Wisdom Wednesday

What Difference Does it Make? Helping Those in Need (Part 1)

I spent this past week in Port au Prince, Haiti working with a non-profit organization.  We loved kids at several orphanages, did construction, and distributed food to needy families.  This trip has raised a lot of questions in my mind about how we can help Haiti, and even if helping Haiti is beneficial to the people.  Having come back with a new perspective, I will be writing several articles about the needs that I saw, how we can help, and how effective our help will be.

Before I went to Haiti, I felt inspired to sponsor a child.  I had gone to a concert, and one of the band members talked about child sponsorship.  His message stirred a desire in my heart to research.  I found many organizations that worked in Haiti and in other countries that needed clean water, food, shelter, education, and medical care.

Going to a third world country where many children apparently needed money, I had a lot of questions.  If I give forty dollars a month to an organization, how much of that money is going to help a child?  Will the child even know that I am giving money?  Isn’t it better to support organizations that are mentoring children and teaching them rather than throwing money at them?

In Haiti, I had the privilege of staying at a children’s home.  I was happy to see that although these kids did not have parents, they were content and they were clearly loved by the workers there. After talking to some of the kids for several days, I noticed that what they really needed was attention.  The workers of the children’s home were doing an excellent job, but there were so many kids and so much work to be done that they couldn’t give every child one-on-one attention. I wondered how we could get all these children to have the attention that they need.

One of the women on my team and I made friends with the older kids.  Most of them were about thirteen years old.  We asked them their names. One young man wrote down his name on a piece of paper.  Then he wrote his last name.  I thought it was strange that, though he was an orphan, he still remembered his last name.  “This is the name of my sponsor,” he explained.  “This is her last name, and so it is my last name.”  Tears welled up in my eyes.  I tried to hold myself together in front of these teenage boys and girls.  All the teenagers at the table started to write down their sponsors’ names.  They boasted about their brothers and sisters in the United States. My heart was filled with joy for them.

I asked them a few questions about their sponsors.  They told me that their sponsors wrote them letters and sent them pictures.  Some sponsors even visited their children.  A few of the children also had two sponsors depending on their needs.  As the children shared about their sponsors, my question was answered.  How can we provide one-on-one attention for these children?  Give them a sponsor, and show them that people across the world care about their health and well-being.

As soon as I got home, I went online and found a child to sponsor.  I am now sponsoring a six-year-old girl from one of the poorest cities in Haiti.  I know that my sponsorship will help her get an education, a free meal at the school, and help with her living conditions.  It will also show her that she is loved and that someone cares about her.

I encourage you to research sponsoring a child.  Whether you sponsor a child from Haiti or from another country, you will build a lasting relationship with that child. Organizations like HOLD the Children (, World Vision (, Compassion International (, and Mission of Hope Haiti ( provide education, food, water, and care for children through sponsorship.  Think about what kind of child you would like to sponsor (age, gender, country), what needs break your heart (food, water, education, etc), and what organization you think can meet this child’s needs.  I encourage you to do a lot of research.

To sponsor a child, you can give anywhere from 20-50 dollars a month.  If you have a tight budget and you want to sponsor a child, you may have to sacrifice a little bit.  However, by making a small adjustment to your budget, you can change a child’s life.  In Haiti, I saw the positive effects of child sponsorship on numerous children’s lives.  Starting Monday, I will be writing about the ways that child sponsorship (in addition to other projects) specifically improves the well being of the community.  Feel free to comment on this post with questions or comments.

Wisdom Wednesday

Take it Off and Leave it Home

Would you rather be in the scorching heat without an air conditioner, or in the freezing cold without a heater?  Most people I ask would rather be cold, but I would much rather be hot.  Personally, it is easier for me to cool off than to warm up.

For example, when I go for a walk, I cannot wear a jacket.  I get too hot, and I have to take off my jacket.  Then I have to walk around with a jacket in my arms. It makes me more hot and less happy to be walking.

Today is among the first crispy cool days of the season.  I decided to go for a run in sweat pants and a jacket.  As soon as I began to run, I knew that I had made a mistake in my choice of clothes.  I started to sweat, and my once comfy clothes became a burden that I did not want to carry.  Instead of running as long as I usually do, I only ran around the block.

For me, wearing clothes that are too warm are a distraction for me as I run.  For someone else, it could be the wrong choice of shoes that slows him down.  For another, her long hair could be tossed around by the wind, blowing in her face and getting in her eyes.

