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Why My Last Visit to Haiti Made me Hunger

The first week of January I hosted a small team from Champion Forest Baptist Church in Haiti. The following entry was written after a beach excursion with the 3 newest children from Max’s Ministry.

What Hunger Looks Like

His tiny arm methodically lifted the large spoon to his mouth. It was slow but steady and with every heaping bite of food you could see him quietly whisper words to himself. Looking at his 20 pound, 4 year-old body, there was no way he could get all that food into his bloated belly—but he did. Every single methodical bite.

One of the girls from Champions leaned in and asked one of the older kids from Max’s home what he was saying. “Mesi Jezi.” After every bite, Jouri whispered “Thank you, Jesus.” Every single grateful bite.

I thought about the rawness and depth of his gratitude. It was a gratitude that oozed out of the hungry belly of a four-year old boy in Haiti.

He wasn’t TRYING to be thankful. This wasn’t some rote one-liner that he was instructed to recite. This little boy possessed a hunger and thirst of the purest kind and I was watching him be filled.

I was reminded of Matthew 18:2—”Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I’m not going to write about how we’re going to help Joure and the other two children who suffer from chronic hunger.  We’re helping Max get the help these sweet babies need—I’ll be sharing more about Joure’s journey to food safety over the coming weeks.

What I am going to write to you is a CONFESSION:

I WANT that kind of gratitude—the kind of gratitude that flows out of a hungry heart. Joure made an impact on me on so many levels. It wrecked me but it also got me thinking about my own chronic hunger or, if I’m honest, the lack thereof.

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be hungry. I can try to generate a superficial gratitude but the truth is I don’t know what it feels like to be without. Those of us who are saved have forgotten what it feels like to be lost. Those of us who are full have forgotten what it feels to be empty.

We are over-saturated, over stimulated, over done and yet—we are so emaciated. We need to get to that place where we recognize our emptiness and take in heapfuls of God’s goodness and thank Him after every  single morsel.

Like a child showing pure gratitude.

Like sweet little Joure thanking Jesus after ever bite of food.

My 21-Day Fast

My last day in Haiti was the first of a 21-Day fast that we are encountering at Restoration Church. Joure was fresh on my mind that day and my prayer was that I would experience a hunger for God that got me to a place where every sweet encounter, I would say “Thank you Jesus.”

We were on Day FOUR of our church-wide fast when I wrote this and here is the verse for that day:

Deuteronomy 8:2-3—

“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart,whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna,which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Our hearts yearn to experience that same hunger that Joure felt that day— and we long to have it satisfied in some radical way. The problem is we try to stuff it with junk rather than the pure things that it really craves. G.K Chesterton said it best when he said, “A man that knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.”

Our hunger manifests itself in so many ways—for me it’s becoming too comfortable reaching for a second glass of wine at the end of a hard day.

For you it may be too much chocolate cake or shopping, for him it may be sneaking in some pornography late at night. What if we hungered for God like Joure hungered for that plate of food? What if we mimicked the pureness of his hunger? I think then we could experience that raw and open gratitude I saw that day on the beach.

Let’s pray that God causes us to hunger for Him like He did for the Israelites in the desert. Let’s pray that He teaches us to feast on His Word.

Stepping into a Life of MORE

Fasting helps us channel our physical hunger towards a hunger for Him. We experience pangs of need that get so strong that we either break down and eat food or we eat of His Word. We willfully create an environment where we are empty and deny satisfaction with things that will easily fill the emptiness. Dan and I aren’t hard—core fasters (is that what they are called?) and we certainly aren’t gurus on spiritual disciplines, but we are commiting to this 21-Day fast by skipping breakfast and lunch and eating a light dinner after sunset. It is hard, but not impossible.

Maybe you read this and feel like you want to join us the rest of the way—there is power in numbers and I think God is yearning to rain down manna into our communities, our homes, our hearts. You can click here to follow Restoration’s Facebook page and learn about the fast.

