Just want to Help.

All I want in this life is to change the world.  Is that too much to ask?

I mean, isn’t that what we all want?  To feel like our life mattered?  To feel like we made a difference; an impact in our little world?

When I graduated high school, I had no idea what life held for me.  I didn’t know what I wanted to study or do.  I didn’t plan on getting married young and having kids before a career.  All I knew was that God had made me for a purpose and I was going to change the world.  Or at least MY world.  I thought maybe I’d be a teacher and inspire a future president.  I thought I would do something big or inspire someone in a big way.

Then I went to college and started the relationship with the man I’d soon marry.  I still wanted to do huge things in this world, but this season, I had to focus on me first.  I focused on my love for Randall and I focused on learning and growing myself.  After I graduated, I still felt so lost in which direction to take my future.

I had dozens of interviews, but I didn’t get the job I had planned on.  I had no idea what to do next.  I remember calling my dad, longing for him to just tell me what to do, but knowing that I couldn’t really ask that of him.  By then, I was an adult and I was married, and my dad couldn’t just tell me what to do, as much as I wanted him to.

A few short months later, I read the positive pregnancy test and my world turned upside down.  What had been focused on me, was now focused on someone else.  I quickly became focused on raising my family and two beautiful boys.  I had that all planned out.  I was going to love these boys into perfection.  When they demonstrated their own thoughts and rebelled against mine, I was in complete shock.

It took many years for me to get over the fact that there was no way for me to MAKE my kids the people I wanted them to be.  I could only do my best, and pray that they would make wise choices and become world changers themselves.

And I’ll be praying that prayer until the day I die, but the time has come now, again, for me to focus on something else.  The boys are both in school now and the majority of their day someone else is in charge.   I have seven hours a day to myself, to do with it what I want.

Here’s what I want:  To do something big; to make a difference!  But how?  I sit at home and wonder if God is proud of how I’ve been living my life.

It occurs to me that I am making my mark in small ways.  I am hugely influencing my kids every day.  They are taking in every word I say and that scares the…                   that really scares me!  Maybe I don’t want to make THAT much of a difference in people’s lives.  I will surely screw them up!

I sit and think about the encouraging words I’ve offered to friends and acquaintances and I think about the encouraging words I could have offered, and I know that we are all making a difference in our own little world.

Last night, the boys helped me with dinner.  They had been begging me to make mac ‘n cheese for weeks and last night was a good night to make a quick, kid friendly dinner.  I was doing five things at once and when the water started boiling, I asked Asher to open the box, pour in the pasta and start stirring.  Isaac got jealous and wanted to help too.  “It’s no fair, Asher gets to pour AND stir?” he whined.

“Isaac, you get to pour in the “cheese” from the packet!” I encouraged him.  And that satisfied him.  When the pasta was drained, he ripped the top off of the paper packet and poured the contents over the pasta and was quite happy with himself.  And honestly, I was happy for the help!

I stepped back today and thought about the little things I’m involved in and the organizations I support.   I’ve done little things, (very small things!) like run to raise money for Living Water International.  I’ve chosen one boy in Peru to sponsor (with the money Randall’s hard work earns).  I’ve supported a church that is making huge waves in our community and God is blessing us with his tangible presence each and every weekend.

A couple of weekends ago, our pastor talked about who we are as a church and where we are going in our future.  He showed a video (time stamp 47:02 of this link) of last summer’s baptism celebration and I thought to myself:  Oh my God.  That is beautiful.  I know a lot of faces in that video and some of those people know who I am. I don’t think I influenced them one bit in their decision to take this step in faith toward a God who is moving inside of their very hearts.  But God is doing some huge things all around me.  And I get to be witness of it.  I get to watch history being made in my very own backyard and I am honored to be even a fraction of a part of it.  It occurred to me that maybe small things are big things to God.

People are making a difference.  People in India are drinking clean water today and children are getting food and education in Peru.  And thousands of people every year are taking steps toward a great and holy God.  I’m happy to watch it happen around me.  God is moving and lives are being changed and I’m going to keep on taking my small steps to encourage these big changes.

