Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Speaking of Ebola, Meet My Friend Stephen

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola, it is scary. The sickness is life threatening and it is quickly spreading through the west coast of Africa. In fact, it is easy to say Ebola is reaching more than just Africa.

Meet Rebecca and Stephen.
I have a few really great friends in Liberia. Their names are Stephen and his wife Rebecca. They have two biological children and three children they have taken in for shelter. We were talking about my oldest daughter being in school. I return asked him about his children who are also school-aged. His response broke me.
First, will you meet their kids with me?
Don't even say, "Aww."
Whatever, you will. They are adorable kids.





Told you, they are adorable.
L to R: Yonconjay Immanuel, Monconjay Joy, Harrison, and Hattie
Anyway, I was quickly informed that the kids are not able to be in school because of the out break of Ebola. I was instantly convicted with how self absorbed I truly can be. You see, we watch the news, we hear the stats, and we shut off the news and continue on with our lives. I never stopped to think (or even come close to placing myself in their shoes) how massive, life-claiming sickness effects everyone in their culture. Stephen shared with me this a few weeks back:  
"According to the Ministry of Health (Liberia) September 10, 2014 situation report, the number of Ebola cases in Liberia has increased greatly since the second outbreak of the deadly disease. The total cumulative suspected, probably and confirmed Ebola cases reported since the epidemic began in March is 2,415, (confirmed - 796, probably – 1,080 and suspected 539). The total number of Ebola-related deaths in Liberia is 1,307.

 The affected counties now include: Bomi-77, Bong- 179, Gbarpolu-1, Grand Bassa-46, Grand Capemount-16, Grand Gedeh-3, Lofa-698, Margibi-393, Maryland-6, Montserrado-849, Nimba 134, River Cess 1, River Gee 9, and Sinoe- 3 cases.

 Besides, the Ebola virus Liberians are also passing probably daily of other sicknesses such as high blood pressure, malaria, diabetes, etc because health workers are afraid to treat people with everyday common sicknesses. The most challenging is the deaths of pregnant women in pains who go to the hospitals to give birth and the midwives and nurses reject them because of fear that they must have contacted the Ebola virus. This has caused the deaths of many young Liberians of child bearing ages. Our health system is broken down. We really need God more than ever before to help us get this nightmare from Africa.
Some government employees are placed under compulsory leave to avoid crowding of people. The prices of basic commodities have increased. Likewise, transport from one place to another in the country has also increased because commercial drivers are not allowed to take more than 3 passengers on a row in their cars."
Think about this with me. Hospitals are refusing to care for illness that is treatable because they fear someone is contagious. A mother in labor, and her child, can die because they are not taken in. School has been shut down. Children are not learning. The rates in West Africa are rising and jobs are laying people off. This is a terrifying reality for them.
When I am scared for my dear friends I go to the scripture and find comfort there. I have found that God calls us to action in times of need.
Matthew 25:40 says this;
And the King will answer them,
‘Truly, I say to you,
as you did it to one of the least
of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Again in 1 John 3:17,
"But if anyone has the world's goods
and sees his brother in need,
yet closes his heart against him,
 how does God's love abide in him?"
I wonder how we, as their brothers and sisters in Christ, who live half way around the world can impact them. How can we make a difference? And does trying even matter?
Firstly, let us pray. Pray that God would heal their people and remove the disease from their land. God listens to the broken hearted. Be broken for them. Secondly, give. We hear this all of the time and we become numb to giving. But if we honestly look at what we spend money on we can find a really good way to cut spending for a short time to give more now. I quit my coffee shop trips. I won't even admit how much that saved us. If we quit just one coffee, that is $5.00. If we skipped one meal out, $20.00. You see where I am going with this.
Does it matter? Will it help? YES! Check this out...

"Many friends that I know are receiving funding from the U.S. to help respond to this Ebola outbreak. Americans are sending funds to purchase preventive materials, such as bleach, bucket with faucet, tide soap, including rice and oil. "

"A 25kg bag of rice costs $18 USD per bag, and a bucket with faucet costs $7.5 per piece, while the tide costs $ 8 per cartoon."

