"God keep our land, glorious and free."
(O Canada lyrics)
My country is Canada and I am a very proud Canadian. There are many things I love and find pride in about Canada like the diverse landscapes, interesting and fascinating people, unique traditions and cultures and the incredible rights and freedoms we possess every day with our Canadian citizenship. I am blessed to call Canada my home and it is not something I take for granted or lightly. Today however was not a proud day for Canadians. It was instead a day of profound heartbreak for our nation that sadly will long be remembered. Today our nation mourned the tragic loss of Corporal Nathan Cirillo a young and passionate father, enthusiastic animal lover, blossoming musician and dedicated Canadian soldier. He was laid to rest in a formal ceremony in his hometown of Hamilton Ontario while a nation watched in quiet disbelief and sorrow. You see this young and promising Canadian soldier lost his life not in combat, but unbelievably at the hands of an armed assassin last Wednesday. As he proudly stood at his ceremonial post at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, I can imagine the day probably began like any other day for Corporal Cirillo. What unfortunately unfolded however has left not only his family, but the nation of Canada forever changed.
I like many Canadians was glued to the television in absolute shock and horror of it all. I wept at the images I saw of Parliament Hill which is characteristically known for its historical beauty with buildings of regal grandeur and formal elegance. Now stripped to the bone in a cloak of vulnerability, terror and bloodshed the victim of a misguided soul, the scene was so very different. Our Sergeant – at - Arms Mr. Kevin Vickers was instrumental in halting what could have been an even bigger tragedy by quickly shooting the gunman as he entered the parliament buildings. I was moved by the lengthy standing ovation he was given the next day as he carried the ceremonial mace into the House of Commons. Our nation is forever grateful to him for his swift actions and extreme bravery. Many heartbreaking and emotional images soon popped up all over the papers and on social media of Corporal Cirillo, his five year old son Marcus and his dogs who waited faithfully for a master who sadly was never to return. This is clearly a sad, sad tragedy that absolutely makes no sense.
We have been talking about Canada in my class in Social Studies. We have been studying all the aspects of our great country that we are privileged to enjoy. Understandably our discussion took a much more serious turn this week as even though the students are young, they were well aware of Corporal Cirillo’s passing and the circumstances that surrounded that. They had many questions for me yet the most common one that even I could not answer is why this terrible event happened in the first place?
Why bad things happen to good people is a question that countless people have wrestled with for many generations. It is a very difficult question to answer as many times in specific situations there really are no clear answers. The hope that we have is that we are a nation that will stand strong despite this terrible tragedy. Our national anthem states and implores God to “keep our land glorious and free.” These lyrics were not originally in our anthem. I recall as a young girl when the decision was made to change O Canada’s lyrics and insert “God keep our land.” It was an amazing day for Canada as we were literally inviting God to watch over our nation as is the opposite desire of many other countries nationwide. This is an open invitation that we continue as our country is in need of God more than ever. I have been very fortunate to have visited our nation’s capital several times with my family. We walked in the very halls that this past week became like a gruesome scene from a horror film. My brother in law was even selected from our tourist group to carry the mace into the House of Commons when it was open to the public. This was an honour we caught on camera that he did with extreme pride and great joy. I cannot help but wonder how things will change now for our nation’s capital and country as a whole?
Although there are many things that are uncertain, there is one thing I do know that a nation under God will stand strong. A nation that implores God to be the “keeper of their land” has a strong moral compass and clear priorities. We have to believe that we will come through this and rest in this assurance. It is what keeps us going and gives us a reason to carry on each day. We need to go forward in peaceful solidarity as imitators of Christ himself. As with America and their belief after such tragedies as 911, many found hope and healing in their motto “In God we trust.” It will take time but we have already seen Canadians coming together in various forms and circumstances. It is our sincere hope and prayer that something beautiful can eventually come from the ashes for our nation as we take the time to mourn, grieve and heal. O Canada! We stand on guard for thee. We stand together in this “glorious and free” nation we are so privileged to enjoy. One terrible day and senseless act of violence will not change that. With God’s help we will not allow it for Captain Cirillo's sake and the sake of our entire nation. R.I.P. Captain Nathan Cirillo. Your faithful service and courageous sacrifice for Canada will not be forgotten. You have our word.
