"So promise me you'll never forget...that you aren't an accident or an incident...you are a gift to the world, a divine work of art, signed by God. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on this earth...Flooded by emotion, overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us, one by one, and says, 'You are my child. I love you dearly.'" Max Lucado, God Thinks You're Wonderful

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Simma Down

Did you ever see that SNL skit Simma Down Now? 

I feel like I need to settle down from all this wrestling going on in my heart.  It's intense in there.  And honestly, it's painful.  I don't want to hurt like this.  I feel actual physical ache in my heart for the facts that I have read about poverty, starvation, and the blind eye I have turned to this.  And then I remember that allowing a return of comfort would only be going back to where I was.  There is a reason God has stirred my heart.  I need to make changes.  To only feel guilty about this culture and go on with life is useless.  And to only speak about it, or the books, and change nothing is also sinful.  It is now blatantly obvious to me God has called us to something different. 

I am desperate for Jesus to work through me.  To use all of me.  And I am sad to say I have always held parts of me from Him.  Several of these books opened my eyes to that fact.  And in that truth, it brought me freedom that I have never felt to actually give Him every part of myself...just like He asked.  I have begun to really grab hold of the fact that this IS my responsibility.  The fact that 26,000 children die from starvation or preventable disease everyday makes my stomach turn.  It's horrific. 

"So when you and I hear staggering numbers and statistics about the poor and needy around us and around the world, we have a choice.  We can switch the channels on our mega-TVs and continue our comfortable, untroubled, ordinary, churchgoing lives as if the global poor don't exist.  We can let these numbers remain cold, distant, and almost imaginary.  Or we can open our eyes and our lives to the realities that surround us and begin considering the faces that are represented by these numbers....We can stand with the starving or with the overfed.  We can embrace Jesus while we give away our wealth, or we can walk away from Jesus while we hoard our wealth." David Platt, Radical

God just keeps speaking so clearly to me that I have become way too comfortable in my life.  That I can give Him all of me and I can completely trust my children, my marriage and my heart to Him. 

 Singing and dancing "If You're Happy and You Know It!"  She LOVES to sing!!
 Sister couldn't go to sleep one night and she got to snuggle with daddy and watch football.  Shhhh, don't tell her bigs!
 Happy 7th birthday OWEN!!!
 Story time before bed...they are so sweet to always smile for the camera!  This too shall pass!

 Happy 4th birthday Sadie!  She chose the Hello Kitty donut!
 That sweet chocolate skin doesn't hide any goodies we eat!  She loved the flower donut though ;)

So what does that change look like?  How does that unfold for each of us?  Certainly it will be different for all of us, so I won't stand up here like a dingbat and say we all need to do this or that. 

It's frustrating to see that we save, hoard and bicker about how much is enough to give when we know that people are dying every minute around the world. Jen Hatmaker's book 7 helped me to see how easily global hunger could be eliminated if we cared more about this than dog food, or perfume. Seriously!?!? We spend more on those than ending hunger.

I am excited to see all that is to come for us.  I am amazed that I feel acutely aware now about what true needs are and all that we live with that our culture says is a need.  It's embarrassing really.  God has called us to store up our treasures in heaven, not on earth...this is a battle, a war to not get caught up in the current.  Deep breath...  Is this the narrow road He meant?   I think so sister. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stir Crazy

I have been neglecting this little blog thing here.  But for good reason. 

God has moved something awful crazy in my heart.  My family thinks I need help. 

I am not a reader.  I rarely take the time to read anything, and sadly even reading the Bible had become blah.  (horribly sad to admit because of my deep love for Jesus). 

One of the more influential women in my life (Jen Hatmaker) wrote a couple of books.  And I had to read them because I love her and trust her. 

Well then that led to me finishing a book in 3 days which is UNHEARD of for me.  I usually get the the very end and then quit.  Wha?

So from June-now I have not been able to stop the constant reading.  She mentioned several books and other friends did too.  I am hungry again for words from Jesus, even if it takes these authors hitting me over the head with the reality that I have been ignoring some pretty big things. 

Here they are.  If you are needing a good read and are ready for something serious to happen in your heart, you cannot miss these. 

Radical- David Platt
Crazy Love-Francis Chan
Kisses from Katie-Katie Davis
Interrupted-Jen Hatmaker
7- Jen Hatmaker

I cannot think straight I am so conflicted with our life in America and the needs of those around us.  How did I become so comfortable with this?  How did I not see so many suffering and truly believe they are my responsibility?  How did I miss that in the Bible? 

I am ashamed.  I am disgusted.  I am achy.  I am stir crazy for wanting to DO SOMETHING.  And poor Blake has known all along that I am odd, but now I want to be really weird and actually do what Jesus asked us to do...lay down my life for Him. 

In the midst of all of this wrestling in my heart, we have gone full force into the foster care ministry with our new church.  We are floored by the needs in our community and state.  So two weekends ago we brought home 2 kids from the shelter for 3 nights over Labor Day weekend.  Our church got involved with DHS in a program called Home for the Holidays.  The idea is for faith families to become certified (approved?) to take children from the shelter for a holiday weekend.  We were honored to join 13 other families from our church in taking home 17 kiddos! 

