Compassion Blog Month :: A girl just like me

28 September 2012

You say you love windows
You sit next to them, feel the breeze on your face
We have no windows here
Our door has no door

You say you love rain
Hearing it, smelling it, tasting it
Our rainy season is just beginning
Our sick season is just beginning

You say you love hills
and the river that runs through your city
I live on a hill, walk these hills
Carrying water, searching for firewood

You say you have children
a girl just like me
You say Jesus loves the little children
even a girl, just like me.


The truth is, I am so woefully ignorant as to what her life is like, if she has shoes, where she sleeps. But they tell me she sings and runs and plays hide & seek and farms the land alongside her parents. That is enough to imagine her running, singing, digging hands in the dirt alongside the girl I've got here. The same heart, the same fire, the same sky.

This is the fourth and final post for Compassion Blog Month. Our goal? 3108 children sponsored this month. It's not too late to sponsor a child from an impoverished nation, a child who needs medical care, an education, friends to play with and skills to live by. 

Will you visit Compassion right now, will you click on her name, will you change her life?

Trash nerd (reflections on waste and creation care)

27 September 2012

Ireland 2009, Day 1 043

I'm a worrier. On top of worrying about money, about my kids, about school, about our car in Ireland which has spent the last 2+ years sitting in someone's front garden, about our jobs, about the girl's eczema, about my eczema, about moving, about staying... I could go on and on.

And the environment; I really worry about the environment. And when I say environment, I mean God's creation. Because that's what it is: His earth, His plants and water and animals and people... God's garden. 

IMG_0187This worry began around 2002 when Matt worked in lawn "care" and came home with his glasses covered in yellow pesticide fuzz, steadily increased in Ireland where we planted our first real garden (Schrute Farm), and escalated to it's peak during the Great Diaper Crisis of 2009 (we calculated that by the time Ash was potty trained, we would have been diapering for 10 years, and the mere thought of another 5000 diapers wasting away for the next 500 years in beautiful Ireland was just too much to bear). Being green in Ireland is easy, you see, for there is only so much land to give to waste and you are emotionally and financially bound to your compost and recycling bins for fear of going over your rubbish weight allotment.

Upon arriving back in America (with our cloth diapers in tow), I couldn't wait to throw away some stuff. All the stuff. Oh what freedom was to be had in just throwing any old thing away.

But... I couldn't do it. I'd hold my hand over the trash can and fret. Where will this broken plastic container end up? How long will it rot (or not rot) there? And this sock? It has no partner, no use to us, but when does synthetic fabric break down? Do I just throw. it. away?

This is why Jen Hatmaker's chapter on Waste in her recent book 7 speaks to me. Jen recognizes and calls out the hyprocrisy modern Evangelicals perpetuate: we advocate for the redemption of souls, the regeneration of hearts and lives of eternal worth, while we abuse and misappropriate the earth's resources for our temporal, costly comfort. 

"My luxuries come at the expense of some of God's best handiwork: forests, petroleum, clean air, healthy ecosystems. We also ravage the lands of vulnerable countries, stripping their resources for consumption. The wealthy world has a sordid history of colonization, ruling by force over indigenous people and providing from their natural resources and local labor. Yes Africa, we'll take your diamonds, gold, and oil, but you can keep your crushing poverty and disease." p.136

Here's a (not so) cute anecdote. Earth Hour, a short investment of time on a Spring Saturday evening where anyone can turn off the lights, the TV, anything requiring an outlet or a cord. It is a worldwide event. Back here in America, as we planned to participate in an hour of semi-darkness, some good church-going people had other ideas. "I'm going to turn every light and every appliance on during Earth Hour," an acquaintance posted on Facebook, "I want those people to see how ridiculous it is." To add insult to injury, he equated it with God's call to the church to be a shining city on a hill. Literally.

We want to save people, yet we belittle the very people and organizations who are trying to save, redeem, and breathe new life into God's creation.

