Happy 148th Birthday, Canada!

July 1st marks Canada’s 148th Birthday.  I thought as we remember Canada’s Birthday on this day with celebration and fireworks, we also remember its heritage and history.  Canada was (and hopefully will continue) to be a nation founded under God.

‘O Canada’ was proclaimed Canada’s national anthem on July 1, 1980, 100 years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880.  The music was composed by Calixa Lavallee, and French lyrics to accompany the music were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier.  Many English versions have appeared over the years in fact in 1901 a Toronto doctor, Dr. Thomas Bedford Richardson penned these lyrics:

“O Canada! Our fathers’ land of old Thy brow is crown’d with leaves of red and gold. Beneath the shade of the Holy Cross Thy children own their birth No stains thy glorious annals gloss Since valour shield thy hearth. Almighty God! On thee we call Defend our rights, forfend this nation’s thrall, Defend our rights, forfend this nation’s thrall.”

(Notice the prayer…)

In 1908 Mercy E Powell McCulloch won a competition with these lyrics to go with Lavallee’s music:

” O Canada! in praise of thee we sing; From echoing hills our anthems proudly ring. With fertile plains and mountains grand With lakes and rivers clear, Eternal beauty, thos dost stand Throughout the changing year. Lord God of Hosts! We now implore Bless our dear land this day and evermore, Bless our dear land this day and evermore.”

(Again, notice the prayer…)

However in 1908, the lyrics by Robert Stanley Weir, a lawyer in Montreal, after a few minor amendments, the first verse of Weir’s poem was finally proclaimed as the official English version of ‘O Canada’ in 1980:

“O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command. With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North, strong and free! From far and wide, O Canada, We stand on guard for thee. God keep our land glorious and free ! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”

I don’t know if many Canadians realize that there are several more verses to ‘O Canada’.  I particularly want to draw attention to the last verse.  It leaves no doubt that ‘O Canada’ is more than a national anthem, it is our nation’s heartfelt prayer to God every time we stand to sing it.  Here is the original poem of 1908 by Stanley Weir:

“O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love thou dost in us command. We see thee rising fair, dear land, The True North, strong and free; And stand on guard, O Canada, We stand on guard for thee.

Refrain O Canada! O Canada! O Canada! We stand on guard for thee. O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow. Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow. How dear to us thy broad domain, From East to Western Sea, Thou land of hope for all who toil! Thou True North, strong and free!

Refrain O Canada! O Canada! etc.

O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise, To keep thee steadfast through the years From East to Western Sea, Our own beloved native land! Our True North, strong and free!

Refrain O Canada! O Canada! etc.

Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer, Hold our dominion within thy loving care; Help us to find, O God, in thee A lasting, rich reward, As waiting for the Better Day, We ever stand on guard.

Refrain O Canada! O Canada! etc.”

Amen.

http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/ceem-cced/symbl/anthem-eng.cfm

Today I pray that God will indeed “keep our land strong and free”!  He is our Sovereign, even though many in this land choose to ignore that fact.

When Life Throws You a Curve Ball

650a351052176257dcaba343dc70357dI don’t watch a lot of baseball.  Living in Canada, hockey is my game of choice.  However, I do know a little something about curve balls.  The curve ball is a type of pitch in baseball thrown with a characteristic grip and hand movement that imparts forward spin to the ball, causing it to dive in a downward path as it approaches the plate.  It takes quite a good pitcher to throw one accurately and it takes an equally good batter to knock a curve ball out of the park for a home run.  The key to a curve ball is that it is generally unexpected.  The batter doesn’t realize it’s a curve ball until it makes that dive down crossing the plate, and then it’s too late to make the proper adjustment in stance etc. to make contact with the ball.  That’s when he remembers all the good coaching he has received when faced with a curve ball.  Sometimes life will throw you a curve ball.  It’s a common saying.  You expected life would go in one direction but then you got hit with a “curve” and you totally did not expect it!  The loss of a job, a marriage break-up, the death of a loved one.  Unmet expectations, disappointments, heartache, loss – the curve balls of life.  I’ve stared down a lot of curve balls in my life.  Many times in my life, God has thrown me a curve ball. He has allowed things to happen in my life that I wasn’t expecting – a couple of miscarriages, job losses, cancer, heartache, and loss.  If I take this analogy to it’s logical conclusion, I must also believe that if He is THE great Pitcher, He knows exactly what course the “ball” is going to take.  He’s in control.

That said, I don’t like curve balls.  I’m being totally honest here.  I don’t think anyone likes them.  They mess me up!  I’ve thrown my bat down frustrated and discouraged because those curve balls are just too hard to deal with.  I’ve yelled at the Pitcher (God) and raged at the unfairness.  Times of trial bring out some very unsportsmanlike conduct in me and that’s when I remember that not only is God the “Pitcher”, He is also the great “Coach”.  What does my Coach want me to do when I’m faced with a curve ball?
I have two choices when life throws me a curve ball: drop my bat and give up, or pick it up and take my stance again.  It’s not always the easy way, but it’s the only way!  It’s the curve balls that determine my character and my stamina.  Am I in this for the long run, or do I only want to play the game if it goes my way?
My life verse gives me hope during those times of trial: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9
“Batter UP!!!”

