Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Mom Gone Wrong, A Redemptive Prayer

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD
. Psalm 31:24

I wear so many hats it makes me dizzy sometimes.

Bible teacher
academic teacher
time manager
laundry maid
financial analyst
grocery shopper
bargain hunter

Cutting boys' hair at 9:00 PM tonight, after a long day, I couldn't believe the emotional and mental exhaustion. After snipping the last section of hair, I felt empty.

Nothing left to give.

And then they were brushing their teeth--silence was almost mine.

One impulsive son played with a battery-operated toothbrush just for fun, earlier in the day, leaving it on the floor.

Once we found it, I had to disinfect it, delaying my much needed "break".

And I went ballistic. "That's one of the stupidest things you've ever done! You know how expensive batteries are...and how could you leave someone's toothbrush on the floor?"

I felt rushed because it was late, and desperate for alone time. My fault for starting on hair too late; I'm not good at it and it always takes longer than anticipated.

I didn't say I was good at all the hats listed above, just that I had to wear them.

Stupid is a word you should never use while parenting...especially to an ADHD child, because they already feel inadequate half the time. Lack of impulse control and poor judgement are part of their lives until they take their last breath, unless the miraculous happens.


Outside of healing, living with ADHD is a constant begging for grace...on everyone's part.

Hidden learning disabilities are tough. People who look perfectly normal are expected to act perfectly normal. Even I forget sometimes and expect too much.

Expecting too little is as dangerous as expecting too much and finding that balance makes me dizzy.

The more children God gives you, the more exhausted you are at the end of the day. That's not rocket science.

And when God gives you special-needs children, the exhaustion compounds, just as the blessings do.

What to do?

What to do when the circumstances God gifts you with render you a failure?

We have too little support. As in, almost none. My husband's hours are too long. He worked all day today, Saturday, because when Beth goes for surgery in 11 days I'll be in the hospital with her for 23 hours, meaning husband will lose pay as he cares for our other 3 children. He had to make up for that.

Twenty-three hours is not a typical stay for having tonsils and adenoids out, but she's at risk for bleeding due to her arthritis meds, even though she'll take a ten-day break from them before surgery and after.

What to do when you can't possibly wear all the hats well? What to do when you say the word stupid in the context of parenting? What to do when you know your own imperfections sometimes hurt your children, and will continue to?

I may think I'll never say stupid again. My heart may be to never utter it again.

But something else, in the future, will occur at the peak of my emotional exhaustion. Something senseless and wasteful and...well...stupid.

My face will radiate ugly and my words will sting.

It's an ugly truth.

I can apologize.

I already did.

But what more? What more can I do to erase my sins and release well-balanced, loving, giving, thoughtful human beings into a hostile world that desperately needs Jesus? How can I release children who will be Jesus to a hurting, blind world?

I'm not perfect and I can't do this well and some of their memories will be sorrowful ones.

But I want to get this right! For the glory of God I want to get this right.

All is not lost because while I'm not perfect, I can offer something that is. And you can too.


As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem." Isaiah 66:13

Prayers are perfect. They are perfect communion with the Healer and Redeemer and Lover of our soul. And a mother's prayers erase all the bad days.

A prayer is asking for help.
A prayer is acknowledging our failure and His sovereignty and perfection.
A prayer is an act of humility before God.
A prayer is a confession.
A prayer is a heart gone right.
A prayer is a hope, realized.
A prayer is a washing of our soul.
A prayer is a renewed mercy, a renewed grace.

A prayer is the perfect answer to life's every problem. Life's every imperfection and unfortunate circumstance.

Down on our knees, telling our innermost failures and asking that they be redeemed, that the blood of the Lamb would cover them. That God would favor us once again with His radical grace.

Favor me, please Lord, a mother in distress. A mother in over her head. Favor me, favor my children and my husband. Cover us and make something good of our messy lives.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Like the caterpillar wriggles beauty out of the chrysalis, wriggle beauty out of our hearts, Lord.

A metamorphosis of the heart. A total eclipse of brokenness. For your glory.

Always for your glory.

In Jesus name, Amen.

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, June 29, 2013

No More Google Reader after June 30

You've probably heard this somewhere on the net, but just to give you another heads-up, remember that June 30 is the last day Google Reader will be operational. You will have to rebuild your list of favorite blogs if you don't switch before July 1.

My blog sidebar is my "reader" so I don't have many suggestions. However, I do know Feedly and Bloglovin offer a one-click Google Reader Import.



Happy blog reading, friends!


Friday, June 28, 2013

Homeschool and Mother's Journal, June 28

In my life this week:
Our pastor came over on Tuesday night to make us members of the church--something which had to be done for me to work as a children's ministry coordinator. Prior to the meeting we had to take a spiritual gifts inventory and read through the church constitution and statement of faith.

We had such a pleasant time with this young man! At 35 years old, he's the most down-to-earth pastor we've ever had. Most of the congregation is at least 35 or older, so at times that must feel strange to him, but he does a wonderful job.

The first six years in Ohio we had salesman-personality pastors. You know the ones--good with people, but often disingenuous. They say all the right things at the right times, keeping a persona going that's more confident than humble, more calculated than natural.

Our young pastor is so refreshing in comparison. No, he doesn't stand by the door and shake everyone's hand as they leave; that isn't his personality.

It feels wonderful to have finally found a church home here, after leaving a jewel of a church behind in California, which outside of its mega-church size, we really loved.

My husband will help with hospital visits and possibly, in the future, do some pastoral counseling. This is even a pastor who lets other Bible-scholar types preach occasionally, which could mean a thrilling opportunity for my husband, who went to Bible college and a year of seminary. (Pastor gets a lot of sudden kidney stones, for one thing.)

In our homeschool this week:
We do half-days from June to August (followed by 6 weeks off--but they read 5 days a week year round). Half-day means the boys read a novel for 30 minutes, read the Bible, and then alternate between reading another half-hour of non-fiction in science or history. Math is 2-3 times a week, and writing is daily, alternating between dictation and narration. We're short on art samples so ahead of our August 5th portfolio appointment, I'm having them do more art.

Both boys are still reading Johnny Tremain, a revolutionary war novel by Esther Forbes. I happen to think it's a well-written, thoughtful novel, but both boys have complained about it at times.

