Monday, April 30, 2012


Father and Son on their way to Mexico

Over the weekend, the driver in front of me kicked up a stone and cracked my windshield.  This is the third incident mucking up my new van in less than a year. I was instantly reminded how accidents even happen at home, while doing the mundane.
How many of us cling to our families and material things as though it will keep them safe from harm?
When our 12-year-old son left for the Dominican Republic on a mission trip a few summers ago, the popular response from my friends was, “Aren’t you scared?” The truth is I am more afraid of clinging to my kids and my fears so tightly, that I thwart the Lord from doing a mighty work in their lives. In spite of my Mama-fears, I must hold my loved ones loosely.
Friday morning I waved goodbye again to the same son (now 16 years old) and his dad as they left for a Spring Missions trip to Mexico.
This morning I said goodbye to my 13-year-old baby.  He is serving the local Salvation Army, homeless, and planting trees at schools downtown with his Junior High youth group.

Sweet Baby Dane goes off to serve

I was hoping to go with him, at least drive a van load of kids back and forth. But through a series of events, I lent my van to a driver I don’t know, to be filled with hyper junior high kids. The thought of a hole punched in the seat or a shovel scraping the ceiling has crossed my mind.  But, I must also hold my van loosely.
Stones will hit the window while I drive it around the corner, rust will destroy it, and thieves may break in and steal it. Scripture reminds me, “Where my treasure is, there will my heart be also.”  So, I handed over my keys as an act of worship.
I am left feeling a little lost this morning.  A.J. and I are home alone for the week. It’s a funky feeling when most of your family is gone and you are left tooling around on your own. Normally I would welcome the time to myself, but I am feeling as though a large piece of my heart is gone.
Honestly though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Opportunities abound for our kids to grow deeper in their walk with the Lord while serving the world.
So here are the strange prayers from a Mama learning to hold her loved ones loosely:
I pray they get dirty for God! I hope their fingernails get dirty from playing with children and planting trees.
I pray their bodies get smelly from living away from the conveniences of home but being filled up from serving the Lord.
I pray their hearts are broken as they encounter people who have so little. And their hearts stretched as they experience the joy of sharing the Good News and treating others as better than themselves.
I pray they build lasting friendships working side by side with like-minded kids. While they share in the work and the worship, I pray they would come back to their schools and sports teams and shine brighter together!
I pray they will feel uncomfortable or afraid, and step out of their comfort zone, take a step of faith, and watch God show up in personal and mighty ways!
When they feel tired and sore and lay in their sleeping bags feeling homesick, I am grateful they can’t text me. I pray they would lean upon God as their comfort and  provider.
This mom is holding her loved ones loosely today, trusting if I cling to my life I will lose it, but if I lose my life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel, I will save it (Mark 8:35).
I couldn’t have it any other way.


Monday, April 23, 2012

INDECENT EXPOSURE: Winning the Sexual Battle for the Minds and Hearts of the Next Generation

