This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not
that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bike Ride Anyone?

This year, I will be participating in an exciting activity - the BP MS 150!

The MS 150 bike ride is a unique way to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis. In July, our family friend was diagnosed with MS and for this reason I have decided to participate in this 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. Although I am not an avid bike rider, I am excited about this opportunity to raise awareness and funds to help counter the affects MS is having on those around me. I am asking you to support me in this effort by making a donation to the National MS Society.

Every donation, whether large or small, will make a difference!  Thank you so much for partnering with me and please understand my heartfelt appreciation for any support you can give in this journey to fight against MS.

Here is some additional information about MS: Multiple sclerosis is a progressive neurological disease that affects people in many different ways. It could be paralysis one day, loss of vision the next or impaired memory the day after that. Living with MS means living with uncertainty.

When it comes to MS, only two things are certain: 
·      Another American is newly diagnosed with MS every hour of every day. 
·      Many people are joining the movement toward a world free of MS, including me.

Why I Ride: I've registered for BP MS 150 to fulfill a personal challenge, and to help the National MS Society fund research, advocate for change, and help people with MS and their families lead powerful lives. I believe in the work they do and want to be an active part of it. I know I can count on your help.

Let's Move Forward Together: The Society organizes 100 rides nationwide. The funds they raise fuel research aimed at treating and eventually curing MS; they also provide crucial services for persons living with MS.

I'm helping the National MS Society move forward toward a world without MS and making a difference in the lives of 400,000 Americans with multiple sclerosis.

I would love for you to join me in this endeavor! Click here to see more.

     Lots of love,
     Jenny Butler

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4: 10-12

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A little thing called "full-circle" stories!

If you know me at all, you know that I am in love with Operation Christmas Child. I find so much joy in simply participating in the project so the fact that I get to work for this organization is an absolute honor.

My job revolves around seeing the impact Operation Christmas Child continually has around the world and right here in the United States. I still don't know what I find more inspiring- those packing the gifts or those receiving them. It's incredible to see children, families and communities demonstrate compassion, in a simple yet life-changing way, as they fill shoe boxes for children they've never met. On the other hand, I have heard story after story and seen video after video of children opening their shoe box gifts and  learning about the hope of Jesus Christ that have filled my sould with uncontanable joy.
So why is my job so cool? I get to talk to children like Victoria tell me what it was like to receive this gift of hope and then share their story with their community. It's stories like these that make fill my heart with endless encouragement and motivation as see a simple shoe box gift make an eternal difference in not just one life, but many!
I wanted to share with you the story of an incredible girl, Victoria Blaske, who now lives in Lynden, Washington. Victoria is originally from Ghana, but was adopted in 2008. After receiving an Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift while living at a children’s home, Victoria now relishes the opportunity to share that same gift of love with other children in need. Even though she is only 12-years-old, Victoria desires to pack and send these gifts to children just like her so that they can experience the same feeling of joy that she did.  

After Receiving Her Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Gift as an Orphan in Ghana, Victoria Blaske is Sharing That Same Simple Gift of Hope With Other Kids in Need
 “I can just picture Victoria—in her tattered school uniform—holding her shoe box on her head, running full speed and full of joy all the way home.” – Carrie Blaske, mother of Victoria Blaske
The joyful spirit Victoria Blaske radiates would never give anyone the impression that her life was very difficult for years. Growing up in a remote village in northern Ghana, Victoria lived in a mud hut amidst an impoverished community with her aunt, uncle and six cousins.

One day, when Victoria was 7 years old, a big truck carrying cartons filled with Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts arrived at her school. “I was so excited to see all the boxes,” recalls Victoria, who had never received a toy until she was given a gift-filled shoe box, hand-packed by a family in America. Once each student had a shoe box in hand, the children were asked to open their gifts when they had arrived safely back at home.  The school children from Victoria’s village gathered together under a large mango tree, and as they opened their shoe box gifts the sounds of joy and laughter filled the air.

The details of that joy-filled day are sealed in Victoria’s memory. For a child who had experienced great loss, this shoe box gift brought tremendous happiness. Inside, Victoria found items such as washcloths, bubble gum and a plastic horse that, although may seem simple to the average American, impacted her life forever.

As providing food for everyone in their household became increasingly difficult, Victoria moved from her aunt and uncle’s care into a children’s home. A year and half later, in March of 2008, Victoria was adopted by Dave and Carrie Blaske of Lynden, Washington.

Knowing the impact these simple gifts can have, Victoria now looks forward to packing shoe boxes with toys, hygiene products, school supplies and hand-written notes for other kids in need.

“Victoria is so full of joy and her heart to help other kids is huge,” said Carrie Blaske, the mother of now 12-year-old Victoria. “She wants these boxes to go to children just like her so that they can experience the same love that she has.”

