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.

dsc00088(I taught the Health portion on diarrhea prevention. Thank goodness for a good interpreter named Denzel.)

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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Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

standard June 3, 2015 3 responses

Summertime is upon us and I, for one, am extremely grateful for the slower pace and a chance to sit in the sunshine with a book in hand.  However, with the change in season comes the trap of comparison.  A trap that every woman knows all too well.

If you would, please consider the following scenarios with me:

Scenario 1: While at the neighborhood pool you see an acquaintance that you know recently had a baby, but there she is looking oh, so thin in her two-piece swimsuit.  No belly fat whatsoever.  And here you are (having had your last baby five years ago…but hey, who’s counting?) feeling like the roll around your midriff could quite possibly be misrepresented as a built-in inner tube, lest you need an immediate floatation device.  You could have sworn that the mail catalog swimsuit model did not have this inner tube you are sporting, and you can’t for the life of you imagine why it is presenting itself now.

But then you hear that still, small voice whisper in your ear: You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14) and you are precious to Me (1 Peter 2:4). I take great delight in you and I will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

Scenario 2: You are having a pretty good day.  Grilled cheese sandwiches have been served, the kids are behaving themselves (for the most part), and you have told them that after naps you’ll take a trip to the local library for their summer reading activity.  As your angels are sleeping you begin scrolling through Facebook.  “Oh look, Jill is on a trip to beach with her family and nanny….How nice, Jessica is on a get-away with her husband in Seattle….Is that Jacqueline zip-lining through the tropics???  Ok, now I’m just bummed.” All the while forgetting that you and your family have had plenty of fun trips that you have enjoyed.

And then you recall the words from Lesli’s post on JOY: A Choice; Not A Feeling: Don’t compare…just don’t!!  Don’t let others “highlight reels” on Facebook steal your JOY as you live in the real-life, behind-the-scenes with your precious family.

Scenario 3: You sit at your desk working furiously toward a 3:00 pm deadline for a major proposal your team has been competing to win.  Your phone keeps buzzing every three seconds showing the GroupMe texting app that you use to communicate with a group of friends. They are texting about how they are going to the pool, or the Children’s Museum, or Art Camp, etc. And while in capable hands, your kids are spending their days with a babysitter so that you can work.  You try to stay focused, but you begin to feel doubt creep in.

Until you remember that God told you: Commit your work to Me and I will establish your plans (Proverbs 6:3) because I have put you here for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).

You see, Friends, comparison is a lonely place to be and it only leads to a lack of joy.  There is always the possibility that someone is going to have a better body than you, a better vacation than you, a better (insert your own scenario here) than you, but thank God, you are made to be YOU and I am made to be ME!

So, what is the antidote to comparison? I submit to you that it is a spirit of thanksgiving for the blessings that we do have and a confidence that God will fulfill His purpose in our lives.  And just as David gave thanks in Psalm 138, we also have the ability to choose joy and say:

I give You thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart….The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.