Thursday, November 29, 2012

Encourage them to Go

This series has taken a little longer than I thought it would. If you have stuck with me throughout, thank you!!

This last one is one of the most important:

#10 Don't Squelch or Limit what God is doing in the lives of your Kids

At Vacation Bible School last summer, the kids were trying to raise money for a local charity. As we were getting read to go to one of the last classes, one of my kids came down with his piggy bank, proceeded to take the majority of the money out and asked if he could give it to the charity that night.

It was a sweet, generous gesture.

Would you like to know what my first thought was?

I wanted to ask him if he was sure he wanted to give that much.

I wanted to limit his generosity because it felt like he was making too big of a sacrifice, you know, so he could spend that $20 on some cheap toy instead.

Thankfully, God talked me down before I talked him down. I ended up encouraging him in his giving. Even though, to my shame, I felt the desire to hold him back.

I was talking to a dear friend whose kids are grown about this topic and asked her what they did to encourage a global perspective in their kids. She told me,

I don't think we did anything specific. But, I do think that as we saw how God was growing our kids' hearts, we tried not to squelch or limit what he was doing. As parents, when we are students of our child's design, and see what their "bent" is, we want to encourage and challenge them to explore possibilities. For example, when our daughter talked about being a missionary when she was in 5th grade, we told her we thought that was great.
Frankly this can be easier said than done. Encouraging my daughter to be a missionary is one thing. But then, watching her become one and be placed in potentially dangerous situations is another. I hope when the time comes I will encourage my kids in what God has called them to no matter what I feel on the inside, even when doing so compromises their safety.

Christians are not called to live a safe life. We are called to obey where we are called to go no matter what.

When we see a call being placed on our kids, let's don't try to hold them back. Instead, let's encourage them to go.

That last sentence was the perfect place to stop, but at the risk of creating a post that is too long I want to add one more thought before I close out this series on global perspective.

You might follow all ten of these suggestions to encourage a global perspective in your kids and one hundred more and there is a chance that your kids will not care in the slightest. We can do all the right things as parents, but in the end our kids have free will. We are not responsible for what they choose. We are responsible to faithfully parent and teach our kids God's truths.

They must choose how they will live it out.

One of my kids had a small excerpt published in our local paper. The topic was "How would you spend one million dollars?" I immediately thought of all the orphans he would help. Instead he wrote this:

"I would buy a Nerf sword and Nerf gun. I would buy lots of toys at garage sales."

It is a hilarious answer and even if the thought of giving money away did not enter his sweet head, at least he was being frugal with his purchases. We do our best to teach and broaden his perspective, but in the end it is up to him to choose.

Thanks again for following along with this little series. If you have any additional ideas to share, please do! I appreciate every comment you have made. So many of you are living this out and I am so thankful for the examples you are to me as we journey on together.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


It's been a big week at our house. 

Monday afternoon the e-mail saying our LOA had arrived dinged in my inbox. 

On Tuesday, we received, signed, marked the box that said "We accept" and overnighted that precious piece of paper back to our agency.

Just in case you aren't immersed in Chinese adoption lingo and are a little hazy on what LOA actually means... It means China has officially given us their approval to adopt Zak. It is a HUGE step forward in our adoption process and hopefully means we will be on our way to China in 10 - 14 weeks. 

Which is a good thing. A very good thing.

Up until the last week or so I have been fairly successful at keeping thoughts of our little munchkin somewhat in the back of my brain. But the closer we get to travel, the more thoughts of Zak begin to fill the front, middle and back parts of it. 

I can pretty much guarantee by the time we hop on a plane, my brain will have been overrun with thoughts of the Zak-man. In fact, I am just going to warn you now, if you have any interaction with me over the next few months and I don't seem all there, or a little scattered... it's because a large part of my brain has moved to China. 

I had a dream about him last night. I dreamed he was a quiet little man with a lot of energy. He kept us on our toes. I CAN NOT WAIT to see if my dream comes true!!

The closer we get, the harder the waiting becomes and months that normally appear to be right around the corner, suddenly feel a million miles away. 

