"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The iPhone I Could've Had

I have an old-style flip-open phone,

Much like the old ones inspired by one of my favorite TV series.

I don't have texting.

I can't take video.

I can barely take photographs.

My phone doesn't have cool apps,

Like a Bible,

Or a compass,

Or an imitation of a real Star Trek communicator.

I can't use it as a calendar,

And the alarm is definitely not reliable.

All it does is make and receive calls,

And, really, that's all I need it to do,

(Though there are times that I could really use that alarm . . .)

But I'll confess that I wouldn't mind a new toy,

That I would really like to have a smartphone that could do all of those cool things.

Lots of my friends have them,

And they look so useful and fun.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to access the Internet from anywhere?

Check my email any time?

Have all those really awesome apps to play with?

Well, just a thought.

I remember very clearly one Sunday after church,

Just last month.

Dad had gotten out his brand-new iPhone,

The one he'd had to get for his work,

To call Mom,

Ask about lunch.

I looked over his shoulder eagerly,

Like a toddler with a new toy,

Giant smile on my face,

Amazed at the beautiful touchscreen and the attractive design of the phone,

Wishing I'd had to get one for work,

Though, of course, I don't really work,

And my siblings called attention to my childlike behavior.

He looked at me and said,

"You know, you have enough money.  You could buy one."

I told him I thought there were better things to spend six hundred dollars on,

And, thinking of that,

I came to the realization that I must have six hundred dollars,

And I knew exactly what I wanted to spend it on.

I'd been thinking about it for months,

Felt like God was putting it on my heart,

But I wasn't sure.

My only job is babysitting in the summer,

Though, admittedly, I do make a decent amount of money doing that.

I'm a college student,

And there's no guarantee I'll get a job when I graduate.

I had no idea how much money I had,

As my parents keep track of it all for me,

And I never really buy anything,

As there's not much I want and my parents buy everything I need.

And then I would have to talk to my parents,

Convince them to let me do it.

That would probably be the hardest part.

I went on the website as soon as I got home,

And started looking at beautiful pictures of adorable children.

Having spent weeks receiving emails to pray for India,

I started there,

And looked at the girls who had been waiting the longest.

There were only two.

I looked at the one on the left.

She'd been waiting a little longer,

And I was thinking . . .

And then I looked at the one on the right,

Read the information,

Until my eyes just stopped. 

She shared my birthday,

Just ten years younger than me.

Some people look for that,

For children born on a specific day,

Looking for that connection,

That commonality.

I hadn't even cared,

Until I saw that date there

And it felt like a sign from God,

And there was a connection,


I copied the URL for her page and pasted it into a sticky note on my computer.

Then I tried to think of how to convince Mom and Dad.

Dad, of course, gave his usual speech to "think about it carefully.

I'd need that money when I graduated from college.

It wasn't really a good idea to spend all of it."

I reasoned that I'd be spending one-sixth of it in a year,

If I had as much as I estimated,

And that I made twice as much as I needed per year babysitting.

He said I'd have to talk to Mom.

That conversation went a little like this:

"Mom?  How much money do I have from babysitting?"

"I don't know."

"It's three thousand dollars, right?  One thousand for each year?"

"I suppose so."

"I haven't really spent any of it, right?"


"I'd like to spend some now.  I'd like to give some of it away."

"Mary, we give money to charity."

"But it's not my money.  I want to use my money."

"What do you want to do with it?"

"I want to sponsor a child.  Through Compassion."

"Mary, we sponsor a child." (As of our last trip to the Family Christian store.)

"I want to sponsor one myself.  Using my money.  I've been thinking about it for months."

"Well, I suppose so."

So I went downstairs,

Filled out the form myself,

Got Dad to help me set up payments,

And I was a sponsor.

I set up my online account the next day,

Discovered the online letter-writing tool,

And immediately wrote a letter

To the beautiful girl

Halfway around the world

Whose name I can't even pronounce,

And who I'd hadn't known existed just a few days prior,

But now cared for, prayed for, and loved.

I started writing letters online every week,

Quickly running out of pictures to send.

A week and a half later,

I received my sponsor packet,

Filled out the "introduction form",

And had several pictures printed to slip into the envelope,

Started putting pen to paper every month,

Slipping in small paper gifts,

Taking letters to the mailbox.

I hadn't heard from her yet,

Didn't expect to for another two months.

It didn't matter.

I wrote anyway.

Monday, there was an envelope at my seat at the table.

