Friday, 24 December 2010

That is What Christmas is All About Charlie Brown

This year I missed our annual watching of A Charlie Brown Christmas.  I love this cartoon and apparently others love it too. The first of nearly 50 Peanuts television movies, A Charlie Brown Christmas is the longest-running cartoon special in history, airing every year since its debut in 1965. The show itself includes scenes of ice-skating; a pageant (Mendelson and Schulz had both flubbed parts in school shows); a mix of Christmas carols and Guaraldi's contemporary jazz; and the message that Christmas is really about the joyful miracle of Jesus' birth. Whimsical, melancholy, and ultimately full of wonder, it is a holiday favorite for countless families.  But this cartoon classic almost didn't make it on the air.  It was criticized as being too religious—Linus quotes straight from the King James Bible (Luke 2:8-14). Even Charles Schulz admitted that he was probably the only one who could have gotten A Charlie Brown Christmas made.  The television execs may not have liked it but it was an instant hit with viewers and reviewers alike.
 
Schulz wanted A Charlie Brown Christmas to have the religious meaning that was central to his own experience and understanding of Christmas.  He wanted viewers to know that Christmas was really about Jesus.  As cute as the peanuts gang are they are not Christmas, and without the following scene where Linus speaks truth to his friend Charlie Brown, the show would not have nearly the same impact.


 
Tonight, we will gather with our family and our church family to celebrate and sing carols at our Christmas Eve service.  Later in the evening when we get into our PJ's, the kids, Jason and I will gather by the light our Christmas tree and we will read the truth about Christmas from Luke 2:1-20.  May we all get to share some truth with friends and family this Christmas!  Merry Christmas everyone!



Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Advent Update

We are still enjoying our time spent in the mornings reading the Christmas story for our Jessie Tree.  On Sunday we started the readings in Luke.  If you are following along the Luke reading starts here.

Last week Trinity and I got to spend some time together, just the two of us,  as we made a popcorn and cranberry string for our front tree.  It was fun to just sit the two of us and talk as we worked.  TJ did most of the talking but it was fun to sit and listen to her.  I realize that we are often together as a family but I don't have extended periods with just one child at a time.  It was fun just to sit at the kitchen counter and watch her concentrate on stringing the popcorn and cranberries and to listen to her perspective on things.

On Friday, we were involved in a Christmas concert to raise money for an organization called Kerr Street Ministries.  Jason plays with a band called Before the Flood and this is their third annual Christmas charity fundraiser that they organize at a local club called the "Moonshine Cafe".  It is a unique event because there is a family portion first where kids come and sit right in the front and get to play instruments for the first set.  BTF provides pizza and gingerbread cookies and the kids become involved in the concert.  Our kids all came to the event.  The older ones like the music and a chance to sit with their grandparents in a grown up place.  TJ likes meeting all the other kids that come. It is fun night and about eight o'clock all the kids head home and another band called Kensington Prairie does a  set followed by a final set from BTF.  
The Moonshine - A Neighbourhood Gathering Place

The owners of the Moonshine are very involved in their community so the club itself is a place where people that live in the neighbourhood gather. The evidence of community that happens there is all around the place in pictures that nearly cover every part of of the exposed walls.  Musicians and patrons adorn the walls giving affirmation of how many actually have been through the doors.   I am sure a lot of the patrons don't know Jesus, or go to church on Sundays, although one of our Sanctuary church plants used to meet there before they got too big and had to move down the street.  It is place like churches should be, a welcoming place for all who come through the door.  A place where people will talk to you when sit down and will actually be interested in listening to what it is you have to say.  It is a place where I think Jesus would have hung out. 

Now before I go any further, Before the Flood is not a christian band.  There are some Christians in the band but they play secular music.  Jason really likes playing with them.  They play mostly in downtown Toronto and although Jason has never said it, I think he likes being part of the band because not only does he like the guys but they get invited to places that a Christian band never would.   He has some great stories about when people find out he is a pastor.  It shakes things up.   I think that is what Jesus did.  He showed up in places where people gathered and engaged with them.  Places where people didn't expect Him and because of this He shook things up. 
Jason and Steve

So back to Friday night.  My favourite part about the night was we got to sing some fantastic songs about the truth of Christmas.  BTF debuted Jason's new song "This is Christmas".   If you want to listen to it check it our on Jason's My Space page here.  I got to sing "Go Tell It On The Mountain".  I have to admit that is was quite a bit louder and rockier than I have ever sang it in church but the crowd was definitely listening.

Rebecca from Kensington Prairie
I think my favourite part of the night though, was when Rebecca, from Kensington Prairie sang her rendition of two of my favourite Christmas songs.  "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night".  Rebecca has a beautiful voice and as the notes and words of truth carried though out the bar I was reminded that this is what it must have been like that first Christmas night.  Truth and love came down to the most unusual place, a place where no one expected it to come.   The pure beauty of that moment was juxtaposed with the most humble and surprising surroundings. 

