Posted in focus on faith, minimal moments, need a laugh?

How was 2017?

Perhaps Hobbits live in northern Greece? This door is waist high.

Happy New Year gentle reader! Have you had a chance to look back over the last 12 months and reflect on all that was? Or wasn’t?

Nah? Me neither. I’m more of a doer than a contemplator; I seldom take time for deep reflection. Of course, because we all admire what we’re not, I wish I were that type of person so I would have deep insights to share. But I’m not. And I don’t.

For the rest of you who are just like me and you don’t set aside time for all that hard thinking, let’s take a mo right now and look back over 2017.

How is your health? Go ahead and take your pulse, in case there’s any doubt you survived the dawning of another year. Did you get through the year with all your parts intact? Nothing removed that you think you still need? Or something removed in the nick of time so you can hang around this planet a while longer? I had my first root canal and I truly don’t know why people use that as a measure of how BAD something can be…”I’d rather have a ROOT CANAL than host my relatives for Christmas!” In fact, the specialist who did my root canal hummed through the 20-minute procedure while earning enough to pay off his Porsche! It was fast, painless (except for the wallet), and simple. If your health is good, then 2017 was good to you.

How is your relationship with God? Did you move closer to Him or further away? Did you hear from Him…about anything? In my first time through Freedom Session with a group of my peers, I dealt with some issues, made some apologies, came out of denial about a couple things (Yikes! I found out why they call it “denial.” It should be called blindness), and enjoyed the love and acceptance of God in a wonderful way. I am now facilitating another Freedom Session group in my home and dealing with my fear in practical ways. If you moved God-ward too then 2017 was good to you.

How is your primary relationship going? In my case, that’s my husband. In yours, it might be a spouse, parent, partner, child, best friend, or…? How are you getting on? Friendly? With kindness? Mutually enjoying time together? Helping each other? Sharing some laughs? Supporting one another through tough times? Committed? Contented? Challenged by the relationship to be the best YOU you can be? If your “first” relationship is still your best then 2017 has been good to you.

How is your family? Is everyone still speaking to everyone? Don’t laugh (or cry). You know as well as I do that the people we love the most can become the ones we most resent. A chilling silence can fall over a relationship so quickly it’s shocking. And once you stop talking, neither person wants to be the one to break the silence. This happened to me with one of my beloved family when I allowed resentment to build up and a gulf formed between us. Thankfully, we both made an effort to bridge the gap, make our apologies, and renew the relationship. I have too many friends who come from fractured families where people have stopped talking and they no longer see one another. If your family is intact and people are still attempting to communicate then 2017 has been a good year.

And finally, because I am a minimalist, I must ask, how is your junk? I am pretty sure no teen boys read this blog so there won’t be any insane laughter… By junk I mean the stuff that goes into landfills. Do you have more or less junk than last year? if you are in the first half of your life you are still in the accumulative phase; you are still acquiring. Building up your kingdom. Padding your castle. If you are on the downward slope, like moi, you are merging and purging, slashing and burning, tossing and recycling. Just yesterday I hauled 10 boxes, yes TEN, out of my tiny office! All of the magazines, newspapers, scrapbooks, book drafts, speaking notes, completed bible studies and never-to-be-read-again books are now gone! I am going through my junk and asking myself, “Who will have to deal with this once I’m gone and will they appreciate it?” The answer is, my kids, and they will NOT want to read my old journals, look through my scrapbooks, or peruse the first draft and multiple edits of my published books. So I finish with this, if you have less junk than last year, then 2017 was a good year.

If you want a deeper reflection on the New Year visit my friend who pastors two small churches in Watrous SK and be blessed. It was that post that inspired me to connect with you today. I pray that 2018 will truly be a good year for you. Focus on the things that matter most — your relationship with God and your besties. Enjoy your health while you have it; nurture your body with real food and moderate exercise. But keep your junk to a minimum!

Posted in focus on faith, need a laugh?

Life Change is a Process

sport-927759_640-copyI couldn’t get in to my Gym class yesterday. It was full. And I was there early. Then I remembered–the New Year’s Resolution Bulge (in business, not in waistlines even though that is a factor!).

Things will be back to normal in a few weeks.

Every January gyms across our nation do a booming business thanks to the Number One New Year’s Resolution–Lose Weight/Get Fit. I assume Weight Watchers, Dr. Bernstein, Jenny Craig and other diet-centric programs see a lot more traffic this time of year too.

When asked to raise our hands (in a Baptist Church no less, what’s this world coming to?!) if we made a New Year’s resolution last Sunday, January 1, only 25 percent of the group responded. The pastor assumed the number was slightly higher and we, the people, were not forthcoming.


I don’t make resolutions any more. Do you?

I did make them while in the naive bloom of youth but eventually I became jaded by the shocking reality that less than five percent of New Year’s resolutions are ever kept! And I quit.

Dan Sweaza, lead pastor of Connect Church, told this hand-withholding group (of which I was one) that even though very few of us made resolutions, or were willing to admit we did, all of us were probably interested in self improvement. All of us believe that we could be better, do better, get better.

