Archive for the ‘orphans’ Category

>More Meaningful Bling


A few weeks ago I wrote a post for All Things Chic about a beautiful bracelet I have that benefits parents in the process of adopting. I am fiercely pro-life, pro-adoption and supportive of organizations that work to support orphans and children living in severe poverty. So when I can spend my money on one of my little addictions, jewelry, and it benefits more than just me? Win-win!

So my friend Kristen from We Are THAT Family has started a non-profit maternity house in Kenya that will house and support pregnant girls with no place to go and no resources. Many of these girls have been forced into prostitution and would otherwise be seeking backstreet abortions. Kristen and her husband are going way way way out on a limb in faith to do this and one of the many ways she is supporting the Mercy House is by making and selling gorgeous jewelry, some of it fashioned out of paper beads like those made in Kenya.

So I got to hang out with Kristen on Monday and bought a bunch of her jewelry, AND her adorable new book, Don’t Make Me Come Up There! Check out these fabulous hand-crafted accessories. Lots more are available on her Etsy site.

I’m all about meaningful bling and I encourage you to check out her shop online. 

>National Adoption Day Comes to Harris County Family Court

>I had the most amazing day today. Thanks to our newly formed orphan and adoption ministry, 1:17, and our participation in a larger alliance of churches in Houston for adoption, I got the chance to help out with a huge celebration of adoption today. Today in the Harris County family court system we celebrated National Adoption Day by throwing a huge party for about 46 kids being welcomed into forever families. Here’s the story as shown on the local news tonight. You can see me in one shot wielding my camera in the background, since my main job was…of course…photography!
I can’t wait to share more photos from the day, but the court has to go through them all to make sure they are ok for publishing. It was barely controlled chaos in our party room…a converted courtroom filled with waiting families, crafts, food, gifts, clowns and Santa! Then in two courtrooms on the same floor we had concurrently running dockets full of adoption consummations. I got the chance to witness about ten of these, and to take the first official family photo in the courtroom with the presiding judge. There were tears of joy and hugs all around. And that totally works for me!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

>Weekly Winner Photos for October 24

>As I rest and recover from Bloggy Boot Camp in Austin, I thought I’d put up a few photos from last week for Sarcastic Mom’s Weekly Winners link-up. These photos were taken last week. I would normally have a whole slew of photos from Bloggy Boot Camp, but when I got to the hotel I realized my camera battery was still at home in the charger. It was extremely painful, not having my camera this weekend. So instead you get photos taken last Sunday when my friends’ band, Forlorn Hope, played at the Toyota Center in Houston for the Houston Aeros Hockey Game, to raise money for our orphan care ministry.

Weekly Winners Information
Forlorn Hope Singing Outside the Toyota Center

Love that 147 Million Orphans Shirt
Nathan Enjoying the Houston Aeros Ice Hockey Game

Forlorn Hope Performing During the Aeros Game

To view all my photos, including some cute ones of my kids in their Halloween costumes, go to my Flickr stream.

>Great Music, Ice Hockey, and Rescuing Orphans!

>Several months ago our church’s worship pastor, John Cordes, and his wife announced that they were planning to adopt. At the same time they decided to start a ministry at our church and a life group centered around orphan care, adoption and fostering. I jumped a the chance to join this group, and it’s been great getting to know some new folks in our church with a similar passion. The ministry is called 1:17, and it will raise funds to do a whole lot of good.

One of the first fundraisers for 1:17 will be from a portion of ticket sales to this Sunday’s Houston Aeros hockey game. Tickets are just $10, and if you call 713-361-7941 or email to buy them, some of the money will go to 1:17. The game starts at 4:00 at the Toyota Center, and there’s a big added bonus. Forlorn Hope, John’s new band, will be performing before the game and at halftime. The have kind of an alternative rock sound and their songs express their passion for God’s call to us to care for “the least of these”.

Forlorn Hope is currently in studio recording a CD, and I was fortunate enough to do a fun photoshoot with the band. We wanted a bit of grime for the photos and location scouting in Katy revealed absolutely nothing grimy. Even historic Old Katy is exceedly green and pretty.  So we ventured a few minutes down the road to Rosenberg, where the signs of poverty were everywhere. Abandoned buildings, trash, barbed wire and graffiti out number the charming historic buildings by a long shot. I was struck by the huge contrast between ultra high income, perfectly manicured south Katy, where I live, and Rosenberg, a mere six or ten miles down one country road.

My awesome photographer friend, Brian Wagner, came along to help with the shoot. I kinda like the results. Some photos are already up on their Facebook fan page, and their website is under construction.

So anyway, if you’re in Houston and looking for a fun family weekend activity that would support rescuing orphans, call that number and go see Forlorn Hope and some killer Houston Aeros ice hockey!

>Water is Life, and a Child’s Right

>ZenLast week I traveled to New Orleans to attend the annual WEFTEC conference for my job as a water and wastewater engineer. The conference is huge, about 20,000 people and nearly 1000 exhibitors. My company has a big 20 ft by 20 ft booth and we spend three solid days talking to people about our technology. As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m also very involved in the leadership of the association that puts on the conference, WEF. So that means added meetings and events such as the community service project we did on Saturday.

I’ve been in the water industry for 11 years now, and I have a great many friends who I only see once a year at this convention, including all the employees at my company. I used to be in sales so I got to know a ton of people that way, but now I’m behind the computer full time doing research, design and marketing work. So getting face time with all these people energizes me. The community service project, using my connections in the water industry to make a positive impact on the local neighborhood, that energized me even more.

