When Shame Meets the Savior

shame

Twelve years is a long time.

It’s a long time to wait.  A long time to hope.

A long time to suffer.

We aren’t told exactly what the nature of her ailment was, but most assume that her “hemorrhage” was some type of menstrual disorder. Under Levitical law, a menstruating woman was regarded as ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 15:25). She was unclean–unable to enter the temple or participate in temple worship. As if that weren’t enough, her uncleanliness was contagious. Even the bed she slept on and the chair she sat on became unclean, and anyone who touched those objects became unclean.

What does that do to you when you live it for twelve years? Especially when your culture and community revolve around issues of cleanliness? First century Judaism emphasized issues of ritual purity beyond the dictates of Scripture. Many Jews purified themselves not just before entering the temple but before entering Jerusalem itself. Even laypeople commonly purified themselves before meals and before prayers. And for twelve years–twelve years–she could not get clean.

No wonder she “endured much” and “spent all she had” at the hands of the physicians (Mark 5:26). But nothing helped.

Until she met Jesus.

I wonder if she pulled her robes tighter and tried to hide her face as she pressed her way through the crowd that day. Did people recognize her and pull away, fearing her shame would rub off on them?

Did she try to avoid touching them because she believed it too?

And if we’re honest, don’t we believe it? Shame whispers in our ears that our failures show–that everyone would reject us if they knew the truth. So we pull on the gloves, lock the doors, and put on our brave face. Conceal. Don’t feel. Don’t let it show. No wonder that movie is so popular. Truth is, shame keeps us all frozen.

Shame makes us put on our masks. We hide our uncleanliness to keep others from seeing it, rejecting us, and magnifying our shame. When we hide, we miss out on grace.

If we continue to reach for masks, grace will not be essential to our lives; it will remain optional. As long as the masks remain, the loneliness remains. But when brokenness is acknowledged, grace is on the doorstep. (From Fail by J.R. Briggs.)

Grace was on her doorstep that day, and she reached for it with everything she had. She whose touch made things unclean reached out for Jesus and grasped the edge of his robe, believing that just a touch could make her clean. And miracle of miracles, her touch didn’t make Jesus unclean. Jesus made her clean.

Look what he says to her: “Daughter.” Daughter. From the very first word he erased her shame. Daughter. It’s a word of acceptance, approval, and affirmation. She came to him as a supplicant, and Jesus welcomed her as a child.

Isn’t that a portrait of God’s heart for us? Jesus didn’t come to shame us but to save us and to make us whole.

That’s what he did for her.

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction” (Mark 5:34).

Your faith has made you well. The Greek word for “made you well” can also be translated “saved you,” or “made you whole.” What Jesus did for her he does for us–saves us, heals us, and makes us whole.  All that’s required is for us to admit our brokenness and reach out for help.  His grace meets us there.

Are you tired of living in shame’s lonely shadow? Has that secret–that burden–whatever it is–kept you prisoner, fearing what other people would say if they knew?

Have you been afraid God will reject you too?

If that’s you, then know this: Jesus will never turn you away. He is waiting to receive you. He’s standing at the door, waiting to shower you with grace that washes away all your shame.

Just take that first step. Touch him, and let him fold you in his arms.

And listen to what he calls you: Daughter.

Shame always flees the presence of the Savior.

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Perfectionism, meet Perfection

I met Rebecca Trammel last spring at a writers conference and knew that I wanted to share a bit of her story. She’s got something to say, girlfriends, so listen up: 

locks ribbon unsplash

 

Let’s face it sisters…the bar is set high. The confines of social acceptability are narrowly set but loosely defined. The thing most painfully clear is that no matter hard we try, no matter what we do, no matter how much we achieve, we fail. So, WHY do we strive for this ever evasive, non-descript goal of perfection?

I have been the poster child for the frustrated, type-A perfectionist. I don’t know about your story but in the storyline of my life, striving has never met success! Rather, it collides recklessly with pain and defeat. In my naivety, I blindly walked off the plank of perfection and nearly drowned in the throes of a ravenous eating disorder. I didn’t have anorexia… Oh no, girl! ANOERXIA HAD ME! Perfectionism, while nearly destroying me, never gave me what I so desperately craved.

