Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sophia's Bedtime

One of my favorite moments of the day is at Sophia's bedtime...

It is not because I think, "Oh,  finally, I can put Sophia to bed!"  But it is because at bedtime Felipe and I share a special moment with Sophia.  We end Sophia's day with prayer.
Every night, either I or Felipe pray over Sophia as we lay her down.  We thank God for her life every day - praising Him for who she is, speaking truth and blessings over her life, and praying she will know God in a personal way.

Just last night as I was laying Sophia down to sleep, she looked up at me and smiled as she stared peacefully into my eyes.  This is happening more and more lately and I love it- especially the fact that she is going to bed so well (this was not always the case with her).  Last night, Sophia was so happy to be going to bed and as I stroked her cheek and told her "I love you," I could just see that Sophia was content and resting in the love that I have for her.

How I want to rest in the love of God like my sweet daughter rests in mine. It's amazing because as I observe my own daughter the Lord teaches me so much about being His child and about His unconditional love.

Last night, during this sweet moment, I had what you might call "a love explosion" and my heart was overflowing with such great LOVE for my daughter.  There was nowhere else in world that I would rather be than right there - praying for my little one, telling her of my love for her and the GREAT love of the Father.

As I left the room, quietly closing Sophia's bedroom door, I suddenly felt a deep conviction of my responsibility as a mother.  I thought about how the words I speak, the choices I make and the life I live powerfully impacts my daughter's life. I also felt the tender call of the Lord to be closer to Him. To live close to Him.  Isn't He always calling us to come closer? To know Him more? That, above all else, is my heart's cry - to know my good Father more...

My prayer last night, and my continual prayer is that as a mother, I would know and fear the Lord.  I pray that from that place of relationship with Him, His love and life would flow from me and positively impact Sophia (and my future sons and daughters). 

As Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."  As I fear the Lord and "act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with my God" (Micah 6:8), I am trusting that the Lord will impart wisdom and grace to me to as a mother, a wife and in all the roles He has called me to...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Stop Human Trafficking

 YWAM Belo Horizonte is throwing an event and YOU are invited!

 The purpose of this event is to celebrate the 25th birthday of YWAM Belo Horizonte and to raise awareness in the area of human trafficking, mobilizing people to bring an end to this injustice occurring in the world today.

This special event includes the following:

September 29th- October 1st
Conference with international speaker, David Batstone (author of the book- Not For Sale), Kevin Austin and the Not for Sale team.
October 3rd - October 5th 
Backyard Academy Workshop - A seminar on how to stop human trafficking, led by the Not for Sale team.

Read more details about how YOU can come to Belo Horizonte, Brazil to participate by clicking here!
My husband, Felipe, is a part of the team of missionaries organizing this event.  Please be praying for them as they have much to do in the next month as they are preparing for this special event.
Recently, I decided to educate myself a little more in the area of human trafficking so I have been reading the book Not for Sale by David Batstone.  In the book, Batstone writes about the current problem of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.  He also tells incredible stories of courageous people who are fighting to abolish this epidemic all over the world.

  Batstone also started the Not for Sale Campaign which, "equips and mobilizes smart activists to deploy innovative solutions to re-abolish slavery in their own backyards and across the globe." Check out their amazing website at: www.notforsalecampaign.org.

I totally recommend reading this book. At moments it is extremely sad and difficult to read, because you are reading true stories of horrible abuse and mistreatment that so many have suffered - many being children and young women.  It is hard to believe that such terrible injustices and slavery is happening in the world today, but it is important to know the truth.  This is happening...

The other day I also came across a short film made by a Brazilian YWAM missionary, Marlon Max, who serves in South Australia.  Max was inspired by the book,  Not for Sale. The film tells the story of a girl who was trafficked into the sex market.  Sadly, this modern day slavery is happening all over the world in both rich and poor countries.  This film portrays the reality well. Take a look...

