Shining Hope: A Review of Chasing Silhouettes

 
“Mommy, am I fat?” he asks one morning, as I stand with my hands under running water at the kitchen sink.

"What? No! Of course you’re not fat; you’re not in the least bit fat,” I answer, not turning to look over my shoulder at Rowan, who’s perched on a bar stool at the counter. “Why would you even say that?”

“Well, you say you’re fat all the time, so I thought maybe I was fat, too,” he says, holding his toasted bagel half in one hand, his glass of grape juice in the other. I turn off the water, dry my hands on a dish towel and lean against the kitchen counter.

“Honey, you’re not fat, and I’m not fat either,” I tell him, resting my chin in my hands and looking him straight in the eye. “And I shouldn’t say I’m fat. It’s just a bad habit for me to say that all the time, and I’m going to stop.”

I know my boys have heard me say that I’m fat more times than I can count. I know they’ve seen me poke at my stomach through the folds of my cotton tee-shirt, lamenting aloud the doughy roll, vowing to nix the nighttime Wheat Thins snack.

I thought I could get away with complaining about my body because I have boys. I thought it didn’t matter with boys, that they wouldn’t notice, that it wouldn’t have any influence. I thought I could call myself fat without fearing it would impact my children.

But I was wrong.

This is one of the many reasons why Emily Wierenga’s new book, Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, fills such a critical need: because there are so very many misconceptions and misperceptions surrounding eating disorders. My assumption, for example, that boys don’t succumb to eating disorders is simply wrong. Of the estimated 8 million Americans who suffer from anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders, one million of them are male.


Not only does Emily weave her real-life story of suffering and recovery from anorexia with research and facts about the illness, this book is also a spiritual guide for those of us who love someone suffering from an eating disorder. As is often the case, a book like this might answer our questions from a physical and even an emotional perspective, yet it often leaves the spiritual perspective untapped. Emily artfully weaves all three perspectives together into a coherent, gracefully written narrative.

I appreciate, for instance, that Emily includes a prayer at the end of each section. So often, when we are ravaged by hopelessness and fear, we simply can’t pray, we can’t find the words. Emily offers us words to pray, even when we fear prayer is impossible.
 
This book is not a dry, statistic-filled, how-to tome. Written in honest, evocative, lyrical prose, Chasing Silhouettes shines truth, hope and grace into the darkest corners of an illness that ravages so many millions of women and men. And while she doesn’t shy from telling the hard truth, Emily also insists that the reader comes away from her story, and this book, with the knowledge that all hope is not lost and that, above all, those who suffer through this illness are never alone.
 
A person I love struggled with anorexia. I dearly wish Chasing Silhouettes had been available to her and to my family in the midst of that darkness. 




: :
Purchase Emily Wierenga's new book Chasing Silhouettes:How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder within the first four weeks after its September 25, 2012 release date and receive a special invitation to watch an online forum on eating disorders with bestselling author Dr. Gregory L. Jantz, FindingBalance CEO Constance Rhodes and author Emily Wierenga.

Readers must email a scanned receipt, a picture of them with the book or tell us when and where they purchased the book to
events@ampelonpublishing.com, and they will be logged in to receive a special invitation to watch the event. They may also submit questions for the panel to answer, some of which will be selected and answered during the forum.

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Be Kind


 
I see him two or three mornings a week, always at about the same time and at the same place. He wears navy blue shorts and a blue plaid shirt, and occasionally pulls a cap over his military-cropped hair. Often I pass by him twice on my run – once on my way out as I lumber toward the halfway point, and once on my way back as I labor toward home.
 
His greeting is always the same: a big wave, arm held out as if he might offer a high-five, and a generous, eye-crinkling smile. If I pass him on my return trip, I get the wave, the smile and a hearty, “Have a good one!”

It’s been ten years since I first began to recognize the man on the trail, and his response has never been anything other than genuine, unwavering cheerfulness, week in and week out…and not only to me. The man on the path greets every person he sees the same way: with kindness and joy.

