Finding God Outside of Church

February 25, 2015

We leave early, before the sun rises up over the horizon. My husband drives my friends’ ten-year-old daughter and myself to the mountain trailhead. We put on our packs, filled with water and snacks, and head out on the trail. As we huff and puff up past the tree line, I begin to wonder if we should have come. My body is tired and breathing is heavy at this high of an altitude. But we decide to press on, encouraged by other hikers along the way.

And then it happens. We trek out above the tree line to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful views I have ever seen. It is incredible. We pause for a moment to breathe and to take it all in.

reLentless Love 2.2: Orphan Care

February 24, 2015

In case you missed it, this week we're focusing on orphan care, both within the U.S. and internationally. We're also in the midst of a GIVEAWAY for a copy of Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds, which you can enter simply by commenting on yesterday's post, an interview with Danielle Brower for Children's HopeChest!

Here are a few mind-boggling statistics: Did you know that there are 143,000,000 orphans in the world, and another 20,000,000 categorized as "displaced"? Added together, that would make this population the 7th largest nation on the planet, slightly larger than Russia. Because this is such a huge issue and there are so many great organizations committed to helping orphans, we're featuring two interviews (one yesterday, one today) that give insight into orphan care in the U.S. and abroad.

So often it can be easy to think of orphans as children from other countries, but did you know that there are currently about 400,000 children in the foster care system? Although of course many of the children in foster care have living parents or other family members and are working toward reunification with them, that's not always the case. Of those 400,000 children in the foster care system, 100,000 are hoping to be adopted. Each year, more than 20,000 children age out of foster care without being adopted, and face some daunting statistics:  One in four will be incarcerated within two years of leaving the system, and more than one-fifth will become homeless at some time after age 18. In addition, only 58 percent will obtain their high school diploma by age 19.
So what can we do to help combat these heartbreaking numbers? Today I'm interviewing my friend Amber Perry, who has a huge heart for foster care and adoptive families, and some great ideas for those who would like to help. Here's her story:

reLentless Love 2.1: Orphan Care

February 23, 2015

Bheveni Carepoint Community, Swaziland
Welcome to our reLentless series and Make A Difference Monday Link-up (and GIVEAWAY)! If you are new to our site, you can read all about our seven week lead-up to Easter as we focus on issues around the world, prayer, and fasting here. Also, be sure to check out our GIVEAWAY -- one lucky reader will receive a copy of Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds by Tom Davis simply by leaving a comment below!

This week we're talking about orphan care, both within the U.S. and internationally. The statistics alone are mind-boggling: Did you know that there are 143,000,000 orphans in the world, and another 20,000,000 categorized as "displaced"? Added together, that would make this population the 7th largest nation on the planet, slightly larger than Russia. Because this is such a huge issue and there are so many great organizations committed to helping orphans, we're featuring two interviews this week (one today, one tomorrow) that give insight into orphan care in the U.S. and abroad. 

We know that there are a lot of great organizations out there that are helping vulnerable, often-orphaned children, including World Vision, Compassion International and Wide Horizons For Children. And it should come as no surprise that child sponsorship has become so effective that recent studies show that sponsored children have a greater chance at furthering their education, employment, and becoming leaders in their communities. 

Of the many organizations out there, one of the most amazing is Children's HopeChest. Today I'm interviewing Danielle Brower, whose work with the organization we featured once before. Because we LOVE her and HopeChest and the way they approach sponsorship so much, we asked her to come back and tell us more!

When Your Best Plans Fail

February 18, 2015

Driving down the road with my Mom, I couldn’t stop crying. As the miles rolled by, taking us inexorably closer to a wedding shower for a childhood friend of mine, I tried every trick in the book to get myself to stop.

But despite my best intentions, the tears continued to roll down my cheeks as I stared blankly out the passenger window.

My Mom, used to my tears, finally broke the silence. “Honey, you need to stop crying, or we can’t go.”

