Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lessons from Malawi

It's that time of year again. 
The time when my facebook timeline is overflowing with messages of thanks, and people everywhere (myself included) are carefully choosing what to wear Thursday, preferring pants with a little stretch and give in preparation for the big meal that is coming. 

And this is all great. 

It's so good to be thankful for our many blessings. 

But this year, Thanksgiving looks differently to me. 

After going to Africa twice in the past five months, the one thing I have heard over and over again is, "I'm sure you made such a difference there," or "I know they were so thankful for what you've done for them". 

The truth is, I have done very, very little in the big scheme of things. 
I'm not even sure that my two trips have made ANY lasting impact whatsoever. 
And that is OKAY. 

I am one person. 
I will not be able to make a noticeable difference in the life of every person I meet in Africa. 
That's simply not how it works. 

But, that also doesn't mean I should stop trying, stop serving, stop praying, or stop going. 

It also doesn't mean that a lasting change hasn't been made. 

Because I can say without any hesitation that Africa and the people there have made a forever change in me. 

My eyes, mind, and heart have been opened to these beautiful people and their culture. 

And if there is one thing that they do well in Africa, it's be thankful. 
I have never been surrounded by a more appreciative group of people. 

It's not that Africa has made me want less or feel guilty about what I have. 
Instead, it's made me appreciate what I do have and not long for MORE. 
Our culture seems to be all about the 'more' lately, and I'm just not buying it. 

Instead of wanting more, I am counting my blessings for what I DO have. 

I am thankful for the air conditioning in my car and the fact that it doesn't guzzle gas like this beauty we used in Malawi.

I am thankful for paved roads, even though they sometimes include potholes. But I promise, the ride is smoother than this road was....

Even though they are older and not front-loading and fancy, I am thankful for my washer and well as indoor plumbing and electricity. 

Although our house is smaller, older, and lacking in the storage department, I am thankful that we have a place to safely keep our belongings and for a roof that doesn't leak. 

More than ever before, I am thankful for clean water, water that doesn't make my family sick. Water that won't kill my babies.  Water that helps, not hurts....

Although I have far less than most girls I know, I am so thankful for shoes. I'm thankful that my girls have shoes that keep their little piggies safe and warm. Until this year, I was completely guilty of taking shoes for granted. I didn't realize the difference they can make in your quality of life and in your health. They really are a NEED and not just a WANT. 

I am so very thankful that my girls have the chance to just be kids. They don't have to worry about major health scares, a doctor that is miles away, will there be anything to eat tomorrow, and when will my parents come from me. I am so thankful that my girls were born into a family...not all children have that luxury. 

And I am thankful for the lessons I learned in Africa. There are so many, but one of the most meaningful came from this: 

While at an orphanage in Malawi, this was THE ONLY TOY we saw. Now my kids are good kids, but if this was their only toy, I can only imagine the endless stream of 'I'm bored' and 'This ball is broken' that would echo through our home. But the kids at the orphanage played with it with a smile on their faces. They didn't complain or one time mention wanting 'more'. They helped me better understand that STUFF is not what is important. STUFF does NOT make us happier, healthier, or better. In fact, I think stuff sometimes gets in the way of the important things. And I could not be more thankful for this lesson. 

I am so very, very thankful that God opened my eyes to Africa and for the forever changed that has occurred in me when I said 'yes' to Him. 

Here's hoping your eyes have been opened, and if God is trying to call you to something or to teach you something, please say 'yes'. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and you and you.....and Africa. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Be These

I love when God totally blesses me with surprise friends, friends who are unexpected and yet totally get it. They want to serve. Their hearts live across the world. They daydream about loving on children who aren't their own. And I have so found this in my friend Laura. And Laura loves Haiti the way I love Africa. And she's currently planning and raising funds for her second trip.
Here's what she has to say: 

"Anse a Pitre, Haiti is a small community in the southeastern coastal region near the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Following the 2010 earthquake in Port au Prince, the already burdened and impoverished community experienced significant growth as refuges from the capital city fled the instability and rising violence. Hispaniola Mountain Ministries ( began working in Anse a Pitre shortly after the earthquake and has built a number of homes, brought several clean-water wells to life in the community using solar energy and most recently, built a school. "The Promise Land Project" continues to grow with the addition of a pavilion and a generous donor has committed to supporting the construction of a permanent medical facility on the Promise Land site.
In Matthew 5, we are called to be the salt of the earth and the light to the world. In May 2013, a group of 16 from First United Methodist Church in Louisville (MS) will try to live out this command as they travel to Haiti for a week-long mission in Anse a Pitre. The team will have a medical and construction component. As part of our fundraising efforts, we are selling these shirts to support our mission trip.
They are $20 and the design is on the front/center of the t-shirt. We have three colors (red, blue and dark grey in Comfort Colors) have sizes S, L, XL, and a few XXL left (Sorry, all the Ms are gone!). I'll be happy to ship! Email me at to order or message me on Facebook or Twitter (@laurarwalton). Thank you in advance for your support of this mission!
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16"

Can I just say that I LOVE THIS SHIRT???
As a girl who owns over a dozen fundraising shirts, this one is easily my favorite. 
Mine came in yesterday, and I seriously can't wait to wear it!

I'm thinking this shirt would make a fantastic stocking stuffer......agree? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gah, I'm a Slacker, BUT....

So the blogging break was unplanned. Sometimes those are the best kind because they mean that I was busy. And busy can be good, especially when it involves visiting some of my favorite people and working for Noonday

Here are some of the things I have been meaning to blog about though... 

Last week was my girl's third reading fair. Second grade reading fair brought her a second place ribbon. 

She was super excited, and I think her project is her cutest one yet. LOVE her love for reading and her desire to work hard. 

Know what else I love? 

Old friends, specifically visiting with my oldest friend and her newest addition. 

Heather and I had the best time catching up while her little miracles played under foot. I so wish we lived closer and could visit more often; there is just something so comfortable about being with someone who has known since before you could hold a pencil.

And last but not least, this little one.... oh, I could just squeeze her. 

I seriously think this shirt was made with her in mind. Candy is the end-all be-all for Hollyn. 

In other news, please keep sending up prayers for my grandmother, as she still has a very long way to go. 
And THIS week I'll be back on the road with Noonday. 
This time I'm headed to the great state of Alabama to catch up with a high school friend I haven't seen in forever and to visit with the girl who knows me better than any other, the infamous Kara Leigh. 

So excited to giggle 'til I cry and stay up way past my bedtime. 

I promise to be back later this week with a big post about Malawi. 

Until then, happy happy happy to you and you and you.