Your Weekly Guilt Trip

A few people (respectfully) suggested last week that I’ve been writing about the poor in third world countries to give my readers a guilt trip.

So, I thought it was about time for another one.

[clearing throat]

At first I was a little offended, but then I just felt irritated. You know like that speck of sand in the oyster shell that rubs you the wrong way, but turns into something meaningful? Yeah, that. So, I’m all about the pearl.

I need to talk about what is happening in my heart. If you read my blog pre-Africa, you know that this subject wasn’t even on my radar. Now, that the perfect bubble I lived in has popped, I can’t pretend I don’t know how the rest of the world lives. And more importantly, I can’t keep living the same way.

I can’t please everyone and I stopped being politically correct a long time ago, so don’t expect me to start now.

I’m reading When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves. I’m chewing on this profound quote that is painfully true. If it makes you feel guilty, you’re not alone.

“North American Christians are simply not doing enough. We are the richest people ever to walk the face of the earth. Period. Yet most of us live as though there is nothing terribly wrong with the world. We attend our kid’s soccer games, pursue our careers and take beach vacations while 40% of the world’s inhabitants struggle just to eat every day. And in our own backyards, the homeless, those residing in ghettos, and a wave of immigrants live in a world outside the economic and social mainstream of North America.”

It’s that last part that really gets me: We do not necessarily need to feel guilty about our wealth. But we do need to get up every morning with a deep sense that something is terribly wrong with the world and yearn and strive to do something about it. There is simply not enough yearning and striving going on.”

In my heart, I know there is something terribly wrong with this world.

What am I doing about it?

I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m trying to fit back into my life and I’m finding that I don’t want to be the same. Sure, I’m still a mom. I still get mad at dirty socks under the bed and I blog weekly about parenting lessons and mishaps.

I just don’t want my life to be characterized by The American Dream, racing and working for more, for me. I don’t want to teach my kids by default that we live for ourselves, adding God in when it’s comfortable, doing for others when it’s convenient.

If a movie was made of my life, of your life and it was summarized by this statement, what would it say?

I’m yearning for _____________ and striving to _____________.

You fill in the blanks.

I’m trying to.


Comments

  1. says

    Thank you. This is NOT a guilt trip…it is a gentle, firm, necessary reminder. Funny, my former pastor just recommended the book you mentioned on his blog. I do want to read it. I do want to do more. I yearn to do something big and meaningful for God’s glory, and I’m striving to find out what that is. Is it fostering? Is it adopting? Is it just giving and volunteering? Not sure yet. But I’m praying.

  2. says

    Amen Sister!

    Preach it!

    Part of my motivation for starting my bloggy idea was to help others with this sense of…well, desire to help beyond their front porch…but the overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start…not knowing where to give…how to give…what is even out there. I found that so many people want to help. Their hearts are bigger than their purses. But it’s so overwhelming sometimes, it’s just paralyzing. So we (I) keep right on trudging along because I just don’t even know how to begin.

    Anyway, I love this. Thank you for being awesome and not being PC. I probably wouldn’t read if you were. ;)

  3. says

    Amen, sister. I often feel like people misunderstand and think we want them to feel guilty. I think action is a beautiful alternative to guilt anyday.

  4. says

    Good for you! I enjoy your “guilt trip” posts. :) Ha, ha. I know I probably will never travel outside of North America and it’s good to hear of your experiences. My husband and I struggle to live on one income and for me to remain a SAHM, however I KNOW we have so much more than so, so, so many out there. Keep writing about what’s on your heart. :)

  5. says

    I appreciate that you are sharing YOUR STORY with the world. Mine may not look exactly like yours, and I may not be able to go to Africa or sponser a crazy amount of Compassion kids. BUT. . . you inspire me to raise the bar and to strive to do what I can with what I have, even if it is very little. God knows each and every one of our hearts and He doesn’t expect anyone to fill someone else’s shoes. You remind me that little, old, insignificant me really can make a difference. Keep writing. If anyone is feeling like they are being led into a “guilt trip”, I think they are missing the whole point of why you are blogging. You are a light–keep shining. Keep “spuring one another on toward love and good deeds!” Blessings to you Kristen!!

  6. says

    There is nothin’ wrong with a little Guilt :D When my boys were young and full of themselves I use to tell them…”think about what you are saying and doing today because if you found out that tomorrow was your last day in this life…what is really important to you while you are still here?” For my youngest son. who had alot of compulsive, control issues, it would often take an hour or so to sink in…then he’d come back and apologize. For my teenage son…he would just stop argueing with me…he was at that age where he thought that the only way you “heard” what he said to you was if you AGREED with him…lol

    A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE HERE IS that GUILT is not an emotion that you give to someone…because you can not make anyone feel anything. If they are feeling GUILTY then it is coming from inside them and it is generally an emotion that helps us all “check-in” with ourselves and to help us realize what is important and what we have to be thankful for.

    We are very fortunate at Americans for all that we have in this country and yet we also live very sheltered lives with all of our consuming and our economy telling us we “deserve” more and more. In this respect…guilt serves us all!

  7. says

    Oh, I love this post. When I commented about being tired of hearing about how rich we are, I think it’s because I’m trying to pay the bills here. And it can get tough here. Everytime I want to complain about how small our house is, I think, “I HAVE a house. With electricity and running water and heat. My family is blessed.” We have a beautiful yard–well, not so beautiful, but a yard and compared to some, it’s beautiful.
    Thank you so much for this post.

  8. says

    Re-entry is so difficult. I spent six months doing missions with YWAM in Mexico city 12 years ago and I still haven’t found the balance. During that time I felt so established in God’s will for my life but when I came home, got married and we started growing our family I lost that sense of intimate communion with Jesus that I had experienced; I have seldom felt like I was participating in God’s kingdom vision since. I will finish your sentence for myself this way: I’m yearning to look beyond the rubble; to be a repairer of broken down walls, and striving to live my life as if God is who He says He is.

    Thanks for your message,
    Kathi

  9. says

    My Pastor always had a great way of describing guilt.
    Guilt is good IF you are GUILTY, but purpose of guilt is not to live there! Guilt is useful to serve a purpose of consciousness, awareness and to cause change. Those who speculate that they don’t NEED to feel guilty or that you are blogging about the trip that has changed your life, in order to force others into feel guilty? Sounds like the Holy Spirit is working and some are not receptive? It is PAST time that the self-indulgent, cruise control church wakes up and comes alive. God doesn’t bless us so we can keep on getting FAT and live higher on the hog, but so we can live as a sacrifice and BE a testimony of who Jesus was. It is one thing to tell people about the Lord but it is entirely another to live it out loud counter culturally! All the while people fighting to keep what they “earned” (NOT~ were given to by God), cry out I do not have to PROOVE my devotion through ‘works’, I have grace. We settle for loving self in abundance while there are children begging for bread. Keep it real and keep living out loud! There are bound to be people that get their panties in a bunch because they dont want to change HOWEVER, it will encourage others to get on their big girl panties and get off cruise control!
    Another one of my pastors favorite analogies:
    If you throw a rock into a pack of wolves, the one who barks the loudest is the one who got hit! Same goes for conviction! The one who complains the most is the one whos heart is being pierced. Fall on the rock and be crushed or the rock will fall on you and crush you to powder. Keep up the guilt trips!

