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Life is worth celebrating. I want to rejoice for the life of my kids, who we adopted as newborns. Their birth moms chose life for them. That is worth celebrating each year and each day, really. And, yes, there is joy in unwrapping a gift that someone chose just for you. I get that. And I want that for my kids.
But I don’t want stuff to drown out compassion for others who don’t live the kind of life we have. Kids don’t choose the circumstances into which they’re born.
While I worry about how I can help combat the greediness in our culture, I know there are mommas in other places – some even right down the street – who spend time thinking about how they’ll feed, clothe, and medicate their kids. I can’t imagine wondering if my son and daughter will be educated and medicated in ways that will help preserve their future.
One way our family has learned about poverty – and how to give to others – is through Compassion International, a child-advocacy ministry. The ministry strives to release children from spiritual, economic, social, and physical poverty. The goal is for each child to become a responsible and fulfilled adult. This happens through monthly sponsorships as well as other financial gifts.
Throughout the years, my family and friends have collected money at our annual Jesus Birthday Party to purchase gifts for families who don’t have monthly sponsors and hosted Compassion advocate and musician Shaun Groves at our church. My kids and I write our sponsored children letters and send extra money for their birthdays and Christmas.
But I want to share one of my favorite ways I’ve seen Compassion – both the organization and the characteristic – lived out in my house.
For a couple of Ben’s birthday parties in November, we celebrated the life of Jean in Ecuador. He’s one of the Compassion International kids we sponsor and shares my boy’s birthday, although they’re eight years apart in age. The kids at my son’s parties made Jean birthday cards and donated money for us to send to him. We asked for the donations instead of gifts. Of course, some people still brought gifts. But they chose to bless Jean while celebrating Ben.
Not long after one of the parties, we received a letter from Jean. He thanked us for the money we sent and told us what he bought: two pieces of cloth to make a school uniform, a backpack, a pair of shoes, a ball, and two pairs of sandals for his sister. Seriously. My kid got dinosaurs and superheros and Jean bought himself clothes and shoes for his little sister – and was happy about it.
This is why I spend time thinking about stuff. I can’t imagine Jean’s momma wondering how she was going to buy her 11-year-old boy school clothes. But I can imagine how proud she was her boy wanted to share his birthday money with his sister, who needed shoes.
We’ve done the same thing for some of Cate’s birthday parties. Our Compassion girl Roselyn in Guatemala is six months older than Cate. This meant she received fewer gifts, but, let me tell you, my girl was still blessed with some new horse toys, a cute cowgirl outfit, new crafts, and other goodies. She unwrapped joy.
One year, a bunch of little girls collected $147.54 for Roselyn and her family. The girls at the party also colored pictures and made her cards. One sweet friend brought a Zip-loc bag full of change, the money she usually uses to buy stickers to send to her Compassion friend. Roselyn unwrapped joy when the blessings prepared at the party here arrived at her house there.
That’s celebrating life. And that’s compassion at its finest.
Shared by: Kristin Hill Taylor