Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Gifts that Make A Difference

I want this Christmas to be different. I want the gifts I give and receive to be the kind of gifts that make a lasting impact. Not the wow that's the coolest gadget EVER kind of reaction but the kind of impact that changes lives.

So I have been searching blogs and websites for ministries who  sell cool or beautiful items and give the profits to people in need.

So here are some of my favorite gifts that make a difference.

(1)  Amani Ya Juu (means Higher Peace in Swahili).is a sewing-marketing-training project for marginalized women in Africa. The main center is located in Nairobi, Kenya with sister centers in Rwanda and Burundi.The women involved in the project are learning to work together through faith in God who provides a higher peace that transcends ethnic differences.

Amani Ya Juu Sign

This online store has got to be my absolute favorite. You could buy me anything from their store and I would be a happy camper. In fact, I finished  a HUGE chunk of my Christmas shopping at their store. They have jewelry, housewares, purses and other beautiful things for sale in their online store. Just take a look at this necklace:

(2) Lifesong For Orphans is a ministry that seeks to bring joy and purpose to orphans by mobilizing the church, His body, so that each member can provide a unique and special service: some to adopt, some to care, some to give. I recently one this awesome looking shirt from them in a giveaway.

You can buy cool shirts and a cookbook from their site.

(3) The ApParent Project seeks to help mothers and fathers in poverty be A PARENT to their children. They  are educating and taking care of street kids who don't have A PARENT. We are using media and the arts to make the needs of Haiti APPARENT to those who can help, and we are doing this all with the hope that the love of God will be made more APPARENT to those we humbly serve and that He will be known as A PARENT to the parentless. They will soon have their online store up at this site. In the meantime you can host a party and sell their stuff to your friends and get some for yourself.

(4) Blood Water Mission (website) was founded by the multi-platinum, GRAMMY Award-winning band, Jars of Clay, Blood:Water Mission began as a call to personalize the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. The members of the band were committed to share the often-untold stories: those of creative, compassionate, hard-working Africans bringing health, hope and healing into their respective communities. Blood:Water Mission first stepped into funding a late stage AIDS hospice and discovered the vital link between living with HIV/AIDS and the need for clean water. As a result, Blood:Water Mission launched the 1000 Wells Project in 2005 as a nation-wide effort to raise enough money to provide clean water and sanitation to 1000 communities in sub-Saharan Africa based on the equation that $1 provides one African with clean water for an entire year. You can but their stuff here.

(5) Samaritan's Purse does so much that I can't even begin to summarize their work. They literally are all over the world meeting people's basic needs and sharing Christ with them. Visit their website NOW to see the AMAZING work they are doing. You can buy "unique: gifts on their online store. These are not the type of gifts you can unwrap and touch but they are gifts that will make a truly lasting impact.

Lifeson for Orphans Update

Show the love of Christ to a child in need this Christmas!

What are you doing this year for Christmas?

Decorating the house?  Making Christmas cookies?  Celebrating with family and loved ones?  Exchanging gifts?

What if this year you gave gifts that not only celebrated your loved ones but brought the love of Christ to a child in need?  An orphan in Africa, India, Ukraine, or Honduras?

This year Lifesong for Orphans has gifts that will do just that.  Give the new Lifesong cookbook...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Heartbreak and Hope In Haiti

Through a friend's facebook post I found this blog:

It's about a family from Texas that moved to Haiti to minister to the people still suffering from the earthquake. The blog has really touched me because the author is so honest about what she sees and how it breaks her heart. I love to see how she has been able to minister to women in Haiti, teaching them how to breastfeed. This story in particular has touched my heart.

Living Skeletons

And I am super excited that there is a way to help. You see there's a ministry that teaches folks in Haiti how to make beautiful jewelry out of cereal boxes.

Cereal Boxes and Hope

Isn't it awesome how God can use ordinary cereal boxes that we consider trash and turn them into beautiful beads that bring hope to families in such need of it. It's so like God to turn the ordinary into the very thing things that sustain life.

Won't you join me in collecting cereal boxes. If you are interested please leave a comment and I will
get you details.