This year, Faith Community Church in Lynden will serve as a collection site for Operation Christmas Child gift-filled shoe boxes. For more information about hours during National Collection Week, Nov. 14-21, visit the collection site zip code locator at www.samaritanspurse.org.  The participation of Lynden residents will help ensure that some 8.5 million children in over 100 countries suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, famine and poverty will have Christmas this year.

ABOUT OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD: Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has hand-delivered shoe box gifts to more than 86 million hurting children in more than 130 countries.  Staff and volunteers use whatever means necessary—ships, trucks, buses, trains, airplanes, boats, camels, even dog sleds—to reach suffering children.
Samaritan's Purse uses tracking technology that allows donors to "follow your box" to the destination country where it will be hand-delivered to a child in need.  By clicking on “Follow Your Box” at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ, families can register their boxes and find out where in the world their boxes brought joy to children.
To volunteer or learn how to pack and send an Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift, call (253) 572-1155 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.  National Collection Week for gift-filled shoe boxes is Nov. 14-21; however, shoe box gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C.
         


Monday, September 19, 2011

Cup of Joy - India

 Thankful for this morning's Operation Christmas Child Cup of Joy!


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit  -Romans 15:13

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cup of Joy - Ukraine



Sweet smiles coming from Ukraine :) 



Multiplying the Power of a Simple Gift

Operation Christmas Child begins a ripple effect among individuals and communities in Ukraine
Sometimes one selfless act of love can have a ripple effect on the lives of others, prompting them to reach out beyond themselves and touch the heart of another, no matter how small the gesture may seem.

That’s what made Christmas 2009 extra special for young Ivan Bogun.

The Ukranian boy received a gift-filled shoe box at an Operation Christmas Child party in his village. Ivan eagerly hurried home to show his mother the beautiful gifts he had received in the box, especially the shiny new toys. His eyes lit up as he continued to pull out pencils, a notebook, and toothpaste. He also handed her the little booklet that he received at the distribution telling the Gospel story.

Natalia rejoiced over her son’s excitement as he described the Christmas celebration in detail. During the event, Ivan and his friends heard a presentation about God’s gift of the Savior to the world. Hearing about the sacrifice Jesus made for him had left an impression on the young boy’s heart.

Later that day, Natalia was surprised when her son came to her with a worried look on his face. The elation from just hours ago had disappeared.

“What about the children who live on the streets?” he asked. “Someone gave me this box and this book. They don’t have any of these things.”

His mother suggested that he offer a gift from his shoe box to a needy child. Ivan’s countenance brightened. He gathered up his new toys and returned to her side a few minutes later with not just one, but the entire box of gifts.

Realizing her son was genuine, she set out with him on a walk through their neighborhood in search of a homeless child.

“He ended up giving his present to a boy in the community and told him about Jesus,” she said. “I saw that the gift which my child had received had created a desire in him to give to others.”

That same desire to give back was experienced this year in the tiny village of Bogomazy in southern Ukraine. After shoe box gifts were delivered to the children in December, one local church offered a follow-up discipleship program to boys and girls who wanted to learn more about Jesus. Five parents joined their children in the class.

Seeing the need for a ministry to adults in the community, the church embarked on an outreach program. Twenty adults came to faith in Christ, and a new church was planted.

But the impact did not stop there. Several men from the congregation felt led to minister to inmates at a nearby prison. Ten of the prisoners have since committed their hearts to Jesus, and now members from the new church take turns holding weekly services in the prison.

“So now two churches have started in Bogomazy—one in prison and one in the community,” said a member of the Operation Christmas Child National Leadership Team in Ukraine. “We are encouraged by the new openness of churches and the relationships they are building as a result of Operation Christmas Child.”


WAYS YOU CAN HELP

PRAY:

For the families, churches, and groups that will be packing shoe boxes this year, for the volunteers who will operate collection centers and work at processing centers, and for the children who will receive the gifts.

GET INVOLVED:

National Collection Week is scheduled for November 14-21. Samaritan’s Purse hopes to collect 8.5 million shoe boxes to deliver to children in some 100 countries around the world. Click here to order resource kits and other promotional materials for your church or group, and for more information about the program.

GIVE:

The Greatest Journey is an exciting discipleshiip program that teaches children to become faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Click here to help support this project.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

hurricane irene

Perhaps it's because it would take me 30 hours to drive 1,800 plus miles over American soil to reach the east coast where Hurrican Irene made landfall on August 27th.

Perhaps it's because our country is so developed that emergency response teams- both NGO and governmentally run -were set up to take action immediately after the hurricane made landfall.

Whatever the reason be, the events and after effects of Hurrican Irene seem so distant.

