Wednesday, February 29, 2012

58: February's Fast

Happy Leap Day, friends!

What are your plans for this day that comes just once every four years? It's an ordinary day around our household today... hubby has left for work, the kids are off to school and I am just about to start my work day.

However, I want to make this Leap Day extraordinary by blogging about 58:'s February fast because today is Fast Day at Live 58:! This month's fast has become even more meaningful to me, I think, because I am in the midst of my own fasting through Lent.
Then Jesus said to his followers, "If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me. Those who want to save their lives will give up true life, and those who give up their lives for me will have true life. It is worthless to have the whole world if they lose their souls. They could never pay enough to buy back their souls. The Son of Man will come again with his Father's glory and with his angels. At that time, he will reward them for what they have done."
~ Matthew 16:24-27, NCV
Are you ready for some fast living?
To take the leap on this Leap Day? 
Well, this month's Live 58: fast takes us to Kenya with World Relief!

And, the project? To provide emergency food items such as beans, corn and cooking oil to the most vulnerable and adversely affected people and communities in the remote, drought-stricken areas of Turkana, Kenya. This food is especially essential for those who have lost all their crops and livestock. Most have no stored food or savings to buy the little food that is available in the markets.

Here's a video to help you learn more about the work of World Relief in Turkana, Kenya.
{Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch the video.}

CRISIS in Turkana, Kenya from World Relief on Vimeo.

Today...
Instead of lunch, buy some beans.
Instead of a new pair of shoes, buy a few bushels of corn.
Instead of that weekend getaway, buy many gallons of cooking oil.

So, are you inspired to take the leap?
If so, please visit this link to donate via Live 58:.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
~ James 1:27, NIV
During this season of Lent, I have been inspired by the daily videos over at Chris Seay's A Place At The Table. Chris is the one who started the movement called Advent Conspiracy. Check out the short videos... I promise you will be blessed! I am eagerly awaiting my copy of A Place At The Table in print form. I think it's going to be a very good read!

Living the fast of Isaiah 58... it is the religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless! It is The Practice of Fasting that I choose to live out... living out the greatest of commandments...

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, February 28, 2012

Hope Lives: An Online Community Read-Through

Don't let the wise brag of their wisdom.
Don't let heroes brag of their exploits.
Don't let the rich brag of their riches.
If you brag, brag of this and this only:
That you understand and know me.
I'm God, and I act in loyal love.
I do what's right and set things right and fair,
and delight in those who do the same things.

~ Jeremiah 9:23-24, The Message.
My sister posted the above verses as her Facebook status this morning. As I read through them and reflected on them, a beautiful thought dawned on me. This thought --- "I want to be able to brag that I understand and know God by doing the things that He delights in... exercising kindness, justice and righteousness.... demonstrating to those living in the margins of our society, locally and globally, that Hope does live!"

What a great thought to start off this blog post... one that I've already scheduled to write today... about the launch of the online community read-through of the book Hope Lives over at Compassion Family, a blog written by Jill, a fellow Compassion Advocate.

We will be reading through this book together during the season of Lent and ending just in time to celebrate Easter... February 27 to April 6.

Will you join us?
On a journey of restoration?
To discover why and where Hope Lives?

To start us off on this journey, the book's author Amber Van Schooneveld has written an introductory blog post. You can read it here! There will be a blog post published for each week of this journey, to be written by several Compassion Advocates including myself. So, please join us and come back to read the weekly blog posts... this book will be a journey that you won't regret taking!

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

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Story of Two Houses and a New TV

Sometimes the best way to receive a gift is to give it away.
Because the only things we really have — are the things we hand over.

~ Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience.
In October of last year, our furnace broke. We replaced it. The installer informed us of government rebates which we applied for. We filed the paperwork... and promptly forgot about the money that was to come back to us.

