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We can do some things

Saturday June 20th was World Refugee Day.

Did you know?

Maybe you saw a social media post but for most of us, I suspect it wasn’t a holiday that registered.  Before my trip to Thailand, I would not have been aware that such a day exists.

But not now.  Now I’ve seen refugees; I’ve hugged them, listened to them and cried with them.  I’ve smiled at their children, whose faces light up with the same smile as every other child in the world.  You can’t see where they live (and why), what they eat (and don’t eat), what they have (and don’t have) and turn away unaffected.  You can’t listen to their stories, even through translators, and not feel connected as one human on the planet to another.

You can’t look a refugee in the eyes and come away the same.  

painting

painting “Run” by artist refugee

We can’t all do everything and we shouldn’t all do the same thing but we can all do some things.  I intentionally say “things” because I believe that most of us can do more than what we do.  I have realized that I can’t go everywhere I’m invited, because when I see injustice, poverty and pain, I want to fix it.  I want to give whatever I have to make things better, but I can’t do that for everyone everywhere.  It’s a hard truth for me, and yet that’s why the world needs ALL of us!

So one of the places I’m picking to stick, to say “I am with you” is with the Burmese refugees and those working for their freedom and health.  I still know very little in the big scheme of things, but I know more than I did a year or a month ago. I know more than most of the world’s population, which has been tragically proven in the last few months as we’ve watched the atrocities committed against the Rohingya in Burma.  I want to learn more.

And so I’m going back.

I’m going back to say “I see you.  I hear you.  Your life matters.  How can I help?”

our friend Suebu

our friend Suebu

I’m going back to use the gifts, knowledge and strengths that are uniquely mine in whatever ways they might bring peace, health and education to people who are literally dying for lack of those.  I don’t have time or space to go into the extreme lack of each of those and how that combination of missing factors contributes to minutes and years of a life that most of us have no reference for.  If you are reading this, chances are you know me, so please trust me when I say I’ve been there, I’ve seen it and there is great and continuous oppression, abuse and poverty among the many Burmese ethnic groups living in Thailand and Burma.  They need our support.

Here’s the thing: I have always suspected that inherently, as humans walking around on this planet, we want to help.  We have an internal drive that makes us care about others and how we can help those less fortunate.   We get distracted by busyness or lack of money or time, or the belief that what we do or don’t do doesn’t matter and the days go by and that drive gets pushed deeper.

But I know you want to help because you told me with your actions.

I’ve had the privilege in the last year to have my eyes opened to many places that need our help and support.  One of them allows me to provide pediatric care to a greatly underserved group of children.  This opportunity to care for these families has been one of my favorite things that has come of this post-military life.  Last week on a whim, I asked you to help meet some needs for this population.  Here’s what you did:

I asked for a book, and YOU SENT ME 12!  Not only does one mother get to benefit, but now the entire group gets to!  I asked for a $250 donation for an unnamed medical need, and FOUR OF YOU WROTE WITHIN ONE HOUR asking to fill the need anonymously.  Last Christmas, YOU GAVE ABUNDANTLY- over and above the needs- to give to families you didn’t even know during the holiday season.

I believe that drive to give and help is always trying to find a way to get out, an avenue of release so to speak and I’d like to suggest today- LET IT OUT!  It doesn’t matter so much WHAT you do.  Do SOMETHING!  Do anything!

Watch a movie with your kids and have an honest discussion.  (Maybe “The Good Lie” is a place to start if age-appropriate.)  Take a donation to your local women’s shelter, food bank or prison.  Attend a local meeting for human trafficking awareness, or better yet host one.  Write a blog post, take a trip, join an advocacy group, say a prayer.  Start a book club and discuss these topics- in ours we just read “Escape from Camp 14”.  I highly recommend it as a place to start these discussions.  I also just finished “Little Daughter” which is a biography of a Karen (Burmese) refugee.  It is a great place to get an idea of just what life is like for a “real” refugee.

If you would like to help, but aren’t sure where to start, maybe you could come to a party at my house!

When we head back to Thailand, we’ll be doing medical teaching, English teaching and relationship building.  There is great need for education and also for supplies– durable, weather-resistant, portable equipment and electronic aids.  There is need for money– for salaries of the medics who work 24-7 to take care of their people, for food and basic living expenses.  There is need for prayer– for safety, peace, healing and education.  There is need for advocacy– for people to talk about the atrocities in Burma- in big/public spaces and in small spaces in your world.

If you are interested in helping in any of these ways- and each is as important as the other- I’d love to invite you to stop by my house on Sunday July 5th from 1-5.  Come show support and learn more about refugees from Burma and oppressed Burmese ethic groups and how you can help.  I’ll have mango sticky rice and Thai iced tea and we’ll be out in the sunshine, so come over and enjoy the afternoon or just stop by for a minute.  (If you are near in heart but far in miles and want to help- let me know and we can make it happen!)

If you’d like to just stop by and catch up as summer rolls on, I’d love to see you with absolutely no obligations!

If you have questions or would just like to sign a card that says: “We are with you” I’ll personally deliver that card to people who will appreciate it.

If you’d like to just ask questions or learn more, I’d love for us to learn together.

If you’d like to help support with donations or supplies, I can help you make that happen, and get personal feedback to you.

If relationships are important to you and you’d like to personally support someone working in dire healthcare conditions, there are so many opportunities for that.

If you’d like to provide lifesaving medical equipment or education materials for remote village group education we are in need of things to make that easier.  Here are a few of the specific things I’m hoping to take back with me in July.  I can’t buy/supply them all, but together, who knows, we just might be able to!

Specific needs:
1. Newborn Isolette for warming and phototherapy:
The infant and maternal mortality rate in Burma is among if not the worst in the world.  Simple life-saving measures are simply often not available.  Our program manager in Thailand has found a locally-made isolate that runs off of blue LEDs, and I had a chance to see one and watch it work properly on my trip in January.  The price is $250.  If this is something you’d be interested in supporting- we can make that happen!

2. Otoscopes:
Ear infections are common across the world and these would help identify which children could most benefit from scare antibiotics. Even the basic/in-expensive ones would provide much-needed eyes for children’s ears.

3. Nutrition/Food– The majority of the people in this area have nutritional deficiencies. In the specific area where we’ll be working there is a high rate of vegetarian and vegan families and few alternative protein sources for these families living in poverty. Moringa is a plant that provides incredible amounts of protein and vitamins that help build muscle and prevent anemia and other nutritional diseases.  People on the ground are looking at ways to support local families in building moringa plantations which would be sustainable, reliable sources of nutrition.  If this is something you have experience or knowledge in, or would like to donate towards, we’d love to talk to you.

