Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Child

In the land of holiday plenty as I pass by the treat table, I have a heart tuned to those less fortunate elsewhere. While we indulge, it's sobering to realize two thirds of the world doesn't understand the concept of "counting calories." Some survive on one meal a day and keep busy so they don't think about their aching stomachs. In the November issue of Christianity Today, singer Sara Groves wept while visiting Rwanda when she saw a whole family taking shelter in a room the size of her bathroom.

And while many American kids have few chores and lots of free time, children of other countries are tasked with walking several miles to get water, gathering firewood and hand washing the few clothes their families own.

Those are the jobs of 7-year-old Rwogose, a little girl in a family of 15 children living in Uganda. She is our special little "Christmas Child"...ours to pray for throughout the month of December and ours to promote to others in the hopes of finding her a permanent sponsor.

We've been having a wonderful experience sponsoring children through Compassion International. Our sponsorship provides the basic necessities for a child, along with a Christian education. Their simple joy bubbles over into our lives in the letters they send: "I greet you and your family with joy and in the name of Jesus…" These people have so little, yet they are so thankful and so happy to have a sponsor. Though many miles separate us, they are part of our family.

A small sacrifice on our part has made such a difference in their lives. How easily might we otherwise spend $38 (a small monthly fee to give a child all of the above)… a family meal out? a new article of clothing? a salon or spa treatment? sporting equipment? tickets to an event? (Certainly none of these are wrong in and of themselves, but it puts in perspective the abundant choices we have while others are looking to simply survive.)

"All I want for Christmas" is a special appeal from Compassion International this holiday season to give more kids the opportunity to know that they are loved...through meeting the most basic of needs.

What I want for Christmas is for more people to consider this life-changing experience. For more info, please visit their site, e-mail me or comment here. Maybe you are not in a position to adopt a child, but even a one-time gift would tide some kids over until more sponsors can be found.

You will change a life forever. How can we spend any better than that?

Heavenly Father, you know all your children's needs. We thank you for the love you have lavished on us when you allowed us to live in a land of plenty. Please tune our hearts and help us spread our resources to the "least of these." Help us to live more simply so that others can simply live. Would you find Rwogose a sponsor? Please release her and the many other children from poverty…in Jesus' name.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Insert Your Worry Here

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Gen. 18:14 (NIV)

My struggles weighed heavy on my heart. If I were really trusting God, then why did I let those worries creep in again?

It was then I opened my Bible and continued reading in Genesis, right where we had left off in our last study time. Sarah had just heard that she would bear a child to Abraham and she laughed because they were both well beyond child-bearing years.

But the Lord said, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

The verse came to life for me. Is it too hard for Him to… [insert your worry here] Mend a relationship? Resolve a problem? Heal my past? Change an attitude? Develop a talent? Find me a job? A good doctor? A sitter? A mentor? A friend? A roommate? A soul mate?

Absolutely not! I realized if God could make a 90-year-old woman – barren all her life – have a child, He could certainly do anything.

My prayers were refreshed with new hope. Nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37 (NIV)

Reflection: What is it in your life today that is too difficult for you…but not for God?

Thank you, God, that nothing is too hard for you. Your arm is not too short. Nothing is impossible for you. I will hope in you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

To My Delight

It began with a playful little prayer two weeks ago. Reflecting on good times of the past and wondering where some of those people are now, I asked God if He would connect me with someone I haven't seen in awhile.

Just three days later, I found Patti at the library in the Christian book section. Seven years ago, we had shared our faith and our interest in art, then lost touch. I thanked God for answering my prayer already!

While watching the news that same evening, I was thrilled to see a face I hadn't seen in 30 years! God had answered again, reminding me of a rich friendship, also rooted in our faith. (No, the news is not all negative!)

Then this weekend, I "divinely" bumped into a grade school classmate who had moved away 40 years ago. It was such fun to reminisce about childhood adventures!

My husband asked, "Why do you think God brought these people back in your life?"

"Relationships are important," I answered. I had made a request to my Daddy and He delighted in surprising me. "That's how God is, don't we know? He often answers in abundance!" I dismissed the question, but the sweetness of the answered prayers lingered awhile. He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine... (Ephesians 3:20 NIV).

Then late that evening, I looked to my husband for reassurance as I revisited a heavy situation, a yet unanswered prayer, that was once again consuming my thoughts. For a very long time I have prayed, and God's answer, so far, has been "Wait."

I remembered how God had come through so many times in wonderfully unexpected ways. I tried to stay positive, imagining the day this prayer would be answered too. It has been a painfully long wait -- I never thought I'd be languishing this long. I struggled with the logic on why this wouldn't be God's will now. Would I have to face it that this may never be God's will?

"His way is perfect and His timing is perfect," Ted comforted.

Aha! That is why God answered my little prayer! He wants to reassure me He has heard all my prayers. He can't end the long wait just yet -- I'll have to trust Him with the details -- but perhaps He answered my whimsical prayer to let me know He has been hearing me! He has given me a little something to sustain my hope.

Thank you, God, for your lavish love and great patience with me. Thank you that even one small request was important to you, Almighty God! You know my heart and its deepest desires, and I will trust you -- for however long it may take.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

See For Yourself

Ever been drawn to a photo of a beach in an exotic tropical paradise? The water so blue, the surf so playful, the sand so white, you could almost hear the waves coming in, taste the salt spray and feel the sun on your back?

Have you felt the call of a majestic snow-capped mountain photo, the green bluffs of Ireland, or the allure of the rugged Atlantic Seaboard? Did it take you into another world, at least for a moment?

When we read a devotional or some renowned-author’s Bible study, we can get a glimpse of another world. Those who have traveled before us help us know what to expect as we anticipate our own journey. They can entice us with attractive itineraries and lay out the best route for us as we navigate into new territory.

But just as all the gorgeous photos I had previously seen of the Grand Canyon could never fully replicate the experience of being there, the authors’ insights can never fully bring us the rich experience of going directly into the Word and seeing for ourselves.

Will you be content to see someone’s vacation photos or would you rather climb that bluff for your own breathtaking view? Will you be happy with a palm tree-lined post card or would you venture out to feel the warm sand between your toes?

Go directly to God’s Word – the Bible. Drink deeply of the refreshing cool mountain streams. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your travel guide, the Holy Spirit, who lives within you. It will be the trip of a lifetime!