Monday, January 31, 2005

1/31/05 RM Newsletter: Igniting Boldness

It never fails. I cannot seem to attend a meeting, visit the chemo clinic, or make a quick trip without collecting a person—or two—along the way. As if by magnetic force, someone will look at me a certain way, say one word with special force, or laugh infectiously, and I know that fate has been sealed: he or she will become my new friend.

I noticed this tendency of mine as a young child. But over the last decade or so, this pattern has intensified. Moving across the country three times in four years, eventually settling into what is now our eighth house, I’ve been forced out of my comfort zone on more occasions than I can count. Fresh situations, fresh groups of strangers, fresh experiences, and even fresh shopping have all had their collective influence on the necessity of forming new friendships. New babies? Rounded toddlers? The quintessential heart-sealers. Jake and Rachel, the brand new baby and older-brother-toddler-duo of new friend Heather, entered my life after a relocation; years later, they’re still an integral part of my “collection.”

Boldness must be one of the most liberating delights of being fortysomething. For even though I have always been magnetized towards new faces and new friends, it wasn’t until several years ago that I officially allowed boldness to enter the mix. And it’s not like I woke up on my fortieth birthday and proclaimed: “I think I’ll be bold now. I’ve earned it.” No. Something happened between childhood and adulthood which allowed me to claim the freedom to recognize that when good chemistry already existed, I could be bold about the ignition. Somewhere along the way I crept out of myself and started walking into other people’s lives without fear of rejection.

Alyse wears eyeglasses that cover most of her perpetually sun-tanned face. Now eighty years old, she was in her early seventies when I first saw her. Across a crowded convention floor, packed with several hundred fellow attendees, I couldn’t help but notice the smartly-dressed, petite woman with pure white hair, cut in an adorable bob with bangs, highlighted by oversized Carol Channing-esque black eyeglasses. During a coffee break on the last full day of the conference, I walked up to this complete and utter stranger and said: “I have got to know you.” Pretty bold going there. After talking just a few minutes, I knew we were destined to be more than friends. We were destined to be like family. We “adopted” each other. I call her “mom #2” and she calls me “daughter #3.” Good chemistry drew me to her, but boldness propelled me. It ignited an already brewing alchemy of admiration and respect.

Don presented a talk about his trips to North Korea at a conference Ernie and I attended in Marco Island a few years ago. Tears flooded my face as we all listened—spellbound—to stories of his incredible journey in ministry. When we were invited to attend a smaller discussion group over lunch, we felt compelled to go. More talk on North Korea. More tears. When the conference ended the next day, Don came over to where Ernie and I were seated as we were packing up our things before heading home to Miami. Boldly, yet tenderly, he said that he couldn’t help notice how moved we had become by his talks. More tears. Don’s words had pierced us, and he recognized that he and his wife needed to know Ernie and me. He and Molly eventually “adopted” me, too; I hadn’t had an earthly father since mine was taken tragically in a plane crash when I was thirteen years old. Boldness ignited.

Katie has likewise crept into my heart. A mere nineteen months old, I knew I’d love this child the minute I laid eyes on her. Diagnosed with the same type of leukemia as Nick, this spunky toddler took one look at me and I haven’t been the same since. While I can’t claim looking forward to going to the chemo clinic with Nick, I do recognize its inevitability; as such, on any given day that we’re required to be there, I always look forward to the possibility that Katie might be there, too. One day, just before Christmas, with Katie’s mom home with a stomach bug, and Nick, Katie, her dad and I trapped inside the chemo clinic for the day, I was able to ignite boldness. Flying solo with hours of chasing her, calming her, feeding her, and changing her, it was obvious that her dad needed a break. So Katie and I played “dollhouse” for an hour or so. Boldness was ignited and I was able to snatch this babe up in my arms and just love on her that afternoon.

Some people collect things. I collect people. Oh sure: I have a small collection of Staffordshire figurines. Majolica, blue-and-white china, and pewter, too. (Oh yeah…I can’t forget my roosters.) But I could add a rooster to my collection every year of my life and it would never matter for eternity. It would never make a real difference in my life or in the life of another human being. But recognizing that chemistry draws you to certain people—and not to others—is one of those mysteries of life. Certain faces, looks, stares, laughs, movements….they all come into play in this woven fabric of our lives. I cannot explain why we are drawn to one person and not another. Chemistry? God’s plan for our lives?