So mad props to Jen Hatmaker! She starts with a bang, going from zero to 60 in one month; from not recyclying a darn thing, to composting, shopping second-hand, driving/sharing one car, and researching locally made hemp tennis shoes. It is clear that God is challenging her and growing her, both in and out of their new backyard garden.  And it's challenging me, too.

I loved reading her insights and struggles, relating the split personalities that emerge when trying to make smart, economical, healthy, local, environmentally-friendly choices (I, too, spend about a half hour per shopping market aisle in a mental health death match with five other Karen Konsumers - see what I did there?).

Here's the question she poses that sticks with me:

"What does it mean to be a godly consumer? What if God's creation is more than just a commodity?"

I don't have the perfect answer to this, but only - like Jen does - can I seek to try... to try to do the right thing, to try and make wise, eternal choices. Here are some ways we are trying:

  • Recycling (glass, plastic, paper, cardboard)
  • Reusable shopping bags
  • Shopping farmers' markets twice a month for local, organic yumminess 
  • Buying mostly second-hand for kids' clothes
  • Attempting to grow some green things on our tiny balcony (namely: hydrangeas and basil)
  • Using and reusing BPA-free water bottles (no plastic bottles in our home... except for diet coke 2 liters)
  • Waste-free lunches for kids (reusable lunch boxes, snack bags and sandwich containers)
  • Repurposing lumber and old furniture for new projects

Notice what's missing? Those cloth diapers. He's three now and could remove them at will... but we donated them to a friend, so really, we're still good I think.

So, we're trying. We love God, we love His people, and we love Creation. It's right there in our family purpose statement.

"I'm done spearating ecology from theology, pretending they don't originate from the same source." p. 150

Me too.

Have you read 7? What do you think it means to be a godly consumer?

On (not yet) moving, scraps and all

I'm smack dab in the middle of a bath fight. A wet and naked three year old sits on me, the laptop precariously balances in my left hand, and a screaming match is being had over two nearly identical yellow cars.

Just a typical Wednesday night with the wee three...

We appear to be in a season of non-movement. Things are happening, to be sure, but it feels like we're frozen here in time while the rest of the world chugs right on along without us. The leaves are changing, the sky darkens and threatens, people are moving house... and we reload the dishwasher, wash chubby bums, heave laundry from friend's house to friend's house, waiting.

I wrote before about the women's brunch, about Elizabeth and the impossible and being called to wait. I shared with them about the time of rest, of just being with God, not necessarily doing for God; about how He meets us here and speaks within the silence, filling the empty spaces with grace.

Great, life-affirming stuff there. The ladies loved it, sharing their own stories of waiting with me. [i pause to yell at the naked toddler.] We ate cinnamon rolls and we prayed. I thought, "Yes, Lord, I'm finally learning a thing or two."

But today, I want to move. Be moved. I don't really want to wait anymore. Two and a half years (or 4 years, wait - no - 8 years...) is too long. I'm ready now. We're ready. Can't we go, yet?!

He speaks to me in the silence again, waking me up before dawn, calling me. He lays me down beside Asher (in his new toddler bed, from which he can break free at any moment), giving me nothing to do but talk it out with Him, give it up to Him.

“You only need a tiny scrap of time to move toward God,” writes Lauren Winner in Still, via a fourteenth-century English monk.

Small scraps of time, of movement, of a long obedience in the same direction.

We are moving.


I'm finding that I have to relearn the same thing over and over (and over) again. Anybody else have that problem?

Happy Friday Autumn Eve!

21 September 2012

So, as you can see, I maybe redesigned the blog a little bit. Still not entirely sure I'm happy with it, but when I get stressed, I procrastinate. And when I procrastinate, I mess with design stuff. Turns out, graphic design has changed a lot in the, oh, 11 YEARS(!!!) since I graduated college. Thankfully the paste and cut shortcut buttons remain the same.

Let me know what you think. Anything else you want to the see on the blog? Not a fan of the colours? Does the background make you dizzy? (I picked it specifically because it reminded me of our bathroom floor tiles in our first Chicago apartment. Strange, much?)