Yup. Preach it! He had me.

But what about my dismal track record? The promises to get fit, be a better wife, spend more time with my kids, conquer my fears, become a responsible pet owner (Hey! The pet store TOLD me to put the aggressive gerbil in the freezer. It was either that or feed it to a snake!). I had so many failures and failings!

Then Dan said something that gave me so much comfort and encouragement: life change is a process not a project. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, (Romans 8:29 New Living Translation). God’s purpose for our lives is to make is more like Jesus. That has to be an ongoing process.

Projects have a finish line, an end point.

  • Remodel the kitchen–after a few weeks of chaos and dust, it’s over and voila, new kitchen. That’s a project.
  • Paint the trim–risk your life on that extension ladder for a day or two and BAM, it’s done. Project completed.
  • Finish the basement–install some crooked walls, pull some wires, cover the whole mess with ill-fitting drywall and right when divorce court is the next logical step, call in some experts to make it all look like a couple of deranged idiots were not involved and bingo, it’s done. And we’re still married.

Projects have deadlines. You’ve gotta get the kitchen reno done before your grandkids, twin boys known as BamBam and Whackamole, come for Christmas. The pressure is on as December gets consumed by the Christmas craziness and the project stalls.

But life is simply a series of projects, you might argue. Yes and no. We do accomplish things but eventually those projects get old and worn and have to be redone or we move and start all over again. So, in a sense, even projects become part of the process of self improvement, or space improvement.

When you view life change as a process instead of a project, the deadline no longer looms. And you realize that you are never really done.

Am I fit? Courageous? A better wife? An involved parent? A good pet owner?

  • My thighs don’t rub but, in fact, they’ve never met because I am bowlegged so…?
  • I can speak onstage without puking but I still get nightmares about home invasions so….?
  • Ask my husband…when I am out of town or on my deathbed.
  • They grew up and left and gave me grandkids and it’s way easier and more fun with them.
  • I concede defeat and am pet-less (thank you Polonius).

But hey, it’s a process!

  • I will not conquer all my fears but I have come a long way in dealing with them.
  • I will never win the World’s Best Wife Award but my marriage is stronger, healthier and way more fun than it was way back in the resolution-making phase.
  • I will never give parenting advice but my adult kids all like me and say they had a great childhood. Parents are too hard on themselves!

And in case I still felt discouraged in light of all my failed resolutions, Pastor Dan quoted: And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6 New Living Translation)

So don’t lose hope or give in to cynicism, fellow failed resolvers–

  • we are the majority after all!
  • there is no earthly deadline because self-improvement seems to be on the heavenly agenda.
  • as we walk with God, listening for His guidance and seeking His will, He continues to lead us to be more like Jesus and thus, a better version of ourselves.
  • it’s a process!
Posted in focus on faith, need a laugh?

Ready or not: what childbirth teaches about life

When I was expecting my first baby, the doctor wanted to find out if I was ready so he asked me what I thought about natural childbirth. I didn’t know what he meant. I mean, wasn’t childbirth natural? What was unnatural childbirth–a big slimy alien bursting out of your chest?

He suggested I research the Lamaze Method and come back in a month.

This baby has just been born, she is brand new just minutes old. She looks like she jsut stepped out of heaven.
This baby has just been born, she is brand new just minutes old. She looks like she jsut stepped out of heaven.

My mother had delivered eight babies. Did I ask her advice? Absolutely not! I had been to college! And I had a library card–the Internet of yore.

I read the Lamaze book in one sitting: piece of cake! I can do this on the kitchen table, mop up and have the girlfriends for brunch.

At the second prenatal visit I told Doc I was ready and I would not be needing any pharmaceutical intervention. At all. Keep the tylenol in the cupboard; I will do this the natural way.

He was delighted.

He asked me if I wanted Gerry in the delivery room. My friend Laura had said: If he’s there to put in the order…he ought to be there to pick up the package.

Yes I do, I said.

In order for Gerry to get clearance he had to view the film, Having Our Baby. Medical professionals used this as a filter for queasy dads; if you survived the film, you were in.

I wasn’t too sure about Gerry–oldest of five boys. No sisters. I decided to go along in case he needed a hand to hold. Two weeks before our due date, we arrived matinee ready with two little sacs of homemade popcorn.

By this time I was large and uncomfortable, needing help to rise from low couches. I lumbered in and we sat on the two straight-backed wooden chairs in a room smaller than most kitchens. The screen wobbled on its flimsy tripod; we had front row seats.

The lights were doused and the reel began to chatter and whirl. Larger-than-life characters were right in our face. I opened my popcorn and began to nibble, smugly wondering how Gerry would react when things got dicey.

I peeked sideways. Gerry was also nibbling, showing no signs of discomfort. Yet. I’d better keep my eye on him.

The film’s star was obviously a Swede – buxom, blonde, cheerful and uninhibited. She arrived at the hospital with her little suitcase in one hand, her little husband in the other. Every few hours, we would revisit the Swede to see how she was progressing. Thanks to film editing, this only took minutes, giving the impression that labor is a quick, painless affair.