I don’t know a thing about this man in the navy blue shorts and plaid shirt. I don’t know where he lives or what he does for work or if he’s retired. I don’t even know his name. I’ve never stopped to converse with him. There is simply the wave, the smile and those same four words as we continue on in opposite directions.

I’ve passed a lot of runners, walkers, bikers and roller bladers in my ten years jogging on the trail. Some say hello, some smile, some look at their feet or ten yards into the distance without so much as a glance in my direction. You wouldn’t think it would make any difference, would you -- whether someone says hello or smiles or not? But it does. It’s more than enough to impact my mood and often, my whole day.

The man on the path has only ever spoken four words to me. But within those four seemingly mundane words is a powerful life lesson: A simple kindness can bestow lasting blessings.

Be kind. (1 Thessalonians 5:15)


 

What simple kindness do you gratefully receive on a regular basis?

Linking with Jennifer...because this stranger's kindness is no coincidence:

And with Emily for Imperfect Prose:




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Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: The One and Only True Judge



I slam on my brakes, assuming he’s going to pull out in front of me, but he screeches to a stop at the last second. He’s steaming mad, fist raised, mouth moving furiously. At the stoplight he pulls alongside my mini-van, rolls down his window and leans across the front seat. Then, shaking his finger in barely contained rage, he lambasts me.
“Why is that mean, mad man yelling at you?” Rowan asks from the backseat. I blink back tears as I grip the steering wheel and stare straight ahead.

A couple of days later I spot the same man crossing the street near the kids’ school. When I recognize his taupe trench coat and shock of white hair, I have the urge to knock him flat with my mini-van.

Turns out, his granddaughter is in Rowan’s class. Once or twice a week for the rest of the year, I loiter next to him on the concrete steps as we wait for the school dismissal bell to ring. And as the weeks turn into months, I still can’t forgive him for yelling at me. I am still so angry. And he has no idea.

I thought about my grudge when I read the story of Joseph and his brothers this week.

Joseph’s brothers were terrified he would retaliate, and with good reason. After all, they’d schemed to kill him, sold him to slavery and told Jacob, their father, that he was dead. But Joseph surprised them all by forgiving them:

“Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you?” (Genesis 50:19, NLT)

Joseph knew what I have struggled to accept: that God is the one and only true judge.

Nearly eight months have passed since the man chastised me at the stoplight. I still see him from time to time at the kids’ school.  I don’t feel the anger I once did, but I’m not sure I’ve quite forgiven him yet.  It’s been easy for me to point my finger at the man’s flaws, to place myself above him in my refusal to forgive him.

Joseph’s story reminds that I don’t have the right to judge. Whether I like it or not, that authority belongs to God alone. I remind myself that many years passed before Joseph was reunited with his brothers – many years in which he undoubtedly worked hard at forgiving them. I trust that in due time, I might completely forgive the man I begrudge, too. 

When you feel you’ve been wronged, how do you relinquish the urge to punish or judge and move toward forgiveness instead?

: : :
Welcome to the "Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday" community, a place where we share what we are hearing from God and his Word.

If you're here for the first time, click
here for more information. Please include the Hear It, Use It button (grab the code below) or a link in your post, so your readers know where to find the community if they want to join in -- thank you!

Please also try to visit and leave some friendly encouragement in the comment box of at least one other Hear It, Use It participant. And if you want to tweet about the community, please use the #HearItUseIt hashtag.
Thank you -- I am so grateful that you are here!








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Weekend Meditation: See








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Twilight in the Tallgrass {or, How I Wake to the Moment}

Boys with bug nets and rubber boots.

Burning sumac.

Silken threads.

Hands releasing milkweed fluff.

Hair a halo of gold.

It's twilight out here in the tallgrass, and I'm remembering Ann Voskamp's words as the sun sinks behind the cottonwood:

"Make every moment a cathedral giving glory...And it is eucharisteo curving the moment into a cupola of grace, an architecture of holiness -- a place for God. Thanks makes now a sanctuary. And I take my vows: I will not desecrate this moment with ignorant hurry or sordid ingratitude. I will be Jacob, and I will name this moment the 'house of God.'" (One Thousand Gifts)



















For I have seen God face to face... (Genesis 32:30)

Blessings to you this weekend, dear friends. And may you see Him face to face.
Stop. Breath in, breath out. And look. He is there.
 

