Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve already!  This year has gone by way too quickly... it has been an interesting year for our family, to say the least!  It brought us... hurting, unsettling, searching, deciding, waiting, growing, maturing, knowing, accepting, realizing, beginning.

Many emotions, many decisions.  But, in all... God's presence, His grace.

Truly grateful for grace!

As we look forward to the New Year, a new beginning, we are filled with anticipation of what God has in store for our family.  We hope for 2011 to be a year of unwrapping more of His love in this world for our family.

As we seek to do that, I think the best way to discover these opportunities is to live in the moment of each day, to savour each new day... in order to be intentionally aware of the pressing needs of those around us and around the world.  

I read a quote about fully living in the moment by Ann Voskamp and found it to be very much in line with my thoughts this morning.  Here it is:   
Time is a relentless river and it rages on, respecter of no one.
And the only way to slow time is this: Enter fully into the current moment and the stream of time slows — slows — with the weight of a soul’s full attention.
We slow the torrent by being all here.
Life at its fullest is this sensitive, detonating sphere, and it can be carried only in the hands of the unhurried and reverential — a bubble held in awe.
May our family be unhurried and reverential in 2011... always ready to unwrap more of His love in this world! This is my humble prayer.

Unwrapping more of HIS love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Prayer for the New Year

I came across this prayer while surfing Facebook this morning.  I love it... therefore, re-posting it on here.  May this be my prayer for the New Year, 2011!
A New Year’s Prayer
(author unknown)
Holy Father,
God of our yesterdays, our today, and our tomorrows.
We praise You for Your unequaled greatness.
Thank You for the year behind us and for the year ahead.
Help us in Your new year, Father, to fret less and laugh more.
To teach our children to laugh by laughing with them.
To teach others to love by loving them.
Knowing, when Love came to the stable in Bethlehem, He came for us.
So that Love could be with us, and we could know You.
That we could share Love with others.
Help us, Father, to hear Your love song in every sunrise,
In the chirping of sparrows in our backyards,
In the stories of our old folks,
And the fantasies of our children.
Help us to stop and listen to Your love songs,
So that we may know You better and better.
We rejoice in the world You loved into being.
Thank You for another new year and for new chances every day.
We pray for peace, for light, and for hope,
That we might spread them to others.
Forgive us for falling short this past year.
We leave the irrepairable past in your hands,
And step out into the unknown new year knowing You will go with us.
We accept Your gift of a new year and we rejoice in what's ahead,
Depending on You to help us do exactly what You want.
I say it again, we rejoice!
In Jesus name,
Amen.
Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011... Almost Upon Us!

On Christmas Day, our whole family agreed that our birthday gift for Jesus is to continue unwrapping more of His love in this world in the New Year as we've practiced throughout the Advent season with the help of Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Journey.

My son had an additional birthday gift for Jesus, which is personal in nature.  I am choosing not to share its detail right here on my blog... but what I can say is that it made this mama's heart swell... I am ecstatically happy, extremely humbled and eternally grateful!

We have been truly blessed by Ann's words this past Advent... each night as we read together as a family, we grew together in love for each other, for others and for our God.  Truly, truly priceless... a very memorable Christmas indeed.

Our first post-Christmas act of unwrapping more of His love in this world is my son's idea.  He has decided to set aside more than 1/3 of his Christmas money to buy socks and underwear to donate to Gateway, a shelter and drop-in center for adults experiencing homelessness in the downtown core of Toronto.  Again, this mama's heart is happy!  God is growing my boy... in ways that I cannot!  I am eternally grateful for grace.

Over the Christmas break, we were able to attend the Christmas Open House at Gateway.  We were also able to watch this video about their work:

Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video.  The video is about 50 minutes in length but it is well worth the time.


The Open House and the video touched our family profoundly... we knew we had to get involved and support the work of Gateway.  Unfortunately, they do not allow children to volunteer... therefore we needed to think of other ways to support them.

Hence, the socks and underwear idea.  They are the top two items listed on the list of things they are always in need of.  With my son's Christmas money, we were able to buy 40 pairs of socks and 36 pairs of underwear!!!  We have also chosen to give our yearend donation to Gateway this year.  We want to be a part of being the hand of God in the heart of the city.

Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!
 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our Christmas in Photos...

