Equador!

Well, I was supposed to be in Ecuador right now with Compassion International. Can I even relate to you the level of disappointment I have about missing a trip with the following people? Kelly Stamps, Ann Voskamp, Boomama, Bigmama, and Amanda Jones.

Seriously.

And Compassion did the most amazing job of working out flights so that I could fly seamlessly between my speaking dates, but in the end I just hated to be gone that much given the fact that I’m already gone so much this season. But it sure makes me wish I could be in two places at once. Actually, three. Because Charlotte just woke up and I need to get her and finish this post.

I have shared lots in the past about my love for Compassion and what they do for children around the world, and by following along with these bloggers, you’ll get to see it all firsthand. It’s one thing to send off a letter or a check, but it’s entirely different to experience it in person.

A few weeks ago Abby was at a concert with Todd and wandered over to the Compassion table. She fell in love with the sweet face of a toddler and asked Todd if she could sponsor her. Todd explained that she would have to give her allowance and any other money she had, and that we would help her but it would be her responsibility. Moreover, it would be her sacrifice.

It wasn’t just a sweet face, it was a life that was about to be changed.

She consulted Ellie and they decided they would do it together. They have since roped in two friends, and they take it really seriously. Any time they find change, the first thing they say is, “My Compassion girl!”

I talk a big talk with them. Love God, love His people. Give it away for the kingdom. Don’t live without acknowledging how fortunate you are. And don’t think for one second that your contribution doesn’t matter….because the Lord makes miracles out of our offerings and multiplies our efforts in ways we can’t imagine.

But do they see me walk the walk? I would like to think they do. But I also know that I’m as prone to selfishness and apathy as the next person.

I’ll be totally honest with you.

Until my trip to India with Compassion a few years ago, I had all but learned to tune out the sound of anyone asking for money. Not that I didn’t think there were people who needed it, but I had suspicions about organizations. We might not all get to travel and see it firsthand, but for those of us who have, there is a feeling of compulsion to share.

It really is exactly what you would hope it is.

It’s a group of people who believe they can change the face of poverty and are doing the work of the Gospel in some of the hardest places imaginable.

You have the opportunity today to change the life of a little girl or boy, and I promise you this.

It matters.

Not just to that child, but maybe for your own children. Maybe to a watching world who wants to know if Christians really put their money where their mouths are. Would you prayerfully consider whether or not God is asking you to be a part of Compassion’s ministry by sponsoring a child? Click on the little button below to follow along with the bloggers in Ecuador right now. If the first day is any indication, they are in for a life-changing experience.

And for those of us who can’t be there in the flesh, lets be praying for them and for the work the Lord is doing through them. Here is a picture from Melanie’s (Bigmama) blog from today….

I just love her little wave and that giant backpack. Click over to her blog to read the whole story.

I’ll just say that on the latter part of the trip there is a lot of jungle activity coming up. I’m pretty sure none of us want to miss that experience :) So stay tuned online and prayerfully consider the role you could have in a child’s life today.

I clicked on Kelly’s link to these kiddos and melted when I saw how many had been waiting for 6 months or longer for a sponsor. Just click over and see if God stirs your heart for one of them. Or 15 of them. Whatever.

So in the event that you haven’t picked up on it (because subtlety has always been a gift of mine), I would love for you to consider sponsoring one of these little munchkins.

Right now.

This second.

It matters.

 

Compassion Bloggers: Ecuador 2011

 

Third World Symphony

Shaun-Groves-Third-World-Symphony-iTunes-banner-728x90

I love that I’m sandwiched between Jon Acuff and Carlos Whittaker on this blog tour stop, because their wives happen to be two of my favorite ladies in the world. On most days, you’ll find us hanging at the pool together and listening to our children have conversations like this:

“When will we see your kids again?” {Whittaker kids asking}

“Tomorrow.” {Me}

“Good. But I mean how many hours from now?” {Whittaker kids, with lots of Smith and Acuff nodding}

Kelsey has named our group the “Smackwhits,” which I think has potential if we ever decide to go Hollywood with it.

