All posts filed under: Who

Re:new – 100 Extraordinary Women

I didn’t used to think about refugees. I often heard about the Israelites being homeless growing up –  Jacob’s hungry family driven to find food in in Egypt, generations of Hebrews enslaved in Egypt, Hebrews wandering in the wilderness, Israel being conquered and taken captive. Such intense longing for home. Such dependence on community, ingenuity, resilience, and faith. Such emotional, physical, spiritual, and relational struggle. About 13 years ago I started paying attention to what World Relief was doing in my community in Wheaton, Illinois. I learned that refugees from all over the world, after extreme, thorough, lengthy vetting, were placed in our area by the United Nations. They had endured unspeakable horrors and lost everything, and now they were walking down my snowy sidewalks in robes and gowns trying to start all over again. World Relief helped them. I soon heard about a new organization called Re:new. A few of my talented sewing friends were teaching resettled refugee women how to sew, using simple patterns and donated fabrics. I went to a Christmas sale …

Suck it In, Suck it Up

“Suck your belly in and stand up straight.” “Why, Mom?” “Because that’s how you put on dresses. Come on. Stand taller.” Once she was all zipped up I stood behind her and looked in the dressing room mirror. She was looking straight into my eyes, with the betrayal and wounding of someone who was just slapped in the face. I paused, but then chalked up her sourness to tween melodrama. I looked her up and down in the form-fitting black dress. “Wow. You look beautiful, honey! Like a woman!” She shrugged. “What? You don’t want it? You look fantastic!” “I don’t know, Mom! Okay? I don’t know what I like, or what I’m supposed to like, or what I’m supposed to look like. Just get the dress if you think that’s what I’m supposed to get. I don’t care. Can we be done?” She pulled her school uniform back on and left the dressing room. I held the black dress up over my tired outfit and turned side-to-side. I wished my body was as good …

Never Alone

Several years ago my sister and I ran away to Florida. We were both reeling from unexpected heartbreaks – my infertility, her disbanded circle of friends. We felt lonely and untethered. We didn’t know what to say anymore. But we could be together. And we could read books. Stacks of books. We read at the airport, beach, bookstores, coffeeshops, and in bed until we fell asleep. Sometimes reading passages to each other. Sometimes swapping books. One late, long drive we took turns reading short stories to each other. We forgot our regular lives and entered into fictional strangers’ new schools, first dates, secret obsessions, trespasses, and crimes. When we surfaced from that collection of stories, on that dark highway, our own lives felt different. I just finished Everbloom: Stories of Living Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives, a collection of essays, stories, and poetry by the Redbud Writers Guild. This would be have been just the right book for that weekend away with my sister. We were both at a crossroads, longing for change, to be in different …

Six Different Ways to Be Beautiful

If you are looking for an article about crunches, the Whole 30, or eyelash lengtheners, this is not the piece for you. This is about being Brave. I bet you’re rolling your eyes. Is this going to be about “beauty on the inside”? Probably written by woman who could benefit from some airbrushing? Is she going to talk about our “good personalities” or how much “Jesus made us and loves us”? No thanks. I really am just going to talk about 6 Brave things I’ve done that make me feel more Beautiful, whole, and strong. I’ve been walking toward this kind of beauty for a long time, with lots of counseling, prayer, and reflection. I was flabbergasted to find my story written out by someone else. Lee Wolf Blum’s new book, Brave is the New Beautiful, is compelling, encouraging, and relatable. I read it cover to cover in one very long bath. I smiled and cried reading stories so similar to mine (and similar to yours, I guarantee it). There were 6 things I learned about being Brave, …

Six Different Ways to Go Home

After being chased all day by work deadlines, kid drop-offs, online and in-person misunderstandings, and perpetual obligations, I just want to go Home. Jen Pollock Michel, in her new book, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home writes, “we are hardwired for place and permanence, for rest and refuge, for presence and protection” (p. 33). That’s how I feel when I pull in the driveway for the the last time each day–it’s like lunging for base in game of tag. I’m safe. I’m Home.  I experience the hardwiring for Home in 6 different ways, some temporary, some satisfying, some internal, some external, sometimes all of them all in one day. 1. Home is Where I Keep My Stuff That’s the first layer – my stuff. It’s the collection of what I need, want, and what’s important to me. My bed. My special pillow. My selected foods put where I like in my cabinets. My wedding album. My books. My boxes of my kids’ keepsakes tucked away in the basement. My guest room where I can invite you to leave …

