Archives For friendship

Could I have about 7 minutes of your time today? I want to tell you about some friends of mine, who just happen to live on the other side of the world.

One of the sweetest girls on the planet, my friend, Siphiwe.

One of the sweetest girls on the planet, my friend, Siphiwe. This moment when she put her arm around me: Priceless.

There’s about 150 kids who are not only my friends, but I am their friend. I genuinely believe they know the Browers and hundreds of others in North America as their friends. We’ve laughed, danced, ate & cried together. (If that doesn’t define friendship, I don’t know what does.) Isn’t friendship built on a common bond of interest in each other’s lives, trust and concern for each other’s well-being? Yes. I love the kind of friend you can call in the middle of a crisis and you KNOW they’ve got your back, no questions asked. We all need people like this in our lives, that show up saying ‘I am pulling for you! Your joy is my joy! Your pain is my pain! WE are gonna get through this.”

This is the kind of friendship that has formed long-distance between our connect community of sponsors through Children’s HopeChest and the children of the Bheveni community in Swaziland, Africa. A partnership. It truly isn’t one-sided. And we truly aren’t the heroes. Ask any member of one of the teams my husband & I have led… the kids & their caregivers are the heroes of their own lives. We’re the loud, obnoxious, over-zealous cheerleaders.

The B-Team worked tirelessly to paint the playground! The children LOVE it!

The B-Team & discipleship team worked tirelessly to paint the playground! The children LOVE it!

 

The children help tend the garden everyday. We were blessed to help a little while we were there.

The children help tend the garden everyday. We were blessed to help a little while we were there.

 

There are several ways we maintain this long-distance partnership:

Sponsorship impacts everyone's lives!

Sponsorship impacts everyone’s lives!

1. Sponsorship – through sponsorship a child in the Bheveni community is guaranteed a hot, healthy meal, clean water, discipleship & life skills training. Through sponsorship, they know they have a friend in North America who knows them by name, prays for them, and wants them to have a successful, fruitful life both here & into eternity. It’s $38 a month per kid, but all the money is pooled for the entire community so no child is left without their needs met, even if they don’t have a sponsor. We often say as a Children’s HopeChest sponsor, we get to mentor a child, but sponsor an entire community of children to band together & lift themselves out of poverty. It’s brilliant & God-inspired because it works – we see the fruit of sponsorship and it’s a beautiful thing, y’all! We currently have 30 new kids who have started coming to the carepoint who need a sponsor.

2. Dreaming Together – And we Dream BIG! Our online community of sponsors, advocates & supporters listen very closely to the vision the Bheveni community members have and do what we can to assist. We don’t do it for them, but assist and simply provide opportunity; whether that be through paying school fees (they have to pay to go to school! I still shake my head at this one. If they don’t have parents and barely have food, how are they to pay for tuition? ugh.) or giving a little bit extra during the holidays so they can build a new, safe community center and finally get electricity, it’s a complete joy to watch their dreams blossom & their futures brighten!

The Dream Building is going up!

The Dream Building made possible by GIVERS like you!

This multi-purpose building will be complete soon and will have electricity!

This multi-purpose building will be complete soon and will have electricity!

3. Visits – We’ve been to visit our friends in Swaziland four times since 2010. We’ve watched them grow up. We’ve led 4 incredible teams. I mean, I can’t even describe to you how amazing our team members are… they are just ready for it all & love the kids as if they were their own. It’s beautiful each & every trip to see the bonds of friendship forged and deepened.

This year, 2015, we are not able to send a team to physically be with the kids, or to physically pray & laugh & dance with the bomake who cook for hundreds of rambunctious kids everyday over an open flame. And it’s sorta crushed us to know a team trip isn’t happening. I pray that the children of Bheveni understand, but I have to put that in the Lord’s hands because otherwise it breaks my heart a little to think they may think we don’t care anymore. One blessing in this? We no longer have to put our time & resources towards funding a trip, but now we can JUST focus on supporting their dreams! Hallelujah for that! It would’ve cost the team a minimum of $20,000 to fly there for 10 days. Let’s imagine this money instead going into the long-term development of the children in a variety of other ways. And it can happen easier than you think.

