Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Gift of Hurt - Part One

This week God gave me a new gift - the gift of hurt. In the midst of 'how many more kids can I pick up for work? Has anyone called T about a job yet? When do we need to start paying for our own insurance?' God stepped in to say - you are BLESSED. In the last several days, I have now watched two painful videos which are now seared in my mind. They didn't leave me with a feeling of hope, or of peace. They stirred me to the point of tears. Tears for children I will never know. Tears for children I can never help. And in sharing these videos with T, I remarked that as painful as they were to watch - I think we all should step out of our comfort zones to allow our very souls to be hurt. As my tears flowed freely this morning, all our problems seemed to melt away and my eyes were opened. I think that no matter how religious or aware of social issues we are - we, as Americans, continue to shut our eyes. It's not our problem. We can't do anything about it anyway. I ask that you take the time to view the video below as a painful eye opener.

I confess, at one point I use to make the same remarks as many I have heard from others, "why don't we help the kids in our country first?" NO CHILD in our country has to suffer the way those children do. "Why don't we take care of our own? It isn't our responsibility to try to solve someone else's problems." But oh, it is. As I said above, we are SO blessed. In the midst of economic turmoil and rising unemployment - this country is still prosperous and blessed by God. And yet we continue to squander his gifts.

In the aftermath of the video, we both lamented that we don't do enough, nearly enough. And even with 3 children sponsored through Compassion, it still isn't enough. And it is sad to know that we are doing 3 times more than the average American. That is painful to acknowledge. Our own ability to close our eyes and shut out the cries of God's children. If you are one that is active in charity and helping others, I applaud you. But I know that the "harvest is plentiful and the workers are few."

If you made it to the end of that video, you were able to see the seed of hope that was planted. The children are now being cared for and their older sister, "through a sponsor from America, is now being given the chance to just be a child." That is hope. And even if it is only one child, or three children being helped - they were not forgotten. Because someone took the time to open their eyes and feel the pain of another. Please search your own heart and pray about sponsoring a child now, I know you will not regret it and you will be blessed by your work with the Lord's children.
Please browse Compassion's website. (They have children listed from 25 countries. You may choose a child based on country, birthdate, sex, and/or age.) Also, please list my name as your Compassion Advocate in the notes section if you decide to sponsor so that they can credit the Advocate network in South Carolina with a sponsorship vs. the website. Compassion audits all information closely to see that all areas are fruitful and worth the investment made. Please let me know if you have any questions about sponsorship or Compassion's vision and work.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Gift of Hurt - Part Two

So here I go, pulling my soapbox over again. Last week, on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, I stumbled upon another video. I entered a group on Facebook which lobbies President Obama to help keep partial birth illegal. I clicked on a "must see" video mentioned and 10 minutes later, my eyes were once again re-opened to the pain that Christ must feel when He gazes upon His world. I need to preface by saying that this video is very, very, VERY graphic. However, I don't think now, that I would change my mind and not click on that Play button.

To see the video, go to this site and click on "Play in English"

After viewing the above video (by accident), I was bombarded in the news, of the joy of Obama's re-reinstatement of funds for abortions internationally. I was blown away by comments of others praising his actions. Again, Americans choose to close their eyes to the pain of children. It is much easier to see a developing baby as immaterial, pre-viable, or a parasite. It is much easier to sweep abortion under the rug with statements like "well I don't believe in abortion but it isn't my choice to make, it is their body". This is why I think all Christians, and all Americans for that matter - should watch that video. To see that for us to stand by and excuse the murder of innocent children as a consequence of society or a mother's choice is irresponsible. To see that while Drs. and pro-choicers may say the fetus is just a mass or a unintended burden, that with your own eyes - you see God's creation destroyed unmercifully.

To see poor babies and the pain they endured and not feel for them is unfathomable to me. I do not understand how churches across our country are now turning their head and not speaking out against this abomination. Not wanting to step on any toes. Here's what I can't understand - at the same time last week, news stories headlined with the story of a 20-year old in Belgium busting into a daycare and slashing babies and teachers with a kitchen knife. 2 infants and 1 teacher were killed. Are those infants any less or more formed than the ones you saw in the video??

In 2006, 5 little girls were massacred in an Amish schoolhouse - and we were all in shock.
In 2007, 32 students were shot and killed at Virginia Tech - and the nation mourned.
In 1999, 12 children were shot and killed at Columbine - and we were up in arms.
Since 1973, over 45 million infants have been burned to death, torn into shreds, or have had their brains sucked out. I know that sounds graphic - but where is the shock? where is the mourning? what makes those 45 million babies' lives less valuable than 2, 5, or 12 who were given the chance at life before it was stolen from them?

My son Seth was born 3 weeks premature. Do you know that if partial birth abortion is re-instated, that I could have chose to 'terminate' him for any reason. My son was no less a child at 37 weeks than my other two were at 40 weeks.

