Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014!!!

Happy New Year, friends!
Twenty fourteen already! Just how did that exactly happen?!? 2013 has truly gone by way too fast, flowing like a relentless river. In some ways, it has been like a blink of an eye... with many beautiful moments, sprinkled with some not-so-beautiful moments. But, as Ann Voskamp wrote in this blog post on New Year's Eve, "So I’m a mess and we’re all failures — at least all the honest are."

Needless to say, I wholeheartedly agree... and desperately cling on to that most beautiful thing called Grace... God's grace.

2013 has been marked by Grace... not sure how our family could have journeyed the year were it not for grace. I am deeply grateful.

Let's look back at the year that was, shall we?
I started off the year with my One Word... which is surrender. And surrender I did... by His grace, to His perfect will, learning the beauty of living a life surrendered to following His will. I am deeply grateful.
In January, on Human Trafficking Awareness Day, our newest Compassion child, Esperanza, came into our family's life in the most beautiful, God-ordained way. I must say that this is our first tangible action, as a family, to join in the fight to eliminate modern-day slavery! 
Also, did I already mention that her two given names, Luisa Esperanza, closely resembles hubby's dad's name? Such an awesome God-orchestrated coincidence, don't you think?
Just a month after, God heightened our awareness on human trafficking even more as we participated in an event called "Coldest Night of the Year." Later in the year, my girl launched Freedom Creations... which donates 100% of the proceeds to International Justice Mission!
God continued to stretch us and mold us, sending us places outside our comfort zone, waayyy outside... like to places where we unexpectedly found ourselves washing the feet of homeless people, to leading our church family in serving meals for the homeless community. All throughout, His grace has been abundant for which I am deeply grateful. 
In February, my girl turned 16! Yes, sixteen!!! I am continually amazed at God's grace at work in her life. Each day, I learn lessons from this amazing young lady. I am deeply grateful and deeply honoured for the privilege of being her mama.
My boy continued to improve and excel in the skill of speed-cubing... reaching the finals in a few of his events! How does he remember all those algorithms? If you'd like to see him in action, be sure to check out his YouTube channel... I promise you'll be amazed! 
God continued to have me practice surrendering to His will. In February, I surrendered and said "no" to an awesome job opportunity... one I thought was right for me. Clearly, God was telling me that it wasn't the right time yet... for which I am deeply grateful.
In March, my girl became a published writer! It was such a proud-mama-moment seeing her give all glory to God.
In April, my boy had an opportunity to participate in a rally marking "1,000 Days To Go" before the deadline for the fulfillment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG). I was a proud mama as I watched and listened to him deliver his speech, a letter he's written to the Prime Minister of Canada... where he passionately spoke about his faith being his motivation for ending extreme poverty.
In June, my boy got baptized! The day was made even more special as hubby had the awesome privilege of being the one to baptize him. Tears still well up in my eyes as I reflect on how amazingly God's grace has been at work in my boy's life leading up to his baptism. He has grown up to be a young man after God's own heart... something I am deeply grateful for! Truly thankful!
Just a week or so after his baptism, God arranged for us to encounter a homeless man named Roger. This encounter deeply impacted my boy for which I am deeply grateful.
We said goodbye to our very trusty Subaru Legacy station wagon after 16 years... but not before my girl has had a chance to drive it for herself as a licensed driver! Why is this significant? You see, this was the same vehicle that brought my baby girl home from the hospital after she was born! Ah, now I'm becoming sentimental! 
Then, God so generously provided us with a new-to-us Subaru Legacy which we are happily driving now!
In July, a report from Compassion Canada was sent to us regarding the completion of the six-classroom building in the Compassion Development Centre in Masbate, Philippines where our Compassion daughter, Florianlyn, belongs to... which we raised funds for in September 2012.
This truly is a story of God multiplying meager offerings by a thousand fold! It is an experience that our family will forever remember, one that I am deeply grateful for!
July also saw us continuing to serve "the least of these" locally here in our city. We had the opportunity to join a unique service opportunity, painting homes for people living in government housing. It was a lot of fun!
My boy attended another speed-cubing competition. This time, it was the Canadian Open held at my Alma Mater, the University of Toronto! This competition gave him the opportunity to improve his rankings. He is now among the top 20 speed-cubers in Canada!
The summer months were eventful, to say the least. We went through a scary experience with my girl losing her vision temporarily. She is still experiencing symptoms on and off... and we have another doctor's appointment lined up this month. The agreed upon diagnosis seems to be ocular migraine or migraine with aura. We are praying and trusting... knowing that we have an all-powerful Heavenly Father.
We also enjoyed over a week of vacation time... part of it spent with my extended family. It was a refreshing time of rest amidst a very busy year!
In September, my boy turned 13 and officially became a teenager! It is truly an honour to be this boy's mama. Each day, he makes me want to be a better mom. He has truly made me a better version of myself... for which I am deeply grateful!
The Fall months were busy... and God's grace continued to be evidently at work in our lives for which I am deeply grateful! He so graciously orchestrated beautiful moments where our lives intersected with both the broken and the beautiful.... such as this story of why my hubby is a keeper, such as reaching and surpassing our church's goal of 1,000 pounds for our Thanksgiving Food Drive, such as celebrating Thanksgiving and living out thanks, such as being re-inspired and re-ignited to release more children from poverty in Jesus' name!

November was a big month for my girl as she was awarded the YMCA Peace Medallion for our region! This mama's heart swelled with joy as she, time and time again, gave glory to her Heavenly Father... His grace evident in her life! I am deeply grateful.
At the same time, we were heart-broken as Super Typhoon Haiyan heaped devastation on our beloved Philippines. We worried for the safety of our many relatives and friends and our beloved Compassion daughters and their families. We rejoiced upon hearing news of their safety... but to this day, our hearts still cry out for the many others who are still suffering. Recovery will take many years... if you are looking for a way to help, please visit Compassion Canada's Haiyan Recovery information page on their website.  
In December, my boy and his Robotics Team competed in his last FIRST Lego League Competition as he will be starting high school next year. It was bittersweet as it also marked the end of my five-year stint as his team's coach. Although we didn't qualify for the Provincial Tournament this year, this last competition ended sweetly with the team winning two of the most coveted awards, the Robot Design Award and the Robot Performance Award!
As I blogged yesterday, leading up to Christmas wasn't the most picture-perfect this year... yet God's grace is relentlessly present in both the broken and the beautiful... for which I am deeply grateful!
Family photo for our Yearend Newsletter.

Our Home Church sorting Christmas toys at the local Salvation Army.

Our church family serving at UrbanPromise Camp Freedom's Christmas Dinner.

Our upside-down Christmas tree.

After the Ice Storm of 2013.

After the ice storm, icicles everywhere!

Surprised by their Christmas presents as they thought
we weren't doing presents at all this year! #SantaDidItAgain

Photo booth fun at our Lead Pastor's wedding.

   
Wow! Thanks for looking back at 2013 with me, friends! 
Our God truly is gracious and He truly loves relentlessly. As I reflected on the year that has been, I am amazed anew... for He truly is faithful and His promises are always sure and true!

Happy New Year, friends!
As I look towards 2014, I am filled with anticipation for the things God has planned for our family... and my hope is in The One who makes all things new!
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward — to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
~ Philippians 3:13-14.
And, coming tomorrow... my One Word for 2014! Friends, may you bask in the goodness and grace of our loving Heavenly Father, not only on this New Year's Day, but throughout this New Year as well!


Compassion is a command, an act of worship, a song of thanks to Him.
Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God!

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