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Jones Bob

BROKEN TO GLOW: LOSS, GRIEF AND MERCY

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It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

Doug and Mimi Marchewka endured more than enough breathless moments after their only son, Hudson was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Its what CF families are told to expect.

When Your Boy Has Cystic Fibrosis

In November 2018 Hudson began palliative home care. Doctors warned they were facing their last Christmas together. They braced themselves. Talking to the head nurse of home care in December was sobering as she asked if the Woods had the funeral home they would be using picked yet. It hit home that he really didn’t have a lot of time left.

Hudson was a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. One of his last family experiences was singing Christmas carols on the Polar Express in Stettler, Alberta on December 9th.

Hudson died eight days shy of Christmas.

Brokenhearted falls far short of describing their ache. Mimi says, “No parent should ever have to bury a child.”

The Marchewkas are people of faith. However, faith in God doesn’t lessen the hurt but offers a hope for life beyond the hurt. Mimi asked if I would help her with a memorial for Hudson.

She shared this story.

Dollar Tree

I was in Dollar Tree last night, and there was a lady and two kids behind me in the LONG line. One was a big kid, and the other one was a toddler. The bigger one had a pack of glow sticks, and the toddler was screaming for them.

The Mom opened the pack and gave him one, which stopped his tears. He walked around with it smiling; but then the bigger boy took it, and the toddler started screaming again. Just as the Mom was about to fuss, the older child bent the glow stick and handed it back to the toddler.

As we walked outside at the same time, the toddler noticed that the stick was now glowing and his brother said, “I had to break it so that you could get the full effect from it.”

Gracefully Broken

I almost ran, because I could hear God saying to me, “I had to break you to show you why I created you. You had to go through it so you could fulfill your purpose.”

That precious child was happy just swinging that “unbroken” glow stick around in the air, because he didn’t understand what it was created to do – which was “glow”.

There are some people who will be content just “being,” but some of us that God has chosen… we have to be “broken.”

We get sick…

…lose a job.

…go through a divorce.

…bury our spouse, parents, best friend, or our child.

See Us Glowing

In those moments of desperation, God is breaking us.

But… when the breaking is done, we will be able to see the reason for which we were created. So when you see us glowing, just know that we have been broken but healed by His grace and mercy.

APPLICATION: Thank you, Mimi. Please leave a comment for Mimi below. Do you know grieving families at Christmas? Please share this post with them. Thank you.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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TO ALL FIRST RESPONDERS

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First Responders

They call him “Tuna.” He’s the kind of guy you want around in an emergency, not only because he’s a Paramedic but also because he could lift a truck if need be to save someone.

Crazy Tough

Before moving to Edmonton, Charles Blades competed on the Nova Scotia provincial rugby team, as well as a Pittsburgh rugby team, so you know he’s a bit crazy and tough. And I’m proud of the way he is using his abilities to serve people in the greater Edmonton area everyday.

He’s one of Edmonton’s first responders who run in when others are running out.

He’s my brother-in-law.

This is a shout out to every first responder at Christmastime. Gratitude for how the women and men who wear a uniform and anonymously go about lifesaving work, week in and week out.

First Responders

Schedules are challenging, stress is high, risk is routine and rewards are rare – other than knowing you have done the best you can. Too often first responders are the butt of thoughtless comments or jokes. I’ll never figure out why some people think they’re funny by belittling the very people who could one day save their lives.

First responders are trained to deal with a wide array of potential medical emergencies. Because of the high level of stress and uncertainty associated with the position, first responders need to pay careful attention to their physical and mental health.

Even with such preparation, first responders face unique risks of being the first people to aid those in life-threatening situations or with unknown contagions. The spouses and families of first responders experience their own kind of disquiet, as they understand the cost of sending their loved ones out the door to whatever may come their way.

Responding To 911

Our family has unforgettable experiences with first responders.

Our youngest son suffered a seizure from a high fever when he was two years old and we were living in Montreal. Firefighters, paramedics, and police were in our townhouse within minutes to save his life. He spent a weekend in hospital under 24-hour watch but he recovered to tell the tale.

Our local St. Albert Firefighters responded to a 911 call from our home when a kitchen appliance caught fire, spewing toxic smoke. They contained the damage and saved the day.