Looking through these pictures today helped me grasp the reality of what's happening on the east coast. I can't even imagine a life where everything I have is damaged or destroyed by forces outside of my control, but that's the way of life for people here in American and around the world. Whether that devastation comes from a natural disaster or war-filled conflict, entire communities are left in the wake of destruction. In this destruction, everything that once held us together falls apart and we see that being dependent on the things of this world leaves us feeling empty and weary. It's in these moments that God says to us, "I will satisfy the weary soul, and every faint soul I will replenish"(Jeremiah 31:25).

The Word of God tells us that "you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Dueteronomy 4:29).  I pray that in the midst of this chaos people will seek the Lord; because if they do, they will find Him and in Him be refreshed. As life has progressed, God has continually shown me that he is a God of restoration that reconciles people into His presence through His outpouring of grace. So if you're experiencing some type of "destruction" today, remember that God is in the midst of everything and he is working through all things. Just ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cup of Joy with a little Charles Spurgeon

Enjoy this Cup of Joy all the way from Zimbabwe!



Now, I want to share a little excert from a Charles Spurgeon sermon called Grace Abounding that I consider worth the read.


"No matter how sinful man may be, yet the light of day descends upon him unasked for and unsought. Such is the grace of God; where it comes it comes not because sought, or deserved, but simply from the goodness of the heart of God, which, like the sun, blesseth as it wills. Mark you the gentle winds of heaven, the breath of God to revive the languishing, the soft breezes. See the sick man at the sea-side, drinking in health from the breezes of the salt sea. Those lungs may heave to utter the lascivious song, but the healing wind is not restrained, and whether it be breast of saint or sinner, yet that wind ceaseth not from any. So in gracious visitations, God waiteth not till man is good before he sends the heavenly wind, with healing beneath its wings; even as he pleaseth so it bloweth, and to the most undeserving it cometh.

Observe the rain which drops from heaven. It falls upon the desert as well as upon the fertile field; it drops upon the rock that will refuse its fertilizing moisture as well as upon the soil that opens its gaping mouth to drink it in with gratitude. See, it falls upon the hard-trodden streets of the populous city, where it is not required, and where men will even curse it for coming, and it falls not more freely where the sweet flowers have been panting for it, and the withering leaves have been rustling forth their prayers.

Such is the grace of God. It does not visit us because we ask it, much less, because we deserve it; but as God wills it, and the bottles of heaven are unstopped, so God wills it, and grace descends. No matter how vile, and black, and foul, and godless, men may be, he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and that free, rich, overflowing goodness of his can make the very worst and least deserving the objects of his best and choicest love."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cup of Joy: 8/29

Love the smile a morning Cup of Joy with Operation Christmas Child brings to my face :)





(I've said it before, but I'll say it again- It is such an honor to work with an organization that is not ashamed of the gospel and longs for people around the world to know the hope, love and joy of Jesus Christ!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Peace of Mind and Heart

Months ago, I wrote a blog post about the comfort I find when I remember that Jesus has already overcome the world.

This morning I was reminded that there is abounding peace to be found Christ. It's amazing how much time and energy I expend just trying to make sense of and control the situations around me.

When will I understand that peace isn't found by being in control? Peace is found in trusting Him. It's found in trustfully letting go of the oppresive burdens I let consume me.

God's word says that the righteous will live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17). That's my challenge for myself today: to live by faith and not by control. Each day I have to remind myself to release the death grip I find myself maintaining as I attempt to control my life.

It's beautiful to experience the peace that comes through knowing Jesus Christ and knowing that He is in control. There is peace in realizing that He does not make mistakes and that He does not fail- both things I've proven capable of doing quite well. I'm beginnnig to learn that the more I trust Him and rest in His presence, the more full my life becomes. Thank you, Lord, for granting me the divine gift of peace.


"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. The peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
John 14:27

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sharing today, sharing tomorrow?


I'm still not convinced that people actually like reading my thoughts, but I've gotten enough questioning about my lack of blogging that I've decided to improve- or at least attempt to improve.

It might not be much, it might be something sort and simple and written by someone else, but in the end I think it's worth sharing. So here's to my improved blogging efforts:


The Power of a Whisper

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake, came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” 
 
1 Kings 19:11-13




This passage reminds me to listen and look for God in every situation. He is a part of every moment and he seeks to speak to me, if only I would be aware of his presence. It's easy for me to seek and find God's communication with me during big events in my life. I look for billboards and moments that make me say, "Duh, that's got to be God"; instead, I need to be listening and looking for God's presence everyday and in everything- even the gentle whispers. I pray that I can recognize God's voice when it's both obvious and suttle.
 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I am all around you...


