Thursday, February 28, 2013

Coldest Night of the Year

I was glad that it wasn't literally the coldest night of the year. Because if it was, I'm not quite sure how I would've survived standing outside being exposed to the elements like that! Brrrrr... it was cold!

Last Saturday, our whole family volunteered at the Oshawa location of the Coldest Night of the Year event. Together with people from our Home Church, we marshaled the route for this "non-competitive 2 km, 5 km and 10 km winter-walk fundraiser supporting select Canadian charities that serve the hungry, homeless and hurting in cities and communities across Canada."

At the Oshawa location, the organization being supported is called The Refuge, a shelter for homeless youth. It was an awesome night of serving together as a family and as a Home Church, playing a small part in helping The Refuge raise $50,000.00+!

Hubby and my boy had the not-so-cold, but harder job of driving the relief vehicle, a.k.a. our family van, along the route in case there are walkers in need of help.

Home Church peeps! What an awesome team!!!

My girl and I, along with our fellow Home Church peeps, had the easier, but oh-so-cold job of standing at designated street corners cheering on walkers and directing them where to go.

At our first post.
My girl and I, we eagerly stood at our first post. We held up these cardboard signs, designed to mimic the signs that homeless people often hold up when they stand in street corners begging. We actually caught the attention of a few passers-by and of a few people in the cars driving by. A couple actually asked us if we needed anything. We felt a little bit how it would feel to be homeless and begging and having people take notice of us!

We were chipper and cheerful, especially when we spotted the first of the yellow toques bobbing up and down in the horizon. The first batch of walkers were coming our way! We waved, blew our party horns, encouraged and thanked the walkers. In less than an hour, all of the walkers had passed us by!

Hurrah! It was time to move on to our second post, towards the end of the route.

The very nice and kind and good-looking relief vehicle driver and his eager little man assistant drove us to our second post where we set up our sign and prepared ourselves for this shift, which would be longer than the first... quite possibly double the time.

At our second post.
By this time, my toes were starting to feel cold and numb, and my nose was starting to become frozen.

As my girl and I waited and waited for signs of the first group of yellow toques to start appearing in the horizon, we noticed that night had fallen.

It was dark. We were hungry. We were miserably cold. We had toes that were frozen solid. We. just. wanted. to. go. home!

We started to feel a little bit more... okay, a lot more, how it would feel to be homeless, living on the streets with nowhere to go warm up on a cold and wintry February night.

And then, it happened.
I noticed that a group of three boys were walking towards us. They looked scruffy and unkempt. At this point, there was a lull in the walkers that were passing us by. My girl and I, we felt alone in that street corner.

These boys walked closer... and then one of them walked right up to my girl, at a distance that was too close for my comfort, and said suggestively, "Hey, so how's it going?"

My heart raced. This person just propositioned my girl! I was livid. Angry! My quick-thinking girl, being braver than me, stared back at him with a look that said, "Don't mess with me!" and this group of three boys silently walked away into the night, realizing that we weren't actually girls standing by a street corner waiting for "that-kind-of-business".

At that very moment, my heart broke for the countless girls, whether teenagers or not, whether homeless or not, who face this kind of atrocity each and every single day, at times all day long --- just one of many forms of modern-day slavery.

Friends, we need to END THIS! We need to put an end to modern-day slavery!!!

I've recently just started to get myself educated on this topic. It started with following Tara Teng, a passionate Christian abolitionist who also happens to be Miss World Canada 2012. Then not too long ago, hubby and I attended a screening of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a documentary that exposes the injustice beneath the surface of sex-tourism. There's also Christine Caine and The A21 Campaign, an organization that exists to abolish injustice in the 21st century. And also International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.

And of course, the newly-formed End It Movement, shining a light on slavery, disappearing from the social media communities yesterday "in honor of the 27 million men, women and children who've disappeared, trapped in slavery, in brothels, in factories, in quarries, working as slaves, in 161 countries, including our own."