So as I watched this video, and tears streamed down my face, I asked "God, how much longer will you allow this to happen to your children?" And again, I felt that as Christians, our eyes have been shut for far too long. I have written congressmen, and it wasn't enough. I have joined the Susan B. Anthony foundation, and it wasn't enough. I have argued with close friends, and it wasn't enough. I have posted information and forwarded emails, and it wasn't enough. We have NOT done enough to protect our nation's children for fear of offending the 'rights' of others. And I am fearful of the day, and the plight of this country, when God does step in and say "ENOUGH!"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Our new dentist

This evening we were coming back from an eye Dr. appt. in Columbia (where I found my eyes still haven't healed completely and are ONLY 20/40. Better than legally blind though! It's only been a month...) So, I had pawned my restless toddler off with a neighbor and was talking to T on the cell as he drove back from Florida. The boys were in the back seat trying to see who could slap the other in the back of the head hard enough to make said brother's eyes pop out. I assume this was the game anyway. I fussed at them to cut it out, I was on the phone for Pete's sake!! T told me to leave them alone. When one of them got hurt, then I could just say, "well... I told you to stop. You deserved to get hurt." (Daddy wisdom, haha).

A couple minutes later I hear screaming and crying coming from the back seat and look in the mirror to see Seth holding his mouth with blood in his hand. I hang up with T and Seth stammers out, "Braeden pulled my toof!!" At which I did the truly sympathetic and motherly thing - I started laughing. Seems Seth had a hoody on, which he was pulling over his head to ward off impending blows, I guess. Braeden yanked hard on the hoody and the band caught Seth's mouth and pulled out an already-loose tooth. So, I'm driving down the highway finding loose napkins in the console. Poor Seth. If any thing can be damaged, or any freak accident happen - it will be at Braeden's hands. It's going to be a long 12 more years until adulthood.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oprah scares me

So I have a hard time keeping my mind on topic. I go from unstoppable bragging about my kids to theology in the blink of an eye. Maybe Seth's attention difficulties aren't all T's fault.

My dad travels a great deal and is an avid reader as myself. Or my previous self. Before the internet and the pesky task of feeding the children. (Just kidding mom.) He passes all his used paperbacks down to me and just loaned me "The Shack" by Wm. Paul Young. I hesitated as I had heard that some Christians were offended by "The Shack" but I couldn't remember why. Dad summed my concerns up completely - "It was about 90% good but 10% disturbing." After some thought and after reading the book, I completely agreed. But as we discussed, it is that 10% that is just enough to lead an immature Christian astray. And the book does a wonderful job of making you think and making you question. However, what it leads you to question is the Bible itself, which in my mind, is the Truth and always will be the truth. In "The Shack", I read the following:
  • The characterization of God the father says, "I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”
  • "Jesus" says, "Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims.... I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters.”
  • And Jesus also said, “'Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian."
  • When asked - "Are you saying I don't have to follow the rules?'..." God the father (papa), says, "'Yes. In Jesus you are not under any law. All things are lawful."

So, back to Oprah. No surprise, she promotes similar ideas as found in "The Shack". A touchy, feely, watered down version of salvation with no reason for heaven or hell. No punishment for sin. No basis for the death of Christ. No supremacy given to God, we can be an equal.
Here's the danger in thinking that anyone who believes "What about Jesus?" and that other paths can lead to God or "the light". Lucifer himself is known as "the angel of light".
“No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:16)
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

The other night, while reading 2 Timothy, a couple of verses jumped off the pages at me - "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. ...... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.

Now here is my issue, finally. Paul was speaking of false prophets in the last days. Wouldn't you think false prophets would be speaking to large gatherings? Or in a public arena? And who do you think would be singled out as the object of false prophets? Influential people? The uneducated or elderly? Certainly not the common housewife? In what other way can you place a false prophet worming their way into homes and speaking to women, other than the spiritual teachings of Oprah and her "friends"?

So while I know I may have housewives throwing rotten vegetables into my comment box, I have to point out - Oprah, Marianne Williamson (A Course in Miracles), and Eckhart Toile (her spiritual adviser) are mere humans. Their opinion is their opinion. The Bible, on the other hand, was written by an Almighty God who does not change and does not err.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…” (1 Timothy 4:2)

"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. " (1 Timothy 4:16)

**So please, good or bad, throw some comments my way so I will know whether I am just a paranoid-Oprah-bashing-nut or whether I should plug my ears whenever I hear her indoctrination coming over my radio airwaves.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Side by Side (or up/down)

My friend Tawnya requested a side-by-side of me AND Addison at 3 years old. I misunderstood. It wasn't that hard finding a picture as my mom was a wonderful blogger before the days of blogs and has all my pictures neatly labeled and at each age in a nice binder. Her baby book is now putting me to shame as I reach baby #3. I just filled out her age 2 page today.

