Sunday, November 02, 2014

Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday.  A day dedicated to kids in desperate situations.  A day dedicated to kids, that every second are being abandoned, neglected and abused.  A day that brings light to a subject that is hard for people to talk about, let alone feel like there's anything they can do.

But today can be different for you.  For a child.  For this hurting world.

All over the United States, churches will be gathering and participating in Orphan Sunday.  There is nothing that brings us more joy than to know there are 24 hours where orphans will be on the forefront of people's minds.  Since God has called us to open Hope House we have been consumed with thoughts of hurting children out there with nowhere to go.  Children who are feeling confused, lonely, lost and unloved because of their circumstances.  We have broken down time and time again over stories, horrific stories, that we have heard since beginning this journey.  We know that for too many children around the world, their lives have been altered and there is only a small window of opportunity to remind them, and show them, that they are worth it.

Today, as you are making breakfast, having your morning coffee, dressing for the day, walking into your churches...would you consider praying?

Pray for children RIGHT NOW who have been abandoned by the very people they thought loved them.

Pray for children who have been sexually exploited and who every moment feel less and less worthy of the love they rightfully deserve.

Pray for healing, both physical and emotional, for kids who have been beaten and abused and who only know that kind of life.

Pray for orphanages that every year are filling more and more, with less and less room and resources to care for the children in need.

Pray for orphanage workers who are weighed down by the job they've been charged to do, knowing the difficulties that laid before and lie ahead of the children in their care.

Pray for how God would want you to respond to the overwhelming need in orphan-care.  Fostering?  Domestic or International adoption?  Giving toward reputable causes?

These kids need us.  We need you.  Hope House needs you.

We have a big feat ahead of us.  A whopping $250,000 to raise to buy the orphanage property and begin construction.  If God is tugging at your heart, inspiring you to give, asking you to help, would you consider donating today and helping us make this dream a reality?  In return helping us change a child's future, making them see their worth and giving them hope.

On the sidebar of our blog there is a Paypal link.

$10.  Start with $10.  Maybe down the road God will ask you to do more.  But start with $10.  Ask your friends to start with $10.  Ask your churches to start with $10.  Make a step towards ending the cycle of orphans.

Stand in the gap for those who are hurting.
"One hundred years from now may it never be said of this generation of ezers that we folded our hands and left God's kingdom work to others.  May it never be said that we ignored the cries of the helpless and focused on ourselves.  Let it instead be said that God used those cries to awaken a sleeping [giant] and filled [them] with a terrible resolve...the church, angered and outraged at the unchecked forces of evil in God's world.  That we made up our minds to do something, that our efforts forced the darkness to recede, and that we left the world better off than we found it.  May we be remembered as a generation who caught God's vision, faced our fears, and rose up to serve His cause."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hope House Intl. Video

This.  Is.  Amazing.  Our good friend, Reid Olson (Storyteller Multimedia) came and shot this fundraising video for us and Hope House.  What a talented friend we have.  Please watch.   

Invest in this dream.  
Change a child's future.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Two Words

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There are few words that bring on a mixture of emotions like the two I am about to write: We're Moving.

The middle of the night has become my think-tank.  For the past year, there have been very few nights where I haven't woken up for a few hours with a racing mind.  In the past four months, my thoughts have been consumed with planning, details, playing devil's advocate, hoping, praying and just plain being excited for what's ahead with Hope House.

Three nights ago, I woke up to feed a hungry baby.  He went back to sleep, I did not.  We have a huge mountain ahead of us in raising $500,000 ($250,000 just so we can purchase land).  It has seemed impossible to me.  It feels like more than I am capable of fathoming.  But as I was wallowing in my own pity party an idea came to me that I had never thought before.  What if we rent the property while we wait for the money to come in?  No, that's crazy, I said to myself.  The owner would never go for it.  Before God laid this vision on our hearts to give a home to the hurting, I would have brushed off this idea.  Afraid that the owner would say no before I even knew what he would say, and not even act on the thought because of my fear of rejection.  Not anymore.  I'm not afraid of much; there are kids who need a home.

So I casually mentioned it to Mike the next day.  "Why didn't I think of that?" he said.  And almost immediately, he called the owner and set up a meeting.  I don't know why I am still surprised when God does amazing things.  He's done it so many times in the last four months I should write a book about it.  But when Mike came back from the meeting I was surprised, gratefully surprised.

When Mike suggested that we rent the property from the owner until we come up with the money to buy, the owner about jumped out of his skin with excitement.  And to make a long, beautiful story short, we are moving in the land where Hope House will be built.  And what's more amazing?  The rent that we will be paying the owner?  He's going to count every cent of it toward our final costs.  And at the end of the conversation, Mike said both the owner and his wife had tears running down their faces in awe of how God moves; how He works for those who love Him and want to bring Him glory.

