A Clear Vision

As I work on creating a clear vision for the future of Kupenda 127, my research has led me to many other amazing organizations doing phenomenal things.  I wanted to share some of these encouraging stories with you.  In the very near future, we will be releasing our vision for where we are headed.

Have you heard of Project 127?  They are out of Colorado and have made it their goal for Colorado to have no waiting children.  In 2007, there were more than 800 children waiting in foster care…today there are none.  Their mission is spreading…check out this awesome  news slip and article about what Arizona is doing to continue the mission.

This movement has also spread to Fresno, California.  Christian Alliance for Orphans has highlighted this program in a great blog that you can read here and here.  Or you can check out the full article from Christianity Today here.

And even right here in the Pacific Northwest, the least churched region in America.  CAFO also wrote a blog on the awesome upcoming events and programs in Oregon and Washington.  You can check that out here.  I am part of the planning for the Spokane Orphan Summit.  If you are in the Spokane area, I strongly encourage you to attend.  Portland churches are supporting their foster community, read this encouraging article here.

And finally, a video about a family who adopted 5 siblings from Peru.  While today’s post has been mostly about domestic programs and movements, our heart is for the orphan — no matter where they are from.  And this video is encouraging too, because domestically most waiting children are older and have siblings…  And we need families to step up and take in these kiddos too.

I hope these videos and articles encourage and inspire you.  If you would like to partner with us in some way, please contact me.  And please be praying for us and we move through the next weeks of changes and new exciting happenings.

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Unity — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 7, Day 7: Unity from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

Check out: John 17:20–23

I chose this topic to finish my posts, changing my original selection to this instead  in light of the Sandy Hook shooting that took place yesterday.  (#sandyhook)

I have spent the last two days wrestling with emotions, praying, and crying — and enjoying the beautiful moments I have had with my daughter.

Events like Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Clackamas, Virginia Tech, 9/11 — they all impact us.  They remind me that evil exists and that we can’t fix everything.

But Jesus can.  He can take begin the healing through our pain.  He is the great Comforter.

A beautiful thing happens after tragedy — people come together, they pray.  A resounding call to prayer went up yesterday.  People that are not usually one to talk about faith or prayer were praying, attending vigils, thanking God for their life.  This gives me hope for our future — that people realize where healing and comfort truly comes from — God.

My daughter, Fiona, spent the night last night with her grandparents.  She had heard about the shooting earlier in the day (she is home schooled).  Apparently while she was at my parents, they must have been watching the news.  She came home and definitely wanted to talk about it.

She said she wanted to call her friend right away to make sure they knew what was going on.  Then, the tears began to fall.  She said that if she was back at her old school, she would feel terrified to return.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but the pain that she was feeling almost surprised me.  I didn’t expect to hear her fear.

She wanted to try and find a vigil to attend.  She wanted to feel that unity and solidarity of community to overcome that fear.  To be a part of something bigger, to feel like she doing something.

Our country has felt so divided through the election and politics.  For a brief moment, we all stop to feel each other’s pain, to hold each other and comfort one another.  And realize God holds the key.

While I know that this feeling of unity may not last, it encourages me to push forward — that healing comes through unity.  And that Jesus can unify us.  But we must do our part.  And that really begins with living second.

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

Known — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 9, Day 7: Known from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

Check out: Psalm 139:1–6

I chose this topic to continue my posts because I think it’s powerful.

Do you ever feel like you wear a lot of different “hats” in life?  Work/career, family, friends, church…

I know that I do.  My “hats” change from time to time, but there is always a lot of them!

Throughout my life, I (like probably everyone else in the world and throughout history!) wanted people to like me.  To be successful.  And smart.  And funny.  Beautiful.  And so many times, I haven’t felt that I was these things.

I felt like I couldn’t be myself, that I needed to be more like someone else.  There were times when these feelings really began to feel like truth in my heart.

When I was about seventeen, almost eighteen, I met this guy.  He was pretty cute, seemed nice enough.  And he liked me.

Well, I hadn’t dated very much and really felt like I was not going to find anyone who really liked me just because of me.  (Oh, if I only knew then what I know now!)

Shortly after meeting him, I told my parents about him.  I am from a small town and my dad actually knew his step-dad.  About a week or so into our dating, his step-father called my dad and cautioned him that I should not date him.  In all my infinite wisdom, I simply felt like no one wanted me to be happy, that his step-dad must have it out for him and is trying to sabotage this for me.

As teens can be, it’s all about us, right?  Adults don’t know anything.

Well, one evening I was visiting him at his home, watching movies and having dinner.  Quiet night at home.  It was winter, shortly before my birthday.  That night I had asked him if he would come to my party and he agreed.  My heart was full, as only a seventeen year old girl’s can be at the simple thought of a birthday date.

