I spoke to a friend tonight who is deeply hurting over the words that someone continues to speak about her. She is lost and wants to give up. She cannot escape the words. Telling the person to be quiet does not help. Trying to block out the words doesn’t help.

She says she wants to quit. She wonders if she should because maybe that would let this person have victory in her failure. Perhaps she will get some quietude, some peace.

How can I speak life here?

We talked about boundaries, but in a small space with four people crammed into a house, it is difficult to have personal space. And it seems to provoke more insults. Words like “lazy” are sharp as a knife. It is emotional and spiritual warfare.

How can I promote peace here?

She is sorrowful because the person hurting her is provoking her to anger. She yells back and then feels terrible for doing so. She fights against the words.  Words that she says make her feel like “shit” the rest of the day. It’s an ugly, horrible word. Yet, it depicts the filth of what is going on behind closed doors. She is smeared with the verbal abuse, and it covers her vision.

How can I promote joy here?

In the here and now, there are no words to speak. I remind her that she is loved. I tell her that if I was with her, I would hug her.

I long for her to see how deeply she is loved and cared for, and not just by me. Rather, by our God who is Healer.

I lean into 1 Samuel 16:7 “…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I draw from God’s living waters and reflect on Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

I think on Romans 8:15 in which we cry out “Abba!” or “Father!” and Romans 8:26-27 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit”

A Reminder of Who You Are

I don’t know why you are going through what you are, but I know who you are. You are a child of the Most High God!
You are loved by God, no matter what.

I know that you are feeling broken. Let me remind you that God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

I know that you feel alone, but God is with you.  Do not be dismayed. Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

And when you cannot pray, cry out Jesus or Abba, because He hears and answers your prayers.

I would encourage you to visit this link: http://www.webministries.info/papers/whoiamin.htm

If you stumbled on this page and don’t know Jesus Christ…

Let me just encourage you today that if you have stumbled on this page, and you read this because you are lonely and hurting, I am incredibly sorry for the pain that you are going through.

I cannot promise you riches, but He can promise you treasures in Heaven. I cannot promise a life without struggle, but God can show you where there is hope and peace. I cannot promise you a longer life, but I know that God can give you everlasting life. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. He is the same God today as the God who created the Heavens, who healed the blind and cast out demons. He is the same God today as the God who turned water into wine, and who demonstrates His love through forgiveness of sins.

If you don’t know Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, your Savior, then I encourage you to learn more here: http://www.needhim.org/

You are loved, and while you may feel lost, God has found you right where you are. He will not leave you. He will not abandon you. He will renew your strength. He will give you a new song. He heals the brokenhearted. He hears your cries. You are part of something bigger and He has big, big plans for you! Plans for good and not for harm.

Red. It’s the color of Valentine’s Day hearts. It’s also the color of the heart positioned on Rigoberto’s packet. It means that he has been waiting more than 6 months for a sponsor. 335 days as of this date.

Red is also the color of this little boy’s shock of hair. It sets him apart from so many children in Mexico. In some cases, red hair is a sign of malnutrition because it means the body isn’t healthy. There aren’t enough nutrients in his or her body, so hair becomes brittle and lacks color.

http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/child-biography.htm?needKey=ME9130191

Red can be the color of marbles or other schoolyard balls that he likes to play with at the Compassion Center and at his school.

Red are the A’s, B’s, and C’s that he gets on his homework at school. He does well in school. Not above and not below, but average grades. This community needs further support in employment opportunities, public services, and educational motivation for its children.

Red is the color of the adobe walls that frame the house where he lives with his mom and dad. The floors are cement and the roof is tile. A family in this area typically makes $102 per month. That’s an average of $3 a day. His dad is a farmer. Most people in this village have no employment opportunities at all.

Red is the color of Jesus’ words in Rigoberto’s Bible. Rigoberto goes to Bible classes through Compassion’s center. He learns about the love of Jesus. He learns about the words that Jesus spoke about children. He is taught by loving staff members at the Compassion center who know his name.