4. Ipads/Tablets:
Arming the medics with these gives them the ability to show videos and teach on a variety of topics. Have an old one or a way to purchase a discounted one? We’ll take it!

5. Oxygen concentrator:
It is very difficult to transport patients from remote clinics to the next level of care when that is needed. I traveled along the same roads that are used for this transport and even in perfect conditions they are rugged and unpredictable. Having a reliable way to provide oxygen during these long journeys can make a world of difference.  These are not cheap and we are looking for persons either willing to donate or discount a portable version, or perhaps to partner with a few other people to provide this.  I would LOVE to be able to take this with me in July.  If you have contacts or this is something that speaks to you- let me know!

6. O2 sat monitor (preferably with AAA or AA batteries):
The ability to monitor oxygen levels can mean scare supplies of oxygen, antibiotics and transport is provided to the people who need it most.  These are relatively inexpensive pieces of equipment that would be greatly valued by the medical staff.

7. Portable Ultrasound:
This is one of those “big” items, that almost feels too big to ask for, but I’m putting it out there. If you have contacts or access to used or donated items or thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them.

LayTonKu medical clinic and staff

LayTonKu medical clinic and staff

I hope to see and hear from many of you- I am so grateful for all the amazing and giving people in my life and for the opportunity to give back to those who have such great need.  We can’t do everything, but we can do some things.

What can you do?


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Saving lives (again)- YIKES!, Aloha and Discovering G-dog: My life as told through ALL THESE BOOKS BELOW:

As usual, it’s been a while and the books are piling up (in both the “read” and the “read me” piles) and I just can’t keep up with ALL THE BOOKS.  There are so many.  If I could have a job where all I did was read all day every day I would be the best employee ever employed on the planet.

But alas, I must keep working (and not even alas because I love all the “work” I am doing right now, but still, it would be a good job, right?  Reading all day? Every day? I. Can. Not. Imagine.).

I thought I’d catch up a bit by giving you some short synopses of some of the books I’ve read since last time.  I have rediscovered that great American building called THE PUBLIC LIBRARY and I am wearing a path from my door to theirs (which incidentally is 1. 8 miles apart) so many of these books I can’t send you but I bet YOUR library has them too.  If its designated as “mine”, let me know you want it and it’s yours- I’ll drop it right in the mail to you!

The Life You Can Save (revisited) (mine- still up for grabs):
So.  While initially reading this book (and I wrote about it here) I connected and was challenged by the overall “message”.  I noticed a lack of spiritual/Judeo-Christian-worldview words and language but also did not pick up on language that would suggest beliefs opposite to that.  I don’t always extensively research an author’s background before reading, so I did a quick google search on Singer and read two somewhat generic blurbs and moved on.   So imagine my HORROR when a few days later in two DIFFERENT places I came across his name in the context of some pretty provocative ethical beliefs that differ greatly from mine.  (I don’t really want to encourage reading his thoughts and beliefs necessarily but suffice it to say he has pretty horrifying (to me) thoughts on the topics of euthanasia, the inherent worth of the elderly, mentally and physically handicapped, deviant sexual behavior and various other things.)  I started to read more and frankly had a lot of distress about deleting the post, writing a follow-up post, sending out some other form of follow-up, something?! because I didn’t want anyone to think I agreed with any of his reasons behind his thoughts.  Continuing to process,  I realized part of what was troubling me was that I could believe in so much of WHAT he said, but with a totally different WHY.  My entire life from big trips to daily minutes is built on the belief that ALL human life has dignity and worth.  As I have traveled and read and become more involved with areas where injustice continues I have only come to believe this more.  That post led to some great conversations with people in my life and I do agree with much of his challenges as regards poverty in this world, but I want to make it very clear that I believe we should care about justice and poverty and safety and oppression not because it benefits the “greater good” but because I believe EVERY person has the right to those things because of their individual worth.  While I don’t feel the need to start researching authors, I have learned a lesson that when I am “recommending” or commenting on a non-fiction book, I will be more intentional about knowing the author’s background.  I don’t want to belabor this issue much more but am more than happy to talk about it with anyone who has thoughts/questions/insights.

The Girl on the Train (borrowed):
This was a sort of last minute pick in book club last month and I LOVED IT! It reminded me of Gone Girl but with less annoying insanity and with more reality.  And by “reality” I mean that this author was writing about things like alcoholism and infertility and abuse and mental stress as only a person who has “been there” could do.  I always connect so much with writers who are able to show by their words that they didn’t just do “research” but that they “lived” their research whether personally or relationally.  I don’t know this author’s story (see above, didn’t research!) but I just feel certain she is writing from a place of knowledge in some of these areas.  In recent years I’ve noticed how you often go through something REALLY hard, and then sometime down the road you come along another going through that very thing.  What is always so amazing and encouraging is how words (or silence) of experience and understanding can really be a lifeline to sanity and hope.  I suspect it might be a primary way we heal and redeem some of those painful things- using them as a tool to help others.
Another big theme I took away from this book is the way we create our own version of others’ “reality” based on limited pictures we see of them (can anyone say social media?) and quite often (maybe never?) do those creations match the actual reality.

Sisterchicks Do the Hula (mine- up for grabs):  My friend Ros gave me this book for my birthday (two years ago?) and I just read it last month (I’m sorry Ros!).  I do that a lot (maybe because I have 412 books to read at any given point?)  I LOVED the way it literally made me want to board a plane that night back to Hawaii.  (Seriously- I looked up ticket prices.)  I think in some ways, Hawaii will always be my home.  We had the great privilege of doing our residencies there and the island life just got in my blood.  I simply step off the plane and feel this thing that I imagine many people feel when they return to their childhood homes.  Hawaii to me is about peace and sunny, breezy beaches, and calm and aloha and love and friends and nature and home.  I am pretty sure I am more at peace there than anywhere else on earth.

Mary Oliver poems (library):  I know that Mary Oliver isn’t exactly a new author, but I haven’t exactly been a big poetry reader overall.  Her name kept coming up and I picked up a few of her books from the library before heading to Florida to spend a week with Pete.  I absolutely fell in love with the way she talks about nature, probably because I was sort of immersed in it that week.  She brought a level of peace and calm (and peace in the questions) to my heart that week.  I love the way she puts in short phrases complicated things we feel all the time.  I don’t write poetry much but I have a special place in my heart for it because it makes me think of my grandmother.

