Friday, June 11, 2010

Crack open my coconut and this is what spills out

Last week we went to a Gladney Family Association party at Noah's Ark pool. An ark full of weirdos. Awesomeness!

Where my sad attempts at a loving happy family photo came out like this:


Why, why, why do I bother.

Afterwards we decided to go down the street and try and Ethiopian restaurant called Blue Nile. In our bathing suits. Kause we're klassy with a kapital K. K? K.

To my sheer delight, all the kids enjoyed the food immensely

every one of them


every bit of it. Eva Rose said that the injera - a spongy, slightly sour tasting flat bread that Ethiopians use to scoop up their food - felt like a nice warm bed she wanted to crawl into.

Which was slightly odd, but sweet.

Kinda like this family.


Well, let's get real, we're more than slightly odd.

True to her Texas roots, Maggie treated it like a tortilla and made herself an Ethiopian fajita.


And I have to say that I am truly happy that my child is coming from a country that rocks the kitchenbah. I am lovin the Ethiopian food.

While we were waiting for our beautiful waitress to bring us some glory, five year old Eva Rose and I had a conversation. It went like this:

ER: Mom, are there only poor people in Ethiopia?

Me: I'm sure there are some rich people.

ER: Well, are the rich people Christians? I mean, like, do they worship the true God?

Me: Yes, most Ethiopians are Christians, so I am sure a lot of the rich people are Christians.

ER: (with a look of disgust on her face): Well then Mom, if there are Christians in Ethiopia who are rich, then WHY ARE THERE ANY POOR PEOPLE IN ETHIOPIA? Why aren't the rich Christians taking care of the poor people? Why aren't they doing their JOB, Mom?!?

Me: (slightly amused and very impressed) Well, honey, there are lots and lots of rich Christians here in America, and we have poor people here too.

ER: What?? Mom? What the freak?!?!

Okay, I made that last line up. She really didn't say what the freak. If she had I probably would have washed her mouth out with the funky Ethiopian mead that Walker was drinking because I am a parental hypocrite like that. Speak as I say, girl, not as I say, er, speak. Say. Speak.

But I must say my heart was overflowing. My girl is passionate. She always has been. For years we have prayed if only You would harness that passion for good and not evil, Lord! Because Prissy Lou is one of those take-over-the-world types. She could be Mother Teresa, or she could be Madame Tsao. Some days girl's both. Some five minute increments, girl's both.

But she had a point. A big, stinking, ugly point.

I am well aware that the situation of poverty in Ethiopia is incredibly complex.

And I am well aware that the situation of poverty in America is incredibly complex.

But the question, I believe, is still valid. If the rich people are Christians, then why are there any poor people??

Because 99.999% of you reading this blog are rich. Don't believe me? Click here. And here.

And God only commands us to take care of the poor people, like, oh THREE HUNDRED TIMES or something.

I'm also aware that American Christians do more to help the poor than anyone else in the world does. So am I saying that it's not enough? Eeeeeeee-yup. That's what I am saying. And guess what I am learning - sometimes our good intentions not only aren't enough, but they are actually detrimental.

Last week our church recommended that as a congregation, we read a book called When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Ourselves. This book has kept me up past my bedtime every night this week. I've read quite a few books on poverty lately, and this one is so refreshing and informative, I cannot recommend it enough, to all Christians - from those on the mission field to those who wonder if you should hand a dollar the guy on the corner with the cardboard sign.

And then tonight Kristen posted about something similar that her daughter said at dinner, and she got some negative comments, one in particular saying that she only posted about poverty in Africa to give a guilt trip to her readers. (To which I respond: And your point is...? Because we all reek with the stench of guilt. Take a trip. A long trip. Bring some beef jerky. And a moon pie.)

On top of all that, last week Melissa Hill (if you don't read her blog, you are so missing out) posted this quote from David Platt's book Radical (so on my wish list) that I just can't get out of my head:

We take Jesus' command in Matthew 28 to make disciples of all nations, and we say, "That means other people." But we look at Jesus' command in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," and we say, "Now, that means me." We take Jesus' promise in Acts 1:8 that the Spirit will lead us to the ends of the earth, and we say, "That means some people." But we take Jesus' promise in John 10:10 that we will have abundant life, and we say, "That means me."

In the process, we have unnecessarily (and unbiblically) drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all.


OUCH to the OUCH SPOT.