  10. says

    I love reading about your experiences, forget about nasty remarks. Some people come to blogs just to make you doubt yourself. This is your blog about your life and feelings. Michelle

  11. says

    I’ve never commented here before, and I don’t read the comments you get. I wanted to say that I have loved all of your posts related to your transformation! I never felt like they were loaded in any way, to elicit guilt. Just honesty from your heart. I am sorry you got some irritating comments. It’s hard to deal with that, when you have a family to take care of and you want to be present emotionally. The Internet is so unfortunate in that sense. Nice feedback can make our day sometimes, but hurtful things can stay around a good while.

  12. says

    Let me start this by saying that I’m Catholic, so the guilt thing? It’s what we do.

    Seriously though, I was fortunate enough to be raised with the kind of awareness through travel and just how my parents were to know that we Americans are above and beyond rich. My Dad always told me growing up that modern Americans – even ones who are considered poor – live an easier, cushier life than historical kings and queens, with their servants. Just having electricity, plumbing, and air conditioning is huge.

    I struggle with how to help, all the time. Who needs it most? How much do I have to give? Until it hurts? Who does God want me to help? All the time.

    I enjoyed this post but don’t think you should ever feel like you have to defend doing what God has put on your heart. Even if they don’t “like” it, you have planted a seed that eventually, will bear fruit.

    • kristen says

      Thanks, Jen. I didn’t feel like I was defending myself, but maybe I did some. Thanks for pointing that out. I’m okay with people not liking me or my blog, but it’s good for me to remember that :)

    • says

      Catholic, too, Jen. I don’t know that GUILT is what I feel, so much as a NEED to follow James 2:20… “faith without works is useless.” I canNOT have the mentality that I’m “saved by grace. The End.” It’s NOT the end. We have to LIVE that faith, or we truly can’t claim it.

  13. Kim says

    I love that you post about Africa. What’s more, I am thankful that you help me serve others through your DIFOP! I know how third world experience can rock your world and shake your foundation. I lived in Brazil for two years. My most fervent prayer upon returning was, “Lord, don’t let me return to apathy!”

    Keep it up, Kristen! And if we feel guilty, GOOD! We should do something about it.

  14. says

    If we were living the way we should be, spending our money the way we should be, spending our time the way we should be. Living like Jesus did – there would be no guilt. Call it guilt or conviction or whatever you want. Almost half the world lives (barely lives) on less than $2.50 per day. People are dying from stupid things like lack of clean water and we have the blessing of bathing in clean water. What is our part? What is my part? Something to always be thinking about and wrestling with. And I read that book too. My husband read it for his seminary class on Christians and Poverty. Good stuff. Don’t stop struggling.

  15. Sheryll says

    I for one love your guilt trips. Your trip to Africa has changed ME. I am not sure what to do either, so right now I am just concentrating on becoming aware.

    A few weeks ago my husband was watching some car racing on TV. The scene switched to the driver’s view. My husband asked me to guess how much I thought one of those steering wheels cost. I guessed what I thought was a huge number: $30,000. He said “Try a quarter of a million.” Are you kidding me? $250,000 for a steering wheel? My only response was “What a waste.” Car racing, though fun to watch, and I’m sure exhilarating to participate in, is purely for entertainment. Okay, maybe not purely, but mostly. All of the resources that go into it: all of the metal used to make the cars, the rubber for the tires that just get torn to pieces, the gas, the oil, the money, money, money! The thousands of people involved whose lives are focused on…car racing. Same principle for blockbuster movies, and as you mentioned in an earlier post, professional sports where we pay athletes millions. I agree our world is sick and needs healing.

    I read an interesting book called Radical Simplicity. The author talks about how many resources we use, how the rich countries use more resources than they have in order to maintain their lifestyles. Those resources have to come from somewhere, which means that other countries do with less, many countries less than they need to meet the basic needs of their people. (Interesting read, but it’s a take what you can from it and leave the rest-type book.)

    I can’t believe what you said in your post- 40% of the world’s inhabitants struggle to eat everyday. I don’t know what to do. Your weekly guilt trips help keep this in the forefront of my mind, so I hope you will continue!!

  16. says

    I recently read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. The last part of your post reminded me of what an impact the book had on me because of this very thing. Do I want my story to read “Heather really cared about her children and blogging and Skittles and so she sat at the computer a lot and ate candy-Sometimes she wrote checks to Compassion, but that’s about it”
    Nope. I don’t really want that. My heart is pulled toward justice and then I get all swallowed up in American life.
    I think one of the things that keeps us stuck IS guilt. Because we look at ourselves, feel bad, and then stay exactly where we are. If we can look at our progress, because we’re all maturing, even if it’s slow, and see the growth…we press on, not toward perfection (in this life) but progress. So many times people say “I can’t go to Africa” or “We don’t have much money” and those are valid reasons to feel stuck–BUT, when we look at ourselves and see the desire in our hearts to serve, we recognize that we’re good and then we start acting like we’re good. Even if all we can do are small things, baby steps…Mother Theresa said “we can do no great things, just small things with great love” And she was very smart.
    Obviously, Skittles were not a distraction for me while writing this SUPER long comment.
    The End.

  17. says

    It’s not a guilt trip, it’s called awareness!! (At least that what I tell my readers.) As far as I am concerned the world needs more of it — for all sorts of issues not the least of which is poverty, homelessness, those with special needs, abuse…and the list goes on and on. You are doing a wonderful job and those who feel guilty are just getting their first dose of reality.

  18. says

    It’s truly all about what you are aware of and how it affects your life. Sadly, not enough people in the US are presented the opportunity or information to change their outlook. My husband began working for an organization with a humanitarian branch a few years ago and it has drastically changed us. Everyone in the US needs to know what just a few dollars each can do to improve others’ lives. It’s amazing! Thanks for continuing to raise awareness.

  19. says

    I don’t think you’ve been making people feel guilty. Solely making them aware. I don’t ever get a sense of an accusatory attitude that lends towards guilt trips. Keep on sister. :)

  20. says

    My husband likes to say that it takes seeing another part of the world to help us really appreciate all that we have here in the United States.

    It’s true. I saw such a different life. We don’t understand how expensive it is to live in Europe, even. I lived in France and Switzerland for a year and a half as a missionary, and I saw that most people live in apartments not much bigger than our living room–and that’s for their entire family! One room for everyone. I saw a few nicer, bigger places, but I also saw a place no bigger than a bed, where a family from our church lived, having moved from Zaire to Switzerland. I met people from all over the world, who had escaped fighting in the countries (half of the population of Geneva is illegal immigrants, and after hearing their stories, you know that you would run, too!).

