River of Thoughts

Christine Royse Niles — Changing the world one word at a time

What can I do?

I used to love snow days.

Listening to the radio DJ rattle off the list of school districts.  Waiting on pins and needles to hear my district called, followed by the magic words: “Closed”

Spending the rest of the day whining to my mom, “What can I do now, Mom?  I’m bored.  What can I do?”

I ask the same question now, but for different reasons.

I look at the 153 million orphans in the world, and I have a hard time figuring out where to start.  I look at that number and think, “it’s overwhelming, scary, and expensive!”  I freeze and whine, “What can I do?”


I searched “Adoption.” Google gave me 34 million responses in under a second.  “Orphans” returned 4.4 million.  I love technology, but it’s also made the world really overwhelming.

I had to narrow it down a little bit first.  OK, a lot.

I spent a couple hours surfing around the Web, just reading blogs and comments, clicking on things that looked interesting.  After a little bit, i started to see a pattern in what types of things I clicked through to.  Then I focused.

I had to look at how I’m wired up, focus in that direction, and then take a little baby step.

You can too.


I’m scared of crowds.  And new people.  And anyplace outside my house.  Not to the point of agoraphobia, but I’d be pretty comfortable if I never had to wear anything but pajamas.

I get anxious about a lot of things.  And downright scared at others.  But fear is a bully.  And like most bullies, fear can be beaten.  The way I beat it is to start small and build on the momentum.


The economy still sucks.

If you’re behind on rent, or struggling to put food on the table, then now might not be the time to make big donations or commit to a 3-week mission trip to India.  But maybe you have time to hang out with foster kids at a place like Big House?

Or maybe you’re making ends meet, but there are things in your life that you could cut back on a little bit?

For me, it was eating out.  We ate out a lot.  And by a lot I mean four meals a day.  We will forever be the HunanChickenWithBroccoliPeople to the staff of Golden China.

They miss us now.  But there’s a kid at Dulce Refugio that has uniforms and school supplies because we don’t each so much carryout anymore.

What does this all mean?

It means you don’t have to solve the entire problem, today, alone.  We’re all in this together.  If I take a little step toward something pulling on my heart, and you step toward what pulls on your heart…I think you see where this is going.

Do you love babies?  Volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center, sew bibs or make blankets for special needs infants in the foster system, or donate to a ministry that rescues baby girls from infanticide,

Do you speak a different language?  Volunteer to help immigrant single moms learn English, sponsor a kid from a country that speaks the same language and write monthly letters in their native tongue, go on a short-term mission trip.

Are you with me?

Do you have a unique life experience or talent?  Use that.  Do you have baggage from your past that helps you relate to kids in difficult places?  Use it to help them heal.

Let’s get creative.  Find one thing that you can do in less than two hours or for less than $20 that can help one kid in your town, and commit to do it this month.

Take a step with me today.

What is your two-hour-twenty-buck thing?  Leave a comment….

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About Christine

I am a writer, a project manager, and a corporate refugee with a heart for orphans around the world. My two daughters were adopted from Ukraine at ages 12 and 14. I post about writing, chasing dreams, and making a difference in the world, and sometimes I share fun snippets of fiction in-progress.

10 Replies

  1. Great post. It’s so true. Breaking it down into smaller steps makes it less daunting. For us, it’s cutting back on things to be able to give more. Keep up the great work!

    1. Christine

      Kind of like a snowball…each small step gains a little more momentum. We’ve got a long way to go, but I love that so many people are walking together!

  2. Yes, yes, yes. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the challenges, and underwhelmed at what little we can do. Andy Stanley’s statement to being overwhelmed in this sort of way is “Do for one, what you wish you could do for many.”

    In our town, our school system is less than effective and faces tremendous challenges. I tutor once a week at the high school down the street from us in a program that tries to help “in the middle” kids go to college who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to do so. Just about every week I wonder if I’m making a difference, but at least once a month, I see a glimmer of hope that makes it all worth it.

    Thanks for the encouraging post!

    1. Christine

      Benjer, the tutoring is a GREAT idea!! Thanks for doing it, and for sharing it with us.

  3. Jennifer

    Have you seen the sermon by Andy Stanley where he goes through the idea of “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone”? It is amazing and very similar to what you are writing on here. I encourage you to see it. When I was really overwhelmed in starting the adoption process this past fall, I was praying about it and that night I watched this sermon. It answered my prayers in that God was saying, “Hey you do not have to do it all, or do it all by yourself. Do for this one what you want to do for everyone.” If everyone did that the numbers and the problems would go drastically down. Here’s a link to the sermon http://www.northpoint.org/messages/one-not-everyone
    Cheers, Jennifer

  4. Jennifer

    Ha ha ha! I had no idea my husband had posted a comment before I had on the same thing! That is both awesome and seriously embarrassing. :) Well, I added the link at least :). I hope we’ve made you laugh.

    1. Christine

      You guys SO make me smile!!!! And thanks SO much for sharing the link to Andy Stanley’s message…I know what I’m doing this lunch break!!

  5. Dick and Sara Niles

    We just started sponsoring our second orphan last week. This one is in India.

    Dad & Mom

    1. Christine

      WOOHOO! Can’t wait to see the picture on your fridge!

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