Then his friends arrived, unexpectedly.  He asked me to go into his bedroom and wait in there.

I had no idea why, but I went.  I sat in there, listening to him talk to his friends.  Wanting to leave, but he had made it clear that he did not want me to come out under any circumstance.

I could hear their conversation and he began to talk — suddenly his words struck my heart. He was making fun of me.  He was ashamed and embarrassed of me.

Humiliated.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Wanting to run away, but feeling so trapped.  I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t stay.  Each word was like a knife to my heart.  All of the things that I thought were unlovable about myself were being validated.

Finally they left, he came to the door and said that I was free to come back out and finish the movie.  No apologies, no embarrassment for his words, just statements.

I left.  And I never seen him again.  But his words, they stayed with me.

My heart was broken.  I, of course, broke up with him and told my friends that I just wasn’t interested anymore.  I couldn’t utter what had happened.  I couldn’t tell them what he had said.  And I thought every guy after him probably thought of me like he did.

Many years later, after a lot of hurt — a lot of mistakes and bad choices, I learned real truth.  I learned what God thinks of me.  I have forgiven that guy (in truth, I can’t even remember his name — only his words and what his room looked like that night.) and I no longer think that all men are like him.

My identity is in Christ.  I don’t hide anything from Him.  I don’t have any secrets with Him.  I can be me.  All the time!  It’s freedom!  I can tell him my fears, my doubts, my brokenness with no fear of being shamed or ridiculed.  Only forgiveness and love.

While I still prefer people to like me, it doesn’t make me doubt my worth if they don’t.  If I fail, I am disappointed — but I know that I am not a failure.  I would like to think that I wouldn’t have stayed in that room if I knew then what I know now.  That I would have never even gone in that room.

To be known by God, as only He can know us is life altering.  He knows your heart, your thoughts, you can’t hide anything from Him.  And there is so much freedom in giving that to Him, in accepting His amazing love and the freedom that brings.

{Not my creation, I found it on Pinterest}

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

Advocate — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 7, Day 3: Love from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

 

Check out: John 14:16–21

I chose this topic to continue my posts because of my career, advocate is a word that I am  very familiar with and I thought it would be great to connect it with Jesus and living second.

My previous job title:  Advocate.

I think of all the names of God:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Alpha and Omega, Bright Morning Star.  I don’t usually think of Advocate.

As I read through today’s devotion, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made this connection before.  It became so clear to me, that the Holy Spirit is EXACTLY that…our Advocate.  Wow.

In the social work world, especially when dealing with court stuff, you will hear the term advocate.  I served as a CASA/GAL (Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem).  I served as a Shelter Advocate.  A Transitional Housing Advocate.  A Life Skills Advocate.  (You can see why I connected with this word!)

In the devotional, Doug Bender, writes, “For those who call God their God, he grants an advocate, a lawyer who stands guard over our case, who helps in our time of need, who advocates on our behalf.”  Let’s break it down a bit, shall we?

“For those who call God their God.”  This is a special gift from God to His children!  In the CASA program or at the shelter, our advocating was a gift to those who were our clients.  We didn’t advocate for everyone, just “our own.”  But all you really had to do was meet our criteria and ask.  It’s the same.  God’s criteria:  call Him your God (and all that goes with that too!).

“He grants an advocate.”  You don’t have to pay for an advocate.  They are gifts, granted to you.

“A lawyer who stands guard over our case.”  Think of lawyers for a minute.  An attorney who accepts a case, stands up for you — regardless of fault.  They fight for you.  They stand guard over your case.  They talk for you, when you can’t talk for yourself.  They are willing to jump into the mess you are in to help you.  An advocate is exactly like that, minus any financial gain.  They are willing to do it because they believe in you!  Because they care for you!  With nothing to gain for themselves.  They stand guard, they speak up.

“Who helps in our time of need, who advocates on our behalf.”  This is the most critical piece.  Our time of need.  When do we get attorneys?  When we are in need.  Why was I appointed as a CASA?  Because the child had a need.  As a shelter advocate, my clients were homeless and victims of domestic violence.  They had need. Advocates come when there is need.  When we can’t do it on our own.  They hold our hand, they speak words we cannot speak for ourselves.  They give us a voice again.  They give us strength to carry on through our need.

In my work, I often worked with immigrant victims of domestic violence.  Oh, how I love these women!  They often were at a greater disadvantage because English was generally their second language, our court system was even more confusing to them than to most.  They had been lied to, told that no one would help them, or worse — that we would hurt them.  So, to be given the great privilege of working with these beautiful women was an honor to me.

I have seen tears stream down these women’s faces.  Pain and sorrow.  The privilege to say for them what they could not say.  To get to know their hearts.  To protect their secret pain.  To hold their hand.  To do battle for them.

