How Hair Nets Bring Joy

Blessed are the heads wearing hair nets, for they help pack food for the hungry. Isn’t there a verse somewhere that says that?

I’m kidding of course. But yes, that’s me wearing a hair net. And I wore it joyfully because blessing others is itself a blessing. Serving in Jesus’ name and showing God’s love to the hungry is a joy. It’s a joy because, as Ann Voskamp says, “…while I serve Christ, it is He who serves me… It’s the fundamental, lavish, radical nature of the upside-down economy of God. Empty to fill.”

Empty to fill.

On Saturday our family — plus an 8-year-old friend and minus our youngest daughter — emptied to fill. We emptied our Saturday schedule and filled the morning with this special project. We emptied any pride we had in our hair-dos and filled hair nets with our hair. We filled boxes and cups with rice and soy nuggets. And then we emptied the cups and boxes to fill meal bags, which eventually filled boxes, which eventually filled pallets that will ship overseas to fill the stomachs of some of the 12 million people who are starving in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

According to the head of the United Nations Relief Agency, these countries in the Horn of Africa are experiencing the worst drought since the 1950s. The land is empty of food. It is the worst humanitarian disaster in the world.

Our family and some dear friends volunteered alongside dozens of volunteers from our church and two partner churches, under the direction of Feed My Starving Children. This nonprofit hunger-relief organization provided all of the food, supplies, equipment, expertise and experience for the packing sessions.

The food we packed was a unique combination of chicken, veggies, soy and rice. Food scientists developed the special formula to include easily digestible protein, carbohydrates and vitamins. It’s a healthy, nutrient-rich meal to fill empty stomachs and satisfy more than hunger pains.

During our two-hour shift, volunteers at our particular location worked together to pack 27,864 meals. That’s enough food to fill the tummies of 76 children for a year. Each meal costs only 24 cents. By the end of the day, our site had packed more than 112,000 meals.

What’s more, volunteers from several other partner churches were also packing meals throughout the day on Saturday, under the direction of Feed My Starving Children and two other hunger-relief organizations: Kids Against Hunger and ImpactLives. This vast effort was called The Hunger Initiative. Altogether in just one day, approximately 4,000 volunteers from 11 churches gathered in eight locations across Minnesota and packed 1 million meals to send to the hungry in the Horn of Africa.

One million meals.

That’s a big number. But here’s an even bigger number: 1.02 billion.

That’s how many undernourished people live in the world today. More than 1 billion.

One in six people worldwide suffer from hunger and malnutrition; it is the number-one health risk and is more prevalent than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Hunger.

Isaiah 58:10-11 says,

“Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as the noon. The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”

Want to become the blessing? Want to let your light shine? You can feed the hungry by supporting the mission of Feed My Starving Children in a variety of ways — and only one involves wearing a hair net.

  • Pray for the millions of starving people around the world and for FMSC’s ability to serve them.
  • Volunteer to package meals.
  • Donate online (just 24 cents pays for one meal).
  • Purchase FMSC merchandise from their Online MarketPlace. One t-shirt buys 45 meals!

May God fill you with joy in Him as you love and bless others, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (1 John 3:18)

“The servant-hearted never serve alone. Spend the whole of your one wild and beautiful life investing in many lives, and God simply will not be outdone. God extravagantly pays back everything we give away and exactly in the currency that is not of this world but the one we yearn for: Joy in Him.” -Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Because Christmas is Forever

It’s Jan. 23. Nearly a month after Dec. 25. I’m still finding random Christmas items around the house that should have been boxed up weeks ago.

Just yesterday I stashed away a pile of Christmas-themed picture books and board books. And we still have a healthy stash of candy canes and other stocking-stuffer sweets lingering on the kitchen counter.

I think part of me wants to celebrate Christmas again on some random day in February. Pull out the books and the music. Bake up those sugar cookies we never got around to making this year, and maybe whip up another batch of our favorite cinnamon rolls. Mmmmm…

One of my favorite authors, she says you can have the most hope after Christmas. She shares this conversation with her youngest daughter Shalom, who is the same age as my youngest daughter.

“Mama?” Shalom walks beside me, holding my hand. “Will tomorrow be Christmas too?”

I know that feeling. Not wanting any of this wonder to wander away — or me from it.

“Well, I’m thinking… ” I stop, look out across the fields and the white and the stars. “I’m thinking that it’s Christmas now forever.”