Love and Loss – a Comparison of Redeeming Ruth and Arrival

[Warning – this post contains spoilers for the 2016 movie Arrival and the brand new memoir Redeeming Ruth.]   Is it better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all?   I finally watched Arrival, the award-winning, thought-provoking alien movie, starring Amy Adams as a linguist who saves the world. In the beginning of the movie there’s a montage of Louise (Amy Adams’ character) and Hannah, her cherished child who becomes very ill and dies. Later we find out Louise is remembering/forseeing her child, and her fate, before she even becomes pregnant. She chooses the relationship that will create her daughter, and to bear and love her fully, even though she knows the the suffering and loss that lies ahead. I had just finished Meadow Rue Merrill’s powerful new book, Redeeming Ruth:Everything Life Takes, Love Restores. I couldn’t help weaving both stories together as I watched Arrival. Redeeming Ruth is a fresh, clear, beautifully written memoir about adoption, courage, special needs, provision, faith, hope, and suffering.  One day a beautiful toddler with cerebral palsy is placed into Ruth’s arms …

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 …

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

I’m not good at waiting. I rip open the new bag of chips in the Kroger parking lot, love reading spoilers for TV season finales, weave in and out of the fast lane, and almost die waiting for my kids to get to the point of whatever story they’re telling. I’m definitely not good at waiting for big, important things. I writhed, groaned, swore, cried, doubted, and yelled at God in the hard, long seasons of waiting before I finally recovered from a car accident, finally got pregnant, and finally popped the champagne when my husband got a new job. I’m still waiting for lots of things. I’m back in physical therapy for a running injury and back in counseling for heartaches. A beloved friend might be on the verge of finally beating her decades-long illness. My kids pray everyday for me to stop being allergic to dogs so they can get one. We can’t find a church that nourishes and challenges us. Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m supposed to change my prayers or just give up …

Long Days of Small Things – World Changer Wednesday

“Long Days of Small Things is a book that looks at the real life work we do in our everyday lives, and finds God right there in the midst of it. We think of spirituality as something that happens in our minds, in silence. We are taught that our bodies, our mess and complications and noise hold us back from being with God. That doesn’t leave a lot of hope for moms, whose pregnant or post-partum bodies, newborns, toddlers, and van-full of carpool kids have no end of loud, messy, physical, chaotic needs.” – Catherine McNiel

Zoe’s Visit to See “Refuge: An Exhibit by Photographer Ezra Millstein”

This essay was written by my daughter, Zoë Fritz, after spending an evening in Clarkston, Georgia, in October, 2016.  I got to see Refuge: An Exhibit by Photographer Ezra Millstein on Saturday, October 22. They filled the old Refuge Coffee Company garage with 20″ x 30” photographs. There was Middle Eastern music and food. There were people from many different countries in one room. I can’t believe I got to talk with the photographer! Ezra Millstein is the International Photographer for Habitat for Humanity.  I asked him if the parents of the children he wants to take pictures of say “No, you can’t do that.” He said that doesn’t usually happen. He said that kids love the camera and their parents want people to know what they’re going through. He has a 5 month old daughter and wonders if that’s why he’s been taking pictures of so many other daughters around the world. I really liked the piece with the man looking out his tent towards his old home. I’m sad he lost his home. I …

Mary’s Socks – World Changer Wednesday

Last October we featured World Changer, Mary Reczek. She’s a little girl in Wheaton, Illinois who set a goal to collect 800 socks for SOCKTOBER. But she received 1370(!), and with plenty of October left to go, she upped her goal to 2000(!). Last year Mary received 2635 pairs of socks for Chicago’s homeless! After that, Mary, and her brothers, Charlie, and Sam, went with World Changer Warrior Gayle Bloink several times into the city to feed, clothe, and pray with the homeless there.  The socks lasted almost an entire year. Because they had so many socks generously donated  last year, they were able to always have socks with them when they brought food on Saturdays. The socks were almost more important than the food!  So many homeless friends have come to hope for socks each week. It is difficult to turn them away.  Mary hated when she would run out on any given week. So for Mary’s birthday this year she would like to collect **3000 pairs of socks** for Chicago’s homeless by 10/31/16. (Here is …

