Friday, February 19, 2010

Helping Haiti: Growing Empathy & Teaching our Children

With the whole earthquake that shook Haiti weeks ago, it also shook up our family in a much needed way. Living in America, we are pretty sheltered from the realities of life and the hurting around the world. Add to that, we don't have any cable or satellite tv, so we're not as aware of the news without purposing to find out. While we're not going to sign up for satellite now, we ARE praying for a purposeful awareness of the hurting around the world. These are human beings, with husbands and wives, babies, brothers and sisters, just like us, experiencing awful circumstances like extreme poverty, starvation, & death, while we are here literally stuffing our faces, & complaining about the weather. God, help us.

Not that we think we should ban ourselves from enjoying the pleasures God's given us. He's created these things for us to enjoy. But not to hoard. We're given much. Much is expected from us. God's given us so that we can give to others in Jesus' name. None of this is meant as a guilt trip or looking down at anyone. Just want to share our heart- what God's burdened us with, ideas He's given us to help, and maybe even for others to join with us in asking God to grow our empathy & teach our children to love much.

So, here are a few things we're doing that we'd love for you to take part in. Right now, directly to help Haiti, but we hope to keep doing things to help many others who are hurting. Please share your ideas, things you're doing, etc. that we may want to join in too!

1. "Chain of Love"- Bekah's crocheted chain necklaces & bracelets, & my mom crocheted hearts that we attached to hair clips, and we're selling them for $1 at Home Matters. All the money will go to Samaritan's Purse. Bekah's goal was $250 by the end of February. Right now, she's raised $205. This project came out of spending time during school learning about Haiti, asking questions to get her to think about if that happened here, and how we can help. She just learned how to crochet a chain & wanted to make them to sell in our store. How could Daddy say no? :)

2. Help for Haiti raffle tickets- buy a raffle ticket at Home Matters for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Home Matters. They're $1 per ticket, or 6 for $5. Wanting to use the business as a "platform" to help. All the money will go to Samaritan's Purse designated to Haiti.

3. After talking a lot about how little we can actually "DO" to help Haiti, we do not want to become discouraged in helping how we can. Praying about how to teach our kids the realities of the world in hunger issues and the realization that we have way more than most people in the world. That we even have an option of what food we might want for dinner is more than they have. Also aware of the very real financial pressures of lots of us, many do not have much "extra" to give. This is one way we can sacrifice in another area to help provide money to give towards helping Haiti. So, for the WEEK of March 1st-March 8th, our family will be eating oatmeal (or maybe you'll do cereal or pb&j) for dinner, to help us remember how many eat the same things over & over and are grateful just to have something to eat. Then, with the money we would usually have spent on our groceries for dinner, we will be giving to Samaritan's Purse to help Haiti. The time we save in not having to prep & make dinner, we'll use to look up more on Haiti and pray.

4. There is little we can physically do to help....but every little bit counts! If you can sew, you can help sew cloth diapers, dresses, & aprons for an orphanage in Haiti. So, get to sewing! Check out this link for more info on what they need & where to send it. We may even try to do a ladies night to get together to do this.

These are a few things God's given our family to be a small part of helping the hurting in Haiti, growing our empathy for those who are hurting, and teaching our children to be a part of relieving the hurting-in HIS name. Please join us- and share with us!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Blind Side-Seeing More Clearly

So, about a week or so ago, Gary and I finally got to go see The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock, about a true story of a wealthy christian couple that take in and eventually adopt a black teen. We'd been wanting to see that ever since we'd heard about the story line, but hadn't been able to til now- you know, new baby and all. We HIGHLY recommend the movie. We'll be buying it for our movie collection- definitely a keeper.
Of course, we love the whole idea of adoption, having a heart for that ourselves. Lord willing, one day we will adopt a child or two of our own. And we really related to the inner city stuff portrayed in the movie too, having had worked with the youth at the Mission in Houston. As we watched it, we were both flooded with memories and lots of emotions- and a very real longing to get back into ministry. We LOVE working with youth. When we got home from the movie, we talked for close to 3 hours, reminiscing, talking about different youth, camps, mission trips, events. It was a great time for us together.
More than it just being a big emotional time of being able to relate and all that, the movie portrayed the family in a way that really opened our eyes to some things more clearly. Got us thinking. Praying. Desiring to be more like that family- well, really, more like Christ.
1. Love that the family was rich. Not just cause we like rich. HA. No, but to see that there is a family that is well off and actually using their wealth to help others instead of hoarding and "getting" more for themselves. There's just a lot of preconceived ideas about people with money in christian circles, which I admit I once had, that are just wrong. I love seeing a family that is actually doing what God intended with what He gave them.
2. The family is white....oops...Caucasian...whatever! Not just upper class, but white too. They didn't use excuses like "we can't relate" or all the typical things we've heard in the list of reasons why people can't give of themselves to people different than themselves. They were able to just BE themselves and live life with Christ's love living through them.
3.The family is by no means perfect, but they are a family. Love the realness. And the unity. When wanting to make it all "official", they sat down as a family. Kids included. Their two natural children were just as much a part and just as eager for the official adoption and making Mike a part of the family. Because they had watched their parents give as a part of their life, this was not something strange, to give to a stranger. They wanted to take part too. And the parents were careful to be sensitive to and help their natural children through the process. Love that.
4. The wife was...what's a good word...fiesty. Her personality is strong. But she was still under her husband. He's the strong gentle type. She asked him and would check with him. It wasn't that it was all her. He was most definitely the leader. I love that she was free to be herself, have her more outward personality. I need to see that displayed- I am like that, and often struggle with the perception of me taking the lead just cause I am more outward and Gary's quieter, even though he's most definitely the leader. Leading doesn't mean always being seen or heard, and following doesn't mean always being in the dark.
5. The wife's "society friends" were so clueless. Very sincere. Wanting to be helpful. Be very, very ignorant. Not bad to just "not know"- it's reality. I am that way in a lot of areas. But hope to be teachable, and ready to change. They still supported her.
6. The HUGE one for me- they did not seek out to adopt. They were not "PURPOSING" to go out and help this boy. They were just living life- and I believe, a Spirit filled one, that allowed them to see and be aware of needs. Then, when they saw a need, they were a part of filling it. They saw that he needed a place to stay and offered him their place, which lead to the next need of realizing he had no other clothes and they got him clothes, which lead to him staying for the holiday, which lead to him living there, which lead to him being adopted. This family was not seeking out a poor, minority kid to try and help out...they weren't doing a good deed. They weren't trying hard to live a christian life. They just lived. As they went about life, they saw needs, and filled them, which led to more needs that they filled, etc, etc. We SO want to be that way. We don't want to just live every moment purposing to do this and do that, patting ourselves on the back for the good deed we did, the christian thing...who is that for, anyway? That's for me. We want to live a life well lived- one by the Spirit, being a part of the answer to the needs, to the prayers. It's not that we don't need to purpose to do things at times, as the Spirit leads. That's the whole point- purposing as HE leads, not just to go out and do so we can check it off the list or feel good about ourselves. We want to have love flowing out of us from the source of true love, God Himself. Not just purposed acts of love. Pure love.
God used this movie to help us see more clearly. Think a bit. Pray a LOT. Definitely not try harder. Just rely heavier. God, help us! Open our eyes, soften our hearts, and help us to be a part of life. Love through us.