An immigrant client had an appointment with DSHS.  Due to language barriers and general lack of understanding, the case worker kept insisting my client meet certain requirements.  My client, more than happy to do that but legally unable, could not find the words to explain her predicament.  The ability to step in and clearly convey this, not only helped them develop a better working relationship, but helped both of them reach their goals.

Another client, working with immigration, did not want to share her most painful story.  The torture of reliving the abuse.  The humiliation she had felt.  The gift of being able to stand for her and with her, gave her strength to get through those most painful moments.  She is thriving now!

Doug Bender goes onto write, “He helps. He guides. He remains. He is with us, whenever, wherever, forever.”  Wow.  What a tremendous gift we have been given.  A helper.  A guide.  Someone who NEVER leaves us or forsakes us.  Someone who fights for us.  No matter how ugly the attacker, how evil the force — He is there for us.  We have been richly blessed by this gift.  The only requirement — that we call God our God.

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

Updates, Announcements…Good Stuff

So much going on here!!

First off, I wanted to share with you about the Spokane Orphan Summit.  It’s going to be AMAZING so put it on your calendar NOW if you live in Eastern WA/North Idaho or somewhere else…we’d love to have you too.  You will be hearing more about this in the months to come.

Next, we are finalizing an official partnership with our first organization, Youth Sport Uganda!  More details to come on that as well!!

Look out for lots of blogs this week…Compassion, I am Second, and I am now a blogger for Exodus Road, so I will be posting a new blog about that as well!  Yay for awesome partnerships.  These are all organizations that I believe in and I am so thrilled to be a part of!

God bless!!

Exodus Road Blogger

Fearless.

{Encouragement and inspiration are courtesy of the Case Foundation}

First and foremost, we have a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal).  Using the examples I have read, for instance…NASA, Amazon, Malaria No More, etc; I have prayed about and researched and wrote about a billion notes…I would like to unveil Kupenda 127’s BHAG:

Every community has the ability to care for the orphans that are part of their community and there will be due diligence done to find families for each and every orphan, in every community, in every country, throughout the entire world.

This is big.  Huge.  Audacious.  Crazy.  Do-able?  To reach this goal it will take numerous partnerships.  Collaboration.  Hard, hard work.  New ways of doing things.  More than likely, a few failures.

There is an urgent need:  There are between 140 – 210 MILLION children in the world today, who do not have families.  Who are hungry.  Who are dying.  Who do not know that anyone on this planet loves them.

At this moment, it seems a little bit impossible.  I am relatively alone on this journey.  A single mom, without a job and not even $100 to my name.  But I have perseverance, motivation, a lot of research, and a relatively new found ability to push past the sea of no’s.  And most importantly, I serve a God who loves these children more than all of us combined and I know that He has called me to serve them.

Death.

Death is not my favorite topic, nor is it one I really like to dwell on.  Especially the death of a child.

I have never experienced the pain of losing a child, I am among the most fortunate for that.  I have had the experience of losing my six month old nephew.  To watch my sister grieve.  To watch my parents grieve.  My daughter, at only six, experiencing pain unlike our family had ever experienced before.  Agonizing.  Raw.  Not a time that I ever want to relive.  To even speak of memories of my nephew can cause tears to sting my eyes, my throat to catch, and my heart to hurt.  It’s real pain, that has not diminished over time.

So, these statistics grieve my heart.  They are the ones that I cannot get over, the ones that I can’t wrap my brain around why this hasn’t been stopped.  These are the statistics that drive me to action.

There are a few unconditional truths about orphans and poverty that I believe.  They are:

1.  Every single child on this planet deserves a family.  Period.  No ifs, ands, or buts.

2.  Every single life has value, my life is not more valuable because I live in the US.

3.  Preventable deaths in third world countries should move us to the same action they did when they were happening here in our homes.

4.  A lot of small actions add up to a big difference.

5.  We all have something that we can do today.

The source:  [http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats]

According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day to due to poverty.  And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”

Infectious diseases continue to blight the lives of the poor across the world.  An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide.

Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhea.

10.6 million children died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (same as children population in France, Germany, Greece and Italy).

1.4 million children die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized.

These are children whose death is preventable.  They are not just numbers, these are babies — whose lives are cut short when they don’t have to be.

For the surviving children and families, they are likely to be enduring extreme poverty.

Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity.

Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.

1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometer  but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 liters per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.

Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.

Millions of women spend several hours a day collecting water.

In developing countries some 2.5 billion people are forced to rely on biomass—fuel wood, charcoal and animal dung—to meet their energy needs for cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa, over 80 percent of the population depends on traditional biomass for cooking, as do over half of the populations of India and China.

Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels [by poorer segments of society] is a major killer. It claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of five: that is 4000 deaths a day.

Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimistic numbers.

The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.

So many needs, so many lives that could be changed by so little help.  What part can you play?  What is God calling you to do?