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Archive for the ‘Reflection’ Category

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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When strolling along the beaches, many people like to take picture of their footprints in the sand.

Perhaps it’s a way to make a statement like “hey, I was here & here’s the proof”;
or maybe it’s just a sheer joy to take pictures of our footprints by the surging waves!

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Footprints on the beach are definitely a fun sight to stumble upon. These are the footprints of my sister while we were enjoying the dramatic twilight by the South China Sea.

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I delight in this famous poem, “Footprints”, which has brought comfort to many souls.

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One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Across the sky flashed scene from his life.
He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him he noticed that many times there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it was at the very lowest times in his life.
He questioned the Lord about it.

“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

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This poem is an oasis to weary souls; It brings to mind the invitation Jesus gives in Matthew 11:28:

“Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Years ago, I had the opportunity to pose with the author of Footprints, Margaret Powers, who happens to be the mom of one of my fellow students at Bible college.

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Here’s the story behind the poem.

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Ready-made Prayers

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It was the first day of snow and I was enjoying the snowy weather at this park. I found joy in communicating with God as I took in the beautiful outdoor nature.

Talking about communication with God, at our Transform Bible Study, we are currently going through a book called Armchair Mystic by Mark Thibodeux.

The book suggests various ways and tools on how to communicate with God.

I am reminded that when we do not have the words to pray what we want to tell God, we can use ready-made prayers to express what is in our hearts.

Ready-made prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father who art in heaven), David’s prayer (The Lord is my Shepherd), or the prayer of St. Saint Francis of Assisi (Lord, make me a channel of your peace…) are great ways to communicate with God.

I love using ready-made prayers to listen to God speaking to me; and one such borrowed prayer is the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971).

This popular prayer can be seen on various publications, bookmarks and wall plaques in many homes.

Whenever I stumbled upon this writing, I paused and read it to remind me not to cry over spilt milk, be willing to accept the thing to which I cannot change, and to move on.

While visiting a friend’s home, this is what I spotted on their wall…

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Serenity: the state of being serene, untroubled and calm.

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And here’s one ready-made prayers of Apostle Paul:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

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As I gaze at this photograph that I took by the Caribbean Sea in Cartagena; a piece of insightful writing by my spiritual mentor comes to my mind:

“Christmas is here, signalling the end of the year but also heralding the beginning of the new year. Perhaps this is the significance of the Christmas season — that because Christ has come, therefore we can now have an end to our old life and a beginning of our new life.”

What a profound Christmas reflection indeed!

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One of the most inviting and friendly Christmas decorations ought to be the Christmas wreath.

Wreath is usually act as a sign of welcoming, as can be seen adorning the entrance of most doors during the Christmas season.

The shape of wreath is circular and often symbolizes unity and eternity; it can also represents peace and victory, as well as a symbol of remembrance.

Since Christmas is round the corner, we opted to make this simple wreath and decorated it with the core of a Christmas message.

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The symbol of the Bible is to remind us that we need to read the word of God and hear God speaking to us.

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The shape of the sun/star reminds us that God is the Creator of the universe and that we need to thank Him for the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.

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The torn heart represents broken relationship and sadness which caused us to reflect how we have sinned against God were separated from God.

The powerful sign of the cross points us to Jesus who is the Savior born on Christmas Day; He is the only one who can mend our broken heart and restores our broken relationship with God.

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The whole heart expresses the sacrificial love that God has for us; When we place our lives and faith in Jesus, we can have a meaningful and enriching relationship with the eternal God.

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Through this joyful and interactive time of making this cheerful Christmas craft, all of us have a greater appreciation of this loving God who is also our Heavenly Father from the Lord’s prayer.

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