 



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It's Time to Make that Dream a Reality (Yeah, I'm Talking to You!}

Writers-3290Some of us talk the big talk about changing our lives, or pursuing our dreams or doing something new…and then we stagnate month after month or year after year.
 
Some of us even whine from time to time (ahem), about how we can’t go after what we want because it’s too hard or too tiring or too complicated or too overwhelming or too daunting or too ___________ [fill in the blank with your favorite excuse...the ones listed here are all mine].

But some of us? Some of us [like the super-awesome go-getter Deidra Riggs] talk for a little while about it [and maybe hyperventilate just a tiny bit]…and then they make it happen.

I remember the day a couple of years ago when Deidra said, “You know, I think we need a retreat right here in Nebraska.”

I nodded my head, all enthusiastic.

“Oh yeah, totally, we need that, we do.” {thinking to myself, “Yeah, you get on that, woman”}. And then, of course, I didn’t give it a second thought.

But that was the day Deidra started planning, envisioning and strategizing. That was the day Deidra started dreaming.

She got on it, all right.


This coming April 19-21 that dream becomes reality, with the launch of the first annual Jumping Tandem: The Retreat, hosted by Deidra Riggs right here in beautiful Nebraska! And this retreat? It’s all about pursuing your Big, Amazing Ridiculous Dream. Not just the dreamy-dream part, but the practical, how-to part, too (which really, really appeals to this pragmatic girl!).

Early bird registration officially opens October 1, but pop over here for a sneak-peek and a few more details. And start dreaming about visiting Nebraska…and taking one small step toward making your God-given dream a reality.



Picture of Deidra by Curt Brinkmann of Life's A Story photography.


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Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: No Exceptions


 
As the sandwiches, Cokes and chips slid down the conveyer belt, the cashier turned to me with a question: “Likethatinasack?”

“I’m sorry, excuse me?”

“Likethatinasack?” 

I looked at her blankly.

“Do…you…want…it…in…a….sack?” She pointed at the plastic bag with a magenta fingernail.

“Ohhhhhh…a bag. Yeah, yeah. Please. A bag.”

I wondered if she could tell. Was it clear that I hadn’t known what she meant when she used the word “sack” instead of bag? The realization was sharp, sudden: I’d been in Nebraska all of two hours, and it felt like I’d landed in a foreign country. I didn’t even speak the language.

I often think about my move to Nebraska when I read the many verses about foreigners that are peppered throughout much of the Old Testament. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for the immigrants who come to the United States, most without a job awaiting them, or adequate housing. Most not knowing more than a word or two of English. Many not knowing a single soul. I can’t imagine how overwhelming it would be to navigate the aisles of SunMart, never mind converse with the cashier.

God is very clear about how he wants us to help these newcomers. Just as he loves the foreigners living among us, giving them food and clothing, he expects we will do the same:

“So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19).

The problem, of course, is that sometimes we make exceptions to this command. We decide only certain foreigners deserve our help – the ones who are here legally, the ones who aren’t stealing our jobs, the ones who we deem are working hard enough or who are assimilating as they should or who are learning English adequately. The ones who aren’t abusing the system.

We make exceptions. We determine who we will help and who doesn’t qualify.

I know this because I have thought exactly this way from time to time. And I’ve been set straight by God.

The truth is, God “shows no partiality.” (Deuteronomy 10:17)

He doesn’t separate foreigners into two categories: the deserving and the undeserving. Instead, he loves, clothes and feeds all, and he states explicitly that he expects us to do the same.

“Show love to foreigners,” he commands – not “show love to some foreigners” or “show love to these foreigners, but not those.” Simply, show love to all foreigners.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in politics and controversies and lose sight of what God wants. In the end, though, it’s not that complicated. The Bible is clear. God wants us to show no partiality. He wants us to love everyone.

No exceptions.

Do you ever make a distinction between who you deem deserving and who you deem undeserving? Have any of the verses about foreigners in the Bible ever changed the way you think? 

