Sadly, Just Another Bill

A number of months ago I filled out a sponsorship form with Women for Women International to help support a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I may not be in Africa right now, but sponsoring a woman is something I can do while I’m in school preparing to go. My checking account is lacking much more than I had hoped as I prepare for my move, and as much as I hate to admit, this sponsorship had become somewhat of a burden. $27 feels like a lot for me to spend right now.

We do this a often – those of us fortunate enough to afford it: we send our money somewhere it is desperately needed. And after a time we forget the thing – compassion – which compelled us to write that first check. I’ve not lost the heat of my compassion; I can say this with confidence. Compassion and Godly sorrow are what currently drive me to school. I have, however, become lost in my own struggle. Because of my ill-centered perspective, I felt the need to spend most of today praying for confidence from the Father trusting that with the little I am faithful with He will provide just what is needed. So far He has not failed me; He’s provided in huge ways and in little ways, both of which bring tears to my eyes. Although I didn’t once consider stopping my sponsorship God reminded me of the ways He has proved faithful to me over this year as I begin this new journey.

Tonight I began packing and organizing a little bit more for the move, and amidst some papers I found a letter from WFW which had somehow been missed in the chaos. I opened it and found it to be a survey Marie Claire had completed at the beginning of her time with WFW when my sponsorship first went through. Here’s what I found out:

She is thirty, married, and has one boy and two girls. She has birthed six children total, but two girls and one boy have since died from either war, violence, poverty, illness or political oppression (reasons were not specified). She cannot read nor write. Her family has a home, but no electricity or running water. Thankfully, she is working. She says the general health of her family is poor.

Once more I am left astonished at my wealth and the comforts of my life.

Once more my heart floods with sadness; it courses through my veins and I cry.

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Worth

Worth: an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone.

Worth. How do you define worth? In yourself? In your life? In another human being?

Something in my life shifted – and I remember the exact moment – when I learned the invaluable lesson regarding the worth of another human being. Suddenly my life was no longer about me. Suddenly I realized I had to give some of my dreams away (trusting they would come back around somehow) in order to pursue the truth of this new understanding. I couldn’t just sit back and allow life to happen, I couldn’t just pursue my own goals, I now felt the excitement of helping pursue dreams that belonged to others, dreams I don’t know, dreams that haven’t even been birthed.

To those of you that were willing and able to participate in my last post, thank you. Whether you realize it or not, you have justice in you. You have love. You have decided that someone outside of yourself has worth. That is beautiful. Thank you, whoever you were, for the amazing help that you gave. It matters.

To those of you still seeking ways to get involved with something, here’s a thought:

Recently I joined a program through Women for Women International which assists women in war-torn regions with financial aid, job training as well as educates her about her rights and her worth. I’m still waiting for her name (it takes about a month), but I’m already praying for her. A couple of rad things about this program for the sponsors:

1. You get to choose the country of the woman you sponsor. Maybe that seems a little superficial, but think of it this way: if you have a heart for women in Afghanistan, God has placed that specific compassion there for a reason. Through the specificity of this part of the program you have the opportunity to ACT on what God has begun in you. And really, if we all do justice for the sole reason of feeling like we SHOULD (and sometimes that is appropriate), the authenticity and beauty dissipates – or it is never there in the first place. There’s something to be said for a calling on your heart. Think about that.

2. You have the ability to interact with her. It’s an opportunity to cross oceans and cultural lines and many other barriers to tell her because of God you love and value her. You’re able to show that through your financial support as well as in the time you take to write to her. Admittedly, this part makes me the most nervous. I’m going to write a letter to a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Me. I will be writing her letters. A white, privileged woman who has never faced a tragedy even similar to hers…what in the world do I talk about? Well, that’s something I am sure God has all worked out.

Check out the website and let it simmer…or just do it.

Happy Friday, friends.

If you have the means…please help.

Hey all, just received this email from a friend who is headed to Congo Thursday to pick up their newly adopted son.

There is a collection bin at the Antioch Church offices until 2:00 PM today, April 7th. If you have additional baby formula or a few moments to drop by some spare cash you may have please do so.

376 SW Bluff Drive, Suite 8
Bend, OR 97702

—-

I want to apologize for the short notice, but Kristen and I just got off the phone with our lawyer concerning our trip to the DRC this Thursday. Briefly, Kristen and I will be traveling to the DRC (Kinshasa) to pick up our newly adopted son, Bonheur, this week. Our lawyer informed us of a recent crisis within three orphanages that has just developed.

Apparently, there has been a recent formula shortage within Kinshasa, driving the price of formula up to astronomical prices. As a result, the infants of these orphanages are being fed with water and a spoonful of sugar. Many of the children are not expected to survive. Our itinerary is being altered so that we will be able to deliver formula and food bought at a local market to these three inter-city orphanages, one of which is solely for infants with AIDS.

If there is anything that could be done to get the word out to the Antioch body, it would be much appreciated. Kristen and I will be going to Costco this Wednesday to buy as much formula as our luggage will carry; any additional money will be spent at a local market in Kinshasa to buy food for the orphanages next week.

