Of Teddy Bears and Congressmen

As the internet continued to connect people from all over the country, many of us kept asking the question, “What can we do?” We felt so helpless and felt like we needed to do something!

Gradually the picture seemed to come a bit clearer. There’s a term called “Humanitarian Parole” in immigration rules. Basically it means, “Get the kids out of the country and to their new home and finish the paperwork later.

It’s only been used a few times. The Vietnam baby lift is the most common example of when it happened. Little did we know in 2004 that it would end up getting used in 2010 after the earthquake in Haiti.

Those of us with children stuck in Haiti gathered together and came up with the idea of doing a “bear a van” and collect Teddy Bears from all over the country to represent the children who were stuck in Haiti. We would then bring all of them to Washington DC and use that as an effort to urge our government to show compassion on the children and the families and grant them humanitarian parole.

It succeeded and it failed.

It succeeded in that we had a large number of people show up and come to Washington to show our government what an impact this coup was having on families from all over the United States. I’ll never forget talking to the chairperson of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and she said to me, “I’ve been in a lot of Senate briefings and I’m very familiar with this room, but when I walked in and saw teddy bears lined up all around the room, on the tables, on the front podium and every single one of them had a picture on it and matched up with a kid in Haiti waiting for their family, I lost it.”

It failed because even though we had the opportunity to talk to a large number of people in Washington, we were not able to get them to change their minds and institute humanitarian parole. But that ended up being ‘okay’ because within 6 weeks, things were pretty back to normal and we only lost about 6 weeks in the process.

The other way that we succeeded is that it gave all of us, as parents, the ability to talk to our children later, tell them the story and explain to them what we did and how we did everything possible to keep them safe and get them home as soon as possible.

The Myth of Not Enough

But the problem is so big…….

But there are so many kids who need families……..

But there are so many homeless people………

But our government is so screwed up……..

But she can’t do that, she lost the bottom half of both of her legs…….

But I can’t speak in front of a group…….

But what difference can I make?

But how can I make a change in that?

One of the things that the devil uses to combat the work of God’s people in the “First World” is the myth of not enough.

I’m not _________ enough (fill in the blank), so I’m not going to try to do that.

And the needs of the kingdom go unmet.

Moses told God that he wasn’t “good enough” and couldn’t speak well enough and look what God accomplished through him.

There are countless other examples of people who didn’t feel like they were “enough.”

We aren’t enough.

But with God, we are enough.

We can make a difference.

We can make a difference for the vulnerable children of the world. 

We can make a difference for the homeless.

We can make a difference for the people who are struggling at our church.

We can make a difference for the child at school who doesn’t have a friend.

We are enough.

Not on our own, but with God.

Where are you going to go forward knowing that you are not enough but God is?

Where am I going to go forward knowing that I am not enough but God is?

I’ve got some ideas on that that I’m working on – stay tuned…….

Tom

It’s Who You Are

Ann Voskamp wrote, “But the thing is? Your words can say a lot of things. But only your trail tells the truth.

The thing is? Actions are always turned up far louder than words.
Worship is not only what you verbalize, what you say.
Worship is ultimately a verb— worship is ultimately what you do. It’s who you are.”

You can read the whole article here.

A couple of important thoughts that hit me in this article……

Only your trail tells the truth – we can say all we want about anything we want, but only our trail tells the truth.   Only our actions really show who we are.

Worship is not only what you say, worship is what you do.    That’s pretty harsh for people who talk a good story, go to church and “look perfect” but then don’t live the way that God intends them to or don’t acknowledge the hurts and the pains that everyone feels.

Worship is what you do.    It doesn’t matter what you do, you could be a mechanic, you could be a nurse, you could be a stay at home mom.   Everything you do is worship.  Everything you do should pour out from your love of God and His gift to you.

To me this means a couple of things:

  • Every day should be viewed as a partnership.   It’s me and God (or more accurately, it’s God and me).   We are doing life together, we’re raising kids together, we’re praying for our family together, we’re enjoying quiet time with the kids, we’re enjoying the noise and bustle of daily life, we’re crying over illnesses and over injustices, we’re being moved to action over the wrongs we attempt to right, we’re pushing a broom, we’re crunching numbers, whatever you do, it’s a partnership with God.
  • What you say is important, but what you do is more so.   You can say that you’re passionate about social justice, but if you don’t do anything about the injustices, it doesn’t mean much.   You can say that you love adoption but if you don’t do something to support someone who is adopting…….
  • Church, real church, is not about making people feel good, it’s not about instilling head knowledge, it’s about equipping the members of the church to go out and do.   Do what?   Do what God has called them to do.   Do what God has equipped them to do.   Do what Jesus would have them do.   Friends of mine are planting a church in Ypsilanti  Michigan called the Antioch Movement.   They are, in my view, doing a wonderful job of encouraging the members of their group to go out and do in a community that needs it.
  • Since worship is who you are, not what you say, it doesn’t really matter whether you use an organ, a piano, guitars, bongo drums.   It doesn’t matter whether you are all dressed up or whether you are wearing jeans.    What matters is that you show up with the desire to see God and to say, “God, show me what you want me to do.”
  • There is a difference between a classroom lecture and a sermon.   A classroom lecture is designed to impart knowledge.   A sermon should be designed and shared to impart the desire to be part of what God’s up to and to provide listeners with the tools so that if they choose, they can be part of what God’s up to.

Worship is who you are.   What you do says more about who you are than what you say.   May we all live in light of those ideas and align our who and our what more closely with Jesus.

Tom

Monday Morning – and Teddy Bears

Monday morning – the sun comes up. And now what?

The government that was in place on Friday in Haiti is gone. Nothing is the same.

Where is our paperwork?

Who’s in charge of IBESR? (Haitian social services?)

When will the airport open again?

When will the US Embassy open for normal business again?

A lot more questions than answers.

But even with that, an overwhelming believe and understanding that God was in charge and that He had a plan inspite of everything that was happening.

The internet was buzzing and there were people from all over the United States who were in the same spot that we were – with kids stuck in Haiti and a lot more questions than answers.

And that led to discussions. Discussions about Teddy Bears……

When No One Is Looking

I’ve read this before but my friend, Todd Waller, recently posted this on his blog.   You can read it in it’s entirety at Todd Waller.

The sentence that stood out for me was this:

“the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

What is that talking about?   A couple of things……

Many of the really great, extremely awesome things that really matter in life are done when no one is watching, when no one is cheering, when no one is standing and applauding.

But it’s like building a cathedral.  It’s something that’s bigger than you, it’s something that you probably won’t see the end result of.

Whether that’s investing in the lives of your children or in the life of an orphan or sponsoring a child or starting a business or mentoring someone.   Whether it is praying for someone or a simple act of kindness, we never know the impact that we’re going to have on others.

So, what kind of cathedral are you building?    What are you investing in that is bigger than you, bigger than your life?

Tom