All posts filed under: What is a Family Compassion Focus?

Sign of the Times

[Published on Evangelicals for Social Action 4/19/17] “I think I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think we should do this.” I bit my lip and put my hands in my pockets. “Don’t be nervous. Be proud. This is who we are,” my husband said. He’s used to my last-minute jitters. “What’s the point? Are we trouble-makers? Are we show-offs? I don’t know.” I glanced at the sign on the counter, threw my head back, and sighed. “Come on. Let’s do this.” He headed out the front door. That afternoon I had gone to Clarkston, Georgia with a friend of mine and all our kids to Refuge Coffee Co., the place we adopted during our Family Compassion Focus last year. I chatted with our resettled refugee friends working on the coffee truck, tried a new tea, bought some new mugs, and brought home a sign offered by World Relief Atlanta that said in clear black letters REFUGEES WELCOME HERE. But when I saw the sign in my trunk when we got home my stomach twisted. I have …

Our 2017 Family Compassion Focus

I finished 2016 bone weary. After several weeks of intentionally wringing joy, welcome, service, compassion, and celebration out of our days I was exhausted. We hosted 4 big parties, 7 family members for 8 days, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve. We deepened a lot of relationships and reignited our vision as a family. We laughed, vacuumed, and ate a lot. It was totally worth it. On the way to school the morning after we hosted 18 people from my husband’s work team for dinner, my kid prayed, “Thank you, God, that we could have a party in our house last night. Thank you that everyone seemed happy and had fun. Thank you that we are getting back to normal. I like it. Amen.“ Amen. I liked it, too. But I could not imagine summoning the meal prep, parenting expertise, negotiating tactics, spiritual soft-heartedness, and joy necessary for one more day. 2017 loomed large and daunting. This is our 7th year choosing a Family Compassion Focus. It’s become our tradition, our habit, our liturgy …

The Luggage

One hot summer day, after swimming lessons and before an afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago, we went to our homeless shelter. The parking lot was packed. I was wearing a short black dress, had my makeup, nails, and hair done. My kids were in clean clothes with hair still wet from the pool. We parked our shiny new minivan, looked around, and pulled out 7 suitcases. I strapped the hanging bags on my shoulders and carried two smaller ones, the big kids pushed two giant rollies, Greta dragged a bag. We lugged them across the soft asphalt and got in line at the front door. I took a deep breath in the hot sun. I whispered to the kids, “Be kind. Be polite. Do not touch each other or fight. Smile at everyone.” They looked around, a little scared. An old guy with a dirty shirt and beard blocked the doorway with his big belly. Two little girls with black pigtails and turquoise shorts giggled under a tree. Lots of tall skinny guys in undershirts …

2013 – World Changer Wednesday

I’m really missing the clarity, vision, purpose, and excitement our family had in 2013. Our experiments with World Changing became Heart Changing. And Home Changing. My husband, Chris, wrote about it for Dave Ramsey’s website. I re-read it this morning and got happy tears all over again. [Featured on daveramsey.com 12/17/13] Giving Lemon:Aid for Change All Christmas season, we’ve been writing and demonstrating ways to “give hope.” And people like Chris Fritz, a father of three, have done an incredible job of showing just how to do that.  Inspired by Blood:Water Mission’s goal to provide fresh water to children in Africa, Chris, his wife Aimee, and their children opened a lemonade stand as a way to raise money for that cause. They were blown away by what happened next.  “So what are we going to choose for our ministry focus for 2013?” It was a seemingly innocent question asked by my then 8-year-old daughter during last year’s Christmas Eve dinner. In 2012 we’d decided to help expand the kids worldview by picking a global issue—researching, discussing …

Welcome Rolling Hills MOPS!

