Monday, February 27, 2012

The Story of Two Houses and a New TV

Sometimes the best way to receive a gift is to give it away.
Because the only things we really have — are the things we hand over.

~ Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience.
In October of last year, our furnace broke. We replaced it. The installer informed us of government rebates which we applied for. We filed the paperwork... and promptly forgot about the money that was to come back to us.

Fast forward to this past Friday. My boy went to get our mail and came back with an "important looking envelope." I tore open the envelope and inside was the rebate cheque... a sizable amount, I might add! I was excited. You see, hubby and I have been eyeing a new big-screen TV for our bedroom. When I saw the cheque, I immediately thought, "Costco, here we come!" :-)

Simultaneously, as the let's-go-to-Costco thought formed in my head, I very *distinctly* heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit say to me, "I have another purpose for that money." 

My ears perked up! 
What could this other purpose be...? 

There is currently no pressing need that our family is aware of... so I quietly asked God to show us specifically to what, to whom or to where this money should be going towards.

That same night, friends of ours visited us. They have just recently been to the Philippines {over the Christmas break} and witnessed first-hand the devastation that was caused by Typhoon Sendong (Tropical Storm Washi). Their planned vacation became a mission trip providing humanitarian relief instead!

Homes destroyed by the flood.

Devastation everywhere...

Our friends appealed to people here in the Toronto area for cash donations. People responded and they were able bring with them $4,000.00 to go towards relief efforts, particularly in the city of Cagayan De Oro.

They provided 96 families with food, kitchen wares...

... school supplies, clothing, bedding items and other necessities.

They were also able to donate $1,000 to Shelter Box providing 60 families
with temporary housing in a Tent City in Cagayan De Oro.

They shared with us that they chose to channel their relief efforts through a local church and that the majority of the 96 families who received help are unchurched. As a result of this relief effort, this local church is now experiencing increased attendance... many are even being discipled! They have even ran out of seating during church services on Sundays!

Our friends further shared with us that this local church has embarked on a home rebuilding project for the families who have totally lost their homes during the flood. Each house costs $360.00 to rebuild and that they are, once again, appealing to the faith community here in the Toronto area to help.

A light bulb went on in my head!
This is where that money is supposed to go... 
The giving away, the thanks-living!

The frame of one of the first houses to be rebuilt.


A girl awaiting funds for her house to be rebuilt.

I love how God showed us the answer on the same night of the very day we received our rebate cheque! Isn't it just amazing how He works? 
Christian hands never clasp and He doesn’t give gifts for gain because a gift can never stop being a gift — a gift is always meant to be given….
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.
As for that new big-screen TV, it can wait! :-)

Our trusty old TV! :-)

You see, we will be perfectly fine without it... no, we will be more-than-perfectly-fine without it! We are more than happy to go without the luxury of a new big-screen TV and in exchange see two families have enough shelter to remain safe and dry.

You see, that rebate cheque... it is almost exactly the amount of that TV we are eyeing... it is also almost exactly the amount to rebuild two houses! God's accounting is just so top-notch, I tell ya! ;-) I love how He makes it so easy for us to choose and to compare... :-)

Will you join our family?
... in the rebuilding of one or more of these houses?
Your donation will receive a Canadian charitable tax receipt through a local church here in the Toronto area that is working directly with the local church in Cagayan De Oro.

The counting of grace-gifts... it has truly helped me in my desire to fully live out my thanksgiving! As I continue on this hunt for grace-gifts, these are the things I am thankful for this week... #1274 - #1278:

:: This opportunity to give thanks away, thanksgiving becoming thanks-living!
:: His sustaining grace on a not-so-typical week.
:: My sister and her boys visiting us.
:: Our new Lead Pastor.
:: A Saturday to catch-up on many things...

Happy Monday, friends!
May you be looking forward, as I am... to another week full of God's blessings and His goodness... another week of living out thanks and giving thanks away!
Thanksgiving for God’s love always seeks to become thanks-living – a living and giving of His love.
Soaring into this new week with you, friends... acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God!

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Jump in... I promise you will be blessed!

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

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On Living Each Day Fully...

Hello friends and hello Thursday... with this, my Walk With Him Wednesdays post. I had no time to blog yesterday and you will soon see why. 

Yesterday, we attended a funeral and went to a visitation.... a funeral for a relative and a visitation for a friend's mom. Needless to say, yesterday was not a typical Wednesday.

Being confronted with the reality of death, not just once... but twice in one day, really made me reflect on the brevity of life. Even though both of the deceased were in their 70s, a whole lifetime here on earth is still short when compared to where they are right now... and that is, eternity.

