Thursday, February 12, 2015

Burma, The Brick Making Village & The Red Light District

During this visit, we were able to cross the border into Burma to visit one of the Life Impact Orphanages, the House of Hope.

Pictured below are two precious kids, brother and sister, who were recently rescued. Lana was showing some visitors "no-mans land" on the Thai / Burma border when she saw a man just about to hit that sweet girl with a metal pipe. Thank God for divine appointments, because Lana yelled out and was able to stop him. She was at the right place, at the right time. After some investigation, she found out their mom was cracked out and it was only a matter of time before these kids got sold to the wrong people. Lana and her Burmese team were able to intervene and Life Impact was able to take these sweet children into custody. Now, they are part of the Life Impact family and so happy. They both just had me hold them and I just prayed over them as I rocked them. 

Below is our team playing Sharks & Minnows with the kids. Complete chaos as you can see. haha!

A couple of the girls put thanaka on our faces. It's a type of makeup / sunscreen / cooling agent that Burmese use on their faces. It's made from a bark. These little girls had a blast putting it on our faces, and they literally slathered it on us.
We were also able to spend time at a brick making village to share the gospel, pass out food and tour the "factory". These people are some of the poorest of the poor out here and are practically slaves. Life Impact has been able to reach the other areas that they've been ministering to for the past few years, so it's time for them to find new villages to minister to. These people have never heard the gospel before and when we went, it was only the second time Life Impact had been there. 

They were so happy and grateful to have us. We came during their lunch break, and most of them came to listen and be blessed. There were so many children who work as brick makers and don't get to go to school so that they can help their families make some extra money. Some of these workers were as young as 5 or 6. It was nice to get to spend time with them. They were so excited to have us there. Life Impact will continue to do outreaches with them on a weekly basis and eventually have a church come in and help too, so that they can establish roots and a strong support system for this village. They will also be able to help educate the children so they can have a brighter future.

Here's the team passing out the food bags to the people.
This is a sweet girl that stole my heart. I won her over, because I gave her a lollipop, and  she quickly became my best friend.

Here's some of the children who work at the factory. 

Me and Stacey, one of my friends who traveled there with me. She's also the accountant for Life Impact and an amazing woman. 

It's important that we pray for these people, because they are a huge target for human traffickers, since they are poor and uneducated. That's why Life Impact puts so much effort into their prevention projects like this one.

The night before we left, Lana took us on a tour of the Red Light District in Bangkok. That's where women (and we saw kids too) are prostituted out and are often found in these "clubs" dancing. I felt sick to my stomach the whole time and had to hold back tears. I was scared at first, because you just feel an evil spirit when you are there. But I was quickly reminded of Psalm 23:4

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
Those girls just looked so dead when you looked at their eyes. Most of them were "pole dancing" but barely moving. You could tell they just gave up. Lana shared with us the process they go through that brings them to the point of breaking, so fearful. Being raped, tortured, beat, drugged and verbally abused, they become too afraid of the pimps to run away. Some girls came on their own will, don't ask me why. But we also saw many young girls who were obviously trafficked. And that's what some of these kids I've met have been saved from - having this terrible fate. I will never forget the look in these girls' eyes.

I know a lot of things I'm sharing in my blog are sad and might seem helpless. But, I want you to instead be encouraged that if we all do a little bit to help others, this world really will be a better place. If you can't go, then give or find out how you can help locally. Life Impact has a mantra, "Change a life, change the world." I love it, because it can often seem overwhelming, all of the people who need help. But, if you focus on using the gifts God has given YOU to help others, you can make a difference.

God bless you,

Monday, February 2, 2015

Working Hard in Thailand!

A couple of my days here in Thailand required much more physical work. A team of ten people arrived from Illinois on Sunday night, so Ashley and I joined forces with them to tackle a project on the property. There are 7 family style homes built so far and each one has a cement water tank. They all needed to be sanded, primed and painted. So, we got to work! Below is a picture of some of the team I got to work with. They were so much fun, I'm so glad I got to spend time with all of them. 