Of course, we need to be careful with chemistry. It goes without saying that certain people are “off limits.” Married men, no matter how great the chemistry, are off limits to other women. Be extremely careful in igniting boldness for any reason there; this is a highly flammable situation. And it goes almost without saying that we need to make sure that our antennae are pointed skyward before igniting boldness with anyone. But if the little red flag—generally flying high during times of impending danger or contemplated sin—fails to rear its windy head when someone “has you on hello”: ignite boldness. Hug the white-haired saint, weep with the broken-hearted, and sweep up the sick babe into your warm, strong arms.

Start collecting people. Not as objects to be used. Not as tokens of achievement or as status symbols of success. But as thinking, feeling, hurting, loving children of God. Each and every one of them. Chances are: they were brought into your life for a reason.



A Nick Note

Nick had an intense week last week with 12 hour days to the chemo
clinic on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, including transfusions
on each of those days. Yuk. He feels crummy.

His spirits are mostly good, but I think the reality of a 12-
month intense regimen is finally hitting him intellectually
and emotionally. It's hard to see the oasis when you're in
the desert.

If any of you feel guided to send cards with warm wishes, or
notes of good cheer, please feel free. He'd love the pick-me-up.
They can be sent to: Nick Fernandez, c/o FourQ Press, PO Box 569,
Ridgefield, CT 06877


A Quick Note

If you missed my radio interview with Agi Lidle, a charming, absolutely delightful host, check it out at: Click on "Archives" where you can hear it in Real Audio. Grab a hot cup of coffee and curl up in your favorite chair; it's a long interview. We talk about everything from nurturing creativity to adding beauty to your home to dealing with serious bumps in the rocket ride through motherhood.

Monday, January 24, 2005

1/24/05 RM Newsletter: A Twinkle, A Wink, and A Nod

Today’s Quote: “Life is mostly froth and bubble; Two things stand like stone: Kindness in another’s trouble, Courage in our own.” Adam Lindsay Gordon

I didn’t suspect it. The young Brits—long defined by tradition as dignified, refined, and elegant—have been transformed by pop culture to yield traits much less flattering…or at least that is the way the media have portrayed them. (Monty Python loving fanatics that they are…) So when my mom and I spent last weekend there, I expected to find self-absorption and hedonism running rampant, given the reputation of their pubs, the amount of body-piercings and tattoos carried by its citizens on the plane ride en route, and the pink hair worn by more young adults than I could have fathomed. Yet with the exception of one youth encountered at the “Underground” way past our bedtimes last Saturday night, they surprised my mom and me with kindness, graciousness, and hospitality beyond the boundaries of my imagination.

I had given up all designs on going. My mom won a trip for two to London when the concertmistress pulled her raffle ticket stub from a box holding hopes by hometown youth symphony supporters, out-of-town well-wishers, and family members alike. All had thrown their support for an expensive April trip to Paris by the Ridgefield Symphony Youth Orchestra by purchasing raffle tickets at $25 a pop. In a generous show of support for two of her grandchildren, my mom had bought a bunch. When she found out that she had won the grand prize, she invited me to accompany her; she’s been widowed for over thirty years and had no traveling companion lined up. After I suggested she consider instead her single brother or sister, or one of her other two grown children, she decided that she’d really like to take me. I couldn’t have been more excited; having traveled to Europe on several occasions, I had never traveled there. And as my plans had already been confirmed to chaperone my kids on their symphony orchestra Paris trip, it made for a wonderful 2005 travel schedule.

One week later, Nick was diagnosed with leukemia. And my trip to London was not to be. No way would I fly over the pond during the intensification phase of his chemo protocol to goof around in London for a few days. But, as the story would go, a few weeks later, my dear friend, Newby, from Lexington, Kentucky (our “hometown” of almost twenty years), called me to see if there might be a good time for her to come and relieve me of my caretaking duties. Her own mother had had leukemia, and she understood firsthand the toll—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—that caring for someone with cancer inevitably brings. Long story short: she came so that I might accompany my mom to London.

My mom is not my usual travel companion; my husband and four kids are. Accompanying Ernie brings all the perks associated with business travel: business class airline seats, better meals, and grand hotels or quaint B&B’s. And traveling with our four kids has not only gotten incredibly easier now that three of them are teenagers (surprising even to me); it’s gotten more fun, too. Our trips bring adventure and high energy activities, whether we like it or not. But I have not traveled with my mom—now seventy-five-years-old and plagued by Parkinson’s (among other ailments)—for almost twenty years.

