Comparison is the thief of joy. I have read it. I believe it. However…
These days are full of technology and with that comes plenty of opportunity to feel like you’re just not measuring up. Pinterest alone can make one believe there is no hope for, well almost anything. Thousands of DIY ideas that you should have thought of yourself yet can’t even DO with any success.
Am I the only one who tries the Pinterest ideas only to end up with the pumpkin that split in half while sticking gold Nailheads down the creases? Or tried to paint a frame an amazing color of teal to have the paint drip down the frame and then have to wash your hair ten times to get out the paint that floated through the breeze right into the “beach waves” hairdo you worked so hard on that in reality looked like you forgot to use a brush?
Am I the only one who has rushed out to Michael’s to get Modge Podge only to get home and have your creation rip in a million pieces because you obviously used too much, or wiped too hard or spread it too fast?
Don’t even get me started on the “Chalkboard Paint” debacle. Am I the only person that can’t get that stuff to work right? I must be since the web is full of pictures of ENTIRE WALLS painted with the stuff (and beautifully at that). We won’t even talk about the “Hand Lettering” which you are expected to perfect before using said chalkboard.
What about the lunchbox issue? As if I wasn’t having a hard enough time just throwing a lunch together, now it has to be a Bento – whatever that means! I should get special containers with special cutlery and make all food items into special shapes; otherwise my child will apparently not feel special. He will probably need therapy some day due to my lack of culinary Bento Boxing – if that’s even a word. I suspect that if I were to attempt these amazing lunch feats, I would need the therapy.
I am fairly certain that I am indeed the only one who does not grow her own food, have chickens with the cutest coops ever, make her own bread with grain she grew and milled herself. I am pretty sure I am the last person on earth who doesn’t buy all organic everything. I don’t make my own cleaning products and yes, I still use Windex like a fiend!
At this point, I do not have even one thing that I have handcrafted from an old pallet. I have yet to build a piece of furniture myself and I have not incorporated “barn doors” into my home yet. I am not saying I don’t want to – it just hasn’t happened.
Am I the only one who doesn’t care two hoots about professionally applied eye make up? Indeed, I would prefer to never wear any make-up at all!
Even as a homeschooling mom, I am at the bottom of the heap. Some of these awesome moms apparently never sleep because they homeschool many children on many grade levels while writing their own curriculum, authoring their own books and blogs, while successfully mastering everything Pinterest!
I don’t make my own soap or my own deodorant and I don’t want to. I have no desire to make my own candles either.
I do recycle. I hope that redeems my shortcomings on some minuscule level. I don’t always up cycle my empty mayo jars though, so I am now back to square one.
Comparison is the thief of joy. I have read it. I believe it. I have lived it.
I know that I am not the only one who can’t manage to be perfect. Perfection is indeed impossible.
I am thankful that most days I don’t concern myself with any of the numerous things I don’t measure up to. As a woman, it is not easy to do that. It has come with age (and of course that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).
I hope you won’t allow your joy to be ripped away by what the world wants you to believe. You are a child of the One True King. You have been blessed with gifts He gave you. Find your gifts, develop them, use them to bless others and in doing so, you will be the best at being you.
I will just continue admiring the awesome ideas everyone else has and pray they will want to come bestow their awesomeness on me!
I was keeping my little two-year-old grandson, Collier, while his sister (Emmy) was in the hospital having surgery. He taught me a few things…
1. Interestingly enough, the guest room bed is much more comfortable than my own (note taken).
2. Hiding under a table while screaming to the top of your lungs is sometimes called for and you will feel refreshed and renewed when you finally come out.
3. Choc-ey milk is the answer to all of life’s problems (such as missing mommy)!
4. Running around in your undies (or diaper in this case) is preferable to the confines of clothing and doggie kisses are a must just to give you a giggle.
5. When necessary, go incognito.
6. If tired, go for a nice ride in the car, take a little light reading along, then take a nap while someone drives you around and start the day over feeling rested.
7. Play to your hearts content with no concern for messes or clean up.
8. Sleep with every toy and stuffed animal in the house cuddled in nice and close.
9. Eat snacks galore with not a worry for calories or cavities.
10. Take a nap at the request of others (or in this case, just fall asleep while sitting up and while eating said snack).
It is amazing the little things you can pickup from a knowledgable two year old!
“Do you know my name?”
It was the question that started it all – the question that wouldn’t let my heart rest. It was the question that was asked of me in Uganda, but followed me home to Georgia like a heart attachment I didn’t know what to do with.
