Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Faithfulness in a River of Change

I recall a grade ten English class in which we considered the following truism:

“Change is like a river; you’re always in it.”

No doubt true, but we don’t always stop to consider it. In many ways, this week is about deliberating noticing change. In chapel this morning, we recognized our grade eight students who will change from being elementary to high school students very soon. On Friday we will recognize a change in staffing as we will see Mr. VanHarten (Grade 4/5) depart from us to follow the next steps of his career.  We know that some families are very soon heading toward a change in the form of a move related to work, family, health and other situations. Report cards distributed to our students on Friday will suggest a grade change to a new opportunity of learning in September.

The pace of daily life with pressing tasks, the important but not necessarily remarkable, call for our attention, and even sometimes in our own short-sightedness we are not reflective about what is changing around us and what that change means.  Often change tends to frighten, worry, or even frustrate us because it reminds us that we are not able to fully control our world as we might like to do.  And yet, in change we also often meet some of the plans the Lord has for us that are perfectly timed and masterfully created for our good.

At our closing assembly on Friday we will be reminded of the ways 2016-17 has been a year of God’s faithfulness and blessings experienced as a community of learning.  Indeed, we easily and boldly say “…the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5) Praise God for that!

Have a rejuvenating summer filled with many safe memories as you rest, travel, and work, and play.
After a rest, we can’t wait to see what the Lord has ready for us around the bend.


SJ

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Road Trips and Responsibility

“Your word is a lamp for [our] feet, a light on [our]path.”  Psalm 119: 105

I've just returned from the “near north” of Ontario with our grade eight students who took in an outdoor adventure camp for three days.  I can assure you our students were outstanding in their attitude, conduct, choices, and supportive efforts to ensure everyone had a great time. One of the things they did was to learn a new skill of finding their way from place to place using a hand-held GPS device with very specific longitude and latitude coordinates. 

Paths will diverge in just a few weeks. Many of our families have shared with me details of summer travel plans that are in place. People pour over travel brochures, websites, maps, and talk to others who have already traveled to desired destinations to ensure the experience will be all that it can be as a family holiday. There is joy in preparing for an experience that one knows will go well when adequate preparations have been made. There is also joy in finding unexpected treasures, spontaneous opportunities, and memorable coincidences along the way.

A school’s path might also be compared to a journey with bends, turns, unexpected challenges and delights. We are nearing the end of multi-month planning process to ensure that 2017/18 will be added as another great year of living before the Lord as a school committed to biblical wisdom. We know full well that we have responsibility to make steps to prepare for a great year; we also realize that we need to leave room for the Lord’s provision and the Spirit’s prompting to direct us on the right paths, some of which we don’t even know exist yet.

Please join me in praying for God’s provision of a great meeting in which we can move forward the vision of the school, “To educate children, equipping them for a life of faithful, Christian discipleship.”

SJ

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Children as Living Messages: Christian Schools and the Future

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”  N.Postman

Neil Postman penned these words in 1982 in response to what he believed to be the disappearance of childhood as result of media influence. If I think of the era my elementary years in Christian Education, and then the reality of the world I now live, work, and am busy raising children in today, I am quite sure my own teachers back then could never have predicted many parts of daily life in 2017. A connected global world, technology innovation and the deep challenge that comes with it, population surges, global water shortage and excess, and so much more. Even though the world has changed a lot since my last day of being an elementary school student, the education I received then has been one of my greatest tool in making sense of my world today.

So how does Christian education help, if we are not so sure about what the future will look like? Consider these statements I have heard from our teachers as I joyfully visit classrooms throughout the week:

“Things are beautiful and valuable, because God made them, not because we like them.”
“Language helps us value each other.”
“Compassion means that we suffer alongside others.”


 “Helping others helps us understand how we were made by God.”
“Better things happen when we follow what God asks us to do.”
“All truth is God’s truth.”

These are the building blocks that are universal for your child’s future! Know that your children are being encouraged and prepared to think deliberately, carefully, and faithfully about life. Join us in praying that the Lord will lead us as we aim to train our children to “acknowledge him in all [their] ways and make [their] paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)

SJ

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Investing In Our Children:

I’ve noticed tuition packages starting to make their way in from our families asking them to financially commit to our next school year. The investment that paperwork represents is significant. Perhaps you, like myself, have been asked why do we do this?

It is not because our academic program is superior to all others. We work hard to ensure we provide students with a diverse and robust student program to teach skills and share content. Our learning program is delivered by qualified staff who use the best techniques and resources of our age, but we are aware that other schools also are capable of this.

It is not because we have sin parked out front, unable to enter in. Although we do enjoy an above average degree of harmony and unanimity here at LCES, we do face problems, conflict, and the results of poor choices. We frame our response to them around the idea of forgiveness, restoration, and growth.