Red. It will be a red-letter day on the day he finds out he has a sponsor.

 

 

 

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Just over a week ago, I was standing on the top of a building. I tried to take it in. Each day felt like a thousand new experiences as I met wonderful people, as I tried to absorb what living in Mexico is like.

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Omar explained that if you are dark-skinned, you experience racism, abuse, and isolation. Yes, even in Mexico where the majority of people are the same complexion.

Omar went on to say that if one is indigenous, that the treatment becomes worse. You are “less-than.” 

For children, it is worse. For girls, even much more-so.

4 million in Chiapas state live below the poverty-line. Many of these children are not going to school. Instead, they work alongside their families trying to scrape by. They make bricks. They pick coffee beans. Some are indentured servants – slaves – trying to work off the debt of something like 400-600 dollars. They make such meager earnings that they will never be able to repay the loan, plus interest.

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They pick coffee beans like this one in the photo. They roast it and sell it.

But it wouldn’t be sold at a “fair trade” value because these are children. These are the poorest of the poor that try to exist in a world that has been unfair for years and years.

Because they are indigenous. Because they are not part of the “elite” in Mexico.

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This 11-year-old boy and I made friends from the start. He attends a Compassion Child Development Center known as Sc’uxul yo’tan Cristo Student Center (ME-983). I thought his name was Ryan, but he was all smiles.

He lives in a jungle community and he helps his father pick coffee beans. I am not saying that Ryan is some sort of indentured servant, nor is his father. He attends school. He also attends the Compassion program at least 6-8 hours per week. Most of the adults in the area work on plantations – agriculture such as corn, coffee beans, plantains, and other fruits or vegetables that can be grown in this region. They make around $128 per month based on what they are able to bring in. If there is a drought, they make nothing. If someone is sick, they make nothing.

Compassion is working in the community to ensure that the children learn about Jesus and have a hope for their future. They provide children with Bible classes, medical checkups, hygiene and health education, sports, community service opportunities, home visits, school supplies (such as uniforms or shoes as well as notebooks and pens and fees for books), tutoring and homework supervision, reading workshops, and they celebrate with the children – birthdays, and academic reinforcement.

This isn’t a “Compassion” program but what the church is doing in the community. It is local believers, local church workers who work with these children. They have grown up in the area. They know these children by name. They know their parents, their siblings, and their home situations. They provide counseling for the parents and guardians of the children.

So, I see a lot of good being done in this community and others like it.

I just continue to wonder about “fair trade” and what it all means. Are these organizations that arrange “fair trade” really helping in communities like this? Communities where kids are working after school so that their families can eat? 

For some reason, the arrangement of fair trade is suddenly bothering me. I hear people in my circle say “I only buy fair trade.”  And to me, it sounds snooty. It reminds me that we can’t really know all of the situations.

Are “fair trade” organizations truly helping? Or are they just creating a system that throws some impoverished communities into deeper desperation?

I don’t have the answers. From what I read about fair trade, I do believe that they are beneficial. Organizations like FairTrade USA and Buy Well Coffee are amongst some of the companies I have bought from in the past.

I tried to explain this to a coworker who looked at me as though I had gone mad. Of course fair trade is fair!

Yet, when I look into the face of the 11-year-old who chased me around/I chased around the trees in his father’s farm, who I picked coffee beans with, and smiled, I also wondered if we all start purchasing from these ‘fair trade” places, if we are pushing them right out of the business world.

I just worry, I suppose.

And yet, if God has his eye on the sparrow, then His eyes are lovingly watching over this community.

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3sYBeqGpZE

While we were in Mexico, we had some great worship songs. But what we didn’t count on is how difficult it might be to translate some of them or to teach some of them.

I heard one of the teachers singing Alabare and was so excited. I knew the chorus from singing it when I was in Peru with the Kings, CC, David and Janet M.

