Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Brrrrr... It's Cold Outside!

It's cold indoors too...
The temperature this morning!
In fact, I haven't ventured outside today yet... and I sit here in my home office with the heat on full blast, wearing thick socks, plus my down-feather-filled vest, plus long-johns under my jeans... you get the picture... and still my toes are cold!

You see, much of North America is currently under a deep freeze in what they are calling a polar vortex!

Can you imagine how cold it must be outside?!? How about if outside *is* your home?

Today, my thoughts went to a group of men...
A group of men whose home *is* outside, whom our family met last Saturday. How are they surviving this bitterly cold and frigid day? Where did they sleep last night?

Our upside-down Christmas tree.

How did our family encounter these men, you might ask? Well, it all started with this idea of an upside-down Christmas... when our family decided that:
We’re hanging Christmas upside down this year so real love falls out of it.
We’re hanging Christmas upside down this year because we’re giving the whole Christmas season to Jesus and His Upside Down Kingdom, not just some tossed crusty edge off of it.

We decided that there wouldn't be the traditional gift exchange among ourselves this year. We decided that, instead, we would use the equivalent gift money to bless those who are in dire need. We decided that we would focus on people who call the streets of Toronto their home.

While we intended for this upside-down Christmas project to happen during the week of Christmas... because of some unforeseen circumstances that made the week of Christmas a little less than picture-perfect, it didn't.

Christmas break was fast coming to an end. We were determined to make this happen! We had one last weekend and we decided that it was then or never! {Okay... a bit of an exaggeration there... but you know what I mean, life takes over... work and school start back up again... and we'd forget about our upside-down Christmas project!}   

With everyone in tow, plus my girl's good friend who was sleeping over that night... we headed for the local shopping mall on Friday night. We had a great time shopping for all the items on our list in order to put these homeless care packages together.

Toques, socks, toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste. Gift cards to Tim Hortons. Ingredients for sandwiches. Fruits cups, granola bars, snacks and sweets. Juice boxes. Pillows and blankets.

Then, we headed out the next day, on Saturday... praying that God would cross our paths with the very people who need these care packages the most.

We headed to The Danforth, to a grocery store where I sometimes shop... where I often see a homeless couple sitting outside on the same spot each and every time. The woman is the same one I blogged about here a while back. Sure enough, the man was there.

Hubby parked by the curb. The kids and I jumped out of the car and approached the man. He was very happy to see us and even happier that we had a care package for him. He shook our hands, said thank you and "Happy New Year!"... but before we turned to leave, he asked if we had some more care packages because his friends are across the street.  

I glanced across the street. Sure enough, on the front steps of St. Barnabas Anglican Church, a group of men were gathered together.

Photo Credit: Google Maps Street View

We had just the enough number of care packages left for the number of men in the group! Hubby lingered and chatted with them a little bit... learning that they spend their nights sleeping in a nearby school yard. 

This is where they sleep.

Now you know why I am thinking of them today.
The blankets we gave them wouldn't even be warm enough. The sandwiches and snacks are now long gone. Would three pairs of socks each even keep their feet warm enough? 

I don't know. I don't have answers. But this I do know... that every day should, no... not should, must, that every day *must be* an upside-down Christmas... where real love falls out of it, where we think of ourselves less and think of those in need more.

As this tweet from our Teaching Pastor so beautifully states:

As this New Year starts up...
I want to express that kind of love... a love that wills the good of another, especially the ones whom the Bible calls the least of these. I want to let love lead.

:: :: ::

As I let love lead and continue to count grace-gifts in this New Year, with unending thanks... these are the things I am thankful for these past months... #3138 - #3152:
:: The many opportunities to let love lead.
:: My girl's Freedom Creations initiative taking off and seeing $840 donated to International Justice Mission (Canada) in 2013.
:: A beautiful Christmas! Truly beauty in the broken.
:: My boy's Robotics Team's great finish!

:: The many Compassion events that our family has had the opportunity to volunteer at these past couple of months!

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

:: An awesome Christmas dinner at an inner-city ministry... serving together with our church family.

:: Christmas baking!
:: An inspiring Christmas Eve service.
:: Seeing family and friends over the Christmas break.
:: Celebrating with our Lead Pastor as he got married.
:: Spending some time with my parents as they visited.
:: 2013 reflections...
:: A New Year... a new word.
:: Joining in The Jesus Project and memorizing selected verses from the Book of John, chapters 1-10, this year. Hopefully, with the whole family.
The Jesus Project. #memoryproject2014

On this first week of the New Year...
I am learning to let be and be still... and to pay more attention to my Jesus... and to be ready to act on the things that He has in store for me to do... because "all there is to see is Jesus."
It is one thing to choose to take the grace offered at the cross. But to choose to live as one filling with His grace? Choosing to fill with all that He freely gives... with glory and grace and God? 
It is a choice.
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.

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


  1. There are no words to describe how challenged I feel every time I stop by your blog and read about what your dear family are adventuring into next! Thank you for being prepared to be a challenge, as well as a blessing! x