Not the Plan


Have you ever made a plan only to find it go array? I have a friend who set a long term goal, worked diligently toward that goal for many years & now it seems like their efforts have completely unraveled & failed. Of course this can be super discouraging & when this kind of thing happens, we find ourselves on shaky footing & uncertain where to go or what to do. 
So what should we do when our plans go array? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Step back & re-evaluate: sometimes a perspective adjustment can help us see a broader point of view & thereby improve our decisions
  • Seek God: if a crisis makes us seek God more than the crisis is good; if we don’t seek God more in a crisis, then the crisis can get infinitely worse
  • Who am I? A crisis often forces us to look at ourselves with greater clarity & objectivity. In this pause, the Holy Spirit can work on our character & shape us to be more Christ-like
  • Keep going & growing: don’t let detoured plans poison your thinking into quitting. Get up, brush yourself off, learn & keep going. 

Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know that could be going through a course correction season 🙂

pre-prayer

Today is an important day for Saving Moses, as we are praying, planning & strategizing for what God wants to do with Saving Moses in 2016. Days like this are important & they are have very massive impact for what we do in 2016, as well as how we do those significant goals.

We have this annual meeting at my house, so there are things that I do to prepare: clean the house, get coffee / tea ready, my husband made fresh biscuits this morning for everyone, I’ve made some good plans for lunch & some other things. Suffice it to say that I’ve prepared for this meeting with logistical foresight, mostly. But the most important thing I can do for this meeting is pre-prayer.

Let’s always remember that prayer is foundation for all of our preparation, so let’s always pre-prayer for each day J

secrets for making progress

I like progress, improvement and growing.  I like being better today than I was a few months ago – and this is in every area of my life:  physical health, intimacy with God, quality relationships, effectiveness with Saving Moses and LOTS more!  I don’t like to be stagnant or stationary and I totaly LOATHE going backwards.  So here are a few things I’m learning of late about progress:

  • sometimes progress is incremental and gradual rather than gigantic and massive
  • progress can happen in different contexts:  doing PT with a recent shoulder surgery, I’m learning that progress happens in several ways (getting stronger, more flexible, getter ability to use, etc)
  • progress requires committment to change – if you don’t want to change, don’t expect to make progress
  • celebrate progress no matter the size or context:  acknowledging progress breeds more progress
  • sometimes what seems like a step backwards is actually progress moving forward – don’t get discouraged
  • encourage others who are trying to get better
  • keep going:  sometimes progress seems to be stagnant, but often these seasons of pause are nothing more than plateau set ups for greater progress if you’ll just keep going
  • progress requires truth;  deception is the enemy of genuine growth & development 🙂

Intervention

I’m in Angola finishing up our first day – highs & lows. At our first stop, we hopped out of the car only to meet face first a baby who just died along with her mom who was just shattered. I’ve landed at this clinic too many times to come with flippant indifference. The fight for life here is literally every day. 

On a relatively positive contrast, I visited a neighborhood & keyed in on a baby who’s not doing well at all.  Please pray that she turns up at the malnutrition clinic in the morning, her name is Josephine.  While I’m extremely sad to see Josephine’s condition, I’m also thinking that some prayer & proactive work has a really good chance to keep this baby from dying. 
God redeems pain & maximizes opportunities to maximize life!

Doing Everything!

Sometimes I wish I could do everything. In my thinking this means I could:

  • take voice lessons so I could learn to lead praise & worship because I love this heaps!
  • Learn Portuguese & Khmer languages to I could communicate with my Saving Moses babies & moms better
  • Keep babies from dying with Saving Moses in Somalia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia & Guinea
  • Learn how to do more cool stuff on social media
  • Write all the books that role around in my heart, right now!!
  • Coach my kids in their sports stuff (probably in their best interests that I don’t)
  • Figure out how business and accounting people do that cool stuff
  • Learn Ugaritic, Akkadian and Aramaic while getting my doctorate in Biblical Hebrew
  • Open nightcare with Saving Moses in India next week

Just because I want to do something doesn’t mean that I should – indeed, learning to work with people, helps us to do much more than what we could do by ourselves. Furthermore, only God is wired up to do all of that stuff & much more.  If you’re like me, let’s be mindful that we don’t drown ourselves in all our dreams and desires 🙂

do, tell, love

Our first ever team trip with Saving Moses has gone exceedingly well!!  Thanks MUCHOs for the of the prayers, encouragement & grace to keep up to speed with our adventure 🙂

