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How You Can Make A Difference on International Women’s Day



Posted by on Mar 8, 2018 | 3 comments

I’m sitting at my kitchen table where the sun is piercing filthy windowpanes, a thing I notice in the morning but forget by noon’s shadow. A ladybug sits on the sill, I’m assuming dead. Our home is a death spiral for pretty bugs dressed in red with black polka dots, and I wonder why that happens at the end of every winter.

It’s International Women’s Day and I wish I could say I knew that on my own, but it’s the internet that tells me so. I’m stung by awareness of my comforts, my plenty, and my relative wealth, and it brings a sort of shame. Those things have cost me nothing, but in some places in this world even lesser things cost everything you have to give.

I’m reminded of a woman I encountered almost nine years ago.



She was striking to me, uncommonly beautiful, obviously haunting. The sun on her shoulders. Her expression, somber yet intense. Her shoes matched her saree. She carried a bucket, soap, cane, and, most important, her dignity.

In my trip to Kolkata where I met dozens and dozens of people, hers is a face I always remember first. Whatever her age, she had lived a long, and undoubtedly difficult life, and yet she’s endured.

She is not victim. She is an unnamed international woman I celebrate.

She lived in a village where Compassion International had a Child Survival Center, a place where mothers and babies receive goods, education, training, and services that contribute to their survival.

Shortly after my trip with Compassion Bloggers to India, the child I sponsored left the program. Her mother remarried after the death of her father, and they moved to a location where Compassion didn’t have a local presence. Though I wasn’t able to continue helping her family financially, I’ve never stopped praying for Pinki; meeting her carved permanent residence in my heart.


I often wonder what she looks like now – nine years older – and how she’s doing…how all the beautiful children served by Compassion are doing in India.

You see, about a year ago Compassion had to shutter its sponsorship program in India; it was heartbreaking for those involved. After decades of ministry, Compassion could no longer send funds into the country due to Indian government restrictions (read more here).

We’ve also sponsored a daughter from the Dominican Republic; this year will be our tenth! She’ll turn 16 in May, and our sponsorship began right after she turned six. It never occurred to me until this moment how long we’ve been blessing one another, and make no mistake: Isaura blesses me with every letter she writes and ever prayer she offers for me and my family.

Compassion currently operates in 25 countries and has touched millions of lives since beginning its work in the ’50s. Everything I learn about Compassion only reinforces its impact and value to our broken world.

Today (regardless of when you read this), in celebration of International Women’s Day, I’m asking you to make a generous contribution to Compassion International. Get your credit card or checkbook out and start here.


You can make a one-time gift or change a child’s life – and his/her family’s lives – by committing to a monthly sponsorship. It’s up to you. 

I know our churches need our money, and our communities need our support, but today to celebrate International Women’s Day, I’m asking for global consideration for a gift to our world. I trust Compassion completely, and I’ve witnessed first hand their impact in local communities.

Look at these precious faces I had the incredible honor of meeting almost ten years ago. They’re my inspiration for today’s bold ask, but I bet there are significant women in your life worthy of celebration. I hope you’ll want to make a gift just because you can.

This old world needs those who have financial means to remember those who have financial need. It’s really as simple as that.





Thank you.

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Around/About: The “Compassion Bloggers” Edition



Posted by on Feb 21, 2015 | 2 comments

Had I not had a house seriously overflowing with family last weekend, this week’s Around/About would have been shared then. The beautiful thing about the internet is you can visit blog posts, well, forever, and the words I’m about to share are relevant whenever you read them.

A group of bloggers have just returned from the Dominican Republic, where they visited the local Compassion International field office and several of the local projects and families who benefit from its programs. I had the incredible privilege of traveling on a Compassion blogging trip to Calcutta five years ago, and I remain convinced it’s one of the best organization of its kind.


Sponsoring a child through Compassion is one of the most meaningful things you could ever do, especially if you involve your school-age children. Not only will they gain an international pen-pal, but they’ll see the world through an incredible lens – that of hope despite unimaginable poverty – and they’ll also be blessed as they bless another through their letters. It’s a beautiful way to teach them consideration of others not just in theory but in practice.

Here’s a link to Compassion Blogger highlights from the week, but I hope you’ll take time to visit the entire team. You’ll come away inspired, and I hope, ready to sponsor a child.


Bri McCoy, Compassion Blogger Trip Leader

“…We say yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand yeses. Wondering if it will unfold into some…something.

And then one day. A day that seemed like it would be just a day, breaks open like a piñata you’ve been swinging at for years.

Today was that day for me. I’ll never forget….”

