Serving God, Saving Orphans Part 1~Audrey

I have faithfully followed God’s calling and stepped up to serve Ukrainian Orphans at Bridges of Faith.  But what is Bridges of Faith really?

10557757_10152513140817171_3281271709855537029_oJoyfully radical, the BoF family lives James 1:27.  Armed with lethal love, short-term teams invade Ukrainian orphanages, revolutionizing young lives that were headed for destruction. From camps for regional groups to bringing Ukrainian orphans to Alabama, God dramatically uses BoF to build lives and rescue damaged children.

Three times each year, Bridges of Faith brings Ukrainian orphans to BridgeStone, our 140 acre retreat center in Central Alabama, to taste Southern culture, faith, and life. All volunteer driven staff raise their own support and hundreds of people from across America and Ukraine work together to demonstrate His love for these kids. Though not an adoption agency, families meet the children and often invite these kids into their forever families. Though designed for the children they rock out worlds with who they are. All involved see the Face of God. No one is ever the same again.

Ukraine has over 100,000 orphans.  Only approximately 10 present are orphaned due to death of a parent. The majority are social orphans – products of alcoholism, 11039310_10153319928642171_7916572586876156665_oabandonment, or imprisoned parents.  Every year, around 2,000 mothers abandon their babies in maternity hospitals.  An estimated 6,000 to 7,000 more are abandoned at an older age or removed from home because of crime or neglect. These Orphans typically grow up in large state-run homes, which may house over 200 children.  They are “evicted” at about age 17, insanely unprepared for life in the real world.  With a lack or worldly skills, the majority of these orphans going into prostitution or the drug trade.  Approximately 10 percent of these will attempt suicide before their 22nd birthday.

Bridges of Faith formed to bring short-term answers and long-term solutions to the 100,000+ orphans in Ukraine. Kids who stay in the orphanage face bleak statistical futures. Within five years of graduation from the orphanage, ten percent of the kids commit suicide. More than ten percent go to prison. Only ten percent make meaningful lives. The others live in the grip of life-controlling problems; drugs, crime, and mafia are common for them. Sixty percent of the girls are trafficked. Our programs give direction, hope, opportunities, and life.

The Ukrainian Orphan Project is the program in which Bridges of Faith International Children’s Fund revolves around. It takes 154,000  dollars of funding to  bring two groups of ten Ukrainian orphans for four-week Christian camp experiences at BOF’s retreat facility in Alabama in the summer It covers transportation, food, lodging, interpreting services, health/travel insurance, speakers/activities, overhead, and incidental necessary expenses.  During the children’s time in Alabama, they experience Alabama life and culture through camping, touring educational sites, teaching settings, and visiting homes and families. Children participate in a variety of activities such as Braves baseball games, trips to the Gulf Coast and the
11329753_10153326176077171_992915694409136205_nUSS Alabama, and attending events at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.   English and bible lesson are incorporated into the everyday curriculum for these children as well as a variety of games, crafts, and lessons.

The ongoing miracle of BridgeStone provides the setting for eternally changed lives. Some describe special locations as thin places, places where the barrier between heaven and earth almost disappears. Over the years, many people have found new direction, new life, forgiveness, healing, restoration and love in this truly thin place. Add the crazy fun of the Almighty Mud Run, the beautiful Goodwin Pool, paintball and other great activities to great meals and rich relationships, and you begin to understand the miracle called BridgeStone.

But I know you want more information on a personal level and I will give it to you! Stayed tuned for my next installment on following the road God leads me!

If you would like to find out more about Bridges of Faith please visits: http://www.bridgesoffaith.com/
And if you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to BOF in my name, please contact audrey@bridgesoffaith.com

1 Comment

It’s like that sometimes……..Renee`

What kind of person do you want to be?

I’ve been wrestling with this question all of my life. I’ve struggled with insecurities and that has lead me to really put myself second (in an unhealthy way). This past weekend I had a very tough conversation with someone I love, but can’t continue to have in my life if they continue to be unhealthy. (for those keeping up, yes this is the SAME person I’ve blogged about probably the last three years). I’ve not confronted this person before and this time I was willing to do so; it did not end exactly like I had hoped, but the good part is- I am walking and owning my truth. If you hurt me I do not have to be bitter towards you, but I also do not have to pretend that I am ok with you.

I’m learning to hold fast to my boundaries, in a good way. It helps me to stay healthy and my health is important because I have three little boys and a husband that need me to pour into them. Heck, the vision that God has given me requires that I check myself quite often.