The title for the post comes from what we did everyday:

  • do:  facility renovations at our nightcare facilities (painting, cot repairs, base replacement, cleaning, deep cleaning and DEEP cleaning, .. . . )
  • tell:  in the afternoons, we went into the neighborhoods connected to our nightcares to invite them to send their babies & toddler to our nightcare place
  • love:  in the evenings, we had the tremendous honor to help our babies & toddlers with nightcare

This schedule kept us pretty busy & I’m pretty tired.

An event happened today that I’ll blog about over the weekend :/

For now I’m signing off because I feel like I’m sleep typing

lessons for walking on water

I love the story about how Peter walked on the water to Jesus, nevermind that he almost sank because Peter walked on water, unaided, more than any human in all history.  Eleven of Jesus’ followers stayed in the boat at the same time that Peter walked on the water in the middle of a storm.  Here are a few things to consider about walking on water:

  • in order to get out of the boat, Peter needed his fellow disciples to hold the boat steady – let’s hold the boat for the people in our lives who are trying to do the impossible (rather than taking cheap shots & shouting out disparaging & discouraging remarks from the sidelines).
  • keep Jesus front & center: life has enough waves, winds, storms, setbacks & discouragements to make us sink & even tell us not to try & walk on the water;  stay on target
  • if you want to walk with Jesus, being as close as possible, sometimes you have to get out of the boat (what’s known, safe, familiar & comfortable);  do what you’ve never done to get what you’ve never had
  • walking is something very common & mundane;  walking on water is miraculous, combining the mundane with the miraculous is exactly Who Jesus is – the incarnate God;  consider that at some point in your walk with God, you’ll have to get out of the boat & take a stroll ,)

hot topic: Hobby Lobby

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Christian for profit corporations in America have been holding their breath, waiting for the Supreme Court ruling on the Hobby Lobby case related to the Affordable Care Act & contraception.  This topic has been hotly contested saying that women’s reproductive rights have been infringed upon and others advocating that the government should not have the power to govern decisions of for profit organizations pertaining to the corporations religious beliefs, specifically related to contraception.

This is an interesting topic for me as I just returned from India to look at expanding nightcare with Saving Moses to our 2nd country.  I visited a few red light districts and learned that even though some sex workers have unionized and are putting pressure on the clients to use condoms, the individual sex worker is still largely at the mercy of her economic condition, being able to earn more money through unprotected sex rather than requiring her clients to wear this protection.  On the heels of trying to wrap my head around the daily survival efforts of sex workers in India, I’m home in the US and we are grappling with forcing private businesses to comply with government regulations that oppose their religious convictions.  We live in an interesting world and my take away on this, at this point isn’t very sophisticated nor intellectually engaging – my take away is that I want to genuinely love well 🙂

Walking through brothels & red light districts

Today, we walked through a few red light districts in India, doing some research for our nightcare program with Saving Moses. We’re coming to the end of our day & I find myself having some very mixed emotions. The women in these red light districts ranged in age from very young to very old, some with a seemingly sweet innocence & some very hardened, detached & icy cold. We happened upon a preschool community centre that looks after toddlers & preschoolers for a few hours a day – sweet, rambunctious & vivacious kids.
Exploring these red light areas is a very eye opening experience & I find myself needing to process some of the days sights, experiences & feelings. More to follow

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Hello from India

I’m back in India having been here about 3 years ago & I’m looking forward to another adventure. Three years ago (maybe 4), I came here for the purpose of starting nightcare with saving Moses. My first attempt was almost comical now that I have some hindsight. I had some very grandiose plans in my thinking & they quickly evaporated into thin but very humid air.
Now that I’m back, I still have it in my heart to start nightcare here & I’m praying for God to direct our steps, relationships & the time we have here.
For the ideas & dreams that God has put in your heart, here is some encouragement (feel free to forward to anyone discouraged):
*dont quit – it’s easy to be discouraged with set backs, but make the decision not to quit
*let God help you grow in the process of achieving these dreams – be a better & not bitter person through the process
*trust God – lets fully embrace the truth that God is good & loving, causing all things to work together for our good as we stay in love with God 🙂

extra

It seems like we all want the “extra” perk – we buy the shampoo that has 25%more for the same price, we look for the value meal, we look for the guy who serves ice cream with a little extra on his scoops, . . . . extra time, more roi, . . . . extra.

