Monday, October 28, 2013

Inspiring Weekend... on celebrating 50 years!

What an inspiring weekend we had!
It was a Compassion-filled weekend which really started on Friday when my girl and I represented Compassion Canada at the Global Leadership Summit.

My girl at the Global Leadership Summit. #glscda

Connecting with churches and pastors was the main focus of the event, not child sponsorship... yet still, my girl and I were thrilled when four children found their way to the hearts of people who will now be their sponsors!!!

We packed up the booth, loaded up the car and headed home to pack some more... excited for our whole family to be headed to London, Ontario the very next day to celebrate Compassion Canada's 50th birthday!!!

And we're off!

We headed out early Saturday morning for the two-and-a-half-hour drive to London... my girl was accompanied by her knitting (of course!) and my boy by his ever-present cubes (of course!). :)

We arrived just in time to share a lovely lunch with fellow Compassion Advocates who were in town for the big event. It was so awesome to meet many of them in person... many of whom we've only connected via social media!

Then it was the big event!
It was such an inspiring evening... celebrating God's goodness and His faithfulness! Our family is humbled that God would invite us to be a part of such an amazing ministry, releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name!

It brings me to tears thinking... What if we ignored or missed God's calling? What if we chose comfort over obedience? What if we missed being blessed because we chose self? I can't even imagine *not* doing this, this not being part of our family's life... and to think that just merely less than four years ago, just before Christmas of 2009, we had no idea what Compassion's ministry was all about!

It took our girl, just twelve years old at that time, to jolt us out of our comfort zones... and onto the journey of child sponsorship... when all she wanted as a present that Christmas was a little sister from Compassion Canada

God has truly given our girl a special heart... a heart with a passion to change the world! She inspires me each and every day... to be more of Jesus' hands and feet, to be a world-changer, to be a better person and a better mama, to not be satisfied with mediocrity, to live large for God!

My girl, chatting with Wess Stafford a.k.a Papa Wess! ♥
{A big THANK YOU to my friend, Tracy Smith, for snapping this photo
capturing the essence of the conversation quite beautifully!}

I have a feeling that Wess Stafford, President Emeritus of Compassion International and more affectionately known as Papa Wess, might have sensed my girl's passion during their short conversation as he encouraged her to live large for God and to keep changing the world for Jesus... telling her that one day she, too, might be Compassion International's President!

Wow! Hearing that from Papa Wess truly made this mama-heart smile... yes, really! Well, the truth is... I had to hold back happy tears. :) Regardless of whether she becomes Compassion International's President one day or not, I am certain of this...

That she will live life as "a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor"... which has been my prayer for her {from the verses in Isaiah 61:1-3} since the day she was born!

Our family, with Wess Stafford.

With that conversation as a start to our evening...
It was impossible not to be inspired and be in awe of God's goodness as the evening progressed! 

Hubby and I even had the awesome opportunity to speak in person with Jim Mellado, Compassion International's new President. We shared with him our vision and our hearts' desire to see our home country, Philippines, have an office where people can sponsor with Compassion locally. We are encouraged to hear that progress is being made towards the implementation of it! So exciting!!! 

Shaun Groves singing "All Is Grace", a song inspired by my friend and
favourite author/blogger, Ann Voskamp!
"What a gift it is that we have something to give." ~ Shaun Groves.

"Love always costs something. To love is to give." ~ #compassionCA50th @CompassionCA
Barry & Sharon Slauenwhite were surprised by their sponsor child/
LDP student being there to celebrate with all of us!
"The world does not need more Compassion, the world needs more Jesus Christ." ~ Barry Slauenwhite, Compassion Canada's President/CEO. 
Papa Wess speaking words of encouragement!
"Do not grow weary in well doing. We're not done yet..." ~ Papa Wess.
On Sunday morning...
On a whim, we decided to head to Light Presbyterian Church where Compassion Korea's President, Dr. Justin Suh, was speaking. There was going to be an appeal for child sponsorships and there was a need for more Advocates to help staff the Compassion tables as six stations were set-up for people to signup to sponsor children!

Since all four of us... myself, hubby and our kids... are fully-trained Advocates, we knew we just had to be there! We left our hotel earlier than planned and headed out of London towards Light Presbyterian Church, which is conveniently located on our way home. 

What a blessed morning it was... as we saw 364 (!!!) children sponsored! Truly such a blessing!!! 

As a bonus, because God is just awesome like that, as we were having lunch together with fellow Advocates and some folks from the church, hubby struck up a conversation with a lady who so happens to be a lawyer and have had the awesome opportunity of working with International Justice Mission on the field in the Philippines!

My girl has been wanting to chat with someone like that as she contemplates on becoming a human rights lawyer one day and working with an organization such as IJM! {Side note: Her passion to end modern-day slavery is why she started knitting!}

Only God can arrange "coincidences" as such! Don't you just love how He knits paths together?!?

