July 30, 2012

Keeping our Country Strong - Meeting its People - Karen Toews

For the last eight months our daughter (Renee) and family have lived in Quebec. How they ended up on the Gaspe Peninsula is a long story that has to do with: a move from Maine, U. S. to Canada, needing to live close to mountains (not wanting, it's a definite requirement), must be within a day's drive of our home (ditto - a definite must), home-based jobs with flexibility to live "wherever," within the parameters of the aforementioned.

Now we have the ideal chance to get to know this province and its people (my husband and I previously spent a week in La belle province on a rendezvous with our children and families, and in 2007 we drove through the province on our cross-country move). Our daughter lives on the west end of the Bay de Chaleur, a tourist destination, with several large pockets of both French and English speaking people - making their transition and ours much easier. Even in other regions, so far in my experience, the notion that I might be snubbed by not speaking French has been unfounded. (I've been amazed that my high school "book" French resurrects occasionally in my valiant efforts of communicating.)

On our Christmas visit there, one evening we bundled up (they do have lots of snow and cold temperatures) and went carolling. Joyeaux Noel expressing the language of the season, we all met new-to-us neighbours - who stopped by the next day and invited us along on their cross-country ski outing.

For the month of June, our QC family lived in Montreal -  "free" accommodation with a guide semi-familiar with the Metro so we were there! Culture, fashion, historic architecture, foods (I confess this nutritional nut tried poutine) - and more welcoming people.

On our trip home we drove along the Saguenay River - which included an overnight stay on July 1st in Chicoutami. Chatting with our B&B hosts, watching fireworks from their window, I felt a kindred spirit with those who share this diverse, wonderful country we are blessed to live in.

Granted, all of us don't have the same opportunity to personally meet people across the country. But we can connect through online friendships; the neighbours down the street, at our schools or in church.

We can keep our country strong by building friendships with its people. It's a good thing - we all win, and I believe it's God's way and will.

July 29, 2012

Saskatoons - Unique to Canada by Ruth L. Snyder

Saskatoons are a fruit unique to Canada. Mention Saskatoons to people from other countries, and you'll likely receive a blank stare. However, people who live in Canada have enjoyed the purplish-blue berries for hundreds of years.

The name "saskatoon" comes from the Cree word, "Mis-sask-quah-too-mina". The city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was named after the berry. According to Prairie Berries,
"the berries were a staple for both Aboriginal people and early settlers. The berries were enjoyed fresh, or steamed and mashed and then left to dry into a brick-like consistency for longevity. Pieces of these berry bricks were then chipped off as needed and added to soups, stews or simply boiled to reconstitute them." 
Today saskatoon bushes grow both in the "wild" and as cultured plants. The bushes usually blossom in May and produce berries in late June or July. Canadians enjoy eating saskatoons fresh, or in a variety of baked goods like pie or muffins.

This week my children and I had the opportunity to enjoy picking saskatoon berries. Since we've received ample rain this year, the berries are large and juicy. This afternoon my youngest daughter and I used some of the berries to make saskatoon pie. (I found some great recipes to try on the August's Harvest website.)

Here's the recipe we used

4 cups saskatoons
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca
2 tablespoons butter
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.)
In a large mixing bowl, combine saskatoons, sugar and tapioca. Be careful not to damage the berries. Pour into pie crust. Cover with top crust, seal and crimp edges, then cut slits in the top for steam vents. Top with pats of butter.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

What is your favourite recipe to use when you have access to fresh saskatoons?

Ruth L Snyder

Check out Ruth's blogs:
www.trusteesnyder.blogspot.com(Education information)
www.ruthlsnyder.com (Ruth's writing and family life) www.earlyyearssuccess.com (Information for caregivers of children ages 0-5)

Follow Ruth on Twitter:www.twitter.com/@wwjdr

July 28, 2012

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth -- Bruce Atchison

How should we read the Bible? It sounds like a ridiculous question, yet it needs to be asked. Why? Because many Christians have never been taught how to properly read it for all its worth.

