Archive for April, 2012

Earth Day – Got Water?….or Got Waterbottle?

Water is the basis for life and thus community development.  We want to bless the world with education and health, but usually water must come first.  If you have education without water, you still spend all day getting water and can’t go to that school.  If you have a doctor and no clean water, you are getting sick over and over from the dirty water.  If you have good food and dirty water, the food doesn’t stay in you because you get so sick.  It is more essential than we can quite understand, since water is so accessible to us, everywhere.

Some humbling stats:

1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe   drinking water, roughly one-sixth of the world’s population.

2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them   children, die every year from diseases associated with lack   of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.

• Some 6,000 children die every day from disease associated   with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene   – equivalent to 20 jumbo jets crashing every day.

• 80 percent of diseases in the developing world are caused by contaminated water

Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering  from water related illnesses. http://blueplanetnetwork.org/water/facts

Waterbottles – the purchase of indulgence:

  • $100 Billion dollars a year is spent on the bottled water a year worldwide
  • $15 Billion dollars a year is spent by the U.S. a year on bottled water
  • YET it would take only $10 Billion dollars a year to get clean water to everyone who doesn’t have it http://www.water.cc/water-crisis/related-news/

You know Fiji water?  We ship in Fiji water (all the while polluting in order to ship it to us, while we have clean tap water) because a company (a buisness that wants to make money off of us) owns that water sournce in Fiji yet 55% of the people of Fiji don’t have access to clean water.  How sick is that? The company has started some community projects to “give back”….but I’m thinking the water should just be theirs? www.givecleanwater.org    

Why can’t I just give to water projects?  Well – that is a great start….and CRAZY important.  Sponsorship also covers those bases.  But here is the deal why I personally am trying to get bottled water totally out of my families’ lives.  Those who have the water, go where the money is.  Since they have seen that people buy bottled water, they are using their resources into where the money is, instead of keeping tap water safe.  There are many places in India and elsewhere that USED to be safe, but since bottled water became such a fad, they aren’t safe anymore.  The actual purchasing of bottled water is like voting.  We vote to say that we want the resources to go for bottled water instead of safe water everywhere to everyone.  The dumps are filling up with bottles (and even if they are recycled, the energy used to recycle the bottles is enormous and unnecessary).  The buzz is starting, but it isn’t loud: (these are INSIGHTFUL sites)  http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/5-reasons-not-to-drink-bottled-water   and http://thewaterproject.org/bottled_water.asp .

Please share the story.  It is an Earth Day story, but more than that – it is a compassionate living story.  We care about both for the world thirsty for water and for God.  We care about it for the world we hand off to our children.  It is easy for me to say “Oh, I’ll just grab a bottled water somewhere today if I’m running late, instead of running back inside and grabbing a reusable water bottle in a whole 30 seconds more”, but in that action, I’m saying something about how I feel about the world.

Ways to engage our children:

1 – An excellent intro video to Water issues:  http://youtu.be/_fLuQUtiaoQ (World Vision Water Video) – It is child appropriate and engaging ( There are other great solutions for disease control, like water filtration systems, but those doesn’t solve the problem of time used getting the water).

2 – Empower them with the story of another kid who changed the world of water:  http://www.ryanswell.ca/media.aspx

3 – Offer our children muddy water for a meal- see how they respond, tell them this is what 1/6 of the world drinks, even though they know it makes them sick

4 – Use a large cooler and have children lift it to see how heavy water is that children their age have to carry long distances

Compare these stats visually for them:  The average American uses 176 gallons of water per day compared to 5 gallons of water the average African family uses each day http://www.waterinfo.org/resources/water-facts

U.S is by far the biggest water users in the world:  http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=757

5 – Do a water walk

6 – Limit the amount of water your household can use to an extremely small amount for a day – for all activities.  See how hard it is.

7 – Challenge your family to not buy waterbottles, unless they are ones you can use over and over.   (have your kids keep you accountable – they will!)

8 – Go off of all other drinks but water and use whatever money you’d use on other drinks and give to a water project.

The hope…that we might offer water for healthy life and true life:

” The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”  Rev. 22:17

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Easter Reflections

Our Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday have been awesome.  The kids have really responded to one activity we went through with a simple $1 wooden cross that we painted over and over again and a large nail/spike that I got at Home Depot.