Words aren't adequate...
To relate to you, my dear blog readers, just how incredibly full my heart is and how immensely blessed I am feeling today! It was truly an awe-inspiring weekend!

I am pumped, more than ever before, to be more of Jesus' hands and feet in this world where pain, suffering and poverty can only have one solution... and that is Jesus! 

Would you join me in releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name? If so, please click here... a child is waiting to call you friend today!

:: :: ::

As I continue to live out thanks and give thanks by counting grace-gifts, with unending thanks... to The One who is always good and who always loves... these are the things I am thankful for these two weeks... #3079 - #3092:
:: That God would see fit to invite unqualified people like us to partner with Him in Kingdom work.
:: Compassion's global ministry... releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name!
:: Compassion's vision for the year 2020... to reach 4 million children and their families with the message of God's love!
:: Compassion Canada's 50 years... such a privilege for our family to be a small part of it!
:: Fellow Compassion Advocates from all over this vast country!
:: For the many people this weekend who stepped out of their comfort zones and embraced child sponsorship!
:: The staff of Compassion Canada, for their commitment and dedication!
:: For this mama-heart, continually being stretched to give her kids wings to fly... to wherever God would send them!
:: For the united vision that God has given our family... to be Jesus' hands and feet to those most in need.
:: God's love... so vast, so relentless, so everlasting!
:: That there are no coincidences with God... He *is* in the details!
:: George Canyon, a Compassion Artist, who so graciously gave me CDs and autographed them for my boss who is a fan of his! ♥
:: God's grace... sustaining us through busy days.
:: This new week, His mercies new for each day!
Hello Monday!
As you might've already figured out, I am still on a high from the weekend's events. God has surprised me with fresh inspiration... and I am truly grateful! This quote, from Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, sums up my heart this morning...
Instead of filling with expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing - and are filled. This breath! This oak tree! This daisy! This work! This sky! These people! This place! This day! Surprise!
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!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Changing Seasons

This morning...
I woke up to freezing temperatures... 0*C to be exact! It might be the day that the winter coat makes its appearance and the wool socks make their debut.

This changing of the seasons is making me reflect on the seasons of life, where changes happen too. We are now in the parenting-of-teenagers season... and boy, life sure is different and busy!

When the kids were babies, friends of ours with teenagers often told us to enjoy the moments and cherish the days... because the teenage years will be fast and busy and crazy. In the busy-ness of life then consisting of diaper changes and three-hour feeding schedules and potty training, I didn't believe a word they said. Now I do... and while I most certainly miss the toddler days, I am quite loving this different and new season of life! 

So, take it from this older mom... to my friends out there with younger children... enjoy the moments and cherish the days! :)

Speaking of enjoying...
We found some time over the Thanksgiving weekend to get out and enjoy the outdoors. We were blessed with beautiful, sunny days all weekend long! We headed out to the forest right by our house and spent a few hours just enjoying each other and admiring God's artwork, which was so evident in the beautiful colours of Autumn!

Here are some photos from that day...

Hello Friday!
Today, my girl and I are at the Global Leadership Summit volunteering for Compassion Canada. And, this weekend, our family will be attending Compassion Canada's 50th Anniversary celebrations!!! It's going to be an awesome next few days... celebrating the awesomeness that is our great God and Heavenly Father... and relishing in the fact that He invites us to join Him in Kingdom work. And, all we need to say is, "Yes!"... even when sometimes, it can take us way out of our comfort zones.
Chesterton's words, "How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it!"
The joy of small that makes life large.

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On Celebrating Thanksgiving and Living Out Thanks

Hello Tuesday...
I am sitting here, trying to jump-start my week, after a four-day long weekend. It was Thanksgiving weekend for us here in Canada and we had an added bonus this year of a day off from school on Friday!

My heart is heavy this morning. Just as we finished our Thanksgiving Dinner last night, Facebook lit up with posts about a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hitting Cebu, Philippines. We have family there and our Compassion LDP student is also there. We have been able to connect with most... and are thankful that everyone is safe, though some have suffered minor injuries, loss of and/or damage to property. We are in the process of seeing how we can send help for this time of need... for such a time as this!

Through it all... all *is* still grace!
Eucharisteo means "to give thanks," and give is a verb, something that we do. God calls me to do thanks. To give the thanks away. That thanks-giving might literally become thanks-living. That our lives become the very blessings we have received.
I am blessed. I can bless. Imagine! I could let Him make me the gift!
I could be the joy!
In an endless cycle of grace, He gives us gifts to serve the world.
It's the fundamental, lavish, radical nature of the upside-down economy of God.
Empty to fill.
Here I can become the blessing, a little life that multiplies joy, making the larger world a better place.
God can enter into me, even me, and use these hands, these feet, to be His love, a love that goes on and on and on forever, endless cycle of grace.
{My most favourite excerpt, from Chapter 10 of the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp... thoughts I've been reflecting on over the Thanksgiving weekend.}
Yes! "That thanks-giving might literally become thanks-living." Reflecting on these thoughts all weekend somehow prepared me for the news of the earthquake. As I read the Facebook posts and scanned the Twitter feeds, my heart was ready to live out thanks... to extend help as best we can, to be the hands and feet of Jesus!