: : : :

One little note...before we get to the Hear It, Use It link-up: I wanted to let you know about a new link-up community launched by my friend Jenn LeBow -- a Monday link-up community called Mercy Mondays. Today's prompt is "Singing of his Mercy -- How Mercy and Music Intersects for you." Will you pop over to Jenn's place to check it out? I think you'll find it a cool place to hang for a while!


 : : : :
 
Welcome to the "Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday" community, a place where we share what we are hearing from God and his Word.

If you're here for the first time, click
here for more information. Please include the Hear It, Use It button (grab the code below) or a link in your post, so your readers know where to find the community if they want to join in -- thank you!

Please also try to visit and leave some friendly encouragement in the comment box of at least one other Hear It, Use It participant. And if you want to tweet about the community, please use the #HearItUseIt hashtag.

 Thank you -- I am so grateful that you are here!




 

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Striding, Awkwardly


You sure have a unique stride there,” he says, pulling up beside me on the path, low-to-the ground on his three-wheel, aerodynamic bike. “It’s neat though, real neat.”
“Yeah, it’s not the most efficient,” I agree, pushing a sweaty strand away from my face. “But it still gets me where I need to go.”

He’s right. My running stride is awkward and graceless. I galumph. Like Bullwinkle in a tank top and Nikes. Rather than kicking straight up and back, my feet swing out to either side. It looks a little like I’m swinging an invisible lemon loop round and round my right ankle while I run. I nick my ankles so often with my own sneakers they bleed, sometimes right through my socks.

I’ve tried on occasion to correct my gait, concentrating on keeping my body long and lean, my feet in line with my hips instead of flinging wildly from side to side. But I always give up. I figure I’m not out to break any speed records. I simply want to burn the maximum number of calories in the shortest time possible. And like I told the cyclist on the trail: my stride, flawed and funky as it is, gets me where I need to go.

...I'm over at Her View From Home today...meet over there for the rest of this story?


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On My Knees, Painting


When I tell my friend Sarah I’m painting the trim in my bedroom, she asks, “So how are you, emotionally?” She remembers the last time I painted a room, last winter, when my father-in-law was dying and my husband was in Minnesota for four weeks. Sarah knows I tend to paint when my life tips wildly off-balance, when I’m sliding under the rails of the Titanic with the deck chairs. “No, no, I’m good,” I laugh. “I just want white trim, that’s all.”
Of course, that wasn’t the whole truth. 

I decided to paint my bedroom trim mid-morning on Saturday, right after I’d read all about the relaunch of the Deeper Story website. As I clicked around the fresh, new pages, I scanned the expanded lists of writers – some of whom I know well, some not at all. And it felt like I was summersaulting headlong into a well.

I know this deep well. I’ve splashed around in its stinking, stagnant waters before, clawed its slimy, dank walls. “Why not me?” I sighed, clenching my jaw, clicking and clicking through page after page. “Why don’t I ever get asked to join these writer communities? Why don’t I ever get picked? What’s wrong with me?”

I’ll tell you I want to be picked because I yearn for the community, a place to call home on this tangled Web. But that’s not quite true either. What I really want is to be part of a certain kind of community – the cool community, the popular community, the community everyone knows, the one everyone’s talking about. I want to be invited, asked, included. Acknowledged, affirmed. Loved.

I want to be "in."
I know what you’ll say. You’ll tell me I am loved. I am affirmed. That God already does that for me. That’s he’s all the affirmation I need. I'm "in" with him.

And it’s true. I know it’s true.

But what do you do when you know that’s how you’re supposed to feel…but it still doesn’t feel like enough?

I powered down the laptop, pushed back my desk chair and headed down to the basement to grab the roller, drop cloths, brushes and can of white paint. For two days I painted window frames, door trim and baseboards, inching along behind the bed, caked dust and crumpled Kleenex and used dryer sheets under my knees. While I painted I prayed this verse again and again, a verse I’d read two days earlier and somehow, miraculously, memorized:

Turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me (Luke 9:23).
 
With every dip of the brush into the can, I prayed. Turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me.

