Seeing Through the Fog: Book Review

Has your world ever fallen apart? On more than one occasion mine has fallen apart. My wife Heather has journeyed through the last 15 years of her life with leukaemia + a bone marrow transplant. You can read her story here:

That’s why I was so intrigued to read Ed Dobson’s new book, Seeing Through the Fog: Hope When Your World Falls Apart.

Ed has written one of his best books about his own eleven year struggle with ALS. He shares his heart, struggle and emotions from the point of his diagnosis + physical deterioration + seeking forgiveness + spiritual journey + thinking of the after life.

We ask for forgiveness. And we forgive other who ask us. In that way, we can experience healing, healing in our souls. – Ed Dobson

Regardless of how your world might be falling apart right now, Ed’s book is MUST READ!

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You can purchase Ed’s book through Amazon below.


Book Review: No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Pre-Schoolers

nocrysleep I didn’t read the whole book. Just wanted to be upfront regarding this fact. What I did do was read the portions of the book that I needed regarding my 2yr old.

What a great resource for parents and care-givers who are dealing with toddlers and pre-schoolers. Two sections of the book really helped me (and my soul mate) in how to help our schedule and how it impacts our toddlers schedule as well.

1) Maintaining a Consistent Bedtime and Waking Time Seven Days a Week. This was tip was one of the Eight Sleep Tips for Every Child. What impacted me the most was this quote;

Sleeping late on weekends is similar to giving yourself jet lag every week – living in one time zone MOnday through Friday and a second on the weekends.

2) “Mommy/Daddy Stay!” Needing a Parent’s Help to Fall Asleep.

We needed this book to confirm things that we were doing right and the enhance/change the things that we had let slip or need to reapply to our son’s bedtime routine. Both going to bed and waking up. I need to take this book back to the library today but will be taking it out again as we head in to the “Night-time Fears: Monsters, etc…” I would recommend this without hesitation to parents who have children from 1-6yrs of age.

Author Elizabeth Pantley gives tools to help a one to six year old get in bed, stay in bed, and sleep all night by providing great solutions that also takes into account the mosaic of cultures that we have in North America. She does not take colonization approach in this book, rather she gives advice and solutions for parenting.

Visit: Elizabeth Pantley’s website:

Purchase Book Here:

Book Review: Youth Ministry 3.0

ym30Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher


As I read ym3.0 I was not that impressed with the chapters on ym1.0(post-world war 2-1960’s) and ym2.0(1970-end of the century) to be completely honest. I felt like I was reading an updated, trimmed down version of what Mark Senter has done in many of of his books (Complete Book of Youth Ministry-1987 , Four Views of Youth Ministry and the Church-2001, & The Coming Revolution of Youth Ministry-1992 ). I then realized that I’m glad Mark went through ym1.0 & ym2.0 because he gives us a great picture/chart that allows us to see where we came from and where we are now. 

The chapter introducing ym3.0(naming our preferred future) was a breath of fresh air for me. It said a great deal of things that I have been thinking and pondering about for the last number of years.

Get this: There’s no one-size-fit-all youth culture anymore. p.69

Chapter 6: So…How Do We Get There? was the best chapter of the book for me. I pulled out my journal and it was like I was reading my own contemplations, but of course written much better. One thing I greatly appreciated in this chapter is that Mark does not give us five things we can do to become ym3.0 in our context. What Mark does do is he point us in a direction that so many youth workers today neglect. He points us to seek God and what His desires are for our lives and the community that He has called us to be a part of. In my minds eye I see an old sea captain (sorry Mark), whois  navigating a ship to head in a specific. Uncertain of what lays beyond the horizon, only knowing that this is the right direction and we will experience things as they happen. He’s signaling for us to join him in this direction and more than likely to lead at times as well.

Here’s my favourite portion from the book:

The road forward must first go through the valley of doing less. Admittedly, this is counterintuitive. Doing less feels like shying away from needs, turning away from change. Society has enculturated us to believe that change comes from doing more, more, more. But even Jesus, the Christ-who certainly, as God incarnate, should have been able to do more stuff than you and I do-stepped aside for prayer and rest and intimate dialogue. And He often did so when the to-do list was at its most substantial and critical.

Strip down your programming so you have space to spend time with teenagers, spend time with God, and consider rebuilding something new and fresh. – p.98

Overall: this certainly is a good read, short, simple and jammed packed with tons of insights, butt kicks and hope for the future. I loved the various side notes from people that followed Marks blog (ysmarko) included in the sidebar of each page (my comment-page 72). You can even follow the discussion on Facebook. I did enjoy reading the book but I’m on the fence as to whether this is a must read for youth workers or is it just a good discussion for youth workers to have!?!

What are your thoughts? 

purchase Youth Ministry 3.0 here


by: jeff smyth

2009 Reading List

I’m planning to read strategically in 2009. I have broken down the books  in to seven[7] different categories. If you would recommend a book, leave a comment. As the year proceeds I’ll be reviewing each book and posting my thoughts as each one is read.

If you are interested in seeing the books I’ve listed below, you can see them at Jeff’s 2009 Reading List




Canadian Authors

  • Dr. Karyn’s guide to the Teen Years: Dr. Karyn Gordon
  • Goodbye Generation: David Sawler
  • Hope and Healing for Kids Who Cut: Marv Penner


  • Youth Ministry 3.0: Mark Oestreicher
  • Man’s Search for Meaning: Viktor Frankl
  • The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and PreSchoolers: Elizabeth Pantley


  • Hood, Scarlet, Tuck: Stephen Lawhead
  • The Shack: Wm. Paul Young
  • Voyage of the Dawn Treader: C.S. Lewis

Organizational (structure/belief/communication)

  • Communication for a Change: Andy Stanley/Lane Jones
  • The Revolutionary Communicator: Erik Lokkesmoe /Jedd Medefind
  • Made to Stick: Heath/Heath
  • Outliers: The Story of Success: Malcolm Gladwell


  • Jesus Wants to Save Christians: Rob Bell
  • Samson & the Pirate Monks: Nate Larkin
  • A Practical View of Christianity: William Wilberforce


  • Out of the Depth: John Newton
  • Pour Your Heart Into It: Howard Schultz
  • Me, Myself and Bob: Phil Vischer


  • The Silver Chalice: Thomas B. Costain
So what am I missing?