Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

I was recovering from my last round of chemotherapy.  My hair was starting to grow back, but I was still weak from my recent battle with breast cancer.  I had just stepped out of a shower and slowly starting my day when my husband called me from work and told me to turn on the T.V. telling me that there was a catastrophic plane crash in New York City.  I tuned in just in time to see the second plane careen into the World Trade Centre.  It’s one of those scenes you never forget in your lifetime.

On Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists hijacked four passenger jets, each carrying tanks full of fuel and large numbers of travelers enroute to various destinations in the U.S.  The hijackers commandeered the planes and deliberately flew to U.S. landmarks where catastrophic destruction was achieved: The World Trade Centre in NYC and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.  The fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, just north of Camp David, the Presidential Retreat in Maryland.  Their efforts to destroy yet another U.S. landmark that day was thwarted by the heroic passengers on that plane.  Thousands of people were killed; property damage estimated in the billions of dollars, and yet, the world remembers today the countless acts of heroism and bravery by ordinary people who exemplified the human spirit and did extraordinary things!

Memorial Tribute at St. Paul’s to the Victims of Sept. 11, 2001

As a Canadian watching the drama unfold, I was overcome with emotion for my brothers and sisters in the U.S.  Words cannot adequately describe the shock and horror I felt on their behalf.  Later that afternoon, I gathered with many of my American friends who live and work here in Cochrane.  We met at our church and we wept and prayed, clinging to one another, drawn together in mutual grief over the tragic events of that day.

In 2008, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit NYC.  We had never been to the “Big Apple” before so in three short days, we tried to take in as many of the sights as we could in that amazing city.  Of course, one of the places we wanted to see was “Ground Zero”, the site where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre once stood.  Despite the fact it was over seven years after 9/11,  I felt a haunting solemnity in approaching the site.  The rebuilding was starting there, most of the rubble had been cleared away, and yet it was like thousands of voices were whispering in the wind: “Don’t ever forget about us!”

Tribute to the Firefighters, Police, Port Authority and Rescue Teams

Across the street from Ground Zero stands St. Paul’s Chapel.  It is one of the oldest churches in NYC.  Though situated directly across the street from the World Trade Centre, St.Paul’s Chapel miraculously sustained little damage.  The massive Sycamore trees, hundreds of years old, took most of the impact and shielded the tiny building from the flying debris when the Twin Towers collapsed.  As a result, not a single pane of the precious stained glass was broken.

Days after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, families of the victims came to the church to grieve and receive comfort while they awaited news of loved ones who were missing or searching under the rubble of the World Trade Centre.  Later they put up memorials in tribute to those who lost their lives that day.  Each memorial has been left standing and lovingly maintained by the church, and the small congregation now serves and ministers to those families who suffered such loss on that fateful day.

Tributes were also sent from around the world for all the brave firefighters, police, port authority personnel and rescue teams who risked their own lives to save those trapped after the initial attack.  Unfortunately many of the numbered dead are those men and women who responded first to the emergency.

As my husband and I silently, reverently, passed by each display of tribute to those lost on Sept. 11, 2001, I was once again overwhelmed with emotion.

Looking towards Ground Zero from St. Paul’s Chapel. Take note of the blackened headstones as a result of 9/11 and a few of the Sycamore trees that protected the church that day.

As we returned to our hotel, we reflected on what we had just seen at Ground Zero and walking through the theatre district and around Times Square, I was struck by how NYC had managed to rise above the ashes on that day.   As I thought about how that little church surrounded by Sycamore trees had been shielded and protected from harm on Sept. 11, 2001, a scripture verse came to mind:

“To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness.”      Isaiah 61:3

“Trees of Righteousness”… may it always be so!

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Say It Isn’t SNOW!