Hello New Friends! I was happy to be with you this morning at Rolling Hills Church. I love the way you’ve chosen to meet together to hold each other up in the tender season of parenting young children. I hope my stories were not burdensome to you. I pray that little seeds of hope and compassion were planted in your hearts. And please remember, you are already doing compassion every day. Here are a few highlights and reminders: Moms, you are already Compassion Experts (read more here). If my messy family can practice Compassion, yours can too (read more here). You might think you have Nothing, but God can make it Something (read more here). For more about our family’s very first Compassion experiment, there’s our 2010 Haiti story (read more here). If you don’t believe that I actually dressed up as a Chicken and did the Chicken Dance at the bus stop  because I love my daughter and the children of Haiti, here’s the evidence: My Chicken Dance at G’s bus stop: Aimee at the Bus Stop Video Haiti Partner’s video back to us: Beautiful video from Haiti Partners Children’s …

Welcome Alameda MOPS!

Hello New Friends! I was honored to be with you this morning at Bay Farm Church. I was deeply touched by the way you gather together to hear, encourage, and celebrate each other. I hope my stories were not burdensome to you. I pray that little seeds of hope and compassion were planted in your hearts. And please remember, you are already doing compassion every day. Here are a few highlights and reminders: Moms, you are already Compassion Experts (read more here). If my messy family can practice Compassion, yours can too (read more here). You might think you have Nothing, but God can make it Something (read more here).  If you don’t believe that I actually dressed up as a Chicken and did the Chicken Dance at the bus stop  because I love my daughter and the children of Haiti, here’s the evidence: My Chicken Dance at G’s bus stop: Aimee at the Bus Stop Video Haiti Partner’s video back to us: Beautiful video from Haiti Partners Children’s Academy All of us dancing together in Haiti: Chicken Dance All Together …

Our 2016 Family Compassion Focus – World Changer Wednesday

It’s always nice to start the New Year off with hope. In 2016 we did this with the help of bacon, our best friends, and a new Family Compassion Focus. As I’ve mentioned so many times before, last year was tough. Moving, grieving, re-starting. We have a lot more reflecting to do, but I think we learned more about compassion by needing it instead of giving it. We were hurting and needy, and felt love from old and new friends, God, and each other. I think that’s going to shape things for a long time. This was our fifth time officially choosing a Family Compassion Focus. The first time we decided to intentionally pursue compassion as a family we voted to love and serve Orphans (you can read about that choice here). Last year we voted to love and serve Haiti (you can read about that vote here). We put our blank pages on the fridge early in the week and all added ideas at random times (you can read about the whole process here). I think this is the …

Poop on Christmas

Our Christmas is going down the toilet.  And it’s a good thing. I’m always trying to figure out ways to connect with my 11 year old son. I made it through the Thomas trains phase, the Matchbox cars phase, the Dinosaur phase, and the Pokemon phase. Now we’re in some weird tween boy limbo. He recently asked if he can start hunting. Except for Star Wars, Harry Potter, and a very occasional chess game, we have little in common. Most of our conversations are me nagging him about homework and hygiene. It’s kind of sad. On New Years Day when we voted for Haiti as our 2015 Family Compassion Focus, the kids all declared what they were looking to do there: “Something with kids!” – Greta “Something with chickens!” – Zoë “Something with toilets!” – Caleb Over the next several weeks we got the laptop out at breakfast and researched the country and it’s hard history. We studied it’s weather, people, and natural disasters. We read aloud from more than 30 different websites to learn what different nonprofits are doing …

Welcome, New Friends!

Many of you are visiting here today because you heard me on Ali Eastburn’s Heroes of Generosity podcast. It posted on Tuesday, 10/20/15, and I’m humbled to be a part of it. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can hear the podcast directly on Ali’ Eastburn’s website. (It will be on iTunes, soon, too.) We talk about family, generosity, compassion, and the crazy things we do for love. We laughed a lot during the interview and I hope you’ll laugh along with us as you run errands, commute to work, do the dishes, or work out. Ali Eastburn is World Changer. Eight years ago she heard God asking if she might be willing to sell her wedding ring to give an entire village clean water. That radical generosity birthed a movement and the organization With This Ring. Over a hundred water wells have been built around the world because people sold their wedding rings, heirloom jewelry, and chose not to have fancy weddings so others might have their first taste of clean water. Please listen to Ali’s …

World Changers We Know – The Berger Family (1 of 2)