{Please pause the playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video.}

All of a sudden...
My girl and I, we see the last of the yellow toques! Hurrah!!! It was time to end our shift. By this point, we were beyond cold. We were frozen. We were hungry. We were miserable. But the beautiful thing is, my girl and I... we get to go home! 

We have a more-than-adequate house to go home to, with warm beds, with lots of food, with lots of warm clothes and most of all, a loving family. Yes, all of a sudden, the very nice and kind and good-looking relief vehicle driver and his eager little man assistant arrived to help us pack up our post. Yes, we get to finally go home and warm up our frozen-solid toes and noses, and fill our hungry tummies with food, and rest our tired bodies on a warm bed covered with a cozy comforter!

Sadly, many of our brothers and sisters do not get to go home... trapped, in modern-day slavery.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
          because he has anointed me
          to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
          and recovery of sight for the blind,
          to set the oppressed free,
          to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

~ from Jesus' first public speech, Luke 4:18-19.
Friends, this is Jesus' manifesto. Shouldn't it become ours too?

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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Lenten Prayers

During this Lenten season, I am reading A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor by Chris Seay.

There are quite a few beautiful prayers within the book. Here are some...
God, we thank You for being near in a world filled with selfish ambition, where too often our tendency is to turn inward and contemplate our own desires despite the suffering that surrounds us. We live surrounded by a wealth that defies the imagination of our poorer brothers and sisters, yet we live with the fear that we will never have enough. Expand our hearts, Lord, that we may learn to truly love. 
May we put our hand to the plow and work as those who have a higher calling. In the days that come, Lord, reveal to us new patterns of living where our spiritual lives and work lives become an integrated whole. May all that we do be worship to You.
We acknowledge that out of the ashes of our lives You are bringing shalom. We believe You are calling us to be a part of Your shalom work in our own cities and across the globe. We ask You to lead us and guide us. We are called to be Your hands and feet. As representatives of Christ we believe we should carry Your message of love and grace into the dark places You came to restore, the places where disease and illness plague people. Lord, do not allow us to seek safe havens, to hide the news of Your gospel; instead, call us out so that Your Good News will be evident to all.
Amen, amen and amen!
I came across this video today and thought it's quite appropriate and in line with what I've been reading in this book.
If not us who will be like Jesus,
To the least of these.
If not us tell me who will be like Jesus,
Like Jesus to the least of these.
Boys become kings, girls will be queens,
Wrapped in Your majesty.
When we love, when we love the least of these.
Then they will be brave and free,
Shout your name in victory.
When we love when we love the least of these.
When we love the least of these!
And this week, my friend, favourite blogger and fellow Compassion Advocate Ann Voskamp and her family are in Haiti on a family missions trip! Today, they visited a Compassion Child Development Centre and a miracle unfolded! So, so, so beautiful! I love this one sentence from the blog post, "...compassion is always the rain that ends the drought."

Friends, during this season of Lent will you...?
Learn to truly love? Put your hand to the plow as one who has a higher calling? Be Christ's hands and feet? Love the least of these? Be the rain that ends the drought?

Will you sponsor a child today?

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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

God's Ways...

My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my plans than your plans.
~ Isaiah 55:8-9, CEB.
Yesterday, I said "no" to a very good opportunity so that I can say "yes" to the best things that God has in store for me.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm disappointed that things didn't turn out the way I envisioned them to, but I can truly say that my heart is at peace with this outcome, for I know that my God is always good and I am always loved!

Let's rewind time, shall we? Five months ago, back in October 2012, an awesome job opportunity opened up at an organization that our family loves and supports. Everyone, and I mean everyone, urged me to apply for the job. The job is sooooo me, I was told.

At first, everyone but me was excited for me... if you know what I mean. Deep down in my heart though, I knew that God wanted me to take the plunge, to obey... to surrender, to send in my application. So I did!