Here's a glimpse of how Christmas Day was at our house this year... we had a very peaceful and awesome day!  God is good.  Merry Christmas, everyone!!!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Graces...

Today, I am thankful that Grace came for us that very first Christmas Day...
... the angel reassured them. "Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!"
--- Luke 2:10-11 (NLT)
191.
For Jesus... who is God, but chose to be born here on earth as a baby that very first Christmas Day for you and for me!

192.
A warm bed to take a nap in... to get better from this cold I'm having.

193.
Christmas baking... treats for our neighbours and my kids' excitement!

194.
My hubby... he works hard.  I am blessed.

195.
Take-out food... when I don't feel like cooking.

196.
Lunch with a good friend of mine, my girl and her good friend!  Girls' day out.

197.
A day for my son to tag along with daddy to a couple of his clients' offices.

198.
Couple weeks off work during the Christmas break... more time with family!

199.
Words written on a Christmas card for hubby from one of his clients... it says:
You are an incredible servant leader.  We are so grateful for you.
I am thankful for God's gift to me --- a wonderful husband and best friend! Indeed a servant leader.

200.
Our "tame" schedule this year for the Christmas holidays... I am enjoying the serenity, calmness and quietness.

201.
An unexpected year-end "gift" from my boss... God is good!

202.
Christmas morning... for the thrill and excitement, but most of all thankful that Love was born for you and me!

Christmas has come and gone, but the Christ of Christmas is forever with us.  Our family is truly grateful for having gone through Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Journey for the Advent season.  It has blessed us.  Merry Christmas, my dear friends. 

Here I am.  Lord, send me!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Manger and The Cross

Merry Christmas!  Today, I am eternally grateful that Love was born that very first Christmas day...

Here's a video that illustrates that very well.  Enjoy!

Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video.
the cross in christmas from tammi dryden on Vimeo.
When Love Was Born
By Mark Schultz

Starlight shines, the night is still
Shepherds watch from a hill
I close my eyes, see the night
When love was born

Perfect Child gently waits
A mother bends to kiss God's face
I close my eyes, see the night
When love was born

Angels fill the midnight sky, they sing
Hallelujah, He is Christ, our King

Emmanuel, Prince of Peace
Love come down for you and me
Heaven's gift, the holy spark
To let the way inside our hearts

Bethlehem, through your small door
Came the hope we've waited for
The world was changed forevermore
When love was born

I close my eyes, see the night
When love was born

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So Cute... Watch This!

Here's an adorable dramatization of the Christmas story!  Enjoy...

Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog while you watch this video.


Three more days to Christmas... waiting.
Here I am.  Lord, send me!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sufficient For Me...

Today I am grateful for the words of the song Enough by Chris Tomlin --- ♪♫ "All of You is more than enough for all of me, for every thirst and every need. You satisfy me with Your love, and all I have in You is more than enough." ♫♪
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
---Psalm 23:6 (NLT)
176.
Hot cup of tea on a frigidly cold wintry day.

177.
God can transform anyone... that He is still in the business of making people new!  Day by day... in His time.

178.
A sound mind.

179.
Snowflakes... how each one is unique.  How God made each person to be unique too.

180.
That God knows just how much I can handle... and His grace is sufficient for each new day.

181.
Christmas cards sent to our family... all in a pile, each one waiting to be read on Christmas Day.

182.
Wrapping presents...

183.
Presents that don't need wrapping... such as Gifts of Compassion.  Will you consider giving them as gifts this year, too?

184.
Grandparents visiting...

185.
God reminding me of the verses from Isaiah 43:18-19...
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
186.
My girl's first basketball game with the Intermediate Girls' Basketball Team at school --- they won!

187.
My completely healed shoulder.

188.
School's out!  Let Christmas begin...

189.
Delivering Christmas presents to 29 under privileged children who live in one of the neediest communities in our city.  Grateful for the families who came alongside us to help provide many of the presents.

190.
First get-together of the Christmas holidays --- with friends, who are just like family!  This group started with the friendship of 5 teenage girls... 22 years later, we are now 30 people in total!  Very thankful for my sisters, my friends!!!

It's the week of Christmas, my friends!  Our household is bursting with excitement and anticipation.  We are nearing the end of Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Journey and it has indeed been a great journey as we continue waiting --- as we anticipate celebrating God's gift to us that very first Christmas day!