I knew even before we left that this trip would not look like the London trip I might take with hubby or the four kids. I knew well in advance that it would be colored with fatigue, a slower pace, and later morning coffee. I suspected that mom would complain frequently of pain, jet lag, and spells of jerky, fatiguing movements. And I suspected that the Brits would show little mercy: that bus drivers insistent on adhering to schedules might show signs of impatience as mom painfully walked up their stairs; that shoppers racing into Harrods’s for their famous January sale might bump her as she failed to convey similar signs of urgency; and that even businessmen scurrying to their offices might trample us on the “tube.”

Yet we found people lifting up gestures of hospitality everywhere we went. Small gestures. And large ones, too. The reservation clerk at the hotel immediately dismayed us—jetlagged after an uncomfortable night flight without sleep—with the news upon our arrival that our room wouldn’t be ready for a couple hours, only to surprise us moments later with a room that had just become available. He had a twinkle in his eye. A wink. A nod that he understood all too well the limitations that our weekend would hold, and that the ability to once again get horizontal might be the best news of our day. The optician who I wound up needing to visit did, too. My mother accidentally and unknowingly knocked over my eyeglasses, which hung by one earpiece from the pouch in the seat in front of me in the plane. Because we flew during the night, our cabin was dark. No one noticed my missing glasses until daybreak, especially me, and when after reaching for them and not immediately finding them, I panicked. Legally blind without corrective lenses, I felt like someone had just punched me in the gut. Would I visit London for four days—and lead my frail mother through the city—unable to see? My titanium frames, expensive and almost brand new, were found dismembered and bent horribly out of shape ten rows back. They had been run over by the food cart as the flight attendants served morning coffee. So after we took a two hour nap in our newly cleaned room, our first stop was an optician’s shop. He brought me the news I knew I would hear: my glasses were beyond repair. But he delivered it with a twinkle in his eye. A wink and a nod that he knew this would make an otherwise challenging trip practically unbearable. His scrap of tape helped a little bit; his attitude helped enormously.

And so it was. For all four days. The cab driver who picked us up at the airport also came to take us back. He treated my mother so gently, so kindly. He held her arm and balanced her step and soothed her anxieties, too. So did the husband of the tour guide on our ten-hour trip to and from Cambridge. He waited outside the loo while mom and I took our time there, and held up the bus until she arrived at her seat safely and securely. No complaining. No rolling of the eyeballs. The woman sitting next to her at lunch that day—in our tour group of fifty—cut her meat when she struggled; the guide at JFK airport knelt down at mom’s wheelchair and unzipped her boots so she could walk through security; a passenger carried mom’s duffle bags off the airplane so she could walk without being further encumbered; a gentleman at Heathrow stayed with mom patiently while I contacted the Ombudsman about my eyeglasses; another pushed her in her wheelchair all the way to the gate. In and around London people took care of us with twinkles in their eyes. With winks and nods that they knew exactly what we were both going through. Not just my mom as an ailing traveler, but me, too, as her guide, her right arm for balance, and her left brain for navigation through the city.

Traveling to London with a seventy-five-year-old woman with Parkinson’s showed me that we’re all in this together. That everyone suffers in one way or another. That none of us are immune. That we suffer with our kids or we suffer with our parents or we suffer with our own physical or mental limitations. That pain is inescapable and the journey through it is inevitable.

It taught me that there is still so much joy to be found. That people—everywhere—will always surprise us with generosity. With hospitality. That looking out for others is part of who we are. That we’re wired for it. It taught me to keep looking for those surprises. Despite Parkinson’s. Despite leukemia. To keep searching for the twinkle in the eye. The nod and the wink that says “everything’s going to be all right.” To persevere through pain. To seek beauty in people and places everywhere right up until the end.

I hope you are not discouraged by suffering. That pain—physical or emotional—has not gotten the best of you. That loneliness has not kept you inside, as it once did me during an isolating relocation. That you are willing to keep looking for the twinkle, the wink, and the nod. Everywhere.