The Bible contains several genres of literature. The historical books, such as Exodus, 1 and 2 Kings, and Acts, are straight-forward narratives. These are relatively easy for us to understand.

The wisdom literature, such as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, teach general truths that we can apply to our lives. They aren't exactly promises but applying the principles of wisdom usually bring us good results.

The Psalms are the poetry section of the Bible. They were originally sung but they can be read without losing the beauty of the words. Some of them, such as Psalm 22, are prophetic. Crucifixion hadn't even been invented when it was written, yet it describes Christ's torment in graphic detail. This is also likely why he quoted the first verse while he was being crucified.

Scripture contains many prophetic books. These seem puzzling to those who lack the knowledge of the times in which they were written. Yet the fulfilled prophesies in these books help prove the divine nature of the Bible as being from God and not merely of human origin.

The letters in the New Testament are the instruction manuals for the early church. Though we can learn much from the spiritual principles, matters such as dress and meat offered to idols no longer have the importance they once did.

The most puzzling genre in Scripture is the apocryphal books. Because many Bible teachers today neglect the fact that the readership of those books was the people to whom they were sent, all sorts of bizarre doctrines have been invented to explain passages within them. As The Bible Answer Man host, Hank Hanegraaff has said many times, "The Bible was written for us, not to us."

We Christians would be well served by studying the ancient cultures of the Middle East. By doing so, all of us would gain a deeper understanding of the types and shadows in the Old Testament Jesus Christ and the apostles made frequent references to passages which their audience or readership knew well. This is why it's crucial to study the Bible in its historical and cultural context.

Scripture should not be used as a dictionary. Instead of considering the context of verses, various cults and ignorant persons isolate verses that appear to prove their ideas. Then they build whole doctrines around them, as Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:16. Keeping the context in mind will always result in a better understanding of what the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets and apostles.

July 27, 2012

Wedding Thoughts for Our Son and Daughter-in-Law - Denise M. Ford

In honor of our son and daughter-in-law's marriage (the wedding was July 21 in Vancouver) I wrote a poem based on their creative relationship that has developed over the years.

For Christopher and Catherine:

Perhaps if we could, we might hear your silent vows to each other…

Your laughter floats above the music of my soul, like a twirling current shaping a sandy shore,

One by one our notes appear, discovering the melody, understanding the harmony, measure by measure composing our love.

Your curiosity intensifies the depth of my dreams, like a rushing wind lifting the morning mist.

One by one our voices blend, discovering the melody, understanding the harmony, measure by measure composing our love.

Your devotion dances with the rhythm of my spirit, like a sparkling meteor streaking through the sky.

Rising in crescendo volume, our solos merge, forging a new harmony, measure by measure composing our love,

Our passion inspires the path of our future, like a soaring eagle swooping towards the precipice.

Our chorus encompasses us, combining our melody, intermingling our harmony, measure by measure composing our life.

Our promises glide freely and willingly to each other, like rippling circles reaching to a sheltered bank.

Hand in hand we will create our arrangement, within our harmony, measure by measure composing our life.

Our future beckons, revealing our possibilities, like a sunrise shimmering beyond
the horizon.

Together, composing, creating treasures for a lifetime, measure by measure our marriage begins.

With love,


To read Denise's personal blog and writing website go to:   http://www.walkingwithdustyanddee.com/

July 24, 2012

O'Canada - God Keep Our Land! -- Lynn Dove

July 1st marked Canada's 145th Birthday. I thought as we continue to remember Canada's Birthday this month we should 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.


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.

July 21, 2012

Canada-My Second Home-Sulo Moorthy

Canada is not the land I was born in or is the land I'm residing now. But, Canada has a special place in my heart, because it's my adopted home. Canada opened its doors and welcomed me, my family, and my fellow country men with compassion,when my native land was in turmoil and ethnic war was at its peak.

