Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Kioko: The Ripple Effect

Last year, God laid Kioko on our hearts! He is in The James 1:27 sponsorship program and his family desperately needed a new home!

Their home was literally falling apart and his mother was in poor health. He was so stressed about his home situation that it was difficult for him to concentrate and do well in school!

 Of course, because we are moms, ourselves, that did not sit well with us knowing a boy couldn't do well in school because he was so worried about his mama in his dilapidated old house while he was away! We were compelled to join God and raise money through The Orange Bird Shop to help them out!

Through the sales from the shop and with the help of our friend, Kelly, who also raised money to help us meet our goal, we were able to donate all the money for the supplies for his new home!  The James 1:27 folks got to work and now his family is moved in and are able to move on to bigger and better things in life!

We received this letter from Kioko. (If you shopped with us, you are included in that "to whom I know" part! How about that??!!)

As usual, we only see a part of the plan that God has in this work. We saw a house that needed fixing but He was also looking after another young man that we didn't even know about! Kioko's brother, Vincent, was part of the ripple effect! The following is part of an email that we received. Not only did Kioko benefit from a new home, but so did his siblings and mother!! The James 1:27 Project is about bringing hope to the hopeless and now Vincent has hope because of the good work the Project is doing in Machakos!!  

From a distance Vincent looked very withdrawn but our visit on this Saturday would make all the difference in his life. James 1:27 had at the time only had supported his brother Kioko. Having dropped out of school because he couldn’t afford school fees, he had very few words to say. Hopelessness and despair was written all over his face. Neither the arrival of the James team meant anything for him. James 1:27 project came through for him and paid his school fees and he has since resumed school.

During a visit by the James 1:27 team to the school, the school management is full of praise for a child who most times was lost in thoughts and could hardly concentrate in school, a boy who was constantly out school.  He has since become a very hardworking boy, very committed to the studies and become an inspiration to the younger boys who are in similar situation.

 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Francisca: The Ripple Effect

Let us share a story with you...
There was a woman in Kenya with 3 sons and a husband. She lost her husband to AIDS and became infected (along with their youngest son) with HIV. Her husband's family blamed her for his death and ostracized her and their boys. They kicked her out of her home and banished her to a small piece of property way outside of town, where there was a little home that falling apart. The woman had no means to care for herself or her sons. It was a pretty hopeless situation. Her name was Francisca and she was praying for a miracle.
God chose to answer her prayers through The James 1:27 Project. It is an organization in her area that cares for widows and orphans. The folks at The James 1:27 Project told their supporters about her need and we knew that God was calling us to do something about it. With the sales from our shop, we were blessed to raise enough money to fund a new home for the family.

The house was built and our second task was to fund a cistern for the family to have drinking water readily available. Somehow, once again, God worked out a way for our little shop and a sweet young friend to have enough sales to fun that, as well!

That is a great story in our book, but it turns out that it was just the beginning! In the process of planning and building the home, Francisca and her husband's family were able to do some reconciling. Some healing began through the process. She was filled with hope for a future!  In the mean time, an idea had taken root in The James 1:27 Project. They wanted to begin a sewing program that would teach women the skill of sewing and would enable the group to provide school uniforms at a cheaper rate to the children in their program. It would also enable the women to make and sell uniforms to other families whose children needed them for school, which would provide some income for the women!  Guess who had sewing skills and needed a job? That's right...Francisca!! 

She now proudly shows up to the little pink sewing house....

and helps other women find hope, like she found!! 

Isn't God amazing?!!! 
Francisca is proof that God hears our desperate prayers...

 and has a plan for our good when we turn to Him!  

Francisca in her own words:
“It's unbelievable, who would have thought that one day I would be a teacher. The death of my husband meant end of the world i wanted to end my life too but what about my children? I thank God for the gift of children they gave me a shoulder to cry and lean on and work harder...”

We are so honored to be a part of Francisca's story!  We remember when we thought that God was asking a little much for two stay at home moms to accomplish. What we realized is when HE lays something on our hearts and asks us to step out in faith, HE will make it happen. We just have to be obedient. We know that we can't help everyone, but like Mother Teresa said... 

