Purpose is More Important than Position

Well, the first week of school is over and I have survived.  Oh, there were definitely ups and downs learning a new computer (and computer program), not to mention figuring out 24 locks and locker combinations, learning the nuances of a quirky photocopier, decorating bulletin boards, doing lesson plans and making up seating plans etc. etc. etc.  I’ll say it again, students have NO IDEA how hard their teachers work BEFORE their school opens its doors to them!  Still, after a week of teaching, I find myself already excited to go back to class again next week.  There’s nothing like standing in front of a classroom full of Junior High students and see them get excited over a “just for fun” spelling bee!

I bought a $1.50 “trophy” at the dollar store and the kids passed the trophy around the room so that every student was a “champion” when they spelled a word correctly.  I don’t think any one of them will forget how to spell “potpourri” after about twenty attempts to get the correct spelling!

Today I marked my first Language Arts papers of the year.  A simple paragraph, “How did you experience God this summer?”  Teaching in a private Christian school, I can pose those kinds of questions but I was unprepared for some of their answers.  One girl experienced what she called a “Glory moment” when she witnessed a spectacular sunset, another student saw God heal a family member from cancer, another lost her precious grandfather over the summer, and still many others shared how camp experiences and mission trips touched their lives and impacted each of them profoundly.  I drew in my breath when I read how one young man experienced the harsh reality of seeing his parents separate and pleaded with God to get him through it and God did!  Even though his life consists of living in two houses now, going between two parents, God continues to heal this young man’s heart so he is not bitter.

I was reminded of the nine educational principles to live by this year: Purpose is More Important than Position.

Yes, I am these students teacher, for a little while at least, but I believe I am there for a much bigger purpose than to just teach them curriculum.  After reading their heart-stirring papers, I reacted at times with tears as they confided how they spent their summer.  God has a plan and a purpose for each of these young people, and for some reason, He has placed me in their lives for a few short weeks.  Yes, I will grade their efforts and chide them when they misbehave in class, but I hope that they will also find me to be approachable and ever-ready to listen to them, and laugh with them and be available to them when they just need someone to talk to.

Lord, may I be a teacher, both
knowledgeable and kind; help me to encourage each young and growing mind.

May my
faith be evident in all I say and do as I share the many lessons that I have
learned from You.

Psalm 27:11 NIV

 

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Back to School!

You will know if you’ve been checking out my Facebook statuses the last week that I have embarked on a new “adventure” for the next several weeks.  I am teaching Junior High Language Arts in my daughter’s school, covering a maternity leave for the regular teacher.  It’s been a steep learning curve navigating around a new computer (and computer program), as well as setting up a classroom in preparation for the students to return to school on Tuesday next week.  I am also teaching two health classes, a girl’s Gr. 7 Bible class and I wrote and developed the curriculum for the Creative Writing Option class I will also be teaching this semester.  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 five 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 new to the back to school preparations the faculty and staff go through each year and it was truly a privilege to be amongst a group of teachers who spent their first morning back at school praising and worshipping God!  What a great way to start the year off!

Perhaps the most profound words were spoken by a guest speaker who asked us to consider NINE LIFE/EDUCATIONAL PRINCIPLES TO LIVE BY as we begin a new school year and the speaker granted me permission to share them my Journey Thoughts readers as well:

~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

God’s Sweetest Gifts

August 24th, 1995…I remember waking up early, the sun streaming through my bedroom window.  I was very pregnant, had been on bedrest through most of the third semester and that morning a little “tweak” told me that my baby was ready to meet the world!

“Honey, my water broke.”  I casually told my sleep-eyed husband.

“When?” he yawned.

“Oh, a couple of hours ago.”

Suddenly wide-eyed and panic-stricken, my husband bolted out of bed, grabbed a pair of brand new tube socks from a drawer and promptly put is foot straight through the right sock!  Hopping up and down while trying to pull the destroyed sock off, and scrambling to find another one, my husband raced around our bedroom throwing clothes around reprimanding me at the same time.  “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?…We need to get to the hospital?…Where are my socks??”

I calmly lay in the bed, serenely amused by my husband’s antics.  “No rush, Honey.  There’s plenty of time.”