You will note that I haven’t been blogging as much these past couple of weeks as I settled into the routine of teaching full-time.  To those who think that teachers have an “easy” time…I beg to differ…the earliest I’ve been home from school since it started was 5:00 p.m.  Then, of course, I’ve brought papers and more to do at home, so I’ve usually not been done work until nearly 11 p.m. each night.  Yes that includes the weekends too.  Am I a keener?  Nope.  Just an ordinary Junior High School Teacher.

That said, TODAY I was actually home by 1 p.m. on account of a SNOW DAY!  Yep, you read it right…

Southern Alberta is buried under the earliest snowfall on record for Sept. 9th and 10th and after braving treacherous driving conditions to get to school this morning I learned too late that school was cancelled for the day.  My white-knuckled driving was all for naught I suppose, but I decided to play “catch-up” with lesson planning and long-range goal setting since I was at the school anyway so I almost feel like I can actually take the afternoon off and not think about unfinished school work.

Now, I’m not saying I like the idea of a SNOW DAY in September.  It’s sad that on Saturday it was summer here and +25 C and today it’s snowing and -2 C.  It’s like Alberta went from Summer to Winter and just skipped Fall entirely.  Fall is such a neglected season here some years.  The problem is that the trees were not in Winter mode yet, having not shed their summer greenery and leaves so this blast of winter has caused all kinds of problems as tree branches snap under the weight of heavy snow.  Power outages and slick driving conditions have me already saying “Bah Humbug” to winter and it’s only September!!!

Still, on my way home, my knuckles pale from gripping the steering wheel too tightly, while trying to avoid skittering off into a ditch all the way, I spotted something spectacular.  I stopped only metres from my driveway and snapped this picture of a white-tail.  She looked just as bewildered about this sudden turn of weather as I was.  I couldn’t help feeling awed and amazed by God’s creation around me.  The snow will likely melt in a day or two, that’s the way it goes here in Alberta, but I will always have this memory of today and I can’t help but feeling blessed.

Winter's Surprise

Back to School!

You will know if you’ve been checking out my Facebook statuses the last week that I have embarked on yet another new “adventure” for the next several months.  I am teaching Junior High Language Arts full time covering a maternity leave for the regular teacher.  It’s been a steep learning curve navigating around a new computer program, as well as setting up a classroom in preparation for the students to return to school especially since most of the teachers had to move entire classrooms, myself included to accommodate the phenomenal growth our school will see this year.  One hundred more students than last year!  Whew!   Needless to say, it may be a bit of a challenge to blog as regularly as I have been but I’ll try!

I LOVE working at the school, a private Christian School, where I have been a regular substitute teacher for the past eight years.  I know the students already, either by name or reputation ~ tee hee :) so I’m pretty fortunate that I’m not really the “new” teacher on staff, however I am still relatively new to the back to school preparations the faculty and staff go through each year and it is truly a privilege to be amongst a group of teachers who will spend their first morning back at school praising and worshipping God!  What a great way to start the year off!

Perhaps the most profound words I have remembered over time were spoken by a guest speaker in chapel several years ago, who asked all teachers to consider NINE LIFE/EDUCATIONAL PRINCIPLES TO LIVE BY:

~PURPOSE is more important than position.

  ~WHO YOU ARE is more important than what you do.

  ~PEOPLE are more important than things.

  ~RELATIONSHIPS are more important than skills.

   ~FEELINGS are more important than facts.

  ~VALUES are more important than knowledge.

  ~GIVING is more important than receiving.

  ~DEVELOPING OUR STRENGTHS is more important than correcting our weaknesses.

  ~The WALK is more important than the talk.

“Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

Hebrews 12:2

I am blessed to be a Christian teacher, to interact each day with men and women who love the Lord and want each one of their students to grow in their faith and to become those disciples called by God to reach a hurt and hopeless world.

