Why Benjamin’s Mom Feeds Him Mud Pies

IMG_5639If you’re a mom, it’s unlikely that you’ve never yelled at one of your children, “Don’t eat that, it’s dirty!”  I’m a bit of a germaphobe.  M would probably count this as an understatment, but I like to think the darling little petri dishes that run around my house have loosened me up a bit.  However loosened up I am, we do not eat food that has fallen on the ground though.  At my house, there is no five second rule, no three second rule, no one second rule.  If it’s been on the ground, don’t put it in your mouth.  That’s the rule.  But, I’m not Benjamin’s mom and I don’t have to send my two year old out for 6-8 hours a day in search of water from a pond that we share with animals, a pond teaming with bacteria that could give my child diarrhea – something that can be very deadly in underdeveloped parts of the world.  I feel like I barely get my kitchen cleaned up before two little garbage disposals come in whining that they are hungry.  Again. But, I’m not Benjamin’s mom who can only feed my child maize, peanuts, cassava, beans sweet potatoes and fruit.  Once a day.  I don’t watch my child burn all their calories carting heavy buckets of water all day, every day.  I put large, nutritious dinners on the table every night and when my child doesn’t want to eat, I tell them about childen like Benjamin who would like to eat the roasted chicken.  I sigh as I sweep up the quinoa that has somehow managed to coat my entire kitchen.  But, I’m not Benjamin’s mom and don’t have to listen to my baby cry because he has worked hard all day long in the hot sun and is now hungry and knows there is no hope that tomorrow will be better.  I don’t have to mix a little oil with a little sugar and some mud to feed to my child so that he won’t feel so hungry.  I don’t have to worry that once asleep, mosquitoes won’t infect my sleeping baby with malaria.  Each year in the Congo, malaria steals 82,000 children under the age of 5.  Think of city of Bellingham, WA or Bloomington, IN or Concord, NC being full of only babies and preschoolers – stolen from their mother’s arms by a disease that could be prevented for no more than a couple dollars.

Martain Luther King, Jr. once said:

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

I don’t know about you, but I hope Benjamin’s mom see us as better than “good” people.

What if tomorrow, Benjamin’s mom was told that someone she’d never met, someone on the other side of the world, thought that this kind of childhood just wasn’t fair?  What if she heard that this person had $8 per week that they could spare without taking food off their own table?  What if she heard that they believed Benjamin should have a chance at not only survival, but a future?  What if that person thought that all kids, regardless of latitude, ought to have their basic needs met.  What if they were just a normal person who partnered with an extraordinary organization who had the knowledge and experience to make a difference for Benjamin.  What if today that person was you?  Contact me directly to sponsor Benjamin or click on Benjamin’s picture to find another child who needs YOU to make the difference in their life between barely hanging on and actually thriving.

For the record, I don’t know that Benjamin’s mom actually feeds him mud pies, but this is a common practice in many areas of the world where food is especially scarce.

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Tell Everyone: We’ve Found the Secret to Happiness!

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Tell everyone you know – the secret to happiness has been found!   Though it’s not really much of a secret if you think about it: when was the last time you felt like your glass was filled to the brim and perhaps even overflowing?  It probably wasn’t sitting on your couch watching yet another fabulous episode of “Scandal” or when you finally found those amazing boots you’d been scouting for over the last several weeks.  It probably wasn’t even watching the game – though I do love my Seahawks!  I’d be willing to bet it was when you gave something of yourself away.  I have found this to be true in my life – I feel like my life has the most purpose and fulfillment when I am giving time or resources to others, so it should be no surprise to me that Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith found that over and over again, those who gave of their time and money were actually happier, healthier and feel more fulfilled.  Let that sink in for a minute: giving of yourself can improve your overall health and sense of well being.  Wow!