I don't have the words to explain this properly, but the very minute I clicked "send" on that email to submit my application, a deep sense of release and peace washed over me. I knew, at that very moment, that I did what God wanted me to do...
I know God is speaking to me when, in spite of my initial struggle, an undeniable release and peace follows when I have obeyed His voice. When I finally do the thing He has been nudging me to do, whether it's letting something or someone go, or taking a step toward the unknown, there is a deep calm in my soul. Where my heart and mind were once filled with terrible angst, I am now filled with a supernatural peace.
~ Kathy Troccoli, as printed in Discerning the Voice of God, Week 4, Day 3, page 73.
Yes, that feeling!
It's a beautiful feeling... and with it came the warming up to this idea of a new career path for me. I began to see that, indeed, this job is soooo me. I started to get excited about the possibilities, the things I can accomplish with this position, the ways I can make a difference in the lives of children living in extreme poverty all over the world, the way I can live out Micah 6:8 even more intentionally.

I kept moving up in the interview process. I prayed and I waited. I was excited and I was anxious. I was soooo ready for this change. By the time 2013 rolled around, I was at the last stages of the interview process, set to meet with the top leaders of this organization.

Then, something quite serious happened in mid-January reminding me not to neglect the high calling of motherhood in my pursuit of this new career. Hubby and I talked, I prayed... and I prayed some more, asking God to clearly show me the way. And, He did...

I felt very strongly that God was telling me, at this time, to not work full-time so that I can continue to devote much-needed time and support to my children, to my family. I felt like I was in a conundrum. Why would God so clearly have me apply for this full-time position, only to plop a situation on my lap to tell me that I am *not* to work full-time?!?

So... my One Word for 2013 --- surrender. Yes, that word. God sure has been giving me lots of opportunities to practice surrendering since the New Year rolled around. I came to the conclusion that it's time for another moment of surrender.

I fired off an email to my contact at this organization and told him about my conundrum. I proposed part-time work terms for this job opportunity and asked them to consider it. I apologize for surprising him with this news and told him that I didn't expect to be in this position as well when I first applied for the job.

I told him that I feel very strongly that motherhood is my first and highest calling, that I would still very much love to explore this position on a part-time basis, and still feel that I would be a very good fit given my gifts and my passion for helping those in need. But if the organization feels that they cannot continue with the interview process with me due to this new development, that I fully understand.

Yesterday, they told me that they don't think a part-time arrangement would work.

So, sadly but surely, and with great conviction... 
I surrendered and said "no" to this very good opportunity... in order to say "yes" to being a mom. 

I feel blessed, I am blessed. I am not without a job, as I continue on with my current job {which I can do within 32 hours/week}. And the beautiful thing is... even though I won't be a staff member at this time, I continue on as a Volunteer Advocate for this wonderful organization, being involved on a regular basis in making a difference in the lives of children living in extreme poverty all over the world, still living out Micah 6:8 with intentionality each day!

And this isn't the end of this story. As the organization goes on to interview other applicants in an effort to find a full-time person for this position, they've told me to hang in there... 'coz they just might call me back. You see, when God writes your story, you just never know what the next chapter will look like... 
Father, today I thank you that your greatest desire for me as your child is to have a rich, satisfying and abundant life. I pray that you will give me the wisdom to know how to say "no" to the good things that come my way so that I can say "yes" to the best things that you have for me. I pray for your wisdom that is beyond human understanding to help me make these choices that will ultimately bring out the best in me as well as bring out the best in those around me for your glory and honor! In Jesus' name, Amen.

As my girl so eloquently put it last night, "Mom, God was just testing you just like He did when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. He just wanted to see how far you would obey Him." Don't you just *love* her analogy? I do! :-)

This morning, I woke up feeling like a new chapter has indeed started after five months of waiting.

And, I am thankful for The Author... He who is easy to surrender to.

He who is always good and He whose love is relentless, never letting go and always finding me!  

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Family Day Weekend

This past weekend was the Family Day long weekend here. It was a b-u-s-y one for our family with a few different significant activities on our calendar. The long weekend was made extra long with Friday being a school board Professional Activity (P.A.) Day which meant no school!!!

Friday was mostly spent at home making sure homework and laundry were all done so that we can enjoy the upcoming long weekend. We did spend a bit of Friday grocery shopping and getting supplies for my girl's 16th birthday party.

