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Archive for the ‘Reflection’ Category

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I enjoy being at Cedar Springs retreat center in Sumas, Washington.

It is a beautiful and inviting place; a home away from home that helps me to have a time of rest, reflection and rejoicing in the Lord!

The area is enfolded with peace-filled pray-ground and play-ground for those who want to find space with God for personal soul care.

Cast your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)

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Morning sun is like a love letter in the sky; oh how lovely and poetic!

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Winter turns into Spring, and songbirds returning to rebuilding their nests.

While enjoying the birds singing in the woodland, I have the tendency to pick up feathers of birds that are fallen on the ground.  Somehow I feel compassion for the fallen feathers and I want to pick them up and comfort them.

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Holding onto a real feather makes me feel lighthearted and free-spirited.  I marvel at the softness and the beauty of  feathers and how they provide a protective cover over the body of avians.

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Reflecting on the bond between me and feathers, one real life encounter with a bird floated across my mind:  

Once, my landlord told me that the house we lived in needed to be vacated and that I needed to find a new place to stay within a short frame of time. After scouting at various options, I was still unable to find a place to stay, the deadline to move out was fast approaching, and I was getting anxious.

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So one evening before dusk, instead of busing, I decided to walk the long route home so that I could spend more time praying.  As I was walking, I was startled by a small moving creature beside me;  It was a tiny bird! 
Normally, birds only approach humans if there is food to feed them but I had none!  I continued my prayer walk wondering why a small bird would walk so calmly alongside me.

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Suddenly, my heart felt a tug, and tears sprung from my eyes. I felt as if God was speaking to me through the tiny creature, saying that He would take care of me and to provide a new dwelling place for me.  Then I remembered the fascinating story of how God asked the ravens to feed to the prophet Elijah on the remote ravine for a number of years (I King 17); then Matthew 6 came tweeting in my ears, “Look at the birds in the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

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As I contemplated the little buddy beside me and the verses about God’s care, my feet seemed to feel lighter and my pace faster than the bus ride that I usually took. I felt as if I were like the tiny bird spreading its wings and gliding home! 

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God acted swiftly, for within a couple of days, I was assured  a comfy nest to dwell which was way beyond my imagination.

Through feathers and nests, I have experienced God’s presence, protection and provision in season and out of season.

The Creator God not only use the flying creatures to interact with humankind and to tell His story; He also use the image of a bird as a metaphor to show His protection, love and care!

Psalm 91 states that whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty; God is our dwelling place, and that He covers us with His feathers, and under his wings we can find refuge.

 

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One of my friends loves to do jigsaw puzzles.

When she finishes one, she enjoys looking at it for a while and then puts the pieces back into the box to do again another time.

I was thinking, “What a waste of time!”, and if it was me, I would quickly frame it and mount it on the wall for all to enjoy!

For me it would be a stressful task to finish a puzzle that has a thousand pieces; But for her, it is enjoyable and therapeutic.

I once asked her why she enjoys puzzles so much and this is how she responded:

” I guess I like jigsaw puzzles because they are challenging but you know if you work at it, everything will eventually fit together and make a beautiful, complete picture. A lot of times (maybe most times), life doesn’t work that way (at least not until we get to heaven), and so for me, being able to put together a puzzle is satisfying and encouraging – reminds me that God is putting together the puzzle of my life and that when He is finished, it will be beautiful and perfect.”

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Wow, what a profound reflection on puzzles and God!

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On Easter Sunday, we are reminded of our living hope in the resurrected Christ.

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In addition to that, we also did some jigsaw puzzles which show different stories about the lives of Jesus on earth.

The children really enjoyed re-discovering Jesus through this fun visual and meditative activity.

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During Palm Sunday we read about crowds of people gathering around Jesus and praising him for the miracles He has done to cure the sicks and to set people free.

Seeing the crowd exuberantly praising Jesus, the Pharisees commanded Jesus to stop the disciples and the crowd from praising. Jesus responded, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40)

“The stones cry out” implies that people will always praise God; and even if people don’t, the rock will praise Him! It has been a catchy phrase that is used to motivate each other to praise God.

During our prayer walk to enjoy God in nature, the children picked up a rock by the creek side and paint on it.

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We wonder… if their rocks would cry out, what would the message be?

Everyone has something special to praise God for.

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And their rock project was showcased at our annual Art of Easter exhibition.

Hosanna, Thank You for the cross!

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Here’s a beautiful link on Gratefulness Rocks.

http://www.teachkidsart.net/gratefulness-rocks/

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Crown of Thorns

People have told me that the thorny plant in the foyer by our office is called “crown of thorns” or “Christ” plant; the thorny crown that was placed on Jesus’ head during the crucifixion was said to be woven from the sharp stems of this type of plant, called Euphobia Milli. And, the blooming tiny red flowers remind us of the sacrificial love of Christ through His shed blood for our sins.

