20 September 2013

high-fiving trees

I posted this little tidbit on Facebook last night:
Went out for a couch-to-5K run with Walker tonight. It was a big milestone - 5 min warm-up, RUN 20 MIN. Up until now he has had walk breaks, so this was tough. He was fading around the 13 minute mark so I was trying my best to encourage him. He started reaching up & touching tree branches as we ran by... He says, "you know why I like to touch the trees?" Me: (no idea) "it cools you off?" guessing. He replies, "No, I imagine they're my fans giving me high fives along the way."
Man, I love that kid. And yes, he did run his 20 minutes. Like a boss - with lots of fans.
My friend, Lisa, responded first, and her words made me get tears in my eyes and a catch in my throat almost immediately.  And I wasn't quite sure why.  She said, "Keep making sure you have trees in his path and he will run long distances."

I'm thinking she said it tongue in cheek, my heart immediately thought about the importance of marking his path with encouragement.  Last night, he imagined the encouragement himself, and I pray that deep down he will always be able to find that encouragement within, from the Spirit that lives in him.  I want him to run long distances, and I want him to know he is being cheered along the way.  Always.  Whether he's actually running or just living all out for Jesus.  My heart wants him to run far.

It got me thinking about the 3rd assignment for Compassion International's blog month.  (Remember the goal is to sponsor 3160 kiddos this month!) I picked this photo of this little boy because I think his timid expression speaks volumes.

This boy with the dirty, sideways shirt and the penetrating eyes.  In so many ways, he is not unlike my boys.  Or your children either.  He just happens to have been born in a country that is stricken with poverty.  The thing about poverty, this kind of poverty, is that it is hard to imagine for us North American folks.  We prefer to kind of pretend like it doesn't exist, or worse, like its no big deal to "those people."  Or you know, like its not our responsibility.  Gross.

Here's the thing, though.  That little guy, he is in need.  Just look up at his face for a moment.  Really look at him. He represents so many other little ones just like him.  His parents love him desperately.  They do what they can to provide for their family.  He knows his parents love him, but the challenges he faces on a daily basis are difficult for him to bear.

He needs to know he can run long distances.  He needs to know that he can set goals.  He needs to imagine those high fives from his fans as he presses on toward his goals.  

By choosing to sponsor a child, a world of hope is opened up to them.  They receive medical care, healthy food + clean water, and an education.  They also get introduced to Jesus.  It is only $38 a month.  Compassion International will provide the child you sponsor with enough to get through each day, and by doing so the whole family will benefit.

One of the absolute coolest things about sponsoring a child through Compassion International is the access you get to your sponsored child.  You get to send him/her letters.  You can send family photos and let your child know you are praying for him.  Your words will be the branches his fingertips brush through as he runs the race marked out for him.  Your letters offer hope in a very tangible way. 

(If you follow along on a Compassion Bloggers trip, you find out how the children treasure these notes from their sponsors.  You can read through past trip posts if you want to do some research.  Click here.  Grab a box of tissues if you do!)

The cool part?  The children write you too.  And you get pictures!  We have seen the boy we sponsor grow up so much over the last-almost-4 years.  His timid stare in the first photo has disappeared into a beaming smile.  He has begun writing his letters himself and we watch his handwriting improve with each new letter.  I still can't say for sure who is getting the most blessing out of this deal, us or him.  We keep our notes and photos in a notebook, because they have become treasure to us as well. 

I promise you, this is the best $38 a month you can spend.  If you take your family out to dinner, you will likely spend close to this amount.  Do your kids light up with hope as you walk out of the restaurant?  Not usually, its just another meal.  What about if you go to some sort of attraction and spend $38 on trinkets and souvenirs (or elephant ears, whatever), do these items become treasures for your children?  Not likely.

I'm not saying going out to eat, or buying our kids trinkets is a bad thing.  I'm just asking you to consider redirecting some of your funds in your budget from the-not-that-big-of-a-deal-column to the-awesomely-amazing-hope-giving-column.  I'm telling you, you will not regret it.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

I'm leaving you with a song.  Because this is how I am wired and songs tangle-up in my thoughts ALL THE TIME.  As I considered Walker high-fiving the trees, and my responsibility to make sure there are more trees along his path; as that morphed into thinking about our opportunity to "be the trees" that high-five Compassion kiddos, this song came to mind.

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