Monday, July 30, 2007

Evan Almighty

We took the children to see the movie Evan Almighty last Friday. It was really funny! Hilarious! I must say that hubby and I enjoyed the movie as much as the children did. I am grateful for Focus on the Family's http://www.pluggedinonline.com/ website where we can read movie reviews with a Christian perspective to help us make the decision whether to bring the children to a particular movie or not.

Throughout the movie, the same thoughts that came to mind while we were at the Creation Museum flooded my heart. What would my response be if God were to ask me to do something totally outrageous and out-of-this-world weird for Him?!? What if?!? I truly don't know what my response would be. Truly something to ponder about!

This past Sunday at church, there was an update from a missionary couple about their work in Nigeria. They showed a video of polio victims getting wheelchairs that they can pedal with their hands. These wheelchairs enable them to be mobile, not crawl with their hands on the dirt ground, and enable them to live a more normal life.

Because it's the summer months, the children sit with us in the worship service for a little while before the children's programme starts for them so they were able to see this particular video presentation --- I'm so glad they did! Last year, when our church raised funds for this wheelchair project, my kids decided that they would each give up 8 weeks worth of allowance to give towards this project. It's great for my kids to see the result of their giving. I think seeing the video made the act of giving become more real to them than just merely giving up their allowance money for a good cause!

Well, I better end here --- it's Monday today and I should get to work. I can't believe that the summer is almost half over. It's definitely zooming by fast for us this year.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hollow and Deceptive Philosophies

I was on the piano with the worship band this past Sunday at church. The worship experience is always so much more intense for me when I'm on the band as compared to when I'm sitting on the pew. It's hard to put into words --- but, it's like I worship so much more deeply. I think I'm meant to worship the best when my hands are making music!

To add to the experience, our church recently installed a new sound system. This past Sunday, I was able to use the personal in-ear monitor system. Each person in the band has their own in-ear monitor...it was oh-so-cool! I am able to adjust how much of each instrument I want to come through my earphones. For the first time, I am able to hear all the instruments properly as we make music together to worship our God! Awesome!

But what I really want to blog about today is the sermon message from Sunday. The speaker was preaching from Colossians 2:1-15. Verse 8 in the NIV says: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." He challenged us to think about what philosophies shape our thinking. I asked myself --- what kind of philosophies are we passing down to our children?

It reminded me once again the importance of being intentional in passing down a Biblical/Christian worldview to our children especially in a society like Canada where pluralism is celebrated. A worldview is defined as the way we perceive the world around us. I think that one's worldview is not only formed by things such as education, upbringing and culture, but also by the books we read and by the media and movies we absorb.

Am I involved in my children's education enough so that I catch things taught to them that are not in line with the Bible? Am I the primary influence in my children's upbringing? Am I mindful of the culture(s) that they are exposed to? Am I watching what they read, where they go on the Internet, what they are watching on TV and in movies?

Wow...lots to think about! It's like a race...where the finish line is when the children are all grown-up and independent! I have from now until then to continue to shape their worldview --- it sure isn't an easy task! This verse is what comes to mind right now --- "...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, ..." Hebrews 12:1-2(NIV)

It's great comfort for me that if I fix my eyes on Jesus, I will get to the end of the race in one piece and the Bible is there to guide me along the way!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Blogging

It occured to me today that I'm getting used to this blogging-thing! It feels like a place where I can 'file' my thoughts away. I read this once: "If you take a little time a few times each week to jot down your thoughts, you will be amazed at the results. You will find that the small stuff in your life will feel more ordered, and the big stuff won't seem so imposing." Ahhh...so true!

Well, let's see. Lots to blog about today. First off --- eating healthy. I've been trying to have the family eat healthier after a recent scare I had with an abnormal blood test. It has been going reasonably well and the children have been gladly co-operating --- even taking Omega-3 supplements in oil/liquid form without complaining! A couple of days ago, my sister told me to watch out for the preservative benzoate and today, she told me about another one, sorbate. These two preservatives have apparently been linked to cancer.

