Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Would you recognize America's Homeless?

Do we really know what "HOMELESS" looks like?
I was leading a bible study several years ago and wanted to teach my ladies group to appreciate their lives a little more and, frankly, to get them to take their eyes off of their own problems that seemed to be the center of their world. While, granted, some of them did have problems in this world, as we all do at times, it ALWAYS helps, without fail, to encounter those less fortunate than ourselves. When I say encounter, I don't mean run across a news story or pass a homeless person on the side of the road. When I say encounter I mean sit next to, talk to, ask one his life story, hold a little child, wipe snot from that little child and love that little child, realizing that they may not have been shown love for some time.

So my group shows up for what they thought was our normal bible study and told them all to go pile in my suburban....we were going for a ride. I had done this before with my own children when they would start acting rotten and it worked wonders to open their eyes to things other than their own wants and needs. I had the same plan in mind for this group of ladies. We head downtown and I am looking for the homeless on the side of the streets and they are no where to be found. I had baked bread and brought coffee and we were going to pass it out to them. Someone on the side of the road finally suggested that we go to the womens shelter up the road. Well I had no idea there even was such a thing. We drove and found The Family Life Center. I had never been there before and was only here this time merely by chance and the advice from someone on the streets. We all piled out of my suburban and by this time it was around 8 oclock at night. We knocked on the locked door and someone came to the door and saw us standing there with all of our snacks and coffee and hesitantly waved us in at such an hour when everyone was settling down for the night. They sent us to the back room where they told us to wait for the women to come down for a late night snack. As we walked down the hallway I glanced into the chapel and saw rows and rows of women sleeping on the hard pews. Once in the back room, I sat and waited with anticipation. ALL of the women with me had never been around homeless women before and I had only been around the ones that lived on the streets. So I think we all had our own ideas of what sterotype of a homeless woman was going to round the corner and eat our snacks. I could tell that we all were a little uncomfortable and completely out of our comfort zone. Most of us lived in middle class suburban communities and many would not be there had I not surprised them with our little downtown drive.

I heard footsteps coming down the hallway. They seemed to be small footsteps and they were running. When they entered the room, I was in complete and utter shock. These little footsteps were from about 10-15 children. They came in hurredly in anticipation of what snacks lay before them that they had been told to come down and eat. Many of them received their snacks and then graciously crawled up into our laps for love and attention. They had great big smiles on their faces as they ate the bread and the cookies that we brought. I quickly realized that we did not bring enough as it was gone in about 2 minutes.

As I watched these children who seemed to be filled with life and love and a sense of hope regardless of their surroundings I was so utterly and completely humbled. How can we complain about our lives and the inconviences that we have when there can stand a homeless child in front of us and greet us with a great big grin when he doesn't know where he will lay his head down at night and when he will get his next meal? What is it that these children know that we do not?
Jesus talked about it....
Matthew 11:25
[ Rest for the Weary ] At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

As I looked around the room, I noticed every one of the girls that I brought with me were having a one on one conversation with a homeless mother as she struggled through the shame to tell her story simply because someone cared enough to ask. These women were not what anyone invisioned. These women had children. These women had a name and a story and a heart that had been broken from despair of not knowing how to care for not only themselves but their children as well. These women had no one in the world who seemed to care. These women were desperate.

We said our goodbyes and loaded back up in my suburban and headed back to the reality that we all knew. The car was very quiet and everyone seemed to be in a sense of shock from what we just witnessed. We all had pictures in our minds of the little faces that we left behind as we headed back to our homes and our loving families and our warm bed. What was it that we were feeling at that time?
James 2
1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself,"a]">[a] you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

It is completely amazing how what you don't know can hurt you, it can keep you blinded to the truth that is right in front of you. Are we blinded or do we choose to keep the blinders on?

We left there changed that night. Everyone left with great appreciation of the blessings in their lives as the focus was lifted off of themselves and onto another. That is the key!