That, my friends, is totally awesome.

So we're moving.  Moving away from everything we have known for the last eight years.  Moving to a community we know nothing about.  Moving our family into a new phase of ministry, uncharted territories.  Moving away from all of our friends.  Moving out of our comfort zone.

But, oh, we are moving towards something so incredible.  Moving toward making a home for children who feel confused by their life circumstances.  Moving to a place that God has prepared ahead of time for us and whatever little ones will be placed in our care.  Moving into new roles as "parents" with the opportunity to love those who have never felt it before.

We're moving, alright.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

He Expects Nothing Less

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"He called a little child and had them stand among them.  And he said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." -Matthew 18:2-3
Our world has become increasingly hateful.  People feel more entitled to their opinions, and to act harshly based on their opinions, than ever before.  We have somehow even disconnected our hateful actions towards others from the fact that they are humans; living, breathing, children of God.  Despite what others believe, their religious backgrounds or lack thereof, as Christians our foundation is based upon a Savior who died for all, even those that do not acknowledge him as Lord.  That leads me to believe that all people are precious children of His, regardless of the labels and judgements we place on them.

There is a reason that so many of us are drawn to the indescribable "force field" a child possesses.  I sit in awe of my children and how they can play for hours with a tree branch and a few pebbles.  Suddenly, our backyard is transformed into a deep forest and those pebbles are all the berries they have to survive on.  But it is not just their imagination that draws us to them.  There is an innocence about them, an untainted canvas that has the ability to make even the most wretched soul join them in their world free of worry, regret and judgement.

When Jesus talks about us becoming like children, he is asking us to take on humility, teachability, dependence.  We have the opportunity to learn from the little ones that are placed in our care and in our circle of influence.  He is revealing through them a way for us to take the jaded film that covers ours eyes and show us how He sees the world, how he sees His beloved. 

In places like The Hole, La Mosca, The Bateys, Haiti; most of us adults can only see the things our Earthly eyes can assess.  Hunger, devistation, abuse...we look at things by face value.  But if we view these places with the eyes of a child we can see so much more.

I love taking my daughter to The Hole.  She sticks out like a sore thumb with her bright blonde hair and porcelain complexion but somehow she transforms into someone else as I watch her.  She doesn't think twice about playing with another child that has a ripped shirt and no shoes.  She has no reservations about shaking the hand of a man, who also happens to be a drug addict.  She willingly gives hugs to women who dabble in prostitution.  Children are given a natural-born ability to love, without hesitation, without judgement.  The kind of love God asks each of us to display to others regardless of the differences between us.

When we step out of our comfort zone and walk onto foreign soil, God begins to slowly transform us with child-likeness.  It's why so many of us return to our homes saying we had come to minister to others but ended up being ministered to, ourselves.  We hug addicts, bring food to the hungry, play with kids who live in trash dumps...suddenly our world view doesn't contain words of judgement or opinion, we just do what we were created to do; a child loves.

The difficulty arrives as we step on a plane and start the trek back to our lives before we saw the world with child-like eyes.  Will we be graceful with our neighbor who drinks too much and plays their music too loud?  Will we bring a meal to the homeless man who sits on his same corner, day after day?  Will we stop plastering our opinions and judgmental renegades all over Facebook thinking that somehow by forcing others to see our way, they will suddenly conform to our beliefs?

We forget that Jesus was attractive to us when we first met Him because He loved us when we were broken, damaged and forgotten people.  Jesus didn't walk into our homes, list off the horrendous things we'd done in our lives and tell us we were hopeless.  He didn't ask us to put down the bottle or take a shower or come back to him when we had our stuff all together.  No, he loved us where we were, in our broken state, with the stench of our past still on our clothes. 

And he expects nothing less from each of us.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Photo of the Week...5.28-6.4

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As you walk down the concrete-cracked steps to The Hole many things pass through your mind, especially if it's your first time there.  The houses are brimmed with rusted, tin roofs and the children are missing shoes.  Stray dogs scurry from drain to drain hoping a good second-hand meal might make its way to them.  Old men sit in groups, smoking unfiltered cigarettes, drinking rum through missing teeth.  Not exactly the place you'd go to find hope, or even a friendly handshake.

Every time I make my way to the bottom of those unending stairs I can almost feel the weight of this place burdened heavy on my back.  Like, even if I came feeling light and free, I'd take on cargo just by walking this first stretch.  Fortunately, like in every good drama or iconic story, there's a turn, a fork in the road that changes the seemingly dark, presumed ending.

At the first left-turn, the view changes.  Kids that were previously sitting on the concrete bench in the alley, light up at their first glimpse of you.  Running into your arms, giving you high fives, hugging you with a force beyond their own's magical.  And I have to fight back tears almost every time, not understanding how they could love so much with receiving so little in their own worlds.