On Good Friday we read through the events leading up to and through the crucifixion.  The kids held huge nails and barely poked it at their skin to try to understand the reality of what happened to Jesus.  They received little wooden cross ornaments.  That night they wrote down different sins that came to mind to them on one side.  On the other side we shared with them about the sad things about the world:  illness, death, orphans, evil people, wars, violence, etc …..That night they painted over their sins in red paint, representing Christ’s blood covering their sins.  They loved it.  On Saturday night I painted the crosses white so on Sunday morning, they would wake up and the crosses would be ‘white as snow” and they were forgiven.  They loved it.  Then, they got to decorate the cross in whatever way the respresented new life to them.

I was moved greatly by Jen Hatmaker’s second blog post and it resonated so much with where GOd is taking me:

http://www.jenhatmaker.com/blog/2012/04/04/the-easter-conundrum-confession-part-2

I am grateful to have been included in on a friend’s Sader dinner with her family.  I am hopeful to figure out what I want to do with all the commercialized/traditional Easter – what to keep, what to make more meaningful and what to ditch.   If I may get rid of many off egg/bunny ears mumbo jumbo, then I want to have something to replace it with that represents truly remembering what Christ has done for us and acting that out for others.   Granted many of the things like egg hunts and egg dying are just crafty and fun.  They can just be spring oriented and not on Easter Weekend… maybe the first day of Spring?  Who knows?….I’m not anti eggs at Easter (we did them this year – I mean – I think it all is really fun!), but I confess I personally would like them more separated for my children now that they are older….or something.  Not sure yet.  I sure am still figuring out what I think about it all.  I am just grateful that God gave me this simple idea with the cross craft to illustrate so tangibly to our kids.  It was so easy.

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From Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday – how do I make it real?

I confess I haven’t done this Lenten season well.  I have a friend that is doing an amazing season of hands-on, service based,  intentional learning with her kids during this season.  Yeah –  I’m not so much.  I have some friends who have taken on some great endeavors of sacrificing in order to give to an organization.  I had thought that would be cool for something like http://www.bloodwatermission.com/fortydays.php as it was already set out for the Lenten season and the idea of blood and water for Good Friday into particular sounded awesome.  But, I didn’t end up doing it.  I’m not sure why – maybe it was because we had just finished our month of rice/beans with our kids and I didn’t want to make them numb to it all. I know World Vision is doing an awesome season of ACTS – showing what acts we can all do to show Jesus during Lent: http://blog.worldvision.org/christian-witness/why-my-grandma-may-be-wrong-living-a-life-of-sacrifice/ .  I had thought of doing 40 days of Random Acts of Kindness…but again, somehow, I never did it.  I have definitely engaged the kids in more stories about Jesus and the upcoming Easter events in Scripture as we have approached this week, but I didn’t do the devotions that I hoped I would.  We had been going through some depressing devotionals about praying for kids in awful situations in the world and it seemed to be impacting my kids so I didn’t want to stop it.  Yet – it is now, that I wish I had thought of just  incorporating THAT into Lent earlier: http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Responding-to-the-World/ELCA-World-Hunger/Resources/For-Congregations/Lent.aspx

So, after reading one of my favorite author’s blog http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2012/04/02/the-easter-conundrum-part-1#.T3tfWEhhZzc.facebook , I had to stare at my heart and ask myself where I stand on this stuff…how am I going to redeem this week since it has just arrived and I don’t want it to pass me by without at least an effort on my part as a redeemed child of God and as a parent to engage it.

So, how much are others trying to just “put the empty back in Egg” or “put the Resurrection back in Easter”  (like Jesus is the reason for the season at Christmas, eh?)?  I am trying to find that out…but I also know we also can’t get to Easter without Good Friday.  Well, actually we can. I can choose to just blow off Good Friday and watch a chick flick because Good Friday sounds weird and makes me uncomfortable (and surely would make my kids uncomfortalbe) and then show up all happy and pastel on Sunday.  Here’s the thing though – Jesus couldn’t get to the Resurrection without going through the Cross and all the Hell he endured, so I don’t want pass by it either…I don’t want my kids to.  I believe that if I take my kids straight to Easter then I take away most of the joy of Easter – the reason why it is so amazing; how much we really need redemption….both as individual souls and as a world where evil sometimes seems to be winning.

