Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Three Reasons I Love My Job

1.  Nap time. 

Little feet finally at rest.  Here we have a wee darling who fell asleep reading.  Apparently, learning never stops at Sunrise School.

2.  The imaginations of children.  
Beware the jaguar.  Yes, those are claws made from gardening rakes and shovels.  We must often cower beneath the roars of a ferocious T-Rex, or run for our lives in Princess, Lawn Mower, Bad Guy.  Planks of wood become surf boards.  Trees are named Smartie.  The party never ends.

3.  Daily News. 
One day this past week, my nephew was the leader.  I wrote his name, but he made me erase it and write his "real" name.  Some days he goes by John or even SiahJohn.  Love that kid.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

7.2.1 Nine Tenths of the Law

7 Experiment
2nd Month:  Possessions
1st Post
Mr. Observant Husband found out I was doing this on the 10th of October.  At that point I had already given away 70 things.  That's how much we have.  We being me.  We being my family.  We being pretty much anyone reading this blog.

The point of this experiment is not to de-clutter my house or get more organized, though that is happening.  It's not about a checklist, but I do love a good list.  This is about intentional reduction to bless others.

1 John 3:17-18 lays it out pretty clear for Christian-folks.  "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."

Let's lay this out my favorite way - in a list.  Yea!

#1  "If anyone has material possessions"  Um...Check.  I have an insane amount of possessions. In fact, at halfway through this month, I have given away 126 things, and it hasn't affected me in the slightest.  I guess the husband is more observant than first assumed to be.

#2  "and sees a brother in need but has no pity on him"  Well, I know if I saw a brother in need, I would help.  But here is the problem that Shane Claiborne and I share, "...the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor..."  (Insert slap across face.)

On Sunday we talk about which of our two cars to take to our church in the middle of suburbia.  We have playgroups with people just like us.  The families we hang out with seem to be an eerie copy of ours.  I do not see brothers in need.  Surely this does not please the Lord.

As I step back, I can almost see the walls constructed by wealthy Christians in America.  Maybe I did not build the walls, but I am doing nothing to tear them down.  God, give me a wrecking ball. 

#3  "how can the love of God be in that person?"  I say I love God, but does it show?  I know my faith is not based on works.  I am confident of it.  But the love of God is wider and deeper than my heart can ever hope to contain.  If His love is not overflowing from my heart, my claims of having His love seem hollow.

#4  "Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."  I long for this.  To turn this experiment, and thus my life, into one of action.  Words and good intentions flow freely from my heart in a nauseatingly unfulfilled sort of way.  Actions.  Truth.  Make these things mark my love for Jesus, and therefore my love for His people.

Shane Claiborne speaks my heart again, "...I truly believe that when the poor meet the rich, riches will have no meaning.  And when the rich meet the poor, we will see poverty come to an end."

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.  Begin with my heart and my actions.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

7.1.6 Yestermonth Reflections

7 Experiment
1st Month
6th & Final Post

I love it when the kids teach me useful words.
Yestermonth I started my own Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  Procrastinating perfectionists like myself usually begin with the easiest task and slowly move to the more difficult.  Since I'm not much of a clothes horse, purging my clothing seemed like the logical choice for the first month.
Giving away some items were hard, but quotes from her book like this spurred me on:
"...all together, we've spent enough to irrevocably change the lives of a hundred thousand people. What did I get for that budgeting displacement? Closets full of clothes we barely wear and enough luxuries to outfit twenty families."
So, looking back, how did I do?  Pretty well, but I do have two major happenings to confess.
The first occured when my oldest daughter found a dress of hers in the garage that I had added to the give away pile.  I does not fit her, and it has to be ironed.  The latter makes it nearly certain that she will never wear it in public.  Upon finding this dress that has been on her body ONE time, she launched into a wailing fit.
I remained calm and explained to her what we were going to do with the dress.
Tears flowed.
Still attempting to use reason, we talk about all the children who need clothes.
Sobbing reaching epic proportions.
Trying a new tactic, I explain to her that it DOES NOT FIT, it is all wrinkly, and Mommy does not iron.
Sorrow so great that Daddy, the Hero, rushes to rescue us out in the garage.  He takes in the situation with questioning eyes. 
I haughtily explain to him, not too patiently or kindly. that our daughter wants to keep this dress that she NEVER WEARS and WON'T give it away to the poor kids!
You see, Haughty Pants Hannah thought Daddy the Hero would be on her side.  The look he gave me ripped off my haughty pants, which were somehow covering  my eyes.  I saw my child.  Shame washed over me.  Hero Daddy was right.  Broken-hearted daughter was right.  It was not mine to give.
Epic parent failure.
One more reason why children need to be raised by two parents.  Sometimes Mommy needs to be pantsed by Daddy.
After that confession, the second won't seem so bad. 
I took back the cowboy boots.
Just couldn't do it.  But I did replace them with another pair of shoes.
Next step: finding homes for all these clothes...before daughter and I slowly bring them all back in from the garage.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Little Missionaries