Like many others fleeing from my country, we too left behind family, friends, secure job, house, land and belongings, and landed in this country twenty five years back. While growing up,I'd studied a little about Canada and had seen snow only on Christmas cards. But, when we landed in Edmonton Alberta in the month of December, clad in overly padded coats and knee high boots, we may have looked hilarious, but we were ready to face whatever the promise land and prairie winter would offer us. Because
English had been my second language in the land I was born, which was then called Ceylon, language didn't become a barrier us.

Before I came, I had asked the Lord to give us a good church to attend, and the Lord must have taken my prayer so seriously that He put us up in an apartment just next to the building that read The Southside Church of Nazarene. For my husband and I, who didn't have a kin around, the next door church became our home and the members became our family.

No sooner, the ladies at the church learned that I was pregnant with my second child, they threw a great baby shower. And the entire church stood with us and prayed, when the baby born two months premature wrestled to survive in her first few months. Our daughter was so privileged to be born in the newly built Grey Nun's hospital in Millwoods and attended by well caring doctors and nurses at the facility. Yes, our daughter is a Canadian by birth and is very proud to call herself so. I wonder whether she would have had even a chance to survive, if she had born in my native land, when chaos and calamity ruled the place. Today, she, a beautiful woman of grace and character, a graduate from McGill University, who is pursuing a career in healthcare to give back the care and service, she once received.

It is in Canada, I had the opportunity to discover the writer within me. Although Language Arts was my favorite subject and my essays were read out in class and even managed to appear in my school magazines, no teacher encouraged me to see myself as a writer. In fact, I must say, I stumbled into writing rather than pursuing it. It's in my early fifties, I got into writing, and it's God's mercy that the first few manuscripts I submitted got published and kept me on the track without giving up.

I'm so grateful to the Canadian editors at Edmonton Journal, Our Family, Mennonite Brethren Herald,Living Light News, who didn't discard my manuscripts no sooner they saw my long last name which they couldn't pronounce or spell. Instead of thinking, what good can come out this woman's writing, whose name we haven't heard before, and throw my work into the nearby wastepaper basket, they took the time to read,assess,pay and publish.

I'm proud to say I'm a member of ICWF ,for without their support and the opportunities they provided, I wouldn't have come this far in my writing. Even after moving to US, I continue to be a part of Inscribe, for I value what it stands for, and the support it offers to writers like me.

Yes, Canada stands as a beacon of hope, peace and refuge, and my family and I are so blessed to call ourselves Canadians citizens. As we honor this country with our writing this month, I pray that Canada will continue to stand tall as a leader in pursuing peace, doing good and serving well in humanitarian work. On behalf of my family, relatives,friends and fellow country men of my native land, I salute Canada for the life amd opportunities it has given us. May God bless this great nation and keep it safe.

" If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday." Isaiah 58:10.

July 18, 2012


It has been the mantra of civilised conversation that we should never discuss religion or politics. Strange! When these two subjects have the greatest influences on our lives. And religion and politics have been intertwined since history began, and contrary to common wisdom, is true in Canada today.

Like Glynis Belec’s blog, we left England for Canada in 1965, and forty seven years later, this is definitely our home. When we left England, we left a Christian culture. Of course, not everyone was a Christian, but Christian values were generally accepted. It was true of Canada when we arrived here.

How things have changed! The western world is now largely pagan, with Christianity a poorly tolerated sideshow on the fringes of an ever wilder circus. This is true of Canada, which has been a leader in this transformation; particularly on abortion and gay marriage.

The retreat from Christianity has been accompanied by the loss of the sanctity of life. Abortion is accepted and legal up to birth, and assisted suicide and euthanasia are front and centre in the courts. Sex is now a recreational pastime, while marriage has lost its meaning and has been abandoned by a growing segment of society.