Some interesting information about this author: She was a historian, not a novelist, and she had dyslexia. She rarely spelled a word the same way twice, and she used dashes as her only punctuation. Apparently quite stubborn, she refused to clean up her copy for editors. The novel persevered through these obstacles, as well as another big one: it was released during World War II.

I find the writing genius, with the character development particularly strong, but the boys don't like her detail-oriented writing style, which makes the novel move slower than it might. I'm making them persevere and I think in the end they'll admit this is excellent literature.

A few months ago we checked out a Kit American Girl movie about the Great Depression. It was outstanding, as are most of the American girl characters and stories. Peter liked these characters in particular, so when he recently stumbled upon a couple Kit American Girl Mysteries, he checked them out. Of course he was sort of embarrassed about it, but I assured him they were fine for boys too.

Many a mom has wished the wholesome American Girl series could be followed up by a similar series for boys, but nothing yet as far as I know. The Kit series has plenty of boys in it, thank goodness.

When a book's main character is a girl, I always tell my sons that reading about wholesome girls helps them recognize wholesomeness--knowledge they'll need when they're ready for courtship.

Two library finds are thrilling my Karl Rove-clone, statistician son: The New Big Book of America, and the Smithsonian Children's Encyclopedia of American History. 9-year-old Paul sits down with these books and keeps saying, "All of this is so interesting!"

Publisher Synopsis: Bright, lively, and informative, this state-by-state guide to America was designed for children ages 9 to 12. Each state is represented by a colorful topographical map accompanied by illustrations and text of the famous people, places, and events that have shaped its history. This comprehensive volume provides a well-rounded look at the United States in a format that's appealing and easy to use.

Front Cover

Publisher Synopsis: Current events discussions are now an integral learning tool in classrooms across the country. With its up-to-the-moment content and engaging style, this major reference book is an essential resource for helping children relate today's news to the events of the past. Focusing on the who, what, when, where, and how, with stunning pictures and a cutting-edge visual style, DK's Children's Encyclopedia of American History is published in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution to present a completely unique survey of the story of America. Featuring more than 1,000 photographs, plus maps, charts, and profiles of famous Americans, the design of the book has been painstakingly considered to pull in even the most reluctant reader.

Things my Paul loves beyond measure are maps and charts and diagrams and statistics. How he can get lost in those! 

In honor of Independence Day, I checked out five Lynne Cheney picture books (Vice President Dick Cheney's wife). She happens to be an acclaimed novelist who loves America. No matter your opinion of her husband, know that she's a wonderful writer with a heart for her country and its children. All product descriptions below are from

We The People: The Story of Our Constitution, by Lynne Cheney

We the People: The Story of Our Constitution   -     
        By: Lynne Cheney

Product Description: Though the Revolution was over, the troubles of this new nation were far from over. The states were squabbling, the country could not pay its bills, and in Massachusetts farmers had taken up arms against the government. Would this new country even survive? Delegates from across the country--including George Washington, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin--gathered in Philadelphia in May 1787. Over the course of the summer, they created a new framework for governing: the Constitution of the United States. Their efforts turned a shaky alliance of states into a nation that would prosper and grow powerful, drawing its strength for centuries to come from "We the people" and inspiring hope for freedom around the world. Recommended for ages 7 to 10.

America: A Patriotic Primer, by Lynne Cheney

America: A Patriotic Primer   -     
        By: Lynne Cheney
Product description: "L is for Lincoln, M is for Madison." Teach your kids the ABCs of American history with this "stars and stripes" book. Lynne Cheney---wife of the vice president---reinforces the godly values, ideals, people, and events that make our country great. Features delightful illustrations and explanatory notes. Ages 4 to 8. 40 pages, hardcover from Simon & Schuster.

Our Fifty States: A Family Adventure Across America, by Lynne Cheney

Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America   -     
        By: Lynne Cheney
        Illustrated By: Robin Preiss Glasser

Product Description:
An endless path of whimsical illustrations will keep kids' (and adults'!) eyes glued to the pages. Following the adventures of a family and their dog around each of the fifty states, they begin in Massachusetts (where the Pilgrims landed) and finish in Hawaii (our newest state), visiting all the major famous sites, people, symbols, and events along the way! With tons of tiny illustrations and captions highlighting the unique features of each state that together comprise America! 72 pages, hardcover.

When George Washington Crossed the Delaware, by Lynne Cheney

When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots  -     
        By: Lynne Cheney

Product DescriptionThis boldly illustrated book captures the danger and bravado of Washington's crossing of the Delaware. Written by vice president's wife Lynne Cheney as a Christmas time story, quotes from revolutionary leaders (with accompanying end notes) and stirring prose bring Washington's story of Continental triumph to life. 40 pages, hardcover with dust jacket and reinforced binding. Ages 4-8.

A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women, by Lynne Cheney

A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women   -     
        By: Lynne Cheney

Product Description: Lynne Cheney and Robin Preiss Glasser collaborated on America: A Patriotic Primer, which captured the imagination of American children and became a national best-seller. Now they turn their hands to A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women and bring the great women of American history to life. Filled to the brim with words and pictures that celebrate the remarkable (although often unmarked) achievements of American women, this is a book to relish and to read again and again.

Mothers, daughters, schoolchildren, generations of families -- everyone -- will take Abigail Adam's words to heart and "remember the ladies" once they read the stories of these astonishing, astounding, amazing American women.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing:
We might head to a local lake beach this weekend, weather permitting. Lake swimming is my children's favorite summer outing, besides the county fair. For my part, I try not to obsess about the dangers of lake swimming, but it's hard when stories about brain-eating amoebas float around. The water shouldn't be over 80 degrees yet, however, so we're probably okay this weekend. We'll invite our friend Dean along; it's hard to keep an eye on four children in the water, by ourselves.

We've been to the Tuesday young learners library program, entailing story time, movement, and story-related craft, and we've been to our twice-monthly speech appointment for the three younger ones.

Why three speech kids in the same family, you ask? I think our tongues are too large. Seriously. The speech teacher thinks this is a possibility as well. If I don't slow down, I easily sound like I have marbles in my mouth when I speak.