From Not Just a Day || Read all Bri’s Compassion trip posts


Bonnie Gray, friend and author of Spiritual Whitespace and blogger at Faith Barista

“…A college educated man or woman in the Dominican Republic is not exempt from the poverty.

Corruption.  Luis tells me, looking into my eyes.  Government corruption. Political corruption. Jobs are paid for — by relationship.  Who you know determines whether poverty becomes your address….”

From Why Love is Not a Consolation But a Light   || Read all Bonnie’s Compassion trip posts


Lisa Leonard, friend and founder of Lisa Leonard Designs

“…When Steve and I asked Josefina to tell us how life is different now that Hilde has a sponsor through Compassion. Her response was, “Everything is different.”

So we pressed for more specifics.

“Can you give us specific examples of things she has now that she didn’t have before?”

This single mom with deep dimples and tired eyes, responded, “Now she has shoes. Now she has food to eat. Now she can go to school.”

Oh. Wow. We let it sink in….”

From The Lump In My Throat  ||  Read all Lisa’s Compassion trip posts


Holley Gerth, friend, incourage co-founder, blogger and author of a BUNCH of books

“…We all have the same mission: love. And yet how we fulfill it varies with each one of us. God will use your strengths, skills, gifts, experiences and resources to touch the lives of others in ways only you can….”

From There is Always a Way to Say “I Love You” || Read all Holley’s Compassion trip posts


Ruth Soukup, blogger and author of Living Well, Spending Less

“…I think sometimes we neglect to act because we wonder if what we have to offer could ever make a difference in a world full of so much need.  But this is your chance. I can’t tell you every family’s story, but I can tell this one.  You may not be able to save the world but you can make a difference in the life of one family….”

From Breaking the Cycle of Poverty  || Read all Ruth’s Compassion trip posts

Amazing trip photography by Mike Varel, Digital Storytelling (all images in the above collage from their Flickr pool).



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Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 | 3 comments

Kristen Welch Quote on seeing need

It’s always, always, a surprise when someone I know tells me they read my blog.

It’s one thing for our lives to have crossed in the virtual world first, and wholly another for us to know each other in the space where I can shake your hand or hug you neck, and for celebrations or sympathy, bring you dinner.

I wonder, really wonder, what each of you thinks when I bring you inside my heart and head through a conduit of words.  Unless you comment, email or tell me, it’s a lop-sided form of communication–and, is it even communication if I’m the only one talking?

Can you tell when I’m almost desperate for you to hear?

I’m an advocate for Compassion International.

I became an advocate for Compassion International after reading the personal accounts of bloggers I already read and trusted back in 2008, and then investigating further on my own.

In 2009, I had the privilege of traveling with Compassion International to India with a team of bloggers, to write and share the stories of Compassion’s work in Calcutta.  This not only confirmed what I already believed, it changed the way I viewed myself, my faith, my family…even my country.  It pretty much affected how I look at all of life from that point future.

And here’s the thing:  Today, I’m sitting here surrounded by the comfort of home, never having gone hungry or without a roof over my head or fresh clothes on my back or healthcare or free education.  When I “have” to go shopping, my pantry has enough dry goods to last two months, I bet.  Maybe longer.  When I buy a new outfit, it is never out of real need, it’s birthed in want.  And more than any of that, I have never had to worry about these things for my children.

I’m sitting here comfortable, warm, fed and happy, surrounded by more than I could ever need, except for this:

I’m longing to find all the right words that would move you to action, to sponsor a child

Because the truth is, most anyone who reads this…can.

It’s $38/month, $456/year to rescue a child from poverty.

It’s important to support local cause, it is, and I’d wager you already are.  But there’s a singular beauty in reaching your arms halfway around the globe to help someone who barely stands a chance in this life.  Compassion International extends that chance, that grace, that rescue.

There’s a pivotal scene at the end of John Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, that has always haunted me.  In the movie adaptation it’s spoken by Jake Brigance, the lawyer for Carl Lee Hailey, a black man on trial for the murder of his 10-year-old daughter’s two vicious, white attackers (in the novel, it’s actually spoken by one of the jurors behind closed doors).  Turning to an all-white jury in their violently racist town, Brigance asks:

Can you see her? [speaking of Carl Lee’s daughter] Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl.

Now imagine she’s white.

Jurors envisioning this child as one who could be their own is what earns Carl Lee acquittal by reason of temporary insanity.

It might be a stretch, but I sense a parallel here:

If our world was turned upside-down, and WE were the ones sitting in a house made of straw, unable to earn a living wage, and we had no idea where our next meal was coming from – or when it would come…that it was my child who had two shirts to wear and no shoes or doctor or dentist and such few prospects for rescue…

that someone from around the world might hear our plight and extend their hand, and do with a little less themselves, to help me.  My babies.