I pondered it. I cried over it. I lost sleep thinking about it as it gripped little parts of my brain that refused sleep until the matter was settled. I questioned its power over me.
As I began preparing for my next trip to Uganda, that question, that girl – was still swirling around my life. I began to realize that God was telling me to pull aside the girls at this ministry and do a little devotional with them.
Well, what do I know about doing a devotional with a group of teenage girls? Nothing! Therefore, I commenced trying to convince God (right) that that would not work given the fact that I had no real experience with such as He was telling me to do.
There was no rest, no comfort – no getting out of it!
Several nights before I was to leave, I had a girl’s night with my friend. I tearfully told her my story of Swabula. I shared with her my broken heart and then how I believed God intended for me to share something with not only her, but also the other teen girls in that home. I whined about how I had no idea how to do that – what to say.
Then, it happened…
She said, “Faith, the lesson is already there. He has given you the answer right there in the question!”
Yes, she was right (she often is). I may have struggled with her name, just as I am sure others have before me….but, God knows her name!
BA-bam! Right there! It was right there every sleepless night, every tear that fell from my eyes carried with it the answer – the truth He wanted me to share.
God knows your name!
My sweet friend not only helped me see what was there all along, but she even wrote the lesson for me – from scratch. She didn’t just copy one from somewhere. She created it for me – for Swabula and the other girls. She loved on me and the girls in Uganda by doing something she does so well. I love her for that!
I took that devotional/lesson with me to Africa. I, along with my female team members took these girls aside and shared this sweet truth – I may not know your name, other people may not know your name…oh but girlfriend, He knows. He created you. Your name is engraved in the palm of His hand. The One Who needs to know …He knows.
I was blessed to have a wonderful man donate Bibles for me to give the girls (and many others), so we gave them The Word as we finished up. Beautiful!
I spilled the tears that had been dripping for months – I brought them back to Africa and spilled them at the very place where they first welled up inside me – in front of the very girl who brought them to my eyes to begin with.
Her name is Swabula!
The sweat was dripping, the red dirt sticking to every part of me. Seemingly hundreds of hands touching some piece of me, my fingers and fingernails, my wrist for vein examination, the elbows for the loose skin that rests there when the arm is not bent, the hair from every angle imaginable and every sort of styling one could think of. The glasses that rest on my head in case I actually need to see something close and the freckles on my face. This is of course not even including the three children who are just balancing on my lap.
Actual suffocation seemed a very feasible possibility.
I got up to take some pictures of the team with the children (and yes to gain a moment of oxygen).
That’s when it happened.
Walking very determined and seemingly self assured – we came face to face. She looked me in the eye and said, “Do you know my name?” I thought through the gazillion names I had heard that day and all the days before and hard as I tried, I couldn’t answer with a yes. I told her that I didn’t know her name. She answered by telling me, “My name is Swabula.” I answered with something I can’t recall – just the normal, “ah yes, I remember now!”
Little did I know then that my Father in Heaven would use this girl to reach into my heart and etch her name there.
The day continues as our team sings for them and they sing for us and the playing commences. Again, the swarming littles are hanging on parts I didn’t even know existed.
Then she comes to me again. “Do you know my name?” I am ashamed to say that I still could not pull it out of any reserves that might be somewhere in my head. She told me again, “My name is Swabula!” Yes, yes – I do remember that now…
The look in her eyes is a look I will not forget. Sadness? Disappointment? Knowing?
This continues throughout that day and then the next. I certainly began to remember her name but unfortunately butchered the pronunciation time and again.
Over and over – her looking me in the eye and asking if I know her name. The eyes boring right into my soul, questioning, wanting the truth and knowing the truth.
I was broken by this young girl who just wanted me to know her name when I saw her. She wanted to be seen, to be recognizable, to be important, to be loved and treasured.
Why me? I can’t say from a human perspective. However, she changed something in me. Her words “Do you know my name?” settled into a dusty corner of my heart that was spiritually reawakened.
My Redeemer had a plan to use a beautiful fifteen-year-old African girl to open my eyes and heart to more beauty and meaning than I had allowed to myself to see.
When I left Swabula, I did not forget her name. Her name is engraved there in that little corner that now is wide open with new possibility and new meaning. It’s not only her name, but also the names of others and more to come.
God had a glorious purpose for putting Swabula in my path and for giving her the courage to look me in the eye and challenge me.
This story continues when I get home to America, to my little corner of the world. It continued through this recent trip back to Africa.