With a glowing, yet broken heart,
Ephesian 5:1 ~ Imitate God, therefore in everything you do because you are His dear children.
Little Lesson Learned: When terrible tragedy strikes, with God as the “keeper of the land” He can bring about something beautiful in His time.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
“There are those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who say what happened?”
~ Robert T. Kiyosaki
On life’s journey you will meet many different personalities along the way. There are the friendly folk, the “go getters,” the hard nose stubborn sort, the fearful, the cautious observers and the ones who look at life as a great adventure that they will live to the fullest. Some people are easier to deal with than others, but recognizing how these personality types operate can assist us immensely in having more successful communication and relationships.
Years ago when I was leading many support groups, I wanted to come up with an engaging way to discuss different types of personalities with my clients. I recalled a creative lesson using potatoes to talk about different types of people that I had heard in Sunday school when I was a little girl. I revived this idea and added my own creative flair. I challenged my clients to think openly about each I discussed. I encouraged them to speak honestly about to whom they felt the strongest connections. I implored them to think about who sounded “just like them.“ With this is mind the infamous Tater Family was brought to life. I imagined them very much like Mr. Potato Head style characters, and each had a personality all his or her own. By introducing these characters one by one, we would launch an interesting discussion about different people in each of these categories and evaluate where each of us needed to work in areas of self improvement. It is with pleasure and great pride that I now share The Tater Family with you, starting with Dick.
Dick Tater (dictator) was a crusty old tater, with an intimidating presence. He ruled his household and workplace with an iron fist. Rules enforced by Dick Tater were meant to be followed without question. Dick Tater was the authority on anything and everything regardless of his amount of knowledge or lack thereof. People were uncomfortable around him and did what he said out of pure fear, not respect. Around him they felt very "mashed" and sadly reduced to tater tot status. Dick Tater had often held leadership positions but somehow never was able to really rally his troops and increase staff morale. He wondered why his family and staff seemed discouraged, almost beaten down when he was around. As he peppered out demands, he would insist that he had their best interests at heart and his stern methods of communications were for their own good, yet his technique was ineffective. Everyone around him was deemed the issue and it was his mission to whip these pathetic losers into shape. Much to his dismay Dick Tater could never understand why he sat alone at the lunch table or was avoided in the social circles. Underneath his very rough exterior was someone who really needed others, yet he just couldn’t admit it. When I think of Dick Tater as a father I think of Captain Von Trapp from The Sound of Music blowing his whistle and expecting his family to drop everything and come running. They came running in body, but their hearts were elsewhere I am sure.
Next was Hesi Tater (hesitator). Hesi Tater was a sweet old soul who had so many dreams and goals for herself, yet unfortunately she was truly her own worst enemy. When it came to making any positive life changes, she was always on the fence. She wanted to improve her life but what if she failed? She wanted to get out and meet people, but taking risks was so scary for Hesi Tater. Her fear and concern kept her stuck as if she was in cement shoes. She was filled with regret over all the opportunities she had missed, yet couldn’t seem to bring herself to the point of taking that risk. No one really knew what she was truly capable of because she never showed it. Her nervousness kept her immobilized. Hesi Tater always thought there was someone more qualified and suitable for every task that came across her path. Stepping out of her comfort zone was just too scary, so instead she just fretted and stewed about every life decision big and small. Her brain felt "fried" from all the intense worrying. I have met many hesitators. Hesitating on big decisions is actually quite wise, yet when it becomes a habit and it results in a person missing out on every wonderful opportunity that God has sent him or her, it is really problematic.
