Saturday, February 27, 2010

Flat Stanley's Canadian Adventures - Post #2

On Friday, Jon stayed home from school as his tummy wasn't feeling too great. He spent some time with Flat Stanley and this is what they did:


Jon decided to work on a LEGO Mindstorm project. Here they are starting to look at the building instructions on Jon's computer.


The finished project --- a machine that can sort different coloured balls all on its own.


We also baked some chocolate cupcakes to bring to church on Sunday.


Cupcakes are all done --- yummy!!!


We had a snowstorm on Friday. Here is Alyssa with Flat Stanley posing by our front step.


That evening, we took Flat Stanley to the mall because Jon needed to buy a book for his Home Reading Activity.


We introduced Flat Stanley to Robert Munsch's books. He is a renowned Canadian children's author. This is one of our favourite books by him --- Love You Forever. Flat Stanley will be bringing home a Robert Munsch book to share with Faith and her friends.


We thought that we should look for some Flat Stanley books in case Flat Stanley was getting a little bit homesick. :-)


Then, we had dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, East Side Mario's.


Here is Alyssa and Flat Stanley right outside East Side Mario's.


Finally, we went to Zellers to do some grocery shopping. Flat Stanley got to sit comfortably in the shopping cart.

Stay tuned for more of Flat Stanley's Canadian Adventures...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Flat Stanley's Canadian Adventures - Post #1

We have a guest in our home who arrived from Merritt Island, Florida yesterday. His name is Flat Stanley. He will be staying with us for a week or so... going places we go and doing things we do! It will be a lot of FUN!!!

We hope you will follow Flat Stanley's Canadian Adventures here on my blog. By the way, Flat Stanley is visiting us because a little girl named Faith has chosen us to be a very special part of her school project. The project is based on the book 'Flat Stanley' by Jeff Brown.

So, here are some pictures of Flat Stanley's first day in Canada:


As soon as Flat Stanley arrived, he was welcomed with a Canadian flag which he will bring back to Merritt Island with him. Flat Stanley is visiting us during a very exciting time in Canada --- the Winter Olympics are being hosted here!


Here are Flat Stanley's new Canadian friends --- Alyssa and Jon. They are both dressed in Canadian Olympic apparel... eagerly waiting to cheer on the Canadian Women's Hockey team who was playing for the GOLD medal later that night. They played against Team USA so it was a very exciting game to watch!!!


Flat Stanley decided that he would like to try and model some Canadian Olympic wear. Unfortunately, everything was just a tad bit too BIG for him!


Before the big game started, we had to eat dinner first. Flat Stanley helped to prepare some curly fries and chicken wings. As you can see out the back door, it is very COLD and SNOWY right now. It is around -9C (which is about 15F).


He also helped to set the table. As you can see, dinner is ready --- chicken wings, curly fries and baked salmon/asparagus in phyllo!


The game is starting very soon --- Flat Stanley gets comfortable!


He shares the couch with Alyssa!


It was a great game! Team USA got the Silver Medal and Team Canada won GOLD!!! What a way to welcome our American guest! :-)


Here is Flat Stanley standing for the Canadian National Anthem --- "O Canada! Our home and native land... the True North, strong and free... God keep our land, glorious and free!"

Stay tuned for more of Flat Stanley's Canadian Adventures...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lukewarm?

I am currently studying Francis Chan's book Crazy Love with my Bible Study group. This week's reading truly made me search my soul... the chapter is entitled "Profile of the Lukewarm" and it is basically a self-assessment of one's "temperature" as a Christ-follower.

I don't ever want to forget the impact that this chapter had on me; that is why I am posting HUGE parts of it here on my blog today. Here goes...

The man (from Matthew 13:44) joyfully sold all that he had so that he could obtain the only thing that mattered. He knew that what he had stumbled upon - the kingdom of heaven - was more valuable than anything he had, so he went for it with everything in him.

This kind of enthusiastic response to God's love is entirely appropriate. Yet what a contrast to our typical response at discovering the same treasure!

My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil. (Francis Chan is referring to the parable of the sower from Matthew 13 here.)

