It Really Was A Bittersweet Night

Last night I experienced the bittersweet feeling of winning and losing at the same game.

My wife, Lily, and I have a weekly standing date of attending the OHL Kingston Frontenacs’ home games.

Friday, as usual, we shared some popcorn and watched the action on the ice.

But it was a little different because, while our boys were playing in Kingston, the Canadian Junior hockey team was playing in Buffalo for a gold medal in the annual World Juniors tournament.

We got to see some great hockey in front of us, but in the back of my mind I was wondering how our national team was doing.

Part way through the game it was announced over the PA system that Canada was up 1-0.

That was some comfort, but the battle on the ice in front of us was intense.

Our boys were really playing well and dominating in many respects, but it was just a one goal game at the end of the first period.

In the second period, our guys were flying and scored two goals to put our team ahead 3-1 by the end of the period.

Back in the gold medal game, there was no more news … but when your team is ahead, no news is also good news.

Team Sweden was considered the team to beat. They had run the table in the regular round; in fact, they hadn’t lost in the regular round in 11 years.

Team Canada had one shootout loss to the United States in a snowy, outdoor affair that left all the Canadian fans chilled.

Now we were battling for the gold medal and we were ahead in the scoring.

Lily and I took a stroll around the arena at the end of the second period of the Frontenacs’ game. There was a calm, happy, “we have this game in the bag” kind of feeling in the air.

There was no hint of any trouble ahead until the start of the third period. The Fronts seemed a little flat – no energy, not skating well … and in the span of about five minutes, the Spitfires scored three goals and were up 4-3.

It happened so quickly; it was a shocker.

The rest of the period our boys threw a lot of rubber towards the Windsor net, but we couldn’t buy a goal and lost the match.

Just a five minute let down was all it took.

After the bitter loss we witnessed on ice, the arena switched to the World Junior game on the big screen.

We watched until the end of the second period where, with five minutes left, Sweden scored to tie it up.

All I could think was, “not another let down!”

Since I’m the Fronts’ team chaplain, we then left the stands to go chat with our boys. By the time we were done, there was just ten minutes left in the gold medal game so we headed back into the stands to watch.

With just under two minutes to play, Team Canada scored.

There was a celebration, not on the ice but on the big screen. We pocketed an empty-netter to seal the deal, and Canada won the gold medal.

At the same arena we watched our hometown team lose and then our Canadian team win gold. It was truly a bittersweet night. But it ended with the sweet!

Here’s the thing: There is a verse in the Bible that says you can win the whole world but forfeit your soul. That’s life’s bittersweet reality. Make sure your soul is secure so that in the end, when life is all over, you experience the sweet of Heaven.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What would be bittersweet for you? Leave your comments below.

A Canada Look-Back, I Mean Ahead

On July 1 we celebrated all that has made Canada what it is today. This was our 150th birthday.

I’ve only shared 61 of those birthdays with the country, but just writing that puts it in perspective how young a country we live in.

I’m only 14 years shy of being half as old as Canada. Wow!

My grandmother – if she was still alive today – would have only been 17 years younger than our nation. Now that would be impressive! My grandmother passed away in 1983 at the age of 99.

It’s all nice to look back on your birthday, but I want to look ahead in this piece.

When I think of Canada’s 150th, it brings a few questions to my mind that I wonder about.

One question I have is, “Will the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup in the next 150 years?”

It’s been 50 years since their last victory, but lately they seem to be making some moves in the right direction. I can wait a long time for it to happen, but I don’t have 150 years left in me.

I also wonder, “Will Donald Trump last 4 years in office, or will he even last the year?”

I get a CNN feed on my Apple Watch and 95% of the news that shows up is related to Donald Trump. I have never seen the news/entertainment industry so captivated with one person before.

Trump is like the Beatles were in the 60’s; no one could get enough of them.

As I watched TV and saw a protest on Parliament Hill, one question that came to mind was, “Will we ever come to a resolution with our Indigenous Peoples of Canada?”

The Prime Minister sat with the leaders in a teepee they had set up on the Parliament lawn. When he left, the Indigenous leaders were all encouraged and felt he had heard their heart. But a few hours later the protesters were trying to set up another teepee on the lawn.

I wonder if any real progress will be made on this issue in the next 150 years.

In light of global warming, my questions is, “Will the weathermen become more accurate in predicting rain and snow, or will the forecasts remain much the same – wrong about 50% of the time?”

Another question I have is, “With all the rights various groups have now, will we become cookie-cutter people, forced to think, talk and act like each other? … You know, shades of Orwell’s “1984”.

If that happens, it will cut down on the myriad of choices we have to make now. Things like fashion, interests, and food might not be all that exciting, but we won’t need an opinion; we will all share the same one.

Just think, when you need to buy a car, there would only be a few choices: Will that be a compact, mid-size or SUV?

I’m not convinced that what got us through the last 150 years will carry us on into the next. We are venturing into new territory.