Heroes

When Constable David Wynn was killed in the line of duty in 2017, the RCMP used our church as a parking depot and changing area in preparation for his memorial processional through St. Albert. Edmonton Police Service and Edmonton Fire Rescue Service officers have stationed their fire trucks and police cars in our parking lot for our community carnivals so kids could climb aboard and feel the thrill.

Men and women in my circle of pastoral influence are on active duty in undercover work, policing organized crime, community service or are retired officers. They have my utmost admiration and appreciation. They are my heroes.

So here’s to every firefighter, police officer, paramedic, all emergency response personnel and their spouses and loved ones.

Merry Christmas, thank you and prayers for all you do.

APPLICATION: Please send this post on to first responders you know. Leave a comment below. Thank you.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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NORTH POINTE STRONG

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Preparing for round 3. It’s not exactly what I had planned for Christmas this year.

The timing of my “bad” days will put me right on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. With all that has been going on we weren’t able to host our annual events or have the house filled with family and friends on a rotating basis. It’s been a bit hard knowing that my favorite season has been and continues to be tainted by all this.


Angela Hawrylak is a fighter. She is battling cancer – the fight of a lifetime. This is her second bout. In 2013 she was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Follicular Lymphoma – stage 3. Angela possesses a resolute courage that is helping her get beyond the diagnosis and treatment. Its because of women like Angela that NORTH POINTE STRONG was born. See below.


Give Thanks

As we bid farewell to family members entering into a new chapter in their lives and we enjoy what time we have left with yet another family member I can be honest that it has been a bit difficult to find my “joy” this season. But I’m trying daily to remember that God is good all the time and to give thanks IN all circumstances.

I am thankful for CHEMO, that it’s working!

I am thankful to still have some hair 🙂

Chemo may not be pleasant but it IS manageable.

I’m still me and we are adjusting to this new normal.

I can still care for my family and home and things don’t need to be perfect.

I am moody and my brain is foggy and confused but my dear husband, Tom loves me all the same.

My kids are resilient loving and understanding.

I have a little village that may not be many but are amazingly mighty <3

Even though I can’t taste (or even sometimes eat) the food network is fun to watch.

Laughter really is healing.

Disney makes me smile 🙂

Its okay not to be okay.

I’m thankful for employment and that Tom has a job again!!!!

Social media can and will close the distance between people.

A life well lived is a blessing and this was never intended as our permanent home.

Time, moments and memories are precious.

Its All About Jesus

In the scheme of things…one Christmas like this will give me many more to come and that’s our hope.

And most importantly… Christmas isn’t the lights, the gifts or the parties.

Its all about Jesus, God’s love and so much more.

North Pointe Strong

North Pointe’s Women’s Pastor – Jocelyn Jones – faced her own battle with cancer in March 2018. From this experience, Jocelyn and friends are starting a group for all women who are fighting cancer or who have beaten cancer.

Empathy goes a long way in generating hope. North Pointe STRONG is all about mutual support through faith, love, courage and prayer.

North Pointe STRONG is supporting the fighters, admiring the survivors, honoring the taken and never, never giving up hope.

APPLICATION: North Pointe STRONG is a support group for all women fighting cancer. The first meeting is Saturday January 26th at 10:00am at North Pointe – 14025 167 Ave. Baking and coffee and tea served. Register online here for FREE. Please share with and invite your friends or family members who are in their own fight with cancer.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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A CREATURE WAS STIRRING

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“His hair was shoulder-length, his youthful face hid behind an abundance of shaggy beard. Over tight, faded blue jeans and an old, bulky knit, he had thrown his pride and joy — a sheepskin wrap.”

Where were you when you first heard Jerry Forbes reading A Creature Was Stirring? For me it was December 1990, in our ’82 Cutlass Sierra, the radio dial tuned to Edmonton’s 630 CHED. Our family moved to Edmonton that August. We never heard of Santas Anonymous or Jerry Forbes. After listening to – or more accurately, experiencing – the recording, I would never forget it.

A Christmas Classic

Forbes first aired what has become a Christmas classic in 1966. His piece of creative writing – a mere 631 words – never ceases to inspire a smile or a tear. Without fail, every Christmastime for the past 28 years, the story airs on my car radio at just the moment I need to be reminded of the power of kindness.

