what i don't want

This is what I don’t want: to artfully arrange a bunch of persuasive words in an attempt to evoke emotion, yank heartstrings, and suck you all into the guilt vortex of think-of-the-poor-people-and-how-many-meals-they-could-eat-for-the-price-of-your-frappuccino!

Except I guess I kind of do want that.

One of the most frustrating parts of my not-very-difficult life is feeling something or other very, very deeply and not knowing how to adequately convey it to those around me. And so a lot of times I just forget it all together. Except this time I can’t. So I won’t.

But it won’t be effortless and fluent like I’d like.

It will be choppy and messy and involve a lot of praying that God will just connect my heart with your heart and that my dumb words won’t get in the way.

Here goes nothing!

And everything.

So on our 2nd day in Cambodia we took the kids from “our” orphanage on their first boat ride. If you’ve been following along, you know that they were WAY excited about this little adventure. Here they are piling out of their van (all 26 of them–no, I’m not kidding) where we were eagerly waiting for them.

We all headed down to the river as giddy as all get out.

And may I just interject here that one of my favorite thing about Asian culture is taking off my shoes everywhere I go? I. Hate. Shoes.

p.s. Those are not my hairy (but attractive) feet in the picture.

I’ve never been on a cruise, but I’ll say this: if I never step foot on a cruise ship. I couldn’t care less. But if I never go on a boat ride with these beautiful kiddos again, I think my heart might break.

But I’ll tell you what’s really heartbreaking: our view from the boat at several points on our “cruise.” Views like this:

And like this:

And like this:

I can’t help but wonder what this family thought as they sat in their log-raft home…

And watched a boat full of happy, squealing people (who could afford a $30 boat ride when the log-raft-home family probably lives on $1 or $2 a day).

And what did these beautiful, happy children think when their boat sailed alongside such stark poverty? Did it remind them of their own lives just a couple short years ago?

And the only thing worse than being a sweet, innocent little child and not having enough to eat each day? Is being a sweet, innocent little child whose family sells you as a sex slave so that your parents and siblings have a chance to survive.

This is the horrifying, gut-wrenching fate of little ones just like Sopheak. Every. Single. Day. In Cambodia.

I’m reading this amazing, incredible book called Radical (for the 2nd time in as many weeks), and I’m seeing these images from the boat ride (and the tuk-tuk rides, and the van rides, and the walks through “neighborhoods”) as I read words like these:

“Anyone wanting to proclaim the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth must consider not only how to declare the gospel verbally but also how to declare the gospel visibly in a world where so many are urgently hungry (109).”

And these: “Caring for the poor is one natural outflow and a necessary evidence of the presence of Christ in our hearts. If there is no sign of caring for the poor in our lives, then there is reason to at least question whether Christ is in our hearts (110).”

And these: “Our perspective on our possessions radically changes when we open our eyes to the needs of the world around us. When we have the courage to look in the faces of brothers and sisters whose bodies are malnourished and whose brains are deformed because they have no food, Christ will change our desires, and we will long to sacrifice our resources for the glory of his name among them (127).”

I’m there. I’m in. I long to sacrifice my resources for the glory of his name among these beautiful children of God.

I don’t have it all figured out, and my heart has a looooong way to stretch and grow before it’s where I know God wants it, but…


I’ll tell you what I don’t want.To live any kind of life that doesn’t involve great sacrifice for the glory of my Father’s name.

I’m in. God, just tell me what to do.

25 thoughts on “what i don't want

  1. joyce

    This was wonderful. I’ve been experiencing so much of that ‘how do I convey what I’m feeling’ feeling in recent weeks. Months. The reality is that one less dinner out, one less trip to Target, etc really does mean a child can be cared for in body and spirit for a month. Or more. It sounds trite but its truth.

  2. Kym

    When reading and seeing this, I am reminded of a passage from the Lorax by Dr, Seuss:
    UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
    nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
    Marla, Thank you for sharing your incredible, sometimes heart wrenching journey with us… You have motivated so many people in to caring a whole lot!

  3. Pingback: Marla Taviano » here’s what i’m going to do

  4. Libby

    We’re in. Read Radical too. Been spreadin’ the word around. We’ve begun our 1 year radical experiment- going the whole 9 yards. AND GOD HAS BEEN RELENTLESS IN SHOWING US NEEDS, AND WE ARE DOING OUR BEST TO KEEP UP WITH HIM!!!! When you truly say to God: “I’m in”, and then you take that first step down the ladder of self fulfillment, He grabs you by the hand! Anyone reading this, that feels their heart strings being pulled, go IMMEDIATELY to a website and buy “radical”.