A Nick Note

Nick has finished two weeks of this next round of chemo and is doing beautifully; he has two more weeks to go on this grueling round. The doctors are amazed at his lack of severe physical reactions: he retains his hair (‘tho it is thinner), and has only occasional episodes of vomiting and severe fatigue. I told his doctor this week that we had “Connections,” which he immediately acknowledged. We continue to covet your prayers on Nick’s behalf for his complete and total healing, for minimal side effects from chemo; for zero long-term ill-effects of chemo; and for amazing results to eventually come out in Nick’s life as a result of this experience.

A Quick Note

Many of you have asked me to publish my weekly ROCKET MOM! Newsletters into book form. I am following up with your requests and hope to have a book available within a few months. Details to follow. Questions? 203.438.7164.

Monday, January 17, 2005

1/17/05 RM Newsletter: Declaring Your Goals-Part 2

Today’s Quote: “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest man.” Anonymous

Last week we reviewed three of the seven primary goal categories—at least as defined by moi! We looked at the need to write down your goals for the year (you have a much higher chance of meeting your goals if your write them down), and the importance of committing them to paper—with colored ink, remember? How’d ya’ do?? Did you commit to goals in the areas of faith, family, and friends for 2005 that required stretching and growing in new ways? How difficult was it to assess needs for improvement and maturation?

Today, we’ll look at the other four; my goal is to get all of us thinking about how we might develop into moms of excellence, pursuing not only what is in the best interest of all those in our charge, but allowing ourselves the freedom to pursue excellence in our own lives as well. Roll up your sleeves:

4) FINANCIAL: How do you feel about your family’s financial health and well-being? If you have stepped off your career path to pursue full-time motherhood, you may be facing financial constraints previously unknown in your two-income household. If you find yourself caring for an elderly parent—or a sick teen—you may have been forced to exit the workforce as well. Relocation also shifts the financial scales, as your family faces disequilibrium and you face less awareness about work options. Our family is looking at college tuition—a first—and the way in which this new reality will impact our family’s financial stability. Write down ways in which you might realistically tackle both the financial challenges as well as the long-term financial goals of your family. Do you need to increase your savings percentage? Should you be contributing to investment accounts? Are you making a commitment to tithing?

5) FITNESS: One of the quintessential challenges of being a Rocket Mom is keeping yourself fit, strong, and vibrantly healthy while simultaneously taking care of kids too young to take care of themselves! I bumped into a friend of mine in the locker room at our local gym this morning; the mother of two-year-old twin boys (with a third boy aged three), this mom was attempting to get the twins to a gym class. Looking gorgeous, with perfect make-up and fabulous hair, she calmly dealt with a screaming, squirming two-year-old who would have nothing to do with that stupid stroller! What a Rocket Mom! I know she would have loved the opportunity to have enjoyed the hour-long swim I just finished! Yet she was smack dab in the middle of the juggling act we’ve all enjoyed at one point or another. During those days, it’s critical that you schedule in exercise time, whether you have to hire help to do so or not. What specific steps do you need to take in 2005 to allow yourself to get a little bit of time every day for a quick work-out? Should you be hiring college-age babysitters a few times a week to come over in the afternoon? Is there a gym in your area which has an in-house, well-staffed nursery? Should you think about buying an elliptical trainer or a stationery bike? Or some dumb bells for weight training?

6) FUN: Are you taking time out each week to simply enjoy life? Do you have a weekly date night written in blood with your spouse? This might be the single-most important goal of your year! Even when our kids were babies, we had a scheduled Friday night date night—and almost nothing could interfere with it. Babysitters were lined up well in advance, and bar serious illness from one of the kids, the date was practically sacrosanct. And when the going got rough during the week (babies crying, toddlers having fits, running around town doing those relentless errands, blah blah blah) I was able to keep focused because I knew that come Friday night, I’d get a break. I would be treated to dinner out and some romancing by my prince…and in every case, was able to come back and face the overwhelming nature of motherhood renewed and refreshed. The last thing I want is to wind up in my empty nest one day (which in my case will be here before I know it!) and wake up to a husband I no longer know. Examine the level of fun that your family—and you and your spouse—are having together as well as individually. If this area is broken, figure out ways in which you might fix it.

7) FIND: OK. This is my new seventh area for goal-setting. It means simply to find that for which you were created. Go off by yourself—daily if you must—and get very, very quiet. Figuring out why God made you will not happen during the hectic, frantic, noisy business of life. Don’t get me wrong: you’ll see some of it there. But you won’t get a real sense of your destiny unless you’re spending a good amount of time in meditation, in prayer, and in quiet. Start writing down your thoughts as they come to you. Over time, your life purpose should crystallize. More than that, once it’s been revealed to you, you’ll start figuring out ways in which you think you should be moving to allow others to benefit from the unique gifts and talents which God intends for you to use in sharing your purpose with others.