A bag of rice is $18.00, also equivalent to 4 lattes or 1 meal out with a family of 4.

A faucet or cleaning product, 1 coffee.

We can help. It does matter. It saves lives.


We can also sponsor families to receive the rice as well as home schooling materials. We can feed a family. Imagine how we would feel if we couldn't feed our children and this van showed up to say, "A family you have never met loves you and God sees you, he heard your cries for help."

And together, we can keep these kids educated with homeschool supplies. This supplies the learning aids they need to continue basic educational structure. This keeps them busy and occupied as well. A breath of fresh air I am certain in a time of stress.

 Your donation is not tax deductible, but 100% of it will go directly to a family in need. We can change the world in the name of Christ and we can pray. Pray and pray for a country who needs healing, restoration, and health. Click below to partner with us in helping them.
"In all things 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

Yard Work and Heart Conditions

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees.
 For you are like whitewashed tombs—
beautiful on the outside
but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.  
Outwardly you look like righteous people,
but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness."
 Matthew 23:27-28 NLT
Today as the crisp and beautiful fall air was blowing I decided that today might be the last warm-ish day in the Midwest. I gathered my outdoor tools and began to cut hydrangeas and rake up the leaves that covered the front lawn. I worked hard. I was sweaty. I was sore and really, really tired when all was said and done. I walked around and looked at the back yard and said, "Meh, it can wait, no one will see it anyway."
Before I could put away all of my lawn care items I was convicted. 
See, it was a good day. At least, it was after a recovery from my two-year-old deciding to take the dog for  a walk without a leash and by herself.  She wanted a pile of leaves and then changed her mind without telling me. But that is besides the point. AFTER all that drama, it was a good day. Even still, God caught me while I did my home ownership duties.
I began to wonder about our own lives. Much like my attitude to my lawn, no one sees the back, but the front, no- the front must be spiffy. Is this my life? The outside must look spiffy even if the parts of me no one can see are a mess.
Psalm 51:6 says, "Behold, you desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part you will make me know wisdom." Time and time again the word reminds us to check our self at the door. "Before you open your mouth, check out what is in your eyeball there." That, of course, was my own paraphrase of Matthew 7:5. Jesus also goes as far as say in Matthew 28 that if you think in your head about a woman you might as well have slept with her, because he judges it the same. Again, my own paraphrase.
See what he did there? He says, "I see what you do behind closed doors, I see your heart, the things you hide, and you might as well be public about it." However, God loves us, even in our mess. He came for the mess, the sick, the hidden, the yuck. He died for that. The broken, bruised, and burdened. 
Much like my back yard, I had to really examine my life at that moment. Is my private life lining up with scripture? What I say, is that what I do? What I do, is that what I say? Is my public Kirsten matching up with my private Kirsten?
1 Samuel 16:7 says it like it is, "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at the way he looks on the outside or how tall he is, because I have not chosen him. For the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. A man looks at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” We try so hard to have our houses in order, our bodies in shape, and our worship deeds public. Who does not envy the put together person?
We love that dad, so devoted to his kids and his wife. We don't see an addiction to porn or anger.
We love that mom. So thin, energetic, and crafty. We don't see her battle with an eating disorder.
We love that family member. Their new car, their new house, their new, thing. We don't see the battle with debt. Instead of supporting each other in the hard secrets, we are supporting these false ideas we have of each other in our perfection. Community with other believers is essential in maintaining a realistic vision of our self. Even more so, a relationship lived in submission and constant repentance will keep your dirtiest parts of you open with God.
Oh, this is painfully hard. Our earthly bodies want so badly to be strong, dedicated, and put together on our own. Most of all, we want our efforts to be noticed. When we begin to know Christ, we have to admit that apart from him, we are nothing more than a messy back yard full of  molding leaves and massive Goldendoodle poops waiting to be squashed into the bottom of God's shoe. It's humbling. So badly we crave that God would use the front, freshly painted, churched, showered, and Bible read front door. We never want him to walk in on us as we are scraping up the mess from our lives and off the bottom of our shoes. We panic at the thought that God might enter in as we are in that messy place and we scatter trying to find that excuse for being there, again.
The beauty of this truth is in the fact that God came for you. God came for me. Like the woman at the well, the dead girl in bed, Lazarus, and the blind man-- these are the few examples of the painful places that he went to get them. He sought them out there and said, "I got this." I can only imagine the mom of that little girl. Jesus is walking into her home to save the life of her child. I doubt she cared much about if her house smelled okay, or if she made the bed today, and if her clothes matched. I bet she was beside herself that her daughter was coming back to her again and believed that Jesus was about to do something great. He does not want us to hide our mess and be perfect before we go to him. He wants us right now, right here, just as we are!
Let us be like that with God. Let us open our person regardless of what is in there and say, "God, take it. Take me. Help me do this over. Thank you for loving me despite all of this decay I hide. Make me prettier on the inside in your sight." He sees our hidden parts and the beauty about it all is that he wants to take your pain from you so you can live whole, so you can be made new, and shine his glory. Instead of our lives saying, "Oh-oh-oh, don't mind the mess I haven't gotten there yet..." God can make our mess speak for him. Our mess can say to the world, "Look where I was, look where God brought me. He wants that for you, too."
Will I clean up my back yard tomorrow? Nope. Nope I won't. After a full day outside, the inside of my home could use some cleaning up. This may also be true to the inside of me at the same time.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meet My Friend Dawn!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hello all! I love to feature my friends here when they have something amazing to say. Dawn has been a long time friend. She sells 31, does the pastor wife thing, pulls a full time job, and is a mom. Not to mention is a great writer. Let us all encourage HER to start blogging! Thank you Dawn for letting us inside your head and sharing your heart with us!