PCB, FL

PCB, FL

Stitches (library): If you don’t know Anne Lamott you should check her out.  She writes more honestly about grace and love and life and hurt and peace and hurt and laughter and hurt and writing than maybe anyone I know.  She reminds me of Brennan Manning in the way she embraces her faith and God’s grace but still admits daily all her faults and problems and how she holds on to God’s grace anyway.   Whoever you are, whatever your story, whatever your “things” are, you will find a welcome place in Anne Lamott’s words.  I promise!

The Rosie Effect (borrowed): Our book club read The Rosie Project last year and we all absolutely loved it.  Some disagreed but I loved this second one just as much.  I think this series tells an amazingly well-written story that gives a very human side to an often misunderstood group of people.  The main character has Asperger syndrome and is portrayed in such a real way that I can’t help but think it comes from real experience with people with Asperger’s.  This book reminded us of how quickly things get “off” when we don’t communicate and how sad that is to watch from the outside.  I think when this happens we sometimes make up our own stories and rarely are they based in reality.   I have known people who do this and then can’t remember what’s real and what’s not; I’m sure at some point most of us have been that person.  I love the way that this story helps you think of people with Asperger’s as “people” and not only their diagnosis.  I also really loved the subtle but obvious hint that sometimes taking emotion out of a relationship or issue can actually help

Vanishing Grace (library): I pretty much love everything and anything Philip Yancey.  His book What’s So Amazing About Grace is one of my Top 10 of all-time favorites.  I think he writes so beautifully about why grace matters and how having it in our life changes the world.  This book carries along on that same theme, specifically looking at why, if grace is a trait unique to Christianity alone (of all religions), have Christians often been seen as and acted like those with the LEAST grace- for ourselves and others.  I find this a fascinating topic

Tattoos on the Heart (library)– I have recently had more exposure to the prison system in general and the American prison system specifically.  I found this book through those conversations and channels and there is too much to say for this post, and will require an entire post all its own.  It is absolutely going in the top 10 for this year if not my life thus far.  Please get this and read it now.  How could you NOT want to read about a priest working with gangs in LA who is known as “G-dog”?  I WANT to talk about it with you!  Go.  Get it.

G-Dog!

G-Dog!

On Being Mortal (library): THIS. BOOK. TERRIFIED ME!  This surgeon has written several other great books exploring hard topics in medicine and ethics and humanity and I do think it was a well-written, thought-provoking book.  It explores how we as Americans and citizens of the world think about and experience issues related to death, dying and the aging process.  It is a fascinating short story of how our culture has come to think about aging (and what to do with those who are aging- yikes! All of us!) and how we approach conversations around death.  I am struggling so much with issues in the American healthcare system right now and I tend to get really “franxious” (frustrated/anxious- I just invented that word) when I read accounts like this.  Accounts that trace things out in a way that shows the insanity (but also the reason the insanity happened and why it continues and why “insanity” isn’t the best word because most insanity happens slowly, slowly over time until it’s the norm.)  This subject always hits me in a weird way because when you think about growing older when you don’t have children it can cause some anxiety if you let it.  Then, maybe because when you turn 40 (which I am still TOTALLY excited about) and you realize you are old enough to actually THINK about growing older as something that is happening to you (where DID all these wrinkles come from!?!) you realize that you do actually now and again have to think about it.  And that’s a good thing, but for some reason this book caused me a good deal of stress as I was reading it.  I’d be interested in others’ thoughts!

Ghost Wanted (mine):  This is latest in her newest series of books which are always a good, quick read with loveable characters.  Carolyn Hart’s Death on Demand mystery series is my absolute favorite ever, second only to Agatha Christie.  I’ve been reading them for 20 years now and when the new one comes out each time it is truly my favorite day.  She recently announced on her website that the next book following Annie and Max Darling would be her last, and I’m not ashamed to tell you I actually cried some real tears.  Seriously.  I think I must not have been the only one because a few days later she retracted her post and decided she could not “kill” them.  Thank you Lord for this gift.

Other recent books:
Boundaries (mine): a classic.  You could read it 20 times and still learn more
In Search of Balance (mine): did not like as much as Margin, but still good stuff
Lila (library) I know so many people loved and connected with this book, but is there anyone else out there that just didn’t like it?  If so, PLEASE write and tell me- I want to understand why I alone of all my friends and family just couldn’t get into it?
The Meaning of Marriage (library):  Tim Keller.  Enough said.  If he wrote it, I will read it.

That’s it for now!  What are you reading and why?  I need some more books for the pile!


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We Are the World, Petri Dishes and Guatemalan “Treasures”: My life as told through “The Life You Can Save” by Peter Singer

Last fall while on a long drive, P and I started playing our usual game of “Name the Tune/Musician.”   I pulled up “Hits of the 80s” and we were cruising through Bryan Adams, Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi when suddenly I felt I had jumped in Marty McFly’s time machine back into my 11-year-old body.

I was sitting by the radio in MS with my dad listening to Casey Kasem’s New Year’s Eve Top 100 countdown of 1985, ready to celebrate!  I had spent the entire year 100% OBSESSED with the song “We Are the World” by USA for Africa and I was convinced the countdown was just a formality.  As P and I drove toward home, my eyes filled with tears and my heart filled with emotion as I remembered the passion I had felt around that song and its message.  The idea of so many people uniting and donating their talents and money to help those struggling struck something deep inside.  The idea of people in the world starving to death that I could help was something I had never considered.  It’s possible this is where my “bleeding heart” originated, but I suspect it was planted inside me right from the beginning.  As I sat thinking about these things I realized the last months of my life and the latest places I’m spending my time and energy are not so far off from where my heart has ALWAYS been drawn.

We Are the World! (and check out the sweet hair!)

We Are the World! (and check out the sweet hair!)

I started thinking back over my life starting with my love of words that speak to my heart whether in person, books or song lyrics.  I thought of the way I have always loved to learn, of being absolutely transfixed by petri dishes and bacterial experiments memorizing bacterial names like they were NOTHING when I couldn’t figure out basic physics to save my life.  I recalled my college advisor asking if I’d ever considered medical school (NO!), and the excitement of seeing those words “We are pleased to welcome you to the class…”  I recalled SSGT Green helping me fill out the paperwork to join the Army (how did THAT happen?) and amazing times in HI and DC where compassion for patients and a love for educating and encouraging were instilled deeply by outstanding staff and colleagues.  I remembered difficult times in Iraq and with military medicine in general as I grew more and more frustrated with administrative roadblocks, monetary and politically motivated missions and the ever-increasing feeling that I was not able to really make a difference in the way I longed to.  I thought of making the decision to separate from the Army (not easy but the right one for our family of 2) and how that opened up doors for me to travel to Guatemala, Bali, Bainbridge, Thailand and Burma among others.  I began to believe more fully that it really is true.   When you follow your heart (and for me that means God’s voice in my life), you begin to see the patterns woven in right from the beginning to bring you to the place where you are most alive, doing what you were truly created to do.  All of those pieces of my life, when looked at in review make sense for the days of my life now.

