Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stuck in a phone booth

Ever have the feeling that you could just dive face-down into a 10 gallon vat of chocolate chip mint ice cream and just stay there until your nose fell off? Or maybe sit and soak in a hot tub until your fingers become paper thin and wrinkled beyond recognition? Just me, huh??

Beware - the following is a rant. If you are currently sunshine and lollipops, you may want to hit that back button immediately:
I'm not getting life. How the weather can be absolutely perfect here in South Carolina, trips to the ball field relaxing and fun, children behaving themselves, and still it just seems so darn dark...

I can get 3 kids sponsored for Compassion, but be so bummed about the other 37 still in a box.

I can witness on-line to so many of you and sometimes even receive positive responses... and still witness to another and get an emotional equivalent of a door slammed in my face.

I have a job where I play with babies for Heaven's sake! And yet I have to force myself to smile somedays..

I have a great church we are members of, and yet I have Sundays without feeling or emotion, much less true worship..

I can have a wonderful home, great car, decent clothes, and yet I am so weary of vacuuming, washing, and putting away that I feel like a chambermaid on minimum wage...

I live in a country where we (for the time being) are allowed to worship where we want, say what we want, and be who we want; and I dwell on all the freedoms that we are slowly loosing. Feeling like everyone else is oblivious to our downward spiral and I'm the idiot on the street corner yelling at the passer-byers...

I have 'friends' on facebook, blogger friends, a couple followers, but still don't have the closeness it seems everyone else must have...

I think that's why the internet is so addicting - you can sprint away - read about someone else's life - research about something you will never do - escape...

I'm not looking for sympathy. Not looking for "I'll pray for you" responses. Just needing a moment to purge, I guess.

A guess I just feel like I'm superwoman whose stuck in the phone booth, knowing I have a job to do, but being too weak to get the stupid door to open. Looking great in appearances but sitting there feeling trapped and hopeless. I'm just glad I have a Higher Power that's gonna come around tomorrow, or the next day, or the next - and will tear that door off the hinges. Now if I could only remember the number to call Him???

Friday, April 24, 2009

Das Not Funny Friday

So in this week's addition of Das Not Funny we have:

** Addison's sweet spanking: I had bought a gift for my friend Jerry in Ethiopia for her upcoming graduation. Thank goodness I had followed my roommate Gina to buy extremely over-priced miniature Snickers bars in the airport gift store or I may have just had to be hospitalized from chocolate-withdrawal shakes while over-seas. Ethiopia shops aren't laden with Almond Joys, Twix, or even Hershey Kisses. I KNOW, I couldn't believe it either!!! So, I thought best to include my new friend in my addiction (so now I guess I'm an international dealer) and I included two bags of MnMs in the box. Since they melt in your mouth and not in the international package postal box, I hope...

So while I was putting the gift together, Addison picked up the plain pink MnMs and I said, "don't touch those, those are for mommy's friend in Ethiopia." So a few minutes later I hear, chink-chink-plink-dink (hey, that's the closest I can come to writing out how little candy sounds hitting the floor). So I go to her, being a little ticked I can't mail the box the next day, and fuss about disobeying mommy and stealing the candy right AFTER I had just said, don't take that. But hey, I should have had more compassion as this IS my child and a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to feed the habit. So I put her in bed and proceed to sit in front of the computer and eat the jumbo sized bag of plain MnMs. Cause I couldn't give them to her, right? That would have just been wrong! Thank goodness she didn't open the peanut bag, cause I'm not all about the peanut, it clashes with the chocolately heaven that is Hershey.

** Braeden's nutritional advice - My father-in-law dropped in to visit this weekend. The kids only see him a couple times a year and Braeden proclaimed with all seriousness, "Why is Papaw's belly so BIG?? He needs to eat some vegetables!" I could only laugh.. and agree..


Funny how all roads lead back to Compassion for me, isn't it??

The boys are now doing a weekly Bible study about the book of Daniel with some other 6 little pre-teen boys. Bless those 2 moms who take them all in for an hour and a half every week. I'm brave, but not THAT brave! They are even shooting their own movie each week so I'm sure this is going to be one to remember, especially when they are oh, 18, and I'm feeling like showing it to their prom dates...

So last week during one of our daily studies, we had to discuss the meaning of 'compassion'. And thank goodness after 2 years of drilling that word into my little ones brains, they actually were able to answer that question pretty accurately with, "it's when you feel bad for someone who needs something." Woo-HOO!!

