Wednesday, October 30, 2013

When you think you have little to offer . . . offer it!

“When I grow up, I mean way, way up, I hope to be a wise old woman of God.” So says Carolyn Weber in Holy Is the Day: Living In the Gift of the Present.

She says a lot of beautiful wise things as she examines what it is to live Carpe Deum—seizing God by living the gift of the present. This is a beautiful book of poetry and pondering, gently crafted but deep-rooted in its challenge to live “in difference because we serve an extraordinary God.”  And I am pretty sure Carolyn Weber is well on her to becoming a wise (not yet old) woman of God.

I, myself am closing in on growing “way, way up,” and pray that being a wise woman of God accompanies the old part. Having started midlife with the Lord, I’ve had to dive deep and swim strong.

This past weekend, I attended Allume, a conference with about four hundred other women, most young enough to be my daughters: bloggers, mom entrepreneurs, ministry and mission minders, storytellers—all daughters of the King looking for ways to encourage one another in both craft and community.

There was a lot of wisdom being passed around and I gleaned several valuable insights. One thing that impressed me was the reminder that everyone—no matter how small—no matter how tied down with kidlings, or elderly parents, or a seeming lack of resources or skills, has something—some loaf or fish to offer to the Lord for his use. Yet how often we let competition or comparison or lack of confidence cripple us from even beginning.

Recently I saw a terrific quote (which I can’t track down and will do no justice to in my paraphrase) about thinking since we can only do a little, we don’t do anything at all. Isn’t that the truth—or rather the lie.

It was a lie that Asher Collie, a young woman I met at the conference, didn’t buy into. While watching  YouTube, she came across a video about the crippling effects of jiggers on children in Africa. The fleas burrow into the bare feet, suck the host’s blood, and form debilitating blisters and sores that cause infections, paralysis and even death.

Asher could have said, “How horrible,” and left it at that. But she didn’t. This “self-proclaimed shoe addict” enlisted a designer friend and together came up with a way to make shoes for kids an ocean away.

It’s an ingenuous idea: SOLE HOPE. Make the shoe uppers from recycled material such as jeans anywhere in the world, then ship the kits to Africa where they can be assembled by impoverished women and a shoemaker who attaches the rubber bottoms.

Love it! Kids get shoes; community gets employment. God gets glory.

You can have a shoemaking party anytime with the kits from Sole Hope. Check them out

One other story that will cheer on any of you who have participated in or who think about participating in Operation Christmas Child with shoe boxgifts, involved a young man from Rwanda. He watched as his family was murdered in front of him. Sent to an orphanage, it was there he received a shoe box gift. He said he kept his comb for three years! And didn’t know what to do with a candy cane but was thrilled to find out.

Later, as a Christian (forgot how he came to the States) not only does he have an opportunity to go back to the same orphanage and deliver shoe box gifts, but he goes to the prison and extends forgiveness to the man who murdered his family. Wow.

His story goes full circle. But it wouldn’t have gone anywhere if someone hadn’t given a small box of gifts. If someone hadn’t packaged and paid to have them sent.

If someone had thought they had so little to offer that they didn’t offer anything at all.

Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.--1 Peter 4:10

Blessings friends as we journey on into that month of giving thanks--for Veterans, for bounty, for gifts graciously given.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Groundhog With Scoliosis: Compassion Is a Good Thing

A groundhog with scoliosis. Yep. That’s what the man was cradling in his arms like the family pooch or a chunky baby. 

I immediately flashed back to my only other association with woodchucks (Punxsutawney Phil excluded)—Sunday drives on the back roads of Vermont with my father (an avid hunter) who in spite of needing glasses, could spot a chuck from a 50 mph moving car even though the critter was no more than a distant dot in a rocky field to the rest of us. I don’t ever recall my father shooting one in front of us, although I could tell by the stillness of his head and the narrowing of his eyes that he was mentally lining up his shot.

But I managed to restrain myself from blurting out this information to the man holding the woodchuck, who I discerned, was a sensitive soul because he volunteered for wildlife rescue.  The rodent readjusted itself in the man’s arms as he pointed out the crooked spine which impaired its mobility.  I pushed back the refrain we kids always sang in response to our father’s observation: “How much wood can a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” and asked instead how come it didn’t bite him.
 The man said it was because they had been together for the past four years.

As I watched them snuggle with each other, I doubted if it was solely a matter of time together that cemented the relationship between man and beast. From furry to feathery, animals have secured their spot in the heart of man. And loyalties are fierce. Did you ever notice how a movie villain can terrorize a whole family, but don’t let him touch the pooch or you’ll get really upset.

Pet supply trends suggest that Baby Boomers, once tagged as helicopter parents, have shifted their hovering from children to animals now that the nest is empty. This bodes well for this generation of animals, domestic or wild.

While the kids were growing up, my husband and I resisted getting too involved in the pet thing, mostly because we wanted to be free to go places easily. But ever since our adult daughter began coming home with puppies and leaving without them, we too have succumbed to the doleful eyes wanting up on the bed and the eager ears hoping that rattle of car keys included them.

I, champion of highway over rare spider (Endangered Spider Discovery Stops $ 15 Million Texas Highway Construction) and mocker of over-zealous PETA persons have been so softened by the family pooch that I know by the tone of the dog’s bark whether there’s a cat out back or someone walking their dog up on the track. And my discernment is extending to the wildlife. The other day I told my husband there was a predator outside.

“How do you know?” He asked.

“I understand bird talk,” I said. “They’re sounding an alarm.”Sure enough, there was a huge hawk sitting in the tree.

I am pleased with the increasing sensitivity to the animal kingdom that having a pet has given rise to, nevertheless, I do discriminate. My husband will carefully scoop up the prehistoric stink bug and release it outside, while I guilt-freely flush it down the drain. 

When we offered to do some work for our friends while they weren't home, and they called to say that in the interest of “full disclosure” they had to warn us one of their snakes had escaped, I asked how bad they’d feel if I stabbed it with a fork.  

And while I look at a woodchuck and see a rodent (with scoliosis or not), I am glad there are people who see a creature in need and are willing to help. 

Cultivating compassion in an increasingly desensitized society can only be a good thing, don't you think?

Blessings friends,