I love what our middle school ministry is doing. In conjunction with their teaching series on Sunday mornings they have challenged families to "sleep with the poor" for one night. Our hope is that middle school students would feel what the poor feel in some small way.
Here's a story from one of our super star parents, Kristi Herring.
So as I mentioned in my status update last night, we are joining Carter (and the IBC Middle School Ministry) on a Journey of Awareness Challenge over the next 5 weeks, fasting from everyday things to experience what living in poverty is all about.
Our first challenge: to sleep on the floor.
In the world today, there are around 2.2 billion kids. Sadly, over 640 million of them live without adequate shelter. 640 million of the 2.2 billion. 640 million children will go to bed tonight, but it won't be in a bed. The majority of these kids end up on the streets at night, sleeping on the hard ground, no pillow or blanket to cushion their heads.
This week you get to choose a day where you will experience the realism of living in poverty by sleeping on the floor. If you want to add more challenge to the expereicn, take with you no pillow, no blanket, and no additional padding. Sounds tough right? It is tough, and that's the point. You will experience what 640 million children experience on a nightly basis. So as you lie on the floor tonight, tossing and turning, trying to stay warm, pray for the millions of kids throughout the world who are also sleeping on the ground tonight.
So last night was our night. One night on the floor.
Paige made it through her bedtime story lying on the floor, but opted for her bed to sleep. She is 5. We gave her a pass. But it caused me to wonder, how many of those 640 million bedless children are 5 and under. I probably don't want to know. Paige said "mommy, they could sleep in the grass. it's soft". I said yes, but it can be wet, and cold, and there are ants, and bugs. She prayed for the children without beds, and then added her routine nighttime prayer of "help me to not think about bad things, or have bad dreams, help me to think about happy things and have happy dreams." And went to sleep in her cozy bed. Her biggest worry at age 5 is bad dreams.
Audrey took the challenge fully. When I went upstairs to go "to bed", I found her asleep, face down, on her floor, with no blanket, no pillow, nothing under her, or over her. Of course, she was wearing her warmest fuzzy, fleece pajamas. 640 million children don't have fuzzy warm pajamas. And, this morning I found her in her bed. She said she woke up at midnight, her back hurt, and she got in her bed. I am proud of her for trying.
Scott has been feeling under the weather, and decided to postpone his challenge night. I don't blame him. But it did make me think...I wonder how many of those in poverty, without beds, or even without homes are feeling under the weather. The can't postpone their night on the ground, and probably don't have a Dr. appt for the next day either. We are priveleged indeed.
Carter made it all night on his floor (once he cleared it of the dirty clothes). He did take with him a pillow and comforter for cover. I asked him if she slept, or if he woke up during the night. He slept. Of course he did. He has always been a good sleeper. He could sleep on a rock, like a rock. I did catch him getting about 30 minutes of comfort in his bed after he woke up at 7am this morning though. He has seen poverty first hand in New Orleans, and San Antonio. And this will be just another reminder to him to not take our priveleged life for granted.
I did not sleep as well as Carter. But actually, better than I expected. I took the "easy way out" and brought my pillow and fuzzy brown blanket for cover. I did sleep directly on the carpet which was rough and scratchy, but I was thankful it was not the hard wood floor that has been on my wish list.
With a lighter blanked than my usual weighty comforter (I need it, I know some of you have this same quirk), and tossing and turning to find a comfortable position without one of my limbs falling asleep while I was still awake, I prayed and eventually found sleep. But I continued to wake up off and on during the night. Tossing. Turning.
Often my first thoughts were selfish "oh man, my arm is asleep again", "my back hurts", "I wonder what time it is...HOW MUCH LONGER TIL MORNING" (I was not where I could see my clock, which was another adjustment). But I would then remind myself to PRAY.
Tossing. Turning. Praying.
Praying for the people do this every night. Without a pillow. Without a blanket. Without a shelter.
I don't know how many times I woke up, but it was often. In fact I was READY when my alarm went off. Sleeping on the floor certainly kept me from hitting the snooze button. I was up with my alram. Glad the night was over. My ONE night on the floor.
I came downstairs, brewed my coffee, and sat down for my daily Bible reading. I'm a few days behind in my One Year Bible, which is obvioulsy no accident on God's part. I was reading the October 29th reading today, starting a new book, the book of Lamentations. A time of misery and desolation for Jerusalem. Yet as I read these words, I was not thinking about Jerusalem, but of how they could be true of someone RIGHT NOW, TODAY, in our WORLD, even in our COUNTRY, even in our LOCAL AREA.
These are all from the first two chapters of Lamentations...just the phrases that jumped off the pages at me as I read.
"she sobs through the night, tears stream down her cheeks"
"she has no place of rest"
"now she lies in the gutter with no one to lift her out"
"little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets. 'mama we want food' they cry, and collapse in their mothers' arms"
I read these verses. And I wept. For all those in poverty today I wept. For the mothers who cannot feed their children. The babies that don't have beds. I sat in my beautiful lovely home, drinking a warm cup of coffee, in my warm robe and slippers and I just wept.
One night on the floor is not enough. We need to do more.
Want less. Give more. Pray more.
I've been kind of stressed out lately. Still adjusting to working part time and trying to balance that with being a mom and wife. Suddently, this morning, I realized 99% of my daily stress comes from the priveleges millions of people would be grateful to have.
Three kids. Sometimes I need a break from them. I have three amazing kids. They are all healthy.
Ugh, the house is a mess. I have a house. A considerably nice house.
What's for dinner? Who knows. There is plenty of food in my pantry. Even if I didn't make it to the store this week, or next, my kids would not go hungry.
The laundry never ends. My kids are clothed. I could not do laundry for a couple weeks, and they would not go dirty or naked.
Pick up your shoes! Why do you have to kick them off right here in the way? My kids have shoes. Plenty of shoes.
Will my husband be home at a reasonable dinner time? He has a job. A good one.
Have you finished your homework? How much homework do you have? My kids are getting a GREAT education and amazing schools.
Choir. Dance. Football. Dance. Piano. I LIVE in my minivan, driving kids around. I have a car to get us where we need to go.
Paperwork. Desk work. Entering receipts, balancing to the bank. So BEHIND on managing all these pesky things. We have money to manage, money to buy eveyrthing we need, and even what we WANT.
And the list could go on.
For every stress I have, there is a blessing that I tend to take for granted. Yet these are my biggest worries and stresses. Not if I can feed my kids. What I will feed my kids (and will my picky eaters eat it) Not where will my kids sleep. But WHEN will they go to sleep so I can have a break. Suddenly after a night on the floor, all this seems a little silly to even be stressed about. In fact, I'm embarrassed and ashamed that I let these things stress me as much as I do.
Yes, I got all this from spending one night on the floor. And this is just the beginning of our 5 week Journey to Awareness. Wow. I'm expectiong God to speak in big ways to our family...and look forward to what we learn, and what actions we take.
Want less. Give more. Don't take things for granted. Don't let my "stuff" stress me out. Pray more.
"Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer. Plead for the children as they faint with hunger in the streets."
Try a night on the floor. I recommend it.