The Perfect gift..

Five years ago, when I lived in Stratford Ontario, I sat down with four of my daycare children and gave them the gifts I had so carefully purchased for them. I knew I had found each of them the perfect gift. They would love them, I was sure!

For three of them, it seemed I did. One little girl said “It’s just what I’ve always wanted!” Her older sister seemed in awe…”How did you know I LOVE horses?”, while the youngest girl, not even two, clutched her new doll to her chest and her whole face lit up…”Mine!” It made me happy inside to see their excitement and smiles.

Then came the fourth child. He tore open his gift, the one so thoughtfully wrapped with him in mind…but instead of a smile he angrily tossed the gift aside and said with a whine…”Awww…it’s not Lego Star Wars!” He crossed his arms and a scowl marked his young eight year old face. He sat there pouting and I sat there, jaw dropped! I have to admit it made me angry. To think the gift I had so carefully chosen for him, thinking he would love it; that it would be so carelessly tossed aside like a piece of garbage. That hurt!

It reminded me of something else. Christmas was but a few days away and if it were not for Jesus, there would be no Christmas…He is the “reason for the season.”
God sent his only son to be born in Bethlehem. He was The Perfect Gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger…in what would normally be used for the animals feeding trough A humble beginning for a king.
God knew that one day the baby Jesus would grow to be a man, and that one day that man would give his life for us all. He would die a brutal death on a cross, so that we; each and every one would in turn have eternal life…His perfect gift if we accept it.

1 John 4:9
God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life though him. This is real love….not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Yet, so often we go through the Christmas season losing our focus. We are busy and stressed, trying to get it all done, house cleaned and decorated, baking done, and the menu planned, all while trying to find that perfect gift for our loved ones. We can so easily lose sight of the reason that we even have Christmas and it is Jesus.

I have been finding this especially true this Christmas season. Lately there have been times that I have lost my focus, been distracted by all that is going on around me. Things in Honduras are very tense right now. There is much political unrest and things seem to be falling apart at the seams.  I stress about wondering if Jake will be able to fly in. What if they cancel his flight? Will we be able to get to where we need to go in the city safely, or will the roads be “taken?” Our kids have lost so much school since the election on November 26, and although they have done their work online, they miss their friends. And what if the country enforces another curfew? And more recently, the concern about what is rumoured to come in the next couple days to Tegucigalpa. I don’t have all my Christmas shopping done, but I realize I just might have to be ok with that. It’s out of my control if the mall decides to close one day for safety reasons, or if the road happens to be blocked.
Looking at the situation here it can be very easy to fall apart and lose peace, and be fearful. But God has been reminding me of a verse in Isaiah.
Isaiah 26:3,4 tells us that” You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all those whose thoughts are fixed on you. Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord your God is the eternal rock. “
I love how the MSG words this verse…That “ people with their minds set on Him, he will keep completely whole.”

Now if we are completely whole….we are not falling apart. We are intact, we have it together and lack nothing. Because HE is our peace and peace isn’t found in stuff or circumstances or whether or not the Christmas shopping is done. If our minds are on him…the cares of this world are not going to crowd him out. He is the perfect gift. Born in a manger and later hung on a tree.

So, what will we do this Christmas with the most Perfect Gift? We can choose to cast it aside; rejected.. or we can accept him…God’s perfect gift of love to us…Jesus! Let every heart prepare him room. Is there room in your heart for Him?

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

An update from Honduras…

In my last post, I think it is pretty safe to say that it was written while in a state of shock and even a little fear.  From my perspective, things seem to have settled down a lot. For now anway. There are still protests going on, but they seem peaceful for the most part. And there has STILL not been a formal announcement as to who the new president is.  From what I understand they are doing a recount of all the votes, so who knows when an announcement will be made or what the response will be.

There was a curfew enforced last week. From the hours of 6pm to 6am, no one was allowed to be out of their homes on the streets.  I remember one time looking out my window at 6pm and it was pretty much bumper to bumper traffic.  It was later changed from 5am to 8pm because people were having a hard time getting home from work before the curfew.  Then it was extended to 10pm and then as of Friday it was lifted for good behaviour. Honestly curfew really didn’t affect us too much. We are not often out at night anyway unless it is to go to a dinner or a movie and home group every Thursday night. However, like my friend mentioned to me…there is something about being told you can’t do something that makes you want to do it and did feel like we were going stir crazy. It has been wierd trying to plan our lives around curfews and avoiding areas where we know protests are going on and where there could be potential danger. We have been keeping a low profile, only going out when necessary.