Forbes, the founder of 630 CHED’s Santas Anonymous, had a goal that no child should go without a toy at Christmas. In 1955, Santas Anonymous delivered toys to about 600 children — in 2018 over 25,000 kids will receive toys, thanks to the generosity of Edmontonians.

Forbes Philanthropy

Jerry Forbes passed away in 1981, but his son Marty — and Marty’s family — have continued the Forbes’ tradition of philanthropy. Marty and I met through serving on the Board of the John Cameron Changing Lives Foundation and with The Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree.

Whenever I’ve needed assistance from the media for help with a good cause, Marty has generously responded. He was the reason CTV made Janaya Chekowski’s dream of a personal concert come true at North Pointe in 2018.

Marty, like his dad, spreads generous helpings of Christmas joy where most needed. Read or listen to Jerry Forbe’s A Creature Was Stirring.

A Creature Was Stirring

His hair was shoulder-length, his youthful face hid behind an abundance of shaggy beard. Over tight, faded blue jeans and an old, bulky knit, he had thrown his pride and joy — a sheepskin wrap.

 It had a hole in the centre through which he put his head. It was without arms, fell front and back down past his waist to his mid-thigh and it was gathered at the waist with a chain.

His ’68 Chevy moved slowly through the streets. It stopped , then started again, making a u-turn at the corner as the driver gazed through the darkness of the night to view the street markers. He was unfamiliar territory.

The House on Maple Street

The houses were one-room frame and most of them were bare of paint. Lights were few and glowed softly behind polythene which substituted for storm windows. Up one side of the deserted street and down the other. Then on to the next block the old Chevy made it’s way.

 It stopped.

The door opened and the young man with the long hair and with the beard and faded jeans and the sheepskin coat got out of the passenger side and walked to the gate of the house that was a duplicate of all those around it.

He walked slowly up the walk trying to see the house numbers through the dark. He read them. Satisfied that this was the place he returned to his car opened the trunk and removed two large brown shopping bags like they use in the supermarket.

Poverty At Christmastime

He returned to the front door of the old house and knocked gently. No answer. He knocked again. Then he heard the sound of children. The door opened and in a brief second through the dim light inside he saw poverty at Christmastime. The floor was bare. Three little children were playing there with an old cardboard box. The kitchen table was covered with tattered oil cloth and surrounded by four wooden chairs.

 A double bed sat in one corner, sagging but neatly made and a small electric stove sat against the wall. A young woman, perhaps in her late twenties, but looking tired and older than her years, came to the door scooping up the smallest child as she did. The other child who opened the door looked at the stranger outside and then stepped back glancing quickly at her mother.

Santas Anonymous

“Good evening, mam. These are gifts for the little ones from Santas Anonymous,” the young man said. The mother looked a long moment at the long-haired, bearded youth with the outlandish sheepskin jacket. She took the two shopping bags filled with gaily wrapped Christmas gifts. She sat the baby down on the floor again and quickly looked at the bright display of parcels.

 Her eyes welled up with tears and she could bring herself to say only an almost inaudible, “Thank you.”

 “You’re welcome, mam,” the youth said as he turned to go “and have a very Merry Christmas.”

 And then it happened.

Was That Jesus?

Just as his foot hit the top step of the old porch, as the door was about to close behind him, a small child’s voice said, “Mommy, was that Jesus?”

It hit trip hammer hard and the young man stopped for the briefest moment. His chin dropped to his chest. And an almost overwhelming emotion swept through him.

He walked slowly now to his ancient car, crawled in behind the wheel, sat there for a moment trying to get a deep breath. He wiped a tear off is bearded cheek and drove off into the night.

It hadn’t happened before. It might not ever happen again. But that small child in that small house on Maple Street gave this strange lad in the sheepskin coat the most beautiful Christmas gift he had ever received.

Hear Jerry Forbes read his 1966 Christmas Classic.

APPLICATION: Do you love this story too? Please share it around. Merry Christmas.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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CHRISTMAS MAKES EVERYTHING NEW

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CHRISTMAS MAKES EVRYTHING NEWLove makes a promise to me and you, Christmas makes everything new.