Even though we aren’t having a team trip, we can & are still being a support to the Bheveni Community… and that’s where you come in.

Today, besides sponsorships, the one way my readers can help is…. drum roll, please…

Buy A T-shirt.

Really.

When you buy a Create Hope T-shirt, the extra funds will be invested into the kids’ lives. And the shirts are rad. Really. One of our 3-time team members designed it and she did a great job! So you’ll get a fashionable Tee and DO GOOD IN THE WORLD at the same time.

A rainbow of gorgeous, tangible hope.

A rainbow of gorgeous, tangible hope.

Your T-shirt will help ensure the kids stay in school, have the necessary school supplies & uniforms, have medical attention when they need it, and who knows, we may even surprise them by having the staff bring a meal with meat in it!

There’s a meal called ‘Chicken Dust’ – it doesn’t sound good but it makes my mouth water just thinking about it . Because meat is expensive, the kids only get this meal when our team comes. Once a year. And if we’re not coming… we gotta get them their Chicken Dust somehow, y’all! The hype around Chicken Dust rivals that of Chick-Fil-A. Now you get me. For all the kids to have a meal with MEAT, it costs appx. $600 US.

And if we raise another $400 beyond that, we can have the staff show up with a 30-day supply of food to the local homesteads. Often these are child-led or grandparent-led homes that are struggling the most. Two years ago we took one of these 30-day supply bags to Grandma Dlamini raising 5 grandkids (because all their parents had died). She burst into tears and said just that morning she begged God for a miracle. They had run out of food that morning. THAT morning… and THAT evening God sent some clueless Americas to show her His faithfulness.

The faith of a grandmother is a powerful thing.

The faith of a grandmother is a powerful thing.

Buy a Create Hope Tee, y’all. 

It’s $30 total shipped to your door. There’s even kid sizes. If you don’t want another Tee but wanna help the Bheveni kids out, click my paypal button on the top right column, and your donation will go towards providing some of life’s most basic needs (like food & education) for my friends.

We need to sell at least 100 Tees. As of yesterday, we’ve sold precisely 11. Eleven. So yeah, we’ve got some catching up to do. Shirt sales end July 27th.

I’m gonna choose to have the faith of Grandmother Dlamini. I’m praying the audacious & desperate prayer for our God to show up STRONG on their behalf through broken, yet willing vessels such as ourselves.

Thank you!!!

Shine On!

Danielle 

#createhope2015

Not that long ago I wrote 10 Surefire Ways To Be A Christian A-hole. Yes, I did. If you read it, you’ll see I’m very aware of my own shortcomings. Such is the case here. I’m not the perfect friend, which is how I so easily came up with this list in the first place! So read on… with sarcastic non-judgmental eyes. Yes, that’s a thing.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 1.08.24 AMSo, how about you? Looking to lose a good friend? Herein lies 10 surefire ways to make it happen! You’re welcome! Also, satire, people, satire. #lightenup 

1. Gossip to her & about her.  Tell her what’s wrong with all your other friends. Tell others what’s wrong with her. Ugh. She can be SO annoying because she’s SO nice. All the time. Play mind games. Girls love this stuff. I mean, she’s such a ‘goodie-goodie’ she certainly won’t tell anybody & you can get it the juice details off your chest. Shew! You already feel better, don’t ya?

2. Don’t return messages. Like ever. Everybody slips up ‘once in a while’, and this friend of yours totally knows that you got her text – why should you have to actually respond? And she knows you. She no longer expects to you respond, right? Not everybody can be Miss Congeniality or Polly McPlannerstein. You’re playing Level 725 on Candy Crush – the girl can WAIT!

