Monday, May 25, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #20

My brother-in-law is now home from the hospital. We saw him tonight. As he starts to walk the journey towards recovery, today's verse for Memory Verse Monday is my prayer for him...

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)
I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

I say AMEN to that!

Quebec City Trip in Pictures

Here are some photos from our recent trip to Quebec City, just a sampling of the hundreds of shots we took. Quebec City is sooooo beautiful, very historical, lots of character and culture. Glad we went!

In front of the Quebec Provincial Parliament building...

Huge fountain in front of the Parliament building...

Walking ON TOP of the Fortifications... reminded us of the Bible story of Gideon and the Walls of Jericho!!!

We saw A LOT of canons during our trip... my son was thrilled!

In the Lower City, outside the Fortifications --- Cote de Champlain.

An antique canon ball stuck in the tree's roots --- very cool!

At Canyon Ste-Anne. See that bridge on top? We had to CROSS IT!!!

Still at Canyon Ste-Anne; never seen anything like it! I must say it's a lot nicer than Niagara Falls.

Outside the Citadel doors. We had a tour of the Governor General's other official residence inside the Citadel (her other official residence is Rideau Hall in Ottawa)...unfortunately, no pictures were allowed inside!

A side trip to Ottawa, on the way home, to see the second newest Leeanueva addition --- Baby Jonah. Baby Jordan is now the newest Leeanueva addition. There are babies everywhere... I feel old!

Three of the five Leeanueva sisters (missing two Lee sisters!) with Baby Jonah.

Friday, May 22, 2009

First Place in Triple Jump

Today was the Area Meet for Track and Field where my daughter placed FIRST in the Triple Jump event. I am one proud mama!!! She is off to the Regional Meet exciting. This is her very first time going to the Area Meet and I must say she did awesome!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our Stories

The words from the song Here I Am by the band Downhere has really struck me. The song has been replaying in my head over and over again these few days! There are a few lines in the chorus that has come to mean so much more to me as I process them:
Here I am, Lord send me
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan
Here I am
For me, the thought that keeps coming back is that it isn't my story that will count... it's THE story that God writes for my life that really counts! Am I willing to let HIM write it??? It really is something easier said than done, if you really think about it.

Related to these thoughts... the book The Shack --- something so simple as a life story the author writes as a gift to his children becoming a powerful best-seller! Now, that's a story only God can write. I know that there are people on both sides of this book, either agreeing with it or disagreeing with it. Regardless of what one's view is about the book... there is no denying that this book has opened up so much more conversations about God and faith among people who wouldn't normally talk about such things. I think that is awesome!

For example, the author William Paul Young was recently interviewed on CBC by The Hour's George Stroumboulopoulos. You can watch the interview here --- it's only about 13 minutes long and worth watching. Who would've thought --- an author talking about Jesus being The Word on CBC!

Another thing related to these thoughts... a blog post I read yesterday entitled A Story Bigger Than You and Me. Now, only God would let me bump into a blog post with a title like that at a time when I am processing thoughts about what it means to let HIM write THE story for me. The blog author writes a prayer at the end of the blog post that really gripped me. Here it is:
God, give me a story only YOU can write. Whatever that looks like or what it accomplishes is up to YOU. But give me (and our community) a story that only YOU can write.
I say AMEN!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quite The Week...

It's turning out to be quite the week for my extended family. Today, actually right now as I type this blog post, my brother-in-law is in a 6-hour surgery to remove the cancer in his nasal cavity. This past few months have been quite the journey for my middle sister and him. Through it all, we can still say --- God is good, all the time!

And, amidst it all --- a celebration of new life! My newest nephew, Baby D. Jordan, was born yesterday to my youngest sister!

We drove home from our trip, dropped by our house to freshen up a bit, and literally drove across the City of Toronto, to the other side of town, to see the newest member of my side of the family --- just in time before visiting hours were over at the hospital!

Welcome to this world, little one!

Memory Verse Monday #19

We're home! We had an awesome time on our mini vacation to Quebec City. Old Quebec City is beautiful... so rich in history and culture, but the four of us agree that the best part of our trip was the visit to Canyon Ste-Anne (see photo), a short 30-minute drive to the east of Quebec City along the St. Lawrence River --- nothing beats God's magnificent creation!!!

In light of that, today's verse for Memory Verse Monday is from...

Psalm 98:7-8 (NIV)
Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Here I Am...

A new song I'm really loving is called Here I Am by Downhere. I first heard it this weekend on our road trip to Quebec City because hubby bought a whole bunch of songs from iTunes to burn into CDs for our drive... we are still here, by the way. It is soooo beautiful here... so much history, so much culture, so much character!

