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Archive for the tag “writer”

If You Give a Child a Pencil: A True Tale of Transformation

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Click on the photo to learn more about our If You Give a Child a Pencil goal!

I’ve seen poverty in three developing countries because I feel driven to be there—driven to look it in the face. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. I often have this wild thought that I must tell the story of these places. I’ve come to accept this feeling as my calling—to speak for those who have no voice. Two years ago, I stepped into my job-dream come true. I work as a staff writer for Children of the Nations (COTN). In this job I see the naked reality of the brokenness that was, and the unaccountable, transformative power of the Great Love who is doing a great, great work in the lives of so many.

Most of the time I write accounts of these miracle stories from my home office. It’s clean, quiet, soft white and driftwood brown, one window facing to the sky. Here I let my mind to take me to the countries where our children live. Uganda. Sierra Leone. Malawi. Dominican Republic. Haiti. But each year, for a week or two I don’t have to imagine those places, I get to go. In May 2013, I went to the Dominican Republic.

We work with the outcasts there—migrant Haitian worker families who crossed the border years ago to harvest sugar cane. Now, generations later, they aren’t needed in the fields so much. Work is very hard to find. They have no rights as citizens. No access to public education or health care. They live in shanty towns. The poverty is raw boned. But here is better than where they came from, Haiti. And it’s home now, sort of, so they stay.

Here—where children hopped and skipped alongside me, pushing and shoving to grab even just one of my fingers—I see a beautiful future embedded in the dirt roads.

The beauty is only possible because I have seen what COTN is doing here, loving and caring for so many children. Otherwise, without this hope, the little fingers grabbing for my attention would break me. But here, one child at a time, hearts, minds, bodies, futures, families are being made whole again—the way God always wanted it to be. This is only possible because thousands of hands and hearts have come together to work with COTN.

Here in our Florida COTN office, we’re asking for 800 more helping hands. We recognize that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. And school supplies are a critical, basic necessity. COTN meets this need through SmilePacks—individualized packages of school supplies.

We’ve called our goal, If You Give a Child a Pencil. There’s a simple yet profound progression from a pencil to a good education to a job to a child now grown able to provide for their family. These SmilePacks put real hands and feet on hope. COTN isn’t a hand out, it’s a hand up. This isn’t my typical blog, as you know, but I blog where my heart is, and here lies my heart. If you have any questions, send me a message! Thank you for reading!

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Failure and Recovery

heatherUsually I try to write blogs that aren’t just for writers.  I want them to be for all artists, for all humans with a calling.  Today, I definitely think this is for everyone but I’m going to write it from the perspective of a writer and I’ll let you translate it into your calling.

I’m enamored by the scripture that says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” [John 1:1] As a writer I see how God weaves himself into what I write.  And its very easy for me to believe, in a more literal sense, that God inhabits words when he needs them to serve a purpose.

Today I read these words.  “This child marks both failure and recovery of many in Israel, a figure misunderstood and contradicted – the pain of a sword-thrust through you – but the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are.”  [Luke 2;34-35]

This passage is a prophecy referring to Jesus.  And like I’ve said many times before, my life as an artist becomes more and more inseperable from God, so here’s a little thought about how Jesus really cuts through us in order to bring out the people with calling we were created to be.

As I surrender more and more of myself, my pain, anger, confusion to God I am no longer living in the grey area.  It becomes more and more clear that I am either healded or not healed, striving or still.  I’ve heard a lot of people who have come to believe that God is cruel because the people who’ve claimed to know Him are cruel.  The passage above that talks about Jesus doesn’t make him sound exactly soft and cuddly.  But I’ve found that while He cuts me open with truth and I have nowhere to hide, it is done with a peculiarly effective grace and mercy.  The wound he inflicts is the opposite of mortal.  Although part of me dies from the wounding, it is a part of me that was already dying.

God resurrects a person inside me that I’d forgotten.  A person who is whole and very well, and who does things that bring other people life.  Don’t be afraid to stop in the midst of you darkness, whatever that may be for you, big or small.  Know that this is NOT what God intends for you.  And then with honesty start speaking to God.  Tell Him the truth, tell the dark thoughts, the red emotions, the insidious words your drowning in and He will resurrect you and you will be more fullfilled.  You will save lives through your calling because you are now whole.

