Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Cutie

No doubt the entire McNeil family would agree that the best part of
Christmas 2006 was having the "Christmas Cutie" around.
(Oh and having Julia there was great too:)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Home Sweet Home

home(hōm) n. adj.
a. relating to or being where one lives or where one's roots are;

b. the place where one has fixed his residence, one's settled abode;
c. place where something began and flourished;
d. the place where you are stationed and from which missions start and end;
e. an environment offering affection and security; "home is where the heart is";
f. an environment offering security and happiness;
g. A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin;

Yesterday was a day to truly celebrate home. I played "I'll Be Home for Christmas" the entire way up from Indiana. When I arrived in Port Huron and saw the sign above the highway that said "To Canada" I let out a very big vibrato filled AAAAAAAAAh. And as I finally entered Canada, my home and native land, I swear I could hear bells ringing and angels singing:) There's just nothing like being home. Traveling on the 401 with my fellow Canadians ; drinking a cup of Tim Horton's Coffee ( which I discovered yesterday is really not all that it's cracked up to be - I don't know why I craved it so much while I was away); Finally seeing my beautiful niece looking ever so toddler like as she now walks everywhere and says words like "Diva" (no doubt another reason for a very large operatic AAAAAAAAAH!!:) ; chatting and exchanging stories with the rest of the family;. and just enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of home.

I woke up this morning and looked around my room and couldn't help but smile, it's just so nice to be here. Even though I’m home and absolutely loving it, I can't help but recall what I was clearly reminded of on a daily basis over the past 6 weeks - the real meaning of the word home. It’s amazing how despite the homesickness that I felt while in Indiana, it has never been more apparent to me that home is really wherever God has called us to be. The occasions when I felt most at home in Winona Lake had nothing to do with the sights, sounds, smells or people that surrounded me. Feeling at home always involved a deep interaction with the Lord and in most cases an incredible glimpse of His glory and power. God has assured me that no matter where I go in this life, if I have a genuine desire to know and to grow in Jesus Christ I’ll always feel at home.

As hard as it will be for me to head back to Indiana to do my work with Cpaf in January, I feel confident knowing that Jesus Christ is truly what defines home for me. He is the valued place where I find refuge; He is my origin; He offers me security and happiness; He offers me affection; He has defined my mission, and has allowed me to begin it and will end it; it’s because of Him that I am who I am and will continue to flourish; He is my fixed residence; He is where I have a settled abode. He is home.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Spaghetti & Maple Syrup

I've finally put my curiosity to rest - spaghetti drizzled in maple syrup doesn't really taste as good as Buddy makes it out to be in the movie Elf. Boy is Will Ferrell ever convincing though and his had tomato sauce on it!! Even if you load the maple syrup tossed spaghetti up with marshmallows, m&m's, and crumbled pop-tarts it still tastes funny. I thought that for sure my innovative Elf dessert would be a hit . . . . I was wrong. I'm thinking that perhaps it didn't work out because I used the multi grain pasta instead of the regular white pasta. Oh well, maybe next year I'll alter the recipe and try it on some unsuspecting Canadians. For now I’ll hold off on dessert making for a while. I'm pretty sure that everyone here would agree that when it comes to dessert, "Diva" is one big cotton-headed ninny muggins:)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Red Satin Fur Trimmed Gowns and Muffs

Tonight the gals and I watched one of my favorite Christmas movies ever, White Christmas. Oh how I love that movie. The music, the dancing, and of course the grandiose divaesque costumes with all that velvet, satin, sparkle and fur :) White Christmas was always a Christmas Eve tradition in our house. We'd all sit around between dinner and midnight mass watching Bing, Danny, Rosemary and Vera-Ellen sing and dance away. I remember as a little girl wishing that someday I could own beautiful dresses like the ones that Rosemary Clooney wore. Jen and I would often try to perform "Sisters" with Vera and Rosemary and Tutty would smile away and laugh at all of Danny Kaye's cheesy remarks.

