Good News: A Double Blessing at Church

I had a fantastic time at church this morning. And it was for two reasons.

The first was that our congregation recognized pastor appreciation Sunday. While they gave me a nice gift, more than that, I felt their encouragement. Queen Street Baptist Church is such a great church and they work hard to support the leadership. I feel so blessed to be their pastor.

The second was that my wife Amanda preached the message this morning. She did a fantastic job, preaching biblically on the nature of anxiety. I so appreciated the honesty and vulnerability that she brought to it.

Interestingly, we have one of our biggest turnouts for church, with lots of visitors. I can imagine that helped Amanda to feel increased anxiety to her only second time preaching at QSBC. But if it did, she seemed calm and in control. I am so enjoying working with her in ministry.

This was a great Sunday and I’m looking forward to more of the same. This is my Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Thankful For Everything

Every day should be Thanksgiving and yet it is good that there is an actual Thanksgiving weekend. It is appropriate to take time to be intentional in giving thanks.

There is so much that I’m thankful. I have an amazing family. We are not normal by any stretch of the imagination, but we love each other. And I am so excited to be working with Amanda in ministry.

I have an incredible church and I love my job. I am so thankful to be able to do what I do.

I am thankful for my health. It was just five years ago that I was very sick and thought I was dying. I have had a few rough years since then but right now I am the healthiest I have been in years.

There are so many blessings that I have experienced. I am not just thankful, I am thankful to God. I have seen God working in our lives in the good and bad times. All I have is because of God.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Ministering With My Wife

Stephen and Amanda BedardAmanda recently began her studies at McMaster Divinity College. A part of her requirements is doing a field placement and she is doing that at our church, Queen Street Baptist Church.

This week was Amanda’s first week doing the placement. We had the opportunity to do a couple of hospital visits together. This morning Amanda led our congregation in an amazing prayer. She has some great ideas about how to improve our ministry at QSBC.

It has felt so natural for us to be ministering together. Some traditions require spouses to co-pastor and I can see the wisdom in it. Amanda and I complement each other in ministry gifts.

I’m looking forward to this year of placement and what the future holds for us.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: How I Was Introduced to Tolkien

This past week was Tolkien Week. You may not even be aware that something like this existed. This week included Hobbit Day, which I blogged about here.

Good News

My Mom and 2 of My Hobbits

How is this Good News?

It all goes back to how I first got interested in Tolkien. While I did watch the original Hobbit movie, my real introduction came when my mother gave me Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings for Christmas many years ago. I read the whole trilogy during that Christmas break.

That was typical of my mom. She often bought me books, including ones by H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle and others. My love for books, including ones by Tolkien, are all due to my mom.

There is something special about Tolkien’s writing and read everything I can get my hands on. But even more, it brings back memories of mom and the legacy she left for me. This is my Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: My Wife in Seminary

Twenty-two years ago, I began my theological studies at McMaster Divinity College. And now my wife Amanda is beginning her own theological education.

If you are wondering what happened to her studies at Brock University, there is a simple explanation. She was doing an undergraduate degree for the purpose of getting a Master of Divinity degree. But McMaster has a Diploma of Ministry program that gets you the same education without the undergrad degree. This is a good path for her to take.

God has been using Amanda in ministry for many years and this is just the next stage. Like all seminary students, she is still discovering her ministry path. I know I had no idea what I would do at that stage. Amanda is doing her first placement at Queen Street Baptist Church and I’m excited to work with her. Amanda has many natural talents and she has a vibrant spirituality.

Amanda has finished her first week of classes and I am so proud of her. I look forward to what God has in store for her. You can read her thoughts on this journey here.

Amanda Bedard


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Sweet Sixteen!

Although her birthday is not for a couple more days, we had the kids for a visit yesterday so that we could celebrate Abby’s sixteenth birthday.

It is hard to believe Abby is turning sixteen. It seems like only yesterday that she was only a baby. I remember being able to put her to sleep on command by rocking her in my arms. It worked every time.

We have had a lot of challenges with Abby and our life together has not turned out the way we expected. Turning sixteen should be a major turning point for her, but because of her autism, things are not the way it is for most kids her age. This is really bitter-sweet time for us.

But I choose to focus on the positive. I choose to focus on the fact that we have a beautiful daughter that we love very much and who loves us back. I choose to celebrate that we have a good relationship with her.

We love Abby very much and she is a blessing to all of us. This is my Good News!


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Labour Day in Merritton

Good NewsA big part of my childhood was going to the carnival in Merritton (a neighbourhood of St Catharines) during the Labour Day weekend. I looked forward to it every summer, it helped make up for the start of school. There were many great times.

The tradition continues as my children also look forward to this carnival. The carnival may be smaller but they have just as much fun.

Good NewsI am a nostalgic person and I enjoy looking to the past. But this brings my past and present together. I get to reminisce and watch my children have fun all at the same time. This makes for Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Writing a Novel

I have written everything from biblical studies books to devotionals to scholarly journal articles to magazine articles. I love writing. But one thing I have never tried was writing a novel. Until now.

Am I not too busy to write a novel? The truth is that I need things that are relaxing that are not related to my work. Writing a novel is about as far away from theology as possible.

So what is my novel about? It is in the fantasy/science fiction genre. It is about a version of our world when not just a few people have superpowers, but everyone does. Or at least almost everyone. What happens when one person is born without superpowers?

The reason I’m writing this novel is mostly for my children. We have had trouble find books to read at night that they all enjoy. So I decided to write my own book. It includes characters named after all five of my children: Logan, Abby, Justus, Emma and Faith. Characters named after myself and Amanda will also make an appearance.

I read the prologue and first chapter to Justus and Emma and they absolutely loved it. Not just because their names were in it, but they really enjoyed the story. They were so excited that I was doing this.

I’m writing this book not with the anticipation of becoming a world-famous novelist. My only goal is to write something my children will enjoy. If it is only for them, that is enough.

The excitement of my children is definitely my Good News for the week.

Share

Good News: “Go Away!”

Good NewsHow many parents think it is good news when their teenage daughter tells them to go away? This one does.

A couple of days ago, I was visiting our children, Logan and Abby, at their group home. Both Logan and Abby have autism and are considered nonverbal. Abby uses an iPad as an augmentative communication device.

Abby was doing some neat things with her iPad, including pairing different words that belonged together. For example, she paired “guided reading” and “dictionary.” After about two hours, the usual length of our visits, she used her iPad to say, “Go away.”

I was not offended as Abby was not mad at me. She knew that it was about time for me to go and so she communicated to me that it was time for me to leave.

Most parents would not like being told to go away but this was an important step in Abby’s ability to communicate. Communication difficulties are a common experience for people with autism. Abby communicated with me and this is Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Vacation Time

My Good News for this week is that of today I’m on vacation. It is nice to have some time off work, time to relax and recharge. Amanda and I were able to enjoy a nice long drive together as we took the kids to camp. We drove through some beautiful country and were able to enjoy quality time together.

One of the reasons that this is Good News is that I don’t have a job I hate. I hear from many people who can’t stand their job and they count down to vacation and dread going back. I actually enjoy my job at Queen Street Baptist Church. It is a great place to work.

Having said that, I know that I need some time to relax in order to be a good pastor. I also need time with Amanda. I will be a husband long after I’m a pastor. I look forward to this week and the rest I will get.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: A Relaxing Day

ReadingEach week I share a Good News post. Sometimes it is a big thing and sometimes just something small. Today is just a small thing.

Today was a nice relaxing Sunday. After church, I relaxed with a good book. As an introvert, what I enjoy is laying on the couch with a comfortable blanket, a cat laying on me and reading a good book. While my idea of a good book is different from some (I was reading church history) it was still relaxing for me.

Later in the day, we went out for a swim as a family. That was a lot of fun. I had tried for months to teach Faith to dive with no luck. A few lessons by Emma, however, and Faith is diving like a pro. I will claim that I taught Emma to dive.

Overall, it was just a nice relaxing day.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Sharing and Worshiping

HeritageNot all ministry takes place in a church building. We recently had an opportunity to share at Heritage Christian Bookstore. This included Dayspring, which is the praise team from Queen Street Baptist Church. I love this band. It represents people born in Japan, Mexico, Zimbabwe and Canada. They did a fantastic job.

My role was to share my story. I did that in two parts. The first was my story of becoming a Christian. I was raised in church but became an atheist in my mid-teens. I came to believe in God while in university and became a Christian a couple of years later.

The second part was my story of life after becoming a Christian. This included the role of apologetics in my ministry and my spirituality. It also included how we have dealt with autism in our family and the way God has sustained us. It was interesting that the day I did this was the anniversary of our daughter going into a group home.

It was a great time and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to share.


Why do I share Good News?

Share

Today is a Hard Day

Abby

Abby as she arrived at her group home

Today is eight years since our daughter Abby moved into a group home. She was only seven years old at the time. That means she has lived away from us longer than she lived with us. That is hard.

It wasn’t an easy decision to have Abby move out of our home. No parent wants to see their seven year old leave. But the way her autism affected her made it necessary. Abby would destroy our house each day and more seriously, would injure the other children. The stress of her behaviours were tearing our family apart.

As much as we didn’t want to do it, we also knew we had to.

We saw God involved in this process. We had just met with the committee that makes the decisions about group homes. They told us that there were no beds and no funding. The only option was for us to abandon Abby. While I know people who have had to do that and I can’t judge, we didn’t want to do that.

A few hours later they called us back and told us that they didn’t know how but suddenly a bed and funding was available and Abby could move early the next week. We took that as a sign that God had not abandoned us.

Having Abby move didn’t mean that we lost her, it meant that we got her back. Instead of the stress of taking care of her 24/7, we now had the freedom to enjoy our visits with her. Our relationship with her is so much better now than it was back then.

It is still not easy. There are still regrets and doubts about how life turned out. But it is what it is and we are determined to have the best relationship with Abby that we can have.

Share

Good News: A Painful Reminder

That is a strange title. But this is what I mean. I have a disease called sarcoidosis. I have been doing very well with it and have enjoyed the best health I have had in years. It has been so good that my doctor suggested I get off the low dose of prednisone that I have been on.

That is where the reminder comes in. I have been decreasing it at 1 mg per month, which is pretty gradual. But three weeks into it I started getting back the sarcoidosis symptoms I haven’t had in a long time. This includes joint pain, fatigue and some lung issues. I have decided to go back up to my original dose and am already having some relief.

So how is this Good News?

It is a reminder of where I have come from. My experience with sarcoidosis hasn’t been fun. It has been a long journey. There were times that my future didn’t look very bright.

But I have done very well and have come a long way. The symptoms I’m experiencing, that should disappear soon, are a reminder of my recovery. Temporary pain can be a good reminder that there is always hope.


Why do I blog Good News?

Share

Good News: Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du SoleilToday we went to see Cirque du Soleil. This was my first time seeing them but Amanda had seen them before. She was quite excited when she heard that they were coming to the city where we lived.

So we went as a family. If you have never seen Cirque du Soleil, I encourage to check them out. It is the best of old-style circus and modern technology. They put on an amazing show. Not only is it entertaining, it is an incredible display of strength and skill.

It was fun to be able to experience this as a family.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: A Really Great Day

It is difficult to predict what a day will be like but today turned out to be a great day.

It started with Queen Street Baptist Church‘s annual Praise in the Park at Montebello Park. I always love this service. We get lots of visitors, including people just showing up at the park. There is a potluck after and there was lots to eat for everyone. It really was a lot of fun.

My afternoon was laying down with a good book and having an even better nap. There was a time when I napped multiple times a day because I was sick. Now I am relatively healthy and can just enjoy a regular old Sunday afternoon nap.

After supper, Amanda, Justus and I went swimming. It was at the old pool that I used frequent as a kid. It was a lot of fun hanging out together.

The evening capped off with lots of snacks and Justus and I enjoying a good action movie on Netflix. The girls are away at camp and so we can focus on Justus. It was quality time (with lots of violence).

Overall it was a really great day and that is my Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Happy to Be Canadian

Today is Canada Day and it is a reminder that I’m thankful to be a Canadian. I wouldn’t say I’m overly patriotic in the sense of having a maple leaf tattoo or anything. But I truly appreciate Canada.

I have had the opportunity to travel all over North America and Europe and I can honestly say that there is no other country I would want to live than Canada. Canada is by no means perfect, but it is a good place to live.

The funny thing is that Canada is known for its cold weather and yet today, it was hotter than Jamaica and as hot as Egypt. One of the surprises of this country.

I’m thankful for being a Canadian and that is my Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Having a Ball

BowlingThis weekend the girls were over at a friend’s house for a sleepover. That meant that we just had Justus with us. So what do we do with our boy?

We ended up going bowling. We had not bowled in years. We ended up at the bowling alley that I bowled at when I was a kid. I hadn’t been there in about thirty years. Not much had changed.

We had a blast bowling together. It is true that I only won one of the five games and game in last three of the five games. But it still was fun.

