Sacrifice as Joy

In the spring of 2011, back when we lived in a townhouse, we bought a hanging plant for our postage stamp-sized front porch. And when I say postage stamp-sized, I mean it barely had enough space to hold a chair. ONE chair. But it had a nice wooden porch rail around it, and I put a wooden basket of pine cones there one fall. The hanging potted plant and its blooms added some life and color to the porch.

Then one morning, after a couple of weeks of enjoying the plant (and actually keeping it alive), we walked outside to go to church and noticed a pigeon sitting in the plant. Not perched on the pot, but actually sitting on the soil. She (for it turned out that this bird was a female) didn’t flutter a feather as our family stood on the porch, looking up at her and wondering what she was doing. When we returned later, she still sat there. Days later, I noticed this pigeon had not gone away.

Now, I’m not really a lover of pigeons. But I realized she had claimed this space as her own and had turned our pot plant into a nursery of sorts. So I gave up my plant to the mother pigeon, the eggs she’d laid, and the babies that later hatched there. Later in the season, we watched the 2 little pigeon chicks fly away. By this time, the plant had died, since watering it was out of the question while it was otherwise occupied.

I sacrificed my plant for that mama bird.

In late June of this year, I started leading a group of women–gathering us together and asking them to join me–in learning, growing, and acting on behalf of those in extreme poverty. I pursued almost 20 women in various spheres of my life to link arms with me in being part of the Women of Vision initiative established by the longstanding organization World Vision.

The goals of this volunteer group include studying Scripture to learn about God’s heart for the poor (and His commands to His people to address those needs), to read books that help us expand our vision and understanding of how to care for the physically poor as an expression of God’s love, and also to labor on behalf of the poor. To accomplish that last part, we raise funds to support programs World Vision already has in place. For our first goal, we aim to raise $350 (which I now see as an “Oh, ye of little faith” goal) by Christmas to aid in World Vision’s Mother and Child Health initiative in Somalia, Zambia, and Uganda. World Vision seeks to end maternal, newborn, and child deaths through specific tactics (such as nutrition and clean water).

Somalia is considered one of the most dangerous countries for women. Just being a woman in the countries on this list is inherently dangerous. Rape, gender-based violence, and female genital mutilation are atrocities that can land a country on that list of dangerous places to be a woman. But maternal and child mortality are also issues in these countries. Our efforts as a group of 6–I cast a wide net, and so far there are just 6 of us available–can truly make a difference in helping mothers, babies, and young children survive and even thrive as we share with others what God has entrusted to us.

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To raise this money, we’ve been selling–toys at a children’s consignment store; women’s clothing at a different consignment shop. My daddy heard about our plans and cleared out some bookshelves of his, donating books to our cause. I sold $34 worth of those at a bookstore. Our fundraising event happening later this month is a women’s clothing swap, where we’ll request a $10 donation from each woman who attends to “shop” from a curated collection of gently used clothes. It takes place on August 27–if you’re in the central Florida area and interested, let me know!

So we’re doing a bit of sacrificing, this chapter of Women of Vision here in Orlando:  giving up the money that we could have made had we sold the toys or clothes and kept the earnings for ourselves, giving up some free time and some energy. I’m already learning from these women about living out my faith.

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And yet these offerings don’t really feel like sacrifice, not in the sense that I’m losing something in the process.

Because I’m sacrificing for that mama, the one who needs me to give a bit so she can shelter and care for her babies.

Because I’m a mama, too.

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