Using Google Calendar to Pray

GoogleCalendar1If you’ve been around TIO for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with our Advocate & Pray posts. Every two weeks, we post about a child who is waiting to be adopted and ask readers to pray and advocate for that child. To help motivate everyone to actually pray, we put together a prayer chain. Right now we’re praying for a sweet girl named Candy (no pun intended). The prayer chain gives you an opportunity to sign up to pray for the child during a 15 minute slot of your choice and then pray daily for the child during that time for the next two weeks.

Now, if you’re like me, you probably start a prayer chain with great intentions and an eye on the clock. But as time passes, it might get harder to remember. That’s where Google Calendar comes in. Google Calendar allows you to schedule events and ask for email reminders. I’ve found it to be a great tool to prompt me to pray. Here’s how you do it.

GoogleCalendar3Start by figuring out how to get your calendar. If you have a gmail account, that’s as simple as clicking the link. If you don’t have a gmail account, you probably have to sign up for one to use the calendar. It’s free. After you sign in, it usually gives you a blank calendar to work with. If it doesn’t, go to the left side-bar, find “My Calendars”, click the arrow to the right of those words, and chose to create a new calendar. After you create it the program prompts you to name it, etc. etc. Fill out whatever you want, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click “create calendar”.

Now you have a blank calendar! Set it to show you a week at a time, then find the hour you’re supposed to pray in. Tap that time slot and it’ll pop up a box asking you to create an event. Click “edit event”.
GoogleCalendar4

Next you’ll want to title your prayer time and adjust the time to your appropriate time slot. When I sign up I usually take the 9:00 to 9:15 spot so you’ll see those times in the box for the example.
GoogleCalendar5

You don’t want this reminder to be a one-day deal, so check the “repeat” box and fill the boxes in. The “event” will start on the day you click on the calendar. Set it to repeat daily and end whenever you want it to…usually two weeks after the A&P post. Click done when you have it just the way you want it.
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Finally, scroll down a little further and make sure you add a reminder. The pop-up reminder only works if you have Google Calendar pulled up all the time, so I use the email reminder. I set mine to remind me one minute before my time slot starts, but you can set yours to whatever works for you (obviously). I also set the event to private on the very bottom. It’s not a big deal if someone else sees, but privacy seems like a good thing to me.
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When you’re done, scroll to the top of the page and click “Save”! If all goes well, you should get an email like this one reminding you to pray.
GoogleCalendar2

Hope that’s helpful!

Have any questions or suggestions? How do you remember to pray?

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Teens In Action: Project 27

Kitanda ProjectHello everyone! I’m back with another teen who is making a difference in the lives of orphans. (If you missed last week’s Teens In Action post,  go over and read Blankets of Love at some point.) Abby found TIO through The Rebelution and shot me an email to say she liked the website and blog. She also mentioned a ministry she and some girls for her school run. I found her story inspiring, and I hope you will too. Here’s Abby.

“Religion is that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27

After studying Romans 12, a call to a transformed and sanctified life, my peers and I were challenged to respond to the call of James 1:27. Praying for an open door through which we could serve, the Lord directed us to Agape Children’s Ministry. We knew missionaries who were stationed in Kenya, Africa with Agape Children’s Ministry. The focus of the home to is rescue street boys and girls from the homelessness and wondering of street life in Kisumu, Kenya (www.agapechildren.org), and present the gospel to the children. We began supporting this ministry through a program labeled the Kitanda Project, as Kitanda is bed in Swahili. Through this project, we raised monthly donations in order that a child would be supported safely in a ‘bed’, which included not only a place to lay his head, but also all other physical, educational, and health needs.

We all were excited to get to work for the needy and orphaned! Through car washes, bake sales, and jewelry sales we raised more than the amount of money we needed. God taught us how to serve others, sacrifice time, and pray for the needs of the unredeemed. Captivated by the mercy and grace of our Savior, we were awed by His abundant blessing on our Project. Continuously money poured in, and we were able to support the ministry far beyond our commitment. As I reflect on the goodness of our God through this learning process I can’t help but become overly excited because of the Lord we serve! God used little middle school girls with hardly a clue about fundraising and commitments to bring about His plan for the orphaned.

Isaiah 1:16-17 says: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” We have learned that caring for the orphaned, the widowed, and the unredeemed is really a call for cleanliness on behalf of the believer’s life and heart. Once we have made our hearts right before the Lord, then we are able to serve, pray for, and become involved with orphans and missions. Our prayer is that on this road to answer the call of James 1:27 and Isaiah 1:16-17, we first prepare our hearts before our Holy Father.