I AM ALL AROUND YOU, hovering over you even as you seek My Face.  I am nearer than you dare believe, closer than the air you breathe.  If My children could only recognize My Presence, they would never feel lonely again.

I know every thought before you think it, every word before you speak it.

My Presence impinges on your innermost being.  Can you SEE the absurdity of trying to hide anything from Me?  You can easily deceive other people, and even yourself; but I read you like an open, large-print book.

Deep within themselves, most people have some awareness of My Imminent Presence.  Many people run from Me and vehemently deny My existence, because My closeness terrifies them.  But My own children have nothing to fear, for I have cleansed them by My blood and clothed them in My righteousness.

Be blessed by My intimate nearness.  Since I live in you, let Me also live through you, shining My Light into the darkness.





(an excert from Sarah Young's Jesus Calling devotional book)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Safari of Six: Poverty

Amy, thanks opening your heart and using your words to share this with us. It's just what I needed to hear. Now I'm passing this along with the hopes that someone else will hear God speaking to them...


(For those of you who don't know: Amy is my Kitale mom, a wife, a mother of four and a servant sent by God to help the people of Kenya and kids like me who somehow find their way to Kitale.)

Safari of Six: Poverty:

Well, this has been a lonely few days. Less than a week after our college team left to go home to the U.S., Howie and our remaining "team" (6 of them, along with 2 other Kenyans) left for Lodwar. Just me and the kids and Manu, and our house helpers in the daytime. A big change from 35 people on the compound!

Lodwar is in the Turkana region of Northeast Kenya, and has been heavily effected by the drought and the severe famine that is happening in the Horn of Africa. They spent the last 2 days distributing food in 4 different villages. They had an armed guard with them the entire time, to keep the peace. When you have children at home who are dying because they are starving, you'll do just about anything for food. Howie said that these people were very aggressive today and it got pretty intense. But they aren't savages--they're starving. I can't even wrap my mind around the thousands of people who have died. So thankful that Howie and our team had the privilege of distributing 11 tons of food to help fight this famine.

I know that the starvation over here is hard to comprehend. You've probably heard the numbers, and it just goes in one ear and out the other, because who can actually make sense out of thousands and thousands of people dying in only a few short months? I'm actually IN the same country and it's hard for me to comprehend. Maybe we can't wrap our brains around it because if we did, we'd never stop crying; don't know.

I get stressed out about what to make for lunch but I can't imagine not having anything to make.  I try to get my kids to drink water instead of always wanting juice but I can't imagine not even having water to give them. Even though I live here, I'm still an American. I'm still privileged. I'm still ignorant to what life is like for someone living in poverty, for the sole reason that I've never experienced it. I can get close to it, but I'll never really know.

Today I went to visit my friend Gladys down in the slum near our house. Gladys is a widow living with HIV, and taking care of 2 small children. They live in a mud hut that is small and stinky, and most days they only eat once, if they're lucky.  I go and see Gladys and pray with her, and have met some of her needs, but when we say goodbye, I always come home. To food. And water. And soap. And medicine. And a shower. And Skype with friends and family back home telling me that they love me and miss me and they're praying for me. Gladys just stays in her mud hut.

As you can tell, I'm processing the concept of poverty right now. It seems hopeless. I'm in the process of helping another family who I will write about later, who are also living in extreme poverty. Sometimes it's too much. I wrestle with feelings of guilt, anger and hopelessness when I'm with them. Those things aren't of the Lord, I know, so I pray a LOT. God is slowly showing me that Mother Teresa's words are worth repeating: "If you can't feed a hundred, feed one."

God is not calling me to change the world. I can't even change the circumstances for my friend Gladys. But I can take them a bar of soap. I can hug her and pray with her. I can listen to her needs and her concerns, and be a friend. To an American, these things don't seem like a lot. They seem unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But God works in the little things. They matter.

If you're reading this feeling like I am, like it's too much, like the numbers are too high; there's too much need; too much poverty; too many people: be encouraged. God never asked us to do everything, He just asks us to do something. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . ." James 1:27

Cup of Joy: 8/22

Sipping on an Operation Christmas Child Cup of Joy this morning!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

self-centered

I thought being at home might entail having more time to sit and write down my thoughts, but it's turned out that's not the case.

I'm actually not too surprised. Life seems to somehow pick up right where it left off. So consumed by everything here and almost all things that center around myself.

In just the course of this week, I've spent most of my time putting together my life here in Denver. An activity that centers itself on me, giving me a somewhat sick feeling in my stomach as I pursue so many things out my own interests.

The activities I've participated in create a long list of inward focused things: concerts, movies, trips to the park, target runs, dinner dates and so on. Even blogging now seems self-centered. Is this not getting a bit absurd?

