The Big Picture

Don’t we often learn lessons in the most unlikely places? Like many kids, Drew loves Google Earth. After school one day, he asked to see his grandparent’s houses. Both families live out in the middle of nowhere, so we received a riveting view of treetops.

Then we started talking about Daniel, a little boy our family recently started to sponsor through Compassion International. He’s Drew’s age and lives in Ghana. Drew wanted to see what his house looked like and I told him that although they don’t give out addresses for security reasons, we might be able to see the town closest to where he lives.

I didn’t hold out much hope when I entered the town’s name, but wouldn’t you know, Google Earth swooped right down to a little street in Ghana and planted us right behind a white van.

We follow the arrows, “walking” down the street, around the cars and people frozen in time, probably caught on camera years ago. Small buildings sit in the distance, what used to be brightly colored paint mostly peeled off. In a field to our right, workers harvest plantains. As we continue, two women in floral dresses appear with baskets on their heads. (Their balance amazes me, by the way, as they stroll along with their hands at their sides.)

Then, Drew asked to see the ocean. Huntington Beach was the first place I thought of, so down we went again. We “walked” down to the pier, past retail stores and people roaming the storefronts. Porsches parked near the beach.

The contrast was almost nauseating.

How do we get so comfortable in our little corner of the world?

A family in Ghana is unable to afford a pair of shoes for their kid while we complain that our closet is too small to fit the ten pairs we own, (five of which we never wear.) The kids in third world countries play in the muddy streets while we mutter under our breaths about playground closures due to Covid. Some parents pray they can provide a hot meal for their family on Christmas day while we flip leisurely through the Amazon shopping guide, frustrated that we can’t afford that fifth box of Legos our kid will play with once.

I’m guilty of all of these. And I’m not saying we should sell everything we own and give every penny to charity.

But there’s always something we can do. We can donate those old clothes to the Salvation Army instead of trying to pinch every last dollar out of them on the Facebook resale page.

We can volunteer at a soup kitchen. We can pray.

So, this is my goal this Christmas, and I’ll challenge you to this as well: to focus on what’s important. To be thankful for family and friends and to look at the big picture. Ever watched the camera zoom away from Earth on Google, pan over the ocean and continents, then return in a completely new place? It’s humbling, yet inspiring. We live in a huge world filled with so many lives. And God has placed us here because He knew we could make a difference.

We all have a purpose.
What’s yours?

In light of the season, I’d like to share a poem contributed by my friend Betsy Johnson. Here’s to those with kids in their lives who can’t seem to find the kitchen counter, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

Twas’ the day before Christmas
And in the front room
I was busy with dust mop, dust cloth and broom.
The “Big day” was coming!
There was much to be done,
Housework’s not ended unless it’s begun.
Pajamas were found in a heap on the floor
And someone’s fingerprints were left on the door.
A cowboy boot was under a chair.
But when I looked for the other it just wasn’t there.
And then to the kitchen I went in a flurry.
Dishes to wash! Much need to hurry!
Crumbs on the floor, the chairs and the table,
I’ll get it all cleaned. That is—if I’m able.
Now into the bedroom and more of the same
Toys all over—books and a game.
I started to fuss and then to mumble
I guess if I’m honest, it was more of a grumble.
But as I continue to clean and to mop,
From the cellar came a sound that just made me stop (and listen).
Three voices I heard all laughing and singing
And playing together—like Christmas bells ringing.
It was Betsy’s pajamas I found on the floor
And Susie’s fingerprints left on the door.
And Scott’s cowboy boot can most always be found
All by itself, the other not around.
Yes, I thought, here’s the reason
That I’m so busy this holiday season.
But I wouldn’t change it—not for a minute.
For what’s a home at Christmas without children in it?
By Sally Knauss Johnson

Ghana images: Google Earth: no guide name given/ Huntington Beach images: Google Earth: John Cox Local Guide, Level 4 / Nativity Photo by Ben White on Unsplash/

Author: audrasanlyn

2 thoughts on “The Big Picture

  1. Excellent post, Audra. I’ve been on several mission trips overseas and it’s so humbling to see the difference in our world and theirs. We’re so blessed and many times take it all for granted and even complain, just as you said. And I love the poem. All my kids are grown and many of my grandkids are halfway to adulthood. Enjoy the times when they’re little. They go way too fast.

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