2017 Family Review

As the year draws to the end, we wanted to continue our tradition (as many others do) with a year-end family update.

Tracy and Maggie enjoyed a trip to New York City this summer to celebrate the birthday of one of Maggie’s close friends.  Maggie is in grade 11 and life is full for her.  She enjoys playing on the school basketball and volleyball teams, serving on the athletic council and participating in the youth group at church.  This year she also started working at McDonald’s, a tradition started by Mark and his brother John more than 30 years ago!!  I keep requesting a tour but that request has been denied so far.  I’d love to know just how a Big Mac is made these days.  Maggie continues to enjoy the camps at Echo Lake (3 times a year) where she has developed some great friends.

Ben is studying at Carleton Unversity (Tracy and Mark’s Alma Mater).  He enjoys spending the week living with his aunt Mary Ann, who is a 10-minute walk to the university.  Weekends he is usually back home.  Ben spent part of the summer learning how to seal and paint parking lots.   Ben and Stephen joined their Grandma and cousins in Florida again this summer at the end of August – the coolest time of the year in the southern states!!

With Stephen working this summer in Ottawa, I had a chance to train with Stephen as he prepared to run his first half marathon this fall – the Army Run.  Race day turned out to be one of our warmer days this year but he did a great job in completing the run respectably.  Stephen is about to start his last term at Queens after which he hopes to graduate with his engineering degree.  We continue to get to know and enjoy his girlfriend Mackenzie.

One of the highlights this year for Tracy and I was to attend my mom’s (Gramma Lin) baptism.  After experiencing her Christian faith more significantly over the past couple of years, she decided to demonstrate that by public baptism.  It was a wonderful celebration.

This summer I tackled two significant projects – a complete bathroom renovation (a first for me) and new deck at the cottage.  The bathroom came with lots of help and coaching from Roy (my mom’s husband), many of my handier friends and of course Youtube.  I have to admit, there were a few occasions where I struggled and wondered if I was in over my head.  I know you’re wondering, yes Tracy liked the results and I was able to pick up some new tools without any guilt.

In October Tracy and I had a chance to travel to London for work with our colleagues Richard and Terry Long.  It was a great trip as we attended a conference together.  Tracy and I also had the opportunity to visit with my cousins Malcolm (Noree), Brian (Julia) and Sue.  It was so much fun to talk about the history of my family and for Tracy to hear about it.  We also visited with Tracy’s cousin Dan and got a backstage tour of the Royal Opera House and saw his opera, Les Vepres Siciliennes. We thoroughly enjoyed London and were very fortunate to have fantastic weather while we were there.

This fall Tracy and I were part of an Alpha group that our friends (Mike and Alexis) hosted in their home.  Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the basics of the Christian faith.  We loved making new friends and seeing some of their questions and doubts from their perspective.  It quickly became the highlight of our week.

On Tracy’s front, along with working at One Way Ministries (halftime) with me, she picked up a part-time job working with a small software company (Auctria.com) by answering some of their online questions that come in daily.  This she is able to do wherever she is able to get an internet connection, so it offers a fair amount of flexibility.  She also went on a “reunion road trip” with her friend Jackie to visit Sonja in Vancouver, and oh yes, see U2.  The last time Tracy and Jackie flew together was in 1989 when they backpacked together as university students.

We both continue to enjoy working with One Way Ministries.  We are part of a tremendous team and we are very fortunate to enjoy the work we do.  If you’re interested in some of the details of what the organization does, you can see a year-end report here.

Tracy and I want to thank our family and friends who have loved and encouraged us this year.  We really are enjoying an abundant life.  We want to wish you a joyful new year.

God bless.

 

Book Review – A Disruptive Gospel by Mac Pier

Last fall, a number of Ottawa leaders attended the Movement Day Conference in NYC.  It was an excellent time bringing together over 3,000 international leaders.  As part of the welcome package, each participant received the book A Disruptive Gospel: Stories and Strategies for Transforming your City by Mac Pier.