Hah! Just like the book, I thought, and I stole another glance at Gerry. Nibbling. Calm.

The Swede purred: I have to puuush. She began to pant. They moved the Swede from her bed to a cart and rolled into the delivery room. They transferred her onto the delivery table and suddenly it looked like the Swede was going horseback riding! (There were no stirrups in the natural childbirth book)

As soon as the Swede was in the stirrups, the camera zoomed in on the action. I had never seen so much…action! I couldn’t swallow my popcorn; I felt hot and dizzy.

I looked at Gerry. He seemed nervous, like he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be looking at her…action.

He fidgeted. He peeked. He ducked. He nibbled popcorn. He peeked again, looked my way, shrugged and gave me a wan smile.

The Swede began to push. I felt queasier. Suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, the doctor asked the nurse for a needle. There were definitely NO needles in the Lamaze book! A close up shot revealed a device the size of a javelin. He plunged it in deep.

I gasped. The doctor asked for scissors.


He made the judicious cut the Lamaze book failed to mention.

The lights went out all over the world.

Gerry caught me before I rolled off my chair. Popcorn scattered. “Nurse, help! Connie fainted.”

And the nurse said (I am not kidding): “Put her head between her knees.

At 38 weeks, I was great with child. He tried anyway.

When I came out of my swoon I wanted to talk to my mother. I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was.

This true story illustrates the danger of a little knowledge. It is so easy to read one book, watch one doc, view one DIY YouTube, take one class, talk to one self-proclaimed expert and prematurely assume you are ready.

Chances are, you’re not ready. I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was to have that baby. But guess what? Two weeks later, the baby came anyway!

Life has a way of doing that–of moving forward, ready or not. The inevitable truth is that none of us lives forever, on this earth. I am in the decade neither of my parents completed. They died at 66 and 69 and I am 61.

I don’t know what tomorrow brings but I do know that whether I survive this decade or not I am assured of rent-free accommodation with Jesus when I shuffle off this mortal coil. That fact was settled November 19, 1973 when I said no to being my own god and Yes to Jesus as God. I accepted His forgiveness, thanked Him for paying my debt, and stepped in to my eternal future, ready or not.

But I didn’t stop there. Walking by faith is a lifelong learning process.

My 43-year-old faith has raced ahead, stumbled and fallen, gotten trampled and lost in the dessert, evolved and simplified, deepened and matured and I’m still learning.

Are you ready?

Start with the gospel of John. But don’t stop there, remember, a little knowledge can be dangerous. Continue reading all the gospels, then read the letters of Peter, Paul, James and John. Join a Bible study group (virtual or real), make friends with other believers, get involved in a church and establish some spiritual momentum because…

…ready or not….





Posted in need a laugh?

Is 60 the new 40? Heck no!

We Baby Boomers are so sure the universe revolves around us that we refuse to get old: is 60 is the new 40? Heck no!

I turned 60 recently (ok, last year) and celebrated with a big party where it was, of course, all about me! Typical Baby Boomer. I arrived at the party with Big Hair and Red Heels–the same red heels I wore the night I hurled myself off a stage during a speaking gig in Georgia.

After that bone-jarring, elbow-breaking free fall, I gave away every pair of heels I owned…except the red ones. I never wanted to forget. It was like the half-smoked, lipstick-stained cigarette a friend kept for years, in an ashtray on the living room shelf as a reminder that it was her last smoke. And it was.

I am sure it was some Baby Boomer who coined the phrase, 60 is the new 40, in an attempt to bask in the limelight just a teensy bit longer. Well, fellow BB’s, I hate to tell you but 60 is not the new 40. It’s not even the new 50. It’s 60!

Deal with it!ddc_1860

At 40 I thought I could take on the world. Heck, I could still jog without leaking. I still had young children at home. I could hardly wait for them to grow up and clear out so I could focus on my thing.

At 50 I became a grandparent and booted my youngest child out of the nest–he was 19 and needed a nudge. He soon joined the human race, worked hard, found a fabulous wife and produced two adorable grandchildren (# 5 and #6). His older sisters gave us #1 – #4. Bless them.