I can't tell you how frustrated I've been over the past few weeks. I want to enjoy things like hiking and I fully believe God also wants me to enjoy these things. Now if I could just enjoy them! Easier said than done, but it's something I am desperately working on.

I think God has in many ways made my heart sensitive to how I utilize my time, but I also think he longs for me to embrace the beautiful blessings he's put in my life- and now this is me working to find a middle ground. Any advice is welcome!

It's just a strange transition. I've gone from being in a place that allows me, in very obvious ways, to serve others all the time. As I've come back to a world were people often hide their needs, I suppose out of fear that they will appear inadequate, makes it a lot harder to pinpoint ways to help those around me.

It has become an active prayer of mine that God will open my eyes to the needs and hurts in my community- small or big. I want to be aware of where I can pour out God's love, and I think that's something I need to constantly ask God to reveal to me. Open my eyes to world around me that I might share your love to all by meeting even the simplest of needs.

All of this to say, my aim today is: to ask God to open my eyes, to look for opportunities that God allows and to step forward in action enabling God to demonstrate his love through me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

How He Loves

Take a minute and listen to this song. Don't just let it play in the background. Listen, really listen and capture each word. No matter what you're going through or how you're feeling, spend a moment relishing in God's all-consuming love.





He is jealous for me
Love's like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me.
Oh, how He loves us so
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us so.

Yeah, He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves.

So we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean we're all sinking
So heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way

That he loves us,
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves

He loves us,
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves

Well, I thought about You the day Stephen died and You met me between my breaking
I know that I still love You, God, despite the agony
...they want to tell me You're cruel
But if Stephen could sing, he'd say it's not true, cause...

Cause He loves us,
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves

Yeah, He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sip on Cup of Joy!

Start your morning with a CUP OF JOY! Sit back, relax and enjoy the infectious laughter of a child opening an Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Enjoy a morning Cup of Joy

You might be enjoying your morning cup of coffee right now, but have you had your morning Cup of Joy? Take a sip of irresistably contagious joy this morning as you experience Operation Christmas Child's morning Cup of Joy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Do Everything to His Glory!


I am so thankful that God opened the door for me to follow him into Africa. Now, after returning to the states, I am excited to see what God has instore for me next. I always want to remember to serve the Lord with gladness and to willingly and joyfully follow his lead every day of my life.

For years I thought God's will for my life was so complicated, but I've learned that it's not nearly as nit-picky as I've always set it out to be. In fact, it's really simple. I don't need to get wrapped up in and stressed out about all the little details and decisions. Living in Kitale has shown me that God's will for my life isn't complicated at all. God's taught me that his will is centered around loving and glorifying Him wherever I am and in whatever I am doing. Ultimately, I think it's not the location I live or the specific job I have that's most important, it's the fact that in my community and at my job I do everything to his glory. Perhaps he delights most when I simply glorify him in everything that I do. Whatever car, house or job I have doesn't matter as long as I'm doing it to the glory of God. Basically I'm trying not to let myself get consumed with all the little details of things and just focusing on the fact that my purpose here, God's will for me life, is to love and glorify him and to share that love with others so that they will come to know and glorify him as well. So really I make life seem more complicated and the will of God appear more intimidating than it really needs to be. I keep trying to remind myself that my purpose is simple- just seek to love God in the things I do and that's his will for my life. I am called to do God's work anywhere and everywhere. Whether I am in Africa or America, my ministry to the people God furiously loves never stops. I'm praying that I will keep that in mind as I return to life in the states!

Today I heard this song and loved how perfectly it fit all the thoughts and feelings I've been having regarding God's will for my life. I hope you enjoying it as well!

Do Everything by Steven Curtis Chapman
You’re picking up toys on the living room floor
for the 15th time today
Matching up socks and sweeping up lost
Cheerios that got away
You put a baby on your hip and color on your lips
and head out the door
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you
Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do
Maybe you’re that guy with the suit and tie
Maybe your shirt says your name
You may be hooking up mergers, cooking up burgers
But at the end of the day
Little stuff big stuff in between stuff
God sees it all the same
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you do
Everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you
To do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace with every move that you make
And every little thing that you do
Well maybe you’re sitting in math class
Maybe anekatips on a mission in the Congo
Maybe you’re working at the office
Singing along with the radio
Maybe you’re dining at a five star
Or feeding orphans in Myanmar
Anywhere and everywhere you are
Whatever you do it all matters
So do what you do and don’t ever forget
to do
Everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace as you do
Everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace with every move that you make
And every little thing that you do

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Follow the journey of an American college student living life in extreme poverty

Through some friends, I found out about a guy named Brett who has taken on the challenge of living in extreme poverty for 30 days. He will be spending 15 days homeless on the streets of Seattle and 15 days in a village in Ghana.