Here I am.  Lord, send me!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Camp Freedom Christmas Party

Note to my sister: This is your girl!

Last night, our family had the opportunity to attend a Christmas party.  It was a party for the kids at UrbanPromise's Camp Freedom.  Camp Freedom is located in the Jane/Finch neighbourhood of our city --- considered one of the neediest communities in Toronto.

We had a GREAT time and had lots of fun.  It started with us playing some board games and colouring with the kids; then a very active worship time; then singing of Christmas carols; then a simple dinner of chicken and fried rice, ice cream and cupcakes from Sandy's Sweets; then a SURPRISE for the kids.

The SURPRISE was the best part, in my opinion! :-)  It was when the kids were told they will each get a Christmas present to take home.  You should have seen and heard the cheers that erupted from the group.

Here's a video of when the presents were being distributed.  Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch the video. 


I am truly grateful for the families God sent to help us provide these presents.  This was a project that our family decided to take on just after Thanksgiving this year.  There were 29 children to buy presents for... it was a lesson in faith.  God was teaching me to say "YES" first to what He wants our family to do, then He will send the provision.

My sister heard me talking about this project and got the ladies in her Bible study group interested.  They generously stepped up and "adopted" children from the list of 29 to buy for.  Other friends who heard about this project from me also participated.  It was certainly a group effort --- truly a picture of Christ's church working together to be His hands and His feet for the most vulnerable of society!

Here I am.  Lord, send me!

Here are some photos from last night:

Hubby striking up a conversation with the kids.
This is Julius, aka "Kuya" --- Camp Freedom's Site Supervisor.
Enjoying a game of Snakes & Ladders.
She is showing us her collection of Silly Bandz.
These girls sat at our table during dinner.
Colouring.
Dessert is served!
Cupcakes from Sandy's Sweets!!!
They disappeared very quickly! :-)
Enjoying dessert...
Yummy ice cream!
Note to Sandy: This is your boy!
Here I am chatting with "Kuya" on how to divert 3 of the presents.  Three of the kids on the list have left the program and three others have joined.  We were able to match presents to new kids (gender and age specific)... even details like that God had already prepared!!!  God is good.
Great end to an AWESOME evening!



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Consider Gifts of Compassion this Christmas

Are you done Christmas shopping yet? I finally am!!! I try to avoid going to the mall around this time so I make sure to finish all my Christmas shopping early... I start in November.

But, there is always that hard-to-buy-for person on everyone's list, isn't there? I have a few of them on my list, too. This year, would you consider Gifts of Compassion for that special someone?

What are Gifts of Compassion, you might ask?
Well... it is an online catalog of gift alternatives for friends, family and clients. No crowds, no lines, no stress - just a gift that will help make a difference in the life of a child living in one of the poorest communities of the world. These gifts help provide clean drinking water, medical treatment, disaster relief, food supplies and much, much more for Compassion-assisted children and their families. Meet real needs and bring real joy with a Gift of Compassion.

Gifts include mosquito nets, soccer balls, chickens, goats, water filters, farm equipment, clean water and more. Gift prices range from $10 to $5000.
It will be the best gift you have ever given someone!  Or yourself... trust me. :-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Favourites From...

... C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Eustace being un-dragoned, not on his own strength, but by the grace of Aslan alone. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 7.
“Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly towards me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn't that kind of fear. I wasn't afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it - if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn't any good because it told me to follow it.”
“You mean it spoke?”
“I don't know. Now that you mention it, I don't think it did. But it told me all the same. And I knew I'd have to do what it told me, so I got up and followed it. And it led me a long way into the mountains. And there was always this moonlight over and round the lion wherever we went. So at last we came to the top of a mountain I'd never seen before and on the top of this mountain there was a garden - trees and fruit and everything. In the middle of it there was a well.
I knew it was a well because you could see the water bubbling up from the bottom of it: but it was a lot bigger than most wells - like a very big, round bath with marble steps going down into it. The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said any words out loud or not.
I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that's what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.
But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.
Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.
Then the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know - if you've ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.
“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phoney if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they've no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them.
After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me –”
“Dressed you. With his paws?”
“Well, I don't exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes - the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream.”
“No. It wasn't a dream,” said Edmund.
“Why not?”
“Well, there are the clothes, for one thing. And you have been - well, un-dragoned, for another.”
“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace.
“I think you've seen Aslan,” said Edmund.

