"I wish something interesting would happen. You know, in books, things always happen to make a normal life fascinating... the main character is kidnapped by a bunch of thieves or rogues, and then a knight or a hero of some sort comes and rescues her... or a war breaks out, and the main character goes to win renown in battles... or the main character's father, the king of the realm, dies, and she is left to rule the kingdom while there are enemies attacking... or the main character is given an extraordinary task, and she accomplishes it with ease, even if she's doubtful, frightened, or even apparently incapable. But not so here... Here, life goes on as it always has. I get up, eat, study for hours, take a break, study for hours, take a longer break, read, go to bed, sleep, get up, eat breakfast... and the cycle goes on. I suppose I wouldn't especially like being kidnapped and held for ransom in a dark cave deep in the heart of the forest. And I don't suppose it would be exactly pleasant to have to fight in a battle, even if you did win undying glory. Perhaps it wouldn't be enjoyable if my father was a king, and he died, leaving me to rule a troubled kingdom which was being bombarded on all sides. I would probably find it less than enjoyable if I was given a seemingly impossible task, and was told to do it, if I had to die in the process. But then again... any of those might be more interesting than sitting around and doing the same thing every day. I suppose there are still frontiers to conquer... still battles to fight and glory to win. And not always with swords and bows, or pikes and catapults. I suppose there are still knights and fair maidens, and I suppose I could find them if I looked hard enough... There are still many places where justice is being neglected, where there is a need to defend the defenseless, and a need to speak out for truth. But... I am just a young maiden who is still learning how to fight. Perhaps that is why I must learn, why I must toil away day after day at my monotonous tasks... perhaps, when my training is complete and I am equiped for war, I will ride out and aid in pushing back the foe. I do not train with swords and spears, not with bows and arrows. I do not train myself to fight in the way that a typical warrior princess would... But I am in training for battle, and perhaps, some day, I will be able to put my training to use. Perhaps, after all, there are battles and foes, knights and maidens. They may not look the same as they did five hundred years ago... but they are still existant, and there is a need for leaders, and people who are equiped to do battle, and to give their all for truth and justice. Perhaps... perhaps some day I shall do my part.
'For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...' - Ephesians 6:12-17"
Sisters, God put us here for a reason. He has a use for us, even if we can't see it right now. Life might seem hopeless, but our God is good, and He made each and every one of us for a purpose.
James 2:1 says, "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism."
This word, "favoritism", which is translated in King James Version "respect of persons", also means, "the fault of one who when called on to give judgment has respect of the outward circumstances of man and not to their intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy, one who is rich, high born, or powerful, to another who does not have these qualities" according to Blue Letter Bible's lexicon. I have been guilty of that so many times. It is so easy to judge a person before we forget they they too are God's workmanship.
James goes on to say, "Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" (emphasis added) The word "chosen" refers to choosing with kindness, favor, and love. Now, honestly, when someone smells funky or looks a little rough, I do not want to have anything to do with them! My human nature says, "Ew! Gross! Look the other way! Run!" I'm disgusted. Can't someone take a bath once in a while?
Ah, but Jesus chose the poor while he was on earth. He ate at tables with tax collectors, He touched lepers who had been deemed untouchable, He healed blind, dirty beggars, He spoke with Samaritans. Look, He even chose poor fishermen as his disciples. All those who had been cast low in society, Jesus loved. All those who were usually chosen last, He chose first.
So, sisters, this is the question I have for you. A question that I have been pondering:
What does it look like for us, as believers, to choose, love, be Jesus to those we love the least?
The amount of love we express for the person we love the least reflects the amount of love we have for God. This just makes me want to love everyone, EVERYONE! so much that there is no doubt that I love God. Even those who are sick (this is a tough one for me because I am a germophobe), those who are dirty, those who are rude, those who have made terrible decisions, those who have hurt you. We must love each of these people the way we would love Jesus if He was walking on the earth. With admiration, grace, patience, and truth. What can you do for the person you love the least today?
(Click on pictures to view more information.)