There is an insidious, venomous lie that tells us that without this non-descript “perfection”, life will be a dismal disappointment and we will be hopelessly incomplete. We strive endlessly to make our lives be good enough in order to be accepted, loved, appreciated and validated. We fear our shortcomings because we believe they diminish our value. All this is a lie, but most of us have bought it hook, line and sinker. This is why we are willing to sacrifice deeply and go to great lengths to attain that which we have actually already been given. Perfectionism is only Perfection’s deceptive decoy. Perfection is not a goal, it’s a Person. Jesus Christ is the only One Who ever was or will ever be flawless and He offers Himself to me saying, “In your weakness, I will be your strength. I am looking for someone to be strong for.  Whatever you have done wrong or has gone wrong, I will make right if you put your entire self in my nail scarred hands. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. Your value is backed by the stable currency of My incorruptible blood. I will NEVER leave or forsake you. Please don’t be afraid; let My love take away every fear.”

Here are the nuggets of truth I offer you from the ocean floor of perfectionism: There is no need to strive. I don’t have to be perfect to be perfectly loved. I am His and He, Perfection Himself, is mine! FOREVER!

Lord Jesus, thank you for the truth that not only saved me then, but saves me now. Please help me turn away from all of my tight-fisted striving so with my heart wide open, I might freely receive what I could never attain by my efforts.  I was destined to thrive in You…and may You thrive in me! In Jesus precious name, Amen!



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Silencing Energy Thieves

silencing energy thievesEnergy thieves.

We’ve all got them.

You know who it is in your life. The mercurial boss whose mood swings keep the entire office tiptoeing around the land mines.  The “friend” whose phone calls you screen because you know the conversation is going to be an hour of drama. The constant critics who leave you feeling like you’ve been nibbled to death by ducks. The impossible-to-please relative, or the antagonist who lurks in the background, waiting for you to mess up.

You’ve got faces in your mind right now, don’t you? Me too.

So did Jesus.

I’ve been spending time in the gospels lately, and it struck me on this read-through how constant the presence of the energy stealers were in Jesus’ life. Matthew, Mark, and Luke call them the scribes and Pharisees. John simply calls them “the Jews”–a reference in John’s gospel to the Jewish religious leaders who opposed Jesus, not the nation as a whole. They’re there, lurking at the edges of almost every story.

When Jesus heals a lame man and pronounces his sins forgiven, they’re there. How dare he say that? Does he think he’s God or something?

They’re there when he sits down to eat with friends. What is he doing eating with those sinners?  Doesn’t he know sin is catching?

They nibble at him like ducks.  Your disciples don’t fast enough! They’re picking grain on the sabbath! And they didn’t wash their hands before they ate!

They spread lies about him. He casts out demons? He’s obviously got a demon himself!

They set traps for him. Adultery carries the death penalty. If he spares her, he’s breaking the law. If he judges her, we hand him over to Rome. We’ve got him now, boys!

And they finally conspire to put him to death. Raising the dead?  We can’t have that. Time for him to go.

Jesus’ energy thieves were a constant presence, yet they never distracted Jesus from his mission. Somehow I don’t see Jesus laying awake at night wondering what stunt the Pharisees were going to pull tomorrow. Or rehearsing conversations in his head for the next time they asked him a ridiculous question.He had strong words for them at times, but he never let them keep him from fulfilling his mission.

How did he stay strong?  How did he keep on preaching, keep on healing, knowing they stood in the background looking for ways to accuse him? I’m not sure this is all the answer, but I think these things are part of it.

