Monday, February 28, 2011

To Gaze Upon His Beauty...

Niagara Falls in Winter (February 2011)

#372 - #385
~ Niagara Falls' winter scenery... so beautiful!
~ God's protective hand upon my son.
During our weekend trip to Niagara, we found a piece of broken glass in between the sheets of my son's bed in the hotel room... so thankful he didn't get injured as he also slept on that bed the night before!
~ Winter sunshine.
~ Fun indoor water park.
~ Swimming in a warm outdoor pool in the middle of winter...
~ Letters from Geydi, our Honduran Compassion daughter.
~ My play-list... on the sidebar of this blog.
~ That God truly does make everything beautiful is His own time.
~ For an extraordinary young lady... Kaitlin Boyda.
~ The beauty of parenthood... even when some days are tougher than others.
~ Freshly baked bagels from the bakery.
~ The Salvation Army Gateway's ministry to the homeless.
~ The opportunity to be a small part in alleviating homelessness.
~ Helping Emilda get to the Special Olympics. 

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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Chapter 7

The vlog for Chapter 7 (Seeing Through The Glass) of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts is now online.  I blogged earlier this week about my thoughts and lessons learned from this chapter.  It is truly a great chapter for those of us who are parents to read!  When some parenting days are tougher than others, I will remember that...
Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle. (One Thousand Gifts, page 128.)
At church this morning, the teaching was about grace... what a coincidence! ;-)  I love this declaration that our Teaching Pastor invited us to say with him:
I am a saint.  I am specially called by God to reflect His image to this world in all that I am and do.  Partnering with God to be like Jesus is my goal, my calling, my purpose in life, my reason for being.  It is a life of absolute love and joy, and one that I desire above all other lesser ways of living.  I understand that anything that works against my reason for being is sin.  With God's help, I choose to reject any lesser way of living.
It made me think of the subtitle for One Thousand Gifts and it is... a dare to LIVE FULLY right where you are.  A life of absolute love and joy... that is my humble prayer, it is my heart's desire!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

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

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Joys of Parenting...

If you are a parent, you know what I mean when I say... parenting is not easy!  Some days are tougher than others.  For me, today is one of those days.

The day wasn't even off to a start yet and I already felt like I failed.  It is now lunch time and I'm still grasping onto grace to get me through this day.  It's one of those days when an extra portion of grace is called for... for me!

I wake up to consciousness and the first thing I hear... arguing and bickering.  I asked myself... what now and why now?!?  Mornings are crazy enough as it is!  I jerked my body out of bed, forgetting to pray... because, you know, there's an emergency I need to deal with.  Of course, things just go downhill from there.

Note to self: next time don't skip the prayer!

As hubby and I help our son re-start his day, I whisper a thank-you to my Heavenly Father for new mercies and everyday graces that He bestows.  And, I remember... "if the eyes gaze long enough to see God lifted in a thing, how can the lips not offer eucharisteo?" (From Chapter 6 of One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp)

I also whisper a thank-you for His allowing me time this week to read Chapter 7 (Seeing Through The Glass) of One Thousand Gifts early, in preparation for this coming Sunday's vlog on Bloom (In)Courage.  These quotes are the reasons why...
How can I help this son of mine see when I can't see?  The parent must always self-parent first, self-preach before child-teach, because who can bring peace unless they've held their own peace?  Christ incarnated in the parent is the only hope of incarnating Christ in the child...

How do I fix this? Them? Me?  In this messy, Jesus whispers, "What do you want?" and in the ugly, I cry, "I want to see - see You in these faces."  He speaks soft, "Seek My face."  I want to answer with David, "My heart says to you, 'Your face, Lord, do I seek' " (Psalm 27:8 ESV) but I'm desperate to grab someone, anyone, and shake hard, "How do I have the holy vision in this mess?  How do I see grace, give thanks, find joy in this sin-stinking place?"

I look for the ugly beautiful, count it as grace, transfigure the mess into joy with thanks and eucharisteo leaves the paper, finds way to the eyes, the lips.

In the domestic cloud of dust and family, I too can forget the One who sees me, but in eucharisteo, I remember.

So many days, so hard.  I want to give up too.  But give up the joy-wrestle... and I die.

