Sunday, May 31, 2009

Urgent Need - Feed The Forgotten in Uganda!

I'm taking a break from my usual posts to bring an urgent need to your attention. Some of you may know that I am getting involved with Children's Hope Chest, an organization that helps people like you and I come alongside communities around the world who are in need and provide for them. Hope Chest is currently working to address an urgent need in Uganda - people are literally starving to death...children and adults alike that Hope Chest team members just visited in the past month.

Get this:

For $0.14, we can (and WILL) feed someone a meal of posho and beans. (posho is cornmeal, which is filling and beans are protein). Take that in for a moment.
$0.14 a meal
$2.86 for 20 days
$1 per FAMILY
$20 feeds a family for 20 days.

I just spent $20 taking my family out to eat for lunch today. That could have fed a Ugandan family for 20 days!! Would you be willing to sacrifice something this week so that a family can literally survive with what you give? What if this was your family starving to death...what if your children were the ones listless from hunger? This suffering is real and it's happening NOW. We have the opportunity to do something! For $0.14 a meal, how can we not? Please click below to help and find out more. Thank you for caring and making a difference in people's lives today!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Lesson From My Four Year Old

It's almost summer now and we've been talking about some fun things that we'll do over the next few months with the kids. Among others are special dates with mom or dad, a camping trip, play dates, a visit to the local amusement park etc. I was driving the other day with my girls who are 4 and 6, and my 4 year old said "Mom...I know what we can do!". I asked her what and she said " We can take some food to families who need it and maybe give them some money".

Yes, my four year old daughter wants to take food to hungry people and give money to those who could use it while I'm busy making plans about how to make her summer fun. I had to hold back the tears in the car as I told her what an awesome idea that was. My husband and I have prayed from Day 1 of finding out that we were pregnant with both of our children that they would be compassionate toward other people. It's humbling to see that prayer being answered at the tender age of four.

It was a good reminder for me that while I feel like my heart is in Africa, there are opportunities around me right here where I live to show compassion and serve somebody. Matt Redman has traveled around with Compassion International and says in The Art of Compassion "So all these experiences that I've been privileged enough to soak up in Africa or India have started to teach me something - a lesson that others have worked out long ago and without the air miles: that our comfort zones need to be challenged, that fear is not a barrier to action, that our choice to get involved with those whose lives are scarred by poverty is not one we take because we have all the answers or because we can fix the problems - but because we were not made to live in isolation. There aren't many of us who would have to drive more than an hour to find people living in poverty. Most of us could reach their homes in a few minutes. There aren't many cities in the world that don't have homeless people and there are very few communities that don't have individuals who are lonely or outcast, overlooked or ignored by the rest of us. And what's my point? That none of us is unable to have our comfort zones challenged by experiencing poverty face to face". So now the question becomes, will I? More on that soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Over these past six months or so I've been awakened - or at least I'm starting to be awakened. Since I feel like that's the best word that describes what I'm experiencing lately I thought I'd look it up to see what the real definition is. To awaken means to "rouse from sleep". No big surprise there - that's exactly what's happening to me. But the synonyms that I found with the definition describe what I'm feeling even better - "To stir up or call forth". I am absolutely stirred up and I'm seeing daily God "calling forth" things in my life that I thought I understood but it turns out I haven't really embraced until now. Like how much God loves the poor and the outcast and the orphan. Of course I've always known He cares about them and loves them, but I've never felt the full impact of just how much until now - and I'm sure I'm only beginning to scratch the surface. The one thing I do know - now that I'm awake I don't ever want to sleep again.

My capacity to love is so limited by my humanness and selfishness. So, this depth of love and compassion that I'm suddenly finding myself embracing and running toward is unlike anything I've ever experienced in my life. I can't just muster this sort of thing up on my own and so I know that it's God who's been pounding on my heart's door and getting me to open up. The phrase "love until it hurts" has taken on new meaning.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 says "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees."

This is the change I feel. God has removed my heart of stone and given me a new heart. A new heart that loves more like Him and His Spirit which moves me to follow Him. I'm just a desperate heap without them both.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Possessions & My Heart

Lately I've felt a shift in the way I view my possessions. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to decorate. I am constantly on the lookout for beautiful things at bargain prices. I love purses and shoes as much as the next girl and have a deep appreciation for creative stationery and beautiful paper goods. A few months ago a "Super Target" opened literally right behind my house - we can walk to it. I was giddy with excitement to go and check it out (especially the paper aisle). I was oohing and ahhing right along with everyone else over all the STUFF. Today I walked through Target because my 6 year old had a gift card she wanted to spend. I felt almost sick. I just wanted to get in and get out. Why the change?

