Spring Babies

My house is full of babies. The dear sweet, grow up super fast animal babies. I’m working at the kitchen table, watching the wind whip across the pool outside, writing notes and answering emails, and listening to the cheeping of the two chicks we brought home two weeks ago. Their down is almost completely replaced by baby feathers, but when they get excited and flap or run or hop, little puffs of down blow off… like the dandelion seeds we make our wishes on.unnamed-23unnamed-22

And aside from the wind outside, all is quiet in here. And I stand up. I’m thirsty and hunger is setting in. It is lunchtime. I glance over to the butterfly gardens where 9 chrysallises hang. They’ve been there for nearly a week now and just this morning I begin despairing. Will they break open and release the new, metamorphosised life inside? Did the metamorphosis take place or did something go wrong in that mysterious process… for all 9? But no! Behind my back, silently, these two were born.

unnamed-21Reborn, really. No longer worms, not even worms with wings, but bona fide butterflies… given a new life, a new purpose, a new form of transportation and of feeding. Completely changed.

And I’m reminded of this amazing story coming from Malawi:
“We had reason to celebrate Martin & Mathias’ first birthday recently. When their mother died shortly after giving birth, most people in their village thought one or both of the twins would follow soon after. That’s the way these situations usually play out in the rural villages of Malawi. With no one to nurse them and scant resources to provide formula during these first days and weeks, it’s usually not long before dehydration, hunger or some opportunistic disease claims one or both of their lives; but that’s not their story!2a76ee_0678066f305b4733b66f4292be6eb11b.jpg_srb_p_284_226_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srb

Their story includes grandparents and aunts turning to volunteers from the Passion Center Community Health Network (CHN) for help. Similar to the Passion Center, the CHN’s activities are focused around the following mission; “Joining God in Rescuing, Redeeming & Restoring the vulnerable in their communities.” As we shared this need with the larger Passion Center family, enough money was raised to provide formula, blankets, clothes and medical care for Martin & Mathias.

Today they are healthy, strong and growing. Though their mother was HIV+, they don’t show any signs of being infected nor will we test them until they are 3yrs or older. But whatever their AIDS status – positive or negative – we’re convinced God has an even more promising future than what they’ve experienced so far! We don’t know exactly what their story will be, but we thank God He’s already writing a different one than what relatives and some villagers were bracing for!2a76ee_99a108ac8a9c4b4db73fd1693e1ce035.jpg_srb_p_284_229_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srb

Hope is more than a concept we share, it’s the result of real, sometimes overwhelming, circumstances changing because God is involved. Those circumstances might be physical, emotional, psychological, educational, and spiritual or a combination of some or all of these. Over the past 10 years we’ve seen God’s Hope altering the lives of hundreds of children and dozens of village; Martin & Mathias are two recent examples of this Hope taking root in fertile ground.” To learn more about the Passion Center for Children in Malawi, go here.
How much of life do we spend as worms? Crawling and foraging? And how much of life do we spend in the glorious hope, soaring and sipping?

Martin and Mathias have been given wings. And we at Compassion Tea and CompassioNow are thrilled beyond words to be working with the Community Health Network at the Passion Center for Children in Malawi. These are the kinds of stories that inspire and motivate us! Won’t you join us?!

Take Shelter

Eggs in an incubator for three weeks. Preschool students making weekly field trips to visit the eggs. And then, on the anticipated day, listen, do you hear it? A chirp! There’s a tapping on that egg! Do you see the crack? Chicks, wet and tiny, start breaking free, triumphing over all the forces against them… being mailed, being jostled by preschool kids, chromosomal mishaps, the threat of unsustainable life, of being incompatible with life. The next round of worries begins for these little lives. The children gathered around, hovering over the incubator, marvel at how that little bird was once scrunched inside the egg. “How did it fit? How did it get there? Can I hold it?” So goes the steady stream of questions surrounding this birth, this new beginning. The marvel of life.

Twice a year, my son’s preschool goes through this ritual. We’re in the farm cycle right now… visiting the pumpkin patch, learning about the things on the farm, and coming to understand that there is a great big God, THE great big God, who loves and protects little old me from the scary things of this world.