Feel thanks and it's absolutely impossible to feel angry.  We can only experience one emotion at a time.  And we get to choose - which emotion do we want to feel?

Wrestle with God, beg to see the blessings... and all faces become the face of God.
God knew I needed the words from this chapter to help me get through this day.  Therefore today I joy-wrestle and practice eucharisteo for...

#361 - #371
~ Reading Chapter 7 of One Thousand Gifts early.
~ The ups and the downs of parenthood.
~ Eyes to see the beauty of parenting on days like today.
~ The privilege of working through hard things with my son.
~ Being able to point him in the direction of his Heavenly Father.
~ Teaching him to practice eucharisteo... in all situations.
~ The gift of prayer...
~ God's peace for this anxious heart.
~ His mercies... they are new every morning!
~ His grace... when I fail to parent well.
~ Re-starts... for everyone! :-)

Hoping for a brighter afternoon!

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Chapter 6

The vlog for Chapter 6 (What Do You Want? The Place of Seeing God) of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts is now online.  Wow, where do I begin?  The words Ann penned for this chapter seem to be meant for me... like God talking to me.

Let me start here... these words on page 104 caught my eye:
But this is the woman I am becoming.  That eucharisteo is making me - fulfilling thanks vows to God. I am starved and the feast makes me wild.
Over these past few months, I have become that woman too!  It wasn't until I started counting gifts that I realized how starved for God I was... starved to see Him in everything... and realizing that I can not fully live, wildly live, until I see Him in all things.

On page 108, Ann's words brought me back to the time that led me to start my 1,000 gifts list.  It was also summertime, the summer of 2010, a time when my heart was sore and when I so desperately wanted to see and feel joy.  Here are her words:
A summer of pain. Always the running. A summer of grace.  Always the revelation.  Pain is everywhere, and wherever the pain there can be everywhere grace, and yes, Jesus, I am struggling and I get turned around but I think I know, at least in part, what I want.  If I had never run, if I had never fallen, and here, I am not sure I would have known with blazing clarity.  I may not know all that it means, but this is what I want.

This kingdom laden with glory, this, the pearl of great price, the field I'd sell everything to possess.  This is the pearl that crams me with a happiness that throbs, serrated edge, pit open wide for more of His glory.

The only place we have to come before we die is the place of seeing God.

This is what I'm famished for: more of the God-glory.

I whisper with the blind beggar, "Lord, I want to see" (Luke 18:41).

That's my moaning pulse: "See. See."
Beauty from ashes... with the ashes from this past summer, I have been able to see beauty.  To see... Beauty!  To see that God wanted our family to unwrap more of His love, to unwrap beauty, for the last, the least, the forgotten, and the forsaken.

Here are more of Ann's words... you'll see why this chapter is so meaningful to me:
I want to see beauty.

Beauty is all that is glory and God is Beauty embodied, glory manifested.  This is what I crave: I hunger for Beauty.

Because that is what I am made for - to give Him more glory.  More eucharisteo, more.  And not only yesterday.  But today - manna today or I starve.

... omnipresent God is Beauty who demands worship, passion, and the sacrifice of a life, for He owns it.

... faith is always a way of seeing, a seeking for God in everything.  And if the eyes gaze long enough to see God lifted in a thing, how can the lips not offer eucharisteo? The truly saved have eyes of faith and lips of thanks.  Faith is in the gaze of a soul.
I now realize that I've actually been counting gifts way before I typed gift #1 on this keyboard, I just called them by a different name --- I called them beauty from ashes moments.  Here are some more of Ann's words...
The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible.  And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible.  Isn't joy the art of God?

Don't I give God most glory when I am fully alive?  And I am most fully alive beholding God!

Longing to gaze upon the Beauty of the Lord and to seek Him, the place where all the joy spills from.

Praying with eyes wide open is the only way to pray without ceasing.
So today I pray with eyes wide open, beholding beauty because He is Beauty!  With a grateful heart for...

#351 - #360
~ Chapter 6 of One Thousand Gifts.
~ The season of pain and disappointment, the summer of 2010.
~ All the beauty-from-ashes moments that resulted.
~ Starting my 1,000 gifts list.
~ The waiting and the anticipation.
~ Spiritual growth and more maturing.
~ The woman I am becoming... wildly living eucharisteo.
~ Eyes to see beauty because of The One who is truly Beautiful.
~ Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow...
~ Great things He has done and will do!