So...I've got myself searching the cupboards for stuff with these preservatives and getting rid of them. The children started to sound worried and were asking if chips had these preservatives. Will I never buy chips ever again, they asked?!? Gasp! That would be just awful! I then asked them if they remember what the Bible says our bodies are? They promptly replied: the temple of God! I thought...good memories! I reminded them that it wouldn't be a good idea to put unhealthy stuff into our bodies for it would not be God-honouring. They were both very agreeable to that! I think that if we were to never buy chips ever again, it would be OK now. But, knowing me...I would certainly indulge every once in a while! :-)

Another thing I wanted to 'file' away today --- stereotyping! We were at the dentist's office yesterday. The very chatty hygienist wanted to let me know that my daughter will be turning quite 'bratty' as she's going to be a teenager soon. It was meant to be funny but I couldn't help but wonder why people choose to stereotype. In fact, God made each one of us unique, no two people are the same!

"For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."
---Psalm 139:13-16(NIV)

After I was done being 'upset' about the stereotyping, it occured to me that it 'just might be' possible that my daughter could turn bratty during those teenage years. :-) Can't underestimate those surging hormones! It occured to me that this is the time when she needs my guidance all the more --- maybe even more than when she was little --- to escape this 'bratty' phase.

I was then reminded of a book I once read called "Professionalizing Motherhood" by Jill Savage. The book changed my life and how I looked at motherhood! The author challenges mothers to make motherhood into a career and "to look past the surface of mothering to the incredible skills required to raise your children while nurturing your marriage." The author suggests that children will need a parent to be home full-time during their teenage years as those are the years that they will need support and encouragement the most!

While I totally agree with the author, my prayer right now is that brattiness will not come to live in our home!

Vacation Photos

Please check the left-hand side column of this page for some photos from our summer road trip!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Home, Sweet Home!

After driving 4,022.7 kilometres through 8 American states in 10 days and stopping to be tourists in 5 cities, we are back home! Our family summer road trip was a lot of fun but as my son said: "It's nice to be home!". I agree with him --- there's definitely no place like home!

Here are some highlights...

We stayed at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton, PA. The building is the old historic Lackawanna train station. The architecture is beautiful and the interior is 'fancy' according to the children! We visited the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton where they have the largest collection of steam train engines and rail cars in all of North America. My son was 'in heaven' as he is a train fanatic. It even has a working roundhouse and we were able to see workers in action restoring an old steam engine --- a Canadian National (CN) one, I might add!

We stayed one night at an old Victorian guest house owned by a Christian couple near the Creation Museum in small town Petersburg, KY. It is one beautiful house! We visited the museum the following day.

The Noah's Ark exhibit at the museum is most fascinating. It is a lifesize replica of a section of the ark. It's amazing to see its scale and to think that it was built without the aid of heavy construction equipment! And to think of how long it took Noah to complete the ark; all throughout that time, he believed steadfastly that God would do what He said He will do. That required authentic faith and pure obedience! I wondered how I might respond if I were in the same situation?!?

Needless to say, it was an awesome experience. It is utterly amazing to me that the museum opened debt-free because of financial contributions from Christians all over the world. It is a world-class museum, a must-see!

The Tennessee Aquarium was also very fascinating. My son's favourite are the sharks; my daughter loved touching the stingrays; hubby's favourite are the jellyfish that look like they have an electric light/current running through them; and my favourite is the leafy seadragon (a type of seahorse). The aquarium definitely showed us God's artistic touch in the underwater world as we saw an array of wonderful sea creatures, some for the very first time.

Lookout Mountain was gorgeous. Being on top of it at Rock City and looking down at seven states was really cool. But the coolest thing was being inside and underneath Lookout Mountain, in the caverns where Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall, is located. After walking behind the tour guide for about 30 minutes, sometimes squeezing through narrow rock crevices, we arrive at the 145-foot waterfall, which is 1,120 feet underneath the mountain. The look on the children's faces was priceless --- even to me, it's unbelievable that something so magnificent could exist underground amongst solid limestone rocks and crevices. It is definitely another example of the greatness of our God.

The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty;
Let all the earth rejoice, all the earth rejoice.
He wraps himself in light, and darkness tries to hide;
And trembles at His voice, trembles at His voice.

How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God;
And all will see how great, how great is our God.

Age to age He stands, and time is in His hands;
Beginning and the end, beginning and the end.
The Godhead Three in One --- Father, Spirit, Son;
The Lion and the Lamb, the Lion and the Lamb.

Name above all names, worthy of all praise;
My heart will sing, how great is our God.
How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God;
And all will see How great, how great is our God.

