Friday, September 18, 2015

Being Hands and Feet (and Socks!) For Refugees

Today I am guest blogging for a group I love, Servant Group International. They are a non-denominational organization originally founded to help the thousands of Kurds who came to Nashville after the first Gulf War and are now working hand in hand with organizations inside Greece, Iraq and other areas of Europe to serve the thousands of refugees who continue to pour in. Here's a little excerpt:

I was very hesitant to write this post.
I know people who are now giving their time, energy, comfort—their very lives, in the middle of the war-torn area of the world that is home to the refugees I have been viewing in slideshows, on websites, and on blogs.
These people know there is a problem. No, not a problem; a crisis. They know all about the refugee camps, the broken families, the children scarred by the things they have been forced to witness, the mothers who won’t let their children out of their sight to even use the bathroom, the teenagers who will never get any further with their education, the pastor who fled without even his Bible.
Me? I’m pretty comfy here in my suburban American life. Got no reason to go to that seemingly God-forsaken area, other than the time I went to see the Holy sites. (Jesus was born here! Buy a keychain!)
But about a week ago, a picture was published that woke me up.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My New Favorite Person On The Entire Planet

I feel it is necessary to inform you of my new-found love.

You know how much I love teachers, having been one, having married one, having so many fabulous ones teach my girls, and on and on. Yay, Teachers!

But Ya'll.

I am ashamed to say I never knew the wonder that is School Secretary until today. 

School Secretary = my new favorite people group.

I subbed a few days for the sweet, sweet secretary at my kids' small elementary school, which has about 225 students. 

I want to kiss her feet.

You might think the school secretary does things like answer the phone and send emails. That is true...for 0.00001% of the day.

The rest : nurse/counselor/nurse/NURSE.

I passed out 5,000 band aids over the course of one school day. To 225 students.

I dealt with blood coming from a child's ear.

I taped a kid's jammed finger and then was bombarded with questions from another boy who had heard a rumor that "the lady who is in the office today popped my buddy's finger back into the socket and was it awesome or gross?" Um, I taped it. It was pretty awesome. Wait, no, no it was not.

I handled two episodes of bathroom accidents. You know what I mean.

I tried to determine whether or not a nose was truly broken or the soccer ball to the face caused mostly emotional trauma. (I diagnosed it as emotional trauma. I have no qualifications to assess that situation. I hope her nose doesn't fall off in her sleep.)

I took the temperature of all the children ever and finally, after 37 attempts, figured out how to use the thermometer cover.

Two kids came down with a stomach bug which nearly sent me over the freaking edge. This girl can't even when puking is involved.

I filled up All The Baggies with ice for All The Fake Hurt Children.

A six-year old kid asked me to pull his molar. Get back to class.

There was lots of crying. So much crying.

And I got to hug some babies and listen to some stories and have my heart break a little and love on the least of these and try to hide my laughter until they went back to class. 

And most importantly, a new hero was added to my list of People I Love More Than Whipped Cream... The School Secretary.

You need to make sure you take a Starbucks to the secretary at your kid's school at least once a week. And pray for her and anoint her with oils and extra good Christmas presents. 

And band aids.

Grace for All The School Secretaries in the Entire Universe,

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Will We Run Towards the Blade?

I am processing here, so bear with me. Or read something else by someone wiser. Which pretty much means anyone. 

How on earth do I reconcile my wealth and ease with the relative poverty and desperation of the rest of the world?

By American standards, we are not wealthy.

But we are so, so wealthy.

I do not worry about clean water.

I do not even give a thought to if my children will eat. Our pantry is overflowing, even when people are asking when I am going to the store. 

I do not worry about someone dangerous coming into my house. 

I have 42 items of clothing and 13 pairs of shoes.

I have 5 purses.

My children have clothes literally spilling out of their dressers.  

Preston has enough t-shirts with some variation of "Fairview Athletics" to clothe us all well into eternity.

But what about the mother of these babies?

And this father?

And this person, shielding her child while they sleep on a train bound for hopefully safer lands?

I guarantee these parents are worrying about food, water, shelter, safety, their next breath.

And I am sitting here, feeling very sorry for myself as I am in a Benadryl stupor, scratching my eyes and cursing the ragweed. 

And Preston took the girls to IHOP, rather than wrangle everyone into church clothes by himself, which really requires Mommy, where they will undoubtedly come home full of chocolate chip smiley face pancakes. 

I am trying to process the picture of three year old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish shore. His parents knew death was a possibilty, but still fled their country, believing death was a better option than what lay ahead of them should they stay.

I am trying to reconcile that desperation with the ease of my life.

I came across the pictures in this post while looking for something appropriate to show to the girls while we discuss what is happening and how our family can help. 

There really isn't much out there I feel I can show my 8, 7, and 5 year olds that won't greatly disturb them. 

I am trying to think how I can explain to them that I recently spent $215 on clothes that weren't actually necessary, and then show them this list and explain we really can only afford to pick one item to send.

I am trying to think of ways I can explain this to them without them feeling guilty for the life we are living when I am wracked with guilt myself. 

This is the only way I can reconcile it:

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you..." Jeremiah 1:5
This is true not only for me, but for all people. All of them. Even sweet Aylan Kurdi. 

"The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength." 
Isaiah 40:28

So I will stop questioning "why" He gave me and my family this abundant wealth. His understanding is unsearchable, and I don't have to understand His ways to believe they are right.

I will instead start asking, "What would You have us do with this wealth You have given us?"

And this morning, I was cleaning out a purse and found a gas gift card with $81 left on it. 

What should I do with it, Lord? 

If I'm honest, what I really want to do is take that nice surprise money and have an extra night out where I don't have to cook a meal everyone will complain about.

But we are going to take the $81 we won't have to spend on gas this month and go buy as many things as we can off that list to send to Greece. I don't think it's an accident that I found that year-old gas card on the morning I was wrestling with all this. 

Is it enough?

Well, no. Obvisouly not. Especially when you look at this chart produced by World Vision:

But I believe it is what God called me to do today. From my laptop in my comfy house He knew about way back before the beginning of time. 

ISIS has promised to use this refugee crisis to infiltrate borders and carry their evil further into the world, which some would use as a reason to stem the tide of refugees. Honestly, I can't fault this thinking.

But then the other side of me, thinks, "So what? So maybe we die in a terrorist attack. I know where I'm going. I know where my Beloved is going. I know where my Jesus-loving girls are going. What if they aren't from ISIS but are angels? Or just desperate mothers and fathers, trying to save their children from unspeakable brutality? And I refused to be the hands of Jesus because of a remote possibility they are terrorists?" 

My pastor used a phrase in his sermon several weeks ago that Preston and I have been repeating to each other ever since: We want to raise our daughters to run towards the blade for Jesus.

Whoa. That is heavy. It makes us tear up every time we talk about it, and I am weeping as I type. But should the day come, I want them to know, really know, where their eternity lies and lay down their very life for Jesus' name.  

I will continue to wrestle with this all my days, I suppose. My life has been one of ease. I am so thankful for that. But so many others live in daily fear. I cannot fathom why. It seems so unfair.   

But even if I never understand, and I never have answers, I will trust God.

After all, at the end of the story, all will be well.

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship Him. They will see His face and His name shall be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever...'Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.'"

Revelation 22:1-5, 12

Come, Lord Jesus.


Some links for more information and specific ways to get involved: