Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Little Good News Today

Sladen Peltier as Saul Indian Horse

Last month, Hubby and I attended a screening of the movie Indian Horse, based on the award-winning novel of the same name by the late Ojibway writer, Richard Wagamese.

In 1950’s Ontario, eight-year-old Saul Indian Horse is torn from his Ojibway family and placed in a religious residential school. In this oppressive environment, Saul is denied the freedom to speak his language or embrace his Indigenous heritage while he witnesses horrendous abuse at the hands of the people entrusted with his care. He is shown a depiction of Jesus Christ so far from the biblical account, it broke my heart.

Though Saul’s story is fictional, his experiences mirror those reported by thousands of children taken from their families during this sad and shameful period of our history. I desperately wanted the movie to be an exaggeration. I wanted to cling to the belief that the one admirable character in the story was truly good. When that hope was dashed, I found myself audibly whispering, “NO! No, no, no, no. Please! Tell me it wasn’t that bad.”

But it was. All my prayers cannot erase the past.

Though the story ends with some measure of hope and a tribute to the indomitable spirit of aboriginal people, it is sobering. It’s a story that sits with you a long time, one that every Canadian should see. We drove home in silence.

Three weeks later, I attended the spring concert at Westpark School. This Christian school has reached its objective of accurately reflecting our community by having a student body that is one-third First Nations. The students presented a delightful variety of songs, walking us through God’s creation of the world, the story of redemption, restoration, and revival.

The grand finale was a Dakota song of encouragement sung by adult drummers from Dakota Tipi and accompanied by Indigenous dancing by the students, some in full regalia, girls in jingle dresses, others with simple hoops. The song segued perfectly into another called Revival with the entire exuberant choir joining in.

This time, the tears streaming down my face were tears of hope and gratitude. This event begged the questions: What might Canada look like today if those missionaries had taken the same approach? If they had taught children they can choose to follow Jesus Christ without sacrificing their culture? That God hears their prayers and their praises in any language? That they are loved unconditionally and valued beyond measure, as human beings with histories and hopes and dreams and a future? That God is every color and no color at all.

I can think of no better prayer for our nation than the lyrics those children sang to close their concert:

The world is a desert, dry and thirsty
Your love is the answer, full of mercy
Give us your eyes to see the hurting
Bring us back to life
Revival, Hearts on fire
Holy Spirit rain down
Change us from the inside…
Shine your light
Bring healing to the blind
You break the chains
Let your glory fill the sky…

This cry for revival is perfect for Canada Day. For only when God changes us from the inside will the differences on the outside become nothing but glorious diversities to celebrate and enjoy for all eternity. Thank you, children, for restoring my hope for future generations of Canadians and for bringing God’s kingdom to earth.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne … crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9 & 10)

*Songwriters: Joshua David Silverberg / Julian Gamba / Kipp Williams / Lindsey Sweat / Lorena Castellanos

Friday, June 21, 2019

For Grads and Those Who Love Them

Occasionally, I am delusional enough to think there might be an eighteen-year-old somewhere who reads my blog. If that’s you, chances are you will graduate from high school shortly. Perhaps you’ve figured out your next step or perhaps you’re still as undecided as you felt at the beginning of the school year. You’re tired of people asking what you’re planning to do with your life. So many options lie before you, and with each choice you make, you eliminate others. It’s a confusing time.

I love this Winnie the Pooh poem by Benjamin Hoff:

How can you get very far
If you don’t know Who You Are?
How can you do what you ought,
If you don’t know What You’ve Got?
And if you don’t know Which to Do
Of all the things in front of you,
Then what you’ll have when you are through
Is just a mess without a clue
[But] All the best can come true
If you know What and Which and Who.

I cannot provide you with the “what” or the “which.” But I’d love to point you to the WHO, because when you know the answer to the “who,” you’ll be guided to the what and the which. (Also the where, when, and why!) Your creator loves you and knows you and wants you to succeed at fulfilling your purpose. God can be trusted. He will never leave you. He’s promised that. Seek him with all your heart and let him guide you, one day at a time.