    When I visited Thailand, I saw much more poverty. I saw a lot of people living on the street, begging (I saw this in France, but not to the same extent).

    It does change you. And I’ve enjoyed reading what you’ve written; in fact, I’ve enjoyed your blog much more since you started writing about it!

    I thought today, even, about sponsoring achild, when the ability to do so comes. It’s not a possibility for us, as our income hasn’t been enough to pay bills for a while now. But, I can remember all that I have, and be grateful.

    Just last week, I read a book about the potato famine in Ireland called Nory Ryan’s Song. I HIGHLY recommend it! It really helped me to understand hunger more. It also helped me to feel more grateful for all that I still have left in my pantry, even though we’re running out of things. It also helped me to be more grateful for the things that do grow in my garden for us to eat, because even though my garden hasn’t produced as much to eat this year as last year, we’re still not going hungry.

  21. says

    I’m yearning for Heaven and striving to abide, to rest in Him who works mightily in and through me. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:12) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He that abides in Me and I in Him, the same brings forth much fruit. For without Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

    God is so good, Kristen! Thanks for the “guilt trip” which is just a reminder of truth, a shaking off of the trappings of wealth that we Americans must continue to force ourselves to consider.

    In Him,
    Karen

  22. says

    I don’t comment here often but I do read every single post, and I must beg you to keep the guilt trips coming. PLEASE! I haven’t been to Africa (yet), but my heart is being tugged more and more with each post I read regarding Africa and other places where people are way, way less fortunate than we are. I appreciated your openness, your authenticity, and your truthfulness. I pray God reveals His plan for you soon, and I am SO excited for you to share it with all of us! :) Much love… -Danielle

  23. says

    I’m yearning for more of Jesus, and striving to change the world. And Kristen, I’m glad you are too. Thanks for continuing to share your heart. I was blissfully unaware of the privileges of the average American life for a long time — once it begins to hit home, it can’t help but change you – either in hardening your heart and deciding somewhere in there that you deserve it because you’ve worked hard, or in changing your attitude and doing something to make a difference.

  24. says

    Keep doing exactly what you are doing! We love you for it! I’ve never felt like you put me on a guilt trip. I DID feel inspired to want to change. I’ve always heard that if you are pleasing everyone (impossible, right?), that you are probably doing something wrong. Its so obvious to us, your readers, that Africa profoundly changed you. But, its been a great change. I liked your blog before, but now, its the first one I click on every morning! *hugs*

  25. says

    I know what you mean! Since we have started our adoption and Africa is on my radar, I can’t look at anything or anyone the same way. I simply go through the day wondering what in the world are we doing?! Just yesterday I heard of a lady I know who has a pool “membership” that cost $5000 to get started and then $200 a month! All I could think was, “what a gross waste of money when there are starving people all over Africa and the world!” I am changed and can never go back to thinking that is okay or wishing I had that kind of money.

  26. says

    Thank you. We all need more of this in our lives. I didn’t read your blog “pre-Africa” so I guess I don’t know what I’m missing?? But I read it now because of the passion you have to make a difference. It’s encouraging and inspiring to know there are others out there who are tired of being comfortable while others in this world suffer. So thank you. And don’t stop. People don’t like to have their toes stepped on but it’s necessary. We aren’t called to a life of comfort.

  27. Michelle says

    My husband works for a ministry that provides homeless shelters and rehabilitation for men and women, children’s homes, and food relief ministry and they are shaping a lot of their ministry based on that book. Another one you might be challenged by is “A Hole In Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns. I was particularly convicted about the part that said if you make more than $50,000 a year you’re richer than 99% of the world. So what am I doing to help the other 99% of the world? Ouch.

  28. celina says

    Hi, reader from Canada…i started reading your blog when you took over wfmw….it was a decent blog and i read it…but now you are a daily check in blog to see what insights you’ve shared…from your heart. It is a beautiful thing to see you on this journey and taking us along with you….i’d rather that than the fluff others would expect.

    Keep up the good and important work.

  29. says

    I’ve thought about that before. That quote so so true. I pray a lot that God gives me the courage and the strength to give more to the poor. I feel guilty because even though I do have much more than people in third world countries do in America my family of six is considered poor in today’s standards. We are on government assistance and barely getting by so it is hard for me to give even though I know I should. Hearing about these poor people from around the world makes me feel extremely guilty. Maybe I really needed to read this. Thanks!

  30. says

    My husband read that book this spring and found it both inspiring and quite challenging.
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us and how God is still working in your heart since your return home.

  31. Deb says

    I totally appreictate your posts and the transparency. You don’t just go to Africa, come home and go buy a Coach purse and redecorate with Ethan Allen. It has totally changed your views on life and what is important, how is that not going to be reflected in “your” blog? Maybe “guilt trips” are really the Holy Spirit nudging us to do something different and we are calling it that so we can brush it off? There are plenty of blogs that will make you “feel good” with no conviction, just perfectly matching furniture, wonderful children and baked good always coming out of the oven. I admire you for traveling all that way and for being willing to be used and shaken up. I had only read your blog for a short time before you went to Africa, but I would have to say that I like it more now than before because the focus is different. It is always an awesome and encouraging thing as a Believer to see another Believer become “radical” so to speak. I know I have in times past tried to justify my lack of zeal or my complacency on other things as that alleviates that guilt, but it doesn’t take away the responsibility that we have as Believers to share the gospel and share what we have materially. I would have to say to ignore the naysayers and press on. God is your audience and He is pleased.

  32. says

    To me, your purpose is INFORMATION and EDUCATION, not to put us on a guilt trip. Your posts remind me to be aware and remember that not everyone is as fortunate as me, and to please do a few small things to make a difference to someone. And your other commentors are correct, if one of your readers feel guilty, it is probably because they have been unaware of how they are living their life. Please don’t appologize for your posts or your feelings. I want to continue to be reminded.

  33. Rebecca Morris says

    Thank you for what you are doing. My husband had much the same experience after visiting Peru on a mission trip a few years ago.. He came back a different man. He ran a very successful construction business and ended up laying it down to do ministry. We have completely changed our lifestyle, from shopping at Ann Taylor to clearance at Target! We want to be able to pour God’s love onto the hurting people around us. My husband is now helping run a transition house for men and is feeding the homeless in a major city near our home. It is amazing to see how God is blessing both of these ministries. When you do the will of God it is so apparent in your life. Your blogs are wonderful and it is necessary for others to see this. It is very easy to stay wrapped up in our own lives and not be aware of the needs of others, but when your eyes are opened you have to do something! Thank you for everything, I really enjoy reading your blog.

  34. says

    Sometimes we need the guilt trip. Truly. That last “fill-in-the-blank” line has me undone. Thank you for sharing your journey with us…even though it may not be popular.