Hours later, I gave birth to a beautiful, baby girl who took her first breath and immediately her lung collapsed.  I barely had time to see her tiny face, or touch her reddened cheek, before she was whisked away from me to the intensive care wing of the hospital.  My husband and I held hands and prayed.  Time stood still.

For us the clock only started ticking again when minutes later the doctors informed us that our daughter would be okay.  It was a scare nothing more.  Still, from that hour on, my husband and I couldn’t help but be even more watchful and protective of our “Baby Girl” than we may have been with our first two children.  It is that constant protective instinct that every parent has for their children, but heightened certainly when one child appears more vulnerable and sensitive to life’s ups and downs.

Carmen was our gift from God in our “Sarah and Abraham” years (as our friend Connie called it).  After the birth of my first daughter, followed by two traumatic miscarriages, the adoption of our son eight years after my first daughter was born; we thought our family was complete.  When I was told I was expecting again three years later, I laughed…just like Sarah did in the Bible.  For four months I was in a state of semi-denial that I was going to have a baby at all.  It wasn’t until I heard the baby’s heartbeat that I actually believed it to be true.  When I developed toxemia in the last trimester and placed on bedrest, nothing else mattered but doing whatever it took to deliver a healthy baby.

And then only minutes after she was born, we almost lost her…

At eighteen months, our dimpled little cherub crawled across the family room floor.  It had only taken an instant for me to turn to put a cup of hot chocolate down on a side table, grab a coaster and then turn again to see my baby grab the cup and dump the scalding liquid down on top of herself.  Instinct kicked in again as I had the presence of mind to rip off her onesy from her body, her skin already starting to bubble as I screamed for my husband to call the hospital.  The drive to the hospital was a blur, the moans of the baby coupled by my tears and anguish that only a parent experiences when that sickening feeling of guilt and remorse kicks in when you realize you should have been more watchful to protect your child from injury.  Doctors praised me for my quick thinking in removing her clothes or they would have burned to her body causing even more serious injury, but it was bad enough.  She had suffered painful second degree burns that required around the clock care for weeks after.

Miraculously, God allowed Carmen to heal with no scarring.  Occasionally the only time we even noticed she had suffered a burn was when she got a little aggravated as a toddler…a small red teardrop- shaped mark would appear just under her chin.  In time, that too faded away to nothing.

When Carmen was three, I took all three children in to have routine eye exams.  The eye doctor asked if he should check Carmen’s eyes.  I laughed, “If you think she’ll sit still long enough for you to try.”  My two oldest had perfect vision but the eye doctor frowned after Carmen’s eye exam.  “I’m going to send you to a specialist,” he said, “She is nearly blind in her right eye.  Have you ever noticed anything unusual in her behavior that would indicate a sight problem?”

“Nothing!” I said, “Just that at times she stands closer to the T.V. and we’re always telling her to move away from it.”  Thud.  It’s like the guilt knocked me over once again.

At five, she was playing on her Dad’s weight equipment with her brother.  I had told them both to stay away from the equipment but as children often do,…they both ignored me.  I heard a thump and a cry and my son ran to me and said Carmen had fallen.  She stood up slowly with large tears in her eyes and pouted.  I bent down to reprimand her for playing on the weight equipment when I told her not to.  Putting my hand on the back of her head, I noticed something sticky and wet and realized she had a serious gash.  Once again a trip to emergency and five stitches later, I wondered…I must be an unfit mother…how could I be so incapable of protecting this child?  I looked at her at play and couldn’t help but think…what next?

A few months later, “Hello, Dr.?”

“What’s Carmen done now?” The doctor asked.

“She’s stuck a bead up her nose.”

“Bring her in.”  He sighed.

Chicken pox followed, not once but twice…broken collar bone…not once but twice.  No matter how carefully I tried to protect and watch over that child, she was the most accident-prone of all three of my children combined.

Carmen is seventeen today.  She has grown into a beautiful young women.  She will graduate this year and is starting to think about her future after high school.  Her Dad and I wonder where the time has gone.  As I remember her “birth” day and all the days since, I laugh at how many times I’ve tried to protect her and how many times I’ve failed.  As she has tried to test her “wings”, more and more as she got older, I have been more and more reluctant to let her “fly”.  She is a free spirit.  Every activity is an adventure for her.  She lives life to the fullest and to the extreme.

