Ruthann's March Prayer UPdate Learning to Pay attention

Dear friends and family,

Snow and sun. Fog and rain. Breezes and clouds. Although called "winter", we have experienced nearly every season in one. One thing has remained constant throughout this season- its consistent unpredictability. There is a feeling of spring in the air, and it seems that everyone prematurely puts away their jackets, busting out the t-shirts and flip flops, forgetting that it is still very much winter. Within 24 hours, the parkas are necessary once again. Not unlike the season we presently find ourselves in, life and ministry have taken on similar characteristics. Grasping for the known and anticipated, it can be exhausting to embrace the disappointment of yet another change or shift. I long for normalcy, predictability. Well, I guess I desire things I can control and manage. Despite crying out at times for the Lord to help me make sense of life at present, the word that I continue to get is simple: "Pay Attention".

Instead of fixating on what is missing, on what I "should be doing", He is inviting me, like Moses, to "turn aside and see this great sight" (from Exodus 3:3). Instead of holding tightly to what life should be like, I am choosing to have my eyes opened, my ears listening, my heart ready to receive and a mind resolved to obey. I want to "Pay Attention" to what God is doing, what He is saying, where He is leading. I want to be fully present to Him, fully alive. It's a simple way of living, but one that seems to be so difficult to embrace. However, if I choose to pay attention, it doesn't matter the weather, the circumstance, the relationship, the struggle because He IS IN IT! He's present, and wanting to show Himself that I may know Him and make Him known.

May you also be able to pay attention. Instead of complaining about what is not or what should be or what could be, may you be able to embrace what He is doing and partner with Him in it! May you be able to see His heart at work, His mind active, His hand moving, and that you will be able to turn aside and join Him!

Grandma and Growing Girl sharing brunch together at my house. (Photo cred: Five Year Old Faith-Little Lady that I love)

Thanksgiving:

  • ICO's Afterschool Program (ASP) has started! There have now been THREE, and although a small rather chaotic start, there is much to be thankful for! A core group of kids is establishing, leaders are bonding with the kids and there is growing potential for more opportunities to engage the community. The leaders are ESPECIALLY something to write home about-leaders that I am especially passionate about as they are equally at-risk as they are capable, making them PERFECT for their role!
  • The Drop-In Youth Program has now started on Friday night including games, basketball and a shared meal, followed by a Creative Arts program for those desiring to engage in the arts. It is being spear-headed by two former leaders in UPT, and are passionate stepping into their role with great anticipation and excitement. Their hearts are SO invested in creating a safe, healthy and life-giving space where youth can be free and have an alternative to "regular" Friday night activities.
PA Day Brunch making with some of the youth. Egg crackin', bacon fryin' and pancake flippin'.

Community:

  • Heartache and pain seems to be an undertone of our community at present. An elementary school teacher passed away after a very short fight with cancer. A youth in the neighborhood got shot and is healing. Another one is on house arrest for possessing a fire arm. Another is being trafficked in a sex ring. She was home for a short time after having been missing for nearly seven months, but it did not last. As of last week, she is gone again. Pray. We are broken. Pray for their families. Their mamas. Their sisters and brothers. Their friends. This community.
  • Pray that the Church at large will unify for the sake of this community, being present and acting truly as the hands and feet of Christ. My youth girls that I do Bible study with are frustrated by the lack of response at times from the congregation, and desire for all to truly be the Body of Christ working for His kingdom to bring love, care, compassion and healing to a broken world.
  • Angry Boy (the one who lost his big brother in November) is still struggling. It is his birthday month-please pray that as he steps into a new year of life, he would truly discover and know how valuable and precious his life really is!
  • Pray for reconciliation between some of the youth that have severed relationships. Pray that the forgiveness, humility and grace of Christ would flood their hearts so it can overflow to each other and to their group of friends that is so impacted by the erosion of the friendship.
  • Pray for true discipleship. Pray that children and youth and families would truly surrender to the truth of the Gospel, stepping from death into life, into truest transformation that is fruit-producing and life-giving! And that they would "go and do likewise", picking up their crosses and dying daily.
  • March Break is fast approaching. UPT is having a March Break Camp "Camp Hollywood" based from the book of Daniel. We are looking at the Problem of Sin and the Rescue Mission of Jesus, the Solution found in Him! Pray that the children will be open to the truth of the Gospel, ready to receive the Solution in Christ, letting Him be the One they model their lives after! ICO is planning on also having a shorter March Break (UPT is sharing all of our planning and resources to support them). Pray that God would lead them as they seek to continue what the Lord has started. Pray for provision with staff, resources and passion to do whatever they are called to do!
Sammy (one of my housemates) and I adventuring in our homeland, Toronto, on Family Day!

Personal

  • I received my acceptance to Redeemer University! I am going to Teacher's College in Hamilton this fall! CRAZY! Please rejoice with me in this news, and also pray for me in this transition. Although I love Hamilton, am excited about school and all that is in store, I am also struggling deeply to let go of my life, ministry and community here in Toronto. Pray that the Lord would lead me through this transition until the end of May-saying goodbye, finishing well and saying hello to the new world. Pray for the practical aspects-finances, housing (both providing someone to replace me in my home now and where to live in Hamilton), potentially a vehicle, community, ministry etc. Your partnership means the world to me through this time!
  • I continue to be on a health journey, still struggling with my sleep and thus working with doctors and naturopath on getting to the bottom of the struggle. I have sleep apnea (though on the lower end of severe) and have started using a CPAP. It's weird. But praying that I will keep learning what Jesus is teaching me through this season. I know that it is a rich and undeserved blessing that I have the provision of healthcare, and praying that I will be a good steward of my health (and access to healthcare) and body for His kingdom purposes!
  • I would "pay attention" to what Jesus is doing, what He is saying and what He is calling me to do. I want to live in radical dependence and radical obedience, but that can only come if I am paying attention and truly listening! Pray that I would be attuned to His voice by practicing His presence, communing continuously regardless of shifting and changing circumstances!
Point of clarity on my life: I will be remaining with UrbanPromise Toronto until the end of May. Please consider financially giving as I continue passing the baton onto the community. UrbanPromise Toronto continues to seek to see a generation of young people from Toronto Community Housing loving Jesus and serving their community. Through a Leadership Pathway from ages 5 to 25, UPT is taking up the challenge of intentionally journeying through the process of discipleship specifically in some of the most at-risk neighborhoods in the city. Please consider being a part of this kingdom work, especially through these months as I finish my season of ministry here. (Photo cred: Five Year Old Faith)

Thank you for your loving encouragement, prayers, messages, phone calls, letters, cheques and monthly gifts. Your faithfulness, friendship and support keep me grounded and draws me close to Christ as He shows His love through you! May you be able to "pay attention" regardless of how up and down and all around this season may be for you! May you feel the hope of spring that comes in the sun in winter.

Much love, Ruthann

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