Maybe I liked this night so much because it was a reminder to be in the world, to be an ambassador of truth and love where ever I go but especially in the most surprising places.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

I am Lottie Moon

This weekend many churches across the Canadian National Baptist Convention will be collecting a special "Lottie Moon Christmas Offering".  It is an offering to help missionaries across the world share true hope to a hurting world.  Over 5500 International Missionaries are supported by this offering and they work in every conceivable field like evangelism, church planting, medicine, agriculture, community development, disaster relief, health education and tech support. Lottie Moon served for 39 years as a missionary to the people of China.  She loved those around her as Christ had loved her and when a famine hit the country she gave her food away to the many starving around her.  Her love and commitment to the Chinese people continues to be an example and an inspiration to us all. It is for this reason that giving to Lottie Moon Christmas Offering has become a tradition in our house that we look forward to every year.  Check out this video on Lottie's story and how others have followed in her footsteps.


I Am Lottie Moon from Rob Stevens on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Advent Update

I am still not having a lot of time to write but I don't think I could have said any better than Jason did today so have a look at his post.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

An Advent Update and thoughts on pondering

Liam and TJ braving the cold
Although I am really enjoying celebrating Advent with our little experiment, I am finding it hard to fit time into my day to blog about everything that happens.  Life in the McGibbon Zoo is really never dull but around Christmas it seems that there is always something happening.  Daniel put it best this past week when he said, "I thought we were suppose to be trying to have a low key Christmas?"  I really had no answer and all I could do was laugh.

It seems that no matter how hard we try to make life simple the scheduling and responsibilities of a six person family can become complicated really quickly.  So to be honest although I wanted our Advent experiment to be the focus of each day, it has seemed that we have been trying to fit it in around life this past week.  In reflection, I am not sure that this is a bad thing just different from what I thought it would be like.

I have enjoyed spending at least some point in our day focused on trying to figure out how Jesus would have celebrated.  Our advent reading every morning with our Jessie Tree Ornaments have been a special time and one that I am looking forward to each day.  Today's reading was on the Lord is My Shepherd.

Daniel cutting down our perfect tree
If you follow Jason's blog you will already know that Tuesday we made our annual trip to Rina's to cut down our Christmas Tree.  This has become a favourite tradition at our house.  The trip went as it often does each year with the whole family tramping through the field looking for that perfect tree.  I always pick one that is perfect but maybe just a little too big for our house.  This year was no different and our tree is beautiful and quite large around the middle.  My husband is a sweet heart and worked hard to fit it into our family room and it is perfect.
Our Yearly Sleigh Photo

The other tradition that we continued this year was to take a photo of the kids in the Christmas sleigh that is at the tree farm.  I do this every year and it is fun to look back and see how they have grown.  At 6 ft Daniel almost doesn't fit in the sleigh with his brother and sisters so he was a good sport in letting me take this shot.  Lots of fun happens each year on our trip to pick out our tree and it is a tradition that has us spending time with one and other as family.

  Later in the week we decorated our tree.  My tree might not be a designer tree but each ornament has a story.  Each year as we gather together to decorate, all the stories are retold again by the kids.  They love to hang each ornament and the centre of our tree is always the place where we hang our Nativity ornament set.  Many of my favourite Christmas memories have happened as we have hung our nativity scene on our tree.  We talk about what it must have been like that first Christmas night.  My mind wanders as I look at the kids and I wonder what Mary must have felt all those many years ago.  A first time young mother and her baby is the Son of God.  What must she have thought as dusty shepherds were straggling in to see her son?  I wonder if she felt guilty about not being able to give Him a proper place to enter this world?  Scripture says In Luke Chapter 2 that after she witnessed all of this that she pondered these things in her heart.  As I was watching my kids decorating, I was pondering.  I was pondering this journey that we are trying to walk with God and I was pondering how I have seen God intervene in my life and in the lives of my husband and children.  I wonder what my life would look like if I took more time to ponder?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Day 4 & Day 5 - Advent Experiment

Well, day 4 & 5 of our advent experiment was a bit of a whirlwind.  As much as we are craving simple, our life often gets complicated.  This past weekend we had lots of events in which we really tried to focus on family.  I think we hit the mark part of the time but as always there was definitely room for improvement! 

Jason's thoughts on this past weekend are here.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Day 3 - Exchanging our gifts to sponsor a child

Day 3 of our experiment was very exciting.  This weekend we have two different extended family Christmas parties.  It is fun to get together and we often bring small gifts to exchange with those we love.  Today, we decided to put the money we would normally spend on gifts for extended family and friends into something other than small trinkets that really didn't express how we felt about them or how we felt about Christmas.  Instead, we decided to sponsor a child with Compassion International, in honour of the family and friends that we love.  The cool part about this is that the kids decided they wanted to give their own money each month too. 