Aslan, the great Bridge BuilderThe Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 16.
But between them and the foot of the sky there was something so white on the green grass that even with their eagles' eyes they could hardly look at it. They came on and saw that it was a Lamb.

“Come and have breakfast,” said the Lamb in its sweet milky voice.

Then they noticed for the first time that there was a fire lit on the grass and fish roasting on it. They sat down and ate the fish, hungry now for the first time for many days. And it was the most delicious food they had ever tasted.

“Please, Lamb,” said Lucy, “is this the way to Aslan's country?”

“Not for you,” said the Lamb. “For you the door into Aslan's country is from your own world.”

“What!” said Edmund. “Is there a way into Aslan's country from our world too?”

“There is a way into my country from all the worlds,” said the Lamb; but as he spoke his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”
“I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan. “But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder…

On getting to know Aslan by his other nameThe Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 16.
“Please, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Before we go, will you tell us when we can come back to Narnia again? Please. And oh, do, do, do make it soon.”

“Dearest,” said Aslan very gently, “you and your brother will never come back to Narnia.”
“Oh, Aslan!!” said Edmund and Lucy both together in despairing voices.
“You are too old, children,” said Aslan, “and you must begin to come close to your own world now.”
“It isn't Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

Grace So Amazing

Amazing grace... I am counting them, one by one, with a full and grateful heart.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.  That saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found.  'Twas blind, but now I see.
How precious 'tis that grace appeared, the hour I first believed.
--- Words from the hymn Amazing Grace by John Newton, 1779
153.
Beautiful walk to school with my boy on a snowy Monday morning.  I am reminded of the words from Isaiah 1:18... "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow."  Thankful for God's amazing grace.

154.
Thankful for The Manger and eternally grateful for The Cross...

155.
For my hubby... who likes to play those board games that require thinking (such as Mastermind) with my boy!  So thankful I don't have to do that... :-)

156.
The smell of Christmas cookies baking in the oven.

157.
Eggnog!  Yummy!

158.
Chats with my girl... she gives me perspective.

159.
Gently falling snow.

160.
Warm clothes for this very chilly wintry weather we are having.

161.
The scent coming from my fresh Christmas wreath.

162.
Our home all decorated for Christmas... and for Christmas music while I work in the kitchen!

163.
Our family chats... on why we do the things we do and why we choose to do without some material things.  Grateful for the privilege of molding young souls and guiding them in Jesus' ways.

164.
A trek downtown for my workplace's Christmas lunch.  Thankful that I get to work from home the rest of the year! :-)

165.
Acupuncture... helping to heal my injured shoulder.

166.
More hours at work in the New Year (hopefully a temporary thing!)... although it's not my preference to work more, I am thankful for God's provision through my job.

167.
Fridays... and the looking forward to weekend activities with the family!

168.
My hubby... his integrity and work ethic.

169.
An unplanned tea time with a friend at her kitchen table... encouraging conversation.  I saw her waiting for a bus on a frigidly cold day this week and offered to drive her home.

170.
Our family making and serving dinner to over 100 homeless folks with my sisters and their hubbies.  Our Christmas wouldn't be complete without serving at Out of the Cold.

171.
Strength to do the above even with my weak shoulder/arm. Very thankful for grace...

172.
A broken heart... having a hard time reconciling the stark contrast between homelessness and wealth.  After serving at Out of the Cold, we drove home to a neighbourhood with huge houses alit in Christmas lights... the contrast hit me very hard!  The words of the song Hosanna is ringing very true...
♪♫ Break my heart for what breaks YOURS... ♫♪
173.
A quiet Sunday morning just to sit and reflect...

174.
Watching a Christmas skit with little toddlers in it... so cute.

175.
The new Narnia movie --- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Thankful for C.S. Lewis' gift of words, imagery and symbolism... and the lessons found within.

My friends... 12 more days to Christmas!  As our family continues to observe Advent with Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Journey, each day we are more and more in awe of God's amazing grace --- His gift to us that very first Christmas day!

Here I am.  Lord, send me!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Newest Narnia Movie

"I am," said Aslan.  "But there I have another name.  You must learn to know me by that name.  This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."
Our family went to see the newest Narnia movie tonight --- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  It is a must-see!  The quote above is Aslan's response to Lucy and Edmund's question asking him if he is also in their world.