Dr. Smith’s findings, as summarized in Richard Stearn’s recent Huffington Post article and recently published in Dr. Smith’s book “The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose” are quite compelling:

  • People who give away 10 percent of their income are 10 percent more likely to say they are very happy and 5 percent less likely to say they are unhappy.
  • The more you volunteer, the happier you are: People who say they are very happy also tend to volunteer almost six hours per month. People who are neither happy nor unhappy volunteer less than three hours per month, while people who are very unhappy spend less than 0.6 hours per month volunteering.
  • People who volunteer report feeling better and enjoying better mental health than people who don’t volunteer, even though they have the same number of doctor visits and hospitalizations.
  • People who give or volunteer are more interested in pursuing personal growth.

It kind of makes you want to make this a question you ask anyone you might potentially date, befriend, hire or allow to watch your children, huh?  “So, we seem to have a great connection here, but I really want to ensure that you are volunteering at least 6 hours per month before we move on in this relationship . . . ”

In my own life, I tend to generally think of myself as a glass half full kind of girl, but something really changes when I am regularly engaging in giving of myself to issues I’m passionate about.  I transform from glass half full girl into my cup runneth over girl: I am so much happier, more energetic, more positive, feeling like my life has a true purpose and knowing that I am doing something to make a positive impact on this world.  If you don’t know what that feels like, you are missing out and I encourage you to find your passion. For me, my passion has always been kids; I am also passionate about veterans and military families.

The truth is that some people on this earth CANNOT make their circumstances better without help: those who spend every waking hour in search of filthy water to drink cannot attend school and become the engineer who will build wells in the remote villages of Africa, the small boy in Pakistan who must labor long hours under dangerous conditions so that his brothers and sisters can have a small meal each day cannot become the police man he dreams of being, the young girl who is kidnapped and spends her days trying to survive her life as a sex slave cannot teach the next generation of girls in her village in Bangladesh that they are just as valuable as boys.

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why he allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when he could do something about it.”
“Well, why don’t you ask him?”
“Because I’m afraid he would ask me the same question.”
—ANONYMOUS

And so I take care of tiny humans in the church nursery each Sunday, I advocate for children living in extreme poverty and I teach middle and high school girls their strength, worth and value.  We sponsor four girls around the globe and give to other charities that help underprivileged children.  I only make this list because I believe myself to be a very normal person with a very normal schedule of working full-time and raising two young girls, yet I prioritize others as well and yes, it is a sacrifice, but one that pays dividend after dividend after dividend.  If you are not engaged in supporting others with your time, skills and/or money, you are missing out.  Whether it’s been building a program to support veterans in a Fortune 500 company, making blankets to comfort foster kids, writing letters of encouragement to my sponsored girls or changing dirty diapers, I don’t regret a minute of time I’ve given to another.

If this note has inspired you to share of your financial resources with others, I, of course, have to make a plug for one of my favorite charities, World Vision.  They have been transforming lives around the globe for over 56 years by working to alleviate the root causes of poverty in some of the poorest and most forgotten places in existence.  For only $35 per month, you can be a part of the story of a real human being who is experiencing real suffering.  I don’t know about you, but my mom never had to feed me mud so that my hungry belly wouldn’t keep me awake, or fear that my ear infection would be a death sentence to me, or cry as she sent me off to work in a dangerous factory or mine so that my younger siblings could survive.  You can make a difference today – for yourself and for another human being.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve not found myself missing roughly $7 per week.  Click here to find a child just waiting to be a blessing in your life

Confessions From the World’s Worst Huminatarian

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Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision once prayed, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”  Wow.  As the owner of an incredibly selfish and uncompassionate heart, I thought that the only way I’d ever really be able to be truly used by God was to follow this example.  Here’s a prayer that really needs some kind of consumer warning, folks, because believe me, He gave me a passion for helping hurting children around the world.  Day after day, He has broken my heart for kids starving in Africa, working under dangerous conditions in India and caught in trafficking in Bangladesh.

