Friday, August 22, 2014

Beautiful Video

I just loved this video....enjoy.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On Releasing Our Kids To Fly...

Hello Compassion Family community! To say that I am excited to be here is an understatement. I have been a long-time reader of this blog... and I count it a blessing to have this opportunity to share my thoughts on here once in a while.

Most of all, I am excited to continue learning alongside all of you what it means to lead our families to follow Christ with abandon... to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him.

Speaking of which... yesterday, we experienced a "first" in our family. We said goodbye to our daughter as she left for a 10-day filming trip with a film crew from Compassion Canada. They are filming the video segment for a 6-week curriculum series for youth on what the Bible says about poverty and justice. My girl will be the face and the voice of this curriculum. Such wild grace... our God's grace truly is a beautiful thing!

Here are my thoughts on this "first"... a milestone, both for my hubby and me... and for our baby girl... who really isn't a baby anymore! Why does time always fly by so fast?!?

:: :: ::

Yesterday, she flew!

Little did I know just how soon that time would actually arrive... that God already had a plan in place... for her to fly... onto Kingdom purposes and also literally, to quite a faraway place! 

And this mama's heart is not sure how to feel... 

Yet, I know this for sure... that He who promised is faithful!

My baby girl... at six months of age.
Collecting seashells on a beach in Halifax. (Summer 2006)
So yesterday this mama released her to fly... and today I am embracing turning this new page in the journey of motherhood... and holding on unswervingly to the Hope we profess... and covering her with prayers... and celebrating the beauty that is God's grace at work in my baby girl's life. 

For many years, since the day she was born... this has been, and still is today, my prayer for her:
That she will live life as "a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour."
Blogging... speaking out for those who are denied a voice.
Yesterday, her wings unfurled! 
She flew... halfway around the world, for the second time this summer and without us this time, to the country of hubby's and my birth, the Philippines. This is the longest {10 days} and farthest that she'll be away from us. 

She flew... with a film crew from Compassion Canada, to film a 6-week youth curriculum series on what the Bible says about poverty and justice. This curriculum will be made available next year as a resource for youth groups across the country! 

She flew... to be the face and voice of this curriculum series. Such wild grace to see God answering my prayer that she be used by Him for the display His splendour! It is also a way that God is fulfilling her desire to speak out "for those who are denied a voice in society. The oppressed. The impoverished. The enslaved." 

Yes, she is mine, my girl... but she is first and foremost, God's daughter! As I have repeatedly told her since she was just a wee little girl, "God loves you infinitely more than I ever can!" So with that in mind, this mama stretched out her arms and released her to fly... onto Kingdom purposes which He has prepared in advance for her to do. 

And I will learn the delicate balance of releasing and embracing... this not-so-easy, yet oh-so-beautiful new rhythm that comes with this exciting new season of motherhood... of letting go and releasing her to fly, yet embracing her with love and covering her with prayers. 
A mother holds her child's hand for just a short time, but holds their heart for a lifetime.
~ Author Unknown.
Her most favourite place to be... sitting behind the Compassion table!
Although at times I feel like I am incapable of facing this new season, I know that our Heavenly Father will give me the grace and the strength to do so. 

Although at times I feel like my heart is unraveling because she is so faraway from me, I know that God is unraveling His perfect plan for my girl's life, for the display of His splendour.
At Inspire Hope last month... introducing her social enterprise, Freedom Creations
Sharing her story at Inspire Hope.
Promo cards for the youth curriculum series that she will be hosting.
Friends, will you join us... 
In covering our baby girl in prayer as she embarks on this awesome God-assignment? Please click here for her prayer letter. 

And even though I am not a brave mama because braveness is outside my comfort zone, I *will* be brave... and I did try very hard not to bawl my eyes out when sending her off, but if y'all must know, I miserably failed! :)

:: :: ::

~ To follow my girl on this God-assignment: read her blog and follow her on Twitter or Instagram.
~ Take action by sponsoring a child with Compassion.
~ To get to know our family's involvement with Compassion Canada better, read this recently published article about us... A Family Who Loves Mercy






About Aimee Esparaz...Aimee is mother to two teens and is passionate about living out Micah 6:8 with her family. She is a sponsor and advocate through Compassion Canada and works in global marketing. She loves to read and garden, and blogs at A Mom On A Mission.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcome Aimee....

A couple months ago I introduced you to Crystal, Hannah and Yvonne....our regular contributors here at Compassion Family. Today I introduce you to Aimee and welcome her to our team of regular contributors. I know you will love hearing from her as she shares her heart for the least of these with us.