With that in mind, on the Holy Week during Good Friday, we let the children take a good look at the plant, touch the spiky thorns that prick their fingers.

There, we also read Isaiah 53 (on the Suffering Christ);and feel (on a very small scale) the pain Jesus experienced when he was sacrificed for our sake.

“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:4-5

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Matthew 11:28

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Today is 11.28 and suddenly the verse from Matthew 11:28 came to mind: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This verse is very special to me because it is a tender verse that I first heard God speaking to me directly which caused tears to stream down my face.

Through this startled revelation, I was made aware that the big God of the Bible is a personal God who cares and who had been anxiously waiting for me to cry out to Him.

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Because I have encountered God in such a special way, I slowly placed my faith in Him and released my burdens to Him.

As the years go by, I have indeed experienced His gentleness and my soul finds refuge and rest in Him.

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

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An artistic friend was decorating the church with beautiful palm leaves; and its time again for our Children in the Sunday School to reflect on the meaning of Palm Sunday and sing praise songs related to “Hosanna”.

What exactly is the meaning of “Hosanna”?

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This link from Got Question.org provides a really good explanation on the meaning of the word.

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The weather is wet and windy and my mood has turned gloomy, especially after days with a bad flu; And the trees outside are groaning and hoping for more sunshine to stream down so their naked branches can once again be adorned with budding leaves.

Out of the blue came a sunny sky!

With the sun sneaking in, I quickly grab my camera and scurrying out to take advantage of this lovely spring weather; And the first tree that catches my breath is the magnolia tree – what a pleasant surprise!

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Standing under and looking up the tree is most delightful — branches decorated with bunches of pink flowers against a background of clear blue sky with fluffy pearly-white clouds; I feel the presence of God and His gentle love liberating me from my gloomy self.

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Since Good Friday and Easter celebrations are round the corner, I stand beneath the pretty pink tree and reflect on the joyful season; and this beautiful poem by Carol Wimmer came to mind:

~ ~ ~

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting, “I’ve been saved!”
I’m whispering, “I get lost sometimes
That’s why I chose this way”

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak with human pride
I’m confessing that I stumble –
needing God to be my guide

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not trying to be strong
I’m professing that I’m weak
and pray for strength to carry on

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success
I’m admitting that I’ve failed
and cannot ever pay the debt

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When I say, “I am a Christian”
I don’t think I know it all
I submit to my confusion
asking humbly to be taught

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible
but God believes I’m worth it

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache
which is why I seek God’s name

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority
I only know I’m loved

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Yes, beneath the beautiful blue sky and the blossoming pink, I’m feeling loved!

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Holy Listening Stones

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I came across the “Holy Listening Stone” teaching tool and was immediately fascinated by it.

According to the founder of Holy Listening Stones, Rev. Dr. Leanne Hadley, the practice of using the HLS symbols is to help people share how they feel. Symbol, especially to children, is their “native language”.

These meaningful symbols can encourage a conversation and engage people to talk out their inner thoughts where sometimes they seem at a lost for words to express themselves.

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Using the ideas from the Holy Listening Stones, my team and I created our own “holy listening” objects using beautiful knotting pine wood, which is very soothing and calming.

This method of generating meaningful conversation can be used among young and old alike. This practice can be done on a one-on-one approach or in a small group setting.

When asked to reflect how they experienced God in their lives or how their weeks went, these were some of the things shared:

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One 6 year old child picked the symbol of a tree and commented, “I choose this one because God is strong and God is taller than a tree!”

One 10 year boy who has abstract thinking, pointed to the tree symbol (to him it looked like an inferno) and blurted out, “that is my mom, she exploded last night just because I didn’t put my socks away in its proper place….”

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Another 12 year old picked an exclamation mark and exclaimed, “I have had a very happy week!”

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While having a heart to heart talk with one young adult, the person chose the “windy path” and stated in frustration that “God is so hard to figure out, He never gives me a straight answer when I need it.”

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Another person who recently had a major career change picked two symbols for reflection.

With the symbol of a footprint, she realized that at any work place, we bound to leave a foot print behind; And she is made aware that it is important to be a “sunshine” to others especially in the working environment.

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From this simple and heartfelt sharing of life experiences, I see the mystery and the effectiveness of using these “holy listening stones” as a practice to help one express their feeling and spiritual journey in a more concrete manner. It is also very therapeutic.

For more info on the philosophy of Holy Listening Stones, click here.

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