Changing Everything

Christmas divides time into BC and AD – “Anno Domini” – “The year of our Lord.”

Christmas changes how we spell God – “E-M-M-A-N-U-E-L” – “God is with us.”

Broken relationships, broken hearts, and broken dreams can be restored because of Christmas.

A New Way Of Knowing God

Christmas is the answer to the quandary of a man who told me, “For me, God is a big entity somewhere out there. He is neither personal, nor caring, nor loving. Never has been. At least not for me. How do I shed a harsh image of God? This is the only God I know. I can’t seem to find the loving God some speak of.”

Christmas shatters any idea that God is some kind of vengeful tyrant. The image of a harsh, punishing deity is contradicted when we discover that God was incarnated in a baby in Bethlehem’s manger.

God changed places.

Heaven came to earth.

God became man.

Infinity squeezed into a finite form.

The eternal became bound by time.

The invincible became vulnerable.

God came to our neighbourhood.

Authenticity Cannot Be Observed From A Distance

In 1999 I met Prime Minister Jean Chretien in his neighbourhood in Ottawa, but he’s never come to my neighbourhood.

In 1994 I met Mark Messier in the Edmonton Oiler’s dressing room, but he’s never come to my neighbourhood.

God came to our neighbourhood.

Why? Because authenticity cannot be observed from a distance.

Power and Love

What we realize with the birth of Jesus is that God is a loving God who was willing to give up power in order to express His love.

At Christmas we are reminded that the same God who had the power to toss the galaxies into outer space and set electrons spinning in inner space loved us enough to set aside all that power in order to show that love.

The good news is that 2,000 years ago, God showed us His love by emptying Himself of power and coming into the world as a vulnerable infant child.

“For all that’s been broken
For all that’s best lost
Every road that we’ve taken at too high a cost
For all of our longing for what might have been
Christmas makes everything new.
Love makes a promise to me and you
Christmas makes everything new.”

The Scandalous Declaration Of Christmas

The scandalous declaration of Christians is that the Bethlehem child is none other than the creator God, having become one of us.

From Bethlehem to Jerusalem, we learn that God is not a condemning God, but a friend to the broken.

“There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”Romans 8:1

Christmas makes everything new!

Jesus is all the proof needed that in His love, there can be peace on earth and good will for you.

Listen to Mackenzie Morton, Josie Cole and the North Pointe Rock Choir’s version of “Christmas Makes Everything New.”

APPLICATION: Please leave a comment below. Thank you.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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WHY THE WRIGHT BROTHERS GOT IT RIGHT

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WHY The Wrights Got it Right115 years ago today (December 17, 1903), the brothers Wright on a field in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, lifted off to the sky and into history.

Their 59-second flight at an altitude of 120 feet and at the speed of a jog was all it took to set in motion the winds of technological of change.

Samuel Langley

A few hundred miles away, Samuel Langley was recovering from his humiliation over a similar attempt that ended in failure when his test flight landed in the Potomac River.

The Wright brothers and Langley were trying to achieve the SAME goal – they were both building the SAME project.

BOTH the Wrights and Langley had a bold goal – build the world’s first heavier-than-air flying machine.

BOTH were highly motivated.

BOTH had a strong work ethic.

BOTH had keen scientific minds.

BOTH were totally committed.

The Wright Brothers succeeded where Langley failed because of their better starting point – they began with WHY.

The Path To Failure: Motivated By “What”

Langley made very clear that his motivation to achieve flight was so that he could be FIRST.

He wanted to be rich and famous.

He had the support of the famous, rich and powerful – Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Graham Bell, and the US War Department. Money was no object to him.

With ample resources he was able to hire the best and brightest minds of the time.

The New York Times followed him around. EVERYONE in east coast America knew of Langley and was rooting for his success.

Simon Sinek in his book, “Start With Why” points out that Langley was very clear about his WHAT – fame, fortune, first. His motivation was defined by WHAT he was doing and by WHAT he would gain.

Langley’s WHAT because self evident after his failed test flight and the Wrights successful one. Sinek points out that Langley could have said, “That’s amazing, now I’m going to improve upon their technology.”

Langley chose not to.

He found the “defeat” humiliating.

He cared so much about what others thought of him that since he couldn’t be first he would quit and gave up on his quest.