3. Forget her big day.  You’ve gotten so caught up in school, work & Pinterest that you just completely slipped up. Rats! Rather than admitting that you screwed up though, just go ahead and pretend the big day didn’t really exist next time you see her and well, talk about…

4. Only talk about yourself. What you did last night. How stressed you are about your future. Where you’re going on vacation & how you just like totally have to get rid of these tan lines before hitting the beach. All the foods you can & can’t eat now that you are gluten, dairy, GMO, lactose, and flavor free. Oh, and you just must have a sounding board for your relationship issues. She is SUCH a great listener!!! (and between you & me, her life must be boring because she like never talks about it! Go figure!)

5. Cancel plans. Regularly. I mean, hey, you’re a busy, spontaneous kind of girl! She needs to just understand that sometimes things are gonna get in the way of your friendship & you might just have something better to do. She’s your friend, she knows you’re a flight risk, so she’ll get over it. Again.

6. Lie. Lie because like Tom Cruise she can’t handle the truth, even though she’s asking for an honest answer. You know her better than she knows herself, right?

7. Send her on a guilt trip. Be sure to call her names, cry actual tears if you have to, but THIS TIME she needs to know what an awful person she is for not doing what you wanted her to do. Give her a taste of her own medicine. That’s right, teach her a lesson. Haven’t heard from her when you thought she should call/text you? Didn’t like her opinion? Definitely let her know how hurt you are by screaming at her.

{word of wisdom because I can’t help myself: if you want your friend to talk to you when you’re struggling, swallow your pride & CALL HER YOURSELF! Actually SAY the words, “Girlfriend, I need you right now, like, for real.” Then if she doesn’t respond – see Point #2 – you’ll know she’s just really not into this relationship or is very possibly going through her own crisis. Remember to give the grace you want her to give to you. Nobody likes a relationship where you have to jump through invisible, constantly twirling hoops to maintain it. Also, don’t be a meanie when you don’t get her attention. It will backfire. Backfire is never a good thing.}

9. Don’t compliment her, for heaven’s sake. Sure she’s down on herself, but complimenting her outfit (that you secretly adore & know would look better on you) will go to her head & she’ll probably become all stuck on herself and forget you exist. Definitely keep compliments to yourself.

8. Give her the silent treatment. Make her wonder why she doesn’t deserve your attention. If she doesn’t know, she should! Ignoring her at the party will certainly help her figure it out. Duh.

10. Never say I’m sorry. In fact, don’t admit that you had any part in hurting her, even when she says you did because it’s just her insecurities. Tell her to suck it up, buttercup. Life’s hard.

So do you agree with this list? What would you add?

We all know there comes a point where friends just grow apart, have different interests, different schedules, etc. Do your best, however, when you do see each other, to pick up where you left off. It doesn’t have to be complicated!  Just enjoy each other’s company, for the love. If both of you can do this, you’ve got yourself one heck of a friend and you should tell them so!

Shine On! {and go hug a friend}

Danielle

 

Hope Is Rising

August 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

It brought so much joy to my heart to read the following post. I love reliving last month’s memories of our first moments with the Bheveni children & bomake. It was such a precious time – as Margo describes – we are no longer strangers, but family. Not only are their names & faces becoming more familiar to us, but their awareness of why we are there is highly evident. We are forming relationships – trusted relationships.

This has been my heart-cry for over three years now, that God would pour His love through us – whatever it takes – so the children would have not only the opportunity for a brighter future, but be filled with a sense of hope, knowing they are valued & are not standing alone. I believe that is happening. Especially when I hear other team members’ experiences, as I’m about to share with you. In a country whose statistics are grim, even threatened by the extinction of the Swazi race – Hope is Rising. Joy is Abounding. God is moving. To the ends of the Earth, the hope of His love & salvation IS growing. 

Many of you are a part of creating that hope. You give. You pray. You write. You go. {You even buy T-shirts & take #selfies just so you can show the children half a world away how much they are loved! More on that subject in a later post.} For now, read the amazing first-hand experience of a woman whose heart has been captured, yet set free to love the children of Swaziland!

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The planning for my trip this year pretty much started almost 2 years ago – the day I got home from Swaziland the first time. I knew with the very first smile, the first hug, that it was not if but when I would return.