There are many parallels between the movie and life itself. This particular book, in all of The Chronicles of Narnia, most resembles a Christ-follower's journey here on earth.  The imagery and symbolism are very powerful... and the lessons definitely worth learning.

I am most grateful that my son got this from the movie: Eustace (Lucy and Edmund's cousin) became a better person, not by his own strength, but only by the grace of Aslan.

What a great and valuable truth!  One I'm glad my son got reminded of tonight.  Thank you, Lord!

Break My Heart For What Breaks YOURS...

♪♫ Heal my heart and make it clean.
Open up my eyes to the things unseen.
Show me how to love like YOU have loved me.
Break my heart for what breaks YOURS.
Everything I am for YOUR Kingdom's cause.
As I walk from earth into eternity. ♫♪
The words of the song by Hillsong called Hosanna is ringing very true for me on this Sunday morning.  Last night, our family (together with my sisters and their hubbies and a few other friends) together made and served dinner to over 100 homeless folks.

My sisters and I have been doing this for years now... I don't think Christmas will be complete without us organizing a dinner at Out of the Cold.  The homeless folks (some of whom have been back for many years) have come to expect a Chinese dinner from us every single year!  :-)

After hours of hard work... our whole group of 13 people decided to descend upon an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant where we collectively spent about half the dollar amount it cost to feed dinner to over 100 homeless folks.  We ate to our hearts' content... after all, we were hungry after working so hard!

As we drove home and entered our neighbourhood, our family was dazzled by the display of Christmas lights on some of the bigger homes in our neighbourhood.

At that moment... the lyrics of the song Hossana hit me hard.  This is what breaks the heart of God... the stark contrast between homelessness and wealth... coupled with an attitude of apathy.

At that moment... the very same thing broke my heart too.  I said to hubby and the kids... how do we reconcile this stark contrast?  While we try to do our part... sometimes, there just aren't enough answers. :-(

Our family will continue to do Out of the Cold dinners for as long as there is a need.  There will always be a need...

Would you consider doing something similar?  Starting this Christmas? 

Here I am.  Lord, send me!

Here are some photos from last night...






Thursday, December 9, 2010

Soul Stretchmarks

As Christmas approaches and the things-to-do and the people-to-see start occupying the pages of my calendar, I find it helpful each morning to just put things into perspective.  To sit and reflect, to read and think, to focus and pray.

This morning, I read a great blog post by Ann Voskamp on the (in)courage website.  Here are some of her words...
Mary’s stretched.
To be a dwelling place of God, a womb for Christ, means to be extended, taken to one’s outer edges… stretched.
To be a womb for God means there will be stretchmarks.
This may hurt. I may feel weary. These days may not be easy.
To be a womb for Christ, I’ll feel my inner walls, my boundaries, stretch.
Stretching the shape of a soul hurts.
I pray for the soul stretchmarks.
And I am expecting Christ.
Great words of reminder for me especially as I think back to last Christmas and feel the need to make sure a certain ugly situation does not happen again.  As I allow myself to go there, stressful and anxious thoughts flood my mind...

I am greatly thankful for Ann Voskamp's timely blog post this morning... it is certainly God's timing!  I want to be a dwelling place of God... therefore I will give thanks for soul stretchmarks.  Grace has been and is still freely given to me... therefore I must freely extend grace to those around me.

Here I am.  Lord, send me!  

Monday, December 6, 2010

December Madness

This month of December always seems to have a life of its own, doesn't it?  Our calendars get booked up way too quickly and it seems like there isn't enough time to accomplish everything that needs to be done.  Everyone is hurried... lost in the hustle and bustle of the season.

Well, I am determined to stop the madness this year!  Our family is very much benefiting by slowing down each night of this Advent season and reading a devotional, Jesse Tree Journey by Ann Voskamp, together.  It's been like food for our souls... well, for my soul, at least.  I can't speak for my whole family... but I do think they are enjoying it as well.

It has also reinforced in our hearts and minds what Christmas is really all about.  Speaking of which... I better end this blog post and start my grocery list.  

This coming Saturday, our family (together with my sisters and their families) will be making/buying food and serving a dinner for 110 homeless folks in the City of Toronto.  This is done through a program called Out of the Cold.  This is the first of two dinners we are in-charged of this winter... the second one will be in January!