I think that it's due to several things...the first of which is that I'm realizing that my relationship to my possessions is a direct reflection of where my heart is. And I want my heart to be reflective of God's heart. I'm pretty certain that God's not running through the Target aisles freaking out over the amazingly cute paper and high heeled shoes. I'm beginning to see that God is more likely wanting me to ask myself "Do I really need this?" Even if I have the money for it - do I NEED it?

My faith can pretty much be boiled down to two simple commands found in the same scripture -Love God with all your heart, soul and mind and Love your neighbor as yourself. Interesting how it doesn't just end "Love your neighbor". That would have been easier. But it's the "as yourself" part that I think I'm waking up to. Turns out I love myself pretty well. Also turns out I don't love my "neighbor" very well at all. My "neighbor" might be in incredible need while I'm trying to decide if I should by my 5th pair of high heels. Actually, let me tweak that last sentence a bit - my neighbor IS in incredible need. It might be my literal neighbor next door, my "neighbor" who frequents the Drop In Center downtown for food and clothes, my "neighbor" at work or my "neighbor" around the world in Africa. Somebody somewhere is in need. Many folks would say that we can't be responsible for everyone. Of course we can't possibly meet everyone's needs - but we can meet some. And how many needs I meet is directly related to the decisions I make in the Target aisle. The question becomes - is my heart even turned toward my neighbor? Am I even THINKING about anybody else??

The other thing that I think contributed to my Target reaction today is that some people I know just got back from a trip to Uganda visiting some orphanages. At one orphanage, many of these kids were thankful to just have porridge made out of just flour and water. Can you imagine? What's worse is that this particular orphanage only has resources to care for around 100-150 kids and so when it's time to eat, the other HUNDREDS of children who were there from the surrounding area but not part of the orphanage had to go sit on the grass and watch the other kids eat since there wasn't enough food to feed them. Can you even imagine? This breaks my heart. No wonder the shoe aisle at Target held absolutely no appeal for me today. What must God think as He looks down on me? I haven't been a good steward of what He's given me. I haven't been loving my neighbor. I have been self consumed. But by God's grace I think that is changing. It must.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

100 Crashing Jetliners

I am reading a book called "The Hole In Our Gospel" for the second time. It is written by the President of World Vision and if you click on this post's title it will take you to the website for the book. This book has helped turn my world upside down - or right side up depending on how you look at it. I'd like to share an excerpt from his book with you and get your thoughts. Rich says:

"Whenever a major jetliner crashes anywhere in the world, it inevitably sets off a worldwide media frenzy covering every aspect of the tragedy. I want you to imagine for a moment that you woke up this morning to the following headline: 'One Hundred Jetliners Crash, Killing 26,500'. Think of the pandemonium this would create across the world as heads of state, parliaments, and congresses convened to grapple with the nature and causes of this tragedy. Think about the avalanche of media coverage that it would ignite around the globe as reporters shared the shocking news and tried to communicate its implications for the world. Air travel would no doubt grind to a halt as governments shut down the airlines and panicked air travelers canceled their trips. The National Transportation Safety Board and perhaps the FBI, CIA, and local law enforcement agencies and their international equivalents would mobilize investigations and dedicate whatever manpower was required to understand what happened and to prevent it from happening again.

Now imagine that the very next day, one hundred more planes crashed - and one hundred more the next, and the next, and the next. It is unimaginable that something this terrible could ever happen.

But it did - and it does.

It happened today, and it happened yesterday. It will happen again tomorrow. But there was no media coverage. No heads of state, parliaments or congresses stopped what they were doing to address the crisis, and no investigations were launched. Yet more than 26,500 children died yesterday of preventable causes related to their poverty, and it will happen again today, tomorrow and the day after that. Almost 10 million children will be dead in the course of a year. So why does the crash of a single plane dominate the front pages of newspapers across the world while the equivalent of one hundred planes filled with children crashing daily never reaches our ears? And even though we now have the awareness, the access, and the ability to stop it, why have we chosen not to? Perhaps one reason is that these kids who are dying are not our kids; they're somebody else's."

I don't know how you feel after reading that, but the first time I read it I wept and when I was done I wept some more. I wept over the staggering statistic that there are more than 26,000 precious little children dying every day from preventable causes. But I also wept over the reason we allow it to happen. I think Rich is right - it's not happening to us, so we don't care enough to do anything about it. What if my own children or the children of people I love were dying of something that I could prevent? I would prevent it. It's that simple. Of course I wouldn't stand by and watch them die when I could do something that would save their life. I'm sure you would do the same.