  • At 60 quitting time comes a lot earlier! The to-do list ends at 5 p.m.  Whatever it was I used to do until 9 or 10 p.m. is no longer urgent. Or relevant! Tomorrow is another day. Actually, tomorrow is a gift that many people I knew at 40 no longer have because they didn’t make it this far.
  • At 60 I schedule fun (a.k.a. Jas, Eli, Madi, Mac, Brielle, Coco) and spend a lot of time at parks and playgrounds. I slide and swing and dig with tiny plastic shovels. Cheapest therapy out there. Don’t knock it.
  • At 60 I invite people into my real house, the one we live in not the showplace. The competition is over. I no longer have to win. When people notice our scarred wood floors I tell them it’s a record of our family history–mostly war by the looks of it!
  • At 60 I get rid of stuff. The acquisition frenzy ended about a decade ago and I decided to save my descendants some hassle by downsizing and decluttering. I used to sell but now I donate. Much more satisfying. And quicker–that’s the real reason.
  • At 60 I give myself a facelift every time I look in a mirror. A great big smile. Its quite affordable.
  • At 60 I still walk but not aerobically. It drove me crazy, at 40, to have to stop all the time on outings with my kids. There were places to go and we needed to get there fast! Now, on outings, when the grandkid stops I thank them. And God!
  • At 60 I no longer say Hurry Up. Ever. If I do say it, I repent. If I think Hurry Up, it’s a sign I have failed to create the margin of space needed to accomplish a given task. When 3-year-old Brielle insists on dressing herself and putting her shoes on the wrong feet, I wait. I enjoy it…mostly.
  • At 60, I don’t multi-task. There are varying opinions about whether or not multi-tasking kills brain cells but, just in case, I’m not taking any chances. The real reason is because I can’t remember what I am doing   half the time and…what was I talking about?

Probably the best reason that 60 is not the new 40 is because at 60, we are no longer the same person we were 20 years ago. Thank you Jesus. We’ve had time to learn and grow and change and, dare I hope, improve?

What about you? Are you embracing the changes new seasons of life bring? What are you glad about in your current decade?

Time marches forward, never backward. Remember fondly (or strategically forget) what was. Celebrate (and accept) what is. Look forward to what will be.

Posted in focus on faith, need a laugh?

Three Ways to Avoid Jumping to Conclusions

First of all, what’s wrong with jumping to conclusions? The conclusions we jump to are typically negative: she really does hate me; I’ll never get that job; I’m a terrible mother; I’ll never find a deal like this again….

In the story about my lost iPhone, I jumped to the conclusion that someone had absconded with my phone and I would encounter some nefarious characters if I tried to retrieve it. I was wrong. SO wrong.

Let me take you back few years (almost 40 actually). When I unwrapped my wedding gifts, my cousin Joan’s gift was in a heavily taped box. The picture on the box was of a hibachi barbecue. It would have been perfect for our lakeside honeymoon…but we forgot to 64212991bring it along.

Weeks later, I wrote in Joan’s thank you card: Thank you for the hibachi. We love it! It came in handy on our honeymoon at the lake.

I lied, thinking, she’ll feel so happy knowing we really appreciated and used her gift!

Yes, I felt guilty for the lie. I rationalized–it’s not like I told the Nazis where I had hidden the Jews or sent my neighbour to the gulag for the photo of Stalin on his dartboard!

Let it go, I told myself. But I couldn’t.

The hibachi box, unopened, sat on a shelf in the store room until the following summer when I decided to surprise my husband with some grilled steaks for supper!

Taking the box down from the shelf, I lugged it out to the kitchen, heaved it onto the countertop and fetched a paring knife to cut open the packing tape. After slitting a generous amount of tape–Joan must have added some extra security, how thoughtful–I reached inside and pulled out…a cheeseboard.

retro-70s-vintage-teak-wood-fruit-and-cheese-board-glass-dome-cover-1stopretroshop-b9635-1My sins had found me out! (Numbers 32:23 be sure your sin will catch up with you.)

I jumped to a conclusion with a leap that rivalled anything Evel Kneivel had done: Joan thinks I am a liar, undeserving of forgiveness, love or friendship. So I avoided Joan for the next 15 years. Yes, years, not days, not weeks, not months. YEARS. (We have a huge family and Joan didn’t have time to miss me.)

Finally, after becoming friends with Joan’s daughter-in-law who lived nearby (and being unable to avoid her any more) I sent Joan a second note confessing my sin and begging forgiveness. I was humiliated and ashamed.

Not long after, Joan came to town to visit her son’s family and I was invited over. I couldn’t live with the weight of guilt any longer so I hugged Joan and shakily asked if she had gotten my letter…you know…about the hibachi…. (nervous cough). She threw her head back and laughed.

 Bwahahahaha….! You Cavanaugh girls have such a great sense of humour! I knew you were kidding when I got the thank you card. 

I had been afraid to see my cousin Joan for 15 years and the whole time she thought I was kidding. GOOD GRIEF CHARLIE BROWN!

The Joan debacle changed my thinking and my behaviour in the ensuing two decades. May I humbly put forth Three Ways to Avoid Jumping to Conclusions:

  1. Assess the history: If you have transgressed against someone (you da bad guy) or you feel wounded by someone (he da bad guy), think back to the typical dealings in your relationship thus far. Have they been mostly good? Is he/she a person of good will? If your history with the other party has been positive then chances are, this is a misunderstanding.
  2. Ask yourself, am I missing something? A friend of mine was wounded by a workplace conversation wherein the other party was forthright to the point of being terse. What my friend didn’t know was that she spoke that way to everyone. Her style was direct and businesslike but her work was professional and she was warm and engaging once you got to know her. This was my friend’s first direct dealings with this colleague.
  3. Act on it. Or not. But let it go. In the Joan story, the obvious fix should not have waited 15 years. If you have assessed the history, discovered some missing information and still are uneasy about your situation, you should go directly to the other party and either confess your guilt and ask them to forgive you or share your hurt and ask them to explain. In most cases, the air will be cleared and you can both move on. There are also times when you’ve assessed the history, discovered some missing pieces and realized you jumped to the wrong conclusion. You can let it go and move on without acting on it. That’s what my friend did. She never confronted her coworker and they have developed a strong working relationship.

