In Teaching Mode

I’ve been writing lesson plans the last several weeks. I honestly thought that I had officially retired from teaching in 2016, but God had different plans for me I guess. On Friday, I will once again step in front of a class full of Junior-Senior High students to teach a Creative Writing course. It will be a far different experience for me as well as my students because it is supposed to be a fully elective course for students, most of whom have been homeschooled since kindergarten. There is no homework for the students, and no marking or grading for me. It’s teaching creative writing to kids who want to be there, not forced to be there, and it is just for “fun”!

My daughter, who is a lead teacher for the online and hybrid programs at the private Christian School we both taught at years before, asked if I would teach a Creative Writing course for what they call F@B (FAB) Fridays. It’s an opportunity for the students to meet in person for socialization as well as have some in-class instruction.

It’s a six week course, and I’m already discovering the challenges of trying to put together tons of material and condensing it to just the basics. Let’s face it, writing is an acquisition of knowledge, taking courses, reading, skill development, and so much more. For me, it has taken a lifetime to learn my craft and I’m still learning! I learn by doing, creating by trial and error sometimes, breaking some rules in writing, and meticulously following others. It’s pondering the daunting challenge of a blank page, and then like a painter on a blank canvas, I begin to colour the manuscript with words. It’s painting (writing) myself into a corner, and trying to figure a way out. It’s showing, not telling, and hours and hours of editing, and in some cases deleting and starting over. Writing can be an all-consuming investment in time, energy and personal resources. It is also an opportunity to minister, to spark imagination, elicit deep emotion, and bring great joy to the reader as well as the writer.

How do I convey that passion to my class in six weeks?

So, I’ve made the bold decision to just let them write. I will supply the writing prompts, let them play a variety of writing games and applaud the effort rather than the content alone. I want to put the “creative” back in writing. We won’t be as overly concerned about the conventions of writing, although I will feel a failure if they can’t use there, their or they’re correctly.

Well, maybe I will include one lesson on editing …

I will let you know how it goes.

There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”
― Beatrix Potter

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I Owe it to Terry

I finished today what I started on Sunday, walking twenty-two laps around our recreation centre’s gym track (5 km approx.) completing my Terry Fox Run for 2022. Last year I walked twenty-one laps in a little over an hour and had energy to spare. This year was different.

Last year, I was going to the gym fairly regularly and I was feeling healthy and good. A bout with Covid in January of this year, knocked me down and I haven’t yet fully recovered. My doctor is sending me for a battery of tests to try to figure out why I am experiencing overwhelming fatigue and some other nagging issues especially after any kind of exercise or physical activity. He’s trying to rule out the “biggies” as he says, so I had a cardiac stress test two weeks ago to see if I have cardiac problems. That, thankfully, was not the issue. On October 3rd, I go for a full body CT scan to rule out the other “biggie” – cancer.

I can’t even let myself think about a third diagnosis, so I would covet your prayers that the CT scan comes back clear.

Still, something is definitely awry with me and the doctor said once the “biggies” are ruled out that it could be “long Covid”. Not much is known about long Covid, but I am showing most of the symptoms that people diagnosed with it have experienced. Numerous studies are now being conducted after the global pandemic, but there is still so much that remains a mystery about the long term effects of contracting Covid. “One study revealed significant impairment of exercise ability for over 24 months after recovery from a SARS (Covid) infection. Another study found that 40% of people infected with SARS developed chronic fatigue symptoms lasting three years post-diagnosis”. Unfortunately, there is not a definitive cure, just treatments to cope with the long lasting symptoms.

So here we are.

I was determined to participate in the Terry Fox Run this year knowing it would be a challenge for me physically. His words, “I’m not a quitter” was my motivation. I hadn’t been to the gym in months, so setting a goal of walking twenty-two laps was probably unrealistic, but I felt I owed it to Terry to try. I headed to the gym Sunday afternoon after church. Donning my newest Terry’s Team t-shirt, I was alone on the track. I was already feeling fatigued, but set off at my own pace and after four laps I was ready to stop. Thinking about Terry running an average of 42 km. a day, for 143 days with his skip-hop style because of his leg prosthetic, I re-focused and forced my legs to move around the track eight more laps – a total of twelve laps. I had pushed my limits, and I felt pathetic.

Yesterday I crashed. Just moving around the house was an effort. It is a symptom of long Covid to “crash” after exertion. It is so frustrating to want to move and not being able to. There is a mental weariness that comes with the physical fatigue. It takes a lot for me to power through. Again, Terry’s words “I’m not a quitter” came to mind. This morning, I prayed for an infusion of energy so I could finish my run.

It took two days, but I did it.

Tomorrow I may “crash” again, but I’m not a quitter. I owe it to Terry, to people who support and encourage me, and to myself to keep running the race put before me everyday.

Scripture encourages me as I face this latest health challenge: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

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A Fitting Farewell to Queen Elizabeth II

It is fitting, I suppose, that the heavens have opened today bringing much needed rain. Our hearts, like the weather today, are somber. I watched, like millions of others around the world, the funeral for Queen Elizabeth II. She was my Queen for sixty-four years, the only Queen I will likely have in my lifetime. I can’t say I’m a monarchist, or a royalist, but I truly admired the Queen and the way she dutifully and faithfully served as our Head of State here in Canada and around the Commonwealth. She had a humble dignity about her. She was not haughty, or proud, given to public displays and vulgarity that other celebs of this day tend to boast about on social media. She seemed to lean on her enduring faith in God through personal trials, family upheavals, and political turmoil around her. She lived out her faith in word and deed and I believe she was welcomed into the presence of God, with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” as she traded her earthly crown for her Crown of Righteousness.

I was impressed that the Queen’s funeral service was one filled with Scripture readings, prayers and hymns that focused entirely on the Majesty and Power of Jesus, and the glorious gift of Salvation that comes in having a personal relationship with Him. The Queen understood her relationship with God usurped her earthly reign. Her funeral service reflected that. Unlike the national service in Ottawa that tried to honour the Queen but made little reference to God at all. Unfortunately, I observe with sadness that Canadian politicians and secular leaders seem to place more importance in pandering to the “woke” generation. Canada today allows religious syncretism and spiritualism the prevalent role in our society that ultimately seeks to turn our hearts away from God, rather than unify us in the only way that will really save us: the Gospel Truth of Jesus Christ.

It is obvious the Queen wanted her final farewell to her family, her nation, and to the audience who watched this history-making funeral from the comfort of their own homes, that Jesus was her Lord and Saviour. In Him she found her strength and ultimately her peace. I pray all who watched her memorial service held in London had eyes and ears opened to His Truth today.

* Bible Gateway compiled all the Scripture that was read at Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral Service.

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