Help Stop Bullying

It is the start of another school year and as excited as I am to be back teaching full time, I know there are young people (and some adults particularly teachers and administrators), who are cringing about starting another year that may be filled with bullying and cyberbullying.  Security measures are being put in place but Principals are already getting phone calls and emails from irate parents who are disappointed about some school policy change or the fact that their child did not get into the class they wanted.  Some parents keep bullying teachers and administrators until they get what they want…sad but true.  So today I am reposting a blog I wrote in 2010 about the insidiousness of bullying.  Perhaps if we get the message out early this school year, there will not be as many victims walking the hallways of our schools!bullying_stops_here1

It was 1996 and my daughter came off the bus for what seemed to me the 100th time, crying.  No amount of coaxing would get her to confide to me what was bothering her but I noticed that over a few short months, my vivacious, happy-go-lucky girl had changed in appearance and personality.  Always an extrovert, now she barely talked.  Always a child who loved to wear bright colours, now she dressed in blacks and greys.  She wouldn’t meet our eyes when we talked to her.  Her marks at school plummeted.  We talked with teachers, we met with the principal, but somehow we couldn’t break through some kind of “code of silence” that prevented her from sharing what was bothering her.

Finally one day I got a disturbing phone call from my daughter’s piano teacher.  Not wanting to betray confidences, but still concerned that this was something that could not be kept from us, the piano teacher told me that Laurelle had confided in her that she was the victim of bullying.  Laurelle then confessed that she did not know what to do and she was starting to think that the only way out of the bullying nightmare was to take her own life.

I was in a state of shock and panic.  I remembered that Laurelle had a diary and I did something I never thought I would ever do…I invaded the privacy of her room and ransacked it to find the diary.  Sure enough, on each page, written in her fine hand, were picture words of the torment my child faced just walking down the hallway of her school.  Name calling, shunning, books knocked out of her hand, pushing, shoving, ostracizing.  She would be tripped, pushed into her locker, laughed at and ridiculed.  The bullying didn’t stop at school, it continued on the bus.  She was called every known expletive demoralizing her spirit and her character.

I just sat on her bed, reading her words, and I wept.  I wept because of what my child was going through and I wept out of guilt not realizing what was happening to her, and rebuking myself that I hadn’t added up all the signs and stepped in much, much sooner to help her.

When my daughter came home from school that afternoon, she was appalled and angry with me for invading her privacy, and reading her personal thoughts, but I did not apologize for that.  I wrapped my arms around my child as she wept out of shame, humiliation and fear for her circumstances and then I told her she was “not alone anymore”.

I knew when I began my writing career that I would have to address the topic of bullying in my books.  As a teacher and a youth leader and a parent, I have seen what bullying can do to a young person.

Recently I contacted Bill Belsey, President of Bullying.org Canada.  Bill happens to live right here in Cochrane, and I thought since my books, Shoot the Wounded,  Heal the Wounded and Love the Wounded deal at length with the topic of bullying, I wanted to be able to link our two websites so that we might bring even more exposure to this insidious topic.  Bill eagerly wrote back, enthusiastically approving of the idea.  Since then, both my books have been selected as “Helpful Resources” on what some consider the largest anti-bullying website in the world.  I invite my readers (especially parents of teenagers) to go to Bill’s award-winning Web site: www.bullying.org  and spread the word: Help STOP Bullying!

Bill Belsey is the father of two teenagers and a classroom teacher.  He founded Bullying.org Canada over a decade ago.  Mr. Belsey is a winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Technology. He is also a recipient of the Royal Bank Fellowship from the Mathematics, Science and Technology Group at Queen’s University and the Roy C. Hill Fellowship for Innovations in Education from the Canadian Teacher’s Federation.  In May 2006, Mr. Belsey received Canada’s National Technology Innovations Award from The Learning Partnership and his presentation “Change the World 101” was given the “Conference Award” as the most outstanding work presented during the entire gathering.  In October 2006, Mr. Belsey was named as a Fellow of the World Technology Network in the Education category at a gala event at San Francisco’s City Hall. At this same ceremony, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore was inducted as a Fellow in the Environment category and Tim Burners-Lee, one of the co-creators of the World Wide Web, was honoured in the Internet category.