It’s hard to watch my “Baby” grow up.  There, I’ve said it.  With my mother’s heart beating nervously, I know I must allow her to soar on her own.

There is a beautiful word picture of us taking shelter under God’s wings.  (Psalm 57:1)  As a parent I pray God will protect and watch over my children every single day.  How many times have I wanted to just keep my children sheltered, protected from all harm, safely tucked under my arms only to fail time and time again because I am, after all, only human? I don’t have the ability to remain watchful and attentive 24/7.  My “wings” just don’t seem large enough to cradle them in all the time.  That’s when I take comfort knowing God is there…everyday…all the time, watching over my children.  They are ever in His watchful care and I trust Him wholeheartedly to love them and protect them when they are away from me.

Happy Birthday, sweet Carmen!  Mama loves you!

Celebration and Book Signing Event

As an alumni of this great school , I am excited to be asked to do a Book Signing from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. this Saturday as part of the MANY events happening this weekend to help celebrate the CSBS (Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary) 25th Anniversary.  I will be signing copies of my award-winning, young adult books in the “Wounded Trilogy” and there will also be many other great books available for sale written by other alumni and supporters of the CSBS. 

If you are in the Cochrane area this weekend, all are invited to come out and celebrate with us!

The main event will be an outdoor concert featuring renowned musical artists: Carolyn Arends, Junkyard Poets and High Valley on Saturday night!

Please feel free to share this event on Facebook, Twitter and the Blogosphere! Hope to see you there!

Shall We Gather At the River

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Yesterday my church family gathered at the Jumping Pound River for what has become our yearly summer picnic and Baptismal service.  Six of our church family were baptised and although every baptism is celebrated, being baptised in a clear-running, icy mountain stream makes the experience even more exhilarating…especially for those being baptised!

For Baptists, this special ordinance defines us as believers in Christ.  In the New Testament, John the Baptist, (Jesus’ cousin), came to spread the news of the coming Messiah – Jesus Christ.  (John 1:33)  John the Baptist urged the people to repent of their sins (Mark 1:4) and those whom John baptised acknowledged their sins and professed their faith so that they could be forgiven of their sins.  This idea of forgiveness demanded repentance, cleansing of sin and putting their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Purpose of Baptism:

Water Baptism identifies the believer with the Godhead– (The Trinity) – Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

Water Baptism identifies the believer with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.  “Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him (in new life) through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”  Colossians 2:12  “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”Romans 6:4

Water Baptism is an act of obedience for the believer.  Baptism itself does not guarantee our salvation, it should be preceded by repentance first, which simply means to turn from our sin and to serve the Lord wholeheartedly.  It is giving complete control of our lives over to Him.  It requires change.  Baptism doesn’t make you a believer - it shows that you already believe. Baptism does not “save” you, only your faith in Christ does that.

I read somewhere that Baptism is likened to the symbol of a wedding ring – it’s the outward symbol of the commitment you make in your heart.  Salvation followed by baptism requires we leave our selfish, worldly ways behind to following Jesus Christ wholeheartedly and seeking His will for our lives instead.  “Peter replied, ‘Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church–about three thousand in all.” Acts 2:38, 41 (NLT)

Water Baptism is a public testimony of faith.  It is the outward confession of an inward experience. Believers stand before witnesses to share personal testimonies and thereby confessing their identification with the Lord.  (I have found that sometimes those brief words shared by those about to be baptised, have become like mini-sermons in themselves, convicting and powerful to family and friends who have come to observe the baptism.)

Water Baptism is a beautiful picture representing profound spiritual truth: Baptism is the picture of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, and as followers of Christ, we identify with Him through baptism.  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20  “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the father, we too may live a new life.  If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.” Romans 6:4-5

Salvation followed by baptism, marks a sincere turning point for all believers; the beginning of a “New Life” in Christ.  “He died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God. So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus.  Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to its lustful desires. Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.”  Romans 6:10-13  “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.  It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”I Peter 3:21  “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”I Corinthians 6:11

Congratulations to those who were baptised on Sunday!