Aimee Esparaz

Aimee was born and raised in the Philippines. Growing up upper middle-class, she was oblivious to the extreme poverty that existed all around her. As a teenager, she moved to Canada with her family --- to an even more comfortable first-world life.
Aimee is married to Floyd. They are deeply thankful as it is in this marriage that God would shake them out of their comfort zone and open their eyes to the plight of the world’s extreme poor. They are parents to two teenagers, Alyssa and Jon. Aside from being huge basketball fans, together they are a family seeking to live out Micah 6:8, that is to "do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God." Their family wouldn’t be complete without their Compassion LDP Student Rechelle and Compassion Sponsored Children Florianlyn, Bell Bradley, Esperanza, Happyness and John. They are also Compassion Correspondents and greatly treasure the relationships developed over the years with Junior, Frederic & Patrick.   
Aimee & her family love their local church community. They do life together by being Jesus’ hands and feet to the marginalized, such as inner-city families, refugees and street-involved people.
One of Aimee’s favourite quotes is by author and fellow Compassion Advocate Ann Voskamp: “God calls me to do thanks. To give the thanks away. That thanks-giving might literally become thanks-living. That our lives become the very blessings we have received.”
Aimee works for a global marketing and advertising research company. In her spare time, she loves to read and she loves to garden. She blogs regularly about her faith, her family and her favourite things at www.mamaof2greatkids.ca.

Friday, August 15, 2014

When You Can't Say Goodbye...

It's happened again.

The phone rang and it was Compassion on the other end. I have found from experience that this is rarely a good thing. More often than not, they have news about one of our sponsored children and usually it's not good news.

A couple months ago I received a letter from Compassion informing us that the money designated for Ayon, one of our boys in East India, was being suspended because there was an issue with the local church. The letter was positive and hopeful that the issue would be resolved quickly and soon funding would continue.

I sure hoped they would because I couldn't stand the thought of losing Ayon - he's one of my favorites. (Can we have favorite sponsored children?) Ayon started out as a correspondent child, but when his financial sponsor backed out, we took him on.

And for the past six years we have had the honor and privilege of developing a relationship with this boy on the other side of the world. In six years we received 63 letters (!!), and his letters always stood out from the others because of the doodles and artwork.




Anyway, it turns out the local church that was hosting the Compassion project decided to discontinue their relationship with Compassion. Because Compassion is no longer working through this church, there is no opportunity for us to say goodbye.

(Wait a second while I wipe away my tears.)

And so I pray. I pray that the words I have written over the past six years will point him to God. I pray that he will remember the messages of love and life and hope that we have sent him. And I pray that he is strongly rooted in Christ because of Compassion, and that he will continue to mature and grow in his relationship with God.

Ayon....we will never forget you and the light you brought into our lives. I will forever remember you as my tall, skinny, child from India who always held his arms straight down for photos....

Would you join me in praying a blessing over Ayon and his life?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What to Write ~ Fruit of the Spirit

I see child sponsorship as a very practical way to carry out the Great Commission - to go and make disciples - and letter writing provides a wonderful way to teach and disciple these young ones.

This month I decided to write about the Fruit of the Spirit - to introduce them as a whole - and to encourage my sponsored children to memorize Galations 5: 22-23

This topic could easily be spread out into a series with each letter focusing on a different fruit of the Spirit.




Dear....
How are you? It is with great joy that I write you this letter. My girls were listening to one of their favorite songs called "Fruit of the Spirit" and I decided I would share some of my thoughts about this teaching in the Bible.  
Do you like fruit? I do. I think it's nature's candy because it's naturally sweet and delicious. We live in a part of our country where several kinds of fruit grow in abundance - apples, pears, grapes, and different berries. I don't know if I have a favorite fruit, but I really love pineapple and mango, neither of which grow locally. Do you have a favorite fruit?  
The fruit that the Bible talks about is a bit different than the fruit we can eat. In the book of Matthew Jesus is teaching the crowds about good fruit and bad fruit - how a good tree will produce good fruit and a bad tree will produce bad fruit. We are the trees and our actions and thoughts are the fruit. If we are following Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, we will produce the fruits of the Spirit. 
Galatians 5:22-23 says "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." 
If we are following God and doing His will, others should see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our lives. Just as if we look at a fruit tree, we will know what kind of tree it is by the fruit it is producing. When others look at our lives, they should know we are followers of Christ by the "fruit" we are producing with our actions and thoughts.  
I'll talk more about each individual fruit in future letters, but for now I'd like to challenge you to memorize Galations 5:22-23 and pray that God would produce these fruits in your life.  
Praying for you always....


Have you written to your children yet this month? If so, what did YOU write about?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Crushed by Compassion by Crystal Kupper

Ah, summer. The time to jump in the lake, fly a kite, change your routine and break out of your everyday humdrum.

Or, in our family's case, and especially our six-year-old son Jack's, the time to jump on a few planes, fly over the Atlantic, change eight time zones and break your finger. 




