When Jesus Isn’t Enough

When I sat in his closet-sized home in the middle of Africa, I couldn’t take my eyes off the pathetic interior or ignore the dripping rain on my head.

I tried not to imagine the “community toilet” he shared with neighbors adjoined by paper-thin walls or how far he walked each way to school everyday, in the dark, both ways.

The peace on his face was undeniable and the light that radiated from his eyes filled the dark room of his orphan-led home.

I didn’t understand how he could be so content with so little. And I couldn’t stop the question, “Why are you so happy? Why aren’t you afraid?”

He looked at me as if I’d missed it entirely and said, “Because I have Jesus.”

He didn’t say anything else. It was a heavy statement. It was enough.

He was right, I had missed it. Entirely.

I equate Jesus to comfort and blessings. And when I sat in a hovel, a young boy called home, void of every comfort, I was envious of his contentment.

I returned to a lifestyle with every blessing, only wanting more.

I add Jesus like salt and pepper to a tasteless dish.

He isn’t the main course, just an extra on the side.

Jesus isn’t enough for me.

I think about my happiness that is clouded with every storm that blows into my life. I think about my happiness that is contingent upon what I have versus what I want. I think about my happiness and the strings I attach to it.

I think about a young boy who taught me more about Jesus and myself in a single sentence than my entire Bible College degree and 37 years of living.

One of the great lessons I learned in Africa: When Jesus isn’t enough, something is wrong.

I’m on a quest to make it all about Jesus. It’s easy surrounded by the comforts of my American life to melt back into the The American Way-bigger is better, more is what matters.

This is a painful journey, but more than anything, I want Him to be enough for me.

Is Jesus enough for you? If your happiness, like mine, is determined by how much or how little you have or the next exciting thing in your life, can I gently remind you to return to Him? He is waiting to be enough.


Rescued From Wealth

“I avoided coming to visit the poor for a long time. I was afraid my heart would be broken by their condition. Instead, today, I found my heart broken by my condition.”
-a quote from the book Too Small to Ignore,
by Wess Stafford,
President of Compassion International
A little girl’s dream of a refrigerator covered in faces is coming true:

Do you have room on your refrigerator for this face (an orphaned boy from Ethiopia)?
Tell me about your sponsored child….or your plans to sponsor one…..
*Shaun Groves inspired my title

White Girls Can’t Dance

In Africa, we only visited one village that wasn’t a Compassion project.
It was at the end of our trip, during our debriefing time, when we visited a very remote Maasai tribe. Entering the village was like stepping into the pages of National Geographic Magazine.
village

Branches and sticks circled the small village to keep wild animals away. Mud, manure and hardworking women turned huts into homes. These indigenous people survive only on the meat, milk and blood of their animals. I’ve never seen a more primitive way of life.
village2
Although this village is remote, they allowed us to view their way of life because they wanted us to buy from them. As we entered the village, they insisted that the women in our group sing and dance with the Maasai wives. It was an honor we couldn’t refuse (especially since the man instructing us held a warrior club).
He led us to nine of the wives (one with a baby strapped to her back), many of whom looked like girls. They removed their heavy beaded necklaces and placed them over our heads.
Y’all, I don’t sing.

dance1

And I certainly do. not. dance. (Because snapping fingers and swaying does not a dancer make). But I also wasn’t feeling rebellious.
dancing2

A low moan and foreign words came from the lips of the women as they bent and moved back and forth. It sounded something (or actually, nothing) like “Maaaaaaaaaa Woooooooooo Chuma Dago Soto (and then, I do not lie, they said) Hell, Yeah
dance3

So, we bent and we sang some noises and we all ended each phrase with…
dance4

“Hell, Yeah.”
dance5

Totally inappropriate for a Compassion International trip.
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=10265008&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Maasai Dancing from keely Scott on Vimeo.

But it worked.



The Question I’ve Been Afraid to Ask


“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.”

“Well, why don’t you ask Him?”

“Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”

(Anonymous) -a quote from A Hole in the Gospel, by Richard Stearn, President of World Vision.

—————————————————-

God is changing me.


I haven’t arrived at some super spiritual place or been given a blueprint to change the world. Frankly, I’m a mess on the inside.