Here’s the thing: We may have many questions about the future of our country and life in this great land of ours. We can’t foresee the answers to many of our questions, but there is an outcome that has already been determined. When Jesus died on the cross for mankind’s sins, He said He is coming back to take those who put their faith in Him to be with Him in heaven. That we can have confidence in. Make sure your faith is based in Christ because you can count on God to know the future.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What questions do you have about the next 150 years? Leave your comments below.

We Need More Than Product Selection

I’m all for more product selection in Canada, but they should also be serviceable.

The United States has a plethora of products available for purchase. One of the painful things living in Canada is finding out that, “Oh, that product is not available in Canada”.

We get so much advertising from the States that it seems like everything is available to us, whether in stores or through the internet.

But there are many products we just can’t get. For instance, if by accident you get onto the amazon.com site and then you try to find the same thing on the amazon.ca site, sometimes it’s not there.

We are used to that up here in the north, and we don’t get too bent out of shape when it happens to us. That’s just the way it goes.

There are more people in the US than in Canada so they have more of a selection and cheaper prices.

The department store, Target, learned that lesson the hard way. So many Canadians went across the border to shop at Target that they thought they could move into Canada and clean up.

The problem was they forgot two things – two very important things – price and selection. Those two things didn’t make it across the border and now we have empty department stores with large red balls at the front entrances, right across our country.

We know the prices are better and selection is better south of the border.

But if a company decides to ship their products to Canada for sale, they need to support their products.

My wife bought me a very small drone for Christmas. It wasn’t something I had been looking for, not an item I thought I would ever own.

She just knew I liked gadgets and toys and so she got it.

I’ve had some fun with it. Though it’s really tiny, it takes video and pictures.

And I’ve had fun learning to fly the thing in my basement, crashing into a variety of obstacles: Christmas tree, pool table, TV, chairs, walls – you name it, I’ve run my drone into it.

Since it’s only January, I figure I will need some spare parts if the thing is going to make it to the spring when I can try it outside without the confines of walls and ceilings.

So I got on the website and found some replacement parts I could purchase, just in case. The cost of these things was next to nothing when I totalled them all up.

I was all set to key in my credit card to make the deal when I got a pop-up window saying, “We can’t ship this product to this address.”

I’m not sure why – the world doesn’t stop at the US border! Even the US postal system will work with Canada Post to get things delivered.

… So I have this great little product, sold in Canada, but I can’t get it serviced if I need parts. Man, that bugs me!

Here’s the thing: Not only has Christ died for your sins so that you can be forgiven and live forever with God in heaven, but He will also speak to you about how to get through the obstacles and things that have you stumped today. Christ does it all: saves you completely AND helps you along the way.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: You trust Christ for your salvation … what could you trust Him for today? Leave your comments below.

My Hockey Season is Finally Over

We just celebrated Canada’s birthday, and this morning I finally hung up my skates for the season.

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That’s Canada … hockey till July! No wonder some folks down south believe we live in igloos. Those same people probably think we are still skating outside in July.

This is actually the latest I’ve played hockey in several years. There are other things that get in the way, things like golf and mountain biking.

I only have time for so much; something had to give.

I will tell you though, it’s kind of nice showing up to the arena wearing sandals, shorts and a T-shirt … and I’d much rather come out of the arena to temperatures of +25 C with the sun high in a blue sky than -25 C with the wind howling and the snow flying.

It was time to stop; the numbers were getting low. I guess people have other things to do on a Saturday morning.

We only had three aside and two goalies yesterday. It was like playing overtime in the NHL, except we did it for an hour and 10 minutes!

We even made a trade part way through the game, and my team acquired my son in a one-for-one trade.

We made a killing on the trade, and improved our team and chances by a considerable amount.

For the last game of the season, it was nice to be on the same side as my son and set him up for a few goals.

Normally, we are on opposite teams because he refuses to put a white jersey in his hockey bag. … The teams are usually chosen by light and dark sweaters, so he’s on the other side most of the time.

Before I even had kids, I remember dreaming about being able to play hockey with my children when they became adults.

Since I was in my 30’s before we started, I wondered if I would still be able to skate by the time they reached an age where we could play on the same level.

Well, it’s kind of nice now. I just turned 60, my son is 25, and we were able to dangle some moves together that hypnotized the goalie.

Lily has mixed emotions about the end of the season.

On the one hand, I leave to play at 6:30 in the morning so it’s no hassle for her because she’s still sleeping. But on the other hand, now that the last game has been played, I just added all my hockey sweaters, socks and underwear to the pile of laundry … laundry just increased by a few loads this week.

Without hockey on Saturday, I’ll be able to get at things earlier on Saturday mornings – Lily should be happy. She’ll have more of my time to coerce me into projects and tasks around the house.

Then there is some vacation time up ahead and there’s not much room for hockey when the beach is taking up most days.

It’s a good time for a break, to focus on some other things, and do some dreaming of next season.

Here’s the thing: Different seasons or times of year bring different schedules and commitments. In the changes, your time with God can get put on the shelf. As one thing stops and something else starts, be sure that you keep your time with God – that season never ends.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What seasonal activity has impacted your devotional time? Leave your comments below.

The World Is Taking Notice Of Canada

The world has taken notice of Canada … again. Though Team Canada beat the USA in the World Hockey Championships preliminary round the other day, that’s not what the world has its eyes on.

