The Art of Loving// How YOU Can Help Refugees

I think we’re all aware of the horrors of terrorism and persecution happening on the other side of the world. Often there is mention made on the news of the political and violent unrest going on in various parts of the world. If you’re anything like me, the awfulness of it grips you, but you feel helpless and unsure of what you could do to help those far-away people who are suffering.

Well, some of them are not so far away.

Recently, I was made aware of a program that helps refugees that are right here in our very own Lancaster County. It’s called: Showers of Support For Pregnant Refugees. The global organization Church World Service has a branch in Lancaster that is geared toward helping refugees, and a local volunteer named Mindy has taken the initiative to bless pregnant refugees. The purpose of the program is to collect baby items, and then have baby showers for these ladies. There are three Somali women, one Nepali, One Burmese, and one Cuban who may be receiving showers in the future.

I can’t imagine being in the shoes of these ladies. The violence of terror. Running for your life. Escaping your own country and all the adjustments of living in a new country. So much upheaval and turmoil. All this on top of the emotions and change that goes along with carrying and preparing for a baby.

You can help.

This is a list of the items they are looking for:

Car seats
Strollers
Baby bags
Carriers
Baby gates
Diapers (disposable or cloth)
Cribs
Pack and plays
Baby clothes
Sanitary pads- heavy
Toys

If you are interested in giving to help these pregnant refugees, the drop-off location is at Church World Services – 308 E King St, Lancaster, PA. It’s best if you call/email in and schedule a time to drop items off so that Christine can meet you and help ensure that the items get to the right place. If you know me in real life, contact me and I would be happy to collect any items you may have and get them to CWS.

They are also looking for people to help decorate & make food for the showers. You can call Christine Baer (717-358-9278) or email (cbaer@cwsglobal.org) for more information and check out their facebook information page.

Please share this post/info with your friends and family. These ladies need our help, and who better to help them then us? After all, we are the hands & feet of Christ.

*This post was not sponsored in any way. I just want to get the word out and make more people aware of this need. Christine Baer of CWS granted permission to share this information.*Past posts in the Art of Loving series:

How to Start

How to Love Your Pregnant Friend

Loving Your Neighbors, Literally

FIVE VERBS

HAPPY WEDNESDAY!

I skipped my Art of Loving post last week, but there’s one currently in the works. Just have a few details to confirm yet. :) Stay tuned!I don’t feel like I have a whole lot to say right now. So… FIVE VERBS.

COOK: I haven’t been terribly inspired lately but here are a couple of inspiring links. Crepes. Because, Nutella. And strawberries. :) Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad… oh my yum! In my kitchen? We’ve been eating peach pie, quinoa salad, lots of leftovers, and those Fiber Balls I made for the weekend camping trip? (I keep sneaking them out of the fridge ;) )

LISTEN: So I just discovered christianaudio.com. If you sign up for a free 30 day trial membership, you can download one book for free. They have LOTS of options — you make sure the book you want has the green “Free with a 30 day trial membership” button. They will ask for your card information, but your total will be $0.00. Don’t forget to cancel/pause your membership before the 30 days are up, or you will be charge a monthly fee. I’m currently listening to book 3 in Dr James Dobson’s fiction series.

WATCH: Audacity, produced by Ray Comfort, was just released on YouTube this week. WOW! Such a powerful message so needed in this time of social and cultural upheaval in our nation. The movie addresses homosexuality and weaves Ray Comfort’s real-life conversations with gays into a story of a young Christian man’s journey to discovering how to relate + witness to homosexuals. [Note: There are some pretty intense scenes, so not recommended for children. Though some pretty powerful statements were made through these scenes.]

LOVE: I’ve been thinking about the little things we can do to love well. Love does not have to be a grand, complicated endeavor. It can be reading your child a book. It can be making your tired hubby a tall iced coffee. It can be running an errand to help out an overloaded neighbor. It can be smiling at that grumpy cashier. It can be folding that pile of laundry, again.

ENJOY: I’m trying to soak in the last moments of summer. I canned all day, and it was fun. :) The baby napped for 3 1/2 hours, so that meant I had lots of time to work. More hot pepper jelly, a few pints of pears, and little jars of hot pepper rings for gifts are cooling on my counter. Last Saturday we had a spontaneous picnic with the family in our favorite nearby park. The red raspberries are ripening, and the sunflowers are bobbing their cheery heads. Miss Autumn is right around the corner, but I’m holding onto summer as long as I can. :)

What are you cooking, listening to, watching, enjoying, and how are you loving this week?