At night time, we enjoyed praise and worship together with the kids ages seven and up. Then they split into pre teens and teens for groups. The praise and worship is so incredible! A few of the teenagers and a couple Life Impact staff lead it. They pour out their hearts to God and it is so refreshing! When you are on their main property, called The Promised Land, there is such a peace and joy. Seeing what these children have been rescued from and then seeing them here happy, healthy, and praising God; I think it would be difficult even for an atheist to hold back praises to The Lord and Jesus. I am so thankful for the time I get to soak it all in. 

Another day, we went to visit a small village called Gate Two. It's a Burmese slum right on the Thailand/Bhurma border. Life Impact has a program called Supported Projects where they give food and supplies to families or individuals who can't support themselves. A lot of them are single moms who would otherwise be a huge risk for selling their kids if it weren't for the help. There was a large group of women who came to hear about the gospel and most received Jesus in their hearts. While part of our team was sharing with the women, the others were playing games with the kids and one of our interpreters shared a Bible story with them. 

Ashley and me in the village. 

There were a couple more small villages we got to visit to pass out food and minister to the people. It was such a humbling and awesome experience. We broke up into teams and would get to go into an individual's house. If they didn't know Jesus, we would tell them about him, while an interpreter translated. Then we would pray for them. There was one woman in a village that some of our team members were able to pray for. She was blind, but after they had finished praying for her, her sight was being restored. She said she couldn't see their faces when they approached her, but after they prayed for her, she could see their faces. People, God is still in the miracle business. We just need to step out in faith. I am so thankful for the time I got to spend with these people. 

Somewhere in the mix of these days, we got to go to a beautiful waterfall and have a picnic. 

After the water fall, we headed to the dump to pass out some tangerines and minister to people. The Life Impact team has been ministering to and helping the families at the dump for quite a while. So many of them know Jesus. But we were still able to pray for them and share Bible stories with them. 

I don't want to go into a bunch of details about how gross it is at the dump, because that's obvious. Our team was able to get past the smells and focus on what was most important. It definitely puts into perspective how much we are blessed with. Also, something I found really interesting - when I asked people what we could pray for them, not one of them said, "Please pray for me to get out of the dump and get a big house." Instead they asked for prayer for unsaved family members or maybe a health condition. 

Here are a couple of beautiful girls who I got to share with just how special they are to God and that they can pray to Him any time they need help. They are just a couple of the many children who have to dig through trash all day for recyclables instead of being able to go to school. They'll make about 3 cents a day. 

Here's another woman who lives at the dump. 

Below is a picture of Randall. He was with the team from Illinois. He walked down a steep area where some kids were by their houses to give them some food. This man didn't stop at heaps of trash or swarms of flies to reach out. He is a true man of God. It was such a pleasure to serve with this team from Illinois. 

Here's one more of a typical house that they live in. 

Here is the "lake" that they bathe in. It's filled with black snakes. 

I'm not showing you these photos to make you feel sad. I hope that instead it makes you feel empowered to do something to help others. We live such a selfish life in our comfort. You can make a difference by using the gifts that God gave you. Maybe that doesn't mean going to another country. Maybe you're supposed to help children learn to read or visit people in a retirement home. I don't know. But if you don't know, then I encourage you to spend time asking God and seeking out your purpose. You won't regret it. Also, know that this life is temporary. And while these people live in a slum now, most of them have accepted Jesus in their hearts and will spend eternity in the presence of God. 

God bless you all and thank you for your prayers. 


Friday, January 30, 2015

My First Few Days in Thailand

My Second Day in Thailand
A big part of why I'm here is because I'll be raising funds for a new property for a transition home that Life Impact needs for children that the government wants to hand over to us. These children can't just be put on the main property with the other kids, because they first need to be taught and healed of their past. Many of them have been passed around in a foster type system and need to be prepared mentally and emotionally for what it means to be part of a real family. A big part of that is not to hurt others. If they are immediately put onto the main property, the other children are at risk of getting hurt by them. Life Impact is the only organization over here that the government is approving to receive all of these orphan children. When receiving such a large volume of kids so quickly, it needs to be done carefully and correctly so that these children get the attention and healing they need. 

The price of property in this area has gone up dramatically over the past few years. And the board wanted Lana to get prices of different land before just pursuing one. So, we spent a good part of this day looking at different property and documenting details about it. It allowed Lana and I more time together for her to share more about the ministry together. 