Let’s also look at the little ways that we can add some “extra”:

  • extra patience with the person learning to use the new computer system,
  • extra grace for the phone agent with the heavy accent,
  • extra forgiveness for our mate who unknowingly said something hurtful,
  • extra time on the parking meter for the person who will take our spot,
  • extra friendly to the cranky check out person at the grocery store

Let’s go the “extra mile” 🙂

politically correct

When I look at Jesus’ life & words, it seems to me that He made folk either super happy or super ticked.  He frequently made the religious establishment of His day really upset with how He confronted their hypocrisy & double standards.  On the flip side, He readily embraced & accepted those who were marginalized, unpopular & even semi-rogue-ish.  Jesus was known as a friend of sinners.  So in my thinking as it relates to our modern living, it seems to me that if I’m going to follow Jesus, then it’s important to authentically connect with people who have been marginalized, those who are less popular and even some folk who could be considered renegades.  Maybe this is one of the reasons why I love what Saving Moses does with our nightcare program, where we take care of the babies of sex workers while their moms work.  Some people think of this kind of help in terms of fostering prostitution, empowering fornication or enabling seedy living.  I prefer to see nightcare as a way to genuinely love these babies, who are easily the least of the least in our modern world 🙂

some helpful encouragement

YAHOOOO!!!!!  I’m super excited because lots of the hard work that we’ve been doing with Saving Moses is starting to yield some fruit!!!!!  I have so many dreams in my heart for the work that we do with Saving Moses that sometimes I can get discouraged when I’m not making the progress that I’d like.  But today is a really good day for Saving Moses!!!!  We are making some breakthroughs with our nightcare centers, considering expanding to 2 more countries this year, getting some help with our marketing efforts and watching our efforts become increasingly effective!  I can’t give lots of precise details at this time, but it’s just encouraging to see how God is helping us to grow & become more impactful!

If you have some areas in your life that seem discouraging, please don’t give up praying for those things & continuing to trust God.  Gal 6:9 says that we don’t get weary in well doing because we’ll reap a harvest if we don’t faint 🙂

let’s get comfortable

Being comfortable conjures up different things for different people.  For some people, being comfortable can be the experience of sitting by a fireplace in a cozy blanket & reading a book.  For other people, being comfortable is best described as being at a really fun and vibrant party.  For me, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be comfortable and I’ve learned some interesting things to pass along to you:

  • being comfortable can sometimes be an impediment to a deeper relationship with God – discomfort usually makes me do something different
  • I never want my comfort zones to exclude God – indeed, life with God is a more accurate expression of who I really am
  • I’ve learned that I can be extremely comfortable in a variety of external situations because of an internal contentment that comes from some very sweet & rich communion with God
  • when I’m uncomfortable, I tend to lean into God better

 

I don’t care

When I was in high school, I used to like some of the Robbie Nevil songs that praised the glories of apathy & indifference (Wot’s It To Ya’, C’est La Vie).  I think I liked these songs at the time because I didn’t know how to handle my deep feelings of care, concern and connection for people and the world around me.  Sometimes I still feel this way & can get overwhelmed when I think about various situations, Saving Moses, people and events – I’m deeply concerned about what’s happening in Egypt with the instability there.

But just because my feelings can be overwhelming from these various situations, relationships and experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot become apathetic.  In my mind, apathy is just a socially acceptable word for passive violence.  So what do I do with these things that can easily overwhelm me?  Pray.

Prayer is the best immunization against apathy.  Pray often, pray quickly, pray fervently and pray all the time.