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

When you shop with us, you are changing lives. We just wanted to say, "Thank you!"

Monday, June 30, 2014

Handmade Baskets from the James 1:27 Widows!

Many of you, our Orange Bird supporters and partners, have inquired about purchasing baskets made by the Widows in the James 1:27 Project. We are excited to tell you we have received a handful of these beautiful Kamba masterpieces!
Our Oklahoma friend, Don, made a trip to visit the Project in May, returning with an update and encouragement.  These women want to be a part of their own solution, using all the talent and resources God has given them. The Project is constantly working with them towards being self-sustaining.

Widows and Kamba baskets....
   These are a traditional craft and are used in everyday life to carry and store food and other things.  The Project bought them directly from the ladies who made them, and we are selling them here for a profit, 100% going directly back into the James 1:27 account.  

The eight baskets pictured here are currently available in The Shop. There are plans forming now for a return trip to Kenya in early August. If they are able to bring baskets home, we plan to make them available for purchase as you all begin to think about Christmas!
A few have even been autographed by their artists....
What a pleasure to partner with these creative souls, our sisters in Christ...
Above all, giving thanks to He who does more than we can ask or imagine!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Next Thing In Front Of Us

It can be overwhelming trying to determine God's will. I tend to look at the big picture and when you are a big picture person, it is tempting to think that the challenge you face is just too insurmountable! God has been speaking to my heart about how to handle this "overwhelmingness." I don't have to figure it all out. I just have to do the first thing he tells me...then the next....and so on until the challenge is met. I love this quote I read. It confirms that thought...

...rest with the thought that God’s plan for me might, just might, involve me doing the next thing in front of me, day after day, for years to come. -Tsh Oxenreider

Meet Kioko. He has a BIG problem.

His house is crumbling and the rainy season is coming.

 His mother is ill and unable to care for him and his siblings. He lost his father, presumably to AIDS. He has more worries in his teenage brain than I can imagine. He is being sponsored through The James 1:27 Project for school costs, some basic needs, etc. But this house problem is bigger than their budget allows. That is where we come in. God has laid on our hearts the work of raising money to build them an adequate home.

All of our profits (except from the minion goodies) from The Orange Bird Shop are going towards building Kioko and his family a new home. It is a GIANT challenge. It is a good thing that we have a God that is over all. We are just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other (or maybe one stitch in front of the other) until we accomplish this work that He has laid on our hearts! Please check out the shop and see if anything strikes your fancy. Also, we frequently do special orders...just email us and ask!! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

House Update and Clean Water for Francisca's Family!!! {James 1:27 Project}

Friends, we are so excited to share some happy news we got this weekend! 

For those of you who have just joined us on our Orange Bird adventure, I will quickly recap what we have been doing...

We became aware of The James 1:27 Project and specifically a woman in Kenya, named Francesca (which we recently discovered is spelled Francisca...one of those lost in translation things!) Anyway, she is a widow with HIV and a mother to 3 boys, the youngest of which is also HIV positive. She was shunned by her husband's family after his death and lost her home and property. She and the boys were forced to live in a 10' x 12' mud hut with no close access to water. 

The Lord laid this woman, her sons and her need for an adequate shelter on our hearts. The folks from The James 1:27 Project (including Birdie's Dad!) saw the situation first hand and made a plan for expanding her home.

It seemed impossible with only a little online shop and handmade goodies to accomplish funding such a big project, but as we found out...God does His best work when we put one foot in front of the other and simply obey. With Him all things are possible!

We were able, with the help of our customers and supporters, to raise the money and we watched from the other side of the globe, via email as Francisca's house went from a tiny mud shack....

to a larger house structure...

to a mud house with a metal roof.

As the builders were working on her home, another need became apparent. They needed access to clean water. They were having to walk a half a mile to get to a water source and then carrying the water back in a jug. They needed a water cistern system to catch and store rain water. So, we were on to a new mission! This time, we were helped by a girl, named Callie. She loves to make necklaces and loved the idea of crafting with a purpose!! {Our kind of gal!!} Her mom, Heather, who has been a great cheerleader for us in our Orange Bird efforts, suggested we partner up and Callie got to work crafting and selling her jewelry! Her contribution towards the water cistern project made a significant dent in our goal and we made up the rest with profits from The Orange Bird Shop! 

