Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Monday Mornings

This is a wondrous thing: We all make a mark. We can either mark the world or mar the world. It behooves us to leave a trail behind that leads to the better - greater life, deeper joy, more Truth.
Christ didn't leave this world until he showed us his scars and we won't leave this world until we leave our marks.
A gift never stops being a gift. A gift is always meant to be given.
~ Ann Voskamp, in the book What's Your Mark? by Jeremy Cowart.
Yes! Another summer Monday morning...
You see, my kids and I... we have this routine on Monday mornings this summer. So, this morning was no different. Yet, after this weekend's Zimmerman verdict, this particular Monday morning seems a bit darker even when the summer sun's yellow rays streamed brightly into my bedroom, gently waking me.

We discussed this verdict quite a bit over the weekend here at our house, because my girl has recently came to the realization that she might want to be a lawyer one day.

We live in a broken society... where guns are legal... and venturing out to buy a pack of Skittles isn't particularly safe. Friends, I am not even sure that there is a need for me to choose a side... George Zimmerman's or Trayvon Martin's... what I do know for certain is that we live in a broken world.

A world so broken... Christ had to be broken to redeem it.

My kids and I, we load up the trunk of our station wagon... 
Watermelons, oranges, apples, bananas, cucumbers, baby carrots, breads and bagels... and we drive into the Jane/Finch community, a neighbourhood located in the northwest end of Toronto where UrbanPromise has a community called Camp Freedom

This is the Jane and Finch neighbourhood in a nutshell:
The community has one of the largest concentrations of criminal gangs of any area in Canada. It also has "one of the highest proportions of youth, sole-supported families, refugees and immigrants, low-income earners and public housing tenants of any community in Toronto”. (Source: Wikipedia)
We pull into the parking lot of Christian Centre Church, the place where Camp Freedom calls home. Our family loves Camp Freedom and we have been frequenting the Jane and Finch community for a few years now. 

Yes, poverty is clearly evident and it definitely feels like an inner-city community. But over the years, the gangs and the violence have become less and less of a deterrent for our family venturing into this community. In fact, I can say that today I don't even think about that aspect of Jane and Finch anymore! 

It truly is a beautiful thing when God leads us to step out of our comfort zones. If you asked me just five years ago if I would venture into this community with my children in tow, all by myself, without hubby... "No way!" would be my emphatic answer!

The kids and I, we unload our car... 
As we were carrying the food into the church, a young man was exiting the front doors at the same time. Having been frequenting Camp Freedom for a few years now, what the young man said to us actually threw me off a bit. He said, "Good morning! Are you donors?"

Donors?!? I wasn't quite sure how to respond... I said something along these lines, "Yes, we're here with this week's supply of fruits and vegetables for the Camp Freedom kids."

A sunrise like that could make you believe.
Could make you believe that color is real.
Yes, like that sunshine that woke me up this morning. And yes, color is real... in the larger Jane and Finch community, and particularly in the Camp Freedom family, it still is real.

Some of the Camp Freedom children.

Yes, my color labelled me as "donor"... but our family's goal is to be more than donors... we want to be known as friends, as family, as community. And our color will not stand in the way... but that love will show the way.

And the beautiful thing is this: We are friends and we have become family to the Camp Freedom community. Those who know us would say so, at least I hope they would. :)

You could believe in a world where families living in gated communities of middle class burn with the fire that they are the Esther Generation, light with the purpose that they are here for such a time as this, ignite with glory that they are here to risk their status for those outside the gate — or what will be lost isn’t just your chance to change the world — but your own soul, the soul of this land, the soul of the next generation.
There is the believing something.

Then there is to Be Living It.
Yes, I desperately want to burn with this fire! I desperately want to live it.
As we were pulling into the parking lot, a little boy, no more than 7 years old, was walking towards the front doors of the church. He was there to attend Camp Freedom. I've never seen him before. He must be new to Camp Freedom. 

As we entered the gym, he came in as well. I said, "What's your name, buddy?" He said, "Jeffrey."

Jeffrey came into the kitchen just as we were piling the fruits and vegetables onto the counter-top. He needed a drink after walking in the scorching summer sun to get to Camp Freedom. As we were leaving, I said to him, "Bye, Jeffrey! Have fun this week, OK?"

To which he answered, "Yes, I will. See you again next week!"

I love it! Jeffrey looks forward to our returning next week. Perhaps, we can linger a while and play with him? Perhaps, we can help him with a craft? Perhaps, then we will become his friend, his family, his community? Perhaps, then we will leave a mark?

As long as darkness exists...
Friends, as long as there are Jeffreys... as long as there are George Zimmermans... as long as there are Trayvon Martins... as long as color is real... as long as our world is broken... Christ-followers need to bring Christ's light into this dark world. 

We have a calling... not to mar the world, but to leave a mark in this world.

I am oppressed by gratitude.
That I breathe, that there is light.
That there is always hope.
A life oppressed by gratitude lives unbound, lives broken and given.
When your life’s oppressed by gratitude — you can’t help but make your life about freedom for the oppressed.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
The light keeps driving up the greying sky.
You could watch the sun rise and know that we will rise to this.
We will do nothing less than rise.
:: :: ::

As I continue to count grace-gifts, with unending thanks... to The One who compels us to love beyond our comfort zones... these are the things I am thankful for these two weeks... #3011 - #3021:
:: Slow summer days!
:: Lunch with a girlfriend.
:: Writing our Compassion children.
:: Awesome medical and dental care.
:: Dinner out with hubby... yummy Korean food!
:: Awesome personal best results at the Canadian Open speed cubing competition for my boy!
:: A completed building for Patnubay Child Development Centre, the Compassion project where our Florianlyn belongs to... still in awe that God would use our family to accomplish this! 
:: Hanging out with my niece and nephew as my sister is away on a missions trip to the Philippines.
:: My sister meeting our LDP student, Rechelle, in the Philippines!!!
:: Goodbyes... our youth pastor leaving.
:: Our friends at Camp Freedom!
Hello Monday!
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!

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


  1. You continue to inspire and amaze me!


  2. We talked a lot about the Zimmerman verdict here too. My Dad likes to label me as a "liberal" (which i am NOT!) when I choose to show Christ's love in many situations. I finally tell him that I am not showing a liberal OR conservative perspective - but a Christian perspective!


    1. Love this, Sherry! Yes, a cross-shaped love is always the way to go.