Primary Source

bibleIt’s interesting that my Pastor this morning in his sermon was talking about “primary sources” when I had just finished teaching that concept to my classes of Grade Six students in regards to their research projects on Ancient Athens.  I had asked my students to research one of the Greek Philosophers and to use “primary sources” to ensure their information was trustworthy.

“In the study of history as an academic discipline, a primary source (also called original source or evidence) is an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time under study.”   (Webster’s definition)

Of course, my students, as is the norm nowadays, did not turn to books or encyclopedia’s but immediately “Googled” the philosopher and learned as much as they could about the man from what they found about him on the world-wide web.  I then had to teach them how to cite websites and of course add another lesson on how they should decide whether a website is indeed a reliable source of information or not.

We live in the “Age of Information” as I like to call it, where we just go onto the Web and find answers to our questions, and even find answers to questions we never really asked.  The idea of combing through resource books to find information is, for my students, almost unheard of.  As I have said, time and time again, I am old school.  There is nothing more comforting in my hands than a real page-to-turn book.  Sure, I have a Kindle that has an unlimited library of books downloaded onto it, but I still prefer the “real thing” in my hand.  The sound of pages turning, the smell of leather binding in some books, or book spines cracking as I read them.  I remember MY researching papers with no access to the Web, hours and hours in the local library, skimming through resource books and taking meticulous notes on recipe cards ensuring that every quote was properly cited in a bibliography at the end of a paper.  My grade sixes do not fathom that amount of work now.  It’s a click of the mouse and they have all the information they need.

Or do they?

My Pastor asked us what our primary source is when we have questions about life or God?  Of course the Sunday School answer is The Bible, but is it REALLY our primary source?  As our Pastor pointed out, we would have a difficult time finding an older document or book that has been proven over and over again to be as reliable, infallible and trustworthy.  Some scholars have tried to dispute its teachings for centuries and have always come up short.  It is quoted more often than any other book in the world.  Countries are founded on its principles and teachings.  We KNOW as Christians there is power in the Word but do we use it in every circumstance to find questions, or find encouragement, or find hope, or to draw closer to God?  I have to admit, that I have been guilty of using the internet far more often than the Bible at times to find answers, encouragement, even to draw closer to God.  This past week I have spent more time “liking” encouraging quotes, even Scripture quotes on Facebook, than actually reading the quotes from the source —The Bible!

Lately, I’ve been amazed at the amount of “hits” some of my blog postings here on Journey Thoughts are getting daily that just quote Scripture.  Since posting Encouraging Verses for Those Facing Struggle  in January 2014, that post alone has close to 10,000 hits on it DAILY!  People are desperately searching for encouragement to get through hard times.  Certainly, I am pleased people are encouraged by the postings, but please, please don’t substitute reading MY blog for going to the REAL source of encouragement…THE Bible.

I know the Internet is a wonderful tool to start the initial search, but always remember The Primary Source for the answers to life’s questions, for encouragement, hope and drawing closer to God is THE BIBLE.  It’s all you really need!

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”  (Hebrews 4: 12-13)


His Strength in the Classroom

17e097e19138388888cfef039226a0eeI’ve been in the classroom all of four weeks and I’ve been sick most of that time.  It is a fact of life for teachers that they must build up an immunity to their kids.  Sounds harsh, but oh so true!  There’s only so much “sick time” a teacher can spend away from class so I’ve been trying to tough it out.  I know all the teachers out there understand what I mean.

Teachers spend a good part of their time trying to dodge all the “kid viruses” that seem to spread like wildfire throughout a school.  Hard as I try to make sure I’ve got a good supply of hand-sanitizer, tissues and the like, I cringe whenever I hear a sneeze or a well-aimed cough come in my direction.  I try not to touch doorknobs or handles at school and I don’t touch hand rails on stairs anywhere.  I have this technique of pulling down my sleeve to cover my hand so my skin does not touch those surfaces.  My sweaters always look a little stretched in the sleeves!  Still, no matter what I try, those obnoxious bugs seem to invade my defenses and I can’t escape them!  Unfortunately, I am also the one out of those million who is allergic to the flu shot!  It is frustrating!

So, I’ve been coughing and sniffling through the first month of school after Christmas and realizing why they call this month, “Blue January”.  It’s hard to muster energy in the classroom and attend to all the things I need to accomplish when I’m feeling so run-down.  Report cards are on the horizon and I’m feeling overwhelmed.

