Tag Archives: kids

Song of the Single (Paradise Uganda)

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Isaiah 54:1Ugandan children 3

“Sing, O barren,

You who have not borne!

Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,

You who have not labored with child!

For more are the children of the desolate

Than the children of the married woman,”

says the Lord.

During a visit with my pastor’s family on Monday, a familiar longing stirred within me. Pastor’s three year-old cuddled into my side and asked me to look through a book with her. I miss children.

Earlier that evening her seven year-old brother handed me pages torn from a coloring book. He had colored them especially for me, eager both to earn my recognition and to share his affection. Just a few days prior I had glanced sadly at my refrigerator, noting the absence of artwork from children who love me. Although it is covered with photographs and magnets, it seemed strangely bare. I smiled proudly at his artwork, thrilled to accept his decorative gifts. Who needs museums? Who needs professionals? I much prefer a child’s masterpiece.

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Tonight I discovered some podcasts about a project involving children from Uganda. My friend and a few other dedicated musicians are working to create change in the lives of these children and in the world by recognizing their beautiful voices. These children are talented, and they’ve gone too long unrecognized. They have incredible stories to tell, but they’ve been widely ignored. They have songs to sing; it’s about time somebody listened. Could there be any sweeter sound than that of a child rejoicing?

http://www.fln.org/fln-news/podcasts/detail/news-paradise-uganda-part-i/

http://www.fln.org/fln-news/podcasts/detail/news-paradise-uganda-part-ii/

As I listened to clips of these children singing during the podcasts, tears formed in my eyes. I want to be with the children. I want to be where the children are, do what the children do. I want to sing with the children.

I’ve never even met these children, but my heart longs for them. I’m not musical – not even slightly. The lady in the podcast mentions the rhythm that comes so naturally to those little ones and memories flood back to me. I laugh as I recall dancing with the deaf children in Jamaica. Dancing goes hand in hand with music. Both require rhythm. I was told all Jamaican women could dance. I soon learned that the beautiful teenaged girls at the deaf school – who couldn’t even hear the music they were dancing to – had more rhythm than I did… I suddenly believed the statements were true. All Jamaican women can dance. And I became all the more aware of my own fallibilities.

Ugandan children 2

Why do I yearn to be with these talented young ones? What do I have to offer them? The musicians who’ve taken an interest in these children’s lives can provide them with guidance, training, and opportunities to share their songs. But I’m no musician. What could I possibly give?

I have a mommy’s heart. And as a single woman with no children of my own, that mommy’s heart has an abundance of love eager to flow into these kids’ lives. I cannot count the number of times others have asked me about a desire for children when they hear that I enjoy being single. They are shocked to hear that I don’t really long for children of my own. Sometimes they refuse to believe me. But it’s true! There are so many children in this world already who are hungry for love! I want to love the children who are already here.

Ugandan children

In my travels, I have discovered that children often put me on a pedestal – simply because I am an adult, I am American, I am white. What happens when a small child who has been devalued stands next to woman she idolizes? “Sing, O barren woman!” What happens when that same child realizes that she is more talented than that woman? I may fall off my pedestal, but more importantly that child begins to recognize her own gifting. She feels a touch more self-confident. She feels special. And she often laughs at me. These moments – these awkward, embarrassing displays of my own inadequacies, produce some of the most wonderful memories.

I do not need to be married or birth children. I just need to be around children who need to be loved. I want to love them. I want to appreciate them. I want to delight in the talents of my children – not the children who bear my name, but the children all over this world that God intends for me to mother. I’m just a single girl, thrilled to be a mommy. And although it won’t sound pretty, I will lift my voice to sing about it!

me and the philippino kids

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A Coffee Encounter

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“I do not believe a person needs to attend church in order to go to heaven.”

I looked him in the eyes, evenly. “I don’t either.”

His face became puzzled. “Then why do you want me to go?”

I had explained to this man earlier that I wanted him to go to church because I believe in Heaven and in Hell. I told him that I could not force God upon him, but that I at least wanted to be sure he knew more about Jesus Christ because it makes me sick to envision him in Hell someday. Oh yeah, and I did not want to be the one to teach him about Christ. Hence, the invitation to church.

“I believe that you need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in order to go to Heaven. I want you to come to church so that someone other than me can teach you about Jesus. I did not want to talk to you about Jesus because you like me.” I slowly poured forth my reasoning.

His eyes twinkled, but he still looked slightly puzzled. “What makes you think I like you?”

I fixated a “You’ve got to be kidding me!” expression onto my face and crossed my arms. He started to grin and then reiterated, “What have I done to make you think I like you?”

Several obvious signals stood out in my memory. I made a quick reference to something he had done earlier that day and then challenged, “Tell me you don’t like me!”

“I can’t,” he conceded. Then he smiled shyly and looked away for a second. When he met my gaze again his eyes were still twinkling.

After that issue cleared up I returned to my initial point. “Sometimes a man who likes me will tell me whatever he thinks I want to hear. I did not want to tell you about Jesus because I did not want you to make a decision based on your feelings toward me.”

My latte vanished within the first fifteen minutes of our conversation. But we sat and talked for over an hour. Our discussion ranged from church and salvation, to drinking and smoking, to hunting and motorcycles, to marriage and past experiences, to why bad things happen if God is merciful, and back to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m sure I’ve skipped a few things as well.  All in all, I enjoyed the time spent together immensely.

Which leads to my next dilemma. What do I do in the future? Now that I have shared the gospel with this man, Operation Flirt to Convert is complete. He knows all that he needs to know in order to make a decision. If I move further I will cross the line into Missionary Dating. I kind of wish that I had hated the entire Coffee Encounter. But I didn’t. I loved every minute of our friendly debate and humorous banter. The more serious aspects of our conversation also intrigued me. His point of view, even where it differed from mine, was very interesting. I almost hoped he would make me angry or disgust me. Then I would not have to contemplate a next step. I would simply walk away.

As it stands, I’m not sure how to proceed. He assures me that he will come to my church sometime under the condition that I sit with him. He does not want to sit alone like an outcast in an unfamiliar place. I understand that. Unfortunately, now that he knows about Jesus, I do not feel such a strong desire for him to attend my church. Now that the Good News has reached him, I worry about the trivial things that escaped my imagination previously.

Suddenly I am extremely aware of how potentially awkward I may feel while I introduce this man, whom I have no clear relationship with, to the other attendees at my small church. He is not my boyfriend, not my husband, not my brother, cousin, uncle, or any other kind of kin. He is not a friend visiting from out of town. He is not close friends with someone that I know. In all reality he is a random stranger whom I’ve met a handful of times and have no reason to still be connected to – except because he likes me and I want him to meet Jesus.

Sitting across from a table, sipping coffee wasn’t so bad. Sitting beside him in a pew sounds terrifying. What will I do if he slides his arm behind me across the back of the pew? Exactly how close must we sit together? Does “Bible’s width apart” apply? If so, where might I find a bigger Bible? Instead, might I be able to borrow one of my pastor’s kids to sit between us? Or will that cause us to look like a family?

GAAAHHHHHHH!!! When did this all become so complicated? Note to self: Cats are so much easier than men. Let’s skip Flirt to Convert next time the opportunity arises.