Thursday, August 30, 2007

The End Of Summer

I truly can not believe that the summer is already coming to an end. It has been a fast one, this one! Yet, I don't feel like I have really accomplished much at all; while at the same time feeling like I was soooo busy the whole time! Where did all that time go? As I sat down to ponder this thought, I realized that sometimes, we can get so caught up with living 'life' that we forget what the real purpose for living is --- and it is simply to wait and seek after God's will. It reminded me of the Anne Graham Lotz conference I attended last Fall --- the conference was called 'Just Give Me Jesus'. Yup...that's what life is all about --- just give me Jesus!

Some people might call it coincidence, but I call this a God-moment. Take a look at what this devotional is all about today ---
http://proverbs31devotions.blogspot.com/2007/08/pursuing-jesus-above-all.html. I read this devotional blog every day and today's entry really ministered to me in the way that I can totally relate to. Thank you God!

So, tomorrow we are off to Blue Mountain for a mini-vacation before the start of school. I am looking forward to just doing nothing up there! No...I am actually looking forward to spending some quality time with my hubby and children, just having fun and making memories! Can't wait --- because summer only comes around once each year! :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dancing With God

I received an email forward from a friend entitled "Dancing With God" and I thought it is such a fitting follow-up to my previous post "Teach Me To Dance".

So, here it is --- I, too, hope we all dance!

Dancing With God
from the heart of an unknown author

When I meditated on the word 'Guidance', I kept seeing 'dance' at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God’s will is a lot like dancing.

When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn’t flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It’s as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word 'Guidance'.
When I saw 'G', I thought of God; followed by 'u' and 'i'.
'God', 'u' and 'i' dance.
God, You and I dance!

As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

My prayer for you today is that God’s blessings and mercies be upon you on this day and everyday. May you abide in God as God abides in you. Dance together with God, trusting God to lead and to guide you through each season of your life.

And I Hope You Dance!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Teach Me To Dance

One more entry before I catch some ZZZZZZs. I want to share the lyrics to one of the songs that the African Children's Choir sang last night that really spoke to my heart. It is included in their CD entitled Devotion.

The song is called 'Teach Me To Dance' and here are the words ---

Teach me to dance to the beat of Your heart,
Teach me to move to the pow'r of Your Spirit,
Teach me to walk in the light of Your presence,
Teach me to dance to the beat of Your heart.

Teach me to love with Your heart of compassion,
Teach me to trust in the word of Your promise,
Teach me to hope in the day of Your coming,
Teach me to dance to the beat of Your heart.

You wrote the rhythm of life,
Created heaven and earth,
In You is joy without measure.
So, like a child in Your sight,
I dance to see Your delight,
For I was made for Your pleasure,
Pleasure.

Let all my movements express
A heart that loves to say 'yes',
A will that leaps to obey You.
Let all my energy blaze
To see the joy in Your face;
Let my whole being praise You,
Praise You.

A Hodge Podge Of Stuff

10 days of silence --- I can't believe I went that long without blogging!!! My head is buzzing with stuff I want to blog about so this is going to be a hodge podge of stuff.

~ First off, the reason for the long silence --- Kidz Kamp at our church this past week! We did Group's Avalanche Ranch and the kids had a blast. They learned that God is real, God is with us, God is strong, God is awesome, and God is in charge! Wahoo! --- that was the 'cheer' for the week. On the other hand, I was exhausted after making theme-based snacks for 90+ hyped-up children all week. I must say though that I, too, had a lot of fun in the process! I wouldn't trade my week for anything else.

~ On Tuesday, the kids learned at Kidz Kamp that God is with us. That evening, we drove to the airport to pick up my parents who are visiting us for a few weeks. Driving back home, we discovered that the westbound lanes of the highway were closed off because of a major accident --- a truck fire! Upon hearing the news, we discovered that we would have been in that stretch of highway at the time of the accident on our way to the airport had we not decided to drive out an hour earlier so that my son could have a longer nap on the way. We quickly discovered the truth to Tuesday's Bible point --- God is indeed with us!

~ As the weekend rolled around, I had not even done half of what I'm supposed to do for my job because of all the excitement the week had presented. Ahhh! I was getting behind on my deadline. My great hubby decided that he would take the kids hiking in the forest in our neighbourhood so that I can get some work done. Did I already say: that's one of the billion things why I love my hubby? The kids enjoyed the hike and couldn't stop talking about the toad that they saw in the forest. :-)

~ Now on to Sunday morning's sermon at church. It was on Colossians 3:10-17, about our 'new self'. The speaker referred to verses 15-17 as the 'duties of the new man'. "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

In short, the duties of the Christian are: to submit to the rule of peace; to give thanks to God; to admonish each other in the word; and, to dedicate our labours to God. Here's what the word duty means --- an act or a course of action that is required of one by position, social custom, law, or religion. It is therefore required that we do those four things mentioned above. What a great reminder and what an awesome privilege --- especially to be able to dedicate our labours to God.