Stupidly, I thought that if given the opportunity to reach out and save a child, most people would jump at the chance.  I didn’t think that people could actually peer into the eyes of a first grader, starving to death, and say, “I’m good, thanks.”  I wanted to tell him that I kind of figured he was ‘good’ when I saw him pull up in his $70,000 car.  My super judgmental alter ego was furious at me for not sharing with her that with what she’d spent on her manicure, she could save a child from dying or from being sold into slavery or from being made a child bride or worse.

I’d meant to share this opportunity with the people of North Hills until 4pm that day, but at 3:30 I wasn’t hardly able to manage a smile, so I packed it in early.  I cried most of the way home to find M and C just getting ready to come see me and offer encouragement.  Immediately, both of them knew I was deeply sad and asked what had happened.  “I wasn’t able to find sponsors for a lot of these kids,” I said to my 4 1/2 year old in a shaky voice.  “Who are they?  Can you tell me their names?” She knew what this really meant – those kids, kids with names and faces and real stories would continue their struggle for survival.  My husband, always more pragmatic, began counting the remaining folders.  “You’ve made a huge difference in the lives of 13 kids in the last month,” he stated.  “Yeah, but that doesn’t help Ruth or Aimee or Benjamin or any of the others,” I’d said as the tear began flowing down my cheeks once again.

My heart was breaking for the hearts of the 20 kids I’d not found sponsors for.  Logically, I know that the problems in Africa had been festering for a very long time.  I also realized that this problem wasn’t just waiting around for me to come and solve through Child Sponsorship, but I really did think that I could make a difference for these kids at least.  Then, Pollyanna Salina found a table in the corner at which to sit, sulk and update her Facebook status to read: “Pollyanna needs a nap. And a hug. And a Xanax. Maybe not in that order.”  Seeing her opening, Selfish Salina joined the party and started talking about how stupid it was to have spent a day away from the family and a huge to-do list only to end up mentally, physically and emotionally too worn out to enjoy what was left of the Saturday.  Cynical Salina saw us sitting there and decided to add her two cents, “I don’t know why you even bother.  It isn’t like you’ll be able to change any part of this world.  What good can you do?”  Pollyanna Salina, though feeling quite defeated, answered in a small voice, “Isn’t it better to do something than nothing?  What if our child was the one who was hungry, lost or hurting?”  Snarky Salina quickly chimed in, “The one thing you’ll accomplish through all this is feeling like you’ve done nothing other than spending time away from your actual responsibilities and crying in front of your kid.  Are you ready for the award for that?”

And so Pollyanna Salina, who had had enough of these other voices, headed out to do the weekly grocery shopping with her family, her 4 year old remarking from her pink booster in the backseat that, “Mommy is still sad about the kids who don’t have sponsors”.  Once at Target, feelings of guilt for having ready access to an abundance of high-quality, healthy food wasn’t helping.  At the checkout, Pollyanna Salina listlessly checked her UrbanSpoon app for a nearby restaurant that would cater to a host of food intolerances, still mentally more sitting at her pity party than at Target.

Then, a beautiful French accent broke through the heavy haze of her commiseration, asking, “Do you work for World Vision?”
Somewhat startled, I look up and said, “I volunteer with World Vision,” realizing I was still wearing my bright orange World Vision t shirt.
“I know they do great work back home in Africa, but I didn’t know they were here in North Carolina,” she said excitedly.
“I spent my day trying to find sponsors for kids in Africa today,” I’d replied.
“Since I came here from Kenya, I’ve wanted to get involved with giving back through World Vision because of what they do for my people in Africa,” she said more as a question than a statement.

And right there, I saw the reason to keep letting my heart be broken, to keeping giving the time that I could use to finish my grocery shopping, to give the money that could be spent on a lunch date with a friend, to give my heart to real people with real problems in real places.  I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other because God tells me to, and I’ll pray that God will repair my faith in humanity and help me not to judge others by their reaction to something I’ve become passionate about over many years.