Listen to this Tape: Short Film
By: Marlon Max

This film is quite strong... It is a wake up call to prayer and action. 
Let's pray for those imprisoned in this life of slavery and learn how we can take a stand and fight against human trafficking.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Brazilian Father's Day!

Today is Father's Day here in Brazil.  Yes, in Brazil Father's Day is celebrated in August not in June, but silly me got the dates mixed up (being different than the US) therefore the Matias Family celebrated Brazilian Father's Day last Sunday. Opps!

In honor of this special day I wanted to share one of my favorite photos of my husband, Felipe, and our daughter, Sophia.  I took this photo (with Felipe's help) while we were on vacation at the beginning of the year.  This photo speaks so much to me...
It speaks of the joy of a Father delighting over his daughter.  It shows a father who loves, who cares, who enjoys being with and spending time playing and interacting with his child.  
It also shows a daughter delighting and trusting in her father.  While we were shooting this photo Sophia was laughing so much and enjoying every moment of Felipe throwing her high into the air.  It brought joy to my heart to see this and I am thankful this precious moment was captured in a photo.

I am encouraged by this photo in so many ways. I am encouraged to trust in my loving Father God more. I want to be joyously carefree and trusting in the strong arms of my Father God, like Sophia is in this photo.  When Father God desires to throw me into the air, I want to trust and enjoy the gift of the adventure He is giving me.

  I am also reminded of important truths when I look at this photo.  I am reminded that my Father God delights in me. He loves me and He even likes me. He enjoys just being with me and making me smile.  He is present. He smiles.  He accepts me in His arms. He is a good Father who loves unconditionally. The Father heart of God is expressed beautifully through this image. 
I am a person who thinks of a song for every occasion. My mind is literally like a radio with music flowing through it all day, so when I look at this photo I am also reminded of  a Brazilian worship song called Te Amo Deus or in English - I Love You God.

Here is a portion of the song in Portuguese and my translation in English... 

 Vou olhar em Teus olhos        I look into Your eyes 
           Vou jogar-me em Teus braços        I throw myself into Your arms   
                        Como criança me gira no ar        Like a child You throw me into the air

                        Este é o instante que eu espero        This is the moment that I am waiting for
       Este é o momento que eu mais quero       This is the moment that I most want
                                        A hora de te encontrar        The time to meet with You, to be with You
To listen to the whole song click here.
To end this post I want to wish my Brazilian husband a very 
HAPPY Brazilian Father's Day!
  Felipe, you are an amazing father that reflects the heart and character of our Father God to Sophia, to me and to many others. Thank you for your love, your example and allowing God to reveal Himself through your life as a father.
You are the BEST!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Who will love me for me?

Just the other week I heard the song  Love Me for Me by JJ Heller for the first time.   This beautiful song brought me to tears.

The lyrics to the first part of the song goes like this...

He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He’s the kid with the story no one would believe
He prays every night, “Dear God won’t you please...
Could you send someone here who will love me?”

Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me?
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love,
What love really means...

 While listening to the song, I began thinking about the lives of the two remaining boys here at the Refuge House, where Felipe and I are working temporarily.  Both boys have sad stories, they face various challenges and do not having family members who are willing or able to take care of them. They both fit the description of "the kid with the story no one would believe."

Have these boys asked the question posed in this song?
  Have YOU?
"Who will love me for me?
Not for what I have done or what I will be become..."

Isn't this what we all want?  We all want to be loved, unconditionally. We don't want to have to earn love. We just want to know real love and to be loved...

The end of the song offers HOPE and speaks of God's amazing and unconditional LOVE.   Only He can fill this deep need in our hearts for love.  As sung in the song, His message for these boys (and to me and you) is this...

"I will love you for you
Not for what you have done or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew..."

Here is the video of this beautiful song.  I pray it touches your heart as it has touched mine...

An Unclear Future...
Over the years, children from the Refuge House have been joyously adopted, returned to live with family members, or received into other shelters.
  Yet, these two boys remain.