So why Compassion?  Our kids picked it.  We asked them to research different child organizations from which we could sponsor a child.  They got on the Internet and googled different organizations.  After their research they had lots of different reasons why they thought Compassion fit the values of our family best but really it boiled down to Compassion's ministry focus.  As quoted from their website the organization is:
  • Christ-centered
  • Child-focused 
  • Church-based
So today, we sat on the computer and decided on a child to sponsor.  The kids criteria was pretty simple. They wanted to sponsor a child that had been waiting a long time.  At first they thought it would be a girl.  In the end, they felt drawn to a boy that had been waiting longer than another other child there,  almost 500 days.  His name is Silvan, he is 8 years old and he lives with his grandparents.  We are already planning on writing a letter to him to begin a friendship.  We are all looking forward to learning more about him and his life on the other side of the world.

Already much discussion has begun in our house.  Challenging discussions about how we have so much when some have so little and how we live out Jesus' love for all.  It is good discussions and ones that need to be had.

If you feel drawn to sponsoring a child please check out Compassion Canada.  There are so many children waiting for over a year for sponsor. 

Friday, 3 December 2010

Day 2 - The Manger in the Shadow of the Cross

Yesterday, we started off the day with gathering together at the dining room table to read our Advent reading as a family and for one of the kids to hang the next ornament on our Jessie Tree.  Our reading was about Noah and the flood.  I love hearing the kids thoughts about how our daily reading relates to Christmas.  It is a great way to start the day together.

After we finished our bible time, I announced to the kids that they were only going to complete one subject of school and then we were going to work on a special project.  The surprised look on their faces was priceless.  I am usually pretty disciplined when it comes to their school work so I think they were in shock!  As I explained our special project they started to get excited.  I was excited too so while the kids finished their school work I started to get things organized.

Our special project for the day was to bless friends of ours that are going through a very difficult time.  They are a big family like ours and their family is also a blended family of natural kids and kids by adoption so we have a sort of kinship with them.  Over the last five months, they have been preparing to adopt two more children into their family.  These children have been living with them and they love them and we love them.  Today they are having to let them go.  I won't go into all the details but they can no longer be adopted and today our friends will have to say good-bye to two members of their family.  It is a heart wrenching experience that we as a family have also walked not so long ago.  We remember the heart ache like it was yesterday.  We understand the parents broken hearts and our kids understand their kids broken hearts.  No one wants this situation, the parents and kids that are staying don't want it and the kids that have to leave don't want to go.  It is a situation in which you just have to trust that God will continue to be with all involved no matter where they are.

So although we cannot lesson the heartache for our friends, we decided to try to do something practical to make their last full day together easier. We made them a big dinner with homemade gingerbread cookies for dessert.  It is not a big thing but it was something to show them that we care.  We hung out with them yesterday afternoon.   We didn't shy away from their pain.  We let them be how they needed to be yesterday.  Even though there is nothing that we can say or do to lessen their heavy hearts we just wanted them to know we loved them.  Yesterday, I hugged my friend and I didn't try to tell her that everything would be alright because the truth is that it isn't okay.  I believe Jesus will heal her broken heart and He will not leave any of them for a moment during this time but the whole situation is still terrible.

So although our special project started off with the warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling of working together to help our friends by making them dinner.   I think we all learned more by just being with them during a difficult time.  For myself, I was reminded that this is why Jesus humbled himself to come and walk among us.  He immersed himself in the lives of people.  Not just in good times but in difficult times.  When I look at His life I see so many examples of the way He loved people.  Loving people is often messy, heartbreaking and difficult.  God sent Jesus because He knew that life in a fallen world is broken and the only way to fix it was for Him to send His Son to pay the ransom for us all.  Jesus birth at Christmas leads us to His death and resurrection at Easter.  The manger needs to be seen the shadow of the cross.  In the end all will be made right.

For today, please join us in praying for our friends.

"And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.  And he that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he saith, Write: for these words are faithful and true."  - Revelations 21:3-5

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Our Advent List - Day 1

So yesterday was the first day of trying to do something each day to celebrate Christmas.  I will let Jason tell you what we did on his blog http://jasonmcgibbon.blogspot.com/2010/12/advent-conspiracy.html .

For my thoughts I will say.  I loved it.  It was a fantastic way to end the day.  Our family prayer time was especially meaningful for me as we prayed as individuals and as a family for the right attitude for Christmas.  I love hanging out with my family.

We are already working on today's activity and singing together as we do it.  The mood in our house is definitely full of Christmas cheer.  I will write about it tomorrow.

Have a fantastic day!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Update Tuesday

So if you have been following for a while you have seen the posts about our family moving to Hamilton.  Every Tuesday my husband posts on his blog; an update about our journey.  This week he was talking about community and he shared what we have learned over the past ten years.  Wow! Typing ten years just caught me by surprise!  Anyhow, reading the post was a great trip for me down memory lane.  We have had the privilege of sharing our lives with some amazing people.  Some of them are still a part of our lives daily and some have moved away (or we have moved) but all of them have played a significant part in our journey.  I can't imagine what our lives would have been like without them.  Community is important and Jesus has some great stuff to say on the subject.  Check it out on http://www.jasonmcgibbon.blogspot.com/

Tomorrow is the start of our Advent List and I will begin to post about our adventures.  I really can't wait!