“If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister  in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.  Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.” 1 John 3:17-19

If you, like my family and I, have enough to live well and would like to show compassion for a child in need, click here to learn how you can save a child in dire need of your aid.

An American Preschooler’s Understanding of the Congo

One of the things I really want to impress upon my girls, who are now 2 1/2 and 4 3/4, is that we have been born into great privilege as compared to others around the world – we didn’t earn, purchase, or even request our middle class spots in a country with relatively low turmoil.  One tangible way we talk about our blessings is in comparison to the lives of other children around the world.  Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not about to go into the specifics of war, trafficking or slavery with my innocent girls, but I do think they should be aware of hunger, poverty and varying levels of freedom.

Wednesday, I received a package with picture folders of 30 four and seven year olds who are growing up in the Congo – living much different lives than those my girls are living.  By now, the girls have come to understand that there are about four things I can tell them from each picture folder: the child’s gender, birthday, number of siblings and favorite game.  I’d been pulling out the folders one at a time, reading the highlights to the girls who were picking at the bowls of homemade turkey soup in front of each of them, then I’d place each folder in order by birthday.

“This little boy is named ‘Dieumerci’ – that means ‘Thank God’ in French!  He will be 7 on his birthday on January 1st,” I’d said as I held up a picture of a sad looking boy, “He lives with his mom and has no brothers or sisters and he likes to play soccer.”
IMG_4680I’ll confess that I wasn’t actually paying a lot of attention to my words.  My mind had already skipped ahead to to where to file the folder, neatly placed amongst the January birthdays.  I was already thinking about how to arrange the picture folders on the display table, asking you to care about Dieumerci, without really connecting with his pitiful little frown.  But, I’d said a prayer to not let me off the hook that easily.  I’d actually prayed the prayer of World Vision’s founder, Robert Pierce:

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”

And so in the rapid-fire conversation that transpired with my almost five year old, He brought me back to the reality of why I’d even asked for the privilege of receiving these folders.

C: Wait.  He lives with just his mommy?  What about his dad?
Me: Uh.  Well.  It doesn’t say where his daddy is, just that he only lives with his mommy.
C: So his mommy sleeps all by herself in a great big bed every night?
Me: Well, I’m not sure that people in the Congo actually have great big beds like Mommy and Daddy do.
C: So she sleeps in a small bed?
Me: Well, yes, if she has a bed it is probably small.  But she may not have a bed either.
C: So she has to sleep on the carpet.
Me: Well, people in the Congo probably don’t have carpet.
C: But then she’d have to sleep on the floor.  That would be so dirty!
Me: Yes.  It is probably very dirty in the Congo.
C: So then she has to take a shower when she wakes up every day.
Me: Actually, they probably don’t have showers in the Congo.
C: Oh.  A bath then.
Me: Well, they don’t have bathtubs either I would imagine.
C: So they can’t get clean until they go swimming in the pool?!?
Me: I’m fairly certain there aren’t pools in the Congo.  They probably take their baths in the river.  They would get into the river and splash the water onto themselves to get clean.
C: But the water in the river is dirty.
Me: Yes, but it would be better than nothing.
C: Why can’t they just use the clean water that they drink from their sink?
Me: Because there isn’t clean water for most people in the Congo and they don’t have sinks.  They have to drink the water from the river too.
C: But, Mom, then they would get sick!
Me: And that’s why we are trying to help find sponsors, Kiddo, so that World Vision can help build wells for these people so that they can drink clean water and give them medicine to help them not be sick from the dirty water.

Over the past 36 or so hours, I’ve told this story to a couple parents whose eyes held the same horror I’m sure yours hold as you read these words – are you crazy, Salina?!  Telling a four year old about extreme poverty and social injustice?!  Friends, please don’t miss the message here: I want my daughters to know that we can do something about extreme poverty and social injustice.  I don’t want to raise girls who bury their heads in the sand or turn a blind eye to the suffering of other children; I want my girls to always feel compelled to be a part of the solution.  If you’ve been looking for ways to help raise kids who give and not just share, let me tell you that sponsoring children through World Vision is making a huge impact on how my girls view their responsibility in this world.

