Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

This year Mother's Day has been a bit of a mixed bag.  I feel almost schizophrenic in my emotions.  On one side it is probably one of my favorite holidays.  Not because it is about "me" but because it is celebrating what my Bug and I have together.  I love being a Mommy, even when I am exhausted or frustrated or in an "over it" moment I still absolutely, without a doubt love being a mommy.  It is an honor and a privilege that I do not take lightly.

This year I have become more aware of how, for some people, Mother's Day can be a reminder of painful experiences.  For some precious women it is a reminder that they have a loved one that is no longer here.  For some beautiful women it is a reminder that the plans to have a baby did not follow the expected path.  Just yesterday I sat in a room with some wonderful people that are working towards adoption.  I don't know any of their stories but I wonder what today is like for them, not yet able to hold the child that has been birthed in their hearts already.  

Then I think about the moms of the 25,000 children that will die on Mother's Day from preventable diseases.  While I enjoy Mother's Day breakfast and the gift of a homemade card from my Bug another mother somewhere in the world will be mourning the loss of her child.  Many days it is thoughts like these that keep me awake at night.  

I can get so stuck in the mourning of these lives that it paralyzes me.  I wonder if you struggle with that too?  So, in light of all of this, what can we do?  How can we make Mother's Day and every day a day to help?  How can we, as Mothers and powerful Godly women, reach out to those without a voice?

We can make purposeful choices.

We make choices every day and we can tweak those choices so that they will impact the impoverished.  We can direct where our dollars go.  I am thankful that the more that I learn about the poverty and despair in this world that I also hear of more and more organizations that are ministering and going out to meet these needs.  

For example, do you like to shop?  Still haven't gotten a gift for your mom?  Does someone special have a birthday coming up?  Check out The Noonday Collection.  Instead of buying items from big companies that, at times actually increase the slavery of people through abusive working conditions, we can choose another path for our dollars.  The Noonday Collection items are made in poverty stricken areas and these purchases help provide a family a path out of poverty.  There is also the Mercy House in Kenya.  Purchasing these gifts directly impacts the mothers that live in this home.  (By the way, I am literally in love with the special Mother's Day offerings this year... if I was getting a gift this is what I would have asked for!)  I have only listed two of the many fair trade websites I have found that reach out to those in need and instead of just feeding them for a day they help them develop an ability to work and provide for their family.  It saves their lives and gives them dignity.  Talk about ministering to the widows and orphans (James 1:27).

Do you want to know more projects you can do with your family?  Are you interested in ways that you can educate your children on what is going on in the world?  Visit Live58.org.  This website is full of challenging information and dedicates one part to sharing what other families are doing together to educate and change the mindset of the next generation.  Watch their video too... powerful.

Are you ready to go deeper?  Want to live in a way that you are sacrificing some of your abundance so that others can live?  Check out TheYesClub.org.  The Yes Club is all about challenging us to give something up for a year (yes, a whole year) and give what we would have spent on that luxury towards clean water.  Let me tell you as I am nearing the end of my commitment to The Yes Club (I gave up gifts for a year and Mother's Day is the last holiday that I would have gotten a gift for in this year) I have realized that even though the money that would have been spent on me has gone towards giving life saving physical and spiritual water to those in need, the life that has been saved is truly, once again, mine.  God has not let one tiny piece of this lesson go to waste.  He is moving in mighty ways right now.  

Another ministry that is all about radical giving is With This Ring.  It began with the founder giving her wedding ring, a symbol of love, desire and belonging, so that mothers on the other side of the world would not be without clean water.  You can give sacrificially to this ministry a number of ways.  You can become a champion and give funds towards the clean water wells being drilled in India.  If you are thinking about getting engaged you can choose an engagement ring from the rings that have been donated.  You can even be a part of their Project Beloved and make your wedding about clean water for others.  To learn more about how you can be a part of sharing the life changing message of radical giving visit WithThisRing.org.

Today my church highlighted Compassion International.  This ministry is out there being the hands and feet of Jesus to these sponsored children.  If you don't sponsor a child you need to.  I love that my pastor mentioned how we will say that we need to pray about whether start a child sponsorship but asked how often we pray about whether or not we should go to the movies or out for dinner.  He said that we didn't need to pray about whether we need to sponsor a child, we just need to do it, because God has made it clear in His Word that the least of these are dear to His Heart (Matthew 25:31-46). 

I have already shed a number of tears today as I have enjoyed the highs of hugs from my Bug and time with family and the lows of thinking about the mothers that are weeping today because they do not have enough food or water to give their children. Yet I am glad that in the midst of this I can also think about the people that are out there, making a difference, reaching out with the love of God to those in the most desperate need and I will know that I will do my best to give and be a part of reaching out with them. 

So, will you join me?  Through the love of Christ, obedience to the scriptures and making different choices we can change the world.  Let's do it together and let's do it now. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The End of the Dreaded Media Fast...