I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns. Thorns are anything that distracts us from God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.

Most of us have too much in our lives. As David Goetz writes, "Too much of the good life ends up being toxic, deforming us spiritually." A lot of good things are good by themselves, but all of it together keeps us from living healthy, fruitful lives for God.

I will say it again: Do not assume you are good soil.

Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God's kingdom in your life? Or are you choking it out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on the things of this world?

Are you satisfied being "godly enough" to get yourself to heaven, or to look good in comparison to others? Or can you say with Paul that you "want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death"? (Philippians 3:10)

The American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don't swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. That's for the "radicals" who are "unbalanced" and who go "overboard". Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.

At this point of my reading, many thoughts swirled in my soul... I want to be like the man from Matthew 13:44... I want to be good soil...

Francis Chan continues on to describe the lukewarm person:

LUKEWARM PEOPLE attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe "good Christians" do, so they go. (Read: Isaiah 29:13)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE give money to charity and to the church... as long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living. (Read: Luke 21:1-4)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. (Read: Matthew 23:5-7)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE don't really want to be saved from their sins; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. (Read: Romans 6:1-2)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. Lukewarm people call "radical" what Jesus expected of all His followers. (Read: James 4:17)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. (Read: Matthew 10:32-33)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE gauge their morality or "goodness" by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren't as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. (Read: Luke 18:11-12)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives. (Read: Luke 9:57-62)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. (Read: Matthew 22:37-38)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. (Read: Luke 14:12-14)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give. (Read: Luke 18:21-25)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Regarding this, C.S. Lewis writes, "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." (Read: Colossians 3:2)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. (Read: Matthew 25:34, 40)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be "good enough" without it requiring too much of them. (Read: Matthew 13:44-46)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are continually concerned with playing it safe. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God. (Read: 1 Timothy 6:17-18)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. (Read: Matthew 7:21)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. The truth is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God. (Read: Luke 12:16-21, Hebrews 11)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn't be more wrong. (Read: Matthew 23:25-28)

As 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, it is a call to "examine yourselves, to see whather you are in the faith; test yourselves."

We are all messed-up human beings, and no one is totally immune to the behaviors described in the previous examples. However, there is a difference between a life that is characterized by these sorts of mentalities and habits and a life that is in the process of being radically transformed.

Jesus didn't say that if you wanted to follow Him you could do it in a lukewarm manner. He said, "Take up your cross and follow me."

Jesus asks for everything. But we try to give Him less.

He is saying that lukewarm, halfhearted following is useless (in Luke 14:34-35), that it sickens our souls. Lukewarm and uncommitted faith is completely useless.

Soul-stirring, isn't it? "Search me, O God, and know my heart..." (from Psalm 139:23 NIV)

Thirteen!


We now have a teenager in our house! My daughter turned 13 today... how time flies!!! Wasn't she just born yesterday??? She is truly a blessing from our Heavenly Father.

Happy Birthday, my baby girl!!! My prayer for you continues to be... that you "will be called oak(s) of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor." ---from Isaiah 61:3 NIV.

I am looking forward to these teenage years... it's going to be a blast!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Isaiah 6:8

The verse from Isaiah 6:8 stirred me quite often throughout 2009. It still does! Because of that, hubby and I chose it to put up in our upstairs hallway (see photo) after we repainted the walls in that area of our home.

It has become our family's verse for 2010. It is the verse that we would like to live out each day... it says:
"Here I am. Lord, send me!"
Since putting up this verse on our wall... God has opened our eyes to quite a few situations where we have had to live this verse out. He has a funny way of making that happen, don't you think? I've already blogged about a few of these stories --- here, here, here and here!

This morning while skimming through my News Feed page on Facebook, a video caught my eye. It's a 10-minute video and my first instinct was: "I don't have time to watch it." --- now, I'm sure glad I took the time! It is an awesome, thought-provoking video... ending with none other than: "Here I am. Lord, send me!" :-)

Here it is: (please pause Playlist on sidebar while you watch)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spiritual Growth...

