Giving Thanks with a Happy Heart (ICM Trip to the Philippines)

standard November 2, 2016 Leave a response

As we move into the month of November, our minds naturally start to anticipate the holiday season.  We’re thinking less about our exercise routine and more about pumpkin pie, caramel corn, and the obligatory roasted turkey.  It’s also a time when we are counting our blessings, and as Americans they are many!

I was the recipient of an immeasurable blessing this year when I was asked to attend a mission trip with International Care Ministries (ICM) to the Philippines.  ICM focuses on serving the ultra-poor in the Philippines, meaning men and women that earn $.50 per day or less.  You may be wondering, how is it even possible to support one person on $.50 per day, much less an entire family?  The answer is: it’s not possible. Thus, the extreme poverty.

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However, ICM has developed an ingenious program that they use to treat the serious problem of poverty that ransacks this beautiful land, and they call it Transform.  Transform is a 12-week program that addresses the needs of those in ultra-poverty on three levels:

1. Values: ICM works with a local pastor to find those who need the most help in the community and when they gather weekly the participants are taught the Word of God by the pastor and are presented with a chance to hear the gospel.  (I’m sure by now you know that this is HUGE to me and one of the main reasons why I am so attracted to ICM!)img_3871

(The Pastor bringing the Word out of Matthew 12.)

2. Health: This part of the Transform program focuses on the family’s wellness and sanitation. One of the leading causes of death in the Philippines is diarrhea.  Such an easy illness for us as Americans to remedy, but dangerously lethal for those living in poverty.  ICM gives health solutions and teaches the Transform participant how to guard against such tragedy.  They also administer Manna Packs (a fortified rice and soy blend) which can provide the family with several nutritious meals for the week.

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3. Livelihood: You’ve heard the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  This is precisely what the Livelihood portion of the Transform program seeks to do. The goal is to foster an entrepreneurial spirit among the participants so that they can have a sustainable source of income, whether it be by baking banana cakes and selling them in the marketplace or forming and participating in a savings group amongst themselves.

img_3870(A local savings group is being formed with the help of ICM.)dsc00058(ICM helps the Transform participants start and maintain a garden.)

At the end of the 12-week program a graduation celebration is given for those that participated in ICM’s Transform Program and it is a true reason to rejoice.  Not only are the graduates learning to fight poverty, but almost always new friendships have been formed within the group and the once unbearable weight of hopelessness is replaced with feelings of belonging and HOPE for the future.

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Proverbs 14:21 states, “Whoever shows kindness to the poor will be happy.”  

I love this promise in God’s Word for many reasons. One being that our happiness is directly dependent upon ourselves and the kindness that we give to others.  But also because kindness shown to the poor creates a perfect triangle of happiness between us, those that we choose to bless, and our Creator.  

This Thanksgiving it’s all about giving thanks with a happy heart.  We have so much to be thankful for and showing kindness to the poor is one way that we can spread happiness and hope.  Will you join me in partnering with ICM as they work tirelessly to provide serious solutions to serious poverty in the Philippines? If yes, then click below and allow your kindness to make you, others, and God happy!

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Have Courage & Be Kind

standard November 11, 2015 14 responses

“Have you ever experienced this kind of pain?…you received a phone call from the doctor’s office saying that they would rather you come in to discuss your test results.  ~ Help me, Jesus! I need You now!”

When I wrote these words in When The Earth Keeps Spinning, But Your World Has Stopped, I never imagined that our family would be experiencing them within a few short weeks.

My mother, Kathi, was recently diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer and we were all in disbelief. My mom? The one who eats healthy and exercises regularly? You mean to tell me that a bunch of cells coagulated together into a lump and formed cancer inside her body and now she has to have surgery, and chemo, AND radiation? Stop it. You’re joking, right?

But it was true. So we put on our pink boxing gloves and jumped up and down in the corner, ready to knock this thing out. But that’s not my mom’s style.  She’s more like Cinderella in her approach and the saying, “Have Courage & Be Kind” fits her to a tee.

Don’t get me wrong. She’s a fighter, but she’s a different kind of fighter. She fights with courage and she fights with kindness, but most importantly, she fights on her knees.

From the very beginning she put her trust in the Lord and she told everyone around her that she was already healed. When she met her oncologist she told him, “You’re my doctor and I am grateful for you, but the Lord is my Great Physician.” What could he say to that but “Yes, Ma’am”?

As news spread of mom’s cancer she ended up on countless prayer lists and more than a few times she was placed in the middle of a prayer circle with people laying hands on her. She told me, “I feel the peace of the Lord. Through every turn, He’s been there. Leading me to the right doctors, opening doors, showing me kindness through others. And, oh the kindness of others! Of course, my friends have poured out their love on me but I have also felt the love of people who hardly know me. They are kind to me because they love my kids. They are sending me notes of encouragement, making me quilts for chemo treatments, praying Scripture over me and our family, posting sweet comments on social media. That’s what really touches me and makes me cry. The kindness of others.”

And it makes me cry too.

The examples are so many, from the gentleness of the lady at the barber shop who shaved Mom’s head with such tenderness to the unknown contact of my sister’s coworker who offered her apartment in Houston for my mom and dad to use during radiation treatments. It is the sweetness of the Lord manifesting itself through human hands and feet. It is community and it is beautiful to witness.

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The second part of the equation is how much courage has played a part in Mom’s battle with cancer to the point that others can see courage radiating from her.  She described an exchange with a perfect stranger who was battling a serious struggle of her own whom Mom befriended. By the end of the conversation the woman told her, “I see such courage in you.”

When I asked Mom where she got her courageous spirit, she said, “It’s a gift. I didn’t get it, it was just handed to me. Growing up the way I did makes a difference. I don’t know if it is courage or not, but I feel such an assurance that God is in control and I don’t have to be in control. He orchestrated everything and He is the One who makes it livable, workable. The Lord is good. He holds you up and covers you.”

This is what it means to me to have courage and be kind. Thank you, Mom, for your beautiful, selfless example. Your testimony of God’s faithfulness in your life is an inspiration to many and I hope that one day I can be just like you. Kind and courageous.IMG_2652

‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26