Open Arms and Extended Hands

I flipped through an old journal a couple nights ago, looking for inspiration. I like to fill the inside covers of journals with quotes and clips, like this one:

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”–Frederick Buechner

I discovered something else from 6 years ago–a list I made of what I wanted my life to be, how I wanted it to be characterized. In addition to giving, serving, peaceful, and simple, I also wrote this Scripture reference:  Prov. 31:20. In this verse, the much-lauded “Proverbs 31 woman” is described this way–“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” 

Lately, God has led me to a couple of meaningful ways to extend my hands. And they both involve this woman–me–opening her arms to other women.

First, I’m so excited about the Luo Pad project from GAiN, the humanitarian arm of Cru–which is the interdenominational ministry with which my husband and I serve. I’ll let the GAiN USA page tell you about Luo Pads:  “Washable feminine pads [Luo Pads] help these women [in under-privileged locations] reclaim control of their lives and take charge of their health. When you help provide LuoPads, you also give our ministry partners the opportunity to tell these vulnerable and wounded women that Jesus loves them and values them.”

You can read more about this initiative to take washable, reusable menstrual pads to women around the world here. These pads allow girls in developing countries to go to school, who otherwise might sit home and miss class for several days each month. When they fall behind, they often drop out–limiting their options for a bright future.

The Luo Pad program depends on volunteers, and although I’m limited in my sewing skills, I have taken part in creating some of these handy items. To do that, I purchased several pairs of flannel pajama pants at Goodwill (the larger, the better). Pants work better than shirts– no need to cut around pockets and buttons. pajama pants

pattern pieces

Flannel on the outside, terry cloth layers inside, which I procured by cutting up old towels…And here is the final product. More volunteers at the GAiN warehouse will attach snaps to the pads before sending them overseas, most to Africa.

luo pads

Six of these go in a hygiene kit for each woman being served by GAiN’s Luo Pads–and they are making a difference! Won’t you consider joining as a volunteer sewer–or starting a sewing group? You can find instructions, patterns, and the U.S. address of where to mail your contributions here. GAiN needs to quadruple the number of pads distributed annually in order to meet all requests coming in from our staff on the field.

Using my hands to serve women who don’t have access to menstrual products–or can’t afford them–is a gift from God. One more way I’m opening my arms to serve women:  by signing and promoting this petition. Did you know that tampons and other menstrual products are taxed as “luxury items” in 40 of our 50 states? I for one don’t consider them to be a luxury. If you don’t either, you can join me and thousands of others who’ve signed this petition urging U.S. legislators to change this. The tax may not affect you or me to a large degree. But what if we had to pinch every penny in order to buy groceries, pay the rent, purchase school supplies for our children…every penny would matter.

We can be activists from home, opening our arms to the poor and extending our hands to the needy.

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