Olympic Fever

I don’t know why it is, but whenever the Olympics roll around, I am absolutely glued to the television.  Sports events I would never ever consider watching at any other time, I suddenly show rapt fascination with.  For instance, I spent nearly two hours watching the dressage component of the equestrian events…I don’t even like horses!

Of course my loudest cheers are for my fellow Canadian countrymen (and women).  Yes, it’s true, Canadians are equally proud of bronze medal winners than Gold Medal winners…I suppose since we’ve won way more of those than Gold.  But, my oh my, when we step on the Gold or Silver podiums, we Canadians go nuts!  Have to admit, national pride is at its pinnacle during the Olympic Games.

What has captivated my attention just as much during these Olympic Games in London is the coverage too of those Olympians who did not stand a chance of getting on the medal podium but made their mark in the Olympic events.  Saudi Arabia’s Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani lost her Judo match but made history just showing up to compete.   Never before has there been a woman competing for that nation, since athletics are not open to women in that country.  I applaud her efforts!

I was also moved to tears to see our Canadian Paula Findlay as she crossed last in the triathlon.  The weight of Canada’s expectations on her shoulders too much for her as she battled an injury that would have sidelined any other athlete, but she fought through the pain to finish.  In my opinion, Paula did not need to apologize, she did Canada proud just showing up!

One cannot but see the Olympics as a perfect example of what the Christian life is all about.  It’s not about winning the Gold but running the race with endurance and tenacity.  When everything around you is falling apart, when the finish line is so very far away, when the daily struggle seems almost too much to cope with, the Christian is exhorted to continue to run the race to attain something much more valuable than a medal.  We strive for the crown that is handed out at the very end of our life race; sometimes when everyone else has crossed the finish line ahead of you and you feel like giving up, but you press on anyway, knowing that it’s about finishing well, NOT finishing first.

The Christian life in Scripture is likened to a race. The author writes, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1-4

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.”  Is Paul talking about running so you cross the finish line first?  Not at all!  We strive to run the race set before us, the best way we know how, and to our very best ability.  We applaud every effort, whether we have finished first or finished last because at the end of the race we are hopeful we have persevered to earn the crown and congratulatory remarks from our heavenly Father that indicates a life well-lived.  Our race is well run when He pats us on our backs and says: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”   Matt. 25:23

 

The Reader Appreciation Award

I am honoured & humbled that Carol Beck Round, author of A Matter of Faith, Inspirational Thoughts for Daily Living, (http://carolaround.com/)  nominated me to receive The Reader Appreciation Award. In addition to writing a weekly faith-based column, “A Matter of Faith,” Carol is the part-time executive director of a local literacy council. Her goal in life is to use her gift with words to inspire others.  Carol says, “After my column started appearing in newspapers across the state in late 2005, I began to receive invitations to speak before women’s groups. The only “C” I made in college was in speech because I was so nervous I clung to the podium to keep from fainting. Go figure. God does have a sense of humor!”

Thank you, Carol, for nominating “Journey Thoughts” for this award!

There are a few guidelines for accepting this award: 1. Acknowledge the giver of the award and provide a link to his or her blog site. 2. Copy and paste the award to your blog. 3. Pass the award to up to ten bloggers. 4. Notify your selected bloggers that you have nominated them.

Accordingly, I am nominating the following bloggers for The Reader Appreciation Award:

1.  Lynn Mosher, author of “Heading Home – Following God’s Compass As It Points to the Right Path Home

2.  Laura J. Davis, author of “Learning from the Master – Encouragement for you soul on your journey through life

3.  Daniel Blackaby, author of “Imagination’s Underground Railroad

4.  Amy Schaffner, author of “Pieces of Amy

5.  Margaret McSweeney, founder of Pearl Girls –  (Pearl Girls Blog)

6.  Kathy Howard, author of – Unshakeable Faith for Life

7.  Marcia Lee Laycock, author of  – The Spur – Devotionals

8.  Suzanne Woods Fisher blog

9.  Sandra McLeod Humphrey, author of – Dare to Dream Big!

10.  Jon Acuff – Stuff Christians Like

Epic Fail

A youth asked this question on an online  discussion board recently, “Why do I laugh at other people’s misfortunes?”  The best answer: “Because you’re glad it’s not happened to you.”

