Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Word for 2012

As 2011 comes to a close, some reflection is in order. It has been a year of new things, new adventures, new heights for our family... throughout it all, our God has been gracious and He has been faithful! I have no words to describe the gratefulness that I feel welling up inside of me as I reflect on the year that has been.

From our year-end family newsletter...
This year, our family can most definitely say that God’s great love never ceases, His compassion never fails, His faithfulness so great! With His unforced rhythms of grace, He has showed us what is good and what He requires of us… and that is “to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him.” (Micah 6:8)
Here are some highlights...

Practicing Micah 6:8... delivering socks and underwear for the homeless.

Lessons about grace... and counting to 1,000 gifts and beyond!

Thanksliving... serving meals to the homeless.

March Break Camp with UrbanPromise Toronto!

My girl graduating from Grade 8!

Meeting our Compassion LDP student, Rochelle... in the Philippines!

Meeting our Compassion daughter, Florianlyn!!!

Packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes!!!

Sponsoring Moses at our church's AIDS Care Campaign. 1,016 HopeChild kids were sponsored!

Gazing ahead to the year that will be... 2012, I am full of hope! One word that came to me today is... SOAR... from the verse in Isaiah 40:31 where it says:
... but those who hope in the Lord
          will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
          they will run and not grow weary,
          they will walk and not be faint.
soar (sôr)
1. To rise, fly, or glide high and with little apparent effort.
2. To climb swiftly or powerfully.
3. To ascend suddenly above the normal or usual level: Our spirits soared.
I love the first definition... to rise, fly, or glide high and with little apparent effort. 

With. Little. Apparent. Effort. 
Love it! 

In 2012, I want to soar... not with my own might, but with God giving me flight... to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him.

Happy New Year, friends! Let's soar into 2012 together... all for His glory.

Linking up with other One Word posts at:


Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day

Today is December 26 and it is a holiday here in Canada... it is called Boxing Day. I first learned of this holiday when my family immigrated here over 20 years ago. I remember thinking, "What an odd name for a holiday!" I did some research and found out why it's called Boxing Day.

Do you know why it is called Boxing Day? Here are some of the explanations behind the name Boxing Day:
:: A ‘Christmas Box’ in Britain is a name for a Christmas present. Boxing Day was a day off for servants and when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families.
:: A box to collect money for the poor was placed in Churches on Christmas Day then opened the next day.
:: Great sailing ships when setting sail would have a sealed box containing money on board for good luck. If the voyage were a success the box was given to a priest, opened at Christmas and the contents given to the poor.
As you can see, despite the different explanations, all of them revolves around charity... Boxing Day was all about giving to the poor and needy, to those who are less fortunate, to the marginalized in society. Sadly, it has evolved into something else... something quite the polar opposite of what it was originally meant to be. Today, when we hear the words Boxing Day, we think shopping... deals... bargains... more stuff for ME, self-indulgent ME! To my American blog readers, think Black Friday.

I must confess that I did go to the mall today... to buy marked down Christmas cards and gift-wrapping supplies. I also bought a few sweaters to replace some ready-to-retire ones. As my girl and I walked around the mall for a bit... we saw crowds and long lineups and people with multiple packages and kids parked on the floor eating ice cream while their parents shopped! Crazeeeeeeness!

What if, I thought... society returned to the true meaning of Boxing Day? I think the world would be a better place, wouldn't it? Just imagine...

A friend of mine posted "Just Imagine..." status updates on Facebook all throughout Advent. Here is one of them:
Imagine a day when everyone was a part of a caring community of people who loved each other.
Consider a day when everyone shared their stuff; in fact, no one believed anything was 'their stuff' but that it belonged to the whole community.
Imagine a time when no one felt the need to abuse the people in their community by taking advantage of people's kindness.
Imagine a time when everyone had someone to love and knew that someone loved them.
Just imagine!
Come Lord Jesus. Come quickly!!! It's almost Christmastime.
To read the whole series of Dion Oxford's "Just Imagine..." Advent posts, please click here.
Can you imagine a Boxing Day like that? In fact, not just on Boxing Day but peace on earth and goodwill toward all men throughout the whole year!
"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." (Psalm 100:4 KJV)
I could bless God. 
Not take anything. Not ask anything, demand anything, petition anything. I could simply give to Him.
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.
As I ponder these thoughts, I continue my counting of grace-gifts, #1175 - #1187... for it is in the counting where the giving flows from... "let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me..."