Fast forward to this past Friday. My boy went to get our mail and came back with an "important looking envelope." I tore open the envelope and inside was the rebate cheque... a sizable amount, I might add! I was excited. You see, hubby and I have been eyeing a new big-screen TV for our bedroom. When I saw the cheque, I immediately thought, "Costco, here we come!" :-)

Simultaneously, as the let's-go-to-Costco thought formed in my head, I very *distinctly* heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit say to me, "I have another purpose for that money." 

My ears perked up! 
What could this other purpose be...? 

There is currently no pressing need that our family is aware of... so I quietly asked God to show us specifically to what, to whom or to where this money should be going towards.

That same night, friends of ours visited us. They have just recently been to the Philippines {over the Christmas break} and witnessed first-hand the devastation that was caused by Typhoon Sendong (Tropical Storm Washi). Their planned vacation became a mission trip providing humanitarian relief instead!

Homes destroyed by the flood.

Devastation everywhere...

Our friends appealed to people here in the Toronto area for cash donations. People responded and they were able bring with them $4,000.00 to go towards relief efforts, particularly in the city of Cagayan De Oro.

They provided 96 families with food, kitchen wares...

... school supplies, clothing, bedding items and other necessities.

They were also able to donate $1,000 to Shelter Box providing 60 families
with temporary housing in a Tent City in Cagayan De Oro.

They shared with us that they chose to channel their relief efforts through a local church and that the majority of the 96 families who received help are unchurched. As a result of this relief effort, this local church is now experiencing increased attendance... many are even being discipled! They have even ran out of seating during church services on Sundays!

Our friends further shared with us that this local church has embarked on a home rebuilding project for the families who have totally lost their homes during the flood. Each house costs $360.00 to rebuild and that they are, once again, appealing to the faith community here in the Toronto area to help.

A light bulb went on in my head!
This is where that money is supposed to go... 
The giving away, the thanks-living!

The frame of one of the first houses to be rebuilt.

Rebuilding...

A girl awaiting funds for her house to be rebuilt.

I love how God showed us the answer on the same night of the very day we received our rebate cheque! Isn't it just amazing how He works? 
Christian hands never clasp and He doesn’t give gifts for gain because a gift can never stop being a gift — a gift is always meant to be given….
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.
As for that new big-screen TV, it can wait! :-)

Our trusty old TV! :-)

You see, we will be perfectly fine without it... no, we will be more-than-perfectly-fine without it! We are more than happy to go without the luxury of a new big-screen TV and in exchange see two families have enough shelter to remain safe and dry.

You see, that rebate cheque... it is almost exactly the amount of that TV we are eyeing... it is also almost exactly the amount to rebuild two houses! God's accounting is just so top-notch, I tell ya! ;-) I love how He makes it so easy for us to choose and to compare... :-)

Will you join our family?
... in the rebuilding of one or more of these houses?
Your donation will receive a Canadian charitable tax receipt through a local church here in the Toronto area that is working directly with the local church in Cagayan De Oro.

The counting of grace-gifts... it has truly helped me in my desire to fully live out my thanksgiving! As I continue on this hunt for grace-gifts, these are the things I am thankful for this week... #1274 - #1278:

:: This opportunity to give thanks away, thanksgiving becoming thanks-living!
:: His sustaining grace on a not-so-typical week.
:: My sister and her boys visiting us.
:: Our new Lead Pastor.
:: A Saturday to catch-up on many things...

Happy Monday, friends!
May you be looking forward, as I am... to another week full of God's blessings and His goodness... another week of living out thanks and giving thanks away!
Thanksgiving for God’s love always seeks to become thanks-living – a living and giving of His love.
Soaring into this new week with you, friends... acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God!

Click on the banner below for more Multitudes on Mondays 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!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Grit

On Fridays {maybe not every Friday... we'll see how this goes}, I link up with a whole community of Five Minute Friday posts. Today's word for Five Minute Friday is: GRIT.

When I think of the word grit, the saying "no grit, no glory" come to mind right away. That saying isn't always true though, right?