It's all part of the process. 

The excruciating, wonderful adoption process.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Care for the Orphaned

#9 Care for the Orphaned

Adoption is definitely one way you can do this. And, one of the side-benefits of international adoption is that it brings "global perspective" into your family in an intensely personal way. Our family has become multi-cultural since adopting Suhn. We try to incorporate a little bit of China into our American life which has been fun for all of us. But, Adoption is not the only way you can care for the orphaned.  

I am going to add one more thing to her list:

Support families around you who have adopted. Have your kids help you prepare a meal for them when they bring their little one home. Talk about the adoption process with your kids and learn about the countries people you know are adopting from. Support their fundraisers. Love on their kids.

Our church family and friends have been an amazing blessing to us in the way they have accepted Suhn, loved on her and in general embraced her as one of their own. Adoption has not exactly been an easy road for me, but I guarantee you it would have been 10,000 times harder without the amazing support, love and prayers of our family, friends and church family. 

You may not be called to adopt, but if you know someone who has, your love and support can lighten their load and give you a practical way to grow compassion and a global perspective in  your kids.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gifts that Give Back (along with 6, 7, and 8)

6. Let your Kids see you Be Generous. There are so many creative and fun ways to do this, especially this time of year!

Participate in programs like Operation Christmas Child.

Lifesong for Orphans is giving out a special Advent Calendar that incorporates giving into your holiday season.

Take advantage of Christmas Catalogs that ministries like Compassion, World Vision and Lifesong put out. Consider cutting back on Christmas gifts and shopping these catalogs as a family with the money you saved.
Or ask friends to bring money to your birthday party instead of gifts and shop the catalogs as a group.

Purchase gifts that give back. We are That Family has a list of places to shop here. HKI (a charitable organization that raises funds for orphans in Suhn and Zak's province in China) is doing a fundraiser with Thirty-One Bags here until November 23. Scarlet Threads and Live Fashionable are two other organizations that will give back through your shopping support.

Whatever you do, let your kids see you do it! Take the time to turn your Christmas shopping into a teachable moment. Let your kids shop with you to fill the shoe box for Operation Christmas Child. Pour over the ministry catalogs together. This holiday season let your generosity be visible and contagious!

7. Sponsor a Child
We have sponsored children through Compassion  International for over ten years. Two of our Compassion kids have aged out of the system. When the last one did, we decided to sponsor another child, but this time let Mya pick.

We now sponsor a child in Ethiopia who is about Mya's age. Mya is in charge of writing letters to her. She knows where she lives on our map, and whenever Compassion sends updates or our sponsor child writes letters it gives an amazing, personal teaching moment for our daughter on what life is like on the other side of the world.

8. Take your Kids on a Mission Trip
Many of these ideas will involve a sacrifice of time and money, but the perspective it gives our kids is priceless. Mya traveled with me to Zambia this past spring.

Mid-way through the trip she looked up at me and said, "Mom, the world is a lot bigger than I thought."

Exposing our kids first-hand to the way others live can be a life-changing experience that will encourage a global perspective like nothing else.

Your Turn: Please share places you have found where you can purchase gifts that give back, or any other ways you encourage a global perspective in your kids.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


#5 Pray.

It is one of the simplest and maybe the most profound way you can encourage a global perspective in your child.

Pray as a family for the world.

Does that sound overwhelming? Or bring up questions like How?

I have a few resources that will help:

1. Window on the World is a book that shares over 90 countries and people groups with its readers. We are currently reading through it as part of our family devotions at dinner time. Each page shares the story of a child in a specific country or people group along with a little bit about that country and specific ways you can pray for each people group.

Sometimes we are consistent in our family devotions and make it through several people groups a week, and sometimes we only make it through one (or less). Consistency is not our strong suit.

2. If you don't want to purchase a book, consider creating your own prayer cards.

The Joshua Project has a webpage where they have already created prayer cards for many of the people groups around the world. All you need to do is print them off and pray!

