“[One of the] challenges has been deciphering the contrasting and sometimes competing messages we’re given from above,” says a high school English teacher. “The ministry will announce something, the board will interpret it, administrators will chime in, then the union will tell us something different, and we all shrug our shoulders and do our best to institute a messy, poorly streamlined set of directions.”
For me, Christmas will always mean baking. I grew up with a mom who made sure there were always homemade treats around, and Christmas meant triple the normal amount. I can recall so clearly my excitement when I saw Mom bring home the ingredients she’d be using over the next few weeks. One of my favourites was some sort of ball made with candied cherries, coconut and marshmallows. We also had mincemeat tarts, jam thumbprint cookies, pecan crescents, and (my dad and brother’s favourite) Scottish shortbread.
Did you know that loneliness is a bigger predictor of death than smoking cigarettes or inactivity? It’s also a huge risk factor for suicide – particularly among men.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among men, namely those ages 15-44, according to Statistics Canada; and in the U.S., white men over 65 die by suicide at three times the normal rate, and are eight times more likely to die by suicide than women in that age bracket. In the UK, 12 men die of suicide every day, and it’s the number one killer of men under 45.
A few weeks ago, I got a text from a close friend saying he was on the Burlington Skyway, the 40-metre-high bridge running between Burlington and Hamilton, Ont., and he was going to jump. It was 3:30 p.m. With two kids just home from school, I hesitated to call the police. But after this person didn’t return my texts or calls, I called 911. They dispatched cruisers to the area and started to search. After several hours of back and forth with the police, they let me know they eventually found him safe and sound. He had been bluffing. I was relieved, but angry.
“I think people are looking for a deeper experience of the Spirit moving,” said the Rev. Kristine O’Brien, from her office at Crieff Hills Retreat Centre. “They want to bear fruit, they want to connect. They’re seeking not just a cerebral faith, but an experiential faith.
The Toronto Children’s Ministry Conference was held at Wycliffe College, on the University of Toronto campus, Nov. 3. The event was packed to overflowing, with 369 people in attendance. I was there for the day, and while I can’t comment on every workshop (there were 28 to choose from!), the ones I did attend gave me lots to chew on as I think about the tweens I help lead on Sundays, and as I parent my own two daughters.
The facts are discouraging: one-third of all food produced in Canada is thrown out, every year, accounting for $31-billion worth of waste. This includes produce we bought at the grocery store and never used; food thrown out at restaurants; expired (but still good) produce, bread, etc., at grocery stores; and farmers who may destroy truckloads of fruits and veggies due to small blemishes or other imperfections.
Is there an agreed-upon idea of happiness? Can someone else’s idea of happiness work for you? Is it a never-ending endeavour? Can we ever be truly happy? How do we define happiness? How do we define meaningfulness?
In the midst of that storm, and while splashing and gasping in the depths, it was difficult to remember God at all.
The 143rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church met in Kingston, Ont., June 4-7.
About a year ago, I was interviewing the director of Crieff Hills Community Retreat and Conference Centre, and mentioned that I’d love to attend a retreat for moms with young children at Crieff. His reply? “Well, start planning one!”