Now fast forward about 4-5 years....I am now very comfortable going into the shelter. I look forward to what opportunities lay there because I run across someone who seems to be planted right in my path who needs to be blessed in some way EVERY time. I head down the other day to the homeless shelter to lead a bible study for the homeless women. I run across some of the most precious children and hand them a marker and a single piece of paper. I get their mom's consent and I have them write the sentence "I need a Hero." for a future video that I am putting together.
They graciously did as I asked and wrote the sentence and held it up for me to take their picture. I did this to show what adorable kids live in the shelter and really do need a Hero to come in a make a difference in their life.
They were very sweet and yet had a sense of uncertainess about them.

After I took their picture I turned and started talking to their mothers. When I turned around they were all drawing again back on the paper that they had written the sentence on. They were adding their own touches. They were decorating it with what was inside their hearts. Their little spirits started to shine through. This was something they did completely on their own without any prompting from me or anyone else.
As their one little sentence started to turn into an expression of themselves, I noticed that they became more at ease and started warming up to me and laughing and really enjoying this one moment that they stood with a marker and a piece of paper and drew like children do, which ends up being the expressions of their heart.

Here is this little girl that lives with her mother in a homeless shelter and has nothing to call her own and yet when given the opportunity to express herself she draws a heart, a flower and a smiley face.

These children have no less imagination, dreams and desires for their own lives then our own children do.

When given love....when given attention....there is no telling what will blossom out of them that would have otherwise stayed buried.
These girls have only known each other for a few days and yet they seem to have a bond. They seem to cling to their friendship in this time of uncertainty when they both have found the same familiar ground to rest their heads when their worlds are so different.
Who knows how long they will be there.

Who knows how this time in their lives will impact them.
Who knows if these girls will remain friends or what their futures hold.
But one thing they teach all of us....God never intends for us to walk our journey alone. He never intends for us to get overcome by our circumstances. There is always someone who can give hope, or simply just be a friend whether for a few days or for a lifetime. When you have someone to walk along side you, they tend to carry the load with you and it makes it so much easier to bare. That is what these girls do for each other. That is what an Ordinary Hero can do for them. That is what Jesus does for us. And in the matter what the reality looks like....there is joy.
Lord help us learn from them.

Matthew 18:3

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Another Ordinary Hero

Check out our friend's, Ken and Kelly's, Gotcha Day Video. What an amazing adventure to bring home their precious daughter from China. The song "Change the World" was written and sung by Tommy Sims and he sang this special version for them at their fundraiser just before they left for China to join her to their forever family.

This is one example of what an Ordinary Hero looks like.

If you don't feel like silencing the music at the bottom of the page then you can click here to go right to youtube and watch it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

OH is on Facebook...Come Join.

We are excited to announce that OH has a facebook group. This a great way to connect with others who are like minded when it comes to helping a child in need. We invite you to join our fb group of ordinary heroes and share your ideas, comments and topics of discussion as we all lock arms to help a child in need and make a difference in today's generation.

So what are you waiting for? Join facebook if you haven't already and come find us :) We are listed under the name 'Ordinary Hero'.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We Can All Make A Difference

There are children in need all over the globe. We are all put on this earth to make a difference and to leave our mark before our work here is through. I just received an email from a friend with some great reminders for us all. I thought I would share.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

It is amazing when you know what you have been called to do. I have known since I was a child that I had a calling to serve children, and be the voice that some of them do not have. Voice =to give utterance or expression to; declare; proclaim: to voice one's discontent. I am honored to serve our children and be one of many that have decided to make it our life’s mission.

More than 13 million children in America are poor, but they live in working families. A disproportionate number are Black and Latino. Poor children lag behind their peers in many ways beyond income: They are less healthy, trail in emotional and intellectual development, and are less likely to graduate from high school. Poor children also are likely to become the poor parents of the future. Every year that we keep children in poverty costs our nation half a trillion dollars in lost productivity, poorer health and increased crime.

Many African children go to sleep on empty stomachs; walk over 5 miles every day to get to a “shed” called school; and sit through class hungry because he or she did not eaten in days. Several of the children have to leave school early, risking their education, to sell fruits and goods at the market, just so their family can eat one solid meal for the day. This can definitely cause a child to live of life of no hope or even second chances? This is the story of many everyday African children.