Yeah. My mind has been churning this week.

Tell me, sweet invisible friends. What's on your mind this week?

40 comments:

  1. I definitely agree with you and that is something I ask myself a lot too. Why are there so many of us who are rich and Christian and what can we do to make other peoples' lives better? And are we doing enough and you're right, no we're not.

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  2. very very very sadly true. if only 6% of christian adopt then there would be no orphan crisis. time to step it up.

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  3. Thanks for that. I will be checking out the blog and the book.

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  4. good words! my hubby just read when helping hurts last week. i need to pick it up. that and crazy love.

    kerry

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  5. What a great post! Your girl will help change the world...hopefully for HIM:)

    I try to ask myself daily "What can I do for the kingdom?" It is a reminder to me to help others.

    Well said!

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  6. oooooooooh the blue nile- LOVE that place! my fascination with ethiopia arose after i fell in love with the cuisine. when i visit my family in the states next month that is the FIRST place i am eating! can't wait :) love this blog post and look forward to checking out the books you mentioned.

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  7. Love reading your blog! Andy Stanley has a few amazing sermons on Christianity in America and wealth that you should so totally check out. If a person in the US makes $47,000/year, they are in the top 1% in the world!! His challenge is for us to begin accepting the fact that WE ARE the rich, get over the guilt associated with it, and start living Biblically as rich people! Loved it! Crazy Love is another fabulous kick-you-in-the-gut-so-you-get-off-your-rear book! BTW, LOVE your family photos...they look just like mine! HAHA! :)

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  8. I have been watching "The Truth Project" this week with my Dad - the session we watched yesterday dealt with poverty - and it was a very interesting perspective that I hadn't ever thought of. It (The Bible) calls us to allow the poor to labor, to work, for what they need to survive. Not just to give them a handout.

    I'm afraid I'm not doing the series justice with my explanation, but that's what is on my mind... :)

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  9. Oh I agree with you 1,000%, but this rich vs. poor thing has sent my mind in all kinds of political directions, which are probably not appropriate or would be appreciated, but it is very interesting to think about.

    Yeah. I'm going to stop now.

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  10. Oh, yes. Radical is good...his sermon series "Radical" is even better...

    http://www.brookhills.org/media/series/radical

    WARNING: once you start watching these you will be so fired up you just might move to Africa or do something crazy like that for Jesus.

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  11. okay, I was so gonna come over and just leave a comment cause of our shhhh...pact and all...but then I read..and got hooked...and convicted...and everything about this post speaks straight to my heart and is RIGHT where God has me.

    And...I can't believe your kids like Ethiopian food...especially that freaky injera. Whoa! I can't even get my kids to try BBQ sauce on their chicken mcnuggets.

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  12. I have followed your blog for maybe a few months, I'm not sure how I found it. I've enjoyed your adoption/kid/family journey, and you're pretty funny:)
    So anyway, you commented on our story on Lifesong for Orphans yesterday!!!!
    Thanks for that:)

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  13. What is on my mind? God is moving. All these books/sermons/people...crazy love...radical...hole in our gospel...when helping hurts...etc...etc....God is in control and building up. Also, thank God for grace...cause i suck

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  14. I really love this post because it is something that has consumed my thoughts this year. We have been living in Asia for about a year now and it is the first time I have come face-to-face with actual poverty. Living in America I just never thought much about it nor did I have ANY clue how wealthy we truly were both in a physical and spiritual sense. It now seems crazy to me all that we have as Americans (especially Christians) and how ingrained in us it is to feel that we deserve a certain "standard of living". The Bible has a lot to say about our responsibilities to get out the gospel and help the poor. The only things He says about our physical comforts is that we should as Christians expect to be uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel. You are so right that as American Christians we have largely chosen to ignore the hard parts that might make us do something uncomfortable and just read the parts that make us feel comforted.

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  15. K.P. Yohannan (sp??; he's the leader of Gospel for Asia) has a new book out about why it is so much more productive to train up native missionaries rather than import them from wealthy (and well-meaning) countries. People who already live there are used to living on so much less, and don't have to cope with culture and "stuff" shock as they try to minister to others. It's also much less expensive for churches & ministries to support them, for the same reason. Made me think as I turned on my air conditioner for 90-degree heat last month . . .