We all have a reason for being on this earth, for this time in history, and for a specific purpose.  However, we face many distractions in our lives that cause us to lose sight of what God really has for us.  Fear, doubt, and love of money are just a few of the things that keep us from living to our true potential.

I could have just left my sweatshirt home today. Sure, I would have been freezing cold until my body made enough heat.  But the tiny discomfort would have meant nothing when I ran as much as my body needed in order to be healthy.  Next time, I will remember this day and know that I can run a lot farther when I do not have heavy clothes weighing me down.

What is holding you from running as fast and as far as you can?  Take it off, and leave it home.  It may be uncomfortable at first, but you can run without it.

Wisdom Wednesday

What is Your Destination?

Recently, I made a goal to run three miles around my house.  To me, that was more than I could physically do at the time.  However, I decided that if I practiced, I would eventually build up the endurance to run a full three miles. I set a destination, and started on my journey.  I walked a little bit to warm up, but then I started to run.

When I go running, the journey is not always smooth.  Sometimes, I step on a twig and it offsets my balance.  Sometimes, when it’s raining, I may hit a puddle and get water all over my legs.  Sometimes, a car cuts in front of me, and I have to stop what I am doing and wait for the driver to move.

That day, it was hot, sunny, and crowded.  I had picked a part of the day where many people usually go out and run errands.  I focused on dodging the cars, and it limited my ability to run to my full potential.  I had to stop at a stop light in order to cross the street.  Of course, my fatigue also kicked in, so I was very distracted.

When I got to a certain point on this journey, I slowed down and started walking.  I congratulated myself for running as far as I did.  I continued to walk in order to regain my strength.  By the time I had reached a certain point, I had enough energy to run the rest of the way home.

At home, I checked how many miles I had run.  According to my map, I had run 2.39 miles, much more than I thought I could run!  I could not believe how far I had come.  Suddenly, my fatigue and my dodging of cars no longer mattered.  I had come very close to my goal.  I told everyone about my personal victory.

As I am running this race called life, my goal is to finish the distance that has been set before me.  However, I sometimes trip on a rock and fall flat on my face.  I make mistakes, and I feel the weight of my imperfections.  When this happens, I have two options.  I could either let this failure stop me from trying to finish, or I could get back up and try again.

In the past, my failures have crippled me.  My mistakes have caused me to forget that I am running a race, not trying to avoid getting hurt.  However, sometimes now I look back and see how far I have come.  Focusing on my victories rather than my failures has actually helped me to keep going.

There are lots of distractions when running a race.  You may be running behind someone, not able to catch up.  You may trip on your shoelace or an acorn could fall on your head.  You may be tempted to take a water break…and not want to try again.

But let me encourage you by telling you that it is never too late to get back into the race and try again.

If you’re running a race, and you trip on your shoelace, keep running. Your goal is to win the race, not run without falling. When you win, no one will remember your failures; they will only see that medal around your neck and know you are a champion.

Do not forget your destination.  Your mistakes may tempt to distract you, but do not let them stop you from finishing what you started.

Wisdom Wednesday

Running From Anxiety

Apparently, my greatest strength is my ability to think. However, I have always believed that thinking is my greatest weakness. I think, trying my best to control the world around me. My thoughts turn to worry. My worry turns to anxiety.

I wake up in the morning, thoughts swirling in my mind. How can I see “Now Hiring” signs on every corner and yet not have a job? 

I open my eyes. I slip out of bed and walk downstairs to eat breakfast. What am I doing with my life? 

I eat my breakfast and clean the dishes. How can I pay off my loans if I have no money? 

I walk to the bathroom and brush my teeth. What makes me think I can travel the world? 

I tie my hair into a ponytail. Why can’t I just be happy? 

I open the door, letting the sun hit my face. Why can’t I stop THINKING? 

I start running.

Suddenly, I only have three thoughts in my mind: my breathing, my stride, and my destination. Breathe in, breathe out. Don’t tense up your muscles; don’t hurt your knees. Run to the end of the block and turn left. I feel the sun on my face. I wave at the mail man as I pass his truck. I focus on my breathing, making sure I push myself without going over the edge. I feel the strain on my muscles and it motivates me to keep going.

I stop worrying about the future. My concerns don’t matter anymore. All I can think about is making my goal for the day. When I run, anxiety disappears. Running from my feelings may actually be a good thing in some cases.