[Hi friends!  It’s been a longgg time since anything happened in this space.  Since my last post my husband took a new job across the country, we said hundreds of heart-breaking goodbyes, and are now finding our fresh starts in a new town, house, and school outside of Atlanta, Georgia.  We’ve needed a lot of compassion.  I look forward to sharing all the stories I’ve been stocking up.] When I think about World Changing Families Shannon’s family comes to mind right away.  They are one of those power-house families that seem undaunted by obstacles and impossibilities.  (Her email address is Chosen Mayhem.)  I’m not surprised.  I knew Shannon in college when she was a powerhouse soccer athlete with a big mushy heart for kids in the city.  She and I lived and worked together one summer in Cabrini Green with National City Ministries.  I have loved learning about where she is now.  Prepare yourself for a good heart-filling. Tell us about the Berger Family, Shannon! We are a family of (almost) seven right now. My amazing …

World Changers We Know – The Severson Family

We have a special affection for the Severson Family.  They seem unintimidated by life.  “Hey! Let’s get married young! Let’s have a baby!  How about another one!  And another!  Now twins!”  They’ve had some hard times, and weathered them with honesty and courage.  My husband and Lane mock each other with abandon online.  Laura runs her zany house of 5 children with patience and humor.   She and I were probably separated at birth because she is also passionate about binders. The Seversons hit the ground running with their Family Compassion Focus in January.  I asked if I could feature them here, so we could learn from them.  They were generous and honest with their answers.  Here are a few things that stand out to me: They are paying attention to the leaning and gifts in their young kids.  They know what delights their kids and breaks their hearts. They modified the process to make it work for them.  They kept it very short, involved just the older kids, and made an executive decision on date night. They set …

Haiti Partners 2

Haiti Partners is featuring Family Compassion Focus for Part 2 this week (Part 1 here). Our family is honored to be known by such a kind, hard-working, respectful organization.  We are going to have a great year working together!  Please read the post on their website here – you’ll even get a preview of my husband’s crazy fundraising idea at the end. As you read, I hope you will remember that our little family is a mess. We are broken, weak, angry, and confused so often. But somehow we’re still learning about compassion and how to love others. And receive love.  Maybe our blatant problems and brokenness are the key to compassion? Maybe that is what leads us to Jesus. And then right back out to the problems and brokenness and mess. Help us, Lord.

Getting Started – Two-Page Plan for your own Family Compassion Focus

You might like the sound of “Being More Compassionate” and your kids becoming “World Changers.”  But maybe it just seems like big fuzzy happy talk, not practical or helpful.   That’s not my scene.  I hate sunny, hollow promises.  I love implementing big ideas, giving lots of tips, and using lots of metaphors.  That is why this little blog is here, to be practical and encouraging as you and your family journey toward Compassion together.   After our first year of having a Family Compassion Focus, I didn’t have anything tangible for people who said, “I want to do this, but I don’t know how.”  So I made this very simple 2 page table (below) with suggestions for what you and your whole family can think about and do each month to love and serve others intentionally. I’d love to hear how you plan to use this, and learn from your family’s Compassion Experiments. Let me know in the comments if you have questions or ideas.  And please, let me tell your worried heart — if my family, with …

Our Story – How the Family Compassion Focus was Born

[This story was first published on the Reconciled World blog on 12/11/14.] Christmas wasn’t supposed to be terrible. My husband, Chris, slipped his hand around my waist and we smiled, looking at our kids playing with their new toys on top of all the strewn wrapping.   We exhaled and congratulated each other on giving our kids another Christmas to Remember. And then: “You got more presents than me! That’s not fair!” “Your present cost more than mine! That’s not fair!” “I think you should give one of your presents to me! This Is Not Fair!” Our faces went slack. What happened? They knew Jesus was the Reason for the Season. We read the Bible story an hour ago. We had more Nativities than Santas. Where did this ugly entitlement come from? How did our kids miss the point of Christmas? He muttered to me, “This is awful. It can’t be like this next year.” We broke up the fights, assembled some toys and rallied our way toward Christmas cheer. I then remembered seeing a book …