Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hunger Banquet

Have you ever been to one? Have you ever hosted one? Have you ever heard of one? Doesn't sound very appetizing, does it? Hunger Banquet. I would love to attend one sometime (I just found out a school locally hosted one a couple months ago and I missed it!). I would love for my kids to go to one. What is it?

(taken from OxFam
Unique and memorable, an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet event allows organizers and participants alike to experience firsthand how our decisions affect others in the world.

How it works
Guests draw tickets at random that assign them each to either a high-, middle-, or low-income tier and receive a corresponding meal. The 15 percent in the high-income tier are served a sumptuous meal. The 35 percent in the middle-income section eat a simple meal of rice and beans. The 50 percent in the low-income tier help themselves to small portions of rice and water. (High-, middle-, and low-income statistics used in the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet event are based on the World Bank Development Indicators 2007.) Guests can also assume characterizations that describe the situation of a specific person at the income level to which they've been assigned. Finally, all guests are invited to share their thoughts after the meal.
After an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet event, few participants leave with full stomachs, but all possess a greater understanding of the problems of hunger and poverty and will hopefully be motivated to do something about them.

I have thought, from time to time, about having our family eat the kind of food that people in some of the poorer countries eat - for at least a week . . . and no snack foods available. Well . . . maybe at least for 2 or 3 days (I don't want Social Services knocking on my door thinking I'm a negligent mother because I'm feeding my kids beans and rice all week!). But I really want my kids to see and understand what it must be like for kids in other parts of the world. You can see a picture, but until you live it - it doesn't really affect you. I would love to take them on some mission trips - to REALLY experience other cultures. But until that time, I will use the resources that I have available.

Here is one that I like for my older kids especially. Oxfam America has an online, "Interactive Hunger and Poverty Educational Experience". It is called "A Seat at the Table" It can really open your eyes (and that of your kids) as to the kind of issues that people in other countries have to face regarding their finances, food, health, etc. It humbles me every time. I encourage you to check it out. Maybe it will encourage you or your kids to host a Hunger Banquet in your area (or something similar).

Here's another great Charity doing great things . . . started by a rich young man from NY who had an experience - as a photojournalist aboard the Mercy Ships and a trip to Africa. It forever changed his life and the lives of countless others with what he decided to do! You can read all about his story and what they are doing at Charity:water. My sister briefly volunteered in their office in NY after meeting this man in a coffee shop (I believe).

Well folks . . . speaking of food and water . . . it's about dinner time here and I am going to get creative with the leftovers I have in my pantry. I've been putting off going to the store for a while . . . so we'll see what I can come up with. :) I like doing that from time to time. You'd be amazed at how long the food in your pantry can feed you . . . though the combinations might not be that delicious or that nutritious . . . but it's better than rice and water!!

Blessings to you all!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm SICK . . . Are you?

Lately I have been aching inside. . . . more than usual. No - it is not from the fact that I have actually been exercising this past week (for the first time in years!) . . . . It's not because I am sick. Well - maybe it is a "sickness". . . . . I am sick of the self-serving lifestyle I am surrounded by constantly. I am sick of falling into the temptation to want MORE and more. I am sick of feeling sorry for myself because we never seem to have anything "extra" . . . just enough to meet our needs. . . . .

And then I get an email from a friend telling me that the orphanage where my precious daughter was living just 8 months ago - barely has enough food to feed the kids and is running out of gas for their stoves! It humbles me to think about my daughter's friends down there - possibly eating a "soup" made out of water, a few noodles, leaves and a few spices in it . . . and if they are lucky - some tiny bits of chicken or meat - and to think that my daughter has possibly experienced the same "dinner" in her 2 years there. I know that at times they have plenty, but donations are not always steady, and so there are some tough times. I know that God provides . . . .but He does that through US . . . you . . . me . . . your neighbors. . . your family!

How many Venti Vanilla Lattes or Grande Caramel Machiatos have you had this week? . . . . This month? . . . . TODAY? :) How many fast-food runs have you made as well? How much of that would you be willing to give up to help out someone else? . . . .You do know that you can make your coffee at home? . . . and your lunch for that matter! They have these handy things called a "thermos" and a "lunch box" that you can take them in! :) hee,hee. All kidding aside . . .

Please watch this video. It will sober you. It just might change your mind the next time you want to stop into Starbucks or McDonald's . . . . or go to see a $10 movie and get a $10 soda and popcorn. Wait for the movie to come out on DVD - and put a hold on it at the library (for FREE!) - and make your own homemade popcorn at home (cheaper than microwave and tastier)! Yes - you will actually have to "wait" a while . . . but I promise it won't kill you! Yes - renting the movie (from Netflix or Blockbuster) is a bit cheaper than going out to see the movie in a theater (or alot cheaper if you have a big family like mine!) - but just see if you can be creative in trying to see it for free! Do that with many things in life. You'd be surprised at how much you can really do without . . . and how much money you will save over time! :) (Can you go a year without buying anything new? Check out what some people in San Francisco did - The Compact. Here's their yahoo group.) Then take that money and make a difference in your neighborhood . . . your community . . . your state . . . nation . . . or the world! AND . . . It feels so much better than having to exercise twice as hard to burn off all those calories that you ate at Mc-D's and drank at Starbucks! :) Just give it a shot!

This video was sent to me by a friend. She found it at UNSTAINED - a blog by another guy who is "sick" and doesn't want to have a wasted life! Check out his journey as he strives to live a life unwasted!