I'm going to end this blog post with a question today.  So... what do you want for Christmas this year?  Here's a video to help you decide... enjoy!

Here I am.  Lord, send me!

Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video.

Christmas Change from Kujilana on Vimeo.

Endless Gifts of Grace

I am in awe of these endless gifts of grace.  Counting them has been a blessing to me... totally what I need for this season of my life.  Thank you for grace.
Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. ---1 Timothy 1:14 (NLT)
132.
Writing letters to our Compassion children... a great Sunday evening activity for our family.

133.
yummy all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ dinner... celebrating a nephew's birthday. Burp. :-)

134.
Ice cream at Dairy Queen... that they wipe their equipment clean and re-wash their hands before serving my boy who is anaphylactic to peanuts.

135.
That the chocolate sauce at Dairy Queen is safe for my son!  Yipee... he can now have chocolate dipped cones.

136.
In quietness and trust... being still and knowing that HE is God.

137.
Busy week... sustained by God's grace.

138.
Shoulder injury slowly healing... almost back to normal.

139.
Awesome talks by the Teaching Pastor of a church we're considering to call home.

140.
Celebrating Advent using the Jesse Tree Journey, a free Advent resource written by Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience.  Thankful for Ann's beautiful words.

141.
Seeing the work of Gateway firsthand as our family attended their Christmas Open House.

142.
Chipotle Grill... great food!

143.
Mailed Christmas presents to out-of-town family and friends... thankful for Christmas and the spirit of giving.

144.
A lovely mid-week lunch with my sisters.

145.
My daughter feeling good about her performance at tryouts for the girls' basketball team at school.  Praying that God gives her the desire of her heart! :-)

146.
And HE did!  Oh happy day --- my girl made the school's basketball team!  So proud of her.

147.
Our family being able to pack an AIDS Care Kit for the first time... great project!  Great way to give hope this Christmas.

148.
Visiting my friend who is sick... I am awed by God's goodness and humbled by His grace.

149.
It's been a while since I played piano for a worship service.  I did on Sunday afternoon for my sister's church... my soul is happy!

150.
Feeling more and more at home with a church we've been visiting these past few months.  I felt peace worshiping there Sunday morning... with God clearly speaking to me about a specific thing.  God is good!

151.
First snow fall of the season... it's so beautiful outside!

152.
Safe drive home in the heavy snow fall... a 15-minute drive home ended up being 2 hours long!

My friends... I hope you, too, are in awe of His endless gifts of grace for you!

Here I am.  Lord, send me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Is Here!

Well, wouldn't you know it?  December is here... which means the most wonderful time of the year will be here in no time!  Our household loves Christmas!

This year, we are actually observing Advent.  We are reading an Advent devotional each night.  It is called the Jesse Tree Journey written by Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience.  The best part of it, in my opinion, is that each day's devotional ends with unwrapping more of His love in the world --- a call to action.  Each member of our family is asked to do or give a simple thing each day --- a gift --- that demonstrates unwrapping more of God's love in the lives of people around us.

Today we are to create something with a gentle heart of love that would be good (a letter, a treat, a surprise) for someone.  Hmmmm... what should I do?  I wonder what my kids will do?

Speaking of Advent... here's a great video from the website Advent Conspiracy.  It's a great reminder to our family on how we should celebrate Christ's birth.

Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch the video.
 

My morning started with a great devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries on giving the gift of hope this Christmas.  What a way to start off December! :-)

Here are some of the ways our family will be giving the gift of hope this year...
~ We kicked off the Christmas celebrations by packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes!

~ We will be delivering Christmas presents to 30 under privileged children who live in the Jane/Finch neighbourhoods.  We are doing this with an organization called UrbanPromise.

~ We will be packing an AIDs Care Kit.  This is an initiative of the church our family is considering calling home.  The goal is to have 1200 of these kits sent over to Africa this year.

~ We will be doing two Out of the Cold dinners for the homeless, one next Saturday and another one in January.  We do this with our extended family every year... it's an eye-opening experience for our kids!
Our family is very much looking forward to Christmas!  There is just something very special about this most wonderful time of the year --- I think that's why He is known as the Miracle of Christmas!

Here I am.  Lord, send me!