It is funny how simple things like an evening at a bowling alley can be powerful memory making moments. Having that time together is my Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News.

Share

Good News: A Happy Father’s Day

Father's DayI don’t have big expectations for Father’s Day. I don’t want presents as I have lots of stuff (although I could always use some more books).

Today after church, Amanda had the idea of going to the beach. It was a really hot day and seemed like a good idea. And it was!

The best Father’s Day for me is to be around my family. We had a blast at the beach. It was fun to hang out together. The only downside was that Logan and Abby couldn’t be with us.

Of all the roles I have, the most important are those of husband and father. I’m honoured to have this responsibility and I so enjoy the blessing they are to me.

Today was an amazing Father’s Day.


Why do I blog Good News?

Share

Good News: An Exciting Morning at Church

By “exciting,” I don’t mean extra-lively music or extra-dynamic preaching. It was an exciting service at Queen Street Baptist Church in a totally unexpected and unplanned way.

We had a young man come in late to the service. That is not unusual for us. Many people come 5-10 minutes late and it is common for people to arrive halfway through our service. But this was different.

We were just starting our congregational prayer time and I noticed our outreach director moving toward the man. He was quite agitated but was not saying anything. He was making frantic gestures but nothing was being said. He refused our outreach director’s attempts to move to the lobby to discuss what was going on. He then began to pace back and forth up the aisle. He eventually came on the platform with me and sat down in the chair beside the pulpit and increased in agitation. It was a bit scary.

Just to give some context, we are a downtown church and our community includes a lot of people with both mental illness and addictions. It is not unusual to have people with such struggles at our church. It is unusual to have this activity happening during the service.

Thankfully we have some great people in our congregation. Between our outreach director, one of our ushers and another person in our congregation, they were able to get him outside and get him the help he needed. It is not that people with addictions and mental illness are not welcome at our church, but we want to make sure church is safe for everyone, including the person struggling.

The ironic thing is that my sermon was titled, “Do Not Be Quick to Judge.” It was all about the danger of rejecting or dismissing people based on their labels or hasty judgments. The truth is that we have no idea what was happening with this young man. We don’t know what led him to that moment. All of this was going through my mind as he came up on the platform with me.

My Good News is that our congregation responded well. Not only did our people keep everyone was safe, there was also compassion. we prayed for and will continue to pray for this young man.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: 185th Anniversary!

Gary NelsonNo that is not our wedding anniversary. Today we celebrated the 185th anniversary of Queen Street Baptist Church. We had a fantastic worship service, with guest speaker Dr. Gary Nelson, of Tyndale University College and Seminary. Every part of the service came together nicely, respecting our past and looking toward our future. The service also highlighted our diversity.

Queen Street Baptist ChurchIn the evening, our celebration continued with a Grace Notes concert at the church. Grace Notes always does a great job and I would recommend them to any church.

Today was a reminder of what a great church Queen Street Baptist Church is. I’m so thankful for this church, not just for what has happened in the past but what God will do in the future.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: A Great Victoria Day Weekend

Stephen BedardThis past weekend was a lot of fun. After church we went up to visit Logan and Abby. We had a great visit with them. We then went to visit some friends that we hadn’t seen in a while. We then stayed at a hotel, just to have a bit of time away. The kids love staying at hotel, especially when there is a pool.

The next day, we went for another visit with Logan and Abby. It is not often that we can visit them two days in a row, especially in their home. After our visit, we went to Twin Valley Zoo. We had a great time at the zoo and this has definitely become one of our favourite places.

Overall, it was a wonderful holiday weekend. It was only a couple of days it but it was good quality time with family.

Share

Good News: Great Preaching at Church

Amanda BedardI enjoy preaching but I also love listening to good preaching. And we had some great preaching this morning at Queen Street Baptist Church. Our guest preacher was my beautiful wife, Amanda Bedard.

Today was Baptist Women’s Sunday and we had the ladies take over the service. We actually had a number of the ladies do an amazing job. It was so good to see and hear all the talented people we have at our church.

As a part of this, we had Amanda as our guest preacher. How well did she do? I can say that there were many people who told me that my job was at risk because they may have found a better preacher. It was said in fun (I think…) but it is true that Amanda’s preaching was passionate, insightful and moving. Her message will eventually be posted here.

Although this was a part of Baptist Women’s Sunday, I want to state that this was not just a token nod to women. We value all of the women in our church. And Amanda’s preaching was good not just in the context of this particular day. Amanda is a talented preacher. Period. On Baptist Women’s Sunday and on any other Sunday. This is only a day that we can showcase it.

So my Good News is that I’m proud of Amanda and thankful for the ways God has gifted her.


Why do I blog Good News?

Share

Good News: A Beautiful Day For a Walk

Stephen BedardMy Good News is that I took a walk to Tim Horton’s. How is that Good News, other than the fact that I really enjoy their steeped tea?

This weekend included a visit from our children, Logan and Abby. They have autism and live in a group home over an hour away. Abby has food issues and much of our visits are intercepting her raids on our fridge. I often will take her for rides to Tim Horton’s (her favourite place) to get her out of the house.

Being a beautiful spring day, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of going for a drive, I wanted to go for a walk. Although Abby is fifteen years-old, we had never done anything quite like this before. We were not sure how it would go and I made sure to bring my phone in case I needed Amanda to come to my rescue.

Once I got Abby past the car, she was good with the walk. I even learned some things about her, such as her preference to walk on grass rather than the sidewalk. Abby is nonverbal and so there was not much conversation. But there was plenty of communication.

She held onto my arm the whole way. Every once in a while, she would wrap both her arms around my arm and squeeze tight just to let me know she loved me.

She was pretty happy once we arrived at Tim Horton’s. Although she can be quite unpredictable, she stood in line with me, with just a few squeals of delight. I let her pick her donut and discovered that she preferred sprinkle donuts to the double chocolate donuts that I had assumed.

We walked back to the house with a box of Timbits for the rest of the family. It was a special day for Abby and me. There is plenty about autism that disrupts the “normal” but our little walk was quality daddy-daughter time that I will never forget.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Feeling the Best in a Long Time

Stephen BedardLong-time readers of my personal blog will know that I have had some health struggles over the past couple of years. My main struggle is sarcoidosis. The main problems this has caused me include muscle and joint pain. In addition, the treatment for it has at times given me quite bad diabetes.

Thankfully I have seen a steady improvement in my health over the past couple of months. Why is this? There are a couple of reasons. One is that I decreased significantly my prednisone, which decreases my blood sugar so that my diabetes is no longer a problem.

In addition to prednisone, I’m also on a drug called methotrexate. This too has caused side effects. A couple of months ago, my doctor prescribed folic acid for me. This has dramatically relieved me of the side effects.

Finally, I recently joined a gym. This was in part a result of Amanda’s influence. Not only had she joined a gym, she encouraged me to take some time for myself. This was good timing as until recently, I did not have the health to workout but now I’m much better and exercising has only improved things. Before I started going to the gym, I could play basketball for only a few minutes with the kids before getting totally winded. Now I can play a good while with them with no problem. The gym makes me feel better physically and emotionally.

Looking at my health, I would say that I feel the best I have had in years. I finally feel myself. I still have a bit of fatigue and some back pain, but in general I’m doing very well. I know that with sarcoidosis, things can change quickly, but I will take this good health while I can. This is my Good News.


Why do I blog Good News?

Share

Good News: Proud of Amanda

Amanda BedardThis past week, Amanda finished her first year at Brock University. It has not been without challenges. Not only did our son break his leg, Amanda also had surgery. She had a lot going against her but she finished her year.

I’m so proud Amanda for completing this year. It takes courage to go back to school as a wife and mother with plenty already on her plate. But she did.

There is the possibility of a change in (but continuation of) her education. There are some exciting opportunities out there. It has been fun to hear Amanda talking about she hopes to do with her life. She is an intelligent and talented woman. I look forward to what the future holds.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Not a Typical Sunday

My Sundays usually follow a regular pattern. The morning is spent at church, likely followed by a nap and then an evening swimming with the kids. The only thing hat happened today was the nap.

Here is southern Ontario we had an ice storm. Many of the churches in our area cancelled their services and this morning we decided to do the same. This was typical for me back in my days pastoring in Meaford and Woodford but not at Queen Street. We certainly didn’t expect it in April.

How is any of this Good News? Amanda helped me get the word out and we had some good leaders who made many phone calls. Everyone did their part.

As much as I love church, it was nice to have a morning off. Amanda and I spent much of the day watching the Lost in Space series on Netflix. Sometimes Good News can be just a day with a change of pace.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: A Visit With the Kids

Good NewsToday was our son Logan’s 17th birthday. I can’t believe how fast the years have gone by. It seems like only yesterday that he was our cute little boy and now he is our handsome young man.

This was not one of the weekends in which Logan and Abby come for a visit and so Amanda and I drove up to them. We had a fantastic visit with them, including a delicious birthday cake and ice cream. It was so good to be with them.

One of the highlights was getting to see Abby with her augmentative communication device. This is basically an iPad with software that allows her to speak. When we got there, she pressed the symbols that created the message, “I feel happy.” She also said, “I want birthday cake, please.” Smart girl that one.

It all made for a tremendous day of visiting with family. Birthdays with autism may look different, but they include just as much love.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: I Love Easter

My Good News is that Easter is one of my favourite days. This is on a number of levels. The first is about my faith. I understand that not everyone who reads my personal blog is a Christian but my faith is real. I truly believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. That makes Easter very important to me.

Secondly, we had a wonderful Easter service at church this morning. It was communion Sunday plus we had a baptism. That made our service extra special.

Finally, I’m thankful for our family. Logan and Abby came for an overnight sleepover which was great. At first it looked like they couldn’t come but then everything worked out. Today we went to Amanda’s parents’ house for Easter dinner. It was nice to be with them.

Easter is definitely one of my favourite days of the year. This is my Good News and I hope your family had a blessed Easter as well.

Share

Good News: Loving Our Church

A number of years ago, I though it would be neat if I could pastor at Queen Street Baptist Church. My original thinking was that it made sense since St Catharines is my home town and QSBC is part of the Baptist group that I’m ordained with. A couple years later I found myself the pastor of QSBC.

However, it no longer a matter of convenience. I so appreciate Queen Street Baptist Church. The people are amazing and we have such great diversity. I look forward to joining together for Sunday morning worship. Not only that, I look forward to showing up at work each day during the week. I have had jobs that I dreaded each day and so I’m thankful for this job. My intention is to stay here until I retire.

This is my good news.


Why do I blog Good News?

Share

Good News: First Draft In

For the past number of years I have been working on my Doctor of Ministry degree at Acadia University. The truth is that I should have graduated a couple of years ago. But between some health problems and some other issues, I have been delayed.

I can’t quite announce my graduation yet. But I’m thankful that I have at least submitted my first draft of my thesis. There will still be plenty of work to as I edit according to the comments of my supervisors, but it is a start.

A lot of people ask about the subject of my thesis. It is on the faith questions of Christian students at Canadian students. The goal is to eventually come up with a curriculum that will help churches to prepare students for university.

Prayers are welcome as I finish things off and eventually graduate from this program.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Churches That Get It

As a pastor and a father of two children with special needs, I know that it can be challenging for churches to minister to special needs family and challenging for special needs families to feel welcome in churches.

I have had two recent experiences that have encouraged me.

A week ago, I had the opportunity to speak about disability ministry at Kipling Avenue Baptist Church. Their pastor invited me to this event because he understands the importance of this. I appreciated the initiative he took to invite me.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with the pastor of Rice Road Community Church. They have taken some impressive steps toward embracing people with disabilities and their families. We were able to discuss the needs of these families and ways in which th e church can help.

Both of these experiences encouraged me that there are some churches that get it. This is Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Increase Your Reading Capacity

I recently ran a poll on Twitter asking people about how many books per year people were reading. The results were as follows:

AudiobooksI will admit that I was surprised by the results. The reason is that I read between 100 and 150 books per year. Perhaps my job as a pastor allows me more time to read than others. But there are other ways that people can increase their reading capacity.

Have you ever considered listening to audiobooks? The great thing about audiobooks is that you can listen to them while you doing other things. I drive quite a bit and I no longer dread getting stuck in traffic. With my trusty iPhone, I can expand my mind by listening to quality content. I do the same thing when I’m walking the dog, making lunches and doing laundry. Things I used to hate doing are now a pleasure because it can be like reading a book.

I’m an affiliate for Audible and I want you to know that they offer a free audiobook with a free trial of Audible. If you sign up through this link, you will support my online activities. You have nothing to lose but your boredom.

Share

Good News: Sunday Night Fun

Sunday nights are one of my favourite times of the week. Over a year ago we started a tradition of going swimming on Sunday nights. This is something that breathes life into me in a number of ways.

The swimming is good exercise. Between my sarcoidosis and diabetes, exercise is very important for my continued health. Certain exercises don’t work for me but walking and swimming are prefect.

