2.16.2015

Easter 2015: Passion into Action


My Family - Easter 2014

Has a year already passed since our first Passion into Action campaign? So much has happened in the world, in our communities, and within all of our families since wearing our Change Starts With One shirts to church last Easter. The decision to start a fundraiser alongside the Forget the Frock movement was born from the desire to inspire others to put their passion into action. Our family is passionate about defending the fatherless, which led us to bring Tucker home from China in October 2013. This past July, we felt the calling to return to China, and soon we will bring home our fourth son, whom we've named Tyson. I am convinced I am the luckiest momma in the world!

Tyson sticking out his tongue! He will fit right in with his brothers.

For those of you hearing about the Forget the Frock movement for the first time, let me explain. Instead of spending money on new dresses and suits for Easter, we will all dress with a purpose and put our passion into action! We will buy t-shirts that benefit others and wear them to church Easter weekend.

I have prayed about this year's t-shirt for many months, asking God to lead me to the just the right theme, verse, and design. In January, my prayers were answered. I hope you love this year's shirt as much as I do. I think the Greek translation of our theme is so beautiful.

τῶν ἐλαχίστων

The Least.

I don't think it is any coincidence that The Sheep and The Goats (Matthew 25:31-46) is the last parable Jesus shared before his crucifixion. Jesus knew that the end of his life was drawing near, and we can presume that this last lesson was of utmost importance, as all of his teachings were. If you knew your life was at its end, what would your last words be? What is the last thing you would want to tell your children or others that you love? Jesus began this parable by sharing how at the appointed time people would be separated as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep would be on the right, and the goats would be on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" (Matthew 25:31-40 - emphasis mine).

Jesus came into our world and loved the most despised and devalued people of that time. The prostitute. The leper. The tax collector. The demon-possessed. The blind. The lame. As the end drew near, Jesus said to his disciples, ...everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). He reached out and loved the least of these and beckons us to do the same.

Friends, we bring the Kingdom to Earth when we step outside ourselves and focus on the needs of others, especially the least of our brothers and sisters.





The shirts will be offered in the in four different styles: Adult V-Neck (pictured above), Adult Crew, Youth Crew, and Toddler Crew. I chose the Canvas brand this year for the adult and youth styles, as the shirts are made with extremely soft, ringspun cotton. The toddler shirts are the Rabbit brand like last year. Instead of offering a women's fit this year, I am ordering a UNISEX V-Neck style, as it fits true to size and is much longer in length than last year's women's fit style. I have this shirt and LOVE it!!! You will see the link to place your order at the bottom of this blog post. All sizing information will be included on that website.

Just like last year, we have chosen FIVE nonprofit organizations. For EACH t-shirt purchased, you will be allowed to vote for ONE nonprofit organization. Whichever nonprofit organization receives the most votes will receive 100% of the proceeds from this year's Passion into Action fundraiser. So, if you buy 4 shirts for your family, you will vote 4 times. You might vote 4 times for the same organization, or your family may choose a combination of the organizations.

Last year, people purchased 434 shirts and donated an additional $470 in cash. Love Without Boundaries received 55% of the votes, and we donated the proceeds of $4,350 to their organization! You can read about how the funds were utilized to help orphans in China HERE.

The five nonprofit organizations were chosen with great care and consideration. Each are currently serving the least of these as they address the needs of the hungry and thirsty, invite strangers in, clothe those in need, help those who are sick, and visit prisoners in their affliction. Please read through the following descriptions as you make decisions about which organization you'd like to vote for this year.


Operation Smile is an organization near and dear to our family's heart, as two of our children have been affected by cleft conditions. This international children's medical charity performs safe, effective cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries, and delivers postoperative and ongoing medical therapies to children in over 60 different countries. In fact, Operation Smile is the largest surgical charity of its kind, leading research into the causes of cleft lip and cleft palate, and its prevention, treatment and eradication. Did you know that every 3 minutes a child is born with a cleft condition? A child with a cleft has twice the odds of dying before their first birthday. Children with who survive may have difficulty eating, speaking, hearing, or breathing properly. In many areas of the world, they are shunned and rejected, and oftentimes their parents can't afford the surgeries they need. Every child deserves access to safe, quality surgical care. Every child deserves a future filled with hope. For just $240, children can receive surgery to change their lives. See the Operation Smile website for more information.


