Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm Moving!

No... not to a new city. :) Just to a new blog site! My new address is:

See what's new there!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One More Thing I Don't Need

Six months of no spending was an adventure, and I learned a lot about needs, wants, giving, the Lord and myself during that time. Recently, I realized there is something else I don't need. It's different than "No More Stuff" because it's intangible, but often leads to lots of "stuff" that is really great and fun, but totally unnecessary. It's...

My Birthday
Here's the deal... I love birthday presents, I really do. But lately as Whitney and I have been talking about how we were going to celebrate on October 31 and what we want for our birthdays (yes... we are roomates AND we have the same birthday!) we also began to talk about how convicted we feel collecting THINGS when
ONE in EIGHT people in our global community don't have access to clean drinking water.
So... we are giving up our birthday in hopes that together, with you, we can help provide clean drinking water to a village of people on the other side of the world that none of us will probably ever meet. What does "giving it up" mean? It means that we are asking anyone who had planned on buying us a gift/card/dinner/coffee/whatever... to instead donate the amount of money they would have spent to help build a well, even if it's only a few dollars. All of the money we recieve will go to Charity:Water. And get this...
$20 will provide one person with clean water for...
20 years.
The purpose is NOT to make you feel obligated. We would never want to ask for gifts or ask anyone who wouldn't typcially do something for our birthdays to feel like they have to spend money. The purpose is to transfer something we don't need to something that others DO need.
My birthday: one more thing I don't need.
For more info on Charity:Water, the organization donations will go to, click on the link below:

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Own Little World

Lately I've had a couple of things that have been dominating my heart, mind, and prayers. They're not bad things... not earth shattering or negative. But they are mostly about me. Then, last night I was driving home and I heard a song on the radio that kind of wrecked my current little world. It goes like this:

In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I've never gone hungry and always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket
Shoes on my feet
In my own little world
Population me

I try to stay awake through the Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate but I never give 'til it hurts
and I turn off the news when I don't like what I see
It's easy to do when it's population me

What if there's a bigger picture?
What if I'm missing out?
What if there's a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world?

Stopped at the red light, looked out my window
Outside the car, saw a sign, said "Help this homeless widow"
Just above this sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, "God, what have I been doing?"

So I rolled down my window and looked her in the eye
Oh how many times have I just passed her by
I gave her some money then I drove on through
In my own little world there's population two

Start breaking my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hand and open doors
Put Your light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me

Man, Matthew West just punched me in the gut! At this point I don't necessarily have any specific application, or what I'm doing differently or how it changed me. I just thought it was worth sharing. It's been in my head all day - not just the lyrics, but the reminder that it's


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Letters & Love

I love letters, in any form. There is just something exciting about receiving something unexpected in the mail. Something that someone you love has written. Created. Touched. It's so different than receiving an e-mail, text message or phone call. Letters are nostalgic, and they take much more thought and effort. From finding something to write on, deciding what to write in it, purchasing the stamp and walking it to the mail box, letters are a labor of love. They are special. And so, whether it is an old fashioned letter, a greeting card, postcard or something in between, I get a unique thrill every time something shows up in the black metal postal box outside my door. Recently, I got one of the most special and exciting letters I have ever received. This letter has changed my heart and my perspective. It has been displayed on my night stand since the day I opened it, right where I can see it every morning when I wake up, and every night before I go to bed. This letter made me smile, it made me laugh, and it made me cry. I've never met the person who wrote it, but he is slowly changing my heart.

This letter is from Guillermo.

He is 8 years old.

He lives in Nicaragua.

And each month,a few $$ are withdrawn from my bank account to help support his education and his health.

I sponsor Guillermo through an organization called Compassion International. Last spring, at the Catalyst West conference in California, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Wess Stafford, president and CEO of Compassion, speak about his outlook on children across the world, and how we are called to not only care for them, but involve them, teach them, and let them be a part of our world (he has an excellent book on this subject called Too Small to Ignore). After his speech, I lined up with many others to fill out the sponsorship paper work, and got to take a packet home that day with pictures and information about Guillermo, which sits on my desk at work.

Compassion is such a cool organization, and one that is reputable and responsible in how they manage funds. Founded in 1952, today Compassion serves more than 1 million children in 26 countries. The organization works to release these children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. To learn more about Compassion, check out their website.

So, back to the letter. Why was it such a big deal? Well, in the months since Catalyst West, I have done my best to think of Guillermo and to pray for him. I talk about him when people see his picture on my desk, I even sent him a letter and a birthday gift not long ago. But the problem was that he was just a name. A picture. A child far, far away that I sponsored. Then, in an instant, things changed.

The moment I spotted the envelope sitting in my mailbox, I knew exactly what it was. I squealed with delight, as my roommate wondered what in the world I had found. I raced inside, dropped everything at the door, and jumped onto our velvet green chair to rip open the envelope. And the moment I opened it, I saw this:
He drew me a picture! My heart soared and tears filled my eyes as I realized that this child wasn't a picture, a face, or something I could check off on a list of "good deeds." He is Guillermo. He lives. He plays soccer, loves to eat rice and beans, has a dog, loves the color blue, and loves going to social studies class. He wants to be a christian musician when he grows up. He has a sister and a mother and has brown hair and he likes to draw pictures. He drew me a picture. One of the most precious things about the picture is hard to see in the photo above. It's all of the erased pencil marks from several attempts, until he decided he'd gotten it just right and colored it in with his crayons. It was Guillermo's labor of love. He is real. For the first time, I was holding a physical object that he had touched and created. And everything changed.