  35. says

    Kristen –

    I’ve never thought any of your posts have been about making your readers feel guilty. I can tell that your time in Africa was a life-changing experience, and I think that your writing reflects that. There have been posts that have made me uncomfortable – but that is because I feel SO fortunate, through no effort of my own, to have been born an American. And people who live in third world, poverty-stricken countries are suffering, though no fault of their own. And yes, when you point out that disparity, it might make me squirm. But that is not a bad thing.

    I say write what you feel.

  36. says

    Would you stop with the guilt trips?!?!?!!?

    KIDDING!!!! :-) I kid…. I kid…. sorry, I had to! ;-)

    I think that you are right on the mark. This speaks directly to me because that is how I live (in the rat race)! However, as your last fill-in-the-blank pointed out, I don’t WANT this to be the story of my life. I don’t want to live only for me and have a ‘what’s in it for me’ mindset! Sometimes, it’s just very hard to keep an eternal perspective on what is important and I am guilty (very guilty!) of getting wrapped up in the daily details and stressing over things that will not matter AT ALL in 5 or 10 years… actually, next week they probably won’t matter. I haven’t figured out my fill-in-the-blank but I am praying that God will give me His heart of compassion for those around me, His eyes to see a hurting world, and His hands to actually DO what He leads me to do to help others around me.

    Blessings to you! Do not be discouraged! Keep up the good work!
    Melanie

    ~ melscoffeebreak.blogspot.com ~

  37. stepmomof2 says

    Kristen, keep doing what you are doing. Your blog has opened my eyes to a lot of things. Because of your trip to Africa, I was moved to tears and started sponsoring a Compassion child. My husband and I are hoping to take a trip to Kenya with our church next year if the Lord allows us. Thank you for your blog and for listening and obeying the voice of God. (((Hugs))) Stephanie aka stepmomof2

  38. says

    I will admit that some of your posts make me feel guilty.

    They make me FEEL!!!!!

    I’ve never been so totally aware of the situation before. Sure, I’ve seen the posters, but never have I FELT anything about the situation.

    I want to feel guilty, I need to feel guilty. I need to FEEL! Guilty feelings make me read my Bible just a little differently…with a different heart. It makes me do something! I don’t know what the something is yet, but I know I’m going to do something. Before you started blogging about this, I didn’t even think about this topic at all.

    Thank you for your heart felt posts. Bring them on…change the world one blogger at a time!

  39. says

    Dear Kristen,
    If you don’t speak the truth, who will? I am so grateful for your courage and experience. It is the only glimpse into the reality of poverty that many readers will ever see. Your focus is right- keep your eyes on Jesus and his precious forgotten ones. It is time that we comfortable Americans have a wake-up call. I think that our apathy is more than simple apathy- it is downright sin.
    I am reading “The Hole in our Gospel” by Rich Stearns, the president of World Vision. It is transforming. I would highly reccommend it to you. It addresses in depth the issues you have been writing about, as well as practical ways we can do something. How are the poorest of the poor to understand God’s redeeming love without their basic needs being met? All covered in this amazing book.
    Anyway, I want to thank you for your Compassion posts. Through your blog thousands are being reached with the truth of poverty.

  40. says

    I don’t think it’s a guilt trip. I appreciate it. Your posts help keep it on my radar as well…to think about it and remember to do something!

  41. Anna says

    Miss Kristen, I like these post. They get me to thinking, “What else can I do for people in third-world countries?” That question flops around in my mind ALL THE TIME! And as of right now only God knows the answer to that.
    Thank you so much for posting these blogs. American Christians need to be waken up to the povery in other countries.
    That book you quote a couple times “Racial” by David….Platt? I was listening to the sermon series he did on that a while ago. Sure got me thinking. So has the book “”Revolution In World Missions” by the founder and international President of Gospel For Asia, Dr. Y.P. Yohannan. Very good book.
    Thanks again for your blog! I enjoy it very much.

  42. Beth says

    Kristen, I have only been reading your blog for a couple of weeks, but what has kept me coming back is your deep yearning to do something good in this world. There are enough people out there rambling about soccer games and minivans, but hearing you speak passionately about Africa is so inspiring to me. You seem to have this way of putting into words the things I have been feeling in my heart for so long. I am so greatful to have found your blog. Keep up the good work, and if some people think it’s a guilt trip, well, I’ve always said that if somebody says something and it makes you feel guilty, well maybe it is because you are guilty in your heart.

    Oh, and by the way, my daughter and I are going to be doing some of the pillowcase dresses for the girls in Africa. If we get them done in time, we’ll mail them to you for inclusion in your project, but we’re pretty busy this time of year with so many other things, so we may make it a September project. If so, we’ll mail them directly to Michigan. Either way, thank you for making us aware of this fun way to help the less fortunate. (And teach my little girl some sewing skills at the same time.)

  43. says

    Your post are always so honest, and yes, it pinches my soul a little! It makes me uncomfortable and makes me think!!! I really like how you wrote you are “trying to fit back in your world and you don’t want to!” Wow! You are inspiring, as well as very challenging – I honestly do not know what my answer is to your question at the end of your blog. Truthfully I am going to have to pray and think about it! Thank you please keep posting!

  44. Julianne says

    Kristen –

    I think the reminders are great. I spent a month in Kenya last year and like you have said it totally changed my world. One of the hardest things for me, however, was making the transition. How can you not feel guilty?! Honestly, walking into an American grocery store for the first time after coming home brought me to tears.

    One NGO worker I spoke with spoke passionately about the importance of NOT feeling guilty when returning home, however – but instead recognizing that feeling of responsibility (which is a lot of what you really seem to talk about). This has really helped me. I cannot change the fact that I was born into an upper-middle class American family rather than a Masai farming one, but I can be aware of what I am spending my money on (do I really need that?), where my energy is focused, and where my heart is (praying constantly for those I met).

    Another thing I learned is that pretty much no one else is going to be as excited or touched as I was by my experience. I have my long version (which could of course go on forever :) ) and then a 5-min version of my story I like to share when people ask. I def. had to learn to get some tough skin though, because as sad as it is, I feel like many people don’t want to hear things like our stories or your blog reminders simply because they don’t want to feel the guilt or face the reality of personal responsibility and what is really going on around the world.

    Please don’t be disheartened by negative commenters!

    Julianne

  45. says

    Kristen, thank you for your posts!!! I appreciate the fact that you are willing to share from your heart! Just this morning my boys & I were talking about ways we can help others. I don’t want them to grow up in the rat race of the American Dream & I know that they need to see me setting an example. I’m adding the book to my wish list!!!

  46. says

    This is one of the reasons I love your blog, your honesty. I love that you aren’t afraid to say what is important to you and should be to others. You are a wonderful example of what we should all be trying to do.

  47. says

    Kristen, what you don’t realize is that you ARE doing something about the fact that something is terribly wrong with this world. Your supposed “guilt trips” have sparked something in all of us. It seems like a lot of your readers agree with me :) I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve read your posts and then talked to my husband later in the day about how I just feel this desire to DO something… anything… to stop being complacent and start reacting to the world’s needs.