It is comforting to know that formula and money for basic food necessities will be in the hands of their caretakers within a week.

Cameron

flurry

something’s amiss
it’s simply out of order
even my fingers lay
listless on the keys
if they were to move
I worry they may be
brittle and crumble
for what’s amiss
is deep in my soul
and that soul is
deeply connected
to every word that
escapes me no matter
the form, whether
spoken or written
or typed or sang
or whispered –
even thought of
I often feel lost in
who I want to be or who
I think I’m meant to be
and when lost I tend
to drift along hoping
for a flurry of the soul
for here I am
bewildered and left
to fend questions I
do not have answers to
and lost I find I’m
asked to hold a brave face
to appear indifferent
for emotion mixed with
confusion is surely
an uncommon taboo
and why oh why would
you possibly feel lost
in a world where you are
fortunate to have
access to anything simply
to make your dreams
come alive
and yet…
and yet I’m often lost
in who I want to be or who
I think I’m meant to be
and for now I’m out to see
if there’s anything alive
inside of me and I will
drift along until I find
a flurry in my soul
that speaks deep truth
and love and justice
and mercy and understanding
and all of those things
our souls seem to gravitate
toward for somewhere
we must know truth
for it is built into the
unswerving beat of our hearts.

When I started school last fall I had just a smidgen of direction. I wondered how long it would take before things began narrowing into what I really felt like God wanted me to do with such a fancy little piece of paper. I’m sure as heck not doing it for the “oohs” and “ahhs” (or even the “what the heck does that degree even mean?”). I’m doing it because I’m passionate about justice. I’m passionate about doing justice through communication. I’m passionate about doing justice through my love of writing. That, I believe, is God’s beautiful gift to me.

Of course through this season of discovering this passion of mine I feel a little part of me has died. Amidst the research I’ve been doing about injustice, the stories I’ve heard, the documentaries I’ve watched, and even reading some parts of the bible I’ve found my outlook on this world has dimmed. Honestly? It’s probably for the best.

…But I miss the part of me that was unwaveringly optimistic. I miss the part of me that would wake up and never lack hope or faith in what this world could be (but never will be). That part of me, however, has been replaced with a firm belief that eventually, justice will be had. Eventually my life will have fulfilled a purpose greater than I can imagine – not because I want to be great, but because I want injustice to cease. I want justice for the woman who’s been raped and birthed a child that will every.damn.day remind her of a horror she lives. I want justice for her child who will quite possibly be neglected and unloved for the sheer fact that he or she exists. I want justice for the little girl and woman that’s beaten and drugged and “broken in” to become a prostitute and trafficked around the globe without even a glimmer of hope. I want justice for the slave. I want justice for the oppressed. These people have names and faces and horrific stories…somehow, some way, we must hear them and allow them resonate in our souls that we may do something to help.

No, I cannot fix everything. No, I may not be able to fix anything. Ever. That I understand. I cry for that. However, I will do what I can do and that is write, speak, educate, empower. I know now after a few months of even deeper searching and research that my field has narrowed – even slightly – to women. I don’t know what that means. God does. I can rest in that. I also know that doing justice permeates the whole of my life. It is finishing a degree. It is writing. It is this silly, unknown little blog. It is the book I am writing. It is the research that I pour over and cry about. It is the daily goings on. It is drawing near to God.

A note of thanks to my big sister – the one that’s known me the most consistently for the longest period of time in one particular place. Thank you for helping me see my soul and my heart in a beautiful, God-ordained way that I might have otherwise passed by. You are a gem (more than the server at the bar who poured us delicious beers…so much more). Love.

Oh Honesty…

Honesty is the best policy. Tell me you haven’t heard that before and I won’t believe you. 🙂 It’s practically the grade school motto in this country. Somewhere deep inside me I find that it’s more than just needing to hear the real truth from someone, more than just being a good citizen, more than just a phrase, more than just honesty and communication in relationships… I find that honesty in the fullness of life is an important thing.

This is why I blog. This is why I drink countless cups of coffee with friends and strangers (who, in turn, become new friends, of course!). This is why I share my heart and beg of others to do the same. I replied to someone’s comment on one of my poems a while back with this:

“I see the heart as useless if we do not share it and give others the opportunity to experience who we really are. And by that, experience Christ through us.”

This is why I don’t cut corners of truth when I’m writing. I feel if you don’t see all sides of me (even the far-out-left-field sarcasm and humor I tend to spew out without warning, the moments of ugly and sadness, or the confusion I might be in…) you won’t see a real person. You’d see this ridiculously happy, always content and smiling, fake person who “really loves God”. And you would despise me.

I don’t want fake. I want real. I desire to be real. So when I say what I’m about to, well, you’ll know that I’m not lacing my writing with falsehood. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll see a little bit of God shining through. Let’s see what happens, shall we?