:: Fun night for my boy with peeps from his youth group.
:: School's out!
:: Christmas baking!
:: Christmas photo shoot with my extended family.
:: Christmas Eve service.
:: Cooking, baking, cooking, baking!
:: Online Sunday teaching on Christmas Day... I ♥ technology!
:: Beautiful family time on Christmas morning.
:: My boy reading from Luke 2:1-20.
:: Each family member's birthday gift to Jesus!
:: Both kids opening presents from us!
:: Christmas lunch with hubby's extended family.
:: Boxing Day dinner with my family.

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Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's Christmas!

Wishing you a peace-filled Christmas...

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

To read our family's year-end newsletter, please click here.
Also, a very Merry Christmas from my boy... in true LEGO Star Wars style! :-)


May your days be merry and bright...


Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Christmas Eve!

Dear Heavenly Father, my heart quietly waits in anticipation of the grand celebration that tomorrow brings. Thank You for the gift of Your Son. Thank You for redeeming grace.
~ Advent reading from Girlfriends in God devotional.
I just want to take this opportunity to thank each one of you who sponsored a Compassion child this year! Thank YOU for giving hope... thank you for making a difference in the lives of needy children, releasing them from poverty in Jesus' name!

Merry Christmas... from our family to yours!
{Please click on the photo for a larger image.}


Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Do You Believe?

It's two days before Christmas, friends!
Why do you celebrate?
What do you believe?

This is why I celebrate. 
This is what I believe...
{Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video.}

We need to use this Christmas to look at the One who has been "prepared in the sight of all people (Luke 2:31)." The public Savior; the beacon for the world; the light for revelation.
Lord, open my eyes to the Lord Jesus. Help me to see your light that I may live in truth and comfort in this dark world. And help me reflect your light to the many needy people around me.
~ Christmas Joy, Mel Lawrenz.
I believe! 
Merry Christmas, friends!!!
And, a must-read on this Friday before Christmas... Ann Voskamp's What He Really Wants You to Remember this Christmas. Christmas blessing, friends... from our home to yours!

Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On Being Radically Generous

It is sooooo wonderful to belong to a community of Christ-followers who walks the talk... living simply and giving generously, not only at Christmas-time but throughout the whole year as well.

This is how our church prepares for Christmas... how this community GIVES thanks... this is how doing thanks looks like here...

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


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I promise you will be blessed!



Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesdays Unwrapped: Giving Instead of Getting

One of the grace-gifts I listed yesterday on my Multitudes on Mondays post was this:
:: Shopping for items to pack into hygiene kits for homeless youth.
This past Saturday, our kids got together with their cousins and "almost-cousins" for our annual Christmas party. First, let me explain the "almost-cousins." :-) This group actually started 23 years ago with five teenage girls --- myself, my two sisters and our two friends who are also sisters --- us five, we're just like blood sisters! Hence, our kids are "almost-cousins."

Here we were... 20+ years ago!

So... the 14 "almost-cousins" aren't getting presents from the aunties this year. Instead, those of us who are here in the Greater Toronto Area used the money to purchase hygiene items for homeless youth who are ministered to by Yonge Street Mission! Our one "sister" who lives in the nation's capital is going to make a delivery to the local food bank!

So... Saturday was party time! What a fun afternoon we all had packing the hygiene kits!!! Here are some photos...






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.
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.
Click *here* for more of today's Tuesdays Unwrapped posts...
Jump in... I promise you will be blessed!

Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Week...

It's finally Christmas week! Because my kids don't get out of school until this coming Friday, December 23rd... it seems like Christmas is still far away. In reality though... it is less than one week away!

We actually don't have much planned. It will be quiet this year, a nice change... we will enjoy the serenity and the togetherness... celebrating the birthday of our Prince of Peace.
And He will be called... Prince of Peace.
~ Isaiah 9:6.
Lord, I know there will be battles in my life, and I know that some fights between what is right and what is wrong are necessary. But help me to live in the calm and confidence that you have made it possible for me to live at peace with you.
~ Christmas Joy by Mel Lawrenz.
Here are some more photos (better quality ones) as an addendum to my post from last Thursday... Christmas Tour of Homes 2011... Merry Christmas from our home to yours!!!












And, the counting of grace-gifts continues... as we celebrate the birth of the Greatest Gift of all... #1166 - #1174 of blessings that overflow...

:: Shopping for items to pack into hygiene kits for homeless youth.
:: Making new friends at Home Church.
:: A fresh haircut.
:: Wrapping gifts for the children at UrbanPromise.
:: My workplace's Christmas lunch.
:: Serving with our church family at the UrbanPromise Christmas party.
:: An almost-free admission to watch Mission Impossible 4... ♥ gift cards!
:: Sending a donation for Philippine flood victims via friends who will be on the ground there and working with local churches to distribute relief goods.
Here you can become a current in a river of grace that redeems the world. Here I can become the blessing, a little life that multiplies joy, making the larger world a better place.
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.
Click on the banner below for more Multitudes on Mondays posts...
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Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Tour of Homes 2011

10 days to Christmas, folks!

This morning, I came across this "event" in the blog-o-sphere called the Christmas Tour of Homes. It looks like a fun thing to do... so I'm jumping in and joining the fun! It is hosted by The Nester at the blog called Nesting Place.

So... please come on in, friends... get comfortable and welcome to our home!


Merry Christmas, friends!
From our family to yours...
My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
~ Luke 2:46-47.
Lord, this Christmas, give me a larger vision of who you are. May you be magnified in my soul, and may others see that you are the focus of my celebration.
~ from Christmas Joy, Mel Lawrenz.

Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's A Conspiracy!

An Advent Conspiracy, that is!

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

[AC] Promo 2011 from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.

I'm sure you've seen the different versions of the above video ever since it came out a few years ago. I think it's still worth another watch though... especially since it's an updated 2011 version!

The reason I'm posting it today is because last night... my kids' youth group had an Advent Conspiracy Christmas Party! What they did truly warmed my heart. It's the way Christmas should be... for all of us!

Instead of getting gifts, they gave...
:: Food for the food bank.
:: New socks and underwear for the homeless.
:: Gently-used shoes for Kicks of Love.
:: Used clothing for homeless youth.

They had fun... tons of fun! My kids couldn't stop talking about how much fun they had... from the minute they stepped into the car, all the way home! {It's about a half-an-hour drive for us, by the way. So it was a lot of talking!}

They played games... and instead of winning prizes, they gave...
:: An irrigation system.
:: Education.
:: And other life-changing gifts from the World Vision Gift Catalogue.

They heard stories from former drug trade workers who encountered Jesus and are now working at Yonge Street Mission ministering to at-risk youth!

That was one God-honouring Christmas party, if you ask me!

Time and again, I am in awe... thankful... humbled... that God, in His grace, led us to this church to call home. It has truly been a blessing!
God so loved the world that he gave...
~ John 3:16a, CEB (italics added).
In an endless cycle of grace, He gives us gifts to serve the world.
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts (italics added).
That's why we give... not just at Christmas time, but at all times! Friends, let's get this conspiracy on the road!

Click on the banner below to read more Walk With Him posts every Wednesday...
I promise you will be blessed!



Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesdays Unwrapped: Giving Hope

One of the grace-gifts I listed yesterday on my Multitudes on Mondays post was this:
:: Another Compassion child sponsored!
Our family's journey of sponsoring a child with and advocating for Compassion International has truly been a life-changing experience! It has brought us to places we never dreamed we'd go... broken our hearts for things we never thought we'd care about... grown us in a way that we never thought was even possible!

To paraphrase Ann Voskamp, from her book One Thousand Gifts...

God is truly always good...
And, we are truly always loved!

God, in His grace... has brought about, through our family's advocacy... the sponsorship of 10 Compassion children in just 5 short months... truly beyond my wildest dreams... more than all we ask or imagine!

10 more children released from poverty in Jesus' name!

Today... would YOU add just one more to that total and give just one more child HOPE this Christmas season?

Let me introduce you to Lourence. He is 8 years old and lives in the coastal community of Poblacion (southeast of Dipolog City, Philippines). Most adults in Poblacion work as subsistence farmers and earn the equivalent of $100 per month.

Here is Lourence!
{Please click on the image for a larger preview.}

Wouldn't it be great for Lourence to find out at Christmas that he has been sponsored? You can make that happen! Lourence is waiting to call you "friend"!

If you are interested to sponsor Lourence, please contact me and I will promptly get his child pack off to you!!!

*Thank YOU* so much for loving on children who live in extreme poverty... you are a channel of God's love to a hurting and needy world.

Click *here* for more of today's Tuesdays Unwrapped posts...
Jump in... I promise you will be blessed!

Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Ordinary

Bethlehem was like any other town in the hills of Judea. Yet, it was the birthplace of the greatest king of Israel, David, and one thousand years later, the Messiah. Honor comes to the ordinary because of God's choice, whether it is God's choice to use a town, or a nation, or even a single man or woman, boy or girl. So if this is shaping up to be an ordinary day for you - be prepared. That's the stage on which the acts of God are played.
~ Mel Lawrenz, Christmas Joy.
Bethlehem, an ordinary town. Mary, an ordinary girl. That first Christmas, an ordinary day. Today I am thankful that God chooses to use the ordinary to achieve extraordinary things!

Grace-gifts continue with #1154 - #1165... gifts given on ordinary days...

:: Visiting an uncle at the hospital.
:: Printing photos... counting memories.
:: Mailing Christmas gifts.
:: Watching my kids play basketball.
:: Watching hubby coach basketball.
:: Buying groceries.
:: Another Compassion child sponsored!
:: Running a Christmas Toy Drive at church!
:: Welcoming people to church as they arrive.
:: Sunday afternoon nap.
:: An ordinary, slow week!
:: My Advent readings...
Christ, you are the King above all other kings, the high priest who has made the ultimate sacrifice, the prophet who has had the last word. Let me be astonished this Christmas by knowing more fully than ever before, that you really have come and have changed this world, and are here still.
~ Mel Lawrenz, Christmas Joy.
Click on the banner below for more Multitudes on Mondays posts...
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Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Joy To The World!

Summer sunshine over Lake Ontario.
Photo by: Floyd Esparaz

Hello there, Friday... with my Advent Reading from this morning...
Isaiah 9:2,6-7, The Message
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. 
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows — light! 
Sunbursts of light!
For a child has been born — for us! 
The gift of a son — for us! 
He'll take over the running of the world. 
His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
And there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. 
He'll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. 
He'll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!!! So thankful that Love came down that very first Christmas in Bethlehem. Have a blessed Friday, friends!

Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kingdom Come

These verses were a part of my Advent readings in the past two days...
Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ ~ Matthew 1:23, NLT.
He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High... His Kingdom will never end! ~ Luke 1:32-33, NLT.
Immanuel... God is with us... His Kingdom is here and it will never end! What an amazing truth!

Might it just be...? Wait... but it is! His Kingdom can come through us --- Christ-followers, if we are willing to let Him use us.

