All posts in Life

  • When the poor become your friends

    When we first moved back here, I saw the poor distinctly different.  They were the ones we were helping,  serving, and reaching out to.  Although I cared for them deeply, I did not see them as equals, and I honestly had no idea I felt that way.  It wasn’t till I heard it from a friends mouth.  A pastor from Canada had asked us for a project and we decided we wanted to build a house for  a lady who’s children were in the daycare I had worked at for the past year.  When this fellow Canadian talked about the lady and her family she referred to them as our “friends”.  I realized at that moment that I was not thinking of them as a friends but as just people we were helping.  I didn’t like it.   That was when I started to see things differently.  I now proudly call that same lady a dear friend and have since made many others in the community that she now lives in.  Since then a whole shift has gradually taken place in how I see and do many things since then and I wanted to share a few things my friends have unknowingly taught me.

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    When the poor become your friends…

    You hate calling them “the poor”.  I wouldn’t give any of my any other friends such demeaning labels, and I can’t stand my friends being known under such negative terms.  Sure my friends may not have much stuff, but they are hard working, intelligent people with beautiful personalities and names.  They each have a story to tell just like you and I do.  They don’t deserve to be looked down on in any way, or thought of  as mere statistic that no one can relate to.

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    When the poor become your friends…

    You stop carrying around your camera all the time looking for a good shot of the sad looking neighbourhood or meager living conditions.  How many times have you brought your camera over to a friends house and took photos of their dirty laundry, messy kids bedrooms or their kids after they had played out in the yard and were full of dirt?  Probably none because it would very offensive and intrusive to do so.  I am ashamed to say I have been guilty of exploiting my friends with my photos, but am proud to say I don’t do it any more.  I do bring my camera with me once and awhile, and I take the same kind of photos I would with any other friends… photos of birthday celebrations, of my kids playing with their friends, the crafts and artwork of a dear amiga, photos of new babies that I print off later as gifts to families who don’t have a camera (or many photos) or something I love about the beauty I see in their culture.   Most of the photos I take are of people I know by name and I have a good long standing relationships with.   All of the photos I take are with the permission of the person in the photo.  They aren’t to show off my good works or their different way of living.

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    When the poor become your friends…

    You don’t give them your junk.  Like many other families we try to get rid of things we do not use any more.  We always have an ongoing donation pile of clothes and shoes that have been outgrown or unused and an assortment of other things including toys, house wares, books, and decor to give away.  When you are used to being able to drop off your unwanted stuff at a local thrift store, or donation drop off centre, it’s pretty easy to drop off any old unwanted item.  We don’t have that option here.  We can either give it to a local ministry (where we personally know the people who work there) or to families that we know.  So basically our donations one way or another go to our friends.  That sure changes what you view is acceptable to give.  I refuse to give away anything that is broken, stained, has holes in it, works sometimes, is missing an important piece, is faded, ripped, expired or is just completely useless.  This may seem obvious, but believe me, it’s not.  I have been on the receiving end as an individual and representing a ministry many many times and have received all kinds of junk that had to be thrown out because it was not useful anymore.  If you don’t want it for any of the reasons mentioned above, no one else does either.  Don’t give your scraps to those who have less than you.  Send them to the curb.  If you want more thoughts on this topic please read a post my friend Carla wrote a couple of years ago after helping us sort through a bunch of donations where we were working.

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    When the poor becomes your friends…

    You spend your money differently.  I have a hard time being in bigs stores full of stuff I know most people don’t actually need.  I also have a hard time being on-line seeing all the new, trendy “must haves” such as clothes, purses, and baby stuff that are apparently considered “needs” in our rich, selfish home culture.  Some times I get sucked in and want those things too… but then I remember my friends.  The ones who made a make-shift baby crib with a crate and a hammock.  Or the ones who’s only “newish” clothes they get are the ones handed out to them in pity.  I remember my friends who hardly ever celebrate their kids birthdays because they simply can’t afford to.  Or the kids who wear the same stained, too small, school uniform 2 years in a row because a new one is too big of an expense for the family to afford.  I still get sucked in.  I still want nice things, and I am sure I will always like to make beautiful spaces for my family to find comfort and refuge in at the  of the day, but I refuse to spend a small fortune in doing so.  Buying and spending are no longer the centre of my life.   We try to live simply, give generously, and invest what we have in others and not ourselves.  We don’t alway do the right thing but we are very aware of the needs of others and are convicted that we can and should live differently.

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    When the poor become  your friends…

    You want to help better than you did before.  We have helped our friends in many different ways.  Many times its been in emergency situations such as a ride to the doctor, buying medicine when we knew they couldn’t afford it, a bag of food when we knew their was no work or even money to help pay a bill they were behind on.  We have even invested more in our friends by helping them get a new house built, providing school supplies and uniforms, celebrating their birthdays with gifts and parties, and having our home open for  them when they needed some where to be safe or dry.  All are things I would do for any friend who was in a difficult situation, because I care about them and don’t want to see them suffer.  Now I know that a lot of this help has caused more harm than it was ever meant too.  This help has cost my friends some of their pride and dignity.  It’s taught them to be be dependent on others instead of God, and has left them in a cycle of poverty they can not get out of.  Now it is clear that my friends need a better kind of help that will go further than the immediate need or emergency of the moment.  My friends need to learn new skills to be able to get better jobs.   Their kids need to be supported in their education with tutoring.  They need to learn how to budget, manage their money, and plan for the future.  They needs to be empowered to care of their own families and communities.  They need friends to help them find the resources to do this, and some one to cheer them on as they make some significant life changes and are transformed from being the helpless to becoming more helpful to those in need.  Not an easy task by any means, but if we really want to help our friends then we need to be willing to invest in them what they are worth receiving so they can have a better quality of life.

