Monday, July 22, 2013

This is my Neighbor //

I need to see need. 

I'm passionate about advocacy for vulnerable children. It's gets me on my feet. Sharing the Lord's heart for His little ones gets me in front of crowds though I'm naturally shy. I'm moved to respond, respond with my best. Yet, so often I forget to care.

I don't see starving children. I don't see anyone who lacks clean water. I don't see naked children wandering the streets in need of care. I don't know anyone who has zero access to medical care. I don't know any kids who will be denied an education. The only orphans I know are being cared for well or have already been adopted and aren't orphans anymore. 

I have a friend named Belay who was born in Ethiopia. His mother was killed when he was young and his father was later imprisoned on false accusations leaving him and his five brothers all alone. Poorer than poor they didn't have anyone to care for them, to feed them, to clothe them. And I didn't know. I didn't see it. If I'd known that my friend was in such desperate need do you think I would have stood by and done nothing? If someone I love is in desperate need I'm willing to empty my life's savings for them. Belay and his brothers were taken to an orphanage, their photos and information were taken and somewhere in the States their sponsorship packets were put out. Being sponsored changed Belay's life. 

Belay and my other dear friends who tour with His Little Feet children's choir
(With HLF he is called "Uncle Ben"!)

$35 a month will sponsor a child. That's $1.17 per day. If your niece was left homeless and alone would it be worth a dollar to you to have her fed? How about clothed? What about housed and educated and given medical care? How about having Jesus' love shared with and ministered to her? Is it worth $1.17 to you to have her cared for like that just for today? Would you be willing to pay that again tomorrow for the same care? How about the day after that?

"I don't know what $35 will do for you this month, but it will change a child's life." 
// anonymous 

Here's the challenge. Begin to shift your perspective. Take note of the luxuries (anything other than a basic need for survival) that you spend $1.17 or more on each day. Share it on social media to help spread the perspective change. Explain why $1.17 is a significant amount and use the hash tag #ineedtoseeneed

Allow The Lord to convict your heart about how you spend what you have. Lets begin to give of our excess, give generously, give of our best! Allow $1.17 to become the constant reminder of the need we do not see before us. I have $1.17 in excess everyday. I bet you do too.
So here's the secondary challenge. Sponsor a child. Maybe that means you don't buy a new pair of jeans that you "need" this month, you don't buy an iced mochas every other day next month, and you don't get guac on your burrito anymore. Once you know what the luxuries are that you regularly indulge in, start weeding them out and begin to use those funds to truly change a life instead. Let's live simply so others can simply live.
Join the movement!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Find Joy >> right here

"Our State Fair is the best State Fair in our State!"
// state fair, 1962

I haven't been to a fair in ages! I bet I was about thirteen years old the last time I went to one. Getting to go to the Northern Wisconsin State Fair was delightful to me. I said my hope for the fair was to see a piggy, just for kicks and giggles. The first thing we saw when we arrived, pig races!

Fair food (essentially, anything deep-fried), excited children with parents in tow, parents with sleepy children in hand, 4-H projects on display prompting stories from Dad's youth about his days of 4-H, carousal music echoing over the roar and whoosh of other rides, John Deer equipment on display.

Little sister vlogged again! See the video here.

Aside from the food, my absolute favorite thing about fairs is the animals. Growing up, I had a few friends who were involved in 4-H and had horses and cows and I always felt proud to know them and recognize their animals at the fair. One of my friends and her family went out of town for a week one spring and my Pawpaw (grandpa) and I got to go over and take care of their animals. Bottle feeding the calves remains, to this day, as one of my sweetest childhood memories.

I love the smell of the straw and hot breezes blowing through the barns. The warm animals trying to stay cool and the dusty hair or feathers in the air as their owners groom them for their performances. I could care less about the rides and prizes and even the shows. Let me hang out in the barns with the animals, let me hear about them from their owners, let me feel involved with the farming community. #countrylife #farmgirlandproud

There is just something about hard-working, no-nonsense, I-love-my-never-ending-job farmers that makes me so proud to be an American, and a State Fair is a great place to celebrate and recognize them. And to get ice cream in a waffle cone. Its a good place for that too!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This is my Neighbor //

What can you do with two hours? We often think to take a long lunch, watch a movie, or get some work done. What about walking to a remote village to share the Gospel?  Or taking time to listen to an old friend share his problems so that you can pray with him? The below stories demonstrate what God can do when we allow Him to use our time.

Worth Every Minute
Two hours is a small price for Bhima to pay. He’s made this journey countless times, but when you’re feeding the hungry, the joy is worth it all.

Pastor Bhima travels to the surrounding villages of his home, sharing the love of Jesus with many who have never heard Christ’s name. When Bhima came to a town two hours away, he discovered that several people were hungry to learn about God. So he kept returning.

