"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

07 May 2013

Poor: A Compassion Post

This past month flew by, and I don't even really know how that happened. It felt like I blinked and the calendar was flipped to May.

When I went to update my 2013 Book List yesterday I realized I read all of three books in April.


The last one doesn't even really count because I've been reading it for the past few months.

*Hanging head in English-teacher shame*

Ah, well. There were many, many good things in April, which is mostly why it flew by so quickly. You know how, when you're anticipating something, it takes forever to arrive and then, when it's over, you think, "Did that really happen?"

I remember feeling that way about theater productions. You work so hard for a few shows, and then there's that surreal feeling, where you can't quite believe that it's all over.

Same with vacations, I think. Not that I would know. We haven't had a real vacation in ... never mind.

All that to say, I didn't blog much either, which my sweet, ever-lovin' husband reminded me of several times.

He just might be my biggest fan. And most loyal reader. I guess the two go hand-in-hand.

Anyway, I have been riddled with guilt that I missed last month's Compassion post, so when this month's assignment appeared in my inbox yesterday, I was bound and determined to get 'er done.

Then I read the details: "This month, your writing assignment is to write from the perspective of a mother living in extreme poverty and raising a child in the developing world.
  • What challenges would you face?
  • What would you think about in the morning or at night?
  • What is at the heart of motherhood?
Don't be intimidated by this, especially the guys out there or you ladies who aren't moms. And don't be limited by the few bullets I've included here. You're welcome to take liberties with the assignment as you dig into the connection between motherhood and poverty."

I don't know, guys. I grew up in a developing nation, one of the poorest and most corrupt in the world. I witnessed the extreme injustice and heartbreak of poverty nearly every day. And now that I'm a mom, it makes my stomach turn to think of going to bed each night wondering how on earth I was going to make it another day, to wonder what I was going to feed my children, to know that I would have to leave my five-year-old in charge of my infant so that I could go to work and earn a measly income just so I could buy tasteless grain to make into watery gruel for my babies. 

I've mentioned before that my husband really dislikes pinto beans and all but refuses to eat them. He was adopted by his maternal grandparents, both of whom were disabled, so they were poor. Not extremely poor, but poor. Often, all they had to eat was rice and pinto beans. 

My dad grew up in a poor little mountain village in Korea, the second of four children. When he and his siblings were able to go to school, there wasn't enough food sometimes for all the children to have lunch. When they did, the kids knew that their mother wouldn't be eating that day. So the youngest, my uncle, would secretly leave his lunch behind so my grandmother would have something to eat. To this day, there are certain foods, like turnips, that my dad dislikes, because it reminds him of that time. 

I don't like to think of these things because these are men I love, cherish, and respect. I hate that they grew up wanting. Not to mention the lump-in-the-throat and red-eyes-from-crying business, because I'm a supreme cry-er. 
People joke about crying at commercials. I'm that person.

As a writer, I probably could challenge myself to write that creative piece. But my heart isn't up to it. Not knowing what I know and having seen what I've seen. For me, this isn't something you just fabricate stories about, especially if you are someone who hasn't ever seen or experienced firsthand what it's like. 

But I wanted to write something, because I want to be a part of God making a difference in this world. I want people, especially those of us who live in relative comfort, to remember that there are mamas out there who mix spit and dirt to make mud paste to feed their children. There are mamas who make the heart-wrenching choice to mutilate their children so they will look more pathetic as they beg on the corners of the streets, or worse still, believe that death is the only possible escape from their misery. There are mamas who sleep huddled under a sheet of aluminum propped up on rickety sticks -- no walls -- their bodies providing the only warmth they have for their children.

Will you help spread the word? Will you help these babies today? Can you step out in generosity and faith to give just a one-time donation in honor of Mother's Day to partner with the beautiful, incredible work that Compassion is doing in these communities to bring hope to families, to rescue children from the vicious cycle of extreme poverty?
*All photos on this post are from Compassion International.


  1. I like you have a hard time making up a story about something I have never experienced first hand. I visited a mother in Haiti in March and still do not feel as if I am qualified enough to know though I have seen her home and children. Great post thank you for helping.

    1. Thanks for your note, Terri, and thank you for sharing your story, too. I loved seeing the photos.

  2. Tears in my eyes after reading your honest post. You really get it and the reality is so painful....Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Kirsty, you have a beautiful heart that just shines through on your blog. I also noticed that you took the time to leave a little note on almost all the posts I read on the link-up. Thank you for the encouraging comments! You bless all of us!

  3. Thanks for what you shared...I can't even imagine having to make the decision to leave a baby at home in order to work for a tiny amount of food...or to not have good food for my kids. Thanks so much for the encouragement to make a difference!

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