Now meet Spec Tater (spectator), a passionate audience member who preferred to be "roasted" in the sun. He was always in the stands faithfully cheering for the team, yet refused to get involved. When offered a place on the team he immediately declined yet offered up suggestions for people who were much more suitable, and qualified. His complacency was allowing him to literally watch his life go by and it was painful to witness. He observed what successful people were doing but did nothing to implement that into his own life. Life is not a spectator sport. Life demands that we jump in with both feet and take a leap of faith. Sometimes we win and sometime we lose but we will never know if we just stay in the bleachers. When my daughter was younger she was deathly afraid of swimming pools and swimming. We would take her in the pool with us and she would practically cut off our air supply squeezing our necks so hard in fear. It did not take a rocket scientist to realize that this kid desperately needed swimming lessons. So we did what any good parent would do and we enrolled her and her brother in swimming lessons. For weeks we talked of how fun it would be and really tried to motivate and convince Shannon. Shannon however was not buying it. For the entire swimming lessons session, she put on her bathing suit and sat on the stairs. When it came to the course completion, the lifeguards who had been so kind to her said to us apologetically that they were sorry that they couldn’t pass her in her lessons. We understood, and were very grateful for the small gains she had made of actually getting in the water. Shannon did not learn to swim just by watching, but the next session she did because she got in the water. She would never have known what she was truly capable of had she never taken the risk of getting off the stairs. Many of us are like that too. We need to stop observing and start doing!
Finally is Imi Tater (imitator). She is and was the ray of hope, the "fully loaded," superstar in this strange cast of characters. Imi Tater had gone through a rough “patch” of imitating the wrong crowd but had really turned her life around and was now a shining example for many! She had every self help book known to man on her bedside table. She watched and learned from successful people. She walked alongside them and implored them for wisdom. Openly she shared her story and struggles with candid honesty and sought wise counsel about what to do about her difficult problems. She attended church faithfully and read her Bible daily. She believed that the source of all wisdom and strength was our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ and she made it her mission to be an imitator of Him. When faced with a dilemma, she would ask herself “what would Jesus do?” This always helped her make the right choice, because she had learned the secret of what the Bible says that if any person lacks wisdom he or she should ask God, and that “in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.“ People couldn’t help commend her for her changes. She turned her life around with God by her side, hard work, wise counsel, and committed people in her corner.
So which tater sounds the most like you? Perhaps we see ourselves at different times relating to each one of them. I was a hesitator in many areas of my life in the past. I allowed fear and insecurities to keep me stuck, but I am so happy that I have really grown in that area. The good news is all the personalities have some good qualities too if they are channeled appropriately. Another piece of great advice is it is never too late to make a fresh start. I think of Ebenezer Scrooge in a Christmas Carol and how one crazy eventful evening changed an evil dictator into a kind and compassionate imitator of kindness of love. Change is possible and so exciting to witness. When I would hear my clients' testimonies about how they had changed their lives with God’s help and positive life steps it was so emotional and powerful.
Life’s too short to be a dictator, hesitator or spectator. Be an imitator of Christ and all those in life who hold the secrets to being successful. You are amazing and very capable of change. A whole world awaits you so get rid of that frown, stop worrying and fretting about what could go wrong, come down off the bleachers and really get into life as an active participant. There is a whole wonderful world out there just waiting for you that has been waiting far too long to get to know the real you. Don’t you think it’s about time?
Until next time,
Ephesians 5: 1-2 : Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us…
Little Lesson Learned: Don’t let others “dictate” to you what your life should be. Without “hesitation,” stop being a “spectator” and instead “imitate” the behaviour of those who have the right answers to life’s most difficult problems!
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
“Enjoy the little things in life for someday you’ll look back and realize they were the BIG things.” ~ Robert Brault
Thanksgiving is just around the corner in Canada where I am so proud to live and it is truly a beautiful time of year. Today I noticed a little thing some might think. The leaves had changed into their glorious fall colours and I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of it all. I have often thought of how God created the incredible trees so that even in their death they exude beauty for all of us to witness. Now I have walked by these trees day after day, yet somehow never really “saw” them until today. Life is like that sometimes. Little wonderful things can be right under our noses that we should take time to notice, yet we sometimes miss them for whatever reason. We have so many things to be thankful for that is certain, yet it is often the little things that we take for granted. We want different menu options, a larger bank account, a bigger home, a faster car, a better paying job and the list goes on and on. Sadly we forget at times those who are less fortunate and have none of these things at all.