It is also quality family time. We have lots of fun racing and throwing a ball around in the pool. It is something that the kids look forward to every week. They play the best together in the pool.

We go for two hours at the pool but I only swim for an hour, letting the kids swim by themselves for the second hour. This gives me an hour to have some “me time” as I read at the poolside. I love time with my family but I also love time by myself.

The only thing that would make this better would be if Amanda could join us. She is still recovering from surgery and hopefully will be able to rejoin us in a few weeks.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Better Health

The past six months or so have not been great for me health-wise. My sarcoidosis has been acting up and with that, my diabetes. I don’t say this to complain.

My good news is that I have been feeling much better. I have started swimming with the kids again on our regular Sunday night swim. I have also been able to return to my long walks. This is quality time with my dog and my podcasts. Better health leads to more exercise which leads to better health.

Health is one of those things that is easy to take for granted. In some ways an illness can be a blessing. Sickness helps us to be thankful for the health we have.

I’m thankful that my health allows me to do the things I want to do. We never know what the future holds but we can appreciate what we have now.


Who do I blog about Good News?

Share

The Impact Billy Graham Had on My Christian Faith

Billy GrahamIt was sad to hear that Billy Graham had died. I never had the opportunity to hear him preach in person. I attended one of his crusades but he was sick that night and someone else had to fill in for him.

But that is not to say that Billy Graham had no impact on me. In fact, he was a significant influence on my Christian faith.

I grew up attending church but it was not much of a personal faith. In my mid-teens I stopped attending church and became an atheist. I regained belief in God in my early twenties but was not ready to embrace Christianity or any other religion.

I began to reconsider Christianity and decided to start attending my old church again, although I wasn’t ready to fully commit. One Sunday, our minister mentioned Billy Graham in his sermon and spoke of him with respect. That surprised me. For one thing, our minister was on the liberal side. But this was also the early 90s and close to the time of the falls of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. I had just assumed that Billy Graham was pretty much the same as them.

One evening I was flipping through the TV channels and I came across a Billy Graham Crusade. I was familiar with televangelists and so I thought I would watch for fun and count how many times he would beg for money. But he didn’t beg for money. In fact, there was nothing really about Billy Graham to make fun of.

For some reason, there was quite a few of his Crusades on TV in those weeks. I would tune in as I found his preaching interesting and his presentation of Christianity to be very clear. It was preaching like I had never heard before.

The only problem was that when he did his altar call, I felt like God was calling me to make a commitment. That made me feel uncomfortable. It got to the point that I would listen to his sermons and then shut the TV off before the altar call. Eventually I gave up fighting. I contacted the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and they sent me some information. I prayed to accept Christ and my life has never been the same since.

Billy Graham had a huge impact on me and thousands of other people. We will never see someone like Billy Graham again.

Share

Good News: Family Day Weekend

Family Day is the newest holiday in our neck of the woods but it has quickly become one of my favourites. It’s not just a day off work but it is a time to reflect on and enjoy family.

Family Day is actually tomorrow but that is not the only thing. Tomorrow is my 18th anniversary being married to my beautiful wife Amanda. It is appropriate that those two things are happening on the same day.

I am a blessed man and my greatest blessing is not the money in my bank or the possessions I own. My greatest blessing is my wife and children. I love each and every one of them so much. There are days that I can’t believe that I’ve been blessed so much.

I thank God for my family and this is my Good News.

Stephen Bedard

Why do I blog Good News?

Share

The Second World War Podcast

Second World WarI have been interested in military history, especially that of the Second World War, for as long as I could remember. I would go through our family encyclopedia (this was long before the internet) and read every article I would on World War Two.

My interest in this period of history has only grown with time. I was able to spend a number of years in the army reserves as a chaplain. This does not make me an expert in all things military but it does reflect my interest.

I have finally been able to realize a dream and that is a podcast on the Second World War. At the time of this post, the first three episodes are available. I have some great new episodes planned, including some interviews with podcasters of other related podcasts. You can also find a number of blog posts on the Second World War at the website.

I encourage you to check it out and consider subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or Google Play.

Share

Good News: Amanda is Recovering Well

Stephen BedardMy wife Amanda had surgery on Friday. The surgery she had was a gastric bypass, which is fairly serious surgery. Thankfully the surgery went well and Amanda is recovering. I haven’t seen Amanda since before the surgery and I’m eager to bring her home, but not until she has recovered enough for it.

My Good News is that Amanda is doing well. But my Good News is also that Amanda chose to go through with this surgery. This was completely her idea and it was a big step for her to do this. This is something that Amanda did for herself, something she doesn’t often do, as she focuses on other people’s needs.

I’m glad that Amanda is doing this and is making good decisions. I’m very proud of her. You can follow her journey on her YouTube channel. In the mean time, keep praying for Amanda and her recovery.


Why do I blog Good News?

Share

Good News: A Restful Day

Stephen BedardOne of the best things I’ve done recently is to start observing a Sabbath. By Sabbath, I mean a day of rest. I’m not legalistic about it, but it is designed to be a dedicated time of guilt-free rest. Obviously as a pastor, I can’t take all of Sunday off. But I do attempt to take Sunday noon to Monday noon as my Sabbath.

I’m a fairly driven person. I want to both consume and produce as much content as I can. It is difficult for me to slow down. That’s why I need a Sabbath.

Today has been a reminder of how good this could be. On a dreary day, I was able to relax on our couch with a good book, one of my mom’s knitted blankets and two of our three cats. This resulted in not one, but two naps. All guilt-free.

Have a relaxing Sunday afternoon is not only good, it is Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

The Comic Book Geek

One of the big parts of my childhood was collecting comic books. It started with war comics and moved on to superhero comics. I was mainly into DC but had a good Marvel collection as well. By the time I was done, I had thousands of comics.

I no longer collect comic books. A couple of years ago, I sold the majority of my collection. I only kept the oldest comics plus a few others that had either sentimental or financial value.

I do still enjoy a good superhero movie. Marvel has been doing a good job and I like the DC movies as well, even if the critics don’t. I also enjoy science fiction. I’m part of the rare breed that likes both Star Trek and Star Wars.

Why do I bring all this up?

If you have any of the same interests as me, you might like my comic book blog. It’s called The Comic Book Geek. This is not a place for me to reflect deeply on philosophical or theological issues. It’s a place for me to geek out.

I encourage you to visit my blog and join me in having fun in the world of comic books, superheroes and science fiction.

Share

Good News: Theology and Disability Paper

Two of the areas that I’m most interested in are theology and disabilities. When these two come together, I’m in my sweet spot. Some time ago I responded to a call for papers for the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability. This is an event that I have wanted to attend for a long time. I was pleasantly surprised when they accepted my proposal.

I will be presenting a paper on how the resurrection of Jesus informs our understanding of disabilities. This will be happening in Raleigh, North Carolina in June, 2018. I’m really looking forward to this.

This is my Good News. But I will confess that this will be an extra expense for us. I intend to drive there to cut down cost but it still will be an expense. I still have to get a passport, not to mention the gas and hotel. If you are interested in helping out, there is PayPal donate button in the sidebar of this website. Every little bit will help. If you can’t help that way, please pray for me as I prepare the paper and that my DMin these will be finished before that. Thanks!


Why do I blog Good News?

Share

Good News: The Final Test

FamilyMuch of my Good News lately has been about moving into our new home. Does this make me materialistic? Am I too focused on possessions? This weekend was a reminder that our new home was a blessing in the way that really counts.

This weekend was our first visit from Logan and Abby at this house. Our oldest children live in a group home because of their autism. Having them home would be the final test as to the quality of our home.

In our last house, our TV was downstairs and Logan and Abby would spend much of their time away from us. We could not be down there, because we had to guard the kitchen from Abby. Our visits were not as fun as they could be.

While we do have TV downstairs now, we have one on our main floor as well. We were able to sit with Logan and Abby and watch the kitchen all at the same time. We ended up having one of our best visits in a long time. Logan and Abby gave their seal of approval for the house.

FamilyTo top things off, Logan came with us to church this morning. This was his first time at church in a number of months. He really seemed to enjoy it, and not just because of all the cookies he ate after the service.

This has been a great weekend and this is my Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

Good News: Getting Settled In

Things are coming together in our new home. This past week, our children started at their new school and are already making friends. They seem to be comfortable with our new house and our new neighbourhood.

I have moved most of my books to my office at church. Previously I only kept my biblical commentaries and ministry-related books at my office. Now most of my books are there and it is feeling much more like me. Even my fish tank is there.

There is a real sense that this is a new chapter of our life. I have just completed my second year at the church. I have accomplished a lot of what I wanted and am looking forward to many more years of ministry there. I feel as if I have begun the relationships that will lead to real spiritual growth.

In addition to this, my health is starting to get better. My blood sugar is closer to normal and I can now go on walks and get exercise again. I really feel much better than I did a couple of weeks ago.

In general, things are going well. I’m thankful for the way life is going. This is my Good News.


Why do I blog Good News?

Share

Good News: All Moved In

Stephen BedardThis has been a great week for the Bedard family. We moved into our new home. We have been renting for the past two years and have been hoping to buy. Things worked out and this week we moved into our new home as owners rather than renters.

Why was buying a home important to us?

I’m currently in my fiftieth year and I have more working years behind me than I do ahead of me. Our family needs to be building equity and preparing for our future. Six months ago it looked unlikely that we would be homeowners and yet here we are.

I’m thankful for all those who have helped and supported us through this. There are people who have helped by bringing over meals, helping to pack, helping to clean and many other acts of assistance. We feel very blessed.

Our new home is smaller than our previous home but that’s what we like. There is something satisfying about downsizing. There are still boxes to unpack and a few things to bring over from our old place. But we are pretty much moved in and it already feels like home.

This is my Good News.


Why do I blog Good News?

Share

Good News: A Great Year

This is my final Good News post for the year. I have already posted about the year in review. But as 2017 comes to a close, I’m still reflecting on what this year has been like.

Our family had some pretty rough years, especially 2013-2015. I was often only semi-employed and I became extremely sick with what was at the time a mysterious illness. We had numerous other serious challenges that I don’t want to get into.

This past year has been much better. I’m just completing my second year as the pastor at Queen Street Baptist Church. I have accomplished the goals that I had set out for this year of ministry.

More than that, there have been some really encouraging things happening within our family. Some of it is more personal than what I want to share here, but it is pretty amazing. Things have worked out far better than I could have imagined.

I want to thank God for a great year in 2017. We have had some challenges but overall, it has been one of the best years in a long time. I look forward to another great year in 2018.


Why do I blog about Good News?

Share

The Year in Review

I have never had a boring year yet in my adult life and 2017 was no exception. I thought that with the year coming to an end, it would be a good idea to share some of the highlights.

Stephen BedardI’m just completing my second year as the pastor of Queen Street Baptist Church. I can honestly say that I’m enjoying ministry much more right now than at any other time in my career. QSBC is an amazing church and we have seen some growth, both in terms of new people attending and in leaders being developed. I had a goal for some major restructuring and that took place just a couple of weeks ago. It has been a very productive time of ministry.

I’m still working on my Doctor of Ministry at Acadia Divinity College. I should have been done a couple of years ago, but I hit some obstacles including some health issues. However, in 2017 I was able to get first drafts of every chapter other than my introduction and conclusion into my supervisors. Everything looks good for me to finish up in 2018.

I was able to to teach two courses at Tyndale University College. I taught a course on the Ten Commandments and Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels. While my primary calling is that of a pastor, I do enjoy teaching and I’m thankful for these opportunities.

I started a new podcast called The History of Christianity. I love history and I was almost a history major in university. It has been a lot of fun digging into the history of the church. I hope you check it out.

I also started doing some blog coaching. I enjoy blogging and want to help other bloggers be more successful. If you are interested, let me know.

Amanda started her studies at Brock University. She is doing a BA in social sciences and I’m super-proud of her. Despite the hectic nature of our life, she is taking this step to further her education and to discover her calling.

Stephen BedardThis wasn’t a great year for me health. I was still showing symptoms of sarcoidosis. My respirologist increased my dose of prednisone. The only symptom that it relieved was the fatigue, the other symptoms actually got worse. Not only that, the prednisone caused my diabetes to act up and increased my cholesterol to the point of needing to be medicated. My prednisone does has now gone back down to maintenance level. This means my diabetes is better, although I’m still showing symptoms of the diabetes.

Our family expanded in a strange but wonderful way. Our three youngest children are adopted. We have known for some time that they had a half-sister but hadn’t met her. Through some complicated steps, we were able to get together with her and her family twice this year. It has been amazing to watch these siblings connect and to find things in common despite growing up apart.

One of the biggest steps we took as a family was buying a condominium. We have been renting for the last couple of years but have wanted to own. I have less than two decades left of full-time work and I want to be preparing for my retirement. We haven’t moved quite yet but it will be in the next couple of weeks. I’m excited for this opportunity.

It certainly has been a full year. Some great things have happened and I look forward to more in the new year.