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 8.33.45 AM

 

The B-Team (B for Bheveni… pretty clever, right?) really doesn’t get serious planning done until the last 6 months or so before we leave. Danielle and Mike, our fearless leaders, do the hard part with the planning – the dates, logistics, the contacts with Children’s HopeChest, setting up the conference calls. The rest of us get to wait for the details. Once the technical stuff is set we get to jump in and start planning the fun stuff: what we’re going to do with the kids. We also discuss what sort of things we can bring to bless the carepoint and the kids. This can sometimes be tricky for us; our first inclination is to try to collect anything and everything that we can. Who wouldn’t want to drop an entire Super Target right smack in the middle of a field and let them loose? But we have to limit what we bring – not only because we have limited baggage space, but more importantly because our visit is not about stuff.Hygiene supplies and underwear are very helpful but they only last so long. Smiles, hugs, laughter – those memories are permanent.

With that being said, I have to say that I had the most awesome time collecting supplies. Each member of our team signed up to bring different items that we planned on handing out. It’s a collect-what-you-can-and-buy-the-rest sort of deal. I put the word out with the items that I wanted to collect and every single item was donated. EVERY SINGLE ITEM. My facebook friends rocked my world – I had stuff shipped to me from different states! I had a trunk load of candy dropped off at my house! I had people contacting me asking what else I needed. And when I came up with the idea of collecting yarn and knitting needles to bring with I had people donating bags and bags of supplies!

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I also felt like this time around I had so much support from friends and family just in general. Not that I didn’t get support during my first trip but this time I really felt the love. Maybe it’s because people realized that it wasn’t just a one time thing for me, maybe (hopefully) people felt connected to my journey and to Swaziland, maybe it was to make me shut my trap because I can’t stop talking about how much I love Swaziland – I can’t really say. I had a lot of people send me encouraging words, people generously blessed us financially, and there were people praying for me, my family, and the entire trip. At the risk of sounding ridiculously corny, I felt like I had my own little “village” cheering me on throughout the whole process of preparing for, and while I was on the trip.

I’ll skip the details of the travel time (a day and a half? two days?) and get to the good stuff: Bheveni Carepoint. We left Johannesburg, South Africa in the morning and drove the 5-6 hours to get across the Swazi border and to where we were staying. We basically dropped our luggage off at the Guest House (that’s where we stay – it’s like a hotel only much smaller) and headed to Bheveni so we could see the kids for a couple of hours. Our team this year had 17 people and of the 17, only 6 had been to Bheveni – but everyone was equally excited. As we approached the carepoint my heart sped up. I couldn’t wait to see everyone again! My mind was racing… would I recognize the kids? It had been almost 2 years since I had seen them. Would they remember me? Surely not. Will the Bomake (Bo-MA-gay – the women that keep the carepoint running) be the same? Will any of them remember us?

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We had discussed on the drive to the carepoint that we were not even going to take our cameras out during this first visit – mostly because we wanted to get (re)acquainted with our friends here and not have it turn into a circus. Also, we Americans can sometimes forget with all of our technology to actually live the moment instead of just recording it.

I tell you, as I stepped out of our bus and got the first real look at the beautiful blue building and all of the children running around it, I got goose bumps and tears in my eyes. I remember thinking ‘I’m home.’

It didn’t take long before we were surrounded with children – giggling, whispering, hands reaching out for hands. We made our way over to the “kitchen” area so we could greet the Bomake and I was surprised and in awe that most of them remembered me. My highlight from the day was when Gcebile, (Nay-BE-lay) the preschool teacher who I bonded with during the last trip, walked up to me and said “Margo!” as she embraced me. That she remembered my name after all of this time – it was awesome.

We spent the afternoon playing and talking and holding and hugging kids of all ages – it was heaven. We got to see the Bomake in action and even help a little – cooking and serving the kids. We got our first look at the garden that has become the pride and joy of the carepoint.