End of the Spear (2006)
Follow the journeys of five men and their families who give their lives for Jesus in the Amazon Basin. As they try to befriend the hostile native tribes of Ecuador, they risk their comfort and safety- but more than anything, they want salvation for the Auca tribe.
Pros: This is an inspirational, Christ-centered story featuring the lives of missionary heroes such as Nate Saint and Jim Elliot. It is a great movie to watch for anyone who is interested in missions to see examples of amazing faith.
Cons: There are some violent spearing scenes and some...ahem...bare bottoms (to stay true to the Auca's traditional clothing...or lack thereof...) Although this may not be a movie for young children, kids 12 and up should be able to handle it.
Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2002)
A documentary based on the lives of the same five men featured in End of the Spear. The film includes interviews with the missionary's wives and children as well as live footage from the Auca tribe. Extremely inspirational.
Pros: This movie made me want to get off the couch, get on a plane, and go to the Amazon! The incredible things five missionary families experienced while in the Amazon are moving.
Cons: Since there is some real footage of the Auca tribe, modesty is an issue. I don't believe there is any spearing in the documentary, though.
Being homeschooled, I am not used to being around teenagers who act so differently from me, and I struggle with a great deal of nervousness when I'm around them. In order to take the test, I had to go to a building with all of these strangers, and stay there for four hours. The night before the test, I was so extremely nervous that I broke down. I almost said that I could not go, that if I did I would probably pass out, or something else, from terror. I wasn't trusting God, and although I prayed, as usual, I wasn't really expecting Him to do anything spectacular. I didn't even really think that He would give me peace in my heart, and courage to do something that I was afraid of.
That morning, my dad drove me to the building where we were to take the test, and took me inside to sign in and find where I was supposed to sit, etc. All of the other kids had come on their buses, or in cars with friends, so I was apparently the only one who had my father with me. Add to that the fact that I was wearing a denim skirt, didn't have my hair cut in a modern style, and that I had no friends here, and I was very much the odd-ball in the room. Not that anyone even noticed me. I literally felt faint, and just wanted to get away. I shrunk next to my dad as we stood in line, in the huge crowd. Then, a man who had been standing against the wall with a younger boy came up and introduced himself to my father. "I assume you're a homeschooler?" he asked, after shaking hands.
"Yes," my dad replied.
"So are we," the man said. "This is my son, here." He called a young man over, and introduced him to us. He was a year older than me, and was wearing the same type of "old-fashioned" clothes. "It looks like you two are the only homeschoolers here."
I nodded. Dad and the man talked for a little while, and then they suggested something.
"Why don't you two stick together today, okay?" my dad said, turning to me. I nodded mutely, and we walked off to the 'classroom', after I said goodbye to my father. The young man kindly tried to converse with me, even though I was extremely quiet, and by the time the test started, I was feeling much more comfortable.
Throughout the day, we had several five-minute breaks. During that time, my new friend thoughtfully continued to pull me out of my shell, and by the end of the first break we had discovered several subjects which we both loved and heartily agreed on. After that, I was quite happy and not nearly so nervous any more. The test finally ended, and we both left with our parents.
Later, thinking about it, I almost wondered if the young man had been an angel, sent by God to deliver me in my time of trouble. But he was not. I saw him at the library a few weeks later, evidence that he was, indeed, a resident of a small town outside of ours. But God doesn't always send angels. He works in such amazing ways that He can bring human beings into His children's lives at just the time that they need it. And He does. El Elyon, the Most High God, gives us everything we need, even when we neglect to trust Him to provide it. He is indeed Jehovah Jireh (yeh-ho-vaw' yir-eh'), the God Who Provides. He provided for my needs in a way that I never would have expected, and in a spectacular way that could only be His hand working. I didn't really trust Him to do it, but He did it anyway. He loves us that much. He is Jehovah Jireh. Do not forget that, dear sisters. He will provide.
There was once a school teacher in England who decided to sponsor a young boy from Africa. The little boy was about eight years old and not very self-confident. In his first letter to his sponsor, he told her, "You can see from my picture that I am not very handsome." The school teacher replied, "Well, I think you are very handsome. Your picture is on my desk. I look at it every day and think how handsome you are."
