All posts tagged: #familycompassionfocus

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

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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 …

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 …

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. …

FREE Family Tool Kit

Change takes time. I love watching turn-around shows because they give the satisfaction of a total transformation in less than an hour. It skips most of the slog and waiting and indecision, highlights one problem, offers a valiant solution, and then ta-da! The house, kitchen, hoarder’s room, bride, or dowdy dresser is now brand new. It’s addictive. I want that quick change everywhere, and get mad when it doesn’t happen. I went to counseling hard core for 9 years and still have flaws. My kids still think toothbrushing is optional. My marriage is still the safest and hardest thing I know. My faith is full of gaps. It’s even harder when I think about the world. Will refugees ever stop dying at sea? Will ISIS ever be thwarted? Will homelessness end? Will there always be orphans, dirty water, jails, and sex trafficking? I can’t take it. My kids can’t take it either. And that’s why we started having a Family Compassion Focus every year. We want to be World Changers. We want to “defend the weak and the …

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 …

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 …

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 – 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 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 …

Chickening Out

We moved to Georgia this summer. I’m not going to lie, it’s been pretty bad. Swampy, sweaty, constant heat. Unexpected, urgent home repairs. Money flying out the window. Three inch bugs strolling across the floor. Pervasive loneliness. Quiet resentment. Good times. For weeks my kids asked me questions I couldn’t answer about starting their new schools: Who will I eat lunch with? Will anyone be nice to me? What if I get lost? What’s my teacher going to be like? What’s it like to ride the bus? I tried to make a safe place for their constant worries, point them toward hopeful thinking, and pray with them about their worst case scenarios. It was exhausting and scary. By the time the First Day of School came on August 6th I was totally wrung out. I had nothing left. I even threw up from unprecedented anxiety that day. I think that’s called the bottom of the barrel. Now we’re are slowly finding our new normal in the predictability of a school routine. Backpacks and outfits are set out the night before, …

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.

“I Feel Fat”

How’s your 2015 going so far?  Feeling strong?  Feeling focused?  Feeling beautiful?  Holding tight to hopes and dreams for the year? Umm, not me.  My house feels cold and we’ve had some hard surprises.  I’m coping at the stove, making hearty meals, baking gooey treats, and getting warm.  Last night I think I ate 100 delicious crispy mini tater tots.  So today, in addition to feeling cold and stressed, I feel shame.  Good times. Whenever something feels too intense (i.e. I hate it), I’m trying to get perspective and consider what Compassion could look like in it.  It’s a mental and spiritual discipline that gently erodes my shaming heart and ungratefulness. If you are dealing with tight pants and find yourself muttering, “oh gosh I feel fat,” consider these compassionate alternatives: 1.  Hungry in the Suburbs – I can’t remember the last time I’ve been legitimately hungry.  I fill my Costco and Trader Joes carts with all sorts of unnecessary (but delicious) food, experiment with fun recipes, and frequently get seconds.  But hunger lurks in the corners of my comfortable town.  According to …

January Checkpoint

Hello Everyone! We’re midway through January already.  Have you been researching, listening, and asking questions?  Are you moving forward with your Family Compassion Focus? So far this month my family has dealt with sickness, snow days, traveling Dad, first swim meet, and general elementary school drama, but >we have not done anything< to intentionally learn more about the people we have chosen to love and serve this year. It’s never too late.  Grace abounds. We have a four day weekend coming up in honor of World Changer Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Here’s my plan to help my family get started in a fun way: 1.  Review the recommendations and tools for researching found in the Now What post from 1/15.  They are just tips.  Modify it to best fit your family. 2.  Write down a list of all the tips I received on facebook.  My request for ideas about Haiti yielded more than 30 comments.  It’s so encouraging to know so much good is already happening there. 3.  Write out 3 research tasks for the …

Called to Compassion – Since the Earthquake in Haiti

[Part Three of a three-part story about what happened when my kids decided we should “Help Haiti” in 2010.]  Recap of the previous two posts about Compassion and the Earthquake in Haiti:   Five years ago a catastrophic 7.0 quake struck Haiti.  My five year old twins heard about it and wanted to help.  This was new.  We tried to listen and equip them to try something.  We did a little bake and craft sale with a $500 goal.  Our friends, neighbors, school, church, and facebook community responded with lavish generosity.  We became a bridge for sending $33,000 to Haiti that year.  It was completely unexpected.  [For the full scoop read “Compassion Catapult – The Earthquake in Haiti” and “Contagious Compassion – The Earthquake in Haiti.”]   Whenever people hear this crazy story they have lots of great questions: Why do you think this happened? Why did your kids want to do something? Why did the school want to help?  Why did you keep saying Yes? Why was it so contagious? Why did it get so big? I have the same questions. I think these are deep Soul questions.  Based in …