I don’t know about you, but I want to get to that place where I can’t help but say “Thank you Jesus.”—not because I know I should, but because every heaping spoonful of Him means LIFE. Like the manna that sustained the Jews, like the feast the famished Joure experienced, spoonfuls of Him is the difference between LIFE or death.




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The Love that Jesus Taught

 “Truly, He taught us to love one another; His law is Love and His gospel is Peace; Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother And in His name all oppression shall cease”

-Oh Holy Night

I often quote John 13:35 to my children when they are going at one another with bickering—please tell me yours do that, too.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Of course, they don’t like to hear it because it’s hard to love like Jesus.

My question to them:  If a stranger were to walk into our home would their words draw them towards God or not?”

It really IS that simple. Are we loving one another like Christ taught us to love? Or are we not?

Usually, this very motherly exhortation results in peace for a moment—maybe two—but soon the arguing ensues and then I have to pull out the big guns like taking away electronics (NOT the electronics!!!) or even worse—forcing them to hug it out. Peace is going to reign in the Middlebrook home even if it kills us!!!

A peaceful moment together at Christmas Eve service.

 Law of Love

Last night at our Christmas Eve service, the words from Oh Holy Night gripped my heart in a shockingly revealing way.

The lyrics equate the slaves as our brothers and calls an end to oppression in the name of the one who taught us to love. I thought about what this meant in my life as I shakily sang the rest of the chorus.

Sometimes, I forget the Gospel of Peace in my effort to love the way Jesus taught me to love. I get so caught up in the injustices of this world that I lose myself in it rather than resting in His law of love and gospel of peace.

This year, I’ve been frustrated by the slowness of Kingdom work and have been worn down by the never-ending needs in Haiti. I’ve felt like a failure and more often than not, have felt ill-equipped.

Gospel of Peace

Yet, last night I was reminded that what happens this side of heaven isn’t what fans the flame of our mission. Our eyes are to look beyond to a King who wants to see every human being come to know His law of love and gospel of peace. We keep our eyes on Him—learning and leaning into Him.

Two-thousand years ago, God demoted Himself to the shameful status of a peasant boy so that the chains of oppression would be broken for Us once and for all.

So I ask you this—is your love for your brothers evident? If a stranger were to come into your home—would your love for others draw her to Christ? I’m not talking about easy love—like the kind we have for our friends and family, that kind gets us feel-goods and kisses in return.  Jesus said even the world can love like that.

I’m talking about the kind of love that you have to dig deep for. The kind that leads us to sacrifice for others so that they may come to be freed from the chains of slavery. It is the grit-filled love that tenaciously pursues in spite of rejection. This is the hard love—the kind that is pretty much impossible apart from Him.

If only loving this way was as beautiful as the lyrics of this carol. Peace does not come naturally to us—as all bickering siblings can attest—it is as hard and messy as….well….as a baby Savior being born in a stable.

I’m thankful this season—for a love and peace that can only be found in the one who showed us the greatest love of all.

“Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Wishing your family the Love and Peace that Jesus us taught us. Merry Christmas!

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Why I Said “Yes” to the HUGG Story

Four years ago, I found myself burdened by the number of orphaned children in the world. Even though our family had adopted and fostered and become active members in the orphan care community—the burden for me grew heavier.

Until one day, my husband came back from a trip to Haiti and gifted me with a handful of bracelets. He told me that orphaned young men made these colorful street bracelets and how they had just aged out of a Haitian orphanage and were struggling to survive. “Survival bracelets” I called them.

The burden I had carried for so long changed into a God-sized dream to stop children from ever having to become orphans in the first place. By equipping these young men with Jesus first and jobs second, they would stop perpetuating the problem of poverty and orphans and lead their spheres of influence for the glory of God. And that is exactly what happened.

These young artisans are earning a fair wage, receiving spiritual discipleship and the best part is they are giving back to their communities. Max, one of our original 8, lost both his parents at a young age, he knows what it feels like to be homeless and hungry. For this reason, as soon as he started earning a salary, he began feeding children in Canaan, a village close to his heart. In the last three years, he has started a foundation and now houses and provides for 12 boys.