So, I asked them to sing it and I tried to sing along. I really like this song and resolved to try to learn it much better. It really helped to have a video AND to know what the words mean.

The chorus is really catchy and pretty easy to remember.
Alabaré Alabaré
Alabaré Alabaré
Alabaré a mi Señor x2

(Praise, Praise, Praise, Praise, Praise the Lord)

Juan vio el numero
De los redimidos
Y todos alababan
Al Señor
Unos Cantaban
Otros Oraban
Y todos alababan
Al Señor

(John saw the number of the redeemed
And all praised the Lord
Some sang, others prayed and all praised the Lord)

[chorus]

Todos Unidos
Alegres Cantamos
Glorias Y alabanzas
Al Señor
Gloria al Padre
Gloria al Hijo
Y Gloria al Espiritu de Amor
[chorus]

(All united
Singing Joy
Glory and Praises
to the Lord
Glory to the Father
Glory to the Son
And Glory to the Spirit of Love)

Oh and if you want more songs – we had such fun with
Yo Tengo Gozo (I’ve got the Joy) and going back and forth with English and Spanish of Jesus Loves Me

One of the many reasons that I love going on sponsor trips is because of the awesome people I will meet. They live all over the United States (two fabulous Canadians too!) and they have a desire to see poverty ended in Jesus’ name

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First Row: Janet, Abbey, Jordy & her mom, Susan, Rebecca, and Irma (Compassion Mexico staff)

Second Row: Why do I not know these first two Compassion workers’ names? With the excited look Angelica “Angie” (Compassion Mexico staff), Evonne, Susana, Dannette, Shyann, Beth (me), Judy, Mike, Sharon(looking over his shoulder) and Marla is in green.

Back Row: Paul, James (peeking out with a white brimmed hat), Nancy (just behind Angie), Andy, Brandon, Amy, Jeff, Ken, Rick, Gayle (hiding behind Judy) David, Kip, Yvonne (peeking out between Sharon and Susan), Susan (red shirt), and Matt.

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Angie is going to introduce me to her single brother. Ooh-lala! We’re going to be more than sisters in Christ, and then I can live in Mexico and be her sister-in-law as well!

Janet is from New Mexico and what an adventurous spirit. She decided to stand the whole way when rode on the cattle trucks. What I love about her is her gentle and humorous spirit. She noticed I was out of sorts and just reminded me to be gracious and walk away. I did and realized that I was just a little over-tired.

Abbey and I were roommates, and not to mention her great hat, she has a passion to change the world! Her love for Alexia, her sponsored daughter was awesome, especially that she wanted to do something special for her just a few days before her 16th birthday. They got a cake!

I was SO excited about Mike and Judy being there. When I first did a Compassion sponsor tour, Sean Dana was my leader and Judy and Mike were in my family group. Mike is so funny and such a hoot! Judy is a great photographer. Both of them love children and their love for life and laughter is infectious. I was sandwiched between Mike and Judy and Susan and Jordy on the flights because of our last names. That was possibly the best remedy you could have given me to avoid any anxiety about turbulence. Not long ago (September, 2013) I had what I think was a panic attack that left me wrecked for days. The jolt of the plane that I was on headed from my hometown to Chicago left me crying and shaking uncontrollably – and it wasn’t even a bad case of turbulence.  Hence, I was a little nervous to be flying again and was hoping that the long days and roller coaster of emotions wouldn’t lead to another unexpected bout of fear and trepidation.

Jordy & her mom, Susan are fabulous and also the two that were of Canada. I was so glad that our names were so close in the alphabet because we were seat partners for the four flights we were on – I just wanted to soak up the accent). Personally I love the way that the name of “Jesus” is said with a Canadian accent. How is it different? I don’t know. There is just a neat emphasis on “us” that I cannot explain. People from Michigan and Minnesota also seem to say it the same way. I was so impressed with Susan’s love for her husband and her children and the way she encouraged Jordy to take a trip to Europe. And Jordy’s beautiful heart. What more can I say but that they were visiting two sponsored children. Susan also made sure that I got a piece of chicken and we traded jello. She didn’t like lime. I don’t like orange. It was a perfect match!