The Long Family – World Changer Wednesday

I met Mary Beth years ago. We were both going through soul-crushing infertility. Our friendship was a gift from God in that long, hard season. We kept each other laughing and praying as we shared the absurdities, humiliations, disappointments, and hopes of trying to have babies. We desperately wanted to be mothers. Oh, how I thanked God not to go through all that alone! If you told us we’d have 6 six between us we would not have believed you. I love Mary Beth’s frank common sense, strong faith, and contagious humor. You’ll love reading how this led her family to a brand new, exciting, life-changing adventure. Hi Mary Beth, please tell us about your family! Carter, 12: Our first born. A miracle because there was a time we thought we would never be able to have children. He is funny, witty and has a heart of gold. He is as wise as an 80 year old man and can make you laugh as hard as you did when you were a kid. Mary Grace, 10: She …

Jodie Kitchens – World Changer Wednesday

What if you wake up one morning and realize you’ve been only listening to your brain, and not your heart? What do you do? How do you start something new? I have come to know Jodie Kitchens through the magic of Facebook and our shared love for Haiti Partners. She is intelligent, passionate, fierce, hard-working, and from what I can tell, inexhaustible! After decades in corporate financial services, she joyfully changed her focus toward active compassion. I love her story. I’d love to hear what resonates with you! Thank you for being with us, Jodie! Please introduce yourself! My heart is all about “Helping Families in Crisis While Having Adventures and Learning.” About 2 ½ years ago, I had my moment. On a hillside near Fort Jacques,in Haiti, I reached my limit and sent my son James and Haiti Partners Director John Engle on up the hill to our original destination of a fort. As I sat, I watched the ants and a lizard go about their day, then I heard church singing waft through …

Dr. Jamie Aten – World Changer Wednesday

I am so thankful for the timing and content of this World Changer Wednesday post. We’re all watching Hurricane Matthew. It’s ravaging the Caribbean, and we are bracing for impact in the southeastern US. What a gift we can feature Dr. Jamie Aten, the Founder and Co-Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute. Jamie survived Hurricane Katrina and late-stage cancer. He is an expert on serving those going through trauma and disaster. He teaches, speaks, travels, serves, and writes. I’m so grateful he’s here to share his personal story, big ideas, and practical resources for coping with personal and natural disasters. Please tell us about yourself, Jamie! I am a disaster psychologist, author, and speaker. I help others cultivate faith and resilience amidst personal, mass, and humanitarian disasters. I don’t just study disasters—I have lived disasters. I am a Hurricane Katrina and a late-stage cancer survivor in remission. I channel these experiences into helping others live more resiliently and into helping churches minister more effectively. I hold an endowed research professorship and help train clinical psychology doctoral students at …

Heroes or Neighbors?

(featured on Evangelicals for Social Action September 13, 2016) “So what does this have to do with refugees?” I asked my kids at breakfast. “I don’t know. Maybe the naked part?” my son offered. “He’s naked? That’s what ‘stripped him of his clothes’ means? He’s lying naked on the road all beat up?!” my youngest daughter asked, shocked. “Yeah, it makes me think of those people washed up on the beach. The ones trying to get away from ISIS,” my oldest daughter thought aloud. I swallowed hard. We were reading the Good Samaritan story for clues about how God might want us to treat refugees for our Family Compassion Focus this year. This graphic imagery wasn’t on a webpage or TV news; it was in the Bible. That day we weren’t going to rush past the hard parts of the Jesus’ teaching. We were going to stop and stay there all summer, copying and memorizing every word, reciting them to each other in silly voices to make it stick, and asking each other what it really means. “Why do you think …

CAC – World Changer Wednesday

Are you compassionate? I’m not. My heart doesn’t naturally bend toward suffering with other people. My heart bends towards whatever is going to make my life better in that moment. For me, compassion is an often hard choice, that through years of slow practice, I’m learning to make more often. I started making these choices after a long season of reflection, contemplation, and yes, counseling, under the big fat umbrella of God’s grace. Because only there I can bear to see the true state of my own heart, and my own aching need for others to be compassionate with me. My friend Sam recently completed an official program for spiritual formation. Once I heard he graduated I pounced and asked if he would share some of the things he learned, and how they could help us all be more compassionate. I’m so thankful he was willing to do it. In the interview below Sam generously and bravely shares the who, what, when, where, how and why of his journey toward contemplation and action, and how that might help us …

