Hockey Superstitions

It is no secret that I am a hockey fan, especially during the playoffs.  My heart has been and always will be with the Montreal Canadiens, however living in “Cowtown” (Calgary), it’s hard not to have a small corner of my heart dedicated to the hometown heroes – The Calgary Flames.  So I face the dilemma of whom to cheer for if the Canadiens and Flames should meet in the playoffs.  I guess it will be a win-win for me because whomever wins I’m happy.

One thing I know for sure is: the NHL team with the best beards usually wincanadian-beards-phoenixnewtimescom!

A playoff beard is the practice of a NHL (National Hockey League) player not shaving his beard during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The player stops shaving when his team enters the playoffs and does not shave until his team is eliminated or wins the Stanley Cup.  The tradition was started in the 1980s by the New York Islanders.  After the Islanders dynasty ended in 1984, the playoff beard tradition was lost but then was brought back in 1995 by the New Jersey Devils who used the beards.  After the Devils won the Stanley Cup, the beard has been used ever since.  The tradition is also practiced by nearly all North American hockey leagues including university and high school teams.

I am NOT a fan of the scraggly beard look.  I don’t understand the tradition myself but hockey players are a very superstitious bunch of guys.  Silly or serious, superstitions have become a part of the great Canadian game.  The Philadelphia Flyers believed in the winning powers of singer Kate Smith in the 1970’s.  She was their “lucky charm”.  Before a game at the Spectrum, if she sang God Bless America, instead of the national anthem, the Flyers often won the game.  “At one stage, Philadelphia had an incredible record of 62 wins, 13 losses and 3 ties, thanks to the inspiring presence of Ms. Smith.”  Even though Kate Smith passed away in 1986, she is still seen on tape singing before some Flyers’ home games.

Intrigued by hockey superstitions I  decided to do a little research.

“Do they do it to combat the stress or as a moral booster?  Whatever the reason, many (hockey) players are superstitious and cultivate their own rituals and habits, in the belief that this helps them play better.  Even if they sometimes doubt their utility, most players still join in collective team rituals to demonstrate solidarity or conjure up victory. This creates some strange and often obscure sights – to say the least!”

Many players will wear the same t-shirt under their jersey because they believe washing a t-shirt “wrings out the luck” 

Players wear lucky socks or lucky skates and play with what they consider lucky sticks.  They will lay their equipment out the same way before every game, put it on in the exact same order and put it away in the equipment bag in a  particular order after a game. 

“When I play, I always put my right skate on first,” a young minor hockey player said, “I tie the left skate first. I tape every stick starting from the tip of the blade, and every stick has to be re-taped after a loss. I don’t cut my hair during a winning streak, and I wear the same shirt under my pads for the entire playoffs.”

The great Wayne Gretsky is quoted as saying, “I always put my equipment on the same way : left shin pad, left stocking, right shin pad, right stocking. Then pants, left skate, right skate, shoulder pads, elbow pads, first the left, then the right; and finally, the jersey, with the right side tucked into my pants.  During the warm-up, I always shoot my first puck way off to the right of the goal. I go back to the dressing room and drink a Diet Coke, a glass of iced water, a Gatorade, and another Diet Coke.” 

Goalies are perhaps the most superstitious players of all.  Patrick Roy, the legendary netminder of the Canadiens would regularly talk to his posts during game. When asked why, he answered, “They are my friends.” Also, during the pre-game warm-up, he would skate to blue-line, look at his net, and envision it shrinking. He also never stepped on the blue or red line.”

Other goalies sweep the ice in front of their creases from the left to the right only, or right to left only.  All fans will note that their team may come on to the ice before or after their opponent before a game and after intermissions.  Some teams skate in a certain direction, clockwise or counter-clockwise during the warm up.  The most common ritual is the entire team skating past their goalie before the start of the game and tapping his goal pads with their sticks.

Numbers also play a huge role in the hockey mystique.  Certain jersey numbers define a player just as much as his own name.  If I were to say these numbers: 4, 10, 29, what Montreal Canadien players immediately come to mind?  (Beliveau, Lafleur, Dryden)  Wayne Gretsky wore #99 his entire NHL career. …and yes, there are also lucky and unlucky jersey numbers.

“For the same reason many high-rise hotels don’t have a 13th floor, Colorado College’s hockey team doesn’t have a player who wants any part of the No. 13 jersey. CC, …doesn’t have any players who want to test the age-old superstition that 13 is bad luck, and for good reason. The last two players to have No. 13 for the Tigers fled the jersey like it was on fire. Center Andreas Vlassopoulos tried it as a freshman in 2005 when his preferred No. 3 was taken by Lee Sweatt. About 25 minutes into Vlassopoulos’ first career game, he suffered a season-ending knee injury. He said he decided to give up No. 13 about the time he found out he needed surgery…Dan Quilico wasn’t superstitious, either, and he had always had numbers in the teens. When he got to CC in 2006, No. 13 was available.