I loved reading through all his posts yesterday and sharing them with my mom today. I recommend following his journey. I guarantee it will be an eye-opening experiencing for all of us.

To follow along check out his blog at: http://walkingbelow-film.blogspot.com/



Please pray for Brett's journey as he steps into shoes of people living in extreme poverty. May God's light shine in and through him!

Here's what Brett has to say:

"Recently, my thoughts, actions, and heart have been really focused on the fact that 1.1 billion people live on $1.25 a day.  It is a problem that I believe a lot of people are aware of, but don't really understand, myself included.  I understand the statistic and the implications it probably has, but often times wonder if I really understand what it is these people go through?  I go back to the old saying that "you can't really understand what a person is going through, until you spend a day walking in his shoes."  I believe this to be true in the area of starvation, struggles and poverty as well which is why, starting this week, I will make an all out attempt to live below the lowest line of poverty that this world has ever known.  I want to better understand just what it is that these people around the world go through, so that I can better relate to them, and try to help them.

We will be filming the experience with the hope of allowing others to also walk in the shoes of those less fortunate.  Through film, we will attempt to bring people the opportunity to live in the world's most extreme poverty.

The first two weeks I will live homeless in downtown Seattle, WA, and the second two weeks we will head over to Ghana, Africa, one of the poorest nations on earth and I will live with a family in Yendi, who actually lives below the line of extreme poverty.

As I set off on this journey Tuesday, I hope that you will live the story with me.  My the film artist who will be documenting my experience during the 30 days will post blog and video updates from me each day.  Thanks for joining me on this adventure, I can't wait to see the story that God is about to tell."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Too poor to save

This morning I was counting my blessings as I thought about the desperate situations I witnessed everyday in Kitale. The list of things I have to be thankful for could go on for days. Things like a home, food, a bed, family, parents, access to medical care, a job, clean clothes, a toothbrush and toothpaste, showers, electricity, shoes, clean drinking water, schooling and opportunities for success.

I'll admit that I often find myself thinking about the ease of life here in America. Yes, that's coming from someone with a middle class upbringing whose parents have worked hard to provide for their family, but let's consider the overall welfare of our country verses underdeveloped, poverty-stricken countries such as Kenya. In America it is possible to - as the famous saying goes - pull yourself up by your bootstraps and pursue the American Dream of transforming your life from rags to riches. That sort of transformation is unheard of in many places. How does someone who has no resources, capital or education pull themselves up by their bootstraps? It's really difficult when you don't have anyone pushing you along, offering advice or providing a helping hand. Something much harder to find in African than in America. They've got to depend on someone to stumble across their potential and find investing in their life worthwhile. Something hard to find since people who live in poverty tend to come in contact only with others living in poverty. Praise the Lord for people and organizations who work hard to help these people everyday!

As I think about these things, I realize over and over again what a blessing my parents have been. The mere option and ability for my parents to save and invest their money is something most parents in Kenya can't fathom. Over the course of my life, my mother and father have consciously reserved money for my future. Whether it was putting money into a savings fund, buying stock and bonds, purchasing life insurance or investing their money in other endeavors, they have always sought out ways to set money aside for needs that arise later in life. Saving money isn't really something I've ever considered a blessing, but after a conversation I had with a friend I know without a doubt that it is.

I stopped to chat with John just as I did most days. I love John. John has a gentle spirit that greets me with joyful excitement. He has such a precious heart and always thanks me for remembering him that day- a big reminder that even giving people the smallest attention can make them feel loved, appreciated and valued. Quickly after greeting John, I found myself engulfed in a conversation about money and finances- a rather abnormal topic of conversation for the two of us. I knew John, despite having a full-time job that keeps him working well over 70 hours a week, only made 150 shillings ($2 US Dollars) during his nearly 11 hours workday. Although abundantly thankful for his steady income, John shamefully disclosed his troubles about his inability to save any portion of his income. An inability that hasn't come from his lack of desire or efforts, but simply from his need for survival. How will he ever be able to save money when he barely makes enough to keep his family alive? The current food crisis taking place in Kenya has increased the price of ugali (the cheapest and most filling food available) to 140 shillings a bag- the amount needed to feed his family for just one day.  That leaves him with 10 shillings (a whopping 12 cents) a day to pay rent, buy firewood, provide medical care, pay school fees (school in Kenya technically isn't free and no money means no school), mend or buy clothes, purchase bathing soap or laundry soap and pay the costs of other needs that arise. It's true things are cheaper in Kenya, but they aren't that cheap. There is no way he'll be able to provide the basic necessities for his family and certainly no way he can afford to set money aside for a savings fund.