He uses the same principles he learned with HandUp and applies them to his own ministry in Canaan. In fact, I am happy to announce that we recently launched Max to lead his own artisan cooperative in Canaan. Why is this so significant?

Because he has chosen to employ several of the mamas in Canaan so they can keep their babies out of orphanages. This is orphan prevention through job creation. Jesus first and jobs second. The HandUp model is working!!!

What started out as survival bracelets has flourished into the HUGG Mission Market concept. The items you buy are tokens of success for the makers with whom we partner, but they are also reminders to all of us that everyone deserves the chance to earn a dignified wage.

The Mission Market is a powerful way to do missions as 100% of the proceeds go back to our mission to equip young men who’ve aged out of orphan care in Haiti with Jesus first and jobs second. For 2019, HandUp aims to:

  • Hire an on-the-ground Program Director to oversee all program-related initiatives
  • Develop a 6-month character-based development program (LeKol HandUp) targeting young Haitian men
  • Formalize our Christ-centered business training workshops for program participants to launch their own businesses
  • Extend our HandUp House lease for another two years to provide a safe working environment for our artisans

So it turns out that this burden I had in my heart had a purpose. God planted it there to answer the prayers of 8 orphaned young men in Haiti and of course—in true God-sized fashion, He turned it into something so much bigger and beautiful than any of us could have imagined. All it took was a “yes” and one small step of obedience on my part……and countless other “yesses” from family, friends, supporters and shoppers!

We have learned that it takes local community to make a global difference and I am asking that you take a moment to ask God what your “yes” looks like today.

You can click here to make a donation or check out our HUGG Holiday Market and pick up a gift with a powerful story. It’s a win win!

May His name continue to be made famous among the nations. To God be the glory….always.

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3 Trendy Jewelry Tips for Casual Moms

I’m not a style-guru by ANY stretch of the imagination, but I have learned a thing or two about jewelry trends and how to tame them a bit to fit my very casual-mom vibes. Here are  3 jewelry trends that will make you the master of combining busy (& tired) mom with a splash of style–hey! its a real thing. 

Color me Red

I love it in lipstick and nail polish but looking at my closet—I can’t say that I’m all that into rouge. With a busy non-profit and five even busier kids—buying a shiny pair of red pumps doesn’t quite make it to my daily to-do list.

But did you know that Valiant Poppy (an intense shade of red) is one of Pantone’s Top 10 Fall colors this season? I’m seeing it in shoes, blouses, coats and of course—in jewelry! Think red pumps and rubies! But for most of us—we don’t often have the occasion to wear expensive bling.  So here is my take on that Valiant POP of red for this season…..drum roll!!!!!

Red Tassel Earrings

These earrings make a statement even if the rest of me screams “more coffee please!” So if you want to save some shampoo and a little foundation, throw on a red baseball cap and a bold pair of earrings. Try it–I promise you’ll get compliments for being so casually cute:)

And you don’t have to do tassels—hoops, leather feathers, anything BIG and LIGHT so you don’t stretch those delicate darling lobes of yours.

#Arm Parties for Everyone!

I dare you to go into your jewelry drawer and start stacking bracelets indiscriminately.  Chances are you have the beginnings of an arm party. Although at this point it may be a little over-the-top flamboyant, a few adjustments will have you ready to roll in no time.

Rule #1—Choose a chunky centerpiece. Large Bauble beads, wood stretchies or a medium-sized cuff work.

Rule #2—Add a softer, thinner piece to balance “centerpiece”. You can make this a bold pop of color or keep it monochromatic like I did here.

Rule #3- A wrist wrap always helps the party along! Add volume and texture to your stack with a wrap—it’s like a stack within a stack.

Next time you hit another 2ndgrader’s birthday party, you’ll have your own little fiesta on hand….ha!

Layers of Love

Okay, so mamas like to go out occasionally and THIS is the time to go BIG and then go home to your warm cozy bed. But nevertheless, you can still GO BIG, you sexy kitten you.