Farmers + Birthdays

I married a farmer.

This means that I now care a great deal more about things like timely rains and whether the hay is dry enough to bale. I also take random picnics out to the field on busy days. And now farmers have a soft place in my heart. <3This farmer happens to have a birthday today, and we are celebrating!  (Mostly with food, hehe) I’m “taking” him to Shady Maple for breakfast, and supper will be all his favorite foods. Our families both have the same tradition of the birthday person picking the meal, so we’ve continued that in our home as well. :)

Happy Birthday,  Sweetheart!

The Art of Loving// Loving Your Neighbors, Literally

I’ve been enjoying writing this series! Breaking it up into specific areas seems to cut back on the overwhelming factor. There are SO many things to do and people to notice and places you could put your energy into, that it helps to look at it in segments.

Today’s topic is close to my heart. Loving your neighbors, literally. Both my husband and I have a heart for reaching out to neighbors. We feel so blessed to live in a good neighborhood, and have enjoyed getting to know the people around us in the 2 1/2 years we’ve lived here. The majority of them are older people — the average age is 60+. (In fact, we found out that the one lady refers to us affectionately as “the kids”. Ha!!) Jonathan plows most of their driveways in the winter, and we like to randomly visit them on snowy evenings.

The last two summers, we have talked about hosting a neighborhood picnic in our back yard. Years ago, the couple that used to live two houses over always had a Christmas party in their basement for the neighborhood. They have since moved, and no one has picked up the ball to continue. We decided this is the year to make it happen! Partly because our widowed neighbor lady is moving soon, and partly because it’s time to stop talking and actually do it. :)A week ago, I quickly whipped up a flyer type invitation and we walked around at dusk, passing them out. Everyone seemed enthusiastic and excited! The guy across the road said, “Last Sunday we saw your backyard picnic and my wife said, “We should have a neighborhood picnic!” :)

Yesterday was THE DAY. :)

I had visions of all sorts of artsy pictures — HA! When one is running around starting ice cream makers + putting food out + welcoming people, well — I’m just happy I have ANY pictures at all! (However dark and quickly snapped they are)

:::OUR NEIGHBORHOOD PICNIC:::

People starting arriving a little after 6, and it truly was a little smattering of all kinds of people. From the little Horning lady next door + her schoolteacher granddaughter, to the newest neighbors down the road with the million dollar house. There was a mostly blind former pastor + his wife (who happens to be my third cousin, originally from Ohio. Random, huh?),  a family who originally lived in Connecticut, and an eccentric widower who forgets who you are about 5 minutes after he meets you. (He also barks when he introduces himself, as his last name is the name of a wild animal.)

With the people came the FOOD. It was as diverse as the people who brought it! A delicious blackberry pie (the single man told me it was the first pie he’d ever made!), a gourmet corn + feta cheese salad, fresh zucchini cake, pasta salad in a Giant container, deviled eggs, a big bowl of fruit, a vinegary carrot salad, and so much more — too much to name everything. The invitation said to bring a salad or dessert to share, and we grilled hamburgers + hot dogs, and made two kinds of homemade ice cream. I was rather relieved that it turned out perfectly, as we don’t have alot of experience with making ice cream ourselves. (Thanks Cherie for the tips!)

I think my favorite moment of the whole evening was when we were going around the circle introducing ourselves and saying where we live. Jonathan’s Grandpa was explaining that their house has the red tractor on the mailbox. (Emphasis on the red of course) The ornery man who lives on the corner said, “Oh I was going to paint it green on Halloween!” Grandpa replies, pointing his cane at him, “You’d better not! You would be in TROUBLE if you did that!” Oh so funny!The children from across the road tossed corn hole bags, and people stood around in little groups and talked about things like water wells, investment properties, surgeries, and all sorts of other things. As it got dark, people started slowly trickling out, and the remaining few of us sat around the fire and talked.

I’m so glad we finally took the plunge and hosted it, and it seemed like everyone really enjoyed themselves. Hopefully there’s a good thing going now, as it sounds like the family across the road wants to host it next time. :) It was fun to learn to know people better, and to meet a few that I hadn’t met yet. If you are in any way interested in reaching out to your neighbors, this is a great way to do it! Be prepared for a lot of work, but it’ll be worth it. :)

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Past posts in The Art of Loving series:

How To Start

How to Love Your Pregnant Friend

Words to Live By: II

A quick hello on this Wednesday!

