Sunday, January 15, 2017

Taking Advantage of a Cozy Day In

The weathermen were wrong again, but I am not fussing about it.  Church was canceled because of the ice storm, so we decided to make it an official day of rest.  When I looked at my phone this morning and saw that our church canceled service, I turned my snooze off and closed my eyes for an extended sleep!  I was in a dark room snuggled in my heated bed.  It didn't take long to fall back asleep.  I woke to an amazing smell of cinnamon and vanilla.  Matt had made gluten free oatmeal bake.  He had let me sleep until eleven, and invited me to join the family for brunch.
After brunch I lounged around the house in my PJs, caught up on some household projects, and even took a nap.  Oh I needed it and it felt good. So I have no guilt in mid-day napping, even after sleeping in till eleven.
The quiet day ended with highlights of family game time as the Chiefs kicked off their last game, (bummed about their loss.) But super thankful for the time with family.
Day Fifteen  of Gratitude Challenge.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Thankful for Compassion

Have you ever wanted your children to see the world from a different perspective?  I struggle as a mom in the United States to grow gratitude and compassion in my children.  They are both amazing girls, with big hearts for God, but they won the lottery of birth nations. I thank God that our country doesn't suffer the injustices that are common in other parts of the world. Knowing these conditions exist sometimes isn't enough to cultivate compassion, but it can be a seed. Our experiences fuel the cultivation of compassion, but I don't want my children to experience what children endure in other places.

I remember traveling to South Africa when I was in college, and our tour van drove past a shantytown. I couldn't contain the emotional response of seeing humanity devalued. The sight is etched in my mind, and I can remember the warm tears that ran down my face as it was pressed against the cool window.  In that moment poverty became real, and my perspective changed. It was more than the ugly hand-me-down shoes from my brother, I received as a child, or the struggle I was facing in working two jobs to get through college.  Gratitude had a new meaning and my heart ached to make a difference. I was thankful that my struggles were different. I felt empowered that I might be able to make a change in this world, because I had opportunity.  There didn't seem to be much opportunity in the shantytown we drove past; it seemed as if its chain linked fence bordered it from the hope of opportunity.
It was while I was in South Africa that God gave me the desire to be an adoptive mom.  Here I am fifteen years later and I am in the process of becoming a foster/adopt mom.  Even in our country there is unfairness.  It isn't fair that children are caught in a cycle of destruction, or that their parents don't know how to break it.  Compassion compels me to help heal the wounds caused by the destruction, by doing what is right.
Without the impression South Africa left in my heart, I am not sure that I would look at the world from the perspective that fairness isn't to be striven for but that justice is. If we strive for fairness then it calls for a sacrifice of everything leaving everyone with empty hands, because if we have then it would not be fair to those who don't. Fairness is a form of oppression that conforms to the world's view of entitlement. It deems ideas like, if I don't have then you shouldn't either.  Fairness is saying it is okay to rob the rich to pay the poor, but stealing is never right.  Justice, on the other hand is a freeing, it puts value on each life. The sacrifice that justice requires is one that says, we have, so we give, because it is right. Compassion compels us to give, the unfair fades because it fills the need. Life isn't fair, but compassion bridges the gap between the unfair and justice.  Justice never requires an act of wrong, but is the an overflow of giving. It is on that journey through compassion that grows our character, and breaths hope to the places bound by the unfair.
I want my kids to know that deep love for humanity. The kind of compassion that keeps them focused on the eternal value of life and not the material distractions in it.  Finding ways to make it real for them, well that isn't easy. Today we attended an event put on by Compassion International, an organization know for breathing hope by filling needs. the event was a simulation of three true stories of children from all over the world.  We listened to their stories, about the struggles each child faced, and of the hope they found in Jesus.  I am not sure how deep my girls took what they saw to heart, but I know it impacted them by our discussion afterwards.  This experience was only a glimpse into the injustices in our world, but I know that compassion grows from our experiences. 

The simulations illustrated the living conditions of children in other countries.

The living conditions were in stark contrast to their warm rooms at home, and they listened about the struggles that are common in other countries, like having to work at the age of seven and still not have enough money for a pair of shoes. Not one of the children in the true stories asked for an ipad, a cell phone or any form technology, their desires were for basic needs and for safety. They only spoke of the gratitude they had for books without ripped pages, and the people that showed them compassion.

The experience was a huge eye opener when we heard of a young girl named Olive, that would have to hide in the jungle a night from the soldiers who would raid villages kidnapping children.  My Adi sat in the tall grasses, not understanding why this Olive's couldn't be like our Olive's story. Even when the Olive from the experience was moved to the city, life didn't deal her a fair hand. She was still shown compassion, and that gave her hope to over come the unfair.  The compassion from a stranger that showed her she was valued and encouraged find something to be thankful for, and to lean on faith in a just God.

We were able to listen and experience three true stories, and a the end of each we were able to see the real person tell how the act of compassion helped them achieve more than they ever hoped. But the most inspiring part of their story is the contagious over flow of compassion they show in their lives today.

I am not sure what God has planned for my girls but I know that as a parent, if I sheltered them from the unfair of life, I would be doing them an injustice. Creating a totally fair world for our children doesn't help them grow compassion in their character. They will never know compassion if they have never needed it. Nor, will they ever feel empowered to make a change unless they are given the opportunity to fill a need.

Opportunities to show compassion are all around us.  Compassion come in many forms. Sometimes it requires little of us like a smile given as you meet eyes of a stranger passing. Other times it calls for far more effort, like missionaries that put their live in danger to spread the Gospel. Our family is taking on the challenge of showing compassion to local families, by becoming a foster family. Someday, I hope to adopt, and show compassion to a son through the giving of unconditional love.  It will always look different based on what God calls your heart to respond to.  If you are looking for a way to show compassion in a very practical way, you might consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International. Who knows, your act of compassion, might grow into something much more contagious.

Day Thirteen of Gratitude Challenge.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

$5 Make Over

So I am huge Target clerence shopper and I often walk past the cosmetic isles looking for nail polish and glance past the hair dyes.  But today I was feeling brave, okay only semi brave, because the dye is only semi-permanent.  Needless to say, I was ready for a new look, especially since I had so many compliments on my ombre.  Uhh, it was only because I hadn't had my hair done since May. Then seven months later bad roots look cool.
Today I chose a different cool. $4.88 later   I feel like I have a rockstar look, at least for the next twenty-eight washes.

So thankful for the little things, like a $5 Makeover.

 Day Twelve of Gratitude Challenge.