As we continue the legacy of the Kitanda Project, we have taken on a new name, Project 27, based off of James 1:27 and the call for cleanliness in the last 27 books of Isaiah. We would be blessed if you lift us up in prayer as we pray for wisdom and guidance on how to live righteously and serve others.

I am so very thankful for the work, time, and effort Leah has put into this site! What a blessing it was when I came upon her website and her mission and heart for orphans. We don’t know how blessed we are to have the resources God has made available to us. Let us respond to God’s call of righteous, clean living! There are plenty of opportunities to serve; thank you Leah for organizing this precious mission and devoting your life to God’s call for the orphans.  

I also asked Abby how people can donate to Project 27, and this is what she said.

Thanks for your encouragement! The best way to donate to our project is to send a check, since we do not have an online account as of right now. Checks can be made out to Southside Christian School (my school where we have Project 27) with “kitanda project” in the memo line ( we have not yet changed the name officially). They can be sent to 2028 Orton Rd.

It’s so encouraging to me to hear stories like Abby’s and see that teens who care can make a difference. And I hope reading what other’s are doing will give you ideas for how you can take action as well. Have any thoughts or comments? Want to ask Abby a question?

Orphans and Evolution

evolution-steps_17-205021450Worldview plays an important role in every persons life, whether they realize it or not. Our perspective of the world and our role in it develops throughout our lives, shaped by our experiences, observations, and what we are taught.

Schools across the country and around the world teach children the worldview shaping ideology of evolution. If the concept of evolution is followed to logical conclusions, the resulting view of life is frightening. For example, if improvement of species happens through survival of the fittest, why should anyone protect orphans and other vulnerable people? According to survival of the fittest, these people must be lesser life forms and the human race will improve if they die.

A biology textbook published in 1914 and titled A Civic Biology Presented In Problems stated,

“Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other pants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others by corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease, but they are actually protected and cared for by the state out of public money. Largely for them the poorhouse and the asylum exist. They take from society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites. If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading.”

Of course, most contemporary people who believe in evolution do not believe this. Textbooks have been modified to include only the politically acceptable components of the science they teach. However, the morally eroding nature of evolution still simmers below the surface.

The degradation of the sanctity of human life has already become prevalent with the acceptance of abortion and the push for euthanasia. Asked if they also support killing orphaned children living miserable lives, most people would react with horror. Of course they don’t condone such a thing. But the worldview is there.

The more I dig into the issues surrounding orphans and other vulnerable children, the more I realize how essential God is. Solutions not including God merely put a band-aid over the festering wound. God’s worldview is needed to change basic beliefs that undermine the value of these precious children. Rather than condemning the weakest of humanity as parasites, God gives them value as living souls made in His image and commands His people to care for them. He assures them that they are worth far more than animals.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are they works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

feed-the-children_2772820This is an area of orphan care that doesn’t carry an age limit. You don’t need to be a certain age, have a lot of money, or obtain complicated skills in order to tell people about Jesus and point out lethal flaws in what those around you believe. It may not seem like an important way to help orphans, but surgery and rehab take longer than slapping on a band-aid. It takes longer to see results, but the results last.

Ultimately, orphans need people to see them the way God does, and to take action from there.

How do you think the belief in evolution has impacted people’s perspective on orphans?

For those interested, the train of thoughts that inspired this post began while watching the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate. I encourage you to check it out.

Movie Review: Raising Izzie




Raising Izzie

“But, c’mon God, this is like our second chance.”

After their mother’s death, 14 year old Gertie Nash stepped up to fill some very large shoes. Desperate to make sure she and her little sister, Izzie, stay together, Gertie avoids entering the foster care system at all costs. She juggles paying the bills, grocery shopping, and raising Izzie around maintaining good grades at school. No one seems to suspect anything until Gertie gets a new teacher. Mrs. Freeman is determined to run a tight ship, and Gertie baffles her.

My mom and I watched this movie together while my dad and brother were away for a weekend. I wasn’t entirely sure it would be good, but it was a contemporary, Christian movie about orphans so it worth the try. And I’m so glad we did try it. We enjoyed it so much we decided to re-watch it the following night before the rent time on Amazon ran out! It was clean cut and moving. My only complaints were two low cut dresses. And if a couple discussing trying to have kids bothers you, you may blush a few times. 😉 Really, though. A tear jerker for anyone interested in a unique “contemporary American orphan” story.

