Archive for the ‘Poverty’ Category

3 Panel U2 pic for shirt

Bono (Chicago 2015), Liz (After 4 Chicago SOI 2015 shows!), and more Bono.

Bono! It’s your birthday.  Since we’re born exactly a week apart, I’d like to ask you some questions–one bull to another.  As we U2 fans prepare for the Joshua Tree 40 tour, I have some questions I’d love to ask you.  What is it like:

Maybe you didn’t ask for this much, but God gave it to you anyway. This voice—this voice that gives power to the silent, the abused, the ignored, the desperate. This magical voice that entertains those who can afford it—provoking and comforting, all the while, yet always on the move.

We hear you between the lines! We are getting the message. Even as you continue to entertain us as the years pass, we too are changing; ourselves, and the world around us.   We can CREATE change. There is true beauty in being able to do that. The divinely-inspired do more then just sit still.  We’re fighting for love and peace too, even as we do battle to settle the wars that rage within ourselves.  Your music helps us to be gentle with ourselves. Thank you for that.

You have a vast and diverse fan base.   Sometimes we may just appear as just a bunch of idolaters.  I dispute that.  If that’s all we were, then we’re all just reduced to a bunch of noise–people who don’t think or care, and it’s only all about you. But you know us better than that. It’s so much more. Because of your humility, we see past the rock star. We see a mirror; we see ourselves–#strongerthanfear; we too can be brave enough to be a kinder person, to be more tolerant and to help others.   Your music and your heart unites those of various faiths, it smashes barriers.  In the music of U2, we learn to see and hear the world differently. Thank you.

Your voice and music—this blessed gift of soul and sound, is the soundtrack that activates our inspiration and creativity too! Your music empowers our resolve. It gets us through when our hearts break, and it makes the good moments super amazing!

We know where to find you, when you’re not around. We’ll meet you in the sound!

Keep going Bono (and the rest of U2!). Keep creating song and art. Keep talking to world leaders and business leaders and everyday people too. May you always keep your heart and mind open as you always have. May you always find time to put your family and faith and your well-being before the rest of us. Trust in the God who gave a short man a mighty big megaphone! Make a joyful noise until your last breath and together, we’ll walk this magical journey of life as we each  find our way home.

And live. Just be. Until you give it all away.

Happy Birthday and love from one fan, as well as the rest of us.  Today, we remember you.  U2areloved

FOR U2 FANS:  Please contribute to Bono’s annual “Build a Well in Africa” fund.  This is a cause near and dear to his heart!

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Where is the Love IMG_8531 1

A royal baby was born today.  A baby that will undoubtedly grow up in a fishbowl, his every move fawned over, analyzed, photographed, and reported as if it were earth-shattering. He will have loving parents to dote over him, a staff to serve him, a press that hounds him, and a fan base that will swell and wane over and over like the tide of the ocean.  He will one day rule, if only in the hearts of those that put people on pedestals simply because of pedigree.  Will he know what it means to suffer?

Also today, across the world and across two oceans, in Syria, a nameless unphotographed baby, like countless others before him this month, is born in a refugee camp, drawing his first breaths in the middle of conflict, a deadly war.  He will be on the move soon enough, already fleeing and hiding and struggling to live before he ever learns to smile.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed; it is only the faintest of hopes.  Hundreds of thousands of children sleep tonight in a tent on dirty ground not knowing whether tomorrow they eat or not, move or stay, live or die.   Families are broken, scattered, displaced, diminished, and shattered by wars they did not start and have no power to end. This baby of no recognition and no worldly significance,  whose sole purpose it seems is just to survive—will he feel loved? 

In Afghanistan, a village of young girls risk disfiguration by acid being thrown on them simply because they wish to go to school in secret.  An eleven year old girl in Yemen begs for death rather than being forced to marry.  In Thailand, hundreds of thousands of under age children are abused every year in childhood sex-trafficking and prostitution.  In America’s capital, more than 40% of high school kids don’t graduate.  Granite columns and indestructible walls meters thick fill up the entire epicenter of capital landscape, yet kids fall thru a broken system of family, culture, and community like water thru a sieve.    In Africa, hunger, AIDS, and death by Malaria still exists despite decades of humanitarian aid both government and private.  Why?