Finishing Well

Beginning and Ending a School YearFor teachers there is a sense of relief mingled with sadness at the end of a school year.  Relief that the year is done and sadness that the year is done!  At least that is how I feel.  I am MUCH relieved to be done the year because I have literally poured myself into the job and into the lives of my students.  I can feel my spiritual, emotional and physical “bucket” is nearly empty and in great need of being filled up with renewed energy and purpose.  I am exhausted.

That said, I am equally sad that the year is done because in many ways there was more I could have done.  I re-evaluate my lesson plans, wondering how I could have improved my method of delivery, or how I could have reached my more challenging or troubled students?  With every comment I write in their report cards, I wonder if they will retain anything from my classes.  Have they actually learned?  Did my students actually grow up in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord in my classroom?

I am saddened that I will not be with these students next year.  God has closed one door but opened another one, so I will be moving from my Junior High position to teaching a Grade Six class after Christmas.  I love teaching Junior High Schoolers but I go where I am most needed and in this case it’s teaching Grade Sixers.  It will be a new challenge.

I prayed everyday for my students and prayed that I would daily try to represent my Lord well in the classroom.  I tried to show fairness and grace when a student needed that.  I tried to be firm when the need arose for that as well.  I made a point of smiling in the face of adversity, modeling patience and perseverance and fighting back my natural prideful nature by practicing humility.  That was sometimes the hardest thing for me to do.

Some days were silver and some days gold…and some days…well…they lacked any colour, but luckily they were few and far between.  The last day of classes was a “GOLD” day as my students surprised me with a birthday party.  It wasn’t even my birthday!!  I had mentioned that I had never had my birthday celebrated at school, even as a child, because I was an August baby.  So they surprised me with what they called a “pre-lated” birthday party.  It was awesome!

So, the school year is coming to an end.  I am looking forward to recharging during the summer and seeking direction for the new school year.  I have “run the race” set before me this year.  I kept the pace and with God’s encouragement I crossed the finish line…exhausted but feeling that overall I finished well!

Friday Funnies – Dadisms

I don’t know who coined the word: “Dadisms” but it’s a great word!  I suppose “Momisms” will be next.  The word represents all those wonderful, silly, unusual, sometimes questionable phrases and words of wisdom that Dads have imparted to their children over the years.

My father had a zillion of them, here are some of my favorites:

“I may not always be right, but I’m never wrong!”

“Don’t do as I do, do as I tell you to.”

“How can I soar like an eagle when I am surrounded by turkeys?”

“On a dog sled team, like in life, if you’re not the lead dog then the scenery seldom changes.”

(Yeah, my Dad was quite the character.)

I thought for Friday Funnies in honour of Father’s Day I would let my readers send me their own “Dadisms”.

Happy Father’s Day!!

 

Monday Musings

153478-Keep-Calm-And-Pretend-It-s-Not-MondayI don’t know how most of you feel about Mondays, but I actually like Mondays.  I hear audible *gasps* world-wide.  Seriously, I like the potential of Mondays.  I always feel like a brand new week is before me and I have all these amazing plans that all have their start on Mondays.  Unfortunately by Wednesday I start to become aware that all the good plans I had on Monday have become bogged down in mid-week procrastination.  By Thursday I’ve given up entirely and then the weekend hits and let’s face it, I take the idea of R. & R. seriously on weekends.  But then Monday rolls around again and it’s a fresh new week ahead…full of potential!

I remember watching each one of my three children and over the past few years, my grandbabies, Jaxon and Kharis.  When they were babies I observed something fascinating about each one of my children. Yes, I will admit each of them, at the time of their “babyness” were the the cutest babies in the world.  That said,  what I really noticed is how at nearly four months of age EVERY day for each of them was so full of potential.  They would discover something new every single day.  The wonder of hands; how Jaxon discovered he had toes and he could grab them!  Rattles becoming an obsession with my girls.  Each of the babies would milk every day, (literally…hahaha) as they spent every moment discovering more and more about the world around them.

Brett wouldn’t just look at me with those big blue eyes, no, he would STUDY me!  It’s like he needed to memorize my every expression and then he’d try to mimic the sounds that came from my mouth no matter how silly they may have sounded to him at the time.  (He probably still thinks that about me now that he’s a grown man!)  Kharis is absolutely fascinated with watching T.V.  (She may become a couch potato!)  The only time she is upset is when her little body starts to wind down for nap time.  She wants so much to stay awake, to not miss a single minute of discovery that she gets very upset just before she reluctantly drifts off to sleep.

My daughter, Carmen now works as one of the education specialists in an Early Learning Centre and she comes home with stories everyday of her little charges learning the fine art of using the potty.  A big accomplishment for toddlers!  I laugh when she shares because I still remember vividly those “potty training days” with her!  I look forward now to seeing my granddaughter take on the potty challenge this summer!

Growing up is a grand adventure!