And so you can see exactly where your cereal boxes are going please take a look at this slide show:
Apparent Project Slide Show

Friday, November 5, 2010

Help Orphans and Win Free Stuff

This week, you have TWO chances to be entered in a giveaway for a FREE Lifesong for Orphans t-shirt! Lifesong will be debuting 2 new colors (chocolate brown for men and red for women) and are offering to give away 2 shirts before they are available for sale!

Here’s how to enter:
#1: Go to the Lifesong blog posting from Monday and guess how many children are no longer orphans that Lifesong helped to bring home through financial assistance.

#2: Leave a comment on Friday’s posting about how we can creatively work together as the body of Christ to care for orphans around the world! Here's what you do... share with us your ideas.  Leave a comment... maybe about a ministry your church is involved in... or a family you helped support financially to adopt.

 Maybe you have this aMAZing idea that has been just waiting to get out and be put in action.  Here's your chance!  Let's inspire each other to rise up on behalf of orphans!

“With this in mind, take some time to walk through your house and ask God what he would have you do with your part of the 200 million orphans worldwide, most of whom may never hear the gospel, much less have it lived out in a loving family of their own.” – Greg Lucas

Thursday, November 4, 2010

SIsterhood of the Traveling Belt

Somtimes it's hard to digure out how your actions impact others across the world. However, thanks to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Belt, I learned a great lesson- that even seemingly small gestures can change lives FOREVER.

Here's the start of the story Radical

And here is where it went: The Rest of the Story

When I saw the second post I did not hesitate to join the Sisterhood. Why? Well- three reasons. First, I love to see women united to glorify God. Second, I was seriously shocked by how far my small donation could go to save lives in Africa. The numbers are staggering! $28 gives 28 people in Africa clean water for a YEAR!!!!! Third-was realization that changing my life to focus on others and loving them like Christ sometimes just requires a small step of obedience. To save lives and glorify the Lord, I don't always have to hop on a plane to a remote land across the globe. Instead, I can sacrifice a small amount of my money to a cause that glorifies God.

So I leave you with the belt:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Freedom- HE came to serve.


I apologize if my Radical Chapter 6 post appear a bit of topic. You see, right before I read Chapter 6, I listened to a David Platt sermon entitled "He Came to Serve the Helpless". Platt’s words from that sermon echoed in my head as I read Chapter 6.

So, let me start my sharing with you what I learned in Platt’s sermon.

The sermon focuses on Mark 10:45. A short and simple verse that we have all read hundreds of times. But, perhaps, have never stopped to ponder its implications. It goes like this, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Platt’s basic message is this- Jesus came to serve us. Until we allow him to serve us in all areas of our life, we will not be able to love and serve in the ways described in Radical. Or put another way, in order to love as Jesus does and serve the poor, the lonely, the sick- we first need to let Jesus serve us.


Having just received that message, it was liberating to read Chapter 6. I gotta tell you, it would have been very hard to stomach the message of this chapter if God had not first reminded me that His Son came to serve me and I can change my selfish ways only if I allow Christ to serve me. I suddenly understood why it’s so hard for me to let go of my selfish ways and why despite all my efforts I always revert back to materialism. I fail over and over again because I try to do things on my own and change on my own without really letting Christ do the heavy lifting. For example, after Chapter 4 or 5 of Radical, I swore I was going to cut back on Starbucks to only once a week and give the “surplus” to Blood Water Mission. I succeeded exactly three days. Then work got busy and my daughter got sick and I returned to my almost daily SBUX addiction. When life got busy and tough, instead of letting Christ fill me up and serve me and nourish me, I turned to my own devices- overpriced caffeine!

Here’s the deal- I very much want to do what Platt challenges us to do- operate “under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we would give more.” I want to dare to take things a step forward and “set a cap” on my family’s lifestyle so that we can give more of our resources away for “the glory of Christ in the neediest parts of the world.” But to take the next step is going to require total reliance on Christ. My husband and I both make great salaries and we are conservative spenders so we already have a surplus. A part of that surplus we give away to church, to Samaritan’s Purse, to Lifesong for Orphans, to the IMB, etc. But the bigger portion (after wise savings) just seems to go to things that simply don’t make an impact. So the next step is to reduce the waste! The only way to reduce that waste is to change our hearts and our minds. We can’t do that alone. We will continue to want the things of this world unless Christ has completely filled us up. If we don’t allow Christ to serve us and fill us, there will be empty places in our hearts and lives and our human nature is to fill those empty places with things.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Starting at Home

Let me start by confessing that I am having a hard time writing this post. I finally made some time in my schedule to get it done. However, the location is somewhat disconcerting. You see- I am sitting at Starbucks and my grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte could save lives in Africa right now. Not the coffee itself mind you but the money...the money I am drinking to fulfill my morning ritual could bring clean water to people in Africa or Honduras or many other countries. (If you don't believe me about what the cost of a cup of coffee can do- check this  out). So I feel guilty about my choices  and I am thinking about just how card it is to step off into living this Radical life David Platt describes in his book.

