Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Widows Mite and the Single Moms Might

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:41-44

I am grateful that God has honored me with the responsibility of being a single mother. I am able to minister to so many people with whom I would have otherwise had no connection, and they to me. As Angela Thomas said in her awesome book My Single Mom Life (only $6 right now on Amazon and eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping :)) "I am absolutely sure this is not how it should be". But, this is how it is and so I want to use this season in my life to glorify my Maker.


I have been blessed with many single mom friends. We lean on each other, take out our anger on each other, and comfort each other. When one of those dear friends (who shall remain nameless) let me know that she wanted to contribute to my Africa trip, I was so honored. I know that a lot of my friends in these particular circumstances struggle financially, so I didn't expect it to be a large amount, but that in no way affected the gratitude I felt towards her. I immediately thought of the story of the widows mite, and how, although she gave a small amount, it was more than anyone else in the eyes of her Father.


So, you can imagine my surprise, when I opened the envelope and found a check.....for a larger amount that any other single contribution I had received or would receive for my trip. To be completely  honest, I tried to get her to take it back. I know she "needed" it. She "needs" it still. But, in her wisdom, she had allotted that amount to God, and wouldn't back down. I am so proud of her. I knew that this had to be more than just a contribution to my trip, lost in the shuffle of all the others (although they were all important!). I had to do something special with it. And I knew God would make that something evident to me on my trip.


And so I watched and waited. And of course, He did. 


If you read my post called "He Found Me", then you know the impact that Staron had on me. He taught me such an amazing lesson of the love God has for us and how He is constantly pursuing us, whether we are pursuing Him or not. Always there. Always quietly waiting for us to notice Him. 


So, with the money from this sweet friend (and a little of my own) WE were able to sponsor Staron for an entire year. 


As I have mentioned before, Staron has parents. They brought him to the Fiwagoh Mission Home to be cared for because they could no longer do it themselves. I can't even fathom the pain of that decision as a mother. I cant fathom the sense of abandonment he feels, even though he knows they had no other choice. Many of the children there do have parents, and I am proud to say that Staron is the first to have parents AND a sponsor! When children do have living parents, they are supposed to be responsible for their school fees, but if they are very poor and cannot afford them, then the burden falls back on Pastor Benson and Florence. So, my sweet friend and I are able to not only take the pressure off sweet Pastor Benson to feed, clothe and educate Staron, but also take a heavy burden off of his parents who have struggled to attempt to pay his school fees. 


Here is part of an email I received from Pastor Benson after asking him about sponsoring Staron and requesting that he tell him hello for me....this does something for my mommy heart that I cannot even put in to words......

"I shared  your warmest greetings and a hug to him this evening in our worship time, he was very happy indeed! This boy has parents but who are very poor and cannot afford to  to educate him, so i took him here also for help. He has no sponsor because  he does not really appear as an orphan, If you want to  take him  for sponsorship,  please you can do so and God will richly bless your pockets."


I have a feeling that Staron will be much more of a blessing to me, my friends, and my family than we will ever be able to be to him....and I am so grateful to my single mom friend and her wisdom and might for making it possible! 


As you know, East Africa is experiencing a terrible famine. The prices for food have gone way up, so their funds for food are purchasing much less than usual. These kids already only get 2 meals a day (typically posho and beans). I would hate to hear that they cannot even afford that. If you feel led to do something about the famine and want to make a difference for a group of people who I know and love, I would greatly appreciate it, and I have a feeling they would too. :)



For all USA contacts, please send your donations to the following:
Fiwagoh Mission Society
P.O.Box 60,
Illinois, 62890
Cell: +1 618-218-5512
Contact Person: Marie Judd
For any financial donation given, we give a deductible tax receipt.

(Marie is a friend of Fiwagoh and she and her husband personally pay all of the wire transfer fees to send any funds they receive directly to Fiwagoh's Kenya bank account.)


Blessings to all, and a special blessing to all of my single mom friends. We CAN do great things for His kingdom together!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011 you went to Africa....but did you really make a difference? And what now?

Did I really make a difference?
Not my team. 
Not Visiting Orphans.
Me......just me.

Well I don't know. That is up to God alone. I could drop millions of dollars in cash, food, clean water and love on Africa, and if God isn't behind it, willing it along, then it would not make one bit of a least not an eternal one.

I don't want one child in this world, much less just Africa, to starve to death. But they do. I don't want people to drink water that I wouldn't wash my hands in. But they will. I don't want one child on this earth to remain an orphan......but there are 147 MILLION of them. I don't want there to be one tribe, tongue, or people group who has never heard about Jesus. Right now there are many. But I KNOW that will not always be the case. How can I know that someday every tribe and tongue, every group of people and every language will hear the gospel?.....

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. 
Matthew 24:14

Need more context? Read all of book 24. So my point is this: the Bible doesn't say that once all the children are fed, the end will come. It doesn't say, that once the water is all clean, the end will come. Once all the children have families, the end will come. No, the Bible says that when the gospel is preached to all the nations (people groups), the end will come. What does that have to do with my life and yours? Great question.

The gospel has everything to do with every life. The "end" sounds sort of drastic and scary, but the truth is, it means HEAVEN....hello? We all want the end to come if it means we get to be in heaven. It means this child doesn't have to suffer on this cruel earth anymore...He can be in the arms of Jesus instead.