Anyway, back to the song... I found myself identifying and connecting with the lyrics so much. Here they are... to listen to the song at the same time, you can find it on my Playlist on the sidebar:
Sometimes Your calling comes in dream
Sometimes it comes in the Spirit's breeze
You reach for the deepest hope in me
And call out for the things of eternity
But I'm a man (in this case, woman!) of dust and stains
You move in me so I can say

Here I am, Lord send me
All of my life I make an offering
Here I am, Lord send me
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan
Here I am

When setbacks and failures and upset plans
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands
Are You not the closest when it's hardest to stand
I know that You will finish what You began
These broken parts You redeem
Become the song that I can sing

Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness
And the fear that I'll fail You in the end
In this mess I'm just one of the pieces
I can't put this together but You can
Isn't it cool that our stories are somehow a part of His plan? I think so! Again, I am being reminded of grace... just soooo amazing!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Place Called Grace

Seems to me that this week's theme on this blog is GRACE. This song came to mind this morning, A Place Called Grace by Phillips, Craig + Dean. Here it is: (please pause Playlist on the sidebar)

The lyrics of the second verse resonate well with me...

So many days I've trusted grace
Yet I have to wonder
How many times my human strength
Has kept me from surrender
The more I learn just to lean on the cross
The more I see
When I fall, I will fall to the place
Where mercy reaches me

I know there is a place
Where arms of compassion welcome me home
Sweet mercy falls like rain
I know there’s a place called grace

If it seems that my courage is strong
There’s just one reason
He’s my rock when my faith is all gone
He holds me in His arms
Gives me strength to carry on

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
---Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #18

In light of my previous blog post about that place where we live called grace, God's grace, today's verse for Memory Verse Monday is from...

Psalm 94:18-19 (ESV)
When I thought, "My foot slips," your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

I have just finished reading the book Raising Kids For True Greatness by Dr. Tim Kimmel. In my opinion, the point the book makes doesn't just apply to parenting, it is much bigger than that. Another blog post is forming in my head already... maybe, another day. For now, I will say that true greatness is definitely only achievable within that place called grace! I'm quoting from the book...
True greatness looks upward, then outward; it is about God's agenda; it celebrates altruism; it is about giving; it grieves over what it sees through its windows; and, it pays off forever!

There In Grace

Yesterday at church our Pastor talked about two women, Deborah and Jael, during his Mother's Day message. These two women played significant roles in the story that can be found in the fourth chapter of the Book of Judges. Our Pastor called them dangerous women --- women who weren't afraid to be dangerous for God! It made me think of this Flair button that I found on Facebook! I really like it. :-)

He went on to say that it would be awesome if our churches today are filled with this type of dangerous women! Interestingly enough, the night before I kept hubby up past midnight because I was in one of my "think aloud moods" when I basically ramble and talk out my thoughts... to release thoughts that have been cluttering my brain for a while, bothering me and making me restless! Picture my hubby... sitting there looking confused... thinking to himself: Where is all this coming from?!?

My "think aloud" topic was that I am no longer satisfied with being just mediocre where God's work is concerned. There must be more that we can do to help the local church grow; to motivate God's people to do more for His Kingdom; to see people find God. My point was that we should be doing more as evidenced by the lack of fruit... what more can we do??? There must be more to it than what is before our eyes... I want to be dangerous for God... as what was prayed over us as a church planting team when we were commissioned by our parent church at the start.

These "think aloud" topics of mine don't happen often... but when they do, they consume me. I woke up Sunday morning and the conversation with hubby was still fresh on my mind... to be quite honest, I felt like I'm failing... because I'm not doing the best I can with what God has entrusted to us in this church plant. This song kept ringing in my head, which is the verse found in Psalm 73:26:
My heart and my flesh
Many times they fail
But there is one truth that always will prevail
God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever
Then, we went to church... then, we sat down to hear our Pastor's message... then, he spoke about dangerous women. Coincidence? I think not!

The thing is... towards the end of his message, he named women in the congregation by name and said a "little blurb" about each one as an encouragement. What he said about me brought tears to my eyes (remember, I am not an emotional person!). Why the tears? Because I kept thinking in my head: Who is that woman he is describing?... I don't deserve all that he is saying about me... I want to become a dangerous woman... I am not one yet!... It was a moment of mixed emotions.

I came home to reflect on the morning's message and this is where my blog post title comes in... there in grace. It is there, in God's grace, that we live. Extravagant grace so undeserved. In spite of our failings and our brokenness, He still thinks the best of us. When I don't feel like I've given Him enough, grace is right there. Grace to see us through until that glorious day when we are all victorious!

I like that! Now, enough with blogging and on to tackling this week... grace is waiting!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Poem

It is Mother's Day!

My son brought a poem home from school on Friday to give to me for Mother's Day... complete with a plant he grew from seed, a Scarlet Bean Pole, for my garden. My daughter gave me an artwork she designed by melting crayon shavings with a flat iron... quite lovely! Fellow mommies... cherish those handmade crafts that come home from school... they come home less and less as the children grow older!

I have never come across the poem my son gave me before and I thought it is quite neat. Here it is:

My Mother Kept A Garden

My Mother kept a garden,
A garden of the heart,
She planted all the good things
That gave my life its start.