This decline can also be measured by ballooning debt, increasing violence and an increasing self-serving population, yet is labelled “progressive” by its proponents who consider these changes freedom from the oppression of religious restrictions.

Even the Christian population is frequently flaccid and seduced by secular rhetoric. While a surprising number of Members of Parliament in all parties are Christians, they are hamstrung by weak support from Christians, who are frequently ignorant of the changes in our country’s culture.

It is the writers of history who have had the greatest influence for good or evil. Where are the Christian writers in Canada who can intelligently explain the dangers of our race to godless paganism? Christianity has gained prominence in the past because of the eventual bondage of today’s ungodly pursuits and the real freedom to be found in Christ.

 “God, keep our land, glorious and free,” should be the prayer of every Canadian Christian. But it should also be the intent of every Christian writer. Someone, somewhere, will one day catch the popular imagination, revealing the madness of secular western attitudes. That could be one of us!

July 15, 2012

I am a Canadian Writer - Tracy Krauss

July is a wonderful month to celebrate being Canadian. I always feel a sense of pride when I partake of Canada Day celebrations and this year was no exception.  I love my country and I love being Canadian. Our southern neighbors are often looked to for their example of how to be patriotic, but I think most Canadians feel every bit as proud. We just don't always make as much noise about it. We've always had a reputation for being friendly, and the maple leaf has long been a symbol internationally of good will.

Unfortunately, when someone or something is revered too highly, it sometimes generates negative publicity spurred on by jealousy. Perhaps this is one reason for some of the bad 'rap' we've been receiving lately from big US pop culture machines. There's an alarming trend of bashing Canadians on late night talk shows, sitcoms, movies, and the like. We're often portrayed as stupid, uneducated and gullible; hockey goons; socialist extremists; or the reason that terrorists are infiltrating the US. Come on. Now who's being gullible?

Yes, we are different from our American neighbors in many ways, but some of these differences are quite subtle. Except for our penchant to say 'eh' now and then, spell a few words differently, (check your behaviour in the centre of the theatre...) and actually appreciate the fact that we have universal health care, (I really don't get what all the fuss is about - there's no such thing as mortgaging the house to pay your medical bills here...) the differences are few and far between.

We have the rat race of big cities, the open expanse of wilderness, and a potpourri of cultural variance that is very similar to the US. Perhaps our emergence as a nation in a non-violent manner has shaped our sensibilities to some degree when compared to the birth pangs faced by our cousins in the US. We were born out of negotiation, not rebellion. There is a sense, I think, of 'let's fight for what is ours' in the US, that is generally met with a response of 'let's talk about it' here in Canada.

I have enjoyed getting to know many American writers since joining the ranks of 'author-dom'. I've even joined organizations like ACFW - American Christian Fiction Writers. Most of the time I do not notice any differences. After all, most of my writing acquaintances are also Christians, so that has provided some common ground. However, once in awhile I feel the differences. My Canadian worldview is different at times than my American counterparts and its easy to feel smothered by it.

It's why organizations like this one - Inscribe - are so vital for the health of writers living north of 49. We need a unique place to call home. I'm grateful to everyone for providing that sense of belonging. Despite all the great things I've taken part in elsewhere, there's something very comforting and familiar about his little part of the universe. 

July 14, 2012

Canada - Life and Laundry in Small Town, Canada -- Pamela Mytroen

The back door nearly flung out of my hand as I opened it and stepped inside. There on the washing machine, where I intended so set my purse, were two pair of neatly folded men’s jeans.

I did a double take and looked back out at the clothes line. How did my husband’s jeans end up here, so nicely folded? They had been on the line just an hour earlier when I went downtown.

“Honey? Um. Thanks for folding your jeans!” I grinned. Had he really taken them off the line?

“Huh?” he said, coming around the corner. “I didn’t fold those. They were there when I got home.”

“That's...strange. Nice, but strange."