Haven't you put so much grit into something {or even someone} only to find no glory at the end? Only disappointments... perhaps even heartache? I sure have.

In times like that, the verses from 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV) give me assurance: 
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
In the Lord, our labour is not in vain... all that grit will not go to waste! I can't tell you how reassuring it is to know that.

Linking up at The Gypsy Mama with other Five Minute Friday posts:

... where we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.
We write because we want to, not because we have to. 
We write for fun, for joy, for discovery.
Won’t you join us?

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

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On Living Each Day Fully...

Hello friends and hello Thursday... with this, my Walk With Him Wednesdays post. I had no time to blog yesterday and you will soon see why. 

Yesterday, we attended a funeral and went to a visitation.... a funeral for a relative and a visitation for a friend's mom. Needless to say, yesterday was not a typical Wednesday.

Being confronted with the reality of death, not just once... but twice in one day, really made me reflect on the brevity of life. Even though both of the deceased were in their 70s, a whole lifetime here on earth is still short when compared to where they are right now... and that is, eternity.

Speaking of eternity... where are they spending eternity? I couldn't help but wonder about each person's life story. Did they have a relationship with Jesus? Were they followers of Christ here on earth? 

Another thing that funerals and visitations often bring to light is the religion, culture and traditions of the family. I couldn't help but notice how religion tries to explain the way to eternal life... and how certain practices of culture and traditions try to make sure that life-after-death will be comfortable for the deceased.

Three thoughts stayed with me from yesterday's experiences...

Seeing life's brevity... live everyday fully.
Witnessing life's hypocrisy... live authentically.
Knowing life's eternity... be radical in sharing my faith in Jesus.

Coincidentally, yesterday was the start of Lent... the preparing of one's heart for Easter. Traditionally, people "give up" something for Lent because the act of refusing oneself of accustomed pleasures develops a discipline that molds the body and the soul towards Christ and towards God's will.

I think marking Lent can be the perfect way to develop the three thoughts I have above. The discipline I can gain from practicing Lent can help me... to live each day more fully, to be a more authentic human being, to be more radical in sharing my faith in Jesus with people I cross paths with everyday.

Our family is practicing Lent a little differently this year than we did last year. We are still fasting from eating out and giving away that money in order to send six under-privileged Filipino children to school. On top of that, each of us is searching our hearts... and fasting from one activity which we think is needlessly taking up our time each day... causing us to neglect the reading of the Bible and/or praying.

And... I've identified mine... this will be a tough one for me, I know that already! It's going to take a whole lot of discipline on my part! :-)

It is... the checking of Facebook and Twitter constantly all throughout the day! So, friends... this will be my personal fast this Lent: I have chosen to only check Facebook and Twitter once in the morning, once during my lunch break and once before bed... from now until Easter Sunday!

And speaking of fasting... I must mention Live58's February fast. We are headed to Kenya with World Relief! Will you join us?

Kenya

40,500,000estimated population


18,300,000living in poverty


3,750,000affected by drought


This project will provide emergency food items such as beans, corn and cooking oil to the most vulnerable and adversely affected people and communities in the remote, drought-stricken areas of Turkana, Kenya. This food is especially essential for those who have lost all their crops and livestock. Most have no stored food or savings to buy the little food that is available in the markets.
Will you also celebrate Lent, friend?
Will you choose a fast, too?
As a way to live more fully?
In Isaiah 58:6-9 (NIV), it says...
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
    then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
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, February 21, 2012

Late Start to the Week...

Hello Tuesday! We had a long weekend that started with a P.A. Day for the kids on Friday and ended with the Family Day holiday on Monday.... so we are enjoying a late start to this week!

The whole weekend was spent celebrating our girl's 15th birthday! We went to watch the Raptors play the Bobcats on Friday night. Although the Raptors lost, it was a fun night overall... with a stop at The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. Then, my sister and her hubby surprised my girl by showing up at the basketball game too!

Saturday night was another dinner out at a buffet restaurant of my girl's choice!