Rebecca is an introvert and we happily got along right from the start. Her love for zoos amazed me, but her desire to play with the kids on our trip was even better. She had them laughing and giggling and squealing within seconds of arriving. It’s the language of love. She is the blurred and smiling flash of blue.

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Susana and I had the pleasure of pairing up together to observe the 9-11 year- olds do a lesson on characteristics (socio-emotional). She is from Hawaii and I am sure that I will get invited to her house one day. She also speaks fluent Spanish and I am just in awe – what a great friend! I learned a lot about the pro bowl from her as well.

Dannette is a writer and Andy does a lot of Compassion training, so I actually had the privilege of knowing them prior to our trip as they are advocates in the Northwest. I always love seeing the way married couples interact with one another and it tickles my heart when you see such evidence of what real life must be like for them. Dannette saving a seat for Andy. Andy’s face lighting up when he mentions Dannette. And both of them draw kids to them like nothing else. Dannette is a great writer and has a knack for telling a story. Both of them attract children and make them feel safe. One little boy just stood and held Andy’s hand. Andy said he had gotten lost from the rest of his age group, but I think the little boy found exactly what he needed that afternoon.

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Yvonne is a rocking Compassion advocate. She is Christ-centered, focused on encouraging others in Christ’s love, beautiful, confident and led worship for our last day when we hosted a Vacation Bible School. Paul and Evonne’s voices carried as well, and I was just glad to be with all of them as we tried to get our translator, David, to help us with a butterfly song. The kids laughed and David, our translator who was soon to celebrate his 75th birthday, giggled every time he got to the part about the fish tail and giggling with glee. What you have to know about David is that he was burglar who came to Christ at the age of 40 and then started a missions group to the indigenous tribes of Mexico in the south.

Brandon & Amy’s room was next door when we were in Palenque. We got out the hammocks, walked down by the pond near our room, enjoyed the beauty of flowers, birds, and a plantain tree (like bananas but definitely not bananas). I can’t say enough about the way this couple seeks out God, the way that they are real people who ask deep questions. Brandon came up to me to see if all was okay – it was the day after my child-visit day and I was wrecked. Amy and I sat by the pool in Palenque and discussed the disparity between what we had and what children in countries like Mexico did not. And poverty just sucks out the hope. It makes you wish you had no soul. She got me thinking about that all week and even now.

What can you do when you see the despair of a child with no hope? When you witness children who work as brick-makers to pay off a father or even a grandfather’s debt (worth maybe $100) instead of going to school? What can you do when people are shoved to the farthest regions of a country and treated as garbage because they have dark skin, are indigenous, are children, are girls? How do you deal with that when you live in a place where you have  SO MUCH MORE 

EVERYTHING

you could ever need?

The opposite of poverty is… enough.

But how is it enough not to do more?

How is it doing enough when you can’t explain it to others?

How do you deal with the great divide separating the world of enough (too much at times) and the world of poverty?

These people are awesome because God created them. They have all brought questions to mind that make me wrestle with myself and the world in which I live.

I’ll end this as a “Part 1″

But I just want you to know that a Compassion sponsor trip changed my life.

And even the fourth one that I have now been on makes me so admire the people

And makes me want to draw even nearer to God who loves me.

Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.

aarongloy.com – 5 Really Bad Reasons To Leave Your Church.

As someone currently looking for a church home, I would encourage everyone to read this!
I also offer 10 good reasons (I think) people should stay in the church. At least, this is my perspective.