Seeking Refuge – World Changer Wednesday

Every time there’s another terror attack, my primal fears are flared up. I do a quick security screening on my life: doors=locked kids=safe neighborhood=safe poverty level of my town=low everyone around me=looks like me travel plans=none closest mosque=don’t know Then I breathe easier and thank God that I live an ocean away from ISIS. I’m not proud of it. But I do think this way. Some people don’t get to live an ocean away from ISIS. Some people live in the nightmare of ISIS or Boko Haram or thousands of other places where evil and power and terror are the norm. They are literally dying, running for their lives, or dying trying. I might think, “O God, help them! Tell me what to do!” And then I think right after that, “Thank God my life’s not like that. Thank you for keeping me safe.”  I’m not proud of it. But I do pray this way. This year one part of our Family Compassion Focus is learning more about refugees. It hasn’t been easy. One of my kids …

Refuge Coffee Company – World Changer Wednesday

Refugees get a lot of airtime these days. We’ve all seen the pictures of the overcrowded rafts and dead children washed on shore. We hear about what governments open their doors to them, and which ones have them tightly shut. We hear about Muslims, immigration, and walls all the time in this year’s unfortunate election jibber jabber. It’s a lot to figure out. Are refugees scammers? Just looking for better opportunities in better countries? Are refugees victims? Running for their lives from crazy leaders in hard places. Are refugees uneducated fools? Draining every person, place, and organization they encounter? Are refugees undercover sleeper agents? Slowly weaseling their way into our country to eventually destroy us? When we talk about refugees at our house, we talk about them as people. Refugees are people. They are dads that want their little girls to be safe. They are mamas grieving their dead sons. They are little kids that like toys and candy and are afraid of bad guys. Like all humans they need food, water, and shelter to survive. …

Slow Kingdom Coming – World Changer Wednesday

One of my favorite people is Kent Annan. I’ve known Kent for 21 years, since we were living in Europe doing things like serving refugees, doing economic development, and managing bed and breakfasts. One night he was tasked with keeping me, my mom, and my sister busy while Chris (his BFF) asked my dad for my hand. He was a good sport. Kent delights in empowering and connecting people with humility, grace, and good humor. He does this as a friend, author, and co-Director of Haiti Partners. He was the one we called with the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010. He was the reason our family first experimented with compassion. He has walked along side us and cheered us on from the very beginning. Kent’s newest book, Slow Kingdom Coming, gripped my heart when I read it last winter. I strongly resonate with the vision, hope, and 5 Practices he shares. He talks honestly about how hard it is to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. But instead of that being an excuse or a deterrent, he …

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 …

The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations – World Changer Wednesday

When I met John Crilly (aka “Crilly”), he was hosting a loud party at his house. I think he had one of his hats on, and was smiling so big it made my face hurt. Whenever someone would walk in the front door he would shout something like, “HEY EVERYBODY! IT’S PETE AND WENDY DAVIS!” And everyone in the room would cheer. He did this for hours. Crilly is a really touchy feely extrovert who is energized meeting new people and doing new things. He’s up for anything. But he’s also up for getting quiet if you have have a question or need to talk. My kids like to FaceTime him to tell him jokes about boogers. He’s a safe place. Crilly will share his big heart to give you the joy, safety, and attention you need in that moment. That’s why I’m not surprised he was a part of writing The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations. His passion for all kinds of people, for Jesus, for hope, and healing has been hard won, and it’s infectious. Hey …

Dawn Waters Baker – World Changer Wednesday

I meet God in art. When I don’t want to say or pray, when I can’t articulate the questions or joy in my heart, Art has been my sacred translator. I feel known, understood, and not alone when I encounter beauty on a canvas or carved in stone. I buy the postcards, calendars, and coffee table books of my favorites artists and their work. I use them when I pray. They help me listen and speak to God. I first saw Dawn Waters Baker’s work on Facebook. Scrolling on through the people’s quiz results and baby pictures on my feed, Dawn’s grand, majestic work stopped me. My heart raced, and then quieted. I knew I should pay attention. I was beckoned to stop my rush and contemplate the night sky on my screen. I got lost in the colors. Then the scene. Then the Creator of it all. I whispered worship at my kitchen counter, “thank you, God.” I asked Dawn if I could feature her and her work on World Changer Wednesday because her work …