Sunday morning was spent at church... a great morning with a great message... one that touched me deep and brought me to tears... perhaps a blog post for another time! After that, our whole family did something very special! We had the awesome privilege of visiting a family to tell them that they have been approved for a Habitat for Humanity house!!!

Printed on the back cover of the presentation folder
that we brought to the family.

On the inside of the folder.

Because of the culture and religion of the family we visited, it was an experience that took us very much outside of our comfort zone! And because we didn't know that we would encounter this culture/religion beforehand, we were very much taken by surprise without any prior preparation! I have to say that I am very proud of how our kids handled themselves. :-)

During the visit, I couldn't help but feel and sense the darkness that has enshrouded this family... an oppressive darkness brought into their lives because of culture and religion. My heart felt sad... very sad.

Yet, I am in awe that God allowed for a window of conversation about the Bible and about our faith during this very short visit. It reminded me of Jesus' words from Mark 16:15 which says:
He (Jesus) said to them, “You are to go to all the world and preach the Good News to every person.
What an awesome way to spend a tiny portion of our Sunday! It's an experience that our family will treasure and remember for a long time. We are hoping to keep tabs on this Habitat family in the months and years to come... because I know that God can do immeasurably more than what we can ever ask or imagine!

Sunday night, the birthday celebrations continued... with my kids' Youth Pastor and his family, plus my girl's Small Group Leader, coming over for dinner. It was a lovely time to cap off an awesome Sunday!

On Family Day Monday, we spent the day with my extended family rock climbing!!! 









Everyone... old and young... big and small... had a great time... an awesome ending to an awesome weekend celebrating an awesome young lady!!!

As I continue my hunt for grace-gifts... these are the things I am thankful for this week... #1267 - #1273:

:: Great time of fellowship at Tuesday night Home Church.
:: Both kids bringing home awesome report cards!!!
:: Conversations with girlfriends over coffee.
:: My girl turning 15... and,
:: A whole weekend of celebrations!
:: Getting to deliver the Habitat good news... and,
:: Praying for this Habitat family to one day know the true Good News!

Happy Tuesday, friends!
May you be looking forward, as I am... to another week full of God's blessings and His goodness.
If living eucharisteo is the key to unlocking the mystery of life, this I want. I want the hunt, the long sleuth, the careful piecing together. To learn how to be grateful and happy whether hands full or hands empty. That is a secret worth spending a life on learning.
Soaring into this new week with you, friends... acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God!

Click on the banner below for more Multitudes on Mondays 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!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Beautiful Girl

... turns 15 today!

Time is too swift... it truly flows like a relentless river! Happy Birthday, God's Gal... know that you are forever loved... beyond what words can adequately express... more than you can ever know! ♥

So, how did this adorable baby girl...


... grow up to be this beautiful young lady... in a blink of an eye, just like that?


I am awed anew by God's grace... in the life of my girl. She has grown up to be a truly beautiful young lady. Beautiful on the outside, but most importantly beautiful on the inside... her heart is beautiful!
Do not let your beauty come from the outside. It should not be the way you comb your hair or the wearing of gold or the wearing of fine clothes. Your beauty should come from the inside. It should come from the heart. This is the kind that lasts. Your beauty should be a gentle and quiet spirit. In God’s sight this is of great worth and no amount of money can buy it.
~ 1 Peter 3:3-4, NLV.
This past month, she was nominated for this award for her work as a Volunteer Advocate for Compassion Canada! Even though she didn't win, being nominated is so awesome... so humbled and honoured! I am one proud mama!!!

And... here's a glimpse into her beautiful heart... in her own words, written just two days ago, on her favourite word, hope.

In my blog wanderings yesterday, I came across a song, posted by Kat from the blog Inspired To Action. It's a prayer in the form of a song... a hard prayer to pray, yet so full of meaning and truth! So this, my baby girl... is my prayer for you on this day, your 15th birthday!

{Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video. The song starts at 1:57.}

May your heart break enough that compassion enters in
May your strength all be spent upon the weak
All the castles and crowns you build and place upon your head
May they all fall, come crashing down around your feet
May you find every step to be harder than the last
So your character grows greater each stride
May your company be of humble insignificance
May your weakness be your only source of pride
What you do unto others may it all be done to you
May you meet the One who made us
And see Him smile when life is through
May your blessings be many but not what you hoped they’d be
And when you look upon the broken
May mercy show you what you could not see
May you never be sure of any plans you desire
But you’d learn to trust the plan He has for you
May your passions be tried and tested in the holy fire
May you fight with all your life for what is true
Happy Birthday to our beautiful girl!
You are truly a gift to us from God... just. pure. blessing!

Related Readings... birthday tributes to my girl since this blog started:

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

Friday, February 17, 2012

Delight

On Fridays {maybe not every Friday... we'll see how this goes}, I link up with a whole community of Five Minute Friday posts. Today's word for Five Minute Friday is: DELIGHT.

When I think of the word delight, the verse from Psalm 37:4 come to mind right away. It says: 
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
This verse has grown in meaning and truth for me as I've matured, over the years, in Christ. It is one of the many verses that my mother had me memorize at a young age for which I will be forever grateful.

When I first memorized this verse... I thought, "Awesome... if I just obey the Lord and do everything He commands, I will get anything and everything I ask for." In a little girl's mind... that translates to new toys, new trinkets, new clothes and fun activities.

I am thankful for God's grace... for He molds me with each passing day, each passing month, each passing year. Today, I have learned much about delighting myself in the Lord and about the desires of my heart.

To delight in the Lord is to hope... to soar! And the desires of my heart today? Well, I can't say that I would have been passionate about the same desires in the past. God is truly good. He is to be praised!

Linking up at The Gypsy Mama with other Five Minute Friday posts:

... where we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.
We write because we want to, not because we have to. 
We write for fun, for joy, for discovery.
Won’t you join us?

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! In my Internet wanderings in recent days, I came across something I never knew before... and that is, the history of Valentine's Day! Did you know that one of the theories of its origin is based on this...
Three hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ, the Roman emperors still demanded that everyone believe in the Roman gods. Valentine, a Christian priest, had been thrown in prison for his teachings. On February 14, Valentine was beheaded, not only because he was a Christian, but also because he had performed a miracle. He supposedly cured the jailer's daughter of her blindness. The night before he was executed, he wrote the jailer's daughter a farewell letter, signing it "From Your Valentine." Another legend tells us that this same Valentine, well-loved by all, received notes to his jail cell from children and friends who missed him.
Source: The History of Valentine's Day, About.com
In light of this story, will you follow in Valentine's footsteps today, on this Valentine's Day... spreading Jesus' love across our world... and being the miracle, bringing hope to so many in the margins who are waiting?

Will you carry the LOVE of Jesus to the little ones?
Will you sponsor a Compassion child today?
Will you *be* the hope they are waiting for?

So, how did Valentine's Day evolve to the way it is celebrated today?
In 1537, a Royal Charter by Henrry VIII officially declared February 14 as St. Valentine's Day. By the next century, Valentine's Day was widely celebrated in Britain and, by the 1700s cards were exchanged on a regular basis, which became one of the precursors to how the holiday is celebrated today.
Source: The History of Valentine's Day, History.ca
In light of this, let me tell you about my Valentine...

Chocolate Hills, Bohol (Philippines), Summer 2011.