Restore International was founded in 2003 by Bob Goff after a trip to India where he witnessed extreme human rights violations. Their goal is to fight for freedom and human rights, work to improve educational opportunities, and help those in need of a voice and a friend. Restore International shines light in some of the most dire places in the world - Somalia, Iraq, Uganda, Nepal, and India. They strive to provide opportunities for education while helping people experience justice in the midst of their afflictions. While Restore International provides many unique and incredible services, I want to highlight their work with those who are/were imprisoned. They provide safe houses for girls who were sexually exploited in Uganda, help children who are enslaved in brothels or other forms of bonded labor in India, and support juveniles imprisoned in Gulu. Please visit the Restore International website for more information.



Kindred Image is a non-profit organization that works to support the vision and legacy of Pastor Lee in South Korea. After having a child with a disability, Pastor Lee Jong-rak brought several other orphans home from the hospital. One extremely cold, winter night, a woman abandoned her baby outside the gate of Pastor Lee’s home. The disabled baby girl nearly froze to death before Pastor Lee found her. Knowing that something had to be done, Pastor Lee built a "drop box" in December 2009. As of November 2014, nearly 600 children had come to Pastor Lee through his drop box. This organization helped create the film, The Drop Box, which is playing in theatres March 3-5. Get your tickets! Kindred Image is working alongside Pastor Lee on his mission in South Korea. Mothers who are considering using The Drop Box receive counseling, and those who choose to keep their babies receive Boxes of Hope, which include diapers, formula, and other essentials. They are striving to build a Rescue Center that is larger and more equipped where Pastor Lee and others can provide both crisis and long-term holistic care. A Maternity Shelter is also in the works and will be a home for mothers, right next to the drop box facility, where they can receive counseling, temporary housing, relational rehabilitation, and much more holistic help. Kindred Image also hopes to provide adoption assistance grants in the future. Please see their website for more information.


Amy Washington's heart and life was changed by the Lord when He planted her in Uganda to care for malnourished and orphaned babies in 2009. According to her website, Amy has adopted six sweet children from Uganda, which has been her home since that time. After witnessing a traumatic birth and death of a baby in a local hospital, Amy knew that God was calling her to love, help, and minister to expectant mothers and their babies. Kupendwa Ministries was founded in the summer of 2011 with the goal of sharing Jesus Christ and His love with mothers and babies in need, as well as everyone God brings through the doors of this ministry. For many mothers and women in Uganda, childbirth often means death for the mother, child, or both. Many expectant women and young girls live in rural villages or slum areas where there is very little, if any, access to medical care, birthing supplies or sanitary birthing conditions. Kupendwa is saving lives two at a time, in addition to spreading the gospel. They provide Village Maternity Clinics and Workshops, a Crisis Pregnancy Maternity Home for expectant mothers ages 12-18, and a Survive to Thrive Program that provides counseling, supplies, and other supports for mothers. Please see the Kupendwa Ministries website for more information!



Oxfam America is a global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice. They work with people in more than 90 countries to create lasting solutions. Oxfam’s approach tackles the conditions that cause poverty in the first place, rather than the focusing solely on the distribution of material goods. Oxfam assists the poorest communities when disaster strikes but also works to ensure greater local resilience through local groups and governments responding to those disasters. Oxfam invests in programs to help people assert their rights so that they can improve their own lives. They work to change the laws and practices that keep people trapped in poverty. Oxfam also strives to educate the public, changing the way people think about poverty and its causes. One example of their work took place in during and after the recent bombing Gaza when the water supply became greatly damaged. Oxfam and a local partner helped to provide safe drinking water to more than 250,000 people. Donations to Oxfam can be allocated to provide livestock, emergency toilets, education, emergency soap, funds to start a small business, training for a midwife, mosquito nets, medical kits, stoves, water pumps, bicycles, donkey carts, fruit trees, solar lanterns, and so much more. Please visit their website for more information.

Let's Forget the Frock and wear something that shows our love for the least of these!

A few important reminders:

1. First add your t-shirts to your shopping cart.
2. For each shirt purchased, you may vote for 1 nonprofit organization. This can be done by either adding the nonprofit to your shopping cart OR by leaving your vote in notes to the seller on your PayPal transaction. 
3. Make sure your shipping address is current. Shipping is a flat rate of $5.00 for most orders.
4. If you are local and want to pick up your order,  please enter PICKUP under discount and click update total. The shipping charge will be eliminated. 