In November 2007 he was recognized with a nomination for the YMCA Peace Medal.  Mr. Belsey was asked to offer his input into the United Nations International Research Study in Bangkok on Violence and Children.  His print interviews have appeared in Parenting Magazine, the Globe and Mail, and the Christian Science Monitor. He has appeared numerous times on the CTV and CBC National News. He has been a consultant to “The Dr. Phil Show” and ABC News 20/20 with Diane Sawyer and “Anderson Cooper 360” on CNN. In an interview with Mr. Belsey on CBC TV’s “The National”, Peter Mansbridge referred to http://www.bullying.org as “One of the best Web sites in the world for children”.

Mr. Belsey, who now lives in Cochrane, Alberta, with his wife, Helene (also a teacher), and two teenage children, decided to return to the classroom.  He currently teaches grade five at Springbank Middle School for the Rockyview School Division. To check out his students’ innovative work, do a Google search for “Canada’s Coolest Class” then click on “I’m feeling lucky”, you will be directed to www.coolclass.ca.

He is a much sought-after speaker and presenter on the topics of bullying, cyberbullying, technology integration, innovation, community development and global education. He has presented at many conferences across Canada and around the world.

Let me share Bill’s response to me:

Hello Lynn,

Thank you for your message, for sharing this information about your writing and for your concern about the issue of bullying.  I would be pleased to have you make links from your Websites to mine.  You can also add your book(s) on www.bullying.org by using the “I Want to Share -Submit a Helpful Resource” option.

FYI, I am a father of two teenagers and a classroom teacher, see www.coolclass.ca and/or http://is.gd/eZfxV. I founded Bullying.org Canada over a decade ago.  Bullying.org Canada created www.bullying.org, a multiple award-winning Web site that was developed to help people address the issues of bullying within a safe, positive, moderated international community.  www.bullying.org is a supportive online community where people can learn that they are NOT alone in being bullied and teased, that being bullied and teased is NOT their fault and that they CAN do something positive about it.  People can contribute their personal stories, poems, images, oral stories (audio files), music and even animations and movies. All of the original submissions and the replies to them are read and moderated by real people to ensure that the Website is a safe and respectful online community.  www.bullying.org also has a “Helpful Resources” section that features a huge listing of articles, books, legislation and policies, research and multimedia resources. www.bullying.org also has the worlds first and largest online moderated support groups for adults and youth. The Web site receives nearly one million visitors and contributors from around the world each month and is often listed as the number one “bullying” referenced Web site in the world by Google and many other Internet search engines.

www.bullying.org has been chosen for the ChildNet International Award that goes to project that make the Internet a better place for youth, as well as being a finalist in the Stockholm Challenge Award which has been called the Nobel Prize of the IT (Information Technology) world. In an interview I did on CBC Television’s “The National”, CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge referred to www.bullying.org as “One of the best Web sites in the world for young people”.  www.bullying.org has been featured by other media around the world.

Bullying.org Canada is also the creator of www.cyberbullying.ca, the world’s first Web site specifically dedicated to the emerging issue of cyberbullying, in fact, I have often been cited as the first to use this word and define this new behaviour.

We are also the founders, creators and facilitators of the annual National Bullying Awareness Week. We would like to encourage you, your organization, and your community to participate. Please invite others to visit http://www.bullyingawarenessweek.org for more information.

Middle or high schools in your area, you can encourage them to join the Bullying.org Peer Power Youth Presenters Network. We have a research-based multimedia CD along with an accompanying script they can use  to practice with and then make arrangements to come and have these older students present to your younger students. It is very powerful and effective. The cost is only $5, which pays for discs, envelopes and mailing costs. The main commitment is finding a teacher at the local middle or high school who will agree to work with the older students prior to their presentation at your school. Please visit http://www.bullyingawarenessweek.org and click on the “Resources” Web page link for more information.