He is my best friend, the man my soul loves. He is the grace of my life… a man who “fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments.” (from Psalm 112:1 NASB). I am blessed beyond measure.
If I need evidence God is good
Just looking at you is enough
You are the grace of my life
For you grace my life with your love
~ Brian Littrell, Grace of My Life.
In my devotional reading yesterday from Girlfriends in God was this prayer... quite appropriate for this day, Valentine's Day... but I think it's a great prayer for everyday as well!
Lord, I pray for my husband, from head to toe:
:: His Head - That he will look to You as Lord of his life. (1 Corinthians 11:3)
:: His Mind - That he will have the mind of Christ and think as the Holy Spirit would lead him and not the flesh. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
:: His Eyes - That You will keep his eyes from temptation and that he will turn his eyes from sin. (Matthew 6:13, Mark 9:47)
:: His Ears - That he will hear Your still small voice instructing him. (1 Kings 19:12, Psalm 32:8)
:: His Mouth - That his words will be pleasing to You. (Psalm 19:14)
:: His Neck - That he will humble himself before You and be strong, courageous, and careful to do everything written in Your Word so that he will be prosperous and successful. (James 4:10, Joshua 1:8-9)
:: His Heart - That he will love and trust You with his whole heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5, Proverbs 3:5)
:: His Arms - That You will be his strength. (Psalm 73:26)
:: His Hands - That he will enjoy the work of his hands and see it as a gift from You. (Ecclesiastes 3:13, 5:19)
:: His feet - That You will order his steps and that he will walk in Your truth. (Proverbs 4:25, Psalm 26:3)
Happy Valentine's Day, friends!
Let us love... "because He first loved us." ~ 1 John 4:19.

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!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gifts on Wintry Days...

My boy had an awesome time away on his 3-day school trip! I missed him a lot when he was away... so I was quite happy when Wednesday afternoon finally rolled around. He brought a camera with him and took some amazing nature photos! Here are some of them, all raw and unedited... straight from the camera:



Self-portrait! :-)





And here is his class, upon arrival at the school, forming a human chain to unload their luggage!


As I continue my hunt for grace-gifts... these are the things I am thankful for this week... #1260 - #1266:

:: My boy had a great time on his first ever overnight trip without us!
:: Excited about a few Local Compassion Initiatives that I'm working on for our church family to participate in these next few months.
:: My girl working hard to prep for piano and theory exams.
:: Hubby's doctor being careful and doing some additional tests.
:: Holding a brand-new baby!
:: A friend got baptized.
:: Finally... snow on the ground!

Happy Monday, friends!
May this new week be amazing... because we serve an awesome and great God!
Gift List. That is the beginning and I smile. I can't believe how I smile. I mean, they are just the common and maybe I don't even know they are gifts really, until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows.
Soaring into this new week with you, friends... acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God!

Click on the banner below for more Multitudes on Mondays 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!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Trust

On Fridays {maybe not every Friday... we'll see how this goes}, I link up with a whole community of Five Minute Friday posts. Today's word for Five Minute Friday is: TRUST.

When I think of the word trust, the verses from Proverbs 3:5-6 come to mind right away. They were the verses my mom made me and my two sisters commit to memory before we immigrated to Canada over 23 years ago.

She said to us, "These very words will serve as a guide for every decision you'll have to make and every threshold you'll have to cross." She was right! To this day, I still return to these very same verses when making tough decisions and crossing difficult thresholds.

The NIV 1984 version was what I memorized. It says: 
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
I also love how The Message words it:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.
Linking up at The Gypsy Mama with other Five Minute Friday posts:

... where we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.
We write because we want to, not because we have to. 
We write for fun, for joy, for discovery.
Won’t you join us?

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

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

God's Upside-Down Economy

This is what God does. He gives his best — the sun to warm and the rain to nourish — to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
~ Matthew 5:45-47, The Message.
I read the above verses during my morning devotions yesterday... and it made me continue my reflection on what it truly means to live out the greatest of commandments... the practice of Love {an appropriate topic to focus on during this month of love, don't you think?}... the choice that we as Christ-followers must choose.

So, what does it mean to truly love? 
This video illustrates it very well...
{Please pause the Playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video.}


I've known about Katie Davis and Amazima Ministries for a while now. My girl did her Grade 9 English Independent Study Unit on Katie Davis' book Kisses from Katie... an incredible story of one young woman following God's heart!