We live in a small town so it’s not surprising when people just walk in without knocking or waltz in and drop something off if you’re not home.

But this was just a little different. To take your husband’s jeans off the line, fold them so carefully, and leave all the other clothes on the line? Did somebody have something going on for my hubby?

I peeked out the side window and saw my neighbor puttering around in her yard. Aha.

I walked to the fence, leaned on it, and asked, “Do you know anything about two pair of jeans that folded themselves?”

She gave me a sly grin and told me the story.

“You remember how windy it was this morning?”

“Yes. Our regular tornado weather.”

“Right. This morning when I came out to the garden,” she said, leaning on her hoe, “there was a pair of jeans draped over the garden chair. They were laying so neatly on that chair, just like somebody slipped them off and took time to arrange them properly. Well! I took one look at them and thought the worst!”

Her husband had just had surgery and was still on morphine for pain. She assumed that in his high state he had decided to strip down in the garden and really enjoy the summer weather. So Mary, my dear somewhat girthy neighbor, grabbed those jeans and went charging down the sidewalk, certain that she would find her jovial and high husband trotting down the sidewalk in his briefs. Running down one street and then back up the other, she came home exhausted and worried, thinking that he had likely made it all the way to the Li Wong Café to visit with all the regulars. She limped into the house to catch her breath.

“Hank? Ha-a-a-a-nk!” she had called. There was no answer. Before she called the Café, she decided to check upstairs.

And there was Hank, clothed and in his right mind. Well, almost right mind. He was sitting up in bed bidding at an invisible auction. But fully clothed.

Mary took one look at the jeans stretched over his lean frame and sighed a breath of relief. “You’ve got your jeans on.”

“Of course!” He looked at her oddly. “Nice bull, eh?" He pointed to the wall. "Should we bid on it?"

So where did these jeans come from? Mary wondered turning them over in her hand. She paused at the window and spotted another pair of jeans laying in her tulips.

That’s when my saintly neighbor finally took time for a good long chuckle, realizing that the gale-force wind had knocked those jeans off my clothes line, over the fence and into her garden, landing daintily on her garden chair. Giggling, she folded them and when I wasn’t home, she just walked on in and left them there for me.

And that’s life in small town Canada. Where your neighbor feels quite at home walking into your house, and spending some time in your laundry room.

And where you might see a gal running down the sidewalk waving a pair of jeans. “If you see Hank, could you send him home? Thanks. He’s naked.”

by Pamela Mytroen

July 13, 2012

My E-book Dilemma - T. L. Wiens

I see the offers everyday--free e-book today only! Do I like free things? Yes, but this bothers me.

When I go shopping for jewelry, art or craft items, I can't remember a time when someone just gave it to me. In fact, most of the time, these things are quite expensive. How many of these items take years to produce?

I realize for some, writing is a ministry but for many others, this is how they pay the bills. I've heard it said many times when people are shopping at craft fairs--the prices are accepted because they appreciate the time it took to produce the final product. We need to stop devaluing our time and sell our books. If not for yourselves, then for your fellow writers who need to have the income.

July 12, 2012

Brought out - Nesdoly

With vivid description the writer of Psalm 105 details the things God did to bring the Israelites out of Egypt:

"Their land (Egypt, where the Israelites were slaves) swarmed with frogs even in the chambers of their kings .... He gave them hail for rain and fiery lightning bolts through their land ... He shattered the trees of their country .... He opened the rock and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like rain ....So He brought His people out with joy, His chosen ones with singing" (excerpts from Psalm 105).
There is in many of our histories the story of going from oppression to freedom, dotted similarly with signposts of God at work. I come from Mennonite stock. For this ethnic mix of original German, Swiss and Dutch peoples there is the story of an exodus from Europe to Russia and then to the U.S. and Canada in a quest for religious freedom.