  5. Jen Griffin

    Ache…that is how I feel when I see these pictures. I know God will give you all the direction you need as you seek out how to help these kiddos and their country.

  6. Priscilla

    I’m in awe of you! I want to be in, too, but know deep in my heart that to state that now would not be completely truthful. I am not that mature of a Christian, yet. So, I pray for you, your obedience and God’s blessing on you. And, I pray that God will continue to grow me (fast) into becoming the fully developed follower of Christ He has planned for me.

  7. sharon

    I am in God, tell me when… where You go, I will follow. I only want to be in the center of Your will, no matter where that is.

  8. gretchen

    Wow. What a day on which to come and catch up at ye olde blog.

    My heart is pierced, too. As often as I try to share my things, I know that this falls short of giving them back to the One who provided them. Praying about how to do this not only in our culture, but in my marriage. Awesome post, Marla.

  9. Elizabeth

    I’ve never seen images like that in person. I want to, and I don’t. I know that it would push me in ways that I need to be pushed.

    I think you have a lot to teach and I know I want to be a part of what God is doing in your heart. I know He’s doing something in mine, too. I’m just not sure what to do with it, yet.

  10. Rachelle

    Have you listened to the Radical Sermons? They rocked our world when we heard them last year. Wow. It’s so hard to know WHAT to do and how to go about caring for the poor, orphan and widow. Been praying that God will reveal his sovereignty in our life. Honestly, for the last 2 years I think we’ve been in “caring for the poor bootcamp”-God is showing us some things to prepare our hearts and minds for what he would have us do.

  11. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    My heart HURTS.

    I think we need a Radical read along. I would love to see Luke 12:33 garage sales from coast to coast. I think a movement is rumbling and I want to be part of it.

    Thank you for jolting us out of our blissful ignorance, Marla. Don’t hold back. God is using all of this mightily.

  12. Daniel Basham

    God is big. We are going through the same stuff. Reading “Radical” and just coming home from Haiti. We are talking about what God wants us to specifically do in response. We know his heart is for the poor. The widow and orphan. I’m excited to see what all comes out of this. One of our team members is pretty sure she’s movin down to Haiti. Kids are “getting it.” Great stuff!

  13. SIL Jess

    Josh and I are studying the book of James… and this is totally where we are! Pure and undefiled religion – that’s what we want!

    Thanks for the blog. Love it.

  14. O Mom

    Oh Marla. This rips my heart out. And my own ways I sometimes live this life rips my heart out too. I will pray that prayer with you….I’m in. God, just show me what to do.

  15. Christy @ pureMotherhood

    We live such comfortable lives, even when we feel like we don’t have much. It’s REALLY hard to break out of that. I don’t want to be uncomfortable. But I sure don’t want to be without Christ in my heart either. Got some soul-searching to do. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Bethany your sis

    After going through “Crazy Love” for a few months on Wednesday nights at youth group and then going on our missions trip to Jackson, KY (the poorest region in the U.S.) and studying the dozens of passages in Scripture that talk about God’s love for the poor and our responsibility to care for them, our teens have been challenged to put their knowledge of the Scriptures to action.

    We were reading Luke 12:33-34 in Sunday school four days ago and this is what it said, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

    So I asked a question because I want to start obeying the Scriptures instead of just nodding my head in agreement when I read them. I said, “How can I sell my possessions? Craigslist?” That got the teens to talking out loud and one of them shouted out, “We should have a yard sale!” So on Saturday August 21st, our youth group is going to have a Luke 12:33 Yard Sale and all our proceeds are going to our orphanage in Cambodia. They have room for 2 more orphans and even though they will need monthly support, we can at least get the ball rolling. The idea isn’t just to sell our ratty old things, but really think about what we NEED and what we could sell to give to the poor. I am SO EXCITED about what God is doing in the hearts of our teens (we just had a testimony time at youth group last night and they all shared so much and it was so encouraging!) and their enthusiasm to put what they’re learning into practice!

    I have really been challenged to get out of my bubble and be aware of the world around me and take my responsibility to administer justice seriously. I remember youth conference 2 years ago. Francis Chan talked about Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, o man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” He admonished us not to look at the poor and suffering and blame God! The lack of justice is OUR fault! We have been blessed with SO MUCH and WE AREN’T SHARING ANY OF IT! God has put the ball in our court. What are we going to do? In Genesis 12, God told Abraham He was going to bless him so “you will be a blessing”–not so he could hoard the blessing!

    I’m so excited that God is teaching you kind of the same things He’s been teaching me! Let’s keep encouraging each other!!! I love you Marsy!!!

  17. John McCollum

    Marla, I look forward to talking with you and Gabe when I return from Asia. It’s great to have you along for the ride; I can’t wait to see what God has for you guys in the future.

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