(As is my house and, oh, the laundry, people. Apparently having your heart wrecked creates more housework).

But I’ve heard God specializes in messy people.

During the past week, I’ve experienced The Ugly Cry more than I’d like to admit. (I was tempted to even live in my garage, naked, like a friend of mine was after returning from one of his first overseas trips, but thought that might be scary for the neighbors and my children).


Instead, I’ve prayed and I’ve let Truth invade me. I can see clearly that I’ve become like my culture, living for myself, my family. Wasting a lot of time and money on things that simply don’t matter to me anymore. Choosing ignorance over truth. Pretending poverty wasn’t my problem or my responsibility.

I’ve asked God to reveal a new normal, to take this personal revelation and my everyday life and mix them together, creating something entirely different. And I’ve given Him the heavy burden that comes with such a revelation. His burden is easy and His yoke is light, so it’s a pretty good exchange for me.

My husband? He was a mess while I was in Kenya, letting God do a good work in him. Turns out we just make a giant mess together!

What does all this look like practically?

tyle="font-size: medium;">Well. Less for us, more for others. We had a family meeting and talked openly with our kids. We asked their opinions, talked about Matthew 25:31 and what that might mean for our family. (It’s also probably not a coincidence that after working diligently to be debt free, as of this week, we don’t have a car payment anymore. We just didn’t know God already had plans for that money.)

Children are amazing. They voiced their own ideas and concerns and thoughts. I think they naturally want to give, they just usually follow the lead of their parents. Ouch.

———————————————————-

So. This week, I got up the nerve and asked God, “Why do you allow poverty, suffering, and injustice when You could do something about it.”

And He asked me the same question.


I’m working on the answer.

**The Compassion Blog is such an outstanding resource for sponsors. I wanted to pass it along since I’m learning so much from all the articles!



WFMW: Letter Writing Tips

One of the most unexpected and amazing parts of my trip to Africa was learning just how important a sponsor letter is to a child.
Every Compassion child I met had reread the letters from their sponsors until they were nearly memorized. The letters were prized-possessions.
If you’re a new sponsor, you will receive a packet with a little bit of information about your child, like the one I received right before I left for Africa:
(Ephantus in Kenya)
While in Kenya, I met a boy named Anthony, a recent graduate of the Leadership Development Program (LDP), who had been a sponsored child for more than 20 years:
Anthony is a young business owner whose smile could light up a room. He was joyful and kind, articulate and thankful to Compassion and his sponsor. But he had one regret: in all the years of rising out of poverty, he never received one letter from his sponsor. He said every Saturday he would long for his name to be called, so he could learn more about the family who had changed his life.
It never happened.
Anthony was still overcome with gratitude for his sponsor. “I prayed for him everyday,” he said in a quiet voice. “I still do.”
If you sponsor a child, I cannot urge you enough to start a relationship with them. It won’t just change their life, it will change yours.
(meeting Ephantus, our newest sponsored child)
Tips on writing letters to your sponsored child:
  • Tell your sponsored child about yourself.
  • Let your kids write letters, as well as you.
  • Write often. Our family is planning a Compassion day each month, where we sit down and write each of our kids.
  • Ask questions: “What is your favorite color, class, activity?” “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “Tell me about your day” “What did you learn at your Compassion project?” etc
  • Send pictures of yourself, kids, pets
  • Include newspaper clippings, pictures from magazines, etc
  • Attach coloring sheets in your letters
  • Send postcards, flash cards, paper dolls or any flat item you can think of that kids enjoy
  • Draw pictures and include them with the letter
  • Include stickers, band-aids, valentine’s
  • Send recipes and ask questions about their food
  • Small notepads and hair scrunchies can be stuffed into envelopes
  • Ask them what you can pray for
  • Share your needs with them (these kids know how to pray!)
So, if you sponsor a child thru Compassion, World Vision or another program, write letters!!

Do you have any ideas to add to this list? I’d love to read them! Compassion International has a couple of forums where people can share ideas. (Want to rescue a child from poverty by sponsoring them? click here)


Thank you for joining me for WFMW! {You can read the guidelines here.}Have a Works-For-Me Wednesday tip you’d like to share? I’d love for you to join us! A special thank you to Shannon for hosting WFMW for the past two weeks!

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