The world is on fire because we are at war.  There are wars on drugs.  There are wars on women and children.   There is war between social classes and political parties.   We are at war and we fight. We fight over land, food, politics, possessions, principals, philosophies, lifestyles, religious belief systems.  We fight over what is true.  Often we just fight, seemingly for no reason at all.  We fight because our rage over takes us.  Our inner evil is compelled to extinguish that which opposes us or our right-ness.   We are at war within ourselves as we easily love one person or group of people and detest another individual or group.  We exchange our peace, our righteousness, for a need to be right, a need to own or control, a need to possess or win.  We exchange love for a lie.

When you look at the world, what is it that you see?

There is so much fighting, and evil, and brutality, and pain and so much needless suffering.  And yet there are those small voices, the small minorities with limited resources, small hands, big ideas, and bigger hearts that risk death and dying daily, armed with nothing more than a sack cloth of courage and a heart full of faith trying, always trying.  They try desperately to feed the hungry, shelter the orphans, assist the dying, spread words of peace, trying their best to litter humanity with goodness and gentleness and kind deeds.

It is a world of dark and light, of yin and yang, a garden of good and evil.  But these days the weeds are rooting ever deeper, trying desperately to strangle the good fruits of human goodness.   It’s easy to despair as we watch the world around us all ablaze.  It feels as if we are flaming out, we’re burnt out, past the point of being able to care.

I say don’t give in.  Don’t give up.  Don’t ever give up!  Return to love.  Help your neighbor or whoever God puts in your path today.  Write respectful letters to those in power that can make a difference.  Above all, do not remain silent.  Use your voice to point out injustice, and to persuade others.   But then DO SOMETHING!  Use your hands to help others.  Use your mind to stay centered on solutions, not just rattling over the problem.  Find small ways to be the change you wish to see in the world.

We all have the opportunity to be the royal sons and daughters of a higher law, a higher King.  We can discern without diminishing. We can serve with humility.  We can love without limits.   We can rise above the madness.

Feed.   Pray.   Give.   Serve.   Love.

Where is the love?  It’s up to each of us to light the way.

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For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12

“This world’s anguish is no different from the love we insist on holding back.”   Aberjhani – “Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love”

“Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work — hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss — loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us.”   Jean Vanier – “Finding Peace”

YOU CAN HELP!   PLEASE! See photo credit/info  – Bottom of Page

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing (Yahweh – U2)

The thing is, I’ve got this rash thing going on.  It’s my neck.  It keeps itching!

See, I live my life with too much to do in one day.  I run around like a multi-tasker on steroids.  I work.  I’m a mom of three, one little, two grown but who still need me for advice, wisdom, and favors, definitely lots of favors.  I’m sandwiched between the needs of our young and adult children, aging parents, and our needs.  Our aging home needs more attention and money than we have to give.    I want to write a book.  I need to organize my time better.  There isn’t enough time to even find the time to organize!

Our days melt into one another as work, errands, paperwork, tasks, email, and chores at home get accomplished.  Pay the bills, throw another load of clothes in the wash.  Did you remember to buy toilet paper?   Take the kids for their six month check up at the dentist?  Get the tires rotated?   Get the kids signed up for camp?  Did you remember to sit down for five minutes and play?  All we ever do is do things, but are we accomplishing anything?

At the end of most days, the result of all the busyness seems to add up to futility.  The laundry isn’t finished.  The windows are  still filthy.  The siding really needs painting.   The car still needs tires, and probably a new transmission.    The toilet paper was forgotten, and there aren’t even any paper towels as a backup.    The kids are hungry and you didn’t have time after work to go to the store.  All the bills and paperwork sit like a tornado of terror waiting to suck up and swirl all your precious time away.

Even though the whole day was spent working at something, not much seems to have been accomplished.  I constantly think about what I need to do and all that I long to do, knowing I have insufficient time for neither.   That’s when my neck starts to itch.

Perhaps it’s something else that’s actually gnawing at my neck.    I once heard that pain or discomfort is God’s way of using a megaphone to get our attention.   See, I’m starting to get this feeling that’s rising up inside of me, that I am called to do less, at least to do less here, and be more out there, out in the world.  I think I know what it is.

Itchy Faith

Yes, I think my faith is starting to itch me a little bit.  It’s starting to feel like a thorn under my skin, a rash that won’t go away.   Because as a Christian, when I accepted Christ, I learned I was saved by Christ’s sacrifice by nothing I did, but because of his love for me.  But His grace is so much more extravagant than that.  It’s more than just, “thanks Bro!  Now I’m heaven-bound, and I really appreciate it!  I’ll really try hard to readjust my cynical attitude from time to time.   Again, I sincerely appreciate you keeping me from the flames!”