  • Jesus knew his identity. One thing energy thieves have in common is their desire to define you. They throw labels at you. They try to explain how you should react and feel. “Oh, I’m sorry that upset you. You should be less sensitive.” They try to control your thoughts, actions, and beliefs. Jesus rejected the labels others put on him and defined himself as who he truly was.  Great Physician. Messiah. Lord of the Sabbath. Bread of Life. Son of God. You, dear friend, are a child of God. You are a new creation–redeemed, transformed, and renewed. Know your identity and walk securely as the citizen of the kingdom God has made you to be. The only label that matters is the name God has already given you:  His.
  • Jesus accepted the reality of sin. I believe when Jesus set out on his mission he knew that not everyone would follow him. He knew he would face opposition and rejection.  He knew that sin prefers darkness instead of light. He knew this, and so he wasn’t surprised when the energy stealers gathered at the periphery of the crowd. I think sometimes it’s the surprise that gets us. We know the reality of sin, but we still expect those around us to act like saints. Employers are supposed to be fair. Friends are supposed to be loyal. Christians are supposed to act like it. When they don’t, we get broadsided and waste energy wondering why sinful people sin. People are going to mistreat us. We can’t change that. But we can choose how we respond.
  • Jesus focused on his mission. Jesus knew what he came to do: bring healing to the brokenness of sin. He lavished attention on the wounded. The lepers, the sinners, the prostitutes, the tax collectors–he had all the time in the world for them. But he didn’t waste time or energy trying to fix those who refused to recognize their own sickness. He didn’t shy away from confronting it–but he didn’t chase them down and beg them to like him, either. Sometimes we look at the energy stealers in our lives and try to fix them, as if the right words or right set of circumstances could somehow convince them to change. That’s not our job. Oh, we shouldn’t hesitate to call sin what it is, but it’s the Spirit’s job to convict and transform. What has Jesus called you to do? Focus on that, and let him take care of the detractors.

We can’t escape the energy stealers, but we can refuse to let them steal our joy. We can choose to act as children of light, bringing the light of Jesus into our circumstances and transforming them with the power of the gospel. We can refuse to divert our attention to those who only want to destroy and derail. We can be loving servants, secure in the knowledge of who they are.

Because they can try to steal your energy–but they can never take you out of His hand.

 

 

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Slow Me Down, Lord

dandelion from unsplashHe was grabbing a gallon of milk from the dairy case when I saw him. It took me a moment to recognize him. Six years ago he was a scrawny freckle-faced kid. Now this tall young man is starting his senior year of high school and playing on the football team.

How time flies.

As he headed for the checkout lane, thoughts of my own munchkin brigade danced in my head.  Because it’s true what they say–the days are long but the years fly. My babies are still babies, but I know the day’s coming when I’m going to blink and see their grown-up selves standing in front of me.  When I won’t be teaching them how to brush their teeth but teaching them how to drive. When I’ll be proofing college admission essays and hoping that the roots they’ve grown are strong enough to hold steady in the wild winds of this crazy world.

Time does fly. Slow it down, Lord.

Or maybe this:  Slow me down, Lord.

It’s fall.  And with fall comes the renewal of our routine. Gymnastics and piano. Wednesday nights at church. Homeschool co-op. Speech therapy and Mothers’ Day Out. Schoolwork is in full swing, and our days entwine with the dance of reading lessons and math, science labs and grocery runs, trying not to miss a beat.

I’m in the middle of it all. I can feel it in myself–the pressure to get through this thing so we can get to the next thing. The afternoons when I’m almost willing to pay the kids to go watch TV and stop talking to me for a minute. The sense that we have to rush through the day because the clock is ticking and soon it’s time for bedtime and baths so we can start it all over again tomorrow.

Slow me down, Lord.

Because now is what matters.  Now is the only moment we’re given. And it’s in the now that we capture the memories to string like pearls–the precious jewels that make up a life well lived. Those moments like watching a child figure out that letters make words and words make stories and stories make up whole new worlds. Moments like the moment of triumph when she finally jumps off the diving board after a summer of false starts. Moments like the wonder of a monarch perched on a zinnia that stays almost long enough for chubby fingers to pet it before it flies away.

Slow me down, Lord.

Slow me down–long enough to teach me to number my days. Long enough to be fully present in this moment. Long enough to conquer the selfishness that tempts me to see them as interruptions to the schedule instead of gifts from you.