“I tremble at the prospect of living a trivial, self-serving, comfortable, middle-class, ordinary, untroubled American life.” (John Piper)

ps - If you want to donate to a wonderful orphange and help out some beautiful kids - check out Casa Bernabe (House of Comfort) at . You can make a one-time donation or even monthly sponsorships for a certain child - or a whole family (ie - the houses the kids live in). Please pray about how God wants you to be involved. . . . because He DOES want you involved! I hope you are "sick" today . . . and every day from now on!

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I just had to wish all you moms a HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY today!!

I hope it was a wonderful day with family or friends. If you didn't have someone to be with, then I hope you were at least able to call someone . . . your kids . . . your mom . . . a mom you know . . . a mom-to-be . . . a spiritual mom to you . . . Just go call a special woman in your life and wish them a Happy Mother's Day!! :)

I had an emotional day today. Not exactly sure why. Some of it was probably pent-up tears that didn't get released last week during my monthly hormonal craziness . . . If I don't cry at least once a month, the tears will start to flow at the most inopportune times! :) Actually, I do believe some of it was the enemy (Satan and all his evil cohorts) trying to ruin this day . . . trying to remind me of all the areas where I have failed as a mother. . . . where I don't feel like I measure up to the Super-Mom status we are all led to believe we should and can achieve. . . where I wish I had done things differently and am praying that God is just able to super-glue the things I have broken (my children's hearts, minds, emotions, relationships, etc) . . . where I want to do things differently, but am not sure if I am really going to change (due to laziness, procrastination, bad habits, etc). . . . . etc, etc, etc.

I did receive the most precious cards from my 5 kids today - some sweet, some funny, but some of what they said I still had a hard time digesting. Was I really all those wonderful things, or are they just saying them because it's Mother's Day and that's what they are supposed to say? One part of my kindgergartener's card was hilarious . . . but at the same time, poignantly true and sad. He was given a few pages with sentences to fill in the blanks about his mom. Here is what he wrote:

Happy Mother's Day 2008
My Mom's name is Loire (Close . . .it's Lori)
My mom is 38 years old (no I'm not! . . . . the kids always say I'm older than I am!)
My mom is as pretty as a flowr.
My mom makes the best cocees (cookies).
**My mom's favorite thing to do is BE ALONE (caps added by me.)**
My mom thinks it is funny when I be silee (silly)
My mom doesn't think it is funny when I don't cleen my room. (he's right - I don't!)
My mom loves me.
I love to play with my mom.
I love my mom because she is my mom.
Happy Mother's Day!

So . . . my favorite thing to do is not . . . scrapbooking . . . being on the computer . . . photography . . . or even playing with my kids . . . no . . .it's to "BE ALONE"! I just died laughing when I first read it. He knows me too well! But today it did make me sad.

I do have 5 kids (ages 3-12), and for most of the time, every day, I have most of them home (a few go to school in the mornings some . . . it's complicated). And there are many a night when daddy has to come home and scoop all the kids out of the house "to give mommy some alone time" (what an awesome hubby I have!!!). So Jacob is really right when he said that. But I got to thinking today . . . is that really what I want my kids to say or remember about me. . . ."Mom sure couldn't wait till we were all out of the house and she could be alone!" I don't really want to be alone all the time! I am just an introvert by nature and the way I rejuvenate/re-energize is to be by myself . . . to get some time with God, to be able to think without interruption every 5 minutes, to relax and watch a show, read a book or even blog . . . .you know what I mean? I don't get much of that this year. But I don't really want that to be my legacy. It just made me realize that I need to be more careful with what I say and do. I LOVE my kids A TON - and whenever I am not with them and I come home - I LOVE seeing their smiling faces and hearing their sweet voices (when they are not screaming!). I do LOVE being a mom and I do cherish the little things - the snuggling, giggles, playing games, etc. I need to show that more . . . .verbalize it more to them. I used to tell them that my favorite book is one called "Five Minutes Peace" (I do still love it as it describes what most moms go through with little ones around) - but I don't want my kids to think that I feel that way ALL the time. There are just moments that we ALL need 5 minutes (or 10 . . .20 . . . or maybe an hour) of peace! :)

To reassure you, my day wasn't a washout of sadness and tears. I had my good cry, and then wiped my wet face, reapplied my makeup, welcomed my parents, brother and his wife and daughter, and had a wonderful lunch with them - celebrating Mother's Day and one of my daughter's B-days. I played a game, chatted, took some pictures, giggled, and now am getting a few minutes of time to "be alone" while daddy gets dinner for all the kids (and even brought me some food!). After I finish this post - I will be rejuvenated to go back and finish off this Mother's Day with snuggles, back scratching, stories and more (and hopefully no tornadoes! The weather is looking scary!). And tomorrow . . . I have another chance to change things for the better!

So - what would your kids say about you? What do you want them to remember about you - that you were always loving, angry, stressed out, on the computer, tired, happy, fun??? I think I will be doing more soul-searching and being more intentional about the legacy and memories that I am creating for my children. I know I cannot ever attain "Super-Mom" status . . . but to my kids - I do want to be the best Mom that I can be for them!

God bless all you Mother's and all you do!! I know someone has said that if we were actually paid for all we do we would be making over $116,000 a year . . . .though - like my sweet friend Lynae said "I would probably be fired from many of those jobs" (ie - house cleaning, cooking, etc)! :) Hey - we can't be perfect at everything!! :) Just do your best "as unto the Lord"!

Live a LIFE of LOVE today!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The least of these . . . continued.

I wish I had this song to show you when I originally posted "The least of these . . ." .
This is for all those days you feel like "just being a mom" is tough . . . .tiring . . . not getting you closer to God . . . etc. Hang in there and be encouraged! You are worshiping God by obeying what He has called you to do! He sees and He knows!

Song: "If Ever You Worshiped" - by Danny Oertli