Monday, 29 November 2010

The List - Let the Conspiracy Begin

It is Monday morning and I have been up since 5am.  It is not that I can't sleep because I am worried about something but I think I am up because I can't wait for the day to begin.  I am excited.  More excited then I have been in a while.  I don't feel tired.  I feel energized and no I have not had a lot of coffee yet!

So why the sudden change?  It began last week when I posted the video on the Advent conspiracy.  I have not been able to stop thinking about it.  I am not sure if it was the question that asked, "How would Jesus spend Christmas?"  Maybe it was the fact that our Christmas spending in Canada could solve the world's clean water problem.  Maybe it is that no matter how many great events I attend or Christmas carols I sing, my soul has often longed for something more, something different, something that is missing from the Christmas that we have created.  So I began to pray and ideas began to pop in my head.  Crazy ideas.  Exciting ideas.  What could we (The McGibbon Family) do, to join the conspiracy?  What if we didn't just say, what a great video or what a great message; what if we seriously thought about how Jesus would celebrate.  What if we as a family were part of the conspiracy?  What if this advent season we truly did our best to enter the story?  What if everyday from December 1st to December 25th, we did something as a family to try to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all.  What would that look like?

Well, I am not quite sure but we are intent on finding out.  Last night, as we began to decorate our house for Christmas, we sat with the kids and told them about the idea.  We talked about the video.  The kids began to ask questions.  We began to brainstorm ideas.  We all started to get excited.  We started to make a list and everyone was contributing.  We began to conspire.

So I am up this morning.  I can't wait to get going!  I can't wait to see how the list plays out.  I can't wait to do some of the things on the list.  Our kids have fantastic ideas.  Twenty-five ideas.  Twenty-five ways to try to celebrate Christmas like Jesus. We are going to post about what we are up to each day.  Maybe you would like to start your own list.  I would love to hear about it.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Let Advent Begin

Last year for Advent our family made a Jessie Tree and I posted our daily readings on this blog.  Our Jessie Tree is up again this season and waiting for it's ornaments.  We will once again be reading from scripture each day.  If you would like to follow along from last year here is today's reading.  There is a reading for each day including Christmas.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Advent Conspiracy

Only a couple of days until the first Sunday of Advent.  I love this video and have not been able to stop thinking about it. Can you imagine the implications......


video

Want more info on how to get involved? Check out The Advent Conspiracy .

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Not Big Santa Fans


Okay, so I have a confession to make.  The McGibbons are not big Santa fans.  This is the first year that Trinity has been willing to go to the local mall at this time of year, as up until this point she has been terrified that Santa would come (even in July) and get her.  This reaction does stem from a mall incident, in which a well intentioned Santa, tried to chase her down to give her a candy cane but she absolutely believes Santa is a bad man.  The strange part about this story is that Trinity has always loved strangers.  This fact has terrified me, as her mom because no matter how many talks we have had she never really gets the concept of stranger danger except when it comes to Santa.

My kids have never really believed in Santa and we have never put any gifts under the tree that were from Santa.  As a natural and adoption blended family, we took Santa off the table when Daniel and Caroline came to live with us over seven years ago.  Daniel was just about at the age when he might have heard at school that Santa was not real and so we didn't want to lose his trust over a fake guy in a red suit.   In order to prepare for this, we sat Liam (who was three at the time) down and told him that Santa was just like Buzz Lightyear from his favourite movie Toy Story.  We said,  Santa was a fictional character that someone made up.  Liam was devastated.  Not about Santa, he actually could not have cared about him but he was shattered from the news about Buzz.  My husband Jason posted about this experience a couple of years ago on his blog in a post called Santa Claus

Has it been difficult over the years to not make Santa a part of the festivities?  Not really.  We love the Christmas season.  We love decorating our house and tree together, we love seeing family and friends, we love our church's Christmas pageant in which anything can happen and we love reading the Christmas story while we put out our nativity scene.   It has been difficult at times to explain to our kids why other adults tell this little white lie every year and why they can't tell their friends the truth about Santa.   It has been frustrating when some adults have not realized the absolute terror that Santa brings about in our daughter.  In particular, telling her it is okay that we don't have a chimney, that Santa can still get in our house because now you can buy a special key at the store and leave it under you mat so he can get in.  As you can imagine this was not good news to small child who has nightmares about the bearded man in the red suit.  It has sometimes led to some awkward moments in public, as my not so quiet angels share their feelings about the whole subject.  It is has been enlightening over the years to hear their views on this weird custom of making crying children sit on the knee of a total stranger for a picture and how we tell kids with a smile on our face that Santa is going to break into our house while they are sleeping.  It has not impacted the heart of our Christmas festivities in the least because Santa really doesn't have anything to do with the heart of Christmas.