We live a couple houses away from the Acuff’s, but we wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for Shaun Groves. Seriously.

Some of you might remember that I went to India about two years ago with Compassion International. Shaun was our fearless leader on that trip and I honestly have no idea how he could have done a better job. He was knowledgeable, passionate, and invested…which all sound good on paper.

But that wasn’t what made me move to a new house.

It was the conversations we had on a rickety bus (right after he made me ride a freaky “roller-coaster” that more closely approximated a piece of dental floss and some Dixie cups, where I rediscovered my desire to be made right with the Lord) that did me in.

Because it’s one thing to be posed in front of a camera, smiling on a trip to a third world country and trying to stay still enough to hear the snap of the camera. It’s another to be completely transparent, in tears, and desperate to help children when the cameras get tucked away and the long dirt road makes you want to rest instead of inspire.

But I didn’t see him rest on that trip, and if you’ve been keeping up with his life since then, you’ll know he hasn’t rested much since. At least not in the traditional way. He and Becky (whom I flat out ADORE) are smack in the middle of a tricky adoption (please pray it goes through!) and have opened their hearts to what God desires for them.

When Shaun gave me the chance to be a part of this blog tour, I was honored.

But if I didn’t believe in him, and the message he is sharing, I wouldn’t have done it.

And now I’m going to unapologetically give my little sales pitch for the day {I do apologize, however, that this comes on the heels of my book release…I will stop peddling things very shortly :) }.

You will love this CD. And if you buy it, you will be investing more than a couple bucks on something that will bless you.

You’re joining voices with a whole mass of people who believe that we can make a difference one rickety bus at a time.

It’s what you might call a symphony.

And it’s spectacular.

If you don’t believe me, take it from some other bloggers…like, you know….ummmm….what’s her name? Oh wait.

The Pioneer Woman.

And then there’s Ann. Who is blushing already because she would never draw attention to herself. But because of this CD, he flew to her farm, giggled with her children, and held some pigs. And I know her well enough to know that being on video in tantamount to having all of her eyelashes ripped out individually while being dangled over fire.

Know what she does love, though? Enough to do it?

The Conductor.

:) Well done, Ann.

If you want to see the whole Third World Symphony blog tour lineup, click here.

But in the meantime, click here to take a look {and a listen} to Shaun’s new CD.

I think my favorite is “Come Down Here,” but I’m still deciding…

What I do know is this…

Shaun Groves, you and your family?

Are making beautiful music.

I’m proud of you.

And also, still a little annoyed about the roller coaster.

:)

 

Perspective

You want some insight into a blogger’s world? Here, hang on. I’ll grab the door and you add what you want to the coffee i just poured.

I wrote a post that I thought was a funny example of what I saw a mom doing in a shop. Most people got it, and most people know my heart by now. But the word “most” fades pretty quickly when you’re rocking your baby to sleep and wiping your own tears off her head. Why? Because a few others didn’t agree. I’m all about healthy disagreement, but  oh, MY.

If you’re wondering why (and I have several emails piled up from the past few months, so I know a couple of you wonder :) ) I haven’t posted about parenting or any other “personal” stuff, well….it’s because I don’t like to rock my daughter and cry on her.

Know what’s worse? When your eight year old asks you why you were crying and you say, “Because I hurt someone’s feelings.” She hugged me and told me she knew I would never do it on purpose and told me she had a broken heart. I fully expect artwork detailing her disappointment today…:)

But here’s the bottom line. I woke up this morning and I was praying and thinking about my intentions and my heart, and you know what? I’m not a mean person. And if you saw me as judgmental, smug, and spent your time picking me apart for failing to show a stranger the love of Christ, I sincerely apologize that this was what stood out. It was a commentary about our society and about my own weaknesses as a parent. And quite frankly (take a swig of your mocha) this is the reason I sometimes stick to writing about boring stuff. I’m not a shock-seeker. I swing my kids, I make their lunches, and I do my best to show them Jesus.