But yesterday was the very first time I saw Katie Davis on video... and, the video made her real to me. Suddenly, she's not just a young woman who's a character in a storybook or someone I read about on blogs anymore... but actually a real flesh-and-blood person.

A young lady... who, when she started this whole journey of serving God in Uganda, was only 16 years old. At a tender age of 16, Katie Davis chose the upside-down economy of God! She chose to please her Heavenly Father over pleasing her earthly father. 

Sixteen... my girl turns 15 in just a week's time... sixteen is only a year away!

As I watched the video... tears came. I previewed the video once again just now and I'm emotional all over again. I had to ask myself, "Why the tears?" 

I try to convince myself that I'm crying because I'm moved by Katie Davis' courage and her boldness. But deep down inside I know the source of my tears. I am thinking of my girl... thinking what if... what if she chooses, at a tender age of 16, to forgo a university degree? To move to Uganda and care for orphans? Or some other radical choice like that? Would I be okay with that?!? Would I really be?

Would I stand by what hubby and I say that we teach and model to our kids each day... that is "to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God"... would I?

To be quite honest, I'm struggling... struggling because I know what the right answer should be... but I don't even want to picture the scenario of my children choosing to live out the greatest of commandments so radically like that.

I am confronted anew by the reality of my addiction, the addiction to comfort... to giving just enough and loving just enough and letting go of just enough... so as not to hamper my comfortable life. I am also reminded of my fight, the fight to stay away from that middle ground, that comfortable place where it is so easy to settle down.

Shane Claiborne, in his book The Irresistible Revolution, says this:
We are not just called to be candles. Candles make for nice Christmas services and for a nice peace vigil. They can remind us that God's light dwells within us and that we are to shine that light in this dark world. But we are not just called to be candles. We are called to be fire. Candles can be snuffed out by the slightest wind or by the smallest child on their birthday. But it's harder to put out a fire. We are to be fire, to weave our lives together so that the Spirit's inferno of love spreads across the earth.
~ The Irresistible Revolution, page 352.
This is exactly where God's grace enters the picture. 
Because it is truly only by grace... that we can become a people radically living out the greatest of commandments... to be ordinary radicals... to love radically... to be fire, not candles... for me to be okay if my girl {or my boy} chooses to serve God in Africa one day! Oh, help me God...

We can love all.
A love revolution...
Seeing the One we love in everyone.
Change takes real intentionality, like a woman bent over her flower beds every day with a spade and the sure determined will to grow up something good to strengthen the heart.
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, February 7, 2012

Missing My Boy...

Today, my heart misses my boy. He is gone on a 3-day school trip... his first {ever!} overnight trip alone away from home. I know, I know... he's already 11... but he'll always be my baby boy!

My boy's hand-print from when he was 4!

Because he can have an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts, we've always been wary of sleep-overs... that's why he's never been away from home overnight on his own... up until now, that is. We've always said to him that only when he feels like he's ready, he can tell us... then he can go on overnight trips alone.

This year, he announced that he's finally ready!
I thought, "Awesome! Because there is a school trip planned for Grade 6 students at his school."

Over the weekend, he excitedly did his laundry early... started setting aside things for the trip... dug out a small suitcase from the basement storage room. As I helped him pack... rolling his clothes neatly into tight cylinders... checking the packing list... and checking it again, I secretly wondered if he'll change his mind about this trip.

Sunday night came, the eve of the trip. We had a Super Bowl party at home, had guests over. We were busy cheering for the Giants... and before we knew it, it was 10pm. I said, "Time for bed... or you might get left behind by the bus tomorrow morning!"

Then he said, "Maybe I'll decide not to go..." his voice trailing off... "but, I think I'll be fine..." he said decidedly before he could change his mind. It was actually quite cute how he said it!

I assured him that he could decide not to go, even at the last minute... and that I would go pick him up if he decided partway through the trip that he wanted to come home! Tuesday night now... and no phone call... so I guess he's having a grand time!