Enter “The Life You Can Save” by Peter Singer.  Introduced to this book in 2011 after hearing a speaker challenge us to read it and pass it along, I connected with the message and started reading but never finished.  This January while focusing on my month of “finances and budgeting” I picked it up again at just the right time.

My review: I do not recommend most people read this book, to include those who:
– don’t want to read hard facts about money, wealth, poverty and inequality
– don’t want to feel bad/confused/conflicted/frustrated/guilty/mixed-up about the complicated issue of poverty
– don’t want to think about the fact that our current response to world poverty is “not only insufficient but morally indefensible”
– feel like you are doing all you can and reading this might make you mad
– are not interested in changing your life in ways that might require you to question things about the way you live

At some point during my reading, I felt each of these things and more but I knew that the simple clear words were true and that ignoring them didn’t make them any less so.  I realized my lack of knowledge, compassion and action when it comes to world poverty was really not acceptable to me anymore and so if you feel that way too, you might want to check out this book.  In it, you’ll see many facts that are hard to read and believe.  Things like:
TEN MILLION CHILDREN DIE FROM POVERTY EVERY YEAR.  (This is not ok!)
– although the average American believes our country spends 15-20 percent on foreign aid, we actually spend less than one percent
– a modest contribution from everyone who has enough to live comfortably (defined as eating out occasionally, buying bottled water, etc) would suffice to achieve the goal of lifting most of the world’s extremely poor people above the poverty line of $1.25/day

What I so appreciated about this book is the difficult suggestions Singer makes about what the majority of us who live comfortably could (and he says should) do to make a real difference.  I have read many books, articles and thoughts on these subjects and find these some of the most challenging but difficult to argue with.  At the same time, he addresses the common and uncommon arguments, thought processes and questions of those who don’t agree with his words and proposals and lays out the reasons we have such a hard time knowing what and how to DO anything.  I particularly loved the way he brought in sociological and historical reasons for the state of poverty and inequality of wealth in our world.  He spends some time going over the pros and cons of different types of aid organizations and ways we can be wise about where our money goes.  He also discusses the actual physiological and physical results of giving and generosity that are hard to argue with but also hard to translate to practical starting points for some.

Mr. Singer is a well-educated and respected ethicist and having a personal interest in medical and humanitarian ethics I particularly appreciated the arguments and unique ideas he brought to the subject in this area.  (I would love to discuss these with anyone who might decide to read this book!)

I think this book resonated with me for several reasons; It made me uncomfortable, defensive, sad, guilty, confused, encouraged and excited.  When I am feeling that mix of emotions it usually means something good is going on, something that means change is coming.  In this case, the change had already started and this book helped put more words, facts and motivation behind some of those changes and I closed the book inspired and grateful for people who share their gifts of knowledge through writing.

On finishing this book I recalled the way that my heart, interest and energy has always been drawn to issues of poverty and oppression (seriously SOMEONE reading this feels me on the We Are The World thing, right?), be it in my backyard or across the world.  I was reminded again that when our lives (money, time, energy and attention) are spent on the things that come from the deepest parts of us, we are usually happier, healthier, more productive people.

I reviewed the places I already give, examined the places I spend money regularly as well as the ways I make money, and made some adjustments in all those areas, including some new commitments.  While people tell me often that they “love” my life (and I’ve written about my feelings on this previously) the truth is I love my life too.  I have been given the gift of medical and military training, an understanding husband and flexibility of schedule that allows me to go places and do things that others sometimes can’t for a whole myriad of reasons.  These advantages have connected me with people doing amazing things and serving selflessly in areas all across the globe.  I have the opportunity for ongoing relationships with many of them, letting me advocate for the work they are doing and people they are serving from a place of face-to-face knowledge.

I don’t tell you all of this because there is anything great about me, but to encourage you to do what you can do where you are with what you have.  If you are already supporting organizations that work with underserved, marginalized or suffering groups of people- WAY TO GO!  I would LOVE to hear who you support and why; what is it that captures your heart?

If you don’t know where to start, are looking for new places to get involved or are looking for a personal connection to an organization, I’d love to help!  There are so many great organizations out there from HUGE non-profits to small groups doing unseen work that makes a difference in individual lives.  Start your research with groups that work with populations you care about or are already involved in!  If you are drawn to medical work, education, empowerment, after-school programs, food/nutrition/poverty, at risk-youth or family focused organizations among others, here are a few I have researched and supported and have ongoing relationships with (many of them through child or family sponsorships).  For many, I will be visiting the organizations regularly (some within the next year) and could help make personal connections with sponsored children or local workers with gifts, pictures, words or other information (or you could come with me on a trip!)

Bali Children’s Project: dedicated to education as a means of improving the lives of disadvantaged young people in Bali; BCP is founded on the belief that children, empowered to realize their potential, will enrich their own lives and their villages and contribute to the world we all share. (Your child sponsorship provides school fees, clothes and supplies as well as after-school programs and dance lessons!)

Our sponsor children in Bali!

Our sponsor children in Bali!

Soddo Christian Hospital– The vision of Soddo Christian Hospital is to provide excellent medical services, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to make disciples.  (You can sponsor families/medical personnel, donate toward medical supplies or education among other options)

The Mocha Club:  a community of people giving up the cost of a few mochas a month to fund development projects in Africa; Five main project areas: Clean Water, Education, Economic Freedom, Orphan Care, and Healthcare; Our vision is to provide a way for people who don’t have hundreds or thousands of dollars to make a difference in Africa. Our community-based website allows members to start a team and invite friends to join them in giving up the cost of a few mochas a month to support their chosen project.  (Join my team or make one of your own, this one is simple, inexpensive and fun!)

World Vision–  Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice; in nearly 100 countries around the world, serving all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

Compassion International– Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. (Let me know if you are planning to sponsor a new child through Compassion for some cool possibilities!)