    Also, I was wondering if you've ever wrestled with this issue: we are in the middle of our 2nd adoption, and I am sometimes torn about the amount of $ we are spending to welcome one child into our family. Sometimes I think about how many others we could help with that money. Sigh.

    My husband is good at reminding me that nothing can replace a child having a family and two parents, and that God "sets the lonely in families." :)
    Nancy

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  16. Oh yeah, and one more thing...another book to read.... The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky. Excellent.

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  17. Wow, thanks for sharing the book recommendation. Have you read any of the Shane Clairborne books? Irresitible Revolution is amazing.

    You gotta get that kid tested for gt! That excellerated sense of compassion at a young age is one of the hallmarks of a kiddo that needs extra challenge in school. (Unsolicited advice free of charge.)

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  18. Ouch is right. I do battle every day against my desire for stuff (like the new iPhone, and a new computer, for a couple of examples) and for the financial freedom to help those who need help. Every day I regret some of the choices we've made in the past that committed the money we have now. And yet I still struggle to not keep making those same poor choices.

    This book is on my wish list. Thanks for kicking where it counts. I think we all need a punch to the gut regularly to jerk us out of our discontented consumerist comas.

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  19. What's on my mind this week? Exactly what you just said. That. Exactly. You and Kristen are giving me much to think about, or actually you keep saying things that have been churning in my mind and putting them into words. Not sure what God is doing in all this. I have NO idea how I can do anything and/or why God is bringing all this to my attention out of the seemingly clear blue. Very weird.

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  20. I am reading A Hole in our Gospel right now... much of the same thing... challenging our thinking of what God expects of us. Bravo to you for pointing it out to many.... believing in the POWER of Christ to change us.

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  21. 1. That is wonderful to hear that about your "some day will rule the world" daughter because I have one now. Oh to harness that strong will for good!
    2. My husband and I recently read that book as he took an awesome seminary class called Christians and Poverty. Good stuff.
    3. I am new to your blog. My friend emailed me (who doesn't know you but follows you) and said that you and I are kindred spirits. Or something like that.
    We definitely have the same family portrait vibe going on!

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  22. If I don't make it to church on time, it's because you kept me up thinking all night! ;) Thank you. xo...Linsey

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  23. I've been thinking alot about this and I believe a big part of the issue is that poverty and every other kind of evil is so big and bad and ugly that I don't know where to start. And the very small bit I can do seems so insignificant. But I read somewhere recently (3 kids=no more short-term memory for mommy) that Jesus can take our little (think 5 loaves and fishes) and make it big. I try to remember that and be willing to give/do with what I have. Great post - thanks for the book/blog suggestions!

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  24. Oh SNAP! You nailed it! Those last two paragraphs. Dang!

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  25. What's on my mind this week? My best friend & I went to Uganda & Ethiopia this past January on a mission trip. She came home and sold her house and everything in it. She moved with her family (3 preschoolers) this past Wednesday to Ethiopia to be a missionary to the orphans that live in the Addis dump. She's a radical Christian:) I'm reading that book right now and heard him speak last month. So my mind has been sad, but glad for a lot of orphans who will have the hope of Christ because of her radical obedience. You should read her blog... www.sumerwithonem.blogspot.com

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  26. Missy,

    You are my kindred spirit from afar.
    I love that first link about how rich I am, and the 2nd link popped up and that's my pastor (: wasn't expecting that.
    I am and have been wrestling with this area for years, everyone does, but it is becoming real to me, I hope I can find direction soon.

    Suzanne@ babeigotanidea.com

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  27. We're on the same wavelength. I'm re-reading an awesome book called Hope Lives and just started A Hole in Our Gospel. And Mercy Rising. Just finished 3 books about Cambodia (human trafficking, poverty, war). My head and heart are just SWIRLING. Getting ready to go with Gabe to Cambodia in July. Bracing myself to get my world ROCKED. And it's already starting.

    I could go on forever, but I'm tired.

    I love you, girl.

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  28. I absolutely love this post! It is how I want to raise my children and I would love to hear this come out of their mouths one day. I so want my kids to think of others and to ask questions like that! I want them to not have a problem with being rich but what they do with that money. Thanks you!

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  29. Yeah...totally coming to grips with the need vs. want thing right now. And if I'm totally honest with myself mother's day out and preschool are in the "wants" category. Ouch.

