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Category Archives: News and Updates

Activities in and around St. Giles Kingway for parents and families

The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller – A Review

Chapel Car BrideIt seems fitting that for the first long weekend of the summer – I would finish reading a light, but engaging historical fiction book.   Judith Miller has created an opportunity for the reader to enter into a mining town in West  Virginia in 1913.

As I was reading, I did some research into the Chapel Car program and finding the actual car that Judith has based the book on added to the authenticity of the story line.  As Hope Irvine and her dad set up services in Finch, WV – with the hopes of establishing a significant congregation that will result in a permanent church plant – they encounter a community on edge.

The miners are feeling undervalued by the mine’s owner, who sends his son into town to thwart the talk of a union forming.  When he arrives, he simply wants to find ways to make easy money, and has no real interest in the people who work for the family business.

Hope and one of the miners, Luke Hughes,  strike up a plan to begin to help bring the conditions of the homes up to a livable, safe standard.  He and his sister become an important part of Hope and her father’s lives, and Luke begins to follow a call on his life.

Historical fiction – especially romance – is certainly not my genre of choice, but I enjoyed this book.  It was a great escape, and was refreshingly good a being intentional regarding faith issues.  I would recommend this book as for teen girls, ladies who want to read something that can be read as they catch a few minutes of quite time, and to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction.

Thank you to Graf-Martin Communications and Bethany House in providing the book that allowed me to complete this independent review.

 
 

Carefully Crafting…

father holidng childThis summer was one of significant change.  I left a job I loved, but realized it was not where God was truly calling me to be.  It was one of those seasonal change things…I had stepped away from Children and Family Ministries, but apparently no forever.

God began to unfold all of this late last winter.  A Facebook group I’m part of had advertised a diploma program for Kidmin and through a “contest”, we had an opportunity to be given a scholarship towards the tuition.  So, I completed the steps, but was sure that this Canadian wouldn’t hear anymore.  I put it out of my mind, until April Fool’s day (really!!).  Someone hadn’t claimed the scholarship offered to them, and when a name was drawn to be offered that space – it was mine!  We Prayed about it, and said “Yes”.

Fast forward to a lovely trip with friends into our local wine country, and a conversation about the dream of change that their church was having for an impactful Family Ministry.  He asked lots of questions, and I gave just as many answers.  We said our goodbyes and I carried on – but the conversation just wouldn’t let my spirit rest.  Later that week, I asked, “What if it was me who came and worked with you?”  to which is response was “Wouldn’t that be fun?”

So here we are – 3 months into a 6 month contract and we’ve begun to lay the foundations for what could change an entire community.  A ministry focused on empowering families as they influence their children for Jesus.

The leadership believes that Psalm 78 and Deuteronomy 6 are the foundations we must build our ministry upon.  We know that our time with kids is so limited through Sundays only, but it we pour into the time that families have together, we can exponentially  increase that leverage.

By flipping the order in which children encounter the Word of God, we give the opportunity to parents to watch the first steps of their children into God encounters and faith.  Just as a parent loves to be the ones who watch the first tentative steps, so to with first tentative steps of being a Jesus follower.  Our times of ministry will be a reinforcement of the times at home.

Through the intentional building of the child’s “hearing from God” muscles, the family will, together, make God the centre of their decisions and interactions.  We then, will support that with resourcing, serving opportunities and times of learning – together and separately.

Our community gatherings on Sundays will be ones of support and learning – all with each one discussing the same Scripture focus in an age appropriate way.  This will give the entire family a common experience and intentional conversation starting points.

We will further put building blocks for community into place, and beginning on Thanksgiving Sunday – we will host a breakfast that will lead directly into Worship.  A safe, welcoming setting to bring guests and those who are put-off by the formality of traditional worship settings.  This will encourage those who have been around forever to interact, through the fellowship that food creates, with those who are new to the gathering.

By modelling that our relationship with Jesus is an integral part to all aspects of life we can begin to effect real transformation in the lives of our church community, and the community around us – all for the building of the Kingdom

I can’t believe that I get to be a part of this journey! It’s one I never expected to find myself on again, and to be in a community who is excited at what God can and has already started to do is humbling beyond words.worship-child-arms-out

 

 

 

A review of Miracles From Heaven – Sony Pictures

Miracles from heaven now playing

I am the first person to admit to being a skeptic when it comes to movies and books about heavenly revelations.  I have been heard to say – “if God wanted us to know what heaven looked like, I’m pretty sure Jesus would have shared that when He was here.”