Slow me down, Lord. Long enough to love them. And long enough to see you.



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Back to School: Blogging for Compassion

Anyone else have their Facebook feed lit up with Back-to-School pictures this week?

We started our school routine the first week of August.  That gives us the benefit of doing things like a museum field trip this week–which means we’ll have the place to ourselves except for all the other homeschool parents who had the same idea I did.

But for all you moms who are rejoicing over the first day of school freedom, this is for you:

I love my kids, but being able to leave the house by yourself?  Yeah, that’s priceless.

As we celebrate (or commiserate over) our kids heading back to school, it’s a good time to remember children around the world for whom education is a priceless opportunity.  Here are a few pictures of Compassion children from Guatemala:

Aren’t those awesome? Education is one of the main pathways out of poverty.  But it’s not a road all children get to travel.

  • Worldwide, nearly 80 percent of primary-school-age children attend school. In least developed countries, this figure is around 66 percent.
  • The largest out-of-school population is in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 45.5 million children of primary school age are out of school.
  • Of the 67 million primary-school-age children who do not attend school, 53 percent are girls.
  • Worldwide, only 49 percent of children of secondary school age actually attend secondary school.
  • Of the 49 percent of secondary age students who do not attend school, 52 percent are girls.
  • The world’s functional illiterates include more than 130 million children who do not attend school, 73 million of them girls. (statistics from Compassion)

As you’re celebrating back-to-school week with your family, you can also make a difference in the life of a child. Sponsoring a child with Compassion provides your sponsored child with educational opportunities, medical care, food and clean water, and life-skills training.  Compassion’s church based ministry also insures that sponsored children get a chance to hear about Jesus.  That’s a priceless opportunity.

If you’re not sponsoring a child, consider sponsoring a child today. If you’re already sponsoring, tell us in the comments where your sponsored child lives.  And if you’re a homeschool mom like me, check out these free homeschool lesson plans from Compassion.



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Ferguson, Jena, and Hope

eph 2 14

I’ve grieved as I’ve watched the news streaming out of Ferguson this week.

We don’t know exactly what happened in the street that afternoon.  Some accounts paint a portrait of a young man shot in the moment of surrender.  Others describe an officer who had no option but to pull the trigger as a man who had already assaulted him and tried to take his weapon rushed him at full speed.  Perhaps the truth, as it so often does, lies somewhere in between.

But we have seen a community in grief. Yes, some have taken advantage of the turmoil to loot and destroy. Sinful nature shouldn’t surprise us. Yet we need to listen to the outcry. Listen. Because there are things about the black experience that I as a white woman will never fully understand:

And yet these are the experiences of many of our neighbors. In 2014 America prejudice is real. Privilege is real. And we all interpret events through the light of our experience.

Yet where there is Christ, there is hope.

It wasn’t that long ago that Jena, Louisiana, was in the news much as Ferguson has been this week. After the small 3000 person community was rocked by racial tensions at the high school, the national spotlight fell on Jena as 20,000 people descended on the town to protest. We’ve come to recognize the pattern.  But what happened next was extraordinary.

Jena broke out in revival.

Real revival–not the once-a-year, four nights of meetings, and a potluck kind of revival.  God showed up. Black churches and white churches worshiped together. Some nights they didn’t even have preaching because the presence of God was so strong. God moved among the people and brought reconciliation. The community was transformed.

We have hope, because this is what our God does. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:13-14).  Christ is our peace.  He destroys the barriers, tearing down the dividing wall. He gives us the ministry of reconciliation, for the only way we can be reconciled to one another is to first be reconciled to Him.

The hope for Jena is the hope for Ferguson and is the same hope for us:  Jesus. He is the one to whom we must look.  He is the one who forgives our sins and heals our brokenness. He is the one who transforms us, who reminds us to live like image-bearers and not hate speakers.  He is the one who overcomes the barriers between Jew and Gentile, male and female, black and white. He is the lifter of heads and the restorer of hearts, and he is the one who longs to bring all the prodigals back home.

