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Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Dad Does Movember

Each day that I visit my Dad these days, his first question is almost always, 'What's our new total?'

His voice is weaker these days, sometimes you have to lean in close to hear it.  His once boisterous laugh is now silent, but his face still breaks into a smile whenever he can.  He still makes jokes, at every opportunity.  He is still living his life the best he can with what he has and he is still my Dad.

Part of that living is growing a moustache for Movember.  He is not, however, raising money for prostate or testicular cancer.  But the money will very definitely benefit those who face cancer.  He is raising money for the Wellington Hospice, the place he has called home for the past three months.
My sister and I and my Dad last October

When he was admitted to the hospice we thought he might have only three weeks left.  We underestimated a man who, each day, as his body becomes smaller his spirit grows larger and my love for him grows right along with it.

The hospice has allowed us to move from caregivers to family again.  We can visit 24 hours a day and they provide excellent care to my Dad and to us as a family; with hot soup and snacks when we are there for a long time, it is a home away from home.

We started a facebook page  Movember Norman - For Hospice Wellington and within three weeks we have raised over $2000.  We are aiming for $3000.  This is the first time someone who is a resident at the hospice has done a fundraiser and they said it's one of their most successful fundraisers to date.

One of the staff at the hospice said that the thing she loves most about this is that it reminds people that the hospice does not have to be a place of constant sadness, that although the residents are at the end of their lives, their lives are not over.

My Dad is definitely a man who has lived his life well and is continuing to do that as long as he is able.

If you haven't already, I encourage you to click the link and get on board with his Movember movement.  There is a special link on the bottom of the page that says 'Movember Norman' click there to donate.  And if you can, leave a little note for my Dad, he loves people.

As a way of encouraging my Dad and to say thank you to those who have already donated, my kids and I made this video:

Our Movember Champion

Dad's first haircut after the hospital

Dad's moustache two weeks in

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Shining Our Light In The Darkness

Last week was Halloween.  In the past, our church (The Cambridge Vineyard) has offered an 'alternative' evening for the families of our congregation.  Many Christians do not wish to take part in Halloween..

Last year our church partnered with the Allison Neighbourhood Community Association to create an outreach event called 'Light Up The Night'.

This year the event was planned to be larger and held on the church's front property.  We distributed over 400 flyers throughout the community.  We packaged hundreds of treat bags. We watched the weather forecast: rainy with a chance of more and more rain.

Thursday morning the clouds opened up and the rain started and didn't cease all day.  But we pressed on.  We modified the layout, changed the games the kids would play, we put up the tents to guard from the rain, we strung up hundreds of Christmas lights and flood lights, construction lights, everything we could do to be a light in our community.

We really had no idea if anyone would show up.  We decided it was better to go through all the work to be where we said we would be than to cancel it and disappoint anyone who did show up.

Six o'clock came and after countless technical issues we were finally 'Lit Up'.  Coffee was brewed, apple cider and hot chocolate were ready at the first station and the stream of people poured in as constant as the rain that soaked us.  But there wasn't a face that wasn't just as brightly lit as our tents.  There was a joy that night that was palpable despite the weather.  We met close to 200 of our neighbours-what other night of the year would we have the opportunity to do that?

For some, the evening was controversial.  Christians 'doing' Halloween? There are many who believe we shouldn't have anything to do with it at all.

I disagree.

Are we called to take our light and shine it only with other people who already have the light? Are we called to hide from the darkness with fear and trembling or face it, shining our light into it?

Did Jesus hang out with only those who believed he was the Messiah or did he go to those people and those places where people needed him.

The other question is did we preach the word?  Did we talk about Jesus?

No we didn't.

Because sometimes you need to build a relationship with someone before they trust you enough to listen to what you have to say.  There are people in our neighbourhood who think our church is a cult.  There are kids who've heard an age old tale that if you go over the wall you never get out again.  There are people who think we make wine.

This was an opportunity for people to meet us, the church (which of course isn't a building but the people who make up the body) to see that we are kind, happy and friendly people.  The kids in the neighbourhood got to play games, get balloons, hear kids music and they were able to leave the property again-myth dispelled.

We did not serve any wine.

So, the next time we see some of the neighbours we are now a face they recognize, we can start a conversation and perhaps invite them to a service, to coffee or even into a relationship with Jesus, if that's where it looks like God is leading them.

Do I believe you can lead a perfect stranger to Jesus. Yes. But I also believe there's more than one way to skin a cat….so to speak….and that we are called to take any and all opportunities to light up the dark places so they can see the saviour we are talking about.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Prayers Answered-Mountains Moved

Near the end of August Phil and I spoke in front of our home churches congregation about Brazil.  We shared what we had seen God doing, how we were involved and the dreams we had for the future there.

We shared with the members and visitors of our church that day that God had used us in more ways than we could have imagined in just eight short months.  We shared video (see the video 'Brazil' tool bar--> )
and photos of our time.

One of the things we said we hoped to accomplish while we are in Canada was to raise enough funds to purchase a vehicle when we return.  More specifically, a VW Kombi bus.  There are several reasons for wanting a Kombi bus:

1) It has nine seats meaning we would be able to bless the members of our neighbourhood, taking them on outings or other projects, driving people home when it's raining and so much more.

2) It's a simple vehicle mechanically, one Phil and I are familiar with since Phil owned and maintained one in the UK and we drove one in Nigeria during our time with CERCOPAN (

3) Cost- Most vehicles in Brazil are extremely expensive where as the VW Kombi is reasonably priced  brand new.  We would most likely get years of good use before needing to worry about costly repairs.

4) Versatility-The VW Kombi has been known to drive well on many terrains-who knows where God will take us!

It seemed to me a mountain of money to raise.  I pinned my hopes on enough to purchase a used vehicle.  I prayed.  The amount we needed was the same as we had raised over a course of two years of blood sweat and fundraiser.  How could we possibly raise that much in a much shorter time?

Silly me.  I forgot the kind of God I'm serving.  I need to repent for my unbelief and my shouldering the burden of provision.

After the service we were approached by a friend who told us that although he didn't have the means, he was committed to raising the funds, one way or the other he would get us the money-the whole 20,000.

I'll be honest, I cried.  I asked God to forgive me for my unbelief.

But hang on the story doesn't end there…..

A week later, I got an email from a couple who had been visiting our church from Texas the Sunday we spoke.  She said her and her husband both felt the same 'nudge' to help us with our vehicle purchase after hearing us speak.  They were visiting friends in Cambridge but both felt strongly there was another reason they were there.  I asked her if it would be ok to connect her with our friends who had committed to helping us raise the funds, so they could co-ordinate things.  I left it at that.

A month later we received an email that a donation for $20,000 had been received for us.

My mouth hung open.  What?

We later found out that it was a single donation, from the couple who visited once, whom I've never met.

Prayer answered, mountain moved.  Just. Like. That.

I am still in awe, I'm thankful, I'm shocked, I'm overwhelmed.

What mountains are you facing?  Have you asked God to move them?