Browsing Category: Faith

Have a Little Compassion

There’s a new member of our family that I am so excited to introduce to you: Dorothy! No, you didn’t miss anything. In November, as part of Avelyn’s turning 6 she chose a little girl in Africa to sponsor through Compassion International. I often think that most people have heard of Compassion until I start talking about it and they look at me like I have 6 heads.

sponsor-a-child

I’ve been familiar with Compassion for the past 5 or so years, and have really wanted to sponsor a child, but it just wasn’t feasible. We had wanted to do it at a point when our children can be involved in correspondence and can understand what it is and why we do it. This year Matthew decided it was the year. I can’t tell you how much my heart soared when he said those words!

Compassion Child

Dorothy’s birthday is in the middle of February, and as I was talking to Avie about drawing a picture that we could send to her, she had mentioned something about dresses. I said that more than likely Dorothy only had 1 maybe 2 dresses to wear. Avelyn got a devastated look in her eyes and I asked what was wrong, “Mommy, could I send her some of my dresses?” I explained that we can’t mail her things like a dress, but we can pray and ask that God would provide for her through our sponsorship. {I love Avelyn’s heart for others!}

So what IS Compassion International?

The Everett Swanson Evangelistic Association was founded in 1952 by The Reverend Everett Swanson to help children orphaned by war in South Korea. He traveled there to preach the gospel to the troops of the army but during his visit he saw children orphaned by the war. In 1953, he began to raise funds and the next year he developed sponsorship programs to help support orphans for a few dollars a month.[4] The name of the association changed to Compassion in 1963, inspired by Jesus‘ words “I have compassion on the multitude. I will not send them away hungry” (Matthew 15.32).
-from Wikipedia

The whole premise of Compassion is to not just provide for the physical needs of a child, but also their spiritual needs. While they are given the opportunity to attend school, the blessing of safety and being provided for, they are also learning the most important truth…Jesus. They are being cared for not just temporally but eternally.

The thing I love about Compassion, besides all the wonderful things they do, is that this isn’t just about having your credit card auto-charged every month and forgetting about it, forgetting about a child. The wonderful thing is how Compassion encourages their sponsors to write to their child, to visit them {if possible}, to actually build a RELATIONSHIP with them. We try and email at least 2 letters a month to Dorothy. It’s so easy: They have a form you can fill out on the website and upload pictures to you and away it goes!  That’s it!

At different conferences and events over the years I’ve had several opportunities to talk to the people manning the Compassion tables and they are always such a joy to spend time with. Just recently I was speaking to a grandmother who sponsored a child for each of her grandchildren, then takes the time with each of them to write their sponsored child. Her goal is to take each of her grandchildren to meet the child they sponsor. She’s already been to the jungles of South America with two of her grandchildren.img029

April 24th is Compassion Sunday, but you can sponsor a child any day, anywhere in the world through Compassion’s website at Compassion.com. They give you wonderful search options of countries, age, gender, and most importantly for children who have been waiting the longest {as Dorothy was}.

I know we all remember the over emotional commercials to sponsor a child through different organizations; that for just over a $1 a day you can give a child hope, but it’s true. For $1.25 a day you can give a child hope, you can give them a future, you can give them the food and things they need now, and you can share with them the love and Salvation that only Jesus can give.

Peace on earth, goodwill to men

Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men JessicaMWhite.com

The world seems as though it’s going to hell in a hand-basket lately. A new shooting every day, race wars, and violence against women and children, all in our own backyard. People have felt the world is going to hell for hundreds of years, because it is. It has been for quite some time now {remember that incident with an apple?}

Every new day is a day closer to Jesus’ coming. The end times are near, but as Christians, as professors of our faith, we do not need to live in fear. We can stand strong, bold in the knowledge that despite the world’s chaos, our God remains forever in control. That no thing can happen without Him.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men JessicaMWhite.com

I just finished a book called Christmas Bells {by Jennifer Chiaverini}, in which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s story during the Civil War was told. While reading the poem I noticed something very different from the Christmas carol we’re all familiar with: Two stanzas in the middle {highlighted in bold} that are not in the carol.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

One-hundred-fifty-two years ago people felt just as we do now…that the world is a horrible place, that it was all coming undone. But just as Longfellow hoped to remind people, I home to remind you, because it’s still true:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

God is not dead. He’s not asleep. We live in a fallen world. A world brimming over with evil, but God is still here. He has already won. Jesus has conquered death. We, as believers in Jesus’ resurrection, do not need to cower in the darkness, afraid of what the next moment may bring for us or our loved ones.

If you happen to hear this old carol at some time in the next few weeks I hope you think of those missing stanzas and how a whole nation felt as lost and hopeless as we do now, but more importantly I hope you think on the last verse and clutch it close to your heart. Holding tight to the truths Longfellow penned so long ago: God is not dead, He will prevail…He already has.

Dear New Mom….