Santa wasn't there in the manger when God broke into our world and sent Jesus to dwell among us.  He wasn't there when for thirty-three years when Jesus lived on this earth and He wasn't there when Jesus laid down His life to save us.  For us that is and always will be the heart of Christmas.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Joyous Reaction - That's What I Want

The Christmas countdown is now at 35 days!

In keeping with the holiday spirit, my dad sent me a great video this week. Apparently, on October 30th of this year, the Philadelphia Opera company invited some other choir friends to help them out with a surprise concert at Macy's.  Macy's is now open on the site of what used to be the great Wanamaker Grand Court Organ company. They still do mini-concerts daily and weekly on the great pipe organ that is in the Grand Court.  I think the architecture and the beautifully restored organ would be a wonderful treat for any event but the video that my dad sent me is a of a very special event, an organized random act of culture.

The Joyous Reaction
I don't think the shoppers were prepared for the surprise concert that they received while they shopped on this particular busy Saturday.  As the worlds largest pipe organ began to play The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah",  over 650 choristers,  who were dispersed among the four floors of crowds began to sing.  What I love about this video is the shoppers that get caught up in moment.  All the choristers seem to be wearing a special button and they look like they are having a great time but it is the shoppers that were unprepared for this event, who I like to watch the most.  In particular, there is this woman who just throws her hands into the air and is fully immersed in joyful reaction to this wonderful surprise, as she too begins to sing with gusto.

I want to be like that woman this holiday season.  That despite all the business that surrounds Christmas that I don't forget to be joyful, to be fully immersed in remembering why I celebrate this particular day and to not be distracted by my to do lists or all the details that need to get done. I have no idea of the religious convictions of the woman in the video but for me she was definitely a beautiful light amongst hundreds of shoppers and choristers.  Her reaction to the moment and the words of the song made me want to sing and to praise the King of Kings.  And so I did. 

I wasn't able to make the video as small as I wanted. Here is the link to the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp_RHnQ-jgU

Enjoy!


If you like art, music and creativity check out my husband Jason's blog for Free Art Fridays

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Christmas Countdown

Only 39 days left until Christmas!  Yep, it is true.  I knew it was coming up.  I mean the stores have all had lots of Christmas decor and merchandise since the day after Halloween but I thought I had more time.  Nope.

From here on out life will be crazy.  Not that I find it is ever really not crazy but it will be crazier than ever for the next month and a little bit.  So if you are like me and have not started your Christmas shopping or decorating and you have just woken up to the fact that time is ticking away, then today is the day to get started.

I have taken the first step.  I put on some Christmas music and changed the background on my blog.  So now I can say I have started!  Look for more posts in the nest few weeks on quickie appetizers and helpful hints.

If you feel overwhelmed by it all, may I suggest that you start with reading the Christmas story in Luke.  It is always good to start with what Christmas is truly all about.    If you need some checklists and a plan here is link to a great website that will help us get organized.

So grab yourself an eggnog; the season is upon us!

Luke 2

Jesus' Birth in Bethlehem
 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
 "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
    "Glory to God in the highest,
         And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Friday, 12 November 2010

A Day to Remember

My friend Victoria sent me these photos of the day
Yesterday,  November 11th, was Remembrance Day.  For the first time since living in Milton we attended the legion's Remembrance Day Memorial Service, held at the Evergreen Cemetery near the centre of town.  As the kids and I walked towards the cenotaph, where they were holding the service, our thoughts were on our Poppa Les.  He was a pilot for a Lancaster bomber in the second world war.  He died a few years ago but even TJ misses his great smile and and his love and affection for them.

I spent most of my time explaining to TJ about the service, and making sure the kids could see, so when the ceremonies started I was not prepared for the emotions that flooded my heart.  As the veterans marched into the service and we sang "O Canada" I could feel the tears silently making their way down my cheeks.  As we sang and I watched the men and women who have served our country I was struck by the burden of emotional memories that they all must have to carry.  The memories of the loss of close friends and the sacrifices of having experienced courage, fear, death, life and best and the worst of humanity.  In the morning sunshine,  and as they sang our national anthem that burden was written all over their faces and I was undone.

I have always thought we should honour those that have served and continue to serve our country but yesterday I think my heart got a glimpse of the cost.  My head always knew that tremendous sacrifices have been given for our lives today in Canada but yesterday my heart knew it, and was broken by it.  Thank-you Poppa Les.  We will always remember.

LEST WE FORGET

They shall grow not old,
As we are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them , nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
"We will remember them."