We are also the creators of the groundbreaking Website, www.bullyingcourse.com. This new educational resource offers affordable online courses and Webinars (online presentations) for educators and parents about bullying and cyberbullying.  Here’s what www.bullyingcourse.com offers:

-Webinars: These are online multimedia presentations you can order and include in your next Professional Development Day, conference, Parent-Teacher Association meeting or community gathering. All you need is a computer, access to the Internet, a multimedia projector, projection screen, speakers and you are good to go! They can be paused, played and replayed to meet your schedule throughout the day you have ordered the presentation for.

-Online courses: These non-credit courses are self-directed introductory courses intended for personal and professional learning and growth.  You proceed at your own pace. 100 level courses are offered on a continuous basis throughout the year. 100 level courses have no enrolment limit.  100 level courses are assessed as Complete or Incomplete. A certificate is issued upon successful completion of these courses.  At the 100 level, we currently offer E101, an introduction to Bullying for Educators, see http://bullyingcourse.com/mod/resource/view.php?id=226 and P101 course for parents, please see http://bullyingcourse.com/mod/resource/view.php?id=225 for more information.

Here is some feedback from a recent E101 course participant:

********************

I recently completed the Introduction to Bullying for Educators E101 course and found this to be a very valuable learning, theoretical and practical experience.  As a student teacher I have found that this serious social issue has been overlooked in my teaching preparation courses.  I highly recommend that teachers, student teachers and other professionals working with children attend this course.  This is my first online course and I found the course very easy to navigate. The content provided in the course is appealing to a variety of learners and the use of multimedia enhanced my learning.  Most importantly, I found the course assignment to be practical and something that I can use as I begin my teaching career.  The assignment of creating my own anti-bullying action plan truly brought the course to life for me.  Having completed the assignment, I now understand how I can respond to, prevent and advocate
against bullying in the classroom, school, community, workplace and worldwide web environments.  Bullying is a topic that every person is faced with at some point in his or her life.  As teachers, it is our professional responsibility to
understand, prevent and respond to bullying so that supportive, encouraging and caring environments are available to all children at school.  This course is a great place to start this understanding and develop our own anti-bullying action plan, which can be implemented in our own schools.”

-Kimberly Dawson

***********************

We have created a free brochure in PDF format that you can download that contains many ideas as to how students, teachers and parents can use www.bullying.org as a safe, supportive, free, non-commercial, and deeply engaging multimedia teaching and learning resource. This can be found online at:
http://www.cyberbullying.ca/pdf/Bullying.org_Teaching_Ideas_Pamphlet.pdf

Here is a free copy of our famous “Take the Pledge” anti-bullying poster you may download, print and distribute for non-profit, educational purposes:
http://www.cyberbullying.ca/pdf/FC_Bullying_POSTER04.pdf

Here is our video that accompanies our award-winning “Take the (anti-bullying) Pledge” campaign:
http://www.cyberbullying.ca/video/pledge.wmv

If you would like to learn more about the presentations we offer, please visit:
http://www.cyberbullying.ca/pdf/Bullying-Cyberbullying_Presentations.pdf

You can learn more about Bullying.org Canada at:
http://www.cyberbullying.ca/pdf/Bullying.org_Overview.pdf

You can learn more about what people are saying about our work at:
http://www.cyberbullying.ca/pdf/Bullying.org_Kudos.pdf

You can read the latest “Friends of Bullying.org Newsletter” online at
http://is.gd/gQIzM

Please help us by sharing this information with others.

Most sincerely,

Bill Belsey

President,
Bullying.org Canada

I appreciate the opportunity to share these links with my readers today.

