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Living in the Moment

July 31st, 2017 | 6 Comments | Posted in Encouragement
by Matt Charbonneau

With summer now in full swing, many people are taking advantage of much-needed vacation time.

Perhaps families are packing up their mini-vans and heading to a cottage or campsite. Couples might be touring exciting cities in or out of the country. Individuals could be planning adventures on their own or with friends to keep active and discover new experiences.

It’s a good thing people are so busy in the summer, as before we know it, the season will soon be over.

In fact, just as the calendar pages turn from July to August, stores are loading their shelves with back-to-school merchandise.

Soon, sunscreen and bathing suits will be replaced with binders and calculators.

Beach volleyball games and family barbeques will be a distant memory, thanks to resumed regular staff meetings and gridlock traffic.

Yet, as much as we can easily turn our attention to what lies ahead, we cannot forget to first enjoy what is still before us.

In today’s society, it seems we are constantly pressured to focus on the future, always planning for what’s next.

While this may be necessary, it is also important to appreciate who we are and what we have in the present moment.

Concentrating on today, we can better cherish our many blessings without diminishing their value by looking past them.

You see, God is in the present. His work of the past is complete and He no longer lives there. While He prepares our future, it is still very much unknown to us, and so we may only recognize God in the moment – right here, right now.

For instance, leaving a campsite at a particular time in order to beat the crowd of vehicles that will clog the highway certainly does matter, but thoughts of that lingering so much in one’s mind can easily spoil great conversation during a family picnic.

Stressing about a particular class or teacher you won’t have for another month could only get in the way of a budding summer romance or friendship forming in a summer sports league.

Scripture reminds us to soak up the many blessings we are experiencing now, rather than focusing excessively on what is yet to come (see Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 & Matthew 6:34 as two examples).

The more we turn our eyes to what we cannot control ahead of us, the more we will fail to see the many gifts God has brought right before us.

A long overdue coffee date with a friend, a leisurely walk with our dog in the park on a sunny day or an evening movie marathon with an open agenda for tomorrow are all examples of how God can reveal Himself and bless us this summer.

However, if we do not allow ourselves the time to unwind and celebrate such beautiful moments, August will turn to September and we will be left scratching our heads, wondering what happened to summer.

So enjoy that chance to sleep in. Eat that second ice cream cone. Admire that gorgeous sunset or freshly cut lawn.

Do all of that and more, as living in the moment will allow us to be fully present in order to embrace God’s gifts.

Matt Charbonneau is a high school Religious Education teacher who inspires his students to explore a deeper relationship with God. Applying uplifting lessons, engaging activities, and insightful experiences, he strives to demonstrate the powerful presence and unconditional love of God in everyday life. Matt and his wife live in Ottawa with their two sons and daughter.

Website: www.mattcharbonneau.com
Facebook: God’s Giveaways
Twitter: @Gods_Giveaways

16-Month-Old Spreads Joy Wherever She Goes

July 5th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement

How a Bucket List Eliminated My Mom Guilt

June 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement
Last summer, I’m going to be honest – I dealt with a lot of working mom guilt and jealousy. Guilt that I was schlepping my kids from camp to camp because my husband and I needed to work. Jealousy when I would see status updates of moms enjoying the pool with their kids in the middle of the work day.

Of course, these feelings were completely self-induced. My kids had a great summer and didn’t seem to resent my 9-5.

Only I did.

With summer break looming (my kids only have 11 school days left, but who’s counting), I have made a commitment that those feelings are not allowed to rise up this year.

How am I going to combat them?

A summer bucket list.

This week we wrote ours out on a piece of poster board. It has a glitter boarder because glitter makes all things better. On that glittery stock, we listed all the big and little activities the kids want to do this summer.

Library

Pool

Camping

The drive-in

The children’s museum

In total, we came up with 32 things we want to do together.

When we finished it, I said to my kids, “Are we going to have a good summer?”

My nearly 6-year-old daughter Adeline joyfully said, “No, we are going to have a GREAT summer!”

As I read over the list, I was reminded that the idea of what a perfect summer looks like was something I had created in my head and did not align with my kids’ ideas of a perfect summer. Their desires are simple. A family day at the zoo. A water balloon fight. A canoe ride on the river near our home. These are things we absolutely can and will do – even with me having a traditional day job.

It will be a GREAT summer.

If you have ever looked at another mom’s Instagram or Facebook feed in the summertime and thought, I wish that was my summer, I want to encourage you to change your thinking this year. Eliminate the mom guilt and jealousy.

It isn’t about what time of day you go to the pool, it’s about getting in the water when you go.

It isn’t about flying to another country, it’s about doing what makes sense for your family – even if that means a simple drive on the country roads near your home.

It isn’t about spending a lot of money, it’s about being together.