Contagious Compassion – The Earthquake in Haiti

[Part Two of a three-part story about what happened when my kids decided we should “Help Haiti.”  Catch up on Part One, “Compassion Catapult – The Earthquake in Haiti“]   Five years ago Haiti was leveled by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake.  Thousands upon thousands of people died, went missing, became orphans, lost their homes, and lost everything.  When my five year old twins heard about it, they declared that we were going to help.  We had never done anything like it before. Our family was catapulted into a new way of thinking with their declaration .  We spent our free time making cookies, bread, and Valentine ornaments to try to help a family in Haiti rebuild their home. Our lives looked really different for three weeks – all our playdates, evenings, and weekends were about making and delivering things with our own hands to help people we didn’t know.  In the end, friends donated $7678.31  – more than 15x our original goal of $500.  Amazing, humbling, and exciting. But somehow not enough. The week of the earthquake I happened to be walking …

Compassion Catapult – The Earthquake in Haiti

[Part One of a three-part story about what happened when my kids decided our family was going to help people in Haiti.] Five years ago, on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. I heard about it on NPR on the way home from picking up my kindergartners.  The breathless reporter on the ground described the crumbled buildings with people trapped inside, the dazed children alone in the streets, and the catastrophic injuries (read a summary of the devastation here).  In typical NPR fashion you could hear her boots crunching on broken cement, people crying, and sirens in the background. When she said something about the children there being so vulnerable, and I looked at my bundled up kids singing in the back row of my deluxe minivan and teared up. The kids asked what was wrong. I told them there was an earthquake in Haiti, where Daddy had been two years ago, and that lots of people were hurt, and lots of little kids needed help. We …

“It’s Cold”

This the second day my kids’ school was cancelled because it is -25º with the windchill here in Illinois.  It hurts to go outside.  Houses and cars are frozen and refusing to work.  We’ve all got cabin fever.  I need groceries.  The washing machine broke.  Not super smiley today. Whenever something feels too intense (i.e. I hate it), I’m trying to get perspective and consider what Compassion could look like in it.  It’s a mental and spiritual discipline that gently erodes my entitlement and ungratefulness. As you deal with extreme weather you could consider these compassionate responses: 1. Cold & Homeless:  The average age of a homeless person in DuPage County (my affluent county) is EIGHT years old. Most of the homeless here are together in families, not the toothless, mentally unstable, unshaven loners many of us think of.  They are staying in crowded shelters and/or living in their cars during this extreme weather.  Some families are homeless because it is better to be homeless that to stay with their abusive spouse/provider.  Think about that.  We …

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? 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 …

Now What?

How to Focus on Compassion as a Family in the Month of January I hope you had a great time voting for a Compassion Focus.  I hope there was easy laughter and secret sweetness as you watched you family’s hearts grow toward something new.  Let’s review what you’ve already done to start a Family Compassion Focus: 1.  Brainstormed ideas for a Family Compassion Focus (tips here) 2.  Voted for a Family Compassion Focus (tips here) 3.  Celebrated your family’s choice (pictures of my family celebrating here) Now you are ready for the next step.  In January you and your family can: 4.  Begin asking questions and researching Asking Questions  Continue making your home a safe place to ask lots of questions.  No shushing or shaming.   Write your family’s Compassion Focus on the top of a blank piece of paper.  Stick it up somewhere (ours is on the cabinet above the fridge, easy to view from the counter where we eat breakfast).  Tell your family, “If you hear anything about Haiti/Hunger/Cancer put it on here.  If …

My Family’s 2015 Family Compassion Focus

How Team Fritz kicked off 2015: 1.  Bacon and chocolate cake for breakfast.  Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints in the background.  Chris’s coffee in his new mug.       2.  Asked a delightful list of questions including: what food do you want to try? what dragon do you want to slay? what famous person would you like to meet?  how far should we bike?  *Note: less questions next year.  I did too many questions.  Chris at one point said, “we’re losin’ ’em.”        3.  Chose and illustrated our Word of Year.  Greta is going to spend the day coloring her mandala, because she’s grateful for mandalas.    The words chosen were Peace, Danger, Persistence, Accomplishment, and Grateful.   4.  Reviewed, discussed, and summarized our brainstormed list of Family Compassion Focus ideas.  Chris is great at leading meetings.  Caleb is great at hopping around while almost breaking things.  I will someday be great at letting my kids be really loud and happy even when it feels so early. 5.  Voted for our …

Vote Today!