My Favorite Things This Week:.
Reading to my kids, the pleasant meeting with the pastor, playing baseball in the backyard with my children, and watching my 4-year-old daughter dance around skillfully, as if an accomplished ballerina. Music and dancing are her favorites, though I don't know if dancing is the best thing for her arthritic knees and left ankle. Her body sure moves with an uncommon grace.

My Kiddos Favorite Things This Week:

Mary, age 6: Catching fireflies, going to my library program, learning to ride without training wheels.

The no-training wheels happened last week, but I was too busy blogging for Compassion (covering their Nicaragua trip for my readers) to do a mother's journal. A neighbor boy with a head for mechanics took off my daughter's training wheels. No one asked me my opinion about this, but that is typical when it comes to the kids' bikes. They try to do all their own bike mechanics, with this 9-year-old neighbor's help. I would have said yes, since of course at 6 she is ready--we just hadn't thought about it and she hadn't asked.

By the time I was done with the lunch dishes, she rode pretty well. By dinner she was a champ! Not on the street yet though, as the back tire promptly went out soon after she learned. We're on the hunt for a 14-inch tire. (It's always something with kids' bikes, isn't it? Our bikes are older so there's some problem almost weekly).

Paul, age 9: Inventing a battleship game with paper and then playing it with my brother; catching fireflies and looking at history books.

Peter, age 11: Catching fireflies, tending to the garden, watching an African cats DVD, playing baseball with Mommy.

Beth, age 4: All the music and dancing, playing with my dolls and my books.

Things I'm Working On:
I'm doing the main teaching for preschool VBS in two weeks, and I don't have my materials yet! Organizational skills aren't the strong point at the church we go to for AWANA and VBS (not our home church). I will be very busy, obviously, the night before each teaching is due; with preschoolers you can never be too well prepared.

I'm trying to work out what combination of exercise tapes and walking I can put together to make up a consistent exercise routine, with homemade weights thrown in. I have a Richard Simmons and something that looks like it was put out by Shape magazine--both from the thrift store so not current, and both never used by me yet.

I'm Cooking:
For dinner this week:
taco bake
shepherd's pie
sloppy turkey joes
omelets, cafe potatoes, and fresh-frozen mixed berries
crockpot whole chicken
grilled chicken
Little Caesar's Pizza (Tuesday, so I could clean the house ahead of Pastor's visit)

I'm Grateful For:
My children's interests and passions, their love and fellowship, the opportunity to disciple them, my husband's hard work and love for his family, good books, our Compassion children's letters, our church family

I'm Praying For:
My children and family, my own heart growth, our neighbors, our Compassion children and their families, my friends and their children, money for a new Internet router. The living-area computer I write on at night while everyone sleeps is completely unreliable as far as the signal goes. The signal originates from the master bedroom, where of course my husband is sleeping when I have time to write.

Getting a new, $500 computer back in February, which we badly needed, did nothing to help our speed and reliability problem. I pass many a frustrated hour with my computer situation, chanting I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me...including handling frustration over poor equipment, gracefully. We have a $29 a month Internet service (no cable or land phone), which is the lowest broadband speed. But that shouldn't result in the wireless signal going out so frequently. We've tried other things, and now we need to replace the router.

Sorry to bore you with all that....

Quote or Link to Share:

Another poem by my favorite poet, Edgar Guest. Have a wonderful weekend, friends! And now it's your turn: What neat things did you enjoy this week?


It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ’preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.

Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ‘em up t’ women good, an’ men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
With anything they ever used—they’ve grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumbmarks on the door.

Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’ when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
O’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.

Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ’come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes’ t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.

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top school image
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On Losing Weight

Nursing Beth for 4.5 years brought us a both a lot of good. I'm so grateful. In the last six months she slowing became less interested and grew to enjoy cuddling as much as nursing, whereas before every cuddling became a nursing.

I expected it to happen this year, since worldwide 4 years old is the average age to self-wean.

The process was so subtle and slow that neither of us are sad about it, thank goodness. The relationship took its full and natural course.

What I am sad about, though, is the loss of the calorie burn nursing affords a mother. I had quite forgotten most of the time that making milk kept me thinner.

I'm up five pounds and I'm eating the same, which is not much. During the peri-menopausal years a woman can expect to gain a pound per year, unless she exercises an hour a day or reduces her calorie intake.

Nutrition has always been an interest of mine and in the past I was an avid exerciser, at one point running six miles a day before my knees suffered. Low-impact gym workouts followed for many years, sans weight machines, but the gym visits stopped after I became a mother.

Walking and hiking took over, but a solid routine never arose as God continued to add to our family and to my responsibilities.

I'm up against some tough hormones and the battle to lose this weight, or at least stay right here, will be difficult and require much discipline. Growing old gracefully is a goal of mine, and perhaps accepting some extra weight might be part of that. I can't be sure though, until I try harder.

My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and it behooves me to do my best in every stage of life, calling on God's grace and strength to help me.

I found 10 habits to avoid and thought you might glean something from them. I'm only listing the habits themselves, so if you want to read the additional information about each habit, you'll have to click on this Livestrong article.

1. Poor preparation (Have healthy foods on hand)

2. Not drinking enough water

3. Not getting enough protein

4. Consuming too many liquid calories (This is why I only drink water and skim milk, and in winter healthy cocoa 3 to 4x week.)

5. Not getting enough sleep

6. Skipping breakfast (I wake up famished most of the time so I never skip breakfast.)

7. Shopping the center aisles at the grocery store (stick to lean meat, whole grains, produce, lean dairy--center aisles have processed food. I eat 7% lean ground turkey, lean turkey sausage in pasta, white meat chicken from a baked chicken, and skim milk. I do use colby-jack cheese in casseroles 1x week. We only buy 100% whole wheat bread, and I eat 2-4 slices a day between breakfast and lunch.)

8. Poor record keeping (Write down everything you eat to uncover your worst habits.)

9. Not lifting weights (I've never liked weights, but I'll have to find substitutes I can use at home.)

10. Throwing in the towel (If you make a mistake, bounce back by the next meal; don't give up.)

Your turn. What works for you, and have you gained weight in your forties, despite eating the same amount?


Monday, June 24, 2013

A Goat, Some Pigs, and a Devotional

How would we feel if the President of the United States needed our help or expertise with something? What if he called on the phone and said, "We really need your help and we'll provide you with everything you need. Consider your resources endless."