  48. says

    Thank you for sharing your experiences in Africa. Thank you for this post. Guilt trip? nah. Conviction? maybe… but that’s from God, not you. :) I’m like you, blessed to have had my eyes opened in Africa to the immense needs the rest of our world faces daily. I’ve been three times to Rwanda and am moving with my husband in less than two months to serve in Zambia for the next 1-3 years. I’ve seen the hurt, I’ve touched it… and still I forget so easily. I recently went back and read all of your Africa posts (before, during, after) and was so blessed by your thoughts and pictures.

  49. says

    Without your “guilt” I know of at least one Compassion child who likely would still be awaiting his sponsor… ;)

    James 2:20 … faith without works is USELESS

    I am so , SO TIRED of the “me” mentality I see from so many “Christians.” I’ve been saved by grace alone so leave me be in my selfish, worldly life. Grrrrr

  50. says

    Did my first comment get eaten?

    Without your “guilt trips” I know of one Compassion boy who would still be awaiting his sponsor… ;)

    James 2:20 Faith without works is USELESS

    So, SO TIRED of the “Christian” mentality that I see lived out all too often… “I’ve been saved by grace alone. The End. Now leave me be to live my selfish life.”

  51. says

    It is good that you are talking about this. Their voices need to be heard. God is working in you to help those in Africa and that’s a good thing! It also gives us the reminder and opportunity to pray for them. God bless you.

  52. says

    Thank you for these hard posts. I will say that for me, the hardest part of the striving and yearning is to get my hubby on board as well. God has wired us very differently. If I were in control of our money, we’d live very simply and give away just about all the excess – probably to the detriment of our family at times. If Hubby were completely in control of our finances, he’s hoard up all the money until he knew that the family was 100% provided for and all needs and wants met for years to come. I greatly appreciate his concern to provide for his family – it’s just hard to alter the focus/mindset!

    Thank you again for the reminders – it’s so easy to forget when we go about our daily lives here in America!

  53. AmberK says

    To me, if they feel guilt it’s simply because they’re guilty. We all are. I am guilty of the American Dream wants and desires. I am also guilty of reading your blog and feeling GUILT. I know I’m not doing enough…your blog inspired my husband and I to sponsor a boy in Africa. I adore him. Our sons all pray for him. We pray for him. We even looked up the time difference so we could think about “Wonder what S is doing today?”…Your blog, your truths, are reaching people’s hearts…Keep going. Let God lead you. And I’m riding the ‘where am I’ train with you…It’s very hard to sort all of this out because our bubble has been so good at shielding us. Now that the truth has set us free from our bubble, there is much to take in and much to pray about. God will lead you…He is leading you. Your heart is leading you and there are several of us riding in the same boat.
    It’s my hopes to travel to Kenya to meet our sponsored boy. I think it’d really push us once we found the discoveries, the truths, the nightmares, and God’s presence in such places. I’m yearning for _____________ and striving to _____________. But with all that said…I can’t fill in those blanks, yet. I just don’t know. There’s so much!
    Anyway, you’re doing great…and when you’re fighting for what you’re fighting for-you’ll never have everyone’s approval. Some people like their glass houses with no shatters.
    Hugs

  54. says

    Kristen,
    Keep up the good work! I went on a Compassion trip sponsoring 2 kids and came home and sponsored 3 more. I know exactly what you are talking about :-)
    It is so frustrating when I feel like people don’t “get it.” That’s why it is so important for us to share our experiences through whatever platform we have.
    Hugs,
    Kristen L.

  55. says

    I’m struggling with this myself. Selfishness. Purpose. Raising my kids to be world changers. Wanting to give them experiences while teaching them about how much we have to give — and giving it.

    To whom much is given, much is expected. That’s not our idea. That’s God’s. And I think I sometimes live as if He’s not paying attention.

  56. kristen says

    I have the BEST readers and blog friends in the world. Thanks, y’all, for letting me share my heart and receiving it so well.

  57. says

    You should definitely keep it coming!

    I’m currently living in Africa, and daily seeing the poverty and desperation that you write about. I think that if more people were truly aware of conditions in many places in the world, their lives would be lived differently. Or at least I like to think so.

    You can hear statistics, but it is all academic, until you view it firsthand- or someone else makes it come alive to you. I think that you are doing this for many people.

    As for the guilt- I constantly feel guilty living here. When I moan about the lack of a hot water heater, and then remember all of the people who have no access to clean drinking water. All of the other little comforts that I miss and complain about, when I know all of the time that there are literally people destitute and starving all around me. It makes me realize how shallow and selfish I can be. (And I always really thought I was a nice compassionate person.)

    I think that there is an empty kind of guilt, that makes you feel a little bad and you do something to assuage that feeling. But there is also a good kind of guilt that opens your eyes to your shortcomings and imperfections and motivates you to make changes.

    We aren’t motivated to become more giving, less selfish because everything around us is sunshine and roses. It is when something challenges us and exposes a need, and we respond. Or maybe our own shallowness and lack of awareness is brought to our attention when we see how others live in such desperate plight.

    Keep thinking, challenging, and writing. :)

    PS. I’m also reading the book “When Helping Hurts.” It’s very thought provoking, especially the parts about the different kinds of poverty.

  58. says

    Loved this post. Your blog is just that…YOURS. You keep on writing what’s in your heart because I enjoy reading it. Sounds like a great book that I’d like to read. Thanks for posting. Keep it up!

  59. Amy says

    My issue is more the WAY you write about it, rather than the fact that you write about it. You make yourself out to be a martyr who sponsors so many kids, you can’t fit their pictures on the fridge. And you’re going to do an African child a HUGE FAVOR by adopting him/her and bringing him to America.

    • kristen says

      Amy, I’ve never made myself out to be a martyr who sponsors a lot of kids. In fact, it’s an HONOR to sponsor children. I think giving up our twice-a-month house cleaning, hardly counts as martyrdom in my book. And we’re not actually adopting at the time, so I think you have some bad information. It is clear to me that you probably shouldn’t be reading my blog if these are the kind of things you take away from my writing.

    • says

      Kristen,
      Actually if you really knew what goes on in parts of Africa with the leaders who starve their people, war with their people…the female circumcision, the genocides..adopting them WOULD help them. Any kind of assistance that can be offered to those less fortunate, is helpful.

      We are called as Christians to feed the hungry, give alms to the poor, help the widowed and the orphaned…or do I read a different Bible than you?

      • kristen says

        Spitfire,
        I’m not sure where this comment is coming from-sort of confusing since I’m NOT against adoption AT ALL. I’m a huge supporter of it if you follow my blog regularly, than you already know that. I just don’t know if my family will adopt. But we do and will in future support orphans on a monthly basis. Just as the Bible asks of us.

  60. says

    Hi there!

    I just wanted to stop by and thank you so much for this thought-provoking post. It really hit me hard and made me rethink some things in my life as well.