Mail in that location is not, in itself, an unusual occurrence,

As my seat at the table tends to collect junk,

And is usually so buried in mail that I can't even eat until I move it.

This was different, though.

There was just one envelope,

With my name on it,

The Compassion logo,

And big, all-caps letters, spelling:
I have no idea what I'd walked into the kitchen for,

But whatever it was ceased to matter in that instant.

I picked up the envelope,

Ripped it open,

And immediately sat down to read it.

I looked at the names of her family members,

Her favorite foods, colors, game,

Song - "the Jesus song".

I smile.

I'm not sure what "Jesus song" it is,

But I'm pretty sure I'd like it, too.

On the other side is a beautiful picture,

Followed by a few short lines of gorgeous squiggles

That I can't even make out a pattern in.

In the midst of them, a few letters I can read:

"D.C.D.C." and "Love,"

Love.  Yes.  Me, too.

I skip down to the translation,

Read the beautiful words printed on this paper,

This paper that came to me all the way from India,

This paper that the girl whose picture is on my refrigerator held in her own hands,

And I read the first sentence:

"Greetings to you in the name of Jesus."

And I know,

Beyond a shadow of a doubt,

That this is way, way better than an iPhone.

Why invest in possessions I don't really need

When I can invest in people who need me,

Relationships that I need, too?

Isn't that more important?

And isn't it written,

Didn't He say,

Jeremiah 22:16

New Living Translation (NLT)
16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
    and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”
    says the Lord.
To know Him.


How beautiful that one simple thing can do so much:

That I can help to meet needs,

Develop a relationship with a child halfway around the world,

And know God better,

Just by paying a little over a dollar a day,

Spending twenty minutes writing a letter each week,

Adding a few more lines in my book of prayer requests.

How beautiful that God planned it this way,

That He connects hearts half a world away from each other,

Draws people closer to Him!

I'd take this over an iPhone any day.

Way, way better.

Dad said it today,

Just as I started to write this post.

I don't know why,

But it I thought it went perfectly with what I'd been planning to write:

"I had an idea for a song:

'Don't give me the iPod, iTouch, iPad,

Just give me the I Am.

The Holy, Forever, Unchanging

I Am.'"

I liked the idea a lot,

Though it didn't instantly set any alarms off in the songwriting portion of my brain,

So I told him maybe he should write it.

Then this beautiful truth came out of his mouth:

"I just thought that we're getting so caught up in all these 'i's,

We're forgetting the most important One."

Well, here's to remembering

That, though there's nothing wrong with new toys,

There are so, so many more important things in life,

Like relationship.

I can live without an iPhone,

But I can't live without relationship,

And I definitely can't live without Him,

So I want it, too:

The I Am -

The only "I" I'll ever need.