Share

Top Ten Posts of 2017

Thank you for the support of this blog. I have enjoyed this year of blogging and have seen some significant growth. I have tried to organize the blog in such a way to make it easier for people to find the content they are looking for. I hope you have found it helpful.

Here are the top ten posts of 2017. These posts were not necessarily written in 2017 but they were the most read this past year.

  1. What is the Difference Between Samuel/Kings and Chronicles?
  2. What is the Difference Between a PhD and a DMin?
  3. What is the Foundation of Christianity?
  4. My Thoughts on Hank Hanegraaff and Orthodox Conversion
  5. What is the Difference Between a Speech and a Sermon?
  6. The Case for Christ Movie – Review
  7. Was Horus Born of a Virgin?
  8. Herodotus, Osiris, Dionysus and the Jesus Myth
  9. Did Ontario Pass a Law Allowing the Government to Take Away Children From Families That Oppose Gender Transition?
  10. Top Ten Apologetics Blogs – October 2017




Share

Good News: Candlelight Service

CandlelightOne of my favourite parts of Christmas is the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. We had a wonderful service tonight at Queen Street Baptist Church. Not only is the image of lighting candles meaningful, it is a joy to sing the traditional Christmas carols.

One of the highlights this year was the participation by much of my family. Amanda sang in the choir, Justus helped with sound and lit some of the advent candles, Emma did some of the advent reading and Faith helped me light the candles. Faith even sat with me on the platform, making sure I kept the service moving at a good pace.

This service was a reminder of two of the blessings in my life. I blessed with both an amazing home family and church family. God has blessed me in both areas and I’m thankful.

Share

Good News: Positive Change

There is a joke that Baptists don’t believe in change. I’m thankful that is not the case with my church, Queen Street Baptist Church.

Today we had an important business meeting. Business meetings are usually either boring or full of conflict. This was neither. We looked at and voted on a number of important changes for our church and it was done in an extremely positive way. We are definitely in a time of transition and I believe this to be a transition to more effective and efficient ministry.

These are the changes that are taking place:

  • We voted for and accepted quite a few changes to our constitution. While we cleaned up a number of things, one of the most important changes had to do with our leadership structure. We had a fairly complex structure that required a large amount of volunteers and committees. We radically simplified things by adopting a structure with two main boards: a Board of Deacons and a Board of Management. This will really make leadership easier and help me to focus on developing these leaders.
  • We have recently hired a caretaker and cleaner on a contract basis.
  • Our deacons are close to hiring a Director of Outreach. We have chosen someone and we just need to work out some details and hope to announce the new person fairly soon. This will be a half-time staff person that I will work closely with.
  • We have decided to split our current Music Director position into two positions: an Organist and a Music Director. Our current Music Director will become our Organist and we will hire a new Music Director who will work closely with the Organist and myself.
  • In addition to all this, we even passed our budget for 2018.

This is a lot of change. What impresses me most is not just that all this was accepted, but that it was done in a spirit of hope and positive change. People were very open to the changes and are anticipating the good ministry that will be continuing in our community.

I have enough pastor friends in other churches to know that what I witnessed today is not the story everywhere. Too often bitter conflict comes up over just minor change. We are going through tremendous change and people are doing it with a positive attitude. I’m extremely proud of Queen Street Baptist Church.

We had a great business meeting and this Good News.

PS One of the things that may of contributed to a great meeting is that Amanda made some delicious soup for us to enjoy during the meeting. I’m so thankful for her hard work.

Share

Good News: Blue Christmas

Advent is one of my favourite seasons of the year. It allows us to prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Last year we started at Queen Street Baptist Church to observe something called Blue Christmas.

Blue Christmas is about acknowledging that Christmas is not joyful for everyone. For many, Christmas is a reminder that some of our loved ones are no longer with us. They may have died close to Christmas or at least their absence is felt more deeply at this time.

With Blue Christmas, we take an opportunity to light a candle as we remember those we miss. This is not about lighting a candle for the dead, it is about lighting a candle for the living. It is an invitation for God to shine his light in our darkness.

It is a powerful experience for me to watch my congregation participate in this. It is also meaningful for me personally, as I think about my parents. Christmas is a time that I really feel the absence of my mom and dad. The years have not taken that away.

Blue Christmas is an emotional experience but it is also a good one. It helps me to refocus my emotions and to be able to dwell on the good memories.

This is my Good News.


Why do I post Good News?

Share

Good News: Take Me to Church

Our son Justus has been trying to figure out his own way when it comes to faith. We have purposely not pushed him. We don’t want to pressure him to be a certain way just because he’s the pastor’s son.

Some might disagree with us, but we have not even made him come to church. (Read Forcing Our Children to Go to Church) We have felt that forced attendance will not necessarily help his faith. We have offered and encouraged but never forced. We have taken the position to just love him and pray for him.

Yesterday, Justus came with me to our men’s breakfast. He enjoyed himself and felt like the men were happy to see him but were not overwhelming. He told me at that breakfast that he wanted to come back to church.

This was a Logan and Abby weekend, so Amanda stayed home with them. That meant that it was just me and Justus going to church. He wanted to attend to continue to learn how to run the soundboard. So he sat with the sound guy and had a blast. People were happy to see him but again didn’t make him feel uncomfortable for not having been there.

It is hard to just let go and not force things on your children. Trust can be hard. But patience and faith are winning out. To us, it felt like a parenting winning. Watching Justus take communion with the sound guy during the service really made my day.

This is my good news.


Why do I blog good news?

Share

Good News: Feeling a Bit Better

For the past number of months, I have been experiencing a sarcoidosis flare. This has been frustrating because my respirologist increased my dosage of prednisone to try and knock it into remission, but instead of relieving the symptoms, they actually got worse.

In addition to not helping the sarcoidosis, the prednisone brought me back into full-blown diabetes and increased my cholesterol. My diabetes and cholesterol are bad enough that I’m now on additional medication for both.

The good news is that as I wean off prednisone, my blood sugar and cholesterol should come down and I should eventually be off those medications.

But that’s the problem.

I began to wean off the prednisone according to the doctor’s instructions but it was too quick of a decrease. Even though I was excited to decrease my prednisone, my body was not ready for the drastic drop and I crashed. I may have felt the worst I have ever had. Breathing in particular was really difficult. I will admit to you that I was rather scared. It almost felt like I was dying.

Consulting with my wife, I increased my prednisone again to just under what I was originally taking. I almost immediately felt some improvement in my health. I’m now on a schedule of decreasing the prednisone at a much slower rate and that is going well.

Most of last week I felt terrible but the last couple of days I have felt much better. I was able to do some things that I hadn’t, such as taking a walk and having a bonfire in the backyard. The whole experience has helped me to appreciate the health I have.

I’m thankful for my church, which has been very supportive. Even more, I’m thankful for my wife Amanda. My wife has really been there for me, especially considering we are in the process of moving and our son has a broken leg. I don’t take it likely. (See The Importance of Having a Supportive Family When Living With Chronic Illness)

This is my Good News.

Share

Good News: Perhaps Pushing 50

As I write this, it is the night before my 49th birthday. Typically I have described myself as pushing 40… from the other direction… with a running start. Perhaps it is time to admit that I may be pushing 50.

Stephen BedardMy birthday has not officially happened yet but I still have had a great time. We haven’t seen Logan and Abby for a number of weeks due to a number circumstances. But yesterday I was able to drive up to their group home and spend time with them. It was a fun and pleasant visit that brought joy to my heart.

When I got back, Amanda took me out for dinner and a movie. We watched Justice League, a movie I have wanted to see for a long time. You can read my review here. It was a long overdue date and I very much enjoyed being out with my beautiful wife.

Today was church and they sang happy birthday to me, which was fun. They even had a birthday cake! Queen Street Baptist Church is such a great congregation and I feel blessed to be their pastor. They are so encouraging.

In the afternoon, I watched a movie with Justus and Emma. I introduced them to the Matrix, one of the best science fiction movies ever. It was just fun to hang out with the kids.

As I turn 49, I’m not stressed out by my birthday. I’m simply reminded of the many blessings in my life. I have so many good things happening and I have experienced far more than I ever imagined.

This is my Good News.

Share

We Bought a Condo!

One of the most satisfying moments in our life was when we moved from renting to becoming homeowners. I would much rather pay into a mortgage than to pay rent to someone else. We owned a house in Meaford and then in Cambridge.

However, during our time in Cambridge I was only employed part-time for much of that period. Things got tight financially. As a result, when we move to St. Catharines, we went back to renting. It felt like a huge step backwards. As I approach my 50th birthday, I really did not want to remain renting for long.

Thankfully that time is coming to an end. We have been looking at houses and we have now bought a condominium townhouse. I will confess that I didn’t want a condo as I didn’t want to pay extra fees in addition to our mortgage. Amanda expected me to completely reject the idea.

However, the house we looked at was exactly what I wanted. Unlike other houses we looked at, I had no concerns about it. It also ends up that having a condo is a benefit. My health is not great right now and caring for a property is not on the top of my list. The services provided by the condominium agreement frees me up to focus on family and my job at the church. It ends up that buying a condo is the best of both the buying and renting worlds.

All of this is to say that we are excited to move. Some have wondered if this meant we were moving away. Not at all. We love Queen Street Baptist Church and we are remaining in St. Catharines. Buying in St. Catharines is part of our commitment to remain in this community.

So please pray for us as we make our big move, that all would go well and that our children would get used to the new neighbourhood.

Share

Good News: Break a Leg

My son Justus broke his leg on Friday. What? How in the world is that Good News? What kind of dad am I?

Let me back up. On Friday, we received a call from the school that Justus had been hurt. We live just around the corner from the school so we hurried over. Justus was still laying on the field and the ambulance hadn’t arrived yet. Justus had been playing football with his friends during recess and something had happened and everyone heard a loud snap.

FamilyJustus was taken to the hospital and x-rays confirmed the sound that he had indeed broken his leg. His leg was set, a cast put one and he was sent home with crutches.

So where is the Good News?

The Good News is that it is bringing the family together. I have seen some neat things happening between Justus and his sister Emma. They don’t always get along but Emma has a tender heart and she is being a great sister to Justus. And Justus is letting her.

Amanda is doing a fantastic job with Justus. Justus feels a lot of anxiety about his injury and he could easily withdraw to doing the least possible. Amanda pushes him within reasonable limits and it is amazing to see Justus thriving minutes after loudly complaining that he couldn’t do what Amanda had just told him to do. At this moment Justus is wheeling around the house in a wheelchair, pretending he is driving some motorized vehicle.

Many people have expressed their well wishes and prayers for a quick recovery. Of this we are thankful. This is our Good News.

Share

Good News: A Spiritual Potluck

PotluckBaptists sometimes joke that potluck meals are another sacrament alongside communion and baptism. I actually think there is a good biblical basis for the importance of the church eating together. But that is for another day.

The concept of a potluck meal is that everyone brings in something and together we share and enjoy each other’s tastes in food. We have a very multicultural church and so our potluck’s are amazing!

Today I tried something at Queen Street Baptist Church that I had experimented with at First Baptist Church, Meaford years ago. What if we applied the potluck principle to our worship service?

Queen Street Baptist ChurchThe idea is to open up the service so that people in the congregation can bring their own contribution to the service. So people had the opportunity to suggest songs, suggest Bible passages, read poems or give a testimony. It was fantastic. We even had people involved who were new to the church. It was great to get so many people involved.

Of course, we had a traditional potluck lunch as well. It was fun to sit and chat with people around the table, enjoying ethnic food and good company. It was a great morning at church.

This is my Good News.

Share

What a Rush!

Classic Albums LiveThis should have been a rotten day. We have been trying to buy a house and today we found out it wouldn’t work. Part of this was because of results of a home inspection that revealed some things that would have been major headaches if we had bought it.

We were still disappointed and were not expecting a very good day. Then, things turned around (although not on the house front).

After work, I picked up my cousin Rob, since I heard he was going to the same concert as us tonight. Rob is the closest I have had to a brother as he was the cousin who lived near me and was close in age.

For some reason, Rob and my son Justus connect amazingly well. Justus always loves seeing “cousin Rob.” Part of that is because Rob plays guitar and likes the same classic rock as I do. Rob took some time to show Justus some things on the guitar.

Stephen BedardLater, the three of us headed downtown to watch Classic Albums Live perform Rush’s 2112, as well as a number of their other Rush classics. I love 2112, and they did an amazing job of reproducing the album “cut for cut, note for note.” They are fantastic musicians, duplicating not only the music, but even Geddy Lee’s unique vocals.

But this was important for more than a good concert. This was Justus’ first concert ever. He had never been to anything like this. Justus loves Rush and he was blown away by the concert. The smile on his face and his excitement made me feel good. I’m not the perfect dad, but tonight I felt like we did right.

So we are still looking for a house and we still have details to work out. But today ended on a much higher note that I could ever have expected.