In summary then, write down specific goals in the “Magic Seven” key areas: Faith, Family, Friends, Financial, Fitness, Fun, and Find.

If you’d like to email me with specific questions in your effort to help you cement your goals for 2005, please do not even hesitate! I would love nothing more than offer my advice—with wisdom learned more often than not by pain, suffering, mistakes, stubbornness, strong-will, and failure—than by luck or good fortune.

Happy New Year!



A Nick Note

Nick is going through the second chemo round of the intensification phase of his protocol. Other than some violent vomiting, he's doing great. His spirits are remarkable. His prognosis is excellent. His complete and total healing continues
to be our prayer. Thank you from afar for your wonderful support and prayer for his healing...and for "a peace that passeth understanding" for the rest of our family.

A Quick Note

I'm following my own advice; I'm pursuing the FUN part of the "Magic Seven." I'm in London (as you receive this) enjoying a long weekend with my mom. She won a trip for two to London and invited me to go with her. Given our situation, I thought I'd
have to decline. But when a dear old friend intervened and offered to come with her college-age daughter to hold down our fort in our absence, I decided to go after all. Details about the trip will inevitably wind up in one of my Newsletters.

Monday, January 10, 2005

1/10/05 RM Newsletter: Declaring Your Goals

Today’s Quote: “You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare.” Georgia O’Keeffe

It never fails. When I take the time to write down my yearly goals, I’m able to meet them. Not every single one them, to be sure (that interview on the Today Show never materialized!) But it is amazing—year to year—of how many of the written goals, recorded in early January, I wind up meeting by the end of the year.

As in last year’s Newsletter, I am going to share with you my goal-setting techniques. Naturally, my individual goals will be different than yours, so I won’t share my goals per se. Rather, I will share the way in which I think about goals and goal-setting, and the way that I record them. I’m getting a late start this year; perhaps you are, too. I got distracted by the tsunami which has now taken upwards of 150,000 lives in south Asia. (Please see “A Quick Note” below to find out more about relief aid.)

First Things First

You need good tools. I’m convinced that the success of most projects is in direct proportion to the quality of the tools used to perform it. Writing is no exception. Whether you keep your goals saved on your laptop or scribbled on a yellow legal pad makes no difference. What does make a difference is consistency in recording them. So find a system and use it year after year—or until that system breaks and you need a new one. I have been recording my goals into my Filofax since 1996. The beauty of my system is that, since I always have my Filofax with me, a quick review of my yearly goals—as well as the goals of years past—is easy and accessible. Above all, make sure that your tool is, too. I am also a huge believer in color-coding everything. (see for my recent article “Color-Coding Your World”) As goals for 2004 were written in hot pink ink, goals for 2005 will be written in a different color (I know I know: this is an eccentric artist’s way of looking at the world, but, as an artist, I love using color and I always write in colored ink. Try it. You’ll never write in black again)

The Magic of Seven

Last year’s goal-writing system called for six elements. This year, I have added a seventh. I’ll review three this week and four next week. Let’s get started:

1) FAITH: possessing a hunger and thirst for God is an innately human appetite. We never find that for which we were created until we seek first a relationship with our Creator. God wants to renovate our lives. He wants us to become more saint like. What specific steps do you believe you need to take to become more spiritually mature? Do you need to spend more time in Scripture? In prayer? In reading books on spirituality? Will the simple gesture of extending your hands to fellow brothers and sisters who have been forced into depravity, like those afflicted families in south Asia, move you towards thought and action beyond yourself? Are you keeping a journal? Interestingly, one of my goals from last year was to journal for each one of my children. While I failed miserably at that, I did start a faith journal for Nick as soon as he was diagnosed with leukemia. I’m not sure I would have been as proactive in doing so had I not planted the seed ten months earlier in the form of a written goal. Another goal was to take a mission trip; again, this did not happen—the opportunity came up but the logistics never resolved—yet we were able to send Nick to work in missions in Costa Rica for a week in advance of our family’s vacation there. So while my personal goal was not met, it worked its way into the year through Nick. Given his recent illness, I cannot imagine it working out more perfectly!