But I need to get past my own selfishness and focus on what God has been whispering to me.

Let me start with the first thing and the other things that have been swimming in my head will have to wait for a different post.

Here's the deal. I am a wife, a mother to an active 2 year old and an attorney working for a very big company with lots of work on my plate. How do I do the things that David Platt talks about in Radical? I have been pondering that question for over five weeks, waiting for God to write my answers in the sky with big bold letters. I did not find the answer written in the sky or on a billboard...instead it's tucked in the middle of chapter 5:
Instead of a formula he (God) gives us people and says,
"Live for them. Love them, serve them, and lead them.
Lead them to follow me, and lead them to lead others to follow me.
In the process, you will multiple the gospel to the ends of the earth."

As I read and re read those words, I knew precisely where God wants me to home. That's where God wants me to start. First to serve my husband to enable him to fulfill God's purpose for his life. Second to love and serve my daughter and lead her to follow Christ not just for her own edification but for the glory of God and so that the gospel will multiply. I do not need to search for a ministry to get involved in or look for a group to disciple- I have my very own God given captive audience at home. If I can't love and serve and lead there, how can I love and serve to the ends of the earth. Seriously- if I am annoyed by the fact my daughter takes forever to walk to the park because she stops and looks at every stick, rock and bug- then how can I have the patience to go to difficult places and take the gospel there?

I am giddy with anticipation to see how God uses my daughter and our family. God was gracious enough to give me a taste of that last night. While my husband and I went to a class at the church we are visiting (by the way- this church GETS IT- their mission is to glorify God by making disciples that will transform the world), one of Emory's former teachers from daycare came to watch her for us. When we came home she told us that at bedtime, Emory was starting to lay down and all of a sudden sat up and proclaimed to Miss. T "JESUS LOVES YOU." My jaw dropped and I almost cried...humbled by a two year old who is happy to tell everyone "JESUS LOVES YOU!"

So what does it mean for me right now at home. I still do not have a concrete answer. What I do know is this- my husband and I need to learn the lost like Jesus loves the lost. We need to love the poor and hungry and lonely like Jesus love them. We need to love justice and mercy like Jesus loves justice and mercy. And as we learn we MUST pass that on to Emory.

Now I need to work on finding concrete ways to do that. So I have started by exploring Christ centered resources. So far I have found the following and I can't wait to dive and explore the available resources:

I am going to sign off now because it's time to get busy doing what I have been writing about.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Radical Read Along- No Words

I read chapter three and finished re reading it last night. I procrastinated writing my week 3 post and now its week 4 and my heart is too heavy to re read chapter 4 (I read through chapter 5 weeks ago when I first read the book). My heart is heavy because God is opening my eyes and I am speechless. The scene described here broke me. Just broke my heart. My eyes are tearing right now as the words from the post swirl in my head creating pictures in my head that just should not be . What can I do? I want to call someone and find out how I can get money there RIGHT NOW. That four week old baby covered in spit up, crying in a room all by herself. That just should not be. It shouldn't. I want to send blankets and formulas and toys and diapers. Someone please tell me how can I do that?

But God isn't just showing me pain and misery and needs that are going unmet. He is also opening my eyes to the reality that there are people out there that I know personally who are getting up, leaving and going to the nations to teach people about the beauty and the love and the glory of God. In less than 3 hours my sweet friend (let's call her Grace), her husband, and their sweet almost two year old curly haired daughter are boarding a plane for Africa. Grace is pregnant. They are not coming back for a very long time. They are going to Africa- a country they love to - minister in remote villages. Where they are going there isn't always electricity and you cook over a fire. Friends- Grace is in her second trimester...Baby #2 will be born in Kenya (their eventual destination is much further in an unreached part of the world). They are walking talking breathing lessons on trusting in God's protection. They love God and they love God's people so they are going. They have every excuse not to go (seriously- taking a two year old to the ends of the earth and delivering a baby in the ends of the earth???) but they want to go... so today in just a few hours they will be on their way. I worry for Grace and her husband and their do you survive pregnancy in a mud hut with no running water or electricity. How do you do it? Then God reminded me of two things. First, millions of women do it every day. Second- Grace and her family are not alone. God the Almighty King of Kings is with them. Just reading these words leaves me speechless.

