, that there are 2 companies running ghost tours, and we picked the wrong one. (Oops) We should have gone with this one instead of the one from the tourism office. It sounds like it's better in the summer when there are more characters, and it's more interactive.

Once the ghost tour was complete we took another walk around and snapped some more pictures. Our feet were pretty tired from 2 days of walking so we decided to call it a night and head back to our hotel.
Day 3 complete... Our final day comes at you tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quebec City - Day 2

Day 2 started off with a free (we love free) breakfast at the hotel. Fresh croissants, yogurt, eggs and 5 different kinds of toast. (And some more lattes). Having done some research the night before, we planned on taking the self-guided walking tour and made our way to the tourism office to pick up the map.

There are companies that offer bus and walking tours, but we like to be independent. So off we went, with Crystal acting as the tour guide, reading the information for each stop.

We started off outside the walls of the old city, and made our way towards the Citadelle, an 18th century fort built by the British to keep the Americans out. It cost $10 to walk around the inside, so we walked along the top of the exterior walls.
It was a beautiful sunny day with temps near 20, I should have worn sunglasses. Instead I'm squinting like Mr Magoo.
Once we were back inside the walls the tour took us to Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica, but before we could get to the church we stumbled across a breakdancing crew in the park. These guys were funny, VERY personable and pretty talented. Nearly everyone who was watching ended up throwing some cash their way at the end of their performance.
After the breakdancing crew finished their show we walked across the street to Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica. Crystal informed me that it is the primate church of Canada and hosts the oldest parish in North America. I had no idea what that meant, but the inside was pretty spectacular. Crystal also said there are four bishops buried in the crypt, but we weren't allowed in there. (I felt awkward enough taking pictures while the woman beside me is weeping and praying.)
On the day we also visited another church (with some rather interesting stained glass), a chocolate museum, Artillery Park, the maple museum, a prison that is now a school, some more churches and the oldest grocery store in North America. It was a pretty solid day of walking.

We had dinner reservations so we cut the walking tour short, made it back to the hotel and got dressed up for our night out.

Finding a place to eat before arriving in Quebec was a difficult task. More places were a) too expensive, or b) only served pheasant, elk or some other exotic meat. I wanted something I knew Crystal would like, and elk is not a sure-fire hit.

I settled on Conti Caffé, just down the street from the Chateau. It had penne, risotto and chicken on the menu. I know Crystal likes those. So we made the hike back up the stairs to our dinner date.

We paid $4 to take the elevator up first thing in the morning. Not sure whose idea it was to take our one elevator trip up when our legs were fresh.

Crystal had the mushroom risotto, and I ordered the veal tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto and melted brie. Both were fantastic!

After dinner (meals seem to take longer in Quebec) we hiked back down the stairs and to our hotel. We were both exhausted, so another nighttime tour would have to wait.

Day #3 tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Quebec City - Day 1

The surprise worked! Crystal had no idea where we were going until we checked in at the airport. SUCCESS!

We flew Porter, so after dropping Snax off at my parents we made our way downtown. Porter was unlike any airline I had flown with before. From the moment we walked through the doors of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport the experience was relaxed, easy, and (dare I say) enjoyable. The lounge was filled with comfortable leather chairs, free wifi (a room filled with iMacs if you don't have a computer with you) and a FREE cafe.

Yes. F-R-E-E

Free lattes, pop, cookies and pastries. It was fantastic. (I think I had 4 or 5 lattes)

The flight was quick and relatively uneventful. We did receive complimentary drinks and snacks though.

Once we were on the ground in Quebec City we grabbed our bags and made our way over to the information desk to see what bus routes we needed to take to get to our hotel. The pleasant lady behind the counter informed us that the bus doesn't run from the airport after 5. (It was 5:30) The only way into town was by cab, so our $3 bus ride turned into a $35 cab ride.

We arrived at our hotel (very nice, more free lattes), got settled and went on the hunt for somewhere to eat dinner. We found a cafe in Petit Champlain and enjoyed a delicious dinner. After dinner we elected to walk around the city, and see the old town a little bit.

The Price Building

Tourny Fountain & Quebec Parliament

Chateau Frontenac

Notre Dame de Victoire

A great start to what was an unforgettable weekend!

Day #2 tomorrow!