If you do all of the above, with an awareness that you are a flawed but forgiven child of God who depends on His grace for every good thing in your life, chances are the outcome will satisfy. If not, don’t blame me, I have post-traumatic-Joan-syndrome and I’m not responsible.

Posted in need a laugh?

Adventures with my iPhone: the rest of the story!

apple-iphone-5s-screen-front-ios-7I got the phone! For some of you, that’s all you need to know since you are busy people with demanding schedules and you somehow got sucked into this saga yesterday against your will. You have to admit it did provide a few laughs — we might need to have a contest on which you think were the funniest comments. Rapple chips and papsi made me LOL.

For everyone else, here’s the rest of the story.

It all started at church. (Of course, doesn’t everything?) I wore “church clothes” which, for women, means no pockets. In this day of constant connection, what does a girl do with a cell phone when she has no pocket? (my bosom is not buxom enough to support a phone–tried it and it fell out). So I put the phone in the pocket of my sweater hanging on the wall in the nursery–my Sunday morning kingdom.

When Sunday School ended, I grabbed my purse but not the sweater since it was warm in the building, and left the room. Don’t you know the music was great, the preacher (my hubby) gave a terrific message, I got convicted, repented, prayed, made changes to my life (still with me?), then I met new visitors, chatted with friends, and got mobbed by the grandkids who all wanted to come home with me. We sorted it all out and left in a flurry, sans the sweater still hanging in the nursery.

Important note: our church meets in a busy community centre owned by three live drama companies. When we leave our rented space Sunday mornings, there are usually other people waiting to get in.

Sunday afternoon was lots of fun with the grands, my granddog and some neighbourhood kids–we took a picnic (Ok, it was 3 apples and a knife. I’m not Martha Stewart) to the playground. Hours later when the kids went home I started looking for my phone. I remembered last seeing it at the community centre but it was too late to call. No matter, I thought, I will call tomorrow.

Monday morning I went to my daughter’s nearby house to use her phone–we have no landline. I called the CC but always got an answering machine. No matter, we had to go to the landfill in Calgary so we would drop by the CC and pick it up.

When I went to the CC and asked the office manager if a phone had been turned in she said no and she directed me to the Lost and Found bin. Nada.

That’s when this whole mess, started to get complicated…and quite funny.

I reacted like a mature godly woman…”Someone stole my phone! I’m goin’ after ’em! Kneecaps may get damaged along the way!” You get the picture.

My son-in-law Brad remotely (if you’re my age you don’t know what this means–you think it means somewhat or barely but it actually means fiddling with a tech device from another location) locked my phone and put a message on the screen saying This phone is lost please contact (his number).

He told me he could erase the phone also but before doing that, I should try to get it back. Then he showed me the App for tracking and pinging. Can you believe it? Big Brother exists! Brad said that at that moment the phone was at such and such address.

My daughter Christine was with me–we were using her phone for the communication with Brad. We decided we would go scope out the place where the phone was but Brad called again saying the phone was on the move–headed north on Deerfoot Trail.

We called the police. we were directed to the Non-Emergency Lukewarm Line who told us, if you can read between the lines: First you have to file a police report. The police have to come to you–this can take hours so get comfortable. Once that’s done, if and when they get time/feel like it/have nothing better to do/aren’t chasing murderers or real bad guys, they may go check it out. If the address is a multiple dwelling, they’re done. If the address is a parking lot or a empty lot, they’re done. If the address is a house they will knock on the door and if it is answered they will ask for your phone. If the person says they don’t have it, they’re done.

After this I told the woman I would think about it and possibly call back.


I crossed my fingers behind my back and said of course not.

Once home, I got the App on my iPad and began to track the phone. It was going all over the NE quadrant of Calgary. I kept pinging it and it kept moving.

Ha! My pinging has them on the run!

Gerry got home from work about 9 pm and I brought him up to date. By that time the phone had stopped moving and it was at an address that seemed to be home base for this nest of vipers. I told him my Google search revealed the house had been condemned as a grow-op in 2011. He was rather inclined to drive in to Calgary and retrieve the phone right then. I thought it was way too late and we were way too tired. We went to bed

The next morning, on Facebook, I posted what I thought was an innocent question:

My iPhone was taken (along with my favourite sweater — phone in pocket) from the Beddington Community Centre on Sunday. I have been tracking it and it has put on a lot of miles but it keeps going back to the same address, a house in NE Calgary that was condemned as a grow-op in 2011 (thank you Google). Should I knock on the door?What would you do?