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  30. You are blessed that your little ones can recognize the power we have to make a change. I worry constantly that we are not doing enough. And, I know we aren't. Short of becoming a Mother Theresa, I could not do enough. I do know that we will be sponsoring more children so that our children understand how impactful charity and love are.

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  31. Well, what's on my mind? Pretty much exactly the same thing. Because I've been reading Radical.

    My husband just returned from Uganda. We will be going back soon to adopt and then he or we will be going back again and again and again to do whatever God asks us to do.

    Where on earth have American Christians gotten the idea that all the words of Jesus do not apply?

    And on a similar note...just read an article about a lady who spent 20K on an air-conditioned dog house. Made me ill.

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  32. Well, what's on my mind? Pretty much exactly the same thing. Because I've been reading Radical.

    My husband just returned from Uganda. We will be going back soon to adopt and then he or we will be going back again and again and again to do whatever God asks us to do.

    Where on earth have American Christians gotten the idea that all the words of Jesus do not apply?

    And on a similar note...just read an article about a lady who spent 20K on an air-conditioned dog house. Made me ill.

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  33. Wow, Missy. Thank you for putting this issue into words so well. This is sooo what our family is going through. God has given us a love for Haiti, for children in need in general. We are searching yet trying to learn to be still. I have recently quit my job to stay home and focus on our family and am feeling called to SIMPLICITY, easier said than done. It is encouraging in a crazy way to see others wrestling with this. Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne will mess you up if you haven't read it already. Love your heart and thanks for sharing!

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  34. Wow, Missy. Thank you for putting this issue into words so well. This is sooo what our family is going through. God has given us a love for Haiti, for children in need in general. We are searching yet trying to learn to be still. I have recently quit my job to stay home and focus on our family and am feeling called to SIMPLICITY, easier said than done. It is encouraging in a crazy way to see others wrestling with this. Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne will mess you up if you haven't read it already. Love your heart and thanks for sharing!

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  35. Injera? Are you kidding me? Puh-leeze. As you know, the only thing that passes between my childrens' lips are Oreos. LOL

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  36. haha! As I was reading your post, I was thinking about how I have to tell you about David Platt's book Radical... I am reading it right now, and it's stinkin awesome. I was actually just telling my husband last night about that exact quote!
    It irks me how we alleviate our consciences with a 10% tithe, or giving here and there to the poor (which is GREAT, don't get me wrong)... but is it really sacrificial giving?? The wisdom of the world is to give, yet still have enough in the bank to provide for all your OWN needs ("God helps those who help themselves!"). How is that trusting in the Lord? What about the widow with 2 mites?? what about the boy that gave all the food he had (5 loaves & 2 fish)? what about the mother and son that gave all they had to feed the prophet Elijah? God took care of them, that's what. And He hasn't changed since then.
    A couple months ago, He led me and my husband to some pretty radical decisions with our money, and it has been freeing, and so wonderful to know we serve a God that wants to provide for us if we'd let go and let Him!!!

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  37. My favorite Mother Theresa quote:
    it is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you can live as you wish.

    ~mother teresa

    Love your words.

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  38. Beautiful post! I'm a new reader to your blog, but have bookmarked it and will be back daily!!

    Thanks for the book recommendations.
    In Him,
    Karen

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  39. Yay for this post, Missy! I just love your sweet soul...I'm knee deep into Radical right now and it's so darn good. I mean, totally Scriptural. So we shouldn't be surprised. David Platt has a great sermon about adoption from last December too...you'd love it. I can't remember if I've listened to the one from Piper that you recommended...so I'm off to see!

    Happy Friday!
    May we be found faithful,
    Kam

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  40. Great post! Your little one has a precious heart. I'm sure that God has great plans for her life. :)

    We have raised our children with similar types of conversations (some initiated by mom, some initiated by the kids). Four of our 5 oldest have traveled the world, sharing the love of Jesus. In the past 5 years, they have done more than I could imagine in my life time, as they have traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Haiti, Senegal, The Gambia, India, Bangladesh, Germany, Czech Republic, and Jordan. It has been amazing to see all that the Lord has done in them and through them. (Can't wait to see what he has planned for the next 7 children.)

    I just finished reading Radical. GREAT book. My husband is starting a sermon series on it today. Crazy Love is also a similar book, based on living a radically different lifestyle.

    Great job on the garage sale. Wow! Nope. I've never made $82/hour, either. But, I have the BEST job in the whole wide world: mama to a dozen children.

    :) :) :)

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