Starting With “Why”

The Wright Brothers worked out of their bicycle shop.

Orville and Wilbur had no government grants, no rich friends and no PR.

No one on their team had a college education, including the Wrights.

But they did have a special thing.

They had a dream.

They believed if they could figure out this flying thing, it would change the world. They imagined the benefits that flight could bring to mankind.

They started with WHY.

The Wright’s biographer, James Tobin said they “were true scientists, deeply concerned about the physical problem they were trying to solve – the problem of flight and balance.”

Power For Perseverance

The Wrights faced failure after failure. The stories say that they would take five sets of parts with them on every test because that’s how many failures they would face in a day.

Their dream was all that kept them and their team going.

When they succeeded and no one paid attention they didn’t pout. They patiently waited for the world to find out and pushed themselves forward to make further progress.

Sinek astutely points out that “if we’re starting with the wrong questions then even the right answers will steer us wrong.”

Wings For Leadership Lift

W hy is the place to start. Great leaders are able to inspire people to act because they offer them a purpose.

Inspiring leaders have people who follow them not because they were swayed by an argument or incentives but are motivated by a cause.

Never underestimate the power of a leader whose followers act for the good of the whole, not because they have to but because they want to.

Ground yourself in knowing that your cause of action is more important than your course of action.

Success flows from shared values and where everyone on your team feels like they belong.

Great leaders have the ability to draw us close and to command our loyalty.

Great leaders start with WHY.

Find your WHY and you’ll find your way.

APPLICATION: WHAT is your WHY? Please leave a comment below.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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MARY DID YOU KNOW?

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“If anyone knew Jesus was virgin born, it was Mary and her silence at the cross is proof, I think, that her story was indeed true.”

Mark Lowry crafted the lyrics of a song that’s become a Christmas favorite on par with White Christmas and Silent Night.

The prose of Mary, Did You Know? ignites imaginations with some of the deepest mysteries of Christmas.

Lowry’s mother, Bev, gave him the spark of his original idea.

WHAT DID MARY KNOW?

Mark says, “I just tried to put into words the unfathomable. I started thinking of the questions I would have for her if I were to sit down & have coffee with Mary.”

He wondered if Mary realized the tiny hands of her infant were the same hands that scooped out oceans & formed rivers.

Did she know that “the blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again, the lame will leap, the mute will speak?”

Did she understand that “When you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God?”

THE DEEPEST MYSTERIES OF CHRISTMAS

Christmas, at its core, is a celebration of the Incarnation.

We are reminded that the baby to whom Mary gave birth would walk on water, heal the broken, and save us.

Mary’s baby boy is “Lord of all creation” and, in fact, “the great I AM.”

Jesus entered our reality in order to save us, to make us new, to heal us, and to die for us as heaven’s perfect Saviour.

Need some inspiration? Turn up the volume and listen to the “Pentatonix” version of Mary Did You Know?”

“Mary, Did You Know?” lyrics by Mark Lowry, music by Buddy Greene. Copyright © 1991, 1993 Word Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.), Rufus Music (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management).

QUESTION: What’s your favorite Christmas song? Please leave a comment below. Merry Christmas.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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ADVICE TO YOUNG LEADERS: GEORGE H.W. BUSH

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“I love you more than tongue can tell.”

When George H.W. Bush was preparing to accept the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, he sent his speechwriter a list of notions that he believed best represented him. “Words I like: family, loyalty, kids, freedom, grandkids, caring, love, heart, decency, faith, honor, service to country, pride, fair play, tolerance, strength, hope, healing kindness, excellence…I like people; I’m proud of the USA; I like sports; I’m experienced; I love kids.”

Yes, he loved kids so much he mentions them twice.

President Bush passed away on November 30, 2018. Family is the cornerstone of his legacy.

Family First

There are things that could be said critically about his Presidency but make no mistake – George H.W. Bush was foremost a family man.

Granddaughter, Jenna Hager Bush – produced NBC’s A Love Letter to Gampy – and credited her grandfather with always making each family member feel adored regardless of “whatever demands were placed on him in his professional life.”

The Bushes lost one of their kids – an only daughter at the time, Robin – at the age of three, to leukemia. Her too short life marked them for the rest of their lives.

