Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Here am I

(people ask) Why have we fasted, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves and you have not noticed? . . .

(God answers) Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. Isaiah 58:3-9

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Everyday, over 1 billion people must walk long distances to obtain the water they need. Many young girls must forgo their education in order to carry water to their home.
In rural Africa, most women spend 1/4 of their day collecting water due to the long distances they must travel to obtain it.

A couple of months ago, I heard a story of a man who was on a plane next to a woman from Africa. She said to him "if you actually saw a person with AIDS as your brother or sister in Christ, this disease would all but be eradicated." If my biological sister were suffering from a disease, I would sacrifice just about anything to help her. If my biological brother were homeless, of course I would insist that he live with me. If my other biological sister didn't have access to clean water, I would do whatever needed to be done so that she could have it.

I set up barriers between myself and others as a way and reason to not have to help. To not have to be inconvenienced. To not have to suffer.
"God has combined the members of the body . . . so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it . . ." (1 Corinthians 12:24-26)

If one part suffers, the other parts take notice. If people in Central America are hurting, people in North America should notice. If brothers and sisters in Africa are in pain, the rest of the body - the rest of the world should also feel that pain. And when we notice, when we feel the pain, we have to do something. If one part is suffering, we suffer with it. We should be just as concerned about our neighbor down the block as we are with our neighbor in Eastern Europe, in South America, etc.

As I do a very small thing: re-using and conserving water (see previous post), I remember those that don't have my luxury. As I remember, I feel. And as I feel, I am moved to action. To do more on behalf of the suffering.

*stats are from and

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Close to one half of all people in developing countries are currently suffering from health problems caused by unsafe water.
4,900 children die each day from health problems due to unsafe water. That is 1,788,500 children dying each year from something we can prevent.
Yes, WE, you and me can prevent these deaths.

Each post over the next couple of weeks will be devoted to facts on water in the world and how you and I can help prevent some of the horrible affects of unsafe/unclean water.


As I have contemplated how we can give more money to causes we believe in while understanding that our family is limited in finances, I decided we needed to get creative so that we can do more. In light of the website I know that I have a huge responsibility to the 95% of the world that has less access to finances than I do.

Providing clean water is a necessity and the suffering of the world and hardship to obtain clean water is staggering. I decided that as a family, we can in a small way use less water and donate our savings to a place that provides clean water in a sustainable way to parts of the world that have little access.

When I was in college, I visited someone's home who had some septic issues. Above their toilet was a hand-written sign that said, "if it's yellow, leave it mellow. if it's brown, flush it down." I must say that back then I thought it was kind of gross, but now after having two kids and changing diapers, I'm not too grossed out by what's in the toilet! So, we are adopting that motto with our flushes.

We are also learning about ways to re-used water. I have a shoebox sized plastic container in my kitchen sink. I collect the water I use in this container and then re-use it to:
  • rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher
  • pour down the sink when the disposal is running
  • pour it in the toilet to flush in the bathroom that is right next to the kitchen
I also collect water from baths and showers in a larger plastic storage container and then re-use the water to flush the toilet.

My goals are two-fold: to remember that water doesn't come easy to most of the world and to curb my excess for their benefit (by donating my water bill savings).

I'll expand on many of these thoughts over the next couple of weeks but for now I've written enough . . . please comment if you have thoughts and suggestion and consider joining me in this!

By the way, the stats used are from: and that is where I have chosen to donate money.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Over the last couple of weeks, I had two different conversations that had a large impact on me. One friend told me, "I am so eager to help those in need, to give what I can to those who have less than me, but I don't have money to give, just my time." In the chaos of raising a young family on a single income, money can be extrememly tight and even if you have time to give, it is difficult to do so with little ones in tow (not so easy to just volunteer somewhere).

Another conversation was with someone dear to me who said, "I have money to give, in fact I always give away 20% of what I make. But, I have no time to give and I have no desire to go to places where poverty exists." She has money to give (and probably time) but doesn't want to complicate her life or make a sacrifice by really seeing and beginning to understand poverty.
The King will say . . . 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your
inheritance, . . . For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was
thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me
in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I
was in prison and you came to visit me.

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and
feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a
stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see
you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, 'I tell you the
truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did
for me.' - Jesus (from Matthew 25:31-40)

So many things are relative - we make comparisions. When I say the I have no money, what do I really mean? When I say I have no time, why is that? Is it true when I make either of these statements? I have no money for what? I have no spare time because it is filled with what?