Remembering A Humbling Experience

imagesMy son had his third lesson driving a standard shift car.  He’d been driving for well over a year on his own and his Dad thought that he should gain some experience with driving something other than an automatic transmission car.  I was never as brave as my husband about teaching the kids to drive.  I knew when our oldest wanted to drive that my nerves would never stand the strain.  When our youngest started zooming by on her go-cart. bumping and bouncing over gopher holes, flying around the yard at breakneck speeds, with high pitched squeals of delight drowning out my “Be careful!” yells as she passed me; yeah…there was NO WAY I was going to teach that child to drive!  That job went to her father.  He survived the task and all three kids are probably better drivers than I am now.

That reminded me of something I wrote when my son started to drive several years ago.  I flashback on it now because I recently got a new car and driving back to work everyday I have had to seriously watch my speed.  My new car is far more peppy than my van ever was!  So this is just a reminder to me of a humbling experience…

A Humbling Experience  (2008)

I enjoy spending time with my kids. Now that they are teenagers, it’s hard to pull them away from their friends or other “pursuits” to spend some good quality, one on one time with me, their Mom. Lately I feel like I am imposing on them whenever I suggest we do something together.

“Carmen, do you want to go for a walk with me?”  She is busy multi-tasking, watching Hannah Montana on T.V., talking on MSN while checking Facebook on her computer and text messenging her friend Kaylee at the same time. Oh, and she’s eating a bowl of popcorn too, while playing Nintendogs on her DS game. “Huh?” she responds and barely acknowledges my presence.

I sigh and decide to enter the inner sanctum that is my son’s room. Screamo Metal Music assails my ears. He is barely awake…it’s nearly noon…

“Brett!” I yell. “Wha…” he responds.

No way can I lure him with a walk so instead I say, “I was thinking that we need to pick up a few things at Walmart for school, wanna come?” Amazingly, he reacts with enthusiasm.

He yawns, “Let me take a shower first…maybe we could go to West 49 too…” Yeah, dream on son.   Still I am excited…finally I’ll get to have some good quality time with my son. Today will be monumental!

While he is showering, three of his friends have called leaving messages for him to hang out with them. I am debating not telling him because then he will be lost to me again, but instead I reluctantly tell him about the phone calls and he surprises me again…”Nah, I’ll come with you, Mom.” I’m thinking he is the greatest son alive or he must really want me to detour from Walmart to the mall badly!  Anyway, cynacism aside I excitedly wait in the van for my angelic son to join me on what I believe will be the greatest mother- son day ever!

“Awww,” he says, “I wanted to drive.” he says when he gets into the van.

Now, here’s my dilemma. Brett is just learning to drive. He is actually a very careful, good driver and is overly cautious at least when he is under parental supervision. However, I am an extremely nervous Mom. It doesn’t matter that he’s a great driver, I am not ready to be his co-pilot yet. That is his father’s job, not mine. His Dad has the calmness and quick reflexes needed in case something goes awry. I sit with my purse in my lap, holding on tight and praying that God will send protective angels around the car. THIS is not a good influence on my son. It’s not his fault. He needs encouragement, not a neurotic Mom sitting beside him reciting the 23rd Psalm under her breath. Anyway, I just shrug and say, “Maybe you can drive next time.” Yeah, as if.

The trip into Walmart is quiet. He is still half asleep in the passenger seat. He has his IPOD plugged into his ear. I try to talk to him but he’s plugged in so he doesn’t hear me. Oh well, I think to myself, the day is yet young.

He wanders around Walmart politely following after me. I pick up a few non-essential school supply items that I probably could have waited to pick up but used that for the excuse to get him to come with me so I have to buy them…

He goes through the electronic department and glances at the latest Wii games available but shows little enthusiasm about being there overall. I’m thinking that I have to salvage the day somehow. Perhaps I should let him drive home, and then the wrestling match goes on in my head. I’m too nervous…he’s a good driver…what if I scream?…I’ll shake his confidence…what if he makes a mistake, (a terrible, horrible, no good mistake that young driver’s tend to make and we die in a terrible, horrible, no good FIRE BALL of road carnage…ahhhhhhhh!) Yeah, my neurotism wins. I slip into the driver’s seat without looking at my son.