With every swipe of paint across the woodwork, I prayed. Turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me.

With every push of the roller across the tray, I prayed. Turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me.

By Sunday night, the drop cloths were folded, brushes cleaned, rollers drying in the dish rack. The door frames, baseboards and widow sashes in my bedroom gleamed snowy white. But the pit in my stomach, though subdued, was still there.

Turns out, I can’t paint over the pit. But I can pray over it. And so that's what I'm choosing to do.
 
{Pray with me? For all the ways in which, perhaps, you might need to turn? Turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.}
 
So tell me...have you ever felt this desire to be "in" with a particular group or community? How have you resolved this feeling of less-than?

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Because 223 Days Seems Like a Really Long Time to Wait

Letters from Pedro and his sister

Dear God,
Remember when I laid awake the other night praying for Noah? I was worried about him, and I prayed for your help.

I thought about that this morning as I clicked through a dozen pictures of kids in need of sponsorships on the Compassion site. I stopped for a long time on the picture of one boy, Niyomugisha. He was wearing a yellow shirt, yellow shorts and sandals, and he stood on a patch of dirt near a wooden shack. The description said he lives in Rwanda and is one of six kids.
It also said he’s been waiting for a sponsor for 223 days.
223 days.

That seems like an awful long time to wait for a breath of hope.
I wonder what those 223 days have felt like for Niyomugisha’s mother. I wonder if she lays awake at night, praying that You will bring a sponsor for her child. Praying for hope. I wonder what she worries about. How to get enough food for her six kids? Where to find medicine for her sick little ones? How her husband will find work?

It makes my worries about my kids seem so silly. Our doctor is a phone call away. Medicine and food are less than a mile up the road – three minutes by car. I worry about problems that can be solved.
But Niyomugisha’s mother…does she worry about losing hope?
This morning as I looked at his picture on my computer screen, I prayed for Niyomugisha and his mother – that they will remain faithful and hopeful in You.

And today I ask that you bring Niyomugisha a sponsor. May this day be the end of his long wait.

Amen.
: :
Our assignment from Compassion for this week was to write a letter to God and publish it online, which, I admit, felt slightly awkward. 
The good news, though, is that as of Monday, 837 sponsorships have been made -- isn't that amazing?! So...three weeks remaining for Compassion Blogger Month and 2,271 sponsorships to go -- I really do think we can do this thing!
Will you click over to the Compassion sponsor page, pick one child and pray for him or her?  
And if the Spirit so moves you, please consider sponsoring Niyomugisha or another child today. Thank you!!!


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Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: Small Temptations, Big Consequences



Last September I completed the Shop-Not Project: 365 days without shopping for clothes, shoes or accessories – a major challenge for this Paris Hilton protégé.

Throughout that long year I was tempted to cheat, but surprisingly, it wasn’t the big-ticket items that nearly undid me. I didn’t pine (much) after the Coach purses or the Vera Wang wedges. Instead, it was the small, seemingly innocuous temptations that threated to derail the project. In fact, I nearly destroyed nine months of not shopping with a single pair of $9.99 Target flip-flops. I shuffled around the store with those tag-bound flip-flops on my feet for a full 20 minutes before I reluctantly returned them to the rack.
The truth is, falling prey to small temptations can have big, long-lasting consequences.

Take Eve, for example. After listening to the serpent’s rationalization for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the Bible simply reports that she “was convinced.” Genesis 3:6 goes on to say this:

“She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.” (NLT)

Can’t you hear Eve’s justification, her rationale for eating the fruit? “It’s just a piece of fruit; what’s the big deal? I’m only going to eat one…what could possibly happen from one piece of fruit?”

On the surface, it’s a small temptation, a small sin: simple act of disobedience. But as we well know, it was a small temptation with tremendous, eternal consequences.

Think about the minor sins we’re tempted to commit every day. Maybe it’s office gossip. Or an email flirtation. Maybe it’s fudging the numbers a tiny bit on your expense report. Or yelling at your kids. Just like Eve’s fruit, these temptations, these sins, don’t seem so dire on the surface. Yet each has the potential to lead to even greater sin and grave repercussions.

