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Do you like year-end top ten lists? You know: top ten movies, top ten songs, top ten sports moments, top ten fails, and so on. I think they appeal to us because we like to reminisce and because we like having life compartmentalized into ranked lists. The thing about all these things we list is, they are fleeting; enjoyable but typically inconsequential.

Recently, I had a few days of blahness which often leads me to be introspective which in turn leads to depression. One of the ways I care for myself when that happens is practicing gratitude. That led me to think about a personal top ten list – who and what have been transformational in my life? So… here’s my list, but instead of ranking my top ten I went sequentially – when the impact was made in my life.

Mom – in a time when being a single mother was unacceptable, when there were few supports, when employment opportunities were limited, my mom, single, 25, trying to go

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My mom and I a long time ago.

to school, chose to have me and keep me. My mom was all about adventures and experiences. Before I started school, the two of us went on a huge camping adventure across western Canada. She stood up for me against abusive teachers and she let me fend for myself when she saw me struggle but not overcome by situations. She was a good mom. The weekend she passed away, I was with her right up until the end. It still hurts that she’s gone.

Adopted – I never knew my bio dad. For several years, it was just me and my mom. I used to make up stories about my “dad” and the adventures we would have. Eventually, my mom met a good man and they decided to get married. I was seven years old. It wasn’t until a handful of years later that I found out he adopted me. It’s significant to be accepted!

Sisters – after my mom and dad got married, I was tremendously blessed with two

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Too difficult to explain what’s happening here.

sisters. I can say that now because I am looking back on this with an attitude of gratitude which colours my memories. (Ha ha) Honestly, there were some challenging moments – I had to change diapers and still haven’t recovered from that trauma. I suspect my sisters can also testify that I wasn’t the best brother. Even so, I love my sisters. Even though I am the oldest and the favourite, I look up to them because they are talented and brilliant women.

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My sisters with my mom (her masters graduation) with our first two kids.

Marriage – I could write two or three blogs about how I became married. In a nutshell, I met this wonderful woman, we became good friends, she took advantage of me with her feminine charms, I loved her anyway, we became married. We have been given the gift of three children and now we have three grand babies. She remains my best friend, my partner in crime (the legal kind) and the person I enjoy going on adventures with. When she really laughs my heart swells with joy. The beauty of her singing can move me to tears. It’s really cool how creative she is. These days she’s making soap and lip balm.

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Summer 2017 at an Edmonton Triathlon Club Event. (Note: How do you know if someone does triathlons? Don’t worry, some how they’ll work it into the conversation.)

Children – we have been blessed with three children. I was present for the delivery of each child which was both terrifying and so filled with love and joy. They are all out of the house now. Two are in post-secondary and one is a fantastic mom. All three are very talented – they get that from their mom. Our oldest boy is taking a fine arts program. He can work in several mediums and puts all his effort into making something unique.  Our daughter has her hands full with babies but she sings like her mom and recently she has begun song writing. Our baby boy just started college. He’s a writer and story creator. I’m very proud of them.

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Oldest, Baby, Middle

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Middle, Oldest, Baby

Baptism and Ministry – after the babies came, I was soul searching. I was essentially an atheist but various small steps happened that eventually led me to accept God’s acceptance of me. I committed my life to the Way, the Truth, and the Life and was baptized. It’s been a wonderful journey thus far and there’s so much more on the horizon.

Not long after I made my choice to be a Christian, I experienced a call into ministry. I was

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This is COME2LIFE and our youth emotional health workshop called The Butterfly Effect.

happily working in the computer systems arena and good at it. One sabbath during worship, the sermon was on Paul and his work spreading the Good News. We were sitting in the noisy section but suddenly, everything went quiet like someone pressed the mute button, and I heard a voice say, “That’s what I want you to do.” Then the noise came back. That began my journey into ministry, a return to university and now full-time pastoral ministry.

Grandchildren – The highlight of my week is when I get to spend time with our GBs. Each one is delightful in their unique way. A huge, life-changing, event with our grandchildren was shortly after GB1 was born. I have already told the story of our miracle grandson. Check it out.

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The GBs 1, 2, and 3.

Velveteen Rabbit – two years ago this very day, a young adult came into our lives and we were changed forever. For various reasons, I can’t say much about her but she gave me

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“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit 

permission to share her picture. At first, she was just someone we walked with in her pain. Along the way, she took a part of our hearts. I hope she always remembers who she is to us. Our prayer for her is that she will continue to experience healing and will allow herself to be loved into all she was created to be. The blue comfy chair is always there; the door is always open.

Noreen M – when she was in grade 11, Noreen came to our lives and said that more needed to be done for youth mental health. We agreed and together we developed The Butterfly Effect, a youth emotional health workshop. Since then, we’ve transitioned into COME2LIFE. Noreen challenges me and she helps me be even more cool and unconventional! One day I hope to learn from her how to take a decent selfie.

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Noreen at her grad.

Honourable Mentions – Yes, this is a little cheat – like using your third wish to ask for more wishes – but I just want to give a nod to the many people who have been big in my life. Good friends, men and women who helped me in my faith journey, people whose presence was and often is an oasis of grace and acceptance. I hope that as I am in your life, you know who you are, how you are valued, and what you mean to me.

How about you? Do you have a personal top ten list; people, achievements, favourite movies, best experiences? Who or what are at the top of your list?