My husband's Russian great-grandfather converted from the Orthodox faith to simple faith in Christ as taught by the Russian Baptists. As punishment for converting he was imprisoned for eight years in Siberia before he could bring his family to Canada.

The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister is the fascinating true story of a young Russian girl who, from ages nine to about 20, kept detailed journals of her life. She describes her happy experiences as part of a large wealthy Russian family. She relates how the Bolsheviks expropriated her family's property. She tells of the dreadful winter of the German occupation of Russia when she was a teenager. She does eventually get to America. Hers is a story full of the evidences of God bringing someone out with joy and singing (though she shed many tears along the way).

In addition, many of us have a personal story of being in bondage to our old life and finding new life in Jesus.

And so it might be an interesting exercise to write a Psalm 105 of our own. It could be the story of our people. Or it could be our personal story where we recall the details of God taking us out of a life of slavery to sin. (If you write such a psalm, don't hesitate to use your imagination for the details, making it come alive like the psalmist does with the rain of hail, the fiery lightning, the shattered trees, and the miraculous gushing water!)

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the way you have worked in the history of my forefathers by bringing them to Canada, and for my own personal story of coming to freedom as your child. Amen.

(Adapted from "God Brings Us Out" first published on Other Food: daily devos August 8, 2011.)

- by Violet Nesdoly

Website: www.violetnesdoly.com 

Find out about my newly released novel, Destiny's Hands. Find out where to order HERE.

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July 10, 2012

We Love Our Country, Canada - Sharon Espeseth

“Sharon, we’ve just got to write letters,” Hank exclaims again. It’s morning and the two of us are drinking coffee at the kitchen table, our newspapers spread out at right angles.

We both care deeply about our country, Canada. We both have a healthy respect for the land of our birth and its citizens. Hank’s parents emigrated from Europe and all four of my grandparents did. Our immigrant backgrounds make us empathetic toward people who come to Canada to find a better life. Canada continues to grow.

As a young country, Canada could still be considered under construction. The blueprints for this democracy are in place, but adjustments need to be made as the years go by. Any changes need to be made while keeping the integrity of the building plan. Fiscal responsibility is necessary, and we all need to do what is best for the people who now live and who will live in this building in the future.

That is why Hank and I read and view the news. My husband and I are interested in what is going on. We are watchdogs for the country we love. That is why we respond to what we read and hear. That is why we participate in politics, support the politicians we trust, and vote at election time.

For Canada Day at church, our congregation loves to sing “The True North Strong and Free.” In this song, Wayne Moss reminds us of our ownership of this country. As owners, he says, “We’ll work together to protect the true north, strong and free.”

The refrain of this anthem opens,

“Let’s build it with love,
Let’s build it with hope,
With peace and harmony . . .”

Moss talks about Canada as a close-knit family, which makes it imperative that we put our heart and soul, care and unity into keeping our country great. He closes with,

“As we take a stand, God keep our land
The true north, strong and free.”

Although Hank doesn’t consider himself a writer in the same sense I do, he keeps informed, and he expresses himself well. Both of us believe it is our duty as citizens to be awake to what is happening. It is our business to give our leaders feedback. As Christians, we need to defend the rights of individuals, to stand up for social justice, to protect the elderly, the young, the unborn, the poor, our fellow Christians.

Dear Christian Writers, as Hank urges me, I encourage you to get involved. Inform yourselves. Give our leaders feedback. Give them positives when they deserve them. Let them know when they’ve missed the target. Take a stand. Remember to pray for them.

I used to give my Grade One students, this simple to read adage: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

Martin Luther said, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.”

July 09, 2012

Where's the Good News? - Shirley S. Tye

As my eyes wondered over the online newspapers this morning, I read many headings informing about death and destruction.