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

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rhythms Of Grace

My girl, 17 months old, July 1998

We celebrated my girl's 14th birthday this past weekend.  She is a grace-gift... the young lady that she has grown up to become is definitely not because of who we are as parents... it is because of who our God is!  All thanks and glory be to our Heavenly Father!

Speaking of my girl, the teacher comment on her report card made my heart smile. She said:
{My girl} has demonstrated great interest in social justice issues. Many people recognize when there is an injustice. Few people are willing to speak out and advocate for change. {My girl} is one of the few.
That, my friends, is my girl!!! :-)  I am thankful for the place in her heart for people who are marginalized... it is truly a God-given heart of compassion... a grace-gift!

#333 - #350
~ For God's unforced rhythms of grace.
~ Good start to my girl's basketball playoff season.
~ My flexible work hours... so I can go to all my girl's games.
~ Sunshine!
~ A dear friend starting her 1,000 gifts list. :-)
~ Delivering snacks to UrbanPromise kids!
~ Giving a copy of One Thousand Gifts to my sister to read.
~ My sister now gifting it to her friend... a non-believer, whose Mom has cancer.
~ Turning a new corner and really living it {in the here and now} this week!
~ A 32-hour work week starting in March... not by choice!
~ Giving thanks for this unexpected 32-hour work week and seeing it as gift...
~ My boy's daily triumphs over his weakness... pure grace!  So. Grateful.
~ For losing well... my girl's basketball season has ended.
~ My kids' awesome report cards!  I am one proud mama!!!
~ Internet connection... we take it for granted sometimes.
~ For a back-up dial-up Internet connection... even if it's s-l-o-w. :-)
~ A fun time away, just the four of us, on this long weekend.
~ Home sweet home.

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Chapter 5

The vlog for Chapter 5 of One Thousand Gifts is now online.  This chapter was a great reminder to me that, indeed, all is grace.  Even the hurts, the disappointments and the lost dreams... all is grace. 

Here are my favourite parts of Chapter 5 - What in the World, in all this world, is Grace?
Joy is always worth the wait, and fully living worth the believing.  The pursuit!

But awakening to joy awakens to pain.  Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don't numb themselves to really living.

Every step I take forward in my life is a loss of something in my life and I live the waiting: How and of what will I be emptied today?

What in the world, in a world of certain loss, is grace?

Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world, because The Word has nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, "I know. I know."

All God makes is good.  Can it be that, that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God?

Without God's Word as a lens, the world warps.

When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn't all become gift?

God is always good and I am always loved.  Everything is eucharisteo.

Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things - take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness.

All is grace only because all can transfigure.
All is grace... so thankful for this reminder today.

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

Friday, February 18, 2011

Help Send Emilda to the Special Olympics!

As most of you know, I blog for Compassion.  I do this because our family is committed to helping Compassion in their mission of releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name!

Today, I am blogging about an opportunity for you and me to help Emilda.  Emilda's story is dear to my heart.  You see, Emilda lives in the Philippines... the country where hubby and I were born and raised.  Here is her story:
Emilda is an 18 year-old sponsored child with the mental capacity of a three year-old. She lives in a squatter community in the Philippines. And she's fast!
In 2009 Emilda competed in the Philippine Special Olympics and she performed well enough to qualify for the World Special Olympics in Athens, Greece this Summer. But she needs your help to get there.
Emilda's parents are unable to pay her way to Greece and neither is the Philippine government. Her need is $19,857.
Photos and more information about Emilda can be found here. Please help Emilda get to Athens this Summer! Every single dollar counts.

Thank you, my friends... thank you for your generousity! One of the verses I read this week during my devotion time is this...
Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back — given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. (Luke 6:38 The Message)
What an awesome privilege it is... that we can be a blessing to those around us who are in need!

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

Fourteen... 14 Already?!?

At 2 years of age. Beautiful, isn't she?

Happy 14th Birthday to my baby girl!  When exactly did she grow up?!?  Now a young lady... growing wings to fly... making this mama's heart smile and swell with happiness... for our God is gracious and He truly is good!

