Our family has a fabulous Canada Day tradition. We gather at my son’s to celebrate our oldest grandchild’s birthday. A Canada Day baby she has been our angel since her birth. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our amazing country, than to gather with family to laugh, and play, eat and share, and enjoy the fireworks. When Vanessa was little I’m sure she thought those sparkling lights in the sky were just for her.
Canadians are not particularly openly patriotic, although some of us do fly a Canadian flag in our yard. When we travel to another country we purchase flag lapel pins to give away, or bring along our T-shirt with a moose wearing a tiny Canadian flag. We’re proud to be Canadian but we see no reason to flaunt the fact.
Canada isn’t perfect for sure. Still we know we are blessed to be Canadian citizens. Every time I travel beyond our borders, my love for Canada is reinforced. In my travel’s have seen beautiful countries. I have enjoyed wonderful people. And when I step off the plane onto Canadian soil, I feel the urge to pat the ground, even give it a kiss. I am always glad to return home.
This year do more than enjoy the fireworks. Use your Canada Day celebrations to:
List the wonderful things that make our country special. Set aside your complaints and criticisms. Forget about being humble. Write them down and soak them in.
Make appreciating Canada a family project. Make a collage with pictures and words to illustrate the beauty of Canada and our citizens. Get everyone’s input – children, parents, grandparents, friends. Hang your collage on the fridge or frame it for your wall.
Give God thanks for our nation. Ask God to give our leaders wisdom and strength. Tell God you want to be a blessing for Canada and her peoples.
This year, make a commitment to be the best Canadian citizen you can be.
At least once every week, Tom’s daughter Bonnie calls with “Dad, have you time to Skype with me and the children?” Bonnie obviously loves her Dad and wants her children to develop a strong relationship with us. Three weeks ago, Tom received his father’s day card from Bonnie. Tom is truly cherished.
Fathers are important in their children’s lives. Most often, Fathers are like Tom, aware, appreciative and thrilled with that relationship. Today, with so many blended families similar to ours, that father-child relationship has become very fragile. When the children are small, fathers have to work hard to maintain the connection. When your children live with their mother and you see them every other weekend, it takes tremendous intentionality for father’s to keep up with all the sports and school events and all the other important things in their children’s lives. As the children mature, they can (like Bonnie) take some responsibility for maintaining the relationship.
God created us to live in relationship. Through Jesus, God taught us how to love one another. And God is wise. God does not force us to nurture our family relationships. We have the freedom to choose. When we choose to work at those relationships, we open ourselves to the wonder and joy that is given and received.
This year as we celebrate Father’s day, and every day, I suggest we open our eyes to see and appreciate the beautiful father–child relationships around us. Give God thanks for creating these wonderful opportunities for joy. Hold each Dad and each child in your prayers. Prayer is powerful. All fathers need God’s strength to live their relationships well.
“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” Proverbs 17:6
This past weekend while I was participating in the celebration of Women in Ministry Conference in Toronto, I learned that HyeRan Kim-Cragg, the professor of pastoral studies at St. Andrews College, University of Saskatchewan, has placed my latest book, Dipping Your Toes in Small Group Worship Planning, on the resource list for her course on Worship. Wow! I am so pleased.
Every time I go to a church gathering I hear wonderful positive reviews of Dipping Your Toes. It is fabulous to have created something that people want to buy and enjoy using. Tomorrow I place an order for a third printing. Every day, I thank God for this fabulous blessing, and for all the Spirit’s inspiration that went into writing Dipping Your Toes.
Tonight, I am very aware of the preciousness of life. I’m not sure why. This has been a good day and a rather quiet day. This morning we said good bye to our Montreal friends. I did some work on my novel. This afternoon I baked pies for the talent auction and bake sale at Keene church this Saturday. All good things, but nothing particularly momentous. Still, tonight I feet called to remind you, my readers, regardless of your responsibilities, or the state of your health, to practice the following routine:
Every evening, take a few moments to think about your day. What goodness have you received from others – young or old? What was the best part of your day? Did you notice your surroundings – see and feel the beauty of Creation. Give God thanks for all the goodness in your life.
At the beginning of each day, identify one way in which you can “pay forward” your blessings. That could be as simple as a smile for a grocery store cashier or as difficult as forgiving a friend who has caused you pain even before they’ve said they’re sorry. Ask for God’s help. Check your daytimer and look for the possibilities of being God’s blessing for at least one person. Give God thanks for the privilege of spreading joy.
It’s important to be intentional about our living. God has given you these twenty-four hours. Live them wisely. Leave a trail of joy behind you.
“This commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 14: 12)