This book fired my imagination for what can happen in a city.  The recent history in NYC is an example.  The book cites Tony Carnes’ research that indicates the percentage of the population in Manhattan who worship in an evangelical church has jumped from less than 1% to more than 5% in 25 years.  Pier credits a number of things for this. His big idea is:  As leaders are increasingly present to one another, God is increasingly present to the city.  He goes on to credit united prayer, effective preaching and grace to enhance the planting and growth of churches.  He notes there also has been significant effort in developing millennial leaders to ensure the future of the movement in NYC.

The book looks at movements in a number of other cities and countries from around the world.  These include Dallas, Manila, Mumbia, Chennai, Dubai, Singapore, Port-au-Prince, Pretoria, Kigali and the United Kingdom.

I was particularly struck by the discovery in the United Kingdom that there are at least 116 unity movements.  These movements are found all across the UK in nearly every major city and town. All of them birthed for mission and transformation.

Here are some of the elements that Pier suggests for a healthy city movement:

  • Everyone involved – the movement does better when it includes the majority of church leaders, Christian organizations and key Christian leaders in the cultural spheres.
  • Friendship and prayer – a healthy movement sees both of these as growing and important.
  • Mission – the city leadership must share a regular joint mission with special focus on the most vulnerable.
  • Transformational vision – people must have a vision to see their city significantly transformed culturally, socially and spiritually over the next thirty years.
  • Partnership approach – the leaders must be willing to link significantly with public, private and third sector partners.
  • Spheres focus – church leaders should enable, train, and release church members to be whole life disciples in their spheres of life and influence.

As I was reading the book I was evaluating where we are at in Ottawa.  I think we are doing well in terms of relationships and friendships. Where I think we can grow is the following:

  • I am looking for more leadership buy-in across the city.  Leaders who catch this vision and are willing to partner.  I’m encouraged to see how much buy in we have and how many leaders are now working together, but we need more.
  • More passionate, bold  and strategic prayer.  I long for God to visit and disrupt our city and for our leaders to be praying more together.
  • Creative ways to engage our younger leaders to release them into starting Kingdom focused businesses, social enterprises and churches.

If you want to get stirred up about Gospel City Movements and need some ideas on how to move that forward, pick up this book.  I recommend it.

How I manage my tasks.

I get asked from time to time how I manage the things I commit to?

Here’s my system.  It seems to work.

When I am meeting with anyone, I use a notebook and pen (fountain of course) to take notes.  I really prefer and enjoy paper and pen.

This is what I record.  Each page in my notebook is a separate meeting. Before a meeting, I write who I am meeting with, the location and the date.  If I have an agenda, then I want to make sure we get to it, I will simply list the agenda items.

During the meeting (or right after) I will make note of the following:

  • What we discussed.  I’ll try and capture the essence of what we talked about.  If I agreed to anything, I will write that.  I will always try and capture personal information.  Who is their spouse (if married), kids etc.?  Any issues they share on that front.  What they like to do for fun? What are they passionate about at the moment?
  • If we met at a coffee shop or restaurant, I’ll note who paid.  This way I can keep an accurate count of how we can share these expenses if we meet again in the future.
  • Commitments I made or the other person makes – I’ll use a ? – then write what the commitment was.

Once a week, I review my notes and scan all my meetings for the ?s.  At that point, I either do the task or post it to my task program (which happens to be Nozbe) and schedule a time when I will do the task. Then, this is fun, I tick the box.  Last thing I do (fortunately at the moment, I ask Janice to do this) is scan the whole page where I’ve written the note and attach the note to our customer relationship management (CRM) software (which happens to be Highrise).

Posting the one page into Highrise allows me to quickly scan what we talked about just before I go into another meeting in the future. Highrise has a handy app – so I can do this on my phone.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember facts like I used to, this helps me stay on top of the details.  As well, if you’ve captured personal information, it allows me to ask personal follow up questions about their family.  It communicates that I care.  Which I do.