I will share that in part two…
Edit: I meant to post this before I left on this recent mission trip. I am, in fact, in America right. This. Minute. I cant wait to fill you in on part two!
My thoughts are thousands of miles away as I ride bouncing and even catching air on those red dirt African roads.
Sweaty, stinky and gloriously happy – I think of my sweet husband, my children and grandchildren and long for them to be here with me. I imagine them seeing the sights I see and loving these people I have come to love – my Africa family. I laugh to myself when I think of certain ones (not naming) using the squatty potties!
I wonder what they would think if they could see me here… the last bath many days past and dirt covering every part of me. Me, the one who despises having dirty hands and touching dirty or sticky things.
Would they see the dirt?
Or, would they see my heart?
Would they recognize me? Would they say, “Yes, this is how she loves at home too?”
Would they know how I miss them when I am gone? Even when I am smiling, laughing and loving others? Would they see themselves in those smiles, in those little kisses, in the medicine dispensing, bible teaching and song singing?
Would they know that every second of my life, every breath I take is full of love overflowing for them?
Have I shown them? Have I told them? Would they see me and know that I can love others because of the love I have for them. Would they know they are the catalyst for the love extension? Would they know how blessed I feel that my Father has allowed me to be their wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, aunt, sister and friend?
If they could see my lap overflowing with littles and know the joy in my heart, would they know I was thinking of them? If they would see me playing games and dancing silly, would they laugh and know I am thinking about how they make fun of my goofy dancing? Would they know while I am dancing with others, I am seeing myself dancing in the kitchen holding them in my arms?
Seven hours ahead in the day and I am thinking of them sleeping, eating, working and playing. Always thinking of them, praying for them, loving them, and thanking God for them.
The sun sets slowly behind beautiful African hills and I smile knowing my loved ones will see that same sun and will stand under the same moon coming.
Half a world away, yet my heart is full for the wonderful, crazy, imperfect, beautiful and amazing family He has seen fit to bless me with…
I pray they know!
There’s the hard. There is always the hard. Just when you think the hard will win and your feet are dragging with the full weight of it all…
You look up! You speak His name. The burden is lifted and hope prevails.
That has been me the last day or so. People do or say hurtful things…weight. You feel inadequate for the task at hand…weight. You carry burdens for those you love more than life itself…weight.
The clouds come, but that glorious moment when the Light is revealed, when you let the Light fill you, when you put all of that unbearable, painful, unnecessary weight at the foot of the Cross – joy and beauty fill the soul. And you wonder why you allowed yourself to get pulled into that pit to begin with. But, you can’t think of that now, lest you end up right back where you started.
Basking in the glow of His magnificent glory and grace is the perfect place to be. It’s where He wants us to be.
Tears streaming and heart pounding – filling up with what was available to me all along. Now dancing in worship with abandon through the kitchen and out onto the porch, then back to the liquid flowing from the eyes.
It has been an emotional day.
I poured my heart out to my dear friend and she saw what I couldn’t see – that God had already placed in me the answers to the questions I was dealing with. He placed the answers there before there was a question! He planted the seeds months ago for what He wanted me to do now.
I cried to have it revealed to me.
Then this sweet friend fulfilled what was surely meant to be her part in the plan.
I cried to have such a wonderful friend.
Then some new information came to me about a young man in Uganda who I love dearly. There is a need. Could I fill that need?
Through God’s people the need will be filled.
I cried to see God’s people answer His call.
Then, there was a shout out about another urgent need in Kenya. Could I help?
I cried because I was able to answer the call in a small way. Then again, I cried when I saw the need was answered above and beyond what they needed within three hours of the need being posted!
Then to see this post: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/06/why-you-are-where-you-are-for-such-a-time-as-this/
Well, the eyes filled up and overflowed yet again.
Gratitude. I am overflowing with gratitude.
…Freshly cut and chewed while walking down a well worn path in Kenya with a group of beautiful, giggling children. There is nothing like it.
Then you come across this sign as you are approaching the river and you say out loud, “Oh, I hope we see one,” and then you notice the look of unbelief on the faces of the children. When I explain that I only want to take a picture of it, they seem to be a bit more understanding, although not completely.
The trees took my breath away!
We truly enjoyed our excursions with the children in the lead!
We also visited another children’s home a short distance away. The lady who runs it is precious and of course the children are adorable. They sang for us and quoted scripture for us. The little boys are typical of boys the world over and were creating a city in the dirt! It was quite good.