The Potter’s House (Guatemala): Located in the heart of Guatemala City is the largest dump in Latin America. More than 11,000 people live and work in and near the dump, and nearly 6,500 of them are children.  Potter’s house is a Christ-centered organization that fights poverty in Guatemala by promoting a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ while deploying holistic development programs that focus on at-risk children and youth.

Lay Tong Ku Medical Clinic (Thailand/Burma): It’s hard to find Lay Tong Ku on a map much less a workable website for the newly dedicated clinic!  If you are interested in sponsoring a medic’s salary in this clinic providing care to severely underserved and oppressed people, there is great need and you have the opportunity for ongoing relationship here if that sounds fun to you!

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some of the dedicated medical staff at the Lay Tong Ku medical clinic dedication

Girls on the Run (West Sound chapter): We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.  You may not be aware that right here in the Kitsap peninsula we have many children living at and below the poverty level.  Many girls who would most benefit from this amazing program are not able to participate because they can’t pay the program fee.

Home of Hope Lebanon: Focus on creating a nurturing, encouraging, and helpful environment, which shall: first of all, help the children to recover from the traumatic events which they have passed through; and second, to educate and raise the children to be intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually prepared to face an increasingly biased future.  (This is one of my favorite “connection” stories.  The need is so great here, from money to workers/volunteers to encouragement!)

Hope House (Hattiesburg, MS): Hope House Ministries seeks to serve Christ by providing emotional, physical, and spiritual support to the homeless following the example of Mother Teresa of Calcutta as we attempt to respond to the call of Matthew 25:31-46.  (My dad and step-mom are highly invested in this awesome ministry and helped many of you provide warm sleeping bags and other needed gifts this Christmas.)

If you are interested in hearing more information about any of these I’d love to hear from you.
If you are interested in reading this book, let me know in the comments and I’ll pass it along, it’s one of the requirements of reading it.
Also, if you know what the number one song of 1985’s Top 100 Countdown was, I’ll send you another fun prize! (no cheating!)


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Judy Garland, Leprosy and Choose Your Own Adventure: My life as told through “Where God Leads…..” by Alan Eubank

I would blame it on the jetlag (42 hours of travel after all) but the truth is I’m a bit of a crybaby.

But let me start from the beginning- anyone who has been at my church for more than a week has heard about the Eubanks and the Dawsons. They are incredible people who have spent their lives selflessly advocating for the poor, marginalized and victims of injustice and they are incredibly loved by all who know them. I have already been exposed to so many new opportunities and experiences from spending time with Laurie, so while this trip to Thailand was NOT on my radar, I jumped at the chance to go and partner with the work going on there and to have the opportunity to spend in depth time with people I would love to learn from (hence the reason I was reading the above book for background!)

After our LONG flight, we arrived at Joan and Alan’s house and as we sat down to a traditional Thai meal, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from Joan’s face- she literally glowed with health, happiness, peace and love and I kept telling myself it might be a little strange to have a breakdown at this early, but the obvious joy was almost more than my tired mind could take. We began to eat as Joan began to sweetly and humbly share with us some of the events that led her to this lovingly arranged house in Thailand, where she has lived for over 50 years, raising four children and partnering with her husband and so many others in working with the underserved Thai and Burmese.

She talked about her days (before marriage and the move to Thailand) of dancing and singing with “Rogers” (of Rogers and Hammerstein) and with “Julie” (yes, the Mary Poppins one) with the same joy, pride and fulfillment as she did her time of leading the choir in a hospital in Chiang Mai where she lives. She spoke of her friends and neighbors, her family and her huge extended “family” with love and pride and support and gratefulness in a way that was truly unique.

It took only minimal prompting to get her to share the details leading to her marriage and we were all captured by her storytelling. “So you were “swept off your feet” by him?” Charlotte asked, to which she replied with quiet surety, “Not swept away as much as attracted like a magnet.”  She told us of how their paths crossed first when he was an Army engineer assigned to escort her performing group when they visited in Korea. Although they stayed in touch over the following years, it would take almost a decade before they were in the same time and place (literally and figuratively) and were married. This moment she lovingly described as “like a ship bouncing out in the sea that finds its way into the harbor.” They were married and moved to Thailand where they have remained since.

I realized with absolute clarity as she was talking that I want to have stories to tell in THIS light when I’m her age- I want to be the kind of person who tells these KIND of stories, about my life and my marriage and my friends and my family and my work.  I want to choose words of encouragement and peace and gratefulness when I share my memories with others.

We left there with much to think about. After a few hours of deep sleep, we headed out for our first day in Chiang Mai, Laurie driving and Joan leading as well from the front seat. Our day was scheduled to be a full one, as we visited many of the offices and businesses that have been supported, developed and led by this family over the years.

Our first stop was at the McKean Hospital where we met Heather (“auntie Heather” to Laurie), an Australian who had been working there for over 50 years. My infectious disease-oriented mind was captivated by her telling of the history of leprosy in Thailand and how she and her husband Trevor were central to the care, research and development of treatment plans for this devastating and difficult to understand disease in its early days. My heart has always been moved by the horrible stigmatization and prejudice these people have faced across time, and I count as one of my most hauntingly beautiful memories, standing on the shores of beautiful Molokai on a former leper colony. There was much confusion about the cause and transfer of leprosy in the early part of the last century and the typical patient was torn from his family and taken to communities where they were forced to live with others like them, away from “normal” society. The creation of community, dignity and ease of suffering through simple treatments and adaptive equipment gave opportunity for meaningful life to those that society had given up on and forgotten about. Heather described with quiet grace, tearing up several times, the meaning that this work had given her life. Leprosy is now more quickly recognized and treated and the hospital’s mission has shifted to caring for the neglected aging population in Thailand, but the heart of the mission is still the same- giving dignity and meaning, while easing suffering as they are able, to the marginalized people of society.

As we spent the rest of the day going from office to office, we interacted again and again with this same person. He or she looked different outwardly- from the 28 year olds who were peaceful and passionate about their work with these same types of people, to the middle-aged Caucasians and local Thai people to the aged and wise ones who had moved to Thailand at young ages and now truly call it home. Each of these people had made choices to live in ways and give up things that we might find incredible, awe-inspiring even, and yet that was not the general feeling I came away with.