Happy New Year! Today is the day our family chooses our Family Compassion Focus.  We brainstormed a week ago.  Had the list up on the fridge since then.  And today we will vote. There is no exact science to this.  It should be fun.  I hope it feels special.  Here is how Team Fritz does it. 1.  We order Chinese Food for dinner.  Long ago my parents took authentic Chinese cooking classes and organized elaborate progressive dinners for a big neighborhood Chinese New Year’s Parties (some time between mid-January and February).  Since then I always crave Chinese food on any day celebrating a “New Year.”  Take out is great because we’re normally pretty tired after being up so late.  And asian food is ideal for my sad gluten-free requirements. The goal is to have a fun meal that everyone will enjoy.  A private, special dinner party for the people in your home.  What food will cause the least amount of fussing?  Is it better to go out to eat?  Would you prefer to cook a …

Obstacles

Have you and your family had a Family Compassion Focus brainstorming time yet?  If you haven’t it is okay.  I understand.  There are so many obstacles to starting something new. No Time – when are we all going to be together today? will you be here when the kids get up from naps?  i have so much to do!  when will you be home from your friend’s house?  is that work calling again?  will we even have time to add something like a Compassion Focus into our lives? Crazy Life – the sewer is backed up!  i have the flu!  the kids are fighting!  are you taking her to the orthodontist?  should I buy those tickets now? Big Fear – what if no one wants to try this? what does that say about our family? what does that say about me?  what if we can’t agree?  what are we getting ourselves into?  can we afford it?  i bet we won’t do it anyway. Old Habits – we don’t normally eat around a table, my kids always fight at …

Now is the Time

Real Life Tips for Your 1st Family Compassion Focus Chat Christmas is over.  You did it!   Gifts were given.  Kids have new stuff.  Sweets were eaten. Family drama is (hopefully) over for now.   School and extra-curiculars are not for another week.   Christmas Vacation for real. More joy +  Less commitments = Softer heart.  When my heart is softer my perspective is better.  I’m more grateful and hopeful.  Things seems less impossible.  Compassion comes more easily. I hope you are thinking about having a Family Compassion Focus in 2015.  Here are some ideas to get started **this week.**

A Birthday Party

When someone talks about a Birthday Party, what comes to mind? Probably a cake, a pile of presents, some out of tune singing, and people gathered together.  It’s about a person.  We go to a Birthday Party to celebrate that person.  We are glad they were born. Our lives are different because they are in it. And, because you are a normal human being, you might be a little stressed at that Birthday Party.  Maybe your child is rubbing chocolate frosting on a grouchy uncle’s sleeve.  Maybe you’re so busy and you don’t have time to waste at a party.  Maybe you and your friend are in a tough season and singing feels strained. When someone talks about Christmas Morning, what comes to mind? Probably stockings, a pile of presents, and kids in pajamas.  It’s about family, being together, and giving and getting fun new things.  We feel happy being with people we love.  We like seeing people open gifts we thoughtfully picked out just for them. And, because you are a normal human being, you …

Together We Did It! – a 2014 Summary

[This was what I posted on Facebook 12/10/14 at the end of my family’s Family Compassion Focus projects in 2014.  We are always amazed at how exuberantly people join in our kids’ world changing ideas.] None of us are surprised, right? *** $2162.00 *** Thank you so much. That is more than FOUR TIMES Greta’s goal of raising $500 to Help the Homeless through (another) craft sale. Makes me teary. God is good. Greta is beaming and singing. So many shiny, happy people donating with joy. We are giddy and humbled and tired. After school today we: – Dropped off a check and birdy ornament to DuPage Pads. $1000 total will be given to them for their comprehensive work with the homeless in our town and county. You made that happen.             – Shopped as a family on Amazon to purchase $500 worth of sheets, blankets, flatware, toothbrushes, maxi pads, pots and pans, a toilet brush (Caleb thought this was a great gift), tissues, oil, rice, and a fan for …

Dangerous Christmas

I scared some kids at church today. In the sermon our pastor spoke about the vintage passage in Luke 1 where the angel tells Mary, “Do not be afraid.” How many times have we heard that story? So many. From there he told stories from his trip to Jos, Nigeria this month. Boko Haram (the vicious terrorist group that kidnapped all those school girls this summer) has infiltrated Jos. There was a bombing in the market while he was there. Danger is all around. Another story was about watching a group of strong women loving, serving and praying over 60 orphans. They wanted to specifically reach out to kids that had witnessed their parents being killed. Twenty five of the 60 came forward. Dear God. The women literally circled them and loudly loved them with the audacity to believe their broken hearts will be restored. This question pressed into my heart throughout the message: “is it possible to live for more than safety?” Here in Wheaton, and there in Jos? So many of my decisions …

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 …