As you drag your posse of kids along with you, curious neighbors step out of their homes.  The woman dressed scantily, lots of piercings and tattoos, lots of emotional scars.  The man with half-opened eyes, perched at his doorstep, trying to sleep off the night before.  The teenager with the severely baggy pants, wearing his mask of "street cred" covering up the scared little boy behind it.  Each of them with their own hang-ups, still wishing they were a kid so they, too, could jump into someone's arms and feel loved again.

Just ahead you see the steps to the Cuerpo de Cristo church that was built next to a roaring river of trash, sewage and debris.  Hardly visible is a man sitting there with a swarm of kids around him.  As you move closer he raises his head and you see him clearly.  Gentle eyes, warm smile, good heart.  His name is Rafael.

A place like The Hole hardens people.  Some may say it's a good way to protect yourself, to not let yourself feel.  The horrible things that happen daily there would leave one in a coma if they allowed themselves to be vulnerable to it.  But where so many others have gained hard lines on their faces from years of life leaving them, Rafael exudes grace.  His face remains untainted by the remnants of despair all around him.

He's become a brother, a friend, a place of refuge for the kids who have no father figure to turn to.  He hugs and twirls and bends down low if he has something important to say.  He talks with worried mothers and lost teenagers and questioning toddlers...and to me, when I'm all fired up about another young girl in the community who's gotten pregnant.

I imagine that Rafael carries some of the same burdens the rest of the people in The Hole do but somehow he transforms it into a smile.  Not a forced one, or a fake one, but a real, genuine smile that puts people at ease, kids and adults alike.  His job is not an easy one, and some days he looks rugged with exhaustion, but he chooses joy.  He chooses grace.  He chooses kindness.  He may not have chosen this path that he is on but there is one thing that is very clear to me...

...God chose him for it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Photo of the Week...5.21-5.28

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My perspective was different than most everyone else.  From the front of the room I saw neutral-hued hands lifted high, the glory of God filling the place.  Four countries represented, one hundred and eighty chairs filled with people unified by international partnership.  Voices of every tone, many tongues, one language -- worship.

I believe with all my heart that God knew exactly what He was doing when He placed sound in our voice boxes, music in our souls.  He knew that for most, just words preached or hands clenched or eyes closed wouldn't be enough.  That song would bring Heaven to Earth, washing unending love and grace over His people.

I could hardly make out my own words as tears streamed from the corners of my eyes, down my reddened cheeks.  "How Great Thou Art" echoed into our ears, strengthened our cause, unified our hearts.  In that moment, as some sang in English, others in Spanish and Creole, I could feel a glimpse of the Eternal Home so many of us long for.

Some wept and some smiled, while others swayed their burdens away.  You could feel His peace, sweeping through a chilled conference room that has perhaps previously hosted weddings or business meetings.  But this night, at this hour, it was God's Temple.  A place where people gathered and were reminded of God's awesome power spanning into our troubled world.  If only for a moment, all pain, sorrow, troubles -- vanished.  If our souls could carry us, we may have lifted from the ground.

There is something indescribable about community, regardless of race, language or background.  As this broken world continues to struggle, emerge by its lonesome, we found something that night that binds and bonds.  God's ultimate redemption plan laid out for all to see through the thankful words of adoration to a Father who adores His children. 

How Great Thou Art, those words have healing power.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Photo of the Week...4/28-5/4

You can trace the lines on her face to the years of hardship she has endured.  Day after day, harvesting and sorting beans to sell in order to provide what little she can for her family.  In the early morning she sits below a sparcely-leaved tree, protecting herself from the already blazing sun.  It's her spot, hardly comfortable but its familiarity somehow comforting.

On every trip I've taken to Phaeton, I have wanted to take her picture.  But in Haiti, because of Voodoo, there are many adults who believe that by taking their photo you can steal their soul.  Other Haitians won't allow it because of the vast amount of "good-intentioned people" who come to Haiti, take photos of their living conditions and make promises to bring help, but then never do.  Something in me that day felt bold and I took a chance.  I'm glad I did.

There is something about her presence that completely captivated me.  Quiet and focused, yet her eyes soft and full of life.  A couple of little ones would often interrupt her diligent work by sitting on her lap and she never once seemed bothered or discontent with their continuous disruptions.

By the end of our trip she had made her way to where our group would gather at Pastor Lucner's house.  We had conjured up some good 'ol fashioned competition and were having races against each other.  She laughed heartily when we asked her to join in the fun.

There are just times in this season of my life where I am taken back by something seemingly ordinary that appears extraordinary to something deep in my soul.  And when I took the time to stop and gaze upon her aging face I saw grace, dignity and peace; all things I can only hope to aquire someday.