And the firestorm erupted! The comments came pouring in. Some worried, some hilarious. People began commenting on other peoples’ comments and I could not keep up! I tried to explain why “call the police” was not a viable option but it was tedious so I just said, read above! Way above!

I even found a friend who said she would go with me to look at the place but she couldn’t go until the next day. I grew more and more restless as I tracked the phone and saw the battery getting weaker and weaker. If I don’t go today, I may not be able to find it, I thought.

I called our son who works in the NE and told him the whole story and named the street where the phone was. That’s a rough part of town, he said. Just give me the house number and I will go after work.

NO WAY! I’m not going to put you in danger! You have a wife and two babies! I will go and you come along for back up. He agreed.

That’s when I posted: ok guys. I am going. i have backup. stay tuned…

As I left the house, Gerry drove up. Of course he wanted to come along so we headed into the city. We went to our son JP’s workplace and had a lovely tour–never been there before! We even looked at samples and decided to buy a new window blind!


Oops. Sorry cyber friends. Occasionally our real life interrupts our cyber life.

I told her we weren’t even at the drug-den yet but we were on our way.

We all hopped in my car and off we went. Gerry was tracking my phone and it was not moving. We arrived on the street and it was a little down at the heels, as JP surmised. But the house where my phone supposedly was, was different. The lawn was deeper green, weedless and neatly mowed. The roof was newly shingled, the trim freshly painted, the siding bright.

Hmmm. Trying to put us off the scent eh?!

Gerry stayed in the car, watching for any movement on the phone tracking. JP and I went to the door. Large dogs woofed loudly inside. JP advised me to step back. We rang and rang and JP knocked loudly but no answer. So I left a note:


We turned to leave just as a neighbour walked out to her car. Do you know if your neighbour is at home? I asked her.

I don’t think so she replied because they usually park in front and their car is gone. She got in her car and left.

JP and I got back in my car and Gerry said, the phone is on the move! We skedaddled to the back lane to where we thought the phone napper had flown for a quick getaway when we came to the front door but discovered there was a car in the tiny driveway (no garage) and no room for another to park there.

Gerry said, the phone is still moving! We headed off in hot pursuit.

A text came in to Gerry’s cell with a photo of the note we left and this message: I don’t have your sweater or your phone. I hope you find it.

The phone has stopped moving! Gerry reported. It’s at the Beddington Centre!

Oh ya…back to the scene of the crime eh? Or maybe all the action on the street convinced you to bring it back!

We realized it must have been in the car of the next-door lady we talked to! She was driving a van, Gerry said.

After JP stopped laughing he said, no dad it was a red Corolla.

We hurried back to the community centre, parked and peeked into the window of the room where all the drama began. A theatre group was practising dance moves. Gerry walked around the parking lot pinging the phone and looking for a red Corolla.

I went in to the office…and there was my sweater, neatly folded on the desk. And the scarf. And the phone still in the pocket, untouched. The stage manager (next door lady) had cleaned up the props and leftover gear on Sunday, tossed it all in her trunk, none the wiser, intending to bring it all back on Tuesday for rehearsals. When she got to the Centre and was asked if she knew anything about a lost sweater and phone she checked her supplies and ta-da!

Much rejoicing! Went out for supper. Got home late. FB friends had to wait ’til the next day for the rest of the story.

Posted in focus on faith, need a laugh?

We Laugh Here

IMG_1003The first thing people see as they enter my home, besides me that is, is the framed photo of Nancy. Nancy’s afro draws the first curious glance but the tiny caption which calls visitors to lean in close is what gets the laugh: Nancy always had thick ankles, but no one really noticed.  

Originally a Thank You card from a friend, “Nancy” so encapsulated the quirky sense of humour I enjoy, I had it framed and hung it strategically across from our front door. Why? I want people to know we laugh here. 

And just in case they miss Nancy, there are two more hints in the guest bathroom. Directly across from the throne is a pristine starched white hand towel — the kind nobody ever actually dries their hands on. On it are these words: I’m afraid there is no PMS and this is my personality. This was a gift from a sister years ago and I’ve always wondered if she was trying to tell me something. Ah well, if the shoe fits….

And finally, when the guest washes up, there is the colourful metalwork plaque behind the faucet: Mirror, mirror on the wall…what the heck happened?! 

We laugh here! And I want people to know it.

What about God? The Word? Our faith? Do people know we are believers when they come to our home. They’d have to be blind and deaf to miss it! The place is littered with Bibles, Christian books, framed Scripture. I think it is important to let people know I am a Christ follower. But before they get scared that I will beat them over the head with my faith, I want them to know, we laugh here.

Not everybody does, you know. Laugh, that is.

We have been in homes where they don’t. We have had people come to our home and thank us for the laughter. Some confide that they rarely laugh at their home. They wish they did, they add wistfully.

I’ve met many believers who talk about the joy of the Lord but they forgot to send the memo to their face.

George McDonald says: It is the Heart that is not yet sure of its God that is afraid to laugh in His presence.