Reasons 1955-2076 today,

Passing two thousand,

As I continue to look at who the "I Am" is

And what that all means:
  1. His gracious hand is on everyone who looks to Him (Ezra 8:22)
  2. His great anger is against all who forsake Him (Ezra 8:22)
  3. He protects His people in order to prove His greatness (Ezra 8:21-23)
  4. His hand is on His people (Ezra 8:31)
  5. He protects His people from enemies (Ezra 8:31)
  6. He protects His people from bandits (Ezra 8:31)
  7. People tremble at His words (Ezra 9:4)
  8. Because of His people's sins, He subjects them to the sword (Ezra 9:7)
  9. Because of His people's sins, He subjects them to captivity (Ezra 9:7)
  10. Because of His people's sins, He subjects them to pillage at the hand of foreign kings (Ezra 9:7)
  11. Because of His people's sins, He subjects them to humiliation at the hand of foreign kings (Ezra 9:7)
  12. He is gracious in leaving His people a remnant (Ezra 9:8)
  13. He is gracious in giving His people a firm place in His sanctuary (Ezra 9:8)
  14. He gives light to the eyes of His people (Ezra 9:8)
  15. He gives a little relief to His people in their bondage (Ezra 9:8)
  16. He does not forsake His people (Ezra 9:9)
  17. He does not forsake His people, even though they are slaves (Ezra 9:9)
  18. He does not forsake His people in their bondage (Ezra 9:9)
  19. He shows His people kindness (Ezra 9:9)
  20. He shows His people kindness in the sight of foreign kings (Ezra 9:9)
  21. He grants new life to His people (Ezra 9:9)
  22. He grants new life to His people to rebuild His house (Ezra 9:9)
  23. He grants new life to His people to repair the ruins of His house (Ezra 9:9)
  24. He gives His people a wall of protection (Ezra 9:9)
  25. He gives His people a wall of protection in Judah (Ezra 9:9)
  26. He gives His people a wall of protection in Jerusalem (Ezra 9:9)
  27. He punishes His people (Ezra 9:13)
  28. He punishes His people less than their sins deserve (Ezra 9:13)
  29. He gives His people a remnant (Ezra 9:13)
  30. No one who is guilty can stand in His presence (Ezra 9:15)
  31. He still offers hope for those who are unfaithful to Him (Ezra 10:2)
  32. He is Awesome (Nehemiah 1:5)
  33. He is the Great God (Nehemiah 1:5)
  34. He is the Awesome God (Nehemiah 1:5)
  35. He keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him (Nehemiah 1:5)
  36. He keeps His covenant of love with those who keep His commandments (Nehemiah 1:5)
  37. He scatters the unfaithful among the nations (Nehemiah 1:8)
  38. He gathers the unfaithful who return to Him and obey His commandments back from the farthest horizon (Nehemiah 1:9)
  39. He gathers the unfaithful who return to Him and obey His commandments and brings them to the place He has chosen as a dwelling for His name (Nehemiah 1:9)
  40. He redeems His servants by His great strength (Nehemiah 1:10)
  41. He redeems His servants by His great mighty hand (Nehemiah 1:10)
  42. He redeems His people by His great strength (Nehemiah 1:10)
  43. He redeems His people by His great mighty hand (Nehemiah 1:10)
  44. His ear is attentive to the prayer of His servant (Nehemiah 1:11)
  45. His ear is attentive to the prayers of His servants who delight in revering His name (Nehemiah 1:11)
  46. He gives His servant success by granting him favor (Nehemiah 1:11)
  47. His hand is gracious (Nehemiah 2:18)
  48. His hand is gracious on His servant (Nehemiah 2:18)
  49. He gives success to His people (Nehemiah 2:20)
  50. He gives success to those doing His good work (Nehemiah 2:17-20)
  51. He gives success to those rebuilding His city (Nehemiah 2:20)
  52. His people pray to Him (Nehemiah 4:9)
  53. He is Great and Awesome (Nehemiah 4:14)
  54. He frustrates enemy plots (Nehemiah 4:15)
  55. Those who walk in fear of Him avoid the reproach of their enemies (Nehemiah 5:9)
  56. He is to be revered (Nehemiah 5:15)
  57. He strengthens the hands of His people (Nehemiah 6:9)
  58. He strengthens the hands of His people so that they can complete His good work (Nehemiah 6:9)
  59. He remembers people (Nehemiah 6:14)
  60. He remembers people and their actions (Nehemiah 6:14)
  61. He helps His people to do His good work (Nehemiah 6:16)
  62. Other nations fear when they realize that He helps His people to do His good work (Nehemiah 6:16)
  63. Other nations lose their self-confidence when they realize that He helps His people to do His good work (Nehemiah 6:16)
  64. He puts His plans into people's hearts (Nehemiah 7:4)
  65. Days are holy to Him (Nehemiah 8:9)
  66. He has joy (Nehemiah 8:10)
  67. His joy is the strength of His people (Nehemiah 8:10)
  68. His people confess to Him (Nehemiah 9:3)
  69. His people worship Him (Nehemiah 9:3)
  70. His glorious Name is to be blessed (Nehemiah 9:5)
  71. His glorious Name is to be exalted (Nehemiah 9:5)
  72. His glorious Name is to be exalted above all blessing (Nehemiah 9:5)
  73. His glorious Name is to be exalted above all praise (Nehemiah 9:5)
  74. He alone is the LORD (Nehemiah 9:6)
  75. He made even the highest heavens (Nehemiah 9:6)
  76. He made all the starry host of the heavens (Nehemiah 9:6)
  77. He made the earth (Nehemiah 9:6)
  78. He made all that is on the earth (Nehemiah 9:6)
  79. He made the seas (Nehemiah 9:6)
  80. He made all that is in the seas (Nehemiah 9:6)
  81. He gives life (Nehemiah 9:6)
  82. He gives life to everything (Nehemiah 9:6)
  83. The multitudes of heaven worship Him (Nehemiah 9:6)
  84. He chooses people (Nehemiah 9:7)
  85. He brings people out (Nehemiah 9:7)
  86. He finds hearts that are faithful to Him (Nehemiah 9:8)
  87. He makes covenants with those whose hearts are faithful to Him (Nehemiah 9:8)
  88. He keeps His promise (Nehemiah 9:8)
  89. He keeps His promise because He is Righteous (Nehemiah 9:8)
  90. He sees the suffering of His people (Nehemiah 9:9)
  91. He hears the cry of His people (Nehemiah 9:9)
  92. He sends signs (Nehemiah 9:10)
  93. He sends wonders (Nehemiah 9:10)
  94. He sends signs against the enemies of His people (Nehemiah 9:10)
  95. He sends wonders against the enemies of His people (Nehemiah 9:10)
  96. He made a name for Himself (Nehemiah 9:10)
  97. The name He made for Himself remains to this day (Nehemiah 9:10)
  98. He divides seas before His people (Nehemiah 9:11)
  99. He enables His people to pass through bodies of water on dry ground (Nehemiah 9:11)
  100. He leads His people with a pillar of cloud during the day (Nehemiah 9:12)
  101. He leads His people with a pillar of fire during the night (Nehemiah 9:12)
  102. He leads His people with a pillar of fire during the night to give them light on the way they were to take (Nehemiah 9:12)
  103. He came down on Mount Sinai (Nehemiah 9:13)
  104. He speaks with His people from heaven (Nehemiah 9:13)
  105. He gives regulations (Nehemiah 9:13)
  106. He gives laws (Nehemiah 9:13)
  107. He gives regulations that are just (Nehemiah 9:13)
  108. He gives regulations that are right (Nehemiah 9:13)
  109. He gives laws that are just (Nehemiah 9:13)
  110. He gives laws that are right (Nehemiah 9:13)
  111. He gives decrees (Nehemiah 9:13)
  112. He gives commands (Nehemiah 9:13)
  113. He gives decrees that are good (Nehemiah 9:13)
  114. He gives commands that are good (Nehemiah 9:13)
  115. He makes known His holy Sabbath (Nehemiah 9:14)
  116. He gives commands through His servant (Nehemiah 9:14)
  117. He gives decrees through His servant (Nehemiah 9:14)
  118. He gives laws through His servant (Nehemiah 9:14)
  119. He gives people bread from heaven in their hunger (Nehemiah 9:15)
  120. He gives people water from rocks in their thirst (Nehemiah 9:15)
  121. He tells His people to go in (Nehemiah 9:15)
  122. He tells His people to take possession of the land He has sworn with uplifted hand to give them (Nehemiah 9:15)