Thank you God, for letting me be a part of the story you are writing with your people.  Thank you for letting me shine a little light in this big world.  I bet I’m like Isaac to you: thrilled to be dumping a package of orange cheese powder in a pot, but I’m doing it with you and it feels amazing.  I think you’re possibly crazy to let us be your advocates.  It has often proved to be bad idea to let flawed humans represent you, but I want to do my best.  I want to make you proud.  Please show me the small ways I can continue to help you.  If it’s in your will, show me the big ways I can be your child and represent you to others (please let it be in your will).  You know my heart and you know that I don’t want to be famous.  It’s never been about popularity, but about serving my purpose on this earth and paying you back for the abundance you’ve lavished on me.  Like an innocent child, I just want to help.

 

Full Table

When Isaac was little, like three or four years old, we would sit around the table and he would often say that we need two more people to fill our table.  He always talked about how we had two extra chairs and they needed to be full.

IMG_1684

When Asher was born, Randall and I considered a third child.  I just didn’t feel like our family was complete yet.  Randall’s dad was very sick for the first year or so of Asher’s life and passed away before he turned two.  It was hard for Randall to commit to having more children that would never know his father.  That and having a third child meant buying a new car, and being outnumbered, and losing a lot of the comfort we were enjoying as each day passed and the boys grew older.

Making a firm plan to quit having children was the hardest decision I’ve made.  I mourned the loss of any future babies.  I mourned the loss of ever having a girl.  I prayed about the decision and finally came to the conclusion that just because I didn’t give birth to any more children, didn’t mean that our family was necessarily complete.  I asked Randall if we could consider adoption some day.  Randall and I prayed about adoption and talked a lot about it for a while, but we didn’t seem to be feeling like God was leading us that way quite yet.  I looked into foster care, and even jobs where I would care for children that didn’t have stable families.  I still didn’t feel like the timing was right.

A year or so passed after the decision was final and I found God moving my heart in a definitive direction.  I was sitting in a room of a thousand kids at camp that summer.  I have been going to camp with these kids for a decade.  One night out of our week, every year at camp, we all sit through a presentation from Compassion International.  They bring a man or woman who was raised in their program to tell his or her story of growing up with Compassion.  It is always moving and I am always brought to tears.  But this year was different.  I have always been able to sit through that presentation with no desire to get out of my chair and sponsor a child.  Not this year.  I couldn’t sit there any longer.  My heart was pounding and there were no doubts about what was going on.  This year God moved in me so clearly, I had to get up.  I perused the tables covered in pictures of actual children who needed love, who needed their needs met, who needed a sponsor.  I found a boy who was just about Isaac’s age.  His name is David and he lives in Peru. We send him a small amount of money every month that meets his physical and educational needs. We write him letters and he sends back hand colored pictures, and my heart is full.  Sponsoring a child is absolutely God’s way of adding to our family.

A while back, a couple of neighborhood boys stopped by at dinner time.  I was just setting the food on the table, and Isaac invited the boys to stay.  We had plenty of food, so I told the boys it was okay with me if it was okay with their mom.  She said it was fine, and they found seats at our table.

As we all sat and ate, one of my boys looked at the table and said, “Now every chair is full.”  It brought a huge smile to my face.  For the rest of our lives, we will be welcoming kids into our house to love, and treat as our own for the time that they stay with us.  We’ll be loving and praying for David and hopefully we’ll add another kid or two to our sponsored “family.” These kids don’t need to come from our DNA for us to love them.

I pray that God continues to fill our table and make our family complete. I know so many of you are loving on neighbor kids and volunteering with kids at church and school and doing your part.  Thank you.  That’s what this world needs.  But I challenge you to pray for some kids you don’t know as well.  You know, the table in my dining room is an essential piece of furniture in our home.  It is where every meal is eaten and much bonding had.  Visit the Compassion site and pray over those kiddos.  I fear that many of these kids you will see don’t even own a table, and a square meal every day is not their norm.  Pray that their needs will be met.  Pray that they will find God and a sponsor who will love them unconditionally.   Pray that God will show you if you can play a role in their lives and may your hearts and tables ever be full!

Full Table