Thursday, August 7, 2008

Someone To Hold

I have a very special and most important message to encourage you with today. Just as I mentioned in todays P31 devotion, we all need to know that we are being held by God, and that He is holding our loved ones in His arms during difficult trials.

We also want to know that He is taking care of us, watching over us and meeting our needs. However, sometimes we forget that the way God meets our needs is through other people, not just supernatural miracles.

Have you ever considered that YOU could be the person that God uses to hold one of His children in His love? Let me tell you a story of how God is using me to hold someone special.





Last August, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the city of Quito, Ecuador. I participated in a vision trip with Compassion International, and although I looked the same on the outside when I boarded the plane to come home, I was a completely changed, different person in my heart.

Prior to leaving for Ecuador, I was complaining to my husband about the emerald green carpet in my home. I had chosen that carpet nearly twelve years ago when we moved into our new home, and at that time, jewel colors were the trend. It seemed like a treasure then, now it had become a major thorn in my side. I hated my green carpet!!

Although I complained relentlessly to my husband that I wanted to replace the carpet with a neutral color, he had yet to succumb to my wishes. I knew it was not a completely necessary expense, but it seemed extremely important to me.

It seemed really important, that is.............until I visited the home of Gabriella.



Sweet Gabriella is a child participating in the Compassion International program. She lives in a small mountain town in Ecuador, with her ten family members, including her mother, cousins, brothers and sisters, grandmother and aunt. They all live in a four room dwelling, made of concrete blocks, plastic ceilings, and a hard dirt floor.

(Here is me and Melissa Taylor, my P31 sister, standing behind the family).



Furniture was sparse, and what was there was shabby, broken and falling apart.




The entire family slept in two beds, which were merely a few blankets draped over some wooden slats on a bed frame. One light bulb dangled from the ceiling, which was the only light for the entire home.




The family cooked every meal over a little fire of small logs, which sat directly on the dirt floor in a hole - in the front room INSIDE of the home. A thick hot smoke filled the home so intensely that my eyes burned and watered from the sting. They had a stove, but it was useless, so it was simply used as a cabinet instead.



The children's feet , even those of a tiny three year old little girl, who hid playfully behind a pole while I took her picture, showed skin of tough leather – an obvious sign that no shoes had ever covered their little feet.

Their sunburned faces, dirty noses, taut skin and tattered clothing told a story of a lifetime of poverty, insufficient shelter, hunger, and desperation.


But their hearts showed Jesus.

The mother of this family was so excited we had come to visit her. She could not wait to show us her home, teach us how to pull corn from the stalks and show us how she milked their cow.





She explained through our interpreter that her husband had left her many years ago. Her brother had taken responsibility for the care of she and her family, but unfortunately he had died two years earlier, leaving this large family with no men to help work the fields or provide for their needs. They were doing the best they could with their circumstances.

But their hearts showed Jesus.

The mom explained how God had so blessed their family with this new “home” they lived in. Their other home, which was merely a pile of rubble (pictured below), had caved in on them, barely missing the grandmother who was sitting inside (also pictured below).

As a result, they were left homeless – until Gabriella’s sponsor sent a gift of $400, which allowed them to build their new residence.




But their hearts showed Jesus.

I held a precious little baby boy in my arms who was about two months old. I asked what his name, and was saddened by the response. Apparently the people of this community do not name their newborns, due to the infant mortality rate being so high. Once the baby survives for several months, then they will give him or her a name. That was heartbreaking.





But their hearts showed Jesus.

Not once did I see the mother of this family lose her beaming smile.

Not once did I see any of the children whining or fighting with each other.

Not once did I hear the young daughter, probably nine years old, complain that her back was hurting from carrying the baby in a sack on her back for hours - every day.


Not once did I hear anyone groan about what they didnt have, and I most certainly did not hear anyone complaining about their flooring - despite the dirt and rocks they had to step on in their bare feet every day.


They were excited that we had come to visit and proud to show us the new home God had given them through the miracle of their sponsor. They felt blessed to show us how they made home made grain tortillas, and even more pleased when when we ate them.





Their smiles beamed love and gratefulness for what they did have, not discontent for what they did not have.

And their hearts showed Jesus.

Throughout the week, as I visited several homes of different families in similar situations, my heart began to ache......not only for these sweet people who were happy with so little, but in such need of so many basic things, but because I realized the sourness of my own heart.

I realized the severity of my discontentment, even though God had blessed me more than I could ever imagine.

I realized that as I complained about my plush carpet, they were walking on bare dirt and rocks inside their home.