Just in time for her birthday... school report cards came home.  This is what her teacher wrote:
{My girl} has demonstrated great interest in social justice issues. Many people recognize when there is an injustice. Few people are willing to speak out and advocate for change. {My girl} is one of the few.
I am one proud mama... so thankful for God's grace in my girl's life!  Truly awed to be given the privilege to parent such an amazing young lady... truly, truly humbled by grace.

This past week, on the blog A Holy Experience, Ann Voskamp writes about The Way a Mother Can Make Peace with Time... brought tears to my eyes.  Time is truly like a river... it flows and flows and flows.  My kids are growing up way too fast making me wish that time would somehow slow down...
God who is the spring of the river of life, He has plans, places, purposes that time’s current will carry these children to — off to destinations, to new skin, to kingdom dreams.

The water cycle streams: from Him, through Him and to Him are all things. 

~ Ann Voskamp
... to kingdom dreams --- that is my prayer for my girl on this day, her birthday... that she would pursue kingdom dreams!  Somehow... I have a feeling that she already is!  :-)

Fall 2010 - advocating for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes!

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Chapter 4

The vlog for Chapter 4 of One Thousand Gifts is now online.  Reading this chapter and turning a new corner this past weekend are truly God-gifts.  I truly, truly can not thank Him enough for His grace in my life.

Here are some of my favourite portions from this chapter --- A Sanctuary of Time:
Time is life.  And if I want the fullest life, I need to find the fullest time.

For all our frenzied running seemingly toward something, could it be that we are in fact fleeing - desperate to escape pain that pursues?

Hurry always empties the soul.

When I fully enter time's swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here.  I can slow the torrent by being all here.  I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment.

Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention.

This. Is this eucharisteo the way to that elusive fullest life, the one that lives in the moment?

This is where God is.

In the present.  I AM - His very name.  I AM, so full of the weight of the present, that time's river slows to a still... and God Himself is timeless.

Here is the only place I can love Him.

Thanksgiving makes time.

The real problem of life is never a lack of time.  The real problem of life - in my life - is lack of thanksgiving.

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.
To live in the moment... is to see God!  It is the only way to be...

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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Celebrate Love...

♥ All because two hearts fell in love! ♥

The photo above is taken by my hubby.  It is of tire marks, made on the fresh snow on our neighbour's driveway one morning, which created two perfect hearts!  As Valentine's Day is celebrated today... I am forever grateful for God's gift to me in my hubby!  He is the grace of my life! :-)

Engagement Photo, Valentine's Day '93
Speaking of the grace of my life, the one my soul loves... 18 years ago on Valentine's Day, we got engaged (officially)!  Let me explain... it was the date of our traditional Chinese engagement ceremony when extended family and friends officially learned of our engagement.  We had promised forever to each other long before that day... in fact, forever was promised almost 2 years prior to Valentine's Day 1993!  Today... almost 20 years later, I am forever grateful that God brought hubby and me together.  Forever is truly bliss when shared with a best friend! :-)

As love is celebrated all over the world today, I am thankful that Love was born for you and for me.  Such. Amazing. Grace!

♫♪ Jesus loves me.  This I know. ♪♫  Thankful for songs learned in childhood.  They come so naturally when my heart needs to just sing...

Seeking refuge in my Heavenly Father's love and relying on His grace on days when I realize that a sore in my heart has not quite fully healed yet.

The journey from a sore heart to wholeness is oh so slow (and sometimes bumpy)... thankful that God is holding my hand and accepting that sometimes it is with a sore heart that God grows us into the masterpieces that He's designed us to be.

For endings and beginnings... and that my God is always leading the way... and remembering that my role is to follow one step at a time.

My boy sitting on my bed in the early morning hours (early for me, that is!) waiting for and watching me wake up.

For Chapter 2 of Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts... "Eucharisteo - thanksgiving - always precedes the miracle."  

So blessed to be participating in the online book club over at Bloom (In)Courage!  So. Blessed.

For the privilege of praying for and about the hard things that my children are dealing with... and remembering that eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.

This photo...

