Fighting For Those Who Can’t

IMG_4096

I love this picture.

This, to me, is a picture of hope. It looks like it was painted by a happy girl who is excited about a birthday or a special occasion.

But it wasn’t. And that is what makes this a perfect picture of hope. This little hope fairy in all of its pink glory was painted by a young girl in an orphanage in Ukraine.

The orphanage she lives in is drab. Grey and neutral colors are everywhere, except for the art room tucked away in a large classroom on the second floor. It seems as though all the colors in the rainbow have been reserved for that one room in the entire orphanage.

And this is where our little hope artist painted a sweet fairy with her arms open wide, inviting life in with a smile on her face.

This little girl painted hope when her circumstances pointed toward hopelessness. She painted hope when nothing encouraged it. She painted hope even though nothing changed day after day.

This girl is a fighter. A hope warrior.

This picture makes me want to stretch out my hand to encourage this young hope warrior. I want to say “Don’t give up! Keep hoping. Keep your arms open toward life!” I know that there are days when her circumstances mock the spark of hope in her heart. I can hear their dark whispers: “You are nothing. Nobody wants you. What a waste.”

I want her to win.

I want her to experience  the beauty of redemption .

Fighting for hope means clinging to redemption. It means believing that God can redeem- buy back, rescue from loss, ransom in full – situations and relationships in our lives. Because of the beauty of redemption we can stand firm and yell what Dan Allender calls “the quintessential cry of hope” in The Healing Path

God turned into good what you meant for evil. (Genesis 50:20, NLT)

I call it the war cry of hope fighters.

Fighting for hope means believing change can happen. It means leaning forward into each day, fighting for traction, for momentum that can move us forward – even an inch.

And that’s the thing about fighting for hope. As we fight we recognize other hope warriors and we want to cheer for them. We know how hard it is to keep hoping and we know that hope is worth fighting for.

Fighting for hope for those who can’t means reaching out a hand of encouragement to speak truth: This is not the end. God will work. And in the reminding, God shines and the darkness fades.

Would you like an opportunity to encourage a fellow hope warrior?

Let me introduce my friends Slavik and Alonya. They live out the beauty of redemption and they are some of the finest hope warriors I’ve met.

They began the Nasledie HeritageFoundation because they wanted to serve orphans and troubled children in Ukraine. They saw great needs all around them and began reaching out. Instead of getting overwhelmed and saying “The problem is too big. What difference could we make?” they stepped out in prayer and began making a difference in the lives of children.

Today they have teams that go into 18 different orphanages to do winter and summer camps, Christmas programs, and fun activities wrapped in the hope that only Christ can bring.

And when war began in Ukraine, they saw an opportunity to reach out to the refugees pouring into their city and they raised money to open a place to minister to these people in need.

To find out more about their amazing ministry check out their Facebook page – Nasledie Heritage Foundation – and their blog at nasledieukraine.blogspot.com. This site shares the story behind the ministry as well as opportunities to get involved.

Fighting for hope on behalf of those who can’t nurtures a spark of hope in their lives. And hope only needs a spark to grow.

 

 

 

 

Lego Organization System In 4 Easy Steps

If you’ve ever stood in the doorway of a room littered with LEGOs, wishing for a way to organize the colorful mess, this post is for you.  If you’ve experienced the agony of stepping on LEGOs with bare feet, this post is for you. You, dear friend, fully understand the connection between these tiny blocks and the fight for hope.

IMG_2584

 

Legos are amazing. These little bricks have unlocked the imagination of children and adults all over the world for decades. LEGO’s founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen, created the name “LEGO” from the first two letters of the Danish words LEG GODT, meaning “play well“. I think he named it perfectly.

My husband has been building with LEGOs since he was five years old. He still has many of his pieces from his childhood. Since Lego hasn’t changed their style of bricks since 1958, all Lego pieces are compatible.  As our children have discovered LEGOs, we’ve added to Stephen’s childhood collection.

In 2014 the LEGO Movie brilliantly built a plot around real issues that happen in LEGO filled homes. For example, the writers of this movie completely captured a father-son discussion that has happened at our house. In this scene the dad discovers that his son, Finn, has been playing with his Lego city.

The Man Upstairs: You know the rules, this isn’t a toy!

Finn: Um… it kind of is.

The Man Upstairs: No, actually it’s a highly sophisticated inter-locking brick system. Finn: But we bought it at the toy store.

The Man Upstairs: We did, but the way I’m using it makes it an adult thing.

Finn: The box for this one said “Ages 8 to 14”!