No matter our political party, we would be amazed, along with our family and friends.  Beyond excited.
The most powerful person in the world needs my help!

We might even consider it the most significant experience of our lives.

Well...guess what? It's already happened to every Christian!
Someone even more famous has asked you to work for Him.

The Lord Jesus Christ.

And friends, we should be ecstatic! We get to work for Jesus. Hallelujah! We get to love in His name. We get to.

When He says FOLLOW ME, he means serve with me. Come alongside and learn of me. Do what I do. Feel what I feel. Love like I love. Weep for what I weep for.

Mark 9:35
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 

Philippians 2:6-7
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 

Let's empty ourselves of us. Let's get excited about the work God has before us. We get to work with the Lord Jesus Christ, the most significant person in all history.
And later, we get to reign with Him!

How can we ever be melancholy when we have an eye for eternity? When we remember our lineage, our coming reign? What's there to be frustrated about when we get to wake up each day and work for God? We get to!

If we haven't thought about eternity in the last week, we need a spiritual remake. Our mindset should not be here and now, but there. Not comfort and beautiful things all around us here, but the rewards and treasures waiting for us there.

In the meantime, we get to work for God. How glorious is that?

Prayer Time:

Dear Heavenly Father, You are an awesome God. Your gifts are infinitely more than we could ever ask for, and certainly more than we deserve. You are a gracious, faithful God. You knew us before we were born. You have plans to prosper us and not harm us, to give us a hope and a future. You give us the privilege of working for you...loving through you, showing mercy and grace through you, being your hands and feet to those who have no hope. Thank you for these privileges. Help us to remember how blessed we are, and what a miracle it is that you would even want our you don't even need. You want us by your side, like the father who asks his son to hold the screwdriver, and the mother who asks her children to put in the flour and sugar. You really want our fellowship, our presence. You love us tenderly and what a wondrous gift that is. Help us to be faithful servants, learning of you, Our Master. Helps us to live for you. May we never stop being excited about that privilege. Help us to live with an eternity mindset, remembering that this life and its difficulties are but a vapor. You have prepared glorious rooms for us in Your House. and we will be there soon!Thank you, Father! Helps us to practice thanksliving, knowing you have already conquered all.

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen

Giving Thanks Today
Thank you, Father, for these blessings and graces:
~ That often when my ADHD son has one of those downward-spiral emotional outbreaks, a goldfinch appears at the feeder next to the window, or a cardinal lands on the fence near our sunroom/dining room, or a chipmunk comes out of hiding. The lights go on in our hearts, and my son smiles, or I smile and we look at each other. We know it was a gift, a grace, from the Lord. The Lord saying, "I know of your difficulties and I am present with you. Loving you."
~ A pleasant visit with pigs and goats at our friend's parents' house.

 ~ I'm thankful for an object lesson for my kids that I couldn't have put together myself, re money management. For three years we had a sturdy kiddy pool with a small slide but at the end of last summer it began leaking. We considered replacing it to help the kids fight the heat and humidity, but then the water bill came. $147! (Why was our California water bill under $70 even during daily summer watering, and here in Ohio where the rain waters for us, it's always well over $100? I don't get it.)
We told the kids water play wouldn't be a regular thing here this summer, and we wouldn't be replacing the kiddy pool. For days they've been grumbling. And then the neighbors, the ones with only a part-time job, no vehicle, and on food stamps and section 8 rent help, couldn't pay their electric bill and their electricity got turned off. (I called my church to seek help from the benevolence fund for them, for the sake of their four kids, and also to possibly get financial counseling from one of our deacons for them).
It was hard explaining to my children that if we mismanaged our money, something would get turned off or the mortgage wouldn't get paid. This wasn't the first time a utility was turned off for these neighbors, who have yet to drop their cable TV, their fancy phones, their dogs or their cigarettes. This time their kids were pretty's one thing after another over there. 

For a few years I was without a vehicle during the day, but never without one entirely. Maybe they consider the TV part of their sanity? Since I haven't walked in their shoes I'm trying not to judge, but it's hard. They come here about 4 times a week for sugar, milk, or something. Their food help doesn't last long enough because they don't know how to budget grocery money and they don't cook from scratch. Lots of needs and our heart is to help, slowly, as they learn to trust us. Our own humility and lack of judgement is crucial in our being able to help, so please pray for the whole situation? I'm concerned the kids aren't getting enough milk, for one. Thank you.)

As much as my kids are still grumbling about the kiddy pool and water play, they understand better, being exposed to the neighbor's difficulties, that management of money is key to keeping stress at a minimum.

 Don't feel sorry for my kids. I don't, because now, the few times a month I will say yes, they will appreciate the sprinkler play more, and doing without will help them better understand our Compassion children's circumstances. If we can't put ourselves in another's shoes, we can't manage adequate mercy, and without denying ourselves it's hard to see any of this at all.

Low-income or modest-income American kids can grow up wanting everything they didn't have as children, and they might spoil their own children to keep them from feeling "poor". I don't want that for my kids. If they do better than us financially I want them to give it away, not clutch it or use it like the culture does. It's a tall order for us to hope for as parents, but with God all things are possible.
Incidentally, Compassion children have a history of giving back to their Child Development Centers, to their own families, and to their communities. They often work with the poor, in fact, after graduating. Though many of them experience success after their tenure with Compassion International, there's no me-centered mentality afterwards. There's just gratitude and thanksliving.
The more we have the more we feel entitled to, and entitlement is a mindset straight from Satan himself. In the Lord we have enough. When Jesus conquered this world He made us rich!
This goat was so sweet, letting me pet him and hug him time and again. I was in heaven! I'm surprised my husband took this picture because he doesn't share mine or Peter's love for farm animals, and I secretly think he dreads Peter's daily prayers for farmland. (I'm not a pet person. I dislike cats and I've rarely met a dog I felt the need to pet, but I'm partial to farm animals for some reason)
 How was your weekend, friends? What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Who Are You Serving?

I've continued to follow the posts from Compassion International's Nicaragua blogging trip.

Traci at Beneath My Heart, shares:

What’s holding you back from sponsoring a child? If you are like me, you are thinking you can’t afford it.