 

Share

Good News: Mental Health and Addictions Workshop

Brandon

Brandon

We had a young man named Brandon as a part of Queen Street Baptist Church. Brandon was intelligent and friendly. He also suffered from mental health and addictions. Unfortunately, Brandon died of an overdose a couple of months ago.

Mental health and addictions was already on my radar, both as a pastor and in the context of our own family. Brandon’s death was the push that made do something tangible about this. I just couldn’t let life go on as usual.

With some dreaming and talking together with Amanda, we planned a mental health and addictions workshop at QSBC. We ended up partnering with Start Me Up Niagara on this. This workshop took place yesterday.

Start Me Up Niagara

Susan from Start Me Up Niagara

The workshop had a broad reach in that it was use to help train people volunteering with Out of the Cold, as well as anyone interested in mental health and addictions.

We had a number of speakers, talking about mental illness and/or addictions, some from personal experience and some from the perspective of a care provider. Amanda was one of the speakers and she did an amazing job.

As I stood at the back of the room listening to the speakers and the conversations among the participants, I was blown away. It was far better than I had ever expected.

We had modest goals. There was no expectation that we would solve all of our community’s problems. But we want to get the conversation going. The church has not always done a good job of dealing with mental illness and addictions, sometimes we have reinforced the stigma rather than breaking it down. But we started in the right direction yesterday.

We addressed the issues, but more than that, we looked at mental health in terms of the real people rather than as just as theoretical topics. We asked questions and wrestled with complex responses. There is so much more to do but I was encouraged with what took place.

I hope to make available some of what took place to those who were not there. I also hope to have something like this again in the future.

Yesterday’s workshop on mental health and addictions gave me hope and encouragement for the future. I’m so thankful to all those who spoke, helped out and came out to listen.

This is my Good News.

Share

Good News: Blessed With a Great Wife

Stephen BedardI have been experiencing a flare in my sarcoidosis in recent months. A month or so ago my respirologist increased my prednisone to try and knock it back into remission. While the prednisone has brought back my diabetes, it has not improved my sarcoidosis symptoms. In fact, my sarcoidosis is actually worse now than it was on the low does of prednisone.

I thought this was supposed to be a Good News post? It is and I will get there.

Last night when I went to bed I was feeling pretty rough. This morning I was feeling even worse. This is a problem because today is Sunday and I’m a pastor and this is the one day I have to go to work.

As I was laying on the bed feeling quite ill, Amanda asked how she could help. I have been stubborn in the past and refused help. But I was ready this time.

I asked Amanda to lead the service for me at Queen Street Baptist Church. She didn’t have to do it. It’s not her job. But she did it without a word of complaint about it being last minute. So Amanda led the service this morning, while I preached my sermon. I had enough strength to preach but was wiped as soon as I was done. I couldn’t have done it without Amanda. Amanda did a fantastic job leading.

I recently had a post published at The Mighty titled The Importance of Having a Supportive Family When Living With Chronic Illness. I’m truly blessed to have Amanda as my wife and as my support. She is the best!

And that is definitely Good News.

Share

My 25 Most Popular Blog Posts

I have been blogging for over ten years. Although this blog is not that old, I have imported the content of my previous blogs into this blog.

I find it interesting to look at what posts have attracted the most interest. Some of them I expected to do well and others were surprises.

Here are my twenty-five most popular blog posts.

  1. Three Reasons Why Rick Warren is a Heretic
  2. What is the Difference Between a PhD and a DMin?
  3. What is the Difference Between Samuel/Kings and Chronicles?
  4. 8 Myths About Christianity
  5. Setting the Record Straight: What I Really Believe
  6. 5 Reasons Why Halloween is of the Devil
  7. 6 Things You Should Know About Sarcoidosis
  8. What is the Foundation of Christianity?
  9. My Thoughts on Hank Hanegraaff and Orthodox Conversion
  10. 5 Things to Know Before You Become a Pastor
  11. Top Ten Problems With the Jesus Myth Theory
  12. Starbucks, Same-Sex Marriage and Getting Facts Straight
  13. 10 Reasons Why There Really Was a Historical Jesus
  14. Was Horus Born of a Virgin?
  15. Coming Out of the Closet
  16. The Apologetic Value of Philo Not Mentioning Jesus
  17. Top Ten Books in Apologetics
  18. 5 Reasons Why the Resurrection of Jesus is Important
  19. The Case for Christ Movie – Review
  20. 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started in Apologetics
  21. 5 Tips For Beginner Apologists
  22. What is the Difference Between a Speech and a Sermon?
  23. 8 Myths About Apologetics
  24. 5 Reasons Why Christians Should Reject Santa Claus
  25. 10 Things That Apologists Should Know Something About
Share

Good News: Thankful to Be Pastoring Again

It is hard to believe that only three years ago, I didn’t think that I would ever pastor a church again. It is not that I had a bad experience at my previous churches. I pastored for nine years at Woodford Baptist Church and First Baptist Church Meaford and I have extremely fond memories of my time there. Those congregations treated my family and I very well and were tremendously supportive.

But I thought that after my time there that I might be done with pastoral ministry. I definitely needed a break, I just didn’t know if there would be an end to the break.

During my three years after that time in ministry, I considered applying to churches. At some points it was simply because that was what my education and experience qualified me for. But I didn’t want that to be the real reason for me returning to ministry.

Then I applied for the pastoral position at Queen Street Baptist Church.

This did not feel like applying for a position because I needed a job. The moment that I met the search committee, I felt a connection with these people. Was it it because QSBC was in the city that I grew up in? Was it because I had a couple of connections with congregations? I don’t know.

What I can say is that as I approach the end of my second year at QSBC, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I feel energized for ministry and I greatly appreciate the people in this congregation.

Today as we were in church, I really enjoyed being there. I felt like I was with the people I’m supposed to be with, doing the things I’m supposed to be doing.

Despite the fact that I’m pushing 50, I’m keenly aware that there is still much for me to learn. I’m very much still a student of ministry and I’m trying to grow and develop each day.

My Good News is that I’m enjoying ministry and enjoying my church. I look forward to what the future holds for us together at QSBC.

Share

Good News: 17 Things I’m Thankful For

Since I’m writing this the Thanksgiving weekend of 2017, I thought I would share 17 things that I’m thankful for. The short mention given to each does not represent the depth of my thankfulness. I feel extremely blessed by each.

  1. My wife Amanda.
  2. Logan and Abby being able to live together.
  3. Justus, Emma and Faith being a part of our family.
  4. My church, Queen Street Baptist Church.
  5. My health.
  6. All the churches I have attended previously, whether as a pastor or not.
  7. My extended family, including cousins.
  8. My in-laws.
  9. My dog (and sometimes the cats).
  10. That I’m able to work full-time.
  11. All of the education opportunities I have had.
  12. For people in my life who encourage me.
  13. For being able to live in my hometown.
  14. For the legacy of my parents.
  15. Having a career that I enjoy.
  16. For friends and colleagues.
  17. God revealing himself to me and inviting me to be a part of his family.

What are you thankful for?

Share

Health Update

Stephen BedardI have no desire to be complainer when it comes to my health or any other issue. I’m generally a positive person and I’m thankful for all the blessings I enjoy.

Having said that, I have a relatively rare disease called sarcoidosis. Many people have not heard of it or are vaguely familiar with it from an old episode of House.

Since I have gotten to know a number of people in the sarcoidosis community, who also are surrounded by people unaware of this disease, I feel compelled to share my story.

I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis almost four years ago (actually my biopsy which revealed the sarcoidosis was done four years ago tomorrow). Many people with sarcoidosis go into remission without treatment or after an initial prednisone treatment. Many never experience symptoms and the sarcoidosis is discovered only after a routine x-ray.

None of that is my experience. While my health is good enough to work full-time and I get to do most of what I enjoy doing, I have flareups on a regular basis.

I recently got a new respirologist (although sarcoidosis is not exactly a lung disease, it is often treated by a respirologist) who takes my symptoms seriously.

Since there are some concerns, he increased my prednisone from 7.5 mg per day to 40 mg. Prednisone is not the funnest thing for anyone but I have an added complication. I was borderline diabetic before being on prednisone. The last time I was put on a high dose of prednisone, the diabetes kicked in full-power, putting my blood sugar in the 30s.

At least this time there were no surprises. I knew that my blood sugar, which since being on the low dose of prednisone went down to borderline again, would shoot up again.

That is indeed what has happened, although not up into the 30s again. Thanks to diet and exercise, I keep my blood sugar around 10-15. It is supposed to be less than 6.9, but this is the best I can do.

The bad news is that prednisone increases appetite and food raises blood sugar. The good news is that although prednisone usually is accompanied by weight gain, because of the diabetes, I have dropped six pounds in my first two weeks of being on it.

My hope is to be on this level of prednisone for only a few more weeks and then go on a different medication. I would prefer not go back on pills and insulin for the diabetes.

I share all this to say that all of us, including myself, should be thankful for the health we have. Enjoy each day you have and make the best of the time and energy you have.

I blog on sarcoidosis at The Mighty. You can find my posts here.




Share

Good News: Ride for Refuge

Ride for RegugeOver the past number of years, I have had the honour of getting to know the work of Christian Horizons. Just a month ago, I was able to be the speaker at their family retreat. I have gotten know the people and have great respect for them.

When we learned that they participate in the Ride for Refuge as a fundraising event, we wanted to be a part of it. Christian Horizons does good work, not just with their group homes but with the many programs they are involved in.

So yesterday, we went up to Kitchener to participate in the event. We ended up doing the walk rather than the ride. It was nice to see people we knew and also to see the many people raising money for numerous worthy causes.

Amanda and I, with Justus, Emma and Faith had a great time walking and visiting. But it wasn’t just that. We received pledges from friends and family and so were able to help raise money for Christian Horizons. If you go to the CH website, you will see that there is a give button. It is worth giving to.

After the event, we went and visited Logan and Abby, who don’t live too far from where we were. It really is because of Logan and Abby that we have a heart for disabilities. It is not just an issue for us, it is personal.

The visit with Logan and Abby went really well. Abby was really cuddly with Amanda and Logan and I had some fun. They bring such joy into our life.

We had a good weekend with Ride for Refuge, visiting family and being reminded of our blessings. This is Good News.

Stephen Bedard

Share

Good News: The Church That Eats Together

I really enjoyed church this morning. It was a great time of worshiping and praying together. But beyond that, it was a great time to eat together.

ChurchI’m not trying to be unspiritual. I love the Bible and I believe that the Bible has much to say to our lives (you can find my sermons here). There is a reason that my career revolves around preaching and teaching the Bible.

From my biblical and theological reflection, I have concluded that eating together is one of the most important activities we do as a church. I see this among the early Christians in the New Testament and throughout church history.

This morning at Queen Street Baptist Church we had our annual welcome back barbecue. Although the heat caused us to eat inside rather than outside (it does get hot in Canada!), it was a great time for all. We saw some people we hadn’t for a while and the regulars pulled together to make an amazing event. So many volunteers worked to make this happen, including my beautiful wife.

I’m happy, not just because I enjoyed some delicious hamburgers and sausages (which I did). I’m happy because of the community we have at QSBC. I love this church. I have been blessed to have had great churches at every point of my pastorate and QSBC is no exception. There is something special here.

Our church came together, ate together and created community together. This is Good News.

Share

The Hardest Job I Have Ever Had

BedardI have been engaged in a number of roles throughout my life. I have been a pastor, teacher, chaplain, salesperson, warehouse worker, painter and numerous other things. But there is one job that I have had that is the hardest.

Being a dad.

You might think that I say this because I have children with autism. Being an autism dad has its own challenges, but that is not what I’m talking about. I’m just talking about being a dad in general.

As a child, it never entered my mind what it was like being a parent. I thought at the time that I was an easy kid but looking back, I have my doubts.

None of this is meant to be a complaint about being a parent. If being a dad is hard, it is also a tremendous blessing. I’m so thankful for all five of our children. We have so many good experiences.

BedardWhen I say being a dad is hard, I’m speaking about the weight I feel in raising our children, helping them to develop and make good decisions. Our three youngest are approaching their teenage years and so this feeling is growing more intense.

There is never a day when it feels easy. By easy, I mean that things are simple and completely clear. But there rarely are days that I can’t see some blessing in our relationship.

In this stage of my life, I’m reminded of how great my parents were. My hope is that I can love my children and care for them in a way that will help them to grow into the people they are meant to be.

Being a dad. It’s hard but it’s good.




Share

Good News: A Church That is Willing to Change

My Good news has to do with the church that I pastor, Queen Street Baptist Church. Churches, and especially Baptist churches, are not known for their eagerness to change. I sometimes joke, “We don’t mind change as long as its the same kind of change we have always had.”

Today we had a congregational meeting after our worship service. I won’t go into details here, but some significant change was presented. This includes a major change in our leadership structure, as well as approval to hire a new person on staff.

Churches have been known to bicker over much less than what we presented today. And yet the congregation received these ideas with an openness that still amazes me.

