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One of Our Heroes – Mandi Schwartz (1988 – 2011)

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This morning (April 3rd) we prayed for Mandi Schwartz, as we have many times before at NP. Mandi has faced cancer – leukemia to be exact – since 2008. At 10:35AM our time today Mandi passed away.  She was only 23. She was a student athlete at Yale, a womens hockey player from Wilcox, Sask. We first heard about her through Jen Matichuk, a Yale teammate from North Pointe. Jen tried to help Mandi by initiating a drive to sign people up for bone marrow donations. Mandi and her family are well known in the hockey world – one brother was drafted by St Louis, a Canadian Junior Player and the other brother playing NCAA hockey in Colorado. Mandi was a believer and a battler. She never lost hope that she could be healed and if not, would go to heaven. She was undeterred in her courageous battle. So we prayed and believed along witb her and her family.

Mandi has left a lasting impact. It’s in the thousands of folks who organized or contributed to bone marrow registration drives. It’s in the Web pages and Facebook groups created in her honor, the fundraisers, bake sales,  bike rides, walks, suppers and prayer chains in her name. There was something about Mandi. Something that made people want to come to her aid. Our family kept a picture of #17 on our kitchen table at Thanksgiving.  We prayed often for her.   We loved her spirit.  At one point, Mandi had been in and out of chemotherapy treatments for 20 months.  She still managed to return to Yale in January 2010 when the leukemia went in remission. She practiced with her team, but the cancer returned.  Some 1,600 people were tested to be possible bone marrow donors, about 1,300 more than the population of Mandi’s hometown. Finally it was discovered that the umbilical-cord blood of an 18-month-old girl was enough of a match. Mandi was elated. The complicated process was completed in Seattle in the fall. In December, just before Christmas, Mandi underwent another biopsy. Three days later the biopsy results came back, confirming the worst: the cancer had returned, more vicious than ever. The Schwartz family broke down, and typical Mandi, she apologized to her father for not getting better. She spent the last days of her life with her family and friends.  Mandi never won a championship at Yale but she was a champion.  Mandi, you’re our hero.
Our most heartfelt condolences go out to Mandi’s family and friends at this time.

Undetoured

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April 4th. Not April 1st.  This is the day the 167 Ave detour begins, and its no April Fools joke.   For 7 months a route that sees over 17,000 cars a day drive by NP will be shutdown. Over the past 5 years, dozens of families and hundreds of people have been able to connect with NP because of their familiarity with our facility and sign. The shutdown is a short-term pain.  A new 167 Ave will be built, along with a new sub-division.  In the next 2 years it is anticipated that 3,000 residences will be built and over 10,000 people will become our “next door neighbours.”  So, what can you do with a detour?  Take the detour and move forward “undetoured.”  When you face life’s challenges its the best option.  During April we will be focusing on being “undetoured in reaching the world,” “undetoured in facing your greatest challenge,” “undetoured in rebuilding lives,” and “undetoured in facing the cross.”  Our prayer is that this real life detour can become memorable for more than just an inconvenience.  It can serve as an illustration of God’s providence in caring for us when facing challenges.  Come November 2011, the detour will be in our past.  Will God’s provision be in your heart?

Spiritual Gifts

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“Goodbye England’s rose
May you ever grow in our hearts
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart.”

These were the words Elton John used to immortalize the late Princess Dianna. Dianna was known to have placed herself in the midst of causes such as AIDS or the removal of landmines, which graced the lives of people in need.

I can think of no better descriptor of the spiritual gifts spoken of in the New Testament than “grace that places itself where lives are torn apart.” Whenever a gift of the Holy Spirit is observed, its because someone’s need is being met, supernaturally.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit (charism – “gift of grace”) is given for the common good.” 1 Cor. 12:7(NIV)

Every believer has received the gift of the Holy Spirit. That means every believer is “gifted.” The Holy Spirit brings with himself manifestations that are for the common good. Spiritual gifts include teaching, giving, serving, administering, prophecy, leading, wisdom, knowledge, healing, discerning of spirits, speaking in other tongues, faith amongst others. You can find them listed in Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4.

