Monday, October 27, 2008

Shoebox Time!

It's shoebox time again! This is one of our best-loved family traditions. This year, little cousin A is finally old enough to understand the whole idea of packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes so we invited her to come and join in the par-tay!!! The children (and the mommies --- my sister and me) worked hard and had lots of fun at the same time!

Here are some photos:

All done!
Twenty-one shoeboxes filled with goodies ready to be sent off.
Great job --- Big A, Big J and Little A!!!
We can't wait for the rest of the littler cousins to grow up and join in the tradition!

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
---Acts 20:35 (NIV)

One Proud Mama!

My daughter played keyboard at church for the very first time yesterday! She did an awesome and superb job, I must say. I am ONE PROUD MAMA!!! I am confident that God, our Heavenly Father, was smiling down on her as well. There are very few things in this world that can compare to a young heart that is eager and willing to use their God-given talents to glorify and praise the One who is most worthy of all!!! 

The whole worship experience was made up of KIDS --- from the song selection, to the musicians (keyboard, drums, electric guitar), to the vocalists (two boys and two girls). While I was directing the band upfront, I looked out into the congregation and couldn't help but notice huge grins on the faces of parents and grandparents, beaming with pride --- just like myself! 

As "Children's Ministries Coordinator", it is one of my goals to involve the children as much as possible in the main service. I want the children to feel included and accepted by their church family. I want the children to be visible, not invisible... to be fully functioning contributors to the church body. A children's worship band is a first step and a good start towards achieving this goal. 

It was definitely one memorable Sunday. Oh and one more thing --- three daddies who don't usually attend church were there! Their children were three of the four singers. That warmed my heart as well! 

He said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." ---Mark 10:14 (NIV)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Are Those Snowflakes???

So, while I was working away this afternoon I happened to glance out the window. What do I see? Flurries! Snowflakes! Already?!? Well, I guess so...why not! We do live in the Great White North!

The flurries definitely made me start thinking about Christmas --- my favourite time of year! An email I received today helped jump start that thought as well...reminding me that Christmas is only two months away. thoughts immediately jumped to my Christmas "to-do-list", I panic a bit, then I pause to think. Why do we always get so caught up with all the "to-dos" at Christmas that we get all flustered, stressed, out-of-sorts? Do we really have to do all that?

I wondered if we plan for a simple Christmas instead, what would it feel like? What does simple look like? Would it be more special? Would it create more memories? Hmmm...some food for thought! I'm going to think some more on this (since I do still have two months!) and maybe we might just try a "simple Christmas" this year. I like that thought!

Luke 2:10-11 (NIV) --- But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord."

Too Small for the Trombone!

Three music lessons later, the teacher determined that my son is most probably still too small to learn the trombone. It is quite a heavy instrument and he gets tired carrying it before the 30-minute lesson is over. He also doesn't seem to have enough air in his lungs yet to produce the different notes required to play simple music on the trombone.

So we have a little chat with him. He is understandably disappointed at having to wait some more before taking up the trombone but understands the explanation. He's decided to go back to piano lessons in the meantime. I support that decision as it will definitely help him learn the basics of music and prepare him well for the day when he's finally big enough for the trombone!

So it is with us, isn't it? Sometimes we are so eager to do something for God and He tells us to wait. It is because He knows we aren't ready yet. He tells us to do something else in the meantime because He is preparing us for what is to come. I'm always amazed at how many God-lessons we can learn by parenting our children!!!

Waiting is often hard, but essential. My Bible study group has started on a new book this season --- Jennifer Rothschild's Walking By Faith, Lessons Learned in the Dark. She defines a person walking by faith as: willing to take a step, follows God, gives up control, responds with thankfulness, perseveres, endures, is guided by truth, and is willing to wait.

I am eager to delve into this study. I am looking forward to what God will teach me through it. Let me end today's post with "textbook treasures" from Week 1.

Psalm 62:5-6 --- "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken."

Psalm 94:18-19 --- "When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' Your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making Music

My kids have been taking music lessons for some time now. While they didn't complain about it, I had this impression/feeling that they weren't really having a whole lot of fun. It was just another lesson to go to... 

Well, during the summer months, my sister mentioned to me that she is starting my niece on piano lessons. She said that her friend, the music teacher, is quite talented. Not only can he teach a student to read chords, as well as read music for the piano, he can play the trombone as well. 

Well, I was interested, to say the least. My son had the trombone picked out as his instrument ever since he was very little. This year, he is finally big enough to start learning the trombone. My daughter, on the other hand, has always been interested to learn how to read chords and play them on the piano. 

We started the lessons a couple of weeks ago and both kids love their new teacher! This is a photo of them practicing together:

Just for the record, I have never seen them so eager to practice their music! I am very happy to hear them making music down in the basement. All of a sudden, it is something FUN to do, not just something that they have to do!

In fact, my daughter has progressed so much that she is going to play on the youth worship band at church two Sundays from now. I am soooooo looking forward to it. I can't help but think back to when I started playing the piano at church --- I was about my daughter's age as well! Fond memories...

Psalm 92:1-3 (NIV) --- "It is good to praise the Lord and make music to Your name, O Most High, to proclaim Your love in the morning and Your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp."

Thanksgiving Get-Together

Here are some photos from our Thanksgiving get-together with my extended family...

my sisters and I...

the girl cousins...

the boy cousins...

the other boy cousin with his mommy...

Psalm 106:1 (NIV) --- "Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thanksgiving Already?

Okay, this year is officially zooming by right before my eyes! Is it seriously Thanksgiving weekend already? As I look out my office window into the warm and sunny afternoon... into the almost bare branches of our ash tree in the backyard... into our back garden filled with fallen leaves... there is no denying that the Fall season is upon us. 

We are having the exterior of our house painted today. It is a job that I didn't get to do over the Summer months. When Fall arrived all of a sudden, I decided we better hire someone to do this job quickly before Winter sets in and the wood on our windows and garage door is not properly prepared for the harsh elements... It is a lot of work to maintain a house and keep it in excellent condition, isn't it? 

The same thing can be said with our heart, mind and spirit! It is a lot of work, a daily maintenance, in order to be spiritually healthy. The only difference is we can not pay someone else to help us "catch up" on our spiritual health when we've slacked off! Definitely food for thought for myself... 

Anyway, got side-tracked a bit there... back to Thanksgiving. As I said, I can't believe that Thanksgiving is upon us already. As our family go about our yearly Thanksgiving "to-do-list" --- get food for the Food Bank, start to get Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes ready, have Thanksgiving dinner with extended family --- I reflect on the past year and can't help but be amazed at how FAITHFUL and how GREAT our God is! 

Just some of the many things that I am thankful for this year... 

~ Faith stretched (in soooooo many ways) and spiritual growth spurt! 
~ God leading us to serve Him at a "from-the-ground-up" church plant and the tons of blessings and God-moments that have been a part of this incredible journey. 
~ God's provision for us inspite of a slowdown in hubby's business at the beginning of this year; steady work and increased hours for me at my job. 
~ New friendships. New relationships. New sense of community. 
~ The experience and witnessing of God's healing, not only emotionally and spiritually, but physically! 
~ Good health and strength for each day. Sound mind and peaceful spirit. 
~ Awesome music teacher for the children. 
~ Generally joyful and contented children. 
~ Harmony in our home. 
~ Peace in times of uncertainty; promise of bright hope for tomorrow! 

Psalm 100 (NIV) --- A psalm. For giving thanks.

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name. 5 For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.