Thursday, August 23, 2012

Right Around the Corner...

Do you remember back when you were a kid how fun it was to get a letter in the mail? So often, as a grown up, opening the mailbox is just not that exciting. Bills, junk mail and this time of year political advertisements. Blah.

This week due to a pile of books from

and the Operation Christmas Child leader pack, it was a good mail week for me!

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse, has received shoe boxes filled with simple items such as school supplies, little toys, hygiene items and fun goodies from people just like you and delivered them to children all around the world. These simple gifts are a way of sharing the love of Christ with so many.

I know it seems early to be talking about Christmas, but in reality, it's just not that far away. In fact, shoe box collection week is November 12-19!

For as long as I can remember, packing shoe boxes has been a Christmas tradition at our house. If you would like to be involved this year, here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Take a look at the gifts suggestions and shoebox no-nos.
Photo credit

2. Browse those "Back to School" aisles at Walmart and Target. This time of year, there are numerous deals on crayons, markers, erasers, notepads, pens, glue sticks, and so many other little things that fit perfectly in a shoe box.

3. Don't forget to make a trip to the Dollar Tree. They often have name brand soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, combs, and washcloths for a buck!

4. Check the dollar spot at Target for fun toys like Slinky's and yo-yos. And, look for these signs in the toy department.

Last year I found My Pretty Pony toys, small packs of Legos, Playdough, and the Littlest Pet Shoppe toys all for more than half off!

5. Print out the boy or girl shoe box label.

6. Wrap your shoe box, label it, fill it up, write a note to the child who will receive your box, remember to fill out the donation form, and add $7.00 to help aid with shipping. Then, during the week of November 12-19 drop it off at a Samaritan's Purse drop location near you!

I am already looking forward to November 11, when our church, The Church at Shelby Crossings, will have our Shoe Box Sunday!

If you have some shoe box tips to share, I'd love to hear them! Please share them in the comment section!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Word Made Flesh

The four of us sat at our dining room table talking about life over a dinner of salsa chicken and salad. I remember so much of our conversation from that evening. These friends are so dear to us. Because of their work as overseas missionaries, our time with them is limited, so when we are able to be together, every minute counts.  They are the kind of people that when they talk, you listen. Each conversation is filled with wisdom and humility. And, they are fun to be with, too.  Our time with them is spent intentionally.

When I think of them, intentional is the word that most often comes to mind. They have learned to lean heavily on the Spirit and make the most of simple things like making eye contact with a stranger, having coffee with a new friend, or chatting on the bus with a seat mate. Every opportunity is a chance to forge relationships, have conversation, build community and love others. They live with purpose and because of that the people they serve have become their dearest friends.

A few weeks ago I posted two summer reading suggestions, When Helping Hurts and Friendships at the Margins. 

While reading Friendship at the Margins by Christopher L. Heuertz and Christine D. Pohl (a book that has turned me upside down in places) I discovered Word Made Flesh. Word Made Flesh is an organization that, in the words of their mission statement... 

"is called and committed to serving Jesus 
among the poorest of the poor. This calling is realized 
as a prophetic ministry for, and a holistic, incarnational  
ministry among, the world’s poor. We are called by 
Jesus Christ to birth communities which practice 
the presence and proclamation of the Kingdom of God 
among the poorest of the poor. We exist that 
Jesus, the Living Word, be made flesh among the poor.”

This organization has me completely intrigued and in many ways, reminded me of what our missionary friends do. There are major differences, our friends do not serve the physically poor like WMF does, but the life they are living to build a Christ centered community with the spiritually poor is similar.

As I've been reading and learning about Word Made Flesh, I have come to see how closely what they do resembles what Jesus did. It's about love.
Pure and simple. 
Life giving. 

There have been many fantastic organizations I've learned about this year, but the passion and purpose I see in this one has moved me deeply in ways I can't even really explain yet. In fact, this post has been hard to write, because I just don't feel like my words can do justice to the work I see God doing through the staff at WMF. So, when you have a chance, please check out this article and video by one of the founders, Christopher Heuertz. I truly believe you will be moved by what you see and learn.

If you are intersted in becoming involved with the work that Word Made Flesh does around the world, here are some available opportunities:

WMF offers both short term and long term opportunities to live in community with the poor.

You can be a part of a servant team or a discovery team.

Take a moment to subscribe to WMF's newsletter The Cry and learn how you can pray for their communities in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, India, Moldova, Nepal, Peru, Romania, Sierra Leone, Thailand and Canada.

Word Made Flesh is "funded by thousands of small gifts that come together to do something beautiful for God." Making even a small financial donation can go a long way.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I snapped this picture the other day. The droplets of rain were what grabbed my attention. Cool. Refreshing. Pure. Life.

There has only been one time in my life when I did not have immediate access to clean water, but I've never forgotten it. Real thirst makes a lasting impression.

We were in the Ukraine on a short term mission trip. The group we traveled with supplied us with bottled water for the 2 plus weeks we would stay with our host family. During our training meetings we had repeatedly been reminded of the importance of only drinking the water the sending organization supplied. But, they assured us, plenty of water would be given to each team, so it would not be an issue.

When we reached the home we would be staying, our host family told us they would keep the bottled water in the kitchen for us. We protested, but we didn't want to be rude or damage our newly forming relationship, so when they insisted, we let it go.

Within just a few days all of our water had been used up. I remember feeling a little panicky.  Now the only beverages we could drink were hot tea and hot coffee since anything besides bottled water needed to be boiled.  Normally that would be OK, I enjoy both. Over the next two days the temperatures hit 104 degrees.  All I really wanted was cold water. There were a few instances that it was all I could really even think about.

We obviously made it through the two weeks, but even after almost 14 years I still remember how badly I wanted a cold drink of water and the desperate feeling that came with that longing.

Everyday, all around the world, people live without access to water. The lack of clean water creates all kinds of issues. There are the obvious ones- stomach bugs, parasites, diarrhea, sickness of all kinds. Death.

Then there are things that we can hardly fathom. Young children walking for miles to fetch clean water, giving up the opportunity to attend school. Women being raped on their way to the river. Children being abused in exchange for water.

The truth is in our world, we should not have a water crisis. This is a problem we can solve.

The following organizations fight tirelessly to find the solution:


Living Water International

Blood Water Mission

Will you take a minute to check out the work they are doing? If providing clean water is something you feel passionate about, here are just a few ways you can be involved.

Adopt a village

Make a Lemon:Aid stand for Water

Help drill a well

Make a donation to NeverThirst, Living Water International or Blood Water Mission.

Let's put an end to the crisis--in Jesus name.