And so this week as the news from Ferguson continues, I’d ask you to pray. Pray for Michael Brown’s family in their grief.  Pray for Darren Wilson and his family. Pray for safety for police and protesters. Pray for God to raise up peacemakers and gospel-proclaimers. Pray that Christ Jesus will be peace for Ferguson.

And for us.



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Finishing Well

finishing well

It grieves me when a prominent pastor’s ministry hits the skids.

My Facebook and Twitter feeds lit up last week with the news that the Acts 29 network had removed Mars Hill from membership and urged Mark Driscoll to resign as pastor.  The news was shortly followed by an announcement that LifeWay was pulling Driscoll’s books from its stores and web catalog.

I’ve never been a Driscoll fan. I respect that he succeeded in planting a growing congregation in one of the least-churched areas of the country. Seattle is tough ground. However, I’ve never been fond of his combative style–or his views on women. Driscoll has been plagued by controversy, and the charges of spiritual abuse against him and the Mars Hill elders should be taken seriously. Driscoll’s public statements and the statements of the board indicate that he desires repentance and reconciliation. For his sake and the sake of his church, I hope that process of restoration proves successful.

But we’ve seen this story before.  Young, charismatic pastor builds successful ministry and rises to stardom, only to see it all come crashing down. As the news unfolded last week, this was the question that came to my mind:  what does it take to finish well?

What does it take to finish well? Because so many don’t. We see it in the headlines. We’ve seen it in history. And we see it in Scripture. Moses led the Hebrew people out of Egypt, but sin kept him from entering the Promised Land. David was a man after God’s own heart, but his reign never recovered from his sin against Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.  And Samson–for all his strength, Samson’s story is a tragedy of wasted potential.

What does it take to finish well? I don’t want the end of my life to repudiate the beginning. When I stand before the Lord in glory, I want to stand before him unashamed. But how do we live now to end well then?  I think there are three things that are important in this:

Cultivate Integrity.

In his response to the Driscoll saga, Tim Challies said this:

When the Bible lays out qualifications to ministry, it is character that rules every time. The Bible says little about skill and less still about results. It heralds character–Tim Challies

While I don’t always agree with Challies, I think he’s right on here. Character counts. Proverbs 10:9 says that “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” To finish well, we need to cultivate integrity–the willingness to do what is right even when it costs us something. That means devoting ourselves to pursuing the Lord until his pleasure becomes the desire of our hearts. When we get to the point that we choose holiness not because we fear punishment but because doing otherwise breaks the heart of God, then we are learning what it means to walk in integrity.

Walk in Humility.

A mentor once told me that money, sex, and power are the big three temptations that sink ministries. I think there’s a fourth that encompasses all three: pride. The insidious nature of pride blinds us to our own faults. Pride convinces us that we will never fall, that those who warn us of danger don’t understand that we’ve got it all under control. Pride teaches us to rely on self; humility drives us to depend on God. Humility reminds us that it’s not our kingdom we’re building; that platforms are only beneficial when we build them into altars. Walking in humility recognizes that temptation is common; that it’s when we most think we’re standing firm that we need to beware of falling (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). We place our trust in the one who is able to keep us from stumbling and recognize our weakness never outgrows the need for his strength.

Practice Accountability.

We need truth-tellers in our lives, and we need to heed what they say.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Paul had Barnabas; Nathan confronted David with his sin. Moses’ father-in-law gave him wise advice. If we want to finish well, we need to surround ourselves with people who will speak into our lives. We need those around us who believe in our divinely appointed destinies and love us enough to challenge us when we are in danger of falling short. Like the strings that keep a tent pole from swinging too hard in any direction, accountability keeps us grounded and stable.

Driscoll’s story isn’t over yet. There may be a day in his future when he stands repentant and restored.  I pray it is so. But my story isn’t over yet either.  I want my life to be more than a cautionary tale. I want to finish well.



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Delight in Honor

Romans 12 10It’s been a really long time since I’ve watched a sitcom. We don’t watch much prime-time T.V. The kids stream their shows over Netflix. After they go to bed the hubs and I watch a couple episodes of whatever show we’re binge-watching. Monk.  Chuck. Downton Abbey.