I have also started to attempt to tackle that debt monster again. I have used the funds from the AmeriCorps account and am now paying directly for my loans..which honestly sucks..a lot, but I am determined to have only those bills be the nonessential bills I will pay.

I also signed up for a 22 day challenge from the I Am Second movement, because I feel I have been a bit stagnate. My friend Audrey also challenged me to find more kid and hubby free activities for myself. Even LaDarren has encouraged me to start spending more money and time on myself. It means I have really let my life get out of balance if everyone who loves me says…Renee I think you need to spend more time on what you like to do. That’s always been a problem for me.

Even before I had children I struggled with putting my needs before those of my family. I didn’t mind doing it and still don’t but I need to make sure that I am not losing myself in the process. That’s the key. I have been helping Darren with his fitness business and God is blessing us with that and I am excited, but I know that the empowerment of people especially women is what I’ve been called to do. I just still don’t know what that looks like. Nor, have I taken the appropriate amount of time to really explore what that looks like.

But here I go now….hope I find something out soon.

Keep me in prayer!

Renee`

1 Comment

A Lot Going On ~Venus

Hey everyone! This blog might be a long one. Lol! There has been a lot going on in my life lately. During the spring, I got a second job. I worked at my primary job Mondays-Fridays & my second job on Saturdays & Sundays. I was beyond exhausted everyday. I had to wake up between 5a.m. & 5:30a.m. and leave my apartment between 6a.m. & 6:20a.m. to walk to to bus (it was a 30 minute walk) stop on campus so I could get picked up by the shuttle bus to go to work (my primary job) . I had to be at work at 7a.m. During the weekday all I wanted to do when I got home from work was take a shower, a nap, & watch tv. In May, I was laid off from my primary job & worked very little w/ my second job (business has been slow). I decided to not work summer camp this year on campus. I was expecting to work more w/ my second job over the summer but things haven’t happened that way. Thank God I was able to get unemployment.  Things have been pretty hectic lately. I’m in the process of getting things situated for my move to my new apartment in the fall. I got approved for my new apartment on Sunday. Praise God! Even though things have been crazy lately, I’ve been trying my best to keep my head up. I have my moments. I have no choice but to trust God right now & believe that he will work things out. God bless!

~Venus

Leave a comment

Come With Me Now….I Bet My Life~Audrey

Afraid to lose control
And caught up in this world
I’ve wasted time, I’ve wasted breath
I think I’ve thought myself to death…
Now only this seems clear
I need to move, I need to fight
I need to lose myself tonight

Whoa, come with me now
I’m gonna take you down
Whoa, come with me now
I’m gonna show you how

“Come With Me Now”, Kongos

So God shut a down with a big slam in my face. But just the next day, he knocked on a new door. I tentatively looked in the peep hole. It was a great job in the area at a place called Bridges of Faith. Bridges of Faith bring Ukrainian orphans over to the US to experience American culture and receive the love of God.  I would be their resident grant person and would live on the 140 retreat.

All was fine and well until it was time to talk pay and salary. I had already told God I would accept a huge dip in pay to join this organization. I had bonded with the place and the people there. But then I found out that all BOF staff raises their own support. That’s right: I would have to beg people for money to pay me.

I hated this idea and took a step back. I stepped away from everything for about two days and prayed. This was scary. What if I couldn’t do it? I couldn’t do my job and be stressed out that I would loss my car. I hated asking for money! How could I do this?

But He told me I was supposed to be here. His peace is mine and I know that he will find a way to provide for me. So I threw that door wide open and walked in on faith. I followed him and I bet my life on this feeling, this draw I have towards this organization.

I started and, on day three, the children were there, and I knew without a doubt I had made the right decision. One day I got to spend it at my close friend’s farm with the kids. Good fellowship and horseback riding made for a great day. There was even a paint fight!

So here I go. In over my head but floating on faith!

 

I know I took the path that you would never want for me
I know I let you down, didn’t I?
So many sleepless nights where you were waiting up on me
Well I’m just a slave unto the night…
I know I took the path that you would never want for me
I gave you hell through all the years

So I, I bet my life, I bet my life
I bet my life on you
“I Bet My Life”, Imagine Dragons

 

If you would like to find out more about Bridges of Faith please visits: http://www.bridgesoffaith.com/
And if you are interested in making a tax deductible donation to BOF in my name, please contact audrey@bridgesoffaith.com

Leave a comment

Go Get Your Life!! ~Venus

Hello everyone! I know that it has been a while since I’ve blogged. A lot has been going on in my life. I plan on blogging more since I have a lot of more free time on my hands. The title of this blog is where I am in my life.  I’m using the phrase for a positive message for myself. “Get your life”  has been a popular phrase lately. Tamar Braxton says it a lot on one of my favorite talk show The Real. According to UrbanDictionary.com, get your life is “an expression one makes when someone makes a comment or does something contrary to what you believe is acceptable. This expression has been made popular by Toni Braxton’s sister, “Tamar Braxton,” on the reality tv show, “Braxton Family Values.”