~ Now, to the highlight of the week --- a concert by the African Children's Choir at our church on Sunday evening. Just to see the joy and enthusiasm on those children's faces as they sing and worship God through their music and their dancing really got to me. In spite of their circumstances, they praise God! What a sight to see! If you have not heard of this group before, I encourage you to check out their website and see where you can attend one of their concerts. It's definitely worth it!

Phew! That is the short version of my hodge-podge-of-a-week. Hopefully this week will be a calmer one!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Soul Care

I finally finished reading the book 'Postmodern Children's Ministry' today! Although I don't totally agree with some of the ideas discussed in this book, I totally agree with the author that we are to be faithful in the soul care of our children --- no matter which method or program we choose to use in our particular homes and churches.

SOUL CARE ---
Those two words stir up a lot of emotion in me.
Those two words pack a lot of meaning and purpose in them.
Those two words sum up what nurturing children is really all about.

The author ends the book with this sentence --- "I'm excited to watch the souls of the children in our care reach for the God who loves them." I can totally picture that in my mind! What an awesome thing it would be if we can make that picture a reality in our homes and churches today with all the children in our care.

We need to start with having parents and adults who love and are passionate about children; parents and adults who have a heart for God and for ministry. I truly believe that in order to make a BIG difference, we have to start with small baby steps, one step at a time. To me, this means starting at home with the two precious children that God has entrusted to my hubby and me, then extending ourselves into the church to help impact the lives of other children that are brought to us each and every week.

Speaking of starting at home, this week I introduced my daughter to 'Dare To Be A Daniel' and she absolutely loved it! She completed the online training portion in one afternoon and has been going back to this website ever since. The site is very well-done (cool and awesome); it is targeted to young people between the ages of 9 and 14; it has a message board/forum; and, it is packed with articles, testimonies and videos that are relevant to this age group. It is definitely a great tool to help young people take a stand for Jesus Christ and win souls for Him.

My prayer today is that my daughter would 'dare to be a Daniel'! Now that would be totally cool and totally awesome! :-)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bringing Faith To Life

I'm currently reading a book called Postmodern Children's Ministry by Ivy Beckwith. My intention was to gain more insight into ministering effectively to children in this day and age because I am part of the leadership team for children's ministries at our church. Little did I know that I would gain some insight about my own children as well through this book.

I went out for breakfast with my girlfriend yesterday. We chatted about the usual --- husband, children, church, home, work, life! We discussed our observation of how it is 'by nature' that children are selfish (some more than others) and that children today feel a sense of entitlement, therefore, they often don't see the need to be thankful to God for the 'luxuries' in life --- because these things are seen as a normal part of life by society. Some examples --- having steak for dinner, having their own bedroom, having birthday parties, having summer vacations, having their own computers!

I came home from breakfast and started to read my book some more --- and I come to Chapter 3: Bringing Faith to Life. A whole section on school-age children (ages 6-12), the ages that my children fall under, jumped out at me and I will share it here.

"Spiritually forming children means we help them see that in the economy of the kingdom of God being successful is loving others, showing mercy, fighting for justice, and walking humbly with God. And this is not an easy task. I work every day with what I call 'children of privilege'. These children are good kids. There's not really a discipline problem among them. They're bright and fun and winsome. But they can't imagine a world without the things they have. They can't imagine a world where they don't go to a cabin on the lake in the summer or a Caribbean vacation in the winter. What I want them to know and to practice is not that it is wrong or sinful to go on a Caribbean vacation but that because they have that privilege, they also have great responsibility to use that privilege to further the kingdom of God on earth.

During the school years (ages 6-12) a child's thinking and reasoning ability move from the fanciful and illogical thinking of the preschool child to what is called concrete, operational thinking. While they still cannot necessarily reason abstractly, they are beginning to understand and order their worlds in a logical fashion.

This shift in the way a child processes and understands her world also impacts her faith. The symbol, ritual, and story of the child's faith community are integrated into the child's personality, and the child takes these on as her own. This does not mean the child has critically evaluated the beliefs of the community and chosen them because they make sense. The school-age child does not have the reasoning abilities to do this. Instead because the chld is immersed in the community, she wraps herself in what she knows best. She emulates the people she knows best - her parents and those in the community who know her and care for her. She begins to identify with the place that provides her with comfort, safety, friends, and belonging.

This is the stage where children make active choices between right and wrong. They are now able to understand that there are acceptable ways to treat people, to make decisions, to live in communities. They get that there are rules and expectations. As caregivers, then, we need to pay particular attention to the desire these children have to do what's right. We need to show them what it means to live with integrity even when life doesn't seem fair. We need to explain to them why we act with kindness even when others are unkind. These are the years when a child's sense of morality kicks into gear. If we miss this opportunity to help children figure out how to choose good when the stakes are relatively low, we will have a tremendous challenge on our hands as the elementary years turn into the teen years and the stakes become much, much higher."