As I stood in the shoe aisle of Target with those $9.99 flip flops on my feet, I didn’t consider the potential fall-out that might result from the purchase. I wanted them, and they were easy to justify. Now, though, I can see how those plastic flip-flops may not have been such a small, silly temptation after all.  I suspect if I’d walked out of Target with those flip flops in hand, they would have made the next tempting purchase easier to justify, too.

Can you think of a small temptation you’re wrestling with right now that might lead to bigger consequences down the line?  What’s one thing you might do to resist such temptations in the future?


And before I forget...the winner of the God of All Comfort gift basket from last week's drawing is Amanda Sakovitz! Amanda, please email me your mailing address so Donna can send you your gift!




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Welcome to the "Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday" community, a place where we share what we are hearing from God and his Word.

If you're here for the first time, click
here for more information. Please include the Hear It, Use It button (grab the code below) or a link in your post, so your readers know where to find the community if they want to join in -- thank you!

Please also try to visit and leave some friendly encouragement in the comment box of at least one other Hear It, Use It participant. And if you want to tweet about the community, please use the #HearItUseIt hashtag.
Thank you -- I am so grateful that you are here!




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Weekend Meditation: Amazing



With the quiet communities...




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I Complain about My Kitchen When 26,500 Kids Die Every Day


“We have a small kitchen,” he noted, sitting on the counter, a plastic bowl of Cheez-Its in his lap.

“Actually, we don’t,” I answered. “Not really. Not compared to most people in the world.”

I chastised Noah, yet I knew he was only repeating what he’d heard from my own lips. I’d complained about a too-small kitchen, a too-small house before. More than once.

Later that night Noah stood next to me in his pajamas as I clicked through Ann Voskamp’s post about her trip with Compassion to Guatemala. I paused on an image of a kitchen.

“What do you think about that kitchen?” I asked Noah, pointing to the cinder block walls and the cement floor, the dingy sink with the tumble of plastic plates and the ramshackle cupboards with no doors.

“It doesn’t look very nice,” he admitted, his eyes glued to the computer screen.

“Why aren’t there any windows?” he wondered. “And what’s that blue stuff for?” He pointed to the plastic tarp pulled loosely over the gaps between the tin, a flimsy shield against wind and rain.

“How would you like to share a bedroom with six other people?” I asked him.

“I definitely wouldn’t want to share my room with Rowan,” he said quietly.

That night Noah and I talked for a long time about what we have. We talked about our home here in Nebraska – our newly remodeled kitchen with the six-burner gas stove and the stainless steel fridge; our two bathrooms; our goose feather pillows; our backyard patio with the striped umbrella and cozy seat cushions and fancy potted plants.

That was the night I decided to stop shopping for a year, and use the money I saved to sponsor a child through Compassion.

Twelve months later I clicked on Pedro’s picture on the Compassion site – five-year-old Pedro, who lives in Bolivia with his mother and five siblings. “How about this little guy?” I’d asked Noah and Brad, who were standing next to me.


Pedro Mae was the one.

Sponsoring Pedro has helped our family connect in a real way to people in need. It’s one thing to think vaguely about “doing something” (thinking vaguely: something I’m very good at), but it’s another thing entirely to connect a beautiful face and a very real person with a cause.
 
It’s one thing to know and be paralyzed by the fact that more than 26,500 kids die every day due to preventable causes related to poverty (statistics from The Hole in Our Gospel), but it’s another thing entirely to do something about it, even if it’s only a little something.

I know Pedro is only one boy in 26,500. And sometimes that feels insignificant. Small. Almost inconsequentially small.
 
But when we receive a letter from Pedro or his sister or his mother, we realize that to sponsor even just one child isn’t inconsequential at all. Because a child – even just one living, breathing, playing, laughing child living in desperate circumstances – is always significant.

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So here’s the real deal. September is Blog Month at Compassion, and their goal is to find sponsors for 3,081 kids around the world. You can sponsor one of these kids. For $38/month, you can decide to change a child’s life – a decision that will have beautiful, powerful, lifelong consequences.

Will you consider it? Click here for details.


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