A Little Tour
After that, One of the missionaries brought Ashley and I to "no-mans land" on the Thai/Bhurma border and then to the dump where many of the children are rescued. They are both large targets for human trafficking, because these families are homeless and absolutely the least of these. They just wanted us to see where many of those joyful kids came from so we could get our bearings. 

When you get to the Bhurma border, you'll see an area of brush and dirt area next to a river and then Bhurma is on the other side of the border. In the brush area live a population of homeless people including many children. Different families come and go from here. Because the parents are so poor and often strung out on crack, they will sell their children to the first person who offers, for just a few bucks. Those kids are then often put into child brothels or put on the street to beg for money until they are too old.  Life Impact's goal is to interfere with the human traffickers finding these children first. They do that best by doing outreaches in this area and building relationships with the people here. 

We walked along a paved path, looking over the river and I took a picture of what our view was. 

One of the buildings pictured is a women's brothel and one is a children's brothel. Men go to these places to rape them. These little girls and women are raped sometimes 10 times a day. I know you probably don't want to hear about that and it's not pleasant to think about, but people need to know what's going on. When I play with the children we've rescued, it's so hard to imagine the life they would've faced if someone didn't step in on their behalf.

After the border, we visited the dump where many families live and dig through the trash for recyclables. I'll try and write more about this later. In the meantime, here are some pictures.

Day 3
One of the most special things I've gotten to do in my time here so far is minister to the youth. I was asked to speak to the youth on Friday night and God put a message on my heart to share about reading the Bible and staying strong in the Lord. I shared about putting on the armor of God, emphasizing the importance of reading your Bible regularly. 

These children's are already giants in God's army. They are literally reaching a lost nation. One boy shared with me that when he started going to school, there were maybe 10 other children who were Christian. Now since the Life Impact youth have been going to that school, there are over 200 Christians children at the school who they have gladly shared with! 

When they do outreaches to children at the dump or in other areas, it is usually the children who share the gospel with them. When you live in an area where you don't know when you are going to eat your next meal and you don't even feel loved, it's a no-brainier when someone shares the love of God with you. That all you have to do is confess Christ as your Lord and accept him into your heart. That is why there is such radical moves of God, because the people are so hungry for it. And the people who have it want to share. 

These children are so bold and I loved being able to talk with them and encourage them. After I shared with them, I prayed for each of them individually. That was such a special time and I know many of them heard God speaking to them on a specific issue in their heart. These kids absolutely amaze me and it is such a privilege and blessing to be with them. 

Day 4
On Saturday, we went with some of our youth girls and passed out shoes at a different orphanage. I got to help find the right size for each kid. You can see in the picture below that this boy was wearing shoes that didn't fit him for quite a while. He is bowing, saying thank you. 

My time here has been such a blessing. The more I learn about what this ministry is doing, the more I am amazed. We have been able to spend a lot of time with the rescued children, just playing. 

I miss my family very much, but I know this is a special time in my life and one day I will get to share with my children about my time over here and how important it is to reach out to others. Please pray that my family stays healthy. Both Madison and Jacob have had their own battles with stomach issues. It's hard not being able to care for them. But I am able to Skype with them almost every day and pray for them. 

Thank you everyone for your continued prayers. 

God bless,

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Warm Welcome in Thailand

My heart is so filled with joy and hope after meeting the Amazing children rescued by the Life Impact International Team. These children have faced unimaginable situations, with the saddest part being that they were not loved. Not even by their own parents. But when I met them, the joy and love of God just radiated from them. That is the restoring power of Christ's love. 

Many of them were so excited to see Stacey, Ashley and me. They would run up to us, hug us, grab our hands to show us things. I loved every second! There was one girl in particular who reminded me of my daughter, Madison.
When I got out of the car, she immediately ran to me and into my arms. This two year old is a little "spitfire", as I call Madi sometimes. She has this super joyful spirit, but she has a look that tells you "No, my way". And you can tell that even though small, she has no problem holding her own. Since I don't speak Thai, I just did with her what Jacob and I often do with our own. I danced and jumped around with her, twirled her around, hugged her tight, and laughed. When I was spinning around with her, she kept saying, "again" in Thai - just like my daughter. I'm going to try and find out her rescue story, so u can share it. 