We have shrunk Jesus to the size where he can save our soul
but now don’t believe he can change the world”
-ANONYMOUS

 Please don’t turn a blind eye to Dieumerci and the millions of other children who are in dire need of aid.  Of course you can’t change the world today, but you can change the world for at least one child and isn’t that better than nothing at all?  There are so many ways we can help without even sacrificing, but if it is a sacrifice, isn’t the life a child worth something?  A dinner out?  A bottle of wine?  The membership to the gym you haven’t been to in months?  Isn’t the life of a child worth something to you today?  Today, I implore you to consider sharing your table with a child for only $35 per month.  To view children who are truly suffering and are in desperate need your help, please click here or contact me directly.  If you’re not ready to commit to a monthly donation, please consider giving any amount to help buy farm animals for a community that is struggling to survive: click here.  You can honestly choose to be someone a child thanks God for – for saving their life, for allowing them to get an education, for giving them an opportunity to have a future.

Amazing Halloween Treat: Help Your Family Touch an Invisible Kid

Spooky Fact: There are over 60,000,000 child laborers in India.  These children and their plight are invisible to us.  This October, you can help your child reach out and touch a real, invisible child for about a dollar a day.

For about a dollar a day, you can send hope, health, education – a future – to an entire community in dire need of your help.  To reach out an touch an invisible child today, click here.

Invisible Child

The Big Miracle That Happened in a Small Moment Today

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With light pressure on my gas pedal, I’d easily engaged all eight cylinders, quickly reaching the 45 mph speed limit on the straightaway near my house.  There was nothing but a green light ahead of me – until she decided to ignore her red light.  There absolutely wasn’t enough time to stop on the damp pavement.  I slammed on my brakes and tensed in anticipation of the collision into the passenger side of her sedan while my purse, laptop and lunch become airborne.  It is absolutely, scientifically impossible that my car stopped as far from her car as I found myself.  I was completely dumbfounded – no squealing tires, no metal crashing into metal, no shattering of plastic and glass.  Then, my angry horn broke the silence as I looked for a place to turn around and tell this stupid woman how pissed off I was with her crappy driving.  I mean, she could have really injured us both with her carelessness!

And then, I realized that it was absolutely, scientifically impossible that my car stopped as far from her car as I had found myself.  The only explanation for what happened to me was divine intervention.  I am a horrible driver and I know my car doesn’t stop that quickly, especially when I’d been accelerating not a second before slamming on my brakes on wet pavement.  It truly was surreal – all my belongings were flying through the air, but I wasn’t even jarred in my seat.  He reached down and stopped my car as a child would reach down and correct an out of control Hot Wheels car.  And it dawned on me that He probably didn’t save me from that crash just so I could give a complete stranger a piece of my mind.  So the question is, if God reached down and saved you from harm, what would you do to say thank you?  Here is the wakeup call: He has saved us all from so much!  We all have so many blessings in our lives that we take for granted each and every day.  Life may seem pretty rough some days, but if it were gone in an instant?

A Horse is a Horse Unless of Course That Horse is an Angel in Horsehair

IMG_4645This beauty is named Abby.  She, along with about a dozen other hoofed ‘Angles in Horsehair’, are responsible for healing and providing hope for hundreds to North Carolinian kids each year.  Kids who have literally been discarded, kids who have endured the deepest, more horrific kind of abuse, kids who have suffered unimaginable loss, kids whose parents have divorced, kids who just need love and encouragement.

I would have loved to have had a place like this to run to and heal when, at 14 year old, cancer stole one of my closest childhood friends.  To deal with the pain, the anger, the guilt.  When you’re a child and something ugly comes into your life, it is really hard to cope.  Heck, some days I have a hard time coping with bad traffic!  In North Raleigh, there is a place where families can heal, where children can learn to trust, where horses can literally save someone from the deepest pit of utter despair.  And they need help to continue to minister to children and their families at no charge, to help put right what has gone so terribly wrong, to help create a world changer from one who is weighed down by the world.  Check out Hope Reigns of Raleigh to learn how you can help today.