Suddenly life has sped up and I feel like all I do anymore is make food and can. :) (With some coffee, baby cuddling, and cleaning thrown in there) Our neighborhood picnic is tomorrow evening, we helped with chorus snack last Monday, a family gathering is coming up on Saturday, and hubby turns a year older next week so we are celebrating with two different parties! These all involve food. :)

Homemade ice cream, watermelon, grilled burgers + hotdogs, fresh salsa, Tomato Pie, potatoes au gratin, fresh peach pie, raspberry pie, party potatoes, grilled chicken, baked corn, red beet eggs, olive/basil/tomato salad, cookies, meadow tea… I think I have my work cut out for me. :)

Hospitality always seems to be about food, and I’m anxious to read this book by Shauna Niequist. From the interviews I’ve heard and the reviews I’ve read, she seems like she is on target when it comes to hospitality + food. :) This quote says it perfectly:It’s not about our stellar hosting skills, our picture-perfect houses, or about our food being delicious. It’s about so much more than that. [Not that there is anything wrong with enjoying to host, or having a nice-looking clean house, or having tasty food] When those things become our focus, we’ve lost the true heart of hospitality. It’s about caring for the people and making them feel at home.

Any thoughts? 

The Art of Loving// How to Love Your Pregnant Friend

Last week we talked about How to Start. Today I’d like to share a few ways to bless your pregnant friend. Obviously every person is unique in what would make them feel loved and cared for, but here are just a few ideas I’ve gleaned from my own experience and those around me. :)

First Trimester:

Every woman is different, but many suffer from that not-so-lovely affliction of morning sickness. A lot of people don’t choose to announce their pregnancy until around 3 months, so often you don’t find out about their sickness until it’s over or almost over. But in those instances that you do know about, there are a few ways to bless that sick mommy.

1. Take them food. Even if they can’t keep it down themselves, it will feed their husband. The less they have to cook, the better. And I found that someone else’s food tasted SO much better; probably because I didn’t have to smell it cooking. ;) Even if you don’t do a whole meal, something simple like a casserole, loaf of bread, or a container of pancake batter for breakfast can help tremendously.

2. If they have a child or children, offer to babysit so they can take a nap or have a little alone time. Growing a baby can drain so much energy, and a little break is nice for a weary mommy. Offering to babysit during prenatal appointments is very helpful, as well. (This can apply to all trimesters)

3. If you live far away, send them a “Morning Sickness Mommy” package. Include a wee outfit of each gender, so they have something to boost their morale when that sweet baby face (that they can’t see or feel) seems so far away. Other things you could possibly send, include: hard ginger candy, snacks, chocolate, and little items to pamper themselves like a foot scrub or face mask.

Second Trimester:

For me, this was the best trimester. Morning sickness mostly gone, and third trimester aches and pains are yet to come. Most likely, your friend will have more energy and will be feeling good. This is a good trimester to invest in your friendship.

1. Go shopping together. Wee baby clothes and maternity clothes needed, right??

2. Give her a gift card to a nice restaurant or a fun “date basket” for her to enjoy with her husband. Couples often need time to focus on each other, while in a stage when everything can be about all things baby.

3. Help her get caught up on things that might have gotten neglected during the first trimester . Weeding flowerbeds, doing laundry, baking, just whatever gives her a boost. This especially means a lot to moms with several little people — it’s harder for them to keep up.

Third Trimester:

1. Offer to help with any nesting project they may be tackling. There may be something they really want to get done before baby’s arrival, bit it just looks too daunting to tackle alone. House cleaning, nursery projects, prepping freezer meals, etc.

2. Give them a freezer meal. I felt so huge and miserable and uninspired to cook those last weeks, and a friend blessed me with a meal before the baby was born. It just totally made my day!

3. Text them with words of encouragement and prayers when their labor + delivery day is looming. It meant so much to know others were thinking of and praying for me!

Now that I’ve finished this post, I think I have my work cut out for me. :) I currently have seven pregnant friends in my sphere of friends!

How about you? Do you have anything to add — ways others have blessed you while you were pregnant?

**Many thanks to those friends who contributed their insights and ideas to this post** :::Next time with the Art of Loving: Loving Your Neighbors, Literally:::