Dear New Mom...a baby isn't the end. It's just the beginning.... @JessicaMWhite.com

Dear New Mom….

In nearing the end of this pregnancy and having had a friend who just had her first, I’ve been thinking a lot about you and how people perceive the birth of a new baby…this end of an era that brings with it dramatic changes, all with a touch of doom and gloom. People seem to have this common perception, both from experience and impending baby-dom, that a baby means things end.

That life as you knew it will cease to exist in its entirety, right down to the minutiae in life.

People who have “been there” are completely guilty of propagating this feeling of dread, telling the new parents that they better enjoy these last few weeks and days, go out to dinner, get a manicure, see a movie, all with the idea that these things will seemingly never happen again. Soon to be mamas, I am here to tell you something:

This is not the case.

Yes, your world is about to be rocked, things are obviously going to change and will never be the same again, but life doesn’t end…it’s only just beginning. This new little one is the rebirth of you: You get to relive your childhood through this precious baby; you get to experience the entire world as you did before, but just can’t remember; you get to be the one to introduce this tiny being to all of the glories God has created for us.

Dear New Mom...a baby isn't the end. It's just the beginning.... @JessicaMWhite.com

Is this new experience hard? Absolutely. I’m not going to lie. You are going to be stretched and tested and exhausted and ready to give up, you may even have minutes or days or weeks when you wonder why you even thought this whole having a kid thing was a good idea. At some point you will feel like a baby IS THE END, but it will be worth it. If not for your child, then for you, because in this journey of mommy-hood you will discover just how strong you are and just how good God is.

But there is a choice that must be made.

You must choose whether you embrace the new changes and all their messy beauty OR fight against it, clinging to the life that was. This isn’t an either or choice. This doesn’t mean it’s you or the baby, that only one of you can dictate what life is like. It doesn’t mean kiss YOU {and your interests} goodbye.

It’s a moment by moment choice.

Sometimes YOU will be the priority, when you feel your self starting to slip, when that 10 minutes of silence in the shower is not just about getting clean, but recouping yourself and wiping away the desperate tears, and sometimes that baby will be the priority, when they’re screaming because something is wrong, something is hurting, even if you don’t know what it is, but you know they just need you.

Then there are the bigger choices: Having a baby doesn’t mean you put You, your interests, your relationships, up on a shelf for the next 18 years. It doesn’t work that way, and it doesn’t have to be that way. God created you to be who you are, uniquely crafted with thoughts, ideas, and talents. Mommy is just another part of that. “Mommy” doesn’t mean you’re no longer allowed to exist beyond your child. That your child somehow now trumps your spouse. It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t. But it is a balance act, having to relearn who you are in this new world.

Regardless of what society expects…..you are NOT super mom.

No one is, unless they have a team of helpers, and then they are still not. You are a mom, trying to find balance in the constant changes of babyhood and motherhood. Sometimes it is glorious as you ride the waves and sometimes you’re just trying to keep your head above water.

And you know what new mama…you will get to go out to eat again, get your hair and nails done, even sit for hours quietly doing nothing but what you want to do. It will happen, and when it does, you will think back longingly on the days that used to be and how that little person is not so little anymore.

* and I write this, as I sit here, totally freaked out about what a 5th child is going to mean in our life, because whether this is your first or fifth it is a life changing experience.

**Lest anyone get too excited…that picture is of Avelyn.

Finding Time to Have Fun

Finding Time to Have Fun When There is Just so Much to Do! @JessicaMWhite.com

Even before kids people would ask me how I managed to find the time to do things. After kids, they REALLY wanted to know how I managed to “do it all”. Not just the menial day-to-day that we ALL have to do, but the other things that are the fluff of life: Reading, blogging, quilting etc.

Finding Time to Have Fun When There is Just so Much to Do! @JessicaMWhite.com

It’s a very simple answer, but most people aren’t willing to do it. There’s this thing called “Guilt”, ever heard of it? People very often will feel guilty if they don’t handle all of the must-dos, before the would-like-to-dos. Because of this, and the endless list of must-dos, the would-like-to-dos never happen.

Guilt aside….what’s the answer: I don’t do it all. Bottom line.

I leave the dishes in the sink some nights. I don’t keep up with the laundry. My living room sometimes goes days {or weeks} being trashed. I don’t always cook fanciful meals. I do the absolutely necessary and leave the rest to when I have time. Sometimes I’m on top of all these things and sometimes I just let them go, so that I can work on a quilting or writing project or head to bed early to read.

That’s what most people struggle with: Letting themselves NOT fall into the traps of what they are supposed to do, giving themselves the freedom to let those things slide so they can accomplish the things they enjoy, the things that fill their tank.