How do we as Christ followers live out the gospel? Well, I think for each of us it looks different. Many Christians are just caught up in church, work and football (I stole that one from Lecrae). Some have given their lives away to God and are living every day to provide clean water for people who don't have it...for the sake of spreading the gospel. Some people have moved to Africa and let God use them to care for the orphan and the widow.....for the sake of the gospel. Some people stay right here in Alabama and give their lives away for the sake of the gospel. Our lives are not really ours to start with. It is all about the gospel. We cannot "fix" or change this whole sinful world no matter how hard we try, only God can do that. It is our job to help who we can, love who we can, feed who we can and be the hands and feet of Jesus for the sake of spreading the gospel until He comes back. So do we let God have the lead and do His work through us........ or are we here to get the best out of OUR life before we have to leave it?

I don't want to do my life anymore. There. I said it out loud. I still want to work hard. I still want to make money and use it responsibly. I still want to raise my kids to the best of my ability every day. But I don't want my life to be about me anymore.

I have known for years things would change for me in some fashion once Ella Mae goes to Kindergarten (this time next year). I just always assumed that I would get a job, or work harder at the business(es) I have, or work more days with my Dad. If I have free time I need to be working and making money right? Isn't that what this life is all about? Here in the U.S. it is. We work hard so we can buy more stuff. And then we rent storage units that we have to pay monthly for to hold all of our stuff so you need more money for that......houses, cars, clothes, stuff. It is all going to burn. So, what do I do now? How do you take the next step when you decide you don't want to do "normal" life anymore?

Here is what I know: I want to gospel of Jesus Christ to be the most important thing. Not just my heart, but in my every day walking around life. IF that is the case, then what will it look like? Do I just get a "I ALL CAPS HEART the Gospel" t-shirt and just wear it every day? I can't move to Africa because I know one ex-hubby and a herd of grandparents who would not appreciate that! I can't even travel there regularly or get on board with an organization like Neverthirst to help build wells all over the world. So what do I DO. I need to be able to DO.
In Africa I was able to DO the Gospel. I didn't change the world.....but I showed the love of Jesus to a whole mess of kids who may not have ever seen it otherwise. They looked at me and knew that I flew across the world to SIMPLY LOVE them and tell them that Jesus loves them too. I hugged kids who have NEVER been hugged before. When you kiss those sweet kids on the is so funny because they laugh and get embarrassed.....they really don't understand what you are doing to them! They need to be shown the love of Jesus. They need to know that they matter to their Abba Father. Yes, they need money. Greatly. And not all of us should GO, but some of us should. I am so glad I did.

I haven't a clue what to do next. I am going to just continue to work hard at staying near God so I can hear when He speaks.....and He will make it clear. I feel sure that I will adopt one day (there.... I said that out loud too)...maybe foster as well......I am just not clear on WHEN that day will be. I can SEE with my own eyes a number of people that God has circled around  me, people I would have otherwise never met, and I know they are all a part of it. My job will become crystal clear in His time. So for now, I will just wait and pray.....and mull over the following problems and questions.

Here are all of the issues that come to my mind when I think about actually turning my every day life fully over to God:

1. I have a potty mouth...especially when I get mad.
2. I like maragaritas. I hope you can give your life to God and still like them...I need to look in to that.
3. I can be brutally honest. Sometimes that hurts peoples feelings.
4. I am so totally sarcastic.
5. I am a huge really big every day sinner.

I could go on and on...luckily there is a dude named Paul in the Bible and when I feel like the chief of sinners I am reminded of him. If any of you have a vision from the Lord saying  “Go! This woman is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to __________. I will show her how much she must suffer for my name” let me know....because that would be super awesome.

Questions that I think others will ask me (and some I am already asking myself):

1. Where will you get money? 
I plan to still work hard. And God funds what He favors. 

2. What about the affect a drastic life change will have on your kids?
That is why I am planning now and will "ease" into this...whatever this is. Also, if it is God's will for me to change my life then that is what is best for my kids and I have to trust that and trust Him.

3. Isn't it irresponsible to "quit life"? You may still make enough money to live, but what about the kids college, retirement etc?
I have some money saved. Plus, I am fully counting on the kiddos daddy to come up with money for college! :) If they have to pay their way through college or get loans it won't be the end of the world. They might actually be better for it. Retirement....that is a tough one because this is what my father does for a living! It is important but I also have conflicting emotions. For me personally, I just can't worry about it right now. I am going to let God lead and let big pictures things like that work themselves out......can't God be trusted with caring for me then just as much as today?

4. How will you come up with money to adopt on your own? You are a single mom!
See #1

5. You are a single mom. Don't you think you have it hard enough as it is?
Yep. . If you mean by our cushy American full bellies, drive through, instant gratification for everything, I deserve, I deserve, I deserve standards. But I don't have it nearly as hard as MANY single moms that I know....some who have literally watched as their children starved to death. Some who care for 10 kids on their own and only a few of them are actually theirs. Some who are grandmothers caring for their grand kids on their own because their parents are dead. Some who allow men to sexually use them for money so their children won't starve. 

Will you please pray for me through all of this? I know a few of the things that God wants me to do right now and I am:

-Seek guidance from people who have gone before me on a path like this one.
-Start the necessary training to hopefully lead a small group for single parents at Brook Hills.
-Continue to advocate for those with no voice.
-Take baby steps on the adoption/ foster care front. Wait on HIS perfect timing.

Blessings..... and thank you for letting me share :)