Tonight was great. Each of us had stories of how White Christmas played a fond part of our Christmas memories and how it was that movie that inspired us all to dream of someday wearing red satin fur trimmed gowns with the most important Christmas accessory ever - the white fur muff:) As we sat and watched tonight we all commented on the pretty dresses and sang along to all the songs:) Whatever happened to the good old days when actors and actresses actually had to have talent in order to be considered movie stars? What a great movie. I need a muff.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Christmas Reflection

Erwin McManus tells of how he attempted to explain to a group of Muslims in the Middle East why it was necessary for God to become human.

"I once met a girl named Kim, and I fell in love. I pursued her with my love until I felt my love had captured her heart. So I asked her to be my wife, and she said no. I was unrelenting and asked her again, pursuing her with my love, and I pursued her with my love until she said yes. I did not send my brother, nor did I send a friend. For in issues of love, you must go yourself."

"This is the story of God: He pursues you with His love and pursues you with His love, and you have perhaps not said yes. And even if you reject His love, He pursues you ever still. It was not enough to send an angel or a prophet or any other, for in issues of love, you must go yourself. And so God has come."

"This is the story of Jesus, that God has walked among us and he pursues us with His love. He is very familiar with rejection but is undeterred. And He is here even now, still pursuing you with his love."

Erwin McManus - Soul Cravings - Intimacy Entry#11

Monday, December 11, 2006

Come Let Us Adore Him

Last night we performed our monthly Cpaf outreach concert here in Winona Lake. What an incredible blessing it was for me to be a part of such a unique collaboration of artists. I am so in awe of How God spoke last night. He truly used the offereings of each performer to truly magnify Himself. The story of the birth of Christ was so eloquently and powerfully presented in each performance. It really is an honour for me to be collaborating with artists who not only understand the importance of excellence in art, but who also have a firm understanding of what it means to surrender their performances to the Lord as worship. Last night was not just a concert, it was an incredible worship service, one like I've never experienced before. I just hope that the audience sensed the clear and beautiful presence of His Spirit too. I can't wait till our next 2nd Sunday Concert.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

commitment to my commitment

"The key to successful ministry is hearing from God, seeking reconfirmation if necessary, then wholeheartedly persevering in what we believe He said. We must persevere in our commitment to Christ, not in our commitment to our commitment."
Beth Moore - Believing God – Day 2 Week 8

While doing my believing God homework this week, this quote jumped out at me and left me to really reflect. Over the past few months perseverance has been a key part of my daily routine. Persevering while waiting for the work visa, fighting with what very little faith I had not to completely give up on what I believed to be a calling that God put on my life. And now that I've started my work at Cpaf the need to persevere has become more relevant for me. I wake up every day and look at my calendar. I have actually started marking the days off with big "X's” counting the days until my official commitment as a Cpaf intern will end. I have never ever marked days off on my calendar before, but marking the big "X" across a day makes persevering a little easier. I have spent a lot of time imaging what would happen if I packed up my things and just went home for good, and then I remember all the people I'd be letting down and how I owe it to them to stick it out. No doubt, the reason why it's been so hard here has a lot to do with the fact that I've been focusing too hard on persevering in my commitment to my commitment rather than in my commitment to Christ. Looking at the “X’s” on my calendar confirms nothing about what God has reconfirmed to me over and over about my calling as an artistic missionary. I think it’s time I start focusing on THE Cross, rather than on the many meaningless crosses on my calendar.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tinsel Tim

Imagine opening up your blinds in the morning and seeing this crazy creature peeping in your window!! Apparently the Peeping Canadian Geese aren't the only fowl around here trying to catch a glimpse of "the Diva". Tinsel Tim is just one more peeper to add to our peeping list down at the lodge. I opened up the blinds this morning and there was Tim outside my window attempting with all his might to peep in at me. As punishment for his naughty peeping I have forced him to sit on my desk with me at the office until Christmas. Tim claims that staring at the diva all day long is really more of a dream come true than it is a punishment. He does indeed make a very good point however; I could really use the extra help at my desk so for now this punishment will have to do. Tim is proving to be quite useful to have around. He's only been with me at my desk for 2 hours and already it's very apparent that this little bird is really an extremely talented writer:) It's looking like this is going to be a win, win situation for us both. Yaaaay Tinsel Tim!!!