The end of this fast seems to be pretty successfully summed up in this one quote.

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” John Piper

Yep, how are your toes?  Mine are killing me.

Once again I have lived through a fast.  A giving up of something that seemed like a necessary part of my every day, and.I.lived.  Not only did I live, but with the exception of a few precious grandparents, I doubt very much that the world missed me.  I couldn't tweet about my experience in Walmart, I couldn't text my bestie about the ridiculously cute/annoying/funny/painful thing that the Bug did that day.  And we all lived.

I think that this month away from Media (TV, Facebook, Twitter, Fun Blogs, YouTube, Music, Pinterest, Texting) has taught me two things.  The first is it isn't the big things that steal your time.  I rarely sit down at the computer and open Facebook and spend 3 hours on it (I am not going to say it hasn't ever happened but it is a rare case) however it is the text that pops through with a funny story, or the message that dings telling me that someone liked/commented on one of my posts.  It is the fact that I want to stop and share whatever just happened to me with the world.  Those 20 seconds here, 1 minute there, 3 quick minutes all add up to a lot of distraction.  A LOT.  Then it takes my focus away, I have to get my mind back on track and happening that over and over again makes me feel like I can't think straight.  The multitasking is actually multi-distasking.  Making everything take longer and the result has a much lower quality.  I already have to work with a 3 year old hanging, climbing, jumping on me... as if I really need any other distractions.

The second thing that this month has taught me is how narcissistic I am.  Once again, just like my struggles with materialism, I wouldn't have thought I was narcissistic.  I tend to feel like I am a pretty giving person and I try to focus on others a lot but, when the rubber meets the road, I really think a lot of myself.  I want to share with others about me all day long.  I remember the first few days of the fast when I would think of something funny and then realize that I couldn't share it with the world and actually feel unhappy about it.  Really Amy?  There are MUCH bigger things to be thinking about.  I am so thankful for yet another mirror that has been held in front of me so that I could actually see the planks in my eyes (yes, there are more than a few!).

I think about how often I felt like there weren't enough hours in the day to accomplish time with God, cleaning my home, doing laundry, etc.  Yes, even on this fast I still had days where getting to everything was difficult but for the most part my home was cleaner, our clothes were put away and my time with the Lord was sweeter (probably due to the lack of distractions).

So, back to the quote at the beginning of the post.  I am pretty sure John Piper hit the nail on the head with this one.  It makes me sad that I look back over the years and see that I have wasted so much time on things that matter so very very little.  So, what is going to change?  I am so glad you asked.  First, I have a limit set on fun-web access during the work week.  If I have lived my day well, then at 9pm I can get onto my fun-web thing of choice.  If I haven't then I need to spend the time taking care of the thing that was missed and then I can get my fun-web time.  If it is the weekend I will have more flexibility.  I have also moved a treadmill into my bedroom (I know so romantic).  The idea is that if I am going to waste time watching television, because let's be honest, it is usually a waste, at least I can burn some calories and get in the workout that I "don't have time for".

More than anything I want to be purposeful to keep the main thing, the main thing.

I want to make sure my time with God has the highest priority in my day (by the way, ever since I did that I have had better, more fulfilling, longer days and a girlfriend of mine did the same thing with the same results).  The thing is it used to feel like work to read the Bible (I know, some people may be offended that I am saying that but the truth is the truth).  Now, I really look forward to it.  I have gotten so much out of reading through the New Testament that I am sad I am almost to the end but strangely excited that I can start it over and get even more reading it again.  More than anything I want to know that I am looking to God to fill my days and that I am not giving them away and wasting them.  The Bible says that we are but a vapor on this earth.  I want my short time here to matter.  I want to be used by God to the fullest.  I think about a story that Francis Chan shares about a special grandmother figure in the family.  The whole family goes to see a play and during intermission he leans over and asks the grandmother if she is enjoying the play.  She looks at him with concern in her face and says something to the effect that she wasn't sure that was where she would want Jesus to find her if He came back.  It is the idea that she would rather be focused on God, praying or doing work for Him than at that play.  What passion and clarity to live life by!  I find that I am thinking more and more about the day when I meet Him face to face and I give an account for my life.  Not my sins, those are completely covered by the blood of Christ and I know that I will be with God in eternity.  I am talking about the account of what I did with what He gave me.  There are a few years where I had the privilege to work in ministry and I feel like I spent those days well but when I look back over my life I see more waste than benefit.  That is not what I want my life to show.  When He comes back I want Him to find me busy at work for Him.  Please Jesus.

I am taking a few days before going into the next, final fast.  It will be a fast from Stress that will involve taking a Sabbath and purposefully pausing to pray throughout the day.  It will be interesting because it is less like giving up and more like adding in.  Thank you for taking this journey with me.  I still highly recommend the book Seven by Jen Hatmaker.  Even if you do not take on some of the fasts like I did, it will still have a profound impact on your life if you let it.