Holding something in my hands that had once been in his possession just made it click for me. It filled my heart with love for this little boy I may never meet. It fueled my desire and discipline to pray for him, not as an afterthought, but as a member of my family. I think of him in an entirely new way. All because of one letter.

Isn't the power of a letter marvelous?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One Day's Wages

How much is a teacher paid in Burma?


per day.

per week.

per month.

$40 a YEAR.

At Catalyst West, I had the pleasure of hearing Eugene Cho, founder of One Day's Wages speak. He told a story of being in Burma and asking what the biggest obstacle to overcoming poverty there was. The answer he received? Education. They couldn't pay teachers' salaries. They lacked $40 a year to pay teachers.

After telling this story, Eugene said, "look: global poverty is HUGE. But it's not so big that we can't do something about it. You and I, we might not be able to change the entire world, but believe it - we can make a dramatic impact together in the fight against global poverty."

He then pointed out that we all have influence - we each make the choice as to whether that influence will be good, bad, or passive. Then he asked a question that made my head spin, and it hasn't stopped since:

Do you really believe that your life is valuable? Do you really believe that God can use you to make a difference?

Um, I sure hope so! Otherwise, what's the point?
Eugene Cho knows the answer to this question, and he IS making a difference as the founder of One Day's Wages.
This organization, only 7 months old, encourages people to consider donating only one day's worth of their yearly wage to help fight global poverty. What a cool concept.
  • 100% of your donation goes to helping fight poverty
  • You pick where your money is invested

In 7 months, ODW's has surpassed $300,000 in giving. The story of this organization and the family who founded it is incredible. Head over to their website and check out the cool campaigns and parternships they have going, the album they have coming out, watch some cool videos, learn more about global poverty, and calculate what one day's wages is for you.

This is the real deal.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cali, Cali, Cali!

I LOVE California.

For so many reasons:
- The weather - yeah... I'm a warm and sunny kind of girl.
- The scenery - beach, mountains, valleys, beautiful agriculture... all in one place!
- The Food - between awesome mexican and IN-N-OUT, what more do you need?

But the number one reason I love California?


People that I love. A lot. People who don't share my blood, but are my family. People that I don't get to see often enough. And as usual, THAT is what made my latest trip to Cali back in April so special.

I started my trip in Fresno, for the California FFA State Leadership Conference. While I was there I had the privilege of coaching two of the national FFA officers, Levy and Bethany, and even got to see Levy on his home turf. They both rocked and I was very proud of them.

I also got to spend quality time with some of my faves:

Marcus just got his first "man job" working for California FFA. I'm proud of him!

Nessie was a national officer last year. She's all grown up. :)

Marcus and Audrey after our "team" dinner. The best teammates anyone could ask for. :) We gad a great time re-living old memories!

After the conference was over I drove down to Oxnard to spend a night with my dear friend, Andrea. Andrea and I were FFA state officers the same year (she is from Nevada) and we met in the summer of 2000 at a conference in Washington, D.C. We really became tight a couple of years later when we ran for national office together and took it upon ourselves to become roommates (she had an open bed in her room!) We saw each other several times in the years to follow, and we still talk on a regular basis, but it had been nearly five years since we'd spent any time together. But no longer! Andrea's husband is in the Navy and is currently deployed, so we had the house to ourselves for some quality girl time. :) (Although I wish I could have met Jeremy... I did get to talk to him on the phone!)

The next day we went to Ventura and did some window shopping, went to the pier, and spent some time on the beach!

Windy? YES! But totally worth it!

We spent a lot of time trying to get JUST our feet wet, but mostly ended up running away from the waves. And getting soaked. :)

The view looking inland was noteworthy as well. Again... how can you beat mountains and the ocean in one place?

Goal for the day... get the perfect in-air shot. It only took a couple of tries. :)

This picture describes my day without a single word. Scratch that... describes my whole trip.

What an awesome trip! (I didn't mention she also drove up to Fresno to see me and take in the convention before I drove down to see her. We got to re-live our days in the blue and gold a bit!) In addition to taking me to the beach while I was in her stomping grounds, Dre also indulged my craving for mexican food twice in less than 24 hours, let me sleep in her bed, and provided much needed conversation, comic relief, and hugs. Those two days were so good for my soul. I love this lady! Thanks Dre.

From Oxnard I drove to Orange Country - Irvine, to be exact. There I attended Catalyst West, a convergence of young adult Christian leaders. It was an incredible experience where I was inspired, challenged, and re-directed in my faith, thinking, actions, walk, and future. I heard speakers like Don Miller, Andy Stanley, and Dr. Wes Stafford among MANY others who helped expand the small box I put God and my relationship with him into. I worshipped with the likes of Chris Tomlin and Carlos Whittaker (check him out his blog and his music - good stuff!). AND I got some SWEET ideas for national convention! If you are a young adult involved in leadership within your church or ministry (or plan to be in ANY WAY) you must check out Catalyst. They have two conferences a year - one on the west coast in April, and another in Atlanta in October.
So there you have it... a recap of a great trip with great friends, even if a blog post and photos can't quite do it justice.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Marvels of Modern Agriculture

Something that my heart really breaks for in this world is global hunger. The social injustice of seeing so many people starve every day while we have more than we could ever need is tough to come to grips with. And sometimes it seems like there is nothing we could ever do to help solve that problem.

The reality is, the modern technology of agriculture puts us in a position to combat global hunger on a real scale. Will we use it?

Below is an interesting article on one scholar's thoughts regarding trendiness of the organic and sustainable movement that has become very prevalent in the western cutlure. Just some food for thought. Your thoughts?