June 27, 2012

What makes a house a home

To be completely honest with you, our house is a disaster right now. If you were to go upstairs you would need to walk on tip-toe for fear of stepping on a lego, the living room is showing evidence of recently finished art projects, and if you went into the dining room you would probably have a hard time holding a conversation for the noise level is quite high. But you know what, all the chaos makes me smile because it feels so much like a lived-in, much-loved home.

It makes me smile because the house is packed to the brim of kids with smiling faces, happy chatter, and lots of laughter. On top of the seven kids in our family, there are four cousins and three friends. If my math is accurate, that makes fourteen. And since the heat index is somewhere in the low hundreds and its much too hot to spend the day outdoors, all fourteen of those happy little people are in our house keeping themselves occupied.

To someone looking in from the outside it may look like a mess. But what I see is girls chattering away while they make necklaces; boys cheering for their favorite race car as it crashes into another and knocks it off of the Hot-Wheel track; the determined, concentrated look on the faces of the two playing checkers on the dining room table; smiling faces that are proud of the beautiful art project they just created; and the all the love that was carefully prepared and put in the oven for supper. Yes, it may be a little messy, but that doesn't matter. What matters is the family, the friends, and the fellowship.

This is what makes a house a home. 

June 24, 2012

When love captures your heart

I don't want to just say that I'm a Christian...I want to do something!

That statement opens up hundreds upon thousands of opportunities, and sometimes the seeming endless list of options seems quite overwhelming. And when I look at everything I could do for Christ, I begin asking "where do I start?!?", and as a result I end up doing...nothing. Because when I think of making an impact for Christ, I think of bringing the gospel to African villages that have never heard of Jesus before or leading great revivals. While God may have something "big" later down the road, many times He's asking me to just do the little things that He lays in front of me on a day-to-day basis. Things that may seem somewhat insignificant to me, but could make a lasting impact on the lives of the individuals that I come in contact with.

For quite some time one of the "small-just-take-the-next-step" kind of things that I've felt the Lord laying on my heart is sponsoring a child through Compassion International. In my devotions I had been reading a lot about not just calling yourself a Christian, but actually living it out. As I felt God's tug on my heart to sponsor a child, I was hesitant and kept putting it off. Besides, what if I need that money somewhere down the road for a missions trip or something? What I slowly came to realize was that I don't know what God will call me to do a year or two from now, but what I do know was that right now God was asking me to obey Him in this, trusting Him for the future. If God was really calling me to do this NOW, then He would also provide when He asked me to do something LATER.

As I scrolled through pages of photos of children waiting for sponsors, their beautiful faces melted my heart. I wanted to gather all of them up into one big bear hug and tell them that they are loved. They matter. They are beautiful. As I read my Bible and prayed about it, honestly I couldn't come up with any reason not to sponsor a child. So I took a leap of faith and sponsored a beautiful, 14-year-old girl named Rebecca from Uganda. The neat thing about it is that, not only does it encourage and bless the child who is being sponsored, it's also a blessing and encouragement to the sponsors themselves! Even though it's been only a few short weeks since Rebecca's sponsorship started, I can't even begin to describe how much of a blessing it has been to me. God has used it to deepen my awareness for the needs of others around me, strengthen my prayer life, and helped me to trust in Him to provide.

So now I have a family member half way across the world in a beautiful continent that is tightly gripping a piece of my heart. Yes, by the world's standards it may seem kind of crazy....but that's ok, because that's what happens when love captures your heart.

While there are currently over 1,172,170 children in the Compassion program 
who have sponsors, there are also over 1,600 who are still waiting.  
Want to learn more about sponsoring a child?
Visit Compassion.com now!

June 1, 2012

Let's play ball!

It's beginning to feel like summer. The thermometer is consistently showing higher temperatures and many days are spent working on outdoor projects, which I can prove by my lovely, tomato-red sunburn. As summer rolls around, so does the summer schedule. I'm not sure about you, but our summers are generally not the slow and "relaxing" time that some people make it out to be. Working in the garden, weekly babysitting, working with my horse, getting ready for county fair, random activities that seem to come up unexpectedly, and....playing softball.

Five of my siblings recently joined a homeschool softball league with about thirty other kids from our area. Not only has it been a wonderful learning experience for the kids playing, it's also a fun social event for the families! It's neat to see how, even though the game can get a bit competitive, everyone is there to encourage each other and have fun. I wasn't sure that I could commit to being there every week, so I just show up when I can and take pictures...that's more up my alley anyways.

What are some of your favorite summer activities?