I need to confess something to you. {big gulp}

When I first signed up to go on this Compassion trip, I was told that if I wanted to sponsor a child from Nicaragua, they could arrange it so I could meet him while I was there.

Our family already sponsors a child from Equador for $38 dollars a month, and I knew we didn’t have the money to sponsor another child.

We have a stack of bills we haven’t paid yet for the surgery I had in March. Jonathan and Luke both need braces for their teeth. Cy has just gone into business for himself, and we are tighter than we have been in a very long time.

We just couldn’t afford to sponsor another child.

But you know what we could afford?

We could afford $20 to take the boys to McDonald’s for lunch. And another $20 to take them to the pool. We were also able to afford about $60 for me to get a manicure and pedicure.

And oh yeah! We were able to afford a $60 meal at our favorite restaurant in town just last week.
We also could afford to get our car washed, enjoy DISH network on tv, and support my caffeine addiction to cokes from McDonald’s EVERY SINGLE DAY!

But I knew we just couldn’t afford to sponsor a child in Nicaragua…who sleeps on cardboard boxes for a bed, or whose parents work at a city dump to earn about a dollar a day, or who eats only one meal a day, or only has one pair of shoes.
I want to talk about this a bit because I think it's on everyone's mind anyway.

How much does God want us to sacrifice? How generous are we supposed to be? Should we never eat out? Should we never replace worn furniture? Should we never have our hair colored or our nails done?

Before we discuss splurges, let's talk about faith.

I remember reading the comment section on a grocery-bill savings post recently, where a women shared that her husband makes $41,000 a year and they struggle significantly to make ends meet, though they always meet their tithe. She was asking for help because she felt that God, in his faithfulness, wouldn't want their lives to be so hard. They must be making mistakes, surely, for it to remain so difficult.

First of all, paying your tithe doesn't mean you won't struggle financially. It's not insurance, it's obedience. God will provide for you if you seek his righteousness, which includes being obedient, but he never promises to provide before a need arises. He provides in a way that brings him the most glory. That's His privilege. He gets to do it His way, not ours.

For example, we drove a very old van with well over 200,000 miles on it. We hadn't a clue how we would purchase a newer used van. We had no significant cash and there was no way we could finance a vehicle (nor did we want any debt).

One night last February, after another mechanical problem arose, I was driving back from a grocery run and a women hit my van and totaled it. We looked up the blue book value and figured we'd be lucky to get even $2000 from the insurance company.

But God! We got an incredible amount for some reason. With the money we bought a newer used van for cash, paid some medical bills, sent Compassion gifts, and bought used school curriculum.

All of those needs seemed daunting to us, but God had a plan.

Of course he did!

Why did we have to struggle and not know? Uncertainty is hard, but it doesn't mean something is wrong. It doesn't mean God is displeased with you. All we need is faith--with faith nothing is really a struggle, unless we make it so by taking our eyes off of Jesus.

I think when the woman in the comment section complained that they're struggling on $41,000, she really meant that God too often provided at the last minute, and she didn't like that. That feels like struggle because we want our way and aren't getting it.

God doesn't struggle...we do, and it's a choice.

What does God want from us?

Follow me. It's so simple isn't it, and yet we make it so complicated?

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  

Now let's turn to the topic of splurges. What role should they play in our lives, if any?

Let's analyze what splurges are really about, to start.

What is eating out mainly about? It's about being served.

What is having your nails or hair done really about? They're about being served.

What are vacations mainly about? Being served.

What is having the car washed really about? Being served.

What is having the latest fashions really about? Looking good externally.

What is having new furniture really about? Looking good externally.

What is having colored hair mainly about? Looking good externally.

Jesus served. He was all about serving others and denying himself.

What did he care about most, in regards to people? Their hearts...the inner part.

If we spent less time running around chasing the external, and more time on the heart, we wouldn't struggle so much with what's expected of us. We'd just know.

The question is not really how much should we give, or how much should we sacrifice. It's this: What should my life be about?

Service. Not being served, but serving. Not keeping up with the Joneses, but loving your neighbor.

If we spent our time serving others as we should, we wouldn't have all this time on our hands to serve ourselves. How we spend both our time and money is a window unto our hearts.

Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money

If you have some Joneses in your life, drop them. Whatever friends are influencing you to be consumers (to consume is to serve yourself), rather than servers of Christ, drop them.

Look for authentic followers of Christ. People who serve others; people who, while still neat and clean, are not concerned with the external. These people will not be impressed with your hair, your nails, your splurges. They will not compete with you, nor encourage you to compete with them. They are not addicted to themselves, but to Jesus.

Look for those who would further your spiritual growth, not stunt it. Following Jesus also means following those who are like Him.

How much should you much should you sacrifice?

First, follow Him...then the answer will reveal itself.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

God loves a cheerful giver, because a cheerful giver is a Christ follower.

Prayer time: 

Dear Heavenly Father,  We thank you for this blogging trip we've followed. It has sharpened us Lord, and we needed it. First-world values get into our veins and we get off track. May our hearts and heads follow you, Jesus. May our schedules be about time with you, and serving others. May we be your hands and feet to a hurting world. May we take pleasure in you, not in ourselves. Make us cheerful givers who can't stop pouring out your love to the needy and to the lost. Help us to choose our friends wisely and be Jesus models to those around us. Help it to be about our hearts, not our external.

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen

Friday, June 21, 2013

Stories of Hope, Day 2 (Compassion International in Nicaragua)

Compassion trip to Nicaragua 2013
Compassion International photo, shared on Life in Grace on June 20, 2013

This kitchen belongs to Diana, Edie's sponsored child (Edie blogs at Life in Grace).

Diana lives in this house with her mother, father, and two sisters. Edie was especially impressed with Diana's father, who unlike many men, chooses to stay with his family.

Tragically, fathers in abject-poverty families often don't stay; the pressure is too great. They feel hopeless and too defeated to cope long-term.

Edie shares her impression of Diana's exceptional father:

From Edie at Life in Grace  From the moment I met him, I adored him. She is the first child I’ve met with a father in the house. And her father loves her. That does something permanent to a little girl’s heart. He works everyday, collecting and selling recycled trash, doing his best to support his wife and three daughters. He pilfers through junk and waste and brings it back to their home to clean it up and see what can be salvaged. I told him that I was so proud of him— for taking such good care of his family, for loving them enough to go to work for them everyday, for walking his daughters to school, and for saying yes when Compassion offered to enroll his daughters in the program. I thanked him for not giving up and for having the courage to stay.

