Wednesday, November 7, 2018


Hi all

If you received an email update from me on this blog that had a google link, please do not open. I was hacked and someone posted that link. I have no idea where the link went to, but I've no doubt it was nowhere good.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Setbacks and leaps forward

In January I wrote that Jason had recently broken his leg, and that he should be healed in plenty of time for our trip. And he would have been, had he not broken it again--in 5 places!--just weeks after getting off his brace from that first break!!  After a much bigger surgery and longer in a cast, unfortunately he has definitely had to pull out of this year's trip. It's a disappointment and a worry, not to mention that he's long tired of crutches and knee scooters and the pain.

So that, in part, has kept me from documenting our work this year. We've fund-raised as usual and we have 13 people going to Honduras in a few days, and we have 13 cases filled with an outfit and shoes for each kid at the Project, as well as school supplies and personal items, all donated by members of our church.  We're ready to get going!

Last year I shared some prayer requests, and I'd like to continue that tradition. I was comforted last year by so many people who were praying for us. When there were moments of doubt or worry, I was strengthened by the knowledge that someone was lifting us up to the Lord for strength and discernment.

Some of the prayers I ask for are below. Please feel free to pray as you feel led.

- For our family members at home, for their health and well-being, and that we can focus on being available to be used by God, uninhibited by worries and anxieties from home.

- For the children at the project, for their well-being, for their openness to us, and that we can show them God’s love through our work, play and the donations we bring them from the church.

- For the staff and for the project as it goes through a period of financial need; for wisdom and discernment in their leadership so they are always following God, and doing right by Him as that will always lead to doing right for the children.

- For our group to be able to work well together and to embrace the opportunity to renew each day in Christ, seeing each other and the children through the eyes of Christ so that we may love and give ourselves generously.

- For Debi and me to be open to the Spirit’s promptings, open to our team’s needs, guiding them and helping them as needed, and for other members of the team to be able to lead where their skills and gifts are needed.

- For our preparation time, and for safe travel, there and back.

- For joy--that we experience joy in our service, enjoy our time with the children, that we represent God to all those around us as One who wants us to enjoy life as well as serve Him through loving others.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Empathy. Compassion. Kindness.

Earlier this week, the first day of Spring, I took a snow day from work. And being at home in peace in quiet gives me time to catch up on some thinking. I was taken to examine the difference between some basic human concepts, and how we desperately need more in our would.

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Compassion: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
Kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

Can one feel compassion without empathy, or vice versa? A high level of empathy can feel like absorbing another person’s pain, and can potentially cause one to turn away without compassionate action. Compassion, on the other hand, doesn't require us to really understand or feel the emotions of another, only that we care and usually act on it. Kindness can be something we can practice even when we feel neither empathy nor compassion. Christians are called to be compassionate & kind, whether we empathize or not, but I believe that having a good level of compassion and empathy—not just kindness—can make us a more altruistic society, seeking peaceful but meaningful balances.

In a world of social media & electronic communication, we can learn so much more about the world around us, and to understand the lives & societies of others. The other side of that coin is our inability to hear the tones, see the facial expressions and body language of the person behind the keyboard, and that so often leaves us without empathy or compassion for them.
Empathy is an elastic thing. The empathy center of our brain, the amygdala, has the capacity to grow—and the capacity to shrink. If we are not actively trying to empathize, to understand someone else's story, point of view, or pain, then our capacity to empathize, and possibly the capacity to have compassion, also diminishes. That's a dangerous place for a society, and a place that I feel (through my sometimes overly-active amygdala!!) our society and communities may be reaching, if they haven’t already.

Being highly empathetic can have drawbacks—it can be painful, it's hard to create good boundaries, and it's hard to confront others (not because we don't like consequences but because we are highly sensitive to how we might hurt someone), and I am glad for those around me that can help me sometimes recognize when a high level of empathy stands in the way of an appropriate action. But if I had to choose having too high empathy versus none at all, every time I choose the inconvenient, messy, sometimes overly passionate, sometimes painful empathy.

For us as leaders, parents, teachers, we need to be developing & nurturing empathy in ourselves and in our children, students, and those we mentor. Empathy, kindness and compassion are vital all on their own, but I believe that empathy, kindness & compassion combined is what we need for changing our world for the better.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Round 5! Honduras 2018 & a setback

I can't believe we're here already, starting our team meetings, bible study and fundraising for our 5th trip to the Manuelito Project in Honduras. It's really incredible to watch these youngsters grow. We first visited in 2013, and some of those young teens are now maturing into young adults: attending trade schools, completing high school, hoping of college.These are things they could never do without the hope and opportunity offered by places like Manuelito. And some of the little ones are becoming pre-teens and teens, developing very typical teenage personalities, playful, hopeful, ambitious.....