At a Montreal hospital, a 50-year-old male patient jumped to his death Sunday morning. This was the second such death at that hospital within the past year. A flash flood caused power outages in New Brunswick; a two-year-old child drowned in a backyard pool in Laval, Quebec bringing this year’s total deaths by drowning in that province to forty-one; and investigators are probing the cause of a fatal BC plane crash. Near home, the town of Elliot Lake, Ontario is struggling through the after affects of a disaster. A $30 million class-action lawsuit has been filed against the town, an engineering firm, the Province of Ontario, and the owner of the Algoma Mall because the mall roof collapsed and killed two people on June 23. This disaster created a panic in some residents of Sudbury, Ontario who became concerned about the integrity of flat roof buildings in their city.

A strange headline caught my eye in the local news. Apparently there are thirty urns trapped in the collapsed Algoma Mall. I read the article. The urns along with their documentations were kept inside a funeral services shop waiting for the families to make decisions about where the ashes are to be permanently located. How strange that the dead don’t have a resting place, some sort of protective shelter. But neither do the thousands of homeless in Canada; and they’re alive.

Despite all this bad news there is good news. It may not seem like it but God is in control.

There are many situations and many people to remember in prayer.

July 07, 2012

Welcome to Canada! - Ramona Heikel

This month our Canada Day celebrations put us in the spotlight, so we look out to the world and say “Welcome to Canada!” And each year, many new Canadians who do feel welcome take part in the citizenship ceremony on Canada Day, which excites me, because I believe each one enriches a community in this country.

I feel fortunate to be surrounded at work by men and women who have come from all over the world to live here. It is interesting to learn about their native lands, and the customs, religion and foods, which they frequently share with us. I also am happy to meet newcomers in my neighbourhood, but am sad to see that many are not finding life as easy as my co-workers. Many struggle to learn English so they can find work and help their children adjust to school and a new home.

But even though it isn’t much, I have been able to help neighbours, coworkers and friends to learn English as their second language. It has been a joy to practice English as we share our lives, review grammar or spelling for an email or resume, work on homework, discuss Canadian laws and culture, and even write letters to government agencies. I thank God for bringing us together because they give so much to my life.

As an avid reader and educator, literacy is important to me, and I applaud the many volunteers and organizations that assist newcomers to Canada. Thank you, Calgary Public Library, for your free literacy programs. Thank you, too, Calgary READS, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, YMCA LINC Program, and ESL Cooperative Ministries. As a writer, one way I have attempted to support new citizens and organizations like these is by writing articles or blog posts, but I’d like to do more. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

As a Christian, I am also aware that God is at work in the lives of Canada’s newest citizens, delivering many from difficult circumstances. My prayer is that through all of us, He will draw each one to himself, and help them thrive, not only culturally, socially, economically, but most importantly spiritually.

July 06, 2012

New Land - Glynis Belec

In April 1967 we left Scotland on the Empress of England with Montreal, Canada as our destination. Mom had her hands full keeping her eye on four children and a collie dog on the long trek overseas. Dad had flown to Canada two months earlier, found a job and rented us a home in London, Ontario.

Even though I was a wee lass, I still recall pulling into Montreal thinking we had landed on a strange planet. I was to learn later that all those odd buildings and strange homes were part of Canada's centennial celebration called Expo 67. The natives did not live in round homes after all, nor did the flats (apartment buildings) look like individual homes randomly stacked like a poorly constructed Lego structure.

As I looked at the odd constructions and observed the milling people in the park-like atmosphere, my imagination went into overdrive. It was my Treasure Island.

Unfortunately, we didn't stay long in Montreal and we soon found ourselves being whisked across the countryside in a speeding train. The vision of the vast country and beautiful log cabins tucked in the hillsides of Quebec and Northern Ontario were next to capture my imagination and remain etched in my mind.  

We soon settled into our home. I recall the first 3 songs I learned in school - En Canadien Errant; I'se the B'y That Builds the Boat and in Oh Canada, the part about God keeping our land...glorious and free...well I loved it and was hooked.