Advocate & Pray: Tristan

TristanTristan’s story and his big, bright smile caught my eye as I looked through the Adopt Us Kids listings. Tristan is 13 years old and is waiting for a family in the state of Missouri, where he is currently in the custody of the Children’s Division.

Tristan is listed with Adopt Us Kids
United States

Tristan was placed in foster care after being removed from the person his mother had left him with for a long period of time. The home he was residing in was very minimal in many aspects.  Tristan shows a great deal of anger and was difficult to handle. He was aggressive towards his siblings.

Tristan is in the sixth grade. He is doing very well with his grades and seems to be adjusting to school better this year. He plays the violin and is in the orchestra. Tristan also played basketball and is very athletic.”

Visit Tristan’s profile

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Tristan

Share on Social Media
Join me in praying for Tristan to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

13 year old Tristan needs a family.  Click to tweet

The Choice (a poem)

xray-baby-in-stomach_19-131027Lately my reading has caused me to think a lot about the mothers that, for various reasons, are separated from their biological children. Whether young women in the states who surrender their children for adoption, women in other countries who bring their children to orphanages in hope they’ll have a better life, or those that abandon their children because they can’t bear to watch them starve. Each story about these women who love their children but find it necessary to give them up is heartbreaking. Saturday night I was talking to a lady from our church who works at a crisis pregnancy center. This poem is a combination of past reading and my conversation with her.

The Choice
Pregnant, alone, faced with a choice;
Carry through or silence a voice?
She tries to think, but it’s in vain.
How can she reason past the pain?

She wanted love, but love is gone,
Ran away at the word ‘unborn’.
Left her to make the choice alone,
His own small child so soon disowned.

It felt good then, but now it aches,
A broken heart amid mistakes.
Broken, confused, and what’s inside?
A baby or cells? Which side lied?

If only tears would cease to flow.
If only she true love could know,
The baby there beneath her heart,
Might have a chance to make a start.

(copyright 2014 by Leah E. Good)

TheChoice Icon

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up to pray for Greta.

5 Ways to Help TIO

TeamworkA reader recently wrote to me asking if there was a way she could help with TIO. What a nice question! I didn’t have an off-the-bat answer, but as ideas starting coming to mind I figured I’d make a post of them. Hopefully some of you have the same question. 😉

Word of Mouth
Seriously. Word of mouth is one of the most important ways you can help TIO. Getting people talking is more effective than any paid form of advertising. Here’s some ways to share about TIO.

  • Tell your friends. If you care about doing hard things and orphan care, your friends probably know about it. (If they don’t, you really need to get talking!)
  • Share about it at group(s). If you’re part of a youth group, homeschool group, AWANA, etc. find a way to tell other group members about TIO.
  • Share it as a resource. Do you know any adopting families or families considering adopting? Give them the link to the resource page.
  • Use the internet. Write about TIO your own blog, invite me to write a guest post, tweet a recent post, share on pinterest, etc.

Help Generate Content
Coming up with posts all the time isn’t easy! I’d love your help.

  • Share your contacts. Do you know an adopting family or orphan care worker who would be willing to share their experience on the blog? Ask them to contact me or send their info my way.
  • Write a post yourself. Seriously! Share your passion for orphans, doing hard things, or a specific ministry. If you’ve been on a missions trip, participated in orphan related ministries, have an adopted relative, or are adopted yourself, your experiences would be a valued addition to the blog.
  • Contribute to regular posts. Scan the internet for children waiting to be adopted and send them my way to be the next Advocate & Pray child. Or write a poem that can be dedicated to one of the Advocate & Pray kids (this would be a huge blessing to me!).
  • Share resources. If you know of a ministry, adoption agency, blog, book, video, etc. about orphan care, send it my way! Please!

Participate in Existing Efforts
We need more people actively engaging in the opportunities already available here on TIO.

  • Join the prayer chains! This one doesn’t require a lot of work or a big commitment. Every time an Advocate & Pray child is listed, a prayer chain is set up for that child. One young lady faithfully signs up to pray for each new child (thanks TW!). We need more like her. I know praying seems like a let down sometimes when we want to do “big” things, but we need to be faithful in little first. And besides, if we can encircle each child in round the clock prayer for two weeks, that’s a big thing!
  • Join the book club. We need some more people to join the book club so we can start reading books together and learning more about orphans, orphan care, and missionary orphan workers around the world.
  • Become an adoption partner. Volunteer your talents to help adopting families and/or refer adopting families to TIO. So far three volunteers are ready to design adoption blogs for families setting out on adoption journeys.

