I love vintage tablecloths.
I love pretty china.
I love old quilts.
I love thinking about the very first owner of the vintage items in my home. I wonder if she got that china for a wedding gift. Or how long it took her to make that quilt. What her life was like.
I love my pretty stuff. It makes me happy to create a beautiful home. God made me that way, and I'm glad He did.
But...sometimes my stuff makes me sick.
Let me explain.
You know me as the mother of three fine young men. But I also have a little girl. A little girl that I love as my own. Her name is Helena, and she lives in Tanzania. I sponsor her through Compassion International.
A couple years ago, God led me on a journey that started with American Idol, of all things, and ended in Africa. I won't bore you with the entire rabbit trail I followed, but I ultimately ended up at the blogs of BooMama and Big Mama, two Compassion Bloggers.
Big Mama, Melanie, snared me immediately with stories about her hilarious daughter Caroline. If you want a daily morning laugh, you must go visit. She's hysterical.
BooMama, Sophie, another place to visit when you need a good giggle, had recently returned from a Compassion Blogger trip to Uganda, and the trip changed her life.
Many months later, for some reason, I became obsessed with that Uganda story. I couldn't stop thinking about it. It had really not impacted me that much the first time I read it, but for some reason, I just had to go and read it again.
And this time, my heart was broken.
The goal of the blogger trip was to share Compassion's work and ultimately get more children sponsored. I went to Compassion's website and blog and checked it out. What I found has changed my life.
Statistics can be boring, but statistics are what impacted me the most.
Here's what I discovered.
More than six million children die from malnutrition each year. Six. Million. That's about the same number of Jews who died in the Holocaust. Six million children die from malnutrition...
Malaria kills about one million children a year. One million. Easily preventable with a mosquito net. One million little kids, just as precious as yours and mine.
One point eight million young children die from diarrhea related sickness. One point eight million....young children.
Approximately five thousand children a day die as a result of unclean water and poor sanitation. Five thousand. A day.
Adorable little children.
Five thousand. A day. Die.
If you want to be further horrified, you can go here and find enough statistics to make you lose sleep for the next month.
I swing back and forth between whether it's okay to have so much stuff when there is so much need in the world. Sometimes I want to sell everything and make sure every single child I can possibly help gets what I can give them. Sometimes, right now, I am okay with having my stuff, as long as I am doing and giving what God has called me to do and give, and as long as I remember that it's just stuff. People, and how you treat them is important. Helping those who can't help themselves is important. Seeing a need and doing something about it is important.
Sometimes, it's easiest to just write a check and call it good. And writing that check is fabulous. But I want to find a way to tangibly, physically do more. I want to go to an orphanage and hold babies, change their sweet little diapers, feed them their bottles, get up with them in the middle of the night. Give an overworked caregiver a much needed break. Fill a desperate need. When the right opportunity crosses my path and the timing is right, I'm going.
One day, when my photographic skills allow, I want to take pictures that matter. I know that the pictures I take now matter. Pictures of family, friends, and babies matter. But I want to take pictures that could potentially change someones life. Pictures that somehow make it so that one less baby or child goes to bed hungry, or gets Malaria, or dies from diarrhea because his sweet, uneducated mama thinks diarrhea means he has too much water in his little system, and quits giving him liquids.
I don't know how, where, or when, but as of now, that is my dream.
That's who I want to be when I grow up.
Here are the photo's I have of my sweet little girl. The fact that they are held on my fridge with Martha Stewart magnets that color coordinate with my kitchen is simply a perfect representation of where I am in life right now.
Today, my stuff isn't making me sick. But maybe someday it will, all day, everyday.
When I started this blog, I assumed it would be for family and friends. I did not know that one little email to Jen would introduce me to all of you wonderful, cottagey, aqua loving people. People just like me who love pretty things. Who love to create a beautiful home. Who appreciate a simple picture of a baby they don't even know. Who enjoy a view of mountains and a pond that exists many, many miles away from where they live.
I just wanted you to know that I am more than just another pretty house. More than my pottery collection. I want you to know me, the real McCoy.