Tag: compassion

A rhyming trifecta of goals for 2011

Oh yes, I am reflecting. Last year was a big year. Too big, in hindsight, perhaps. The ups and downs were huge and exhausting. The obstacles seemed constant. The milestones were boulder-sized. Even the victories were pretty draining. {Pictured: Us on the last night of Branson GMC 2010…oh, what a week! }

I need a  s l o w d o w n.

It seems odd to say that I want this year to be smaller, but I mean that in every way. I don’t want a bunch of big changes. I don’t want to try a bunch of new things. Instead, I want to weed, and I want to take stuff that is working for us and hone in on it. I want fewer adventures (did I just say that)?

Don’t get me wrong. If someone were to call tomorrow and say, “Hey! We want to send you on a blogging missions trip to [insert foreign country here]!” or “Your family just won a trip to EuroDisney” or something equally enthralling that I wouldn’t be jumping up and down. And I certainly still hope our house sells. And I wouldn’t mind trying, for real really trying, to finally get The Book written, but mostly, this year, here is what I am working for:

a healthier me.
That is a must. It involves sacrifices and focus changes, but the bottom line is that serious weight needs to be dropped. Period. Enough said.

a stealthier me
Last year my “2010 prayer” was for wisdom and peace. Well, they both came to me.. but they were hard fought for. Peace came not through inexplicable  truces or changes of others’ hearts, but most often through letting go of people and relationships and even desires that caused stress and tension in our lives. For me, that is still the hardest thing to do, next to… restraining myself. And, through another marvel of how God works, I learned this year that wisdom is nearly synonymous with restraint. (If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all). We don’t always have to stick up for ourselves. We don’t always have to explain ourselves. Sometimes, the best wisdom of all is to be quiet. And by God’s grace, the encouragement (and sometimes duct tape) of my husband and a trusted circle, and yes, through my own growth, I learned to shut my mouth this past year.

Now, in the next year, it is my thoughts I hope to quiet. Because not saying/texting/tweeting anything out loud at times didn’t stop me from inner anguish or sleepless nights, and I don’t believe that is the plan for me. SO… I am stepping back a lot from “social networking,” – not entirely – but by intentionally removing FB & Twitter shortcuts and bookmarks from my phone and computer, by immersing myself in WordFeud (yep – it’s like substituting mints for cigarettes or something. I need a vice, and at least this one stretching my brain instead of cluttering it), by reading more books (my first love anyway!), I am removing the need for constant communication, mainly because it invites worry and drama. Worry is already in my genes; I don’t need an IV hook-up of more. And drama is something I have come to deplore, and many times FB just seems to be a hotbed for it. I’m going to use the phone over email and texting when I can. I am going to continue sending cards and letters regularly (one of last year’s resolutions that worked nicely). And when I have “something” to share, be it a random life-as-a-mom anecdote or something a bit deeper, it will go here, to  my blog, because I want to share it. I will not sit in hopes that some blogging conglomerate or Important Social Media Person will take notice. God gave me words. I pay them forward. No need to change that.

a wealthier me
OK…cute rhyme, but a bit of a misnomer. No, I am not playing the lotto in hopes of big riches. We’re continuing to shape what our careers look like. We are cutting our consumption of things to allow us to “consume” more experiences. And most importantly to me, I want to increase my wealth of knowledge this year by regular studying. I MISS SCHOOL, so much, but now is not the time for me to return to a traditional classroom as a student or a teacher…so through teaching my girls, I am going to become a regular learner myself. I am currently force feeding my way through American history and working on my vocabulary. Maybe something fancier like a foreign language will follow. Additionally, I will read the Bible in a more “study-like” way…not trying to plow through pages but to get deeper meanings. This year some wonderful teachings at my local church and great discussions with friends have shed new light on scriptures I’ve known forever. I want more of that!