Help Brainstorm
Get involved in the visionary side of TIO. I’d love to have other young people brainstorm ideas for the future of TIO. Do you have ideas for ways young people could minister to orphans? Thoughts on how we could better advocate for the Advocate & Pray children? Lots of brains working together have a lot more power than my little one working all on its own. It would be wonderful to be able to bounce ideas off other people and get other ideas in return!

Get Creative
If you’re thinking of a great way to help and don’t see it on this list, chances are I didn’t think of it. If you want to help in that way, chances are I really want to know about it! Get creative and get involved. Let’s grow TIO together.

Pray
Yes, I know. This is a sixth way to help. But a bonus item is always good. Please don’t forget to pray for TIO. Thank you!

Can you help in any of the above ways? Can you think of a way to help that I missed?

The First Gift of Christmas

image_2013-12-24_142604From my place at the piano, I could see my friends face as she watched her sleeping baby boy. The love glowing on her face made me smile. After a long dearth of little ones in our church, having four children under age two is so much fun. All the members of our small church adore them. They get passed around, cooed at, kissed, and admired. Their parents oversee all of it with that special look of love softening their eyes.

It saddens me to think of how these precious little people are often viewed by our society. People focus so much on themselves and their careers that children become distractions, nuisances. Parents only half-jokingly ask friends if they’d like to keep their child. And that’s the better half of societies opinion of children. Plenty more people worry about overpopulation and consider large families irresponsible.

These thought processes affect so many things. It degrades the value of life. It creates the mindset that abortion is okay. After all, a baby would interfere with a woman’s promising future. Abortion might even be the responsible thing to do because of overpopulation. Those orphans in Africa? They’re starving because of overpopulation.

I’m not saying people purposefully think that way, but take the negative sentiments surrounding children a little further and that’s what you get. It’s sad.

manger-with-jesus-opening-the-arms_21250284The very fist gift of Christmas was a child. A baby. A little one that came into the world just like every other baby.

Each and every child, born and unborn, is a gift from God. Not a roadblock to their parents’ climbing of the corporate ladder. Not an irresponsible addition to an overpopulated world, but a gift. A precious, wonderful gift. Perhaps if cultural thinking about children began to shift, fewer little ones would be left without adoring parents.

A Baby by Christmas (part 2)

Hannah MillsDid you miss A Baby Christmas by Christmas (part 1)? Click the link to read it before continuing. 😉 And now, back to Hannah.

~*~

We arrived at the restaurant, and although I don’t remember exactly who arrived first, the initial moments were slightly awkward. Then it was like meeting old friends, or relatives you haven’t seen in ages and yet pick right back up with.

We started talking and just didn’t want to stop. We traded stories—Kara, worried that I wouldn’t understand, or would be angry at her, shared her story in more depth than my parents had been able to, and was relieved I was okay with it—and memories, gosh, a lifetime of memories. We talked about everything. Personalities, hobbies, favorite memories. We had a lifetime to catch up on.

We discovered I’m a lot like Kara and Kristy, and that Kara and my Mom basically have identical parenting styles, that all of us love to read, and that Kara has an artsy streak. My parents say that explains where I got mine, since neither one of them are very artistic. We have a lot of differences, too, but our similarities matter more.

Eventually we were the only ones left in the restaurant aside from the staff. We closed the place down.

Since, we’ve kept in regular contact. They, along with Kara’s husband, their two children, and my biological grandparents came to my eighteenth birthday party. We babysat on Valentine’s day so Kara and her husband could have a date night (that was a hilarious surprise to plan with him!). I went to the art museum with them and they came to a church pitch-in with us. Birthday and Christmas phone calls. Running into them at the State Fair. Meeting up for dinner. All in all…it’s been great.

Now I’m almost twenty, and having a family and then an “extended” biological family is just my normal. It sounds weird when I talk about it, but actually living it isn’t weird at all. It’s wonderful, actually. I know I’m the anomaly in that, that some people never meet their birth family/mother, or if they do, it doesn’t turn out well. But that doesn’t mean it has to turn out poorly every time.

Adoption is an amazing thing. Sometimes an incredibly hard thing, sometimes scary, but amazing nonetheless.