Although he desperately longs to invest in his children's future, John really doesn't have that option. He literally has barely enough money to feed his family today. Can we even imagine that? I've lived among and become friends with people who face this reality everyday and I know that I will never be able to understand such desperation. It makes me so thankful for everything that I have, that my parents have been saving their entire lives and that they've been able to invest in my future. I'm thankful that I've been able to attend school and graduate from university without debt and without using any of the money I've earned and worked to save. Because of God's blessings and their hard work, I have been given stepping stones into a bright future. I pray that my life reflects a sense of gratefulness for all that I have and that I always remember to praise God for everything he does in and for me.

So thank you Lord for my family's ability to save. Thank you so much.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oasis- Texas!

This week my mom, sister and I are heading out to the Texas hill country to enjoy a few days together! Tonight we spent the evening watching the sun set over beautiful Lake Travis in Austin, Texas. A stunning picture of God's perfection. We ate dinner at a restaurant called Oasis and I tried to pretend I was back at Oasis of Hope in Kitale, Kenya. Sadly, my imagination wasn't quite able to take me from this continent to the other. Oh, and yesterday I ordered a smoothie simply because it was named Oasis. Does anybody else think I'm going through withdrawal?



beautiful sunset over Lake Travis

mom and sister wearing the Kenyan skirts I hand sewed for them :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Elephants!

Believe it or not, I never did see any elephants in Kenya. Of course, I probably would have if I had ventured out on a safari at some point in time, but that wasn't in my plans. Instead, I waited until I returned to the heart of Texas - Waco, Texas - to see my elephant! Who needs to see an elephant in Africa when you can see one in Waco?  :) 




Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Praying for Grandpa


Last week, as the result of a fall, my grandpa ended up in the hospital. He's still very confused, lethargic and in pain. Please keep him in your prayers as he begins his recovery. Love this man so much :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Portland bound!

My mom and I are off to visit my grandpa (her dad) and grandad (my Dad's dad) in Portland, Texas! I'm SO excited to be reunited with my precious grandpas! :)

Today, I am grateful for many things. The first being the smoothly paved roads of south Texas. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but the roads in Kenya are terrible. Absolutely terrible. Almost all the roads in and around Kitale are unpaved and extremely eroded and the ones that are paved have massive craters covering every inch. I've heard car rides in Kenya described as a bull ride. In my opinion, this is a very accurate depiction of the the shaking, bumping, jerking and jolting that takes place. It's literally painful. Okay, so all of this to say that the highways to Portland had no pot holes nor speed bumps (yes highways in Kenya have speed bumps on them) and our journey south was pleasant, comfortable and unlike any car ride I've experienced in the last 5 months.

I should probably also mention that since we drive on the left side of the road in Kenya, I have panicked several times as I've tried to readjust to watching people drive on the right side.

Bathrooms. That's another thing our drive to Portland has made me thankful for. Neither time we stopped to use the bathroom did I have to supply my own toilet paper. Believe it or not, toilet paper is something you have to carry with you in Kenya if you're expecting to use it. It's not that they ran out or forgot to restock. It's just simply not part of the bathroom.

While I'm grateful for toilet paper, I am even more grateful for toilets! No more stinky holes in the ground- hooray! No more mud huts where I have to aim and balance myself while trying not to hit myself with my own urine or stand in anyone else's urine (or other waste) that is covering the ground around the hole. One of the funny joys of living in a country where plumbing isn't normal. And I've bet you guessed by now that where there is no plumbing there are no sinks. Yuck!

I can tell you this much- I'm so blessed to come from a developed country where nearly every place I go has a toilet complete with toilet paper and a sink!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The road to Nairobi...

Here's an excerpt from my journal:

If only I could justly describe the experience I am having right now. I've been riding the North Rift Shuttle for 4 hours as I make the journey to Nairobi to fetch Ben from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. We've now stopped at what I could consider a rest stop, but an African style rest stop of course. It's no Buckees nor is it one of those rest stops you pass as your cross from Texas into Oklahoma. It's more along the lines of a rundown, podunk town. A line of shacks laid side by side and old enough to look like they are about to collapse straight to the ground. In the background I can gear artist from the early 1990's entertaining peoople of all ages.

I wish I could somehow describe the sent put off by this place. A few of you might understand what I mean when I talk about the "hole in the ground" toilets. I saw my first "hole in the ground" toilet while traveling through Italy in 2008 and my second while in Morocco a few weeks later. Both of these toilets were bizarre and difficult to use, but looking back on it a million times cleaner than what I would later experience in Kenya. It never fails- every time I've used this type of toilet the area around the toilet is wet where I stand is wet and each time I try to pretend that it's not urine. (But let's be honest, there really is no other option!) The smell of stagnate bodily waste is strong enough to knock you over as you try to balance yourself and aim into the toilet. I always laugh at the awkwardness of the situation and still avoid these toilets at all costs! One small side note: when a hole in the ground gets full they cover the hole and dig a new one. It's impossible not to notice a 'hole in the ground' toilet that's over a 100 yards away simply because you can't miss the smell.