Speaking of eternity... where are they spending eternity? I couldn't help but wonder about each person's life story. Did they have a relationship with Jesus? Were they followers of Christ here on earth? 

Another thing that funerals and visitations often bring to light is the religion, culture and traditions of the family. I couldn't help but notice how religion tries to explain the way to eternal life... and how certain practices of culture and traditions try to make sure that life-after-death will be comfortable for the deceased.

Three thoughts stayed with me from yesterday's experiences...

Seeing life's brevity... live everyday fully.
Witnessing life's hypocrisy... live authentically.
Knowing life's eternity... be radical in sharing my faith in Jesus.

Coincidentally, yesterday was the start of Lent... the preparing of one's heart for Easter. Traditionally, people "give up" something for Lent because the act of refusing oneself of accustomed pleasures develops a discipline that molds the body and the soul towards Christ and towards God's will.

I think marking Lent can be the perfect way to develop the three thoughts I have above. The discipline I can gain from practicing Lent can help me... to live each day more fully, to be a more authentic human being, to be more radical in sharing my faith in Jesus with people I cross paths with everyday.

Our family is practicing Lent a little differently this year than we did last year. We are still fasting from eating out and giving away that money in order to send six under-privileged Filipino children to school. On top of that, each of us is searching our hearts... and fasting from one activity which we think is needlessly taking up our time each day... causing us to neglect the reading of the Bible and/or praying.

And... I've identified mine... this will be a tough one for me, I know that already! It's going to take a whole lot of discipline on my part! :-)

It is... the checking of Facebook and Twitter constantly all throughout the day! So, friends... this will be my personal fast this Lent: I have chosen to only check Facebook and Twitter once in the morning, once during my lunch break and once before bed... from now until Easter Sunday!

Will you also celebrate Lent, friend?
Will you choose a fast, too?
As a way to live more fully?
In Isaiah 58:6-9 (NIV), it says...
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
    then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
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Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Late Start to the Week...

Hello Tuesday! We had a long weekend that started with a P.A. Day for the kids on Friday and ended with the Family Day holiday on Monday.... so we are enjoying a late start to this week!

The whole weekend was spent celebrating our girl's 15th birthday! We went to watch the Raptors play the Bobcats on Friday night. Although the Raptors lost, it was a fun night overall... with a stop at The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. Then, my sister and her hubby surprised my girl by showing up at the basketball game too!

Saturday night was another dinner out at a buffet restaurant of my girl's choice!

Sunday morning was spent at church... a great morning with a great message... one that touched me deep and brought me to tears... perhaps a blog post for another time! After that, our whole family did something very special! We had the awesome privilege of visiting a family to tell them that they have been approved for a Habitat for Humanity house!!!

Printed on the back cover of the presentation folder
that we brought to the family.

On the inside of the folder.

Because of the culture and religion of the family we visited, it was an experience that took us very much outside of our comfort zone! And because we didn't know that we would encounter this culture/religion beforehand, we were very much taken by surprise without any prior preparation! I have to say that I am very proud of how our kids handled themselves. :-)

During the visit, I couldn't help but feel and sense the darkness that has enshrouded this family... an oppressive darkness brought into their lives because of culture and religion. My heart felt sad... very sad.

Yet, I am in awe that God allowed for a window of conversation about the Bible and about our faith during this very short visit. It reminded me of Jesus' words from Mark 16:15 which says:
He (Jesus) said to them, “You are to go to all the world and preach the Good News to every person.
What an awesome way to spend a tiny portion of our Sunday! It's an experience that our family will treasure and remember for a long time. We are hoping to keep tabs on this Habitat family in the months and years to come... because I know that God can do immeasurably more than what we can ever ask or imagine!

Sunday night, the birthday celebrations continued... with my kids' Youth Pastor and his family, plus my girl's Small Group Leader, coming over for dinner. It was a lovely time to cap off an awesome Sunday!

On Family Day Monday, we spent the day with my extended family rock climbing!!! 

Everyone... old and young... big and small... had a great time... an awesome ending to an awesome weekend celebrating an awesome young lady!!!

As I continue my hunt for grace-gifts... these are the things I am thankful for this week... #1267 - #1273:

:: Great time of fellowship at Tuesday night Home Church.
:: Both kids bringing home awesome report cards!!!
:: Conversations with girlfriends over coffee.
:: My girl turning 15... and,
:: A whole weekend of celebrations!
:: Getting to deliver the Habitat good news... and,
:: Praying for this Habitat family to one day know the true Good News!