Several years ago I was discussing different types of homes people have in Canada in social studies class with my students. Among the obvious answers were houses, apartments, trailer homes, and condominiums, yet in the discussion a very interesting “home” came up. A little girl raised her hand and said somewhat timidly “a cardboard box?” The puzzled students started giggling in confusion thinking this little girl was really "out to lunch" yet she went on to explain. On her family vacation they had driven through an area with a very high homeless population and she had seen a small settlement of makeshift homes from boxes and anything else these unfortunate people could find. Much to this little girl’s shock and dismay, her parents used this opportunity to explain and to enlighten her that that is how some people live. The student then went on to educate her classmates about how lucky we are to live the way we do and how that experience was something she will always remember. Shelter is a little thing we often do not think of as a blessing until we are face to face with someone who does not have that simple necessity. Our class conversation took a deeper turn that day and allowed us to focus on the little things in life that we often take for granted. We are so blessed to have homes, transportation, money for our needs, clothing and food on our tables. One year a new little boy entered my classroom who had recently been put in foster care. When I asked him if he would like to introduce himself to the class and share something about himself that was interesting or special he was more than happy to oblige. He proudly said his name and then he said something without hesitation I will never forget. He said “two things that are special about me are I like to eat well, and I like to be clean.” Little things that we take for granted like plenty of food and a warm bath or shower were recent luxuries that he was truly grateful for. These little things were placed high on his thankful list. It was a very humbling moment for me and I felt honored to have that little sweetheart on my class list. He stole my heart that day and I made it a personal mission of mine to make sure he felt very blessed that year under my direction.
Little things can bring us so much joy if we are open. A warm cup of tea, an unexpected phone call, a funny movie, a good laugh with friends, curling up for a nap, a warm cozy fire, or a lazy Saturday afternoon with no particular agenda can bring us such pleasure. There has been an uprising on social media about gratitude where people are making a conscious effort to recognize mostly the little things that enhance their lives and bring them joy. This is truly wonderful because we all do need to stay in an attitude of gratitude to lead the best possible lives for ourselves. Some people are the opposite. As Sebastian says in The Little Mermaid they live their lives thinking “the seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake.” They are never grateful for what is right under their nose and they are never satisfied with what they have. This is so sad and a very unhealthy way to live. It is difficult to be around these types of people as their negativity can really bring you down too if you allow it. Sometimes it takes pivotal life circumstances to help them truly see their blessings.
There was a funny story about two kids who rubbed limburger cheese in their grandfather’s mustache as he slept. When he woke up he said “This room smells!” As he walked through his house he said “This whole house smells!” When he walked outside to get some much needed fresh air he said “Wow, the whole world smells!” The moral of this story was it was him who had the issue, not the world. This is not unlike some people who have no willingness to see all their blessings. They are miserable and think the issue is with others but if they looked right under their nose, they would see that change begins with themselves and starting to acknowledge their blessings is a great place to start.
I have many body lotions and candles around the house. When my son was little he loved to smell these special little lotions, and small scented candles. He knew all the names and would take them to my mom’s house and have her smell them too. He had such an appreciation for something so small it was truly heartwarming. He would say things like “This is summer peach or this is vanilla cookie,” and “Doesn’t it smell awesome?” as he would light up with pleasure over each smelly treasure. I remember thinking how sweet it was that he thought something so simple was so special and interesting. I knew right then, I could really learn a lot from him in this area.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, what a perfect time to start focusing on what you do have over what you don’t. What little things are you most thankful for? My faith, family, friends, and career bring me great fulfillment and I am so blessed to have what I have in these areas. We all have areas of our lives that need changes or growth but no matter who we are, we still have many things to be thankful for as well. The Bible tells us to be thankful in all circumstances, not just the perfect or ideal circumstances. God wants us to cultivate an attitude of gratitude no matter what comes our way and He really does want to bless us out of His deep love and commitment to us. As the turkey is passed around the table this year, take a moment to really take it all in. Don’t let it become a ritual. Focus on those who are at your table and reflect upon God’s goodness to you this past year. Count your many blessings and be thankful! Little things really are some of life’s biggest blessings!
Until next time ~
Little Lesson Learned: A thankful heart for little things will really bless you and others.
1 Thessalonians 5:18: Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014