So ... we are home now for the summer. Home, sweet home! When my son said: "It's nice to be home!" --- it made me think that one day, that's what we will be saying when we get to heaven! Wow, what a thought!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Awesome God...

The universe is vast beyond the stars;
Yet You are mindful when the sparrow falls.
And mindful of the anxious thoughts ---
That find me, surround me and bind me.

That verse from Fernando Ortega's song 'Jesus, King of Angels' kept ringing in my head as we walked through the Creation Museum. Wow...our God is awesome. This museum has reinforced in me just how great and how BIG our God is. Yet He, the one that put the whole universe in place, is mindful of each one of us and cares about where we will spend eternity.

I would highly recommend this place to people who have children! Actually, to anyone --- as it was an equally wonderful experience for us big people as well. It was definitely worth the long drive! One thing I can definitely say is that Americans are a lot more outwardly passionate about the Christian faith than we Canadians are. I think Canadians have settled into a mode of universally respecting everyone's beliefs and we are timid about boldly sharing and standing up for what we believe in as Christians. Along the Interstates here, as we drive, there are billboards proclaiming God's truth; there are huge white crosses built by the side of the highway. Do we ever see those in Canadian cities? No! We, Canadian Christians, definitely need to be doing more to be the 'salt and light' in this dark world. It can start with each one of us right in our own little communities.

Okay, back to our museum experience now ... it felt good to get that off my chest!

It was indeed great for our children to be able to see just how awesome, powerful and great God is. It is definitely different for them to read the stories in the Bible than to see them unfold and come alive in a museum of this scale. Now those stories are forever etched in their minds in 'technicolour'. We are especially glad that we were able to bring our daughter here before she learns about the concept of evolution at school. Now, she is armed with the TRUTH and will not be swayed by what the secular world might teach her in the near future.

We are now in the outskirts of Chattanooga, Tennessee and will spend the next few days here visiting family before heading back home. We are hoping to be able to experience more of God's majestic creation here as we visit the Tennessee Aquarium, Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls and Rock City! Can't wait ... it is my hope that by constantly exposing my children to God's greatness, it will become a natural thing for them to want to showcase their faith outwardly with much passion as they grow older.

Summer Road Trip

She's home! My daughter had a great time at camp. We could tell that she had lots of fun there because of her talking 'a-mile-a-minute' on the drive home telling us all about her camp adventures. I can tell you that the lump in my throat and the knot in my heart has now totally disappeared!

She had one sleep on her own bed before we had to hit the road for our summer road trip as a family. We weren't supposed to leave for this trip until Wednesday, July 11 but God had other plans for us.

Hubby has a client in Pennsylvania whose server conveniently decided to break down so we decided to leave earlier in order for hubby to restore this server. God has graciously provided some extra funds, through this server breaking down, for us to be able to enjoy more on this vacation. God is good!

Our 'little' detour took us through the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I know that compared to the Canadian Rockies (we have yet to see them), the Poconos will seem like dwarfs. But compare them to the flat lands of Ontario and they are MAJESTIC! Throughout our drive so far, it's been amazing being able to point out to the children just how great a creator our God is. He is indeed the ultimate artist and designer!

How appropriate of God to detour us through the Poconos to experience His creation as our next stop is the brand-new Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. We are driving there as I write this blog entry. We can't wait to see what it has to offer. My hope is that the children will be able to see the Bible come alive in this museum; that the majesty of God will become even more real to them.

Majesty, worship His majesty;
Unto Jesus be all glory, honour and praise.
Majesty, Kingdom Authority;
Flow from His throne, unto His own, His anthem raise.

In the meantime, my daughter is still talking 'a-mile-a-minute' about camp while we drive. There are lots of opportunities for talking as we will be driving a lot of miles on this road trip! One thing that was obvious to us during her time away at camp was that it was really q-u-i-e-t at home! There are times during our drive that I am thankful for the dual-screen DVD player that we brought along for the quietness it can command while we are in our vehicle! :-)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

I'm Surviving...

One more sleep and my daughter will be home from camp! Yipee! All week, I've had this lump in my throat and knot in my heart. It felt very weird not having her here at home with us especially at night time when I see her empty bed.