Oh, and tomorrow AUTUMN arrives! And then it's October! And then I may or may not be participating in the 31 Days of... challenge again. I'm fine-tuning some things, but I'll give you a hint as to what it might look like:

Happy Friday Autumn Eve, everybody! How are you celebrating?

Pinterest + Compassion = Love

19 September 2012

Ok, so two of my favourite things are joining forces to love on some kiddos. Compassion is sponsoring a Pinterest contest where you can show your love and support for your own sponsored child and the amazing work that Compassion does around the world.

Here are the basics:

1. Create a Pinterest board titled “My Sponsored Child.”

2. On the board you create:
  • pin the image in this post and associate the following link with the pin:
  • pin any one of the following and tag this second pin with #mysponsoredchild:
  • A photo of you and your sponsored child together.
  • A photo of you with a letter from your sponsored child.
  • A photo of you holding a photo of your sponsored child.
  • pin anything else you want that is relevant to your sponsored child or Compassion.

The rest of the rules can be found here, but the best part is the prizes:

Ten separate sponsors will win a $25 gift for their sponsored child.
Five separate sponsors will win a $100 gift for their sponsored child’s family.

shot_1348243842336.jpgSo get started! Contest is on! Get pinning. 

This is the third in a series of posts for Compassion Blog Month. Our goal? 3108 children sponsored this month. Will you hop over to Compassion right now and sponsor a child (or two, or five)? And if you do, leave a wee comment here, or tell me about the child(ren) you already sponsor. :)

The good, artsy, weird stuff (weekend links)

16 September 2012

My wee fam is away for a couple of days, so I'm enjoying a bit of my favourite pastime: reading good stuff, listening to good stuff, and watching weird artsy movies I don't usually get away with when the man is home. Here's just a few of my weekend tidbits:


The Slow & Inefficient Work of God, by Anne Jackson (via Relevant)
This article is a beautiful and poignant reflection on the slow, hard, gracious work of God in our hearts and lives:

He illustrated it with waves of the ocean, moment by moment moving in from the vast sea to land. In one wave, this motion does nothing. But slowly and inefficiently, whatever is in the ocean’s way becomes worn smooth... 
I thought about the pew in front of me, worn and glassy from those who had rubbed past the gloss, through the stain, and worn the wood down to satin in their desperate fingers.
The slow and inefficient work of God.


The Jesus Record, by Rich Mullins
When I need spiritual recalibration and some good Jesus music, I listen to Rich Mullins. He was killed in a car accident 15 years ago this month, an event I remember vividly even though I was just discovering his music. This record features original demos and some of my favourite lyrics: 

See the scars and touch His wounds
He's risen flesh and bone
Now the sinners have become the saints
And the lost have all come home


The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick
Um, wow. Just wow. I think I get it... maybe. A quote from Job brilliantly sets up the movie, perfectly illustrating the majestic duality of nature and grace as displayed in God's creation. Yeah. I don't know. But I think we are the dinosaurs and heaven is an unending, undulating ocean. Right? Maybe? 

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth?...When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 
Job 38:4,7

What do you indulge in on a quiet weekend? Have you seen The Tree of Life? Can you tell me what it's about?

Dear Me (at 17)

14 September 2012

Dear Me,

You think you love him. But you don't. On your 17th birthday he will give you a necklace and take you to a Cranberries concert. And you will break his heart.

You don't mean to. You love boys until they love you back, and then you fly away. This is how you work. Then there's another boy, and you think you are just broken enough for each other, that your traumatic childhoods and love for flannel and U2 have bound you together. You think that him loving you back will make all the black turn to light, but he won't.

And you will be ok.

I know you think value is all tied up in who favors you, who compliments you, the A you did or didn't get, the solo that went to someone else, the taste of a first kiss. You think acceptance is just out of reach, you feel on the fringes, you are self-conscious about your lack in ability in peeling an orange (don't ask me why - it was a thing). Even when you succeed in the best choir and the coveted acting troupes, you still feel a fraud, still long for approval.

I wish I could tell you to fight it. I wish I could tell you that the boys don't define you. The solos and the As don't define you. Not even your apple cheeks or your curly hair don't define you, though I do still admire those (spoiler alert: it gets curlier).