This evening, after game #2 in our season of #469 games - Seth's team just creamed the poor little opponent. I'm talking 24-2 and the other 2 runs were made in the last inning when all our starters were either deep in the outfield or on the bench. Walking away from the field, Seth looks up at me with pitiful eyes and says sadly, "I really felt sorry for the other team." I told him I was really glad to hear that, that hopefully he will always feel that way and know not to make fun of others who are trying their best. And that my little soon-to-be-too-cool-to-talk-to-me boy child, is Compassion. Thank you Jesus, they are listening at least some of the time to my incessant babbling....

Friday, April 17, 2009

Das Not Funny Friday

These aren't that funny but they are just the cutest to mommy, and that being me, they're going on my blog.

** Addison's new favorite mealtime prayer was learned at school - "A-B-C-D-E-F-G-thank you God for foodin me." Not my favorite, meaningful conversation with God but pretty darn cute none-the-less.

** Last weekend, while helping to baby-sit her cousin-twin Calista (the new big sister), Addison teaches her a new song while buckled in the back seat at the hospital "Put your right arm in, put your right arm out, Put your right arm in, and you shake it all about. You do the Hopey-Popey and you turn yourself about. That's what it's all about - HO-PEY PO-PEY!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Don't Look Away

Let me preface this writing to let you know I struggled with this one. I definitely don't want to be the type of in-your-face Christian that turns people away from Christ because of an over-zealousness. So I wrote this, I slept on it, I ran it past some great friends. But then I got this devotion in my email this morning about the three servants with the talents, that ended with the following:
"So today, I purpose to use my all in service of God
when He gives me an
assignment, no matter how risky it
feels. Otherwise, I am denying the amazing
grace of
God available to me,and rendering useless the gifts
my Master has
given me. So let's learn from this
servant by refusing to remain immobilized

when we're afraid to fail.

Dear Lord, help me manage my time, talent, money,
body and relationships in ways
that please You,
and grow Your Kingdom. Deliver me from fearing
of failure. In
Jesus' Name, Amen."
So God says post it - so here it is. Watch your toes again, but remember, this one was written for myself as much as it was for you:

How often do we see things that make us look away? A scene from a movie which turns our stomach? Someone in pain or sickness? The man holding the cardboard sign on the side of the road? The commercial about children with cancer? Why is that?? Why is it that when confronted with uncomfortable images, our minds cannot allow that image to be seared into our consciousness so we look away, or we close our eyes? Are we, as humans, so weak that we cannot stand anything negative imposing on our perfect little world? Or is it that we think ourselves so strong that we have the power to push all pain and negativity aside?

This weekend, at an Easter service of all things, I was forced to close my eyes. To try to block out the pain. But the very thing I was trying to avoid, was in fact the thing that on that very day, is being celebrated world-wide. Christ's death on a cross. The image of my Lord, being beaten, tortured, and bleeding to death - is one that I could only stand strong for so long, before I had to close my eyes. How weak am I???

What stands out to me is that as churches celebrated Easter, and the risen Savior, how we close our eyes to "Good Friday". 'Yeah, He died on the cross.... But on Sunday He rose again! He conquered death, He is our salvation.' But when we skip from Palm Sunday, to Resurrection Day - what are we leaving out?? We are glossing over the moment of battle! The moment when Jesus stepped forward and raised His hand. He raised His hand and said "I'll die for them." And how easy is it for us to forget what a price He paid, and instead, even as Christians, receive the gift with our eyes closed to that pain?

Because it is much easier, to sing our songs of rejoicing in the Risen Lord. To fix our eyes on the empty tomb. To imagine the glorified body of Christ stepping forth. But on Easter, there also needs to be the realization that that body was beaten beyond recognition. Not just a few thorn scratches and nails in his palms, but beaten to the point of death. Not a little line of blood coming from his lip, but blood covering His entire body. And that is an image we don't want to face as it is an image that hurts. But that is the image God wanted us to remember. It is so much easier to limit the broken body to a little cup of grape juice and a pinch of bread than to remember the true broken body of Christ as He intended us to.

Throughout the Bible, God consistently gave pictures or images to His people to allow them to remember, to relate, and to understand. He began with the killing of animals to cover Adam and Eve's sin. The rainbow to remind Noah that He keeps His promises. The slaying of a Passover Lamb to save the Israelites from death. Those images were seared in the early Jews minds, and so much so that they repeated that visual imagery every year with the sacrifice of an innocent lamb. So how is it that on the most important day of history - we think we can blindly skip past the pain Christ went through, the image of Him hanging on a cross, and jump straight into His forgiveness without pausing to truly recognize His sacrifice? God gave the world that image for us to remember how serious our sin is.