Compassion trip to Nicaragua 2013
Compassion International Photo, shared on Life in Grace, June 20, 2013

When a child is registered at a Compassion center they receive food and money for school, even before they're chosen by a sponsor. Just being registered makes things immediately better for these families. Edie just recently sponsored Diana, so things will begin to improve even more for this family.

Edie shares this about Diana:

She lives in a ramshackle lean-to with no indoor plumbing and cardboard for a bed. But she is home. She is surrounded by parents who love her and who are giving all they have, day in, day out, against all odds. Their little shanty isn’t water proof and they hope that someday they will be able to do some repairs so that the girls don’t get wet when it rains. They have hopes and dreams, that it won’t always be like this. They want a better life for their girls but they are a family and we were so blessed by their commitment to each other.

Now that she knows, I'm sure Edie will send a family gift to have the roof repaired. Family gifts and birthday and Christmas gifts are not required from sponsors; they are money sent above and beyond the $38 a month it takes to sponsor a child. Family gifts can amount to no more than about $2000 a year, so as not to create dependency. Birthday and Christmas gifts are also limited, with a much lower cap.

But when sent, monetary gifts (you can't send material goods) change a child's circumstances in amazing ways. One of our correspondent children, Raphael in Burkina Faso, obtained a new roof with a family gift we sent in 2012. It wasn't much, but now there's no water leaking into the home, which is huge, as you might imagine.

A correspondent child, by the way, is a Compassion child you write to, but do not sponsor. Their own sponsor either won't write to them, or can't write, such as when a large company sponsors many children. We have two correspondent children and one sponsor child, but we love them the same, of course. Each has made our lives far richer.

Another of our correspondent children, Divya in India, received a birthday gift from her sponsor, with which they bought a water filter for clean drinking water. How huge is that? I believe such filters are about $50 each.

Compassion is involved in how gift money is spent, with the decisions being made after a home visit and assessesment of the family situation.

Our sponsored child, Nelson from El Salvador, usually buys food with our smaller gifts, but once they bought a large mattress, leading me to believe that perhaps they previously slept on cardboard or wood slates. Unfortunately, unless you visit your sponsored child, you never learn a great deal about their living situation. It isn't something they detail for you in their letters.

But most of the time, their circumstances look like what you see in these pictures, with Kenya and Haiti being perhaps the worst. Compassion children are all in abject-poverty situations.

Once Kristin Welsh of We Are That Family, after receiving an author's book advance from her publisher, sent $250 to all of her sponsored children. In Kenya, one of her sponsored children's family used the money to buy a booth and start a small-scale sundry-market business, leading to them eating more than one meal a day at home for the first time. Other families used the money for a goat or a cow, to provide milk for the family.

If you sponsor a child, God will provide you the money for gifts. Trust me on this. He only asks for your obedience.

Christy at Southern Plate shares her day-2 home visit experience:

We met a wonderful lady who lives with her aunt and three sisters. Together, they are raising 8 children who are incredibly well loved and taken care of. I’ve never seen kids with such manners and kindness. Daisy is a merchant by trade, packaging spices and seasonings into small bags each evening to go sell on the streets in the early hours of the morning. On very good days, she makes the equivalent of about $6.00 and then comes home to care for her children and nieces.

Despite Daisy's hard work, this family only gets one meal a day at home, prepared in the evening. The team also learned that Daisy struggled to pay school fees for 7-year-old Roxanna, who wants to be a doctor. Sometimes Roxanna had to take a month off school so the family could use the school-fee money for food.

Now, Compassion pays Roxanna's school fees.

 Kelly at Faithful Provisions shares this about Daisy and Roxanna:

How terrible would it be to have to make the choice between food on the table and an education for your children? An eduction that would end the cycle of poverty?

Guess what? Daisy no longer has to make that decision. Her prayers have been answered because someone said “yes”. Someone thousands of miles away listened to the call in their heart and said “yes”.

They sponsored Roxanna.

Since a sponsor said “yes” it has changed not only Roxanna’s life, it has changed her families life. She doesn’t just have hope, she has a fighting chance at becoming a doctor someday. Yes, that is what she told me she wants to be.

A doctor.

It’s hard to imagine that such a small sacrifice on my part, doing without fast food once a week, drinking coffee at home every now and then, just $38 a month, money that I may not even notice, can make the dreams of a child and a mother’s heart come true.

Christy at Southern Plate shares:

The pastor at the center we were at today said “Many countries just want to receive the fish. Here, we want to teach them to fish for themselves, that is what we are doing for these children when we educate them”

And that is what Compassion does. They nurture kids in more ways than one, but the goal is to nurture them as completely as we can.

There are four facets of nurturing that every sponsored child receives:

Social/Emotional nurturing – Compassion works to ensure children feel loved and valued by helping in many ways, such as offering therapy to the child if needed, and even helping adults in that child’s family learn to restore relationships.

Education - In many countries, education is very difficult to come by. In Nicaragua alone, 4 out of 5 children never go to school. This is mostly due to parents not being able to afford it. Compassion works to make sure children in the program receive an education. In fact, it is required that they be educated while in the program. They do this by providing money and supplies for school, school uniforms in countries that require them, tutoring, and in some cases even providing the school itself.

Physical - Compassion children receive healthcare, clean drinking water, and even nutritious food and nutrition education. Any one of these things would be considered a blessing beyond measure by one of these families so I can’t even imagine how grateful I’d be if I were a mother in these mother’s shoes and had this provided for my child.

Spiritual – We are all lost. Compassion makes sure every child in the program knows of the love of God for them and has an opportunity to choose to follow where He leads. Children are not required to become Christians to be a part of or remain in the program, but they live each day receiving all of these wonderful things and knowing it is in the name of God.

And that is what Compassion does with your sponsorship money of only $38 a month. The tear down walls separating these children from their dreams.

More stories of hope coming your way tomorrow....time for me to get a good night's sleep. These trips are exhausting from a blogging standpoint, but I wouldn't change a thing. I love Compassion International and I love sharing what happens when the Faithful show up and act like Jesus.