The Man Upstairs: That’s a suggestion. They have to put that on there.

So when is a toy not a toy? When Daddy is playing with it, of course.

The plot of the LEGO movie boils down to the struggle between Lord Business and the Master Builders. Lord Business wants everyone to build LEGO creations only by using instructions. He intends to superglue the LEGO world to make sure everything stays in place.

The Master Builders want to build things they create in their own imaginations.

This struggle is real, people. Within my own home, there are people on both sides.

Stephen, admittedly, is the Lord Business of our home. He lives by the principle that once something is built strictly by the instructions, it stays together. (Though he hasn’t mentioned using it, I’ve hidden the superglue just to be safe.)

The girls use instructions. But occasionally, they flex their Master Builder muscles. Ellen created these cute little ducks in a pond.

IMG_1891

Anderson follows the instructions the first time he builds something. After that, he uses the parts to build something else, usually a spaceship. And yes, it drives Stephen nuts.

As these different types of builders began using the same LEGOs, chaos ensued in our home. No one could find the pieces they were looking for. As they searched through one container after another, and the Lego pieces scraped across one another, the horrible, maddening raking sound was unbearable.(At least to this non-Lego person.) Something had to be done.

Stephen wanted to be able to find the pieces he needed. The kids wanted to be able to play freely with the “highly sophisticated inter-locking brick system”. I just wanted a central place to keep the Legos so I could stop stepping on (ouch!) and vacuuming up (oops!) stray pieces.

Then Stephen came up with a system that restored order in our home (at least where Legos are concerned.)

  1. Goal

First, Stephen figured out his goal. He wanted to organize the LEGOs in a way that would enable him to minimize the time spent searching for pieces, and maximize his chance of finding the pieces he was looking for, as well as maximize his building time.

2. Supplies

To reach his goal, he ordered four sets of Sterilite small 5 drawer units. The bottom of each set is removable so that you can actually stack the drawers.

3. Divide

He divided the Lego pieces into three main types: bricks, plates and specialty pieces. These types were sub-divided into groups according to size and shape. For example, he divided the specialty pieces into mini figures, wheels, axles, and hinged pieces.

4. Label

He labeled each drawer according to its contents. He had enough 2×4 bricks to fill an entire drawer. But he had fewer 2×2 and 2×3 blocks, so he combined those in one drawer.

IMG_2579

 

It soon became apparent that 20 drawers were not enough. Right now we have 60 drawers. And everyone can find the LEGOs they are looking for, whether they are using instructions or not. I consider that a complete success!

IMG_2491

 

If this system doesn’t quite meet your needs, design your own. You can begin by answering one question: What is your goal?  You have to know where you want to end up before you know which way to go!

  • Bonus

During this process, Stephen discovered the Lego Digital Designer at Lego.com.  This free program allows builders to design their own Lego creations digitally. Once the design is completed, the program creates instructions and a materials list. You can then order the pieces from Lego.com or purchase them at a Lego store.

This incorporates the best of both sides of the struggle: build your own creations with instructions. The power is endless!  The program even has that hideous raking sound as you look through the Lego pieces, but there’s a mute button for that!

Amazing facts about LEGOs from National Geographic for Kids:

Seven LEGO sets are sold by retailers every second around the world.  During the Christmas season almost 28 LEGO sets are sold each second.

Laid end to end, the number of LEGO bricks sold in a year would reach more than five times round the world.  On average there are 80 LEGO bricks for every person on earth.

According to the Huffington Post, LEGO Duplo bricks (the large ones for little kids) can connect with regular LEGO bricks. Even though they are eight times the size of regular bricks, the DUPLO LEGOs connect perfectly with the regular ones.

This post was originally published on the Investing In a Child blog at stefanicarmichael.wordpress.com

People With A Power In Their Hearts

IMG_5407-1

I have the privilege of living and working at French Camp Academy, a Christian boarding school tucked away in French Camp, MS along the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway . It is a place where people fight for hope every single day.

Students are here because someone in their life wanted a change for them. An adult in their life believed they were worth fighting for. And, over time, many of our students grow to believe that as well.

Fighting for hope isn’t glamorous. It gets REAL around here, especially when hopeless-ness rears its ugly head. But I love being in a place where young people are surrounded by adults who want to see them succeed. I love being one of those adults cheering them on.

I had the opportunity to write a post for the French Camp Academy blog this week. It is called People With A Power in Their Hearts. I hope you enjoy this glimpse of life at French Camp.

To read the article, click here.