Later in our Kenya journey, we visited another children’s home where the girls quizzed me with all they had on Bible information. I was amazed at all they knew and they were pleasantly surprised when I was able to answer them. They said, “Wow, you study your bible!” I was secretly sweating it out – they were tough!
Afterword they were beside themselves to give me a tour of their garden. It was lovely and I was very impressed. They work it themselves and they were very proud of the results.
Unfortunately, on the last night in Kenya, I became sick during the night. It was a rough, long night. The worst was knowing that when everyone woke up it would be a travel day – I was going to have to travel while sick (stomach stuff). I took everything in my medicine bag that might help and prayed through the night.
No pic of that! You are most welcome!
It was a rough travel day. First, we took a bus to the airport. This was a few hours, which seemed like days (I was so nauseated). I will just say that I put a plastic bag to good use (my poor team). I was quite embarrassed, but what can you do?
Our guide kept telling me that he would pull over if was gonna “throw!” Sometimes there is no time for that, hence the plastic bag!
By the time we got to the airport, I was beginning to feel some better, just weak. My team members were so awesome. They carried my bags and helped anyway they could. I am forever indebted to them for the love and care they showed me.
Kenya and her people were just wonderful.
Now, off to Uganda…
We have missionary friends who are serving in Africa – At.This.Very.Moment. They left all the comforts of home to serve the “least of these” in Uganda. They are a beautiful (inside and out) family sold out to Christ. Now, they have been led to add to their precious family through adoption. They are adopting a precious little boy with special needs – age 3 and an adorable baby girl – age 8 months.
I cant’ tell you their names or their full story – YET! They have been advised to keep it off of the Internet and they can’t do this themselves because the agency might pull the adoption if any information appears. Once they have these sweet ones in their home – I will let THEM give you the full story! It is a beautiful, redemptive, amazing, teary-eyed kinda story!!!
Right now, they are in need! They are missionaries who live on donations as it is. We need to help them raise $23,500.00 ASAP! Please consider helping them bring those children into their loving family and out of the orphanage!
You can go to my blog – faithfulommy.com and click the donate button. Any amount is helpful – right now they have nothing! Please consider $10, $50, $100, $500 or more – whatever amount the Lord leads you.
EDIT: Please donate $10 (more if you like) and share with all of your FB friends, instagram friends, twitter ,church, etc. Together we can make a difference in the lives of two orphans! Won’t you join us?
You will want to be a part of this beautiful story!
I promise that pictures and the story (as told by them) will be forthcoming. The sooner we get the funds raised, the sooner those pictures will be up! I have had the privilege of meeting these little ones and they are a perfect fit with this amazing family!
Please feel free to share this – the more people who know about it the better. We can join together to get those babies with their forever family!
As we pulled in to the orphanage we were greeted with beautiful sounds of joy from children ranging in age from 4 to 19. There is no way you can see that excitement on their faces and not feel your own joy reawakened within you.
Part of the greeting committee!
You squeeze yourself through the bus door because there are little hands grabbing for yours. It’s appears to be a first come first serve sort of situation, until you realize they can and will grab any part of your anatomy and/or clothing. There are ten fingers, which equals ten children and then the two arms, which equates to ever how many are tall enough to reach up to the top.
Walking can prove to be a challenge… One worth figuring out.
They are all quite eager to show us their home and ours for the next four nights.
Having never been to Kenya, let alone this orphanage, I really had no expectations, no preconceived ideas. Drawing from knowledge of orphanages I had visited in the past in other countries, I was taken by surprise at how nice this one looked and was taken care of. They take pride in their facility and keep the compound clean at all times.
Probably a better pic - but...
We immediately meet up with the “mayor” of the whole place. He is all of about four years old and in complete charge of everything that goes on. The other kids seem to understand and accept this with an amazing amount of grace. His name is Shem and he is a handful. Short, bossy, adorable with a capital A, in control and bug wrangler extraordinaire. He’s got this figured out – all of it!
Shem - the mayor!
To say these kids are wonderful is an understatement. They have such good manners and they welcome us into their home and into their lives with smiles and giggles.
I meet a young Evelyn right away and we connect very easily. I tell about my grandmother named Evelyn and my granddaughter named Evelyn. She may have been a little overwhelmed by my excitement about names.
Evlyn - her spelling is not the same as ours.
The children proudly showed us their gardens and they were happy to tell us about everything they worked so hard to grow.
Growing yummo bananas!
