Saturday, November 30, 2013

Live Nativity and Hot Cider

I couldn't keep my hands off this soft, gentle beast today. We had many representatives of the Christmas story all scattered near the backdrop of the nativity at our nursery. There were pony rides and hot cider, a live band, baking and a barbeque hosted by McMaster Children's Hospital, but, I wanted to pull up a seat next to the camel and just watch him all day. All the stories I've heard and things I've read about them just seemed to pale as I gazed upon this light-footed, softly swaying creature. He'd bow and duck his head and let me stroke his silky muzzle. I wished I could have climbed in there and hugged him.
See how lovable he is?
Molly is like Fern in Charlotte's Web. She just quietly observes.
Emily has conversations with the animals. She named every
 one of them. My favourite name she used was "Smash" :)
A proud owner strolls the property, making sure his customers are happy.
Meg uses her face painting skills again.
So does Cousin Lauren 
Checking out baby Jesus. We had to un-bury him from the toddlers
who had previously enjoyed tossing straw over him :)
Cousin Alannah helps with coffee and pony ride tickets.
In celebration of MOvemeber :)
Her favourite place to be.
Uncle Kevin arrives on the scene.
This usually leads to some kind of shenanigan. 
Cousin Matthew cuts trees and helps customers.
Hiding in the "forest" of evergreens.
Memories of Christmas events at our nursery will never be forgotten by these kiddos.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

She Knows What She Believes

We take Deuteronomy Six seriously and do our best to talk about Jesus daily as we eat, as we pray, as we walk along the woods, as we do our schoolwork together. We fail many days as humans to live this out fully in front of our kids and they know it. But in our weaknesses, Jesus is glorified if we're humbly apologizing to each other and admitting we're nothing without Him. Still, they need to own it for themselves. It doesn't matter how often we take them to church, how much we say "grace" at dinner, they must personally receive Him into their lives and follow Him whole-heartedly by their own free-will. And so, we were thankful when our oldest girl said she and some friends had been talking a lot about baptism and she desired to show the Lord (and everyone) she was serious about Him being front and centre in her life.
Pastor Dan, her youth pastor, just had to begin with a comment about her being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. She did a mini cheer :)
Then he asked her to share a bit of her story. She spoke with confidence about how she was raised in a Christian home but it wasn't until she began attending the evening services where our young adults' pastor talked each week, that she was moved in her heart to really believe for herself.
(Oh, how I love mentorship beyond the parental role! The Lord uses many people along the journey.)
He prayed for her life and future, for God to use her through her dance or her great personality :) or whatever He has for her. He prayed for her to remain close to Jesus.
Forty-four of her friends and family came to the church that night in support. Four little girls leaned forward on the pew as they witnessed a girl who publicly professed what she knew to be vital.
And then she went under, she with all her humanness and sin and passions and love for Jesus.
Rising up out of the water symbolized being washed clean, being alive in Christ, killing the old life through repentance (turning from your sin). Jesus commanded it but also demonstrated it for us so we'd understand better. We identify with His dying and resurrection, although He was perfect and sinless.
Meghan will begin to know in a deeper way who she really is and to Whom she really belongs as she continues to hide His Word in her heart. Yes, she'll still sin, like the rest of us, but she'll know she's been covered by the blood of a Saviour Who gave His life for her and rose again to give her eternal life. As she houses the Holy Spirit and listens for His voice, it'll be easier to make wise choices. She'll encounter tough things, salvation and baptism don't exempt her from that, but she'll know how to face trials with a God who desires to carry her through and who gives her insight on how to live.  It's not just a religion, it's relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Meghan knows what she believes and she chose to follow what He told her to do. It's that simple. It's that amazing. God will change your life forever, if you allow Him to.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Whisked Away By Winter

Our mild and lovely Autumn has just been whisked away by wintery winds and snow.
Farewell, Autumn... till we meet again and I scuffle in your brilliant and gently placed blanket.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Needy--Us Included

She clutched her Operation Christmas Child box in her arms and called to me from the backseat of the truck with a squeal in her voice, "Mommy, I love giving these boxes! I'm so excited to pack mine up! I think this is my most favourite thing in the whole world to do."
I turned around and grinned at my eight year-old "bleeding heart". "You have such an important job to do for God, Emily. In fact, you're already doing it. But there's something special about the joy you have in giving, that makes me believe that working with people living in poverty will be your career someday." She had tears in her big, brown eyes as she listened and it broke my heart in a good way.
Each of the kids lovingly tucked the items we had purchased for their unknown child into the shoe boxes that night. They chattered about what it might be like to watch children who never receive gifts, tearing open the boxes filled with things they had meticulously chosen for them. That boy of mine periodically asked to keep this item or that but he's catching onto this sacrificial giving thing. We watched the YouTube videos of Samaritan's Purse staff passing out the priceless treasures to little outstretched arms. My kids giggled and stared in wonderment. I cried every few minutes as we continued clicking for almost an hour on various videos of recipients from different countries. It unglued me and I wept longer.
Jesus knew when He commanded us to care for the poor that not only would the poor be given aid, but the giver would be set free in the very act of giving. There's nothing like it, humans providing for humans in obedience to God's Word. I'm so glad Jesus calls us to give to one another. It levels us to become equals so we can grasp that we're all in need of a Saviour. But sometimes, it takes meeting basic needs first to truly help people understand the heart of God, and that is, He loves us so much that He supplies not only our needs but He offers His Son. We are all set free when we receive that Gift!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Toastmasters Evening

She rose to the microphone and confidently shared her speech about our disappearing elephants. A proud mommy and daddy clapped and snapped photos. She had been trained well by the Toastmasters Organization in our area and all of our homeschool co-op students created a delightful evening full of fun and surprises, including calling a couple of dads up to give impromptu speeches.
Our greenhouse was an elegant location for the gala. What a fantastic session this has been for all of our young students for building their public speaking and confidence!