Perhaps you can recall a time when you were served by someone using one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If so, you not only know how beneficial that was, but must feel inspired to discover your own gifts, so as to use them in your own ministry.

Reach Up and Out – Yoga Style

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My first class had me standing as straight as I possibly could stand while reaching my clasped hands as high into the air as was physically possible. At first I thought, “This is yoga? I can so do this.” Until I learned that THIS was the entire class. Nothing else. Just reaching up. Straight up, as in, straighter than a wall sorta straight. Just up. FOR ONE WHOLE HOUR!!! Up. And I should mention here that a. I am so not flexible and b. I am so not graceful – so you can imagine how quickly I was eating my, ‘yoga-is-a-piece-of-cake’ words, as my friend looked on in amusement smirking from ear to ear.

Our instructor, taking cue from our/MY pained expressions, kept reassuring the class that it was perfectly normal to stumble, it was totally okay to feel like a fish out of water, that grunting and groaning and sweating and shaking were all part of the growth process, but to continue with the effort cause overtime our muscles would strengthen and relax and the movements would become like second nature – we just had to keep practicing. And I would have believed him had he not been looking right at me every time he said, “fish out of water.” Ugg, the class felt like it was never going to end. But, I was determined to be all yoga-y and so class 2, class 3 and class 4 followed in exactly the same manner: painfully slow and completely humbling.

Class 5 brought our instructor bouncing through the door ecstatically frantic about the fact that we were ready to move onto the next movement. We had graduated. We were going to learn something new. YES!!!!! I was pumped. I may have flopped the first movement, but I was determined to make movement 2 look like a frolicking gazelle (whatever that looked like). So with my eyes fixated on a gold medal like an Olympic hopeful, I began to slowly follow every little move he made. I stood as straight as a board, I breathed a deep inhale/exhale, folded my hands in front of me, did a slight bow arching my back like a cat as I reached my fingers down to the floor, deep stretch, then I slowly released my breath as I stood to watch him simultaneously stretch both arms out. Not up. Out! And then he said, “Can you see the difference? Can you feel the difference?”

WHAT !?!?!?!?!
ARE YOU KIDDING ME !?!?!?!?
THIS WAS MOVEMENT TWO !?!?!?!?!

I looked at my friend in desperate bewilderment and let out a huge sigh of frustration right as 3 different people hushed me and I realize my little outburst was a tad too loud for the room titled “Pin Drop.” So with smoke whistling from my ears, and beads of sweat rolling down my bright red forehead, I did go on to finish the class, but I made the mental decision right then and there that I was SO done with yoga!

“But why are up and out the only seemingly important movements?” I asked my instructor after the class had emptied.

“Well because, all other movements stem from the core muscles that are used to stabilize the body through these movements. You’ll find yoga to be super easy once you master these 2 basic moves. Without them, you will have no core control, no back support and no strengthened posture to perform the right technique used in the more complex movements. I know you probably want to give up. It’s hard at first, but trust me, it gets easier overtime.”

Enter epiphany.

Is this not a lot like our spiritual fitness?

We live in a pedal to the metal, survival of the fittest society where dog eats dog, speed is the name of the game and he who can get there first, wins. Who wants to be doing slow moving yoga moves when you can run full speed ahead, throw caution to the wind and create dust for other people to eat? This is how I approached yoga. But only upon deeper reflection did I realize and appreciate that slow and steady consistency built my strength. Those seemingly unimportant but ever so subtle movements were my ticket to success. Reaching up gave my back muscles the proper elongation they needed just as reaching out gave me a greater ability to support my body mass during those ‘slower-than-cold-molasses’ positions.

It’s funny how us humans have a tendency to treat our faith and our witness the same way.