If you are an adoptive parent, please be as open with your child as their maturity level allows. Remind them that their birthmother does care for them. If she didn’t care, she could have gotten an abortion. If she didn’t want them to have a chance at an amazing life, she could have sentenced them to death before they ever experienced life outside the womb.

All the birthmothers I have met are beautiful people. They aren’t perfect, but none of us are. They have made mistakes, but all of us have. It takes a special person, a special strength, to carry a child and voluntarily give it to someone else to raise.

From the day they brought me home, my parents have emphasized those things and I believe that is the main reason I’ve never had a crisis of identity regarding being adopted, or resented it, or wondered if I was loved or “worth it.” Adoption is beautiful—please, don’t let the adoptees you know lose sight of that.

A Baby by Christmas (part 1)

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Me and Hannah

My friend Hannah and I met through a mutual involvement in the One Year Adventure Novel. Actually, to be technical, our characters met. But that’s another story for another time and you probably wouldn’t understand anyway. Anyway, somewhere along the line I learned that Hannah was adopted and that’s when we started talking. These days I regularly forget the fact that made us start talking to begin with, but I was thrilled when she sent me this article. Welcome to an open domestic adoption. And now let me introduce Hannah.

~*~

On multiple occasions throughout the course of my life, I’ve been asked the question “What’s it like to be adopted?” My reply is always, “What is it like to not be adopted?”

Often, when people talk about adoption, it’s about international adoption. International adoption is beautiful and incredibly important, but some of us adoptees had much more humble beginnings. We are “domestic.” There is a huge need for international adoptees to find their forever families, but, at the same time, the need for domestic adoptive families is also massive.

Older children, younger children. Infants. Some through the state, others through private agencies, there are many of us. We’re “given up” for many reasons—finances, we were unexpected, drug or alcohol addicted parents, the list goes on.

I am from an entire family of adoptee children. We’re all domestically adopted, and this is my part of the story.*

 —

My parents were married twenty-five years ago. They wanted children, but struggled with infertility issues and couldn’t get pregnant. So they turned to adoption. Two fell through, breaking their hearts. It hurt my mother so badly. She couldn’t imagine going through another Christmas, another Mother’s Day, another birthday, without having a baby of her own. They’d been married almost five years when finally, one Sunday, my parents went to the altar and prayed. What was the prayer? A baby by Christmas (come to find out later, the week they prayed was the week the first handful of cells that formed me, came into existence).

Not too long after, my mom’s cousin said she knew of a young pregnant woman who already had a toddler, and couldn’t support two children, so she was looking for an adoptive family for this new baby. Things started falling into place. A homestudy, paperwork, letter to the birthmother, et cetera.

The young woman, Kara, picked my parents as the adoptive family. They met in December, a month before I was born, in a hotel lobby. Kara was so tiny she didn’t even look pregnant. My parents were excited, even though I wouldn’t arrive until January. The three of them cried together in that hotel.

God surprised everyone and I was born in December, a week before Christmas. Mom got her Christmas baby after all, and there were more tears in the hospital when I was taken home. During my hospital stay, Kara tried to leave me in the nursery, so she wouldn’t get overly attatched…that failed. She ended up holding me the entire time before my parents arrived, and my birth grandmother crocheted me a blanket while sitting with Kara.

The years passed. I grew up knowing I was adopted, and not thinking it strange. It was just the way things were. It’s never bothered me even though I have often been curious—Mom and Dad have always been open about it, adding more details as I became mature enough to understand them, and letting me know that if I wanted to meet her, someday I hopefully could.

Three years ago, the cousin that knew my birthmom said a mutual acquaintance of hers and Kara’s had messaged her on Facebook, saying something about how he’d recently seen Kara and wondered how Hannah was doing.

That threw us all for a bit of a loop: he remembered me? That meant Kara must talk about me. Either that or he had a good memory.

Was this a Segway for me to meet Kara? Did I want to meet her? We decided it might be. And I decided I really did want to meet her. So we asked my cousin to write the mutual acquaintance and find out if my birthmother might be interested in meeting.

She was, and so was my birth sister, Kristy, who is two years my senior. We got into contact and set up a dinner-date at Don Pablo’s (nothing like Mexican food for nervous stomachs, right?).

Mom was a ball of spazzing, nervous energy. I stayed calm until right before it was time to leave for the restaurant. Then I freaked out, but knew I wanted to meet them badly enough that I wouldn’t allow myself to talk me out of going.

The drive was nerve-wracking.

And you’ll just have to come back tomorrow for the rest of it. 🙂

*Names changed to protect privacy