I like to pray as I drive to school in the mornings.  I pray for my family, I pray journey mercies as I travel (especially that the Lord will keep animals off the country roads I travel down to school…saw a moose the other day…and thanked God He kept the animal “at bay” until I passed.)  Then I pray for wisdom in the classroom.  I try to pray for my students, by name, each morning.  Yes, I spend a little more time praying for the more challenging ones, but I suppose that’s not too unusual.

The other morning as I drove in, I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  I had been up most of the night coughing and nursing this virus that had hit me hard.  I was tired, a little bedraggled and wondered how I would survive the day.  So I prayed.

I prayed for strength.  I prayed for energy.  I prayed Jesus would stand beside me in the class and “hold me up” if need be so I could get through the day.  In my mind’s eye, I actually pictured Jesus standing with me at the white board with one arm draped over my shoulder so I could lean on Him for support.  It was such a vivid image, I felt His Presence in the classroom all day.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”  Psalm 5:3

New Year – New Worries?

You will have noticed that I have been silent the last few weeks (at least from a writing viewpoint).  I am once again teaching full-time butslide_20 this time it’s a very different assignment than in years past.  I am teaching a group of very bright, very enthusiastic Grade Six students and this time I have an arch-nemesis to deal with that I haven’t had to battle for eons…MATH!

My high school Math teachers would have a real chuckle about this, as would most of my high school friends, that by some strange fate, Mathematics and I have been paired together to learn from one another yet again.  Yes, it’s true I sent one of my Math teachers “over the edge” as he tried to teach me the finer nuances of trigonometry and algebra…(sorry Mr. Ruxton).  Yes, it is also true that I have tried to avoid the subject area almost all my adult life, either in teaching it, or doing it.  I can balance my cheque book…and Mr. Ruxton is probably surprised by that!  Knowing my mathematical weakness, God gave me a husband who is a genius with numbers and I help him with spelling and grammar.  We’ve made a good team for close to thirty-eight years.  However, I cannot bring him into my Grade Six classroom everyday, so I must face my nemesis on my own.  It’s a steep learning curve to be sure.

Thankfully, I work with a great team colleagues, who don’t point and laugh at me, like some of my classmates did when I went to high school, but are eager to help me if I should find the battle too hard for me to handle on my own.  I am also blessed with some pretty savvy math minds in my Grade Six classroom who are learning in spite of me!

Still, this challenge is a new “worry” for me, as the enemy points out my limitations and heaps condemnation on me, pointing out my inadequacies along the way.  It’s easy to say, “do not be anxious…” (Philippians 4:6-7) but the reality is: I AM ANXIOUS!

I just put away all our Christmas decorations.  It was a season spent with all my children gathered under one roof with their families and significant others.  After a rather tumultuous year, filled with challenges and personal ups and downs for each of my children, this past Christmas was filled with healing and miracles.  Laughter filled our home.  It was the BEST Christmas ever…in my opinion at least.  So, it was not unusual as I packed away the tree ornaments and nativity scene that I started to become emotional.  We don’t know where we will be spending Christmas next year.  Change is on the horizon, and after over twenty years of Christmases spent in this home, we may be in a new home, perhaps a new province next Christmas.  It’s the unknowns in our future that have me uneasy.

It’s easy to say, “do not be anxious…” (Philippians 4:6-7) but the reality is: I AM ANXIOUS!

It’s hard not to fret about the economic downturn we have seen here in Alberta, falling oil prices that effect our livelihood here in this province and in Canada in general.  Political unrest, terrorist threats, humanitarian disasters, global tyrants who threaten our peace,…the list compounds until I feel so overwhelmed that complaining about my lack of mathematical ability is infinitesimally trivial!

It’s easy to say, “do not be anxious…” (Philippians 4:6-7) but the reality is: I AM ANXIOUS!

I’m sure there are others who feel as I do, entering the first few weeks of 2016, more trepidatious than excited.  Apparently the beginning of a New Year according to statistics brings on more stress and depression than at any other time of the year.  Some call it the “January Blues“.  The festive Christmas season turns to a big psychological downer when bills come due, work resumes and things go back to normal reality.

It’s easy to say, “do not be anxious…” (Philippians 4:6-7) but the reality is: people ARE ANXIOUS!

I was reminded today that casting my cares once more upon the strong shoulders of my Saviour is a choice.  It’s not easy to let go of my anxiety.  At times I wear it like a security blanket.  I become more comfortable in my stress than letting go of it.  Weird but true.