(Take the challenge with us!)

<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>
Counting in community:

And linking up at A Holy Experience today, surprised to find that the prompt is, once again, relationship, and that what I was planning on writing went very well with that.

Also, please look at some of the other beautiful posts found at the bottom of this one.  Maybe bless the author with a comment?  It's a blessing to know that God has used your imperfect words to bless another.


Melody ________________________________ said...

You got to sponsor a child through Compassion!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Isn't that amazing how God worked to make that happen? I know you were just dying to do it and here it all falls into place.

Guess what? I figured out that, with my job, I'm going to have enough to sponsor a child, too. :) I asked my dad if I could, if he thought it was wise since I didn't know how long I'd have the job, and he said, "Of course." I'm so excited. I'm going to look at the website and start some time in October or so, because I'm saving money to go to the Desiring God Conference with my daddy in September. We both really need to hear the topics, need to have the time to just worship and focus on God, and I'm going to the Preview Days for BCS, the school they started, the one I'm hoping to go to. So, it'll have to wait till after I get back from that. I'll be the one paying for the sponsorship, but we're going to make it a family affair with picking someone out, sending letters, etc. My family would looove to be able to sponsor a child, but our income is very uncertain at times, so we haven't been able to. But, now, thanks to my job, we will! My sisters are super happy about it.

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply to your email. :( I should be able to send it out today. :)

CynthiaJSwenson said...

I sponsored a child also this Sunday as we had visitors from a school in Africa who were fundraising. Her name is Mercy & I will write her as soon as I get my packet! I love to see your thoughtful comments on my blog Mary! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

Mary said...

Hello, Melody!

Yes, it is amazing, and totally worth every exclamation point (and more!). He just works things out so perfectly, doesn't He?

I'm glad you will get to sponsor a child also. I can't wait to hear all about him or her! And I'm glad your dad's advice was the exact opposite of my dad's. It's not about what the world thinks is wise, but doing what God tells you to, even if it means taking some (or many) risks. I'm glad the rest of your family will be able to be involved, too. It's such a blessing! (Keep in mind with the letters, though, that they say it's confusing for different people to be signing the letters - better to have the same person.)