Many pastors dread business meetings but there is a loving spirit about our church that they are not painful at all.

Our church is not resistant to change and has a desire to move forward. That is not to say that we intend to change just for the sake of change. Rather, we are willing to do what is necessary to make us more effective as a Christian presence in our community.

I’m so thankful for my leadership team and for the entire congregation. They are all amazing people and I love being their pastor. This is Good News.

Share

It Never Fully Goes Away

One of the most frequent questions I get as a pastor is whether the grief from losing a loved one ever gets easier. I can only answer from my own experience.

Today, I had to take Amanda for some routine tests at a hospital. It just happened to be the same hospital where my mother died nine years ago. As I walked onto the property, I was flooded with memories.

Stephen BedardThe last week of my mother’s life was one of the toughest I experienced. She didn’t really know she had cancer until a few weeks before she died. Because the cancer she had was in her esophagus, she couldn’t eat or drink or even swallow pain medication. It was terrible.

I visited her regularly at that hospital, watching her deteriorate every day. Eventually the day came when she was only a lifeless shell.

Is it easier? I don’t know. I suppose that the grief isn’t as intense. But the pain is still there. I still have regrets for things unsaid and not done. I still miss her terribly.

The pain of loss never goes away. However, time does provide space to introduce new and happy memories for the way life is today.

Share

Good News: A Joyful Visit

Stephen BedardAs I write this, it is two days before our daughter Abby’s fifteenth birthday. It is hard to believe she is well into her teens. It feels like only yesterday she was our little baby.

Abby and her brother Logan live in a group home over an hour away. They both have autism and are on the severe end of the spectrum.

Last week we had an incredible week away with Logan but it had been about a month since we had seen Abby. We really missed her.

Abby and Logan came for a visit this weekend, which was great with Abby’s birthday almost upon us. When I think about a child’s birthday, I think about giving gifts. Instead, we received a great gift from Abby.

Yesterday, Abby was in a super happy mood. She was full of smiles and laughter. Amanda and I hung out with Abby, taking selfies and laughing at each other’s crazy faces.

Stephen BedardI sometimes here people comment about how people with autism are unemotional and unaffectionate. That is not Abby (or Logan for that matter). She was hugging us and cuddling with us to the extreme.

Apparently forgetting that she is almost fifteen, she got me to do “the airplane” with her and tried to get me to carry her around. She laid down on Amanda and I and then got us to do the same to her. Abby even danced with me!

It was a fun-filled time that left my cheeks sore from smiling so much.

I’m sad that my children’s autism means that they don’t live with us. But I’m happy that we have a good relationship with them and that we enjoy each other.

This is my good news.

Share

Good News: One of the Best Weeks Ever

This past week was one of the best weeks of my entire life. Our family was able to attend the Christian Horizons Family Retreat at Elim Lodge.

Stephen BedardThe initial reason for attending was that I was asked to be the speaker for the retreat. My topic was “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want” from Psalm 23:1. I had the opportunity to share three messages on this verse for other parents of children with exceptional needs.

But before that happened, I was able to preach at the Sunday service at Elim Lodge. One of the neat things about this was that there were a number of campers at Elim that we knew from our old church, Central Gospel Temple. Many of these remember me from when I was a brand new Christian and this would have been the first time hearing me preach.

However, the highlight of this week was not the opportunity to preach and teach, as much as I enjoy that.

Bedard FamilyThe highlight really was about being with my family and getting to know other families who are dealing with disabilities. Amanda and I brought Logan, Justus, Emma and Faith with us. This was actually our first family vacation, as previously only Amanda and I had gone away.

We were a bit nervous as to how Logan would do. We had never done anything like this before. But he did fantastic. Every camper with special needs is assigned a volunteer. A great guy named Al was paired with Logan and they really hit it off. Logan is not particularly expressive (much like me) but we could tell he really liked Al.

Our other three children had fun as well. We had the opportunity to jet ski, go tubing, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. I really enjoyed kayaking and started researching prices to purchase while still at Elim.

I loved being around the other parents and their children (of all ages). The worship was powerful as people expressed their love for God in whatever way they felt, no matter what level of ability.

Bedard FamilyWe were totally blown away by the experience. This was the seventh Christian Horizons family retreat and we were told that it gets better every year.

You may wonder why we didn’t bring our daughter Abby.

Abby, like Logan, has autism. She is exactly who this retreat is designed for. However, we were stretching ourselves by bringing Logan. We had no idea what to expect. Although Abby would have enjoyed it, with this being our first time away together and my responsibilities, it would have been too much.

Bedard FamilyOur plan is to come back next year and to bring Abby with us as well. Her group home has agreed to send a worker to be with us all week. When I’m not the speaker, I will have more opportunity to focus on the kids.

I really can’t put into words how blessed we feel. This was an amazing opportunity that was so fun for our entire family. We were able to see a new side of Logan. Some of the adults really poured into our kids. We all had a great time.

One last thing. We loved this event so much that we have agreed to help fundraise for Christian Horizons. We are doing this through Ride for Refuge. If you would be willing to donate even a few dollars toward this, it would be greatly appreciated. You can donate here.

Stephen Bedard

Share

Good News: Family Reunion

A number of years ago, our daughter Emma casually remarked, “It would be neat to find out that you had a brother or sister that you never knew about.” Little did she know that was her own reality.

Our three youngest children are adopted. We have known for a long time that they had an older half-sister, but beyond her first name, we knew nothing about her.

In recent months, we were able to get in contact with the person who has been raising her. We were able to meet and decided to move forward but cautiously.

We informed our children that they had a half-sister. They were shocked but excited. More recently, their half-sister was informed that she had three siblings that she had never met.

Today was the day that they got to meet each other. We all met for lunch and had a chance to get to know one another. It was amazing to discover how many personality traits they had in common, despite being raised apart. Faith was pretty shy but Emma was very involved in conversation with her newfound sister. Justus was relatively quiet, but really perked up when he found out his sister loved video games as much as he did.

It was an incredible time together. I can’t imagine what any of the four children involved are feeling. I do know that our three enjoyed meeting her and described their half-sister as “awesome.”

We are going to continue to take things slow. We want to do things right and let relationships develop naturally. But it was a great first step.

Please continue to pray for all involved, that we would have wisdom and that things would continue to be positive.

Share

Good News: Four Years Later

Stephen BedardIt was four years ago that my father-in-law came to our house and drove me to the hospital. I had been sick for some time and the walk-in clinic was not able to figure out what was wrong. The hospital was our last hope of finding out what was going on.

At the time I was convinced that I was dying of cancer. I was feeling so bad that I was not expecting to make it to my birthday in November.

It ended up that I didn’t have cancer but had a fairly rare disease called sarcoidosis.

While many people who get sarcoidosis go into remission soon after their first treatment. That has not been my experience. I have flare-ups from time to time and am having one right now as I write this post.

The point of this is not to complain about my health but to share Good News. My Good News is that I have relatively good health. Even my flare-ups do not stop me from working or having quality time with my family.

I have recently heard about people I know of who have recently died or are extremely sick. I’m reminded that I need to give thanks for the health I have.

I can also give thanks for supportive family. I have communicated with enough people in the sarcoidosis community that I know that family support is not a given. Not only did my father-in-law make sure I got the help I needed, my wife has been with me every step of the way. She never complains when I’m not able to do everything I want. In fact she is the one to insist I rest.

I may never go into permanent remission with my sarcoidosis but I still have plenty to be thankful for. This is my Good News.

Share

Good News: Speaking the Truth About Mental Health

Moving back to St. Catharines has brought back many memories. Today was one of those days, but in two different ways.

This morning, after preaching at Queen Street Baptist Church, we went to Central Community Church. Central has been an important place in my life. I attended the church (back when it was Central Gospel Temple) for a number of years and it was there that I was discipled. My first time preaching was at Central at a College & Careers meeting. I was baptized at Central and Amanda and I were married at Central.

But why would we attend Central today, as I’m a pastor of a church in the same city?

This brings me to the second part of my story. We went because Deane Proctor was their guest speaker. Deane was our pastor when we attended Queensway Baptist Church. He is one of my favourite preachers and we were thankful that Central had a service that started after our service ended.

The reason Central brought Deane in was to speak on the topic of mental health. The church (the church in general, not a specific church) has not always done a good job in the area of mental health. Things have gotten better but there is still much work to do.

Deane shared his story as a pastor who has depression. Even knowing his story, hearing him today brought even more insight. I’m very proud of Deane and the work he is doing for the kingdom of God in general and for mental health awareness in particular.

It was good to be back at Central, particularly to hear our friend Deane and to be challenged by his message. This is my Good News.

Below you can watch the interview Deane did on 100 Huntley Street.

Share

Returning to the Place of Sorrow

FuneralI led a funeral service today. That is not a surprise as I am a pastor. Some pastors do a couple of funerals per week. Thankfully that is not my experience.

But this was different.

It wasn’t personal, as I had never met the lady and didn’t know the family. I have done many funerals like this in the past.

This was personal in a different way.

It was the location rather than the people involved. This funeral was at a funeral home in Thorold. I have led five other funerals in that chapel, but not in my role as a local pastor.

The very first funeral I ever led was at this funeral home. It was for my Uncle Buck. Before today, my most recent funeral there was for his wife, my Aunt Ruth. I also had led the funeral for my Aunt Norma. More difficult than those, was leading the funerals for my father and mother in that very same chapel.

It is true that time makes things easier but it doesn’t take away all the pain. When I stepped into that chapel today, all the emotions from those past funerals came flooding in. It was like a punch in the stomach.

I’m not complaining that I did those funerals. I’m honoured that my family let me do that. And leading my parents’ funerals, as difficult as they were, was a way for me to do something in an otherwise helpless situation.




Share

Good News: Good Cheap Fun

FamilyWe get a visit from Logan and Abby every other weekend. Abby is happy to come for day visits but Logan likes to stay over night.

Whether it is the autism or being a teenager, Logan would prefer to stay inside and play on technology. His perfect day is watching Veggie Tales on TV while at the same time listening to music (really loud) on my iPad.

After church, we decided to go to Lakeside Park to go on the carousel. This carousel is over a century old and is still only $0.05 per ride. Even I can afford that!

Amanda and I brought Logan, Justus and Faith to the carousel and we had a blast. This was fun because we don’t often get to do things outside with Logan.

He really enjoyed the carousel and even had fun at the park. I don’t remember the last time we played at a park with Logan.

It was one of those days where it felt like we were a quasi-normal family. I consider this day to be a gift and this is Good News.

Share

Good News: Fun on the Beach

Recently I brought my children to the pool where I learned to swim. Today, I took my son to the beach where I also spent many hours as a child.

We went to Lakeside Park today and had a blast. Justus had fun in the water and I enjoyed watching him. Being there brought back many memories.

My mother brought me to this same beach many times during my childhood. Often I would invite a friend and my mom would drive to Port Dalhousie for aa day at the beach.

Being there today, it looked so much smaller. Part of that is because of recent rains, the water level is much higher and there has even been some flooding. Most of it, however, is simply because everything seems bigger in our memories.

I look forward to bring my other children there in the days to come. The carousel still only costs $0.05 per ticket, so it can be a cheap date.

These days are reminders that it does not need to cost a lot to create fun memories.

Share

Swimming Down Memory Lane

I will confess that I’m a nostalgic kind of guy. Moving back to St. Catharines has only intensified that.

We have had a membership at an indoor pool but they have been closed for a month and a half for repairs. I have missed swimming and so I decided to bring the kids to an outdoor pool. But not just any outdoor pool. It was the pool in Merritton where I used to swim.

I grew up in the Merritton area of St. Catharines. Just across the tracks from our house was the Merritton pool. I would go there daily during the summer. It was in that pool that I learned how to swim. I can’t imagine how many hours I spent there.

That was over thirty-five years ago.

Tonight I was able to spend a couple of hours there with my children who are the same age as I was back in the day. We had a great time of goofing off, throwing a ball and just having fun.

It was a strange feeling to be flooded by memories (the high school I attend is also right beside the pool) but to also be making new memories with my family.

To cap things off, we drove by my old house. Across the tracks is a creek where I would go with my friends to catch crayfish. I brought my kids to the creek (which they called a lake!). They loved sharing in my memories.

Justus came home and announced that he really wants to move to Merritton. Maybe one time.

Share

Good News: A Proud Dad

Stephen BedardThis past week, our three youngest children were away at camp. When I arrived to pick them up, the leader of Justus’s cabin immediately sought me out.

There was a moment of panic as I know that Justus has had behaviour issues in the past.

However, the leader wanted to talk to me to brag about how well Justus did. This leader worked with Justus last year and he said that Justus was definitely the most improved camper.

But this was not just about not getting into trouble.

What the leader told me was that Justus was his “right hand man.” Justus showed real leadership qualities and was helpful in making sure the other campers got where they were supposed to be. The leader saw really leadership potential in Justus.

