Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

With only a few days till Christmas, have you found yourself beginning to go crazy while in search of the "perfect" gift for the people in your life who seem to have it all? Interested in some suggestions??

How about a goat?
A chicken?
Mosquito nets?
A drought survival kit?

Huh?? Well, while Aunt Mary may smile politely as she opens yet another set of carving knives, how do you think she would respond to a gift that gives life to a family in a developing country? Several organizations have been creating "gifts" just like these for several years and we've fallen in love with this idea. While we (JT and I) have all that we need, our eyes are being opened to the actual real needs of others around the world, and we're becoming more aware of Jesus' call to care for those needs.

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Luke 12:48

We've already been given so much in this life, and we'd like you to join us this year in giving to families struggling daily to survive. Many of the gifts are very inexpensive, but can literally change a family's life.  Gifts like goats, chickens, pigs, cows, rabbits, fish, etc. can help to provide food and serve as a source of  income for a family as they learn to breed their animals and/or sell their products (eggs, milk, etc.)  Mosquito nets help keep families in Malaria "hot spots" safe as they sleep at night, reducing their risk of the life-threatening disease. One of my favorite items available through Compassion International is their "Water of Life"  water treatment system.  For only $55.00, this water container/dispenser will provide safe, clean drinking water for a family's lifetime. Each unit uses the same filtration technoogy used in kidney dialysis equipment and can supply up to 1 MILLION gallons of water! Every single day approximately 4,000 children die due to water and sanitation-related diseases.

4,000 children -- Every.Single.Day.
Sit on that number for a minute.

Water is essential to the human body, but for many around the world clean water is not an option. However, it can be achieved with the gift of a Water of Life system.  (I know, I'm starting to sound like a salesperson, but I can't help it...I've been amazed at all I've read and seen about this simple device that could change a family's health AND life.)

I'll quit babbling about it and let you check it out for yourself:


I urge you to browse the links below to find some life-changing/life-giving Christmas gifts this year. Perhaps your shopping has been finished for weeks?  I'm sure your kids wouldn't mind opening one more gift tucked under the cool would it be to explain to them the additional gift of chickens or goats or clean water? Or even better yet, what about all three?? ;)

Have a wonderful Christmas Season! Enjoy every moment spent with friends and family, and cherish the blessings you've been given.

"Due" any day

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pouring out the mess

"While it may be true to some degree that we can't help the way we feel,
the truth is that we don't have to let our feelings run our lives."
~Nancy Leigh DeMoss

A little over a month ago, I had been denying my feelings of disappointment, anger, and just pure sadness pertaining to the unknown end to our waiting process. Denying these feelings was an emotionally dangerous place to be, and yet I kept going there.

"Our agency has lengthen our proposed wait time, but we're doing okay."
"We're fine, really."

If I said either of these statements (or something similar) to you, I was lying. Yep, it's true, I flat out lied to you, and for my dishonesty, I'm sorry. The truth is, I was not okay, nor was I doing "fine." While going through my day to day routine outwardly unchanged, inwardly I was creeping toward my emotional-worst...except I was trying SO hard to ignore the feelings inside. Ignorance is not bliss however and I became an ugly mess the week of Thanksgiving, as my heart (& eyes) began spilling out all the hurt I had been trying to hide.  That week, I went to Heart to Heart (a bible study for moms, or moms-to-be in my case), and the ever-so-fitting topic was "Managing your Emotions and Not The Other Way Around." Wow, was that discussion pointing directly at me! I am so thankful for the timeliness of God's provisions in my life. At a time when I was feeling so discouraged, He used the wise and honest words of our group leader to breathe truth back into my soul. I realized that I had not only been dishonest about my feelings with family and friends, but I was withholding my true emotion from The One who created me. The One who knit me together, The One who knows the number of hairs on my head, The One who knows the number of my days was being denied an intimate look at my heart, which in turn was denying me of the healing that needed to take place.

"Ultimately, The Enemy wants to keep us all riled up,
unable to deepen relationships and build upon what God has called us to do."
 ~ Sherilyn Jameson (my amazing H2H teacher)

How true and how sad. I was allowing myself to believe lies from Satan instead of searching for The Truth. Instead of believing that God wants to walk with me, even through these days of disappointment, I began to withdraw (ever so slightly) from my conversations with him. He NEVER wants this from his children. He wants us to stop pretending we can do everything on our own and get real with him.

Even when it's UGLY.
Especially when it's UGLY.

He longs for us to pour out our hearts about ALL things. That night, I poured out my heart...thank you, Sherilyn for listening (even when I was blubbering unrecognizable words!), and God has started some heart healing in my life. In the weeks that followed, I believe he prompted many of you to check in on us as we received SO many phone calls, emails, and fb messages, encouraging us in our wait. Thank you for your continued prayers; God is using you to help us more than you may ever know.

Psalm 62:5-8 (Amplified)
"My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved. With God rests my salvation and my glory; He is my Rock of unyielding strength and impenetrable hardness, and my refuge is in God! Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heats before Him. God is a refuge for us (a fortress and a high tower.)"

Over the past month, I have experienced incredible (daily) restoration because of my new willingness to pour out my heart and allow God to use my brokenness to draw me closer to him. He wants to use whatever we're going through to shine his glory...even when we ourselves can't see beyond the messiness of life. Pour out your heart to him. He already knows, understands, and longs for us to pour it ALL out: the good, the bad, the ugly (and the really ugly!). Whatever you're facing now, whether your life is going exactly as you planned or if you're caught in a whirlwind of uncertainty, I want to encourage you to pour it out and allow him to use your life for his glory this coming year.