Happy Tuesday, friends!
May you be looking forward, as I am... to another week full of God's blessings and His goodness.
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. That is a secret worth spending a life on learning.
Soaring into this new week with you, friends... acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God!

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Jump in... I promise you will be blessed!

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

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Beautiful Girl

... turns 15 today!

Time is too swift... it truly flows like a relentless river! Happy Birthday, God's Gal... know that you are forever loved... beyond what words can adequately express... more than you can ever know! ♥

So, how did this adorable baby girl...

... grow up to be this beautiful young lady... in a blink of an eye, just like that?

I am awed anew by God's grace... in the life of my girl. She has grown up to be a truly beautiful young lady. Beautiful on the outside, but most importantly beautiful on the inside... her heart is beautiful!
Do not let your beauty come from the outside. It should not be the way you comb your hair or the wearing of gold or the wearing of fine clothes. Your beauty should come from the inside. It should come from the heart. This is the kind that lasts. Your beauty should be a gentle and quiet spirit. In God’s sight this is of great worth and no amount of money can buy it.
~ 1 Peter 3:3-4, NLV.
This past month, she was nominated for a OCIC Leadership Award for her work as a Volunteer Advocate for Compassion Canada! Even though she didn't win, being nominated is so awesome... so humbled and honoured! I am one proud mama!!!

And... here's a glimpse into her beautiful heart... in her own words, written just two days ago, on her favourite word, hope.

In my blog wanderings yesterday, I came across a song, posted by Kat from the blog Inspired To Action. It's a prayer in the form of a song... a hard prayer to pray, yet so full of meaning and truth! So this, my baby girl... is my prayer for you on this day, your 15th birthday!

{Please watch this video. The song starts at 1:57.}

May your heart break enough that compassion enters in
May your strength all be spent upon the weak
All the castles and crowns you build and place upon your head
May they all fall, come crashing down around your feet
May you find every step to be harder than the last
So your character grows greater each stride
May your company be of humble insignificance
May your weakness be your only source of pride
What you do unto others may it all be done to you
May you meet the One who made us
And see Him smile when life is through
May your blessings be many but not what you hoped they’d be
And when you look upon the broken
May mercy show you what you could not see
May you never be sure of any plans you desire
But you’d learn to trust the plan He has for you
May your passions be tried and tested in the holy fire
May you fight with all your life for what is true
Happy Birthday to our beautiful girl!
You are truly a gift to us from God... just. pure. blessing!

Related Readings... birthday tributes to my girl since this blog started:

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! In my Internet wanderings in recent days, I came across something I never knew before... and that is, the history of Valentine's Day! Did you know that one of the theories of its origin is based on this...
Three hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ, the Roman emperors still demanded that everyone believe in the Roman gods. Valentine, a Christian priest, had been thrown in prison for his teachings. On February 14, Valentine was beheaded, not only because he was a Christian, but also because he had performed a miracle. He supposedly cured the jailer's daughter of her blindness. The night before he was executed, he wrote the jailer's daughter a farewell letter, signing it "From Your Valentine." Another legend tells us that this same Valentine, well-loved by all, received notes to his jail cell from children and friends who missed him.
Source: The History of Valentine's Day,
In light of this story, will you follow in Valentine's footsteps today, on this Valentine's Day... spreading Jesus' love across our world... and being the miracle, bringing hope to so many in the margins who are waiting?

Will you carry the LOVE of Jesus to the little ones?
Will you sponsor a Compassion child today?
Will you *be* the hope they are waiting for?

So, how did Valentine's Day evolve to the way it is celebrated today?
In 1537, a Royal Charter by Henrry VIII officially declared February 14 as St. Valentine's Day. By the next century, Valentine's Day was widely celebrated in Britain and, by the 1700s cards were exchanged on a regular basis, which became one of the precursors to how the holiday is celebrated today.
Source: The History of Valentine's Day,
In light of this, let me tell you about my Valentine...

Chocolate Hills, Bohol (Philippines), Summer 2011.