I remember Mrs. McLeod, one of my first teachers in Canada. She often told me I was good in composition and that I should always try hard in English. I had plenty to write about after all and wasn't afraid to put my thoughts down on paper. I have often thought about Mrs. McLeod over the years and as a new immigrant to Canada, I remember fondly how she took me under her wing, protected me from the big boys and encouraged me to write.

I wonder if it was her encouraging words that initially made me think I could write. I believe God puts people in our path to help point the way. Maybe Mrs. McLeod was one little cog in the wheel.

I am glad my parents made the decision to emigrate and settle in Canada. I'm glad that God pressed upon my heart the need to share my words. I'm glad I still live, work, breath in the true North Strong and Free...God keep our land...glorious and free!


July 03, 2012

OH Canada! - Janis Cox

“God keep our land glorious and free”.

Those words always make me happy – and proud to be a Canadian. When I think of countries that do not enjoy the freedoms we have, my heart is heavy.

Do I take my freedom in Canada for granted? Sure I do. Born here, grew up here and live here.

We also visit the United States for 6 months of the year. We talk a lot in the community hot tub to Americans. And this is what I hear – people who are frustrated and unhappy with their governments (state and national). They like what they hear about their friends to the north, even though they don’t know much about us.

I think that might be one of the major problems in the States – how insular they have become. They think only of themselves. They grumble seriously about their governments – but that’s all they do.

Maybe if they counted their blessings, started to look at the good things they have they would see that things are not as bad as they claim.

Let us not go that way in Canada. Let us remember to pray for those in authority. Let us count the blessings we have. And if we have a legitimate complaint – let us do something rather than grumble.

Happy Canada Day everyone.

Here is another post from Janet Stobie - Canada Day.

Jan, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. She has published two devotionals and a number of articles for magazines and a Bible study. She is owner of Under the Cover of Prayer and moderates the site. She also writes atA Better Way. Jan is working on a couple children’s books in which she is also the watercolour illustrator. To connect - email Jan or visit her at www.janiscox.com.

July 02, 2012

Our Heritage - Marcia Lee Laycock

Beginnings. We like to celebrate them. We mark birthdays and break out the cake and ice cream each year. We recognize anniversaries and send cards and well wishes. And of course, we party hearty on Canada Day in this country and on the 4th of July in the U.S. Beginnings are important and it’s good that we take time to think back to when our countries first began. They both had founding fathers who were concerned about the spiritual needs of their new countries. We see it in the constitutions they drew up and in the songs they picked as their nation’s anthems. Our heritage is a spiritual one. Unfortunately, that emphasis has been forgotten.

A young man came to our church as a guest soloist one Sunday. We had just celebrated Canada Day and, in the town where we lived at the time, it was all wrapped up in the Stampede. Fire works on the first were a little anti-climactic since they’d been booming into the skies for a few nights already. The excitement of the rodeo overshadows the Canada Day events in that town. But this young man had been the singer/preacher at Cowboy Church, held at the stampede grounds earlier that morning and had been asked to come and sing for our congregation. He has a rich, booming voice and his first song caught our attention.

Then he said he was going to sing O Canada, our national anthem. I thought, well, okay, I guess that’s appropriate in a way. Then he said that he had discovered that our national anthem was actually a prayer. That got my attention.

As he started to sing the congregation rose to its feet and joined in. Then, after the well-known chorus, our voices faded away as Trevor continued alone singing words that stunned me. They are, indeed, a prayer -

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.

When the song, originally written in French, became our national anthem, this and other references to God were left out. Over the years, the original intent of the song has been completely lost.

How sad. How tragic. Though the song had been sung since 1880 it became official as our anthem in 1980. It took only one hundred years for God to be left out. How frightening. As Trevor finished singing on Sunday morning, he gave a warning that our country is a long way from what it should be, spiritually. He encouraged us to pray.

Perhaps it would be fitting to sing the anthem every day – as it was originally written. After all, it is a prayer.