At the FINALS game of my girl's Baskeball Tournament.  This is during the last timeout, few seconds before the final buzzer of a tied game.  The coach is relating the play to the five players on the left (my girl is #9).  Do you see what the rest of the girls are doing?  They drop to their knees, in a circle huddle, to PRAY!  They lost the game by one basket, BUT, I am soooo proud of these girls for being public with their faith, in a Canadian public school system!  They are winners in my eyes!!!

#304 - #330
~ Sunshine on a crisp, cold winter day.
~ Down vest keeping me warm.
~ Long johns and wool socks, too.
~ Productive days.
~ Time for reading and blogging... two of my favourite past-times.
~ Shadows of tree branches gently dancing on my desk.
~ Clicking "send" for those hard-to-write email notes...
~ For friendships... that withstand tough times.
~ Strength to get through a very busy week.
~ His sustaining grace on emotionally tough days.
~ For a few hard eucharisteo(s) this week...
~ Practicing thanksgiving even when my heart says no.
~ Basketball games... for winning and losing well.
~ Hard, but honest, conversations.
~ My girl's high school placement meeting.
~ Thai food lunch with my hubby.
~ My boy reading...
~ Picking up my girl's grad dress at the seamstress.
~ My girl looking like a young lady in her grad dress... 
~ Sleeping in.
~ Lazy Saturday mornings.
~ Chats with my hubby... for the perspective he gives.
~ Shoe shopping with my girl.  High heels already?!?
~ Warmer, spring-like weather... a break from the deep freeze.
~ Awesome time of worship and communion!
~ A new week starting with me turning a new corner...
~ It is {indeed} well with my soul!

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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Turning A Corner

It is well with my soul... that was the gist of my last blog post, the one written just this afternoon, where I shared about a soreness revisiting my heart this past week.

After publishing the blog post, my family and I head out to attend The Attic.  It is the once-in-a-while Sunday evening worship service and communion that our new church offers.  On this night, it was being held at the Yonge Street Mission location on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto... a place where the homeless are ministered to, those who are broken, wounded, with no other place to go!  A great place for my sore heart to find rest, I thought!

Boy, am I glad we went!  Words may not be able to adequately describe what this evening has meant to me... but I will try to capture its essence!

As we started to worship in Scripture and in songs, a deep calm came upon me.  The theme for the evening --- breathe.  My mind went to a quote I once read on the blog, A Holy Experience, and it says:
The letters of the name of God in Hebrew are yod, hay, vav, and hay. They are infrequently pronounced Yahweh. But in truth they are inutterable...
This word {YHWH} is the sound of breathing. The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing. That these letters are unpronounceable is no accident. Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’... God’s name is name of Being itself.
~ Rabbi Lawrence Kushner
When we surrender everything and offer all as a sacrifice of thanks to Yahweh, then can we breathe... because His name is the sound of our own breathing!

As we turned our focus towards communion, I literally lived these words by Ann Voskamp:
The face of Jesus flashes.  Jesus, the God-Man with his own termination date.
With an expiration of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all most important?

"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..." (Luke 22:19 NIV)

Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks.  He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.

But there is more, and I read it.  Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis.  But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning "joy." Joy.

Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo - the table of thanksgiving.

As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.  Joy is always possible.  Whenever, meaning - now; wherever, meaning - here.

Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be - unbelievably - possible!
~ Excerpts from One Thousand Gifts, Chapter 2.
As our pastor invited us to partake communion, he also invited us to lay down at the Communion Table anything that is hindering us from breathing...

I laid down the what-ifs and the if-onlys that plaque me this past week when the soreness revisited my heart.  Then I had communion.

I felt a burden lift.  My soul felt light... I could breathe again!
The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything.  He who has learned this knows what it means to live... He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.
~ Albert Schweitzer, Reverence for Life.
The past is the past.  I felt God saying to me that in order to fully breathe I have to live in and savour the present...

As the band started to play some more music to end the evening, we started to sing...
It is well.  It is well.
With my soul. With my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It was at that moment that I knew... I had turned a corner, from the past and into the present!  My God is indeed good to me.
Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.
~ Matthew 11:29-30 (The Message)
Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

One Thousand Gifts - Chapter 3

The vlog for Chapter 3 of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts is now online at Bloom (In)Courage.