God, we have pushed so many of our children into the tumultuous sea of life in small and leaky boats without survival gear and compass. Forgive us and help them to forgive us. Help us now to give all our children the anchors of faith and love, the rudders of purpose and hope, the sails of health and education, and the paddles of family and community to keep them safe and strong when life’s seas gets rough. Marian Wright Edleman (The Sea is so wide and my Boat is so Small)

For the rest of my life I will continue to pray for a world in which all individuals, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, can reach their full potential and contribute to the well-being of their family, their community, and their nation. People of all countries and cultures share both the desire for a better life and the power to create one.

Please do your part to ensure that the next generation of children will not be left behind.

Yolanda Conley Shields
Adassa Adumori Foundation

Monday, July 20, 2009

Who Will Speak Up?

Proverbs 31:8
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

What does the above scripture mean to you? Do you often wonder what speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves looks like? Do you want to do something to help but don't know what to do?

With millions of orphans who wait for a family in this world, there is a problem. We are not speaking up as loud as we could be. There is something that we are missing, that we have not tapped into yet that will make a world of difference to a world of orphans.

We have found a simple way to Speak Up that has been proven to work. It does not cost a penny and waiting children are getting adopted as easy as a click away.

It works like this... You join our Speak Up Campaign which only involves you sending us your email address. We then send you a weekly email with waiting children's pictures attached. You forward the email to your contact list of people you feel would be interested in considering the child for adoption or advocating for the child. THAT'S IT. Someone in your contact list thinks of someone they think might like to consider the child for adoption or advocate for the child and they forward it on. The next thing you know a child is being chosen for adoption and God used you as a tool to connect the waiting child to his/her forever family. There is nothing in this world more rewarding then knowing that you played an important role in speaking up for a child that cannot speak for himself and because you did, that child now has a home and a family. So the question is...Who will send the blessed email? There is an email waiting to be sent that holds a child's picture in it that will stir the heart of another. That child will be just what their heart has been waiting for. Who will send it?
This is so simple and yet I have seen it work every time I have ever tried it.

Let's all link arms for these children who wait...and wait...and wait for their family to come. If you lean toward a certain country to advocate for then feel free to speak up. This is something we can all do to make a difference in the life of a child in need. You can be an Ordinary Hero just by speaking up. Let's speak LOUD!! More waiting children will be added to our site soon.

Contact us at to join the list of advocating heroes. Let's Speak UP!

New OH Button :)

I am excited to announce that thanks to a wonderful blog friend and her computer tech husband, I have a new button that will lead people to our ordinary hero site. Please consider adding this button to your blog as we hope to spread the word and let as many eyes fall on these waiting children as possible. These are children waiting....some are waiting for a family, some are waiting for a friend, some are waiting for hope in a hopeless situation. We can all make a difference in the life a child in need. Let's spread the word.

Many thanks to April who stepped up and donated her services to our organization by volunteering to create the button for us. You are awesome!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Calling Ordinary Heroes

Our brains are swirling around here with all kinds of ideas to help children in need we are getting ready to launch. I really do thank those of you who have written in and expressed ways that you would like to get involved. My goal with Ordinary Hero is to get each one of you who wants to serve involved in our organization using your gift. We all are gifted in some way. Even if you don't feel you have a gift, but your heart really tugs toward a certain area of need, that is where God wants to use you. We hope to help as many children in need as we can through Ordinary Hero but we also hope that by doing that, we unleash all kinds of gifts and desires in the ordinary people of this world who have longed to help in one way or another but have not found their calling or an outlet to do so.

A couple of needs off the bat that I am going to throw out there.....

1. If those of you in the adoption world feel that your agency would be willing to allow our site to post their waiting children then let me know. I have had a request for Haiti children and HIV+ children as well as American children.