So fellow mortal, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Have you experienced this strange paradox of death and life? Have you been wishing God would cut something out of you and feel like God’s just ignorning your cry for help?  Or has He answered?

limited

“… I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.


My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”

 

The last two weeks have been hard.  Hard like, how many more hits can I take before I break.  I had no idea what I would write for my post.  I didn’t have anything good to say.  I haven’t been much of an artist or a good human lately.  But with great difficulty, I shamefully tell you that I finally unbent my pride far enough to acknowledge that I need God.  And then I pushed through just enough of my fear to remind myself that when I speak, God hears me.  In fact he is with me.

 

With me when I write.

With me when I feel afraid [alone, hurt, depressed, angry, co-dependent]

With me in the dark.

With me in sheer bliss.

With my artist psyche.

 

So today I’m writing in faith.  That He is enough.  That He is strong most evidently in my weakness.  Today I am weak but I believe.

 

“Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” [2 Corinthians 12:7-10]

 

What are you standing up against today?  Declare a bit of faith with me!

Speak

heather“Who are you?” he said, scarcely above a whisper.

“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing.  Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

I waited for God’s call.  His call, as I pictured it would be unmistakable.  Most likely involving some person reading a snippet of my work and proclaiming in awe that clearly I should be a writer.  And then, bent over my laptop and pages the words would come quick and inspired because, as I knew it, God had called me.

I waited for the signs.  I wanted that dream to come true.  And as I waited I cried and I wrestled with my life.  I felt disconnected, rubbed raw with a frustration I couldn’t name.  All the while I continued my ‘devotion’ to God and waited for him to say go.

He was silent.

Many things have shaken up my world.  The last ten years have been hard and just when I think I can’t take any more something worse has popped up.  I don’t say this for pity, I say it because it’s true.  And these trials have been a peculiar but very real kind of Grace.  The pain has pushed me.  Pressed me into a corner until I was forced to make a decision.

I decided to speak.  I have been more honest with God than any single human being.  I have told him my deepest darkest.  I have shown him my untouched ugliness.  I have asked him questions I didn’t believe even had answers.  And I did my best to let go of all my preconceived ideas.

He spoke.  And has continued speaking to me.  And it is out of this exchange that my calling became clearer.  Yes he wants me to write.  And no, it’s not how I imagined it to be.  But he has not left me alone to do the impossible work.  In fact he is wholly invested in helping me navigate the everyday of my calling.  It’s the daily stuff that I have a hard time making it through while keeping my calling in tact.

What is the last thing you’ve said to God?  Is he strong enough to handle your hardest question?  Even if that question is whether he exists?  Has your calling gotten lost in your silence?

rogue shopping lists

What’s really important?  Writing down the idea God keeps pressing in my mind?  Or…

Look at that pile of laundry.  Why didn’t I finish it Saturday when I had the chance.  Grocery shopping.  Don’t forget to make the food list before I go.  Pick up the kid from school.  Don’t forget to smile at the neighbors like life is peachy.  The garage is an absolute mess.  I can’t even think about the state of the bathroom at the moment.  What am I making for dinner?  Ugh, I hate last minute planning, I need to come up with a better system.  I’m exhausted. I haven’t done my writing.  I promised myself I would today.  It’s 10 o’clock and my brain has stopped moving.  I failed.  This just isn’t how I thought it would all turn out.  I’m the mouse who turned the house upside-down over a cookie.

“God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.”  [2 Timothy 1:7]  A sound mind.  God knows I think a sound mind is worth more than money or time.  I’m praying for a sound mind, but I’m also praying for eyes that can see what is important even in the midst of the ‘everyday’.  And I’m praying that the core of my soul will be at peace in the midst of ‘everyday’.

The work God has entrusted me with may end up saving someone’s life and quite frankly, a few dishes on the counter (i.e. Mt. Kilimanjaro) might not actually be as important as I first thought.  What’s going to last after I die?  Will people remark for ages over my God-like cleaning skills?  Or could it be possible that they will talk about the book I wrote, the article, the blog that changed the course of their lives…the very article that almost got derailed by a rogue grocery list.

What has God called you to do?  Are you finding it difficult to stay on track?  How do you stay focused?

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