Just the week before, the kids were at day camp. One of the leaders at that camp told Amanda something very similar. She saw Justus as a natural leader, who had a positive influence on the younger children.

Justus has had his share of struggles over the years. Hearing these observations was so encouraging. I am definitely very proud of Justus and believe that he has a bright future.

Share

Good News: Proud of My School Girl

Amanda BedardThis spring and summer has been busy for our household. But I say this as good news and not bad news. The good news is that Amanda has started her studies at Brock University.

This is not the first time that Amanda has done post-secondary studies. She had done some distance education through some other universities. Some of those credits have gone toward her current degree. However, this is the first time she has studied in class.

It has been a pleasure to watch Amanda immerse herself in her studies. Her first two courses were in the subject of biology. This wa not a chore for her but was something that energized her.

People consider me to be well-educated. However, Amanda would tell me what she learned in school and not only would I not understand the principles, I didn’t understand most of the vocabulary!

This has been the best thing for our family. After years of being in the role of housewife, Amanda is getting the opportunity to explore her own identity through her studies. This will eventually lead to some career.

For various reasons, this would have been difficult in previous years. But this is the right time and Amanda is doing well. By the end of this summer, with the credits she brought into the program, she will almost be done her first year, and all that in just a few months.

I’m so proud of Amanda and I look forward to a successful future for her.

Share

How I Lost Five Pounds in My First Week of Dieting

Age definitely affects our metabolism and how we keep or lose weight. I was under weight and stayed at that weight (+/- 5 lbs) for my teens and twenties. As soon as I hit thirty, my weight jumped between thirty and forty pounds.

While my weight did not change dramatically when I hit forty, my health did change. I developed three different diseases during my forties, despite being skeptical of claims that health deteriorates at that age.

One of my diseases (sarcoidosis) caused me to lose about thirty pounds in a month. I don’t recommend this as a weight loss plan. I slowly gained that weight back and I recently found myself at my pre-sickness weight, which is not very healthy.

Since I’m turning fifty in just over a year, I decided it was time to take my health seriously. I have no reason to expect my fifties to be any healthier than my forties. But there are certain things I can control.

A week ago, I put myself on a diet. I have tried this before with little change. But weighing myself after just a week, I found my self five pounds lighter.

How did I do it?

One of the main things was downloading the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. Charting progress really works for me. Based on your height and current weight, it calculates your ideal calorie intake. Then with each meal and snack, you enter what you ate and it provides the calorie count. Each time you enter a number, it calculates what you have left for the day.

In addition, this app can access the information from a Fitbit. The app adds the calories burned from steps to your remaining calories for the day. There are many more features but this is enough for me.

This is more than just calorie counting in the sense of only keeping track of calories. When I see what I have left for the day while I’m tempted to have some snack, I need to make some decisions. This has been the motivation for me to watch what I eat.

The other thing that has made a difference is what I’m drinking. People often spend their time counting the calories of the food and forget what they drink. I do drink water but I also drink tea with sweetener (a lot) and diet pop (sometimes). I try to keep my calories down to just the bit of milk that goes in my tea,

I understand that some hate the taste of sweetener. I used to hate diet pop but I got used to it. And I switched gradually with my tea. I went from two sugars to one sugar to one sweetener. Now if the coffee shop makes a mistake and gives me sugar, it tastes too sweet for me.

By keeping my daily calories intake at an appropriate level, watching my drink calories and walking regularly, I have lost five pounds in my first week.

I’m not saying that I will lose five pounds every week, but I’m already feeling better. Tracking with MyFitnessPal and the Fitbit have really made a difference.




Share

Good News: Fun With the Kids

School is finished for the kids and summer is upon us. What should we do? They often ask us to take them shopping (usually for toys). The truth is they get bored of what we buy them pretty quick.

Tonight we decided to go go-karting. We had brought Justus and Emma before but not Faith. Emma was over at a friend’s house so we brought Justus and Faith tonight.

The plan was for Justus and Faith to ride in the two-seater and for Amanda and I to watch. However, Justus is not tall enough to drive with Faith as a passenger (Faith is too young to drive herself). Justus was fine to drive by himself and so he went.

That left me to get some more tickets and to drive with Faith. We had a blast! At one point during our laps, Faith said to me: “Whoever invented go-karts is the best!”

This is what we want to do with our kids. We want to build memories. Most of the things that my parents bought me are gone by I still have my memories. We want to do this for our children.

It was a fun day with our family and this is Good News.

Share

Good News: Thankful to Be Back in Pastoral Ministry

If you spoke to me three or four years ago about my career goals, being a pastor would not have been high on the list. Despite spending a long time in school training to be a pastor and having been a pastor five churches, I thought my time as a pastor was done.

It is not that my church experience before that had been negative. I spent nine years as the pastor of First Baptist Church Meaford and Woodford Baptist Church. I love both those churches and I found the congregations to be incredibly supportive.

But life circumstances had convinced me that I had nothing left to give. My three year break from ministry, while healing, was also confusing. I really did not know what I was going to do for the rest of my working life. For someone approaching fifty, that is an uncomfortable situation.

As I was looking for work, I would sometimes consider applying to a church. Although I didn’t want to be a pastor again, it was what I was qualified for. Amanda was good to ground me and to stop me from doing something for the wrong reasons.

My life changed over a period of six months (I explain what happened in this post). Experiencing what I would almost call a second calling, I applied to Queen Street Baptist Church in our hometown of St. Catharines.

At the time I’m writing this post, I have been at QSBC for a year and a half. It has been enough time for me to realize if I had made a mistake returning to pastoral ministry.

It has not been a mistake.

Serving at QSBC is energizing to my life. The people are welcoming and supportive of our family. There are gifted leaders that I get to work with. There is a diverse congregation that regularly teaches me about the kingdom of God.

I’m in an interesting place career-wise. Being the pastor at QSBC is not a stepping stone to someplace bigger or better. I am where I want to be and I honestly hope to retire here (but not for a long time). Of course I need to come at this humbly and leave my future to God. But I can say that I’m content, not in the sense of having no goals, but happy with where God has brought me.

This is Good News.

Share

Good News: A Good Father’s Day

Stephen Bedard

My two sons!

Father’s Day is always a mix of emotions for me as I miss my dad. Although it has been thirteen years since he died, I still feel the loss every Father’s Day.

Having said that, I am focusing more on what I have and that is my amazing family. I am truly blessed. Our family has gone through some upheaval lately but it has actually drawn us together.

This Father’s Day was great because I was able to see all five of my children. Once again, Logan asked to stay over so he could go to church with us. He is so excited about church. I ended up driving him to his group home after lunch and had a brief visit with Abby.

Justus, Emma and Faith seemed to try extra hard to make it a good Father’s Day for me. Justus even went with me to take Logan back. All through the day, I was reminded of all that I have. God has truly blessed me.

Stephen Bedard

My Father’s Day Gift!

Share

Good News: Bedards Assemble!

Bedard FamilyThis past week was our annual assembly of the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec. I have only missed only a couple of these assemblies in my twenty years with the CBOQ.

This year was great in terms of music and teaching. Music was led by Steve Bell and our speaker was Gordon MacDonald. I really appreciated what both of them brought to us. Assembly was also fun in terms of visiting with my colleagues in ministry.

But sometimes the best comes from the unexpected.

I have often bragged how we never bring our children to assembly (we brought Emma once when she was a month old but that’s it). That was the plan this year as well. We had Amanda’s mom watching the kids while we had some quality time on our own. We had a couple of days together but then Amanda’s mom got sick and needed us.

Our original plan was for Amanda to go home and be with the kids while I stayed at assembly. Instead, we decided to go home, pick up the kids and bring them back with us. In this, we realized that the kids had never stayed in a hotel before.

I will admit that at first I found the kids’ excitement about staying in a hotel overwhelming. But with some grounding from Amanda, we were able to have a good time. This included many hours at the hotel pool and water slide. After that, we decided to have a late night and watch LEGO Batman.

It ended up being a great time. Yes there was much tiredness. There were grumpy kids and parents. But it was also a time of memories. I’m thankful that we had this time together.

Share

Good News: First Communion

Today may have been one of the most amazing mornings at church in my life. I shared a couple of weeks ago about how we brought our son with autism to church for the first time.

This weekend we had Logan and Abby for a day visit from their group home. Logan requested that he stay over night. When I asked Logan if he wanted to go to church, he quickly said “yes” and shook his head vigorously in the affirmative. In the morning I brought out one of my sports coats and offered it to Logan. You should have seen his face brighten up at the thought of dressing like dad for church.

Logan Bedard

tLogan on the way to church.

People at our church were excited to see Logan again and some got to meet him for the first time. Logan even got to meet another young man with autism that attends our church. All of this would be good enough but it got better.

In our church, we only have communion once a month. Amanda and I hadn’t talked ahead of time about what to do with Logan during communion. As I led communion from the front, I watched Amanda and Logan. Logan was very present, which is not always the case. He was really paying attention. He took the bread and ate it with the rest of us. As I lifted the cup to lead the congregation, Logan raised his cup with me. This was Logan’s first communion.

I was able to watch the entire thing and I will tell you that I wanted to immediately switch from my pastor hat to my dad hat and run and embrace my son. I was feeling very emotional and barely got through the rest of the service.

Amanda told me that not only was Logan very present, he was a bit teary after taking communion. Even though he is nonverbal, he understands and he connected with God in this sacrament.

This was a very emotional day for us. There are some stressful things taking place in our family right now but this felt like God lightening our load with a special blessing. Amanda described it as a “holy and sacred moment.”

Our intention is to baptize Logan as we are confident that he has a faith, even if he can’t verbally express it. God blessed our family this morning and this is Good News.

 

Share

Good News: 184th Anniversary

No, I don’t mean our marriage anniversary. I’m not quite that old. Today was our 184th anniversary service at Queen Street Baptist Church. That is a long time for a church. When I look in the hymn book at the “old” hymns, I see many of them were not written when this congregation first organized.

Tim McCoy

Tim McCoy

We had an amazing anniversary service. At one point, I asked the congregation to raise their hand if they were born in a country other than Canada. Over half the congregation raised their hands. Our multicultural makeup is one of my favourite things about our church.

We had some great music, both by our own musicians and the Grace Notes quartet. Our speaker was Tim McCoy, who is the executive minister of the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec. Tim has been a powerful encouragement to Amanda and I, both in ministry and in our family life. He brought a message that our people needed to hear and that fits with where we are going.

I enjoyed everything about the service. It was a great reminder as to why I’m a pastor and why I love the local church. It was also a reminder of why I’m thankful to be at Queen Street Baptist Church. This is Good News.

Share

Good News: Bringing Our Son to Church

Today was one of the happiest Sundays in my life. Many people take it for granted that they can go to church as a family. In our case, our two oldest children have autism and live in a group home 1.5 hours away. It has been around six years since Abby has been with us at church and three years for Logan.

Today that changed for Logan.

The plan was for us to just have a day visit with Logan and Abby on Saturday. When it was time for me to bring them back to the group home, Logan told us he wanted to stay. Amanda told him that this meant coming to church. He told her he wanted to come to church. By the way, Logan is nonverbal so him telling us this is a big deal.

Stephen BedardSo I brought Abby back and Logan stayed over night. When it was time to go to church, Logan was ready to go. Logan had been to Queen Street Baptist Church before for a men’s breakfast but never for a service. This helped because he knew the building and had met some of the men.

It was such a joy to have Logan at church with us. Yes, he made some noise. That’s part of autism. But QSBC is an autism-friendly church and they are comfortable with autism sounds. No one complained. In fact, they were very excited to meet Logan. When I announced that Logan was there, they applauded.

It takes more than just applause to be an autism-friendly church. Do you know what tells us that QSBC is autism-friendly? When people came up to us after the service, they didn’t talk to me about Logan, they talked to Logan directly. Amanda told me that some people completely ignored her while they were connecting with Logan.

And connecting they did. There were some pretty big smiles on Logan. He may be a person of few words, but we can read him well. I was very proud of both Logan and my church.

This will be a memory that will long stay with me. This is Good News.

Share

Good News: Smiling Our Faces Off

Stephen BedardThis week included a day off school for our children. After spending some of the day at a church program, two of our daughters had a sleep over with friends, leaving us just with Justus. Justus asked us to take him to Niagara Go-Karts, a place he has wanted to go for a long time. My parents took me there when I was his age and I was all for passing on the memories.

Because of his age, he had to drive the 2-seater cars with me in it. But he was the one who drove the go-karts for all ten laps. The smile on Justus’s face was worth every penny. He was so happy and we were able to share that with him.

After go-karts, we hit a second hand store where he got some cool toys (and I got ten books!) and then we had dinner at Pizza Hut. When we got home, we watched together the classic, Raiders of the Lost Ark. He loved the movie. It was incredible to be able to spend a few hours just enjoying our son.

Justus has had some rough passages but this was day that filled all our emotional tanks. At one point, Justus said “I’m so happy I could smile my face off!” That evening he kept talking about how happy he was and the joy was still there the next day and more. He spontaneously hugged us and told us he loved us.