So...she definitely has my eyes. T says she has my nose. She also has my mouth. But she doesn't look like me. Oh well, I think she is prettier anyway.

He died 4 me

I'm back to bragging. Remember in this post about Seth when I mentioned the thoughtful present (to remain un-named) that Seth had bought his Daddy? He saved some of his birthday money when we were in Bible book store and brought me this gift and asked, "Mommy, can I use my money to buy this for Daddy?" It took about half of his savings, big bucks for a little wallet. We came home, wrapped it, and hid it. T's birthday was in December and we completely forgot it. So this week, Seth remembers and gives T his gift:
It is a spinner ring that says, "HE DIED 4 ME. I LIVE 4 HIM." T has been showing it off to everyone. The reason it is so special and thoughtful for Seth to have picked this out is that it matches T's tattoo. One he got after his best friend Mike was killed in an accident 2 years ago. Mike and he had picked out and bought a shirt with this design and the above transcription to one day get tattoos of. Mike was buried in his shirt so T went through with his first and only tattoo that reads "Christ 4 life". While I wasn't completely thrilled with T getting the tattoo 2 years ago, it has really grown on me and I love that he would want to make such a bold, and permanent, statement. God has brought us through so much in the past 5 years. And we have continued to learn, to grow, and to try to trust. While we are far from perfect Christians, far from perfect parents, and far from even the word "perfect", it is comforting to know that no matter what happens today or tomorrow, that we are branded as His children. With or without rings or tattoos. I was bought at a price. And that can never change. So even when my faith wavers, or my trust is shaky - I know that He doesn't give up on me. The same way I would never give up on my own children. And that is true peace to rest in, when I LIVE 4 HIM and stop thinking only of myself.

John 10:28-30

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Don't worry mommy...

This kid is just too cute. I could eat him up. And every couple of days, he really turns on his charm and wit, especially when he knows you may be needing it.

Every time we had chicken with any kind of bone, Braeden would ask about the wishbone. So today, when we had a whole rotisserie chicken, I found the wishbone and let him and his brother fight it out. (Except for the fact that the bone was pretty plastic and refused to break.) Braeden then says, "you know what I wished for Mommy??? That I could go to Heaven!" To which I replied, "well that is a very good wish but you have to make me a deal. If you decide to go you have to take us all with you because I don't want you going by yourself!"

10 minutes later the boys were preparing to go with T to our friends to ride mini-me-bikes. The little, itty bitty dirtbikes. Two years ago T's best friend died in a motorcycle accident so this was a first and T was extremely anxious about the boys riding motorcycles, little or not. But they got back 'on the horse' and had a great time. Now the boys can't sleep because they are so excited about riding on a real dirt track next weekend with Mike and T.

So while getting ready to go, Braeden was so excited and I kissed him and told him, "you be careful!", to which he said, "don't worry mommy, I'm not going to die" in the most reassuring little voice ever. To which I smiled and thought to myself, I'm just glad you didn't win the wishbone today sweetie... A girl can only take so much stress!

** the picture above is with his Ephesian's soldier bear. We got another to take to his buddy Amanuel in TWENTY-SEVEN DAYS!!! I took pictures of the kids with theirs to put in Amanuel's photo album I am bringing him. Little man sleeps with his bear everynight and it has been a great memory tool (for mommy, not for the kids!) We have been writing to our Compassion children referencing Ephesians 6. Braeden's Kindergarten teacher told me that one day he was making an army truck in the block center to remind him that he "was a soldier for God." My mom says he is the one that is going to grow up to be a pastor. With his wit and stories, I'm thinking mega-church....

Ephesians 6: 13-17
13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What's up??

So in the last couple days:
- T was laid off from his very successful job we had planned on being a career.
- I went from part-time speech therapist / mom, to full-time therapist over-night.
- Overnight, I also went from a positive, happy ball of faith to a sniffling, pile of pity.
- We went from planning on moving to Chapel Hill for an even better job -
- To a big question mark????
- I went from having too much to say to being pretty much speechless. I'll let you know when things change a bit.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Things they say.....

This is one that may become a regular if my kids (especially Braeden) keep up being so darn cute.

** Our neighbor said Braeden came to her door the other day with a little cup. He said he was "collecting money for Compassion". "Oh really", she said. Then he thrust forward the cup and said, "and they take CREDIT CARDS too!"

** the other night I helped him make a LEGO helicopter. He said "thank you SO much Mommy!". A couple minutes later he came over and said, "And I think that deserves a HUG!" (Although 2 min. later when the wings and other various parts started falling off, he threw it to the floor, smashing it into more pieces, and went to his room to pout.) Oh well, we all can't be sweet all the time.