See, I’m itching to do more out there, to be more of what I think God is calling me to be.  I read the bible, but not nearly often enough.  And I certainly pray about life’s problems, all the time in fact.   I like to think of myself as one of “God’s complainer-in-chief.”

Yet, I feel like there’s a little bug crawling in my ear, and I  can’t get it out, simply by scratching it.  It’s almost as if a voice is whispering, “Yeah, and so what are YOU going to do about it.  I already put in you the answers.  I gave you the cure; are you going to USE it?”

 See I don’t like this part of my faith.  It makes me itch.  Because I know, just like other medications, it may make me or take me to this place:  UNCOMFORTABLE.    I know if I commit to feeding the hungry on a regular basis, my heart is going to hurt, and race.  It probably will depress me.  If I start getting to know the people Jesus healed then I’m going have to listen more and talk less.   Rescue requires involvement.

I am starting to think if I have eyes, ears, hands, and feet that work reasonably well, he’s probably called me to use them.  And that is so scary!

I freeze up sometimes when asked about my beliefs, or about the bible because  I don’t want to offend others or “botch” God’s word.  I avoid getting involved because it means I might have to commit time or energy.  We like to delude ourselves by hoping someone else will make a difference in the world.   So I lie to myself, and say I wouldn’t be good at it, or I don’t have carpentry skills, or I’ve just got too much going on.

Well!   We all have too much going on.  Yet while I go to bed at night in a comfortable king-sized bed in an air-conditioned house and mentally say my prayers, sometimes I close my eyes and I see continent sized groups of people that sleep on a dirt floor, or a stale mattress.  I see flies, so many flies!   When I sit at my desk inundated with mountains of paperwork, all requiring communication or financial responses, I feel swamped.  Then I remember, there is a child in a tattered dirty shirt and bare calloused feet somewhere in the world trying to till the soil of dry dirt, and ”hope for rain” as the only source of water.

I’m annoyed when I take my child to the pediatrician’s office and on the way, realize I’m nearly out of gas, and if I stop we’ll be late.  Then this uninvited vision of a feverish child swollen with malaria with half-mast eyes, and crying for her mother who no longer exists floats to the surface of my consciousness.  Who are you to complain about all the abundance I’ve given you? This too, creeps into my thought process.    I shoe away the fly in the car that’s bothering my soul.

I turn on the ipod in my air-conditioned van.  U2’s “Yahweh” is playing.  I love this song.  I’m bothered by this song.  Like other songs of theirs, am I going to just listen to another groovy tune, get to my destination, and turn it off?  Or am I going to respond to it?

……Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist, no
Take this mouth
So quick to criticize
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss (Yahweh – U2)

Yes, I’ve had this rash for a good while now.  I’ve gone from complaining often to complaining less and being grateful more.  But God hasn’t come down from heaven and said, “Good job daughter, I’m pleased with you. You finally got it.”   No, it’s more like this itchy thought that keeps rising, “You haven’t even climbed the first step yet.  Keep going.”

I don’t know where this will lead.   I’m scared.  How will He have me serve?  Write about ways to serve or actually serving?   Will he put me out there in the battlefield where people are actually hurting, crying, starving, or dying?  I don’t know.  I don’t know if or where I’ll be going or when.    I don’t have a field manual.    I just simply feel something is changing in me and it itches me in such a way I personally can’t live the way I used to.

Words like social justice and compassion and service keep rising up despite my political beliefs, despite my attempts to push them back down.  Oh no, I’m starting to feel a bit like Bono.  I have a feeling, lack of fame won’t give me immunity, any more than an abundance of it excludes him.   I’m pretty sure God is calling all of us to view our place and our purpose in the world, whether we have a platform reaching millions or a platform reaching only One. 

  Be warned.  If you have a tender heart, this rash is contagious.  It will make you uncomfortable.  The question is what are you going to do about it?

Take this heart
And make it brave

 Yahweh – U2

To hear this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyzPtjIP2eo

When searching for the perfect photo for this article, my first “hit” stumbled upon this;  it is a concrete and specific way you can help.  Compassion International is a fantastic organization that is one of the world’s most efficient charities in terms of applying the greatest percentage of money directly to those in need.   Our family has sponsored a child since 2003.  I will be blogging about this in the future!

Please prayerfully consider sponsoring, or even a one time donation to Compassion International!

http://ihrg.org/10-ways-to-choose-which-child-to-sponsor

Compassion International:  http://www.compassion.com