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Listening

In January we are hoping to ask questions and research our Family Compassion Focus.  We will slowly gather information to make a broad foundation for a year of loving and serving new people in new, intentional ways.

You are asking so many questions.  Asking your kids to help.  Asking your partner for ideas.  Asking the internet for links.  Asking yourself to try new things.  Asking Facebook friends for connections.  Asking the librarian to give you the right books.  You’re doing a lot of talking, a lot of doing, asking all these questions.

Are you listening?

Helen Frankenthaler, Overture, The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Helen Frankenthaler, Overture, The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Are you listening to your partner when they share worries about doing a Compassion Focus, trying to figure out how to fit one more thing into their busy days?

Are you listening to your kids when they ask really hard questions about human suffering, the character of God, and why there are “bad guys”?

Are you listening to your heart when it beats faster?  When you feel it all the way in your ears?  When you read something so intense that you know it’s true and you’re supposed to be a part of it?

Are you listening?

Helen Frankenthaler-Adirondacks-1992

Helen Frankenthaler-Adirondacks-1992

Are you listening?  Are you ears open?  Is your heart soft?  God is calling out to you in love.  Inviting you in through song lyrics, headlines, kind smiles from strangers, children’s books, a bird on a branch, a full moon, a memory.

Some days you will feel a tug on your heart so strong.  Listen quietly.  Listen longer.  What is God whispering to you?  Every day God is seeking you out.  He loves you.

Some days you will hear little things.  They will be puzzle pieces. They will be dots to connect.  When you prayed and asked “What should our family focus on in 2015?  Who would you like us to love?  What are you calling me and my family to do?”  God was listening.  And all month God will be answering your questions.

In the six days since we chose Haiti as our Family Compassion Focus we have heard three surprising things:

1.  Our niece came to babysit and saw the new Haiti page above the refrigerator (a picture is here).  She casually noted, “Oh yeah, I’m going to Haiti next week. We’re going to hang out with orphans.”  My mouth dropped.  Someone I love is actually going to have feet in Haiti this week?  And will be holding orphans, my youngest daughter’s passion?  How generous of God to make this real for my kids.

2.  We I decided we should finally open all of our Christmas cards at once over dinner as a family.  On January 4th, the night before school started back up. I thought it would be fun.  (Tip: do not do this, it was not fun.)   The kids ate extra messy and were extra squirrely.  Chris and I both had Sunday Night Stress in preparation for re-entry.  Greta wanted to read all 200 cards by herself but still has trouble sounding out words with 6+ letters.  I was trying not to eye roll at desperate boasting in Christmas letters.  My kids didn’t know half of the people featured.  I felt insecure about how our Christmas card measured up to those that cost at least 4x more.  But then Haiti was mentioned in some of the Christmas cards.  It snapped me out of it.  It shifted my perspective.  Our squirrely, messy, stressed, striving family is going to learn about and love Haiti this year.

3.  Zoë and I ran too many errands on Sunday.  In between Costco, Target (“mom, are we going to >die< in Target?”) and Walgreens we listened NPR.  We learned about the Science of Disgust, the zany true-crime story of Bernie Tiede in Texas, and The Other Border: Unauthorized Immigration to Puerto Rico.  That story was about Haitians desperately crossing the Mona Passage to flee death and danger in Haiti.  “Nobody knows how many migrant bodies lie at the bottom of the Mona Passage.”  We listened intently, the car idling in the Walgreens parking lot.  Then we went in, grabbed a few things, and when we got back in the car the same show instantly started over again.  It was weird.  NPR isn’t known for it’s technical glitches.  I asked my 10 year old if we should change the station.  She said, “No, let’s listen again. I didn’t know this.”  When I looked at her in the rearview mirror her wheels were spinning.  She was listening.

Are you expecting to hear answers when you ask questions?  Do you think it’s all up to you to figure this out and drag your family toward compassion and understanding?  Do you think God loves you?  Do you think people like me are crazy?

Do you think God can use you to help bring love into the world?

I do.  I think God is talking to you and to me and to our kids.  I think big deal truth and vibrant creativity are on the way.  I think holy transformation is starting.  I think the unstoppable love of God is coming for all of us.

Are you listening?

Helen Frankenthaler - Madame Butterfly - 2000

Helen Frankenthaler – Madame Butterfly – 2000

You are loved.

© Aimee Fritz and Family Compassion Focus, 2014-2015

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