What will define you is slowly coming into view. You will lose it for awhile, but when you do catch glimpses of it - on the first crisp fall evening at 18, when you leave Kansas behind at 19, when you walk in Galilee - I want you to see, fully see, that you are worth so much more than a gold plated necklace or a hot prom date in an even hotter blue Jeep.

I'm not gonna lie, there is more breaking to be done. But the putting together, there is holy beauty in that. 

Let Him do that for you; bringing you soul sisters, weaving you songs, and taking you across the sea to a Wicklow mountaintop.

Let them do that for you; three imperfect little people who cuddle you in your sleep and slap your cheeks in fits of laughter.

Let the one you know you love, the one who loves you back, do that for you (I promise he will come along sooner rather than later). He'll be poor and will fill your living room with sawdust, but he will cook and carry your tears in his heart, and your head will fit perfectly in the nook of his shoulder.

There's no need to fly away now.

Also, ditch the tube socks. My So-Called Life will only last one season. The red hair can stay for awhile, though. You rock red.

Me, twice your age <wince>

PS - Remember this as your own girl - your tiny twin - grows. You will need to show her, and she will need to see it, too.

I like to say I don't like teens, but I think that's because I didn't really like myself as a teen. But in honour of a new book for teen girls, here I am: writing to teenaged me. It feels... painful. But redeemed. What would you say?

Compassion Blog Month :: First, Lord, Forgive Me

13 September 2012

First, Lord, forgive me. I'm a terrible sponsor. I forget and I am distracted. I don't write that often and when I do, I'm never sure what to say. So please, Lord, don't let my total lameness at child sponsorship affect these precious children. I know you won't, I just feel like I needed to say it. Repent. Turn this thing around. Go in a better direction.

Can you help me do that?

Also, God, would you please move in their lives in visible, nearly audible, irrepresible ways? I want them to know you, seek you, follow you, worship you. I want them to feel your presence, walking with them down the road to school or home or the market or wherever. Sometimes, as a child, I'm not sure I knew you were there, always there. But those kiddos, especially the teenager, Lord, walk beside him and tap him on the shoulder and turn his face to you. 

They say they pray for me, and I just fall apart at that. I don't pray for them very often God. Not really. And when I do it's quick and to the point, with the kiddos at night so they don't forget. Thank you for their prayers. Thank you for simple faith. Thank you that even in my inadequacies as a faithful prayer and sometimes belated Christmas gift giver, you take care of them, always, ever. I know they belong to you. And it overwhelms this lazy mama's hear to think they ever utter my name before you.

Help me to love them, even from afar. 

Give us, Lord, this family of five in comfort and health, your heart for those in need. 

Your heart, Lord. Yes, your heart.

This is the second in a series of posts for Compassion Blog Month. Our goal? 3108 children sponsored this month. So far, over 830 children have been sponsored through this event, but more are waiting! 

Will you hop over to Compassion right now and sponsor a child (or two, or five)?

Yes, I see it all now (or will, eventually)

11 September 2012


For a quick few minutes, before chaos reenters, I walk through an almost clean dining and living room (it won't stay this way for long). I'm thinking about a talk I'm to give this weekend. Worrying about it, actually.

I usually look forward to these things, sharing stories about our life, our children, our work and our future. And I have a somewhat general idea on what I am to share. A loose outline. A verse here, a deep thought there. But really, it's all jumbled in fuzzy pieces. The image is not yet clear.

For nothing is impossible with God.

The verse for the year. A grand thought.

What is it about this verse that stumps me? I feel uncomfortable with it, like I don't really believe it. I've heard of it and read others testify to it, but I don't think I've seen it. Or rather, maybe I have, but it's not been impossible enough for me. Maybe I've been ignoring it, unaccepting of it, afraid of it.

So I read it from the Message:

"Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God." And Mary said, "Yes, I see it all now: I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say." Then the angel left her. Luke 1:36-38 MSG

I think it's not the impossible I'm to talk about. It's Elizabeth's story. It's the waiting.