He is my best friend, the man my soul loves. He is the grace of my life… a man who “fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments.” (from Psalm 112:1 NASB). I am blessed beyond measure.
If I need evidence God is good
Just looking at you is enough
You are the grace of my life
For you grace my life with your love
~ Brian Littrell, Grace of My Life.
In my devotional reading yesterday from Girlfriends in God was this prayer... quite appropriate for this day, Valentine's Day... but I think it's a great prayer for everyday as well!
Lord, I pray for my husband, from head to toe:
:: His Head - That he will look to You as Lord of his life. (1 Corinthians 11:3)
:: His Mind - That he will have the mind of Christ and think as the Holy Spirit would lead him and not the flesh. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
:: His Eyes - That You will keep his eyes from temptation and that he will turn his eyes from sin. (Matthew 6:13, Mark 9:47)
:: His Ears - That he will hear Your still small voice instructing him. (1 Kings 19:12, Psalm 32:8)
:: His Mouth - That his words will be pleasing to You. (Psalm 19:14)
:: His Neck - That he will humble himself before You and be strong, courageous, and careful to do everything written in Your Word so that he will be prosperous and successful. (James 4:10, Joshua 1:8-9)
:: His Heart - That he will love and trust You with his whole heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5, Proverbs 3:5)
:: His Arms - That You will be his strength. (Psalm 73:26)
:: His Hands - That he will enjoy the work of his hands and see it as a gift from You. (Ecclesiastes 3:13, 5:19)
:: His feet - That You will order his steps and that he will walk in Your truth. (Proverbs 4:25, Psalm 26:3)
Happy Valentine's Day, friends!
Let us love... "because He first loved us." ~ 1 John 4:19.

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I promise you will be blessed!

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

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gifts on Wintry Days...

My boy had an awesome time away on his 3-day school trip! I missed him a lot when he was away... so I was quite happy when Wednesday afternoon finally rolled around. He brought a camera with him and took some amazing nature photos! Here are some of them, all raw and unedited... straight from the camera:

Self-portrait! :-)

And here is his class, upon arrival at the school, forming a human chain to unload their luggage!

As I continue my hunt for grace-gifts... these are the things I am thankful for this week... #1260 - #1266:

:: My boy had a great time on his first ever overnight trip without us!
:: Excited about a few local missions initiatives that I'm working on for our church family to participate in these next few months.
:: My girl working hard to prep for piano and theory exams.
:: Hubby's doctor being careful and doing some additional tests.
:: Holding a brand-new baby!
:: A friend got baptized.
:: Finally... snow on the ground!

Happy Monday, friends!
May this new week be amazing... because we serve an awesome and great God!
Gift List. That is the beginning and I smile. I can't believe how I smile. I mean, they are just the common and maybe I don't even know they are gifts really, until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows.
Soaring into this new week with you, friends... acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God!

Click on the banner below for more Multitudes on Mondays posts...
Jump in... I promise you will be blessed!

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

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

God's Upside-Down Economy

This is what God does. He gives his best — the sun to warm and the rain to nourish — to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
~ Matthew 5:45-47, The Message.
I read the above verses during my morning devotions yesterday... and it made me continue my reflection on what it truly means to live out the greatest of commandments... the practice of Love {an appropriate topic to focus on during this month of love, don't you think?}... the choice that we as Christ-followers must choose.

So, what does it mean to truly love? 
This video illustrates it very well...

I've known about Katie Davis and Amazima Ministries for a while now. My girl did her Grade 9 English Independent Study Unit on Katie Davis' book Kisses from Katie... an incredible story of one young woman following God's heart!

But yesterday was the very first time I saw Katie Davis on video... and, the video made her real to me. Suddenly, she's not just a young woman who's a character in a storybook or someone I read about on blogs anymore... but actually a real flesh-and-blood person.

A young lady... who, when she started this whole journey of serving God in Uganda, was only 16 years old. At a tender age of 16, Katie Davis chose the upside-down economy of God! She chose to please her Heavenly Father over pleasing her earthly father. 

Sixteen... my girl turns 15 in just a week's time... sixteen is only a year away!

As I watched the video... tears came. I previewed the video once again just now and I'm emotional all over again. I had to ask myself, "Why the tears?" 

I try to convince myself that I'm crying because I'm moved by Katie Davis' courage and her boldness. But deep down inside I know the source of my tears. I am thinking of my girl... thinking what if... what if she chooses, at a tender age of 16, to forgo a university degree? To move to Uganda and care for orphans? Or some other radical choice like that? Would I be okay with that?!? Would I really be?

Would I stand by what hubby and I say that we teach and model to our kids each day... that is "to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God"... would I?

To be quite honest, I'm struggling... struggling because I know what the right answer should be... but I don't even want to picture the scenario of my children choosing to live out the greatest of commandments so radically like that.

