Friday, July 15, 2011


How do I say this? I want to tell you about my new participation with Compassion. For some reason I assume you'll think I'm being arrogant, bragging about putting my money here. But, the truth is, you know my heart and know that is not it. Likewise, I know your heart and know you will not judge me either.

It is about people. It is about love. It is about the challenge of the Gospel.

The reality is that compassion is overwhelming when you think about it long enough to let it sink in. That's called stirring your heart, because when you stir the fire that is the Spirit, it burns afresh and you notice Him there again. You hear Him, and you respond out of your heart.

I receive a picture in the mail and I remember, but how could I forget, these children. It was a just a week or two that I was so on fire, and spent all weekend on the computer watching videos about orphans, learning about why AIDS is really such a problem, contemplating giving man a fish or teaching him to fish.

What if I have enough to do both?

So often, I ponder that question, "If I give to him, how will he use it?" But Jesus didn't ask us to give with strings attached or based on conditions. He asked us to give freely, with generosity of heart, giving all that we have, all that we are.

I thank you, Beth, for your constancy of generosity with Compassion and the loving dedication and sacrifice that washes your life white. I thank you, Kimberly, for teaching me about giving, about embracing moments, about the ways little things and deep gratitude bring people together, and for your persistence for God, especially through Samaritan's Purse. I'm grateful God has made a Church-home for you. You two have planted good seeds. You tend the garden daily. For your labors, I drip with gratitude.

God has been using A Holy Experience to speak to me this summer. I read through her stories like someone's about to take the book from my hands. I just want one more page. The one I keep coming back to is about cookies...go figure:)

The way Ann tells it, she was standing up in front of her Church on Compassion Sunday telling her story about visiting her sponsored child in Guatemala and the life-changing impact it has had on her. She speaks about the weeks after the visit, and the disillusionment. Life-changing. Is my life-changing? I want it to. I want my Spirit to be stronger than my flesh. (You would not believe how many clothing catalogs have come in the mail since I put in writing my prospect of not buying clothing for a while!)

As she recounts the events to her home Church, and encourages them to engage in the life-changing, she offers them cookies. She has a few boxes and hands them to some boys in the front row. They are thrilled to get cookies at church! She informs them that there are enough for everyone, but they will have to share. Share. Three boxes for the whole Church.

The boys don't want to share. There don't seem to be enough. There parents make them, of course.

The point, as I'm sure you see, is that there is enough for everyone. We need not worry about our clothing or food, as recounted here in Matthew 6.

I swear I've posted about this somewhere before. Please forgive me for my redundancy. It's just that, too many cookies make you sick! Even if you develop such a tolerance for large amounts of cookies as I have disgustingly done, too many still makes you sick! You may not notice right away. Others may not notice right away. You may even store up the cookies and try to trust that you'll eat just one a day. Does it work for you? It doesn't work for me. If I have them, I eat them. All. For my sake and theirs, I want to give the cookies away.

I'm running a half-marathon in October. I'm running in honor of two things: perseverance (in developing a strong Spirit..."Yes, I will run to that tree -I mean cactus-, and the next one...) and giving away the cookies (sharing my time, talent, and treasure).

If I pray while I run, it goes much better. It gives me so much joy to pray for people while I run. It also helps keep me from thinking about running, or more specifically, keep me from thinking about stopping running. I would also be thrilled to raise money for Compassion through this run.

I have a proposal.

Post a prayer request comment below and I will do three things:

(1) Run one mile (during training) praying for your request,
(2) Run one mile (during the event) praying for your request, or possibly less depending on number of comments:), and
(3) Donate $10 to Compassion on your behalf.

Please join me! Thank you!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Less stuff, more freedom

I can vividly remember traveling home for Christmas with my old college roommate and a stuffed-full green duffel bag in tow. Even the times I flew home, that medium-ish blue suitcase of mine would carry so many clothes I'd have to let the expandable zipper open. And there would be a carry-on, and a purse. Maybe, just maybe, the purse would fit inside the carry-on. What I did with the Christmas presents? I guess that was back when you were allowed two carry-ons!