Many yesteryears ago at the old white church, we had this silver coffee can.  Someone, I suspect my mother, had written "Mission Friends" on the side with black marker.  Each week we would learn about missionaries around the world and bring our offerings to plink into the little coffee can.
We were changing the world with our love through our offerings.  I cherish this part of my childhood.  This teaching about giving and true wealth, which cannot be measured.
I want this for my children, so I made my own missionary money jar.  It's no coffee can, but it still works.
Explaining to children about missions is such a refreshing thing for a sometimes complacent Christian like myself to tackle.
"Some people do not have Mommies and Daddies."
I stare into large shock-filled eyes.
"Some people do not have homes."
The questions start to flow.
"But the saddest of all is some people have never heard about Jesus."
They gasp.  Literally.  When is the last time that information shocked or moved me?
Then we talk about how we can help.  We talk about telling people about Jesus.  We talk about showing everyone the love of Jesus.  We talk about sending money to missionaries who serve where little feet cannot go just yet.

In August we committed as a class to pray for Luke and Karla Reddus with Compassion United in Conroe.  And then these nine Sunrise School children raised money all month for them.  (Also donated was one Euro cent, one British pence, and ten Disney play dollars.)
Laying little hands on the gift to bless the offering
Lifting prayers for our missionaries up to the ears of God.
Luke visited our class.  He was a bit of a celebrity with the children.  They hugged.  They jumped and shouted.  They showed him their desks and papers they had made.  It was precious.

In September they prayed and gave to Danny and Cherry Hill who are church planters in Springfield, Missouri.  Susannah went to visit them with her Mimi.  She called from their house, "Mommy I'm at the missionaries' house!  I'm on the mission field!" 

Love that child.

This month we are praying for a new missionary couple in Turkey.  They have already started giving.  It is beautiful.  It is challenging.

In other happenings, I found an old Daily News that I forgot to post.  It was the first uncensored news.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

7.1.5 My Girls' Clothes

7 Experiment
1st Month
5th Post

Yes, I know it is October and technically the 2nd month, but I am behind.  Big shocker.  I'm having a hard time with all this new information.  These new ideas flying around in my head.  Raging against materialism in my life is more difficult than I ever thought possible.

"This is hard to process, so it helps to imagine standing in front of my Ethiopian children, who were too poor and sick to raise their own beloved babies. As I gaze upon their hopelessness, I imagine them calculating what I've spent on clothing alone, realizing that same amount would've kept their family fed and healthy for thirty years."  7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

I re-read this quote from the book and was pushed once more to take another step - my girls' clothes.  I am not going to have them participate in every month, but I want them to do as much of it with me as possible.

Children are amazing.  They are naturally compassionate.  They love giving and serving.  When is this valuable skill unlearned?  I never want it to leave my kids.  Practicing constant, consistent giving is one way to teach children to hold their possessions loosely.

They had an insane amount of clothes.  Many of which have never been on their bodies.  If your children are anything like mine, they have a very small rotation of favorite clothes they wear.

Now there are piles of clothes in my garage.  Piles.

Now what?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sunrise School News Flash

October means that I am way behind in Sunrise School news updates.  Tons of exciting, earth-shaking things have been occurring in the lives of preschoolers here at Sunrise School.
I am sure you are on the edge of your seat, so I will keep the commentary to a minimum.

This past week, Josiah once more dazzled us with his imagination to which his brother raised his hand, "Uh...An Tannah, the didn't really happen."   Meanwhile, Gideon has successfully revived a tried and true word.

Reading the news of these preschoolers makes me a way.  Their innocence.  The things they find important.  Their pride in sharing.
I don't know about you other suckas, but I love my job.

7.1.4 Shoes?!?

7 Experiment
1st Month
4th Post

I don't want this life.  This life of more.  This life of ignoring those in need while shoes gather dust on shelves in my closet.  This "radical inequality" disgusts me.

It seems I talk about this everywhere I go now.  This idea of intentional living.  Intentional giving.  Intentional faith.

When talking to a dear group of women about this several weeks back one of them said, "Half of your clothes?  Wow, so even your shoes and accessories and hats and stuff like that?"

Darn you Jessica Grace.

I love you for the accountability you bring to my life.  But at the moment I was not thinking such thoughts.

So I did some more thinking.  More praying.  Then I bit the bullet.

Half of my shoes - gone.

Just as with the clothes, the first few were easy.  The last one really hurt.  A pair of cowboy boots.  Ouch.  This Texas girl is feeling the sacrifice.

Then the halving worked its way into my jewelry, scarves, hats, gloves, purses, and bags.  This was much easier after parting with the shoes.

My garage is filling.  What to do with all the stuff?  Stay tuned...