Robin was the little girl H.W. held tightly, who spoke the phrase Bush repeated for his entire life, forever knitting Robin’s voice into the tightly woven fabric of his family: “I love you more than tongue can tell.”

10 Instructions For Young Leaders

The chairman and editor in chief of Leaders magazine, asked President Bush what was the greatest challenge he had to overcome in his life.

Bush answered with a handwritten letter containing the following:

1. Don’t get down when your life takes a bad turn. Out of adversity comes challenge and often success.

2. Don’t blame others for your setbacks.

3. When things go well, always give credit to others.

4. Don’t talk all the time. Listen to your friends and mentors and learn from them.

5. Don’t brag about yourself. Let others point out your virtues, your strong points.

6. Give someone else a hand. When a friend is hurting, show that friend you care.

7. Nobody likes an overbearing big shot.

8. As you succeed, be kind to people. Thank those who help you along the way.

9. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear when your heart is broken because a friend is hurting.

10. Say your prayers!!
April 23, 2003

APPLICATION: Pass the wisdom in this post on to someone you know who would be inspired by  it. Our world needs kinder, gentler leaders like George H. W. Bush. Please leave a comment below. Thank you.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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THE GIRL WITH THE HOLES IN HER HEART

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When you’re seven years old and God spares the life of your little sister you want to say “Thank you” in a big way. That’s why Aden Yerichuk will be in the foyer of North Pointe offering hot chocolate for everyone  on Sunday December 9th and 16th.

The Gift Of Twins

It was Aden’s idea to send any donations he receives for his festive beverages to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. It’s his birthday on January 8th and Aden doesn’t plan to be at a party. Not every seven-year-old looks forward to being at a hospital on their birthday but that’s Aden’s chosen location.

He will present the Stollery a gift on his birthday and it will come wrapped in gratitude.

When Aden’s mum, Brittany found out she was pregnant with twins she was worried. She and her husband Justin were parents of five-year-old and three-year-old sons. And they were active. Brittany asked God, “Why me? I love my boys, but twins? Really?”

There would be financial pressures and parenting pressure and living pressure.

The Hole In Her Heart

Brittany went into labor at 36 weeks. There was trauma with the delivery.

Addley was fine but her twin, Addison wasn’t breathing when she was born. For the first three months of Addison’s life she would often turn blue from lack of oxygen. Doctors discovered a heart murmur and a hole in her right septum.

She was so little for such a big problem.

At six months of age a second hole was found. Addison was very sick. She developed a respiratory infection. At 14 months doctors performed successful surgery but Addison developed pneumonia in post-op. She tested positive for five infections. It was touch and go for her precious little life.

Struggles

Brittany struggled mentally and spiritually with her daughter’s crisis. Her faith in God was tested but she says God saw her through.

Addison will require more surgery on her heart as she ages.

Already Addison’s experience is inspiring other parents whose children suffer. The Yerichuk family are grateful to God and big fans of the Stollery.

APPLICATION: Join Aden on December 9th or 16th at North Pointe and have a cup of hot chocolate for a good cause.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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BE A GOOD SAMARITAN OF MENTAL HEALTH

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Brock Harrison was going about his life as a new dad and speechwriter for the leader of a political party when it hit him. It presented innocuously enough as panic attacks. Sitting down at his computer brought sudden and paralyzing physiological discomfort.

He had experienced the odd panic attack in the past, but they were periodic and easy to shake off.

These were different.

He physically couldn’t work.

NOVEMBER 17, 2014 — Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith with Brock Harrison

Darkest Times

Being depressed means you’re never present. You don’t experience life the way most people do.

A casual conversation can be torture.

Comprehending a simple written sentence requires effort.

Eating? Forget it.

Your appetite is long gone.

You can’t engage in life because you’re constantly fighting your mind.

Brock says, “Fortunately, I never experienced the desire to end my life. I now believe it was Jesus, and my begrudged demonstration of faith in my darkest times, that kept me from reaching those lows.”

“I’m thankful to my Pastor for his willingness to talk about mental illness candidly from the platform and for encouraging me to share my story.”

The Jericho Road

Churches can feel like the Jericho Road or the Good Samaritan to sufferers with mental illness.

