Saturday, December 24, 2011


Man's Maker was made man, that He, ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother's breast.  That the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on His journey - that the Truth might be accused of false witness, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded, that Life might die. - Augustine

I've been talking quite a bit lately about how unfathomable it is that the very God who created the universe came to earth and stooped so low to be with us.  How He enters the lowly places of this world and makes His home there, bringing hope and making all things new.

I am fairly certain there are no words that can describe this better than the picture above of my son, Tariku.  He is feeding ice cream to my inlaw's 98 year old neighbor who is in her last days under hospice care.

You may look at this picture and just see a sweet moment.

I look at this picture and I see healing and hope. 

I see a little boy who did not know compassion or kindness growing up.  You would weep crocodile tears if you knew what my son has been through. 

I see his burned hand stretched out to give away something he never received  in his formative years.  Not ice cream, but love. Simple and pure.

I see a transformed heart, a wounded healer.  And I look at my son and I know that it's true...that God makes beautiful things out of the dust.  That He gives us hope when there seems nothing to be hopeful about. 

I see God in my son.  I see it in how he sits so patiently with an old grandmother, without hurry, as if there's no other place he'd rather be in the world than right there.  And so is God with us.  Content to just sit with us and spoon feed us whatever we need.  To come and enter our situations and just be present.

I see a heart overflowing with compassion that has been born out of his own pain and brokenness.  It makes no sense, my son's capacity to love. 

I see what once was darkness and hopelessness now pouring out light and hope. 

Maybe this Christmas Eve you aren't feeling hopeful.  Maybe life's circumstances cause you to feel heavy, anxious or sad.  Know that God is sitting right beside you.  That to be with you is the very reason He came.  And He won't stop at just being with you.  He will be hope to you.  He will take your pain and your brokenness and make them beautiful...into a masterpiece even.  

He redeems everything.  Merry Christmas, friends.

*Just as I was getting ready to post this, Tariku came into the room and turned up the music I had playing.  He said "Mommy, this is my favorite song."  Then he wrapped his sweet little arms around me and rested his head on my shoulder while we listened to these words:

Your love never fails, it never gives up.  It never runs out on me.  On and on and on and on it goes.

It overwhelms and satisfies my soul

And I never ever have to be afraid

One thing remains.

The Love that came to be with us never fails, never gives up, never runs out.  To be sure, the people sitting in darkness have seen a great Light.

Monday, December 12, 2011

In The Dirt

Want to know what I love about God?  He's completely unpredictable.   He does things that are completely upside down and unexpected.  While the world looked to the sky waiting for the Messiah to come down with great procession and riches, Love came down in poverty - vulnerable, weak and helpless. 

Not only was the way He entered the world completely unexpected, but so was the city He chose.  Scripture says "Nazareth...can ANYTHING good come from there?"  I've often heard people refer to certain cities here in the U.S. as "the armpit of America". That's what Nazareth was...the armpit of the world.  So, of COURSE, that's where God chose to send His son.  Everything about how the Savior entered our world was revolutionary.  It didn't add up.  It made no sense. 

But you know what's really crazy? He chose to STAY.  He spent 30 years in the city of Nazareth.  Out of a place where there was nothing redemptive, came redemption Himself.  He stuck around the hell hole of Nazareth...He stayed with people in their brokenness, filth and pain.  He could have left.  He could have.  I'd never really thought about that before last night.  From day 1 on earth, God chose to BE WITH the marginalized, the least and the poor.  And not for just a moment, but for thirty years.  This is no fluke.  Jesus wanted to relate to us in our brokenness.  He didn't go live in a palace...that's not real life.  He went to the sick, the cast offs, the poor, the lonely.  He sat with them. He played with them as a child.  He laughed with them. He cried with them.  He LOVED them.  He REDEEMED them.  He entered their pain.  He went to them. He became lowly.  The God who placed the stars in the sky came so low.  And He stayed low.  He stayed in the dirt. 

Photo courtesy of Jobin Sam, who lives his life in the dirt with orphans in Calcutta

We must find the places of pain and heartbreak and live there because that's where Jesus is.  It doesn't mean we live depressed...God came to give us HOPE.  He came to call us out of our darkness and to live in the hope He offers.  But until we get acquainted with the grit, the grief and the sorrow of our world, just as Jesus did, we will miss Him.  WE WILL MISS HIM.  And I don't want to miss Him.  The thought of missing out on the fullness of who God is because I'm not WILLING to enter into the sadness of this world makes my heart hurt.  I want to be found willing.  O God, may I be found willing.

We see Jesus being in close proximity with the marginalized.  We see Him touching lepers.  Before I went to Korah (a leper colony in Ethiopia) the number one question I got asked was how I was going to protect myself and keep from getting leprosy.  May God deliver us from our mentality of being concerned for ourselves first.  If Jesus touched the lepers, why aren't we? If Jesus sought out the lonely, why aren't we? If Jesus was moved to tears by His compassion for His people, why aren't we? WHY AREN'T WE???

God chooses to reveal Himself through us to others.  Immanuel...God WITH us. God IN us. The nearness of God comes through the proximity of His people.  So, where are we?? Comfortably closed in our four walls?  If God's love is seen as we go, then I'd better find myself going.  I'd better be found engaging in people's messy lives.  Why wouldn't I if that's where Jesus is?? 

God came for me.  He came so low for me.  Will I choose to go low?  Who do I think I am that I shouldn't go low too?  God stooped so low to pick me up.  Do I realize that my soul will be satisfied more richly and fully when I choose the road of the broken? If I am running away from the low places, I am running the wrong direction.  God is not found where we think He would be.  The incarnation proved that.  He is found on the narrow path of the lowly.  He is found in their eyes, their tears, their smiles.  This is the God I've found...the God of the lowly.  And He's more beautiful than I possibly thought. 