Instead, as I interacted with each of these, who had dedicated their lives to bringing hope and meaning to the people of Thailand and Burma I was struck by their humility.  I realized they had each just made one choice after another across the courses of their lives, no matter how many years that had yet been. They didn’t see themselves as heroes or worthy of special recognition, but rather as normal people who were doing what they felt called to do- people who made choices that lined up with what they knew was their role to fill on this planet. There were moments in each of their stories- many moments, as many moments as WE have- when they could have made different choices. Different choices that would have been entirely acceptable and understandable, but not true to who they were. The common thread between them all was the humble way in which they shared their stories, woven together by the choices they had made that led them where they were.

I’ve always said there are two kinds of old people- those who grow bitter and unhappy with age, and those who grow better and joyful with age. You know, the “sweet grandma” and the “angry grandma”. I have wondered regularly over the last 20 years what I’m doing to be the latter, because I’m convinced it’s the choices and attitudes we choose today that make the difference 20, 30, 40 years from now. I want to be the kind of person who makes good choices, defining good by measures and parameters that don’t always line up with what the outside world might tell us is the next or normal step. For me, those choices consist of things like choosing love and quietness, when the default is to choose anger and arguments. I want to choose generosity and kindness, when it’s sometimes easier to choose self-protection and judgment. Instead of staying so busy building for a future I’m not even sure of yet, I want to choose people and relationships and moments that become memories.

That’s what I’m taking away from the first half of this book (next half to follow after our trip into the jungle!). What about you? Do you think about these things? If so, what does that look like in your life? I would truly LOVE to learn from you!


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A Year in My Life- as told through books: The Happiness Project

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year from Kauai!

Happy New Year from Kauai!

A new month, a new year, a new season. As I think back over 2014- my year of experimenting with living life outside of the Army- I realize I assumed in 2015 I would return to “normal” life, picking back up with typical rhythms and days. It turns out I learned a lot last year, not the least of which is not everyone has typical “rhythms” and there are a lot of different ways to live life fully. I have found this really exciting especially as I’m thinking about future goals and plans.

Thinking about this in December, I knew I wanted to do something a little different this year. Instead of one or two big goals and in the spirit of continuing to explore all the different ways life CAN look, I kept coming back to the idea of smaller goals and more all-encompassing changes. Things that could be slowly explored and incorporated or discarded, much like Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project.”

This book has been on my (long) list of books I’d “like to read sometime” and although brought up several times in book club, it never fully made the cut. In December, Brandi mentioned she was going to read this one in addition to the group pick, so I grabbed it from deep in the pile and started reading.

I’m not sure exactly why it took me so long to read it; perhaps a combination of “all the hype” sometimes turns me off and wondering if such a thing as a happiness “project” is really a “sensical“ thing? The truth is- I LOVED IT!!! and I read it at EXACTLY the right time that I needed to (isn’t it just CRAZY how that happens? You book lovers know what I mean!) For a person who LIVES for lists and challenges, quests and outlines, “rules to live by” and mantras, goals and planning (picking my new organizer each year is an EVENT!), this book was like feeding an addiction. (At the same time, I can see why people who do NOT like these things (so sad) would lose interest in this book very quickly and might find it quite annoying. For instance the other person who lives in my house would find this book excruciating I think!)

As I was considering my own version of the “Happiness Project” it made perfect sense to work it into my New Year planning. One of the things I want to continue to improve on (in quality and quantity) is my writing, so as I was thinking about all of those things together, I had a (brilliant? crazy? interesting?) idea. What if I gave a “theme” to my writing this year, which might help with a more regular schedule and give constant input for posts? Since book club was one of my favorite parts of last year, and the Happiness Project is what started this whole line of thinking, what if the posts I write this year are tied in to the books I read? Not book reports at all but more ideas and connections I make with my own personal life while reading. A sort of “year in the life” of a reader? The idea kept sticking around and so I’m going to go with it- starting with this post!

My life as seen through:The Happiness Project. As a very short summary of this relatively short book, Gretchen Rubin (a lawyer who left that work to pursue writing) decided to approach 12 areas of her life in a very planned way, in order to see if she could purposefully increase her happiness. She selected areas like “health” and “parenting “and “marriage” and “organization” and assigned them each a month of the year. She then developed 3-5 goals/rules for that area that she stuck to for that month. Using a chart she could visually document how well she was doing as she processed the experience through writing. I really like the way she logically addressed and explained how the process went- discussing many rules/goals that she abandoned because they just didn’t work for her (like keeping a physical gratitude journal) as well as some that she worked into her life as the new norm (like a particular gym/work-out plan) and others that she relaxed on but still tries to incorporate as she sees the benefit (like getting 7 or more hours of sleep a night).

Another part of her process she shared was a set of “Rules to Live By” she developed- things like “Be Gretchen (no one else)” and “Cut people slack”. These were more reminders that apply across categories and could be recalled easily in different situations. I loved how she kept referencing them within the areas she was working on in a particular month and how they became sort of second-nature to recall in a particular situation.

For my “project” I’m not thinking of it as a way to bring more happiness, but instead to provide intentional boundaries, goals and areas of growth for the year as I continue to explore what it means to live a healthy and centered life. I think there is great value in reviewing the past year and looking ahead to the next year to acknowledge lessons, make changes and set goals small and large (regardless of success percentage!).

Modeled after the Happiness Project, I picked an area to focus on each month, as well as one “rule” or “resolution” for each month’s topic/focus that I am going to try to stick to for the whole year. Each month, I’ll pick 3-4 other goals (in addition to the one I’m incorporating for the whole year) to really focus on. In addition I made my own set of “reminders” (aka Rules to Live By) that I am already finding INCREDIBLY life changing (numbers 5 and 7 below are in the lead!) So, if you are interested here’s what my “Centered” Project year looks like (I’ll just give you the one yearly goal for each category vs all for each):

Jan: Finances– 90% of the time, nothing new (goal to not buy things, buy/use recycled/reused/borrowed when able and to try my best to buy 90% of new things from local/small businesses)

Feb: Marriage- “Be” Love- (the 1 Corinthians 13 kind- patient, kind, humble, not boastful, unselfish, not irritable, rejoicing in truth not injustice, hoping/enduring/believing)

Mar: Minimalism– Always choose the “lighter” option (as pertains to the earth, food, waste etc.)

Apr: Play/Fun– Preserve margin in my life

May: Food – No second helpings

June: Health (holistic standpoint) – Do something active every day

July: Work and Writing– Refuse to give any attention to dread- turn dread into anticipation

Aug: Relationships (family/friends)– Pay attention (listen well, phone down, be present)

Sept: Spiritual– Be Dawn (the person I was created to be, no one else)

Oct: Declutter– Regularly give things away

Nov: Contentment– Hold everything lightly (plans, material things etc.)