He doesn’t comment when I turn up the radio. I’m a little guilty that I’ve disappointed him. This day was not at all how I wanted it to turn out. The music gets a little louder…the “oldies” station. He wants to put in his screamo music and to appease my son and my guilt I say, “OK. But I just want to hear this last song …Born to be Wild!”  He laughs. I laugh. I have redeemed the day with my son. I feel the love. I feel the music vibrate throughout the van…I am singing. My son is laughing. This is what it means to connect with my teenage son! I almost want to cry with happiness and then almost instantaneously the moment is gone.

The only car on the road other than myself is a police SUV cruiser traveling in the opposite direction…unfortunately I have passed him going 30 kmh over the speed limit and the next thing I see is his doing an abrupt U turn with lights and sirens flashing…I am busted.

I pull over, roll down my window and I’ve already taken out my driver’s license before the police officer has come to the window. “I know, I was speeding,…” I say guiltily. “I was listening to my music, I wasn’t watching my speed…I am sorry.” The officer has never had someone confess to something so readily in his entire life I’m sure. “I should have let my son drive.” I say, and the officer smiles at Brett who has a combination Cheshire Cat smirk on his face and a slightly concerned…’my Mom is getting a ticket’ realization. I say to the officer, “At least I can show my son how to receive a speeding ticket gracefully.”

I try not to cry. The last traffic ticket I got was 26 years previous. I am shaken. I am embarrassed. My son now “owns” me. He will never let me live this one down. I deserve it. My perfect, glorious day with my son is shattered.

The officer comes back and says, “I have to give you a ticket.” Yeah, I knew that…”But I’ve shown you some grace…” I look at the ticket…he has written my speed at 20 kmh less than he originally clocked me. I almost want to hug him. “Thank-you.” I smile with relief.

He smiles at Brett. They exchange the look that says, “No need to make her suffer more than she is right now.”

Rather than laugh at me, rather than make snide comments, rather than joke about my shame, Brett encourages me all the way home. He doesn’t make excuses for me, I am guilty but he encourages me still. He has every right to point and laugh, to say “I told you so” but he doesn’t. He has every right to condemn me. He hugs me when we get out of the car and my day rather than being ruined is once again restored to its previous splendor.

That is grace.

Forgiveness and Trust – Not one and the same!

For several weeks, I have been doing a bit of a self-directed study on “forgiveness”.  The bottom line of course is that we are commanded (it’s not a suggestion…it’s a
COMMAND), to forgive anyone who has wronged us.

“He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.”   Proverbs 17:9

“For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  Matthew 6:14

” Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times? Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!”  Matthew 18: 21-22

“So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.”  Matthew 18:35

“Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].”  Colossians 3:13

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop.”  Mark 11:25

It makes sense that the Father wants us to forgive each other.  Look how He forgave us!  We are all guilty in our sin, but by freely accepting God’s gift of salvation, repenting and turning away from our sin, accepting Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for our sins, God will forgive us so we can be 100% sure that we are completely, undeniably – FORGIVEN.

That said, there is a huge difference between forgiving someone and trusting someone.

I know of many people who equate forgiving someone with immediately needing to trust them again.  You can completely forgive someone but trust is earned.  It may take years to trust a person whom you’ve forgiven.  There are consequences in a relationship once trust has been broken between individuals.

I remember so well a young wife who faced the utter devastation and loss of trust, when she discovered her husband’s infidelity.  Thankfully in this case, they were able to salvage their marriage through counselling and the husband’s willingness to repent and ask forgiveness from his wife, his family and his church family.  She forgave him, but I know it took years before that young wife was able to fully trust her husband again.  He had to earn that trust!

I’m sure everyone has experienced the disappointment of a friend who has betrayed a confidence.  Gossip is truly one of the worst breaches of trust I know.  I have had to forgive a friend’s transgression of sharing with someone else something I confided in confidence to her.  To this day I still am very, very careful what I share with her.  She still gossips so I am still very mistrustful of her.  I forgave her, but I sure don’t trust her.

