Sunday, September 30, 2012

Praying for the Light Unto Their Path

A busy day of trying to get things done yet trying to relax and breathe as well.

But I pause in my busy relaxing to ask you to please pray for a dear sister in Christ who is journeying tomorrow to Guatemala on behalf of World Help and Operation Baby Rescue. You can read all about it here.

Her name is Michele-Lyn and she blogs at A Life Surrendered. which is my new favorite blog. I am constantly more and more astounded by this beautiful woman - her testimony is not for the faint of heart and she writes and lives in such grace and honesty that it makes me want to summon myself and my other friends and have us all unite in following God's ways more obediently.

Michele-Lyn will be blogging as part of the team going to Guatemala for World Help and I hope you follow her stories there.

She leaves tomorrow and, as you can read on her latest blog entry, she is feeling all the normal heart-flurries one feels before they embark on a life-altering journey. I remember feeling very similar things before my trip to Honduras and, to be honest, she is going far deeper into the trenches of poor and sickness and fear and death than I ever tip-toed in.

So I ask you to lift Michele-Lyn and all the people journeying to Guatemala this week up in prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, so good and so loving,
We ask You to bless the efforts of the World Help volunteers, missionaries, and bloggers as they leave the safety of what they know to go and serve what we would call the very least of us: babies that need rescuing, adults and children that need comforting and the Good News that only You can bring.  I pray that You direct their footsteps according to Your Word (Ps 119:133) and uphold them in Your protection and righteousness. Though their hearts may break and grow weary from the sin and sadness in this world, make Your presence known to them so that they may feel hope and rely on Your provisions. You have us all in your mighty hand.  For You are a mighty savior and take delight in us with gladness. You calm our fears and rejoice over us with joyful songs (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT). We thank You and praise You for the work that will be done by these precious Christ-followers as You send them out. We pray this all in Jesus' holy and unfailing name. 

Thank you, friends, for taking part in this prayer with me. My heart beats strongly for this mission. I'm not sure why. I don't question the passion I feel, though, I obey it. And though I want to drop everything I am doing here at home and join them, I know God wants me here, serving my family in this very specific way. So I must be content to pray fervently and unceasingly.

I encourage you to get to know Michele-Lyn over at her blog, A Life Surrendered as well as checking up on their experiences in Guatemala. 

Blessings as I leave you with this beautiful picture, taken from this website

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I think about my newly-turned 14-year-old stepdaughter and what it would be like for her be blinked off to Central America to switch lives with 13-year-old Daniela for a day. The thought stretches my mind like a rubber band - tight and resistant. But I go there anyway:

She was there in May, my 14 year old,
and mortified over her shoes.
Her $60.00 hiking boots she was too
embarrassed to wear in this rural village.
Not because of their extravagance
but because they "weren't cool."
She was worried about how she looked.

Did she look?
Around her? At the others?
Did she look at their feet?
Covered with worn shoes - maybe...
maybe barefoot.

Did she see their ground?
A kind of dirty my 14-year-old
saves for fast bike rides as a kid,
to see how much dirt she could spit up
from her tires.

These people live on dirt floors
and tires may be used for far more
than we understand.

Did she see the food they served us
and how they watched, eagerly,
for our approval?
They fixed us up extravagantly
yet, themselves, had nothing.

Once home, at our first family dinner.
I remember cooking up vegetables
on the stove

and it hit me
when the kids were fighting
at the table
over something trivial.

I cringed
not just at the bickering
but the Big Deal
we make out of so much.

When they
our "other family" out there
could make a big deal
out of so much
they have
so little.

If my 14-year-old switched lives
with our sponsor child
there'd be more than culture shock.
I pray there would be the kind of
only a God-sized miracle
can produce.

If I switched lives
with her mother,
sun-scorched face and wrinkles
explaining worry without words,
I wouldn't know the first thing
to do.

How do I ask for help?
How would my husband?
Fathers are to provide for the family
so what does Mr. F. think about
his daughter being sponsored
by us?

I had the chance to ask him in May.
And he smiled and nodded.
It was genuine.
His wife gushed sobs of gratitude
as he looked at the dirt ground
and she explained he was always working
and could not be in the family photos.
Forgive them? she asked.

Forgive them?
Forgive us, Mrs. F.
Forgive our apathy.
Forgive us assuming the "other guy"
will take care of it.
Forgive us for grazing over
our meatloaf and mashed potatoes
and not thanking, thanking,
thanking God ever-so-much
for each and every blessing
He bestows upon us

which includes your family, Daniela,
and your whole community. 

The other night
I told my two younger stepchildren,
8 and 5
that a family a world away
living on dirt floors
eating rice, beans, and tortillas every night
prayed for our family 
every morning.

Our family - I emphasized. 
Our family with the xBox
and the DVD player
and the fast-spinning washer and dryer.
Our family who is often too busy
to laugh and look in each other's eyes
because of poms and karate
and jobs us parents stress over.

That family prays for this family.

So that night
our family got together
and prayed for that family.

And prayers -
they are not so different
even if they come from different worlds

even if they come from different floors:
one dirt, one tile.