Wisdom Wednesday

In the Rain

I slipped my shoes on and opened the front door. My mom looked at me with a confused look on her face. “Where are you going?” she asked. “Oh, I’m going for a run,” I replied casually. “But…” As I opened the door, I realized why my mom was concerned. It was raining. Why would I go for a run in the rain? What if I slipped or got a cold?

Regardless, I wanted to run, so I decided to give it a try. I found a street near my house and started running. Normally, if I run at all, I only run about three blocks in one direction, and then I stop. So I only planned on running a few blocks.

However, for some reason, I had a desire to keep going. The rain was refreshing to my skin. I wasn’t that tired. I didn’t stop. I focused on my breathing and kept going.

I ran all the way to the end of the road. I thought I was done, but I felt the desire again. Keep going. Running reminded me of the mile run that I had to complete when I was in middle and high school. I could never completely run a mile, let alone in the thirteen minutes in which we were required to complete it. With the new endurance and strength I felt, I wondered why it was so difficult for me to run when I was younger. At that moment, I had no problem running for a long period of time.

I turned the corner and ran to the end. Keep going. I ran for one more block. Keep going. One more block. Keep going. One more block. I could feel my legs getting tired. Keep going. I could see my street in front of me. As I gasped for air, I set a new goal for myself: run to the street and stop.  The wind and the rain kept me cool as I pressed on toward my destination. With the last ounce of energy I had, I pushed to the end.

My heart pounded, my legs shook, and my head spun, but I had done it! I walked home, catching my breath, thankful for the strength that had gotten me all the way around my neighborhood. When I arrived home, I checked the map on my phone to see how far I had gone. Normally, when I went for a run around the neighborhood, I had thought I could only run 1,540 feet (three blocks). However, that day I ran 1.46 miles, plus the distance I walked back to my house!

So, what did I learn? My biggest enemy is me. I put limits on myself that distract me from my true potential. When I had stopped listening to the voice that told me to give up, I realized that I am capable of much more than I had ever thought.

And…I learned this in the rain, when the sun was hidden, when most people would choose to stay inside.

Wisdom Wednesday

New Series: Running

Between writing a book (yep, it’s happening!) and having a crazy amount of things to do, I have not put much effort into my blog. However, I still need more practice, and I have had a few ideas for this page. Some of these ideas may actually make their way into my book!

Lately, I have gotten into the habit of running every morning. I used to walk, but these past few days I have been able to keep up a stride. In the rain, during windy days, and on hot mornings, I have learned different life lessons while running.

I am going to write an article semi-weekly, most likely Monday and Friday. I used to bust out an article a day, but I can’t guarantee that anymore. So enjoy my musings! Come back Friday for the first article about running: Running Far in the Rain.

Wisdom Wednesday


Every day,  I go for a walk around my block. Sometimes I will find coins on the ground. While I was walking,  I thought about all of the financial burdens in my life. How was I going to make it? Which job opportunities should I take and which should I reject? Do I have to push myself beyond my limit in order to barely make it? What am I going to do?

Suddenly, I noticed a shiny object on the ground. It was a penny, but it was beat-up and rusty. I was amazed that I was thinking about financial difficulties at that very moment, and I found money. I knew this meant that God would provide for me.

The first penny I found
The first penny I found

God whispered to my soul: Keep going. I walked a few yards down the road. I was shocked to find another penny…and a quarter! With me, you are worth much more. I picked up the new penny. This penny was actually more beat-up. The quarter was shiny and definitely more valuable than both pennies combined.

God doesn’t just want to bless me financially. In that moment, God showed me my worth. I am not just a beat-up penny; God is with me, and he calls me new.


Wisdom Wednesday

Climbing the Ladder

We pack into the van like sardines and drive to the field. Most people in the van are eagerly awaiting the chance to go on the zip line. Some already made the decision not to go on, while some are already deciding what they were going to do to make it more challenging. I, however, keep quiet while I secretly beat myself up about being scared. How could I be scared of something I did before, and loved?

I used to enjoy going on high ropes courses. The thrill had been scary at first,  but as I climbed rock walls, did adventure courses in high school, and slid down zip lines, I began to enjoy the feeling of being high in the air. Suddenly,  one year, fear began to consume me. I became so scared that I didn’t want to do anything. I yelled at myself for being so weak and stupid, but my self-condemning thoughts did not take away the pain I felt.