Dec: Centered life– Live from the “core” (spiritually, core exercises, know what’s important to me etc.)

Reminders to Live by:
1. Live “lightly”- weight/nutrition/exercise, minimalist, decrease possessions, be an encouragement/light to others, laugh more
2. Be “present”- present over perfect (stolen from Shauna Niequist!), no multitasking, listen well, decrease cell phone dependency, look in people’s eyes, don’t overextend emotionally/relationally
3. Make good choices (inspired by Viktor Frankl and Michael Hyatt)
4. Relationships always trump. Relationship trumps all.
5. Act the way I want to feel- the outer shapes the inner (A.J. Jacobs, Gretchen Rubin), trust truth, God, facts not feelings in the moment
6. Be “Dawn”- a light (dawn), run my own race, no comparisons, show up where I can bring needed knowledge/strengths/gifts/help, embrace my uniqueness instead of focusing on differences
7. Assume the best- (of others) – assume positive intent, cut people slack, remember not everyone is like me and that’s ok!
8. Create margin- know my limits, take care of myself
9. Encounter every lesson in life on purpose (Jadah Sellner)
10. Refuse to give attention to dread- turn dread into anticipation, offensively attack dread with gratitude
11. Cultivate patience- learn to wait well, look for places to be patient
12. Remember the “BE”s- Be kind, be quiet, be gracious, be honest, be active, be content, believe, be “love”, be grateful, be positive

(You can see a couple of these are also focuses for a particular month, because they need extra attention!)

So there you have it- some of my goals, hopes and intentional thoughts for 2015. Feel free to call me out on any you see me “not remembering” (but do it kindly?J).

I’ll be back in a few days if you want to keep “reading” along with me (I’ve already got three others to tell you about!) and I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on The Happiness Project if you’ve read it, any goals or resolutions you made or any other thoughts you may have!


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Merry Christmas Eve- Peace, Love and Gratitude to you!

It’s time, it’s time!!

Christmas is here and so this, (at least by intention) will be the shortest post of my blogging life!  This fun day started out with twinkling lights in the dark, seen while running across the Narrows Bridge with this crazy and fun running family I was welcomed into 5 years ago.    The (second) annual Christmas-Eve-run-across-the-Narrows is ALWAYS followed by coffee at Starbucks (because of course it is and yes, doing something twice makes it a tradition,) where we linger over coffee and laughter and reminisce over last year and plan for next year until one by one we head out to what our individual day holds for us.

This morning was made especially special because my new (running, Girls on the Run, music-adoring, crafty, generous, FUN) friend Ruthie joined us (which required her to get up MUCH earlier than the rest of us- Yeah Ruthie!)  The day continues with cooking and reading and phone calls and Christmas Eve service and dinner with friends and various other preparations and celebrations, but I couldn’t miss taking these few minutes to say Merry Christmas Eve to all of you, my friends!! Here are my (short and “sweet”) words to you this December 23rd afternoon (in WA at least!)

Awesome Ruthie and me!

Awesome Ruthie and me in the middle of the bridge!

 

Thank you!  Thank you for your friendships and for the way you have been so generous with your time and feedback and encouragement and support as I (intermittently) share my words with you here in this space.  Thank you for the way you make me feel less crazy when you say “me too”!  Thank you for the way you say “thanks” when something I say makes a difference in your life- that is the greatest gift you could ever give me, so with all sincerity, thanks.

More than any of that, THANK YOU for the way you supported, in words and thoughts and actions, the (snow) Angel project!  When I first posted about this I had no idea how it would turn out.  Then as I told you here, I was a little discouraged for a few days, until suddenly there were so many of you writing with people in your lives that could use some Christmas angels.  THEN, the way you guys responded just made me feel overwhelmed with gratitude most days.  You gave sleeping bags and lights and money to help those who don’t have beds or walls to sleep in feel warm this winter, which is a gift that is just too hard to explain the meaning of.  I’m not sure those of us who’ve never had to worry about that COULD ever really understand.  You gave enough money to help a grade-school child (in an immigrant community with great need) to be able to attend school using public transportation for almost an entire year, (with enough money to hopefully help his community a little in other ways this season).  You made Christmas happen for two families who are hurting and holding on for better days and I’m not sure we’ll ever really know all the ramifications of that kind of gift.  You gave 8 new beds to a hospital in Ethiopia where this is truly a gift of health and life!  You gave diapers and clothes and shoes and toys and other things I don’t even know about and for that I am so truly grateful to call you friends.  I would like to note also that so many of you already give to your own friends and family and community and neighbors and that makes me just as happy as connecting you to people here.  Basically, thank you for your generosity and for reminding me that it’s ALWAYS in giving (in tangible and intangible ways) that we “get” the most.  Or as one of my (eloquently worded) friends put it:

“I can’t tell you how much my heart and soul needed to do this. They should be getting lots and lots of Amazon packages (plus a gift card for groceries) in the next week or so. I really hope it helps. Goodness knows it has already helped me more than anything else this season. Tis better to give…”

So, again, thank you for being the awesome community that you are!

I’d love to sign off for the year by sharing an article that I’ve really been thinking about these last two weeks (written by Joshua Becker, a “minimalist” blogger whose approach really resonates with me).  It’s written from the standpoint of setting expectations for children for Christmas, but I think it’s pretty applicable to all of us who live in this first-world nation of plenty.

I read this right around the time of our last book club (yeah for the first year of book club which turned out to be one of the highlights of my year!!).  We went around and shared our favorite memories (as we were sharing tasty treats!) of Christmases past.  You know what?  EVERY SINGLE ONE of us shared a memory of a moment– with parents, siblings, children, friends, spouses, community- memories of time and experiences with others that shaped our lives long after the moment had passed.  We reflected that in light of realizing the importance of the memories of Christmas (over any gifts we did or didn’t get that we didn’t remember all these years later), maybe we should focus on creating those with our families and trusting that those moments will be the things that last through the years.

It is with a very full and grateful heart that I say Merry Merry Christmas Eve to all of you. 

I hope that the past month and the next few days are filled with good food and laughter and good drink and good runs and beautiful sights and a few fun things you might have been hoping for.  More than any of that however,  I wish that each of you has moments with your people whoever they may be, that you are recalling at a book club or cookie exchange years from now as you think back on your favorite Christmas memories.  Moments like these:

me and Crumzy Clare at the Girls on the Run 5k!

me and Crumzy Clare at the Girls on the Run 5k!