You have the option to purchase chips (french fries), kuku (chicken) and chapati- the traditional Kenyan foods - as well as a few of what I would call highly unappealing, dried out snacks. I chose the safest and most familiar option- strawberry yogurt. I've had yogurt in Kenya before so I know not to expect anything spectacular or even closely familiar to my idea of yogurt back at home. This being the case, I wasn't too surprised when I opened my yogurt to find a solid layer of goo about two inches thick lying on top. Gross. Did I mention that you drink your yogurt with a straw here? Sadly I did not grow up in the go-gurt generation so slurping my yogurt is a concept I find unattractive. I did manage to puncture the inch of goo on my straw and settled down on the red dirt ground to drink my snack and wait for the shuttle to reload.  Suddenly, it was time to go. Within 15 seconds everyone, including the driver, piled back into the van and off we went!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Don't cry, please don't cry

It's my last week here in Kitale and I am trying with all my might not to shed a tear. Not yet at least.

I can't explain the turmoil my heart is feeling at this point in time. I'm trying not to let myself be overwhelmed, but  I can't deny the fact that I am. While I'm excited to be reunited with my family, I'm not ready to leave this home and the family and friends I have developed here. I will miss my Kitale family and all the beautiful relationships that have been built over the last 5 months.

Tears will be shed. Lots of tears. I'm just hoping I can hold them for now.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Welcome to Kenya, Ben!

The newest arrival in Kenya- Ben Butler! Check out his clean feet compared to mine!

Day one in Kitale! 


Ben making someone's day by fitting him with a new pair of glasses!


Saying bye bye to my glasses! Blessed to have had LASIK and happy to pass my glasses along to someone here in Kenya!

All smiles as we visit in Shimo :)

      Ben getting swamped!


Ben's first ugali experience!


Trying a Kenyan delicacy- live termites! 

beautiful faces

Ben making new friends! 




Friday, June 24, 2011

Time to grow up, little girl

Sakina really is one of a kind. Unlike most girls, she's always welcomed by the boys to join in on any sports activities. I think it's because she is the only girl in a family of 6 boys. Could you imagine being the older sister of 6 brothers? I certainly cannot. She's tough, smart, talented and beautiful. Her father died years ago and now Sakina works so hard to ensure that her mother, who has succumbed to AIDS, is taken care of as well as all of her brothers. That's not an easy job for anyone yet alone a 17 year old.

Most days, Sakina has the opportunity to attend  Oasis. She partakes in the vocational training sewing class and has had the opportunity to learn a life-long skill. Over the last few weeks, Sakina has not been able to attend class; instead, she's had to take on jobs to help support her mother and brothers. Today, as I was walking home, I passed Sakina and Brenda on the road. While Sakina's a tough one, Brenda's the sweet one- never failing to show her shy, gentle smile.

Both girls were carrying loads of firewood that were twice their height and four times their weight. They had walked for miles to reach the forest where they are able to cut down tall, skinny trees with just one machete. Their legs and arms were filled with scratches and their bodies looked exhausted. I've heard that women who collect firewood often succumb to illnesses of the lungs. The physical toll this jobs takes on their body will weaken these young girls in no time. Simply watching them carry such a heavy load on their heads makes my neck and head hurt. It's both amazing and sad to watch girls I love work tirelessly to provide for their families. Usually this job is done by mothers, but these teenage girls have forfeited their childhood with hopes survival for both their families and themselves.

I know that selling firewood won't provide enough money to feed her family and I wonder what else she'll have to do to earn the money she needs. The thoughts that pass through my mind as I contemplate the options are heart breaking. I can't help but wonder how long it will be before these girls, as many others have, come face to face with the fact that selling their bodies brings more revenue along with less work. That thought alone makes my stomach churn. So what's my role in all of this? I believe it's to  pray, to encourage and to guide these precious girls with the hope and light of Jesus Christ. There's no one solution to their problem that I can provide, but I can provide the one Solution that can change their lives the most.

Sakina and the firewood she had collected

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Immigration Issues



Here's my view from inside the immigration office. Some of you have heard about my immigration issues and, for those of you who haven't, trust me when I tell you that this wasn't the first time I've run into trouble entering Kenya. While this marks my forth run in with complications, this is the first time I've actually been pulled inside the immigration office and told to remain there until they decide what to do with me. Talk about an adventure! I'm happy to report that I was admitted back into the country :)