Tears poured down her face as we embraced. My wife, Donalyn, whispered to me through her pain, “It is so wrong, and so easy. What if our grandbabies ever saw that?”
Saw what?
Two things led to her reaction. First, we had just watched SEXT UP KIDS, a CBC Documentary on Doc Zone on Feb. 23, 2012 (we highly recommend that all parents and grandparents watch this 45 minute show online - It graphically and urgently calls parents to be aware of what our sex-saturated culture is doing to the sexual worldview of our children.
Secondly, earlier that same week, I had shared how a father had approached me with the tragic story of how well-meaning grandparents had given an iPad to a much-loved grandchild. This 11-year-old, with her curiosity and a push from her peers, had googled the word “sex”. She was traumatized. Thankfully, she came to her parents about her extreme confusion to talk and pray through the defiling impact these sexual images had had on her.
So, my wife (and yes, better her than me) decided, after watching the documentary, to simply Google the word “sex” and click on the first link that appeared to see what inquisitive and unsupervised kids might find. Thus the shock and the flowing tears. Donalyn found a 1-page collage of pornographic photos of every explicit sexual act imaginable with exploitive captions under each. Unconscionable! Appalling! And only three letters and two clicks away…
It’s a new world out there. Parents beware! Your Children can be so personally exploited and sexually manipulated with the explicit, harmful, content that is available free and anonymous and can be accessed anywhere, anytime.
Don’t say it can’t happen to your family. It did ours.
When my youngest daughter was at a sleepover for a friend’s 13th birthday party, the girls, in daring and unsupervised group fashion, managed to get on an adults only dating website. They thought they would have fun creating a fictitious profile but used their pictures. It went from innocent though stupid to dangerous when one girl went back later and put real contact information for our daughter – OUR PHONE NUMBER! I am so glad God protected us as I was the one who received the call from an older man wanting to speak to her. He back-peddled hard when he found out she was just 13 and I was her Dad! If tragedy came that close to us and we are people who spend our lives helping others with marriage and family issues, why not you? Remember, that was 15 years ago…today is so different.
The pornographic influence on the culture is everywhere. The sexualization of our children is pervasive. The premature draw toward sex and being sexual is so powerful (watch the documentary). And how big a draw? The combined porn industry alone takes in more revenue annually than all the major sports industries – yes, bigger in North America than football, baseball, basketball and hockey combined. Then this is the retail sales world where marketers, driven by intense greed for profit, use the KAGOY strategy – Kids Are Getting Older Younger. While advertizing restrictions are in place for TV, they do not exist for the Internet. Marketers can bypass parents like never before.
You add to this strong cultural sexual push, the natural and sometimes rebellious drive toward autonomy for all tweeners (10-14 year-olds) and any family could be poised for trouble.  As kids seek to copy Hollywood icons in looks and attitudes and add to the explicit content they have seen online, the thrill of getting noticed, the dare of sexual exposure and the universality of uploading ease, creates such sad and devastating possibilities.  If 24-7 access to porn – hardcore and highly explicit images – were not enough, kids can be tempted to produce and upload self-created and self-exposing sexually explicit pictures or videos. They can Skype live sexual exposure that feels harmless and safe because they are not really there. New and careful boundaries need to be in place. So, for the love of your kids, let’s do that.
Here are my tips on how parents can be wise and intentional about protecting their children from unhealthy sexual contamination.
1. Wake up to the dangers. The potential influence of a sex-saturated culture on your children is scandalous. Seek online knowledge. Avoid regrets later. Choose to do all you can to protect your children from sensuously influential and sexually explicit online content.
2. Get safeguards in place. Utilize built-in or install protective software on every electronic device within your family that has online access: home computer or laptop, mobile phone, android or iPhone, notebook or iPad, and Xbox, Play Station or Wii. Just so you know, a Play Station can become a Porn Station.  Check out parental controls available within each device or buy appropriate software to protect children. Have your home wireless access password protected and set online access via your wireless router with both time and content limits. And if you are like me, ask a computer whiz in your world for help in doing this.
3. Have preteen “Sex Talks” earlier. For years, I have been advocating parental value-based sex education by age 11. Push that down to age 9 and reinforce these talks each year with more details. We can’t be ashamed to talk about what God wasn’t ashamed to create. Go to for great help on “sex talks”.
4. Delay giving the latest electronic gadgets. Back in the day, you wouldn’t give a 12 year old a Playboy stapled shut to carry around each day. Why then give a tool before they are ready that is potentially 100 times more powerfully destructive? Research shows that the earlier your children gain online access the sooner they are going to stumble on and gain curiosity about unhealthy sexual material. Any device with Internet access needs to be postponed as long as possible and then once available, carefully monitored. And frankly, you won’t be popular as a parent.
5. Implement new online boundaries.  Here are a few. Give the phone a curfew if needed. Phone use, notebook or laptop availability can be a reward for responsible living. Push that its use is a gift not a right. All gadgets are off at night and in a common place. Limit how long they are online. Passwords for all devices must be shared with parents and not private. Adopt a user pay approach to cell phone use and make them contribute to it. Be friends with your kids on Facebook with those actually old enough. Don’t allow kids to upload any photos, videos or personal information without your permission until a time that you fully trust them.
6. Be vigilant as a parent. Know where your kids are, what they are doing and whose house they are at. Be confident in the values and the supervision standards of those places. Also, know and monitor their online community of friends and contacts like you would their school friends.
7. Get on your knees more. Humbly ask God for wisdom in parenting. Lift up each child daily in prayer for protection, purity and perspective on all life’s issues. This cultural challenge to win the sexual battle for the minds and hearts of the next generation puts a whole meaning to the verse, “Train us a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he’ll not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Tell us your story, share an opinion or ask a question at We’d love to hear from you in your journey of doing family right.