Even though it was only a few hours at the carepoint and it was just a taste of the joy that we would feel throughout the week…. it was an incredible day.

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Shine On!

Danielle

Berta Mae, Research Cow Extraordinaire, is HUNGRY!

Okay, so you guys surprised me! I knew I had smart readers, but I was shocked at how many of you responded to my first set of questions regarding friendship, with such thoughtful insight.

Thank you!

Now here’s another question for you…

In order to be a true friend, we have to tell the truth even when it hurts, because lying to her (includes keeping quiet)  will hurt even more, right?

Now I know my opinion on this, but I’m prepared to be fascinated by yours.

Research Question:  In your opinion, is it okay to be brutally honest, in the context of close friendships? Another way of asking this is ~ do you value friends who are brutally honest with you? Or are you offended by their honesty? Please explain.

Keep those answers coming! Remember Berta Mae is hungry!!!! 🙂

In case you missed the first questions…

SOS! Research Help Needed!

Shine on Sisters!

Meet Berta Mae, Research Cow Extraordinaire

I’ve been thinking a lot (watch out!)

Besides thinking I’ve been researching.

I’ve been researching women’s friendships & what makes them work. STOP: Can I call us girlfriends, without anybody getting any weird ideas? Girls who are friends is the subject. Now that that’s settled…

I talked briefly about how one woman’s kindness impacted me last week on The Friend Ship

Yes, we are all moms. But we were first women.

And at our very core, women, we need each other’s friendship.

I believe we lead better lives when we go through it with our girlfriends!

I can read articles all day via my Google University Research Studies, but not get real answers.

So, I need your help! Over the next few days/weeks, (however long it takes me) I’ll be asking a few questions about girlfriends and how we relate to & bless each other and how we can bug the crap out of each other.

Here goes…

1. What’s one thing a girlfriend does that strengthen/deepens your relationship with her?

on the opposite side of that coin

2. What’s one thing that weakens a relationship with a girlfriend?

I look forward to hearing multiple perspectives on this subject of girlfriends. While I think an open forum is beneficial, if you feel more comfortable emailing me privately, please do so.

Oh! I almost forgot to introduce you to my research cow, Berta Mae. Seriously, she’s the best researcher ever. She finds what I need, chews on it and spits it back out just the way I like it! Whenever you see Berta Mae on a post, you know research questions are sure to follow!

I have a warped sense of humor. 🙂

Shine On Sisters!!!

The Friend Ship

May 7, 2010 — 13 Comments

So are you on the Friend Ship or are have you been Walking the Plank?

I’ve been Walking the Plank. On the ship, but not really...

I don’t want to make excuses for myself but I’m going to anyway. 🙂

It’s difficult to find the balance between investing in my friendships and getting done with what I need to do ~ which translates to doing what I want to do.

I am passionate about blogging (it’s my newest passion, I’ve had many). I want to give it my all. And some of my relationships outside of cyber world have suffered because of it, including my relationship with clean laundry, but that’s a different post!

I want to & need to maintain closeness with my G-friends. I have some great ones. But am I willing to invest the time & energy to keep those close friends?

This is my one of my favorite quotes on friendship:

You are my friend when you can guard my failure, challenge my thought and celebrate my success.

Something happened to me yesterday that caused me to want to jump back in the Friend Ship

A woman that I go to church with called me.

Did she call me to ask me to volunteer? Nope.

Did she call me to tell me about her life? Nope.

She called me to listen to me. Literally. I’m still in shock & so touched.

She called to ask how I’m doing and proceeded to ask multiple questions about my life – joys & struggles. We talked for 22 minutes and it’s been the highlight of my week, perhaps my month.

I want to be that kind of friend. A friend that’s interested in your successes & failures. Not what you can do for me.

I’m truly curious, does anyone else find the balancing act difficult? How do we cultivate lasting friendships while still taking care of your family & having time for yourself? How do you do it?

Also do you think you can have true friendship & community in an online social networking? Or is that just a cop-out for not being truly engaged in ‘real’ life?