In the same way I thought I could master yoga in one class, we tend to think we can develop a deep relationship with God after 1 devotional time, or 1 Sunday service, or 1 Bible Study series, or 1 altar experience, or, or, or. The same goes for our witness. We don’t leave an impression on someone with 1 simple wave. It usually takes a lot of ‘slower-than-cold-molasses’ movements and conversations, or driveway shoveling, or gentle phone calls, or consistent prayer to make a little head-way with that friend, or spouse, or neighbor, or teacher, or, or, or. And when it doesn’t happen quickly, we want to give up. But reaching up and out in our faith is about steady, committed posture. It’s about positioning our lives in just the right way that nothing could make us teeter. The longer we stay in God’s presence and practice that devoted focus on him, the stronger we become in body, mind and spirit. It’s here where we learn the true heart of God’s style of yoga and it’s here and only here, where we can ever graduate onto movements/years 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 20, with confidence, patience, discernment, understanding, compassion, love, kindness, gentleness and the list goes on. Nothing else can build strength into our lives and give us clearer focus then when our eyes are reaching up to him and our arms are reaching out for him. And it’s only in the ‘up,’ where we discover God’s heart for ‘out.’

Is this hard to do? Yes! Why? Well, a. us humans are not all that flexible, are we? And b. we’re most certainly not all that graceful. It’s only by God’s grace that we could EVER graduate beyond class 5. But as my yoga instructor gently reassured our group in class 1….let me also reassure you in that: it’s perfectly normal to stumble, it’s totally okay to feel like a fish out of water, that grunting and groaning and sweating and shaking are all part of your faith’s growth process, but to continue with the effort cause overtime your muscles will strengthen and relax and those seemingly unimportant movements/efforts will become like second nature – you just have to keep practicing.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
-2 Corinthians 4:18 –

My prayer today is that you were encouraged in your ‘reaching up & out’ journey.

Lots of love,
-The Frolicking Gazelle
(ha ha ha, not so much)
-The Yoga Guru
(not in a million years)
-The normal girl just trying to live out her faith
(yip – that sounds more like it)

☺ Cindy

Cindy Keating – The Blog

Upside Down Living

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Ambition – Jesus never criticized the ambition of his disciples – he re-directed it. He told them, BE GREAT but don’t strive, serve. Whoever serves the best wins.
The way up is down.
Descend into greatness.
Find your SHAPE and make a difference.
Phil. 2:6-8(The Message) “…he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”
There are upside down churches and then there are churches that turn the world upside down.
North Pointe aspires to be a church that turns the world upside down.
James 4:10 – “…humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.”  Small things done with Christ’s love make the biggest difference.

Made for Baking

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Jen Gray has found her “sweet spot” much to the delight of food lovers‘ “sweet tooths.” Jen, the Events Co-ordinator at North Pointe, is using her SHAPE to create one-of-a-kind, edible architecture. She was recently featured in the St Albert Gazette.
Her love of creating ultimately helps her friends and clients celebrate important occasions in their lives.
Jen decorated her first sheet cake in Grade 6. In Grade 9 she was raising money for a field-trip to Vancouver.  She baked two character cakes and put them in the teachers’ staff room with business cards. The cakes were about $12 and she raised about $400, enough to pay for the trip.
By the time she was 15, she challenged herself by entering a decorated cookie contest for the Festival of Trees, fashioning a three-dimensional scene with Santa coming down a chimney. She beat the professionals.
And in the 2010 Festival of Cakes, she entered a SpongeBob Christmas and a Hogwarts castle complete with working lights in the professional cake category. She won gold for SpongeBob and a bronze for Hogwarts.

Jen is the chef behind North Pointe’s monthly lunches for seniors. She puts together a variety of nutritious and delicious meals for our Primetimers. Jen also serves the staff at North Pointe with breakfasts and the occasional luncheon. Everything she makes is our FAVOURITE.
Jen truly is an example of a believer who uses how God SHAPEd her to deliver happiness.  To see more of her work go to www.overthetopcakes.ca

Reaching Out made a Difference for Me!