    Ryan
    (disclosure – I work for Alpha Omega Publications)

  61. says

    One of the things I love the most about coming here, is the reminder that I’m not alone in striving for radical change in how we walk our Christian walk, how we live the gospel, and what our priorities are in life.

    I love your heart… and I need the encouragement you provide as I walk this road with you.

  62. says

    I don’t normally comment – you get so many!!! But I live in South Africa and we see poverty on our doorstep constantly. We are pretty average on the financial scale of families, but compared to some families near us we have the whole world. I make it a point that my kids don’t “have everything” fewer clothes than most, less stuff than most, smaller house than most, our car is dodgy. We just can not live where we live and over indulge… the harsh reality of having nothing is very close to home – it is a good lesson for us all to see how much we have and how much we can still give. I am so glad we aren’t as wealthy as a lot of our friends because it must be very hard not to give your kids the world and then some. I don’t think wealth is an advantage at all… the more you have the harder it seems to be to give it away. I am just loving reading about the journey you are on and who knows where it will end… but it is close to my heart.

  63. says

    Our pastor spoke about serving the poor on Sunday and this verse really struck me 2 Corinthians 8:4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. (This is Paul referring to how poor the Macedonians were, but still gave what they had.) I’ve been thinking all week, “what am I URGENTLY PLEADING for?” If you looked at my life…it would not be the poor.

  64. says

    I believe God makes us all unique with a unique mission and ministry in mind for each person, if we are open to joining Him on the journey. For you, it may be these children and poor countries. For me, what is on my heart may be something else. Of course, I care about what you’ve been talking about. But God is working in my life in other directions. Not everyone is going to be touched in the same way and to the same extent. We are all different. Every person on earth – in rich or poor countries – of our temporal world are living their own journeys, and God has something planned for each and every one of them. Whatever a person is suffering in life (illness, poverty, loss of a loved one, or even little things), with God in their heart, they can use the suffering for good to grow into the person he wants them to be. I am all for helping others and contributing to make life better for those less fortunate and I often do give to those ends. I know you’ve seen things I never have, and maybe I’ve seen things you haven’t. That’s the nature of life. And your passion may not be mine and vice versa. But both may be valid and God-motivated. I have learned something in life and that is you can’t make others care about something or someone, even if you feel you have all the evidence in the world that everyone should care. I just pray you won’t let that discourage your passion and your mission. Let that thrive, and embrace whoever joins you along the way. In the meantime, though, others may be on their own unique missions, even silently. Once in my Sunday School class, a class member was speaking out about how she felt that Christians need to walk picket lines and do things very publicly to claim the world for Christ. (This is just an example, I’m not relating her to you.) Another lady responded and said that every Christian is not meant to walk in a demonstration. Sure, we should all get out of our comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean God would have us all get out there and chant and walk the line. There are quiet people in this world who may not ever tell you who are deeply into a mission for God. But, just like our faces all look different, so are our lives and ministries. I deeply respect your passion for the children and those in poverty. And I appreciate all you’ve taught us about them. These are just some thoughts I’m pondering and wanted to share with you. In Chrisian Love, Laurie E

  65. celina says

    Interesting how its ok to talk about having so many shoes you can’t fit them in your closet, or having to purge books that won’t fit on shelves…but a little girls vision of filling the fridge with childrens’ faces of which she is changing their lives…

    i’d also comment that obviously she doesnt read your blog attentively…to not know it was your kids’ vision, and that you arent sure if adoption is really for you guys….

  66. says

    I was just reading through the comments, feeling so encouraged, not just by your post, but by your wonderful readers’ comments. I have to say, I am shocked by Amy’s comment. I never have taken from any of your posts that you act like you’re being a martyr in any way, but rather, that you have been so transformed by what you experienced in Africa that you’re having a hard time meshing that with your “regular” life.

    You’re speaking to people’s lives in a way that you probably don’t even realize. Keep your posts coming. Now, if you start posting about giving up sweet tea, then, I might agree about that martyr thing. ;-)

  67. brittany says

    I just want to say that I have read this blog since you took over the WFMW & I’ve never commented that I can remember but I feel so strongly right now that my fingers are flying.
    We recently took a trip to Honduras. We live a nice nice life right now, I work part time at a well paying job & my husband has a very coveted job for a blue collar worker in our town. Our 3 kids are good kids, they do well in school & are basically kind to others. But when we took that trip our lives were flip flopped. You see, we went to work for a short time at a school where there is no Administrator & hasn’t been for almost 3 years now. The school is failing and the children are not eating lunches… We cant stand it anymore & are going to leave in 2 years to be the Administrators of this little school in Honduras. It is incredibly difficult to say to someone “this is what we think God wants us to do”. It seems to the general public & most of our family that we are ruining our lives. We havent told many people for that fact alone. It is so hard to hear the “still small voice” if you are distracted by loud criticisms.
    Thank you for sharing your fellings here. I know it is SO hard sometimes to type while you cry & cry knowing you are on a journey that you cant see the end.
    Keep doing what youre doing. God has a plan for YOU. You make my heart stronger by seeing Him work through you in your posts and in your life.

    • says

      My daughter’s name is Pearl! Please, keep rubbing me the wrong way ;)

      Truly, these things have been on my mind too lately and I didn’t even go anywhere, I just read blogs all day. I’m so glad I found yours. I don’t know what God is doing to my family but my husband and I have both recently come to be concerned about these things, seemingly out of the blue and on our own. When you said you don’t want to be the American Dream– that is the exact thing we have been discussing. God is even working on our 7 year old son’s heart and he has a heart for the poor, also seemingly out of nowhere.

      I don’t know what’s next, but reading blogs like yours helps. Keep it up!

  68. says

    I don’t feel guilty. Here is why.

    Guilt comes when we’ve done something to cause wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong by being born into the family I was born into, or the country I call my home. I do not feel guilty for the blessings that God has given to me. And I don’t feel guilty that I have what I have, and those in Africa don’t have what I have. I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. I ache for Africa. As a little girl, poverty was on our doorstep every day. We couldn’t get away from it. I learned, very early on, that the life God blessed me with was nothing to feel guilty about. However, with that blessing came a great responsibility. A responsibility to give, help, serve and do whatever God inclines my heart to do for those who are less fortunate. It’s not about feeling guitly because we have a house, a car, a pantry full of groceries. Rather, it’s more about what we are doing with the abundance. Am I giving? Am I aware? Am I teaching my children the value of life, the privelege we have, and our responsibility? Does my heart break for those things that cause the heart of Jesus to break? If so, then am I being obedient to Him in the way in which He is calling me to respond. If I were choosing to turn a blind eye, guilt would be appropriate. I know I can’t do everything for everyone…I really wish I could. That is when I just have to release and know that the world is in God’s hands.

    Guilty? No. Convicted to never forget the poor and needy? Yes.