Guest Blog Writer
Dr. Dave Currie, Doing Family Right

Monday, April 16, 2012


20 years ago, Eric and I began a very tumultuous relationship. After six years of on-again, off-again dating, we decided to pull the trigger and get married. Our friends and family were a little shocked. We were then, and still are, a very passionate couple and passion often manifests itself in a lot of fireworks. While a display of fireworks can be festive and breathtaking, handling explosives is never a completely safe endeavour.
Over the years, we have cultivated the skill to manage the passion without snuffing it out and yet sustaining as little damage as possible. I write this post on our 14th anniversary – we are pretty sure that everyone who wagered bets against us has lost by now – and I decided to share some of the ways we make it work. As I reflect on the years, there are five commitments that Eric and I make that weave strength into our marriage.
1)   We are deeply committed to each other. We have an unusual relationship because we are both public figures, out speaking to churches – but we do so as individuals and on different topics. On one hand, my husband, the Director of Philanthropy for World Relief Canada, tackles the complexities of international poverty, hunger, and education. On the other hand, I speak and preach at churches on the issues of sexual intimacy. Traditionally, the material that I handle is covered by a) a man or b) a couple, so Eric and I are keenly aware that what I do is counter-culture. Could Eric join me? Of course. He is an extremely gifted speaker and thoroughly knowledgeable about marriage. But his calling is different than mine. His work passions lie elsewhere. And I am deeply committed to seeing him grow and flourish in the area to which he is called. But he feels the same way about me. He is actively supportive of my business – from handling the website, to listening to my talking points as I write, to lending a critical eye to my forth-coming book. Truth be told, we love that we are different. We love that we are called to different areas of ministry. We laud each other’s passions and are each other’s biggest fans. We have a deep, abiding respect for the individuality that we bring to our marriage.
2)   We are deeply committed to our marriage. Marriage is not just a combination of two individuals. It is greater than the sum of its parts. It is its own entity. It lives or dies, it communicates to the world, and it can use its powers for good or for evil awesome. Just as Eric and I are deeply rooted in our understanding of ourselves as individuals, we also recognize that our marriage needs nurturing in order to remain strong. If we are not consciously investing in activities that strengthen our marriage, it will become at risk. We therefore jealously guard our date night, we practice what I preach on sexual intimacy, and we understand that we have a calling as a couple to impact the lives of people around us. Because we are people of faith, we believe that God is in the center of our lives, having a relationship with each of us but also having a relationship with our marriage. We build into each other and into our marriage. Here is a (rather crudely drawn) diagram to illustrate this:
3)   We are deeply committed to accountability. We have a circle of people who will speak into our lives and that of our marriage. Not too long ago, a friend sat with me over coffee and asked some very pointed questions. Let me tell you, vulnerability is never easy, but it is crucial. When I asked her what had given her such courage to probe (our relationship is fairly new), she told me that she had just seen another marriage fall apart while she remained quiet. “I decided that I would never be silent again.” This was extremely convicting to me because I have remained silent at times too – fearful that I would be “interfering”. We all need friends who have the courage to speak boldly into our lives, listen with empathy when we open up about our fears, doubts, hesitations and annoyances, and then guide us to greater intimacy with our spouses.
4)   We are deeply committed to authenticity. We have decided that our marriage is not about looking good. No one can weather years of marriage flawlessly. It just doesn’t happen. But when we pretend that everything is fabulous all of the time, it simply serves to make everyone else around us feel inadequate – because they have ups and downs too. Eric and I do have a great marriage, but it is because we have fought hard for it. There have been plenty of times when we didn’t like each other, we hurt each other, we failed to trust each other and we deeply offended each other. I will, no doubt, piss Eric off in the very near future and he will do the same. But that’s ok because marriage is not always a picnic. Very often, the good stuff is on the other side of the hard stuff because you don’t learn the lessons, work on your character, and become the person you need to be without the hard stuff acting as a catalyst to get you there. Inviting people on this journey with us gives us the space to be real and enables others to be real with us.
5)   We are deeply committed to growth. It never ceases to amaze me that people will skip off to a professional development seminar at work, but never carve out the same time for their marriage. Eric and I went on our first marriage retreat a mere four months after we tied the knot. This is not because we were already regretting our decision, but because we were keenly aware that if we did not continue to grow, we would die. This pattern has continued throughout our marriage. In February, we spoke at the Good to Great conference. Because we were taking the sexual intimacy segment, we were the last to present (you have to build up to sex). As we sat and listened to the other three speaker couples, we learned and gleaned new insight.
I am grateful for the 14 years I have had with Eric. He truly is the love of my life, the husband of my youth. I would not be the woman I am today without him. He saw things in me before I ever recognized them in myself. He has called forth greatness in me. Our adventures in passion continue, but they would have exploded into flames years ago if we hadn’t built those five commitments into our foundation.
ERYN-FAYE FRANS, Canada's Passion Coach ®

Monday, April 9, 2012


he is 8 (almost nine, he will add if you ask him) and his name is wyatt.  that tube is out and his sweet smile and contagious giggles are back in full effect but that was my view at midnight last night.  his mother is my cousin and one whom i have always looked up to.  a novel could be written about her and the amazing example she sets as a wife, mother, friend but most importantly…a woman of Godly character.  for her, this last week, these last 24 hours…it has probably felt as if the world has stopped turning.

they ran into each other on the playground.  head to head, they met, at the tip of the corner and went down for the count.  both with serious concusions, wyatt and his friend received the medical care that seemed to fix it all and were sent home.  but wyatt wasn’t getting better.  five days after his first trip to the urgent care, he woke up with two black eyes and told his sweet mama, “my head is squishy.  why?”.  back to the hospital and the doctors find a fracture in his skull and blood.  blood that is still bleeding blood.  not in a good place blood.  blood that needs to stop, and soon, or else surgery is required.  all from a run in on the playground.