Each trip thereafter (when I remembered the weight of my stuff), attempts would be made to simplify, to downsize. I would even make packing lists weeks ahead of time (me, can you imagine?) to try to narrow my cargo down to the essentials. The allure of "stuff" was strong though, even when you knew it shouldn't be. When you see family twice a year, you want to look your best, show off all your nicest things. So, if you're home for a 20-day college break, you bring 20 tops to wear, right? And you might as well bring the brown and the black shoes and the boots because what if you want to wear that top or this one? I really did this!

And I really did this.

It took a long time to engrain in me the concept of less is more. Intuitively, less is not more. Less is less. In practice though, less stuff means more freedom - less baggage, more carefree - less worry, more focus on family - less focus on self, and more time - less time waiting for lost luggage!

Over the years, my baggage has been reduced tremendously. I care less about what I have and more about who I have. I spend less time choosing clothes and more time choosing contentment. I do this because, for, and with a husband who reminds me we don't want to move that and a Savior who reminds me where to find my treasure. I don't do this well. This is simple, yet hard. Why, I wonder, do I want to or expect myself to hold on to these things?

I have learned a few things:
1. Don't bring workout clothes in the winter. If you do, you will workout once because, after all, you brought workout clothes all the way there. If you do not, and you want to workout, there is this thing called borrowing or you could just workout in your pj's and wash them. Yes, people don't mind you using their washing machines.

2. Bring 1/2 - 2/3 the clothes you think you need, closer to 1/2 for long trips. Again, washing machines. Also, rewearing. Third, spending half the day in pj's with coffee (or in swimsuits if you're traveling during summer) anyways.

3. Limit your shoes. Black or brown? Pick one and go with it. You automatically cut down on shoes, belts, tops, socks, jackets, and maybe even bras. Choose one everyday shoe, and maybe one more just in case you're like Cindy and your sandal breaks at the restaurant:) Wear one of the pairs, as well as one of everything else, on the plane (or in the car), of course.

4. Travel size is worth it. I used to bring full-size toiletries when I was going home for a long trip. It is so unnecessary. You will realize this about the time you're drying off your shampoo bottle and trying to stuff it into a gallon-size zip-lock bag. Either take travel-size with you or buy travel-size when you get there. There's always a grocery store on the way home from the airport, always.

5. Limit your literature. Take one book only, not the one you're about to finish reading. Tear out a few sodoku or crossword puzzle pages instead of bringing the whole book, because -really- who can choose between sodoku and crosswords? Bring a journal, sure, but not your Bible. Maybe this sounds harsh, but there are two much lighter options: a) read scripture online, such as at or b) borrow a bible from the people you are visiting. It's the most popular book on the planet; they probably have one somewhere.

6. Carry-on only. When you do all this, you will have just the essentials, and they will fit inside a carry-on. Did I mention bring only one coat and wear it (or carry it) in the airport? The flight attendants really won't hold this against you.

Wow, I did not foresee this becoming a travel post:) Back to the clothing issues...

Recently I have found extra encouragement in the area of simplifying at Small Notebook. Her series about making under your closet could change your life!

How to Downsize Your Wardrobe with Common Sense

The Closet Make Under: Out with the Old

The Closet Make Under: Buying the New

The Closet Make Under

I did this, made under my closet. It's a new sensation to wear my clothes often. I'm serious! That is probably sad, I think. Today I realize this is the third time I've worn this top in a month. But why not? - I love this top! Now I get to enjoy it even more instead of feeling bad about still not wearing that tucked-away top in the back of the closet, if my clothes have feelings?!

I am toying with the idea of not buying any new clothes or shoes for a long time, til my birthday, til after the half-marathon, til Christmas, maybe a year from now?

These shoes, however, are one thing I've bought recently that actually adds to the simplicity. They go with everything; but not like those old flip flops that sort of go with everything, yet actually go with nothing well. Plus, they make me feel pretty.

