Why Underwear is Important

Did you know that the average American woman owns approximately 21 pairs of underwear? About 10% of women own over 35 pairs.

Did you know underwear can mean the difference between a girl who’s educated with a chance for a bright future, and one who’s not?

Sometimes it just blows my mind how much I don’t know.  Recently I learned some not-fun facts about the challenges facing women in Uganda, including the challenge of underwear.  But I also learned something I can do about it.  And boy that feels good.

I’ve written before that our daughter Maggie is working in Northern Uganda this summer at Pader Girls’ Academy.  They teach and give vocational training to girls, many who have escaped the Lords’ Resistance Army, but can’t return to their communities.  They have become outcasts because of the stigma of being raped by soldiers or having babies out of wedlock.

But even after they have a tiny glimpse of hope for the future through education, there are still hurdles.  For example, I learned that girls often miss about 5 days of school a month when they have their period because they don’t have sanitary pads.  Or underwear.

Are you freaking kidding me?

So here’s what Maggie has been doing.  She is teaching the girls to write letters to different companies to empower them to advocate for themselves.  They’re writing letters to personal hygiene companies asking for donations.  How cool is that?

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“I am a total orphan girl who have lose both parents and up to now am alone and am struggling for my school fee and requirements and am always working in people’s garden to get some resources. But not only me but also other student are also working for the resources like pads, knickers, soap and towels.  And we are missing class because of menstruation period…if these things are provided, it will make learning to be easy for us girls.  And I would like to be a nurse in future.”

Maggie’s hope is to have a closet at the academy, stocked with supplies that could be accessed by any student in need.

But she thinks the most sustainable thing for the long-run is teaching the girls to make reusable pads.  10347568_10100451551774059_4621921397259177387_nHer hope is to raise money to buy materials for them to continue sewing (and selling) their own pads and soap.
Meanwhile, we’ve done a drive to collect underwear and pads to send over with Maggie’s husband, Austin, when he goes the beginning of August. This “operation underwear” is important because underwear and sanitary pads make consistent education possible, and education can change the trajectory of the life.
What can you do? Glad you asked!
1.  Learn more about how to help without hurting. One of the things we’ve learned when we encounter problems around the world, is to resist swooping in with our super hero cape on.
Sometimes in trying to help, we actually hurt the folks we care about.  We create dependence, or show lack of respect, or cultural insensitivity, and it becomes more about us feeling good about ourselves and our generosity than making a sustainable difference.  If you want a great book to read on this, check out Toxic Charity.photo-143
2.  Ask yourself, “What do I know that I can do something about?  Investigate, pray about a plan, then do it.  Like I wrote Monday, start small.  Like mobilizing people to donate underwear to change the trajectory of the future of girls in Uganda.
Want to learn more about Pader Girls Academy and the challenges women there face?

Is God Always the Hard Choice?

It’s One Word Friday!

Ok, so I’m not sure how I got there, but after becoming a Christian in my teens, I fell into a default mode that always assumed that God’s will must be the hardest, and most painful choice I was faced with.

Broccoli or brownie?  Broccoli must be more holy.

Cat or dog?  God surely hates cats so He must want to refine my character by inflicting a cat on me (if this is true, I’m not committed enough to be a disciple) Continue reading

Life-giving Links and Likes

Happy One Word Friday!  I think some of the ways we “Choose Life” (my two words) are by choosing truth, choosing grace, and choosing to delight in the gifts of God.  I thought I’d share some of those gifts that have been delighting me lately.  What about you?  Share what’s delighted you lately in the comments! Continue reading

5 Questions About…

Do you have a nickname?  It’s not a nickname exactly, but in our family, and with my close friends, I’m known as “Idea Woman”.

I’ve shared before that husband John says the first line of the 4 Spiritual Laws should really read: God loves you and LAURA has a wonderful plan for your life!

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So, I’ll admit that there are people who see me coming with that “IDEA gleam” in my eye and are tempted to run away.

The other thing I’m accused of is grilling asking a lot of questions of people I meet.  Frankly, besides wanting to be a spy, I also want to be Katie Couric (and yes, look like her too).

All that to say, I’m really excited about an idea I had for a new blog series called “5 Questions About….”  I have so many incredibly talented friends that I thought, what if I send some of them 5 questions about different topics that they have great insights on?

So, one day weekly til l run out of friends or topics, we’ll be doing 5 Questions About… Leadership, Hospitality, Singleness, God’s plans, Mentoring, Risk, etc.  (I’ll alternate these with One Word posts.)