Let’s start with the positive, because that’s just who I am when it comes down to it. I am stoked out of my mind to start school. I’m so freaking excited I can barely wait until Christmas is over. That’s creepy, seeing as that’s wishing away a good 3-4 weeks of ski season and because I hate how fast the holidays go every year. I know this little turn of events is something God has been directing me toward, and it excites me to have direction and a long-term commitment ahead of me. (To me, commitment is terrifying at best – so this “four year thing” is a big challenge!) I’ve spent the past two years unsure of what God wanted of my life, but I have been seeking it as passionately as possible fighting the urge to run at almost every turn. And now I have school to help me continue on a more specific direction toward purpose. It’s rather thrilling.

HOWEVER…

I was sipping coffee and reading a blog of a lovely sister/stranger/acquaintance who happens to be serving in Africa this very moment and…well…I cried. Admittedly, her most recent post was tragic and deeply sad, however I felt this other kind of hole inside of my heart. This feeling of, “UGH, WHY THE HECK AM I NOT IN AFRICA?!” I wanted to beat my fists on the floor and let the hot tears take over. I wished and wished I could simply transport myself into the heart of Africa and stay there forever to serve and give my life away and forget about anything our own society tells us is important. My heart is racing because I’m upset. I’m sad that I cannot go right now. I actually mourn the fact that God wants me to do something else right now, even though that something else is exciting to me.

I suppose the only thing I have left to do is wait. I need to allow God to work through what I feel is this funneling of my entire being into something more exquisite than I can imagine. I can only suspect that if you love God, He does that to you, too. It’s what my pastor said to me about a week ago: it’s a period of delayed gratification. That if only I trust God and believe He is doing what He says He will do, it will be more astounding and fulfilling than I can ever hope. Those are some high stakes, folks. I simply have to wait and hope and trust in Him. And that is what I’m hoping and praying to actually make it through without trying to manipulate things and take control to do it the way I want. Because in the end, I want to glorify God. I want Him to use my life in a way that reflects Him and brings Him praise. No matter if I like it or not at the time (or both of those, in this particular case).

Our Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name,
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
for Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever, amen.

Lions and Tigers and…Back to School? Oh my!

WHAT? Yeah. That’s what I keep saying in my head to myself every time I think of it. Back to school. A handful of memories hit my gut when I think about what that actually means. Midterms. Finals. Labs. All nighters. Writing. More coffee than my system can actually handle. Financial aid. Grants. Deadlines. Procrastination. Study groups. Labs. Paperwork. The list goes on.

But it’s not just about these things. It’s the education, the process of learning that is what excites me. It’s so important, not just in college, but every day beyond to continually educate oneself. And there is one word that comes to mind when I think about education: becoming.

I have spent the last six years as a single woman (single for the most part, anyway). I’ve learned about God and people. I’ve learned about myself. I have experienced a very full and rewarding life with a couple of different careers. It’s all been a part of my becoming process. I’m becoming more and more the woman that God intends me to be. He’s turned my heart to be passionate about His children. He’s turned my heart to seek justice. And throughout this time, though I’ve been on a leave of absence from school, I found that I do not like idleness of any kind. I’ve made it a purpose to learn and grow as a person.

And now, this woman has found what her passion is (for the most part) and it’s time to sink back into formal education, only this time with purpose and meaning. This time there will be passion and direction guiding the knowledge that will pour into my mind.

I’m taking my first class since 2005 in just a couple of weeks. It’s a class on the history of human rights (shocked? Didn’t think so). And then in the spring I’ll be taking on more general ed, and next fall begins the fun stuff: the journey to a degree in Intercultural Communications through Oregon State. SWEET.

I’m no Superwoman, but at least when I am out in this world the education I have will propel me to work smarter, harder and more effectively for God’s kingdom.

PS. I’m still planning on Africa. As a team, my attorney and I decided it’s probably best for me to stick around until this settlement process is over. But guess what? As soon as it is, this girl is crossing the ocean for a year(ish). It’ll be a different kind of education, but it will be a beautiful addition to the path of life God has me on.

Thank you. Heartfelt-style.

I need to say one. more. time. how appreciative I am of all that attended the awareness event at the Kilns last night. How blessed I feel that you took the time to come out and educate yourselves and use the power of your voice to help promote change in this world.

That is beauty.

That is love.

Thank you.

Imagine what Marie-Jeanne, or any of the women from that video would feel if they knew we were watching and crying with them? Hoping to help them? Doing what we can? Her heart would be filled with hope. My hope is that it already is because her story was finally told.

The advocacy team at WRN screened the movie about a week prior to the showing, and we sat around to process and talk and share our hearts afterward about how we can empower you (the attendee) and not leave you feeling hopeless. And so, I felt lead to simply try and encourage those that came to the event. I spent two nights and one afternoon in solitude simply praying and writing and reading different parts of books and the word to find anything to help. Anything to ease the pain from watching such a horrific truth laid out before your eyes.

But when I got up in front of everyone, I felt overwhelmed. I felt lacking. Speaking in front of people isn’t that big a deal to me, but you all were different. You were aching and crying and looked hollow with pain, or angry – all of the emotions I saw in front of me were profound. God is stirring something in your hearts. I encourage you one more time to write it down, consistently pray for that, pray for the people, and ask God what justice should look like in your life, because it will most likely be different from the man or woman who sat next to you last night. May God lift your soul, speak to you, and give you the strength to continue to do good.