Simple, pretty, easy-to-wear - yes, this is how it should be.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

We come to

How does it happen that we have so much trouble doing the good we've set out to do?

This morning Husband and I listened to a discussion about spiritual warfare from the Wild at Heart Platinum Collection Audio. Eye opening, as usual. And you remember, remember how this was once fresh in your mind. Remember your promise never to let yourself grow stale or your heart become hardened. You remember the freedom.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12

Last week was one of those weeks for me when I was questioning the meaning of this whole thing: why we're here, who we are, what we're doing or supposed to be doing. I know the truth: we're here to love, for Love, to know Love. Grappling with the how and when, where, and who is...hard. Yet I have these opportunities right now in this time with these people, so that must be the how, when, where and who.

We spent hours yesteray in 115-degree heat sweating it out to see the sights of the desert museum, and then, after lunch, the air museum. They were both amazing things to see, but I had to keep myself present in that. The heat has a way of sucking the niceties right out of us, if we let it. Our patience fades, our bodily needs become priority number one, and it is all too easy to forget what we set out to do. It's all too easy to be quick to anger or judgment or pride or any number of things we know we want not.

On the drive home we came to a corner where there was a man with a cardboard plea for help. Weeks ago Husband and I had tucked a few MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) into the back seat of the car for just this situation. Over time they had made their way to the "way back" behind the back seat, and somehow in the moment with the man on the corner our desire to help was almost immobilized simply because we became transfixed on the slight inconvenience of the miniscule distance (four feet?) between us and the MREs. I'm astonished how our desire to help was almost squashed by our laziness and fatigue. And maybe some pride or embarrassment or sabotage from somewhere.

Be on guard. Be alert. What are the fruits of this? Test them against the truth of Scripture. Check them with what you know of the character of God.

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the siful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." Galatians 5: 16-17

Husband was driving and couldn't do much about it. Thankfully, moments before the light turned green, I climbed over the console, to the back, snatched the meal and Matt handed it to the man. I'm sure he'd have preferred money, but seemed delighted with the 3,000 calorie gift nonetheless.

All this and then, today in church, the song Song of the Body of Christ by David Haas, and Jesus brought these words to me (Lyrics in black, my thoughts in green).

We come to share our story.
Our story, all together we share our story, the story of God's love, redemption, and rescue.
We come to break the bread.
"And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf." 1 Corinthians 10: 16b-17 We must break the bread so that there will be enough for all.
We come to know our rising from the dead.
We come, come to the earth, come to life here for these things. We come to understand the hope, the joy, the beauty of rising from one who lives in the world to one who walks in heaven, from who one survives to one who lives fully with Christ.

1. We come as your people.
We belong to the one true God. We are his, and he is our life, our love, our hope.
We come as your own.
We are your family.
United with each other, love finds a home.
We all are family in you. When we unite, love is there. Nurture the love, care for it, protect it, share it.

2. We are called to heal the broken, to be hope for the poor.
The bread came to be broken so we wouldn't have to be. Yet we are called to be like bread, giving of ourselves to make others more whole, all in the name of the One Loaf.
We are called to feed the hungry at our door.
There are hungry right here where you are, where I am. Wherever I go, they will be. What can I offer for nourishment right here where I am?

3. Bread of life and cup of promise, in this meal we all are one.
Cup of promise. Jesus promised us so much: hope, love, life.
In our dying and our rising, may your kingdom come.
In our dying to sin and rising to life, in all these things, may your kingdom come closer and closer, may our will become one with yours.

4. You will lead and we shall follow, you will be the breath of life;
living water, we are thirsting for your light.
You give breath to life. You are the very essence of life, of living.

5. We will live and sing your praises.
We WILL live. In alleluia, we praise you, Lord.
"Alleluia" is our song. May we live in love and peace our whole life long.
Love and our peace are in us, even in this world around us. Love and peace sustain us. We come so that we may live this way, Your Way.

We come to... We come-to. We wake up. It is put freshly in our minds. We will remember. We will live this way. We will live by the Spirit.
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