We are by no means perfect parents but this day felt like a win. This is good news.

Share

Good News: My Wife is an Amazing Mother

My tendency on Mother’s Day is to focus on how much I miss my own mother, who died almost ten years ago. But in doing that, I would miss the incredible blessing of my wife Amanda.

Amanda BedardI don’t have the words to describe how much I appreciate Amanda. Amanda comes to motherhood with her own baggage. Amanda is very honest about her experience of PTSD and other mental health issues. Yet, these things do not make Amanda less a mother but rather more.

We have a complex family. We have two children with autism who do not live with us. We have three other children who are not biologically ours but definitely emotionally are ours. They have their own issues.

Amanda regularly blows me away with how she loves them and cares for them. Perhaps because of her own struggles, Amanda has a special grace for them. She regularly inspires me to want to be a better father.

So yes, I do miss my own mother. But I’m so thankful for Amanda and the special mother she is to our children. I love you Amanda!

Share

What Does a Sarcoidosis Flare-up Look Like?

The experience of people with sarcoidosis varies considerably. Many people diagnosed with sarcoidosis go into remission relatively quickly after treatment and never suffer another symptom. Other people are not helped by the treatment and the symptoms become so debilitating that they experience long-term disability.

I’m somewhere in the middle.

I have responded to treatment but I have never gone into complete remission. Nor are my symptoms so severe that I cannot work or live a “normal” life. My experience is that of generally good health with periodic flare-ups.

What is a sarcoidosis flare-up?

I cannot speak to the experience of others. I can barely generalize about my own experience. It depends on where in my body the sarcoidosis is most active. I have it in my lymph nodes, lungs and eyes.

At this moment, I’m in the midst of a flare-up and so I can explain what is going on right now. One of the first symptoms is often increased fatigue. I require more naps and get pretty grumpy without them. Sometimes (like now), I get a rash. The name sarcoidosis includes the Greek word for flesh, because it was originally discovered by the effects on the skin (even though many people now mistakenly think of it as a lung disease). I also notice shortness of breath. I was much more winded the last time I went swimming than I had been in recent weeks.

The worst part is the muscle and joint pain. It is different from the pain of pulling a muscle or exerting yourself too much. The pain can move around quite frequently. I get a lot of it in my back, but it doesn’t stay in just one spot. Also, it doesn’t gradually get better the way it happens after you have worked out too hard. I can be walking with a cane in the morning and go for a run pain-free in the evening. It can change that fast.

I share this, not to complain, but to increase awareness. Sarcoidosis is one of those invisible conditions where people can look healthy but are experiencing tremendous pain. I’m thankful for the health that I have and I know that this flare-up will be gone soon.

Active Advantage

Share

What is PMDD?

I am the husband of a woman who has long suffered with PMDD. What is PMDD? PMDD is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. You can find some more information here. This is not exactly the same as PMS. I do not understand what Amanda went through, but I can say that she is a different woman post-surgery. I’m thankful that Amanda has been willing to share her thoughts in this guest post.

A couple of days ago I learned of the suicide of one of the moderators of an online group I’m in for PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). PMDD was one of the reasons why I had my hysterectomy a couple months ago, it’s the reason why I’m a #suicidesurvivor. PMDD was a living nightmare for me, for my husband and for my children. It turned my whole life upside down and inside out. I wasn’t able to function; I dropped out of school, I couldn’t hold a job, I was a terribly selfish person, I was moody and unpredictable and PMDD became a source of difficulty in all my relationships.

My hormones messed with me so much I couldn’t see the light of day, Almost every month, for half of the month, I struggled with suicidal thoughts. I took on everything, blamed myself for things I couldn’t possibly be held responsible for. I lived in the darkness. I had what I can only describe as fiery rage in my head; I was angry at nothing and everything all at once. For 2 weeks of any given month, I was a walking disaster. PMDD made my depression so much worse, it increased my anxiety and exasperated my PTSD.
For two months now, I’m living in the light. Yes, I still have depression, anxiety and PTSD but without the PMDD, I can manage my thoughts and respond to situations in a much better fashion. I have not thought about suicide since the day of surgery. I’m better able to handle triggered days and I don’t spiral out of control anymore.

For most women PMS is a nuisance but for me and for the moderator of my group, it’s genuinely a matter of life or death. It is difficult to get doctors to really listen to you, they assume you are exaggerating or that it’s all in your head….but it’s not. It’s real and it is debilitating. She was begging and pleading with her doctors to remove her ovaries, but she died waiting for an answer. Unfortunately this is something that a lot of women who have PMDD succumb to, suicide because the darkness overtakes and you see no other way out. It is a terrible way to live, trapped by your hormones and stuck in the darkness of your thoughts, only to find relief as your period starts. And in just 14 days, you live it all over again. Month after month and year after year. It’s relentless.

My prayers and love go out to those in my PMDD community, for Stephanie’s family and friends. I also very selfishly thank God that I no longer struggle with this disorder and that I am able to live free now and that I got the help I needed because a doctor took the time to really listen to my symptoms. He could have refused my request, to take my ovaries out at age 36, but he didn’t. He not only listened but he had compassion. Thanks be to God for Dr. Bedkowski. For the first time in my adult life, I feel in control of my emotions. I feel healthy, happy and alive. I’m finally the mother that I have always dreamed I’d be.

Share

Good News: 4 Things I’m Thankful For

My plan is to highlight one thing per week that I’m thankful for. Today I have decided to share four things for my Good News.

The first is that today is our daughter Faith’s ninth birthday. She is the third of three April birthdays we have for our children. Even our dog has a birthday in April! We took the children out to see Boss Baby for her birthday.

The second is that this morning we had Jacob Moon take our service at Queen Street Baptist Church. He is an amazing musician and he also shared about Compassion Canada. He was so good that even though we were already Compassion sponsors, we took on another little girl. Jacob and his son also joined us for lunch which was nice.

The third is that our son Justus has found something at church that he enjoys. Being eleven, church is not the most exciting thing for him and he has been struggling. But today, he sat at the sound board with one of our sound guys and learned how to run the board. Justus has natural talents in that area anyway. He enjoyed so much that he asked me if he could come to church with me again tonight for an event that was going on. Justus helped with sound again and he was just beaming.

The fourth is that Amanda is starting at Brock University tomorrow. Brock is where I did my BBA and I have a lot of memories there. I’m super proud of Amanda for starting there. Her ultimate goal is to study neuroscience. Amanda is extremely intelligent and I know she will do great in her studies. People point at my degrees but I have no doubt that Amanda is the smart one in our family.

There is so much to be thankful for. God is good and this is Good News.

Share

Good News: Our Son is Back

Stephen BedardAlthough I don’t talk about it as much as our children with autism, we also have a child with ADHD. Some may think that ADHD is not near as serious as autism but there have been many days where it has been more difficult. It has been a long journey trying to deal with Justus’s ADHD and seeking to help him.

One of the ways that we have treated his ADHD is with medication. That has been appropriate and it did make a difference. Although Justus improved, he still had difficulties with anger and anxiety. His sleep patterns were also very erratic. It often would not take much to set him off.

Recently we cut his meds from two to one pill a day, simply because we were waiting for an appointment to get a renewal. Almost as soon as we did this, there was a sudden change in Justus.

For the positive.

We saw more smiles from him in that first week than we have seen in the past year. He was more hyper, but far less angry. He was once again his goofy, happy and affectionate self. We ended up stopping even his one pill a day and saw more improvement.

Our son is back.

I need to make it clear that I’m not suggesting that the answer for everyone is to get off medication. I take a pill for anxiety and I have gone off it a couple of times as a test and it is always bad news. Also, Logan and Abby are on medication and it makes a difference for them. Medication really can be a positive thing.

But in this case, coming of medication was what Justus (and the rest of us) needed. I have been enjoying watching Justus play with his sisters without fighting (as much). He listens to what we say. he spontaneously thanks us for things we have done. He even offered to cut the grass for us. Justus has been sleeping better and shocked us all be sleeping in to 11:30 am on Saturday. He normally gets us at 5:00 am or earlier.

Justus still has ADHD and it can be annoying some times. But we will take our happy and hyper kid over our angry and anxious kid any day.

Share

Good News: A Blessed Easter

Some pastors may dread Easter because of the extra services but I love it. This entire weekend has been great.

We had a very meaningful Maundy Thursday service at our church that included foot washing and communion. I was planning on going by myself but I was shocked when the children asked to go. I’m glad they did as Faith received communion for the first time. On Good Friday we had a church breakfast followed by a walk with many of the downtown churches.

In the afternoon, Logan and Abby came for a visit. It had been over a month since we had seen them because of Amanda’s surgery. It was so good to see them again. I wasn’t sure how they would do with our new car (many people with autism don’t like change) but we were able to make it work.

This morning we had a great Easter morning service. We had plenty of visitors and two of our children handed out visitor bags. I really enjoyed the service as the resurrection of Jesus is central to my faith.

The afternoon included a dinner at Amanda’s parents, followed by a bonfire back at our house. Bonfires were a big part of my growing up and I naturally think of my dad as I now start the fires.

This Easter has been a great reminder of all the blessings that are in my life. This is my Good News.

Share

Good News: Double Shot

There are actually two things that I want to share for my weekly Good News post.

The first is that I want to share how much I’m enjoying my role as pastor of Queen Street Baptist Church. Even two years ago I was not sure if I would ever be the pastor of a church again. Circumstances (i.e. God) led me to Queen Street and I’m really enjoying ministry. For the last couple of weeks I have been helping with our Hispanic congregation and it has been fun to get to know them as well. I really believe that I’m where I’m supposed to be.

The second is that we had a great time swimming as a family tonight. We have been swimming regularly but this is the first time in a while that we have all gone together as a family. Between sickness and Amanda’s recovery from surgery, we have not all been able to go. This was also the first time we have all been in the big pool. It was a lot of fun and was definitely quality family-time.

So in general, I’m feeling very blessed these days. This is Good News.

Share

Good News: Thankful For Autism Awareness

Stephen and Amanda Bedard

Wearing blue for autism awareness.

About fourteen years ago, when our son Logan was diagnosed with autism, I was pretty ignorant about autism. I only knew what I saw in Rainman and St. Elsewhere. Many of our friends and family were equally unaware. Although we have been forced to become aware because of Logan and Abby’s autism, I have noticed a general increase in awareness.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and my Good News is that people are become more aware and there is an increase in the welcoming and embracing of people with autism.

As a dad of two children with autism, I appreciate the change that has taken place. There is much more that needs to be done, but there has been a start. I’m also thankful that we are part of a church that is autism-friendly. We have a young man at Queen Street Baptist Church who has autism and who is an important part of our church family. I’m thankful as well that a number of churches have used the bulletin insert that I put together for autism awareness (any time in April would be appropriate if you wanted to use it).

I encourage you take time to learn about autism and even more importantly to get to know some one with autism. Autism awareness is Good News.

Stephen Bedard

This is what autism looks like.

Share

Good News: Daddy-Daughter Date

Stephen BedardI have mentioned previously that we plan to go swimming as a family every Sunday night. While that doesn’t always work out, sometimes it is for the best.

Amanda is still recovering from her surgery and Justus didn’t feel like going. I was going to take Emma and Faith but right before we left, we discovered that Faith was sick. That left just Emma.

None of these circumstances are ideal but I’m thankful that Emma and I had some time just with us. We still went swimming but had the opportunity to swim in a different pool at the same facility. We practiced our diving and really had a lot of fun. It was so great to have one-on-one time.

I have always desired to have these kinds of times with each of my kids but it is difficult to plan out. That’s why we take advantage of the circumstances that come our way and make the best of it. This is good news.

Share

Good News: Thankful for Opportunities

I have no desire to boast but I’m so thankful for the opportunities that have come my way. Not only do I get to be the pastor at Queen Street Baptist Church, some other great opportunities have come my way. as well I would appreciate your prayers for some of the things that are coming up.

There are a couple of more events coming up, related to both Tyndale and Christian Horizons.

I was hesitant to share this, because it could look like boasting. The truth is, no one is more amazed at the opportunities that come my way than me. I’m thankful for people who believe in me and think that I have something that could benefit others. I’m humbled that I would even get these chances.

Share

Good News: Recovering Well

Amanda BedardIt is easy to come up with Good News this week. A few days ago, Amanda had some surgery. It was a planned surgery and one we have been waiting for. It was serious enough for Amanda to spend one night in hospital. The surgery itself is Good News because it will solve some ongoing health concerns.

Another part of the Good News is that Amanda is recovering well. She is in pain and needs to take it easy, but she is doing fine.

In addition, we have been amazed at the support we have received from our church. There have been numerous phone calls and emails, as well as a meal and a care package. We have only been at QSBC for just over a year and yet we feel completely welcomed as family.

I’m thankful for all of God’s blessings, including two weeks off work to help out with the recovery. This is Good News.

Share