2) FAMILY: what is your vision for your family? What steps do you need to be proactively taking to ensure that you develop into the strongest and happiest group of people on your journey of life together? Happy childhoods do not happen by chance. They take a considerable amount of foresight, energy, and planning. Each of those in your charge has unique gifts and talents which need to be brought forward for the benefit of others. What are you doing to nurture these? Specific goals might be enrolling your child in music lessons. Perhaps you want to teach your child very specific lessons about responsibility; maybe you should consider letting that child take horseback riding lessons, and allow her to pay them off by working in the stalls raking up muck. Do you need to take a romantic getaway with your spouse? Or visit colleges with your teenager? Is your family “overdue” a summer vacation?

3) FRIENDS: “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” If you have three of them, consider yourself blessed. What are you doing to nurture your friendships? Are you taking the time to make phone calls, enjoy coffees, and write notes to your best friends? Perhaps you splurge on birthday and Christmas gifts as a way of saying: “I love you.” Maybe you enjoy shopping excursions together, or are able to go “girl camping” to a remote location. One of my goals for this year is to take a camping trip with two or three fellow hookers (rug hookers. Oh please!) to a notable hooking school in New England. We’ve talked about it for years but it’s never materialized. In my own case, moving four times within five years has added friends from three different states to my world. Cementing these friendships requires commitments of time, energy, and funds to make continual reunions both plausible and realizable.

If you haven’t already begun the process of declaring your goals for 2005, start thinking about and writing down several specific goals for each of these three categories this week. Next week: we’ll round out the “Magic Seven.”



A Nick Note

Nick had a great week! He finished the first round of the intensification phase of his protocol on New Year’s Eve and enjoyed a one-week break. No chemo; only finger sticks and IV hydration. If his counts are good, he’ll begin the second round of chemo this morning. Please continue to keep him in your prayers. We pray for his complete healing and feel great peace knowing that you might be interceding with prayer on his behalf. I confess: we need your prayers. I thank you in advance for them, and hope that a canopy of prayer and intercession is raised up for our son.

A Quick Note

I have been in almost daily contact with the folks at World Concern since last week. They asked me to note that you may sell items on ebay to support World Concern’s tsunami efforts. Go to and click on “Sell on ebay.” Additionally, they are accepting donations of saleable items that they can then sell directly to others in support of the tsunami. (They understandably reserve the right to not accept items that they feel are inappropriate.) Items can be mailed to: World Concern: 19802 Highway 99, Lynnwood, WA 98036. Or call: (206) 546-7221.

Monday, January 03, 2005

1/03/05 RM Newsletter: Outstretched Hearts and Hands

Today’s Quote: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 NIV)

The first day of the New Year usually makes me stop and reflect on my personal responsibility for shaping a year’s worth of days into ones of value and meaning. But I cannot reconcile absorption in personal growth in light of the horror experienced by millions of people in Southeast Asia last Sunday. So I am asking you to join me in turning our energies right now to the dire situation there, and to think of ways in which we might contribute our time, talents, and resources in aid.

It is hard to fully grasp the scope of the devastation. The loss of 150,000 people in a natural disaster has elevated the event to apocalyptic proportions. The images on TV of mothers’ holding dead babies, of sons and daughters searching for parents, and of hungry families looking for food and water are more than I can get my spirit wrapped around. It is heart-wrenching, heart-breaking devastation. And as sad as is the loss of tens of thousands of lives, Joe Harbison, Area Director for Asia for World Concern, notes that: “It is one thing to be killed outright by a disaster but the survivors live in a state of imprisoned trauma.” He tells how the government in one area has tried to relocate people to coastal areas, but, because of fear of future tsunamis, no one was willing to move there. A woman was overheard as saying that “if she can hear the ocean she won’t go there.” Harbison journals that others have had to endure the trauma of burying family members and neighbors. Not with the traditional ceremony, but with “unceremonious dumping into (a) mass grave, not even a body bag to conceal the shame of violent death. No identity and no goodbyes…the only lasting memory is one of shock and a searing distrust for Mother Nature who betrayed the simple people dependent on nature’s bounty.”

Just how does one move forward when he has been stripped of everything necessary for pure survival, and when the emotional scars dig too deeply into the heart and soul that moving forward even seems worth it?