But nothing this past week made me feel the way a single conversation with a complete stranger did.

Let me back up. I decided to try a marketing campaign via Twitter for my company. So I carefully tweeted and followed the many water organizations and companies tweeting about the conference. Ned Breslin, CEO of Water for People, an organization I have supported in the past, was tweeting a lot of relevant stuff. Water for People hosted their first accountability summit at the show, launching an awesome new tool for making water project monitoring public and online, in an attempt to hold all the various charities doing water  projects accountable. Too many well intentioned water projects fail and wells become unusable in less than a year.

One tweet caught my attention, because of a connection to the Together for Adoption Conference that also took place last weekend in Austin. I had followed all the tweets from that conference closely, wishing I could be there. So when I saw that someone from A Child’s Right, a group I’d never heard of, was at WEFTEC, I asked to talk to him.  The same group had been mentioned by Esther Havens, an awesome humanitarian photographer whose work I follow closely.

So Aaron Walling, from A Child’s Right, did come by my company’s booth and I walked with him to a place where we could sit and really talk. He explained that his group focuses on putting water filtration systems into orphanages and hospitals and other places serving children in urban areas. I questioned why these water sources were not safe, and he explained how bad they really are. They are working in China, Nepal, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Tibet. They seem to be pretty well funded and efficient, serving hundreds of thousands of children in the three years they have existed.

a child’s right and HOPE Enterprises from a child’s right on Vimeo.

I explained my previous involvement with Water for People and Living Water International, as well as the heart for orphans that God has placed in me. He shared that he and his colleague are Christians and we had a long talk about water, orphans, adoption and how it seems the Lord is moving in the hearts of Christ-followers in our country.  To connect with someone who shares my real passion, with whom I am bonded in Christ, was by far the most energizing part of the entire week. It has never happened before in the 11 years I have been coming to this conference. I always pray and ask Jesus to go with me and before me, but I often feel like my faith is set aside in some ways for that week. This week He led me to Aaron, and our conversation sustained me in ways I can’t even explain. This is what it means to be united in Christ and living in grace.

>The Servolution Begins with Compassion Sunday

>Have you ever felt like God was literally standing two feet in front of you, jumping up and down, hollering at you trying to get a message through? Yeah. So that’s what I feel like. This story of God opening my eyes and heart to the plight of the orphans and poverty stricken children of the world continues.

Last week I wrote a bit about it, and about how we have started a new Life group and ministry focused on adoption, fostering, and defending the cause of the orphan. The group is called 1:17, from the verse Isaiah 1:17 which says

Learn to do right. Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Mike with a Compassion packet

We are reading the book Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis. Fantastic, awesome book. I am also concurrently reading Radical, by David Platt. Same premise really in both books. Life, and most especially a life of faith in Jesus, is not meant to be lived in pursuit of happiness or comfort. Real fulfillment and really following Jesus is about living out compassion for others.

So anyway on Thursday Mike and I went to a concert in Houston that I bought tickets to more than a month ago.  The headlining band was Tenth Avenue North and also performing were Addison Road and Matt Maher. I love the music of all three performers. In fact, it was during the AWAKE series last year when our worship pastor sang Hold My Heart by Tenth Avenue North that I really got it, and my heart broke. During that song they showed statistics on human sex trafficking. Did you know that the number one city in the US for sex trafficking is Houston? Yeah, it’s startling.

Ok back to the concert. So Matt Maher started off with some incredible songs like one of my favorites, Your Grace is Enough. He sang his hit Hold Us Together and then broke into Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry, which had me smiling. They are songs of hope during tough economic times for our country.

Matt Maher singing Hold us Together

Then two of the guys from Tenth Avenue North came out and talked about human slavery and sex trafficking, and how Compassion International helps prevent children from ending up in that life. Then Addison Road performed, closing out with their hit Hope Now. Then they showed an amazing video of the testimony of several adults whose lives were radically changed by Compassion International.  These were people who really were rescued, physically and spiritually by Jesus. Then Mike from Tenth Avenue North came out and shared the message that has affected me the most this year…that we have been rescued by poverty and even spiritual death by Jesus Christ. I was in the same hopeless, helpless situation as these kids without Him. So why shouldn’t we, why wouldn’t we want to show our gratitude by trying to save others from these desperate situations? I’m so glad we made the decision last May to sponsor our daughter in Kenya, Mbeyu.

Addison Road singing Hope Now

Then to my complete surprise, I got to church this morning and discovered we were starting a new series called Servolution. Also to my surprise it is Compassion Sunday! We saw a video on Compassion International and heard a presentation from a woman at our church about the work of Compassion. When I walked out after the service I saw a table full of sponsor packets and several people with their checkbooks open. Praise the Lord for that.

So I can’t help but wonder what more God wants me to do. We already sponsor a child. We have opened our house to this new ministry. We are reading and praying. But I know He’s asking for more, I know He is.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon.

>Top Ten Bible Verses Regarding Orphans

>Top Ten {Tuesday} I wrote this weekend about my heart for orphans. I believe this is where God’s heart lies, as reflected in the following scriptures…plus many more not listed here.

1. James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

2. Psalm 68:5

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

3. Isaiah 1:17

Try looking at this after a Big Mac ad...

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

4. Deuteronomy 10:18

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.

5. Deuteronomy 24:19

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

6. Psalm 27:10

For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.

7. Exodus 22:22-24

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

8. Psalm 82:3

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

9. Psalm 146:9

The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10. Hosea 14:3 In you the orphan finds mercy.

Bonus! Jeremiah 22:3

Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.