I want to let go of my anxiety.  It’s a daily struggle.  I truly want that “peace that transcends understanding”.  There is no easy method for letting go of anxiety, but there’s a proven, tried-and-true equation to follow: I am presenting my petitions to God through prayer yet again.  Ceaseless, daily prayer going before the Father for wisdom and guidance.  I know He is able.  I know He is “my help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).  I may not be a math genius, but that at least is a good formula to work on every single day.

A Social Network Christmas Story

As an educator and teacher, and a writer of young adult fiction, I discovered quickly if I wanted to relate and converse with my students09a3ee54ea02bccdd1161454107fbb8c and my readers on a regular basis I would have to join social media sites.  Facebook is the social networking site of choice for nearly all the people I know, although many youth are now turning more towards Instagram and SnapChat, probably because all their parents are now using Facebook :).  Initially when I started using Facebook I was hooked on the time-wasting applications and games, but mostly I interacted with friends and family regularly checking their statuses etc.  Through the years, Facebook has helped me promote my writing as well as continue to interact with people around the world who do not feel comfortable talking face-face about spiritual things but have no qualms about Facebooking me if they have questions.  I have discovered that Facebook is a rather unique tool that can be used to disciple and minister and even evangelize with.

With over a billion users, Facebook is the largest social networking site world-wide.  Most of the users are youth – young adult age, although Baby Boomers and Seniors are well represented who use Facebook as well.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t add a disclaimer here.  As with any kind of online activity, parents MUST be diligent in ensuring children’s safety on Facebook.  There is questionable material, apps, advertising etc., that is not appropriate for  teens (let alone adults).  Privacy settings must be updated regularly.  Parents, talk with your teens about using Facebook and monitor their activity there.  Remember, “the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, waiting to devour” (1 Peter 5:8)  Facebook has its share of “lions”.  Be on your guard!

That said, Facebook, if utilized correctly by Christians, has the potential to reach millions and millions of people with the Gospel.  I have noticed, especially around Christmas, that status updates, postings and the like flood Facebook with the message of hope and peace that is only found in the person of Jesus Christ.

This video was sent to me recently on Facebook and I found it to be so creative and original I felt I had to share it with my readers.  Please feel free to pass along the link to my blog to all of your Facebook friends and let’s flood Facebook this Christmas and throughout the year with the life-giving message of “Peace on earth, good will to men!”

Merry Christmas!

25 Encouraging Scripture Verses for Christmas

Christmas-GarlandToday I remember my father-in-law, Charles Sr. who passed away a few years ago on this date.  When we visited the funeral home to discuss final arrangements for Dad, it was hard not to notice all the Christmas trees and decorations in the front foyer.  It struck me hard that Dad would not be with us for Christmas that year and in the years that followed.  My heart was heavy with grief.

On my tree at home are “Memorial” ornaments with the names of those in our family who are celebrating Christmas with Jesus.  Although we miss them dearly at this time every year, I would never wish them back with us.  The banquet table in heaven is far larger and more lavish than I could ever set and my loved ones are basking in The Light.  What a great Celebration!!  Still, we are left here on earth missing our loved ones and grieving our loss.

For some people, Christmas is a hard time, filled with financial burdens and unmet expectations.  Still others despise the commercialization of the season and just can’t wait for it to be over.  Scripture provides us with Hope in a hopeless and struggling world.  Take time to read and ponder and be encouraged that God sent His only Son because He so LOVED the world and wanted us to know that Christmas is year-round to those who believe.

John 1:14  “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Psalm 107:1  “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

James 1:17  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Luke 1:15-18  “(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

Isaiah 7:14  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Luke 2:12  “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Matthew 1:18-25  “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”   All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

Isaiah 9:6  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Luke 2:10 -14  “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

John 3:16-17  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Matthew 2:10  “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”

Zechariah 9:9  “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!  Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Acts 5:31  “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.”

Philippians 2:5-7  “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Philippians 2:8-10  “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

Titus 3:4-7  “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

1 Timothy 1:15-16  “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

John 8:42  “Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.”

John 14:1 -3  ““Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.   My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?   And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Romans 15:13  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 16:33  “ “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Psalm 72:11  “May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him.”

Luke 1:68-69  ““Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.  He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.”

2 Corinthians 9:15  “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

And a little extra for those who are missing a loved one in heaven this Christmas.  A poem that has been credited to Wanda Bencke.

My first Christmas in heaven


Unless stated otherwise all scripture used on Journey Thoughts is from: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.










So Be Good for Goodness Sake!