MOPS + Sole Hope – World Changer Wednesday

When I had young children I was in lockdown mode most of the time. I didn’t want to gather with other moms and hear their own crying babies, chronic fatigue, and familiar complaints. All I wanted was silence and alone time. I regret that now. I wish I would have taken up one of the dozens of offers to join playgroups, story times, or MOPS. I think I would have found the understanding and revitalizing courage I needed. Last month I got to visit two MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups in California. These moms show up to hear and serve each other with empathetic grace. They show up wearing, nursing, shushing, and smiling at their babies. They show up hungry to gather and grow. I was moved by their persevering love. One of the moms, named Stephanie, was introducing a service project to MOPS called “Sole Hope.” It sounded great! I wanted to hear how the project went, so I asked for her contact info. I texted her right away from the plane, “Taking off. …

Leeann – World Changer Wednesday

I met Leeann Drabenstott Culbreath my freshman year in college. She was the one in Birkenstocks and glasses, with a guitar, protest signs, and lots of ideas most people weren’t ready for. We’re way older now, and she hasn’t changed! She and her husband live in southern Georgia raising Zeke and Abe and as much awareness as they can. Leeann has extended love and grace to me in recent years, listening to stories of my dark college days, visiting me when I first moved to Georgia, serving me communion in my living room while I cried, and arranging lunch for us at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, Georgia, where Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed. A few weeks ago Leeann was in town for her new job. We spent a sunny afternoon in my office talking about Creation Care. Below is only a taste of the passion and vision Leeann carries. I hope you’ll be inspired to think about the big picture and spiritual impact of stewarding creation in new ways. Leeann, what is your ministry? One …

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 …

The DZ Family – World Changer Wednesday

Some families are called to a regular suburban American life. Some families are called to adventure in far away lands. Some families get to do both.   At this very moment, the DZ Family is in Ind*a. (Due to the nature of their work we can’t share their full name or even type out the country name. We live in complicated times.)  The six of them are doing compassion work all together for many weeks. When I read her updates I feel curious, excited, scared, hopeful, thankful and tired.   I admire Carrie so much. She is a hard working mom with 4 very boyish boys, and a husband that is often overseas for long stretches. She is real, creative, industrious, and steady. She seems to be the right kind of person for the life they’ve been called to. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?   I asked Carrie to share her story, and she generously agreed to despite sick kids, leading a team, and sporadic internet in the developing world. I’m so grateful. I’ve learned more about life …

The Pruett Family – World Changer Wednesday

Julie is a new friend in Georgia. We were introduced by a visiting mutual friend on a hot summer day, then finally connected on a gray, rainy fall day at Starbucks. We talked about the mysteries of perfectionism, middle school boys, and life in our unique town. But then we started talking about compassion. And it was like we shared our true hearts. We both are trying to raise un-entitled, generous, compassionate World Changers.  I am really excited to learn from Julie and her family. Be warned – her story below is a such a tease!  I want to know 50 more details about each idea she shares.  I hope we will do compassion experiments together in 2016. Introducing the Pruett Family! My husband Paul and I have two children Tyler (age 13) and Avery (age 9). We have been homeschooling for 3 years and feel so blessed to be able to teach our children from a Christian perspective about the world. Tyler is a born leader and perfectionist. He is training for triathlons, plays …

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 …

World Changer Wednesday – You

I’ve been getting lots of tips for 2016. Why is everyone on facebook, instagram, email and text telling me how to be healthier, kinder, more stylish, more mindful, and more productive next year? If I knew how to do all that transforming I would already be doing it. If I had that self-control and discipline I wouldn’t need your planner, juicer, diet, questionnaire, accountability group, or membership. My defenses are high. I don’t feel like a World Changer, especially now, exhausted, surrounded by leftovers, cookies, wine, and noisy kids on Christmas break. I bet you don’t feel like one either. How can I possibly be a World Changer when I gave the kids my fearsome Alligator Face an hour ago? How can they be World Changers when they can’t remember to change their own underwear? Maybe we should all just go back to bed. 2015 was rough for Team Fritz. Chris and I just reviewed the outlandish list of goals and hopes we made during our great date on 1/3/15. We were shocked. Never before have we crossed …

World Changer Wednesday – Jesus

I can’t count how many times I’ve begged God for Rescue in my small life. Chronic pain keeps kicking me. Infertility taunted me. Kids test me. I say and do so many things I regret. And even when I’ve done everything right, I sometimes get lost or mistreated anyway. I can’t fix any of it on my own. I call out for “Help!” and I want a Rescuer to come running. When I call out to God for “Help!” I’m usually wanting Magic. I want the people I’ve hurt to get acute amnesia about our last conversation. I want the drunk driver to swerve a different direction and miss my car. I want my kids to be 100% compliant. Other times when I want God to “Help!” I’m asking for Power. I want to be Right and influence others to agree and act. I want to Perfect and avoid all mistakes. I want pain and suffering to end for me and everyone else. I want “Help!” right in the moment. I want a concierge and team of experts …