TO PURCHASE YOUR T-SHIRTS, PLEASE VISIT THE EASTER 2015: PASSION  INTO ACTION STORE (CLICK LINK)


If your church would like to get involved or if you have any questions, please email me:

2.01.2015

Preschool Christmas Programs (Better Late Than Never)

Although this post is nearly a month and a half behind schedule, I wanted to take the time to share a special night for Liam and Tucker. A week before Christmas, these little cuties got to participate in their first preschool Christmas programs. When Tucker first came home, we registered the our littles (as we've so sweetly called them the past 15 months) to be in the same preschool class. We feared that Tuck would be too afraid if he was separated from Liam. However, as the months passed, he adjusted well and was much more secure in his attachment to our family. Liam and Tucker went from fighting every 3 minutes for those first 3 months home to steadily growing to love one another. They truly are best friends now, which makes me sad that Noah and Tyson don't have "twins" (yet anyway!). As the boys grew closer, we decided to separate them into their own classes. We felt that they needed to establish identities apart from one another, make their own sets of friends, and have a break from each other. They are both thriving this year and love going to school a couple times each week.
 
Although having Liam and Tuck in two separate classes has proven a great decision in many ways, it also meant that we got to attend back-to-back Christmas programs that each had the same activities. They were both so proud and excited to perform for us. First cutie up to bat was Liam. I mean, just look at that handsome boy! My baby is getting so big.
 

Liam loves both of his teachers. They describe him as a very enthusiastic student. Love their choice of words and totally believe them! He is passionate about all things - I'm not sure where he gets it. Below is a sweet picture of Liam snuggling up to Miss Mary, who (he proudly told us) taught him to pee standing up at school this year. Thanks for taking one for the team, Miss Mary!!


As I mentioned before, Liam feels all things deeply. He will laugh harder, love more intensely, and show more joy than anyone I know. With that said, this little guy will cry harder, get madder, and have his feelings hurt more than anyone else. Deep feelings this one. Again, not sure where he gets that. Well, when it came time to put on costumes, no one called on Liam to choose one. I was helping students get dressed up when my mommy radar started beeping. I looked up and saw Liam with his arms folded, feelings hurt. I walked over to him, told him to come and pick out his costume, and he cheered right up! Thank goodness he is easily redirected!


How appropriate that he would choose an angel costume! Am I right, friends and family? Oh Bert Bert...you make my heart melt. He has been telling me lately that when he grows up, he is going to marry me. I LOVE IT.


When Liam's program ended, we had about a 10-15 minute break, and then it was Tucker's turn. He was really excited to have a turn. The preschool director opened up the program with a prayer. I don't know what it is about seeing this precious little boy pray, but it brings me to tears on a regular basis. I mean, look at him? Is that not the sweetest thing you've ever seen? I am always amazed how God is in all places at all times seeing all people in their circumstances. He saw Tucker, He saw our family, and he intervened in all our lives. Without God's call to obedience, we would not know Tucker. The thought of us living apart from one another makes my heart ache. I still tell him all the time how thankful I am that he is in our family...that I am his mom and that he is my son. To hear his sweet voice say, "I love you, mommy," brings a tear to my eyes. We have come so far!


I mean, seriously, when did this little guy get so big?! He wore 12 months clothes 15 months ago, and now he is comfortably wearing 3T. That smile just beams! I am convinced that I have the most beautiful boys in the world.


Tucker also loves his teachers, Miss Rita and Miss Susan. This was Tuck's first experience in a structured environment outside of our home with educational, social, linguistic, and behavioral demands. According to his teachers, Tucker has made so many strides. Miss Rita said he is a great friend to others, is learning readiness skills, is obedient, and takes redirection well. We couldn't ask for more! Don't you just love his skinny buns? That kid is solid muscle - tiny but mighty!


Tucker chose a sheep costume for the program and wore it well. The poor girl in the red dress to his right had the unfortunate experience of Tucker's curious hands on her donkey hat. He just couldn't resist himself and pet that hat not once, not twice, but maybe ten times. Tuck was so overstimulated by the end of the two programs, but he loved every minute of it. We are so thankful that he is home and has the opportunity to go to school in such a nurturing environment.


And last but not least, this sweet boy endured back-to-back preschool programs like a champ! Noah is such a good big brother. We tell him all the time that God chose him with great intention. We are so grateful for the leadership, compassion, and grace Noah shows Liam and Tucker.


 
Three boys and a fourth on the way. I can only imagine the adventures that lie ahead!!
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