She turned me to the sunshine
And encouraged me to dream,
Fostering and nurturing
The seeds of self-esteem...

And when the wind and rain came,
She protected me enough ---
But not too much because she knew
I'd need to stand up strong and tough.

Her constant good example
Always taught me right from wrong ---
Markers for my pathway
That will last a lifetime long.

I am my Mother's garden.
I am her legacy ---
And I hope today she feels the love
Reflected back from me.
Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow mommies!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Most Important Place On Earth, Part 3

A little bit more on the book I'm still-not-finished reading, The Most Important Place On Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One by Robert Wolgemuth. I think this will be the last post on it as I'm almost done reading it. All in all, a good read!

From Chapter 8: Discipline Is Not A Dirty Word... It's the stuff of champions.

In a Christian home, everyone --- mom and dad included --- understands that the forces keeping us from self-discipline are powerful. We don't default to submission to God's Word and right living. Like a magnet near a pile of metal shavings, our sinful natures tug and pull and draw us away from what we know is pure and right and good. But just in case you need one more shot of encouragement, listen to this: "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9 ESV).

When all is said and done, your Christian home is a place where discipline, external and internal, is standard fare; where there are no apologies for strictness and hard work; where expectations for obedience are very high. Sowing acts of discipline creates a harvest of self-discipline. It's the stuff of champions.

From Chapter 9: Safe At Home... The refuge you're looking for.
Safety at home is what happens between the comings and the goings. It involves the way we treat each other... honour each other. It needs to be a safe place to tell the truth; when it comes to whose side you're on, your kids should never have any doubt; it should be a safe place to make mistakes; a safe place to ask anything, even questions about the unthinkable are acceptable; a place where people always think the best of each other; a shelter in the neighbourhood; the refuge you're looking for!
From Chapter 10: Parents As Priests: Pulpits Optional... Mom and Dad, why the robes?
Your Christian home is the most important church on earth. A Christian home; Dad and Mom, priests; worship services daily --- to bring our families to God's holy throne... with confession of sins, teaching, prayer, and song.

Memory Verse Monday #17

One day late... again! Monday was busy, so the blog got neglected. Here is this week's verse for Memory Verse Mondays, it is from...

Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)
Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself."

A blog post related to the above verse was waiting for me in my Google Reading List this morning... a theology of parenting. Here's a quote:

Often, as parents, we do indeed think of parenting as our highest calling. But you rightly point out that loving God with all our heart and soul and mind is our highest calling.

“If I pursue God first as my highest call and am satisfied in His love, then I am freed not to love my children less but to love them rightly.”

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Faith Lesson, Continued

I guess God isn't finished talking to me about faith yet this week... this is what I came across today in my devotions:
When, because of your faith, your life too becomes perceptibly different; when your reactions are quite opposite to what the situation seems to call for and your activities can no longer be explained in terms of your personality; that is when your neighborhood will sit up and take notice. In the eyes of the world, it is not our relationship with Jesus Christ that counts; it is our resemblance to Him!

From the book The Queen and I, Ray C. Stedman, 1977.
More food for thought... didn't I say in my previous post that the lesson of faith is one that never grows old? :-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Faith --- Lesson of the Week

Faith --- it is a lesson that never grows old! It is the lesson that God has been teaching me this week.

Exgravagantly --- by showing us as a church just how BIG He truly is. Subtly --- by a small, yet tangible, detail showing me that He will provide for our every need if we put Him first. Graciously --- by helping me to see yet another tangent to the verse "without faith, it is impossible to please God" through a blog post. Assuringly --- my brother-in-law now has a surgery date to remove his cancer. Amusingly --- through my son repeatedly singing a memory verse jingle sung to the words "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain... move from here to there and it will move... nothing will be impossible for you!"

So, my reflection of this week's faith lessons all started with the blog post I mentioned above. I would like to quote several phrases from it, but I would encourage everyone to read the whole post for themselves as it is quite thought-provoking:

“But not much in my life requires faith. I intentionally construct my life that way: do things I know I can do, with means I have, in territory familiar to me. But isn’t God saying that to please Him we need to live in this wild leap of faith?”

“Fear is the first step through to faith. Like hurdling through a ring of fire, certain He waits on the other side.” I reiterate, etch it deeper: “Without stepping into the fear, the place where faith’s necessary, it is impossible to please God.”Are we doing anything at all in our lives that require real faith in God?

Lord, where are the places in my life that I live in the wild leap of real faith? Focus me on the fearful places... that's where we break open into the vastness of You.

My thoughts took me back to Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself, to the chapter about faith. One of my favourite quotes from that chapter goes like this:
Very simply, we often are too scared to believe God. Some of those who've known Christ the longest have witnessed His power the least. Those of us who have been around a while are masters of limitation. Often we practice safe boundaries that keep us from being disappointed and others from being doubtful. Never stop growing; never stop knowing; and He'll never stop showing.
Lord, help me never to stop growing; never to stop knowing; and, always expecting You to never stop showing! Amen.