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Tuesday, October 16, 2012. Our one day in Haiti, the day that changed me forever. (Read full post here.)

It had been a long day. I was not there to sunbathe. I recognized the need, and I knew it with all my heart. God led us down a path that culminated in me scratching names on a little piece of white paper. These names, these men, the needs they had. Two of them needed clothes for their children. And although I could not see their children, could not see their homes or their circumstances, I could feel it. I knew with every fiber of my being they needed these things.

I acted, I moved, I brought my children and we provided. Not nearly enough, but we provided.

We gave.

But sitting on my heart remains one thing. One. big. regret.

I was able to provide for all of these men but one.

Antonio. He needed clothes for his two-year-old boy. I had a nine-year-old boy, and I was not courageous enough to ask fellow cruise ship passengers, random moms on the beach, if they would be willing to give the clothes off their sons’ backs for Antonio’s son. If I could turn back time, I would strip away all of my pride….and just ask. For Antonio.

The not asking has turned my world upside down. Everything looks different in light of Antonio and his unmet need. The sound of his voice, the way he asked not once but three times for clothes for his child, it will all be forever etched in my mind. And although it has haunted me, made me want to set out on a search for a future cruise passenger who can deliver a package to Antonio for me, I know this experience will ultimately be a blessing in disguise.

Since Antonio, because of Antonio, I experience life differently. Every day.

This just one example…

All it took was one foot in this magical place called the Disney store. Antonio came to mind, tears welled in my eyes. Such an unexpected place to experience memories of that day in Haiti.

Joy to the World and Hark the Herald Angels Sing played in the background.

And my eyes landed on this shiny red hat. Although Antonio’s son may never set his sights on this sparkly red hat that symbolizes youth and fun and play, I can give shelter, protection.

Although Antonio’s son may never find a pair of shiny red boots under a Christmas tree, I can give hope for a boy to keep on walking.

Although Antonio’s son may never get a cool Toy Story bowl for his goldfish crackers or a Toy Story boot cup for his juice, I can give food and drink.

Although some little girl will never experience girlish games of dress up, I can give confidence to press on with a brave and beautiful spirit, a sense of worth.


And although some little girl may never get to look in a mirror as glorious and as wondrous as this, I can give her the greatest gift, the greatest reflection of all. That she was made in the image of God, knit together for a very special purpose here on earth, that she is precious and beautiful in His sight.

So today my pride is stripped. I come to you on behalf of little children in poverty around the world and ask for you to take a second look, think about what extra you might give this Christmas.

Compassion International has a goal of raising $20,000 from the Christmas Gift Catalog this month. There are 2,000 Compassion Bloggers. If each site raises $100 from the Christmas Gift Catalog, the goal will be met, and thousands of children and families in poverty will be given hope this Christmas and beyond.

Today, I commit to giving through the Compassion International Christmas Gift Catalog in honor of Antonio and his son.

Will you consider giving…

$4 to protect a child from parasites?

$13 to help a malnourished child survive through emergency feeding?

$20 a Christmas gift for a mom and a baby?

$23 help build water reservoirs for children and families?

$25 to help a mom towards a safe birth?

…or more?

Give creatively, give compassionately this year at the Compassion International Christmas Gift Catalog. To help a child, a mom, a dad this Christmas.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38


Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to a sweet girl I see for speech-language therapy. Although I’m unable to show her face or reveal her name because of privacy laws, something that occurred during our therapy session yesterday holds a bit of truth for us all. I’m so grateful her mom has given me permission to share this story here today.

Psychology notes that we are able to identify dominant personality traits in others when we possess those traits ourselves. If that’s true, then I admit I spotted myself in this little girl from the very start. Confident and bold, loving and  sweet, a very hard worker, loves order, and likes to do things her way. A Type A in the making, her mom and I have agreed! I just love this little girl. Sure we butt heads once in a while, but there’s no doubt we work hard together to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.

So yesterday, when I saw her line up that pile of cards on her lap and get them all just so, in order, I realized once again that our personalities are just as much innate as they are formed. The only truth that makes sense to me when I see a little 4-year-old ordering a pile of cards just so is that she was born that way…she’s an organizer and likes order, and it’s just who she is. There was peace in that observation, an acceptance of myself and that little girl for who we are at our core.