My sister and her kids came over for dinner on Friday night as my niece needed some help with a school project. Not sure who had more fun doing the project, me or her... judge for yourself! ;-)

All day Saturday was spent at the Toronto Winter Open cubing competition, an official World Cube Association event, where my boy competed for the very first time! He did an awesome job, considering it was his first competition and that he's only been cubing for less than six months.

Official Results

Here he is solving the 2x2 cube, with a time of 6.11 seconds, and the 3x3 cube in 19.19 seconds!

Sunday was an awesome day spent with lots of peeps from our church family --- a dim-sum lunch to celebrate our Lead Pastor's birthday and a potluck dinner with our Home Church!

And, my baby girl turned 16 on Family Day Monday! It was a beautiful day of celebration --- she is one awesome young lady!!! Click here to read her reflections on turning 16 and the final tally of Street Kids Gifts that she received... I am one proud mama! :-)

That was our weekend, in a nutshell. I feel blessed. I am blessed. My heart is full... God is good and His love endures forever. No matter the circumstance, or the challenges in life, or the difficult decisions waiting to be made, or the not-so-easy choices that lie ahead... I know that God is always good and I am always loved! So, I will count gifts and I will give thanks!
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.
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.
As I continue to count grace-gifts, with unending thanks... to The One who is always good and always loves... these are the things I am thankful for these two weeks... #2845 - #2857:
:: An education system that allows for adjustments and modifications for challenges that highly gifted children encounter.
:: A church family who braves a snow storm knowing that an inner-city community dinner wouldn't happen without them.
:: Celebrating Chinese New Year with my sister and her family, even during a snow storm!
:: Safety, especially when driving in snowy weather.
:: Trapped behind some cars stuck in the snow and making the most of the situation.
:: My girl's March Break mission team getting organized and raising funds!
:: Her trip, fully-funded!
:: Support and understanding from my boy's school Principal.
:: Two very awesome report cards!
:: The start of Lent.
:: Twenty years!
:: Sixteen candles! 
:: The gift of a beautiful daughter!
And so I say "hello" to this shortened week...
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
~ Psalm 100:4-5, NIV1984.
Choosing to live a surrendered life... because Christ's love compels me... and giving thanks for everything that my good God so freely bestows, so lavishly gives and so extravagantly showers!

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

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen years ago today, a most beautiful gift came into my life and I became a mom! Sixteen years old, time sure does flow like a relentless river... doesn't it?

Minutes after being born. :-)

Happy Birthday, Alyssa! You live life as "a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor," I am blessed and proud to be your mama! ♥

My girl is...
A beautiful young lady with the most beautiful heart! She is a champion for hope and a voice for those who cannot speak out for themselves. She wants to make a difference in the world, by becoming a social worker or a journalist or a humanitarian aid worker or a teacher or a lawyer one day. She can't just yet make up her mind... maybe all of the above?!? :D

She is out to change the world, one step at a time! She encourages her peers to do the same, venturing into the inner-city to organize community dinners for under-privileged youth, going into the downtown core to distribute bagged lunches to the homeless, taking charge of the AIDs Care Campaign at her youth group.

She wrote a piece of prose about social justice and about having the courage to stand up to injustice and her piece wins the top Provincial Award and she brainstorms and researches ways on how to spend her $1,000 prize money, not for herself, but for fighting injustice.

Tonight, we will host a party to celebrate her Sweet Sixteen and this is what she wrote on the invitation...
As I celebrate my 16th birthday, I know that I am so blessed, and that many teens just like me will celebrate their 16th this year facing life on the street. 
It would really mean a lot to me if in lieu of gifts for myself, you would purchase something from Covenant House's gift catalogue in my honour, in order to help street youth through Covenant House Toronto. If you could print the card & let me know what you got, I'd love to know! :)
Thank you so much!
Beautiful, right? She is adamant... nothing for herself! So... hubby and I, and our little man {he gathers up his allowance money}... we gather around the computer and we shower her with gifts, to honour her beautiful heart!