“I wanted to do something with my freshman year, try something different,” Quilico said.

After playing in only eight games as a freshman, Quilico broke his ankle the following offseason. He quickly became superstitious and turned in the No. 13 jersey. He wears No. 12 now.”

Hockey coaches are also a superstitious bunch.  Apparently 95 out of 100 coaches do not allow their pictures to be taken before a game because it is considered a bad omen.  They will wear the same tie and/or suit when the team is on a winning streak.  When their team loses, they not only analyze what happened during the game but what may have happened in the spiritual realm to jinx or bless their efforts.

Like other sports, Christian hockey players will pray before a game.  Washington Capitals, Brian Pothier was asked several years ago by a Washington Post reporter what role God had in the sport.  “That’s an interesting question. I’ve heard people say, ‘God’s too busy. He doesn’t care [about sports].’ Then, I’ve heard other views, ‘If God is so great or loves you so much [to help you] to win then what about the guy on the other side who lost? What’s the deal with that? Does he like you more? You win or lose sporting competitions, and that’s fine and it’s part of the grand plan of developing and cultivating who you are as a person. You win some, you lose some, and deal with it. I think it develops who you are as a person and I think God’s in control of that.”

So as I again tune in to Hockey Night in Canada, laugh out loud at Don Cherry’s ridiculous choice of sports jacket, watch with particular interest which team may have the longest beards, and listen to the arena singer belt out “The Star Spangled Banner”  I know for sure who will win the game … all superstitions aside…

…the team that scores the most goals!




What is Life?

What is life? Does this sound like a strange question to you?

Of course we all know what is meant by the word “life”, but how do we define it?I Need Jesus

Do all living things move? Do they all eat and breathe? Even though we all seem to know what is meant by saying something is “alive”, it’s not very easy to describe what “life” is.  Even biologists have a tough time describing what life is! But after many years of studying living things, biologists have determined that all living things do share some things in common:

1) Living things need to take in energy
2) Living things get rid of waste
3) Living things grow and develop
4) Living things respond to their environment
5) Living things reproduce and pass their traits onto their offspring

Therefore, in order for something to be considered to “have life” as we know it, it must possess these characteristics.

But is that “Life”?  I mean, just because a living thing possesses these characteristics, is that thing experiencing LIFE?

I do not know anything about the individual who posed this question but perhaps he/she was asking another underlying question: What is the Meaning of Life?

“The meaning of life constitutes a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general. This concept can be expressed through a variety of related questions, such as Why are we here?, What is life all about?, and What is the meaning of it all? It has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific, and theological speculation throughout history. There have been a large number of answers to these questions from many different culteral and ideological backgrounds.

The meaning of life is deeply mixed with the philosophical and religious conceptions of existence, consciousness, and happiness, and touches on many other issues, such as symbolic meaning, ontology, vlaue, purpose, ethics, good and evel, free will, conceptions of God, the existence of God, the soul, and the afterlife.  Scientific contributions are more indirect; by describing the empirical facts about the universe, science provides some context and sets parameters for conversations on related topics. An alternative, human-centric, and not a cosmic/religious approach is the question “What is the meaning of my life?” The value of the question pertaining to the purpose of life may coincide with the achievement of ultimate reality, or a feeling of oneness, or a feeling of sacredness.”

Now, I know I’m not a theologian, or a scientific scholar but I think I have the answer to “What is Life?”  It’s simple, it’s basic, it’s all encompassing….it’s not a “what” question…it’s a “Who” question.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6)

Jesus is LIFE.  Without Him there is no life.  He is Creator (John 1:1); He upholds all things by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3); In Him all things consist (Colossians 1:17).

Without Him we walk in spiritual darkness and we are eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23), but Jesus has, through His death and resurrection, given us a way to come to the Father, because all those who come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, may come to the Father.  Jesus is the ONLY WAY to God.

Jesus is not only LIFE today He is LIFE for eternity.

If you are living but have never experienced “Life” to the fullest, come to the One who is “the way, the truth and the life”.

Come to Jesus.

Saying Good-bye to Our “Fur Baby”.

My fur baby, SamsonThey become part of the family so quickly.  They claim our hearts with a wagging tail and a wet kiss that usually smells of dog food and they wait for us to come home and sleep on our laps when we are home.  My “Fur Baby”, Samson was a tiny bundle of energy that was appropriately named.  He feared nothing except our vacuum cleaner.  Then he’d hide in a closet until the infernal contraption was finished it’s loud cleaning job around the house.