Desiring God Conference!? I didn't even know such a thing existed! That's awesome!!! (Don't suppose you'll be driving through where I live anywhere between home and there? Probably not. Nice thought, though.) I didn't know they had a school, either! That's so cool! You know, if you go there, you'll be in the same state as Sara Groves?

It's completely okay! I've been crazy-busy lately anyway (hence the length of time between the posting of these comments and their appearance at the end of this post). I did finally read your reply and will respond to it soon . . . like today . . . or tomorrow . . .

Thanks for your words, friend! God bless!

Mary said...

That's wonderful, Cynthia! Congratulations! I'm sure your sponsorship of Mercy will be a huge blessing to both of you! I would love to hear all about her!

I appreciate your comments, too, friend! I'm sorry I haven't been able to visit your blog to leave any for you in awhile. There were three days this week I didn't even turn on my computer (other than to listen to a sermon every morning)! Hopefully I'll be able to stop by today.

Love and prayers for you, too, friend!

Christina said...

This is wonderful! I love your heart Mary! Your live for Christ shines through here. We have loved sponsoring with Compassion. It's true that relationships are better than any toy. ( though I have to admit I an typing this on my iPhone:)

Mary said...

Oh, thank you, Christina! Praise God for putting that heart in me! Yes, so much better than any toy . . though, since we're confessing here, I'll admit that my desire to have an iPhone remains. Maybe someday. Still, I don't regret my decision. I'd make the same one again (and again and again) if I could. Thank you so much for stopping by!

Melody ________________________________ said...

Yeah, when I first started planning this trip, I looked up the travel route on MapQuest to see if it went anywhere near you, but, alas, it looks like you're about two hours or so from wherever we're going to be crossing through Ohio. (I did a wee little bit of mental pouting over that. Ah, I am a very mature seventeen year old, indeed.) The trip's going to be twenty hours of driving each way as it is, and I'm having to get time off work for it, so I probably won't be able to add on the extra travel. I'm assuming you're going to be at school during that time, so I doubt you have time to drive to come meet us somewhere, either. Though if you do, that would be fun! Anyway, maybe someday and we should totally do Skype sometime. It looks like I'm going to have stable Internet for the first time in months, so it might work out. (I've had a lot of so's in this comment.)

Same state as Sara Groves, eh? Wilt thou be a little bit jealous?

Thanks for the advice about the letters. I'll try to remember that. I'm sure we'll just compose the letters as a family and then have somebody sign them, hopefully me. :)

Take your time replying. After my last, ahem, two week silence before answering you, I will not be frustrated if you take a little while. Hope you're having a great time being back to college!

Mary said...

Hello, Melody!

Yeah, I kind of figured you wouldn't be coming right by where I live. It was a nice idea, though. Two hours, huh? I wonder if I could come up with some excuse to drive that far . . . If you're coming through on Sunday, I might be able to come up with some kind of a day trip. Well, it's nice to think about, anyway. And Skype's always an option . . . assuming my Internet stays stable. Notice I didn't post yesterday? My connection kept going out. It was driving me insane!

A little? Dost thou not know me better than that? I so wish I could go! (I might be able to see Art House North while I was there, too. Even to look at a building in which creative community takes place would be incredible!)

Yes. They're probably going to tell your child your name if it's your name the sponsorship's under, so you probably should sign them. (I just used "your" three times in a row, so don't feel bad about the "so"s.)

Thank you. I'm trying, but it might be Monday before I have time. Oh, indeed I am!

Wonderful hearing from you, friend!

Melody ________________________________ said...

If we're able to make the trip, we'll be going through Ohio once in the middle of a week and then on the following Monday. We'll be traveling on Sunday too, but we're going halfway home and stopping at my aunt's house in Indiana, so we won't be going through Ohio until Monday morning to mid-afternoon. If you didn't have class that Monday, maybe you could still come up with an excuse. :)

I can understand the Internet connection driving you crazy. We moved into this new house several months ago (before we started talking) and we just finally got a stable Internet set up.

Maybe it would work out for us both to go to Desiring God Conference next year. That would be awesome! Or we could think of something else...

Mary said...

Monday? I have classes most of the day, so probably not.

Yeah. It's been better lately. Glad you're Internet's working now!

Yeah! That sounds amazing! Of course, it's too soon to tell whether or not it'll actually work out. I'm sure we'll come up with something, though.

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