Okay, that last one would just be me.

Last week we decided to watch a few episodes of a comedy show we’d heard was good. Meh. For one thing, the writers really should have spent more than five minutes on character development. But the humor also made me remember why I started steering away from these shows.  Why is it funny to watch people tearing one another down?

Have we forgotten what it means to honor?

Romans 12:10 calls us to “ Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Some translations render the latter part of this verse as “Outdo one another in showing honor.”  The Living Bible reads “Delight in honoring one another.”

As the church, we should delight in honoring one another.  We are not to compete for honor but to outdo each other in honoring one another above ourselves.

Why is it so hard?

  • Because we believe honor is a limited commodity. Believing there’s not enough honor to go around pushes us to compete for praise instead of generously building others up.
  • Because we default to criticism instead of celebration.  I get this. I’m a detail person and I like seeing thing done well.  But when our normal response is to point out the faults instead of celebrating the successes, it may be that we are failing to honor.
  • Because we try to hide our own flaws by pointing out other people’s failings. We fear exposure. Pointing the finger at someone else is a surefire way of getting the attention off the fissures in our own feet of clay.

Honor is rooted in love. The Father loves us. We are loved. Let that sink in for a moment. You are loved. You are bought by the priceless blood of Christ. You are adopted as a child of the king. You are a co-heir with Christ, sharing his victory and inheritance. We don’t have to fight for seats at the Father’s table. Our places are secure with him, and his love has no limits.

Being secure in the Father’s love helps us honor others. We can invite others to find their places at the table without risking our own. We can celebrate their God-appointed destinies because their success doesn’t threaten ours. There’s no need to hide our cracks when we’re all mended by God’s healing love. We can delight in honoring each other because God delights in honoring us.

What does it look like to honor?

  • We believe the best of each other.
  • We listen–really listen–to one another.
  • We create a culture of grace, not shame.
  • We desire to help one another succeed.
  • We encourage.
  • We challenge.
  • We hold accountable.
  • We make church the one place where no one fails.
  • We love.
  • We celebrate.
  • We thank.
  • We forgive.
  • We delight in letting each other shine.
  • We keep Christ central.

We honor people because we see them as God sees them.  Made in his image, precious in his sight, once lost in sin but now cleansed by the blood. Transformed by his grace.  Made for his glory.  We choose honor because God is doing a work in them that should be valued, celebrated and protected.

This week, let us choose honor.  Let’s build up instead of tearing down.  Let’s celebrate success instead of failure.  Let’s mourn over sin instead of rejoicing at someone else’s fall.  And let’s be the first to offer them a hand back up.

Let’s love as God has loved us.

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Inspired to Hold Up the Sky: Blogging for Compassion

SAMSUNG CSCSo there’s this book called Half the Sky that quotes an old Chinese proverb about how women hold up half the sky.

Women hold up the sky, but there are 100 million women missing.
.

  • Missing because in China 39,000 infant girls die each year because parents don’t give them the same medical care that they give their sons.
  • Missing because in Pakistan and the Middle East women and girls are doused with kerosene and burned or seared with acid for ‘disobedience.’
  • Missing because in some parts of the world if a young man commits a crime, raping his sister is seen as a suitable punishment.
  • Missing because governments shrug when impoverished girls are kidnapped and imprisoned in brothels.
  • Missing because women lack the access to basic maternity care that we take for granted in the United States.  In the U.S, a woman has a 1 in 4800 chance of dying in childbirth.  In Niger it’s 1 in 7.

100 million women who are no longer there to hold up their part of the sky.

I read the stories of the women who overcame obstacles to change the world.  Obstacles like poverty and lack of education. Obstacles like forced prostitution, kidnapping, and rape. Obstacles like leaking urine and feces because of unrepaired childbirth injuries, and obstacles like cultures that simply consider women less valuable than men.  And I wonder:  if I were in their place would I share their courage?