Friday, 5 November 2010

Brain Tumour Free Day

Liam November 2008
It is really hard for me to believe that it has been two years.  Two years, since I kissed Liam, and held his hand while I waited for the anaesthetic to take effect so his neuro team could take out his brain tumour.  When I think of that moment, all the emotions come rushing back and my heart still starts to race.  But then I remember that Liam isn't lying in that bed anymore.  He is upstairs in his room reading, finishing school work so that he can go outside to play basketball.  I think of all of the prayers that were prayed that day and in the following days to come, as our friends and brothers and sisters in Christ (many who we have never met) covered Liam and our family in prayer for every half hour of every day that we were in the hospital.  We are truly privileged to have been able to walk that journey with all of you no matter how hard it was.

With each day that now passes I am learning to let go a little more and worry a little less.  Liam's physical health is better than we could have hoped for.  He is a little more anxious than he used to be but then again so is his momma.  We are both learning to worry less, pray more and to trust God's word and our experience with Him.  God never left us during that time.  He was there for every step when everything seemed like it was falling away, He never let us fall.  So today we celebrate.  We are one step farther into Liam's remission and one year closer to the five year mark when Doctor's will consider his surgeries a cure. So Happy Brain Tumour Free Day buddy!  What a testimony God has given you to share.  I am so proud to be your mom.
Liam climbing in the caves at Mountsberg October 2010

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Mac Kids and the Pepsi Refresh Project

If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that we spent quite a bit of time at Mac Kids with Liam.  It is a fabulous children's hospital but it really needs a new playroom!  This friday is Liam's two year anniversary from his first brain surgery.  In honour of this occasion please vote to help the families and the kids that still have to be at the hospital.
 
Help Mac Kids renovate the children’s play areas at the hospital. All you need to do is vote!

The Hamilton Tiger Cats are competing in a special Pepsi Refresh CFL Challenge in order to win the top prize of $50,000. The money would then be donated to Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation to renovate the play areas at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

Every team in the CFL participated in the Challenge, each with an idea that would have a positive impact on their community. The contest is now down to the four teams with the highest number of votes.

Offensive Lineman Marwan Hage is leading the project for the Ti-Cats in hopes of renovating the indoor and outdoor children’s play areas at the hospital. Being able to provide an interactive space conducive to play and creativity would be a wonderful benefit to our patients.

Show your support and vote for Marwan’s idea online at  www.cfl.ca/PepsiRefresh.

Please vote twice a day everyday. On November 12, the field will be narrowed to two finalists. Voting for the final two players will close on November 24, 2010.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

SHINE YOUR LIGHT wrap-up

Having fun on our driveway
 I wanted to get this done yesterday but I was so tired from our Shine Your Light event that I could barely string two sentences together.  Today, I am still a bit on the tired side but I am typing anyway.  Hopefully, it will all make sense.

Thank-you to everyone that came to our event.  Throughout the night we probably had over 300 people from the community stop by our house.  It was a great time.  We handed out candy bags with scriptures, cute little stuffed bears, and for the first time we ran out of hot chocolate!  It was chilly.  We even saw a few snowflakes!

Our candy and hot chocolate station

The flash on my camera is on the fritz so thanks to my friend Cheri, we actually have a few photos of the event.

It was hard to imagine that we won't be here next year, dancing with our neighbours and spreading a little light but our hope is that this event will inspire someone to be a light on their own street.  You don't have to have a band, you could have a ghetto blaster and an ipod.   Hand out coffee for parents if you don't like hot chocolate.  Make the event your own and be creative.  The important part is to be a light on your street and to engage with people around you.

Liam and some friends

Even though it is our last time hosting the event in Milton, we still think it is a fantastic way to meet the people in your neighbourhood.  So who of our Milton friends is going to carry on the tradition?




I wonder if we should warn the people who buy our house?  They may need a lot more candy......




Our worship team
My homemade costume of a tree with a cat stuck in it


Our new house in Hamilton will be a great place to host a Shine Your Light event next year........mmmm I guess I will have to start planning my costume.








Friday, 29 October 2010

Shine Your Light - This Sunday

Only a couple of days until our 4th annual Shine Your Light event.  The candy packs are ready, the hot chocolate is bought, the worship team is all practiced up and we will decorate the house this weekend.  Last year, we had hundreds of people come by to take in the music and have some fun.  The weatherman says this year we will have a clear, crisp night so we are praying that even more people will stop by this year.  This event would never happen if it wasn't for the people in our home church.  They work tirelessly each year to make sure all the families in our neighbourhood have a great time.  Maybe I am a little nostalgic, because this will be our last Shine Your Light event in this community or maybe I am just a softy but as we sat last night to make up mountains of candy bags, I could not help but feel incredibly blessed to call these people my friends.  Thank-you Jeff, Rachel, Bev, Will, Beth, Shelly, Patrick, Taylar, Liz, and Grant.  This journey called life wouldn't be as much fun without you all!  I can't wait to see all of your costumes.  Yes, Liz and Grant I expect to see you on Skype and in full gear! 

If you have never been to our house for this event and you live in these parts come on out! The worship team starts playing when the first little kids come down the street!  If you want to know more information about Shine Your Light take a look at last years post about the event.