I am confronted anew by the reality of my addiction, the addiction to comfort... to giving just enough and loving just enough and letting go of just enough... so as not to hamper my comfortable life. I am also reminded of my fight, the fight to stay away from that middle ground, that comfortable place where it is so easy to settle down.

Shane Claiborne, in his book The Irresistible Revolution, says this:
We are not just called to be candles. Candles make for nice Christmas services and for a nice peace vigil. They can remind us that God's light dwells within us and that we are to shine that light in this dark world. But we are not just called to be candles. We are called to be fire. Candles can be snuffed out by the slightest wind or by the smallest child on their birthday. But it's harder to put out a fire. We are to be fire, to weave our lives together so that the Spirit's inferno of love spreads across the earth.
~ The Irresistible Revolution, page 352.
This is exactly where God's grace enters the picture. 
Because it is truly only by grace... that we can become a people radically living out the greatest of commandments... to be ordinary radicals... to love radically... to be fire, not candles... for me to be okay if my girl {or my boy} chooses to serve God in Africa one day! Oh, help me God...

We can love all.
A love revolution...
Seeing the One we love in everyone.
Change takes real intentionality, like a woman bent over her flower beds every day with a spade and the sure determined will to grow up something good to strengthen the heart.
Click on the banner below to read more Walk With Him posts every Wednesday...
I promise you will be blessed!

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Missing My Boy...

Today, my heart misses my boy. He is gone on a 3-day school trip... his first {ever!} overnight trip alone away from home. I know, I know... he's already 11... but he'll always be my baby boy!

My boy's hand-print from when he was 4!

Because he can have an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts, we've always been wary of sleep-overs... that's why he's never been away from home overnight on his own... up until now, that is. We've always said to him that only when he feels like he's ready, he can tell us... then he can go on overnight trips alone.

This year, he announced that he's finally ready!
I thought, "Awesome! Because there is a school trip planned for Grade 6 students at his school."

Over the weekend, he excitedly did his laundry early... started setting aside things for the trip... dug out a small suitcase from the basement storage room. As I helped him pack... rolling his clothes neatly into tight cylinders... checking the packing list... and checking it again, I secretly wondered if he'll change his mind about this trip.

Sunday night came, the eve of the trip. We had a Super Bowl party at home, had guests over. We were busy cheering for the Giants... and before we knew it, it was 10pm. I said, "Time for bed... or you might get left behind by the bus tomorrow morning!"

Then he said, "Maybe I'll decide not to go..." his voice trailing off... "but, I think I'll be fine..." he said decidedly before he could change his mind. It was actually quite cute how he said it!

I assured him that he could decide not to go, even at the last minute... and that I would go pick him up if he decided partway through the trip that he wanted to come home! Tuesday night now... and no phone call... so I guess he's having a grand time!

But, this mama's missing a piece of her heart!
Seriously, I don't think I slept soundly last night... especially since I know that he had a teeny bit of hesitation about the trip. It is in days like these that the Joy Dare lives up to its name, a dare! These two days, I'd dared myself to not fret, to not worry, to *feel* joy, to *know* that God is always good and I am always loved.

So... today's Joy Dare is to look for 3 gifts red. What gift did God give me? Take a look at the photo above... a red hand-print of my boy from when he was 4! It is supposed to be a Christmas ornament... but it is tacked on my cork board right in front of my work desk. It was the first thing I saw as I sat down to start my workday this morning!

I turned the hand-print over and this is what I read...
Inside this heart I placed my hand
To hang upon our tree
And when I'm grown and on my own
My hand will always be
Upon your tree within my heart
At Christmas every year
So hang it now with all my love
Forever keep me near
Oh, the unspeakable joy that flowed from my heart!
Didn't I already say that God is always good and I am always loved? And why do I so frequently forget that? Are you fretting? Do you worry? How about checking out the Joy Dare and taking on the dare with me? I promise you won't regret it!
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
~ John Milton.
Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Grace Which Sustains...

My boy helping out at "Out of the Cold" this past weekend.

It is sunny and a balmy 7*C today. Is it really February in the Great White North?!? Don't know about you but I am LOVING this winter weather. :-)

We had a busy weekend... thankful for God's sustaining grace! As I continue my hunt for grace-gifts... these are the things I am thankful for this week... #1246 - #1259:

:: His grace which sustains...
:: Good {and free!} medical care.
:: My boy staying after school to practice playing the trombone.
:: My girl volunteering to ref a basketball game at her old school.
:: Good orthodontic care... even though it's not free. :-)
:: Shopping for food... for our family.
:: Shopping for food... for the homeless dinner we were preparing.
:: My boy packing for his first overnight school trip.
:: His excitement for this trip!
:: My girl hanging out with her small group from youth group.
:: Leading a great bunch of youth from our church to prepare and serve a meal to the homeless community at "Out of the Cold".
:: Sunday lunch with a great church leadership team!
:: Fun Super Bowl party... and the Giants winning! :-)
:: Our family and friends safe after a strong earthquake hit Central Philippines on Sunday night.

