Truth be told, my spirit has been a little stir-crazy since traveling to Uganda and getting all pumped about loving the poor through action, then coming home and having twins and realizing the "loving the poor" thing might need to take a back seat for a little bit as I care for my babies. Well, not a back seat exactly. I still sponsor two sweet girls in Uganda through Compassion International and we still give to a number of organizations that are doing some amazing things to help make a lasting change for the poor. So I guess I'm not taking a backseat, I'm just not as hands-on as I would like to be because I've got both hands full with the two little ones God has blessed me with. Maybe it should be easy for me to let that be enough right now. But it just isn't. There is too much suffering going on around the world and too much comfort in my own life and it just doesn't sit well with me. I have to do something more.
As I study my Bible, I'm finding again and again that for someone who claims to love Jesus, loving others - especially the poor - is a huge, non-negotiable response. A natural, overwhelming desire from a heart changed by Christ (don't believe me? check out this verse).
I don't get (or want) a "veto" card on the caring for the poor thing just because I'm a mom with young babes. Motherhood is a huge calling, a lot of work and a precious responsibly, don't get me wrong, but even the "Proverbs 31 Woman" cared for the poor while caring for her own family ("She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy" - verse 20). But there is no denying that it's hard right now with the twins being so young.
I find myself dreaming of the day when I can involve my kiddos in loving-the-poor-projects and use those opportunities to teach them about the love God has for the world and how we can show His love to others through the way we live. Those will be incredible moments that I will cherish and that I eagerly look forward to, but those times are still a few years out.
So I started thinking - what talents/abilities/opportunities do I have right now that I could leverage to love the poor? Where can I start right now? And after a little planning, I am super excited to share with you what I've come up with.
You may (or may not) know that I make and sell beaded crosses. One of them (the one pictured on the upper left of my blog) is made with recycled magazine beads from Uganda and each time that cross sells, I give 50% of the proceeds to Amazima Ministries which provides approximately sixty meals for a child living in the slums of Uganda. But I also have many other styles of crosses, so I thought, why not use those crosses to help the poor as well? So I've opened an online boutique through Etsy (which is something I've been dragging my feet on until I got inspired by this idea) and 25% of all of my profits will be donated to Kiva - an organization that provides small, low-interest loans to help those living in extreme poverty start a business. (By the way, the repayment rate of these loans is incredibly high: 99% of those receiving a loan pay in back in full.)
One unfortunate misconception about the poor is that they are poor because they are lazy. However, more often than not, the poor are extremely hard-working. They simply lack the hope and opportunity to lift their family out of poverty. A micro-loan of just $100 would give someone living in extreme poverty the capital needed to start a business and begin using their talents and abilities to provide for their family. Giving them not only sustainable income, but confidence, empowerment, a sense of achievement and HOPE. All things that can break the cycle of poverty and be a catalyst for lasting change for the poor. Not a temporary hand-out, but a life-altering hand-up.
Here's my favorite part of this venture: I'll be providing loans specifically to working mothers in Uganda. As a working-from-home mother myself, who also happens to love the people and country of Uganda, it is a perfect match. (My heart just fluttered a little bit even thinking about it.)
Another reason I chose mothers specifically is this: I love adoption (I have two adopted sisters whom I adore), but I would love even more for a mama to be able to keep and provide for her babies instead of having to give them up for adoption because she can't make enough money to feed them. I would love for kids not to be orphaned by AIDS because the only available way for their mother to make a living was to sell her body. A Kiva loan can change these things and keep babies the arms of their mamas. Be still my mother's heart. And my poor-loving heart for that matter. ::flutter flutter::
If you are interested in what I'm doing, here's the link to my Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/jhcraftynotions
And here's a little peek of a few of the crosses I have available:
Thanks for listening to my excited ramblings. Creativity, helping the poor, mamas and their kids, Uganda: this kind of stuff just gets my heart pumping!!