A Village Steeped in Religion
The majority of the villagers believe in karma and are bound in superstition, and most don’t know how to read. But these hard-working farmers will not put up with anyone mocking their faith.
Padma, a quiet young woman in the town, has worshiped and sacrificed to idols since childhood. Her family is often separated, because her father works in a different state, but she works hard to help her mother and brothers take care of their home. A dedicated student, one would never guess from Padma’s smile the difficulties she has to endure to make it through school.

Tormented by Spirits
Why they chose her, Padma didn’t know, but every time she tried to concentrate on her studies, demons attacked. She wanted to learn but frequent headaches prevented her.
Padma and her mother visited many doctors, but no one had answers to free Padma from her misery.
Pastor Bhima happened to visit Padma’s home one day and shared the Gospel with her mother. Padma arrived later, and he got to pray for her. Padma’s mother noticed a difference in her daughter after the prayer, so she asked Bhima to keep coming. He gladly consented and visited often, reading from God’s Word and asking God to heal Padma.

Where Two or More are Gathered
Bhima invited two believers from his hometown to begin a regular prayer meeting in Padma’s home. One day, as the three believers prayed over Padma, she fell down unconscious, but Bhima and his friends continued to intercede for her deliverance and the Lord rescued her. In moments, Padma stood up, fully restored.

Padma and her mother were overjoyed and thanked the believers profusely. From that day on, Padma started to attend prayer meetings, and gradually God convicted her heart of her need for Jesus.
Now, there is a wide-open door in this village to hear the message of Jesus. The people are amazed at what God accomplished in Padma’s life and they see the power Christ has over darkness. Padma also joyfully shares her testimony with others, and no one opposes her witness because they are so happy that she is healed.

// written by Clara Christofferson, Gospel for Asia

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tell Your Story!

"William used to spend hours every day walking for miles to get clean water. Now, because of Blood:Water Mission, he spends that time focusing on his education and future. There are millions of Williams.

Most of them have yet to experience the gifts that clean water can bring.
The heart of this Couch Rebels project has nothing to do with getting published, getting paid, or stroking our own egos.

The heart of this project is and always has been the cause it is built on: Provide clean water for 45,000 people for a full year.

35 more stories between now and July 20th will give us enough great content to publish a great book — A book worthy of honoring and aiding the Williams of the world. 
There’s no excuse for storytellers not to get involved. We have a team of ghostwriters in place, ready to write their stories for them."

// written by Griff Hanning, CausePub Founder

Friday, July 12, 2013

Find Joy >> right here

"Someone once told me to always live for 
the little things in life. ..."

"... Live for 5am sunrises and 5pm sunsets where you'll see colours in the sky that don't usually belong. ..."

"... Live for road trips and bike rides with music in your ears and the wind in your hair. ..."

"... Live for days when you're surrounded by your favourite people who make you realise that the world is not a cold, harsh place. ..."

"... Live for the little things because they will make you realise that 
this is what life is about... "

"... this is what it means to be alive." // a.y.

Bikes and boards. A steady stream of people migrating to the river with tubes in hand. Hot sun, soft blanket, shady hat and a good book. Something about afternoon shadows on concrete in the summer. Slow days at the Farmer's Market. Alone time, people watching. Family time, doing life together. Frisbees, dogs, sandals on my feet, tan-lines that tell stories of time well spent. #thisissummer #thelittlethings

// check out little sister's YouTube channel and watch the video she made on the 4th //

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Around Here...

Drive down Brackett you'll probably see it but you've probably never though to stop. Inside this little shop on the corner you will find local cheeses and meats for sale, but in the summer they also have ice cream. They don't give samples but you're bound to find a flavor that sounds good and for less than $2 for a {generous} scoop, you can't go wrong!

/// /// ///

TEMPO >> Eau Claire, WI
Fair trade and Organic coffee shop, right down the hill from my Little House and just around the corner from Phoenix Park and the Farmer's Market. I had never gone in before because I'm usually traveling deeper into downtown but after sunning myself for a few hours at the park I wanted to find something cool and refreshing that was only a short walk away. So glad I stopped in! The barista was so sweet and being able to get an iced chai and the local "goings-on" was just what I needed. Prices are a bit steep ($4.50 for a 16oz chai), but justifiable because it's fair trade and organic!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Way I Loved You //

It's summer, it's hot, and you're a thirteen year old boy.
Needless to say, a spray bottle full of water is too much for you to resist. In spite of the pleasure you receive from getting unsuspecting people wet with cold sprays, your victims are left feeling less than pleased.

Yesterday I disarmed you of the bottle -- quite an accomplishment as you are much stronger than I am and almost as tall, but I have more years of practice -- and when you asked for it back I had you promise you would not spray it around people who did not want to get wet. Knowing how you look for loopholes and judge the seriousness of your promise on whether or not the one asking you to promise is serious or not, I made sure you understood me and I didn't give the bottle back until you agreed fully. Not even a full minute later you knowingly broke your promise and didn't cease to spray the bottle all around me until I went inside indignantly. 