Happy Monday, friends!
May you be looking forward, as I am... to a great week full of God's blessings and His goodness.
Our salvation in Christ is real, yet the completeness of that salvation is not fully realized in a life until the life realizes the need to give thanks.
Soaring into this new week with you, friends... acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God!

Click on the banner below for more Multitudes on Mondays posts...
Jump in... I promise you will be blessed!

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

Thursday, February 2, 2012

On Loving All...

It's been a great winter... the weather has been mild and life has been slow... and to me, those are good things. I've had time to read, to blog, to bake, to even make dinner {gasp!}, to be less frazzled! It's a great feeling!

I am currently reading {still... it's a great read and I'm taking it slow in order to digest everything} Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution. Today, these words were waiting for me as I cracked open the book...
When we look through the eyes of Jesus, we see new things in people. In murderers, we see our own hatred. In the addicts, we see our own addictions. In the saints, we catch glimpses of our own holiness. We can see our own brokenness, our own violence, our own ability to destroy, and we can see our sacredness, our own capacity to love and forgive. When we realize that we are both wretched and beautiful, we are freed up to see others the same way.
When we have new eyes, we can look into the eyes of those we don't even like and see the One we love. We can see God's image in everyone we encounter. As Henri Nouwen puts it, "In the face of the oppressed I recognize my own face, and in the hands of the oppressor I recognize my own hands. Their flesh is my flesh, their blood is my blood, their pain is my pain, their smile is my smile." We are made of the same dust. We cry the same tears. No one is beyond redemption. And we are free to imagine a revolution that sets both the oppressed and the oppressors free.
As I continue to reflect upon what it truly means to live out the greatest of commandments... the practice of Love... the choice that we as Christ-followers must choose... the above words come to life!

We can love all.
A love revolution...
Seeing the One we love in everyone.

My boy and I...
at last year's Out of the Cold dinner.
These are great thoughts for me to ponder as we prepare to take a group of youth from our church to prepare and serve dinner to a group of homeless people in our community this weekend.

Based on past experiences, this service project can often be uncomfortable or difficult for experienced volunteers, let alone young people. Many of the guests can arrive not being sober, some can be in a volatile state of mind, fights can break out among them, some can be very demanding and ungrateful.

With those thoughts in mind... yesterday, as I got to the end of the information email that I was drafting to send out to everyone who's volunteering this weekend... I pondered on how to end it... and this is what I wrote:
Finally, be ready to serve all, love all & have good fun at the same time.
To look through the eyes of Jesus.
To be His hands and His feet.
To be the Love Revolution! 

I am excited for this weekend! It's going to be great seeing young people step out of their comfort zone... to serve and love people who are in the fringes of society... just as Jesus did!

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Blessed in the Little Things

Good morning, friends... and hello there, February! It's a new month and it's the month of love... what is The Practice of Love that I choose to live out... living out the greatest of commandments?

As I reflect upon that question... especially as the season of Lent starts up at the end of this month, on Ash Wednesday, February 22... I am beyond grateful for the many blessings that my Heavenly Father bestows, especially in the little things in life.

A friend posted this on Facebook this morning. It's too beautiful not to share!
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – who crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things.
~ Psalm 100:1-4
Little things, though simple in their demonstration, can be great in their significance in our lives. A harvest of joy can be received from the sowing of little things that spontaneously flow from a giving heart, and come to us freely from a gracious God. Welcome and make ours whatever good, though small, the present brings — kind greetings, sunshine, song of birds, and flowers — with a child’s pure delight in little things.
~ R.C. Trench
Into our lives, in many simple, familiar, homely ways, God infuses this element of joy from the surprises of life, which unexpectedly brighten our days, and fill our eyes with light. He drops this added sweetness into His children’s cup, and makes it to run over.
~ S. Longfellow
Blessings in little things...
Are you looking for them in your every-days?
Recognizing the blessings in the little things in my life has truly helped me to live out The Practice of Love. How about checking out the Joy Dare too? Here's my January Joy Dare List!
I am blessed. I can bless. A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.
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I promise you will be blessed!

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