Moms – World Changer Wednesday

It’s still pitch black when my alarm goes off. I roll out of bed with a heavy head and prop myself up at the counter to brush my teeth. I sometimes pray for grace and joy in the morning, but sometimes I forget. Nine times out of ten, Greta bursts in my room with crazy hair, a scowl, and the declaration that she is NOT going to school. Sometimes she melts in my hug, other times she stomps away and slams a door. At 6:04am. In the next hour and a half I butter toast, wake 11 year olds, put ice packs in lunches, ask about deodorant, break up fights, clean up spills, try to shorten 30 minute showers, check backpacks, brush snarly hair, try not to look at my phone, and ask my kids not to touch each other. Some days I rush them. Some days I avoid eye contact. Some days I bark in frustration. Some days I sigh loudly. Every day I give all three of them full body hugs. Every day I pray …

World Changer Wednesday – The Beaird Family

I really want my kids to be World Changers. I hope they will desire to generously love and serve other people because they are overflowing with grace and joy from God. But how will they learn that? Why would they want to? One year our family chose Orphans as our Family Compassion Focus. My kids couldn’t believe how many orphans were in stories they already knew – Little Orphan Annie, Anne of Green Gables, Moses (Greta wondered if poor Max and Ruby were orphans too). We would say a simple prayer like, “God, help orphans” as we drove around town. Then we researched orphan statistics. The kids learned there were orphans in Uganda – heartbreaking. Then they discovered there were orphans in the United States – surprising. And in Illinois – shocking. And in Wheaton – unacceptable. The kids prayed, “God, why are there so many orphans! Help!” We studied bible verses about the fatherless. The kids prayed, “Every kid needs parents, God! Help!” As the weeks went on, and we kept researching and praying, asking and listening. We all started …

World Changer Wednesday – The Ferguson Family

Christmas is coming. So are all the stresses, expectations, and responsibilities. Isn’t that sad? We really want joyful, meaningful, sparkly holidays, but we can’t really figure out how to make that happen. It’s seems to be some sort of haphazard magic – when the snow falls at very moment Silent Night starts and all the kids are singing and smiling like angels. We feel warm and safe deep inside. What if there really was a way to make Christmas more joyful, meaningful, and sparkly? My good friend Theresa and I believe that starts with compassion. When we look for ways to love, serve, and give instead of frantically spending and wanting, our homes and hearts begin to feel different. It’s heart changing and world changing. It’s joyful, meaningful, and our eyes get a little sparkly. Thank you, Theresa, for letting us share how your family does Christmas! Finding Peace During the Christmas Season by Theresa Ferguson at Family Freckles Buy this! Shop now! Just one more gift! The messages to spend are everywhere in the weeks and …

Shopping Spree

There are so many different ways to be a World Changer. When I read the post below from Stephanie Marsiglio I was smiling, encouraged, and inspired. I begged permission to share it here. Thank you, Stephanie! “The kids asked for Descendents costumes for Halloween (@$40 a pop). I told them that if we spent all that money on costumes they would only wear once, we wouldn’t have as much to share with others. So I made them a deal: they had $120 to spend on their costumes. Anything they DIDN’T spend, they could give to someone in need and THEY got to pick who. Suddenly, their attitudes completely changed. They couldn’t wait to see what they could come up with at home with stuff we already had so they could have more money to give away. The ended up spending only $40 total leaving them $80 to give to others. Fast forward to last night. They looked through the World Vision catalog for an hour trying to decide what to get and eventually settled on a goat …

Trading Hope

Our family has done lots of compassion experiments to raise money and awareness for world changing organizations. We made soap and gourmet lemonade for clean water in Africa. We made ornaments to give a house warming party for a formerly homeless family. We baked cupcakes to help orphaned and imprisoned children in Uganda. This year our Family Compassion Focus is Haiti, and we’ve chosen to work with Haiti Partners. But our circumstances are different than previous years. We live in a new state and don’t have the kind of network one builds after living somewhere 19 years. And we don’t have the energy it takes to make thousands of dollars worth of crafts. I’ve been wondering how we can finish 2015 strong, giving Haiti Partners what we have. Especially without using a chicken suit. Greta and I visited the Haiti Partners Children’s Academy in Haiti in October. We did the Chicken Dance, stayed in the mountains, and learned some Creole words. When we asked Greta what she wanted to get Jesus for his birthday present she said she wanted …

