I had the honor to speak in our church for Father’s Day & although it was difficult (my 1st Father’s Day without my dad), I’m thinking that God always has good stuff in mind for us, even in challenging situations. Yesterday, I talked about how Abraham was a man of faith & miracles – a father to us in our faith. I also threw in a few stories about my dad with his faith & life.
Here’s a fun story: one time my family took a Christmas vacation to Europe, using a book called, “Europe on $10 a Day”, endeavoring to do the tour thing on a tight budget. During that vacation, we visited Italy & I quickly learned that Italy is a bastion to all things beautiful, high style and fashion. This became uber obvious through my dad who had a unique sense of fashion that could be considered “counter-culture”. He had this bright yellow jumpsuit that he wore with white tube socks and black shoes as he walked through the streets of Florence, Rome and Venice. The best part of these strolls was to watch the Italians get whiplash in their necks as their heads spun to fully take in my dad’s fashion bravado. Even though my dad wasn’t in step with Italian fashion, he sported his yellow jumpsuit with dignity & poise, showing me that being a strong individual isn’t only important in fashion, but moreso in faith. So be encouraged to be strong in your faith and weak in your doubts 🙂
This morning, I brought my son with me to visit some homes in a slum area. It was interesting watching him look at the kids, see the homes, smell things that are not so whippy & reflect on the lives of the people we met in contrast to his daily living. He is a real trooper & did a great job being polite & respectful. Nevertheless, I know that he’s really thinking about all of this, digesting it & absorbing the very experiences.
For me, I am continually amazed at the people here – their resilience, optimism, friendliness & endurance.
I interviewed a mom today who is 42, with 8 children ranging from 3months to 19 years old. Needless to say, I was fairly speechless as I sat in her house & listened to her history. She is truly magnificent
I want to be a person who inspires courage, faith & strength. In my mind, courage is an opposite for cowardice & I don’t want to be a person who’s influence causes others to be timid, scared, cowardly or insecure. I want to put “courage in” people – to be an encouragement.
With this in mind, I’m real keen to hear your thoughts on what en-courages you, what puts courage into you??? Thanks for your help!!
When I think about the word “strong“, I automatically think about muscles, weight lifting, eating protein, endurance, some pain & my gym. It’s interesting that I don’t immediately associate strength with teamwork, honesty, growing, change or time. But when I think about it, these words are also essential ingredients for the word “strong”.
On a somewhat deeper level, I think it’s critical to consider where strength comes from. Where does endurance, discipline, cooperation, patience & the like come from? For me, the short & ultimate answer is God.
- Without God in my life, my endurance is like exercising with Halloween candy for fuel.
- Without God in my life, the strength of my will power is like trying to swim a lap in a 50m pool without taking a breath – the effort burns my lungs & obscures my thinking
- Without God in my life, cooperation & teamwork becomes disguised dysfunction (abusive, neglectful, manipulative & selfish acedia)
When I look to God for His strength in my life, the contrast of His strength versus my strength, helps me appreciate how truly weak I am without Him. Be strong!! 🙂
Today we had the privilege of meeting some really great & totally fun pre-schoolers, as well as some great moms looking after their babies who we are helping. One of the things that I’m wrestling with is the moms that I’m meeting who have lost babies. The majority of the moms whom I’ve met have lost anywhere from 3-10 babies. When I began to discover this, it simply takes my breath away because I can’t imagine how a mom processes such losses. When you meet the majority of these moms, you wouldn’t know that they’ve endured such tragedies. So as we are now taking a bit of a drive, I’m writing this blog & trying to talk w God about this and to let the Trinity help my heart. I will think & pray for a bit now.
I met a woman here in Angola today that has experienced unbelievable heartache & yet she is still full of love. Meet Celestina. Celestina has had 10 babies & all but 1 died before they reached their 4th birthday. The sole survivor is her daughter, Manushe, who has 2 babies – grandchildren for Celestina. Despite such tremendous heartache with her children, as well as a failed marriage, Celestina remains beautiful in her heart & brimming over w love. I asked her what advice she would give to come through hardship without heartbreak. She said that a person must be strong.
In my mind, it seems that there’s a difference between being strong & being brittle. Strength without love can easily become brittle, but maybe love is what gives strength its fuel & resilience. Genuine love is such an essential necessity to live as a strong person.
Ok, on my last @savingmoses trip, I had the privilege of visiting a blind school in Calcutta & I watched these guys who live in this school & I was THOROUGHLY AMAZED by them!!! What I found most amazing was their total joy, compassion, comraderie and zeal for life – all with no sight. While most of them have come from some really rough backgrounds, I never once had the sense that they were unhappy, ungrateful, shameful or unloved. I sensed absolutely no self-pity, but only love, care and comraderie. Two things:
1 – to watch these little men play cricket, check out this AMAZING & short video: http://www.vimeo.com/21004207
2 – for some cool pics from our trip, pls check out: http://www.stevestantonphotography.com/blog/