Yesterday afternoon, my son went to a friend's birthday party. We usually stay with him at parties because of his peanut/nut allergy but this time he announced that he's ready to be left all by himself as he's a big boy now. Right after dropping him off, the lump in my throat and the knot in my heart suddenly doubled in size.

Oh, the joys of motherhood eh? I asked my hubby how I can expect to survive if these kids choose to go away for university?!? It occured to me that they are starting to grow wings to fly! My babies are growing up.

Are they ready to go out and face the world? Have we prepared them enough and taught them adequately? Are they suited with the full armour of God --- the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, the word of God?

That is precisely our calling as parents ... to equip our little ones with the full armour of God so that when the time comes that their wings are fully grown, they will be ready to fly!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Lesson from the Tamagotchi Toy

A teachable moment ... I caught one today!

My son has one of those Tamagotchi toys. He was playing with it this morning. He proceeds to tell me that the Tamagotchi king has not sent robbers to take 'money' from his Tamagotchi in a while, because he's made sure that his Tamagotchi donates money to the king regularly.

My son describes the Tamagotchi king in one word: crummy.

We've been teaching our children the concept of tithing this past year with the aid of a 'giving piggy bank' and their allowance money. So ... I asked my son why (in the real world, as opposed to the Tamagotchi world) do we give money to the church.

We talked about God being the giver of all that we have, that God owns all in the first place, that's why we practice giving back to Him. We talked about giving back to God as a form of worship. We talked about giving not only our money, but also our time and our talents. We talked about how awesome it is to have a part in moving God's work forward in this world through our giving.

We also talked about how we are grateful that God is not like the Tamagotchi king ---crummy. God doesn't send robbers to rob us when we fail to give our best. When we do not give our best and our all, God still loves us.

I got thinking --- if God is like the Tamagotchi king, we would all be in serious trouble! We serve an awesome God. Giving back to Him should be the most natural thing for us to be doing. This is certainly something for me to ponder upon today --- am I giving my best and my all back to God or am I using my God-given time and resources for personal gain and purposes?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Yesterday, Today and Forever

My little boy and I are home alone today, as my daughter is away at camp and hubby is at work. It's been nice to have this time alone with my boy. It's brought back memories for me when he was still in Kindergarten and was home every afternoon with me.

So, while I was doing some work on the computer this morning, he was on his. While playing one of his games, he broke out singing, out of the blue:

Yesterday, today and forever;
You are the same, You never change.
Yesterday, today and forever;
You are faithful and we will trust in You.

It warmed my heart hearing those words come out of his mouth. I then wondered what those words mean to him...so I asked him. Innocently, he said: "Mom, it means, God will never change!" We then talked about how God's love for us never changes, He will always be there for us, He will always know what's best for us.

I'm so glad I caught him singing today and was able to take advantage of that teachable moment. At times, I am so engrossed working on the computer that I tune out what the children are saying (or singing, in this case).

I was reminded today of what the Bible teaches us: "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 12:7 NIV. I was reminded today that I am to be teaching my children about God at each and every opportunity that I have.

Teachable moments...I will be looking out for those as often as I can!

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Whole New World...

Blogging world...here I come! This is all new to me and I'm sure excited and eager to get started. This will be a great tool to keep family and friends in touch and updated on what's happening with us from time to time.

Aside from keeping family and friends updated and connected, I hope to be able to express my thoughts here on what it means to me personally to be 'a mom on a mission'...the Bible says: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward." Psalm 137:3 NASB. The Bible also teaches us to: "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6 NIV.

Wow, what an awesome responsibility! Jesus also said: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14 NIV. To me, parenthood is the single most demanding, yet rewarding, job there is on earth. God has entrusted these little people to us and we are to ensure that we do our utmost best in raising them up to be great men and great women of faith!

I once read these quotes from a little book called 'God Is In The Small Stuff' and they have really stuck with me: "Teach your children by your words (make sure they are kind), by your actions (make sure they are wholesome), and by your temperament (make sure it is controlled)." Also: "Kiss your kids good-night every evening, even if it wakes them up."

I won't be able to kiss my little girl good-night all of this week as she is off to her very first overnight camp! Actually, she's my 'not-so-little-anymore' girl, she's 10 years old! She's only been gone for less than 6 hours and I miss her already. Will I survive the week? I know she will and that she'll have tons of fun with friends, at the same time learning lots about God's love for her...it's time for Mom to grow up, eh?