I am reminded of a song called Kingdom Come by Sarah Walker. Sarah is from Ontario... in fact, I got to know her music very well through our church. Her debut album, Overflow, consists of...
... songs filled with faith and a challenge to see God’s Kingdom come, Sarah’s desire is that this album will inspire the Church to respond to God’s heart and take action, especially on issues of poverty and justice. As a reflection of her belief that acts of justice are one of our most profound acts of worship, Sarah is donating 50% of all of the proceeds from her debut CD to support education for orphans and vulnerable children in southern Africa through MCC’s Global Family Program.
~ from Sarah Walker's website.
Say, are you still looking for that perfect Christmas gift? I highly recommend Sarah Walker's Overflow for the music lovers on your list! Beautiful music... great cause!

Back to the song Kingdom Come, I love the lyrics... they are packed with much meaning, just beautiful! My prayer anew today... "Lord, let Your Kingdom come to earth in me!"
Let peace and justice reign as your glory is restored
And mercy comes to earth again in human form, this human form
I am a new creation - let the world around be changed
In every generation, lifting up our songs of praise
I want to see your Kingdom come
See it unfold, Your will be done
You came to earth to set us free
Now come to earth again in me
Let hope and freedom reign as your love makes all things new
And shine through us again as we're renewed, the world renewed
I am alive in You, Your Spirit's changing me
In all I say and do, Lord, let your will and mine agree
I'll worship You 'till Kingdom come, Kingdom come
Your Kingdom come
I'll live it out Your will be done, Kingdom come
Your Kingdom come
Friends... here's Sarah singing Kingdom Come!
Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you have a listen.

Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!
ComScore

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to Give Gifts this Christmas

On our drive home, we pass by this church with a lawn sign that often has something on it that we can laugh about... I know, I know... c'mon, but it's funny! :-) This week though, what they have on the sign is actually quite witty... thought-provoking even. It says:
Christmas is not your birthday!
I love it! Don't you?

Such a simple truth... yet missed by sooooo many! Missed by us, Christ-followers. Whose birthday are we celebrating anyway... when we smother ourselves and our children with over-indulgent gifts, focusing on "us" rather than those around us who are in need!

Greg Boyd (@greg_boyd) tweeted this today:
X-MAS INSANITY: multitudes stress out b/c they "can't find something" to buy loved ones while children in their community need food.
Ah, so true. 
So sad.
So wrong!

So... how should we, as Christ-followers, celebrate Christmas? Whose birthday is it anyway?

Off to school with Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for his class to fill.

Deck the halls... and the window! :-)


Our Christmas tree... before being decorated.

Decorating the tree...

As we celebrate Advent and prepare for Christmas, our family is intentionally being mindful of whose birthday it is... the true meaning of why we celebrate in the first place!

All done!

This year, for the very first time... there will be less for ourselves under the tree so that we can give more Jesus birthday presents... living simply in order to give generously.
He must increase and I must decrease. (John 3:30, CEB)
... to those around us in dire need, in want, in poverty... to the least of these. This year, we will be doing Christmas radically!
Then the King will answer, 'I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.' (Matthew 25:40, NCV)
So... Christmas shopping on your mind?
How about a squealing pig, an egg-laying chicken or a milk-producing goat for the least of these in Rwanda, India, Uganda and Burkina Faso?
How about the gift of greenhouse farming, carpentry or an opportunity to start a small business for the least of these in Kenya, Ethiopia and Nicaragua?
How about a pile of books or computers for the least of these in Haiti, Colombia and Ghana?
How about vaccinations for babies, the least of these, in Ecuador and the Philippines?
How about a toilet for the least of these in Bolivia and El Salvador?
Intrigued?
Interested?
Yes?

Then, hurry up and check out Compassion Canada's Gifts of Compassion... gifts that will keep on giving!
I am blessed. I can bless. Imagine! I could let Him make me the gift!
I could be joy!
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Click on the banner below to read more Walk With Him posts every Wednesday...
I promise you will be blessed!



Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!