It was such a great experience.  Don't get me wrong...it's wasn't convenient (we already have 4 lovies).  It wasn't comfortable.  It wasn't easy.  But hello believers...God never told us life would be any of those.  He kept whispering to me all weekend when I would get discouraged, "Life is not supposed to be comfortable sweets."  How have I let myself believe these lies for so long? 

As we drove the kids back to the shelter I was sick to my stomach.  Every child begged to not go back.  Not for lack of love, cleanliness and care there, but it's a shelter for heaven's sake!!!!  Kids belong in families.  And I didn't have any good reason why the kids couldn't stay (besides we needed more training to be certified).  I have room.  I have Jesus.  This weekend just felt like a band-aide for this gaping wound that was in my city.  The reality hit me that why do I not think that these children are just as much my children as the ones God has already blessed me with.  Didn't He say they are all His?  None of them are really "ours".

Please watch this amazing video.  Pray with me about what God has already asked us to do.  God doesn't call us...He already commanded us to do this.  When we give our hearts to Jesus, then we must do as He commands. 

Consider reading these books.  I beg it of my brothers and sisters. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sweet Sadie....

Our big princess turned 4 today!  We had such a wonderful time celebrating her sweet sassy self.  She has taught me so much about s.l.o.w.i.n.g down.  She has reminded me that girls feel things deeply, that laughing truly is medicine, that hugs heal, that giggles do too.  Her smile can light up an entire room and so can her silly booty dance.  She is starting pre-school at church and loves going to "school".  She goes 3 days a week and boy do I miss her when she is there.  Her favorite color is pink, favorite drink is "melonaid" or lemonaid ;)  She still screams at the top of her lungs if her brothers push her buttons, and she's still got her daddy wrapped around her finger.  She loves music, singing, dancing, Princess Tiana, painting nails, play dough, coloring, cooking, brownies, cookies, oatmeal, hot dogs, Emery Faith, swinging, and baby dolls. 
Her daddy caught this cute shot of her as we were all singing!  ADORABLE!
Here she is holding up "I'm 4"!!!  She is also a new swimmer!  This girl can swim without a life vest!  Wahoo Sadie girl.  We love you to the moon and I pray that I can be the best mama possible for you.  I thank Mama G for giving you life and choosing us to be your forever family.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of G and praise God for her life.  Lord, use us, even as broken as we are, to show Sadie your love.  If she learns nothing else from us, may she know how loved and treasured she is by you!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Mercy Project

There’s an estimated 7,000 children who work in the Ghana fishing industry. Some of
these children are as young as 5 and 6 years old.  All of these children are slaves.

–Mercy Project

Today many in our country will take a day off from our jobs to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers.  No matter if we’re celebrating at home or at the beach, we’re entering into a tradition that has largely been shaped by Labor Unions - organizations that are dedicated to protecting workers’ interests and improving their wages, hours, and working conditions.  Today as we lounge around or hang out with friends and family, we’re not only celebrating hard work, we’re honoring fair, ethical working practices and the laws that prevent discrimination, abuse, and child labor in our country.  Without these laws in place (and enforced), the most vulnerable members of society suffer.  Who are the most vulnerable? Children. 

Today as we’re celebrating the systems in our own country that strive to prevent injustices like child trafficking and child labor, we’re mindful of the many child slaves around the world who are unprotected and the organizations, like Mercy Project, who are working to free them.

As a mother, it’s difficult for me to imagine my children working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I’m unable to wrap my brain around the thought of my children engaged in long, hard days of physical labor, eating one meal a day, and then falling asleep at night on a dirt floor filled with other slave children.  Yet this is the daily reality for kids who have been trafficked into the fishing industry in Ghana, Africa.  As with much of Africa, there is a great deal of poverty in Ghana. Unfortunately, this leaves many mothers in an unimaginable position: sell their children to someone who can take better care of them or watch them starve to death. Most of the mothers are told their children will be given food, housing, and an education. Instead, the kids are often taken to Lake Volta where they become child slaves and their mothers never see them again.  Thankfully, Mercy Project is working to break the cycles of trafficking around Lake Volta by providing alternate, more efficient, sustainable, fishing methods for villagers – ultimately eliminating the need for child slaves.  Because of the work Mercy Project is doing in Ghana, the first group of children will be freed this month from Lake Volta.

We invite you to watch this moving, 10 minute documentary about the issues surrounding child labor and trafficking in Ghana and most importantly the hope Mercy Project is bringing to children and entire communities in Africa.  Mercy Project is the only NGO working on Lake Volta addressing the injustice of child labor and child trafficking at its root - by strengthening the Ghanaian economy and eliminating the structures that cause the demand for trafficked children.

Whether these ideas of child labor, child trafficking, and modern-day slavery are new to you or you’re aware of these injustices, but need to hear some good news every once in awhile, we invite you to become a part of what Mercy Project is doing in Ghana.  When Mercy Project frees their first group of children this month, we can all celebrate together.