We browse and we click and we buy...

As I publish this blog post, my sweet sixteen celebrant is sleeping in as today is the Family Day holiday here... some much-needed beauty sleep after a few late nights! As we gather with family and friends tonight, we will celebrate this beautiful girl... and how God has enriched our lives because of how she lives her life!

Christmas 2012, almost 16!

Happy Birthday, my beautiful girl! I love you!!!
You are truly a gift to us from God... His generous legacy. May "God bless you and keep you, God smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the face and make you prosper. (Numbers 6:24-26)"
May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart. 
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people. 
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy. 
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.
~ Benedictine Blessing by Sr. Ruth Fox.

Related Readings... birthday tributes to my girl since this blog started:
~ 11 years old, 2008.
~ 12 years old, 2009.
~ 13 years old, 2010.
~ 14 years old, 2011.

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Two Hearts...

Happy Valentine's Day!
I had to drive out to a meeting this morning and he made sure my van's gas tank is full and the windshield washer fluid is topped up. That's my Valentine!

He does that, not only on Valentine's Day, but all. the. time. My children once asked me, "Mom, do you know how to use the gas pump?" :D

Twenty years ago, on this day, my Valentine and I got engaged. It's been the best years of my life!
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 have in my hubby a man who holds my heart and chases after God's heart... I am blessed beyond measure... God is so good to me... His grace truly is amazing!

I am so glad these two hearts, mine and his fell in love all those many years ago! ♥♥♥

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.

I get those very words inscribed onto the back of my iPad mini...

Those very same words adorn one wall of my office...

We read those very same words each time we go up or down the stairs in our home...

Do justice. Love Mercy. Walk humbly.
It is a verse from the Bible, from Micah 6:8. It is our Family Manifesto... our desire, our prayer... we pray that, with God's grace, it will be our lifestyle, in fact, our very life. It has not been an easy journey... but God's grace has been and will be sufficient!

To act justly is to promote justice, to confront injustice and oppression, to strive to alleviate inequalities... both locally and globally.

To love mercy is to love being compassionate to those, locally and globally, who are less fortunate than us, to express kindness to them.

To walk humbly with God is to live in obedience to God's greatest commands to love Him and love others, to live in a way that is free of arrogance, judgmental-ism and self-righteousness.
So fundamental to the life of faith are these twin teachings of loving God and loving neighbour that they are given top priority in God's original handwritten instructions of daily living. Christ later underscored their central importance by declaring that the entire law is contained in these two inseparable commands.

~ Robert D. Lupton
And, Isaiah 58:7 paints the picture very clearly... in the NIV it says:
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?
{Side note: Speaking of this verse from Isaiah 58, please hop over to my girl's blog to read her post from yesterday on Isaiah 58. So much wisdom there. Wow! This mama's heart is smiling happy.}

Friends, today marks the beginning of Lent...
Our family is choosing to practice Micah 6:8 by observing Lent, by refraining from eating out. The equivalent money saved will be going towards our church's AIDs Care Campaign. It's a radical campaign... aiming to raise close to $400,000.00 in the form of AIDs Care Kits and AIDs Care Cards!

Watch this short video to learn more about this campaign:

Radical? Yes! Impossible? No!
Friends, consider this quote. What is your answer to the question, the last sentence in the quote?
The early Christians were so committed to caring for another's needs that history records their practice of fasting to save food to give to others who were more in need. What would happen if the world today could see such a clear and consistent demonstration of God's love?

~ Wes Roberts.
Will you join us? Let's be radical together?
Pack an AIDs Care Kit? Sponsor a child? Help a street kid? Build a home for low-income families? Volunteer at an inner-city ministry? Consider a basketball ministry?

The possibilities to live radical for Jesus are endless! Let's live Micah 6:8 and be radical today!

