November 22, 2009

the real mccoy

I love McCoy pottery.

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.


  1. I am glad you shared yourself today. You may be surprised at how many women feel the same way you do. I struggle with the same things and we too sponsor a child (in Burundi). If we all sponsored just one think of the difference we could make:>)

  2. What a neat post!

    I know this time of year our thoughts turn to those with nothing....or almost nothing. Americans are the most compassionate people on the planet, thanks to the teachings of Jesus. We like to choose a gift from the SAMARITAN'S PURSE catalog each year at this time, and this year, we are buying Chickens & Eggs to give to a village to keep nutritious food on the table, and perhaps to even help monetarily with the sale of the extra eggs. This gift will multiply so the flock can keep growing and more and more eggs can be used by the families making life better for the whole village. How thankful I am that there are organizations out there who make doing this so easy for us, as easy as browsing through a catalog and mailing a check!

  3. What an incredible touching post, it shows that you have many sides to your life, and they are all loving in their own way. God Bless you and all you do....sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with the grief in the world, but you have shown that you can make a difference if just to start with one person. Thank you for this post....

  4. Bless your HEART!! We JUST saw our pastor and crew's trip to Berenza Burundi to build a medical facility where the annual income is less than 300 a year!! I have always felt too embarrased to show my humble home and trinkets on a blog because some of these ladies have such lovely and impressive homes and collections. BUT to see these kids smiling from ear to ear for a bowl of porridge!! I am sooo humbled and ashamed that I felt "underpriveleged". God has grabbed ahold of my heart,too, Teresa and I don't feel your blog today is a coincidence. Yes,I love restored homes and restored treasures but to see restored lives and souls....there's NOTHING that could compare to diplaying the joy in that. I will pray for you as you seek to use your talents and resources to help your "little girl" and countless others. Your home is beautiful but your heart's burden is even more attractive. God Bless,Sue in Mich

  5. Teresa...What a lovely, lovely post. Very thought provoking.

    I do believe that your dreams of taking photos that make a difference will come true.

    I must say, I find your blog the most visually pleasing of all.

    We sponsor a little boy from the Dominican Republic named Anderson.

  6. What a beautiful post! Seriously, I'm tearing up here. You know (confession) I get so caught up sometimes on my all the things I want to do to my home or things I want to buy to enhance it. As Americans who are richly blessed, whether we realize it or not, we sometimes lose sight on what's really important. Thank you for your post, thank you for the reminder to refocus.

  7. Wow Teresa, this is such a powerful post. Just this morning in church we prayed for a group of volunteers who are leaving Friday for a trip to Uganda to help these very children you are speaking of and now I read your post. I think He is telling me something.

  8. You made me cry...I pray everyday for these sweet children, all the little beasts, and the little children in this world who suffer. Our church is heavily involved in these causes (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints) ..usually they are the first ones on the scene when something awful takes place. We give constantly to these causes, I can hardly wait til the Savior is here and things of this world will be made more fair for all. I would give all that I own to know him and follow him in caring for all. I love you for your heart, God bless you and help you to do all that is in your beautiful heart! Come say hi :D

  9. Amen sister...I know JUST what you mean. I have a little girl in Honduras through a similar program. Her name is Iris and I got to meet her on a mission trip there a year and a 1/2 ago. She's now 7 and doing well.
    I enjoyed going through your blog and i'll be back. Hope you come and "visit" mine. I originally started posting because of Iris. I was so excited when I got back I wanted to shard my joy in serving. Happy Holidays!

  10. Your house is lovely, but your little gal is far lovelier. Thanks for this deeper glimpse into who you are. I can tell you have a heart similar to my own -- mine is breaking daily over all of this stuff. Also, we have a little guy in Colombia. John Freddy. :)

  11. Teresa, I first came to your blog by way of Jen, thecottagenest, but stayed for the pictures of all those things I, too love in a home. McCoy, vintage linens, china from grandmother's cupboard and your excellent photography. This post tells me of another Teresa who shares a love for children and giving. My niece and her husband returned from the Congo this week with two infants they have adopted. Our family fell head over heels in love with these sweet babies. I cannot express our admiration of this young couple for what they have done for these children; not just Chad and Ian, but an orphanage full of children. Jamey and Stori have donated money, supplies and educated our community about the dreadful life these children live. I encourage you to visit their blog whenever you have a moment. It is a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing yours.

  12. God.
    It means so much to me that you have shared this. I think we are kindred spirits! I know we are. I have three older children and was inching closer to "freedom" when I watched and Oprah show that changed my life. Lisa Ling was reporting on the orphan situation in China and within the space of one hour I made a decision that changed my life. My husband came home, I made him watch the show and we agreed yes, we would adopt a little girl from China. I can honestly say that I have struggled over where to go out to dinner than the decision to adopt from China. It took ten months of paperwork and then 2 solid years of waiting but we did get on that plane and went to meet our precious daughter. Going inside an orphanage changed me to the core. I will never, ever be the same. Thank God. I wasn't a bad person before but I was not aware. I had no idea what true need looked like. We are just beginning the process to adopt two little girls from Ethiopia. I am praying about the "how" to pay for it and listening as God answers. I too struggle with all that you wrote in your post and felt you had gotten inside my mind. Thank you for saying it so well. What I have decided is this - I was born here in the US so right off the bat I have more than most. I don't want to miss the enjoyment of that blessing but at the same time "to whom much is given, much is expected". So I absolutely believe we have to do every single thing we can to make a difference in this world. Feed people, clothe them, love them, hold them, tuck them in at night, read to them, snuggle with them in their cozy jammies under piles of blankets and pillows with stacks of books and plates of warm cookies. I dream all the time of every single child being safe and loved. Thank you soooooooooooo much for being real and sharing your deepest heart.

  13. A lovely post and a lovely blog; I've enjoyed my first visit greatly via Joni at Old Centennial Farmhouse. You and your beautiful kidlets are mentioned at Thistle Cove Farm.

  14. There are so many women who are the (real McCoy) just like you -- a sweet spirit you are indeed. I am so tender hearted I get so worked up over such horrifing news. This post is a good reminder to keep in mind of those who have such lives to live. -- sweet post --

  15. Teresa,
    I know what you mean about "stuff." I'm more "anti stuff" than most people I know, which is why I feel uncomfortable entertaining, truth be told. My stuff is hand-me-down, chipped, well-loved and well-worn. Not very photo-worthy, I'm afraid. That is why I enjoy pretty pictures of lovely homes like yours (especially old farmhouses!!) and that is why your post touches me in the deepest part of my heart.

    I am someone that's been happily married for 20 years with a rich, joy-filled life who loves nature and craves a daily connection to it, someone who knows where her camera is every minute of the day and documents everything, someone who excitedly researches and preserves family history, cherishes every second with her newly adopted cats and makes art whenever and however she can, but NONE OF IT CAN HOLD A CANDLE to how important my 10 years of mentoring has been with at-risk youth and lonely seniors. It breaks my heart to realize how few people feel the pull to give back and give of one's self, selflessly. Just to sit and listen to another heart open is the most important thing I have done in 55 years on this earth! And it's been a great ride =D! The need is so great and it takes so little to help. I love that you shared this and that you touch so many others with your BIG HEART <3. I am certain that you will find a way to make your photography dreams to come true! God bless!

    - vicki xo

  16. Thanks for this post - and thanks for reading the Compassion posts. Love the desire that God has given you to use your photography. You have a beautiful blog!