2. If any of you locals in the Nashville/Brentwood area know of a storage facility that could be donated to our cause then please email me. We are in need of a place to store donated items that will be used to furnish homes for the moms and her children that leave the homeless shelter and move into a home. Most of them move with no belongings at all and are in great need of furnishings. We have found kids sleeping on the floors. So we need a place to store the stuff...REALLY BAD.

Please email me at if you can help in any way or have any ideas about the needs that I posted. I will be posting about our different projects coming up asap.

Thank you for being an Ordinary Hero.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Waiting Children in Rwanda

I have gotten a great response from the news stories that aired regarding our nonprofit, Ordinary Hero. I am very excited about the people who want to jump on board to help children in need. I am putting together outreach projects at the moment in between designing my nonprofit website(1st time I've ever done this), advocating for children and more children, carting my own 7 children around for the summer and chasing down my dog, literally every day from the neighbors because he has turned into such a scaredy nerd from the 4th of July fireworks and still hasn't gotten over it and just keeps running off. I can't complain though. I love it all even if it is a lot of work.

I am VERY excited about introducing the new WAITING CHILDREN FROM RWANDA.
These kids are so precious. There are the two sisters, above and the two pics below. There are two individual girls below them. There are two individual boys below them. Next there is a sibling group of 5, yes I said 5, and they are AWESOME! They include a set of adorable twin boys, a girl who is the oldest and a two year old baby brother. Then there is a set of boy/ girl siblings. There is also a boy from Bulgaria which is the next country I am introducing in the next day or so. I have three or 4 kids from there.

We need to rally together here people!! Spreading the word is how these kids are getting adopted....that and prayer. So start praying and start sending people to to check out these new little ones that are waiting for their Ordinary Hero to arrive and bring them home. You can read their bios on the site. I seriously believe that all of us together combining our faith and our address book will find these kiddos forever families. I have seen it happen too many times.

I need a base of people to stand with me and I thank all of you who have already agreed to stand with us in our advocating efforts. Yall are awesome!! I can't wait to share the good news of who is getting adopted. And don't forget the last list of kiddos from Ethiopia. Make sure to check them out and pray over the ones who are not chosen yet.

I have a button you can add to your blog that directs people to our OH site coming soon from a sweet blog friend offering her services. Can't wait!!

Now you can go to and check out these kiddos.

And if you haven't really felt the call to adopt yet don't feel guilty. Everything is in God's timing. But I must say you have to watch my sister's Gotcha Day video. It certainly will at least put a lump in your throat, and grab your tissues for you softies out there. This is what the miracle of adoption looks like.


What an Ordinary Hero!!!

I had to post this video of my sister receiving her little Lucy Lane in ET last month. I am very proud of her and her family and the journey they began to make sure that Lucy Lane found her forever family. She is a blessed child and they are a blessed family. They are a true Ordinary Hero in every sense of the word. I am so thrilled beyond words that I was able to travel with her and witness such a miracle.

(You might want to silence the music at the bottom of my page to watch this video.)

Click HERE to go directly to the link or you can watch it below.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Great News!!!

These three waiting children I have gotten confirmation about getting chosen off of the waiting child list that I posted on my blog just over a week ago. Praise God they are going home!! I could not be more thrilled and feel more blessed by how God is using our efforts to spread the word about the waiting children. There are more praises like this to come.

I also have a new set of waiting children that I am putting together right now. They will be on my ordinary hero site soon. Stay tuned....they are just precious.

Fox News Story...Part 2

Wow!! I am so excited and impressed by the news story that Fox News and Stacy Case did on our new nonprofit, Ordinary Hero. She did such a great job. If you would like to see the second night, Part 2 of that story then CLICK HERE. If you missed Part 1 and need to watch that first then CLICK HERE. We are so blessed and honored to have gotten that coverage. Please continue to check out our site at as we will continue to add new things. I am preparing a list of needs and ways people can help right now and should have that up soon.

