Sunday, May 07, 2017

Bringing about the end (of extreme poverty)

It's been a couple months since I've posted anything on this blog.  I hope I haven't lost you, my readers.  However, I suppose if I'm writing about intentionality, it would be good if I had something to be intentional about.  Thus, this week (on Facebook, starting with this post) will be all about something I'm intentionally trying to get the word out about: bringing an end to extreme poverty.

In an effort to read 3 books this year that I already own (one of my year's goals), I decided to begin that journey by reading (and honestly re-reading part of) "Hope Rising: How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty In This Generation" by Scott Todd.  I started a few weeks ago when we traveled to St. Louis by train, and finished a week ago today on the plane back from Memphis.

Scott Todd was formerly a professor at K-State and was actually the person that inspired me to first become a child sponsor through Compassion back in 2003, I think.  I got to help clean his house when he and his family left Manhattan, KS to move to Washington state and begin working with Compassion International.  He's quite an amazing individual and has helped people all over the world in person, through Compassion and other ministries he's been involved with, and oh yes, by helping cure Hepatitis C (for which he holds a patent for treatment).

All this to say, his book is a good one for shedding light on the fact that we can end extreme poverty worldwide in our lifetime - and not just within our lifetime, but hopefully by the time I'm 50 years old.  To quote Scott's book (these facts are a couple of years old now), "Today there are about 1.2 billion people living in poverty.  And that's good news.  In 1981 [the year, I, Shalinn was born], 52 percent of the developing world's population lived in extreme poverty.  Today that number is 21 percent.  If we were still at 52 percent, then an additional two billion people would still be suffering in extreme poverty.  We have already cut the percentage of people living in extreme poverty in half! And we did it in one generation."  Scott's not the only one recognizing the potential here. Government leaders, NGOs, philanthropists, and even the United Nations are all in on this goal.  But are you?  Have you ever even considered the idea that children across the world would not have to die from preventable or treatable diseases?  Have you considered that people worldwide could gain access to clean water sources and no longer have to drink water that makes them sick?  Access to education for all?  Gender equality?  Do you even have the mindset to believe that such a thing is possible?  And soon?

It's easy to think that giving money or supporting organizations doing this kind of work is lofty, that the money's not going to be spent wisely, or that it will never really have an affect on the people you want it to help, but that's simply not true.  No one organization or effort is perfect, but government, along with private business, and the church have a role to play and have been playing it for years.  We still have a role and we're needed.  Would you like to join in the effort?  Would you like to at least learn more?

I've been a sponsor with Compassion for 14 years now, and I started sponsoring in college, before I had any notable disposable income.  It's not about how much money you have and just like with most things in life, if you wait until you have "enough," you'll never get there.  You're never too young to give, and my young friends in KidsCOR at Resurrection Downtown have shown that recently.  A couple of months ago, I presented to them about Compassion's Water for Life program, and showed them the UN approved water filters that Compassion provides to families to give them clean water for life (when community wells aren't an appropriate or an available option).  The kids willingly gave their offering in the month of March to providing clean water for a family.  Together, they collected $152, enough (with a little extra help) to provide clean water through Compassion for two families for the rest of their lives.  Kids in Kansas City, MO are helping the effort to end extreme poverty in the world.  Will you?

I know that I have many friends who are passionate about their support of other various causes and I know I have friends that are just doing their best to get through life on a day to day basis, but are you someone that would like to join me in spreading the word and becoming active with me in ending extreme poverty?  If it's not your passion or you're not interested, that's fine, but I'm hoping that some of you are.  You don't have to be a Christian, you don't have to have a lot of money, you don't have to have any degree or amount of knowledge to help.  Just let me know that you're "in" this with me, and let's work together!  Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.  Check out the resources below and let's help actually improve lives around the world!

p.s. I'd like to thank my friends like Emily Selby who has spoken all of this previous week about her passion - foster care, and my friend Mat Thornton who's raising funds for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  Thanks for speaking up and acting, friends!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017


In my effort to "not" do some things, I realized that I have to keep in mind what I do want in life and make sure I'm staying focused.  I realized I was losing focus when I found myself becoming jealous of someone that received something that I had purposefully turned down months earlier.  It's not what I wanted, and yet, I still got jealous?  I have a long ways to go in life.

Especially when it comes to my job, I have to remember that I made a choice back in graduate school to not be my job.  I had some really great professors, but I also saw how many of them seemed to have no life beyond the profession.  Some of them had wise life lessons to share, but some of them seemed so focused on the job that it made it hard for us as students, as if we were expected to be just like them.  I want to be the best I can be at my job, I still intellectually really like my field, and I love the kids and families I get to work with.  However, that will never be what defines me.  I'm glad that people that don't know me from work assume I do something completely different for a living.  The services I provide to others at work are a blessing, but that is not the extent of the service I want to provide to the world.  I have much to learn from others in other realms of life, and I want to experience more than my "job" ambition can allow.  I say "no" to focus on my ultimate goals, but I have to remind myself of that.