Hope is born, for just $38 a month.

Thank you for showing up. Thank you for reading. Thank you for sponsoring and spreading the word. And please, share stories in the comments about your own sponsor children and how they've blessed you.

Sponsor a child here.

Follow all the blog posts from the week's trip here.

View all the photos from the week here

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Radical Living, Radical Grace

Okay, so I already posted today, in the wee hours. But there's something more to say after I read dear sister Ann's post.

Do you know, at the same time the Compassion team is in Nicaragua, Ann Voskamp and her daughter, Hope, are in Uganda? Compassion is doing a story on Ann's sponsored child there.

Here are highlights from Ann's post today:

"Dear North American Church,
After a Sunday morning in Africa, you don’t look the same to me.
You look hungry.

Hungrier than anything I’ve seen in Africa.

Because after I watched that Ugandan woman?
That one woman with no shoes and no husband and 7 kids, walk up to the front of the church and put this bag of beans into the basket as her love offering to God – my heart ached this raw conviction and I could feel it with you, North American Church, what you really wanted:

You’re hungry to love like this. You are hungry for the uncomfortable.
You are hungry to sacrifice your Starbucks coffees, your NetFlix subscription, your dinners out for something More. You’re hungry for more than vanilla services, and sweetened programs, and watered down lives.

You’re famished for More, for hard and holy things, for some real meat for your starved soul, some real dirt under your fingernails, some real sacrifice in your veins – some real Jesus in your blood and in your hands and in your feet."

This is the thing...we need to be hungry for Jesus. From that hunger we find the love, we find the sacrifice to do His work here. To be His representatives, to prove to the hurting that Jesus is alive! You are not forsaken, not forgotten. I am His servant and I am here for you. Take my extra and live

A hunger for Jesus. That's what we need to open our hands not a little, but all the way. Does God give a finite amount? No. He satisfies us, always.

We can give it all and not be hungry, but full.

In the same post Ann writes:

When that Compassion teacher stood under that tree on a Sunday morning and told the kids dressed up in not a whole lot more than tattered rags, “God lets us all give just like the widow’s offering,” he was smiling like he swallowed the infamous, original canary. He couldn’t stop laughing giddy:
“You don’t have to wait to have more, you don’t have to wait to have much, you don’t have to wait at all.”

And I’m looking into the eyes of all these African children, all these hungry, dancing eyes and the Compassion teacher’s literally dancing under the tree: “You all get to give!” It’s not just the rich who get to give – it’s all those who give who get to be rich.

You don’t wait until you have more before you give to God – you give now so you get to become more in God. The children are all smiling and singing and there’s all this light coming like dappled deliverance through the leaves.

“Bring your only mango to Jesus,” the Compassion teacher’s waving his hands in extravagant joy.

It’s not having much that makes you rich — it’s the giving much that makes you rich. Give and you are the rich.

And I’m sitting under a tree in Africa with the richest in the world and it’s not Bill Gates and it’s not Warren Buffet and it’s not Mark Zuckerman and it’s not the family with 2 cars, a flat screen television and one week at Disney.

It’s a bunch of kids in Africa in ripped shirts and torn shoes, who have no knives or forks and sleep on floors. It’s only the people who give sacrificially who get to live richly.

Friends, it doesn't take the right math. When we sponsored our Nelson 20 months ago, we did so knowing it would make my husband short on vehicle gas that week. He would make it to payday only by the grace of God.

He made it. And we've never missed a Compassion payment. We don't have health insurance, we don't have life insurance. We never take vacations or drive more than 45 minutes away. The budget is too tight. We rarely pay for entertainment. We only buy thrift store clothes. We don't buy steak but once or twice a year. I've never stepped foot in a Starbucks (okay, I don't drink coffee,) and I don't remember what the inside of a movie theatre is like. I borrow movies from the library for free.

None of this has to do with giving to Compassion, but more that my husband works a low-wage job.

My hormones change things a little a few days a month, but most of the time I love my life and I wouldn't trade. I wouldn't trade. Having little is a blessing you can't understand until you're there. I am blessed to be living this life...this one right here.

I assure you if you lower your standard of living considerably, you won't be miserable. You will know a joy deeper than your plenty ever afforded you.

If God has blessed you with much, know this: it's only a blessing if you give it away. Heck, you can give away more than you have, and watch it multiply until it is enough. You can give away your last food, and still be fed. Sound too radical? Sound preposterous and irresponsible?

Tell that to the Ugandan teacher under the tree in Africa, who laughs giddy at the miracle of it all.

Sponsor a child here. Nobody does it better than Compassional International. If you read the posts from this week, you will see that. They are God's representative...the hands and feet of Jesus. And you, with your letters, are the heart that says, "Dear Child, You and your life matter. I love you and Jesus loves you. He has great plans for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future".

He is Holy

Dear friends, we continue our coverage of Compassion International's Blogging Trip to Nicaragua.

Day two posts were not up when I began writing, so today I present a message from the Lord himself. Yes, I'm pretty sure I heard His voice.

As I mentioned yesterday, the bloggers visited the trash dump where families forage for hours digging through trash, hoping to find recyclables worth less than $1 a day. One of the trip bloggers, Edie from Life in Grace, wrote:
"I was so haunted by the metaphor of this trash heap, by the decay, the smell and the hopelessness of it all. This is what separation from Christ feels like. This is Gehenna. This is hell on earth."
Man was created in the image of God. We were precious to Him, even as we smelt of decaying trash. While we were sinners, Christ died for us. He didn't ask us to leave the trash dump and get cleaned up first.

We were that precious; He loved us at our worst. Life itself was that precious to Him.

And it should be precious to us. Love your neighbor as yourself, saith the Lord. Whatever we need, we should also desire for our neighbor.

In light of this, what does God think about the trash dump and all the foragers who must work there?

He is grieved. 

And angry, too? Is God angry at these circumstances?

My goal when presenting world poverty is to season every post with gentleness and humility. I'm not there yet and that bothers me; the posts don't seem gentle, but rather preachy.

Okay, really preachy.

I prayed to God that I'd do a better job with this tonight. My mind contemplated it all day, through the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the bandaids, the laundry, the baths.

My dilemma is this: there are two sides to God's character. To present truth, then, is to present both sides of who He is.