Again, thank you all for your support. I hope everyone finds their calling as an Ordinary Hero.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I am so thrilled to announce that all of the previous waiting children that I posted about are being inquired about for adoption. I will post when it is actually official. In the meantime I am also thrilled to announce that we have more adorable waiting children on our Ordinary Hero site. Hop over there and check them out. I can't wait to see who God has chosen for these little ones and their forever families. I am honored to be able to advocate for them through our site.

Ordinary Hero on Fox News

A Special thanks goes out to Stacy Case with Fox News for highlighting our nonprofit in tonight's piece. She did a great job and I can't wait to see the conclusion in tomorrow nights Fox News @ 9 piece. Our hope is that many, many eyes are opened to the needs of children right here in our own backyard and also across the globe. We then hope that people's hearts are stirred to action as they themselves discover that they can be an Ordinary Hero to a child in need.

Look at this as a call to action.....Will the Ordinary please rise?

To view the Fox News story that aired tonight CLICK HERE.


Prayer Changes Things

The above picture represents God's Color. We see that above all, prayer changes things. I ask those of you who feel called to pray.....PRAY. When you see a need arise on this blog or on the OH site please lift it up in prayer. Prayer is a way that we can all give back. It is a free gift and above all else, it changes things. I especially ask for your prayers for the Waiting Children. As you see us post new children please pray for them to be connected with their forever family through adoption. I have seen great things come from this. For example, there are waiting children sitting with no one looking into adopting them. Then, we put out information about them and it not only has people reviewing them but it gets people praying for them. The two combined....prayer mixed with those God would lead to look at them.....gets them adopted. It works, It is Awesome!!

Please sign up to follow this Blog if you feel called to stand with us in prayer. You will be notified when there are new posts.

Thank you.

Goodbye for Now, Ethiopia

Our final day in Ethiopia was kind of bittersweet. We were both ready to see our families and yet I was trying to take in everything around me, not knowing when I would be back. This world compared to America....well, there is no comparison and yet these people only dream of America and what it could possibly be like.
My sister took Lucy into her old room to say one last goodbye to her special mothers. IT WAS SO SAD. Seriously, I hate goodbyes more than anything. These mommas loved this little girl. I didn't think the one below was ever going to give her back. You can only imagine how they become bonded to these children. They tend to their every need and and love on them as if they are their own for months. Then that day comes when they have to say goodbye to that sweet face, knowing that they will probably never see her again. How do you say goodbye like that? Well, they do it quite often and I'm sure it never gets any easier.

Out in the courtyard on our way out the gates for that last time we find the children playing as usual. I am trying to take in everything that I am getting ready to leave behind. I am reminded again what a miracle in itself it is that these children were set apart. They not only have a future and a hope but most of them also had a family member, whether it be mom, dad, grandmother, uncle, aunt, who took that giant leap of faith to release that child into the custody of the unknown all in hopes that the child can live a better life....a life that even they themselves have never known but only dreamed about. It is a sacrifice that includes the one thing that I mentioned that is so painful to watch.....Goodbyes.

While on this trip I not only witnessed the love that my own son's birthmom had for him but I sat and watched the birthfamily, many of them mothers, of some of those within my sister's travel group come in to say their last goodbyes to that precious gift they have so selflessly handed over. I watched as they grabbed that sweet, little face in their hands and gave that one last kiss goodbye and then turned and walked toward the gates wiping their tears away. They opened the gate and walked out for many of them....forever, knowing the reality that they might never see that child again. I can't imagine what the walk home must have been like.

These are just a few glimpses of those gifts that were left behind...only to be moved forward into destiny. Each child is a gift from God.

The little girl below, as she peered through the front gate of the orphanage to try to get a peek on the other side, reminded me of a picture of this world. This little girl has been chosen. She has a family waiting on her, a destiny, and a future. For whatever reason in God's eyes her time is now. But on the outside of those gates is a world of struggle, of want, of hopelessness, and for many, death. It is a world that many of us can't even imagine in our wildest dreams, yet God loves them all. They are all His children, and you have some, like this little girl, who has been set apart and yet some don't have anyone who has taken the steps necessary to make sure they have a better life. That is when God relys on His chosen ones to remind them that God loves them and that they have a future and a hope.
So what lay on the other side of that gate? .....let me show you. It is a world of struggle, yes.....but more than that I see beautiful precious lives that God created and just need someone to give them a glimmer of hope.