But, this mama's missing a piece of her heart!
Seriously, I don't think I slept soundly last night... especially since I know that he had a teeny bit of hesitation about the trip. It is in days like these that the Joy Dare lives up to its name, a dare! These two days, I'd dared myself to not fret, to not worry, to *feel* joy, to *know* that God is always good and I am always loved.

So... today's Joy Dare is to look for 3 gifts red. What gift did God give me? Take a look at the photo above... a red hand-print of my boy from when he was 4! It is supposed to be a Christmas ornament... but it is tacked on my cork board right in front of my work desk. It was the first thing I saw as I sat down to start my workday this morning!

I turned the hand-print over and this is what I read...
Inside this heart I placed my hand
To hang upon our tree
And when I'm grown and on my own
My hand will always be
Upon your tree within my heart
At Christmas every year
So hang it now with all my love
Forever keep me near
Oh, the unspeakable joy that flowed from my heart!
Didn't I already say that God is always good and I am always loved? And why do I so frequently forget that? Are you fretting? Do you worry? How about checking out the Joy Dare and taking on the dare with me? I promise you won't regret it!
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
~ John Milton.
Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Grace Which Sustains...

My boy helping out at "Out of the Cold" this past weekend.

It is sunny and a balmy 7*C today. Is it really February in the Great White North?!? Don't know about you but I am LOVING this winter weather. :-)

We had a busy weekend... thankful for God's sustaining grace! As I continue my hunt for grace-gifts... these are the things I am thankful for this week... #1246 - #1259:

:: His grace which sustains...
:: Good {and free!} medical care.
:: My boy staying after school to practice playing the trombone.
:: My girl volunteering to ref a basketball game at her old school.
:: Good orthodontic care... even though it's not free. :-)
:: Shopping for food... for our family.
:: Shopping for food... for the homeless dinner we were preparing.
:: My boy packing for his first overnight school trip.
:: His excitement for this trip!
:: My girl hanging out with her small group from youth group.
:: Leading a great bunch of youth from our church to prepare and serve a meal to the homeless community at "Out of the Cold".
:: Sunday lunch with a great church leadership team!
:: Fun Super Bowl party... and the Giants winning! :-)
:: Our family and friends safe after a strong earthquake hit Central Philippines on Sunday night.

Happy Monday, friends!
May you be looking forward, as I am... to a great week full of God's blessings and His goodness.
Our salvation in Christ is real, yet the completeness of that salvation is not fully realized in a life until the life realizes the need to give thanks.
Soaring into this new week with you, friends... acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God!

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Jump in... I promise you will be blessed!



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

Friday, February 3, 2012

Real

On Fridays {maybe not every Friday... we'll see how this goes}, I've decided to link up with a whole community of Five Minute Friday posts. Today's word for Five Minute Friday is: REAL.

From the book The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne... this is what it means to be a real Christ-follower and this took me five minutes {maybe less} to type out:
What is, therefore, our task today? Shall I answer: "Faith, hope, and love"? That sounds beautiful. But I would say - courage. No, even that is not challenging enough to be the whole truth. Our task today is recklessness. For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature... we lack a holy rage - the recklessness which comes from the knowledge of God and humanity. The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets, and when the lie rages across the face of the earth... a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world. To rage against the ravaging of God's earth, and the destruction of God's world. To rage when little children must die of hunger, when the tables of the rich are sagging with food. To rage at the senseless killing of so many, and against the madness of militaries. To rage at the lie that calls the threat of death and the strategy of destruction peace. To rage against complacency. To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the Kingdom of God. And remember the signs of the Christian Church have been the Lion, the Lamb, the Dove, and the Fish... but never the chameleon.
~ Kaj Munk, January 1944 (as printed in The Irresistible Revolution, pages 294-295).
Linking up at The Gypsy Mama with other Five Minute Friday posts:

... where we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.
We write because we want to, not because we have to. 
We write for fun, for joy, for discovery.
Won’t you join us?

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