This past weekend, we received an email with some great pictures! One of these water cisterns was for Francisca's family!! 

Here is the tank in front of her house...which is no longer a mud hut, but has been finished out with stucco and a cement entry porch!!!!

Friends, I cannot tell you how humbled Birdie and I feel to be a part of something so life changing for this family. I mean...just blown away. And if you bought anything in our store, you should know that you, also, played a part in this family's new home and access to clean water!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!

This is my one of my favorite text conversations Birdie and I have ever had...

God allowing us to play a part in expressing HIS love to others is just about more blessing than we can handle sometimes! What a privilege!!!!

This Christmas season, we are continuing out support of The James 1:27 Project. If you purchase anything in our shop, all the profits go towards truly life changing things!! Let's work together to accomplish some big things for other people!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

So Much Good Stuff! {The James 1:27 Project}

The following is part of an email we received from Don and Betsy Meeker, the founders of The James 1:27 Project. They just returned from Kenya! We thought you might want to read about some of the great work going on there!

Work done during our visit:
1. Home visits:  These were unannounced visits that allowed us to see the daily lives of some of the caregiving widows and the children in their care. These ladies were delightful people who were upset that they had not had time to prepare tea for us.  Meshack, Elizabeth, and community volunteers make these visits regularly.  They offer an opportunity for more intimate conversation than is possible at the group meetings.

2. School visits:  We met with principals and teachers at 2 of the schools that most of the children of the project attend.  They were very receptive and positive about the James project and clearly respected Meshack and Elizabeth.  They offered help in determining what expenses we could best fund and showed us progress of the project's children.  

3.  Meeting: Bringing all the widows, children, community volunteers, and Meshack, Elizabeth, Pastor Justus, and us together was a great way to spend a day!  Don, Meshack, and Justus encouraged the widows to help one another (Proverbs 28:3 A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain that leaveth no food) and discussed more ideas for income generating home enterprises such as raising rabbits for meat.  Elizabeth and Betsy met with the older children and encouraged them to do well in school and set the goal of attending college and pursuing dreams.  

We presented each household a mattress and blanket.  Many of the children sleep directly on the floor. 

Everyone shared a hearty Kenyan meal of rice, chapati (flat bread), and stew, and then the children were given individual gifts such as crayons, pencils, and hygiene items.  We had promised the ladies before our trip that we would buy any baskets they made in time for the meeting.  There were 35 beautiful Kamba baskets waiting for us.  These are a traditional craft and are used in everyday life to carry and store food and other things.  We bought them directly from the ladies who made them, and we are selling them here for a profit, all of which goes into the James 1:27 account.  

4.  Attended local church.  Pastor Justus invited Don to speak at the Sunday service.  He taught 1 Corinthians 13, the true definition of love, and how it should be expressed by helping neighbors in need.  There was lots of great song and dance.  Eight of the project's children attend this church.  

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rain Water Cistern Mission Accomplished {The James 1:27 Project}

This is Francesca and her 3 sons. They live in Kenya and are being aided by The James 1:27 Project. Through God's grace and generous customers, we were able to provide the funds for a house for her and her family. She knows that her help comes from the Lord, as her favorite verse states! We love that! 

After her home was completed, the next goal for The Orange Bird was to provide a rain water cistern system for her home. The closest water source is a half a mile walk there and half a mile back. We are so thrilled to tell you that we have reached that goal and are donating the money to The James 1:27 Project for the system!! God is so good!

We hope that when they are able to use the water that is stored up for them, they will think of John 7:37-39a when Jesus tells the crowd that is listening to Him teach, " 'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." By this He meant the Spirit'... God wants to satisfy His people's spiritual thirst with the refreshment of His Spirit, whether those people are in small town America or Machakos, Kenya or anywhere else. We are His and He loves us. YOU are His. He loves YOU.