Danny, below with my sister, has become kind of known to all the travel groups. Guaranteed if you travel to HH then you will meet Danny. He is a boy who lives across from the hotel and he longs with everything in his being to go to America one day. It is his dream. So when he sees the Americans he walks with you and talks with you, in pretty good English I might add. He talks of how he wants to go to America one day and study. It is his opportunity to get as close to his dream as he can when he sees the Americans arrive. I think at one point he even pretended he was part of the group. We went on a tour and I looked up and there was Danny right in the middle of everyone just chatting away. Everyone knows him and lets him tag along.

I found these buddies below just walking down the street together on their way to obviously go play some soccer. Do they get any cuter than this?

There is no Wal Mart. There are small make shift stands to get your basic needs. I watched each morning at the hotel as a young boy came in carrying what looked like a plastic sack of nothing but individual eggs. The brown fresh eggs that I'm sure he just removed from the chicken. That is how it works there. If you need something you go to the source to get it.

These were three cuties that greeted me in the streets each day. They came to know that I had treats to pass out every time I walked by. They became by new bff's.
You often see herds of sheep and goats at any random place. I guess when they don't have a sitter they just load up the whole goat herd and head out for the day.

I also spotted this cow resting in the road. I'm wondering if the woman in the background is looking for him or calling him in for dinner or what?

The street people, especially the children break my heart more than anything. This is the life that our adopted children were spared from. I am reminded each day I am there that these kids are no different than our own. This little boy below, running with all his might to get some crackers I had in my hand, is no different and has no less of a purpose in this world than my own son that I brought home from this country. God, help this little boy find his place in this world.
I'm guessing that these families live in the metal shacks around the corner. What does it take for a momma to walk up to a total stranger and beg for food for her little ones. What a picture this is literally right on the other side of the gate that the little girl is trying to peer through. This is the reality that she is leaving behind when her forever family arrives to take her to her new life.

You can notice the crackers in all of their hands.
Just look at how beautiful all these children are.
God, help these mommas find food for their little ones.

Below is the life that the above children live in . They have no running water, no electricity, no plumbing. There are no luxurys, only hard work. You see a mom washing her clothes while her children play around her.
Below is the entrance to one of the tin shacks. I would see the children coming and going. Behind the tin entrance you see one of their homes built of sticks and mud. You also notice all of the little children's clothes hanging on the line.

These are boys that live in the tin shacks as well. They have set up some sort of vegetable stand out of one of them to try to bring in some income I'm sure. The little boy in the distance is the one that broke my heart. As I started passing out goodies to the boys he started crying and tried to make his way to me but fell down. That is when I noticed his feet turned inward and he couldn't walk properly. He did not want to be left out and was trying with all his might to make his way toward me so I just walked over to him.

As I approached him, he got a glimmer of hope in his eye. The closer I got the more my heart ached for him. He couldn't have been more than three or four years old. He was dirty. Who knows when the last time he had had a bath. He had a handicap. He had one shoe missing and a sock with a big hole in it with his toes sticking through. He had no one but his brothers watching him I'm guessing and he lived in the big dark hole behind him.
And yet.....Look how precious he is. Oh, it hurts me!!

So, now that we have seen a glimpse of what is on the other side of the gate, let us not forget those on the inside that still need families.

Here is one last glimpse of the waiting children at HH that still "peer through the gate" so to speak, to the other side wondering who is out there to come rescue them. Many thanks go out to those of you who have inquired about these children. My prayers are with those of you whom the Lord chooses to place these kids with. He knows who you are and these children will be forever blessed.

If you feel led to inquire of these waiting children see my post below for more info. I can't wait to post that they have all been adopted. That post is coming soon.....I just know it.

And when it is all said and done, and this amazing trip comes to a close.....

THE BELOW PICTURE SAYS IT ALL.........Thank you, Lord.