** Before Christmas, my dad gave each grandchild a stack of rolled coins totaling $20 for them to spend on presents for their family (BTW, a very good idea and lots of fun shopping!) Braeden has just realized the value of money and smoothly started scooting Addison's pile over toward him telling my mom and dad, "I'll take Addison's. She doesn't care for money very much."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A different perspective

Not to scare any prospective parents or moms/dads to singles, but for a house with 3 children, we spend approximately the following amounts (I am ashamed to say):

Daycare - $460 a month for Addison; over vacations or summer when the boys are also enrolled, that increases to $1180 a month. Thank goodness the summer is only 3 months!
Grocery - around $480 a month for our family of 5 to eat. Not counting the toilet paper or toothpaste.
Eating Out - last count at least $150 a month
Home expenses - (house + electricity, phone, water, etc.) @ $1500
Medical - around $50 per month
Clothing - average $100 a month
Fun (football, gymnastics) - around $70 a month

So at minimum, to house, clothe, feed, and keep my 3 entertained takes at least a whopping $2810. That is mind-boggling.

Here are the $2810 a month priceless, beautiful children:

(that's them telling me 'thank you' in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia. For $2810 a month, I think they need to learn it in about 4 more languages for me to be getting my money's worth!)

Now to put that in a different perspective. In my budget is also $96 a month. A little more than what I spend on "fun". That $96 provides to 3 different children:
Medical - shots and basic or emergency care; routine check-ups.
Education - school supplies, fees, and / or uniforms and tutoring. Life skills training for future.
Food - clean water and supplemental nutrition for those in countries needing it, nutritious meals at the center
Fun - a chance to play and just be a kid in a safe surrounding; occasional field trips; interaction with others without the worries of the outside world
Salvation - not only from the hopelessness of growing up with no opportunities or chance at escaping poverty - but the exposure to the salvation only given by our true savior, Jesus Christ.
Love - love from the center workers. Love from our family through letters, drawings, and pictures. The knowledge that for some reason, they have a family very far away that believes in them and thinks that they do not HAVE to grow up in poverty just like their parents. But that they can do more and be more. Successful, Christian adults who give back to their communities.

Sounds like a deal doesn't it?? This New Year's, instead of resolutions to loose weight (that you know you probably wont); to waste less money (that you also probably wont); to spend more time with your family .....

Why don't you also include - to think outside the box, outside of your own family, and see what it feels like to know that you can be life-altering for someone else? Something you can't do at a $32 a meal Chili's, something you can't do at Old Navy when you spend $32 on clothes you probably didn't need anyway; something you can't do for $32 for a movie and popcorn; or here, or here, or there. Thirty-two dollars. It's just a little a month, but a huge impact on a little life.

For the two of you that read this blog, I realize I am preaching to the choir. I know you, I know you already have a passion for Compassion International and for the work it does. But could you forward this web address to everyone else you know and see if in this New Year, there might be someone else who would be willing to bless the life of a child by giving them a different perspective?

Matthew 18:10 "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."

Eye Update

It is now day 12 post-surgery. My cells have obviously still not completely grown back as my vision is still very blurry and I have to squint to read or type. And please, I beg of you, stay away from me at night while driving, for your own safety. I have absolutely no depth perception and am pretty sure I drive like your 90 year old grandmother. The Dr. said it should only be a couple more weeks. As T said, "you're thinking it's just going to be your luck, aren't you??" In that I am thinking I will be one of the few that this doesn't work for and I will still be in contacts or glasses after all this is said and done. I'll keep ya updated. Until then, I'm the one driving 35 down the highway looking for my turn through squinted eyes. Watch out.

Simply Glamorous

The most eventful moment in my life this week has been a trip to the salon. How sad. I finally gave up on my 'box job' do's and decided to suck it up and spend the money on a real hairstyle. Considering that my roots had grown out about 2 inches, were 30% gray, and I had fried my ends with multiple do-it-yourselvers, T was begging me to go and spend the money. (Can you tell who the frugal one is in this relationship??) So I go to my normal salon (if you call an appt. every 4 months regular), request whoever has an opening and get the sweetest little Southern Belle, 9 month pregnant stylist. She ends up being a blast and 3 1/2 hours later, after an entire head dye, then highlights, then a cut and style - we close down the salon and I happily write her a decent tip. So here are the results:

I'm too lazy to drag the camera out for a picture of just ME, so you'll have to make due with my computer photo-booth. So today I feel all pur-ty and go out to shop at my favorite consignment store, buy 4 shirts, a tote, and a purse for $16 (total!) and come back home feeling all dolled up. After a short New Year's party at a friends, T rang in the New Year snoring in his Lazy Boy watching the Carolina game and I watched the clock tick over while shopping on eBaby. Man, don't I know how to live the high life!