In the recent Passion play we took the kids to, I took Addison to the back of the church to try to shield her little eyes from the jeering crowd, the whips of the soldiers, the blood of Christ. But from the back of the church, her little voice could be heard whispering, "Where is God? I can't see God? They put God on the cross! Where are they putting God?" My child's words were able to open my eyes. This was not just any man who died for our sins. This man was GOD.

Don't get me wrong, I think Easter is to celebrate the risen Lord. To celebrate the eternal life He gives. But how can we rejoice when there are others who are still trapped in their sins and darkness? Who have not come to the foot of the cross and looked up on that battered body and accepted that man as their God? Do we honestly think that if we, or someone else, is 'good', if they occasionally make an appearance at a church somewhere, if they sometimes say a prayer before a meal - that Christ will look down from His seat on high and say "Well done, my good and faithful servant". That He went through a gruesome death, for a mediocre commitment? We can never "be good" enough for what he did for us. And that's why we have to open our eyes, look to the cross, and embrace Him as our savior. And that's why we have to then point others to that cross and then get to the work that he asked us to do: serving and loving others, being his hands and feet, truly worshipping Him, following all He commanded. So that His death is not minimalized but instead glorified.

John 14:5-7 " Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

John 14:23-24 "Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Das Not Funny Friday (on a Sunday)


Just to join in the fun that is us, insane blogger moms:
It’s finally Friday (or a Sunday..)! How many times this week did you hear or see something and think… “Das Not Funny!” but then realize that it actually was pretty funny? Well, such is the purpose of this blogapolooza known as Das Not Funny! Friday.
Check out this blog to see what else is not funny. Plus, by going over here you can see who else has seen or heard something and thought Das Not Funny! then stifled a giggle or even laughed out loud! Come on, you know you wanna…

So in honor of Das Not Funny Friday:
Today, on Sunday:

I'm taking my Sunday nap like a normal, God-lovin Southerner should (but my husband is up and about, before you call DSS) - and I hear Braeden tell his little next door neighbor girlfriend. "Yeah, I'm gonna microwave the egg." NOT a good thing, I'm thinking. So I quickly yell out from the bedroom - "Braeden NO. Do NOT do that!" My little man loves America's Funniest Home Videos and I'm guessing this is probably a copy-cat stunt.

5, maybe 10, minutes later I'm on the phone with my sister and hear a loud "BOOM!!!!!" You guessed it.... the egg. All over the microwave.....

So now he's cleaned it all up and is in his room while I contemplate at what age I may let him out. I'm thinking next Friday sounds pretty good, just so he can give me something else 'not funny' to write about.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

From Abraham

Just in case you haven't been convinced YET about the effectiveness of Compassion (and I'm not talking about the economic success stories, but instead the Heavenly ones..) Another of the translators from the trip, Abraham, has wrote me as he felt led to share his testimony with me. Which I now feel led to share with you. I did run that thought by him and he enthusiastically agreed, but did ask me to clean up the grammar errors, so here is the edited version. I'll let him speak for himself and let you be led to do with this info as God wills it.

Today I am inspired and encouraged to share my life testimony with you. The following is what God did in my life through Compassion. I was born on July 14, 1984 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I am about 24 years old now and I am soon to be 25. I am the first born of my family. I have one brother and one sister. I think my father married my mother at an early age as she was not mature enough for marriage. They divorced after I and my sister were born, and after many discussions, they remarried again and then my brother was born on July 10, 1993. After that, they divorced permanently. Now my father is married to another lady and is living in one of the country sides of Ethiopia, which is about more than 500 km away from where I live. By the way I don't know who my father is, as from my early ages I was living with my grand-father and grand-mother. From an early age of 2 or late 1. My parents were not in agreement on the place to live, so they were most of the time fighting. And after my mother divorced, she joined us in the home where we are living now (my grand-parent's home).

This is a little bit about my mother and father and let me tell you how Compassion impacted my life. My families were very poor, meaning they were from the poorest of the poor. It was really very hard for all of us to survive as it was very hard for all of us even to eat three time a day. Forget the clothing and the school fees, it was so hard for all of us to eat three times and be satisfied. No one was permanently employed and even those who are employed were daily laborers. Their pay per day was less than 1 USD. We (all of my families including me and my mom) would gather fire wood and sell the fire wood so that we could support our selves. Life was becoming so hard and so harsh for all of us. My mom couldn't bring fire wood as the goverment wouldn't let her. And this was the time that my mom heard about Compassion and went to get there to get me registered. The first time she went there she couldn't get me registered, as the due date had passed and the quota had already been reached. So she was hopeless and helpless to feed me and others too. And at the time we are very much in need, God brought me another opportunity to be registered in Compassion, when I was a grade 2 student. And through the project, each things which were important for growth were fulfilled. We were given the chance to have food supplied every three months, cleaning materials, clothings, school fees, and we also were given the chance to have recreation program and so on. By the way my family was a large family. In a single room there were more than 8 members of the house. And as I told you, almost all of them were unemployed.