Just to revisit my "goals" for this year of intentionality (in case you didn't read my comeback blog post), here they are, in addition to some others that I had, but didn't originally post.

1. Read at least 3 books that I already own/have but have never read.  What kind of person owns books they've never read?  Me.
2. Co-write some songs.  Everything I've written in the last few years has been solo.  I'm grateful that I've built up a body of work, but I want to learn how to write with different voices.  Who wants to join me?!
3. Try or do something new every day.
4. Listen to and if possible, begin audio recording people's stories.  All kinds.
5. Have lunch/tea with someone fun at least once a month.
6.  Give something to someone(s) at least once a week.  Tangible items, time, service, money, whatever.
7.  Pray for others more than myself.
8.  Be a consultant for 4 Norwex parties this year.  I sell Norwex?  Technically yes.  I do love and use the products and would be happy to tell you about them.  I don't know how to sell anything or to promote a business, really.
9.  Plan out my continuing education for work and learn about things beyond my current/past experiences.

I'm not doing too bad with most of these things.  I'm on my way at least!  The lenten season is helping my prayer life intentionality and I got to hear a short snippet of a new person's story the other night, though I didn't get to record it.  We happened to go to the Brick and heard a band the other night that happened to be really inspiring.  A girl by the name of Kalyn leads a band called Wheelchair Sports Camp.  It was just her, her drummer (who was stellar), and a trumpet player (with various pedals).  They rocked.  She rapped.  I bought one of her albums.  I talked with her briefly afterwards and asked her how she got started.  She said she had been rapping since she was a kid with a friend of hers, and then after a while she broke out on her own with what is now her current band.  They collaborate with a bunch of other people and had a more "major" tour in 2012.  She remembered just a few hours out of Kansas City that she left her computer with her programmed beats back in Denver, so she had to just roll with it live.  They were really good.  Just to warn you, her music is not kid friendly and may not be your cup of tea, but her raps are both whimsical and self-aware, innocent and explicit.  I want to find out more about her story.

On a completely unrelated note, I scored some solid black LuLaRoe leggings this month.  Seriously, I did!  I'm also now more regularly flossing my teeth.  That may gross some of you out, but my childhood dentist didn't emphasize flossing and I never got in the habit of it as a kid.  Dental/gum health, y'all.  I've also been really blessed and surprised by the encouragement and generosity of some not-so-well known people at my church recently who've spoken encouraging words to me and donated to Compassion's Water of Life program after hearing me share some information with kids at church.  Pretty awesome.  Don't take water and being able to drink out of the faucet for granted, y'all.  World Water Day is March 22nd. #awareness

#saynotosayyes  #goals

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trying to "not"...

I've had a couple of discussions with co-workers lately about why the word "not" is one of the "core vocabulary" words on some of the speech generating device programs we utilize.  I was given an answer today about the research that indicates that "not" is a word that is among the most frequently used in the English language.  I think it's hard to teach kids with low-level communication skills what "not" means (as opposed to "no," for instance), but I will say that I as an adult need to get better about some "not"s.

I am doing better about "not" being on my phone first thing in the mornings and once I get in bed.  Ever since I pledged that on my blog a few weeks ago, I've almost always stuck with it, and I think it's made me sleep more soundly, and helped me get the dishes done in the morning :)

I need to "not" try to take on the agenda for the day/week without praying about it first.  I became really overwhelmed today with work and things I need to get done, and I essentially had to "not" do anything else until I took some deep breaths and prayed, for those that I felt led to pray for and for myself.  I carry burdens that I don't have to bear but I tend to only really say things to God once I'm worn and not when I start my day.  That needs to change.

I am "not" good at saying "no" to things.  Part of my personality type is that I tend to feel an intense sense of personal responsibility for things and often think no one else can handle things, so I say "yes" when I shouldn't.  I am self aware about this and am better in a lot of ways than I used to be, but similar to the above scenario, I need to "not" take on what I could let go or not see as my responsibility alone.

I did "not" blog for the last couple of weeks, number one because I didn't have a lot to say, but also because I didn't want my blogging "goal" to dictate my life.  I didn't want to say "yes" to something for the sake of saying yes or allowing "obligation" to drive my actions.

As I write this, I feel the need to "not" write much more, so I will cut this off.  What things do you "not" need to do?  Feel free to go ahead and "not" do them :)

Do, however, love people well, write/play music, hang out with friends/family, read books, watch movies, and be present in your life.  I'll do my best to do the same.  Also, embrace this because it's kind of awesome, though I always preferred Jon over Joey.