World Changer Wednesday – Danielle

Do you think beauty can change the world? Let me tell you about my friend Danielle. She creates beauty. Her paintings capture vivid colors, haunting beauty, and secret tenderness. They have been featured at several galleries and art shows. But she also went into my kids’ classrooms with her easel and paints, letting 5 year olds touch her work and asking them to help name her pieces. She designs beauty. She can see potential everywhere. Clients want her to make their homes and offices inviting, artistic, and practical. This is easy for her. But even as the expert she extends grace and confidence as they participate in the process. Clients are empowered and grateful when they see their ambigious ideas come to life. She celebrates beauty. Whether it’s at the Art Institute, renegade craft fairs, or a garage sale, she finds amazing things. She appreciates lines, colors, form, and function. She loves when a piece has a history. This year she found all these things in a new place, and it has changed her. She can’t stop talking about it. Introducing …

Update – World Changer Wednesday – The Powells

Last month we met the Powells (that post here). In just a few years their family has grown from casual, convenient compassion to radical, intentional compassion. They sought out new ways to love those hurting around them, and surrendered their free time, family time, money and relationships to do it. I asked Amy if she could share how their most recent World Changing, Heart Changing, Family Changing trip went. I begged for scoop from her and each of her 3 kids. I couldn’t wait to see pictures. When I downloaded them I was captivated. The Powells radiate joy in Kenya. It’s that gift that comes with surrender. When you give what you have to God, he gives you joy. And you can’t help but share that joy with everyone around you. Summary of the Powell’s Trip to Kenya October 2015 by Amy, Allie, Jack, and Cooper This was the third trip to Kenya for me (Amy) and my daughter, Allie, and the second for my sons, Jackson & Cooper. My husband, Corey, has been before, but he was unable …

UPDATE – World Changer Wednesday – Mary

Last week we met World Changer, Mary Rezcek. (To read that post click here) Here is a little morning message from her to brighten your day. Please watch it. https://youtu.be/SIbdCotDWbw Mary was hoping to collect 800 pairs of socks to give to the homeless in Chicago this winter. So far, she has received 1370 pairs of socks! ***** Now she is hoping for 2000 by 10/31/15! Only 630 more pairs ***** I love it! In the video Mary refers to her friend Sparkles. Here is a picture of them. They met the very first night Mary went downtown when she was 5 years old. It’s not hard for Mary to be a World Changer because she isn’t thinking about facts and numbers. She is remembering real people that she actually talks to. She is thinking about their cold, wet feet. She loves them because she knows them. Mary and her friends are writing notes to go in each pair of socks. They aren’t just going to drive by and toss them out the window. They are going to hand …

World Changer Wednesday – Mary

Do you let your kids talk to strangers? When you see a homeless person do you avoid eye contact and tug at your kids’ sleeves to keep walking? Does the big city scare you? My friend Gabi is a World Changer. She has practical ideas, strong opinions and a big heart. Helping other people is a simple, common sense idea to her, and she’s desperate for The Church to cut the crap and get to work. She and I are Stubborn Soul Sisters in this regard. I really do want my kids to be World Changers, but sometimes I chicken out. Our family’s Compassion Focus last year was Homelessness. We focused on our county, town, and school, but we never made it to downtown Chicago. We learned many new things, but we did not learn how to befriend a homeless person on the street. Gabi’s kids have been serving the homeless for a long time. Their daughter Mary started going downtown to love homeless people when she was 5 years old. Look and see what …

World Changer Wednesday – My Greta

What is your dream for the kids in your life? That they will be rich, famous, loved, healthy?  That they’ll have good jobs or get married? For lots of reasons, I’ve had to die to lots of dreams when I think about my kids’ futures. Now my main hope and prayer is that they will be lovable and loving World Changers. That they will understand God’s love for them so fully that they can’t help but shape their lives around that relentless truth. Greta and I got back from Haiti last night. We went there to Chicken Dance. When Greta was so sad about going to her new school in our new town in a new state I did a little Chicken Dance in the dark at the bus stop. One day she told me to “do it bigger!” so the whole bus could see and smile with her. She wanted to share it. That’s Greta. She wants joy for everyone. She agreed to share it with the whole world by recording it and putting it online …

Why Haiti?