God started to lead my life to His ways. When I started to get those things I started to be encouraged. God brought me to His ways. My families were from the Coptic Orthodox faith. And I was not in Christ. I was a demon possessed boy. When I was a grade 8 student I was converted and God brought me to Christ. And I was released from the spirit when I was a grade 10 student. And I started to live a safe life in Christ. Then I started to learn the basics of Christianity and I went through baptism on June 04, 2002. I started to serve God as a youth Bible Study leader. And also I was serving on an Evangelism team which served in reaching the lost ones. The other thing I was doing was teaching my peers, or leading them in Bible study.

When I was about to join University, I heard about the Leadership Development Program (LDP). I applied for the program and with God's help, I joined LDP in October 2006. There God was inspiring me to do a lot. In LDP, I was fully sponsored. Meaning my school cost sharing was covered, school fees were covered, and there was also pocket money. And beyond that, we were inspired to be a leader. There is something that I want say here. That is about John the baptist's ministry and its relation with compassion's ministry in my life. As you know he was paving the way for Christ. As John the baptist was doing, in my life the Child Development Sponsorship program was paving the way for Christ, for me to be converted and to accept Christ as my personal Savior. And the other thing, LDP was paving the way for me to be a servant leader. Now I believe that God is making me a fulfilled Christian Adult and now I am a servant leader. Thank God He did this in my life. Now in my family I am not the only Christian. My brother, my Sister, three of my aunts, and my nephew are now converted. They accepted Christ Jesus as their personal Savior.

In my Campus I was serving as a fellowship leader.I graduated from Campus in June 07, 2007, and from LDP in November 17, 2007. My degree is in Forestry. For one year, I was teaching kids. And now I am working for Compassion as a Sponsor and Donor Ministry Associate. And also, I am serving as a youth Bible study leader and on a committee of LDP Alumni. This is a little bit about my life and what God has done in my life. So please be encouraged through this life testimony. Be a defender of the poor and speak up for those who can not speak for themselves. God Bless you very much for the ear that you gave me to hear my life testimony. You are doing great thing. There is a reward for you in the hand of God. And so sorry for the poor English that I use. I will try to share with you more about the vision that God gave me some another time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Easter Dessert

Tonight T and I took the kids to a Passion play in a nearby town that our friends were starring in. Before the play opened they had a "Walk through Jerusalem" outside where the kids could pet and feed the animals and visit the "market" as the costumed characters, soldiers, and children danced and conversed. The play was amazing - really worth the 45 min drive there. They did a great job of working in current Christian contemporary songs that the kids were familiar with. All 3 made it through the hour and 45 min. show without a wiggle or a whine. So that should tell you how good it was!

A parallel was made with one of the supporting characters being a little boy who was to care for the Passover lamb. As he cared for the lamb and became attached to it, his difficulty in letting it be given for sacrifice at the end of the week was depicted. "Father, it isn't fair! Can't we get another lamb in it's place? It hasn't done anything to deserve to be killed!" His father then pointed out that God requires an innocent beings blood to cover the sins that we commit, to remind us how serious our breaking God's rules really are as the lamb dies in our place. To see that adorable, real-life lamb in that little boy's arms and realize what a visual image that must have been to the Jewish people was an eye opener. It was a great illustration of Christ's death on the cross, which was also portrayed very tastefully without shielding the kids from the realization that He did suffer and He was in pain, both physical and emotional, because of our disobedience. I know that in the past, I have struggled with why exactly Christ HAD to die. Couldn't God just forgive us without having to put His son through that pain? But then what would be the incentive to living a righteous life, if you knew free forgiveness was always just around the corner? But to know that that righteousness was bought at a price, it's kind of like having your meal paid for by someone else. Most of us would not order 2 appetizers, lobster, dessert, and $6 cocktails if we knew someone else was footing the bill. How much more of a sin to rack up on disobedience after Christ paid such a high price for us. Or that's how I am able to wrap my mind around it, anyway. So on this Easter, it's not about the cute and fuzzy bunnies, or even the chocolate (God bless Cadbury eggs, I'm sure they will be in Heaven) - it's about Him footing the bill, and Heaven is the dessert He has specially prepared and waiting for us. And I'm all for bringing on the dessert!