10 Really Good Reasons to Stay in Church:

  1. You can worship God freely. One of my church homes was a tiny Methodist church that had an organ and a hymnal. At first, I hated it, but I loved the people more – in a time where I felt desperate and alone, they joined me to do something I never expected – they gave me take-home meals for my mom (who was in the hospital) and my dad who was by her side on a Thanksgiving in 2008.  And because I loved the people and because we were all there to worship God, I came to love that hymnal, the organ, and the fact that no one ever commented on my poor singing ability. I was free to worship. The heart of worship isn’t in the quality of the music or even in the style – it is in the ability to love the Lord your God with others and to praise Him and give Him the glory.
  2. You can love and worship God freely.  Yes, I said this already. You may not know this, but in at least 50 countries around the world, most people cannot attend church without being watched by the government or interrupted by radical groups. In Iran, switching one’s faith from Muslim to Christianity can result in the death penalty. Witnessing to others can get you life in prison. Being able to worship God in a church of your choice is a great privilege.
  3. The children. Children need caring and loving adults who are examples of what Christ is doing in the world. Whether you are serving in the children’s ministry or not, you are part of their network of people that make church what it should be. Knowing their names, asking them what they want to be when they grow up, and encouraging them when they remember the books of the Bible or have memorized a Bible verse is important. They need to know that more than their parents do the church thing. They need to see teenagers, young adults, working adults, stay-at-home adults, men and women, young and old be a part of the church.
  4. Your neighbors. “Love your neighbor as yourself” – if you have a church that you can invite your neighbor to attend, you should stay in that church. This isn’t just your next-door neighbor, but perhaps a coworker, a family member, or someone that you really care about and see in the community. Most people worry about going into a place where they don’t know anyone. Inviting them to go with you and being there for them when they show up is a good way to minister to others.
  5. Your pastor and ministry team. They have a heart to serve the people of the church. If something isn’t going right, it may be a good talking point and perhaps an area of reconciliation. Perhaps it is you. Perhaps it is them, but it could be a way to better understand what is happening in the church as a whole. It could also be an area that you begin to pray over them, who face far more difficulties than you might expect.
  6. The cookies. I’m really just kidding, but part of many services is a time of after-church snacks and fellowship. It is a time to ask how others are doing and do your part to meet any prayer needs. Go deeper than “how’s the weather” and ask “How are things at home?: Maybe you find out that someone has cancer and needs a ride to chemotherapy treatment. Maybe a new mom has another toddler or two and she could really use some help.  Or, if you don’t have cookies after service, maybe you can invite someone out to lunch at a nearby restaurant or to your home. Hospitality goes a long way.
  7. Growth. Going to church has a way of helping you to “grow up,” in spiritual things. It waters your soul. The teaching can get to your heart or confirm what God is already saying. If you don’t have anywhere else to be, be careful not to try to transplant yourself too fast. As it says in Ezekiel 17:10 “But when the vine is transplanted, will it thrive? No, it will wither away when the east wind blows against it. It will die in the same good soil where it had grown so well.”
  8. Discipline. I really like sleep. I dislike getting out of bed, even if it is somewhere I know I will enjoy once I get there.  However, going to church is a discipline that helps shape and mold us into the people that God wants us to be. It puts me around others that challenge me to be better and challenge me to know more about the world. I grow up a little more each time I go to church service. The discipline is a strengthening of my mind – spiritual and emotional.
  9. Freebies. You think I’m kidding but do you know all the great stuff you can get at church? Hugs. Prayers. Encouragement. Smiles. Friendship. Advice. Help.  And even a free book, a CD, pen, Bible, or mug! Today, the pastor gave me a free devotional. It is something that I will use. Churches often have a lot of resources to help its members and visitors grow. If you want to know more about prayer, ask and you will possibly get something about it.
  10. You belong. Romans 12:4-5 says “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”  God has called you to something great. He has a purpose for you within His body of believers. I encourage you to find your gifts and to ask how God might use you within your church. It may be giving a ride to church. It could be as a small group leader. No matter the role, it is not small. You are part of something bigger. You might even help someone else decide to stay in church and feel like they belong. 