Not everybody is born with a sense of humour. I wasn’t. Just ask my sister, 10 years my senior. She shared briefly about our family of origin at my Birthday Bash last Spring and finished with this: Connie was a beautiful little girl with her wavy blond hair and blue eyes. But she wasn’t happy. Mmm-hmm, she was an unhappy child…. Then she sat down. She wasn’t kidding. I thought it was hilarious! And I am really glad she set the record straight because, obviously something changed!

I am so glad God taught me how to laugh. It involved following Him into some real suffering and challenges. But I am thrilled to report that the things that made me the maddest, that frustrated me the most, and that scared the p_ _p right out of me are the very stories I have been telling audiences for years. And we laugh. I laugh so hard I can barely get to the punch line!

Still not convinced? Here’s what the Bible says:

A feast is prepared for laughter,
and wine makes life happy,
and money is the answer for everything. Ecclesiastes 10:19

Words to live by…grin.

If your home is laugh-starved, ask God to help you set a new tone. Just follow Him, one laugh at a time. Laughter is attractive. It’s contagious. It’s healing and comforting. It releases tension. It’s a gift from God and it guarantees that when you grow up,  you’ll have wrinkles in all the right places.

Posted in need a laugh?, tips for speakers

7 Compelling Reasons you need Laughter at your next Outreach Event

IMG_3324Did Jesus laugh? We know Jesus wept. The shortest verse in the bible says so. But there is no corresponding verse to John 11:35 that says, “Jesus laughed.” Or even grinned!

What then are to make of the fact that there are hundreds of biblical references to joy? Do joyful people laugh? You bet they do. And it’s contagious. Because I have made people laugh at hundreds of events since 1999, I have seen what laughter can bring to a group.

The typical checklist for what we want at an event includes prayer, sound biblical teaching, practical help for Christian living, encouragement, inspiration, and lots of chocolate. Here are seven compelling reasons why we need to add one more thing to our next Christian women’s outreach event checklist: guaranteed laughs.

  1. Laughter is inviting: You want people to come to your event. And you want people to come back next time. The primary purpose for most Christian events is to connect people to Jesus and to your Christian community. A guaranteed good time is a strong invitation.
  2. Laughter is attractive: Our best Christian witness is a happy life. Most people want to be happy. If they see the joy we have and the way we share that joy – often, but not always, in the form of laughter – then they want it too. (Note: a “happy life” is not free of tragedy, loss, betrayal or suffering. It is a life characterized by the joy of the Lord in the midst of difficulties and challenges)
  3. Laughter is the best medicine: A good laugh makes you feel better. Laughter might not cure what ails you but it certainly puts it out of your mind for a while. There is so much pain and suffering in real life, people need to get relief that doesn’t destroy their liver!
  4. Laughter is the “spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down”: Real healing often means we have to deal with our “stuff.” In order to help people, they need to be made aware of nasty things like selfishness, greed, jealousy, pride, in a word, sin. Tough love is easier to swallow if it is coated with a little sugar!
  5. Shared laughter builds trust: It is much easier to trust a friend than a stranger. People never laugh with their enemies but with their friends. A roomful of laughing people feels a lot friendlier to someone who might have come in the door hesitantly.
  6. Laughter builds bridges: People who might otherwise think they have nothing in common with “church people” can see that the Christian life can be rich and meaningful and joyful.
  7. Laughter can signal a new beginning: there will be people in every crowd who literally have not laughed since their most recent tragedy. I have often had people thank me after a hilarious talk with words like this: “You made me laugh. I didn’t realize how badly I needed that. I haven’t laughed since I lost my husband (child/mother/marriage) three weeks (months/years) ago. For the first time, I think there might be hope that I can live again.” The irony is, every single time this happens to me, it makes me cry! But they are tears of sympathy and joy.


Posted in need a laugh?, tips for speakers

Three Ways to Inject Laughter into your next Outreach Event

 IMG_1160We have all been to events that were so much fun we lingered later than we planned, laughed more than we expected, and left feeling glad we went even though hours earlier we had a hundred excuses why we should stay home.

Why did we have fun? It could have been a number of factors ranging from the logistics to the guest list to the program to the refreshments to how we felt in our new outfit. The common denominator if you were to poll the guests after the fact is probably something as simple as: “I had fun because it was fun – I laughed.”

Laughter brings a guaranteed return on the investment of time it takes to inject some humor into an event. If your guests laughed that is a pretty good indication that they had a good time and they will come to your next event. That is why I think it is so important for Christian event planners to make sure they include “laughter” on the checklist of things they need for their next outreach event.

We’ve all met fun-loving people – maybe you are one – who know how to have a good time and they bring laughter wherever they go. My sister Lisa is like that. The minute she walks in the door at a family get-together, she always announces: “I’m here! Let the fun begin!” And it does! She brings it with her in the form of games, contests, funny stories and family lore.

Sadly, my sister Lisa is not for hire. So let’s look at some sure-fire things you can do to include humor in your next outreach event.