But today,  I made a decision that I was not going to let fear stop me from doing what I enjoyed. I still wonder why God allowed fear to creep into my life (or maybe it was my own weaknesses), but I believe today that God is going to do something different.

Finally, the van pulls up to the zip line site. The supervisors of the camp explain the rules to us,  but my ears are clogged with the reality that I actually have to stand up against my fear. I can’t believe I’m actually going to do a zip line after being so afraid for such a long time. Someone will definitely have to help me.

As my friends tighten the harnesses around their waists and legs, my head begins to spin. I watch as one person after the other races down the zip line with such ease and confidence. Why am I freaking out so much? Why can’t I be confident like my friends?

Finally,  someone hands me a harness. My friend ties it up as I breathe slowly. Strapping on a helmet, I walk up the hill with two of my friends. For a moment, I feign excitement, forcing myself to be glad that I am finally going to do what I have avoided for years.

Once I reach the top of the hill,  I tell myself not to look down. Still, the chance to see a beautiful view is tempting. I look down, and my stomach turns. There is a man at the top of the ladder waiting for me. My friends are waiting on the bottom, cheering me on with each move I make. My other friends are below me, taking pictures and waiting for me to go down to the bottom. God is beside me and within me, pushing me forward. However, I cannot shake the fear that creeps inside of me.

The scariest part for me is climbing the ladder. Once I get on that platform, I will be fine, but the ladder heavily shakes as I inch my way to the top. I am ready to give up as my heart pounds in my chest. With encouragement on every side, I ask God: “What do you want me to learn from this?” He says to me, “I am helping you.” Just as God tells me that, I hear voices. I turn around and see that three more of my friends came up to support me. With each step I put my faith in God, pressing beyond my anxiety. My friends cheer with me, giving me joy as I push myself.

Finally, I reach the top. After feeling such an adrenaline rush, I can barely breathe…all I can do is weep with relief. The man on the platform clips my rope to the zip line and tells me to go whenever I am ready. Without even thinking, I slide off the edge and extend my arms out in complete freedom and full surrender. I go on the zip line two more times, each time with more at ease.

I learned two things from this story. First, I learned that I want to grow without suffering. On this Earth, the Lord promises that we will suffer but that he will be with us (John 16:33). James writes that trials produce perseverance, character, and then maturity (1:2-4). The ladder represented my suffering. I just wanted to fly, but I needed to overcome my fear first (which definitely was not easy!). I had to give control to the man belaying me up the ladder, the rope leading me down the hill, and my Lord who promises to uphold me when I fall (Psalm 145:14). I had to fight my fear instead of passively letting it drag me down.

But I also learned that I could not do it alone. That is what brought my fear in the first place. I learned that I had an inability to climb because I thought I had gained the ability to do it on my own. However, I still needed the encouragement of my friends. I still needed to be dependent on God. And I still had access to friends who cared about me and a loving Father who is faithful and trustworthy.

No matter what ladders I will have to climb, I know that God will give me the support that I need through friends and through his comforting Spirit. And when I make it to the top, I can look down and enjoy the blessings that God has given me.

Wisdom Wednesday

Do Something! But How?

Lately, Matthew West’s new song “Do Something” has been stuck in my head. Every time I hear it, I want to just put on my superhero cape and save every homeless person and orphan on the planet. On the ride to my school this morning, it came on the radio. The area where I did my teaching experience was a very nice area, but I was wondering if there was something I could do to reach out to the community. This morning, I realized that I hadn’t done anything to really help this area. I showed up to teach, and I went home.

Part of me felt guilty, but the other part of me realized that I help the world in other ways. The supervisor at the school where I taught told me that I was smart, prepared, and encouraging, and that I gave potential ESL teachers a good reputation. I am blessed by the amount of people who are encouraged by my writing. I even do simple things like help my mom around the house.

So…what does it mean to do something?

I don’t by any means want to take away the full meaning of the song by denying the value of doing something big. However, I think sometimes we get overwhelmed by the amount of darkness that there is in the world. We have passions to end sex slavery, cure AIDS, and save the trees…but to be honest, we can’t do that all on our own. We have such high expectations that we begin to lose our motivation. There are ways that we can practically change the world without becoming overwhelmed, or even complacent.

First of all, in order to really make change, question your motives. What are you looking to get out of providing families for orphan children? What do you want to give? What do you want to get in return?