I’m tired of things remaining the same. I guess you can say I’m sick & tired of being sick & tired. lol! I desire change & just for things to be different. I want a better life for myself & I just want more. Don’t get me wrong, my life isn’t bad. I appreciate the things I do have. I thank God for his blessings!

I did a personal inventory on my life. I realized that where I’m currently at in my life, I don’t want to be in the same place five years from now. Five years from now, I don’t want to be working a minimum wage job or jobs, struggling financially, living w/ roommates (I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to have roommates), & not have a car. Something has to change! I have to change & put my faith into action.

M I’m becoming more in tune w/ myself. God is pushing me spiritually. He is showing me things about myself that I need to change & the root of some things. He is healing me, restoring me, & making me whole. I’m going through a process. I’m just trying to get my life together. God bless! #Gogetyourlife!

~Venus

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over & over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

Leave a comment

Sunshine and Blankets~Audrey

When you do not have a job, you find yourself with a lot of times on your hands. You can spend that time fighting inner demons or moping. Or you can do those things in a healthy manner as well as choose to be optimist about your future.

Two weeks ago, I looked out at the beautiful day and wished I could go outside and read. It’s a wish I ways have on beautiful Spring and Fall days, but have always been too busy with work to ever even attempt it. But that day I grabbed a blanket, my Emily Giffin book and laid out shade to read. The breeze was nice and the dogs ran around happy to be basking in the sun with me. Then last week I curled up in bed as it rained those beautiful summer rains where there was still light. Another great weather moment to enjoy reading and yet another thing I haven’t gotten to do in some time.

I have enjoy mid-day Starbuck gabbing sessions, lunches with my mother and grandmother, and just hanging out at my favorite store. (We all know which one that is, don’t we?). The best things is that I have gotten to stay in bed and sleep when I’ve been even the slightest bit sick. It has been wonderful, and, while it doesn’t keep me from getting sick, it has kept me from being even sicker. I often wonder how in the good Lord’s name I worked full time.

The truth is, it is because of God. He has given me mission to work with disadvantaged children and he keeps me going because that is the work he has ignited with in me. So this break is just a break. I’m not done and my illness hasn’t taken full control of me yet. It’s time to keep moving. Bring me that horizon!

11203042_897887031384_7702006445461509718_n

2 Comments

The Persecuted Christain~Audrey

The Bible tells us that we will be persecuted for our belief in Christ. Christians have been and continue to be, but it seems lately I have heard that phrase a lot. As the country goes through another civil rights movement, certain groups of Christians are using their beliefs to control other people’s lives and crying persecution when they don’t get their way.

I will admit, I have been guilty of being intolerant of the intolerant. I believe whole heartedly that marriage equality should exist. Any one, no matter what religious or political beliefs they hold, are free to feel differently. I believe we have a right to our opinion as long as it doesn’t step on other’s civil rights. Allowing gay to marry has sparked many a debate and name calling. But now it is costing people church membership.

There have always been churches that don’t allow homosexuals or transvestites to attend services or become members. This isn’t news to me, but what is new is that there are churches who don’t want those that support marriage equality in their church.

This is where it gets personal. I found out that I was not welcome in a local church where I had spent some time in as a child. I am not gay. I have never questioned my heterosexuality. But I believe in equality for all. I live by “love thy neighbor as yourself.” I want to get married and have a family and am free to do so. My neighbor should be too.

But that isn’t the point of this post. What I want to convey is that we as Christians should quit persecuting each other. If we band together is Jesus’ love, then we can change the world and show the world what Christ is all about. We could make people understand and, with understanding, we will face less persecution. When we fight one another, we weaken our cause. We become less like Christ.

I had a friend asked me how I could continue to believe when people act like they do in the paragraphs above. I paused. Then I told her it was because of people like me. Love for all does exists; I just have to find those people who practice what they preach.

I was blessed last week to meet another one of those people. Someone who believe that loves is all that matters and we should treat everyone with Christ-like respect. This person has renewed my strength in this search and I may just have found another group of people who love like my Radical sisters do. I am praying for them and for those whose lives they touch.

I have let go of the anger and hurt from the above church because I know Christ’s love still lives on this planet. Let’s not squabble among ourselves; let’s unite in love and show the world what the followers of Christ are really like.

3 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 77 other followers