Saturday, January 30, 2016

Blogging for Compassion

If you have followed this blog since the beginning then you know we support Compassion International and the ahhhmazing work they are doing globally. 


You also know why our girls never get hot lunch

You know we are trying to raise them to be unentitled (I made that word up) in an entitled world.

And hopefully you've noticed the Compassion banners over there on the left of the screen that have been there almost since the beginning. (My girls check the number of kids sponsored All. The. Time. They would be thrilled to see the number go up!)

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Well, today there's a new widget.

It's the adorable "I Blog for Compassion" button. 

I am so, so excited about this. Preston and I have been praying about this blog lately seeking answers as to what I should be doing with it (if anything more than the therapy it provides for me) and how it can be used for the Kingdom. 

Then this opportunity popped up in my twitter feed. 

Don't you love it when prayers are answered on social media? Kind of makes my presence on there feel justified. (probably not five times a day, but hey, there's grace for people like me twitter addicts who constantly check for new tweets)

The focus is still family, still Savoring the Crazy, still the moments where #thestruggleisreal and I put all my parenting woes out there for you to commiserate with. 

But we think blogging for Compassion fits right into the "family" catergory. 

I will be writing about kids - kids made in the image of God and as valuable as my own in His sight. Kids whom He placed in a much harder situation that my own. (Maybe specifically so our family and yours could learn the joy of giving sacrificially?) And I will be writing about their parents, and their living space, and their culture, and the incredible ways Compassion serves, and how it fits into our lives.

So once or twice a month I will be sharing posts here specifically highlighting Compassion International, introducing children waiting for sponsors, pointing out ways to serve through Compassion even if sponsorship isn't an option for you right now, and opportunities to travel to visit Compassion kids. 

Next week I will tell you about our family's journey with Compassion and introduce you to our Compassion Kids. I'll share about the two hours one October day that changed how we think. 

Our story is a testament to how God is using Compassion to help us raise our girls, and...

Sharing this post may actually give a child 
the opportunity to meet Jesus.

No guilt trip if you don't share (I get nothing from this), but I was just struck again by what a gift it is to have our prayers for what more I can do with this blog answered! A simple blog post from a simple family who loves Jesus could save a child's earthly life and guarantee him or her a glorious eternal one. 

What a privilege to be writing towards that end. 

(And if you are hesitant to give money that will just go to overhead costs or to pay a big CEO's salary, know that Compassion has been around since 1952 and has been listed for the past 14 years in the top 1% of Charity Navigators' ratings. They are the best of the best at directing the most funds to the children for whom they exist.) 

Thanks for reading (and sharing) along! 

Grace for the things to come,
Martha

P.S. If you are a blogger too, go here to find out how you can blog for Compassion. 




  

    

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It's Just Stuff!!! Isn't It?

Today, here in the South, we had a winter emergency wherein it sleeted for about seven minutes and snowed for three more and the entire state shut down. We ain't driving in that mess. Southerners are built for humidity and sunshine and winter weather of all kinds will send us skedaddling down to Kroger to clean out the milk, even if we are lactose intolerant and never drink the stuff. It's like a law. 

So on our snow day that wasn't we did a lot of the following: 

(excuse the poor, unedited quality of the pictures, but I am trying to quickly write this for posterity before the chaos I can hear in the bathtub upstairs relocates itself to its normal habitat - glued to my hip)





According to multiple studies married couples start to look alike as they age and this has been confirmed by our seven year old who may have a lucrative future as a police sketch artist. I'm ok with the ball cap similarity because I do love my camo hat, but if I grow a goatee I'm done.  


How much do I love children who can make the potato salad and knead the dough and shape the hamburger buns? #freelabor #ivebeenwaitingforthis

At one point in the day we went on a walk and ended up at my parents' for hot cocoa. I decided to go up in the attic to search for my brother's Nintendo to fill our afternoon. (Not the 64 or whatever crap came after that. The very first edition Nintendo.) But instead of the Nintendo I came across a big black trash bag full of some of my childhood things. The bag disintegrated into a million pieces when I tried to pick it up. Black plastic shreds all over the attic. A mega-mess.

I received a book for Christmas, one I specifically requested, called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I am not a hoarder by nature, but some of my (all of my) children are and so is my Redneck, so I though I could learn them a few things about this Magic.  