I see the need, and I feel the call to do something.  To alleviate the suffering, yes.  But also to point girls and women to hope–the hope found in our Savior.  For our Father has created them to be his daughters and he calls them to come home.  He clothes them with dignity and strength, and he longs to rescue and redeem their brokenness.  It is only in him that we are made whole.

But what can I do?

That’s where Compassion comes in.

Child sponsorship programs make a difference.  Through Compassion, I have the opportunity to make a difference for a child in poverty.  Compassion’s church-based child development programs help provide Christian training for children, as well as providing educational opportunities, treatment and training to maintain child health, development of self confidence and social skills, and vocational training.  $38 dollars a month transforms the life of a child.

And so, I sponsor a 6 year old girl in Burkina Faso.  Because I can make a difference for her. One less shirt to cram in my already stuffed closet–one meal cooking at home instead of eating out.  It’s a small price to pay to change a child’s world.  I’ll give.  I’ll pray.  I’ll write.

And I’ll hold up my small piece of the sky so one day she can hold up hers.

There are children waiting for sponsors.  Will you consider sponsoring a child with Compassion today?

Before you go, check out this video from Caitlin Jane–and listen to the story behind the song.



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Blessings In Obedience–A Guest Post from Denise Lilly

By Denise Lilly

woman in grass


To be a parent is to persevere regardless of feelings.

Emotions run high in parenthood – joy, excitement, frustration, anger, exasperation, fear – but being a parent is about action. I don’t feel like sitting at the table for a half hour trying to convince him to eat what’s good for him. I don’t feel like addressing a temper tantrum. I don’t feel like chasing a poopy butt boy. I don’t feel like rising at 3 a.m. when he cries.

But of course, I do all these things because being Bronson’s mom is not about what I feel like doing.

And I expect him to obey regardless of feeling, too. I know he doesn’t feel like getting dressed when I say or holding my hand in a parking lot or leaving his food on his plate (instead of throwing it on the floor), but I’m not too concerned about his feelings on these matters. I want him to learn to do them in obedience.

Lately I’ve been recalling a theory I studied in social psychology. As quoted from Social Psychology by  David Myers:

“Experiments confirm that positive behavior toward someone fosters liking for that person…It is a lesson worth remembering: If you wish to love someone more, act as if you do.”

And later…

“If we want to change ourselves in some important way, it’s best not to wait for insight or inspiration. Sometimes we need to act…”

As a mom, I naturally do this with my son. I act as if I love him regardless of the situation, and I, of course, really do love him immensely.

But this is not always as easy or natural with other people.

Jesus says I should bless those who curse me. I should love my enemies. And I sense he’s not too concerned about my feelings on these matters.

But nothing seems more unnatural, more impossible to me. I wait for insight and inspiration, and while in waiting, I dwell on what was said or done. I weave a web of ruminations, and I find myself trapped in bitterness.

In some situations I’ve prayed for more than a handful of years for forgiveness – that I would be overwhelmed by forgiveness for the people who have hurt me.

This has not happened.

I’m still trapped in bitterness. I’ve woven more threads of anger and pain over the years. As time goes on, I find there’s more people who hurt me, and I’ve been exasperated by God’s inaction.

But I think he’s been more exasperated by mine.

He doesn’t tell me to feel forgiveness. He tells me to act in forgiveness. To bless, to love, and as I’ve learned in psychology, this will actually change the way I feel.

It’s not that my feelings are arbitrary or even unjustified. People have been cruel. Things happened that should have never happened, but I can’t control other people or change the past.

I can move forward, stepping in obedience into forgiveness, letting my actions untangle my feelings. I can be a blessing. I can be loving. And I can let these actions change me in a very important way.

Denise Lilly spends her days in the daily grind of motherhood in Maine with her two sons. She is a writer, photographer and blogger. Read more of her writing in her book, Cling, or on her blog at www.deniselilly.com.

 

I am thrilled to have Denise guest posting on the blog today.  I was blessed by her words and I know you will be too.  She was sweet enough to offer a free copy of her book, Cling, to one lucky reader.  Be sure to enter!

 

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