Before I came here, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to connect with the kids. But that has not been an issue at all. I am so thankful. 

An interesting thing happened while we were driving to the property on the main road, and it gives you an idea of how things are even for children with families. On our way, there were two boys walking along the road, probably 5 and 3. They weren't wearing shoes, which is a sign of poverty or lack of parents. These roads are not gentle and they are very hot. Yes, their feet are tougher than ours, because of this lifestyle, but their feet hurt too. Lana pulled up besides them, asked where they were going and offered to give them a ride. And they got in our truck with us. No worries. Do you see how easily these kids could get snatched? 

Ashley immediately grabbed her dried fruit slices and offered them to these two sweet boys. I saw this light of excitement flicker in the youngest boy's eyes. You could tell they were both hungry. Then, they drank up the water we gave them. The reality of these boys feeling hungry and thirsty most of the time filled me with sadness that made me have to turn away so they wouldn't see my eyes tearing up. 

We ended up taking them to the property with us and you would think we took them to Disneyland. They warmed up to the other kids immediately. They got to play and have fun on the playground equipment. And no, playgrounds are not something they have for kids in this area. So, you can imagine how exciting it would be. The younger boy even got to play on the zip line. 

The other children ate a meal with them and gave them some shoes. No, we couldn't just keep them on our property. Life Impact isn't in the business of stealing kids. We took them back to where they lived on our way home, and that also gave us an idea if they had parents or not. They live in a construction area and it seems that their parents are the workers. And when I say construction area, I mean a tin wall, half-built "building" with dirt floors. It was hard dropping them off, because you just know their life is "hard" and that they have much to endure. You just wish there was more you could do. But, for today, we were able to give them a super fun experience, food & water, and shoes. 

Today, Lana will be taking Ashley and me to the Thai/ Bhurma border, also known as no-man's land. This is where many of the children are rescued from. 

God bless you and I just want to encourage you to go out of your way and do something nice for someone. 


P.S. If you want to know how I got here, you can read my blog post "A New Adventure In Life". Here's the link to it: 

P.P.S. I'll try to take some pics with my Ipad so I can include them in the blog for you :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

A New Adventure in Life

Have you ever felt like there has to be more to life than working for the man and saving for the next thing? Or like your life could be more effective than just providing comfort for your own family? These are things that I think most people feel once in a while, but for me these feelings became like an itch I had to scratch.

Back in August of last year I really started to feel like there had to be more. I started contemplating what was most important in life and what I wanted the sum of my life to represent. I will hopefully have quite a few years ahead of me. So if I live purposefully, I can live the life that God intended for me and live beyond the comfort of every day life. Don't get me wrong, enjoying my family and working together with my husband to care for our kids is so fulfilling in itself. I'm not trying to downplay the importance of that. I just felt like I could do more. I wanted to be content with what I have and get the focus off of myself. This is easier said than done. I couldn't make that mental switch on my own.

Lucky for me, I go to an amazing church who had a women's Bible study last fall. The study was based around the book A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study by Jen Hatmaker. This study opened my eyes to reading the Bible and having a passion for it. I learned how to get so much more out of my time reading the Bible and apply it to where God was leading me. This Bible study was important, because my time in the Word backed up a journey I was just beginning. It ties in with me being able to focus more on what God wants than what I want myself. I could talk about this alone for quite a while, but I'll summarize with this verse I came across that helped me change my mindset.

Romans 8:5 "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."

I saw this verse as a promise. I could in fact have my mind set on what the Spirit of God desires, I just had to start living in accordance with the Spirit. That means reading my Bible, praying more, time in praise and worship, etc. And doing it seeking the Spirit, not just mindlessly. And in fact, the more I was doing this, the more my mind stopped caring so much about comfort and truly began seeking what God wanted for my life and being sensitive to where the Spirit was leading me.