May we be found willing...

Anathi's Story from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


It's officially December.  The month we celebrate Immanuel - God WITH us.  The entrance of our Savior into the world.  What I love about the way God sent his son into the world is how simple it all was.  While there were great multitudes of angels celebrating His arrival, a handful of shepherds and three kings who traveled far to witness God incarnate,...the King of Kings made His entrance in a manger without fanfare. This is so symbolic of the humility and selflessness which would define His life (and should define ours as well). 

We celebrate Christmas because we celebrate the extravagant love of God, who sent us the most amazing, costly gift of His son.  The Creator of the universe modeled for us in an extraordinary way what it means to give.  God held nothing back.  He gave what was most precious to Him - His son. 

And we give too, when we celebrate Christmas.  In fact, we spend 450 BILLION dollars on Christmas.  That's a lot of giving.  But WHAT are we giving??  Do you know it would only take 10 billion dollars to solve the water crisis in the world?  There's just a little perspective.

A few weeks ago I asked my kids what they wanted for Christmas.  You should have heard the crickets in the room.  " don't really know". There you have it, folks.  My kids couldn't even tell me ONE thing they wanted for Christmas.  Know why?  Because they have SO ridiculously much and half of it they don't even use or remember that they have.  How sick is that? And yet, we are actually thinking about buying them more??

Something MUST give here, friends.  I say this for myself as well as for anyone else who can understand my heart here.  This Christmas, my kids are each getting 3 gifts - something to wear, something to play with and something to read.  The days of buying more stuff for the sake of buying more stuff are over.

Two months ago I watched children scavenging in a trash dump for food in Ethiopia.  I saw a 6x8 room where 7 people slept with one make shift bed.  I no longer have the audacity to say that I need anything. Or that my children do.  How about we take that 450 BILLION dollars we spend every year on Christmas (forgive me, but that figure makes my stomach churn) and give it to people who actually need something.  Those people are in our cities and around our world. 

I put my 6 year old adopted son from Ethiopia to bed tonight and he prayed this: "Dear God, please help the kids in Africa all have mommies and daddies like I do. And please help them have food to eat and clothes to wear.  And let them be happy like I am."  This coming from my child who weighed 20 pounds when he was 4 years old and suffered from extreme malnourishment.  This coming from my child who went without clothing.  He knows what a real need is.  He has lived it.  I can't tell you how humbling it is to be taught by my own child who has lived through and survived circumstances I could never in a million years imagine.  My child gets what a true heart of generosity looks like.  If there's a need and it's in our ability to meet it, then we should.  It's that simple.  Why wouldn't we?

And this Christmas, I have a practical way that you can be involved in doing just that.  A way that will provide dignity for a child and give them opportunities for education.

To go to school in Korah (Ethiopia), you need to have a school uniform.  I actually heard stories of families not sending their children to school because they couldn't afford the small (in our eyes) school fees and/or the uniforms.  Can you imagine that being a reason for our kids not to attend school??  It's completely unacceptable.  Most of the children I met there had one set of clothing to their name.  I'm not sure that any of the clothes actually fit the kids.  They just wear what they can find, be it too big or too little.  Because of the expense of a school uniform (on average $28 per uniform), most kids are wearing their uniforms from a year or two ago if they have one at all.  And that one uniform is worn every day all day.  You can imagine how tattered and dirty they become. 

This Christmas, I would LOVE to raise enough money for each of the 60 kids in the Hands for the Needy program in Korah to get a new school uniform.  That's $28 per uniform.  $28 to give a child dignity and opportunity for education. 

Will you join me in generously giving to these kids who truly know what need is? I think it would be so amazing for me to be able to tell my son that God answered his prayers and gave some kids in Africa clothes.  These lessons in God's provision are invaluable for our children.  And for us. :)

I believe there are more than enough readers of my blog to cover this need.  All we need is for 60 of you to step up and give $28 to provide a uniform.  We need a total of $1650.  That may seem like a lot of money, but if we all help, it can be done. 

What I haven't told you yet is how I was going to do a campaign for new shoes for the kids in Korah, but before I could write the blog post, the $900 was funded.  Then today, I was going to change directions and raise money for medical care for the kids since the shoes were funded, but before I could write the blog post, the $750 for medical care was completely funded.  My jaw has been on the ground all day long.  We have four fundraising projects going on right now for specific things and 2 of the 4 have been covered without having to ask anyone to get involved.  AMAZING. The only thing left on the list of four things after the uniforms are funded is a washing machine so that they can be washed efficiently and well.  Perhaps we can raise the money for the uniforms AND the washing machine (an additional $875)???  God LOVES these kids so much and is providing for their needs through people like you who are willing to sacrifice on their behalf. 

I would love to see this money raised by Christmas.  It can happen.  If my son can raise $5,000 for a water well in Africa in one week, we can certainly knock out these uniforms that cost $1650 in one month!

So here's how to do it:

1) Go to

2) Follow the directions on the page to give.

3) Be SURE to put “ET3008000″ in the Reference Number Field so the money is designated properly.

4) If you would like to put "uniforms" in the "Notes" field that would be helpful as well.

Five minutes of your time, twenty-eight of your dollars = a significant impact in the life of a child.  Education is life in Africa and you can literally help give a child a chance at a future they deserve for a mere $28.  Now THAT is a gift.  Thanks for considering this and for helping to spread the word.  Can't wait to post pictures of the kids in their new uniforms thanks to YOU! I'll keep you posted on the progress we make! Thank you, thank you, thank you for joining me on this adventure of learning what real need looks like and for helping to change the story for these kids in Ethiopia.  Giving is so beautiful.