It was Spring.
But it was Summer I wanted,
The warm days,
And the great outdoors.
It was summer.
But it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves,
And the cool, dry air.
It was Fall.
But it was Winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow,
And the joy of the holiday season.
It was Winter.
But it was Spring I wanted,
And the blossoming of nature.
I was a child.
But it was adulthood I wanted,
And the respect.
I was twenty.
But it was thirty I wanted,
To be mature,
I was middle-aged.
But it was twenty I wanted,
And the free spirit.
I was retired.
But it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind,
My life was over.
But I never got what I wanted.
“Present Tense” by Jason Lehman
I will never forget these words falling off the lips of Luci Swindoll in October of 2010. Still to this day, I do not ever recall being so aware of God’s presence as I did at that moment, nor have I ever been so overcome by emotion in a public venue, but there I was in the middle of the Alamodome hunched over, weeping. “My life was over. But I never got what I wanted.” THAT was going to be me and the reality leveled me. Have you ever felt this defeated?
One week later, my sister asked me to participate in the Chicago Triathlon with her and my brother (who at the time, was serving in Iraq). This couch potato and anything but an athlete, said, “yes!” My journey to train for the triathlon also turned into my organizing a support group for families of soldiers overseas called “Walkin’ While We Wait.” It was a way to encourage healthy living and trusting God, so rather than “weeping, whining or worrying – we walked!” It is amazing how God’s hand was at work and the dominoes began to fall. Had I never attended the Women of Faith 2010 gathering and heard those words, I know with certainty that I would never have said “yes” to my sister’s request, I would have never had the courage to start this organization and I would never have begun a journey to healthy living. The domino effect continued as I soon became the proud mama of two amazing schnauzers. I had always wanted to have two dogs, but never allowed myself the satisfaction, and so I finally got my Chip and Charleigh Anne! That year I also made it a priority to travel to see my family (who live 1500 miles away from me) returning home four separate times. Sticking with the family theme, these transforming words, along with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit gave me confidence to step out in faith and sponsor three children from Africa through Compassion International, something I had always wanted to do. This one phrase, “My life was over but I never got what I wanted” had shaken me to the core and moved me to do more in that one year and the years following than I had done in all my previous 30 years combined.
Tonight, “Present Tense” stopped me cold again. I began to wonder what Mukademari Beatrice, Uwineza Jacqueline and Blessing Muthoni dream about becoming? I wondered what my nieces and nephews and all of my precious students long to be? I wondered if they are shooting for the stars or if they regularly feel defeated like I had for most of my life?
As a little girl I rarely remember feeling strong and courageous. Oh, who am I kidding? As a grown woman I feel very much the same way. It is a struggle to live in the present. Unfortunately too many of us, children included, sit in the past and wallow in our fears and self-pity. I heard a mother share that in the midst of yet another faux pas, her six year old son shouted in exasperation, “Mom, I messed up again…I just want to die.” How can a child be so riddled with defeat and hopelessness that he doesn’t want to live? My heart aches beyond understanding, and my lips pray for the precious children in this world. They need permission to shoot for the stars, and encouragement when they fall short. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a responsibility to rally together and supply them with that blessing!
As I visited with students today after school (our first week of school for the year is complete) most students were already counting down the days until Thanksgiving Break. I wonder if my girls in Africa have ever felt the same way? From their letters, I surely pray this isn’t the case.
“We are doing exams that end the school year. I am always grateful for the love you show me. Keep praying for me to perform well.” – Mukademari
“My schooling is going well and I am preparing for second term exams” – Uwineza
“At school it is going good. I am in primary 4. I did well in term 1. I request you to continue to pray for me to study well.” -Mukademari
“Someday I would like to be a Pastor and preach the Gospel” – Uwineza
Because of Compassion International and my sponsorship, my girls are able to freely attend school which “provides them with Bible teaching, health screening, hygiene and nutrition education, physical exercises, field trips, games, opportunities for community service, scholastic materials, tutoring and school and home visitations” (compassion.com) Each time they write they talk about school and what they learn. Their words encourage me! I pray that they would know what beauties they are and that they are dripping with potential. Unfortunately, the statistics are stacked against them, and billions of others.
Did You Know?
- Worldwide, nearly 80 percent of primary-school-age children attend school. In least developed countries, this figure is around 66 percent.
- The largest out-of-school population is in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 45.5 million children of primary school age are out of school.
- Of the 67 million primary-school-age children who do not attend school, 53 percent are girls.
- Worldwide, only 49 percent of children of secondary school age actually attend secondary school.
- Of the 49 percent of secondary age students who do not attend school, 52 percent are girls. The world’s functional illiterates include more than 130 million children who do not attend school, 73 million of them girls.
I don’t want my girls or any children to succumb to the false reality that they are worthless. I don’t want them to reach the end of their lives saying, “my life was over, but I never got what I wanted” (Lehman, Jason). I want them all to finish school, and be who God created them to be!!!! I want them to live in the present and shoot for the stars without fear!
I pray, also, that you and I can live in the present and take full advantage of the opportunities set before us! Furthermore, when we falter or fail, may we love each other enough to pick each other up, offer forgiveness and keep movin’ toward those stars!
Join with me and pray for my girls. Better yet, won’t you consider sponsoring a child (by clicking on the previous link) so you can save one more child from being a statistic and change the end of his or her story from “My life was over and I never got what I wanted” to “my life was over and I DID everything that God wanted!”
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”