It is in this chapter where Ann writes about how she started her list of 1,000 gifts.  It brought me back to when I started my own list... it was a time when my heart was sore and when I so desperately wanted to see and feel joy.  So, I started my list with...
1. It is well with my soul.
Reading that sentence makes my heart smile.  You see, this week my heart was revisited by that same soreness... many questions of what-ifs and if-onlys came swirling back.  Hard questions without any real tangible answers.  The difference is, this time I am hitting #330 on my list and truly, truly, I am more quickly (still not right away... but with God's grace I'll get there soon!) able to see that God is in the details of every-thing.  So, I will write again...
330. It is well with my soul.
... thankful that though many things escape my understanding, I know that it is well with my soul.

Here are my favourite quotes from Chapter 3 - First Flight:
Gifts He bestows. This writing it down - it is sort of like... unwrapping love.

If living eucharisteo is the key to unlocking the mystery of life, this I want. I want the hunt, the long sleuth, the careful piecing together. To learn how to be grateful and happy, whether hands full or hands empty. This is a secret worth spending a life on learning.

Thanks is what multiplies the joy and makes any life large and I hunger for it.

I name.  And I know the face I face.  God's!  God is in the details; God is in the moment.  God is in all that blurs by in a life - even hurts in a life. GOD!

Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped.  God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.

When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows.

The gift list is thinking upon His goodness - and this, this pleases Him most! And most profits my own soul and I am beginning, only beginning, to know it.
Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Chapter 2

The vlog for Chapter 2 (A Word To Live... And Die By) of Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, is now online.  I just finished watching the video and reading the blog post underneath it... and it has blessed me tremendously.

Eucharisteo... one simple word, yet packed with life!  Here are some of my favourite quotes from this chapter...
To live either fully alive... or in empty nothingness?

It's the in between that drives us mad.
It's the life in between, the days of walking lifeless, the years calloused and simply going through the hollow motions, the self-protecting by self-distracting, the body never waking, that's lost all capacity to fully feel - this is the life in between that makes us the wild walking dead.

Isn't it here?  The wonder?

The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning "grace."  Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks.  He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.

... it also hold its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning "joy."

Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo - the table of thanksgiving.

Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks?

Eucharisteo - thanksgiving - always precedes the miracle.

Thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life.
There is sooooo much more I want to share about this chapter alone... but I would be typing all day!  My friends, get a copy of One Thousand Gifts... it truly is a must-read!  This book is deeply real, honest and thought-provoking... packed with Biblical truth!

There are days when I live the life in between, I don't want to anymore!  I want to see everything as charis grace, offer eucharisteo thanksgiving and experience the miracle of chara joy!

Will you join me in this journey, my friends?

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

As I Keep Counting Gifts...

271.  Beautiful shadows on the snow made by the sunshine after the storm!

My boy's fresh haircut.

Working-from-home... thankful for this arrangement each time I have to go into the downtown office for a meeting!

Thankful that I got a ride from hubby for the above-mentioned meeting... as he made a service call at one of his clients located two blocks away from my workplace's office.

February... a new month... a short one!

The aroma of strawberry banana muffins baking in the oven.

A snow day... kids played hooky from school... with my permission, of course! :-)  Our school board was one of the few that kept schools open.

So... we enjoyed a slow day at home as my girl's basketball practice and away game, plus Honour Band practice were all canceled due to the snow.  A very restful day... loved it!

Tried a new recipe for pork ribs... it had tomatoes and fennel seeds in it.  Yummy!

Hubby and the kids helping our neighbour shovel their driveway.

Beautiful, warm sunshine... it makes me happy.

Ever thankful that my Heavenly Father has graciously given me a precious gift in my hubby...  ♫♪ "Come what may 'til that day, we'll walk forever holding hands.  By God's grace 'til that day, we'll walk forever holding hands." ♪♫

Two more wins for my girl's basketball team... still undefeated.  Wow!

Hand-me-down clothes for my girl from a friend... great to connect with her family again after being out-of-touch for a while.

My kids coming home for lunch everyday.  I love that little bit of extra time with them.

Looking through old photo albums... of when my kids were little!  Ahhh, the memories...

Grocery shopping with my kids in tow... doesn't happen often.  Grateful for the company and also for the extra arms to help carry things.

Getting non-perishable food items together for two food drives happening this week... thankful for the Micah 6:8 opportunities that come our way!