We are a great culture for guilt…if we don’t fill the presubscribed ideology of what someone should do, then we feel like a failure. In the mean time, we feel like a failure anyway, because we can’t EVER get all those must-dos done. I hate to say it, but sometimes I do have a “why bother” attitude about certain aspects of homemaking.9780800723484_alt5

{I’m sure my German grandmother is rolling in her grave right now that I don’t prioritize the must-dos.}

There’s this book that recently came out by Jessica Turner of TheMomCreative.com called The Fringe Hours. The premise of which is the importance of self-care and the importance of making time for those things that you love to do. Most of the book focuses on addressing the guilt we feel when we do the things we enjoy, particularly when the must-dos are not done; as well as how to better use the in-between minutes of our day. It’s a great book. It’s the book I wish I’d written.

That said. To me….my house is not a priority. My kids are. My husband is. My creativity is. That’s how I find the time to do the things I love; I don’t do any of the other things I’m supposed to.

*To read another of my posts on this topic, visit here: Thoughts on Creativity: Why I Make Creating a Priority from April 2013

**You can pick up your copy of The Fringe Hours at Amazon.com or DaySpring.com {these are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission on your purchases at no additional cost to you. You can read my Disclosure Policy here.

Creativity as an Act of Worship

Over the last few years, and more this past year, a handful of people have told me that my children should be my priority, that this is not the season for me to spend frivolous time on my writing {and blogging}, sewing, photography or reading {for fun} or any other non-necessary creative endeavor. That I somehow am doing wrong by my children, if I continue to pursue these avenues.Creativity as an Act of Worship @JessicaMWhite.com

My responses have been lacking any sort of gumption: Some mumbled words about not losing my identity because I’m now a mom. Which is absolutely true. I’m not going to stop doing things I enjoy, simply because I am now a mom. I will how ever do what I can to balance those things with the needs of my husband and children.

I think it is good for my kids to see their mother creating, that their mother has skills and interests beyond them. That I’m not just some sort of maternal robot, here to serve them with no other facets of interest or personality.

People sometimes ask me when I find the time to be creative: Honestly, it doesn’t happen as often as I would like. Most of the time it is delayed or interrupted by sibling spats or daily tasks. Sometimes it is months between projects, sometimes projects don’t get finished for a long time {I started a quilt when I was on maternity leave and waiting for Ave to be born….it’s still not even to the point of having the blocks finished}, and sometimes I get on a roll and am able to finish several creative ventures in the course of a few weeks.

Overall, I stay up way past my bedtime and sometimes I will be a bad mom and stand at the kitchen counter, with the laptop {I can see the kids} and write or edit photographs…sometimes, I even go hide in the office to write for a few minutes, which is only another 8′ away. Or I go in the dining room, a few feet in the other direction, to work on a sewing project, while the kids play or watch a show. {One of the perks of a small house}.

Honestly though, these past few months have been hard. Especially with sewing and writing. I feel like there are constantly ideas swirling in my head, but to find time to sit down and execute them is near impossible.

My “sewing room” is now our actual dining room {since we can’t fit a full size table in our kitchen}; I can’t just leave projects lying about, because they would inevitably get destroyed. Writing happens in the evening, after the kids are in bed, if I have my thoughts together and Matt doesn’t claim the laptop. Sometimes I do go sit in the office with the heater on, but only if my brain is burning.

With such demands on me wouldn’t it just be easier to not bother? Absolutely, but I can’t. It is something I HAVE to do. I HAVE to create. I HAVE to have that outlet for my thoughts and hands. I find the time to be creative, I eek it out wherever I can, I do whatever creative thing is within my grasp, because I have to create.

“Creativity is good theology – God began with creation.”

Those were the words that Ann Voskamp spoke at Allume; words that have just filled me. Knowing that my God began with CREATION somehow releases me from feeling as though I’m not allowed to create during this season. This season that is already so difficult, because there is so little time for Mommy’s own interests.

I heard it a while ago, and I’m not sure where now, that we are created in God’s image and God is an artist, He is THE Creator…so why should we expect ourselves or others to put away their creative nature, simply because it isn’t something that we have gads of time for, or because we have other responsibilities. We shouldn’t. We were MADE to create, to share beauty, whether with words or images or textiles or dirt. We create, because He first created us! {rephrase of 1 John 4:19}. { <——CLICK TO TWEET }

Creating is an ACT OF WORSHIP and wonder at GOD’s CREATION! Not only were we created to be creative, the creativity within us is meant to be unleashed to God’s GLORY. Being creative, putting time in to creating beautiful things can be a form of worship, whether to God’s glory through creating or to His glory by providing for our families’ needs.

My sewing, cooking, photography, renovations, painting are all ways to create beautiful things for our home, gifts of love for family and friends, clothes for our children, and a means of trying to save a bit of money while doing all of these things. It is our calling as women to do all of these things, and to do all of them for His Glory!

No, no more will I feel guilty about taking time to create, to pour out of myself the gifts that God has given me. No more will I question whether sewing or lying in the mud to get a picture just right is a good use of my time. No more will I try to justify something God Himself has put inside of me. I will embrace these gifts and use them to His Glory.