Wow! This book, which started out to be quite boring, is starting to really make sense to me. I'm looking forward to reading some more of it today. By the way, I love how the author ended the chapter --- "God wants us to be faithful in the soul care of our children, and God will take care of the rest."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

I Want To Be Just Like YOU

At church today, the message was about how we, as Christians, should live in order to be ready to meet Jesus face-to-face one day. The analogy was that of a wedding: even though the bride knows that her groom loves her for who she is, she still does her best to prepare for her wedding day and shows up at the altar as radiant as can be. She does not show up in a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt, with no makeup and hair undone!

Similarly, we as Christians should live each day in preparation for the 'wedding of the Lamb'. It is the least that we can do --- knowing that He gave up everything in order for us to have eternal life. "For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)" Revelation 19:7b-8 (NIV).

I was thinking --- it would be totally awesome if my children grasp this analogy as well; if they, too, would live each day anticipating the 'wedding of the Lamb' like a bride preparing for her wedding day. I was reminded once again that the only way for my children to learn this lifestyle is for them to see me living it. Again...what an awesome responsibility it is that we have as parents!

I'd like to end today's blog entry with the lyrics to this song, I Want To Be Just Like You. I have these lyrics magnetized to my filing cabinet beside my desk as a reminder for me to strive to be the best role model that I can be for my children. It's a song sung by Phillips, Craig and Dean. The song is from a dad to his son, but I think the lyrics are equally as meaningful and powerful for a mom-to-child relationship. Here it is ---

He climbs in my lap for a goodnight hug
He calls me Dad and I call him Bub
With his faded old pillow and a bear named Pooh
He snuggles up close and says, "I want to be like you"
I tuck him in bed and I kiss him goodnight
Tripping over the toys as I turn out the light
And I whisper a prayer that someday he'll see
He's got a Father in God 'cause he's seen Jesus in me

Lord, I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be just like me
I want to be a holy example
For his innocent eyes to see
Help me be a living Bible, Lord
That my little boy can read
I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be like me

Got to admit I've got so far to go
Make so many mistakes and I'm sure that You know
Sometimes it seems no matter how hard I try
With all the pressures in life I just can't get it all right
But I'm trying so hard to learn from the best
Being patient and kind, filled with Your tenderness
'Cause I know that he'll learn from the things that he sees
And the Jesus he finds will be the Jesus in me

Right now from where he stands I may seem mighty tall
But it's only 'cause I'm learning from the best Father of them all

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Summertime

This summer has been quite a change in routine for me. You see, since my son started Grade 1 this past school-year, I've been used to having both children at school for the whole day --- translate that to: being used to having the whole day to myself!

So, when summertime came and the children are suddenly home all day, I've often found myself frazzled trying to juggle children, home and work, among other things! The other day, I came across an article in the August 2007 issue of Focus on the Family Magazine which really spoke to my heart. It enlightened me on what it really means to be a loving wife and mother.

Here it is ---

What Remains: the 'love chapter' for parents
By: Cindy Sigler Dagnan

If I spend my days building skyscrapers with blocks, assembling cool stuff out of LEGOs and creating relationships with other moms at Starbucks, but have not love, I am only the siren of the kids' ride-on fire truck, annoyingly stuck on hold.

If I have the gift of knowing which child attempted to flush the Hot Wheels down the toilet and which one pushed her sister, and if I have faith that somehow we'll survive life's emergencies, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I save all my box tops for school and give outgrown clothing to the local shelter, and if I surrender my body to stretch marks and under-eye circles (without the benefit of botox, tanning salons or diet bars), but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient when someone isn't ready to use the big girl potty. It is kind when my husband has a hard day. It doesn't envy my neighbour who drives the new sports utility vehicle I can't afford.

It is not rude, snapping at my spouse or children when things don't go my way. It is not easily angered at perceived or real injustices.

It always protects the smallest, sweetest family confidences; always trusts God to provide my children's needs; always hopes in the freshness of tomorrow and the bright future of family; always perseveres amid hardship and doubt.

Where there are sleepless nights, they shall end. Where there are diapers, Little League and dioramas built from shoeboxes, they will cease. Where there is knowledge of baby-care trends, discipline strategies and boy-girl problems, it will pass away. Now these three remain: faith lived out in my daily circumstances and instilled in my children; hope, of one day rejoicing with my family in heaven; and love, which covers over a multitude of less-than-perfect moments.

But the greatest of these is love. It is what remains...long after I am gone.

After reading this article, I was reminded that focusing my energy on what really matters is what's most important. I am suddenly feeling less frazzled today --- even if dinner is going to be served late tonight! :-)