Monday, November 26, 2012

Forgotten and discarded

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: 
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 (ESV)

I'm not really one for picking a "life's verse" but if I had to, this would be one of them. I serve the God of the broken, of the forgotten, of the discarded.  He loves the unlovable; forgives the unforgivable; comforts the miserable.  And at many times in my life, I've felt like I was broken, forgotten, discarded. There are certainly days when I feel unlovable, unforgivable, and miserable.  I am so thankful for the grace and peace I've been given. I can't even begin to explain it.

Because of what I've been given, I can't help but want to live out that verse up there. I don't want to "visit orphans and widows" because I have to... I want to because I can't imagine life any other way. Because God has shown me how to find joy... and I pursue it all the time!  I've never found it in material things... instead I find it in homeless tent cities, in African villages, and in teaching my children about the Jesus I love.

If you have ever walked into an orphanage, you have seen things you wish you hadn't. It would be nice to bury my head in the sand and pretend there aren't children living in terrible conditions, with no moms or dads to love them. No one to kiss boo boos, no one to rock them to sleep, to sing silly songs, or look them in their eyes and tell them they are precious.  I've experienced the joy and heartache that comes from hugging orphans in the Republic of Georgia, in Ethiopia, and in Swaziland.  I have experienced the joy and the heartache that comes from adopting. It is such an honor to adopt a child who needs a family. Our family is so blessed.

My husband and I, together and individually, have been traveling to Swaziland to work with Heart for Africa since 2008. We aren't ready to adopt again right now (my sanity hasn't quite been restored -- but I'm workin' on it! ha!) but our commitment to orphans remains.

I do not want Swaziland to be forgotten and discarded. It is a tiny, beautiful country. Full of beautiful, wonderful people and gut-wrenching, soul-tearing poverty.  So many orphan-headed households. One of the highest (if not THE highest) HIV rates.  Children abandoned in pit latrines (how my heart aches for the mother who feels this is the best option for her child!), older children raising baby siblings. Not enough food.

Big, huge, sigh.

I know, however, that God has NOT forgotten the Swazis. He loves them. And I can't believe I get the honor, but I get to be a part of sharing that love - it's my turn!! I get to go to Swaziland this summer! My husband went a few months ago and I am already registered to go in July!! I get to go "visit orphans and widows in their affliction." I'm excited to go, but I mourn the fact that it's even necessary.

But it's expensive. Swaziland is crazy far away. I mean really. 18 hour flight from DC to Johannesburg, then a 5 hour bus ride into Swaziland. It's expensive to get there.  I need to do some fundraising.

So here we go! I'm going to sell a bunch of my crafty-things! I've been doing this for the past several years every Christmas. I'm a terrible business-person and don't want to start a business, but when I have a good cause, I'm happy to sell the things I make! :) I'll probably do this every Christmas for the rest of my life, honestly!

I have some great stocking-stuffer and teacher gifts this year!  Email me at yklj AT triad DOT rr DOT com if you'd like to order something. If you aren't local, I'll just charge actual shipping.

Click on "The Store" for a complete list of everything, but here are some pics to get you thinking! There's even more in the store! All kinds of custom gifts for the holidays!!!

Heroes on the half shell... custom bag tags for kids and grown-ups!

DIY Personalized canvases. My kids had a BLAST making them and they look awesome in our playroom

Personalized Christmas Ornaments

Perfect teacher gifts - personalized acrylic straw tumblers!

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