Speaking of reflecting...
I had much time to do that this weekend as I knitted! Yes... you read that right... I learned to knit this weekend... something I never thought I'd ever do! Because, you know... isn't knitting something only grandmas would do?!? ;)

Here's the proof!

BUT... you see, my girl... she started this thing called Freedom Creations. It is a project that blossomed from her heart as she came to see that "every person is created with a purpose and made for freedom."

As she knitted, fighting slavery one stitch at a time... I became inspired. {Side note: this same girl ;)... inspired us onto the journey of child sponsorship one Christmas a while back by asking for nothing else but a Compassion sister as her Christmas present! Don't you just love how God works through children to change the trajectory of our faith path? :)}

Now... where was I? Oh yes, I became inspired... inspired to learn how to knit, so that I can fight slavery too!

I knitted the weekend away... all the while listening to an All Sons & Daughters album. As I sang along, "You are the Saviour and You take brokenness aside and make it beautiful, beautiful..." and "I will love, love, love with this heart You've made for You've been good always...", tears started to fall as I realized how God was speaking to me.

As I knitted and sang along, He was telling me that...

Just like knitting where it is done one stitch at a time, fighting slavery is a slow process. The battle will not be won overnight... that I need to just keep loving with this heart He's made, for He's been good always!

Just like knitting and how the tips of my fingers hurt bad from the needles constantly poking them, fighting slavery will be painful and will take sacrifice. It was also a reminder to me that those who are trapped in modern-day slavery live in pain, every single day of their lives... and not just pain on their fingertips. That thought definitely encouraged me to keep knitting despite the pain I was feeling.

Just like knitting where I need to keep going if I want to see a finished product, we can not give up fighting slavery. We need to set our eyes on the goal, which is freedom.

Just like knitting and the beautiful finished product that resulted from the many, many, many (!) single stitches, in fighting slavery we will see how our Saviour takes brokenness aside and makes it beautiful! 

Friends, I am happy to report that I helped to create a beautiful slouchy hat just like this one... and that I am officially a knitter, fighting slavery and living out thanks... one stitch at a time! And, please... no grandma jokes! ;)

Interspersed within the knitting lessons this weekend...
We had a great Thanksgiving, gathering with both sides of the family and some friends... celebrating communion with our church family... and enjoying the beautiful Autumn hues outdoors as we were blessed with such beautiful weather for most of the weekend!

A little friend came to visit, outside our patio door!

Chicken from the farm.

Setting up the tripod for a family photo. :)

Asking them to pose... again! :)

Love these two... so much!

:: :: ::

As I continue to live out thanks and give thanks by counting grace-gifts, with unending thanks... to The One who is always good and who always loves... these are the things I am thankful for these past few weeks... #3063 - #3078:
:: The many opportunities to live out our thanks... to be Jesus' hands and feet in this hurting world.
:: Coaching my boy's Robotics Team and the progress they have made so far towards Tournament Day.
:: A boxful of free yarn for my girl... from hubby's cousin, just in time for the launch of Freedom Creations!
:: My boy celebrating 13 candles!
:: The start of another ministry year.
:: Organizing a 1,000-pounds Thanksgiving Food Drive at our church and being blown away by the 2,347-pounds of food that came in!
:: Helping a friend photograph her art work for an Art Sale benefiting a local ministry helping the homeless and the marginalized. Check out the link... you *will* fall in love with Katherine's art! :) 
:: Visiting a long-time Pastor-friend and his wife... and learning about their connection to Freeset bags and the women who make them!!!
:: Discovering the music of All Sons & Daughters! So uplifting and inspiring.
:: Our new Home Church... growing with old friends and some new ones too... and anticipating the things that God has in store for us this year as a faith community.
:: My boy competing at the Battle of Waterloo!
:: Going to the University Fair with my girl. Already?!? Time... please slow down!
:: Access to great medical care... as we continue to investigate the cause of my girl's vision disturbances. Praying that we can finally confirm a diagnosis of migraines sooner than later.
:: New windows for our house before winter arrives.
:: Writing Christmas cards for all of our sponsor children!
:: I am starting to s-l-o-w-l-y run on the treadmill again, after not doing so all summer long. 
Hello shortened week!
As I dive into this short week, I am being mindful of what it says in Psalms 100: 1-5 (NCV) as I seek to continually live out thanks:
Shout to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with joy; come before him with singing. Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep he tends. Come into his city with songs of thanksgiving and into his courtyards with songs of praise. Thank him and praise his name. The Lord is good. His love is forever, and his loyalty goes on and on.
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!