Additionally, I am embracing the belief that less is more. This is an outgrowth of my “SIMPLIFY!” goal from last year. I chased a lot of rainbows this year, be it endeavors or people. I am done with that. There is a precious group of people which fills my days and thoughts and message boxes and I need to spend my emotions on them. There are some things I have been doing for years (namely: writing and giving my time) that God has blessed. I will keep doing that, in the circle where I live. If God calls me to something wider, I think the call will be clear. Until then, I’m sticking with what I know. I know there are people around me who need a little boost, a call, a hug, a meal, a card. I know there is a little boy in Colombia and a little girl in Peru who wait for our letters and are enriched for eternity by the little we send. I know there are people blessed by my husband’s singing, and so I will continue to serve him in his ministry. {Pictured:  A letter being sent to our Compassion child, who does not care what chart, stage or association we are on! }

And, though sometimes it bewilders me, I know there is a week in Branson that we will work all year to make happen. And I no longer care about who doesn’t accept it, who thinks it’s a competition, who thinks it’s not good enough. God gave that dream to my husband, who passed it on to me. We’re doing it until HE says stop. And we’re not doing it for acceptance or esteem in a genre, we’re not doing it to make a living, we’re not doing it to elevate anyone but the Lord. I have struggled and struggled and wrestled with the future of Branson GMR…only because I have struggled so much about what people think and say it should or shouldn’t be. And the bottom line there is…we want to celebrate, make music, and worship together in a great town with wonderful people. Rod and I will work to make it excellent, enjoyable, entertaining, and above all, anointed. That’s all I have to say about that.

The end of 2010 is welcome for me. I think I have wrung everything out of this year that I can. We closed the books on having babies in the house ( no more cribs or diapers or boosters, though I still add a “for now” on the end of that statement). In a lot of ways, we no longer have “teenagers,” since Josh moved out and Paige functions so much like an adult (PS lurkers: We are still their parents…it’s just different). We closed the books on some things we thought would be, and we are looking forward to mining and reaping and enjoying what actually is. I pray the same for you this year…along with good health, peace,togetherness, and a daily dose of God’s amazing grace.

Roadschooling and how to change a life

Dedicated to my road/homeschool mommy pals: Maureen, Deanna, MarthaJulie & Renee. Miss you all!

Today we visited a radio station. I wanted to consider it a bit of a field trip for Miranda and Kaity, but ~

they met Jessica, and liked her, a LOT.

So they did not see the studio or go live on the air. In fact, it was difficult to get them to take a picture with their Daddy while he was on the air.

But they did play office with Jessica, seemingly mastering the most important part: ordering lunch.
(For the record, the lunch being ordered was pepperoni pizza and spaghetti. My children are all about the carb-laden office diet… which of course, calls for mid-afternoon sugar!)

While Miranda and Kaity were keeping Jessica’s hands busy protecting office equipment, Rod was on the air with our friend Bruce Edwards, the drive-time voice of Lexington’s almost 25-year old southern gospel station. However, music was not the subject in question

this photo by keelymariescott.com
Our trip to Colombia with Compassion International was.

The staff at WCGW have decided to sponsor a child!

So today, the life of Robinson, a 14 year old boy in Nicaragua, was forever changed.

Every time a child is sponsored, it means that the project church he attends received funding earmarked for him – funds that help provide DAILY healthy meals, clothes, school supplies, and sometimes, even medical care or help for his family.

Most importantly – MOST importantly, it means that this kiddo will now have a personal relationship with a sponsor who loves him, sends encouragement to him, prays for him, and cheers for him.

Jessica, your words will mean the world! – Want to know how I know?

Well for one, there’s Leo.

For two, meet Ben. We did this past Friday at the NQC Compassion breakfast.

Ben was born in a city in Kenya whose name translates to “trash.”

When he was eight years old, he began attending a Compassion project and started school.

He is now in his 20s. He graduated with a degree in Physics. And his family? All believers in Christ!

Think your words don’t mean anything?

Think what you show your kids on field trips or in your daily life don’t amount to much?

Your words and actions, to a child, can change a life!

Labor Day, Leonardo, and the power of words

Tonight on the street we passed a church marquee that said, “On Labor Day, we pray for those seeking jobs.”