  1. Personally invite fun-loving people to attend: You might even consider offering some of them scholarships or discounts! A board game that made me shriek with laughter with one group of friends felt like a funeral mass with a different group a week later. Obviously it wasn’t the game (or me!) that was funny it was the group of game players. Make an effort to find “gamers” who know how to have fun and pepper your audience with as many of these fun-loving people as you can. The value of what they have to give (shared laughter) is as important as what they can get by attending.
  2. Make sure at least one program personality is funny: It doesn’t matter whether it’s the emcee, a special guest who does fun music or sketch comedy, or the speaker as long as someone brings some levity from the platform. This is important because if it comes from the platform, it gives permission to the audience to relax and enjoy themselves. It sets a joyful, fun-loving tone for the whole event. This doesn’t mean there won’t be seriousness and even tears; just as you can set a tone for fun you can shift the tone into weightier concerns when the time is right.
  3. Include fun in your program: What about an un-fashion show? The more outlandish the outfit, the better. Or a demonstration of what not to do in home decor or home reno. Old standbys like skits, games, contests or short videos also work. Not every event needs these add-ons; because I am a comedic speaker, sometimes the program is simply “sweets and me”! They eat chocolate and laugh at my stories and go home happy. But maybe your next event doesn’t have a funny speaker and you still want people to laugh because you know laughter will help them relax and be more open to receiving whatever it is your wonderful speaker wants to impart. In that case, look for something people can either watch or participate in that will get them laughing. The Internet and fun-loving people you trust are your best resources.

One final thought for you to gnaw on: La Chapelle, a new church in Montreal Quebec, is attracting and winning people to Jesus by the hundreds. Last year they baptized 70 converts. Pastor David Pothier attributes their growth to their willingness to adapt their timeless message (the gospel) to a new methodology: “We are constantly driven and focused on reaching people. We do and think everything through that lens.” One of the items on a short list of essentials for Sunday Worship is humor. Pastor Pothier knows the value of shared laughter in building trust, breaking down barriers and establishing community. Humor is a valuable tool – don’t underestimate its importance.


Posted in focus on faith, need a laugh?

Humour me! I can’t help it.

laughing cartoonFor years I thought that when I matured spiritually I would stop (or greatly curtail) telling funny stories to my audiences and would, instead, exegete the Word like a sharp two-edged sword, tossing in timely definitions of Greek or Hebrew words whilst sharing deep insights gleaned from my hours of religious reverie.

Ya right! I’m still waiting for that “maturity” to take root.

And my audiences are still laughing. And are incredibly grateful I haven’t “grown up” yet. They tell me there are plenty of reasons to cry, there is an endless barrage of discouragement, there is suffering galore; so once in a while it’s great to just laugh!

I am taking a Christian Classics course at our local seminary that began last week with Homer (circa 750 B.C) whose “definitive condition of life was not peace but battle.” From Homer to Herodotus and his History of the Persian Wars — more bloodshed. And then we encounter the triumvirate of tragedians in Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus! Enough already!

Imagine how relieved I was to arrive at Aristophanes, who wrote comedies (circa 400 B.C.) “Aristophanes was the first to see the full implications of comedy–to recognize that the comic imagination is essential in the movement toward hope and love. …those who choose a comic sprightliness and optimism in difficult situations are thereby enabled to renounce self-absorption and hence to endure and prevail.” (Invitation to the Classics) In other words, laughter takes the focus off “me and my big problems” and helps us make it through hard times.

All those years I was trying to grow up” and “get spiritual” God was telling me to use my gift of humour to bring encouragement, laughter, and hope. I recently crowd-sourced (first time I’ve used that hip word!) my Facebook friends and asked advice for an upcoming retreat for pastor’s wives.

I got some great feedback, including this: I was at a retreat that you put on for our women’s ministry, and honestly Connie it was the best retreat for me because of your speaking! We laughed so much and I still talk about it to this day. (My husband was executive pastor to that church). So I say – do that same one- where u have woven a story throughout all the sessions . One of your ending lines was “Connie it’s a miracle” , stated by your husband. LOL. Women need laughter and something to take to heart, you definitely deliver! Thank you!

You might not be a speaker or leader or teacher but you are certainly a friend. Let God use your sense of humour to infuse difficult situations with hope. I have a friend at church whose husband works overseas for months at a time. While he was away, she discovered she had breast cancer. She asked me to accompany her to see the oncologist where we heard the words no woman wants to hear: breast cancer, mastectomy.

We laughed a lot that day.

Why? Because I can’t help it! I see humour (its called “dark comedy”) in life’s situations. And my friend has a great sense of humour too. On one of her texts to me after her season of surgical removal, implantation, and reduction she described her new look as “my designer boobs.” That made me LOL!

Sometimes our friends need us to talk to them, sometimes they need us to be quiet and listen, sometimes the best thing we can do is cry with them, but occasionally what a friend needs most is a good belly laugh. If you can’t come up with something yourself, do an online search for clean humour (or humor, dear American friends). Pour out your favourite libation (hot tea for me!) and let the gift of shared laughter lighten the load, elevate the mood, and help heal the wounded heart.