Recently a family asked if we had any extra shoes we could give them. I do happen to have 2 pair of tennis shoes. One older pair for the garden and muddy weather and my good pair. I like my shoes. They are New Balance, a brand I can only buy when I’m in the States. This family of six, however has one pair of good shoes for the entire family. That means their four adolescents (1 boy and 3 girls) share the same pair of shoes. When I found out that extra piece of information, I was willing to give them my second pair.
We have such abundance that it is so easy to forget that even a second pair of old shoes is an extreme luxury for others. I should be willing to give my extra pair of shoes, my shirts, my food, my clean water… to those who have nothing.
But that’s not where giving ends.
I felt like I am being tested even more on what my role is as a giver. Before we came to Paraguay we asked a veteran missionary what we’d need. She told us that we would certainly need an electric blanket. There are none to be found here. It’s one item that we didn’t sell in our garage sale back in the day and something that’s important in facing winter months in unheated homes.
When the colder weather arrived a few months ago, we were asked by the daughter of an elderly couple for an electric blanket. For two months I’ve kept my mouth shut about it. I’ve got what she needs and I didn’t want to hand it over. Well, the lady kept asking us about an electric blanket. In my flesh, I didn’t want to give away my only electric blanket. I was being selfish. My husband asked me to pray about giving our blanket. The honest truth is that I didn’t even want to pray about it! I feel it’s more “doable” to give when it’s out of abundance, but when it comes to sacrificial giving, I’m not usually the first to raise my hand. However, I came across this passage written by David, “I will not sacrifice to my God that which costs me nothing.” In other words, it’s easy to give when you have a lot, but the true test of our love for God is giving when it hurts. The widow who gave her last two mites (cents) to the Lord, not the wealthy who gave out of abundance, was mentioned by Jesus as a true giver.
I know that I need to be a more cheerful giver. “God, Help me not to be stingy, even when I can find great excuses as to why I deserve to “hang on” to MY belongings. I know that the only reason I’ve been entrusted with so much, is so I can give much.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
This Saturday we had a tremendous one day pastors’ wives retreat. We had a beautiful time of worship, laughter and sharing around the table. It isn’t very often that pastors’ wives don’t have to worry about their children, their spouses or the demands of ministry for a whole day. It was just what the doctor ordered, a needed time of fellowship and refreshing!
Pastors retreat Each woman was able to present something. We had some share songs, recipes, testimonies and poems. I (Julie) had the opportunity to participate in my first ever choreography. I also shared on the power of prayer and the importance of a daily time with the Lord.
Not only did we leave renewed, each woman walked away with a bag full of goodies (including a book, notepad, chocolate, materials, etc).
Thanks to Tabita for coordinating this amazing day. Thanks also to our dear friends, the Briscoes, for their generous donation to make this day possible. We hope it will become an annual tradition!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
CMA (Christian Motorcycle Association) was present at the Obligado motorcycle rally. They served as line judges to ensure that no cyclist had an unfair advantage in the race.
We had a great time of food, fellowship and fun watching the various races and mingling with the crowd and praying for the cyclists. There were no injuries at the race.
We appreciate your continued prayers for the ministry of CMA in Paraguay.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Yesterday I took little Jorge A. to the doctor. It was the first time in his life he'd been in a real hospital. We had an appointment with the psychologist who only comes in two days per month. Jorge is an extremely active, happy child in Children of Promise, Paraguay. He is nine years old and is in the first grade, for the third year straight. The problem is that he just kicked out of school for his struggle to pay attention in class. In order to remain in the program, he has to be in school.
Immediately, the psychologist recognized that Jorge has ADHD. He needs medication to help his chemical imbalance. The psychologist explained that he needed to see a child neurologist in Argentina, since there are none in our state. He explained that it usually takes 4-6 months to get an appointment. Then, we would need to see a pediatrician here for regular control of his prescription and behavior observation.
I began to pray. This psychologist has no idea of the difficulty that would ensue in continuing his treatment. First, Jorge has no ID and cannot cross the border. His mom has 10 children and none of them have documents. Norma can't read and has never been able to fill out paperwork. Until we helped them buy a wood-burning stove two years ago, they had always cooked their food over an open-flame. Their home is in the middle of the bush. Since it rained heavily this week, I barely got our truck (2-wheel drive) close to their shack. I could go on and on about obstacles...but you get the idea.
I told the psychologist that logistically it would be extremely difficult for this child to meet with a neurologist in another country without documents. Also, they don't even ride a bus, they don't even leave their small town let alone endeavor to a new country! He talked with the pediatrician (who happens to be Timmy's pediatrician too) and they were willing to make an exception for Jorge! She wrote out an Rx and we got Jorge his first Retilin prescription.
So, what should have taken us months and months was solved in one morning! Thanks God for caring for Jorge and his success in school and thank you for his sponsor family. Please pray for little Jorge that the medicine takes affect, that God calms his heart and his hyperactivity and that he is accepted back into school. I'm writing a letter to his teacher to explain that he is in treatment and he should expect behavioral improvements. I hope and trust that his teacher will welcome back to the classroom and give him a new start. Something we all need at times.
If you have a desire to sponsor a child in need, contact Children of Promise. They'd love to connect you to a precious little one like Jorge.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Timmy got a new Veggie Tales video this week from Grammy (thanks, mom!). It’s called “The Rumor Weed” and humorously depicts what happens to a small town when an untruth gets spread about one of its residents. Long story short: Huge damage! However, gossip isn’t just a silly issue for kid’s videos. It kills people.
Recently at the Christian bookstore we run, a woman came in looking for a book on disappointment. I showed her a few possibilities and as she was flipping through the pages, she started to pour out her heart. She had been a long-time church goer at a church the next town over. However a rumor started about her sexual orientation AMONG HER CHURCH FRIENDS. Since she lives in a small town, the damage done to her character and reputation has all but ruined her life. She lost 30 pounds (and she is a small person), her marriage almost ended, and her relationship with God and the church was almost completely destroyed. As I began to listen to this stranger gushing with pain and heartache, I was so angered that this woman’s life was torn asunder by her friends from church. The church, the body of Christ, is meant to build up, not tear down.
Being a female, I am keenly aware of the power of the tongue and I know how tempting it is to share a juicy morsel of information about someone with others. Gossip, is very addicting! There is something momentarily thrilling about sharing the news bite of the moment, whether true or possibly true. It especially infects a person who is idle. I Timothy 5:13 warns widows and young women (notice he is directly this warning to women): “They get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying thing they ought not to…”
God hates to see his children hurting each other. His command to us is to speak words that edify and encourage others. When I worked at a Christian camp in Missouri the director gave a talk on Ephesians 4:29. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those that listen.” I still remember his message and the scripture reference 10 years later because he challenged us to have clean mouths. If we heard anyone slandering or gossiping, we were to look at our watch and say “It’s 4:29” to remind them it was time to shut up! It’s time to use our tongues to bring life, not death!