Now, we were wizzing by on the motorcycle, but we weren’t going so quickly that I couldn’t read and process that comment. I know that Labor Day was not initially formed so that we could have a “last official weekend of summer,” a handy deadline for open beaches and white pants and the general free feeling of days when the sun shines longer. But honestly, I am a bit fuzzy on the origins of the holiday (reading up here). That said, I enjoyed the idea of praying for unemployed, felt bad that it never occurred to me, and made plans to act on that.

Just minutes before, I’d made a comment to Rod about a church sign  down the street. The sign there is one that literally changed my life 2 years ago when it advertised the moms’ group to which I belong. I have written about how that group has made me a better mom, a better wife, a better Christian. I often talk about how it brought me to women who have become dear friends, like sisters, to me, and how their children and mine love each other.

It’s a powerful sign.

Which is what I said to Rod as we passed it. That sign is in front of a big church, on a busy street, in a fairly prominent area. It had the power to draw me and several others I know inside its doors for a life-changing, God-honoring experience. But sadly, at least today, it bears a fairly unintelligible “witticism” that will certainly cause people to ponder it for a moment but really has nothing to do with honoring God or letting people know what they might find inside the church.

Too bad. It’s a powerful sign.

I am a writer. The power of words is never lost on me. I do drafts of everything I write, even Facebook statuses sometimes. I have, on several occasions, had to go back and delete something I posted in the name of social networking fun or pointedness, because I know how much words can distract OR destroy people.

Earlier in the summer, on the first morning of our blood/sweat/tears event, I posted a very simple line from an old hymn, one affirming what I wanted that day to hold more than anything. (The line, in fact, was “All to Jesus, I surrender”). Moments later, a “friend” posted her own status, clearly mocking mine, as she had done in the past. Words have the power to distract.

Later that same week, after some, ohshallwesay, drama of the southern gospel nature had taken place, I became a little obsessed with the negative words being said by some people I’d believed were our friends. It didn’t matter that what they were saying wasn’t true or fair or even that not a lot of people were listening. What mattered to me, at the time, was that those words hurt to the point of depression, discouragement, and doubt… because words have the power to destroy.

Thankfully, they also have the power to lift, to enlighten, and even to change someone’s eternity.

~~~> Enter Leo.

Leonardo is an interpreter in Bogota, Colombia for Compassion International. We met him on the first day of our recent trip. I was sitting near the front of our bus with Anhi, and he was helping me talk to her. In the midst of that discussion, I learned about how words changed Leo’s life. It went something like this:

I was translating letters for Compassion while I was in college. It was my dream to study in the United States, but I had gotten my girlfriend pregnant, and that wasn’t going to happen. I remember that in translating so many letters, I kept reading about a future and a hope. I wanted to know the Jesus those sponsors talked about. And now I do.

Leo’s smile when he talks about this story will light a city block, as it will when he speaks of his now-wife, his three year old son, and their baby girl on the way.

There is power in words… to change a life!

Among the many mind-blowing, heart-growing experiences we had in Colombia, many which encouraged us in writing as often and as intentionally to our sponsored kids as possible, Leo’s story is one I share in the first minute of talking about our journey. The people writing those letters had no idea who would be reading them, and if they were like me pre-Colombia, they’d probably never thought about the life, frame of mind, or needs of the interpreter. But I always will now…

There is power in words, a power that makes me check mine more carefully (most of the time, Italian temper being taken into account) in light of all the instances recorded here.

There is power in words.

How will you use yours?

> To learn more about Compassion International.
> Write to your sponsored child online.
> If you live in Chicagoland or NW Indiana> more information about Moms & More.

Muppets & memories

I don’t really remember the Muppet Movie so much, but when I was in junior high choir, we sang a medley of songs from the soundtrack. One of them, even then, struck me as so sad and poignant, and the last few days, it is prevalent in my mind.

“Close to my soul and yet so far away… I’m going to go back there someday.”

It’s not just Colombia.. it’s the people I met who truly found a way into my heart.. it’s the singularity of purpose and hope we shared during our time together.. it’s the openness around us that is usually so rare in our cynical everyday world.

“There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met…”

So I will settle for the pictures , the lyrics, and some sweet, forever kind of memories.