When He calls us to wait
calls us to be still
calls us to be with Him
rest in Him
trust in Him
for the impossible.

What if the staying, the waiting
is what allows us to see, to receive
the impossible?

We have no idea what God is saving us from, saving us for.

Joyful, painful ancitipation. A hopeful longing.

Have you been here? A hopeful longing for the impossible? Or do you "see it all now?"

A moment of domestic peace

08 September 2012


My 9 year old cleans our dining room table. He takes pride in his work, telling me it's his favorite chore. I hand him the cloth, soaked and squeezed with soap and water, watch his long arms move in lines and circles. He cleans this sticky, dirty table with a smile on his face. He knows it makes his mother happy.

I sit here now with thank you notes and books and half-eaten apples, vestiges of pre-bedtime rituals and the small bits of work I barely accomplish during a Wiggles encore. The dishwasher churns and groans. The ceiling fan lifts the edges of paper, laying them down again. Softly, in rhythm.

A moment of domestic peace.

Toddler sleeping, children at karate, and the thank you notes... lined with simple, inadequate words offering up immeasurable gratitude. People, so many people, who believe and pray and give so we can go. Who lift us up when we fall and show us the way when we are lost.

How can I say thank you for being Jesus to me, to us, to our children? How can I say thank you to the boy who serves his mama?

Blue swirls on the page. Kisses and prayers before bed.

Oh, thank you. 

Thank you.

Lazy summer into autumn

07 September 2012

Oddly enough, my lazy summer days have made way for even lazier school days! It's just the wee lad and me most of the time, and we are walking in the park and window shopping and meeting for coffee and just hanging around being best pals. So here are some images from our current season of life, keepin' it real, keepin' it lazy.
first day of school

the offspring and me

and this happened... she's a kindergartener

work day (ok, a quick coffee break). look how fancy!

just the wee lad and me

trying to smile
splash park smiles

goodbye summer days

Today autumn is supposed to arrive, with afternoon rains and cooling temps. And we are welcoming a visitor from a place we used to call home. Big day. 

How's your Friday, your Autumn, shaping up?

Compassion Blog Month :: Projectile latte in hand

04 September 2012

I'll be honest: It's been a crappy week, in which I suffered from many First World Problems, not the least of which was tripping up stairs whilst carrying a screaming toddler and shattering (projectile spilling, really) a nice, cold iced latte in the process.

So when it came time to meet a cousin/friend for some H&M therapy - aforementioned screaming toddler in tow (what, baby, you no like H&M?) - I was awash in self-pity and anxiety. But we shared stories, soup and coffee (and cheesecake), she deftly handled the toddler who adores her, and filled me in on the latest developments in her life, including the 5 (five!) children she and her husband began sponsoring.

"How on earth did you end up with five?" I ask, with curiousity.

"Well, I read your blog!" she said.


Sometimes I write to an empty room, and sometimes I open my heart and words spill out on a barren road.

And sometimes - sometimes - accidentally and sloppily, something of value blooms, and this brilliant and beautiful young woman ends up with five kiddos from Africa and Central America, through Compassion and World Vision. Her husband wanted to surprise her and she wanted to surprise him, and in comparing both programs they just couldn't decide and kept adding to the bunch, and really, "You can't look at that face and say no," she says.

So this September, today actually, I'm asking you to visit Compassion's Sponsor a Child page and look at a face. For me, it was a face landing in my lap at a concert 10 years ago, or showing up on this here page, staring at me from beyond frayed red ribbons in her hair. Hoping. Pure.

Choosing which child to sponsor is such a first world problem. A really excellent first world problem. And actually, it's not a problem. It's a privilege. So go on, tell your friends, visit the page and pray over a child. Pray over all of them. Think about me and that freaking latte and what it takes for God to wake us up from the lazy, hazy American Dream.

They are worth so much more than that, God's children, desert blooms.

This is the first in a series of posts for Compassion Blog Month. Our goal? 3108 children sponsored this month. Special thanks to Karin for helping me wake up this week. Is it just me, or does anyone else need awakening?