We are still two families
on our knees
praying for the other
to love God
with all our heart and all our soul
and all our mind.

No, I cannot quite imagine switching places with a poverty-stricken family. I can't quite imagine not knowing if my children will have food for their next meal or if I was going to die of HIV or not and, if so, who would care for my children?

Fortunately, there are people and organizations stepping up and following God's call to the hands and feet of Christ. Organizations like Compassion International, the one I am focusing on this month, the one I so dearly love and feel strongly about. They don't just take money and toss it to the poor, hoping it will be used wisely. They invest. They teach. They help them with sustainability. 

And they invite you, this September, to take a bold step and sponsor a child and join the ranks of people sponsoring children.

It is a gift beyond description - to the child and to you, as well.

May God speak into your heart this day.

Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pin Up Joy

Good morning, friends!
This week I am excited to share my Pinterest board entitled, "My Sponsored Child" as part of our ongoing effort to engage you in conversation with child sponsorship through Compassion International and to encourage sponsoring a child, yourself!

This week we were encouraged to make a Pinterest board showing our enthusiasm and love for child sponsorship. On my board I have pinned pictures from Compassion's Pinterest collection as well as my own photos from visiting Daniela. I hope you enjoy the visual joy of child sponsorship. And while you are at it, go search for other "My Sponsored Child" Pinterest boards and see what others have pinned.

My Sponsored Child Pinterest Board

from Shaun Groves' Third World Symphony Pinterest Board

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dreaming Your Everything

I opened my email earlier this week to find this week's September Compassion Blogger idea. Easy, I thought. Write a letter to God. About child sponsorship.

Sure, I can do that. I can thank God for my two sponsor girls, I can thank God for giving me the opportunity to have a relationships with them and, thus, with God, Himself. And so I sat down to write. And things just came out...well, plain.

And then, days later, I had a dream about Daniela.

I've never dreamed about Daniela before. She's the sponsor child I've had for 8 years and who I visited this past May.

The dream I had last night was more vivid and more real than what I actually remember from our visit. Isn't that weird? Yet, without that time of us meeting face-to-face, despite our shyness and nervousness, this dream couldn't have impacted me as much as it did.

All I remember from the dream was talking with her (we spoke the same language, which was strange) and looking into those deep, intensely dark eyes, her ebony hair flowing behind her, that gorgeous smile. And I remember the hug. I remember hugging her so tightly that when I awoke I literally ached for her.

Tonight, I sat outside on my back porch at twilight and cried.

I missed Daniela.

I ached for her.

And, so, I write my letter to God now. Here.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I can see her so clearly in my head, Lord. Wearing that yellow shirt which starkly contrasted with her Latin American complexion and dark eyes and hair. She looked like a supermodel. In real life, Lord, not just in my dream. Daniela was more beautiful than I can ever imagine and I thank You so much for giving me the opportunity to meet her.

Not many sponsors can say they got to meet their sponsor child. I feel so very fortunate. And yet my heart aches because that dream...I felt so close to her in my dream...and yet, tonight, I cry because I feel so far away.

I miss her, Lord. I wish I could return to Central America and do all the things I would have done in hindsight. I wish I could  have been less shy, less nervous. Funny, in a recent letter, she wrote the same thing to me. She's 13, Lord, and she wrote to her 34-year-old "Madrina" (which means Godmother in Spanish) that she wished she was less self-conscious and could have been more outgoing during our visit.

A teenager wishes this, a teenager who, by hormonal nature, is usually shy and unsure. A teenager told this to a 34-year-old who, by most understanding, ought to be confident and well-spoken. Well, I was just as nervous and unsure as she was.

I couldn't stop smiling when I saw her in person, and I tried to strike up questions, but I just felt too nervous.

Not so in this dream. In my dream, we were laughing and sharing stories and loving each other.

And I awoke with such a clear picture of how I now want to visit her.

So on my back porch, Lord, I pray:

Thank you for the gift of Daniela and my other sponsor child in Indonesia, an 8 year old spirited girl who has the most intriguing eyes.

Thank you that my letters, prayers, and my monthly giving can impact a child so deeply.

And thank you, Lord, that these children's letters and prayers for me can impact me so deeply. I never expected it to be such a reciprocal road.

Thank you, Lord, for You - who connect these children and myself across miles and miles, across mountains and oceans, across political strife and poverty. You are the common link, Lord. You are our bridge. You are our common language.

I write that to Daniela a lot - I even told her when we all met in her church building - I said how amazed I was that God could connect one girl in Central America to one woman in the United States (I held one arm out to one side and the other arm out to the other side and then closed the gap to illustrate).
L-R, My stepdaughter, our translator, and myself (copyright Lisa Auter 2012)

What an amazing God we have!

For these children, Lord, I pray that You would give them Your Holy Spirit to guide them. Help their parents raise them in Your Ways. Guide these young girls to womanhood knowing their value in Your eyes. Teach them how good it is to be a Christ-follower.

Of course, I pray for their daily needs, Lord. That is a given. That is what people mostly think of when they think of monthly giving to a sponsor child: how the money will give them more food, better water, a chance at education, and better medical guidance. And that is all true - Compassion International does all that.