We're an active-duty American Air Force family currently stationed in England. So anytime we want to visit home, the trip entails a whole lot more than just throwing the kids in the minivan and spending an hour or two on the freeway. Hence, we only plan on coming back once a year during the summer for the four years we're stationed in Europe.
Already, Jack has had quite the adventure. While visiting Grammy and Papa a few weeks ago, and while Mom and Dad were busy putting down his younger siblings for naps, he decided to play with a beautiful two-tiered water fountain in the backyard. It has a sizable cherub holding a water-spewing fish on top. When he pushed on the top tier to make the water flood over the side, the cherub (probably weighing at least as much as Jack) fell forward, crushing his hands underneath.


We rushed him to urgent care just a mile or two down the road. The building was beautiful: high ceilings, huge windows, clean as a whistle, air-conditioned, clean and cold water fountains in the corner, decorated with paintings and photographs of the beautiful state of Oregon, stocked with widescreen TVs and a play area for kids. We showed them our military IDs (because that acts as our insurance card) and the kind, trained professionals ushered us right in.
From there, they took X-rays and asked Jack his version of the story.
"There was a baby on top of the fountain, and it fell on me," he said. After thinking a moment, he helpfully added, "Not a real baby. A concrete one." You know, just in case there was any confusion.
 
While we were waiting for his X-rays to be read, I asked him a question. "What do you think Charly would have to do in Nicaragua if he got his fingers crushed?"

Jack was quiet for a long minute, thinking about his Compassion brother, born on the exact same day almost seven years ago, thousands of miles away. "Maybe his fingers would stay broken forever?" he ventured.
I knew that wasn't true but wanted to continue the line of thought. "Why would that be?"
"Because in Nicaragua people are poor and can't go to the hospital."
"How do you think Charly's fingers would feel if no one was there to wrap it up? What would happen if they didn't have any disinfectant or a cast?"
Jack looked down at his smashed, bleeding hands. "He would hurt really bad, and might get sick or even die, right?"
I let that sink in for a moment. "Yes, if you get an infection and don't get it taken care of, you might die."
My beautiful son looked at me, wide-eyed and crushed with the remembered knowledge that not everyone has it as good as him. But then I got to share the good news.
"Guess what? Remember how we sponsor Charly through Compassion?" I asked. "That means if Charly gets hurt or sick that he doesn't have to fight it on his own! He gets to go to the clinic and get medical help!"
For the next few minutes, Jack and I talked about what Compassion sponsorship meant to a boy like Charly. A solid, nutritious meal, a safe place to do homework and get school help, a chance to learn about Jesus...and medical care. So if anything does happen to Charly (and we pray it doesn't!), his mom won't have to do anything more than watch her baby boy be brave and heal.

We don't hide the reality of life from our kids. While we keep things age-appropriate, opportunities like X-rays and broken bones are a perfect opportunity to teach our babies about compassion (and Compassion!), social justice, poverty and perspective. So even though our boy has to survive the rest of the water-soaked summer like this...

...we know his crushed finger will serve as a reminder of his crushed heart, too -- healed and pieced together again by taking action for a brother he's never met.




About Crystal Kupper....Crystal is a passionate sponsor and advocate for Compassion. She is a military wife, mom to three kids and is a freelance writer, currently living in the UK. You can find her blogging at Crystal Kupper




If you are having trouble leaving a comment, simply click on the title of this post and that should resolve the issue. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Justice

I just finished a study on justice and there were some things (quotes, ideas, verses, resources...) that are just too good to keep to myself.

First let's look at the definition of justice, shall we?



jus·tice

noun
  1. just behavior or treatment.
    "a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people"
    synonyms:fairness, justness, fair play, fair-mindedness, equity, evenhandedness,impartiality, objectivity, neutrality, disinterestedness, honesty,righteousness, morals, morality 



God has commanded us to seek justice. He is the creator of justice and He expects his followers to also seek justice.


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.
Micah 6:8


If you want to go through this study yourself, simply head HERE 

Here are some other things you can do:


Read

Generous Justice, by Tim Keller
The Locust Effect, by Gary Haugen
The Good News about Injustice, by Gary Haugen
The Micah Mandate, by George Grant
Deepening the Soul for Justice, by Bethany Hoang
When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert




Meditate and memorize scripture

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:18)
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. (Isaiah 1:17)
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. (Isaiah 58:10)
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1 Corinthians 10:24)
The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. (Psalm 33:5)
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free… (Luke 4:18)
No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:24)
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person? (1 John 3:17)


Sponsor a child 


Pray

Here's a prayer from St. Francis that you can use to jump start your prayers for justice
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
- Prayer of St. Francis

Worth Quoting


 “Justice is doing for others what we would want done for ourselves.”
~ IJM founder Gary Haugen

"Seeking justice begins with seeking our God who created justice."
~Bethany Hoang




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