December 31, 2012

The Sweet and Bitter-sweet

Christmas this year was sweet...

cozy by the fire in deep-freeze snowy temperatures
eggnog in hot chocolate & coffee
shortbread cookie making (and eating)
Probe and Balderdash with plenty of laughs
frosty noses touring through our re-build and in-law's re-build homes
heaping, hearty Christmas dinner plates

 'Rudolph' & 'Garfield's Christmas' 
watching deer running in the fields 
girls in the new farm kitchen prepping for cheese fondue
guys chatting by a warm wood stove
giggling over the boys mini-remote helicopter flying adventures
moccasins, a hand-crocheted scarf and beautiful buttoned cuff
little Star Wars treasures (the handi-work of my amazing sister-in-law!)

a Christmas tree walk at the rec centre
sorting through old toys and treasures with my brother
laughing over old family adventures and memories
the nativity scene from Mr. Bean Christmas 
visiting with extended family

this Christmas was also somewhat bitter-sweet...

my job situation here became a little more permanent
(I still miss my Slave Lake school family, but it is encouraging to see that God is making a way for us here)

 my brother and sis-in-law are in the throes of finalizing a big move to Texas
(Texas is far away, but we are excited for this new chapter in their lives)

So the sweet and the bittersweet mix and mingle, and I am thankful that Jesus came to the messy; to meet us with the sweet, and hold our hearts through the bittersweet. This season was full (and kinda exhausting!) and it will only become more so in the new year, as we look ahead to continued full-time employment, selling a finished home, and looking at purchasing another. We are buckling our belts for the ride...

December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a wonderful season as we celebrate the light which shines, even through the greatest darkness. 

"In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." 
John 1:4,5

December 15, 2012

Happy Giving to You!


Wow - was my heart ever encouraged after reading your comments on the giveaway post! Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who opened their hearts and donated to Amazima, you have made a difference. I was grinning away reading about the special ways you are all involved in giving - from Heifer International, to World Vision and Gospel for Asia, to opening homes to children in need, to excited little girls packing shoeboxes destined for little hands so grateful. You are all amazing and it fills my heart with joy!

And so, (with implied fanfare and trumpet) I would like to announce that the winner of the red-bead Amazima necklace is...

Congrats Tracy! And thank you all, for entering, for supporting and for giving.

December 8, 2012

Merry & Bright: a Giveaway and thoughts on Giving

Hello and Happy December! I have a little something for one lucky reader, a little something I hold dear to my heart as it represents the beautiful work of God an ocean away. Curious? Here is a little peek,

Beautiful, isn't it? You can find out more about these necklaces and the women who make them here {just comment below to enter, a winner will be randomly chosen and announced later next week}. 

And whether this little treasure finds its way into your heart and home or someone else's, there is a greater treasure I'd like to share; the treasure of giving. For in this very season, we celebrate God's greatest gift to us, unmerited grace and hope in the blessing of His Son. He has gifted us with talents and abilities to be a blessing to others. He has gifted us with resources and worldly treasures beyond what many in this world can imagine. Freely He has given. 

I am realizing this season, that giving is beautiful when it comes from a place of gratitude, leaving guilt and obligation out to shiver in the cold. We love because He first loved us. I can give because all I have is not mine, but His. Giving is gratitude overflowing.

Would you consider showing His love to someone an ocean away? You don't have to. But my prayer is that you would want to. I find myself drawn this season, to give with unmerited grace. I have so much. I have earned nothing on my own, all resources and abilities are from Him. Unmerited grace.

There are people; real, beautiful, made-in-God's-image people who would be so blessed by a gift from the resources we have so freely been given. 

My eyes were opened to God's work in Uganda after reading the book 'Kisses From Katie' early this year. My heart is so drawn to this ministry, this place and these people. Neal and I decided to sponsor a child through the Amazima sponsorship program, and are looking at some of the following ways to help as we reflect on God's grace and goodness to us in this past year. Would you join us in considering the opportunity to bless someone in Uganda this Christmas?

You & your family can...

1) Feed a child, 5 days a week, for an entire year for $42 {designate to Feeding / Masese here}. Read more about Masese here.

2) For $25, you could provide an Amazima worker like Mentor Siraji (below), with a rain coat to protect them from the elements as they whole-heartedly serve the people of their community {designate Christmas - staff 2012 here}. To read an interview with Mentor Siraji, and learn more about working as a mentor in Uganda, visit the Amazima blog!

3) Gift a Christmas basket to a family in the Amazima sponsorship program. This basket will be filled with food and a cooking pot and utensil. Each family will also receive a framed family portrait, a true treasure as printed pictures are a rarity in a Ugandan home {designate $25 to Christmas Baskets 2012 here}

4) Invest in a woman's life by purchasing handmade necklaces or bracelets, like the beautiful red bead necklace one lucky reader will receive this Christmas! Visit the Amazima store (check out the new purple ones - I swoon!)

5) Share Amazima with others. Blog about it, tweet it, Facebook-post it! This is exactly how I found out about this amazing ministry, from one little facebook post on adoption, and it has led to an exciting knowledge and partnership with amazing people across the globe.

You can make a difference.

In these days of merry & bright, may you reflect on the unmerited grace and love of God, and may you then go and share it with others.

Be blessed and be a blessing!