Today I had been working out in the barn for several hours when I came up to the house for some supplies. Before my eyes could even adjust from the sunshine you had sprayed a full measure of water directly at my neck. I was furious. No, really -- furious. My passionate hatred of injustice and ungentlemanly behavior boiled hot within me in a mere two seconds and came gushing out with heated, serious words that communicated, without a doubt, what a mistake you had made. I, a girl, your sister, the one you promised not to get wet, who had been attacked rather than protected and betrayed rather than respected, was ready to smack you. It registered to my mind that a fruit of the spirit is self-control and as I warned you with my passionate speech about how angry I was I also said he was lucky I was old enough to know I should restrain myself from whacking him. It wasn't until a few minutes later that I recalled that other fruits of the spirit are kindness and gentleness. Whoops. Self-defense has never looked so ugly.

The older you get and the closer I come to moving out the less I feel responsible for teaching and correcting your behavior. Thinking over how I'd responded to your water attack, I didn't want to try to make you apologize or see that you got what you asked for from me, I just kept thinking that I wanted to do the right thing, wanted to set a good example. You had deserved my vengeance but it wasn't kind or gentle of me to lash out at you and I knew I needed to apologize to you. So when I was done in the barn I came to you, hugged you, said I was sorry for yelling at you, and gently explained that while I will always love you I just can't trust your word, but that if you wanted to regain my trust I was sure you'd have plenty of opportunities to keep your word in the future. You were soft, you truly heard me, you didn't justify yourself or play the victim, you just accepted what I said. Everything was right between us again. The slate was wiped clean. 

Through my mistakes and second chances, I'm trying to show you what a standard of grace looks like. If anyone knows the imperfection of human nature, it's you and I. But if anyone knows the sweetness of unconditional love, it's me and you. 

So that's the way I loved you. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Around here... #musicinthepark

In the six years we have lived here -- which just struck me as being a long time! -- we have never made it to Music in the Park. All summer, every Thursday, local artists perform down by the river in the park. It's always sounded lovely to me. And such a true taste of Eau Claire.

Tonight was my first time. "And it was real, and it was great, and it was really great." It's wonderful how the city unloads, there's not a single parking space for a mile in any direction, and everyone just comes together to soak in summer. 

Kids dance and play and hula hoop near the band. Bikes and dogs and lawn chairs. Families, friends, people just walking by... Enjoying a June evening on the grass wrapped up in melodies.

I pride myself on being a tidy eater but when handed a drippy ice cream cone I had no chance. And I didn't sweat it. Childhood summers at the pool, walking down the hot sidewalk, catching fireflies.. All of this seemed kin to that drippy ice cream cone and it made the mess sweet.

I just don't know how it gets better than this -- sharing a blanket with precious friends, feet bare, sticky fingers, new favorite sundress, and a fiddle ringing out over the river valley. #thisissummer

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Supporting Adam and His Family // She Does Justice

Every month She Does Justice supports a different cause with 10% of every purchase. The Cause for July 2013 is a little boy named Adam.
September 18, 2011 is our oldest son, Adam’s birthday.
It came unexpected, to us.
Husband and I were playing badminton on that muggy hot Indian evening.
We did not know of the baby that was being born in our rural hospital.
That precious baby, whose unformed body had been created by a good God.
But, whose unformed body, puzzled us, mankind.
Our precious Adam entered the world without eyelids, a severe cleft lip and palate, a partly absent nose, and severe webbing of the legs.
There are diagnoses for these things.
And his is “Bartsocas Papas Popliteal Pterygium Syndrome”.
It is a bit overwhelming, is it not?
And if you really look into it, you will see it is often referred to as the
“Lethal Pterygium Syndrome”
When husband, a doctor, and I, a nurse, read those words, we grasped the severity.
Maybe you do too.
But, we also read something else alongside this diagnosis.
We read from the Word, Living
He said “Your eyes saw my unformed body, every day was ordained for me before one of them came to be”.
The psalmist, David, scribed those words.
So if the Creator’s eyes sees unformed bodies and brings them into this world with breath in their lungs, then He created this Adam for a purpose.
His first days were heavy, but a silver lining revealed a Hope unseen.
An adoption story that would move mountains.
 To read the rest of this post, click here. Adam's adopted parents, Raja and Jessica Paulraj blog over at We: Unformed. Tens of thousands of dollars are needed for their medical treatments for Adam. To support them through She Does Justice click here, or follow the link in the sidebar.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of She Does Justice. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

She Does Justice // New LINE!

She Does Justice has released their summer 2013 line of goodies! Each month's sales benefit a different charity, the shop functions like a boutique so once it's sold out it is gone, and there are new products being released so you just have to keep checking back. Some of my favorite pieces from the new line are the turban headbands and bracelets! Head on over to the shop and check them out for yourself! {link in the sidebar}

full disclosure: I'm an affiliate of She Does Justice, but all opinions expressed are my own.