In October of 2009, Dawn wrote this. A second child later, these words are remain truth. I hope this can speak to you all in some way.

What does Motherhood mean to me?
Wow – that question spawns so many topics…how am I supposed to keep this to 300 words? Well, here it goes. First, some background about my journey to become a mommy…

Before my precious Zoe was born, it was 8 long years of my husband Chris and I trying to conceive, miscarrying once and then trying to get pregnant again. Those years were full of the pain of loss, attending and organizing countless baby showers that I wished were mine, but weren’t, and at least 100 negative pregnancy tests. We were aching to be pregnant. It was as if we were “constipated with love” to pour out on a child. Though we were frustrated, angry and confused (why isn’t this happening for us?), that time in our lives helped to prepare us for what was to come, and brought us closer together than ever before. We never gave up hope that God would send us our little one.

On Friday, August 8th, 2008 (yes, 8/8/08!) our dream came true. I decided to take the last pregnancy test in the box and vowed that if this wasn’t positive, I wasn’t going to buy any more for a while. Negative results were too painful. I remember trembling as I brought the positive pee-filled stick over to show Chris and we held each other and cried.

My pregnancy was happy, healthy and blissful….even during my first and last trimester when I spent nearly every night on my knees before the porcelain throne – I thanked God for my little girl and knew she was worth every heave. Those months were filled with such busyness – our baby showers (finally!) and the transformation of the guest room which now would become the long-awaited nursery.

Zoe Elaine was born on April 7, 2009. It was one of the happiest days of my life. The instant I saw her I was in love. She was (and is) so beautiful and healthy. She brings so much joy to our lives.

Which brings me back to the question at the top of this essay…for me, Motherhood is…the highest of callings. It's the total denial of oneself. It’s falling asleep in the chair while breast-pumping at 2 AM (yes, I’m guilty). It’s taking the time to pack and unpack the diaper bag – day after day. It’s about being willing to be spit up on and pooped on. It’s about taking time for the little details – changing loads of diapers and sucking boogers with the bulb syringe. It’s about sacrificing my wants and needs and tending to hers. And…it’s being willing to do it all over again if needed. Motherhood is having a love so deep and intense for someone else that it is (almost) physically painful. Before becoming a mommy, I had never experienced anything like it.

I am looking forward to more additions to our family. But for now, I am going to enjoy every moment the first time around. I am looking forward to more baby giggles, more holidays and more "firsts". No matter how many twists and turns on this road called Motherhood, I’m determined to enjoy the scenery

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