Compassion International has a list of 52 ways to pray for children on their website (one for each week of the year). If you need the names of specific children to pray for, visit the child sponsorship pages of Compassion and World Vision.

I often underestimate the power of prayer. But the truth is, prayer is probably the most effective thing we can do to make a difference in the world. It is something our young children can do, it is something we can do together as families. We may not see the difference our prayers make this side of heaven, but I believe someday we will be amazed when we hear how those prayers were used to change the world.

Your turn:  How does your family utilize the power of prayer?

Monday, November 05, 2012

Noisy House

*Taking a short break from the Encouraging a Global Perspective Series, to be continued on Wednesday*

I live in a noisy house.

Kids calling to each other from across the house, or across a room. Footsteps walking, running, stomping, jumping.

Doors opening, doors shutting, doors slamming.

Piano practicing, dishwasher running.

Yelling, laughing, crying, chattering, cheering, whining.

Picking up, throwing down.

Asking, answering, complaining, questioning.

Sound after sound, sometimes cascading down like the waters from Niagara falls. Sometimes dribbling slowly, barely a sound.

Sometimes the noise is enough to drive me crazy. The minute the sound of the garage door opening reaches my ears (aka Kory's home) and I am ready to escape to grab a bit of quiet SOMEwhere.

Other-times, I relish the noise. It won't be here forever. I walk from room to room and realize that each noise represents this wonderful, crazy, noisy stage of life I am living. A stage I LOVE!

Some day the noises encased in this house will grow up and leave to fill another place.

Some day the only steps I hear will be mine and Kory's.

That is not a bad thing, time moves on as it was created to do.

And because that is true, I hope I will relish the noise more times than I wish it away.

*Taking a short break from the Encouraging a Global Perspective Series, to be continued on Wednesday*

Friday, November 02, 2012

Number 2,3, and 4

Moving right along.

#1 we talked about on Wednesday, encouraging a global perspective in your kids starts with encouraging a global perspective in yourself.

Numbers 2 - 4 are a little more on the practical side. Some of you have already shared your own lists in the comments. THANK YOU and keep'em coming!!

#2:  Encourage your Kids to Read or Read to Them.

Honestly, I believe this can include just about any type of book. While on the surface Dr. Seuss may not seem to encourage global thinking, a love of reading might.

(then again, one of my favorite quotes right now comes from Dr. Seuss: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, its not!")

Dr. Noble of Summit Ministries has been known to say, "If you want to be a leader, you have got to be a reader." If you instill in your kids a love of reading their perspective will enlarge.

Some books to focus them on a more global/missional mindset:  YWAM's Christian Heroes Then and Now. They have a series for more advanced readers (9 and up) and one for younger readers (4-6). Faith-building stories of men and women like George Mueller, Mary Slessor and Corrie Ten Boom.

If magazines or a website would keep your kid's attention better, Voice of the Martyrs has a website/blog for kids and Compassion has a magazine.

#3: Display a World Map

Here is ours.

We have push pins in all of the countries we have some kind of connection to, whether it be a Lifesong mission, a Compassion kid, or a missionary we know. It is a subtle thing, but there is something about seeing where you live compared to the rest of the world that gets a person thinking.

We have ours hanging in the office; the kids walk past it most days.

#4:  Find Local Events that Introduce Global Thinking

If you look for them you find them everywhere. This Sunday is Orphan Sunday, if you head to this website I  think there is a good chance you will find an event in your neighborhood this weekend. We are heading to hear a missionary family talk about their work in Guatamala tonight. Lifesong for Orphans is doing a Christmas tour with the muscial group FFH and 6 kids from the Lifesong school in Zambia (go here for the schedule). Our church put together their first (and hopefully not last) missions night last winter.

By supporting this type of event, you will introduce your kids to new cultures in a fun and interesting way.

These are all small ways you can start introducing global perspective to your kids at young ages, and hopefully as a result, you can begin to introduce the concept that the rest of the world does not live like we do in America. It takes some intentionality and time, but it is a lesson worth teaching.

I've got 6 more ways to encourage a global perspective coming, but for now, please continue to share some of yours!