I realized that as I complained about changing light bulbs, they were so thankful for having one light bulb.

I realized that as I wasted money on frivolous things, they were going hungry that night.

I felt so ashamed for not being content with the enormity of blessings that He had bestowed upon me, and God changed my perspective on life through these precious people of Ecuador.

In prayer, with tears in my eyes, as I lifted up all these sweet families and this country up to God, I asked God to engrave the memories of this experience and these people so deeply into my heart, that I would never, ever forget them and how they changed my heart.

In America, we live in such a self-centered culture. We take things for granted, and are rarely truly thankful for our blessings. We are brainwashed by the media and the norms of our society to try to keep up with the neighbors, get all we can get, do all we can do, make the most money we can, spend as much as we want, and in a nutshell, always strive for more, more, more.

Discontentment seems to be the heartbeat of our society.

But as Christians, we do not have to be like the world........ we can choose to set ourselves apart. It is a choice we have the power to make.

We can choose to allow God to use us to do something incredible for someone else. We can choose to to be Jesus to those who need to feel His arms around them.

If this post today has touched your heart in a special way, God may want to give you a special assignment today - an assignment that could be the miracle for someone less fortunate. An assignment for you to help a child feel held in His arms.

My current God assignment, is named Marlon. Marlon is a five year old little boy, and is my sponsored child. I had the rare opportunity to wrap my arms around him and feel his sweet lips on my cheek during our visit in Ecuador. I met his mom, and wiped her tears as she thanked me for caring about her little boy from so far away. It was the best gift I have ever received.

Are you willing to let God use you to do something amazing for someone else? Are you anxious to be the miracle that a little child is waiting for? Do you have a desire to be Jesus to someone in need?

I want to encourage you today, to consider and pray about sponsoring a child through Compassion International. For a mere $32.00 per month, you can make a life changing impact in the life of a needy child and his or her family. Think about it, for the cost of a few lattes, or one night out at a restaurant, you could improve the lives of an entire family.

Their family will be blessed, but trust me, you will be blessed even more.

It is an blessing for me to be a part of Marlons life, to read his sweet letters, to see the pictures he has drawn, and to hear about his two little brothers. It is an honor that I don't deserve, to be able to help this family put food on their table and clothes on their bodies.

And most importantly - I know that Marlon and his family are learning about Jesus through their involvement with Compassion. Their physical and spiritual are needs being met. That is why every speaker at Proverbs 31 Ministries has sponsored a child, and our ministry also sponsors a child.

If you will take just a minute to click on the link below, you will see pictures of children who are in need of sponsorship right now, today. These are real kids, with real needs. This is real life. They are not just photos on a card. Compassion International is an amazing Christian organization that can help meet the needs of the kids through your kindness and sponsorship.

They need someone to be Jesus to them...someone to hold them from afar.

Could that person be you?




Matthew 25:40 The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

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18 comments:

Amy Carroll said...

Beautiful devotion today, and I'm so touched by your post. It brings back so many memories of Ecuador. It reminds me to be content with what God has provided and the joy of sacrificing to give to others. It's so much richer than anything I could buy in a store! Thanks for the reminder, friend.

Amy

Wendy Pope said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wendy Pope said...

This is amazing. Your heart has been beautifully changed!

Melissa said...

Tracie,

I am so moved by your devotion and your blog post. I cannot believe it has been a year since our trip. I want to go back again so bad. It's like those families, the country, and Compassion are in my blood now. I'll never forget them. And I am so thankful that our family has the opportunity to sponsor a child. My kids love our sweet Maria Jose' as if she were really ours. It is a blessing that we can play a part in helping her to feel "Held" by Jesus.

Thank you for sharing this with the world. I love you!

Melissa

Vern said...

That was beautiful!
Thanks for sharing your heart!

Lisa Roszler said...

Wow, I was so absolutely undone by your P31 devotional today!

Thank you for the reminder about being held. I recently had almost a week of having to lie flat on my back due to a spinal tap and accompanying effects. I couldn't even watch TV or read, so I just prayed and sang all day. I was able to be still only because God reminded me He was holding me. Who wouldn't lie still for that? :)

The post about the Compassion children also tugs at my heart. I have been wanting to sponsor a child, but need my husband to get with me on it. Right now, finances are tight due to my illness. So please pray for my husband's heart to also be moved and for us to find $32 a month in our budget.

Onward,
Lisa

Becoming Me said...