We moved along with the stories on our cards. Moments passed, and before I knew it, this little girl had taken off her boot.

And out from that boot came a construction paper picture!

 A work of art on one side, and her name in big bold letters on the other side. All on a piece of bright red paper.

I asked this little girl, what is a picture doing folded up in her boot? She explained she does this every day! Her teachers say she can only color with crayons, but she uses pencils and crayons. She hides the pictures in her boot so her teachers can’t see.

I look closely at both sides, tell her what beautiful pictures they are, and try to get some more clarity as to why she feels she needs to hide these beautiful pictures in her boots (I know, a little diversion from what you might consider traditional speech therapy, but we were practicing all of our sounds during this whole interaction and she was very proud to share her creation!). She showed me how she folded the picture up all pretty, how she could make it into a bird and fly. Paper wings flapping in the air, “see, it flies!”

Next thing I knew, she said it was time to put it back. She folded it up nicely. I took it and placed it in the back of the boot where her heel would rest, assuming that was the most logical place for a piece of paper in a boot?! “NO,” she said without reservation, “it goes on the bottom!” She put it in the very bottom of the boot, tucked away deep, hidden away nice and flat.

I have yet to discover whether there was truth in her statement that the teachers only allow the children to use crayons, or whether they also allow pencil drawings. But the truth regarding pencils and crayons matters very little as far as I’m concerned.

In fact, what moved me to post this story was the fact that this little girl felt she needed to keep her creation hidden. Clearly so proud. She knew everything about that creation. She knew it could fly and how to fold it perfectly so it would fit in the boot. But why did she need to hide it? Was it simply a fun 4-year-old game of hide and seek? Perhaps. But knowing how intelligent this little girl is, I believe she may have had it hidden for other reasons.

This got me thinking…

How often do we hide away our creations, the gifts we have to offer this world?

Why do we feel the need to hide those beautiful gifts, those beautiful dreams we have for ourselves?

If we know these things are so wonderful, why do we keep them to ourselves, only for others to stumble upon?

What are we doing, as adults, to encourage our children to openly share their creations, their gifts, so others can see?

What are we doing, as adults, to encourage one another to share our gifts?

What good does a gift do if it is hidden away in deep, dark places where nobody can see?

Today, I encourage you. Whether you’re Type A, Type B, or any other through Type Z, take those creations, those gifts out of those boots of yours, and let the world see your greatness!

No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Luke 8:16-17


You are a special mama.

I hear you.

I see you.

I understand you.

I am with you.

That look, I recognize it. I see it. The way you look at your child. Your quiet, wondering eyes tell all. The way pain has settled in. What does this child’s future hold? Will everything be ok?

That voice, I hear it. Your anxiety, your worry, your being on the edge every moment. Your wondering who has the answers. Your wondering who can help me with this child? Your need to know you’re not alone. You’re not alone, that’s what you need to hear.

That feeling, I get it. That others simply don’t understand. They know not what you have been through. They know not what your child needs. They know not how to respond. Their understanding of what your child says and does is limited. Not by their own fault, but by virtue of not being you, not being in your shoes. You take not a single thing for granted when it comes to your child. Embrace that gift. Use it to hear, to see others better, more deeply. Live more fully.

That gut horror of yours, stop overanalyzing it. Did you do something wrong? Too much of this, not enough of that? Could you have done something earlier, something more, something better? Could you have prevented this from happening? Would a different parent have been better for this child? Accept this gift from me. You have done nothing. Your guilt is not warranted. Your gut leads you astray. You are the parent your child needs.

That joy of yours, that pride, I sense it. It comes overflowing in that moment. It takes your breath away. You never thought your child could do that, could be so great, could meet, exceed all your expectations. Believe it. Your child can do anything. Anything is possible. That triumph is yours. That triumph belongs to you and your child.

Because you are great.

You are courageous.

You are strong.

You are an amazing mama.

You can do it.

You can do this.

This is hard, but you are doing it.

You are doing it.

You are a special mama.

And I see you.

May the gift be yours to embrace.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19


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