I noticed the other day some of the fastest growing blogs and websites are the ones that focus on “epic fails”.  For those of you not familiar with that vernacular, it basically alludes to someone (or something) who has attempted something (rather simple) and it has gone horribly, horribly wrong.  Things like learning how to ski for the first time and face-planting in the snow, or jumping on a bed and hitting your head on the ceiling.  What about the viral video of a little boy putting his finger into his baby brother’s mouth, only to have his face contort in pain when baby brother chomps down hard?  “Owwww, Charlie, that hurts!”  Hysterical!  Another prime example is years ago when President Ford unexpectedly tumbled  down the steps of Air Force One.  When it comes to “fails” it would appear no one, not even a president, is immune to these types of humourous, yet slightly embarrassing pratfalls,.. and we laugh because we’re just happy it hasn’t happened to us….yet.

“Epic” is also when someone purposely decides to skateboard down a flight of stairs, or snowboards off a cliff, or tries to wrestle an alligator, knowing that failure may take them out of the gene pool, but success will instantly elevate them to epic “stardom”.  I call it “people doing incredibly stupid things, with usually expected painful consequences”.  I am constantly amazed by people who actually want to be filmed in the act of doing something that is sure to end badly.  Their pain becomes our gain as we watch their escapades with such perverse pleasure, that we laugh ourselves silly at their misguided misfortune.

My children often make fun of my pratfalls, mostly done quite inadvertently I might add.  I seem to be an endless source of amusement to my kids.  It’s not that they delight in my pain, but they can’t help but laugh if I should trip over the dog, or walk into a door or nose-dive on the ice.  Usually I laugh along with them because all I bruise is my ego.  However, there is a distinct difference in laughing with someone than laughing at someone.

I remember one soccer match in high school where I was carried from the field, not once, but twice because I foolishly tried to impede the progress of a girl on the opposing team who was two times my height and weight.  The laws of physics were stacked against me.  I don’t remember the impact(s) so much as the derisive laughter afterwards…especially from the opposing team!

Why is it that we have such a strange obsession watching others hurt themselves?  The Germans even coined a word for it: Schadenfreude – which translates literally as “joy from adversity”.  The popularity of shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos, Wipeout, as well as Bloopers and some Reality T.V. indicate that people love to see other people trip, nose dive, face plant, fall down, tumble, splat, crash, splatter, etc. etc.   It is considered ‘slapstick humour’ but now we call it “epic fails”.

A recent video I watched showed a thief caught in the act of trying to throw a brick through a window in order to rob a store.  Unfortunately the brick bounced off the glass and knocked the thief senseless until the police came and carted him away.  I must admit, it’s funny to watch a “bad guy” get his comeuppance!

It’s easy to laugh at other people’s misfortune when we consider the person a “bad guy” or if we don’t know the person.  It’s not as funny when we’re the one being laughed at.  When bad things happen to us either inadvertently or by our own foolishness, it’s not funny.

Epic Fails are not limited to physical pain either.  It would appear we take as much or more delight in watching someone else fail in a relationship, or fail in moral character or destroy their good reputation because of sin.  We are rather heartless here.  As an audience, we may point and laugh at the fallen, all the while thinking: “Glad that’s never happened to me”….yet.

Scripture says: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, for the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.”  Proverbs 24: 17-18

The next time you watch an epic fail video, or laugh at someone elses misfortune, do so with this in mind: “there but for the grace of God, go I”.

Epic Fails come when we least expect them!

Marks of Ownership

My husband calls them “marks of ownership”.  The most notable one runs from his right ear and along his jaw line.  The scar shows where the surgeons practically knit his broken jaw together, weaving wires in and around and through the bone after it was shattered.  This was years before I met Charles.  He was a young military officer with the regular forces, barely nineteen, who was studying to be an aeronautical engineer.  He had a love of fast cars and fast motorcycles.  I have heard all of his “easy rider” stories from that time, along with some of his more death defying stunts.  He would love to own another motorcycle but I only need to look at the long scar on his face and I cringe at the idea.

