Thursday, November 13, 2008

Simple Christmas

I've been thinking more about my post from three weeks ago about having a simple Christmas this year. Quite appropriately, I stumbled upon this video and it fits perfectly with my line of thought today. It is a must-see --- here it is (please feel free to pause the music on the side bar as you watch the video):



So, I bring up the topic of a simple Christmas with my kids and we came up with some ideas. My son was quick to say that we should decorate less... his idea is for each family member to pick just a couple of their favourate decorations and only put those up... but we must have the Christmas tree!

We also talked about spending less on presents so that we can give to the needy... gift baskets for needy families in our community, care packages for homeless shelters, food bank and packing shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse.

We will definitely dialogue more on this as Christmas approaches. As a mom, it definitely is not an easy task to strike a balance between focusing on the real meaning of Christmas and "spoiling" my kids a little bit! I understand that balance to be different for each family. For our family, I know we've reached that balance when my kids want to give more than they want to receive. I don't think we're there yet. One step at a time... slowly, but surely!

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!"
---Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Looking Back

This week has been an emotional one as I traced back and saw how far God has brought hubby and I (and our children too!) these past 12 months. You see, this week marks exactly one year since God started to jolt us out of our comfort zone in order to send us into an unfamiliar territory --- church planting work! This morning, it felt good to go back into my blog archives and read about how God showed us the way. Some of those entries can be found here, here, here, here and here!

At this one year mark, I can say for certain that church planting work is definitely not easy, but I definitely wouldn't trade this experience for anything else! Hubby and I have definitely felt God stretch us, mold us, change us and grow us in ways that were unimaginable to us just one year ago.

You see...

Once we thought we were already giving more than what's required of our time, energy, effort, talents and finances to God. Through this journey HE has shown us what it means to totally give ourselves away.

Once we thought we had faith. Through this journey HE has taught us to see how faith can indeed move mountains.

Once we thought we loved enough. Through this journey HE has shown us to love beyond our boundaries, to love unconditionally, to have our hearts be broken with the same things that break HIS heart.

Once we thought we had it all figured out. Through this journey HE has shown us how to follow Him without reservation.

This one year mark represents only the beginning. There are still many chapters to be written in the story of this journey. I said before: I think this is going to be ONE WILD RIDE. It sure has already been!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest;
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth;
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide.
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow;
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

---Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Words by: Thomas O. Chisholm, 1923.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Week 2: Walking By Faith

Tonight, my Bible study group completed Week 2 of Jennifer Rothschild's Walking By Faith: Lessons Learned in the Dark. A few things jumped out at me. They are...

~ Only after I admit my insufficiency, yield to God, and receive His grace do I have something about which to boast.

~ If we settle into the position His grace has placed us, we'll see His strength made perfect there. And we'll experience the joy of our journey following Him.

~ God is the pilot, and we follow. We aren't invited into the cockpit because we are not in charge of the journey. Our pilot is completely trustworthy. We need not fret, for He is capable of navigating through any turbulence. So we can rest wherever He has lovingly placed us. And when we do, we'll experience the fabulous freedom of following.

~ To follow God, we must die to our own desires, one hammer blow at a time.

~ The desire for complete control denies us the power available to live a crucified life. God is the one in front; living by faith means that God leads as we follow.

~ It's hard to let go of our desire to be in charge, but the life of faith requires us to trust the Lord completely and not our own clever convictions.

~ I have to yield control to the One who is trustworthy, capable, and knows exactly where I need to go. He alone can get me there the best possible way. How silly for any of us shortsighted sinners to bark commands at the One who sees all of eternity. Since God Himself goes before us and prepares the way, following His loving leadership is the surest, safest way to travel.

Can you say food for thought? Definitely! Especially for this girl who likes to know everything, to be in control and to be in charge! Learning to walk by faith is definitely a life-long lesson, one step at a time!

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it."
---Luke 9:23-24

Thursday, November 6, 2008

One Missed Call

I keep my cell phone in the side pocket of my purse. Often when I am driving or when I am in a store, I miss my calls because I can't hear the ring. All the sounds and noise around me are competing for my attention! I often come home and find 'one missed call' on the cell phone display screen. Sometimes, it is as many as 'three missed calls'!

The other day while I was staring at one of these messages and wondering who was trying to call me, my thoughts drifted towards... have I ever missed God's call? I mean He has a call and a purpose for each one of us... have I ever missed my call and my purpose?

Especially in this world we live in where everything is urgent and clamours for our attention, where everywhere it is noisy, where everytime it is NOW. I wondered if I have ever gotten so caught up with life that I missed God's call... His still, small voice.

My prayer is that I do not clutter my life to the point where I would miss His call... in the small things and in the BIG things. When He calls me to do the mundane like make dinner or do laundry for my family... or when He calls me to do the urgent like visit a friend who is mourning... or when He calls me to be part of something BIG, like starting a church... or when He calls me to just be still and know that He is God. May I never miss His call!

"...asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of His call. May He give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with Him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ."
---II Thessalonians 1:11-12 (NLT)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Snippets

For a narrative of our evening, see this post.

"You are the light of the world."
---Matthew 5:14 (NIV)

Trick or Treat!

Let me preface this post with a portion of an email that I wrote to some friends after Halloween last year:
Up until this year, we were comfortable with doing both neighbourhood trick-or-treating and also going to the church’s event. As you all might have read on my blog, we did go to the church’s event this year. But, after coming home and re-assessing our decision, we were convinced and convicted that God would have wanted us to stay at home all night and make a difference in our community that way on Halloween night. So, that’s what we’ll start doing next year --- a new tradition is born!
Still quite unknown to us at that point in time was God's plan to lead us, a few months down the road, into a church plant whose focus is our own community! God was changing our hearts in preparation for something He had in store for us. That is just awesome!

So, yesterday started with the kids participating in a Halloween parade at school. The sense of community was strong as parents came to watch the parade. Then, we stayed home last night (as opposed to going to a church event, that is)! The kids went out trick-or-treating with hubby. I chatted with a neighbour while handing out treats. The kids came home and we hung out on the porch handing out some more treats. We interacted with neighbours and friends who we don't normally bump into. It was a great evening!

During the course of the day, my daughter said something that struck me. She said she is wearing her cross necklace as part of her cowgirl costume because she wants people to notice that there are Christians who do not lock their doors and hide in their houses or disappear into their church buildings during Halloween; that there are Christians who want to be involved in their communities; to let their light shine in a dark place!

Now, I think that is cool! Photos to follow in the next post...

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
---Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)