But Compassion does so much more.

Children don't just need food in their bellies; they need God's kiss on their foreheads. Mosquito netting is vital - as vital as knowing God is everything.

Lord, give them Your Everything.

This I pray in Your Precious and Life-Saving Name,


Will you consider helping a child get their Everything?

The road is not one-way.

In return, you will get more than you ever could dream of.

I know; I dreamed it. And it was real.

You will get your Everything, too.

Pray about sponsoring a child. There are so many waiting, wondering, and dreaming their own dreams.

God bless you in your prayerful consideration.

village girls praying before the meal (copyright Lisa Auter 2012)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Helping the Many-More

This is my first day as a Compassion Blogger for the month of September. I feel a bit nervous, but excited to be given this opportunity to blog on behalf of children around the world who need the help of the many so badly.

This is not the many helping the few. This is the many helping the even more-many. 

That might not be a word you learned in your elementary school English class, but I think it fits. Do we realize, and I mean more than in a statistical sense, just how many malnourished and hungry and sick children there are in the world? Do we look around at all that we have and think that we acquired these things through our own deeds and successes? For myself, I strive to realize every day that the things I have are actually blessings from God and to Him be the glory of it all!

Now that is a wonderful thing to say, isn't it?

"I dedicate all I have to the Lord."

But, oh, how I yearn to live that every day of my life.

Too many times I get that candy bar when I make a trip to Walgreens for medicine. I might add a soda for the next day because, my goodness, I always seem to be sleep-deprived. Too often I walk into my beautiful house and scan the clean, wooden floor and tisk myself over the few scuffs. Too often I listen to the sound of running water without realizing how fortunate I am to have it. A washer and dryer - HE-detergent, no less. 4 bedrooms in the house. All of my children have their own room and we have a packed fridge.

Too often I skim past my blessings. I want to put my foot down and even bend knee and thank God above for all He gives.

When I went to Honduras, I truly knew the word need in a whole new light. But, surprisingly, these needy people were, for the most part, more joyful and happy than I had ever known. They knew the Lord in a way I had never imagined. They had to lean on Him for everything. Lacking adequate shelter, medicine, food, safe drinking water, they knew who their God was and they grew strong by their faith.

I felt like the person in need.

When I wrote about our call to serve, I was overwhelmed with the fact that we all need to open our eyes more. We need to open our selves more and not be afraid or intimidated by those in this world who are so sick or hungry that it hurts our hearts too much to look.

Don't look away. 

Instead, look here.
Did you miss that link? Here it is, plainly:

Yes, you read right. It says Sponsor a Child.

Now let me be clear. Sponsoring a child will not solve the world's hunger and poverty problem.

But look at Jesus' life in serving and teaching: He gave some lectures and sermons to a huge group...but Jesus touched many lives on an individual basis. He knew that for them to know God personally, He would share and commune with them.

Taking the money I use to go out once a month or saving the money I'd normally spend on Walgreens candy bars or coffee drinks -- all that can add up.

And it doesn't just add up to the monthly fee of child sponsorship.

It adds up to a relationship, first through letters, with one child.

You write letters, send your love, across the world to that one child who will come to love you more than you thought possible.

Then it will turn into you touching that entire family.

Then, miraculously, because of the work of Compassion International, that impact will reach the entire community as Compassion workers integrate health and God and love.

And, quite possibly, you might be in the position to introduce that child, that family, that community to the wonder of knowing Jesus as their Christ.

The things we, as sponsors, do on our parts feels so small...

but, as one who visited her sponsor child this past May in Honduras, my part in Daniela's life has been huge.

She calls me Godmother.

Her family prays for my family on a daily basis.

They have all my pictures and letters - 8 years' worth.

Daniela tells me she has prayed for the day to meet me.

I walked into that village and saw how the school has improved through the loving guidance of that organization. I listened as her mother sobbed gratitude to me.

No more than $40 dollars a month for the past 8 years gave me that (it's different for each organization, but roughly between $25 and $35).

Writing letters and praying and sending my monthly support- all that changed a 4 year old's life - and now that she is newly 13 years old, I see how it has impacted her family's life, her community's life, and it baffles me.

I never thought my letters and monthly giving would sum up to be more love and graciousness that I could ever imagine.

Think about it.

In the linked blog post from November 11th of 2011, I wrote, in general, about the world's need and our responsibility to help. In that post I pointed out that not all are called to sponsor or go on missionary trips or the like. But God had laid on my heart the following:

"But God is God and we are human. Flawed humans who sometimes don't know what to do with all of our privileges, yet at the same time some of us don't know how to ask for help for what we need. 

Let God be God and let us do what we need to do: take action." 

Let God move and shake your heart. Let the realities of the world be shown to you and do not be afraid. God did not give us a spirit of fear. He calls us to action.

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
~Ephesians 2:10

I pray that you lay your heart and your will before the Lord and see what He has in store for you.

"In all I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself, said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive."
~ Acts 20:35 (ESV)

Maybe a child who speaks a different language, lives on the other side of the world, will call you Godparent.