Theo, Anna and me at the  Celtic Solstice before the Army/Navy game!

Theo, Anna and me at the Celtic Solstice before the Army/Navy game!

5th Annual Holiday dinner with friends!

5th Annual Holiday dinner with friends!

Much love and peace to you all!

Peaceful Sam

Peaceful Sam

 

 

 


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Calling all (snow) “Angels” : Let’s do this!!

Happy December friends!!

I am so excited to be writing you again so soon because I need your help!  Remember that time I said I was going to “hit send and go for a run?”  Well, I did.  Then I waited.  I waited some more.  Then, all at once 4 big needs came across along with a couple of smaller ones and IT’S HAPPENING!

You guys looked around your lives, saw some needs and took the time to stop and write and let us know about them.  (I don’t think it was a coincidence that all 4 of them came in right after Thanksgiving.  Gratitude does that). 

Want to be a Christmas "angel"?

Want to be a Christmas “angel”?

So here we go!!  Just like before, I have no idea how many of you are going to respond or want to help and so I have no idea where this is going to go but we are just going to “go” with it! J  Here’s the plan: I’m going to list the 4 main giving options below with a little info about each as well as suggested ways to help.  In each situation I have a local contact “on the ground” whose honesty, reliability and heart for giving I can 100% vouch for as I know each of them personally.  If there is a particular opportunity that really speaks to you, what I’d love for you to do is either reply on the blog here, send me an email or a Facebook message and let me know that you are “in”, which opportunity you’d love to help with, and an email for communication.  I’ll get back to you ASAP with further instructions for getting things where they need to go and we’ll get these needs taken care of!

Giving Options:
1. Hope House:
Hope House is a non-profit that meets the needs of the homeless in Hattiesburg, MS.  The most updated info can be found on their Facebook page below.  My dad and step-mom are very involved with Hope House and are there at least twice weekly providing food, clothes, needed items, words of encouragement and hope to those who come each week or are just passing through.  I have spent time there myself and I can tell you that they are providing wonderful services but the need is so great.  Tragically, last week, the house resident manager who was a kind and devoted man was murdered on the grounds of Hope House.  As you can imagine, the layers of sadness around this are especially hard during the holidays/winter when there is such great need for both practical items and kind hearts.  The greatest needs at Hope House are warm sleeping bags, tents and backpacks.  Lights, flashlights and watches are also in great need and while not “basic necessities” they provide necessary functions in many ways.  If you are drawn to help meet these needs, let me know and I’ll give you more options/details/info!
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hope-House/180990555286362

2. Mom supporting family of 5:
I haven’t seen my friend Penny since high school but she has a beautiful heart and noticed a need of a family in her local community. The family tragically lost their son/husband/father unexpectedly just months ago and they are struggling to meet even the bare necessities of life for the 5 of them (mom, daughter-in-law and three young children including the 4 month old baby that was born after the father’s death).  They are living in a space smaller than most of us could imagine and this Christmas will bring much sadness and stress as they have great needs and very little money.  There is a need for diapers, for warm clothes and shoes, for Christmas gifts for the children.  Grocery cards, gas cards, and other necessities would also likely be most welcome.  If this need touches your heart, let me know and I’ll send you more info/details/options.

3. African Refugees:
The next need comes from my dear sister-friend Ashley in Kansas. I’ll let you hear from her own words: 

“It’s recently come to my attention that there is a community of African refugees living close to us. Their need is so great.  One family I met consists of a widowed mother with 7 kids.  They live in a tiny house in downtown Dayton and have close to nothing.  The mother speaks very little English, the kids are behind in school (because of the language barrier), and social services is helping, but not enough.  The mom is terrified to leave her children with anyone because of the things they’ve been through, and this is just one story of several.  There is a sweet lady in my church who is investing herself in their lives, but she is becoming exhausted.  I asked if Kroger gift cards would be good, but they don’t have a way to the store.  So on top of grocery gift cards, they need money for public transportation.  (The oldest son has to pay $37/month to ride the city bus to school)  They also need training in English so mom can get a job.  We can provide the friendship and community she needs to learn to trust others, but we can’t provide for all of their material needs.  And like I said, this is just one family of several.”

You guys?!  Food, transportation cards, clothes, money to take English classes, babysitters, utility bills?  Could we provide a Christmas feast for the whole community?  Could we bring gifts to all the children?  I think we are only limited here by our imaginations!  If this story speaks to you, email me and let’s talk about options/details/ways to help meet at least some of these very basic needs we all take for granted!

4. Hospital beds for Ethiopian hospital:
This next request for a basic and desperate need comes from my dear friend Julie who currently lives with her family in Soddo Ethiopia where her husband Dave is the Pediatrician in the hospital there. What Dave (and his family) face and do on a daily basis in the medical sense is completely humbling and overwhelming to me at times and I have been so grateful to be a part of supporting the work they do there. Julie wrote just this morning with a specific and life-giving need for clean/sanitary hospital beds.  Can you imagine going into the hospital for surgery, illness or the birth of your baby and seeing that your bed has a torn and filthy mattress, with a plastic covering that is no better?  There is no way to clean or cover the stains, dirt or ripped materials and there are no other options.  This is not even within the realm of imagination for most of us and yet this is the “normal” for patients in Ethiopia.  The risk of infection and further illness is exponential and in a place where things are already stacked against health and recovery from illness at baseline.  This is a 120-bed hospital and for $75 the beds can be completely replaced with clean and sanitary ones.  What about it?  Could we provide 10% of these?  A quarter?  HALF of them???  If this is a need that speaks to you, send me an email saying you’re “in” to help and I’ll send you more details!
http://www.soddo.org/

5. Miscellaneous:
There are a few other single needs that have come in including:
-replacing a tire for a single mom of one and baby-on-the-way who is driving on a spare tire in Wisconsin winter weather
– a pair of running shoes for someone who would love to be able to exercise for mental and physical health

If these speak to you, let me know and I’ll give you details on how to help! Also, if your time and schedule work better with easy options, Target/Wal-Mart or amazon gift certificates can be used to purchase much of what each of these groups needs.  You can drop those off to me (or I can pick them up) and I will make sure they get to the place they can be best used!

Ok- you guys, let’s do it!!

Let’s celebrate Christmas and all we have by reaching out from our abundance to help others who need some helping hands this holiday season.  I can’t wait to see what we can do together!! 

(Remember: send me an email, Facebook message or reply to the blog with which opportunity you’d like to help with and an email to contact you with!)

with much holiday love and excitement!
Dawn

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