My daughter posts on Facebook almost daily the adventures of “Chippy”, my grandbabies’ little Elf who hasElf on the Shelf shown up for the past several years at their home on December 1st.  He has numerous adventures in their home and then he mysteriously disappears around the same time the Christmas ornaments are put away.  For those of you who do not know this wildly popular Christmas phenomenon, it is based on a best-selling book and the Elves that accompany the book are considered “Scouts” of Santa who report back to him so he can manage his naughty and nice lists.  And that’s where the controversy starts…

Just like the Jolly Old Elf (Santa), the little Elf on the Shelf watches whether a child has been good or bad, supposedly motivating children to behave for at least twenty-five days in December so they will get their promised gifts.  Every parent has attempted this ploy in some form for generations warning their children that if they misbehave there is someone (something) who is watching them and will punish them or reward them based on their behavior.  Great killjoys like the Boogie Man is meant to scare kids into submission while The Easter Bunny will refuse to hop over at Easter and Santa will refuse to visit if Elf brings him a bad report about a poorly behaved boy or girl.  Psychologists despise this kind of behavior modification for child rearing citing the fact that believing an imaginary persona has any authority in the world is a lie.  (Psychology TodayOthers do not like the idea of being “spied on”, saying “…the Elf conditions kids to accept “increasingly intrusive (albeit whimsically packaged) modes of surveillance.”

My daughter, a great teacher, uses the little toy as another method to teach educational concepts and add a little seasonal fun to her homeschooling environment.  Chippy loves to read so he is often found with a good book and then encourages my grandbabies to sit with him while my daughter reads to them.  He also likes to bake and sets out all the necessary ingredients and watches intently while they decorate gingerbread men cookies.  The little Elf doesn’t spy on my grandbabies, he interacts with them and surprises them with daily activities that causes them to think and enjoy the world around them.

I grew up with “elves” in my home at Christmas too.  Both my parents were Danish and so Julenisse were a fun part of our Christmas traditions.  “One of the main Christmas characters in Denmark is a mischievous elf named Nisse. Christmas is a time when Nisse can have his fun. Nisse is said to live in the lofts of old farmhouses and he enjoys to play jokes. Nisse wears gray, woolen clothes, a red bonnet, red stockings, and white clogs. Families will leave him a bowl of rice pudding or porridge on Christmas Eve to keep him from playing too many jokes on the family. Usually Nisse is a kind and helpful elf who enjoys to help on the farm and he enjoys being good to the children. Also in Denmark the Christmas elves called Julenisse are appeased with rice pudding as well as dishes of seeds that are placed outdoors for wild birds.” (Denmark Christmas Traditions)

On Christmas Eve, for dessert my mother always made rice pudding that had a whole almond inside. Whoever found this almond would receive a prize.  I continue this tradition in our home and although my kids are never keen on eating rice pudding, they still manage to eat a bowl of it in quest of that elusive almond.

I don’t have a problem with elves.  I don’t have a problem with Santa…or the Easter Bunny…or the Tooth Fairy either.  I enjoy the fun these imaginary figures bring into the lives of our children.  As a teacher, I see educational value in using toys that foster creativity.  Elf On the Shelf does that.  However, both my daughter and I are purposeful in explaining the difference between what is real and what is unreal to our children.  My grandbabies know that although Santa and the Elves are fun, they are not real.  Santa does not know when you are sleeping or awake, or whether or not you’ve been good or bad.  My children are not accountable to Santa, or to a toy Elf, or a Bunny at Easter.  They don’t believe in these personas for salvation from their misdeeds, they know only Jesus can do that because they know that He is real and He does watch over His children (Psalm 121:5).  They know that His Word is alive and active in their lives.  (Hebrews 4:12)  They are accountable to God, as am I.

So, the true lesson to teach children at Christmas and all through the year is: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”  (John 3:16-21)








Alberta Weather Friday Funnies

Well, we’ve had a good laugh here in Alberta at the expense of yet another celebrity who has come to our fair province with an agenda.  In this case it was the “Titanic” star, Leonardo DiCaprio who mistook our blustery Chinook Snow Eater for proof of climate change.  As I have blogged several times before, our Chinooks can wreak havoc on those who are sensitive to sudden barometric pressure, but it can also within hours raise our temperatures from below zero to double digits.  Leo, while filming his latest film here last March, experienced a Chinook and said it was a “terrifying” event.  We Albertans are still laughing!

It is a common saying here in Alberta to “wait an hour and the weather will change”.  An exaggeration but not too far off the mark when it comes to our blustery, warm Chinook winds.  It’s not climate change, it’s a fact of life here.

So here’s some Friday Funnies that poke fun at our weird and wonderful Alberta weather.  Sorry, Leo, the first meme is for you:



Spring in Alberta