This blog post was in my Google Reader this morning. I'm sharing it here on my blog because it is literally like "words out of my own mouth"... a blog post that I would have written myself. It basically elaborates this point: that we ourselves are responsible for our spiritual growth; not other people, not our church.

This question remains in my mind: Why is it that a lot of Christians think that it is the church's responsibility to grow them (and their children) spiritually?

In real life, we would find it strange if a toddler never learns to self-feed, right? It would even be more strange if a child is still being fed like a baby --- milk in a bottle and parents feeding them their meal.

Why, then, is it acceptable for people to depend on their church to feed them spiritually --- through the Pastor's sermons, children's programmes, Bible studies? People go to church for a "feeding" once or twice a week and expect to live off that food the rest of the time. And when they start to feel malnourished, they blame the church for not providing enough "nourishment" and off they go... to find greener pasture at another church!

I personally think that the church exists to help us grow (as opposed to make us grow)... by providing "food" to supplement our own diets and by providing opportunities for us to serve others and to give ourselves away.

OK... I think it's time for me to get off my soapbox. Here's just a little bit more...

Imagine this... if each Christian takes on the responsibility of feeding themselves (and their children) spiritually, then the "food" that comes from the Pastor's sermons, the children's programmes and the Bible studies become like "dessert" --- something to enjoy (as opposed to something to survive with), a treat! I personally think that this is a much healthier way to grow --- a more balanced diet!!! Add to it my analogy that doing outreach is our spiritual exercise or workout, then the result should be a Christ-follower who is vibrant, growing and reproducing!

Too good to be true? I think not! It is hard work, no doubt. But as it says in Proverbs 14:23 (The Message): "Hard work always pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table."

Definitely food for thought!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Remember Haiti

Almost one month ago now... the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The following video has helped me to remember... to keep praying... to keep giving...

Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar as you watch this video:


We were supposed to have a Jewellery Party here at my house tomorrow night with all proceeds from the sales going towards Compassion Canada's Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. Sadly, we have had to cancel the event because the jewellery designer is the young mom I wrote about yesterday who lost her baby boy at 29 weeks of pregnancy...

The thing is... the cancellation of a Jewellery Party doesn't mean we can not give anymore! So, please remember Haiti and continue to give generously!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

February already?!?

Well, it is eight days into February already and I'm just logging in to write my first post of the month. Needless to say... it's been a little crazy around here this past week and a bit. Sometimes, I think that it would be really nice if there are 36 hours in a day...

So... first of all, February started off with me having to work more hours than I had expected. Our administrative assistant at work was let go at the end of January... so we are without administrative suport for at least this month. I'm having to take on some extra work while they look for a replacement.

Added to our routine this season is twice-a-week basketball for our daughter and she is very much l-o-v-i-n-g it! This past week, hubby also started mapping out his work projects and starting working on them after being on a 'partial work hiatus' because of his ankle injury.

All in all... without me realizing it until after (when I took a moment to breathe... LOL!), this past week was actually the first week when all of our winter activities/commitments went into 'full-swing' mode. It was one busy week indeed!!!

But, what really set the mood for this past week was what transpired on Monday... the first day of February. A young family who has recently become a part of our church family lost their baby boy at 29 weeks of pregnancy. Everything happened so fast that day... first thing we heard was that her water had broken; then it was an emergency C-section; then it was that the baby might not make it; then 5 hours later, we received news that the baby had gone home to see Jesus!

My heart broke... my heart cried... my heart ached... there were no words... there were no answers... there was no understanding... but there was peace... there was a strength in this young couple that I've never seen before... my God was there! It has been a tough week emotionally, to say the least... the memorial service was last night. It was beautiful... it provided closure... a new beginning.

So... that was our last week. It is Monday again and a new week is here. Each day must count... each day must be lived for God... it's not about me... it's all about HIM!

As Francis Chan wrote in chapter two of his book Crazy Love:

"Friends, we need to stop living selfish lives, forgetful of our God. Our lives here are short, often unexpectedly so, and we can all stand to be reminded of it from time to time. That's why I wrote this chapter, to help us remember that in the movie of life, nothing matters except our King and God. Don't let yourself forget.

Soak in it and keep remembering that it is true, He is everything."