Standing there in my kitchen, reading those words, I felt both the burden and privilege of praying for sweet Bilha. The joy that she trusts me enough to ask for my prayers. The guilt that I don’t pray often enough.Continue Reading ›
Celebrating Christmas at a child development center in El Salvador means giraffes, bumblebees and donkeys! And in the midst of the carols and wrapping paper, God taught me so much about His heart for the poor — and my responsibility to His children.Continue Reading ›
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A few months ago, our blog guru, Sam, asked me to write a Top Five Books of 2014 post. He probably asked me this because I’m a writer. And I read pretty much all the time. But also because I think reading is a way to expand the mind, to experience things on the page that we can’t always experience in person. So I carefully chose books that I think will broaden your views of poverty, community, and what it means to serve “the least of these.” (I also just chose four books, because, as you’ll see, some of these took a little longer to get through … and also because I’m a rebel!)
When I was a teenager, my mom and I used to go shopping on Black Friday. Well … she would shop. I would usually end up sprawled on the sidewalk in front of the mall, reading a book and waiting for her to finish buying gifts for our family. It should be noted, though, that my mom didn’t necessarily enjoy these dawn excursions with a whiny teen. She did it because she loved us, and she wanted Christmas to be special. Our family wasn’t wealthy, and she saved all year to buy those gifts — to demonstrate in a tangible way that she knew us, knew what we liked. And that she loved us. And even the malls couldn’t interfere with that mother’s heart.
I’m a big reader. As a child, I had books hidden away everywhere — in the cushions of the couch, tucked under my brother’s car seat and stuffed into my pillowcase. So when I was about 10 years old, I decided I would buy every person in my family a book for Christmas. I pored over the Scholastic Books order form and found books for my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. I wrapped them and carefully placed them under the tree. On Christmas Eve, when we exchange gifts with my extended family, I was so excited to watch everyone open their gifts. There was one problem, though. Not everybody likes to read.
This morning, 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. Though Yousafzai’s name may not be familiar, you probably remember her face—the face of a pale teen, eyes rimmed with dark circles, her head shrouded in bandages, clutching a white teddy bear. Two years ago Yousafzai garnered the world’s attention when she was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting education for girls in Pakistan. Since then, after recovering from surgery, she has taken her campaign global, most notable with a speech last year at the United Nations.
I was about 3 years old in my earliest Christmas memory. I had chickenpox, and because I was quarantined, my stepfather dressed as Santa to cheer me up. I don’t remember the gifts I got that year, but I remember feeling so special that Santa had made a house call to visit me. That memory surfaced recently when I read the story of Valerie, a little girl in Togo. Valerie’s first Christmas memory happened last year — because it was the first time she ever celebrated Christmas.
Brandy and her group of sponsors are in Bolivia where they recently toured a Child Survival Program and met Rosario on their home visit—a time filled with little things.
There is something special about giving a gift to a child who rarely receives gifts. Most families in developing countries don’t have the extra funds to buy gifts like bubbles and Dora dolls.