Samson was our daughter’s first “baby” and when they moved to seminary housing where pets were not allowed, she begged us to take him for a “couple of years” until they were done seminary and could reclaim him back.  A “couple of years” turned into seven and we became Samson’s adopted parents.  Admittedly, I was the one who was reluctant to give him back, even when they could take him again.  He had become MY fur baby.  Interestingly enough, even though I fed him and loved on him, my husband, who was more aloof towards him became Samson’s favorite.  Charles was pestered by Samson until he got his “treat” in the morning.  Samson waiting patiently for him to come home at night and Samson slept on his lap when Charles was settled in his favorite chair.  Samson went camping with us, loved car rides and playing with his squeaky toys.  He enjoyed running through the house chasing birds that flew past our windows.  It was irritating but it was his way!

On Saturday, while on his rope, only a few feet from our back door, our little Samson was attacked and killed by two massive coyotes.  I am haunted by the horror of the attack and the grief of losing our precious pet so violently.

It was my husband who so tenderly attended to Samson after and tried to comfort me at the same time.  It was my youngest daughter who quietly, calmly went through the house and collected all of Samson’s squeaky toys and put away his little bed.  I was too grief-stricken to do so.  The heartache of loss permeates me to the core.  Coming home and knowing I will not be greeted by his happy face and welcoming tail wag anymore overwhelms me with sadness.

There are some that believe that because animals (pets) do not have souls, they do not experience heaven upon death, but I don’t believe that.  I believe that animals do not need to be “saved”.  They have no need of a “Saviour” because they do not deal with sin and disobedience to God.  Their “god” is their people master (s).  Animals have pure hearts.  They act instinctively, and do what their masters tell them to do.  It is our responsibility to treat them with kindness and discipline them like fragile children.  We are not to be their task masters, nor are we to treat them like our slaves.  They live for our love.

I picture a heaven where we will be reunited with those we love and for me that includes my beloved pets.  I base that on a couple verses of scripture:  Luke 3:6 “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ESV  and Isaiah 11:6  “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” ESV

My arms ache to hold my fur baby, Samson again, and other pets who I have had to let go of during my life time, and I am comforted in the belief that I will be reunited with them in heaven.

For now, I will go home to a very quiet and very lonely house and with a longing and aching heart miss my Samson.




Via Dolorosa – The Way of Grief

Via DolorosaVia Dolorosa (“Way of Grief” in Latin) or Via Crucis – Way of the Cross, is a road in the old city of Jerusalem, a path where Jesus was lead away in agony, carrying His cross through the streets after he had been judged, tried, tortured and condemned to be crucified on a cross on Golgotha Hill.

Christians around the world, and even in my little small town, will walk the “Way of the Cross” today in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross.  There are a total of 14 stations along this “walk”, where the Easter Story will be read and hymns of remembrance will be sung.  Today we remember “The Way of Grief”, but…


over the horizon…

is the greatest day of celebration…

Resurrection Sunday!!!

Resurrection Eggs

When my children were preschoolers we wanted to share the “Greatest Story Ever Told” with them but we wanted to do so in a way that would not frighten them.  Let’s face it, the last hours of our Saviour’s life were wrought with unimaginable pain and suffering.  Even as an adult I had a hard time watching the “Passion of the Christ” movie when it came out in theatres because of the graphic depiction of Jesus’ death on the Cross.  I knew the sensibilities of my children and I knew we needed to be sensitive to telling them the Truth while at the same time being mindful that they were still children with tendencies to have nightmares.  Still, the last week of Jesus’ life must be told and every child needs to hear it, so we used “Resurrection Eggs” to tell the Easter Story.

Some of you may or may not have heard of these. Believe it or not there is quite a bit of controversy regarding the eggs, (some think there is pagan symbolism associated with eggs).  I will not comment on the controversy, as parents you can do the research and make your own decision whether or not you choose to use this method or not.

For those of you who decide to use Resurrection Eggs, you should know there are store-bought Resurrection Eggs that are  available through LifeWay or can be ordered from any Christian bookstore, but we made our own using dollar store plastic eggs and filled them with items that we had around the house.  Again there are several “recipes” on how to fill the eggs, some use 18 eggs rather than the dozen to add more items and more scripture passages.  You can find these recipes online.

Here is our “recipe” for a dozen Resurrection Eggs.  We numbered each of the plastic eggs, filled them with the items listed below and then hid them around the house for the kids to “hunt” for.  When all the eggs were found we started with Egg# 1, opening it and then reading the scripture verse that went with the item and for each subsequent egg until we had read the entire Resurrection Story.

As the children got older of course we “put away childish things” (the eggs) and we read the entire Easter Story from the Bible and we have made it a tradition now to watch one of the many excellent movies on DVD that portray the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Every year I still put out the basket of Resurrection Eggs as I decorate the house for Easter and I will smile seeing my grandchildren opening each egg to take a peak inside knowing our family tradition will continue with them.