In his next letter, the boy said, "Well, thank you, but you can see from my report card that they sent you that I am not very smart." His sponsor replied, "Well, we all have our special gifts and talents. You find something you are good at and work at it with all your heart."
"Dear Sponsor, I found something that I am good at! I am a very fast runner! There are 5 children in my class and I am the fastest!"
She replied, "I am so proud of you! You run as fast as you can!"
Several years later, the teacher heard from her sponsored child again- "Dear Sponsor, I am a very, very fast runner. I can run faster than anyone in my town. In fact, I can almost run faster than anyone in my whole country! I am going to run in the Olympics!"
That year, the school teacher watched proudly from her cottage in England as that same little boy who had once possessed almost no self-confidence won a silver medal in the Olympics.
On his way back to Africa, the young man came to visit her. Handing her the medal, he said, "This is yours."
"Oh, no, no," she replied, "You ran as fast as you could. You worked so hard. I'm so proud of you. You keep it."
"No," the boy said, "If you had not encouraged me when I was younger the way you did, I would never have made it here. This is your medal. This is your victory."
Wow. Doesn't that just give you the chills? Let me share our Compassion experience. For many, many years, we have been sponsoring a girl my age. The letters she writes are often very formal. It seems all she talks about is school. At first, we were very frustrated. It almost seemed as if someone else was writing the letters for her. However, this story has inspired us to encourage our child in what she writes about most- school. Someone needs to encourage her. Tell her how proud they are of her. Tell her she has value. In a third-world country, getting good grades, let alone going to school, is something to be very proud of. We have been challenged to write FOR OUR CHILD instead of just things that we want to write. One more thing- if you were an extremely impoverished child in a third-world country and you knew a rich American was sending money to you, wouldn't you feel indebted to them? Perhaps your pride would be hurt. Maybe you would feel embarrassed. If our girl is feeling like that, we want to eliminate all those doubts. We love her and love sharing our great abundance with her. If you sponsor a child through any ministry, let them know that they are loved and valued by you, and more importantly, by GOD, their heavenly Father. Sometimes, though, because there are limits on what you can write, it's hard not to send the same kind of letter every time. Here are some ideas on how you can encourage your child and brighten their day:
- Interview them- Ask them about some of their favorite things such as food, color, hobby, etc. (Just make sure you don't ask about anything that they might not have access to because of their poverty.) It will show them that you value their opinion- share your favorites with them too!
- Make something for them- whether it be a simple drawing, a bookmark, a note card...you will not only be giving them a material gift, but the gift of time.
- Send them a coloring sheet- it will hopefully provide some entertainment. One idea would be to send them a picture of the state that you live in or landmarks in that state.
- Send them a postcard from a place that you've visited.
- Give them a picture of you or your family.
- Share your favorite Bible verse.
- Include several strands of embroidery string and some instructions of how to make a friendship bracelet. (I think that an actual friendship bracelet would be too bulky for the envelope.
- Use special stationery.
- Send them baseball cards- we also sponsor a boy in the Dominican Republic where baseball is a favorite sport. I bet that a baseball card would really be a treasured possession!
- Write a joke, a song, or a funny story- (Just make sure that it would still make sense in any language...no puns, poems, or rhymes...)
- Send stickers! :)
- Visit them. If you are able to afford such a trip, visiting your sponsored child could bring hope and life into their lives.
Eleven-year-old Kafui was given her name by her older brother, who had no choice but to raise her. Kafui means "Praise Him" in the Ewe language (the Ewe are a tribe from the Volta region of Ghana). Kafui's name is surprising, because this little girl was an orphan before she was even born.
Kafui's suffering started when she was only seven months in the womb. She had to be prematurely delivered before her mother's pregnancy reached full term. Her mother was at the point of death, having innocently eaten food poisoned by her rival, another wife of Kafui's father, who died in a motor accident before she was born. After spending time in an incubator in the hospital, Kafui was released to her single, unemployed brother.
Mawunyo, age 19 at the time, had no experience with child care, let alone with a premature baby. He first saw God's mercy when their mother's younger sister, who was away with her husband and had given birth to a baby, returned to town.