This was an absolutely lovely post. Your heart shined through as did the love of Jesus. Thank you so much. We have actually just been talking about sponsoring a child and my daughter is excited about the prospect. I'll let you know when we do.

Barbie said...

Thank you for your devotional today. My 6 year old also used to ask me to "hold you" so this brought a smile to my face. When my Mom was dying in March I was "held" so tightly by the Lord as He provided verses, people to encourage me and meetings with people which others might have considered "coincidental" but I knew God was surrounding me with His love in a tangible way and holding me in His loving arms. I would encourage all to never forget to reach out to others in any way and also to encourage them to sponsor a child through Compassion. We have been so blessed by our relationship with 2 girls in Peru over the years of sponsorship.
Thank you for your blessing to me through your devotionals at P 31 ministries.

Stacey said...

Perfect timing...this time, He's the one holding me:)

Danielle said...

I stopped over today after reading your Prov. 31 devotional email. Just wanted to say thank you for that devotion. Held is the song that got me through my miscarriage last year. I would ache and cry and pray as I listened to that song over and over. God does hold us as we go through tough times... He is so faithful! Thank you. Danielle

Amy L Brooke said...

Thanks for sharing all of this Tracie! It was great.

I sponsor 2 children. I was sponsoring Delia in Ecuador but was deeply saddened that she left the program. I found out last week.

They have assigned me another child in Ecuador, Ambar. She is 8. I've already written her. When I called about Delia and they told me about Ambar, I had the silly thought because of the website, "Can I see her picture?" There wasn't a way to pull it up but before 60 seconds had passed I realized just how silly that was. It didn't matter. She was a child in need. So, I've welcomed Ambar.

I just got a letter from my child in Rwanda. Her name is Kayirangwa. She wrote to thank me for her birthday gift. It turns out that she used the money to buy a chicken for her family for eggs! It was fun to get that note today.

Thanks for sharing about your trip!

Kimberly said...

I just wanted to say that your devotion, "Held", was a blessing to me today. That song has helped during several times of heavy grief. Thank you for sharing your experience!!

Joy in The Truth (Sharon Sloan) said...

Hi, Tracie.

Your devotion was wonderful today! I cried reading it, and I sang that song outloud. I love "Held"! God has been speaking to me about holding HIS hand, so the timing was amazing (as usual!).

Thank you for this post. We sponsor a few children through Compassion. My favorite part is writing to them and sending them pictures. They seem to love that.

Thanks for your encouragement and example!

Sharon

Jen said...

Tracie,

Thank you so much for posting this!!! It brings tears to my eyes reading this and I feel incredibley saddened that we as Americans have so much that we probably don't even need - no we don't need it!! What we do need is JESUS!!!! And HE will provide EVERYTHING that we need. My family has sponsered a girl for a while now! It is really neat to read her letters... she couldn't write yet and her grandmother would write them and "our" little girl would draw a picture!! so cute!! I hope to be able to financially sponsor a child of my own soon. Thank you again for posting this and the daily devo! Btw. I love Natalie Grant!!!! She is awesome!!! And I love "HELD"!!!!! Blessings, Jen

Charlene said...

I just had to respond to your "Held" devotional from yesterday! I cry every time I read it, because it's a picture of what my husband and I have been going through with my 16-year-old daughter. She also has a chronic illness and has had two lengthy hospitalizations this year. I have struggled with the EXACT same questions, and what a joy to know that perhaps for now, we just need to know that we are being held.

When my youngest son was a toddler, he would say, "Hold you me." And so now that's what I will be saying to my heavenly Father. Thank you, thank you for your transparency and willingness to be used by God.

Eternity777 said...

Tracie,
Just wanted to let you know, after reading your devotion today, that I too, have had the same experiences with the song "Held". I was just thinking today that I should be writing down the many ways God speaks directly to me, and through song is one of the ways I am truly touched. This song has held soooo true for me in so many different situations. I was very touched to hear that God used it in so many different ways. Wonderful devotion, very meaningful and touching. God bless...

LeAnn said...

WOW! I am amazed. I am changed. I am reminded. I am humbled. I am inspired.

Thank you!
LeAnn

Janelle said...

Thank you so much for this devotional. I just sponsored a 5 year old girl from Ethiopia. I wanted to choose a child from my own east coast time zone to make visiting easier, but even after waiting 24 hours, I knew my little Ethiopian girl was the one for me. Will I ever get to meet my Yabsera? Maybe, maybe not. Airfare is several thousand dollars. Nevertheless, I am so excited to be Yabsera's sponsor. I started praying for her the moment I picked her.

=) Janelle