Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Doing Good?

Over the last few months as I have been researching organizations, I have learned a great deal. Most of it has been very encouraging. More than once, I have been moved to tears by stories of people who are living their lives for the gospel. People who do not care about glory. People who do not see the poor, orphaned and widow as projects or causes, but instead, as valuable souls in need of a Savior. People who love because Christ loves them. People who creatively find ways to meet great physical needs with dignity and grace while pointing the ones they are serving to the only One who can meet their spiritual needs. 

Some of the research has been discouraging. John Adams once said "Facts are stubborn things." The facts, in this case, show that sometimes aid does more harm than good. Some organizations have short sighted business models that merely put band-aids on gaping wounds. Occasionally people are driven by selfish motives. Sometimes short term trips undo years of work by missionaries because participants come in behaving rudely, ignoring the culture of the ones they are serving or promising far more than they can deliver leaving hurt and pain in their wake. 

As an over-thinker and a realist, the negative statistics and research can stir up a kind of paralysis of action or even a cynicism in me that is unhealthy. Those stubborn facts can distract me from seeing what's important.

This week I've been mulling over the following questions, "What's the solution? How can I be sure that what I'm doing is making an eternal difference?"

These are the steps I keep coming to over and over again.

Pray. Listen. Act.

*For those suffering
*For guidance in how to best use our talents and abilities to serve

*Stay in His word
*Be still and quiet

*Love God
*Love People- whatever that looks like. It may be shopping with a conscience, visiting your neighbor, really engaging with our own family, tutoring school children, working in a homeless shelter, sponsoring a child through Compassion or World Vision, adopting or moving out of the country to serve others. It might be a huge step or it might be small and seemingly insignificant. It is never insignificant.
*Research. Do the companies or organizations I desire to work with have the same values? How will my time and resources best be used? Is Christ at the center?
*Obey- I am convinced our calling is as unique as each of us. Spending time competing with others or desiring their journey, robs us of the joy that comes from living the journey He has for us.

All this research is stretching me. I'm thankful for that. There are so many different ways to love, fight injustice and be His hands and feet. May God grant us the strength and wisdom to embrace the way He has for us.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feeding the Orphans

 This is the question, asked by 10 year old Sydney, that initiated the start of the Feeding the Orphans organization. 

At the age of 7, Sydney began asking God to give her a sister.  Even though she was so young, she already had a burden for orphans and would spend much of her spare time reading blogs and watching videos of orphaned children. In 2009, her mom and dad adopted two children from Ghana. One boy, one girl. Sydney had her sister and an even deeper passion for orphans.

Her “WHY SHOULD WE EAT LIKE KINGS AND QUEENS WHEN THEY HAVE NOTHING?" question came from a heart broken by the realization that her baby sister had spent so much of her life without the basic necessities and the pure injustice of the millions of children that still lived that way.

Her childlike faith led her to design a t-shirt. The goal was to raise $500 to provide medical care, food and clean water for the orphans of Ghana. Her initial goal was met quickly. Sydney used those funds to purchase supplies for the children in the orphanage where her brother and sister had lived. When she came back to the states, she knew that her first trip was just the beginning.

The ministry Sydney began out of simple obedience has become her whole family's passion. Sydney's example is stunning. Here is how she describes her mission-- "God has continued to break my heart for the orphans and I just want to follow Him."  

So, what can you do to help?

You can remember these great tees, bags, key chains, jewelry and other products the next time you need a gift.

You can sponsor a child through Feeding the Orphans.  



Monday, February 6, 2012


Something significant will happen today at 10am pacific time in Fullerton, California.  It happens each Monday morning at the same time. And, it's a big deal. So big, in fact, that tens of thousands of people wait for it every week.

So, what's everyone waiting for, you wonder? Well...

Sevenly is releasing a brand new, limited edition t-shirt!

I can almost hear the collective- Oh, great, a new t-shirt? How is that a big deal?

Since Sevenly was founded in June of 2011, by Dale Partridge, 26, and Aaron Chavez, 19, these t-shirts have raised over $227,000 for 34 different charities.
Not only have they raised a significant amount of money, they have also created awareness and prompted a faithful following for the charities featured on the t-shirts. That's a big, life changing deal!

Here are a few fun facts about Sevenly.

Sevenly's business method is built around the number seven.
 *Their company name, for starters. 
 *For each shirt purchased, $7 is donated to charity.
 *The money benefits causes in 7 main categories- slavery, clean water, hunger,  poverty, medical, disaster relief and miscellaneous aid.
 *Each cool, creative, limited edition t-shirt is only available for 7 days.

Every week the new charity has a video, links to their website and interesting information about the work they do.

The Sevenly site is fun to visit. Lots of creativity displayed that keeps things interesting.

So, what can you do to help Sevenly?

Follow them on facebook or twitter.

Subscribe to their blog.

The next time you or your spouse or your teenager or a friend need a shirt, check Sevenly first.

Be sure to learn about the cause featured on your t-shirt. When people ask about your cool shirt, and they will, share what you know about that organization (and Sevenly.)

In case you're interested- here's my t-shirt review- 
I own three of them now. They are high quality. I have not had them shrink or fade and I wear them all the time!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Valentine Gift Ideas...

Valentine's Day is only 11 days away. Before you head out to the stores this weekend looking for that perfect gift, please take a look at the companies featured in this post. You will find a variety of gifts that will bring a smile to your loved ones face and make a huge difference in someone else's life.

Trade as One
This company was born out of a desire "to use fair trade to promote sustainable business and break cycles of poverty and dependency in the developing world."

Trade as One is putting their mission statement into practice by working with a number of producers around the globe. These producers craft products such as jewelry, chocolates, wallets, journals, scarves, ornaments and toys. They have something for just about everyone. The gifts range in price from $5.00-$40.00.

On each item page you will find information about the producer of the product, the country of origin and how free trade is making a difference in that producer's community.

Tom's Shoes began after Blake Mycoskie's visit to Argentina. When he discovered that several children he had befriended had no shoes to protect their feet, he wanted to do something to help. Blake created Tom's Shoes based upon this simple idea- for every pair of shoes purchased a new pair of shoes is given to a child in need. "One for One."

Tom's Shoes start at $54 a pair- which sounds pretty pricey, until you remember that you are actually buying two pair of shoes (one for you, one that Tom's donates).

My two cents- these are the most comfortable shoes I've owned in a very long time.

Amazima was featured on this blog in January.  But, since these necklaces made by women in Uganda are a beautiful accessory to most any outfit, I thought I'd throw the idea out there again.

For the coffee drinker in your life, this company offers fresh-roasted, gourmet, fair trade, organic, shade-grown coffee with 100% of the profits spent on orphan care around the world.

GoBena has several products to choose from...
Several coffee blends- $12.95 per pound. These are full pound bags, not the 12 oz. bags typically found in stores)
T-shirts ($5)
Coffee mugs($7)
Stainless steel travel mugs ($7) 
A great gift basket ($39)

Happy Shopping!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


For the month of February, we will take a look at organizations that allow us to make the everyday items we purchase like coffee, t-shirts and even the gifts that we give, make a difference in the lives of people all over the world. Changing the way we look at our "staples" can help us be even better stewards of what we have.