Breaking Up With My Books

I love books.

I love books like some women love shoes.

I love books like some women love clothes.

I love books like some women love jewelry.

I love to shop for books like some women like to shop for...I think you get the picture.

My earliest memory of my love for books was reading late at night with a flashlight when I was suppose to be asleep. When my parents took away the flashlight, I would read by the light coming in from my bedroom window.

I love the way words on a page create images in my mind.

I love the sound a new book makes when it is opened for the first time.

Over the years, I have added many, many...probably hundreds of books to our home library.

But one thing I have realized (especially after reading Kathi Lipp's book, Clutter Free), is that I have hundreds of books in my home, that frankly, I just do not love. So why am I keeping books in my home that I do not love?

I kind of like the idea of a big home library, but there are many books I have read that just really aren't my favorites. They were good books, but not ones I plan on reading again.

So, I made a decision today...I need to clear out my home library and only keep books I love.

To be honest, this is going to be one of the hardest things for me to do. When I told my husband what I am going to do, he had to ask me twice what I was going to do.

Large stack of books to sort through

Tonight, I attacked one section of a very large bookcase in one room of our home. Basically, I put the books in two piles: did I love it and would I read it again? or did I read it and I don't think I will read it again?

Books I love

I surprised love pile was smaller than the other pile...

Books that need to go live somewhere else

Now to figure out how I am going to get this other pile of books to live somewhere else...

Excuse me while I go sort another shelf full of books...

Life is so unfair

We get frustrated at so many things in this life. I know I do...

Costco stopped carrying frozen orange juice concentrate

It is Monday which means I need to do laundry, meal plan, and grocery shop...again!

There are potato chip crumbs on the couch

We need a new roof and currently don't have any funds available to pay for a new one

But then, I watch a documentary like 'The True Cost', or read a book like 'Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate', or receive a letter from one of our Compassion kids...and it makes me wonder...

What about my life is so unfair?
Why do I feel I have the right to be frustrated?
How can I even try to make a difference?
I am only one person, so why should I even try to make a difference?

I understand that many of the problems in this world are really too big for any one person to tackle...

and I believe that God orchestrates and plans for each person to be on this planet at just the right time for His purpose...

So where can each one of us begin to make sense of this unfair life?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4

Educate yourself - read up on topics that stir your heart, make your blood boil, and that you deeply care about.

Educate others - share quotes from books you read, share statistics about the impact of organizations you are involved with

Volunteer - seek out volunteer opportunities with an organization you can partner with

Life is so unfair

Yes, life is so unfair...but each one of us can use our voice and our actions to make a difference in the lives of many who are less fortunate than we are.

First Steps to a Clutter Free Life

When people come over to our home, at first glance, most things are in their place and you normally don't see a lot of clutter around.

Our mostly clutter free front room

However, once you turn the corner and see my desk...

My cluttered desk

...or the pile of magazines...

Magazine pile

...or if you happen to be one of the very few people who get to see the dresser in our bedroom...

The cluttered top of my dresser

I am almost embarrassed to post these photos...especially this last one! Yikes! Look at all that dust! Unfortunately, these are not the only areas of clutter in my home...

But I met someone this past weekend who I believe is going to help me make those first steps to a Clutter Free Life.

Who did I meet? I can hear you asking...

Clutter Free by Kathi Lipp

I met Kathi Lipp!

Kathi was one of  the speakers at our local homeschool conference over the weekend. I had a chance to talk with her a bit on Thursday evening after I introduced myself to her as a Compassion Advocate in the area. Kathi is a speaker and writer who has recently partnered with Compassion to help more children find sponsors at her events.

She graciously gifted me with her new book 'Clutter Free' which I have practically devoured over the past couple of days. I still have about 50 pages to read, but I love her approach to identifying why we have clutter, and her three questions to help us identify what has earned a right to be in our homes.

In fact, just this morning, I had a pile of stuff to go through from VBS (yes, I know VBS was weeks ago, but I just kept procrastinating going through the stuff!) In about 15 minutes, I was able to go through two boxes and it feels so good to have it done! I am looking forward to finishing her book and taking more steps to live a more clutter free life!

Simplify your space...take back your life.
— Kathi Lipp

If you are struggling with clutter in your home, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Kathi's book.



Colombia Day Six: Our Final Day

Our final day in Colombia was spent at a church with the most energetic, passionate pastor I have ever met. Here is a video of his sharing with our group at the end of our day together:

So you know if he had this much energy at the end of our day together, you can just imagine how much energy he had at the beginning of our day!

Our day at this center started like many other center visits with presentations by the children. But I don't believe any of us were prepared for this (be sure to have kleenex handy...):

I know you may want to pass over the video, but don' is one of the most precious things I have ever watched.

Yes, God is in this city in Colombia.

And He is in many more cities just like this one.

In many more communities and countries around our world.

He is waiting for His people to do His work to share with His children just how much they are loved by Him.

I am not saying that you need to sponsor a Compassion child. 

Sweet little girl Compassion Colombia

But if you have ever felt that tug at your heart...

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, β€˜Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.

Colombia Day Five: Meeting Lina

The night before our planned Fun Day with our sponsored children, we received quite a surprise! Becca, one of our awesome trip leaders was praying at the end of our evening together at the hotel. She was kind of taking her time too. Imagine our surprise when we opened our eyes and saw a big group of children in the front of the was all of our sponsored kids!!!!! I immediately jumped up from my chair, my chair fell backwards, so I turned around to pick it up. By the time I stood back up and looked around, there was a beautiful young lady standing next to me. And I knew exactly who it was!!

Meeting my sponsored child Lina in Colombia

There are no words to describe this moment...none at all! How do you put into words the moment of meeting someone you have loved from miles away, someone you have prayed for, someone you have exchanged letters with, someone you never thought it would be possible to meet in this life?

We didn't have long to spend with the kids at this initial meeting, but it sure helped to alleviate some of the nervousness that we had been experiencing about the next day.

Our fun day with our sponsored children was spent at a water park near the coast of Barranquilla, Colombia. I really didn't take a lot of pictures this day because we spent a lot of time in the water! Lina had never traveled outside of her community, so she had never been to the coast of her country. This was her very first time to the Caribbean Sea!!

Angelica (the center director from Lina's project), me, and Lina loving our day at the beach!

Angelica (the center director from Lina's project), me, and Lina loving our day at the beach!

Me, Lina, and Mauricio (our translator)

Me, Lina, and Mauricio (our translator)

Even though we spent a lot of time in the water, we still had time to talk quite a bit.

I learned that Lina almost left the program before we started sponsoring her. Her previous sponsor didn't send her any letters. Angelica told me that when the letters we sent to Lina when we started sponsoring her made a big difference in Lina's life.

Did you hear that?

Letters...a few words written on a page to encourage a young girl who lives thousands of miles away from us.


The thing is though...not only have those letters made a difference in Lina's life...they have made a difference in my life.

Almost every month, I set aside time to write letters to our Compassion sponsored kids. I don't write really long letters.

But in each letter I share a Bible verse and remind these kids that God loves them.

Doesn't it make you feel good when someone reminds you that God loves you?

Maybe if my words don't convince you that child sponsorship works, maybe this will:

Are you ready to make a difference in the life of a child living in extreme poverty in Jesus' name?