It is not because it is easy. The long road of the oldest child starting JK or SK through to the youngest completing grade eight or beyond is full of challenges for families. It includes risks and leaps of all kinds – fiscal, social, relational, faith and more. And yet, in the words of a grandparent who shared their take with me, “there is no money I have spent in my lifetime with greater joy and satisfaction – both then as we participated and now as we watch it bearing fruit in the lives of children and grandchildren.”

It is because it is a package deal. Life at LCES is joy-filled flurry of living and learning by God’s grace. Having students at LCES makes them aware of the reality of a world affected by sin, but redeemed by the incredible love of God. It is the intertwining of faith and fact, wisdom and learning, knowing and doing. It is the daily presence of a teaching staff entirely committed and vocationally called to the craft of Christian teaching. They love each child and see them as God created them – talents, weaknesses, abilities, passions and vulnerabilities - all included. It’s a vibrant community of believers, committed to a common goal and to each other. It’s a daily pattern of faithfulness that has implications into eternity. 

May you be blessed by your commitment to “impress upon their hearts” the things of God. (Deut 6:6&7)

SJ

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Everyday Courage: Doing the Impossible


“I wish every Friday could be field day.” Now that is a positive review!

These were the words of one of younger students participating in Field Day last Friday. The Lord blessed us with a perfect day in terms of weather, a positive community atmosphere, and a safe stu
dent experience as our students used their athletic gifts and talents in a competitive scene. Parents, grandparents, and other friends and family turned out in large numbers to cheer on LCES students. What fun!

A parent shared with me the joy of seeing their child be a part of an experience where students were being encouraged for their efforts by their teachers and classmates for giving their best, regardless of the outcome. “There aren’t enough places where that happens in life” said the parent. “It shapes a person. Encouragement brings life to your soul and makes you do things you didn’t know you could.”
Profound thoughts as we cleaned up the school and grounds at the close of a day. I’ll admit that I wasn’t considering such things at the moment, but it did leave me thinking: How can you describe the
value of encouragement?

In my long-distance travels I recall seeing an enormous billboard near an interstate attempting to challenge the hurried travellers with the following: “Encouragement is to raise confidence to the point where one dares to do what is difficult.” Life’s journey can become very hard. Indeed, “we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Please join me in praying that our staff and students will be encouraged in their need to do what is sometimes difficult – living as faith-filled people in a world that sometimes snuffs out hope. And remember “…there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ our Lord.”(Romans 8:39)

SJ

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Travelling In The Most Excellent Way

There is more to a race than finishing first. Sometimes finishing alone is an accomplishment.

Imagine racing across the US for 4800 kms on a bike, all alone without a support team. Coast to coast through all the weather and terrain extremes you can imagine. The winner of last year’s Trans Am race did it in 18 days, 10 minutes. (https://transambikerace.com)

How does one go about preparing and training for such an event? Endless practice to develop physical stamina, mental resolve, and deliberate strategy were no doubt involved in making it to the finish line. It is a truly amazing story that makes you stop and consider what one can do when perseverance and dedication are applied to specific goals.

Perseverance and dedication. These two admirable and valued character qualities are a requirement
for biking, but even more so – for life. Throughout the year I’ve heard these words frequently at LCES.

When those two qualities are matched with an intentional, worthwhile purpose – like easing the burden of those around us, being a faithful presence in all circumstances, an being an encouraging force, an agent of blessing by choice -  then we truly have travelled the road in the most excellent way. In doing so, we aim to “…use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace.” (1 Peter 4:10)

How good it is that we can teach our children in this most excellent way at LCES each day! May we
seek the kingdom (Matthew 6:33) with perseverance, dedication, and purpose in all we do and say
this week.

SJ

Monday, May 15, 2017

Making it Work: Moving Our Christian School Forward



“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill -

What does it take to make our Christian school work? Essentially, I would propose three things:

a) The Lord's gracious provision of committed teachers and staff, a great student program, and building that enables it all to come to life.
b) A strong sense of community.
c) Financial means to support all of the above. A number of weeks ago many friends of LCES gathered in the gym to enjoy an evening of food, fellowship, and fund raising at our spring auction.

There is something intensely gratifying about being in the company of people who share the same vision and are willing to release funds in a positive, happy atmosphere. For those who bought items or services, realize you got more than you bargained for; you advanced the cause of quality, Christian education at LCES. Thank-you for one of the most successful auction results in recent years!

In two weeks our annual golf tournament will see a group of golfers enjoying the late May outdoors, chasing a white ball all over the Forest City golf course. It too is a situation where people in our community come out and willingly give funds that enable the school to carry out its mission and vision. Who do you know that might be interested in coming? It is always a fantastic day outside connecting with friends and making new connections.

And there is more. We have volunteers who work in our thrift store, and those who pickup items to be sold. We have grandparents, some whose grandchildren have already graduated, that continue to come to the school to purchase gifts cards. Our Bright Futures capital campaign has connected us to many who have overwhelmed us with their gifts.

We are thankful for these expressions of support!

SJ