     

    Those are just a few of the important lessons I have learned from my dear friends.  I think that as long as we talk about “the poor” in vague impersonal terms as if they were less valuable than we are,  we will continue to treat them that way.  I am so glad God has transformed my view.  Maybe it’s time we all made new friends in unlikely places that challenge how we love and do life?

     

     

     

  • Best of 2012

    2012

    What a good year!

    So much to be thankful for!

    This is the year my family grew.  

    2 kids I have loved for so long finally came “home” with us.

    It was a year of answered prayers

    being stretched

    growing as people and parents

    meeting lots of new people

    and making lots of new memories!  

    There was lots of hard things to, but overall looking back I see….

    So much good!

    Here are  a few favorite posts you might want to check out (if your new here) or re-read (if your not new) from this past year:

    From 4 to 5

    Preparing for Rain

    It Would Have Been Easier to Say No

    Real Poverty

    Beauty from Ashes

    Different

    From 5 to 6… He’s Home

    First Week of School= Crazy

    One

    My House and Thoughts on Design

    Buckets of Water

    The Gift of Adoption

    A huge thanks to all of you who have loved, encouraged, and supported us through this year!  We are so grateful to have so many people backing us up, and help making it possible for us to live and serve here!

    We can’t wait to see what 2013 holds for our family!

  • NO excuses!

    I’ve been a little grumpy lately.  I am not sure exactly why.  To be honest there is NO excuse for it.

    I could so easily choose to continue to be selfish, self-centered and ungrateful, but that does not bring glory to God, nor does it make anyone in this house happy.
    Sure some things are hard right now… I really really miss snow, and my life is much busier and chaotic than I would like it to be

    BUT

    I have so much to be thankful for! The blessings in my life far out weigh the burdens and for that I am so very greatful.   I tried to keep that in mind this week and took the time to capture a few simple blessings….

  • Little = A Lot

    “We still aren’t even sure why we are here.” my friend told me.

    I knew why.

    Although they had hoped to visit in November, it didn’t seem like it was going to happen.  They had a certain date in mind, but didn’t think they were going to be able to afford the trip, especially with another upcoming trip to China, after Christmas, to get their adopted son.  It seemed impossible.  Then out of the blue, less than 2 weeks before their “hoped for” departure date, someone offered to buy a boat they didn’t have up for sale for a higher price than they would have thought of.

    They saw it as God’s way of providing, sold the boat and quickly finalized their plans fot their trip south.

    Although they may tell you that they didn’t do much, I would like to tell you different.  

    This past month was a hard one for us.  Uncertain, is what best describes how we have felt.

    We were needing to make some big decisions, feeling discouraged and confused.

    What better time to have some great friends around?  Friends to remind us of our purpose here and that what we do here matters.

    Friends who listen, encourage, and remind us of God’s good plan for us here.

    Maybe they didn’t build something big, or finish some amazing project, or take part in a life changing “outreach”  but their friendship was a godsend.  

    It’s truly the little things that matter most.  They  came and blessed many in practical and intentional ways.  Wether is was Sunday afternoons with some special kids who receive very little love and attention, helping fix our water problem (yay for 3 weeks straight with running water in my house) having a sweet kitchen helper and babysitter, countless good conversations in my kitchen, painting a friends house, visits to Las Aves, wrestling with my boys, and having lots of laughs, it was all noticed and appreciated!  So many “little” things equals a whole lot of blessing.

    Thank you guys!  You were exactly what we needed right now.  We are so glad you came!   Thanks for loving our family, helping us in so many practical ways, listening to our hearts, sharing our love for family and adoption, and just being you.  Can’t wait till next year!

    Please check out Carla’s blog, it’s pretty great!

  • Mexican Fiesta – Kinder style

    Tomorrow is Revolution Day here in Mexico.

    Last week at Kayden’s kindergarten they had a special party.

    All the kids had to dress up.  Don’t be fooled by ther serious look!  Isn’t he cute?

    He ran around the house in his costume saying “I’m a cowboy!”

    I tried to tell him that he was actually a Mexican, but he could not be convinced.

    The school was decorated with pretty streamers and packed with kids in adorable costumes.  Kayden  had to do a traditional dance with a girl (he couldn’t remember her name) in his class.

    His whole class took part in it.  It was so darn cute.  After each class perfomed there was lots of yummy Mexican food to eat.

    Even Barney made an appearance.   In my opinion he was a rather creepy Barney, with a smashed in face.

    I was not surprised when things got a little ugly.

    Little boy with  toy rifle + creepy Barney =

    Isn’t that hilarious!

    Yep, we are all about love around here.

    Good times at a Mexican fiesta!