“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.” Werner Heisenberg

Everyone is an expert at something.  Who is someone with a gift or a skill you’d like to learn from?  Give them a call today and set up a time for coffee.  You might say, “I really admire your understanding of ________ and I’d love to learn from you.  Could we spend an hour together?”  Everyone likes to share their knowledge and experience!

There’s so much we can learn from each other!

Proverbs 23:12 says, Give yourselves to disciplined instruction; open your ears to tested knowledge.

What’s a topic you’d like to ask 5 questions about?  

 

Is there Room in Your Chariot?

This past summer at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit I had the opportunity to live blog for Engage Churches, a part of the Willow Creek Association.  I was blown away listening to the teaching of Chris Brown, a pastor at North Coast Church in California.  Here’s some of what I wrote that day…

This afternoon, Chris Brown (not that Chris Brown, a different Chris Brown) started with the story of a man approaching a campfire.  Creeping forward, and then walking back into the shadows while others by the campfire gossip about his failed leadership around the issue of a certain giant named Goliath.

The man is King Saul.  For over a month Saul has been called out and he knows he doesn’t have what it takes.  His ministry is  paralyzed.  His leadership is paralyzed.  He’s a leader in trouble who is bailed out by a kid named David.

And then it goes out on Twitter (as it were).  1 Sam. 18:5-9 “Saul has killed his thousands.  David his ten thousands.”

Huh??  Big gasp.  How is Saul going to react?

“From that time on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

Saul didn’t have room in his chariot for David, the young twerp who bested him.

Leaders struggle with jealousy and comparison.  Pride and ego.  It’s in the Bible.  A lot. Continue reading

Life-giving Links and Likes

We had another 8″ of snow dumped on us last night and it’s tempting to think that spring and little green shoots will forever be smooshed down and hidden under heaps of this white stuff.

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Even before the most recent snow, this guy was looking longingly for any sign of life!

Maybe we’ll never ever see the lavender of lilac bushes or the pink of tulips again!  Maybe we’ll never smell the enticing aroma of burgers on the grill, or feel the warm pavement under bare feet!  ARRGH!  Stop the madness!!  Before we despair, a couple of life-giving links on this One Word Friday. Continue reading

Help for One Word

Yesterday I posted on One Word for 2014.  I love seeing the words you’re choosing in the comments section – check them out and add yours!

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I asked my mom what hers is and she said it’s a secret. :) Guys, it’s not like this is a nuclear launch code.  And you will not be struck by lightning if you change your word in February.  Ask my brother, David.

If there was going to be One Word for this blog I pray it would be Grace, grace, and more grace!  Part of my goal is that we would take God seriously, but ourselves not so much, so jump in.  It’s safe, I promise.

If you’re considering choosing One Word for 2014 and are having some trouble, here’s some help from the author of the book, One Word, who was on the Today show.  As you reflect, he suggests, look in, look up, and look out.  View the 3 minute clip here.

Lost In Soweto and Bethlehem

“Let us drown out the howling nonsense of Gomorrah with the melodies of the New Jerusalem.” - Spurgeon

In 1996, shortly after the Rwandan genocide, just when AIDS was gaining attention, not many years after the end of Apartheid in South Africa, we got lost in Soweto.

There were six of us, white americans crammed in a car, driving around in circles until we stumbled upon the place where Nelson Mandela came and spoke after his release from prison. As I remember, it it was large and cavernous.  We walked inside, the only ones there.

In the silence, our friend started singing in a crystal clear voice, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

The notes softly bounced off the ceiling, the floor, the walls.  It was a holy moment.  We let it wash over us.  It was a melody of the New Jerusalem.

Many years later I walked into the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, crowded with tourists, wanting a piece of Jesus, but not necessarily wanting the sacrifice necessary for Peace. Continue reading

One Thing it Takes to Overcome Fear

I watched this video a week or so ago and thought, “What if…?”

What if Christopher Maloney didn’t have his mom cheering for him?

What if he hadn’t had one person who believed in him?

What if he had let the voices of his detractors drown out the one voice that said, “You are talented.  You’ve got this.”?

We all need a champion, a cheerleader, an encourager in our corner.  Not someone to give us false hope or shield us from the truth, but someone who sees the gifts we have to offer the world and wants the world to have the joy of receiving them.

Who believes in you?  Make sure to thank them.  Who are you championing?  Make sure they know it.