That gave me pause to think…has God ever had to earn my trust?  It’s a valid question.  I believe in Him, I love Him, but do I trust Him?  I know there have been many times in my life where God would certainly question whether I truly trust Him.  My actions, my needless worrying, my wanting to do things on my own, following my way rather than His way…that speaks of my inability at times to fully trust God.

Faith and Trust go hand in hand.  Faith is trusting in God.  The only way to have faith is to know God.  Since He is trustworthy, as we learn to know Him, we spontaneously learn to trust Him. Faith is trusting God when things don’t turn out the way we expect.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Hebrews 11:6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

With my own personal journey with God, I have discovered that trusting God sometimes takes time.  Over many years, as I grew in my knowledge of Him, I experienced more and more of His trustworthy character.  As I continue to go through trials as well as triumphs and acknowledge God’s activity in my life,  I am able to trust Him even more.  I can personally say God has never disappointed me!  Sadly, I don’t think He could say the same of me sometimes.

“So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].”  Isaiah 26:4

 

THE CARD

It started as a lark in 1975.  We were in Gr. 11.  We didn’t have a lot of money, and what little money we had, we didn’t really want to spend.  We called it being “basically cheap”.  So my friend bought me a cheap birthday card, a “Peanuts” character – themed card with Linus on the front standing under a sign that reads: “No Littering” and inside: “This is the age of Ecology..don’t throw this card away…Recycle it to a friend!”.  Believe it or not, recycling wasn’t even a craze then.  It was a funny expression that was used sporadically amongst local David Suzuki followers but truly nothing more than that.  So when I received the card from her I laughed.  What an odd concept…recycle a birthday card!?

I have not sat down and calculated how many miles THE CARD, as we have affectionately come to call it, has traveled these many years.  Jean and I have exchanged THE CARD in person quite a few times, but we have mailed it back and forth more often between Calgary, Alberta (where I live) and Victoria, B.C (where she lives).  In 1990 I laminated the original card as it was showing some signs of falling apart and we inserted a new card.  When that card was  filled with b.day well wishes, we added a third card in 2006.  All three cards, the original and the two “inserts”, are fondly referred to as THE CARD, and twice a year we mail them to each other; in April to celebrate her birthday and in August to celebrate mine.

THE CARD is a unique symbolic expression of our lives together as friends and briefly describes what has happened in both our lives over these many years.  In 1984 I signed the card, “Happy Birthday, Jean from your pregnant friend, Lynn”; in August 1991 Jean signed, “Happy Birthday, Lynn! from your friend Jean! (gotta run, the baby’s crying); in 1995 (THE CARD was twenty years old) I wrote “from one pregnant friend to the other”; in 1998 “Happy 40th to us both!”.  In April 2001, I wrote, “Happy Birthday, Jean, from your soon-to-be hairless friend, Lynn!!” and she returned the card in August with “Happy Birthday to my soon-to-be non-hairless friend!!”  That was the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  In 2008 we exchanged THE CARD on the same day with the “Babes of ’58″…five friends together for the first time since high school celebrating our 50th birthdays together.

THE CARD has become one of my most prized possessions.  I have learned to keep it in a safe place, both Jean and I are almost paranoid that we will one day misplace THE CARD.  I know on one occasion I was in a near panic trying to find it after a house move so now it gets safely tucked away in a keepsake box right beside my bed.  Still and all, we are equally paranoid if Canada Post should somehow lose it.  I’ve thought about sending it by courier but that would defeat the purpose of being “basically cheap”.

Someone asked if our card exchange might be a worthy candidate for the Guinness Book of World Records and I suppose it might be…perhaps there is actually a category that would fit sending the same Birthday Card back and forth for so many years, I don’t know.  That’s not what this is all about anyway.

THE CARD commemorates friendship and life!

…oh, and being basically cheap!