here’s the cool thing.  wait…scratch that.  here is the coolest thing.  i remember holding wyatt when he was first born and having him come visit me in the hospital when i had my first baby (see above).  such a handsome little guy.  as he grew up, there was a slightly noticeable difference in the shape of his head.  doctors called it “mild malformation”.  much testing was done but nothing really ever came of it.  it seemed as if doctors were a bit baffled by this mild difference and so it was left as that.

turns out, this mild malformation saved his life.  most of us don’t have this extra pocket in our skull that wyatt has.  most of us would have died from a similar injury since our blood would have had no where to go and the pressure on our brains would have been deathly overwhelming.  but he had this pocket.  this mild little space that could hold one pint of blood in it and keep him alive for a period of time long enough to allow doctors to be able to fix it all.  that isn’t mild to me.

for you created my innermost being:
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
i praise you because i am fearfully and wonderfully made:
your works are wonderful, i know that full well.
my frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in a secret place.
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
all the days ordained for me where written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalms 139:13-16

to think that what once baffled the doctors and the family and the testing…to think that mild change was created for a specific purpose…for a specific moment in time.  to bask in the awesomeness of knowing that what seemed to be a problem was really a plan.  what seemed a concern is now a comfort.  how great is our God…

i know i pleaded with my friends on facebook and begged my prayer partners in email, for you all to cover him and his family in prayers.  there are times when prayers are not answered the way that we wish them to be and it is hard to praise God in those moments.  but there are times when we are blessed beyond all measure and our prayer are answered exactly as we poured them out.  this is one of those times.  and i hope this one moment in time will forever be a testimony to others who are going through those moments when it is hard to utter praise.  i hope, wyatt, that this story will be forever on your lips.  that God can take your mild malformation and do intense things with it, not just this week…but always.
thank you all for your prayers.  the peace that was felt could have only been given to us.  thank you.


Monday, April 2, 2012


I love the Haka. It is a ferocious tribal dance with chest slapping, googly eyes and aggressive tongue wagging. The uglier the face, the better. It is loud and angry. It is awesome.

During our visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center a couple of weeks ago, we had a chance to take part in a Maori ceremony. As visitors arrived in the village, both the hosts and visitors took part in an elaborate welcoming ritual. There were women singing, men grunting and posturing… the New Zealand version of “please come in, can I take your coat?”

My favourite part took place at the end: before crossing the midline to meet one another, both groups paused for a moment in complete silence. It is a time to honour the dead. It is a time to remember those who should be here but aren’t, those who came before and those who have gone ahead.
A few days later, we found ourselves at Pearl Harbor. Yet another foreign culture, when you consider both my Canadian-ness and my Anabaptist roots.

It was chilling, standing above the watery tomb of hundreds of young men. The rusty turret of the U.S.S Arizona peaks out of the water. More than a thousand died there. Most of the bodies were never recovered.

Even the girls were quiet and contemplative, though B was mostly upset because we would not let her throw her hat in the water.

This large, elaborate memorial shuttles thousands of people in and out with the efficiency of a popular tourist attraction. Most of us came to check it off the list – yep, been there, seen that.

I love to walk in the footsteps of history, to see the places where my reality was born and reborn. The BIG picture was affected here.

But it was more. This was about the small pictures too. Here lies one life. And another. And another. And another… We honour each one, each name inscribed on that wall.

I can’t help but think this is something we are missing in our culture. Not necessarily the elaborate tribal ritual or the impressive concrete ediface, but memorial woven into the fabric of everyday life.

We are studying Death and Dying in my Developmental Psychology class this week. The western theory of Grief Work promotes the idea that detachment from the deceased is a healthy final stage in the process. In fact, those who continue a relationship with those they mourn may be considered unnaturally preoccupied.

These theorists are the same who approach all grief as a pathology, rather than a normal part of life. Sure, there are those who succumb to a chronic, unhealthy grief. But recent research supports the idea that continued bonds with the dead, especially those who were a vital part of our lives, is beneficial.

The bible says we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1). The souls of those who came before us. Those who have gone ahead. And they are watching.

These are the ones who built the scaffolding of our lives. If we forget the lessons they have taught us and the sacrifices they have made, we forget who we are.

I am a seed that was sown from the past and I shall never be lost.” ~ Maori saying

We do not worship our ancestors as ancient tribes once did, but we must honour them. In remembering, we are telling our own story. Not just to the world, but to ourselves and our children. And someday we will be a part of their story.

So here’s me: grand-daughter of Doris, Robert and William, niece of Naomi, mother of Noah and Simon.

How do you honour your dead? How can we make memorial part of our everyday life?