Yet governments, agencies, corporations, and individuals alike are joining forces to offer relief in ways that we sense are both practical and worthwhile. Almost all charitable organizations are asking for strictly cash donations. And for many of us, that is the easiest, most efficient way to offer support. Yet some of us yearn to do something else. We wish to make a “gift in kind” for one reason or another but discover that such gifts are turned down, subordinated to the need for money.

Some of us desire that our medical expertise take on new life with a hands-on effort in areas hardest hit; some of us would like to commit to a trip to the devastated area. Many of us possess antibiotics or pharmaceutical supplies because of our jobs, or because we know someone who would like to donate them. Or maybe you are a dentist—or know of one—with access to thousands of toothbrushes and toothpaste. Personally, I cannot look at my inventory of brand new children’s clothing for my sideline business and let it sit on shelves, unused, knowing that tens of thousands of children have just been orphaned.

So I have a hunch that you might be willing to donate gifts, yet are frustrated as to how best to do just that. The overriding question remains: “What is the best way to coordinate aid, and how can forces be best joined so that all donated resources are utilized in an effective, efficient, and orchestrated manner?” If you are anxious to donate resources, but have not yet ascertained how to best do so, I urge you to consider the organization through which my husband and I will lend support. World Concern is a faith-based charitable organization which seeks to “show the love of Christ in word and deed (and) is demonstrated in three basic types of ministry:”life, opportunity, and hope.” World Concern provides immediate survival needs for those impacted by natural disaster; provisions of food and drinking water are among the basic supplies offered. Opportunities are provided through training in meaningful work, so that the people affected by devastation will eventually become self-sufficient again. Lastly, hope is offered as volunteers attempt to meet their spiritual needs and give them hope for eternity. It is an evangelistic ministry as well as a practical, hands-on ministry.

The efforts of World Concern have already begun. The initial phase of the reconstruction effort is projected to last for twelve months, and is a coordinated, focused, and timely effort targeted at a beneficiary group of roughly 20,000 families. Phase One provides opportunities for people like me—and perhaps you, too—who wish to partner with an organization by providing immediate and effective relief to aid in basic survival.

Provisions needed include (but are not limited to):
Dry foods
Water bottles
Floor mats
Sanitary wear for women

Phases Two and Three will begin shortly thereafter, and include provisions for work opportunities to those affected communities.

Cash donations are, of course, accepted as well. Funds are distributed with a commitment to excellent stewardship; in fact, over 86% of monies go directly to those affected, which is evidence of extremely low administrative costs and a promise to distribute funds to those with the greatest needs.

While lying in bed one night this week, I mentally went through my house, room by room, accessing the many things we have accumulated over the years. I thought of the closets full of beautiful clothing, not just in the master bedroom, but in each and every bedroom of the house. Of the cabinets full of fine bone china, including that made specifically for Christmas! Of the pantry full of fresh, wholesome food, and of the packed refrigerator and freezer, too. Every room in my house has furniture. Trinkets, too. Art hangs on my walls as effortlessly as technology sits on my desk. My well is full of water and my tank is full of fuel. Indeed: we have a child who is battling a life-threatening illness, but we have been afforded not only all of the comforts with which to make his full recovery possible, but with countless untold blessings as well. It would be unconscionable for us to enjoy comfort without contributing to those millions who have been forced—in the blink of an eye—into poverty, hunger, homelessness, and grief.

Please prayerfully consider sending a generous donation to the devastated people of Southeast Asia. If you have been unsure as to how to send cash or other “gifts in kind,” I hope you consider channeling your aid through World Concern. Join me in prayers of hope for these people. It was written: “God will let you laugh again; you’ll raise the roof with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21 (The Message) We can rest assured that God will do His part in the healing and restorative process, but we need to do our part in lending financial, emotional, and spiritual support.

For more information about World Concern, call 1-800-755-5022. Visit their web site at: If you wish to make a “gift in kind,” please contact Lisa Evans, who manages the warehouse:

Blessings to you and yours,


NOTE: All donors and donations are confidential. Respect for privacy requires that your name will never be rented, sold, published, or distributed to any other organization. Your donation will not be shared, and your security and privacy have a high priority to World Concern. World Concern is a registered 501c (3) nonprofit organization; all gifts are tax-deductible as allowed by law. They are a founding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and are registered with the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies, the Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations, Christian Service Charities, InterAction, the Christian Stewardship Association, and the United States Agency for International Development.