I knew it was true. And I was embarrassed at my lack of control. But I just couldn’t help it.

reLentless Love 1: Access to Medical Care {& Link-up}

February 16, 2015

Welcome to our reLentless series and Make A Difference Monday Link-up!  If you are new to our site, you can read all about our seven week lead-up to Easter as we focus on issues, on prayer, on fasting, here

reLentless Love {& Link-Up}

February 9, 2015

Happy Monday! Thanks for being with us as we co-host for Make A Difference Monday, a place to get intentional about starting our week focused on the positive and dream up ways we can make a difference in the world. Today we're focusing on our NEW upcoming series that we'll be featuring during the weeks leading up to Easter.
 
Growing up, my family never celebrated Lent. Friends would bemoan their lack of chocolate or Diet Coke, and I always wondered why. In my ignorance, Lent sounded more like a diet fad than a religious observance.

A few years ago during one of our afternoon coffee sessions, Kendra, Julie and I got into a discussion about Lent. Julie, whose left-brain legal brilliance is offset by her creative curiosity, decided to research it and solve the question: “Why do we celebrate Lent?”

For the uninitiated (like me!), Lent is the roughly 40 days leading up to Easter in which some Christians pray and abstain from meat and other items. Different church denominations count days differently (some count Sundays, others don’t) and have different traditions about how to fast, what items to fast from, and when to fast. In the past two years, the three of us spent seven weeks fasting from certain items while praying for countries and causes that meant something to us (here's our first year and second year, if you'd like the details).

This year, we want to shake things up a little. 

5 Easy Ways to Show Your Kids Love on Valentine's Day

February 4, 2015

I loved Valentine's Day as a child, mostly because I remember the little things my mom would do to make it special for my sisters and I. For our family,Valentine's Day was more than just a Hallmark holiday for couples, it was a day for showing anyone how much you care for them.

I've continued this tradition with my own kids and come up with some easy and inexpensive ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with them. Here's a list of five easy (and inexpensive!) ways to show your kids love on Valentine's Day:

    Bridging the Generations: A Guest Post for (in)courage

    February 2, 2015


    Good morning friends! Today, I am thrilled to be guest posting over at (in)courage sharing all about one of my absolute favorite people and mentor, Carol Lund, from Bridging the Gap. Here's a portion of my story:
    I sit down in her living room, surrounded by other women I’ve come to love. Wearing yoga pants and a comfy sweater, there’s no reason for pretense here. As I look around the room, I realize the unlikeliness of these friendships to an outsider: there are married and unmarried women, those who are mothers and those not, twenty-somethings all the way up to our hostess, Carol, who just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary. 
    We sit and visit and dream about life and the ministry we are all a part of together. And as I watch Carol carefully include everyone in the evening’s conversation, I realize the many things she does to create a bridge across the generations.
    You can read the rest of my post over at (in)courage.



    My Secret Valentine

    Happy Monday! Thanks for being with us as we co-host for Make A Difference Monday, a place to get intentional about starting our week focused on the positive and dream up ways we can make a difference in the world. Today Julie's talking about an idea we are SO excited about -- a secret Valentine! 
     
    The internet is full of ideas on what to do for Valentine's Day this year: From "5 Expensive Date Ideas" (who does that appeal to?!) to "20 Free Things to Do on Valentine's Day," there are tons of articles, all geared to making Valentine's Day special for couples. I even saw an article (did you see the Super Bowl ad?) about how McDonald's is accepting hugs as payment through Valentine's Day!

    But while it is fun to celebrate Valentine's Day with those we love, Kendra, Kristin, and I wondered aloud over  a cup of of coffee on a blustery January afternoon whether Valentine's Day might be the perfect time to think of others outside of our normal circles. What if we used this Hallmark holiday to be someone's unexpected Secret Valentine?  

    Who in your life needs a little (secret) encouragement this Valentine's Day?

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