Why Doesn’t Anybody Like Me?

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Over the weekend, I spent time with a 14 year old girl who shared with me that nobody at her school likes her, no one in her small group at church likes her and her parents don’t really know her.  I don’t know about you, but this sounds just like I felt when I was 14: insecure, unsure, approval seeking.  I grew up in a one [flashing] stop light town, along with ~2,500 other souls.  Our town was smack dab in the middle of nowhere, Washington, about 3 hours from the closest city with a mall.  Everyone knew my story, my parents’ stories and the stories of my extended family.  If there was anything they didn’t know about me, they felt free to fill in the blanks with their very own opinions – sometimes kind, sometimes ugly.  When my parents bought my younger brother and I cars when we were 16 and 18 respectively, the mother of one of my best friends went around town telling other parents that I must be ‘bad news’ because my parents had bought a nicer car for my brother than for me.  The reality was that we’d both chosen the cars we’d been given and my dad had worked out a deal in that he would purchase several upgrades for my brother’s car, but that there wouldn’t be any argument when he took this more fuel efficient car on his monthly trips to dental meetings in Seattle.

In High School, I participated in volleyball, cheerleading, tennis, drama, Future Business Leaders of America, Future Homemakers of America, Student Government, choir, church youth group and was an exchange student to France during my Junior year.  If this were a movie or a YA novel, this list of activities would be used to demonstrate how athletic and talented I was.  But then, we get back to the fact that there were only 100 of us in my class and you realize that talented or not, we all got to participate as a reward for merely showing up in the correct uniform.  I was awarded Most Inspirational Player in Volleyball, which is the equivalent of ‘You Suck, but You Cheer Really Loud’; I was cheer captain, but couldn’t even do a cartwheel so I think this was more in recognition of my ability to organize events and make copies of our cheer books; I don’t think they even had a C-Squad in tennis until I showed up with my racquet.  Needless to say, you won’t hear my name memorialized in the hallways of my alma mater as the star of anything.  At graduation, I was surprised to be handed a gold cord to wear, symbolizing graduating with honors.  All those wearing these cords were lined in chairs by GPA – I was the last before the order was switched to alphabetical.  I remember the sting of feeling as though love was nothing but conditional: if you dressed and acted the right way, your school friends would accept you; if you were ‘good’ enough, your church friends would accept you; if your grades were high enough, your parents would accept you.  The problem with trying to measure your worth as compared to others is that there will always be someone who you think is ‘better’ than you in one of the categories you’ve decided to track.  Other girls might be skinnier or funnier or more athletic or better at math.

Not knowing what I wanted to so with my life when I grew up, and feeling enormous pressure to have my life figured out before leaving High School, I enlisted in the Army and found myself crawling through mud at basic training as my friends entered their Freshmen years at various colleges across Washington.  Once again, I found myself very average.  I was not the fastest, nor the strongest.  While practicing throwing grenades into bunkers, my head was almost taken off by the drill sergeant who’d had to reroute the heavy sphere I’d managed to toss directly into the doorframe, bouncing it back at the line of young soldiers awaiting their turn to practice this obscure skill.

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of volunteering to help with an after school club at a local girl’s school where we tackle topics like value, worth and strength.  Finally, after all these years, I can articulate the battle my average self had struggled with: Self Worth.  We used a $50 bill to demonstrate to the girls that no matter how much you crumple, dirty or abuse the bill, it will still have the same worth.  And so do we girls.  We abuse ourselves by saying our thighs are too skinny or too fat, that we are too smart or not smart enough, that we are too loud or too shy.  Enough.  We were all uniquely made – there is no one on this planet who was created like you!  Who else on this planet has your same fingerprints – no one.  You same corneas – no one.  You are the only one on this planet who posses the unique set of experiences, gifts and skills all packed us as YOU.  And guess what, you are no more or less valuable than any other human being on this planet.  It’s time to stop being our own biggest bullies.