I have heard some press about this movie, with Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah – it definitely had my attention.  Based on a true story, the movie follows the sickness and investigative treatments of Anna Beam and her mother’s, Christy Beam, crisis of faith in the midst of it.  And now that my eyes have dried having watched it, and my suspicions quieted – I’m happy to share my impressions of it.

The movie begins with a of a very normal family living life.  They live on a farm in Texas, where Dad is expanding his vet practice.  The Beams and their 3 daughters love each other, pray in their home and attend a very refreshingly normal church.  Although, I’ve gotta say – it would be pretty fantastic having Mac Powell lead your Worship Team!

An evening bout of stomach sickness for Anna begins a long and exhausting journey of questions and desperation as she is misdiagnosed over and over again.  When a doctor finally realizes the true cause – an incurable disease of the intestines that prevent the digestive system from functioning at all – Christy takes measures to have her treated at all costs.

She and Anna head to Boston to insist and wait on an appointment with the country’s top specialist.  While waiting, Christy and Anna meet Angela, a caring and very friendly waitress who becomes their tour guide around Boston.  When the call for the appointment finally comes, Dr. Nurko believes he can treat Anna.  What seems quite insignificant, yet touching – is an interaction with Dr. Nurko’s Elmo tie.  He admits that his wife doesn’t like it, but that he’s promised to remove it when he has a patient get well.

During her stay in the hospital, we see Anna make an impact on a roommate, while not getting any better.  When she if finally stabilized, she and the family head home.  She heads out to play with her sisters, and becomes involved in a very serious accident on the farm.

It is after her recovery from this that Christy begins to learn just how present miracles and the God who still performs them are.  Anna tells her story and encounter in heaven- and this is where my skeptical expectations stopped.

So many heaven movies try to share all the details of what heaven looks like, who the person met, and the message for mankind that God had for them to take back.  I’ve never been convinced.  Yet, in this account, Anna says that she and God were able to talk without ever seeing each other, and that He promised her she’d be okay when she went back.  She doesn’t meet any people from her past or have details that no one can ever verify.  Just a little girl who was assured of her safety by the God she knows loves her.

I found the most touching moment was the last time we encounter Dr. Nurko.  Christy shares her story poignantly in church and the reminds us of all the places during the journey with Anna where they saw miracles happen.

I was impressed.  This is a high quality Christian movie – so refreshing in the Christian film movie world – and I am pleased to be able to fully recommend this as a family movie.

Movie link has been provided courtesy of Sony Pictures and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas to me!

present
I have been dreading the arrival of the Christmas season for more than 6 months. As we prepare to celebrate the first coming of Jesus – I am also very aware that this is the first Christmas without my mom. Christmas was mom’s very favourite holiday. She loved to bake, decorate every room in the house, entertain and celebrate her Saviour’s birth. It’s a little hollow this year, as we don’t have her excitement about our time together.  Yet, I can’t imagine how excited she is to be at the Birthday party!!

I knew that this year, I needed to have something new be a part of my Season. A way to make new traditions, and find new ways to share in the Holiday, creating memories outside of the traditions that mom was such an integral part of. But, time marches on, and planning looked like it wasn’t going to happen. I wanted to participate in something that would make a difference in more people’s world other than ours, or in the bank accounts of retailers. Little did I know that experience would be handed to me in a very real way.  One of the things that we agreed to, was that we weren’t buying gifts for each other.  It’s actually refreshing to not see a tree overwhelmed with paper and bows laying underneath it.

Six short weeks ago, I started a new job. I’m working for Prison Fellowship Canada as their Executive Administrator. My days are never the same, and it feels wonderful to be able to support those who do the day to day ministry with inmates and their families. Prison Fellowship may be better known to you through their Angel Tree program – either the Christmas or Camping branch of that, and I came on board at the office just as the Christmas program was swinging into high gear.

As part of the list of making this program be it’s best, Head Office sends out gifts to those children in communities where we don’t have individuals or churches to partner with us.  You see, across Canada, from Coast – Coast – Coast, we have inmates request gifts for their children.  Each year, that number is roughly 2500 children, aged 0-18.  Our office sent out just over 100 gifts this year (a dramatically less number than last year thanks to generous people, and exceptional organizers).

After the applications were entered into our database, and the families matched to those who would purchase and send the gifts on the inmate’s behalf, I was asked to contact the homes of the remaining children.  As happy I was to be able to help in the process, little did I know what was in store for me.

The phone calls began, many in very remote parts of our very large province, my phone calls were met with suprise, suspicion, and in most cases humility.  One grandma that I called couldn’t believe that participating in this program wouldn’t cost her anything.  A grandpa was so relieved to have gifts coming for his granddaughters, because he couldn’t get going having buried his wife in September.  One very young mom, with 7 kids from 3 different partners (all requesting to be part of Angel Tree), started to cry when I told her who we were, and what we wanted to be doing.  Just as we were on the phone, I had the joy of hearing her glee as Santa unexpected showed up at her door as well.   How fun!  I love that kind of thing, and I found my Christmas getting better and better.