What have I missed? What are your reasons for staying IN church?

God has always had a plan, and I love seeing His plans unfold in a beautiful way. I had been planning to meet Ronaldho, a 17-year-old teenager from Mexico for quite some time. However, I never thought that God would take me out of my routine and ordinary life quite the way that He did.

When I first began sponsoring this wonderful young man, I noticed that he was a 15-year-old living in a broken world. His father, who was once a fisherman, was now chronically ill and unable to support the family, and Ronal was seemingly forced to grow up much too fast. At 15, he was not in school. I did an inquiry as to why this might be. You could not have prepared me for what I learned.

Compassion contacted me a couple of weeks later to let me know that he had some medical issues that made it difficult for him to be in school on a regular basis. He was born with a cleft lip and palate.

I was more than amazed because without knowing it, I was sponsoring a teenager who was born with a similar medical condition as my own. I was born with a cleft lip. In fact, it is a rare form that is often referred to as “big mouth” – HA! I appreciate the doctors that came up with that term – as if I didn’t already have zero self-confidence. Now, go ahead and insult me some more with some unflattering term.

No one really knows why children are born with this, but I am beginning to believe that while Ronal and I may have been teased as children, God had a beautiful plan all along. He connected us. Two people that might not otherwise have met. And what we have discovered to be true in so many ways is captured quite well in God’s infallible word:

“…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

One of the reasons that he was not regularly in school was because he was being teased. We connected through letters and I told him that I had been teased and I knew how difficult it could be. We bonded in the midst of our brokenness and became much stronger. We are not alone. He probably needed to know that just as much as I needed to remember it. I am proud to say that he began going back to an adult school for students at the elementary level. One more test and he will be able to get into the next level, so we are waiting on his upcoming results!

As a sponsor of many children, I am always amazed at the connections that are made that are not revealed in a child’s smile or even in a child’s profile. The connections come alive through letters. And they are revealed in marvelous ways when you actually get to hug your child or teen.

I saw that on this trip too. Sponsor after sponsor told of the way that they just thought they were picking up a child’s packet. Yet, God had a plan for that child and sponsor. A plan that seemed to unfold in beautiful ways for both the child and the sponsor in a million ways on that special visit day. These are real children, and the joy comes alive when you get to spend a day with them.

When I met Ronal, the beauty of that moment became 1 million and 1 reasons why I can say God loves us. Even in our broken world. Even with our broken looks, there is so much beauty that is captured in an embrace. It really is true that God has every intention of looking right into our hearts and answering our needs and desires in surprising and beautiful ways.

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The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you…and I will give you rest-everything will be fine for you.”

When I look in the mirror, I see all of my faults. I also have this worry line in my brow.  I worry about my company changing and reorganizing in a way that leaves me without a job. I have been seeking other opportunities, but I have this sense of dread that I don’t have the specific qualifications that are needed, even though I am very well educated and well spoken. I worry that I won’t be given the opportunity to at least meet and interview.

Then, my faith comes to mind, I am reminded that God will go with me. God is good. He can handle all things and He knows all things.

In the Bible, we hear “Do not be afraid, but be strong and courageous, for I am with you” many times. In Exodus, the LORD says that He will go with us. He will give us that peace we seek. Everything will be well.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know that I can be secure. It may be a difficult road.God is good. He is provider.

I wanted to share my Compassion Sunday page. If I manage to get two sponsorships before April 21st,  I will win a $50 family gift for one of the children that I sponsor. http://my.compassionsunday.com/bethluebke121?ext=

Check it out and comment if you wish on why you would like to sponsor or are already a sponsor!

Desktop Meditation: “A Lenten Journey” – YouTube.

I pray that this day you are blessed to remember that Christ Jesus died, conquered death and the powers of evil, and was resurrected.

Meditate on all He has done. Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)

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