Getting some office filing done for our home-based business with the help of my girl!

Folding fresh-out-of-the-dryer laundry... I don't usually have the opportunity to get to it right away.

For the privilege of gifting a dear friend of mine a copy of One Thousand Gifts... praying that the book will be a grace-gift to her as it is to me!

As I keep counting gifts... each day I become even more grateful for Grace!

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

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Chapter 1

The vlog (video blog) for Chapter 1 of One Thousand Gifts is now online.  For these next six weeks, I am very much looking forward to reading, discussing and growing with the book club community over at Bloom (In)Courage as we go through Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts together.

I've already read through the entire book and it has truly, truly, truly been a blessing, a gift!  Now I am re-reading it one chapter at a time as I follow along with the Bloom (In)Courage community.

My favourite quotes from Chapter 1: An Emptier, Fuller Life...
Grace, it means "favor," from the Latin gratia.  It connotes a free readiness.  A free and ready favor.  That's grace.  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 and fully live - with glory and grace and God?

To fully live - to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal.  It is possible, wildly.
Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Forever Holding Hands...

In my Facebook meanderings yesterday, I came across a song by Steve Green.  It is entitled Holding Hands.  I've never heard of it before... first time yesterday.  It is beautiful... I love it!  I thank my Heavenly Father each day... for when "we trace God's daily grace... thankful we're (hubby and I) still holding hands."

Here's a video and the lyrics...

One day, far away, you gently won my heart
And one night, by candlelight, we made a vow to never part
And then it seemed just like a dream
When wide eyed, side by side
We faced the future holding hands

Years fly, they hurry by, the simple times are gone
Bills due, a kid or two, a week can feel eight days long
By fading light, let's kiss goodnight
And then we trace God's daily grace
Thankful we're still holding hands

There's a hope that won't let go
There's a truth we know
God is holding us
In His arms

Thoughts stray far away to all that lies ahead
In frail days when strength fades
Will we still mean all that we said?
Our love's secure, so rest assured
Come what may 'til that day
We'll walk forever holding hands

By God's grace 'til that day
We'll walk forever holding hands

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowy Hump Day

So... a HUGE snow storm was supposedly going to come through our area today with an accumulation of 30cm of snow by the time it's done.  Well... as a friend of mine put it on Facebook today, it was sNOw-big-deal!  It is over now and we probably have only about 15cm of snow on the ground.

Because of the big media hype leading up to this snow "storm", my kids were convinced that school will be closed today --- a snow day!  They woke up to some disappointing news... our school board kept schools open!  So, off they went to school... reluctantly!

When they came home for lunch, I learned that my daughter's class was pretty sparsely populated.  As a result, her teacher didn't want to teach new lessons or give a test only to do it again tomorrow... so they watched a movie instead.  My son's teacher didn't make it to school so he had a supply teacher.  Well, that sealed my decision... they were staying home from school for the afternoon!  Playing hooky from school with my permission!  :-)  Somehow, I can't remember my mom ever letting us do that?!?

So, this turned out to be a pretty relaxing day for our family...  

Hubby worked from home all day! :-)  Both my daughter's basketball practice and game were canceled.  So was band practice for the school board wide Honour Band that she's been chosen to be a part of.  Hubby and the kids shoveled our driveway and we made hot chocolate after-wards.  They also helped shovel a neighbour's driveway.  I tried a new recipe for pork ribs and it was very yummy!

Speaking of helping our neighbour shovel snow... after they were done, she offered to pay the kids.  Hubby thanked her but declined the money.  He explained to her that it is our way of teaching our children how to be generous with their time and how to be kind to others... you know, thanks-living!  I love it when God gives us such opportunities... it warms my heart, especially on a frigidly cold day like today!    

I wish everyday can be as carefree as today was...

Well, life revs back up tomorrow.  Tonight I am asking myself these questions: Are there things we do as part of our family's everyday life that just amount to clutter?  Which things have eternal purpose and which ones don't?  Which things allow us to live out Micah 6:8 and which ones don't?  Which things amount to thanks-living and which ones don't?  Maybe it's time to do an inventory again...

As I think about answering my own questions, I am also thinking that I loved today.  It was an awesome, snowy, relaxing hump (Wednes)day and... I am truly grateful for this gift!
Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!