This book. Wow. I just really couldn't take too much of it seriously. The author suggests that each and every item in one's house should be handled to see if it "sparks joy." And if it doesn't, you thank it for its service and give it away. You should fold your socks properly so they can rest because apparently if they are rolled up it stresses them out. My poor socks! They probably need a Xanax.

I really couldn't tell if a lot of this book was to be taken tongue-in-cheek or if the author was sincere that I should thank my worn out sorority t-shirts for their 15 years of pajama service. Preston rolled his eyes every time I said, "Listen to this!" and read him a choice bit. I think its magic worked in reverse and actually encouraged him to save more bent nails in peanut butter jars. 

Anyways the book did not "spark joy" for me so I promptly gave it away. 

Like I said, I really do not save things. I am not super sentimental and very often can be heard exclaiming in exasperation, "IT'S JUST STUFF!"

But the stuff in that brittle black trash bag.

There were things in there that made my fingers and my nose and my eyes and my heart tingle with the amount of joy they sparked. 

Toys. Silly toys.

I care nothing about a Teddy Ruxpin, Rainbow Brite, or Cabbage Patch dolls.



But I sat and told stories to the girls all afternoon about these things. 

How my dad's cousin, who is really an aunt, got the Teddy Ruxpin for me the year it was THE Christmas gift. The one people were whacking each other with their giant pocketbooks over. How much she loves me. All about Christmases at my great-Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Carl's house. My Aunt Dorothy's engagement ring I wear everyday. How my Uncle got it out of the pawn shop. How I cried the day their house and their things were auctioned off.

How one of the Cabbage Patch dolls doesn't have the all-important signature on her bottom because my parents couldn't afford a real one and my aunt's mother made one for me so I would have the thing all my friends had and I wanted so badly. How I never noticed until many years later she wasn't the real deal. 

How I saved my pennies for months to buy another Cabbage Patch doll. A brother for the homemade sister. How hard it was and how many extra chores I did to earn $32. The excitement the day my mom took me to Service Merchandise in our white Oldmosbile to pick him out.

The tiny clothes and quilt with all their teeny tiny stitches my Grandma King made for those dolls. And about the dresses Grandma King made for her own three daughters' dolls from the slip of her wedding dress the Christmas there wasn't a dime to spare. How many evenings were spent in their little house at the end of the lane. How I sobbed the night before they moved away, five days before Eva was born.



And then this evening, watching my girls play with these treasures. Dressing up the dolls I dressed up. Enjoying these stories, hanging on my every word, asking millions of questions about these people who came before, who loved me so well and prayed for the children I would have one day. 

The hands of my girls touching things that were so lovingly touched by hands I miss so much. Connecting them






The day I shoved these things into a garbage bag twenty years ago I don't remember any joy sparking through my fingers. 

But oh, did they spark today. 

Grace for Hoarders and Minimalists, too,
Martha








Friday, January 8, 2016

"Have Courage, and Be Kind"

Ya'll.


Oh, my word.

It's been almost a month!

I know you've missed me. 

Ok, I know my mom missed me.

I sure missed writing!

It seemed that when I had a free second over the past three weeks I needed to fill it with something productive like pouring a glass of my dad's homemade boiled custard, or stirring up another batch of fudge to consume all by myself, or doze by the fire. Important stuff, people! Who has time to sit and write a blog post, for heaven's sake? Those Christmas tree cookies aren't going to eat themselves!

So I just did that for a few weeks and now my jeans are tight so at least I have something to show for it.

During this week in which the children have been back in school (where they belong!) I have been like a little clutter fairy, throwing away crap, and sorting crap, and finding places for all the new crap, and cleaning crap, and in general doing all the crap I ignored for three weeks. 

By the way, every time I say "crap" I have to put a quarter in the ice-cream jar, so let's keep this little paragraph between us, mmmkay? Good.

I wonder how much I'd have to put in the ice-cream jar for the word I said when I sliced my finger open on a can of black beans a minute ago? $10, at least. And I may keep on saying it because now I have a giant bandaid on my finger, and it's causing me to type like a drunkard and backspace every third letter. I'm probably up to $20 by now.

Somewhere in the middle of all that jean-tightening a new year has begun. Although in reality we operate on semesters (teachers 4-ever, yo!) and the new year started last August. But still, with everyone else talking about their goals and resolutions and all, I thought it appropriate to reflect for a minute or two.

What will this little family be like at the end of 2016? What do we want to improve on, change, drop altogether? 