I don't have words...I don't know why God is opening my eyes like this. I don't know what He is doing...I don't know what He wants me to do...and that is hard. It's hard!

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm getting stalked by adoption stories.

I have no idea what's going on or what God is up to. But the truth of the matter is that everywhere I go there is talk and there is action about adoption. In one year- two close friends have adopted newborns from local moms chose adoption or abortion. Their testimonies show that where God closes doors he otnes windows fly open when you least expect them.

In addition to real friends adopting, talk of adoption is ALL over my blog friend world. Just check out this post::  Dreaming Big and this post Adoption and this post Orphan Sunday

I know that when God says things over and over again, it's time to really start listening.

So I'm listening...waiting to understand what God is up to.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Already Not Yet (Reflections on Radical Chapter 2)

I professed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in 9th grade. That was more than TWENTY years ago. I've been through Campus Crusade for Christ discipleship and evangelism training, I have led Bible studies, and for goodness sake I have taught Sunday school at a VERY LARGE church. So how can it be that up until this week the following truth had never sunk in way deep into the marrow of my being?  

"we are saved not just to be forgiven of our sins
or to be assured of our eternity in heaven,
but we are saved to know God."

I have presented the gospel to many a high school student and I have discussed the gospel with my parents and in front of a Sunday School class. And I just suddenly realized that the punch line in each and every one of those presentations was about "inviting Jesus into your heart" or "opening the door to Jesus" or "accepting Jesus." I can not recall ever focusing on our need for Christ. Sure the gospel presentation always included the diagram of the chasm between us and Christ. But that part was always rushed through so you could get to the invitation and acceptance. 

How can it be that its taken me so long to get "IT" understand and live out the truth that the purpose of salvation is KNOWING GOD  EXPERIENCING GOD???? Why have I short changed the Lord for so long? Am I a failure as a Christian?

The answer to that is "NO- I am not a failure." The reason I don't "get it" or "live it" sometimes (ok most of the time...sigh...) is that God is not done with me yet and He is still at His own pace and in His own way revealing the truth of the gospel to me. I had forgotten that turth until I heard Sunday's sermon on Hebrews 10:11-19.  Take a look at verse 14:
"because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."

By Christ's sacrifice we have already been made perfect- God's work of salvation is DONE. However, we still need to be made holy. So we live in what the preacher refered to as "an ALREADY NOT YET TENSION." As God's children we are already saved but we are not yet holy. So we live life on this high wire act and constantly learning more of God's truth.

So it's ok that I am not ready to pack my bags and move my family to Africa. And its ok that I have not sold all my possessions. What matters is simply that each day I know and experience God in a deeper and deeper way. That my friends takes the weight off my shoulders and gives me a sense of freedom. I do not have to become Radicalized (I made up that word) overnight...instead I need to move out of the way and let God do his work.

But what I do need to do is get off this computer and begin to figure out how to present the gospel in a way that glorifies God and doesn't limit Jesus to waiting at a closed door knocking....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Small Steps

Radical Read Along and the wonderful women that are participating have taught me one thing and that is that sometimes our small steps of obedience can have a large impact on God's Kingdom. Therefore, one of the things that I feel the Lord leading me to do is to learn more about the work of God through ministry organizations serving the poorest of the poor. I have always had a soft spot for children in foster care and orphans (more about that soft spot in later posts), so my research so far has centered around organizations that serve children and particularly those that serve orphans. When I read one of the blogs involved in the Radical Read Along I came across an organization named Life Song for Orphans. This organization exists simply to bring Joy and Purpose to Orphans. How simple and how amazing. They help orphans all over this world and they also help parents who want to adopt. What an amazing ministry they have. Since I could sense God stirring in my heart I decided to join their blogging team. Therefore, periodically I will post information about Life Song's work and their needs. Here is the first installment:

Let's be the Hands and Feet of Jesus!