Then, I had the joy of shopping for those gifts that had been requested or suggested.  It’s been a long time since there have been littles in my family, and not have my own to buy for, I loved it!  Then, just to make it better, I got to wrap them too.  Really, it just was fantastic.

Here’s the gift.  I had no idea that this kind of ministry, was just what my healing heart was in need of.  The joy in the phone calls, the honour of praying for each child as I purchased and wrapped the gifts, and the knowledge that I had just a small part in making the whole process come together was more than anything under the tree could have brought me.

Mom would have loved to hear about all the experiences in those phone calls.  I don’t know if she’s able to keep track of things down here, now that she’s a full time Worshipper in the Throne Room. But, I’m pretty sure if she knows what God has led me into – she’d be thrilled.

This year, I hope I’ve started a new tradition – loving on people, just because my workplace and I love Jesus.  Such a gift!

May you and yours know the joy of selfless sharing just because you love Jesus this year.  As we celebrate that moment when God broke into history, just to show us himself more fully – may you be blessed with the Peace that comes from know just how much He loves you.

baby jesus

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2014 in News and Updates

 

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When the wait is over…

Some months back, I posted that I had entered a season of waiting,(http://wp.me/phEAM-89 ).  Let me tell you – it was one of the most challenging seasons I have walked through.  Not the hardest, certainly – that’s a story for another time – but challenging all the same.  For one who likes to be at the helm of things and events around me, to have no control over who would grant an interview, who would see the merit in my working for them, and trying to discern where I was to be…was to say the least – hard!

I have always known that God would make it abundantly clear where my next adventure would lie, and that is would be in His time…and it is only now that I have started on that new path, can I look back and see all that has been happening to bring me to this point.

Easter was a particularly hard time for me – I had been hoping to have a new place of employ in time to spend the most Holy season in church with my love.  But God had other plans.  I, however, took the lack of interviews and even responses to my applications as a sign that I was doing something wrong, that God was using this time to show me the consequences of some past action…

However, the several sources of readings that I use for devotions kept highlighting the promise that God is constantly working behind the scenes.  Two of the writers, on separate days referred to this.  Then one of scripture readings did the same…coincidence, I think not!  So, again armed with a peace about the process, yet still on the job hunt, I waiting and faithfully submitted my resume.  Still nothing, or so I thought.  About this time, in a very casual conversation – I learned that on of the mom’s from the ministry I was involved in was in the process of opening her own studio for her design business.  She casually (I thought) said, “want a job?”  I must admit – I hardly gave it a second thought.  Thrilled for her, but being back in the service industry was not for me!

But, as the days approached for her targeted opening – she asked again, and promising I would pray about it, I did.  And things changed.  I got excited about the possibility of working outside of the Christian bubble.  I thought about how fun to work with someone so completely creative and talented in her field.  I realized that the learning would be intense, but a wonderful challenge…so I said if she would have me, “I think I need to say yes”.  So, true to His promise (and repeated pattern in my life), God led the way to the job that would replace the one I was leaving.  I find I have new energy, because I’m feeling a time of refreshing.  Each day as a new challenge, and I learn more than I thought possible.  I love the interactions with all kinds of fascinating people.  I am so enjoying my new boss, she’s a joy to work with and for.

This past Sunday was my farewell at the church I have been serving, and the thoughtfulness and care that was crafted into the service – well, I came away with a grateful and humbled, very filled heart.  Next Sunday, is the first “not just visiting” in my new church home, and I couldn’t be happier.  I get to worship with my husband again, and after 4 years of having that only occassionally – I know know to treasure it as a gift.  I am so looking forward to what the future holds – and I know that I can wait for Him so unfold it!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in church life, News and Updates

 

Intertwined – Gotta love it!

Today was a milestone in our house – we hosted our 15th annual New Year’s Open House.  Yep, our New Year’s tradition came a week late in our house, due to sickness.  But as I sat at the end of the day, what a glorious delay it was.

Because of the change of dates, we had some folks who were not able to join us that could have been here on the 1st, and some folks were able to be here, who had other commitments on the 1st.  But God knew who and when each one was going to be here and as I took a brief break from keeping the table fully laden with goodies – I was able to ponder the goodness of God in our lives.