20 years from now we will look back on these summer months and not remember the stress of juggling camps and work, we’ll remember the splashes at the pool and the nights spent roasting marshmallows with neighbors.

Pay attention now to the moments that make summer great for your family.

And maybe, make a summer bucket list.

Let’s Blanket the City with #LoveThatSticks! Find Out How

June 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”
– 1 Corinthians 13:13

People will always remember the way you made them feel.  In today’s culture, we’re quick to judge others, we hear more stories of sadness, and we look out for ourselves first.

What if you had a simple way to lift others up? Even strangers.  Think of the last time someone encouraged you or gave you a compliment. How did it make you feel? I bet you’ve never forgotten the way it made you feel… because Love Sticks!

At CHRI events all summer pick-up a #LoveThatSticks Post-It-Note pack to encourage others & join us in showing the city a #LoveThatSticks. Share your ideas on social media to encourage others they can spread the message too! Use the hashtag #LoveThatSticks.

Leave a short, thoughtful note that make will the person feel special.

A few ideas of how to use them:

  • On your mail box for your mail delivery person
  • On a classmates or a co-workers desk
  • On a mirror in a public bathroom or change room
  • On a car windshield
  • On an item in the grocery store
  • In an elevator
  • On a gas pump
  • At Starbucks

What do you say? Try writing something like this:

  • “Everything will be okay”
  • “You are special”
  • “You are loved”
  • “You are beautiful”
  • “You are doing a good job”
  • “Cast all your anxiety on God because he cares for you”
  • “Cast your cares on the Lordand he will sustain you”
  • “God will never leave your side”
  • “You’re a star in His eyes”
  • “God loves you unconditionally. Trust Him with all your heart”

We’re so excited to see your amazing ideas & to cover our city with a #LoveThatSticks!

Mandisa wants you to know you are not alone in your darkness.

May 1st, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement

Mandisa’s music has been a source of comfort and inspiration..helping so many of us overcome..this morn she bravely shared how she came out of “the dark place” of depression and took back control of her own life.  – Robin Roberts

To the Single Mom at Christmas

December 1st, 2016 | 2 Comments | Posted in Encouragement
Dear Single Mom,I have been thinking of you since Thanksgiving.

As Christmas gets closer and closer, I have been praying for your heart.

This time of year is hard for you, I know. I was a single mom for almost five years. My sister was for seven. And my mother has been a single mom for almost the entirety of her four children’s lives.

The holidays were by far the most difficult times for me, as a single mom. I can still feel the intense sadness, mixed with grief and fear, alone at the Christmas Eve service that first year. A custody agreement always includes who has the kids when on every holiday. This year, it was my turn to celebrate without any kiddos lighting candles at the service, waking me up the next morning, looking for their stockings, eating Christmas tree shaped pancakes, and playing with new toys .

Or the following year, when my boys were with me. It felt like we were surrounded by all the dads carrying kids on their shoulders at the mall, videotaping the first grade holiday concert, dragging Christmas trees out of the lot, standing in line for Santa pictures while their wives shopped for gifts.

I remember exactly how it felt. It felt lonely. It felt different. It felt somehow less than.

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The most difficult part about being a single mom for me, was the intense pressure of responsibility.

Every single day, it was all on me — providing, nurturing, caring for, teaching, disciplining — it felt like there was no safe place to just be.

Then add all the holiday stuff: the shopping, the gift wrapping, remembering the advent calendar, getting the tree, hanging up the decorations. I wanted my boys to have a “normal Christmas.” And every year, I was completely overwhelmed.

Being a single mom can be crushing, especially this time of year.

So as we get closer to Christmas, I want to gently, lovingly say: You are not alone.

Even if you have absolutely no help…

Even if you have been a widow since your child was a baby…

Even if your children’s father left you without any involvement on his part…

You are not alone.

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God has you in this. He is the best Father there is — for you sweet momma, and for you little ones.

It’s the reason we celebrate this season in the first place. Jesus came for you, for me, for our children.

I pray this year, that He would help you feel lighter and so lavishly loved.

I pray that no matter how difficult your circumstances may be right now, He would remind you that He doesn’t make mistakes. You are exactly where you are supposed to be in God’s economy. So are your children.

I pray you get some rest, somehow.

I pray you get a sweet handmade card or craft from school.

I pray the people who love you shower you with attention and help around the house.

I pray your children give you an extra hug, sweet snuggles, and plenty of smiles.

And even if none of this happens, I pray that deep down, you would hear me, would believe me when I say:

You are a mother. You are so very special and important and powerful.

I am celebrating you this Christmas.

There is no one like you in your child’s life. You can do this and, by the grace of God, you will do this.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Love, Shawna

Homelife Calendar and Scripture Art

October 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement

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