He loves us inexplicably. He's gentle, gracious, forgiving, warm, comforting. He's given us beautiful, life-giving prose in Psalms and solid wisdom in Proverbs. So many gifts and so much glory and beauty flow from Him and through Him.

That is one side of God--the side of Him that loves us, sustains us and redeems us.

The other side of His character has to do with His Holiness. This is a side often ignored, to our detriment.

For example, I have a relative visiting for the Fourth of July who professes to be a Christian, but is living with someone, out of wedlock. This is not a problem for her; she seems happy in fact.

Is she really a Christian? Were we fooled all this time? We knew she held liberal stances on many issues but this lifestyle change was still a shock. And now we have a responsibility, as fellow Christians, to redirect her, gently, during the visit. It would be more comfortable to ignore the sin, but we can't. We must give her the truth of the Word and remind her that she can't pick and choose what she likes from the Bible, because a Holy God demands obedience.

A Holy God possesses wrath.

Random House Webster College Dictionary has this to say about wrath: 1. stern or fierce anger; deep indignation; ire 2. vengeance or punishment as the result of anger.

I know better than to tell you if you spend too much on yourself and don't have any left to help the poor, God's vengeance will get you. This wouldn't help you want to change.

I can't change any hearts...not even my own. A new heart is a work of grace alone.

But I can remind you, and myself, that there are two sides to God's character. His Holy side will hold us accountable on Judgement Day for how we've spent the money that was His to begin with. And for how we've spent our time, which also is his. Since the Cross bought and paid for us, our time is not our own. Our life is not our own.

The Bible says we must help the poor. Like my wayward relative, we can't pick and choose what we'd like to obey in the Word.

Obedience in this area may mean no more salon-colored hair. Steak only once a month. Clothes from the thrift store. No new patio furniture. No kiddy pool for the kids. No vacation. Whatever.

The point is, this part of the Word must be dealt with in a sacrificial way. The heart of God in these scriptures is that we sacrifice for each other...that we live the gospel. If the $38 dollars a month to sponsor a child doesn't change your life much, then it isn't a sacrifice and it isn't enough. We give until it hurts to say thank you to God. Because we want to see Him glorified. Because we love Him.

Do you pray the scriptures? The Bible is God telling us: this is the path I want you to take. But we don't automatically get there; we are weak. We can't do it without asking for a change of heart. We have to pray the scriptures.

So let's pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, we love you. Thank you for saving us in our filth. Give us a burden for the poor, Lord. Give us the righteous stance you desire for our hearts. Help us spend less and give more. Help us give until it hurts so we can become more like you. Change the way we view money and time so that we see them as gifts to give away, not entitlements to cling to. Open our fists, Lord. Help us to see beyond our own desires. May we have the faith to act on your Word, knowing our daily bread is secure if we seek first your righteousness. We want to please you, live for you, glorify you. We want to reflect you to a child in need. I pray that each person reading, and my own family, finds room in our hearts for a first, or an additional, sponsor child. Take away every form of evil in our hearts that would prevent us from clicking Sponsor a child. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

God is faithful, friend. If you've never sponsored before, this prayer is the first step. Cling tight to God's promises and let him renovate your heart. In no time you'll be running to your mailbox looking for a Compassion envelope that says: Message from your sponsored child.

That sentence will come to mean sheer joy to you, believe me. Obedience brings joy.

Sponsor a child here.

Follow all the blog posts from the week's trip here

View all the photos from the week here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When a Two Year Old Naps on Trash

Good day to you, friends, and be blessed.

We continue our coverage of Compassion International's Blogging Trip to Nicaragua--a country that shares Denver's time zone, which means the bloggers are typing away and posting way after my bedtime.

Christy Jordan from Southern Plate posted earlier than the rest, so I can share a few highlights before I nod off.

Mrs. Jordan and the rest of the Compassion crew visited the dump today and went on two home visits--one to Christy's sponsored teenager's home.

Compassion Bloggers Nicaragua 2013 - Project 155 - Day 1
Compassion International Photo - Nicaraguan Dump, shared on Southern Plate, 6/18/13

Do you remember the stench from your last trip to the city dump, however long ago that was? Lucita, a Nicaraguan grandmother, has worked at this dump for 22 years, picking plastic out of the trash to sell for less than $1.00 a day. She arrives at 5 in the morning and leaves after the last truck finishes dumping.

Christy shares what Lucita says: "I have worked here for 22 years. I am not ashamed to work here. This is what we do to survive. It is good work and I work hard."

It is good work and I work hard. Friends, that's a grateful heart. What do we have, instead, here in the first world? Grumbling and complaining and a sense of entitlement. We're all guilty at times, sadly.

Dear Lord, help us. Help us to open our eyes and see.

When Compassion takes these trips, who learns the most? The bloggers and readers, or the native people they visit? It's us my friends--the bloggers and readers.

We learn how empty we are, and how full they are.

We learn how little they have, and how much we have.

We learn how blessed they are, and how spoiled we are.

They have nothing, and yet they have everything. Dignity, joy, laughter, gratitude.

God isn't unfair in how He distributes wealth, and we aren't getting the better end of the deal. We have comfort and these people have God. We push God out of our comfortable lives because most of the time, we don't need Him. 

Those in abject poverty need Him every day to survive, and they don't forget him. They don't find better things to do than to sit down and talk with him. They don't use the material to push Him away.

Christy writes of a two-year-old child who accompanies her mother to the dump each day:

"A little angel, who appeared to be around two, found a pen top in a bundle of trash and began chewing on it, smiling as she pulled it out of her mouth to see how her teeth had pinched their outline into the plastic. Later she got tired and laid down on top of bags of trash for a little rest."
 I implore you, as you imagine a two-year-old child napping on bags of trash at the city dump, to sponsor a child, or spread the word. Please, do one or both of them today.

Because while that child may not mind napping on trash, God minds it a great deal. We are accountable for everything we've been given and we can't afford to mess this up.

The problem doesn't lie in how God's distributed wealth...but in how we're distributing it.

Luke 12:48 Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Follow all the blog posts from the week's trip here.

View all the photos from the week here.

Sponsor a child here

Both the quotes I shared here, and the picture shared above, are from Christy's blog post, hereKeely Marie Scott takes all the trip photos.