Around the same time I started this Bible study, I saw a Facebook post from my friend, Lana, who started a ministry about 14 years ago. It's called Life Impact International and they rescue children in Thailand from human trafficking. They now have over 120 kids on their property who they have rescued and are raising up. They have been so close to my heart ever since I met Lana when I was 16 at my youth group. She posted on Facebook a picture of a property they would like to buy but didn't have the money for. I knew this property would mean more rescued children. I messaged her my idea for how we could raise the funds for the property and that I would help.

Since then, it has been a complete whirlwind! I started helping out in their home office in Simi Valley and when Lana came to the states in December, she made time to have lunch with me. That in itself was such a gift. She is one of those people who just radiates the love of God. Through that lunch, I shared my heart for the ministry and another idea I had for a fundraiser - a Masquerade Silent Auction Banquet. Lana and Stacey, the ministry's accountant, loved the idea. After tons of laughter and sharing, they invited me out to go to Thailand at the end of January for 2 weeks!

 After talking with my husband and lots of prayer, we both agreed that it was right for me to go and he could handle our kids while I was away. So, here I am leaving for Thailand tonight with Stacey and Ashley, Lana's cousin, to get a hands on experience of this ministry, help out, and come back with an even greater passion to tell people about what they are doing over there. I can barely believe it! It's so amazing where God will lead you when you let him and the peace he will give you to move forward.

I'll be blogging about my experience, hopefully while I'm over there too. You can subscribe by email in the right hand column if you'd like to know when I post something new.

I hope that this post inspired you even a little to see how you can live outside of your comfort zone or make time to help someone else.

Lots of love,

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Our New Life With The Twins

Mine and Jacobs lives have drastically changed over the past couple months, but definitely for the better. In May I gave birth to our adorable babies - Madison and Grayson. It has been an absolute whirlwind since, but definitely the good kind :)

When I was pregnant and first found out we were having twins, I probably could've been admitted freaked out a little. I couldn't wrap my brain around what it would be like to have two babies needing my constant attention. Basically, it just sounded like a lot of work. But by the end of my pregnancy, I was looking forward to meeting them. And now, I can't imagine my life without them. We are having so much fun! Yes, it's a lot of "work" keeping up with them. However, it doesn't feel like a burden as I thought it would. I just do it and can't stop looking at their cute little faces in the process.

I have been out and about with them quite a bit. Wouldn't you get out ASAP if you were on bed rest for 10 weeks? We visit with family a lot and I have a mom's group I'm a part of through my church. Overall, we have a great support system. And I think that makes all the difference. Jacob and I wanted to make sure that we didn't allow having babies to put too much stress on our relationship. So, we've actually been able to go out on a few dates already. Thank you to our family for that!

I get asked a lot of questions about the twins, so I thought I would answer some common ones for everyone.

Q: How big were they when they were born?
A: Madison was 4lbs. 13oz; Grayson was 5lbs. 4 oz.

Q: Are they identical?
A: No. lol - they're a boy and a girl. So, thank God they're not identical!

Q: Do you get any sleep?
A: Yes, there are definitely some tough nights. But I usually average 7 hours a night. It's getting easier now that they sleep for at least one 4-hour stretch during the night.

Q: Do you breastfeed?
A: Yes - no I'm not going to go into a bunch of detail about it here on my blog.

Q: How did you fit them in there?
A: Through the grace of God - I could barely walk by the end.

Q: Did you have them naturally?
A: No, I had a c-section and I'm so glad I did.

Here's a couple pics of the little love bugs for you.

Grayson at one month

Madison at one month
I'm trying to be better about posting on my blog. But, no guarantees. So, I hope you enjoy this little update for now. :)

Baby Bump Photo Shoot

About a month before I had the babes, Jacob and I were able to get a pregnancy photo shoot done. My good friend Lacey took the photos. Her hubby is an amazing photographer and they actually did our wedding photos too. If you ever need a photographer for anything, I would absolutely recommend them. His website is

We took the photos right before sunset in Newbury Park near Portrero Road. They have some of the most beautiful outdoor settings around there. I am so happy with how the photos turned out. To me, they really portray this special milestone in mine and Jacob's lives and show a celebration of our love for each other and our new additions. I hope you enjoy them.

I hope you enjoyed them! :) Have a wonderful day!