During all the craziness, it was weird to go the grocery store and  hear Christmas music like Silent Night and Holly Jolly Christmas on the radio, when there was so much chaos outside, when the country we love was falling apart at the seams.  Nothing felt peaceful or jolly. There was a food shortage. People are and have been stock piling, so the day that we finally ventured out, there were no potatoes, eggs or bread. 24131091_10155632019101049_3619013715280220832_n

One thing we have noticed is that different gas stations now have metal sheets across their windows with huge signs letting people they know they are open for business. I don’t know if they lost their windows during all the rioting  or if it is just a precaution. We did see footage of people walking out of stores with cases and cases of beer. We also saw footage of people walking out of stores carrying large appliances like dryers over their heads. Unbelievable

A week ago we were sitting in our living room when we heard weird noises outside. I stepped out to see what it was and realized it was the neighbor kids standing on their balcony banging pots and pans. They were shouting what sounded like “Stay at home! Stay at home!” They do speak English. We assumed they were going stir crazy from the curfew and schools being canceled, and were just kids having fun.  But then as we listened we began to hear people banging pots and pans EVERYWHERE! They were not shouting Stay at home…but “Feura-joh”, which translates to Out Juan Orlando Hernandez!

cacerolas

This was actually a planned protest called Cacerolazo, where people protested from their homes since they were under curfew and not allowed to be out. At the same time as this was going on, there were firecrackers as well, so it was very noisy. My poor schnauzer was quite freaked out about all the commotion! Thankfuly this all died down after a couple of days. Once in a while I would hear a lone pot in the distance, but still the firecrackers continued on.

Our kids lost a lot of time from school. They finally went back this Wednesday after being off since the American Thanksgiving.  Elisa was so happy to be back and see her friends again. School is basically her social life.

On Friday night we decided to get out of the house and do something as a family. So that afternoon, we went and saw the movie Wonder at the movie theater in the Multi plaza mall. (So good. It’s a movie everyone should see. ) Then Ben got his hair cut at the barber. However they did not give him the cut that he wanted and he was quite sad about that. Then we went out for dinner. It felt good to be able to do something normal for a change and not being forced to be stuck in the house. It was during dinner that we learned that the curfew had been lifted in our area. Afterwards we did a little looking around in the mall. It struck me how very normal the mall was. Everything was carrying on as usual. Life goes on I guess. And it was as busy as one might expect a mall to be during the Christmas season.

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We also have not been in church since the week before the election. Everything has been canceled. Of course we were not able to legally meet the day of the election. Technically our church that meets in the afternoon was…but I was sick that day and couldn’t go. But this morning it is back on and I am so excited to go. I’ve missed it so much. Then in the afternoon we are going to a home church at the home of some friends.  Slowly for the time being anyway, life is returning to normal.

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When life gets real…

Last night when I should have been sleeping, I was instead looking through my Instagram feed, while my heart was an unsettled and completely broken mess. Images of puppies, and cakes and other delicious food.  Photos of Christmas decorations and the Elf on the shelf.  Happy times,  and a far far cry from the images I had seen earlier in the day when life suddenly became very, very real.  A glaring contrast to what is going on here.

 

First of all I want to say upfront that we are safe in our home and do not feel like we are in any danger. We have food for a few days, the basics anyway, as well as plenty of water. There are MANY things happening all around us though. Yesterday was a day like we have never experienced in our four and a half years of living here. It’s very normal here to see police and the military everywhere. It’s not something we find scary, but more of a comfort. And we have seen a lot of protests and the like since living here. It’s also very normal…but not like yesterday when things got out way out of control.

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You see, the election was Sunday and they still have not declared a winner. The people are crying fraud and are taking to the streets to protest. Entire streets have been shut down and under siege while people block the streets with burning tires and tear gas. It was and is mass chaos and makes me think of a war zone. Businesses have been ransacked, buildings burned.

We watched in shock and horror the live footage on our TV, streets that we are familiar with and have been down multiple times and it was like something you would see on a movie or the evening news….not here, not Honduras. But suddenly on Thursday it all became very real. I wanted to weep. I kept thinking, how can this be happening to my beloved Honduras? What in the world is going on? My heart was and is broken for this land and people I love. I was talking with the guard across the street about the situation and I couldn’t stop the tears. He was so right in what he told me…that we need to pray and remember that God is still on the throne. And how true it is…that even in the chaos He is God and he is still in control.
Our kids and many other children across this city have been out of school for the week for safety reasons. Ben and Elisa are going stir crazy. However for our kids anyway, it is not a week off of school work or vacation time, as assignments have been given online.

 

Even in the midst of chaos, we noticed that life happened, life still went on. People still walked around in the riot, climbing over tires, walking around with their cell phones, or pushing their ice cream carts. We have been basically staying in, but we did walk down to the fruit truck and buy some fruit and we have walked around in our neighborhood with our dog and all is calm there. However, the situation here is serious. There is much tension and unrest. It is very surreal for us…not just a story for the evening news. Honduras needs our prayers. It needs people on their knees interceding. Praying for peace and justice. There is talk that once the new president is announced that things will intensify. We have heard that the internet will be cut off and there will be power outages. This is to keep rumours from circulating and while it is a pain in the rear, it is wise in this situation. There is also talk of curfews which is unheard of back in Canada or the States. So life may be a bit inconvenient or unknown for a bit while we plan our lives around curfews and protests and the like. Please, please, continue to pray for our beloved Honduras, the home of our hearts. The home where we live and love.

 

Psalm 46:10
Be still and know that I am God….

Ephesians 2:14  He is our peace.