He had just bought this new bike.  He was still getting used to it in some ways.  It was by far the most powerful of all the motorcycles he had owned before, however on that rainy night in Victoria, B.C., he wasn’t interested in breaking any land-speed records with it, he just wanted to get home and get into some dry clothes.  He didn’t much care for riding his  new bike in the pouring rain.  Charles had been out with his friend, Pat that evening who decided he would follow behind Charles in his Honda Civic while Charles rode ahead on his bike.  The rain was pelting down as they cautiously started home.  Charles doesn’t remember exactly what happened as he rounded that fateful corner in the road, but he says that the telephone pole just “jumped out at him”.  He vaguely recalls the front tire of the motorcycle hitting some loose gravel by the side of the road and then the bike going into a wobble.  As the bike tilted sideways and started to go down, the gas tank must have hit a larger rock and at the same time Charles’ face impacted with the telephone pole.  The helmet he was wearing likely saved his life although for several days doctors were not sure he would recover fully from his injuries.  He had shattered his jawbone and much of his face and broken his wrist.  Pat saw the entire accident happen, and though horror-struck at witnessing the crash, he was able to flag down help quickly as his friend lay bleeding and unconscious in the ditch.  Had Pat not been there, Charles may not have been found for hours, and would likely have bled to death, since the road was pitch dark and the driving rain made the accident scene nearly invisible to passing motorists.

Charles’ parents were called immediately after the accident and rushed to his side.  When his mother saw her son in the hospital, she was so overcome with shock at seeing the severity of his injuries that she became physically ill.  For the next several days, Charles remained in critical condition.  Doctors set his wrist, but it was broken so badly that weeks later it had to be reset again.  Doctors were not sure he would ever have the full use of his arm again.  The jaw was problematic as well.  The surgeons had wired the bone together the best they could.  He would have to have more surgeries in the weeks following.  Not being able to open his mouth for months after the accident, he subsisted on a liquid diet that he sucked through a straw.  His weight and muscle mass dropped significantly and he experienced nerve damage and numbness in his face and chin.  He later discovered that somehow due to the accident he had lost his sense of smell.

In a couples Bible Study we attended a couple of years after we were married, Charles was relating this horrific accident to members of the group.  To this day I shudder when he talks about the accident because the reality is he could have been killed that night.  I would never have met the love of my life, I might never have become a Christian (because it was he that led me to the Lord), our three beautiful children would never have been born….  It is frightening to think about the “what ifs”, but there is another “what if” that may have resulted in equally similar results had the accident never happened.

Charles is the first one to admit that he was walking as far away from the Lord in those days as he could possibly be.  He had become a Christian as a young boy, he grew up in a loving Christian home.  However once he moved away from home to pursue his military career, going to church and building a relationship with God was more or less forgotten.

After the accident, as he lay recovering in a hospital bed, God took hold of Charles again.  As he went through the painful process of healing physically, God healed Charles spiritually as well.  Charles had ample time to think about his life and where it was heading before the accident but now he was forced to rethink his priorities in life.  God had given him a second chance.

His recovery was long and when he finally was able to return to his studies at school he had missed just too much class time to pass the courses.  The Canadian forces, who were paying for his tuition at the time, determined that Charles’ marks were too poor to continue to fund his schooling.  His dreams of becoming an aeronautical engineer were over as was his career with the Canadian regular forces.  Instead, he joined the Canadian reserves and it was there that we met.

He completed his science degree at the University of Victoria and became a professional geophysicist that eventually led him to Calgary to work in the oil patch there, his young wife in tow.  The rest, so they say, is history.

Now, I am not saying God caused that accident to happen to get Charles’ attention.  Although Charles has joked that he probably needed a good “knock on the head” to turn his life around.  No, we think instead, God used the accident and the subsequent scars to place His “mark of ownership” on Charles.  The scars are a visual reminder of Whom Charles belongs to.  Without them, Charles would not be the man he is today.  We would not be the family we are today.  When God marked him, he marked our entire family and I am forever grateful.

Happy 145th Birthday, Canada!

July 1st marks Canada’s 145th Birthday.  I thought as we remember Canada’s Birthday on Sunday 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.