I saw this site the other day and it is really powerful (by the way, I don't know much about the site, just like the calculator tool), try it out:

Over the last couple of weeks, I've come up with some ideas on how we, as families, can be aware of poverty and do something about it whether our bills don't allow us to spend any more money or our commitments don't allow us to spend any more time. Check back soon and consider joining me and my family as we experiment with ways we can feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, give shelter and clothes to those that have none, and care for the hurting and oppressed. I'm excited about this journey and hope you are too!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I have become accustomed to phrases like "I can't do it" and "it's too heavy," followed by the phrase "mommy do it." For my young son, this phrase is a cross between asking for help and assurance that mommy really can do what he needs.

A man with leprosy said to Jesus, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus says to him, "I am willing . . Be clean" It is that statement that is also a request. It is knowing that help can be given. (Matthew 8:1-4)

I try my best to not ignore my children. When they request something I typically respond - I recognize them and let them know what we are (or not) going to do about it. My kids expect an answer, an action, a word, an explanation. They don't throw out requests to me without waiting for my answer. They expect something.

The leper expected something. An answer, an action, something. He didn't speak to Jesus just to say some words and then walk away. He came to Jesus because he was in need. He had probably tried every home remedy, lived apart from those he loved, agonized over this disease and then he was able to say "Jesus do it." This phrase that asks with expectation and states what Jesus can do. 

Out of great love and compassion, Jesus says he is willing. I can't help but think of how I talk to Jesus. Is it that great mix of expectation, questioning and affirmation of who Jesus is? When I ask in that way, am I better at waiting around for an answer? Could that be part of the child-like faith Jesus talks about? Asking and stating: "Jesus do it."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


"But Jesus was sleeping." 
(Matthew 8:23)

There is a story about Jesus sleeping on a boat. A fierce storm comes and Jesus stays asleep. The people on the boat frantically wake him and Jesus tells the storm to stop (which it does). 

Can't you imagine an exhausted Jesus awoken from much needed sleep? Not excited to be awake and basically rebukes both his friends and the storm (read the whole thing: Matt. 8:23-27). 

There is a lot to contemplate and learn from this story, but one thing that made me chuckle over the last couple of weeks was the human-ness of Jesus. He needed sleep and he was so tired that he could sleep through anything. I think I know that exhaustion - with a baby having a cold, then teething then getting her 6 month shots, I've been awake multiple times each night for about a month now. I really do think that I could sleep through a horrible storm - in fact, it may be easier to sleep through a fierce storm than through the cries and screams of my little girl :-).

But this story made me realize afresh my own error in not taking seriously the human-ness of Jesus. Jesus is fully God and fully man and that is so difficult to wrap my brain around (haven't yet and probably never fully will). There are times when I and others seem to glorify the apostle Paul as the way we should live life, as the model for what it means to follow Jesus. This isn't bad to do, but I think it is wrong if we consciously or subconsciously discount Jesus' life and the way he lived because he is God. It is as if I brush off his words and his examples saying "but that's just Jesus" or thinking "surely what Jesus meant by his words was _____." I read about Jesus and seem to forget that He is the one I want to emulate, not someone who was/is deeply affected by Jesus. Again, I pray "Jesus, I am desperate for YOU."

Monday, October 20, 2008


If you have spent much time with 2 year olds, "no - do myself" may sound familiar. This phrase is common around my home these days. I am thrilled that my son is trying, he is growing up, he is learning, but I also get tired of hearing him whine as he tries and gets frustrated at not quite accomplishing his task. At the same time, I smile when my son looks up at me after trying something and says "mommy, I can't do it." After I help him, he is so grateful and happy and I love to help him. When he whines, I often tell him "all you have to do is ask me for what you want because I love to help you."

I think that Jesus often says that to us: "ask me for what you want because I love you."
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door
will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and
to him who knocks, the door will be opened. . . . If you, then, though you are
evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your
Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew

When my son asks for something, I don't just ignore him. We talk about it or I give him what he asks for or I explain why it isn't possible. When I ask God for something, do I wait for him to speak to me or do I cross my fingers and hope he doesn't ignore me? Do I wait for Him to talk to me about it, to give me what I ask, to tell me what I need to know about the situation? I'm afraid that I miss out too many times when I ask but don't wait to receive. I lose out when I knock but don't expect the door to open. I often turn away before I'm given what I ask for.

Am I really asking for God, receiving God, finding God or am I actually saying "no - do myself"?