   The boys have seen the other children living here at the Refuge House move out and move on - yet they are still here.  I can imagine this being quite difficult for them to process. Maybe they have had the thoughts presented in the song, "Who really cares about me?  Who really loves me for me?"

Due to many reasons the Refuge House is in the process of closing down as a shelter ministry to children with HIV/AIDS. Through much prayer and seeking God's direction, the decision to close the shelter aspect of the ministry was made.

The two boys still living here at the Refuge House will be moving on soon. Where will they go?  This is unsure... Please pray for their future as it is unclear at the moment - whether they will end up moving to another shelter or if they will be received into the home of a loving family.
We are earnestly praying that God will open the doors He has for their lives.  He has a bright future and a hope for them both! Please pray with us that these two boys will also experience the unconditional LOVE of the Father, knowing that He simply LOVES them for who they are... 

We believe and trust that ultimately these two boys are in the great hands of a good, loving and faithful God! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Celebrating the 7th!

 Today, August 7th, Felipe and I celebrate 2 years of marriage!


Something you may not know about us is that on the 7th of every month we faithfully celebrate us, our love, our friendship, our marriage, in some sort of special way.  

We began our relationship on September 7th, 2008 and since then, every month on the 7th, we do something special to celebrate our relationship and God bringing us together.

I can actually remember a few of these days quite vividly...

On October 7th, 2008, Felipe and I were dating for just 1 month, but he wanted to do something special for me to celebrate the first month of our relationship.  He washed my feet and prayed over me, promising to serve me as Jesus teaches us to serve one another in John 13.  I was so overwhelmed and humbled by Felipe's beautiful act of washing my feet,  and I must say that Felipe has fulfilled this promise.  Felipe constantly serves me and shows me the amazing LOVE of the Father through lovingly choosing to put me before himself and serve our family.

Another special night was December 7th, 2008 when Felipe proposed to me.  (You can read our engagement story by clicking here.)
Felipe and I were married August 7th, 2009.  Before the Lord, family and friends we committed our lives to one another and to the Lord.  This was such a special day for us and I was so thankful to have my whole family and two of my best friends (Jessica & Amy) here in Brazil to celebrate with us. (To see more photos of our wedding click here.)

By the next month, September 7th, we were suspicious that I could be pregnant already... and in fact I was.  I was pregnant with a honeymoon baby!

Exactly, nine months after we were married, May 7th, 2010, we celebrated the 7th day of the month in the hospital, as I had just given birth to Sophia Grace. Felipe bought me a dozen of lovely red roses to celebrate.

Our beautiful Sophia was born on May 6th, just one day shy from the 7th.  Felipe always says he is glad Sophia was NOT born on the 7th because that is our day and the 7th of each month is for us!

Since the beginning of our relationship we have celebrated the 7th of each month in all kinds of ways from fun date nights, picnics in the park, love notes posted around the house, quality time together and gift giving!  We often make creative homemade presents for each other and I especially love some of the videos Felipe has made for me. Here is one of my favorite videos that Felipe made earlier this year- I love the way Sophia helped with this video! 
  We have really enjoyed this tradition of celebrating the 7th! We know that it is important to value and invest in our relationship as a couple and doing this at least once a month is a wonderful practice.

Today we are once again celebrating the 7th, celebrating our 2 years of marriage.  We are planning to go out to eat at a nice restaurant, spend quality time together and watch the sunset over the city of Belo Horizonte at one of our favorite parks.  A friend will take care of Sophia for a few hours. (Thanks Beckie!)

I am thankful for all the amazing ways God continually shows me HIS love through my faithful and loving husband.  I am thankful to share this life on earth with him and I praise the Lord for how HE brought us together.  I am especially thankful that Felipe and I also share a common passion and calling to serve in missions and to work with children in need.  

I can testify that God has done immeasurably more than I ever asked or imagined in my marriage and through my relationship with my husband.
I am extremely thankful and very much in love!
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Romans 12:9-10

I love you Luiz Felipe Matias!
Happy Anniversary my Love!