Thinking about each of my children and remembering them as babies, there was a wonderment about each new day and as their parent I discovered the world in a new way with them.  Now as an Empty Nester, I’ve lost some of that.  How I wish that I could have that “newborn” kind of wonderment every single day!  To discover, to awake, to find brand new potential not just on Mondays but every single day.  I find myself filled with new excitement on Monday morning, but by the time Monday evening comes around I am already wound down.  I’m ready to sleep.  I certainly don’t weep at the thought of the day coming to an end like my granddaughter does.

As I pondered on that I thought about how I have “wound-down” in my spiritual passion as well.  When I was a new believer, I could not wait to discover, explore and experience God in every way I could.  There were not enough minutes in the day to learn more about Him.  But over time that passion, that zeal, that energy to learn and discover more about God has dwindled.  So this Monday morning I am reminded of a great hymn of faith: “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and especially the chorus:

  • Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
    Morning by morning new mercies I see;
    All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Morning by morning!  What a great reminder that with God EVERY day is full of potential and filled with His tender mercies!

When Students Read

A group of diverse children reading a book.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see my Junior High students reading.  One, and I will admit a great added bonus, is the peace and quiet in the classroom when students are doing S.S.R. (sustained silent reading).  Two, books are the great gateways to new worlds and foster imagination and creative thinking.  Three, there is the added benefit of improved spelling scores.  It is said that “reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”.  I totally agree.

I am “old school” when it comes to teaching.  I admit that.  There is nothing more satisfying than hearing the sound of pages turning in a quiet classroom.  Yes, there are few that read on their electronic devices, but for the most part, my students are immersed in their paperback novels and it’s a lovely sight!  I also quiz my students in vocabulary and spelling words.  Since September I am pleased to say my students have improved dramatically in spelling.  Yay!  I know it’s not common practice to teach spelling in Junior High, but as I’ve already stated, I’m “old school”.

One of my students is such an avid reader, I have to force her to put down a book long enough to hear directions in class.  She has read thousands of books in her young lifetime.  I am impressed.

Studies have shown, that students who read, seem to also excel in writing, spelling, as well as many of the other subject areas in school.  I have a big banner at the front of my classroom: “Turn the pages of your imagination: READ!”  My students know how important I think reading is.

So here are a few hints to parents to foster the love of reading in their child.  If you have a few tips please feel free to add them in comments.

1.  Start early.  I mean, start reading books to your children when they are toddlers.  Bedtime stories are great times to read together.

2.  When you are doing everyday activities with your preschooler read signs, back of breakfast cereal boxes, anything and everything that has print that can also become a teachable moment with your child.  It will help them learn their alphabet letters and help them to understand that we read all the time.

3.  Buy lots of books for your child.  I know computer literacy is BIG right now, but I’m still a big advocate on buying paper or board books, so children turn pages and look at illustrations from a book NOT a T.V. or computer/tablet screen.

4.  To foster reading in your child, model that behaviour.  Read books yourself.  Turn off the T.V. and immerse yourself in a good book.  Your child will take note!

5.  For older children and teens…read the books they read.  I have never been a censor of books per se.  I generally read the books that are popular BEFORE the kids read them, so I tend to immerse myself in what they are interested in.  That said, there are books I absolutely refuse to read because of their sexually explicit content or profane language or they have a definitively negative or immoral message that goes against God’s Word.  My kids know which books are “banned” in the household, and it’s a teachable moment to share why those books do not need to be read by them or by me.

6.  Lastly, if you want your children to read their Bible, make sure you model reading in YOUR Bible.  Just sayin’ !

Worship Typos – Friday Funnies

z187105942First, I must begin by saying that this blog posting is only meant to amuse (not malign) the well-meaning and oftentimes harassed Worship Leaders in churches across North America.  With trying to find the right balance of Contemporary and Traditional hymns  every Sunday to keep all congregants happy,  it’s a wonder Worship Leaders are not pulling out what little hair they may have on their heads already.  That said, one of the main distractions for me in Worship is spotting typos in the Worship PowerPoint.  As an English teacher and writer it’s hard to shut the editing mode off on Sundays when I spend a great deal of time during the week correcting punctuation and grammatical errors in class and on Facebook.

Jon Acuff, wrote a great post on his Top 16 Worship Music Typos: “Lord, You are more precious than silver… Lord, You are more costly than golf.”  I am still laughing at that one!

I could add a few more to the fray:  (I found these on the web.)

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear the hour I first relieved.”

“Angels we have heard get high.”

“Go tell it on the montain.”  (Wikipedia Note: Montain is a commune in the Jura department in Franche-Comté in eastern France.)

“I was lost in udder darkness ’till You came and rescued me.”

“My God is mighty to sve.  He is mighty to save.”

“Shout to the Lord!  All the earth let us sig” or  “Shout to the Lord!  All the earth let us sin!”

Grammatical Errors: “Your the God of this city. Your the King of these people.”

“You are beautiful beyond description / To marvelous for words”

“How grate is are God”

Copy and paste fail: “The earth is filled with his lory, The earth is filled with his lory,  Holy is the Lord”

The best one yet: “All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostate fall.”

Do you have any more to add?  Leave a comment today.