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16
Kimberley and Trinity Joy at Shine Your Light 2009


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Change

Fall brings changes in the God's creation around us, and this year it also brings some big changes for our family.  Over the past year, God has been quietly stirring in our hearts.  It has been a stirring that I have resisted, because I like my comfort and I am afraid of change, but God has been patient with me.  He has also been persistent.  Again and again, when I have least expected it, He has been changing my heart, opening my eyes to things I have not seen before, compelling me to think about the way Jesus lived when He walked on earth among us.  Challenging me to engage with those He loves, those who are not engaged by even our non-traditional church, by our traditions and/or rituals.   Those who know the Jesus that others have represented but have never read scripture to discover how Jesus represents himself.  God has been placing another another community on hearts.  One that is not where we currently live and so a couple of Sunday's ago Jason told our church family that God is calling us away from our current church, to plant another work in a different town.  Actually, it is not a town at all but a city and in the spring we put our house up for sale and begin to look for a new house in downtown Hamilton.

I have never lived in a city.  I have been a burbs girl all my life so this will be a big change.  Hamilton is currently trying to revitalize itself and re-brand from years of being a steel town to a music and art powerhouse. But it is not there yet and is still home to some of our countries poorest neighbourhoods and toughest streets.   I am not sure what to expect, or how God will work out all the details (and I have identified a lot of them that need to be worked out in order for this to work) but my heart is ready and willing to go.  It is a step of faith that is exciting, terrifying and not without the heartache of leaving the comfort of family and friends that are like family.  It is a lot of change for this suburban gal but I am trusting that just like the change of fall God knows all the intricate details and has it all under control.

I am sure over the next little while,  I will posting more about our big move and the new work but if you would like to see the announcement in our  Sanctuary Milton's Partnership Newsletter please clink on the link.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

That All Men May Know His Works

Last week, we took our kids into Toronto on a field trip.  We have a family pass for the Royal Ontario Museum and we decided to spend some time exploring.  If you live near city and you have never been to the ROM it is a fantastic place.  I, for one, could spend endless days looking and reading and being amazed.  
That All Men May Know His Works inspired by Job 37:7
There is a beautiful section in the museum that has always attracted my eye.  The Rotunda used to be above the main entrance to the museum before the latest massive renovations.  It is stunningly gorgeous and in looking into the ROM's history I have discovered some interesting facts about it's origin.  The ROM actual website describes it's history.

"Charles T. Currelly, the first director of the Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology, conceived of this mosaic introduction for the 1933 addition. The mosaic ceiling was designed to reflect the breadth of the collections, being adorned with patterns and symbols representing cultures throughout the ages and around the world.  The ceiling is made from thousands of sheets of imported Venetian glass, cut into more than a million tiny coloured squares. A team of skilled workers laboured for eight months to install the ceiling.  Its sparkling gold, rust and bronze background is inset with red, blue and turquoise patterns, recalling the magnificent mosaics of the Byzantine world and Eastern Europe. Worked out on the golden field are geometrical borders and panels which frame decorative floral designs. The central panel is inscribed with a passage from the Book of Job in the Old Testament: “That all men may know His work”.

In 1876, Charles T Currelly was born in Exeter, Ontario.  He, is credited more than anyone else, for the art and archeology collections that now make up the ROM.  It says on the website that he believed museums had an educational purpose to display the material achievements of humanity so as to inspire the present day.  It was his idea to build the rotunda and I think this incredible piece of artwork gives us insight into the source of his dedication.   It speaks to the beliefs of this man that the material achievements of man no matter how great or small are all results of "His work", God's craftsmanship, and should be displayed so others may know.  It is a good reminder of what the focus should be on in our good works and where the honour, praise and recognition should always be laid.

Charles T. Currelly
Not long before his death in 1957, Charles penned his autobiography.   I Brought the Ages Home, is billed as the intriguing story of how a boy born in southwestern Ontario and trained for the ministry became one of Canada's great archaeological pioneers and museum-builders-nothing less than a homegrown Indiana Jones.  I haven't read it yet but I think I will have to try to find it at our Library.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Scaredy Squirrel - A Book

I wasn't sure what book to write about first.  I love so many, so it was hard to choose.  But I decided on a book with one of my favourite literary characters,  Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watts.  Melanie, is a celebrated children's author and a Canadian girl from Quebec.  She is fantastically creative, and I have read most of her books.  You may think of this picture book, as just as kids book, but it is secretly the best book you can give to an adult!  Who else other than adults know what a scary place the world can be!  It is a must have for all A type personalities, that feel the need to plan out every inch of their life.  Can you tell I have some experience in this department?

This book is filled with humour from beginning to end and has often had my kids and I laughing out loud, even though we have read it several hundred times.  It is like an owner's manual for worrywarts, that gives step by step instructions on how to eventually seize the day!  The illustrations are a hit with kids young and old.   And the book has useful tips on what to do if you come face to face with a potential biter, which is useful information, no matter what stage of life you find yourself.  Whether you five and in kindergarten, or forty-five and work in the financial district, there is always a potential biter that you might need to deal with!  You know I am right!