This week we are inviting our faithful readers and supporters to step up and help us in a time of need for Lifesong Liberia.
Lifesong has partnered with The Master’s Home of Champions orphanage and is providing a loving and safe home to many destitute and abandoned children, some of whom are deaf.  We seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and are focused on the goal of raising up champions for the good of Liberia and glory of God! 
This summer, another orphanage was in dire need, and thanks to an unexpected donation Lifesong was there.  Praise the Lord we can help more children!  But now, we need help too!  We need your help to make sure these children are fed every day!  We need your help to care for the fatherless!  Will you join us?
70 sponsors in one week is a tall order.  We know this.  We also know that we serve a big God who has told us that caring for the poor and vulnerable is at the very heart of who He is!  We believe we can make this happen! We pray that God will call hearts this week and we trust that you will answer!
Contact us at to commit!
Hear personal stories & follow the progress on our blog all this week!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Introducing blood:water belt

So it all started with the Radical Read Along..

Now a belt is saving lives.

Introducing blood:water belt

Stay tuned for a blog about what God is teaching me through Radical and this Sisterhood of the Traveling Belt.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Radical- Sandpaper

I have now read Chapter 1 three times. I say or write “OUCH” in the margins each time. This book is like sandpaper. Making me terribly aware of my sin and selfishness.
I wrote that first sentence and was ready to write a very inspiring post. But then I was interrupted by life…plumber to fix the leak, medical expense receipts to sort, household files to organize, parents to send off to the airport, and a work conference call to take from home… Now I sit down to write again and I don’t feel as inspired. I am also noticing that has creeped back in here. Six times its used in just four sentences….sick and disgusting I tell ya!
This whole post is an example of a point Platt makes in the first chapter of Radical. So much of our time, our focus, and even our worship, is focused on ourselves. It’s no wonder that our image of the Almighty God has been limited to a benevolent grandfather who hands out good things.
Yes God is good and yes he showers amazing blessings on us. But He is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT!
Now back to the sandpaper thing….through this chapter God has sandpapered two areas of my life. First, God is beginning to show me the depths of my materialism. I whined to myself this morning that I had nothing to wear and should treat myself to a shopping expedition. Then I counted 20 plus business casual tops in my closet. So I shut my mouth and picked a shirt. That’s what this book does…it sandpapers off the dirt and mud that has caked on our eyes from years of life focusing on ourselves. Second, God is showing me how much of my faith and my worship center around myself and catering to my needs and wants. I could write a book of example but let me just say that for many many years I have measure my church by how they met my needs and how their worship style matched mine.
Now I have read some of the other posts from the Radical Read A Long and once again I am blown away. Someone has already said EXACTLY what I am feeling and could not put into words. Check this out- Quitting Comfortable.
So I am going to stop my babbling and let that soak in…how can I quit being comfortable?????

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Radical Awakening- Losing the I

 It has been very hard to start this post and introduce this first attempt went something like this:
        "I do not know why I am starting a new blog...
         I already have a blog...
         I have a strong desire...
        I  have been...I was....." 
In other words, the first draft was all about me.

That is exactly what this blog is NOT supposed to be. Its supposed to be about God and what God is doing in this world and how God is changing perspectives and desires. This next attempt will endeavor to avoid sounding like a two year old saying "me me me" all the time. Let's see if the focus can be turned away from "I."

So let's try doing this again.

Marla  introduced me to  to this book through her  Read A Long campaign.

Although I've never met Marla, I decided to join her little project, experiment, group...whatever you call it...

Only a few chapters into the book and it has rocked my world! God is teaching me that the Gospel is not all about me and that God is doing amazing things in this World that He wants me to be a part of.

So as part of the Read A Long Gang over at Marla's site, I am endeavoring to blog about what God is teaching me through this book. The hope is that this blog will focus on God and His Glory. Not to give the book away (I confess I cheated and read ahead...could not help myself) but this blog is my own Radical Experiment.

So tune in on Tuesdays for my blog entry in the Radical Read A Long. On other days, tune in to see God's work around this world and maybe we can all learn how to lose "I".
Before this post ends, let me leave you with the words of a song that I can not get out my head...