Greta and I are in Haiti, visiting the Haiti Partners Children’s Academy.  What a gift it will be to listen and learn here today. The first time our family felt moved to try something compassionate was after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.  So much has happened since then.  To read how and why we ended up in Haiti now in 2015, here are some links: My Family’s 2015 Family Compassion Focus Compassion Catapult – The Earthquake in Haiti Contagious Compassion – The Earthquake in Haiti Called to Compassion – Since the Earthquake in Haiti Chickening Out Bad Dancing Here are pictures from my husband’s trip to Haiti in 2007. Here are pictures from our family’s spontaneous fundraiser for Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. In ended up raising $34,000. Crazy. I am unfolding the idea of Surrender throughout the month of October. I look forward to sharing more stories when we return from Haiti. You are loved. © Aimee Fritz and Family Compassion Focus, 2015. 

World Changer Wednesday – The Powell Family

Sometimes parents come up to me and say, “We never did that compassion stuff with our kids. We missed out. I guess it’s too late. Maybe I can try something when I have grandkids.” What? No! It’s never too late! The Powell Family started opening their hearts to make room for compassion a few years ago, when their oldest kids were teenagers. They dipped their toe in by sponsoring a child in Kenya. But now they are swimming all over the deep end! Introducing the Powell Family! I am Amy. I am married to my highschool sweetheart, Corey. We have been following the Lord to the best of our ability for our 23 years of marriage. For the first 20 of those, our lives consisted mostly of taking care of our jobs and kids. Corey has owned his own business, and I have homeschooled the kids part-time for much of that. We have always attended church and Bible studies regularly and have been involved in small groups of Christian community, but our service usually involved serving the served and …

World Changer Wednesday – The Evans Family

Do you have room in your life for compassion?  If your kids asked you to help them Change the World would you say yes?  Does the thought of it make you wince and sigh?  Or does it get you excited? I’ve known Stephanie Evans for more than 20 years. In college I was consistently impressed with her unconditional kindness and quick, eye-sparkling laugh. She was on the leadership team that prepared my group do a summer of service in the inner-city. After college she got married, worked at the Mother Ship for Starbucks, and had kids. Her family is committed to growing in compassion and service. As you read the story below, note the unintentional turning point for compassion in the Evans Family.  It has me thinking hard. Stephanie, tell us about the Evans Family! Erik and I have three kids, Sydney, 13, Kate, 9 and Drew 6. A couple of years ago, I stopped working full time with the intent to spend more time with my family and take better care of myself. I was going …

World Changer Wednesday – The Farrell Family

Some people just look like they have it all together. And, if you’re honest about your heart, sometimes the comparison and envy you feel when you see them makes you not like them and/or not like yourself. I met Wendy Farrell through the magic of Facebook. Friends of friends. When I first saw her Facebook posts I assumed she had a stylist, designer, driver, and full time assistant! Truly gorgeous family. Perfectly pinterest-worthy classroom snacks. Beautiful stylish home. I gawked and just wanted to be her. But of course that wasn’t the whole picture. The whole picture is even better. Wendy has a huge, gentle, generous heart. She and her family take big leaps of bold faith. Very quickly the shot of envy I felt was replaced with admiration, encouragement, and delight. Wendy is a gift. I’m thankful she is letting me introduce her family and their passion to you. At the end of this post there are a few links so you can partner with them in their Family Compassion Focus. I’m so excited for them! Tell us …

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

Last week I introduced the Berger Family.  Their story is full of examples of active compassion.  The goal for their Family Compassion Focus this year is GO Hope (Giving Orphans Hope).  They hope to make 100 backpacks for kids entering the foster care system.  In between writing letters to companies asking for contributions for the backpacks, organizing clothes drives for Safe Families, and assembling all these Grab n Go Bags, they found a way to do a fundraiser to help Nepal after the massive earthquake this spring.  Their kids lived outdoors for a week and got pledges of more than $2300 buy 34 tents for those recovering from the quake.  All of these things are amazing, but not their headline news for 2015. In the midst of all that the Bergers had another baby.  They surrendered their hearts, plans, and family and adopted their 5th child. I am intensely drawn toward adoption.  The idea of being chosen, fought for, and given a new name echoes in the deepest part of my heart.  As a child I had a lot of …

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.