So, I’ve decided this:  I’m not sure what all to do with the plastic eggs yet and if I want to go with the “let’s make it part of the Easter story” or just ditch it.  But, I am sure that this year we will do this.  On Good Friday, my family and I will engage some of the brokenness of this world…the evils of humanity (brokenness in people), the sorrows caused by natural disaster (brokenness of creation) and pain/death from illness (brokenness in the body)..the 3 things that broke in the Fall.  We will address it in sorrow for what we see on the outside in the world and then from what we see on the inside of our own hearts (which I’m not personally looking forward to by the way).  I have some ideas on how to help my kids acknowledge their own sin and need for Christ. …and on Good Friday, after we talk about the Crucifixion…we stop there.  We don’t go to the Resurrection talk (unless a kid is devasted on the ground and I feel massive guilt…then fine, I might).  But, the plan is to sit in it…like Mary had to.  She had to wait, thinking there was no hope  for her or the world….EVER.  What would that have been like…to see your own sin and the world’s evil and sorrows and see your hope literally die….on a cross?  What would that emptiness or devastation be like.  I’ll never know (we’ve been spared of that), but I need to know from a glimpse if I am to honor the journey made and the darkness Jesus took on Himself.  I want us to know as a family so that on Sunday morning we can be so fricken relieved and joyful because we knew what was at stake.  Below are some links (some more for parents than kids, though i think kids can handle it more than we think they can).  There are links of both the brokenness and the redemtion.  I’m not looking forward to Friday….but man, I think I’m going to be aching for Sunday this year.

Some of the shadows of Good Friday

EVIL in our world

http://www.persecution.com/public/media.aspx?mediapage_ID=NDg2 Persecution

http://love146.org/love-story Sex Trafficking

http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,338612,00.html Genocide

http://www.livescience.com/11365-10-worst-natural-disasters.html Natural Disasters

ILLNESS in bodies

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Holy-Week:-The-love-of-Christ-close-to-the-sorrows-of-the-world-18015.html AIDS

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/tripp-roth-louisiana-toddler-inspired-thosands-dies-mothers/story?id=15365445 Painful diseases

http://www.world-schizophrenia.org/stories/ Mental illness

EVIL in us

Apathy (This one speaks to my heart…for I am a part of it not changing)  http://blog.worldvision.org/stories/when-the-colors-of-life-go-out-a- tribute-to-fallen-children/  Little kids dying from preventable hunger and illness

Selfishness ”  If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”    ― Stephen Colbert

Ignorance  – the list is endless –  things like water bottles:  http://thewaterproject.org/bottled_water.asp

Some beautiful glimmers of Ressurection Sunday –

RESTORATION from Sorrow

http://blog.worldvision.org/stories/restoring-houses-and-hearts-in-nashville-and-nationwide/  Giving up a posh life to serve

http://www.message.org.uk/reflex/?phpMyAdmin=vwrZAGcA5H-,XSXgNJSvlm2p090  Drug Addicts to Those who minister

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/friends-of-the-poor-distributing-1-400-easter-food-baskets-1.1294943#axzz1r6HQQfkF  Food for the hungry

http://blog.worldvision.org/stories/a-childs-open-letter-i-was-lost-but-now-am-found/ Life in Christ

http://youtu.be/g9P1jwyB_Cc Ministering to others out of our sorrow

http://redemptionstory.wordpress.com/2008/03/22/145/ Hope for Heaven

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Songs,-dances-and-Gospel-stories-bring-Easter-to-life-for-orphans-and-elderly-of-Malolos-17956.html Help to orphans and widows

http://bandssullivan.blogspot.com/ 2 couples who both lost their spouses and parents of their kids early in married, find eachother and marry (now that is God just showing off – pre-Heaven)

Churches Engaging the poor at Easter

http://cornerstoneshiloh.org/about-us/i-am-cornerstone/easter/ 

http://marshill.com/2012/03/27/how-to-be-salt-this-easter

Some Easter Celebrations Around the World

http://blog.compassion.com/kenya-holidays-easter-in-kenya/  Africa

http://blogs.wels.net/missions/2012/04/04/easter-in-colombia/ South America

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303302504577323260262113238.html?mod=googlenews_wsj Asia

http://en.rian.ru/Religion/20100404/158426518.html Europe

Ways we can help now:

Give money – http://www.foodforthepoor.org/help/easter/

SPONSOR CHILDREN!!!! www.worldvision.org or many other great places

Serve the homeless/elderly/poor http://www.cityteam.org/donate/campaigns/

Pray (with the weeping knowledge of what is truly going on in the world) http://www.faithandworship.com/prayers_peace.htm

Good Youtube with great theology:  http://youtu.be/lscQQQE-eWk

Decent youtube Easter (maybe I like it just because of the accent): http://youtu.be/fHE6vBHBSUc

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