Her laughter rings all around us.

“Yes, Mama, yes!” She spins around in snow, in the halo of the barn light, us all under stars.

It is Christmas forever now — because Christ is always with us.”

I like the idea of Christmas forever, don’t you? Christ is always with us, and in John 14:23 He promises to make His home with us when we love Him and obey His teaching. Jesus calls us to love and serve one another, and He promises that we will be blessed by doing so. In fact, in John 15:14, He says we are His friends if we do what He commands.

So this year, as Jesus’ friends, we’re re-celebrating Christmas on Feb. 25 in a really big way. This celebration will include hope and food and gift-giving on an enormous scale, but we’ll skip the over-decorated balsam fir, homemade cinnamon rolls and sugar cookies.

On Feb. 25, our church family is teaming up with 10 other churches and three Minnesota organizations (Feed My Starving Children, Impact Lives and Kids Against Hunger) to package and send over 1 million highly nutritious meals to the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya. Right now in the Horn of Africa, 12 million Ethiopians, Kenyans and Somalians are suffering through the worst drought in more than 50 years. The project is called the Hunger Initiative, and you can learn more about it at

Friends, may I humbly offer a few wonderful ways for you — as Jesus’ friend — to join us in loving and serving these who are in such desperate need for food?

First, pray! This is a huge project with the potential of saving thousands of lives. Secondly, since it costs $50 to pack one box of food (about 216 meals), financial donations are needed and appreciated. You can click here to donate — our specific project is the Brookwood/Bridgewood/Oakwood – Feed My Starving Children project.

Or perhaps you might consider serving in a personal, long-term way by sponsoring a child in Ethiopia?

Two years ago our family began sponsoring Dawit (pictured above) through Children’s HopeChest. God has richly blessed us through the pictures and handwritten letters we have received from Dawit. And God is softening our hearts and our children’s hearts as we pray regularly for Dawit and his friends at Kind Hearts carepoint, as we send letters and care packages to him, and as we pray for the various mission teams and mission projects connected with Kind Hearts.

Trees of Glory is another Children’s HopeChest carepoint in Ethiopia, and it has several new children in need of sponsor families. Click here to learn more about this excellent child sponsorship program, coordinated by Karen Wistrom who blogs at Family from Afar.

Christ is with us, so let’s let the world know we are Christians by showing our love. Let’s celebrate Christmas forever!

Love Letters to Ethiopia

For a little more than a year now, our family has been sponsoring Dawit, a little boy at Kind Hearts Care Point in Ethiopia.

In giving, we have been blessed beyond measure! What a great honor to play this role in caring for the suffering on the other side of the world. 

We have never met Dawit, but we have been writing to him — mostly by e-mail — through the Lord’s faithful servants at Children’s HopeChest. Last fall, we enjoyed sending him a little care package, and we were ever so delighted to receive pictures of him opening it a few months ago.

Last month we received our first hand-written letter from Dawit! Oh, what joy! He asked us to please pray for his school and wondered if we would be visiting him in Ethiopia someday.

Earlier this month, thanks to the generous work of Little Goody 2 Shoes, Dawit and the other 98 children at Kind Hearts received brand new shoes. Isn’t that fantastic news? You can read more about these kids who are walking a little taller if you jump over to Family from Afar.

Just a day or two after Valentine’s, we received the opportunity to send Dawit a letter and a few other items that would fit in a business-sized envelope. The girls found some Silly Bandz and extra Valentine cards to send, and then they helped me draft the letter. We also enclosed a cute little paper puppet.

If you would like to join us in praying for the ministry of Children’s HopeChest in Ethiopia, here are some specific requests they sent us a few months ago. 

  • Pray that may God expand the ministry of Children’s HopeChest in Ethiopia.
  • Pray that all of the registered children be healthy and successful in their lives.
  • Pray also that the staff at the U.S. office, Ethiopia country office, and at each care point and orphanage will be energetic for the ministry of children and for the wisdom of the Lord while working to serve Him.
  • Pray for the health of all sponsors, donors and all of sponsorship community leaders.
  • Pray for the coming months, that it may be a season of success, strategic expansion and experiencing the hand of God in the ministry.

Also, would you prayerfully consider sponsoring a child like Dawit through Children’s HopeChest? If so, please contact Karen Wistrom, the sponsor coordinator for Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory Care Points, at

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”

-Isaiah 1:17 NLV