  69. says

    Kristen, I don’t comment often … but I read just about every post. All I can say is KEEP IT COMING!! A lot American Christians rarely think outside of their comfortable little bubbles. The average American makes more in ONE HOUR than people make in an entire MONTH. It’s time people wake up!

    So yeah, keep it up girl! You’re bringing awareness to those who may not have thought about stuff like this normally. When Jesus asks what we did to help his starving, cold, sick children not a one of those who’ve read this can say “I didn’t know”

    Good stuff!

  70. says

    Keep preaching it sister.

    And, frankly, we are all guilty. Guilty of not doing enough. All of us. Some of us need to stop defending ourselves. When you defend, that is the moment God no longer has permission to ask MORE of you. He has asked for it ALL.

    We are all guilty. And of way more than neglect of the poor. We have offended a holy God because our stuff is more important that He is. Frankly, WE are more important to ourselves that He is, than His kingdom is. We are to live in a constant state of repentance, always looking for idols in our hearts and lives. When we don’t, we begin to feel we are entitled, we deserve something. When what we deserve is death. Yes, I feel guilty because I am guilty. Knowing that in its fullness is the beginning of truly grasping His grace in my life.

    If it was your own child, starving, dying from lack of clean water and medicine, would you feel guilty if you sat in your comfortable home here in America and did nothing? I would. I would “feel” guilty! We are sinners, guilty, and we need to repent. These children, these people, are OUR brothers, OUR sisters, OUR children. In fact, if I read Matt 25 literally, they are JESUS. Do I leave my Jesus starving on the streets on Africa while I sit in my abundance and claim, I wrote a check last month, I taught my kids about helping the poor–I’m good?! NO! Daily…give more…sacrifice more…offer more of the life you cling to up to God as yet another idol He has permission to strip from your hands.

    Reminders like this post should create a stirring and a wrestling. We should be restless to do more. May I never be content to stay in a place of “the world is in God’s hands”. Darn right He’s in control, but He has a CALL on my life and on your life, a call to action, and to not answer is disobedience.

  71. Missi says

    I love your Africa posts. I lived in Kenya in the Kibera slum for 6 months in 2003 and have gone back twice for shorter term trips. I love to remember the time and the people there and help in any way I can. I actually started reading your blog through the compassion blogger trip and from what you write, it sounds like maybe others joined at that time too? If so, how can they be upset about you talking about Africa if that’s what drew them to you in the first place? Kind of funny. Anyway- please keep it up- I love how you are making practical changes in your life to help others there. It doesn’t come across showy at all- your sincerity rings loud and clear. Thank you for writing.

  72. says

    If your recent posts are what you call a “guilt trip” then I have never enjoyed a guilt trip so much. YOU inspired me to sponsor a little boy from the Dominican Republic. When we received our first letter from Roger and a picture he had colored for us, I can’t explain the emotions that came over me. When I made my first payment, it felt like I was doing something good. When I received that letter, I realized that I was not doing something good- I was doing something right. We have so much and you have opened my eyes to those that could not imagine the life that I live. I cannot imagine the life Roger lives, but I want to help in any way possible. So, I thank you for your “guilt trips!”

  73. says

    You are correct in saying that Christians are not doing enough…we are certainly not doing what God’s word has called us to do. Out of love and genuine respect I say this – I feel that anyone who may be offended by your advocacy for the poor should take a moment to look at what scripture says on the subject. Once we realize what we are called to do, whether we’ve seen “poor” with our own eyes or not, a lifestyle change must occur. It will take a heart change first though. Here are just a few things from God’s word:

    “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but WITH ACTIONS AND IN TRUTH.” 1 John 3:17-18

    “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hop in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to BE GENEROUS AND WILLING TO SHARE.” 1 Tim 6:17-18

    “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” Prov 21:13

    “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” Prov 39:7

    “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Prov 31:8-9

  74. Dawn Norman says

    I LOVE the posts you’re doing. I don’t often comment, but I always read and even (respectfully) submitted comments about guilt trips speak to me of a heart too focused on itself than others. I loved the posts about your trip to Africa and so wish we could go see our two sponsored girls sometime (one in Bangladesh and one in South America). My husband had sponsored one girl before we met and married. When we had our first child, I was surprised to notice at one time that Rosa’s birthday is the same as our first daughter. When we had our second child, I knew we needed to sponsor another child. If we can pay for our own, why can we not give to support someone else’s child? I put in the birth date as a requirement and 3 children came up, 2 boys and 1 girl. We picked the girl since we had a girl. We are currently pregnant again and I’m excited about waiting to find out who our next sponsored child will be. It’s a great thing for the girls to understand and already our oldest is talking about being a missionary and helping to take care of orphans and kids that don’t have what she does. We encourage her every step of the way. She’s only 4. Our money has been tight with the economy where we live. My husbands hours and salary has been cut. Our benefits have been slashed. We have tightened our belts in many areas and nearly gotten rid of saving toward retirement, but we have refused to touch our giving. I still cry when I think about trying to raise my girls on what the Compassion children have and I count it a blessing to be able to help for even just a couple! Thank you for posting and continuing to post on this. Many more people need to step up and become involved. Every person matters!

  75. says

    Can I just say that God is so very proud of his daughter! I went on a mission trip to India a few years back that was life transforming for my husband and I. We have slowly let the world cloud our vision and some of those visual memories have begun to slip away. I never want to forget. One of my brother-in-law’s once expressed his opinion on oversea missions (after we went to India), saying he just couldn’t understand why Americans don’t spend their energy in the states (in so many words). I simply responded that we have to let the Lord lead our hearts, where He wants them to go…physically and spiritually. I will say, he and his wife have since taken a trip themselves…to Africa, and I don’t think I need to explain why we as Christians, not as Americans or otherwise, need to let God lead our hearts to the nations. I know many people are moved by your stories, but I also realize it’s a bit to take in without really experiencing the devastation in these countries first hand. Be their eyes Kristin, God has called you to it.

  76. Jen says

    All I can say is that if you’ve never been there, you have NO idea. I understand completely what you mean when you say your bubble has popped. Keep talkin’. People need to hear your message.

  77. Jen E. says

    Reading David Platt’s Radical and he makes an interesting point. When people asked Jesus how to get to heaven, His response wasn’t walk down to the front, fill out a card and pray “The Prayer.” His reponse was along the lines of, “You’re going to leave all that’s easy and comfortable and possibly give your life for me.” You can’t bury your father, you can’t look back, you take up your cross and follow Me. Such a far cry from what we live out as Christians in America, dressing up and carefully accessorizing with matching bags on Sunday mornings, heading to our multi-million dollar churches in our nice cars for two hours and then heading home to professional football and a bbq. It’s striking the difference when you think about it. Thanks for stretching our minds.

  78. says

    This is fantastic… I plan to direct my readers to this post in my post today… I think everyone should read this – simply fabulous!!!