Egg#1Palm Branch (use a leaf).  Read Matthew 21:8-11.  Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  The people waved branches and shouted, “Hosanna!”

Egg #2Bottle of Perfume (use a perfume sample you can pick up at any cosmetic counter).  Read John 12:2-8.  Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.

Egg#3Piece of bread.  (use a crouton, they don’t get moldy).  Read Matthew 26:26-29.  Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples.

Egg#43 dimes.  Read Matthew 26:14-15.  Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Egg#5A square of red fabric and/or make a small crown of thorns out of wire.  Read Matthew 27:28-30.  They stripped Jesus and put a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns on Him.

Egg#6A cross.  (you can get wooden crosses for necklaces at craft stores).  Read Matthew 27:31.  They lead Him away to crucify Him.

Egg#7A few nails.  Read Luke 23: 26-34.  Jesus is crucified.

Egg#8Dice.  Read Matthew 27:35.  When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots.

Egg#9A tiny bag of crushed rock.  Read Matthew 27: 50-51.  When Jesus died, there was a great earthquake.

Egg#10Some whole spices.  Read Luke 23:50-56.  Spices were used to prepare Jesus for burial.

Egg#11A small round rock.  Read Luke 24:1-5.  The stone covering Jesus’ tomb was rolled away.

Egg#12Leave this egg empty.  Read Luke 24:6-8.  He has risen just as He said!


Writing Letters and Envelopes – Another Lost Art

The past two weeks I have been teaching lessons on how to address an envelope and the proper formatting of a business letter.  A task I letter and envelopethought might be covered in two lessons has taken two weeks.  Why?  Because my students have never addressed envelopes nor have they ever written a letter.  Shocked?  I was.

Just like my post the other day of cursive writing becoming a lost art due to technology (texting, computers etc.) letter writing is, in my opinion, going the way of the dinosaurs as well.

In my first lesson, I posed the question, “When was the last time you wrote a letter?”  My students seemed confused.  “Like to your grandma?…” I added.

“I texted her last night,” said one student.

“I Skyped her two weeks ago,” said another.

“No, that’s not what I mean.”  I chose my words carefully.  “When did you pick up a pen and a piece of paper and write a letter to someone?”

“You mean use “Snail Mail”?”  A light bulb seemed to blink on but then blink immediately off.

It was obvious not one student had written a letter over the past six months and as I probed further, most had NEVER written a formal letter, let alone an informal one to their grandmas.  As one student was quick to point out, what was the point of writing letters that would take a week or more to get somewhere when technology would allow them to immediately connect through social media or Facetime, Skype, text or email?  I couldn’t argue with their logic.

Here in Canada, our postal service is losing billions of dollars because Canadians are not using the service anymore.  The cost of a stamp has increased dramatically over the years, so even those who used to send the obligatory yearly Christmas Card to friends, now uses free e-cards, or sends a generic letter to all their email contacts or just posts a funny graphic on their Facebook page and then posts a new status to read: “Merry Christmas, All!”

I will admit, I don’t even know what a stamp costs.  I only sent a limited number of Christmas Cards through Canada Post this year and since I pay all bills online (and correspond almost exclusively online), I too, have abandoned the Canadian postal service.  Sorry guys!

It had me wondering why the Alberta Educational Curriculum insists that grade nine students be expected to write a formal business letter AND address an envelope correctly for their provincial exam?  Is it a big waste of time to teach it and will the students ever use the information afterwards?

Of course I can answer my own questions…

It is IMPERATIVE students know how to write letters AND address envelopes, and here’s why I think that.

Technology has not connected us as much as actually separated us.  There is no such thing as the “personal touch” anymore.  We hide behind our computer, phone and tablet screens and use texting language that has destroyed our ability to spell and use grammar correctly.  We are limited to 140 characters to express ourselves with this technology.  We never write cursively anymore, mostly everything is in printed font.  My students do not even know how to sign cursively their own names.  It’s sad.

When I pointed out to my students that one day they will have to apply for jobs, and a good cover letter is essential, as is a well written resume, that did seem to leave an impression.  Taking time to send a card or a personalized note hand-written to someone, shows to that person (at least of my generation), that they are worthy of the effort and it is a personal connection, not just a two-second text.  It is a special treat AND I save all cards and letters that have been written to me from my students.  (A big box in my closet gives testimony to my letter/card hoarding.)

Recently, a group of students from my school had to raise support money for a mission trip to Guatemala and one young man decided, along with the form letter from the school, to write a personal letter to each of his prospective contacts.  Of the forty students, he raised all his support plus $500.00 more!  His mom thinks it was because of the “personal letters” he sent.

So, I would like to know what my readers think: is letter-writing a lost art or is it a good skill to know and foster?  (If you need an example of a great letter-writer, look to Apostle Paul…just sayin’ :)