If we saw these impoverished children who have next to nothing as our own, how would it change what we do next?


And, I promise, the LAST thing I’m trying to do is heap a pile a guilt on anyone’s shoulders!  May it never be!  If anything I’m frustrated with myself for not being able to artfully, gracefully present this beautiful opportunity with the hope and dignity is deserves.

Would you play along with me for just a minute?  Click this link to visit Compassion International.  Look into the faces of these Real Children who are waiting for sponsors.  (Go…do it now.  Then pop back over here.)

A team of Compassion bloggers just returned from Uganda and their stories are incredible, inspiring and affecting.   Their truth-telling allows you to see through their eyes and walk in their steps, and powerfully so.

The goal for child sponsorships for this trip was 400.  Not 400 sponsorships, but 400 children sponsored.  Help them reach this goal?

So, yes, I wonder.  What you’re thinking as you read this plea, thankful that you’ve taken time to do so, and even more grateful if you share this post with your friends.  If you aren’t in a position to sponsor monthly, you can click the yellow tab on the top right of this page and make a one-time donation.


Robin Heart Signature - Green






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Walter Mitty and the residual affect of how we speak love



Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 | 2 comments

Children in Manila - by Casey Neistat

I’ve been thinking about those giant crosses in Chattanooga off I-75, how they provoke response on either ends of the spectrum.

And, earnestly, I’ve been trying to consider the other side, the point of view different from my own…

but the closest I get is believing I c o u l d be wrong.

And all that set me wondering, how people interpret and process the same thing so differently; of course, not just three crosses, but most anything in life.

Beauty, art, music–our tastes and perspectives are as individual as we are unique.

And then I thought about love.


I thought about HOW MONUMENTALLY DIFFERENT my husband and I speak love.  One of the wisest, best, most beneficial choices we made early in marriage was the decision to read through the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  It was then we understood that I most often speak love in words and encouragement, and he most often speaks love by service and action.  It helped me to see when he loved me even if I didn’t feel it, and hopefully visa versa.

We weren’t speaking the same language at all.  Had we not made this revolutionary discovery, though we loved one another, its expression would have been lost in translation, and potentially, tragically so.

Thank God gift-giving is at the bottom of both of our lists. *

Though I always appreciate receiving presents, gift giving is the least way I express love.  And my favorite presents?  Surcies–personal and intimate, typically of little dollar value but large in significance and meaning.  My next favorite type of gift is anything practical (I’m the wife who delights in, not offended by, a new kitchen appliance….).  Likely a combination of the two is the main reason I detest giving money–that hardly meets my “requirement” for personal, and though you can purchase something practical, it’s not practical in and of itself.  At least not to me.

Maybe I’m beating this dead horse deader or overstating my obvious conclusion, but, to me and others like me, those three crosses are impractical; which is consistent with how I’m wired to give and receive love.

A commenter to Crosses and Planks shared this beautiful video of how Carey Neistat spoke love in a language I’m accustomed to hearing often (by his actions) – in a way that compels me to live the Gospel, not build monuments or even love with only my words.  He was given $25,000 to make a promo video for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; instead he made a difference for thousands with permission from 20th Century Fox.  His video below is a must-see:


On his You Tube channel, Carey asks the question, “What would you do with $25,000?” and then shares a link to Unicef to help the children affected by typhoon Haiyan.  Might you consider doing something right now to help?  If not Unicef (of which I have no personal experience), if you’ve been thinking about sponsoring a child in “one of those programs”, I can vouch for Compassion International after traveling with them to Calcutta.  Sponsoring children not only changes lives, it can save them…and if you can’t commit to a monthly child sponsorship, please…please consider a one-time gift.

A group of bloggers will be traveling to Uganda this week with Compassion, some of them dear friends.  They’ll write about the painful devastation of poverty…but I promise, you’ll see hope in each story.  I hope you’ll read every post; and to sponsor a child in anticipation of what they’ll share?  Well, YOU will be a partner in their journey!  Say yes?

,Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion
* (Which will only make sense if you’ve read Chapman’s Five Love Languages; and if you haven’t, here’s a link to buy a copy.  If you aren’t feeling loved by your spouse, I urge you to read it.  This translates to all of your relationships.  I’d pick up the general edition and not the ones specified for children/teens/genders.) (p.s.  If you use my affiliate link, I’ll earn pennies on your purchase…and thank you.  Win-win, yes?).

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Why you shouldn’t follow Compassion Bloggers in Peru #cbperu



Posted by on Nov 16, 2012 |

Sponsor a Child in Peru


There are a lot of people out there telling you to follow the Compassion Bloggers in Peru this week, but I’m the only one who’s telling you to stay away.  