They took us to their awesome playground that my sweet friends Diana and Brett Perkey (along with others) built for them! It was wonderful and was such a pleasure to see knowing how hard the Perkey’s worked to raise the funds for it and then of course the down and dirty job of constructing it!
There is more to this playground - but sadly cant' find the pic right now!
We did a VBS lesson with the kids and then they designed their crowns (because they are children of the King). They had a great time with those crowns. Some of them were very intricate and they were all beautiful and worn throughout the day.
Hello! My name is Child of The ONE True KING!
We went on a “nature walk” to see the cliffs and surrounding area. It was such a beautiful walk. I kept saying “oh my, how beautiful” and the kids just giggled at me.
One thing this place gets right is worship time. They have worship every morning at 7:00. Yep, that’s early. I will never hear another bell ringing that I don’t think of the worship bell ringing in the children to the worship center. There is something special about sitting there preparing to worship and then have a little one come sit next to you and grab your hand. Sweet!
Of course, there is always the possibility that a little boy comes to sit next to you and proudly displays his ginormous beetle while you try not to shriek and run away crying like the girl you are! Then he drops the bug (he told me that it was not a bug, but a beetle) onto your lap! True story – but you live through it and manage to keep your primal screams fairly quiet.
There is always the possibility that you forgot your Bible (it was early, don’t judge) and a teenager reaches across the chairs to give you his. Why yes, I am crying as I write this!
It was a joy and an honor to worship with the children (and adults) of Fiwagoh!
re·al adjective \ˈrē(-ə)l\
a : not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory : genuine; also : being precisely what the name implies
At the ripe old age of three, I have come to realize that I am indeed smarter than most adults. Sorry, it’s true.
I have evidence to back it up people. I have had some time on my hands lately and to be honest, I’ve been eavesdropping a bit.
Yep, all the while you people thought I was sleeping or out of it or whatever – I was listening to every.word.you.said!
The one topic I think we need to discuss is a very simple word most people don’t seem to understand -real.
I can’t help but wonder what y’all think it means. That is still a little unclear to me. I do know you don’t have a clue to its actual meaning. That, my friend is crystal clear.
I won’t name names since the list would be too long and most of these folks are strangers anyway.
People are always asking about my “real” mom. This is so bizarre to me since they are actually speaking to my “real” mom. It’s almost like an out of body experience when they talk like this. “Where is her “real” mom? Do you know her “real” mom?” Weird right?
I mean they are standing right in front of her (and me) and asking that stupid question. My mom is always nice about it, but we both know she would love to pinch their heads off!
I just want to clarify a few things for you.
My mom puts me to bed every night and wakes me every morning.
My mom holds and kisses me every single day.
My mom knows my body inside and out.
My mom knows what my blood counts are at any.given.moment.
She knows what they should be too.
My mom knows there will be trouble if the nurses can’t get a good stick the first time and who will be coming if they even think about trying it a second time!
My mom knows the taste of my kisses and the saltiness of my tears.
My mom knows my temperature is whacky and keeps a close check on it.
My mom knows my tickle spot.
She also knows how to handle me when I’m being a stinker (it’s rare)!
My mom knows all of my medications, the dosages and what time to give them to me.
She knows I like purple Popsicles!
My mom knows I like ballet (and how adorable I look in that tutu).
She knows how much I love all of my brothers, my sister and my daddy.
My mom knows all too well how much I love “Dora The Explorer”.
My mom knows to cover my eyes when I have a breathing treatment.
She also knows to tell me everything the doctors or nurses are doing to me.
My mommy never left my side when I was so sick, although many people said she should. While she understood her own need for rest, she knew my needs were greater at that time. While she knew she had other kids at home (and ached for them), she knew I needed her the most at that time. She slept in the bed with me and whispered “I love you” gently into my ears. While she knew I was being cared for by the best teams of doctors and nurses ever, she knew she was my advocate, my voice and she stood her ground to be with me. Truth be told, things were touch and go there for awhile and she refused to allow me to slip away without her next to me.
She is my mommy!
She is my REAL mommy.
She is my only mommy.
She is the best mommy.
Blood type, skin color, hair color and the type of cookies I like – (genetics and such) don’t make much difference when you factor in love.
She is very real. You could touch her yourself to make sure, but I would not advise it. She is genuine and authentic, not imagined or artificial.
She is a force to be reckoned with if you dare to mess with any of her babies. I’ve seen her in action – be warned, she is a mama bear!
Next time it crosses your mind to ask about my “real” mother – look very closely and you will see, there is none more real than the woman next to me.