Only one more week of this 31 series! That’s nuts! I’m cheating a little today (it’s a stretch to count this as a purging post), but I made a promise to some stinkin’ awesome women, and I intend to keep it.
I could rave about the gals from Impact Church (Lowell, Michigan) for hours, but I’ll try to sum up our weekend in just a few (hundred) sentences. My friend Heidi (a pastor’s wife) and I met when our girlies were little and then spent a year or so at the same church before they moved to Michigan. I spoke at their women’s retreat two years ago, and they invited me back again this year.
The theme for this year’s retreat was “B-U-2-Full.” And as I prepared for the three talks I was going to give, I struggled big-time. I felt God asking me to talk about some hard stuff, but I didn’t want to get booed off the stage, so to speak.
But these women are INCREDIBLE. And they went with it. And they let God speak through me. And they took it to heart. And I fell absolutely in love with them all over again.
Thursday night, I talked about how we all want to be beautiful and some of us have struggled with this our entire lives. I brought a handful of pictures from my elementary/middle school/high school days as proof. I told them I didn’t want to minimize the pain of not feeling beautiful, but I sensed God telling us to get the, “I’m beautiful. I’m valuable. God created me. And loves me. My worth is in him. I am a priceless beauty in his eyes.” out of the way and get to the action steps.
Living out being beautiful. Reaching out to others who need to know even more than we do that they have worth and value, that they’re beautiful. (But we need to recognize our worth before we can convince others of theirs.)
Impact just started a new study on the book of Nehemiah. They’ve been asking this question. “What makes you sick and what are you going to do about it?” Oh my word. Perfect.
I read an excerpt from Jen Hatmaker‘s book, Interrupted, where she talks about missing the point of the gospel for so long. She was focused almost entirely on herself, and doggone it if I wasn’t doing the exact same thing.
Then I shared a quote from Kim Meeder (Fierce Beauty), “Authentic beauty is not based on what we’re wearing or how we look. It flows out of our hearts and is a form of worship of our King. This beauty grows when we open our eyes to the hurting souls around us and ask, ‘What can I do today to show them the love of Jesus?”
I asked them to write two things on a notecard. 1.) a prayer request and 2.) their passion (Passion = a cause, a group of people God has laid on your heart, something wrong in this world that you desperately want to make right.)
I was blown away by their honesty about their sin and pain and the depth of their compassion for others.
Friday morning, I read Matthew 6:6-13 where Jesus says the woman who anointed him with perfume did a “beautiful” thing to him. She was criticized for not giving the money to the poor, and Jesus said “You’ll always have the poor with me, but I won’t always be with you.” Sometimes people like to use that as an excuse for not helping the poor, but Jesus is no longer physically with us. And Matthew 25:31-46 makes it clear that whatever we do to the least of these, we’re doing to Jesus.
We talked about little boys and girls being trafficked in Cambodia for sex. We talked about women in Ethiopia who struggle through childbirth and develop fistula (I’ll be blogging more on this next month–in the meantime, you should absolutely watch A Walk to Beautiful on Netflix.). And it was hard and uncomfortable and there were tears, but I felt God’s pleasure as we opened our eyes and hearts to his suffering children.
Some of the girls were a little irked that I left them with a cliffhanger. “We’ll talk tomorrow about how we can help!” And some of them are going to want to shoot me when they realize that of the 16 things I shared on Saturday morning, I only have time/space to share 4 today. (the other 12 will comprise tomorrow’s post–I promise!!)
16 Ways You Can Help the Poor Right NOW (part 1 of 2):
1. Pray and ask God for wisdom.
James 1:5-7 promises us that if we ask God for wisdom, he’ll give it to us. We’re all in different places, different stages, and it’s so important that we don’t neglect any of our God-given responsibilities to run off and change the world. God will let us know (if we ask him) just what he wants from us and will give us everything we need to accomplish it.
2. Read. Learn.
Here are the resources I promised, but this isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch.
Some of my favorite books: Radical, Crazy Love, The Hole in our Gospel, Zealous Love, Half the Sky, Half the Church, Consumer Detox, Organized Simplicity, Simple Compassion, Irresistible Revolution, Say Yes to God, Serving with Eyes Wide Open, Jantsen’s Gift, The Hospital by the River. And the one I just started and am LOVING (and can’t wait to finish all this linky-linking so I can read some more of it): Kisses from Katie.
Some favorite blogs: Heather in Haiti, Tara in Haiti, Jen Hatmaker, Shaun Groves (Compassion), Kisses from Katie (Uganda), Asia’s Hope, Yvonne (my friend in Cambodia), Kristen (started a ministry in Kenya), my mom-in-law who’s in Kenya right now.
3. Raise awareness.
Thanks to the internet, there is so much we can do to share our passion with others. God has given you a circle of influence, and no matter how small it is, you can make such a difference just by sharing bits and pieces of your story and what God is doing in your community and around the world. p.s. I’m not super-awesome at Twitter still, but I’d love to be your friend on Facebook.
4. Buy a t-shirt and wear it.
I’m a t-shirt girl anyway, and give me a t-shirt that supports a cause I care deeply about, and I’m a happy, happy camper. Here are some shirts I own: She Has a Name, SOLD: Kids are Not Intended For Commercial Use, Arise Africa, Set the Captives Free, Mercy House Kenya.
If you know of a t-shirt I “need,” let me know. I’m a teensy bit picky though. My body shape + personality means I’ll usually only wear crew neck tees in a uni-sex fit (size small) and the longer and softer the better.
If you made it to the bottom of this post, you deserve a PRIZE. So, I’m giving away THREE books (not sure which ones yet, but I’ll pick from my list above). Leave a comment (about anything at all) and be entered to win.
And I would LOVE it if some of my new Michigan friends chimed in! See you for #5 – #16 tomorrow!