The story in a nutshell: Scaredy Squirrel is petrified of the ‘unknown,’ which means anything outside of his nut tree.  He prepares himself for the worst always, and has a plan A and plan B and even a plan C in case of emergency.  If danger threatens, his emergency kit includes antibacterial soap, Band-Aids and a parachute. But, when Scaredy Squirrel suddenly finds himself out of his tree, he discovers something about himself that he never knew.  The adventures of this tightly wound squirrel who is perpetually pushed out of his comfort zone will be a hit with young and the not so young!  So head to your local library, and borrow Scaredy’s adventure today. Learn why although it is good practice to always avoid germs, pirates and walruses, you may need to risk those dangers to come face to face with the greatest adventure of all!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Books

I like to read.  In fact, I love to read.  I like books, real books that I can hold in my hand and curl up with on the couch or in a chair.  I know I am old fashioned.  No Kindle yet for this girl.  I read a lot.  On average I probably finish at least one book a week if not two.  I have been known to stay up way past my bedtime to read just one or two or three more chapters.   I read for myself but I also read to our kids.  You can often find us hanging out together at the end of the day and I am reading all four kids a chapter from the latest book that we are reading.   It is fun to share books together as a family, to go on adventures without even leaving our family room, to have discussions about things that have happened in history and to hear your kids beg, "Oh one more chapter Mom please!".  So I thought I would start to share with you some of the books I read.  You may even see another post later today....or if life gets crazy sometime soon.  Some will be books I read myself and some will be books that I am sharing with the kids.  Some will be books by christian authors and some won't.  I get most of our books from our local library.  I love libraries, but that is another post.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


Just after I posted last,  our family left on vacation  for two weeks.  We had a fabulous time but re-entry
into every day life has been rough and the days have flown by without time for me to write.  Our vacation was a much needed time of rest and we just spent it together as a family.  One of the things I love about living in Southern Ontario, is that we don't have to travel very far to get away from it all.   So we hitched up our tent trailer and headed about five hours north. 


We landed at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. We chose this park because we studied Voyageurs this year for Canadian History, and this park has a museum devoted to voyageurs, some fabulous programs and a Voyageur canoe trip.  So we thought that this would be a fabulous way to end off our study.  We were right.  We could not have asked for a better trip.  The park is slightly east of North Bay and about 10 kilometers from a small town called Mattawa.  After a great drive, through northern Ontario, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we finally arrived at our campsite.    Our site was fabulous and once we got set up, (which took some maneuvering), we decided to explore the park.  The park itself was fairly quiet, as many people seemed to headed out as we were headed in!  This was a nice bonus and no one was camped near us so our campsite was even more private then we expected.  With just forest behind us, it was only a two minute walk to the beach and the lake.  The kids had fun playing on teeter totters,  swings and skipping stones into the water.

The kid's tree pose and Daniel's falling tree!


Looking at clams in the lake

Daniel skipping stones
Beautiful Moore Lake




TJ at the park


Our days at this beautiful provincial park were spent exploring God's beautiful creation.  There were wonders everywhere.  Incredible birds like wood peckers, spunky nuthatches, loons and soaring vultures.  There were wonderful fauna and flowers and towering pine trees that were so straight and tall that they reached up into the misty clouds of the morning.  Our hikes were awe inspiring although I was terrified on one but that is story for another day.  Let's just say I did not think a "moderate" hike would include sheer drops, where I could loose my children or myself off the side of the trail! 


The kids halfway up a very steep cliff!

Taking a rest - Guinness and I needed a lot of them.

Frogs were everywhere at this hidden lake
Mushrooms and Fungus we learned so much about them
Life on the forest floor

Roots so strong they pulled up boulders
Finally, the our Voyageur Canoe trip had arrived!  It was just our family who signed up for the adventure and what an adventure it was.  Our brave French Canadian guides Pierre and Robert met us at Long Lake and the fun began with Voyageur games.  Then we were not allowed to board the canoe without getting on our time period outfits.  Once we were dressed we off to sign french songs, learn about trading beaver pelts and experience just a taste of what life would have been like at this important time in Canadian history.


Our Replica Voyageur Canoe

Voyageur Games

More Games

See Jason you look good in flowered shirts!

A beaver dam

TJ paddling hard!

On our trip

Learning how many beaver pelts to trade for fishing hooks

Stunning scenery
We made it!  Liam showing off his muscles!


We were sad to have to leave this beautiful park but we have some fabulous memories......

Who knew doing dishes could be so exciting

Caroline helping out

Our home away from home

Daniel fishing

A touch of beauty

TJ down by the river

Where are all the fish?

Any bites?

This picture doesn't do it justice as this glistening river was stunning and I will remember it's sparkle!