I’m not crying this morning, by the way. I’m really, really okay, so please don’t see this as a ploy for support :)

Honest to goodness I’m at peace and I know who I am and what I intended. My phone is full of text messages from people who are dear friends and are encouraging me, my precious nanny jumped into the comments to describe what she sees in me (and she, ummm, sees a lot…and it definitely isn’t all good), and my daughters are going to make me art :)

Those who really know me wouldn’t say that was my intention and I don’t think the Lord Himself would. He knew exactly what was in my heart when I was writing, and I need to just remember that when I’m bummed out that I feel like I hurt someone.

All that to say, here’s what I think is really, really sad.

I posted a quick blurb about how there were some unkind comments, and Y’ALL (correct apostrophe placement. Amen.).

I watched my traffic go through the roof.

Not terribly surprising, although it wasn’t my goal at all. I actually despise every moment of what I’m doing right now and would much prefer an unmedicated root canal, but I have a point worth making and I want you to hear it.

There was FAR more outrage over a post about a woman in a children’s store then there was about this.

And guess what?

I’m talking about me.

I didn’t go to bed thinking about this room (it’s the family room, bedroom 1, bedroom 2, kitchen, dining room etc. in case you’re wondering…) but about how I felt beat up and misunderstood.

Am I being judgmental? Absolutely. And I deserve that judgment.

It’s an ugly truth that I am often more concerned about my own immediate needs, desires, and petty “problems” than I am about the fact that some of my friends are halfway around the world trying to help children make it to the dawn of another day.

Lord Jesus, help me get over myself.

I’m not going to assume you see yourself in this criticism, but if you do, will you do me a favor? Please? Just read this blog post and pray about whatever the Lord puts on your heart as far as reaching out and doing something that really matters. And if it means that you don’t (ok, darn it. I don’t) get to go shop for a couple new things, then so be it.

Because if I’m going to be crying on a baby’s head, it should be about something like this.

I stand fully convicted, and I have repented to the Lord of my own sin. I apologize to anyone who inadvertently offended yesterday, but more than that, I apologize to those who don’t feel offended today.

Because if this picture and this post don’t offend you, then we aren’t doing our jobs as people seeking the God Who made Himself small so we could whisper His name.

The level of cuteness right here is out of this world. Would you pray about being a light to one of them?

Skip Gymboree. I’m pretty sure the sale is over anyway.

Go change the world instead.

 

Ang

 

 

El Salvador!!!!!

I have a lot to post.
Unfortunately, that is going to have to wait until tonight or tomorrow. We’re packing up to go on the big bus with Todd and it turns out that is made trickier by throwing up every few minutes.
I exaggerate.
It’s maybe once an hour.
Anyhoo, I really can’t wait to share some things with you all, but in the meantime, PLEASE be praying for the amazing Compassion team in El Salvador. Shaun Groves is there with a fun crew, including Kelly from Kelly’s Korner and her hubby Scott. Also, Shaun did a fabulous job at helping us out with his thoughts on a chapter of Crazy Love and even if you aren’t doing the book club with us (jump in, we’re going to announce our next book soon!!!!!) you will love his thoughts.
Every time I see a picture of Shaun I think about the way he and his wife have chosen to live their lives with hands open to the will of God, putting their desires on the back burner to serve, and it makes the stories in the book Crazy Love come to life. And the best part? They do it with COMPLETE joy. I have been following along as they travel through El Salvador, watching the faces of those that Compassion is helping, and I really wish I could be there.
Kelly and I would be a dangerous team in a foreign country. And she could tell me how she manages to look like a supermodel while she’s on a mission trip.
Quite frankly, that last part is a little irritating.
I exaggerate.
It’s a lot annoying.
Anyway, I just wanted to ask for you all to spend some time with them in prayer and on the computer as they serve. And if you feel led, please reach out and free these children from the circumstances they are enduring by sponsoring a child with Compassion International.
I know what it means to be getting emails and comments while you’re away…it feels like a little tether to home and it is so uplifting. Please take a minute and say hey to these folks, and please pray for the children they are doing it all for.
If you want to see them live, tune in here tonight at 9 central.
Thank you!
Much love,
Ang