In Joshua 1:9, God said “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” He is for you. He is rooting for you.

Maybe your graduation happened decades ago and now you’re watching your fledgling leave the nest. Life is showing you how nothing stays the same and it’s hard. Really hard. I know. I went through it three times.

I once heard a preacher say, “at any given time, you’re either in a valley or you’re coming out of a valley, or you’re about to enter a new valley.”

It’s the nature of life on this earth. But I’ve learned that amid all of life’s changes, we have a God who never does. Malachi 3:6 says “I, the Lord, do not change...”

The beauty of walking with God through all these hills and valleys is that we never stop growing. He wants you to grow through every season of change. So here are three questions you can ask yourself as you enter a new season.

·       What is it time to let go of? Mourn your losses. It’s okay to grieve.

·       What am I learning? Write it down! Don’t waste this season or this heartache by refusing to grow.

·       Who am I trusting? Remember that God is for you.

All of us will experience times of endings and beginnings. If you are in a season of transition, can I encourage you? You may not see the road map. You may not have any picture of what your future holds, but you can choose to trust the heart of our God. He says, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.”

He’s with you. You don’t need to be afraid.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Ahead By a Century

If my father were still here with us, he would have turned a hundred years old this year. He’s been gone since 1986. Although I’d have loved for him to be around longer, I tend to think he was one of the blessed ones who took only sixty-seven years to complete his assignment on this earth before moving on to a much lovelier life.

When my father was born in 1919, women had been allowed to vote for three years, although they would not be declared “persons” in Canada until Dad was ten.

World War One had ended the previous fall (although it would not be called that until World War II), but the subsequent influenza epidemic still raged on. As a result, the 1919 Stanley Cup series was suspended after five games.

From mid-May until late June, the Winnipeg General Strike became the largest strike in Canadian history. More than 30,000 workers left their jobs. Factories, shops, transit and city services shut down. The strike resulted in arrests, injuries and the deaths of two protestors.

In books, ranking near the top were Willa Cather’s My Antonia, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford.

Movies hitting the big screen in 1919 included hits called The Miracle Man, Male and Female, and Daddy Longlegs. The big stars of the day were Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, and Gloria Swanson. Of course, the movies were silent—forcing the viewer to read intermittent title cards displayed separately from the moving picture to inform dialogue and key plot points. Theaters provided an organ or piano player who accompanied the on-screen story, enhancing its drama or comedy. Of course, I’m sure that by the time Dad got to see a movie, talkies had been invented since they came out in the late twenties.

As a Manitoba farm boy through the twenties and thirties, Dad was not acquainted with the luxuries of indoor plumbing and electricity. While Chrysler and Ford were introducing their latest automobiles to the world, Dad’s family relied on horses and actual horse power. It’s weird to think he grew up that way, but lived to see television, the moon landing, and computers. Dad would be completely blown away if he could see us driving cars that tell us where to go. He’d marvel at how easily we can stay in constant contact with others whether they are across town or on the other side of the world. He wouldn’t believe how simple it is to “ask Alexa” to answer a question or play a specific song.

With all these changes, one of the things remaining the same is the value of a good father—or, in the absence of that, a good father figure. No matter how technologically-advanced this world becomes, every one of us needs and craves the security, love, and validation that only a good father can provide. I feel blessed to have had one of the good ones. I’m pretty sure Dad never attended a parenting seminar or listened to a podcast in his life. He never heard a TED talk or read How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk.

But I saw my dad embrace my mother. I watched him cry. I tasted his home-cooking. I listened to him sing his made-up songs about me as we drove down the gravel road in his old Fargo pickup. I saw him reading his Bible. Best of all, I heard him pray for me each night when he tucked me into bed. 

You could say Dad was ahead of his time. Maybe even ahead by a century.

Happy Father’s Day!