I can hear what you’re thinking:  “How dare you say such a preposterous thing when you’ve traveled with Compassion International as a Compassion Blogger yourself?!”

Compassion Bloggers visit to Peru November 12-17, 2012 to write about the ministry of Compassion International.

But, see, I know things; I’m simply issuing a warning, a public service announcement of sorts.  If you dismiss my advice and read their stories, you’re going to be haunted, you’re going to compelled to do something.  

You’re going to WANT to do something.  

Compassion Bloggers visit to Peru November 12-17, 2012 to write about the ministry of Compassion International.

This small band of brothers is somehow managing to reach their arms around the world through their poignant and powerful words.  Every day they rise and eagerly go into places no one would choose to live if they had any choice in the matter. Thankfully my sweet friends Jen and Angie, along with Layla, Kevin and Shaun have chosen to go and visit, so they can see then tell.  

Compassion Bloggers visit to Peru November 12-17, 2012 to write about the ministry of Compassion International.


They’re learning how Compassion International is best at what they do:  advocating for children and releasing them from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.”  These discoveries aren’t being made in a field office; they’re spending time in the homes of families who can speak the truth of how Compassion has impacted them.

Compassion International provides hope to families in dark places.  When they join a Compassion project children dare to dream, a luxury they didn’t understand was possible before; their futures are altered because of their sponsor’s personal involvement in their lives and the resources available to them through their local project.

But I don’t want to say too much about Compassion because…

I really do want you to read these breathtakingly beautiful stories from writers who are authentically sharing their experience.  

I want you to be haunted and changed and challenged to do something…to sponsor a child.  There are over 1,100 in Peru alone!  

You can trust Compassion to be a good steward of your monthly gift; their administrative costs are very low relative to the services it provides.  

Monthly sponsorship is an investment in a child who will treasure the words you send.  Go…please…read the stories.  Look at these beautiful faces.  You’ll learn soon enough what I mean.

(And for those of you new to Compassion, this is a wonderful way to teach your younger children about others in need in the world; and to develop a relationship with an international pen pal.) 

Photos from Compassion Blogger’s Flickr stream.

Follow the Compassion Bloggers in Peru


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The reason I wish I had a million blog readers



Posted by on May 11, 2012 | 3 comments

I started blogging in the Fall of 2005 after a friend invited me to read hers (I didn't know what a blog was prior); my first post referenced an article that reported the number of blogs to be 30,000 strong.  Today, Mashable author Sam Laird reports there are over 3.9 million "mommy bloggers" alone…though he plays fast and loose with the definition of mommy blogger.  

My blogging life has seen many seasons–ah, those long-ago times when I published at least once a day, commented generously and often, and enjoyed an engaged community where I knew more about my online friends than those new people I was meeting in a new town.

When I noticed the difference between me owning my blog vs. my blog owning me, I walked away from that season.  Plus, there's a lot of NOISE in the blogosphere, and I decided if I wasn't adding something of value, it was better to write less but better.  

But, always ALWAYS I have whole-heartedly believed and declared there is no better reason for writing than to use my voice for those who have none.

I've supported a fair amount of great causes over the past six years, given them my voice and my checkbook.  And though all of them are worthy, there's one that stole my heart:

Compassion International. 

I had the privilege of traveling to India with a group of Compassion bloggers three years ago, and my experience not only changed me then, it continues to affect me deeply and for the good.  

This week, several of my friends (and bloggers new to me) have joined leader Shaun Groves on a trip to Tanzania, to witness the work of Compassion.

They see then they tell a great story of HOPE.

Hundreds, thousands? of children will be sponsored when readers are moved to action by their beautiful words.  

I wish I had a million readers because that would mean I had a pretty big sphere of influence; and if I asked you nicely to sponsor a child, even if only 1% responded to my plea, 1000 kids would be sponsored!  

One thousand children's lives would be saved.

That's not an exaggeration friends.

When you sponsor a child, you're providing for needs, the type of needs we take for granted.  Food, shelter, clothing, education; physical, emotional, spiritual.  

When you sponsor one child, the entire family benefits.  Because you're relieving the financial pressure for one family member, their other limited resources can be used for everyone else.

Please read my favorite accounts from each of this team's bloggers (linked below); then I'm asking you…begging my considerably smaller-than-a-million-readership to sponsor a child–

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

Their lives and YOUR LIFE will be forever changed for the better.  

YOUR TURN:  Is this the first time you've heard of Compassion International or have you been following the Compassion Bloggers already?  Do you have a child sponsorship story you can link to or share in comments?  


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