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Reflecting back on my past I sometimes wonder what would’ve become of my life if someone hadn’t reached out to me and shared Christ. I clearly wouldn’t have been a Music Pastor and my value system at the time would’ve caused me to make decisions that I wouldn’t choose today. Would I have gone to post secondary school? Would I have been working at a job I despised? Would I be married and have children? Would I have been a mess because of poor choices. Would I have blamed circumstance and problems in my life on others and been paralyzed in life by feeling sorry for myself. Would I have been aimless? Would I have been wondering about the meaning of life or what happens when I die??
I believe that I would have made bad choices, blamed problems on everything but myself, been aimless, ignored questions of the meaning of life, scoffed at an afterlife but secretly scared by it.
I believe that because I was that until someone had the courage to share the love of Christ with me. There wasn’t any divine direction, or supernatural occurance that caused my friend to share Christ with me. There was a care in his heart for me. A friendship that developed that caused him to share the most important aspect of his life with me.
Imagine if he didn’t share Christ with me. Imagine if he didn’t think I would do anything with what he shared with me. Maybe he thought I might say no when he invited me to his youth group for the first time. What if he thought he didn’t have the time to become my friend. I owe my life today to a friend that took the time to reach out and share the love of Christ to me. His name is Iain Macfarlane and I bless him today.
Because someone reached out to me “ I have a hope, I have a future, I have a destiny, that is yet awaiting me, My life’s not over, a new beginnings just begun, I Have A Hope” – Tommy Walker
Sean

More!

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There must be more!

This longing of the heart expresses a deep question of purpose-“Isn’t there more to life than this?” Thankfully, the answer is “yes there is!’ However, this hunger will not be filled by chasing selfish ambition, but by living in relationship with God and service to him.

Seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? We want more, so we give what we have to God. How does that work? St. Augustine is quoted as saying about God “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” The ache of restlessness can only find comfort, peace and fulfillment in Christ.

I am thankful that when God made us that he put right into our DNA a desire to do good things (Ephesians 2:10). These good things are the choices we make, the words we say, and the actions we take in our ordinary, everyday lives. There is more…we were created to make a difference. Don’t wait to do something extraordinary-make the most of the ordinary with Christ at the center and heart of your life.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” Matthew 6:33.

Just One Life

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Rebekah came into this world as a fragile 2lb 11oz baby girl, born as the fourth child into a family already challenged by financial pressures and a paradox of love & violence. Her mother’s pregnancy, distraught by a fall and multiple hospitalizations, resulted in Rebekah’s premature birth. The emergency C-section delivered a tiny, fragile 2lb 11oz baby girl with her own set of complications. Each day that she survived was a victory, but also brought more issues to be addressed. By the time Rebekah was 18 months old, she had the diagnosis of “spastic-quadriplegic cerebral palsy,” and was now the child of a single mother. During the next 2 years, it became apparent that a motorized wheelchair would be a vital part of this happy toddler’s life.

Rebekah joins Nick Vujicic of “Life Without Limbs” in an interview about her choice to trust and praise God in the midst of a very dark time in her life.  Then she tries sky diving!  Watch…listen…be inspired.

http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/mediaroom/rebekahs-story

Reach Up and Out

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I’m sure that by now we have all had quite our fill of shoveling snow and chipping away at ice. As frustrating as the many ‘dumps’ of snow have been this winter, maybe for you it has opened doors to reach out and help your neighbors.
My story begins on a VERY snowy weekend in January. It was 11:30 on a Saturday night and I was spending some time ‘reaching up’ to the Lord before going to bed. It was then that I felt the Lord speak to me saying, “Jeremy, now it’s time for you to reach out. Look out your window.” As I gazed out my window, I saw a car stuck in the snow with smoke all around and its tires were spinning, but it wasn’t moving anywhere.
I will be entirely transparent here and let you know that initially I did not necessarily want to leave my 22 degree house at 11:30 at night to endure -40 degree weather outside to try and reach out to someone in need, not even being certain that I could help them by myself. Nevertheless, I walked outside with a shovel on my shoulder towards this husband and wife in their stuck car, and I was able to reach out to them.
What a life-giving experience to give up yourself and your preferences to help someone else in need in such a simple yet profound way. After helping them, the wife turned to me with such a puzzled look and said, “thank you so much, sir!” She could not understand why some random stranger would leave their house at 11:30 at night in -40 weather to help someone else.
Philippians 2:4 says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Be encouraged this week and spend some time reaching up to God and then take a moment to lay down your own interests in order to take an interest in someone else by reaching out to them.
I promise you won’t regret it!
Jeremy