I wonder every year what my 'job' will be, what will God have me focus on, learn or teach. Each year, it's something vastly different. Hearing testimonies from the children and working with them has strengthened my faith, but also my ability to help others in our own community at home. Sharing my testimony with them has given a voice to my own past, and allowed me to find another new way to help others. 

Unfortunately, our year has started a little rocky as Jason recently broke his leg in 2 places (fibula and ankle) and potentially needs surgery. THANKFULLY this is far enough away from our trip that he has time to heal, but it will greatly impact the work he can do between now and then, both during the day in his job as a fabricator/running our business, and for our active fundraisers, such as washing cars and so on. New plans are afoot (seriously, no pun intended), but as we usually take several months to gather all the funds, this setback puts a sense of urgency to getting started.

So.... our list and fun begins. Team car washes will happen as weather allows, and we'll post those on facebook. I'll be selling crocheted lap blankets, baby blankets and throws. Jason will hopefully have some copper crosses for sale, and maybe if we ask nicely, he will be able to make some soap.

Check out a couple of the upcoming fundraisers, some you can join in from anywhere in the USA!

For a simple donation of any amount, follow the link! This is a secure payment through Paypal, using a Debit or Credit card, if you don't have a paypal account.

Souper Bowl Sunday! 

If you are local to the Butler PA area, you can order Soup from us! Make your selection and pick up options at this Google form!

NATIONWIDE! Valentine's candy sales 

Sarris is a Pennsylvania chocolatier that makes delicious chocolate. Valentine's candy sales are underway and ship direct to you anywhere in USA!! Use Group ID 10-3221

My Trades of Hope website

I've loved learning about the artisans that make these products, mostly women who have been given an opportunity to learn a trade and to become independent, to send their children to school. Some have been rescued from trafficking situations or from forced labor. Check out the beautiful jewelry and other items, supporting those women and our mission trip! 25% of every sale will support our trip!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Compassion in new ways!

This has been on my mind to do for over a year now, and this week I joined Trades of Hope as a Compassionate Entrepeneur! What is that? you might ask!

Trades of Hope was started by 4 women who knew they could change lives! They find women and families in dire situations around the world and in USA, and give them an opportunity to change their own lives! Paid a fair price for their crafts, these women create beautiful accessories that we have the chance to enjoy! They are certified with Fair Trade, an organization that ensures the women are paid a fair price and work in reasonable conditions.These are women that have been living in forced labor, saved from sex trafficking, had to leave their children to earn money, or in similar dire circumstances. They are empowered to change their own lives--and one reason women are selected is that when one woman changes her life, on average she helps another 4 people do the same!

If you know me well, you know I am busy! And I frequently take on new projects and commitments. But one of my biggest passions is missions. I am currently planning my 5th trip to the Manuelito Project in Honduras in 2018, a refuge for children rescued from living on the streets. Trades of Hope, with their own mission to end poverty and empower women to change their life circumstances, is a perfect partner for me! It fits so well with my goals to make an impact in the world, and at the same time, I can raise money for my trips to the Manuelito Project in Honduras! All of my commissions will go to our missions trip!

Trades of Hope has beautiful jewelry, scarves, bags, Christmas ornaments and more! Perfect for Christmas shopping. Please check them out here!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Mission Trip recap

A short video recap as told by some members of the team....

Honduras Recap 2017 from Butler First Church on Vimeo.

For First Church members and friends, we will be hosting a Soup & Salad luncheon on Sunday, September 17 at noon. Here we will share more stories about the trip and about how the Manuelito Project is doing, as well as announcing 2 First Church missions trips for 2018: one back to Honduras, another within USA. Please RSVP if you are able to attend.

Friday, August 18, 2017

A successful week at the Project!

Where to begin?  This year's trip to the Manuelito Project was probably our best yet. We had a wonderful team, we worked well together, everyone had a wonderful heart for the children, and we got to experience some incredible moments together, as we saw God at work in Honduras.

Here's a video slideshow put together by Jason. The music is Julio Melgar - Estás Aquí. This was a beautiful theme song of the week, sung by the children to us on the last night, as well as during some of the morning devotionals. 

Over the next week or so, I will share a few stories, some more photos. In the meantime, I ask for prayers for the kids at the Project, for the staff & for new leaders, as well as for plans to begin for next year's trip!

Share with friends!