Verse For the Day

Isaiah 58:6-7 (NIV) "Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice...Is it not to share your food with the hungry...?"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Little Helps a Lot

Isaiah 3: 10 (NIV) Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.

Many families in rural areas of Uganda live in mud homes with tin roofs and dirt floors. Often, the adults work as farmers, either on their own property, or for someone else. So the children have to do many household chores including carrying clean water from sources far from their home. A typical meal might include corn, beans and bananas.

As is true the world over, the children also love to play. Since they have known no other lifestyle, they sing and dance, skip jump ropes, and draw pictures - that is, if they have paper on which to draw.

Picture a small child of six or seven walking a mile or more to get a bucket of water, and on the way back home almost half of the water splashes out of the bucket, leaving only enough to boil the corn and beans. This means the child must make another trip to the water source to obtain more water for washing dishes and maybe, enough to clean herself and her family. When she has finished this chore, she may be fortunate enough to attend school for half a day.

We who live in rich countries often cannot imagine those who are living in dire poverty in Uganda as well as many other countries. And sometimes we don’t want to think about it. If we have to look, we become uncomfortable. Feelings of guilt rise up within us. But we think, “What can I do? The problem is so big that anything I do won’t even be measurable.” So we do nothing. And because many other folks think and feel the same way, the poverty continues.

In my dreams, I think of one community coming together to care and provide for another community in a far country. We could change the world, one community at a time. But for now that’s only a dream.

Today, there are hundreds of non-profit organizations whose mission is to help these countries. So if we can’t draw a whole community together, maybe we can donate money or volunteer our time at a place like Feed My Starving Children. Or drop off a box of things we no longer use to a place like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. And, yes, many things become a lot when lots of people do a little. Maybe the little girl at the well won’t have to go so far. Maybe she’ll have a well in her own community.

I’m sorry if my posts sometimes sound preachy, but my passion is strong, and the Lord is leading me to tell the stories. May God bless you and hold you in God’s loving arms.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Busy Saturday

My morning devotions led me into writing a piece about water, sort of a followup to my post about wastefulness. But I needed to be at church by nine to help in sewing pillowcase "Dresses for Haiti." So I didn't finish my essay on water. I'll post it at a later date. The sewing event was most enjoyable. I can't really sew because of arthritis in my hands, but after a while I found my niche. When the dresses were being put together for the sewers, I got to design them with pockets of contrasting colors, lace and rick rack trims, and bias tape for the shoulders. It was great fun, and lasted until one in the afternoon. 

But now I'm in a bit of a hurry. I have my niece from Wilmette coming to spend the night so she can visit my church tomorrow (I'm sure she's going to love it - our congregation is so welcoming.), and be here for my daughter Roseann's birthday party. We're doing a Spanish themed party with tapas and paella. And I still have to pick up some last minute groceries to have everything on hand that I need. 

When I speak of a party, I don't know if I mentioned that Chris Seay's book on fasting - A Place at The Table suggests feasting on Sundays because symbolically, the Bridegroom is with us on our day of worship. Actually Christ is with us all the time, and sometimes we're even aware of His presence. Isn't that an awesome thing? 

 An interior view of the Catedral de Barcelona

I've got to run now because in addition to groceries, I need to sparkle up my home a bit. You know how it is when company's coming. Thankfully, it's not too far from being up to my standards. And I can always ask Joe to pitch in. He's good at doing that. He is another one of God's blessings in my life. 

No post tomorrow. Check back on Monday.

By the way, I hope you have an awesome and blessed weekend. Bye!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tip Top Shape: Chocolate Mug Cake

Tip Top Shape: Chocolate Mug Cake


Isaiah 55:1 - "Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost."

In a perfect world, we would have restaurants in poor areas where the people could come and eat without cost. Alas, we're not there yet.
When I think of all the leftovers I've let sit in the fridge and grow moldy over the years, I cringe at my own wastefulness. And when I think of all the food many of us scrape into garbage cans when we've finished our meals, I am overcome with sadness. A few years ago, I worked in downtown Chicago where I saw many panhandlers, and occasionally,  someone digging in public garbage cans for bits of thrown-away food - quite literally, scraps from the table. I wanted to cry.

Getting back to my own wastefulness: Since my decision to fast during Lent came just a few days before Ash Wednesday, I had (and still have) quite a bit of perishable food on hand, and I'm trying not to let it go to waste. But last night after a meager supper, I was still hungry so in order not to become crabby, I went to bed (my comfort zone) and read for a while. I found myself dozing off but realized that if I slept then, I would not sleep later. Then I remembered a soup bone I'd forgotten to put in the freezer.

I went to the kitchen where my eyes fell on a small basket of potatoes sitting on the counter top,  growing sprouts. It was time to make soup! I threw the soup bone into a large pot filled with water and set it on the stove. I added a bit of barley and leftover marinara sauce for a tomato base. Then I started peeling and dicing the potatoes. As I was working, my hunger subsided, and except for sipping the broth to assess its tastiness, I had nothing further to eat.  And I felt happy. After the barley had a chance to cook, I added the potatoes, along with some diced carrots. Later, I added some peas and corn, also leftovers.