This aunt agreed to nurse Kafui alongside her own baby. However, after just three months, her husband came and took her away again. Kafui returned to her brother, Mawunyo.
Vulnerable and Alone
"I was scared. She was very small; too tiny even to handle," Kafui's brother recalls. "Friends made my fears even worse when they kept telling me that she would die if I did not give her to an experienced elderly woman. But we did not have anybody."
The two lived in a very old, small kiosk that leaked in the rain. It was not suitable for any baby, let alone one so vulnerable.
God intervened again when a distant relative agreed to nurse Kafui for a few more months. After that, Mawunyo started feeding her adult food, unable to afford the expensive baby formula Kafui needed.
As Kafui grew up, Mawunyo could not bear to watch other children go to school while his sister missed out on education. With no money and only faith, he took his sister to a Christian nursery and preparatory school, where he talked to the headmistress and got Kafui accepted into the school.
Everyone at the school was surprised because the headmistress had never accepted a child into the school without the registration fee. This actually drew focus to Kafui, which was exactly what this shy, timid, undernourished girl needed. Then a teacher, Mabel, took special interest in Kafui.
"Kafui was always a sad-looking child who would never play with the other children," recalls Mabel. "I wanted to know more about her. I drew her to myself and made her relax with me, and then she opened up and started telling me about herself."
Kafui began spending more time with Mabel and her two children. Mabel supported Kafui and her brother, giving them food and providing books and extra lessons to help Kafui catch up in school. Shortly after this, Mabel's church, the Rohi Global Evangelical Church, became a partner with Compassion. Mabel registered Kafui at the center, assuring her education.
Today, two years later, Kafui is happy, active, and full of smiles. Her brother, Mawunyo, is overwhelmed with how God has rescued him and his sister. "I can only thank God for telling me that day to send Kafui to that Christian nursery and preparatory school, because that is where it all began. I believe it was God, and I praise Him."
And so does his little sister, whose name bears their testimony.
(Story from www.compassion.com)
James 1:27 says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble..."
There are a lot of orphans in the world- just about 143 million. A lot of those oprhans have HIV/AIDS or were orphaned because of it. Oftentimes, because orphans are so vulnerable, they're abused. In Russia, 60% of orphaned girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become criminals. In Africa, young orphaned girls are forced to sell their bodies for a few scraps of food, just to stay alive.
The number of orphans and the suffering they endure is a bit overwhelming. However, more overwhelming to me is the fact that we (the church) are doing nothing about them. Why? Maybe because we're uninformed, maybe because we don't know what to do, maybe because we just don't care (though I don't understand how this could be possible). When I first heard about the widespread orphan crisis, I wondered how I could help. Of course, adoption seems like a good idea, but it may not be for everybody...and as a young girl, it's not even an option. Another idea is to be an orphan advocate- someone who speaks up for the orphan...kind of what I'm doing right now. I'm telling you about this in hopes that you will do something about it and maybe even tell someone else. Another thing you can do to help orphans is prevent them. Right now there are about 143 million orphans...what will keep that number from escalating in the years to come? Children are becoming orphans every day. So...instead of trying to put a bandaid on a on a broken limb, let's try to completely eliminate the problem...
Now, even as I say this, I don't know quite what I'm doing...this is something I'm exploring myself as well...however, the ministry of Compassion is a really cool ministry. It is giving hope to children (orphans and non-orphans alike) and their families. By providing financial support and the love of Jesus Christ to families all over the world, Compassion is holding families together- keeping countless children from becoming orphans.
My family supports 2 children through Compassion. We are able to write letters and communicate with our Compassion kids and learn about what their life is like. We are able to pray for them and help provide for their families. I think that's pretty cool. If you'd like to support a child through Compassion, click here.
Let me know what you think. The next post will be about writing letters and encouraging your Compassion child.
Cardigans- They can be word in essentially any season, come in almost every imaginable color, and a variety of fabrics. Some are warm and soft, while others are cool and thin. Probably half of my wardrobe is made up of cardigans- don't worry- they don't always have to look grandma-ish! They're great for layering- and if you have any neutral colors (I would recommend gray, black, or brown), they're easy to toss on with just about anything when you're on the go! I personally don't own the above Land's End cardigan, but I have one a lot like it and absolutely love it!