Jesus tells the story of a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho – a dangerous portion of Judean roadway because of thieves. The man falls victim to violence and robbery. A Samaritan in Jesus’ parable stands out only because the other players in the story stood back. They saw the man’s need but kept their distance – curious but uninvolved.

The Samaritan saw the need, sympathized with the man’s pain, seized the moment, and spent whatever it took to care. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise” – become a Good Samaritan of mental health.

Mental illness is the invisible illness. Its hard to see. It leaves sufferers misunderstood, marginalized and isolated. Its easy to feel like a victim on the Jericho Road.

Churches can better care by becoming aware of the sufferers, especially those who are Christians.

Like A Thief

Mental illness is a thief that robs and strips people of their dignity and hope. The trauma of depression, chronic anxiety, mood disorders, OCD, PTSD, postpartum depression and other forms of mental illness leave sufferers desperate on the Jericho road.

Mental illnesses are one of the most misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and misguided illnesses in the Christian community. Many Christians who struggle with anxiety and panic are falsely led to believe that it is merely a spiritual struggle, and undergo humiliating attempts at deliverance. Some are also led to believe it’s their fault because of sin or because their faith isn’t enough to heal them.

The majority of people I know with who struggle with severe anxiety have an incredibly dependent, vulnerable and personal relationship with Jesus.

Brenda’s Story

Brenda suffered from depression. She was actively involved in our church and a nurse by profession. She told me, “I sang in the choir. I went to Bible study, but I never felt I could share with anyone. Depression is like leprosy. No one talks about. It is ignored—especially in the church circles—and the people who are in depression feel even more isolated.”

“Often I would try to make comments about people with depression in order to sound out some of our friends, but the remarks I received in return were about people who ‘couldn’t cope, or should pray more,’ so it underscored my feeling that I was inadequate. I felt more alone and lost.”

“The only person I felt I could talk to was a lady who had also experienced severe depression after the death of her brother. She was quite open about it and made me feel acceptable. Finally I went to a doctor.”

Depression

People who experience mental illness do not need to hide. They do not need to feel unloved or unchristian. God loves you. We need to remember that we are not here on earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.

What does the Church need to see?

Depression is the only physical illness with spiritual symptoms.

  1. Depression is not a spiritual disorder.
  2. People facing depression can be sad, but depression is not sadness.
  3. Depression is not something you can will yourself or pray yourself out of.
  4. Depression is not a choice.
  5. Depression is not a character defect.
  6. Depression is not an emotional dysfunction.
  7. Depression is not demonic.

A Safe Place For Those Who Suffer

Mental illness does not make people weak, cowardly, faithless, hopeless, or joyless.

Mental illness means you’re experiencing sickness and in need of healing. Sick people use medicine, therapy, support, exercise, faith, and prayer to become well again.

There is healing.

There is hope.

Churches can become the safest place in the world for sufferers by dispensing hope and healing.

Dispensing Hope

The subject of mental illness and health is addressed numerous times each year in North Pointe’s Sunday messages.

We listen. We pray with sufferers. We listen again.

Stories from the platform or blog posts raise the awareness level in our community.

We care for the whole person – supporting through prayer, medication and exercise.

A support group is provided free of charge – “Hope For Mental Health.” The group is facilitated by Dr. Catherine Thorlakson.

We refer people to professional Christian counselors. There is an onsite counselor at North Pointe two afternoons a week.

We resource people with Sarah Ball’s book, “21 Days To Fearless.” Sarah pulls back the curtains on her very private battle with mental illness. She shares 21 revelations that led to her healing. The book is available at North Pointe.

Be A Part Of The Solution

Is your church a hope dispenser?

Be alert to the dangers of the Jericho road.

Be Good Samaritans of compassion.

Related ArticleWhat Christians Get Wrong About Depression

APPLICATION: Pass this post on to pastors and leaders you know and people in need of hope. Please leave a comment below. Thank you.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

  • Subscribe. I’ll put helpful content into your email box early Mondays and Thursdays, as well as upcoming events at North Pointe Community Church, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • Follow on Twitter. I daily tweet info I think you’ll be interested in.
  • Friend on Facebook. If you “like” my page, let me know you found me here.
  • Connect on Linkedin. I like this because it reminds me what people think I’m good at.