As the pot grew fuller and fuller, I began to think -"I'm going to have to freeze most of this - I don't have enough containers - I wish I could personally hand out bowls of food to people in need, warming both their bodies and souls." But my mind couldn't move past the "I wish" stage. No inspiration came to me as a means to give my soup away. My husband, Joe suggested a local soup kitchen, but I think the food they serve there has to be cooked on location to meet with health standards and legal codes. When the soup was done, I poured it into two large bowls, covered them with plastic wrap, and placed them in the fridge.

This morning, my brain seems to be working a little better. After some thought, I called and left a message for my pastor to see if we could identify people in our own church who might need a bit of extra food. In the meantime, I'm going out to buy extra containers. At least frozen, the food will not go to waste!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Philosophical Idea

Mark 12:30-31 (NIV) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Several years ago I had the opportunity to spend a week serving as Counselor at a Christian camp, and I was given a Junior Counselor named Sylvia to assist me. She was a beautiful young woman – one of the most humble people I have ever met. I first saw her as I stepped off the bus. She stood a short distance away with her arms around the shoulders of two young boys, her body language making the statement, "I will protect them." I later learned they were her cousins, John and Joe, who had traveled alone from Seoul, South Korea for a visit with Sylvia and her family.

Sylvia and I bonded almost immediately, and at some point during the week, she proclaimed that I was her American mom, and I replied, “Then you are my Korean daughter."

The first night at camp became quite chilly, even in our A-frame cabin. Sometime after we and our young campers had settled in for the evening, Sylvia came to me and said, “I want to go see my cousins.”

“Is anything wrong?” I asked.

“No nothing, really. I just want to bring them my blanket.”

I knew without further conversation that it would be futile to try and dissuade her from this loving and sacrificial act, so I told her to take one of the girls along. While she was gone I was able to secure another blanket for her.

At times when all the campers were together we had opportunities to be with her cousins. They spoke very little English, but with Sylvia acting as translator, we came to know each other a little better. One such time was when we were around an evening campfire. The camp Pastor instructed us to lie on our backs and look at the stars while holding hands with the person next to us. Sylvia placed herself between me and her cousins so that we could “talk.”

A few moments into the conversation she said quietly, “John wants to know what you think love is.”

I thought for a few moments and remembering Sylvia and her blanket, I said, “I think love is when you’re willing to hurt for someone.” Sylvia translated, and no one spoke for a while.

That night as I lay in bed, I coined a phrase. “My sole purpose is my soul purpose is my Seoul purpose.”  That phrase has stayed with me over the years, becoming simply, “My sole purpose is my soul purpose, or said backward, “My soul purpose is my sole purpose.” It’s become sort of a mantra for me.

So I carry these words with me into my Lenten journey. For hungry children, I am willing to “hurt” a little. To God be the glory.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tip Top Shape: Pet Peeve Wednesday

Tip Top Shape: Pet Peeve Wednesday
My two top pet peeves are the Illinois Tollway system, and motorists weaving in and out of high speed traffic who drive like there's no tomorrow. (And for them there might not be.)

Note: is a blog written by my niece, Liz and her friend, Jen. It's about cooking, thoughts on life, and lots of lighthearted fun. Check it out. They have some delicious recipes (cookies, especially).

Day One

Last night, I started questioning whether it would be right to blog about my decision to fast. I don't want to get put in the spotlight because of this, but rather I want to give glory to God, my Creator. If my efforts raise one person's  awareness of the issues of hunger and poverty, and move them to become part of the solution, then this publication will have been worthwhile.

It's 1:30 in the afternoon as I write. I have had a simple breakfast and lunch, and feel fine. Believe me, I won't be wearing sackcloth during these forty days. Although I have never fasted for longer than a day in the past, I go into this journey with joy. This morning I read Isaiah, chapter 58 in its entirety, a chapter that speaks of the fast that God wants. Using that portion of the Bible as my guideline, I know that I can return to and read the chapter whenever my resolve weakens. And of course, there are many other places in God's Word about fasting. It will be interesting to study them more fully.

Until tomorrow then, may you experience the blessings of our Lord. Hasta luego!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Lenten Journey

After nearly a year and a half of not posting here, or doing much writing of any kind, I think I'm ready to jump back in.
For the last several days, I have been preparing my mind, heart and soul for a 40 day fast, both by praying, and stocking up on the foods I will allow myself such as beans, rice and fresh produce. I plan to give the amount of money I've saved on food to a charity whose main focus is hunger.
I made this decision after picking up a book last week titled A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor by Chris Seay. I really feel that God led me to the Christian bookstore that day, and placed the book in a place where it was bound to catch my eye. I have been saying for years that my passion is for hungry children, but not doing what I consider to be enough about the problem. Yes, occasionally, there’s been an opportunity to serve, but I haven't dedicated myself to anything on a regular basis.
Chris Seay writes that we are not to go into the fast for any particular blessing so that we may accept what God has to show us. I have accepted that guideline. My daughter Gina, and her husband have decided to do this fast as well.
 Most importantly, I wish to give honor to my Lord and Savior. Recently,I found a note I had written years ago which states “I have a master key that opens the door of understanding. People want to be loved and accepted.” I would add to that today that they need to be cared for.
I pray, Lord, for humility, strength and courage on this journey which will start tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. And thank You for leading me to do this. I have been praying for You to show me my call, and I believe this is the first step towards a longer journey. Let Your will be mine as well. I surrender all.