The list is long, dear readers. We are hopelessly bad at putting away laundry. No one goes to their drawers to look for clean clothes. They are in a pile on the floor in Mommy's room. Preston accused me of hiding his underwear and I was all if I'm going to hide something it darn sure isn't going to be your underwear, they are just in the drawer. He was confused, and I had to make him a map to the exact location of the drawer. He'd never needed to go there before.

I also yell. A lot. I'm a yeller. 

"WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES? WHY ON EARTH DID YOU TAKE THEM OFF WHEN YOU WERE LOOKING FOR BUZZARD EGGS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BRUSHPILE THAT IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FARM?"

"WHY ARE YOU OUT OF BED AND TALKING TO ME THROUGH THE BATHROOM DOOR WHERE I AM TRYING TO RELAX IN MY BUBBLE BATH WITH THE HOMEMADE BATH BOMBS YOU MADE ME THAT ARE MAKING MY SKIN TURN RED AND FALL OFF?"

"WHY AREN'T YOU ON YOUR WAY HOME YET SO YOU CAN TAKE OVER THIS MATH HOMEWORK I DO NOT HAVE THE SKILLS TO HELP OUR 9 YEAR OLD WITH?"

Lots of yelling. I should probably tone that down a bit.

Also I could lose the baby weight. But the baby is only five so, you know, I just had her. 

So there are so many things.

But this is it for the Brookses:

Have courage, and be kind.

If you have girls you know that line is from the best movie ever made, Disney's live-action version of Cinderella. I wrote about it back when it came out. (But darned if I can find that blog to link to. This makes blog post #60something! Nuts. Who knew I had so much to say? Ok, everyone. Haven't stopped talking since birth. Shut your pie hole, Brothers.)

So listen up, three daughters of mine:

That lines sums up what the Christian life should look like, I think. 

To be like Jesus, which is Who we are all being made more like everyday, we will have to have courage. 

Where we place our courage is what counts. 

Are you courageous because you are thin?

You are popular?

You made the team?

Because your bank account is at a level you feel comfortable with?

Your husband never looks at another woman?

You have received lots of positive reinforcement at your job and you know you ain't going anywhere?

All of those things are good.

But not what counts.

And definitely not what lasts.

Your courage needs to be in the fact that you were created in the image of God. You are in His likeness! You, no matter how shattered or messed up or addicted or sick or hopeless you feel, reflect GOD!

So get ok with that. Ask Him to help you get ok with it. Ask Him to plant deep in your heart your worth in His eyes. He will. 

And then, when you have that deep-seeded knowledge of how ahhhmazing you are to God, you will have the courage to be kind. 

You will be able to stand up for the abused one.

You will ask the awkward kid to join your club. 

(Sidebar - What is with the elementary playground clubs? "The Onion Factory Club" in which you pluck wild onions and display them on rocks makes you smell exactly like you work in an onion factory. And "The Dirt Diggers Club" is ruining every pair of socks in creation. How about the "We Sit Quietly and Memorize the Entire Bible Club?" That sounds clean and quiet and like you will be entertained until, say, your 65th birthday.)

You will be able to rejoice with your friend who makes the squad.

You will be able to be the best teacher, preacher, doctor, banker, coach, mother, fireman, zookeeper, or nurse because you know Who put you there, in that place, for the sole purpose of glorifying Him.

You will be able to invite the unlovely into your home on the loveliest of holidays.

You will be able to say "no" in order to be kind to yourself and your family.

You will not let others use you as a doormat because you will understand that that isn't kind to the One Who spent so much time knitting you together and Whose image you reflect.

You will be able to travel to foreign lands to teach in schools with no books or paper.

You will be able to give your money because you know Who gave it to you in the first place.

You will be able to give your life...because you know Who gave it to you in the first place.

You will be able to spread the Gospel starting from the earliest age imaginable by being kind

Preston and I have always used the word "kind" instead of "nice" when discussing all the pitfalls of childhood. "Kind" has connotations "nice" doesn't.

And we are constantly saying, "All you can do is be kind. Be as kind as you can be. Being kind shows Jesus. The Lord will work it out."

This sign has hung over the side door, the one we go in and out of and slam shut and bang open 300 times a day, since we moved into this house. 



This year, I am adding the courage part. Those seem to go hand in hand. 

Grace for the New Year and the Chocolate Bar I ate 5 hours after I pledged to eat healthily,
Martha