Lastly, I put a big tick at the top of that page.  It tells me I’ve dealt with all the tasks and it has been scanned into our CRM.

That’s how I handle my commitments.  How about you?

Why I Run

I’ve always enjoyed the idea of running, but not until I turned 40 did I actually enjoy running.  I’ve always enjoyed chasing balls and playing team type sports, but the joy of running was elusive.  I knew running was good for me, but I just could not find a way to enjoy it.

Not until I went to watch my brother-in-law, Jamie, run a marathon in the Ottawa race weekend.  While waiting for him to finish, I sat in the stands and watched hundreds of people come across the finish line.  Some were finishing with a burst of speed and frenzy, others were slowing weaving and wobbling in under the watchful eyes of first aid personnel.  Some looked sweaty and exhausted while others displayed joyful celebration with a fist pump as they crossed the line.  There were all types of bodies, slim and runner-like to stocky.  Old and young, male and female.  They were accomplishing something special.  And I was sitting in the stands ……..  I didn’t want to be in the stands.  I wanted their joy, the experience of finishing a race.  That’s when I decided I’d be running next year in this race.

My next step was to find a way to train for this and was directed to the Running Room.  There I signed up for their marathon-training program.  It was a wonderful experience.  Here’s what got me to enjoy running.  They slowed me down.  Whenever I went for a run in the past, I was pushing myself to run as fast as I could, my body was not used to running and so it became very uncomfortable.  The Running Room program got me to run with others, which was fun.  The key was to run only as fast as you could while having a conversation with someone.  That is to say, you have to run so as not to get breathless and thus experience a gasping conversation.  In running slower, my body began to change.  It got more efficient and after a while I could run a bit faster without getting breathless.  The idea is that you have to run slow to run fast.  In fact, I later learned that high performing runners do a lot of training by running slow.  Anyway, it started there.  I ran my marathon the next year and finished my race.  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but it was amazing too.  It’s the only marathon I’ve run to date; I prefer the half marathon distance, as I don’t have to put quite so much training in.

Here are the reasons I continue to run.

It’s efficient and cost effective.  Running is one of the most efficient forms of exercise.  For the time you put into it, you burn the most calories.  A pair of running shoes is all you need.  When I travel, I can always get out for a run.  I don’t need to find a gym.

It works well with my goal minded personality.  It’s measurable.  I try and run a couple of races each year and I can compare how well I’m doing by my finish time.  I set monthly goals for how many kms I want to run and I track them with my phone running app.  I can compare how I’m doing with my brother who also runs.  (Yes we are a bit competitive!)

It’s an important component of a healthy body.  All kinds of studies suggest running can help you live longer, provide better mental health as you age, better chances of avoiding cancer and diabetes.

It supports my other sports activities by providing a base of fitness.  I play hockey once a week most of the year and so having a baseline of fitness allows me to keep my pace up towards the end of the hour I play weekly.  I believe it reduces the chance of heart attack that we hear about with out-of-shape occasional hockey players.

It’s helped me develop some great friendships.  When I go for a run with someone we get a chance to spend uninterrupted time talking.  My current running partner is my neighbour Rob.  Running has helped us develop a great friendship.

I can do it outside.  Since growing up in southern Africa, I always have enjoyed being outside.  Running gets me outside on a regular basis.  It has helped me make friends with our Ottawa winters as I continue to run outside when the weather turns cooler.

Late fall run with Maggie and Stephen along the Rideau Canal.

It provides something for my kids to consider.  Just like any commitment to exercise and activity, your kids watch that and hopefully it lays a foundation of healthy lifestyle for them.  My kids didn’t really enjoy running as teenagers, but they’re coming around.  Maggie will often go with me now and Stephen has committed to running a half marathon with me this fall.

Ever considered running?