I think our Open House is my favourite day of the year.  I have been baking for weeks, and all the planning has finally come together.  Jeff has been working diligently in the trains, and all the new elements are ready for viewing pleasure.  And it’s on this day that we watch as our church family, friends and colleagues join us for fellowship and food.  It makes warms this girl’s heart to have our home filled with conversation and laughter.

At one point this afternoon though, I realized that in our living room at least 6 facets of our life had come together, and in some way had multiple connections.  Some of these relationships go back more than 20 years – to even before we were married, and some are very new friendships, but the connection was there none the less.  One of the professors who was most influential in Jeff’s life from Seminary was here.  He has now become a treasured friend and colleague.  Also in the room were members of his congregation, one of whom came to faith in the church we served in Toronto – she and her husband are also dear friends.  Then we had a couple of Presbytery members here.

One goes to the church of the other.  The elder was a student of Jeff’s last year, and he is good friends with my former Sr Pastor (who also played hockey with the professor).  My former pastor and family now live out of the country, and I miss them dearly – yet here they were being mentioned fondly in multiple conversations.  The final folks in the room were friends from the church I serve.  She is the admin assistant there and she and her husband went to Nassau with us to visit friends last year, and the friendship bond has just deepened since then.

I sat – and as I reflect – realize just how overwhelmed I was.  The day ended with 2 couples who we hold very dear.  The wife of one, and the husband of the other grew up at the church I serve together.  A fitting end to an awesome day!

I think what strikes me the most is the promise that God will place us into families found in Psalm 68.  Jeff and I have come from very different background and made a home.  During our almost 2 decades, we have found family everywhere we have lived, and today – significant parts of that accumulated family were together in our home. 

I love how God shows up in unexpected places, and sometimes – if we are just quiet enough to listen and still enough to see – He says “see, I have been faithful”.  Jeff and I have always felt that we celebrate Christmas with our families and New Year’s with our Church family.  Today, the circle was bigger, but just that much more sweet.

Blessings my friends, may your 2012 be filled with reminders of God’s faithfulness to you – and may you be quiet and still enough to see and hear it.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2012 in church life, News and Updates

 

Worth the Wait…

I don’t wait well – never have, but I’m trying to learn how to do it better.  Waiting in line, waiting for an answer, waiting to go on vacation, whatever – I get quite antsy with anticipation, all the while needing to know the outcome.  I suppose I could say that it’s a product of living in an instant gratification society – but really that would be an excuse.  Sometimes, the waiting is good for us, and can make the end of the wait really special.

Last night, my beloved surprised me with an early Christmas present.  He had been telling me for about a week now, that we had to go “get” my gift on Friday, and the only clue I had been given was that I probably wouldn’t want to wear jeans and a T-shirt when we went.  Despite my frequent asking, and trying to get him to tell me what we were doing – he didn’t give it away until the last possible minute.  Now, I must admit, my curiosity got a hold of me, and I tried very hard to figure it out.  I looked at websites for tickets, for concerts – but nothing twigged as something that we might be going to.  We left the house, with my still not knowing, all the while my excitement growing.  Our final destination was a wonderful surprise, and seeing Canadian jazz artist Emilie-Claire Barlow was an absolute delight.  (If you’ve never heard her, check her out on iTunes or YouTube).

Last night’s events got me to thinking…isn’t that just like God?  Have you ever been in prayer over a situation in your life, and it seems that God is not answering, or that the answer is coming in stages?  I’m in a season like that right now.  My last entry told the story of a situation I’ve been praying about for more than a year.  God gave part of the answer in a very clear way – but I know that there is more to the answer.  I’m waiting, and I’m trying not to jump ahead of where He wants to take me in this.  I know that the end will be worth the wait, and will be better than I could imagine for myself.

Waiting on God is not a new thing though, and as we end the first week of Advent, we are once again reminded that God’s people were waiting for the Messiah to arrive and bring true freedom.  For hundreds of years, the Saviour promised in the Old Testament seemed not to be coming.  It was as if God had fallen silent – but what a wonderful plan He was preparing to bring about.  Then, in a very humble shelter – God sent The Answer that the world was waiting for.  The plan was better than anyone could have imagined.  People had been looking for a grand entrance on a white stallion, who would bear a sword and free them.   The gift that arrived was God himself – as a helpless child.

Jesus came so that we could learn from his example, and to experience a real, living relationship with the King of the Universe.  And that baby would not only be Saviour to the people he lived among, but all of us!  He came to set you and I free.  To make a way so that we can live forever in relationship with God.  The wait was worth it – more than anyone could have imagined.  This advent, don’t lose sight of the importance of waiting.  Watch with childlike anticipation for what God has planned for you.  Celebrate the coming of the baby born to be King of Kings!

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2011 in News and Updates

 

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