But why aren't we doing the same thing for the 26,000+ children who are dying every day? Why aren't we preventing their deaths? Because they are not our children or children we know? Here's the rub - they are God's children. They may not be children that we know personally and love but they are children that God created and loves. He knows their names and sees their faces even though we may not. I know the statistic of 26,000+ has the potential to make any of us feel inadequate to address the need. But if everyone would just do something we have the potential to put a huge dent in that number. Did you know that for around $34/month you can provide a child with clothes, education, clean water, food and medicine? This is the equivalent of taking a family of four out to dinner once here in the States or the cost of 4 movie tickets. Gulp. Surely we can give up our entertainment so that another human being might live and thrive! If any of this resonates with you and you are ready to do something please let me know. Or if you're not ready to sponsor a child, check out the link at the top left of my blog which will take you to a page where you can donate money to provide formula for malnourished babies in Ethiopia - there is an urgent need for this and any amount helps.

Proverbs 24:12 says "Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows we know and holds us responsible to act".

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


So, I've been thinking a lot about comfort and how much I love it. Who doesn't, right? The comfort of my own home, the comfort of my relationships with people I know and love, the comfort of keeping my life as free of pain, inconvenience or irritation as I can. For the most part, my life is epitomized by comfort. But I've started to wonder lately, is God really all that concerned about my comfort? Does He just want me to make my life as nice and comfortable for myself and my family as I possibly can and along the way try to help others? As I've started to honestly mull this question over, guess what? I've become uncomfortable. Extremely uncomfortable.

My small group at church is reading "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. You can find the link to the book's site on the left of my blog - I can't recommend it enough. In Chapter 7 Francis says "Life is comfortable when you separate yourself from people who are different from you. But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through." And there it is. It seems to hinge on this issue of trust. It's true - if I completely trust God then I will gladly go running into the uncomfortable, the unknown, and the illogical. Sounds like a blast, right? Ha! Sometimes it does. But most times our logic, reason and fear completely get in the way of us allowing God to take us places we've never been before. God has been stirring me up inside to crave more discomfort. Yes, I know - those two words don't go together very well - crave discomfort??? But strangely I am finding the most amazing peace in the midst of my discomfort and perhaps the most clarity I've ever had. Hmmm....

Turns out that God is so present when we start to live beyond ourselves and move towards the uncomfortable. At least that's what I'm finding as I start to embrace God's heart for "the least of these". As I am opening my ears to hear His cry for them it is breaking me. Talk about discomfort. But it's beautiful. In fact, my prayer is becoming that I never long for the comfortable again. Because embracing discomfort means I'm allowing God space to show up - that I'm letting go of myself and learning to care about the things He does.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Giving This Blogging Thing A Whirl

Well, I thought I'd give the whole blog thing a try. After lurking for months now on other people's blogs I think I've realized I might enjoy getting my thoughts written down too. I had no idea all the bells & whistles that could go on a blog...yeah, you'll have to be patient with me since I'm just figuring this all out. The one thing I didn't have to think very long about was my blog title since lately all I can really think about is what Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25:34-40 about "loving the least of these". The scripture goes like this:

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

My world has been a little bit rocked this year to say the least by this passage and by a series of events that I'll save for another blog entry. How is it that I've never really fully realized just how seriously God takes caring for the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the prisoner? Add to that all the references in the Old Testament about caring for the orphan, the widow and the oppressed and it becomes obvious that "the least of these" are exactly who He loves deeply. It all seems to come back to this theme of love. God's love for me, my love for God and my love for others - especially "the least of these".

Although I have read Matthew 25 many times, I am really just beginning to get the impact of what Jesus is saying. He's saying that when I feed the hungry, give clothes to those who need them, give the thirsty a drink, invite a stranger in or visit those in prison that I am doing that TO Him - I'm giving Jesus a meal and a drink or inviting Him in for a visit. The opposite is true as well...when I don't feed the hungry it's as if I'm not feeding Jesus. Can you imagine walking down the street and seeing the God of the Universe sitting on the corner begging for money so He could buy food and ignoring Him?? No way! I'd be falling all over myself trying to get Him whatever He needed. But the sad reality is that when I ignore the hungry stranger on the corner who makes me uncomfortable I am ignoring Jesus in disguise.

I know that for years now I have lived in my own little comfortable bubble thinking that I was loving God - and I was, but not completely. Somehow I managed to miss this gigantic piece of His heart - His all out love and compassion for the poor, the lonely, the broken-hearted, the sick, the hungry, the orphan. How did I miss this??? Because it was easier to ignore those things that overwhelmed me if I gave them too much thought. Scratch that. Because I am self-absorbed. And because I thought someone else would care for them. Someone else would go and do it. After all, what do I know about the poor? What do I know about children halfway around the world who have been tragically left alone to care for their siblings because their parents are dead from AIDS? How could I possibly help them? Yes, someone else will have to do it. Now I know...that someone else is me. And it's you.

So, I think we have a lot to talk about.