We also have to dream big but start small. If you want to end world hunger, that’s a great dream to have. However, you’re not going to end it by going to a hungry country and simply handing out food. There are practical ways to help, but they require patience and wisdom. Use the resources that you have to find out ways that you can do something.

It is important to remember not to lose your passion. Try to gain support from people who have a similar vision. If no one around you sees eye to eye with you, write down your dream – or make a video or voice recording – so that you can look back and remember the passion you felt for that movement. If you really feel strongly about something, reach out and see what can be done about it.

Finally, use the gifts that God has given you. As an introvert, I have problems approaching people on the street, so I have difficulty doing random acts of kindness. However, I have no problem writing a blog or helping an organization hand out food. There are gifts that are more popular than others, but that does not mean that other gifts are less important. There will be times when you are called to leave your comfort zone, but if God has given you a gift, don’t continue wishing you had something else. Praise God for allowing you the opportunity even to hold the door open for someone. Jesus himself said that even those people who give a cup of water to a child will receive a blessing. Small acts as well as world-changing acts matter in the long run.

Who’s going to stand up with me and do something?


And They All Lived…

“…happily ever after”

That’s how many fairy tales end.  But did you ever notice that fairy tales don’t ever tell the story after marriage?  They don’t even describe the wedding! For those of us who were raised on fairy tales and Hollywood, this classic ending places a picture in our heads. It tells us that we will never be happy until a guy with blond hair and blue eyes comes on a white horse and gives us true love’s first kiss; then we could live happily ever after.  Tell that to all the single women who are completely fine without a boyfriend.

I’m single, and I’m OK with it.  Like, seriously, I’m OK with it.  I feel like this season of my life is best lived single; when it’s over, I’ll find a guy.  But you would not believe how many times I get asked, “So…are you interested in someone?”  When I say no, they still press. “Really?  No one?” Really, I’m not pursuing a relationship with anyone.

I’ve read several articles lately that were more or less titled, “Why You are Single and Why You Should Change.”  Each writer gives a list of ten things that Christian women (especially) are doing wrong and how they can turn their lives around and marry good men.  The writers list reasons such as high expectations, pride, and neediness.  However, they left out one reason: because I don’t want to be in a relationship.  Does there have to be something wrong with me in order for me to be single?  Can’t I just decide that now is not the right time for me to make a commitment to date a guy when, you know, I’m planning on going overseas and teaching English for a year?

I was having a conversation with someone about how happy I was to be single.  She smiled.  “That’s going to change someday.”  “What’s going to change?” I asked.  “One day you’re going to be married with a house full of kids.”  I was shocked.  Am I really not allowed to enjoy this season of my life where I am free to travel wherever I want, whenever I want, without kids, a husband, or a full-time job?  She continued.  “God hasn’t revealed your husband to you because he is preparing your husband to be the godly man that you need.  When you’re both ready, God will allow you to meet each other.”

Now, I partly agree with this.  But there’s an error that I really want to discuss before I just let this slip from my mind.  After being raised on fairy tales where marriage is the end, our society has become a place where marriage is the end of our stories.  We get married; the end.  If we want true happiness, we must find our Prince Charming and have a fancy wedding in a pretty dress.  And God spends all of our lives preparing us, growing us, shaping us, molding us…so that we could find the man (or woman) of our dreams.  And that’s it.

I’ve seen this taken various ways.  People feel like they have to live the good life first before they settle down and find a spouse.  They feel like if they get married, their lives really will be over.  So they sleep around, drink, and don’t really make any commitments.  Then you have those who do not want to do anything until they find their spouses.  They hold off plans, and they create agendas around when they want to get married.

I think society places a great weight on marriage, and while I am not against it, I believe that there is a time and a place for it.  We do not prepare ourselves for marriage; God prepares us for holiness.  We are not successful because we are husbands or wives; we are successful because we give glory to God.  One of my mentors told me an amazing statement that I will never forget: “Eve was called ‘woman’ before she got married, before she had sex, and before she became a mom.”  That means that something more than just what she did made her a woman.  She was a woman because God created her; her identity was found in Him.

Therefore, while it is not wrong to get married, it is also not wrong to be single.  If Mr. Right hasn’t come along yet, don’t worry.  God will use you just the way you are, as long as you are willing to commit to him.  Marriage is a season of your life that may feel like forever but is not the end of the story.  Sure, we will all live happily ever, but not because a man comes into your life to make it better.  We live happily ever after because a man did come into our world, died on the cross for our sins, and has promised to prepare a place for us after death.