Last Wednesday, the first of the eggs hatched… a little black chick lovingly named Blackbird by the Frogs class. Subsequent chicks arrived including a fluffy yellow babe full of promise and dubbed a name of immense proportion… Lightning. My son has been lobbying for weeks that if a fluffy yellow chick should arrive, she should be named after the great symbol of God’s power in the sky. His feelings have been crushed multiple times by his classmates who feel equally strongly about a different name. But in the end, the votes fell Joseph’s way, and Lightning it is… at least for another week before little Lightning heads off to the wide, nameless world of the farm.

On Thursday of last week, eager to see who else had hatched overnight, Joseph and I traipsed up to Ms. Kelly’s office and huddled up to the incubator. One little chick (the aforementioned Lightning) was lively and fluffy and chirping happily. The other, too weak to move, had dried onto the wire mesh of the incubator and was feebly trying to free herself. We worked diligently to loosen her bondage, but even then, her legs were stiff and moving was difficult. That chick’s fate seemed sealed, a fact which thankfully eluded Joseph but which stuck with me all day. On Friday, we brought Blackbird and Lightning home with us for a weekend of babysitting. In texting Ms. Kelly about the dear little chicks, I learned that while another chick made a surprise appearance late Friday, still another had made the effort to emerge and had succumbed to the process. Some live, some die. In solidarity and with a nod to this fact, I sent Ms. Kelly a text from Blackbird and Lightning thanking her for her loving mothering; she was the surrogate mother who cleared away the shells, kept the chicks warm until they were dry, and then carried them safely to their protective plexiglass hutches in the classrooms. Ms. Kelly… a.k.a. Mother Hen.

I saw Ms. Kelly at church on Sunday and shared with her how things were going. I mentioned that I had taken a picture of Winston staring at the chicks, wary and intrigued, eager to sniff, chase, possibly eat whatever they were, those little balls of soft yellow fluff that make that song. Staring them down, barking at them, inviting them to play? That’s my dog. Here’s the picture.

65 lb. beast waiting to snatch up innocent lives.

This morning, Ms. Kelly used the picture in the preschool’s weekly email… “a picture of peace,” she called it. Unbeknownst to the chicks, danger, evil, death lurks beyond the clear, plexiglass walls of their home. Lit by the heat lamp, they are in the light, but out there, who knows what lurks beyond their vision, beyond their sight, beyond their imagination. That plexiglass hutch is like the sheltering arms of the mother hen for these little lives. Impenetrable, strong, an unseen bubble of protection, it is even more than a mother hen. It becomes a metaphor for the way God protects us.

I don’t know where you are in the world right now. Things are seemingly swimming along out here on the west coast, but we are listening with anticipation and dread to the forecasts for the east coast as they prepare for Hurricane Sandy. Friends, family, Compassion Tea members are hunkering down; battening down the hatches; bringing in the toys, garden furniture, and tools; stocking up on water, batteries, food – who knows how long the power will be out. Take shelter, dear ones, take shelter.

It’s not just on the east coast. We hear stories about sex trafficking, about bombings whether they be suicide, drone, or rebel forces, about unrest, high unemployment (think 25% in Spain), about parts of the world where it isn’t safe for children to play, where children can’t play because of ill-health, or because they need to work to support the family, or because they are abused, enslaved, robbed of their independence, safety, and innocence. The world is not safe. Evil lurks just beyond what we can see, danger plays at our shores like the surf before a storm or maybe like the undercurrent we can’t see, the one that wants dearly to pull us under and carry us out to sea.

There’s a verse on my heart today – chick inspired perhaps but nevertheless relevant – a verse I feel compelled to pray over and over today. Matthew 23: 37 “…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings….” God is often portrayed as a mother hen with broad, sheltering wings. The psalmist writes in Psalm 36: 7, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” In Psalm 63: 7, he writes, “Because you are my help I sing in the shadow of your wings.” And in Psalm 57: 1, the psalmist cries out, “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” My own favorite verse, Isaiah 40: 31 speaks of wings; “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Wherever you are in the world, whether you are peacefully oblivious to the perils surrounding you, unaware of the 65 lb. dog of evil and menace lurking beyond the light or whether you are keenly aware that the world as you know it is about to be rocked in profound ways, may you find shelter in the protection God offers, until the disaster has passed. May God gather you in, shelter you, warm you and provide for your needs. How He longs to. Take shelter, dear friends, take shelter.