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

Monday, February 4, 2013

On Watching the Super Bowl

Our family loves watching sports together on TV. Naturally, yesterday was a big day... as it was Super Bowl Sunday! {Side note: We were cheering for the Ravens. So happy they won!}

As Sunday approached, blog posts about people boycotting the Super Bowl begin to flood my Google reader. I learned for the first time the link between the increase of sex trafficking, especially involving children and the Super Bowl. I also started to read predictions about how much sexual content the commercials will have. Both of these information disturbed me. I wasn't sure what our response should be or would be as a family.

Sunday came and we settled in to watch the game. {Another side note: I am happy that my girl decided to skip a Super Bowl party that she was invited to because she said we always watch the Super Bowl as a family.} We decided to tune in to the Canadian broadcast which had "cleaner" commercials while still screening them as we watched. We also decided to turn the TV off during the half-time show, a decision I'm glad we made after reading reviews of Beyonce's performance this morning.

Young boys in our society today are bombarded and tempted enough by these sexual images everywhere they go. On the Internet, in the malls, on bus shelters, on billboards along the highway, even right in their own schools! Sometimes, no, many times unfortunately... it's out of our control.

So, when it's within our control... shouldn't we step in and take action?!?

What's a mother to do? 
We all know that this is not only every man's battle, it is every young man's battle as well. As a mother, I will fiercely fight this! Fighting for my son's purity is a battle that I can win, by God's grace. And I will fight... I will win!

As the game progressed, I was on Facebook and Twitter at the same time. It saddened me to read comments and tweets of young boys, entire youth groups even, watching the half-time show and perhaps, even the commercials! So, may I ask... since when did all this become acceptable material to watch?

I am not a perfect mother {far from... my imperfections become more and more evident with each passing day!} and I know that there isn't one right way to go about all this. All I know is that I want my son to have a firm understanding that these things are not acceptable to watch. Even when it's just once a year, even when it's the Super Bowl.

Then only will he know how to discern between right and wrong when he is confronted by these images in his daily life. For it is not a matter of if... it's a matter of when, if not already! Oh, help me, God!

This morning, I was happy to know that I'm not alone... 
I woke up to a blog post written by Lisa-Jo Baker entitled When Mama Ain't Happy. She writes about her anger because her sons were exposed to several sexually suggestive Super Bowl commercials. They were watching the game at someone else's home so there wasn't the option to turn off the TV or change channels.
Something broke wide open and angry when my five-year-old’s primary take away from the Super Bowl is a shocked recollection of several commercials I wish I could bleach clean out of his head. 
Dear God, when the world tries to claw at them, to break them, to smash the beauty in them, may our foundation hold true. May the lessons we’ve told, the truths we’ve lived, the life we’ve spoken into them come back easily, predictably, with courageous instinct.
We are the warriors who will battle for our children’s hearts, souls, attention, innocence, and memories.
~ Lisa-Jo Baker.
Fellow moms, to be warriors who will battle for our children's hearts, souls, attention, innocence, and memories --- this is why God made mothers, as Ann Voskamp writes today in her blog post!
That God had said I need somebody with a strong heart.
Strong enough for toddler tantrums and teenage testing, yet broken enough to fall on her knees and pray, pray, pray.
Someone who knows that in every hard place is exactly where you extend grace...
So God made a mother.
As I continue to count grace-gifts, with unending thanks... to The One who never fails to extend grace to me... these are the things I am thankful for these two weeks... #2834 - #2844:
:: The gift of being a mother.
:: My girl choosing family...
:: My boy's ability to discern between right and wrong... and the courage to seek restoration when he's wrong.
:: Birthday dinner with my girlfriend and chatting about marriage and motherhood.
:: The opportunity to help someone in need all the way in Slovakia.
:: My girl's great finish to her first semester in Grade 10.
:: Serving our homeless brothers and sisters at various "Out of the Cold" programs in the city.
:: A great church leadership team!
:: Fun family night watching the Super Bowl.
:: Medication and rest for when I don't feel well.
:: An understanding boss, telling me to take it easy today!
Happy Monday, friends!
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.
~ Philippians 4:6-7, The Message.
Choosing to live a surrendered life... because Christ's love compels me... and giving thanks for everything that my good God so freely bestows, so lavishly gives and so extravagantly showers!

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