Ballet flats- They are so easy to slip on with, well, just about anything...I know I'm sounding repetitive here, but that's why I'm calling these pieces essential- they are smart buys because you can wear them all the time. If you buy a pair, I would recommend buying one like the ones about with a little bit of stretch. I was able to get a pair for a dollar at a garage sale! Unfortunately, they are the kind with no stretch, so they make my feet a little bit sore. But, if they were comfortable, I'm sure I'd wear them with almost every outfit!
Pea coats, trench coats, and jackets- A few years ago, I bought a really cute yellow trench coat at Old Navy...and of course thought it was a cute, trendy piece...but maybe that it would go out of style in a few years. Boy, was I wrong! I have received more compliments on that coat than on any other article of clothing. And it's still in style! Trench coats and pea coats are classy pieces that will last you a long time- especially if you invest in them! This coat from New York and Co. was originally over $100 and is now just a little over $50- a great price for a coat. Jackets are also great layering pieces- the best kind is a dark brown jacket- preferably corduroy- once again, you can wear it with just about anything!
Fashion scarves- Although this is a bit more of a trendy piece, fashion scarves are generally inexpensive, fun, and (surprise, surprise) can be paired with just about any outfit. They can be found in really any color and can be worn in so many ways. Because they are a trend, don't spend to much money on a scarf- but having one or two doesn't hurt- especially if they're solid colors (preferably neutrals) that you can wear with lots of stuff!
Jeans (that fit well)- Jeans...they're an essential, prevalent piece in almost every American's closet. For teenagers, most of the time they are tight...a little too tight, worn, and torn. A little over a year ago I fell victim to the tight jeans epidemic. I found some American Eagle jeans for a steal. They were comfortable, a little tight, and I loved them. The problem was, for me, they were a little too tight. Icky tight. When I think back on it now, I just think "gross". It wasn't like they were cutting off my circulation or anything. The problem was that they were stretchy. Not a little bit stretchy. Really stretchy. Beware! Do not fall victim to the stretchy jeans! Don't get me wrong. Stretch is great! But it can make a pair of jeans that are too small look like they fit...it can even make them feel like they fit. But really, you'll just end up looking trashy. And who wants to look trashy?
Over the years I've had a couple really good pairs of jeans. And honestly, the best jeans are the expensive jeans. Like, designer jeans. No, I did not go out and spend 200 bucks on a pair of jeans. I bought them at a resale shop. For a very small fraction of the price- like maybe $20-30. The brands I've loved are David Kahn and Worn. These brands might be hard to find, but they're worth the digging. If you have no luck there, you could also try Banana Republic (again, hit the resale shops) and Limited. Probably, if you still have no luck, Levis will be your best bet.
Boots- Maybe they're just in where I live, but it seems like Ugg boots are everywhere! Ugh! :) A couple weeks ago, we were talking about Uggs and my brother said, "Oh, you mean those tubes with the rounded toes?"...I guess we know what he thinks of Ugg boots! My mom thinks they're ridiculous too. I'm not so much against them...maybe because that's just more my style...maybe because I'm a teenager caught up in the latest fashion. But really, if you want a pair of boots that's more classy and traditional, go with a pair of riding boots. I bought a pair recently and absolutely fell in love with them! They look cute with a pair of jeans or a skirt and they are so, so, so fun! Although they are a bit pricier, they will last you a really long time and be an overall good investment.
- For me, this was an easy book to read. The print is relatively large and there is a good amount of space between each paragraph. I didn't feel like I was getting lost in the book. (Don't know why, but that helps me a lot!)
- The book gives a great history of the early church and its beliefs without being too boring.
- Adelina is a wonderful example as a Christian young lady for those of us in a culture where all true beauty seems to be lost.
- The book is written in somewhat old-fashioned language, which makes it a bit hard to follow.
- Although this is supposedly a true story, I thought it ended to much like a children's fairytale...you know, that "happily ever after" stuff?
Star rating (out of 5): 3 1/2!!!!!