Mundane can be magnificent

I finished my trip to Angola with Saving Moses & one of the things that continues to hit home with me from this trip is the power of mundane. Having watched the moms of the babies who receive malnutrition formula from us, I’m extremely impressed with the daily commitment to be present & fully engaged in their families. In some ways, these moms exude genuine love. But in some ways, their daily routines could be considered boring & dull. But may we never believe the deception that genuine love is dull or even unimportant just because it can be expressed in daily routines. Genuine love is magnificent!!! And the picture is the “kitchen” our moms use in Angola at our malnutrition clinics w Saving Moses 🙂

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I have a dream

What a great day to honor a great man – Martin Luther King Jr.  I love watching his I Have a Dream speech & I find that it speaks to some of the core of who God has made me to be:

  • I have a dream that Saving Moses will be able to partner maternal literacy programs with our malnutrition feeding efforts to decrease infant mortality in Africa.
  • I have a dream that Saving Moses will be able to establish 3 nightcare facilities in Cambodia to care for the infants of prostitutes.
  • I have a dream that my relationship with God will grow increasingly intimate throughout this year.
  • I have a dream that I will have more wisdom in every area of my life.
  • I have a dream that I will be less & less insecure.
  • I have a dream that God will direct the decisions that I will need to make this year to reflect Him better & better.
  • I have a dream that people will be attracted to Jesus because of how I live.
  • I have a dream that God will help me to love with greater authenticity.

What are your dreams??

spring revnovation :)

I was talking w a friend this morning about  how she helped her daughter make a diarama (or however you spell it) for her class – sounded pretty cool.  On a personal note, I’m “craft impaired.”  Whenever I help my children with their school projects that require some craftsmanship – I literally cringe because even when I try to draw a stick figure, it’s generally pathetic.  However, I did just renovate the header for this blog to raise the visibility for www.savingmoses.org

I’d encourage you to check out this website to see some really cool things that we are getting to do around the world!  Happy Spring renovating 🙂

Amazing Little Men!

Ok, on my last @savingmoses trip, I had the privilege of visiting a blind school in Calcutta & I watched these guys who live in this school & I was THOROUGHLY AMAZED by them!!!  What I found most amazing was their total joy, compassion, comraderie and zeal for life – all with no sight.  While most of them have come from some really rough backgrounds, I never once had the sense that they were unhappy, ungrateful, shameful or unloved.  I sensed absolutely no self-pity, but only love, care and comraderie.  Two things:

1 – to watch these little men play cricket, check out this AMAZING & short video:   http://www.vimeo.com/21004207

 

2 – for some cool pics from our trip, pls check out:  http://www.stevestantonphotography.com/blog/

An Amazing Woman in Calcutta

I met a really incredible woman in Calcutta, named Kali. She is extraordinary in several ways, but let me 1st share a little bit of Indian culture that was explained to me while I was there. Generally, the Indian society is male dominated & females are generally relegated to a strictly domestic role, particularly in the older generations. With this in mind, let me have the privilege of introducing Kali to you:  she is probably around 50 years old w a few grown daughters who have several children themselves.  I think that Kali’s husband left here many years ago & she lives in a very poor village with no apparent way for any improvement or opportunities to excel. Her village is so poor that Calcutta Mission of Mercy has been delivering food to this village 6 days a week for more than 5-7 years.
Here’s one of the things that makes Kali so marvelous:  she made the decision that she didn’t want to see her grandchildren (who are quite small) continue in this seemingly hopeless squalor & crushing poverty. So one day, she asked one of the food delivery men from CMM about the possibility of having someone come to her village consistently to teach the children to read & provide some basic education. She explained about her grandchildren & agreed to provide some space for this requested education. Some space turned into a small dirt floor classroom where now there is daily education for all the children who have agreed w their parents to be a part of the educational program w CMM.
We had the great honor of getting to watch some of this training for the 3-5 year old group (pre-kindergarten & kindergarten ability) & I was really moved to see these little people learning their ABCs, reading, writing & some basic English.
As we were finishing our visit, I was told that because of Kali’s generosity to donate the classroom space, she is now considered to be the village grandmother & is very highly respected.
When the aid workers asked her why she had decided to pursue some education for her grandkids, she explained that just because she & her daughters live destitution, she wanted to give her grandkids a chance for a better life by getting them some education to open more opportunities for their future.
I’ve thought about this in relation to saving Moses & I’ve concluded that it’s extremely important for the kids in the older range of saving Moses to receive some very fundamental education so that they can begin to walk the path of education to not only better themselves but also their community & to extend Jesus’ love to & through them.
Kali, may God richly bless you for your vision, heart & generosity. You are changing the future one child at a time.
Check out this video w the kids learning their ABCs 🙂