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We have a fire raging in and around Fort McMurray and 80,000 people have been evacuated from that city. The pictures and videos are horrifying and spectacular all at the same time.

Scenes of cars driving on highways with 50-foot flames raging all around – unbelievable!

They’re like video clips from a disaster movie. I don’t particularly like disaster movies, and this fire is certainly something no one wants to see have a long run.

There are some who are concerned for all Canadians, however, these people don’t really have a good grasp of our nation’s geography.

The runaway fire is in one small region of the province of Alberta. Fort McMurray is about 2800 kilometres from Kingston, where I live… but that’s a straight distance; driving distance is over 4000 kilometres. I could almost drive to Miami, Florida and back again covering that distance.

So, for most of Canada, this fire isn’t lapping at its door. It is for the people of Fort Mac and its severity has people all over the world watching.

What they really should be interested in – what the world needs to focus on – is how the people of Alberta have rallied to support and help those who are fleeing their homes and city.

My former church, Beulah Alliance, has opened its doors and arms to those who have sought refuge in Edmonton, providing shelter, food, and basic needs. But that’s just one church.

Albertans everywhere are reaching out to their fellow citizens in an amazingly, generous fashion. I heard one company owner is even providing work in Edmonton for one of his Fort McMurray employees who has been evacuated there. That’s over 500 km’s from where he regularly works!

Story after story of acts of kindness keep being reported. As amazing as the images of this fire have been, it’s nowhere near as amazing as the tales people are telling of how good others have been to them.

The citizens of Fort Mac won’t forget this catastrophe, but they also won’t forget how they have been treated either.

I just hope the world sees more than the fire pictures. I hope they get to see the giving and the thankfulness as well. It’s the “we can help” attitude that I think is so inspiring. You don’t see that every day.

I guess it takes something like this disaster to bring out the best in people. And the world is seeing Canada at its best, even in the midst of the tragedy of an out-of-control forest fire.

By the way, Team Canada plays Belarus next. I wonder if the world is watching?

Here’s the thing: When tragedy strikes, what we look for is help. We are desperate for help; we are more readily accepting of help. Sure, our neighbours can lend a hand and our family and friends will be there with support. But there is no greater help available to us than that which God can provide. It makes sense to seek His help, to seek His presence in our dire straights. It even makes sense to seek Him when there is no tragedy, no disaster. He is always waiting to give us the support we need.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What could you do to help someone today? Leave your comment below.

Three Lessons From The Men’s Gold Medal Game

I know hockey is just a game, but we can learn some things from what went down on Sunday morning. Like millions of other Canadians, I was up to watch the game.

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I had a slight twinge of pity for those living in British Colombia who had to get up at 4 am, but everyone who got up to watch is glad they did. What a game!

Team Canada dominated the play throughout and, like every other game they played in the tournament, the only thing that made it tense was their lack of goal scoring. That meant a crazy bounce, a little mistake, or a fluky play could sink them at any time.

But in the end, it all turned out just as I had thought.

And that leads me to the first lesson: When you have a feeling, a sense, or some kind of inkling about what’s going to happen, don’t keep it to yourself. Announce it!

It may be because I’m a Canadian, or maybe it’s just my lack of confidence, or perhaps nothing more than a nutty superstition, but I often keep my hunches to myself.

On Thursday morning when our lady’s curling team won the gold, I had this feeling (or call it what you will) that we were going to win both golds in curling and both golds in hockey.

Thursday afternoon I almost thought I was wrong, but then our women’s hockey team came back like Canadians to rip the victory from the USA team in True North dramatic fashion. My gut feeling was intact.

However, I said nothing of what I thought until the horn sounded to end the men’s hockey final on Sunday. But announcing then that I had this feeling Canada would win those four golds meant nothing.

You have to go out on a limb and state your convictions or predictions before they take place.  You can’t be a Don Cherry wise guy any other way.

The second lesson to learn is that it is far less stressful watching the gold medal men’s hockey game a second time. That’s right, for some reason CBC replayed the game Sunday afternoon and I found myself watching it again. I yelled up to Lily that we scored when we got our first goal.

During the first watching, I was a bit of a wreck. I didn’t talk much, I was nervous, I couldn’t look away from the TV. I enjoyed how well our team played, but my stomach was in knots.

On the second watching, I was at ease. I even did some work on my computer trying to get my email inbox to zero (but that’s another blog).

When you know the outcome of something, it takes all the nervous stress away.

Then there is one more lesson to learn from this game, and it’s this: no one should be late for church ever! I got up at my regular time, had my devotions, and showered before the game began. I finished my breakfast by the time the players had finished handing out those little trinkets before the game. Lil and I even had time after the game to watch interviews.

And we still made it to church before the puck dropped … I mean the opening song.

Here’s the thing: If you’re a Christian, you know how things end. Don’t be shy; announce it to your friends. Because you know the outcome, you don’t have to be nervous. Be confident about the future. And come prepared and expectant into God’s house to worship with your family, friends and fellow believers. It’s awesome!

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What did you learn from watching the game Sunday morning?  Leave your comment below.