Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Bigger World

This past weekend I attended the Hearts at Home conference in Bloomington, IL. I have enjoyed this experience in the past but for some reason feel as though this time around I really came home with life applications. There were many moments that I believe God was tugging at my heart. It was a gentle reminder that I need to quit living my life for me and live it for the greatest commandments. #1 - LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, SOUL, MIND AND STRENGTH. #2 - LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. Here, in America, I believe it is easy to forget about the rest of the world.

While at the conference, I was privileged to hear the story of a man named Alex from Uganda. Alex shared about his childhood. If I remember correctly, he talked about how his father left before he was even born. His mother became a follower of Jesus and therefore, was shunned by her family. His mother was left raising him and his three siblings. There were nights, he said, where his mother would come home with one mango. She would then proceed to cut the mango up into four pieces and feed it to her children for dinner. Other nights, she would come home with nothing, give them a cup of water, and send them to bed. He talked about the fact that his mother stressed the importance of getting an education so he went to school to learn. Schooling in Uganda, however, must be paid for. There were numerous times that the principal would call his name (among others) as a child whose tuition was unpaid. He would be required to leave the school. He decided it was no longer worth it to attempt to attend school and would go and fish instead. One day while he was fishing, his pastor came and took him to get his picture taken so he could have the opportunity to have someone sponsor him. He was guaranteed schooling and a meal a day because of one woman here in the states. One woman who believed it was important enough to look outside of her own life. Although God grabbed a hold of my heart with Alex's story, I did not sign up to sponsor any children while at the conference. Money is tight and I knew that Rod and I would really have to examine things and see what we could cut if there was any way we could reach out to a world bigger than ourselves.

On Sunday at church, there was one comment that stood out in my mind from the morning message. "What good thing is it that you are growing weary of doing?" Being responsible with our finances came flying to the forefront of my mind. I'm not a saver and attempting to make wise money decisions has been quite exhausting.

Sunday afternoon brought us to the wonderful moment of nap time. I was in desperate need of some sleep after an inspiring conference that ended with the greeting of a time change. We watched Facing the Giants (while in and out of sleep). We own the movie and have been reminded every time we watch it that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD. After the movie, I decided to look into our finances. Without our tax return, it looked as though we were going to have to pull some money out of savings to make it to the end of the month. Hopeful, I checked our bank account and found that our tax return was deposited. What a sigh of relief and perfect timing! As I sat and looked further into our finances I realized that the amount we received back from the government was substantially different from what Rod and figured. It ends up that although we made an error in preparing our tax return, the government caught it and still gave us what was rightfully ours. It was a substantial amount and left us examining our hearts. As we said how grateful we were to God for this, would we only speak lip service and go out and buy different material things we feel would benefit our lives or would be show our gratitude by investing in what matters?

We are now sponsors of two children through Compassion International. I thought it would be cool if we could pick children the same ages as our girls to help them see a more accurate picture of the world we live in. One little boy, Johnson, shares Nikelle birthday. There were no children that shared Jaycie's birthday but we did find a little girl who was born in the same month, named Nabila. Hopefully these children and their families can be shown a bit of God's love through this small offering. And in return, hopefully our family will learn to be grateful and care about others all the while reminded that we live in a world bigger than what we experience.

Nikelle was excited to write a letter to her sponsor child immediately. Here is her letter (it is small and difficult to read so I also wrote it out underneath):
Dear Johnson,
I have heard about you on the internet. Here are some things that we have in common.

  • We have 3 kids in our family.

  • We both enjoy singing and art.

  • We both live with our mom and dad.

  • We have the same birthday. I'd have to say that, my mom is so concerned about these things and I am praying for you each night.

I hope you might write back to me and I am hoping you get a little bit of help.

Nikelle Carlson

P.S. My missionary is in Benin, Africa.

Sex: girl
Age: 7
Birth: June 28th, 2002
Children: 3
Grade: 2
State: ILL
City: Joliet
Street: Arden Place
Favorites: Singing, art, crafts, drawing, organizing, and playing

"So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up." - Galatians 6:9


  1. We did the same thing for Noah! We couldn't find a little boy with his birthday, but we found one for March. We did that for Easter last year, and this year we're going to add one for Juliana. Noah tells us kind of what he wants us to write. He doesn't quite get it yet, but he still gets excited everytime a letter arrives.

  2. I think it is interesting timing because if we discovered the extra return earlier, we might not have made the same decision.

  3. Your post made me cry! Thank you for saying yes to God and sponsoring two Compassion children! I love God's timing!

  4. Jill, thanks for all you do. This year's conference has changed my life!