One of our club’s leaders, a middle school girl, had an excellent suggestion to write encouraging notes to other girls in their school who had not participated in our club.  How brilliant of an idea is that?  Can you think of anyone in your life who could use an encouraging note?  What if we’re all still 14: insecure, unsure, approval seeking?  What if one small gesture on your part could help another see their worth?  I challenge you to touch someone’s life today and let them know they are valued.

For me, I’ve learned that my worth can only come from God.  After all, anything else you could imagine putting your worth in can be destroyed, lost or can change value.  When you put your worth in an unchanging God, you find real worth that lasts forever.

“But the lord  said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Najim

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In 11 days, Najim will turn 8 and I can’t think of a better birthday present to offer him than HOPE.  Hope for a education, hope for full tummy, hope for health and hope for a future.  Najim is growing up in Bangladesh, one of the most disaster prone nations in the world.

Najim, his parents and 3 sisters live in a rural farming community on the southeast part of the country.  The typical home in Najim’s community is constructed of bamboo wall with a metal roof and dirt floors.  Community members survive on rice, fish and any vegetables they can afford.  Najim is in primary school and enjoys coloring and playing cricket.  A monthly gift of $35 will provide Najim and his community with improved healthcare and hygiene, school fees and new school buildings.  Your support will provide preschool, coaching and adult literacy classes.  New crop and animal production techniques will feed more families and improve their income.  Let’s make this the best birthday yet for Najim!  Comment on this post to sponsor Najim or click here to view other children in desperate need of your help today.

My Fair NLT – The Bible I Actually Understand

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As most people who’ve spent more than five minutes in a Christian bookstore can attest, there are a lot of choices when it comes to purchasing a Bible.  If you’ve known me for more than an hour, you’d probably find it pretty easy to believe that I was driven to choose the “right” one – the one that was more correct than any of the others.  [Insert chuckles here]  You know that somewhere in the virtual history of my laptop, there is a Google search titled: which version of the bible is the best?  After hours of research, I can report to you with absolute certainty that the infallible answer to this question is: it depends.  It turns out that the different versions are actually used for different purposes and have little to do with the pretty covers.  =)

From the limited research I conducted, I learned that the translations can be mapped on a continuum of word-for-word translation to thought-for-thought translation [See the examples below].  What I really wanted was to know God’s instructions for me and my family.  So I kinda didn’t care if the words were most closely translated from Greek, if it still sounded like Greek to me.  The New Living Translation (NLT) was originally published in 1996 with a goal of being as comprehensible as possible.  Ta Da!! While reading this version, the stories came to life in a way I’d not experienced before, scripture was easy to absorb and apply, plus it was an overall more enjoyable reading experience.

While reading, I still had several “huh?” moments.  I was thankful I’d selected a study Bible, specifically the Life Application Study Bible.  Finally, I felt like I had a better understanding of what it meant when . . . . I especially enjoyed the short biographies throughout.  On the downside, I found the footnotes to be repetitive from book to book.

But wait, there’s more!  I learned there is a huge secondary market for unused Bibles on Ebay.  I bought my brand new, leather bound, Life Application Study Bible for $35, instead of full retail price closer to $70.

If you’ve found the Bible difficult to read or understand, I HIGHLY recommend starting a reading plan today on Bible.com and trying multiple translations until you find one that speaks to you.  While over half of all Americans who read the Bible regularly, read the KJV, I love my NLT.  Which Bible version is the best?  That depends on you!

More Word-for-Word More Thought-for-Thought
NASB ESV KJV NIV NLT
Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. The Testimony of John the Baptist
John 8:58 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, i am!”
Rom. 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.
Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.