    (read through the comments – sorry about the snarky ones. I know that can be super discouraging and I just want to say that you’re wonderful and God is being glorified through this – so don’t give up!! ) :)

  79. says

    I’ll take the weekly guilt trip. My mom has always called that sort of thing…”stepping on her toes”. I’m blessed when brothers and sisters in Christ step on my toes…cause me to feel uncomfortable. It helps me to grow…to be more like HIM!

  80. says

    You preach it, Sista!!! Every single time you post a picture of you in Africa, I just SMILE. Sorry about the discouragers…but I feel ENCOURAGED every time you write about how God is transforming your heart about Africa, giving, and doing your part to change our mixed up country.

    Sometimes I want to have a little pity party for myself…like lately, when our AC is broken and we are really struggling to get it fixed…and I click over to your blog, and am reminded of how BLESSED we are, how much we have been given, and how much we need to share with others. Thank you.

    Keep writing, keep encouraging–this reader needs to read your words!!!

  81. Betsy says

    Way to go Kristen! You have no idea what an inspiration you are for me and my family who are just beginning to LIVE our faith. I don’t feel guilty at all; I feel convicted. And for that, I thank you!

    Betsy

  82. Katie says

    Please don’t apologize. Never apologize for being a truth-teller!

    My husband and I have been working in Nicaragua for 8 years and split our time between here (the U.S.) and there. It’s the second poorest country in the western hemisphere (behind Haiti), and its poverty rivals many African countries. I often tell people who come to visit Nica that if they feel guilty while there (or afterward when they’re processing the trip they took), there’s a reason. I encourage people to wrestle with that emotion and push through to find out the truth that’s prompting it.

    The truth is that we are the richest nation in the world and, in truth, all of human history. If we are spending our wealth to increase our comfort instead of giving it away to help people who are struggling to survive then we should feel guilty. However the wonderfully freeing news is that we can so quickly and easily relieve our guilt by making right choices – choices to live on less, consume less, learn more, give more, pray more.

    Our two kids (9dd and 10ds) have the worldview they do because we have intentionally chosen to live with, befriend, work and support the poor in Nicaragua. While most people don’t have that same exact opportunity there are a million small ways that every parent can instill awareness, generosity, frugality and gratefulness in their children by exposing them to the reality of poverty and then, as a family, making changes to do something to alleviate the pain of people living in poverty.

    So thank you for your honesty. I enjoyed your post tremendously. This is the first time I’ve read your blog but I’ve bookmarked it already and look forward to following!

  83. says

    WoW…I always enjoy reading your blog! Your documentary from your trip has never left my mind….I constantly share it with others, even “strangers” that suddenly turn into more than a stranger. The one point you made about the only difference in our children is they were born here and not there….that is so powerful. Thank you for all that you are doing…absolutely making a difference! Keep marching on….I am here to join you!

  84. says

    I never read your blog pre-Africa trip so I don’t know how much has changed. But I am INCREDIBLY humbled by your passion and the degree to which you are pondering how to adjust your life to join God in the work He is doing. (Um, yes, I am currently doing the Experiencing God Bible study if that phrase sounds a little familiar. ;) ) It hurts reading your words sometimes; not out of guilt (although I suppose there is a tinge of ‘what more should I be doing’) but because I feel like I have just witnessed your heart bleeding for those who suffer. Beauty and pain at the same time.

    Our church just started a small group studying the book you mentioned; if I wasn’t already involved with one Bible study I would have loved to have joined in, but I guess I will just have to read it on my own!

  85. says

    This post was awesome!! And very convicting! God has been placing this on my heart– the need to raise awareness in our country of the needs that exist even in our very own backyards. It’s hard sometimes to know what to do, but we MUST do something!

  86. Morgan says

    Hi Kristen!

    Once again, you have helped put words to all that is going around in my head and heart.

    I love how you realize its all about moderation and not living in EXCESS. There are so many ways to help out besides selling all of your belongings and living naked in a tent. I know your voice will inspire other mothers that they can effectively care for their children in a lifestyle that allows them to live simply so others CAN SIMPLY LIVE. I agree its time for us to “get real” and embrace the hurt and poverty all around us.

    My favorite part of this post is the acknowledgement that we do not need to feel guilty 24/7. BUT if that guilt inspires us to make a difference, then thats great. I did not fully accept the need to serve others until I let myself FEEL the guilt. No matter how I measure up on the economic scales of the United States, I am FILTHY RICH in comparison with other countries. In the end, all the material things in the world won’t fill up the void we feel. Kudos to you for helping everyone who is reading this blog know they are blessed. If you have access to the internet right now, you are blessed. If you are wearing clean underwear, you are blessed. Thank you Thank you!

    I realize your fill in the blanks might have been more of a brainstorming thing for your readers but I wanted to share mine. Right now as 20 year old college student, I am…

    YEARNING for my heart to hurt (and allowing it to do so) anytime I see pain or hurt in this world and having the courage to embrace it and STRIVING to live simply by finding the balance between living naked in a tent and becoming consumed with all the “stuff.”

  87. Ginger says

    Please keep speaking about Africa! The reality is that the majority of us could easily make little adjustment in our own spending to divert some to those less fortunate which would make a huge difference in their lives without it really effecting our own quality of life. There are always going to be people who prefer to ignore the harsh reality of so many of the world’s population because then they can continue about their lives happily spending and wasting without the guilt. One of my favorite quotes is this one from anonymous…”Sometimes I’d like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world when He could do something about it……But I’m afraid God might ask me the same question.”

  88. says

    Thank you for this. Your post shows a heart after God’s own, and reminds me to keep my heart after him as well. We are lovers of Jesus and as such should be lovers of the people he made. Remember Jesus mourning over Jerusalem in the midst of his triumphant entry? That is how our hearts should be.

  89. says

    I just got back from Africa.
    My in-laws live in the Congo. We had the opportunity to visit there and just arrived home last week. While my in-laws live in a beautiful air conditioned home with a pool, maids and more….just outside their little compound-world was an entirely different story. My heart was so moved…the poverty, the primitiveness, the garbage and filth in some areas…and the smiling faces of the sweet little ones that live in those areas.

    I’m still processing, emotional, wondering what I can do, what I will do….

  90. Jodz says

    I am pleased that there are people in the world who go against the flow and write about what inspires them. I’m pleased that people find your blog challenging. We need to be accountable with what we do.

  91. says

    Thanks for the guilt trip, Kristen. No, really! I so appreciate posts like this that challenge, encourage, and inspire. Thank you for telling-it-like-it-is…and pushing us all to think beyond ourselves.

  92. says

    Yesterday I read a post on Get Rich Slowly about how frugality is great, but really there’s nothing wrong with buying lots of nice things for yourself as long as you can really afford them.

    When I’d finished the article, I thought, “Is there no room for giving in this?” I believe there IS something wrong with lots of spending, even if I can “afford” it. Because maybe I have what I have not because I earned it, but because God blessed me with it. And maybe He expects me to share it, even just a little. But probably a lot.

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