Choker wraps are super popular right now and so very versatile. Like the Marcial Choker that I am wearing: I can leave it loose or can tie it to look like a cute boho bolo tie.

I then added a simple metal piece as my 2nd layer and an extra long cement pendant as the third. The trick is to have them jive together and not compete for attention. You can do this by making sure there is plenty of space between layers. You’ll get a tangled mess if they get up in each other’s space…nobody wants that.

3 is my lucky number when it comes to layers and this low-maintenance combination is as versatile as it is beautiful.

With so many amazing fair trade jewelry companies out there, you won’t have any trouble slipping in these trendy tips into your bijoux repertoire this season.

Tried out one of these tips? Send us a picture!


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5 Ways to Stay Family-Focused

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
~John 13:34-35

After-School Rush

From the moment our family stepped foot in the house, the after-school bickering began. The oldest three went at it like a pack of piranhas picking at one another.  I threw in my standard “Ya’ll be nice to each other!” or “Can the two of you stop?” but soon another  conflict would ensue.

I knew Dan was getting home late that evening and I was determined to cook a decent dinner before school Open Houses, sports practices and parent meetings. But between breaking up arguing, turning off video games and putting the youngest two in time out; it was time to start heading out the door.

My head was spinning and what I wanted to do was pull out the lime and tequila and park myself by the pool for the remainder of the evening.

Eat a Meal Together

Instead, I took a deep breath and made the kids set the table and we ate dinner together. I didn’t care that we had to be at the school in 30 minutes and that my 10-year old needed to get ready for football practice. I didn’t care about the rat race—what I cared about was enjoying dinner with my family and THAT was what we were going to do!!!!

And that’s where John 13:35 comes in.

How are we supposed to be a testimony to the world if we act like flesh-eating piranhas within our families? We tend to brush these interactions off as normal and surrender to the fact that it’s just the way it is.  I know it’s normal.

Siblings are God’s way of teaching us to navigate relationships, but if how we love one another determines how others will view God then maybe its time to be a little ABNORMAL.

A few things I am not—

a planner;

a devoted homemaker;

a mommy expert.

I’ve forgotten (on multiple occasions) to take my kids to birthday parties and have shown up one week early to school events! I’ve recently said the S-word in front of my kids when one of them hit the car door on an innocent parked car—anyone else done this???

In spite of these imperfections, my husband I value family time and do our BEST to resist the rat race. We have to do things, that by the world’s standards, seem a little abnormal.  We’ve clung to these practices since the littles were homeschooled, but now that all five are in public school—we have to fight off the weekly crazies harder than ever.

Here are FIVE Family-Focused practices that work for us:

  1. Commit to a simple family devotional.

We chose a devotional that is low-maintenance, yet meaningful. Since we have been battling bickering—we chose Undivided. This devotional teaches family members how to live FOR and not just WITH one another. While we are loving public school (all two weeks of it), we realize that each grade level has its own ecosystem. It’s difficult to switch from that same-peer environment to the family environment where they have to deal with baby brothers and moody teen agers

We thought this “one another” based theme would help us navigate the dynamics of school with those of our family. The guide is split into 12-week devotions with short sections that involve short bible readings, discussion and easy-to-do activities.

When our kids were little, we did Long Story Short: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Marty Machowski—these short biblical stories were surprisingly insightful. What I loved most is how beautifully Machowski weaves the hope of a savior through each story. If your kids are little and you are making a mad dash to school–this is a good pick for you.

  1. Be deliberate about honoring family time.

 We looked at our schedule and saw that Monday nights were the only nights with no scheduled activities. We dubbed these nights Middlebrook Mondays. Now, if you know me, I am a notorious over-scheduler and double-booker.

For this reason, I’ve asked my family to hold me accountable to Middlebrook Mondays and to help me resist the urge to pounce on this open slice of space like I’m proned to do.

In addition to protecting Monday nights, we’ve commited to waking up together on Wednesday mornings and carving out 20 minutes of time on Sunday evenings. In total, we’ve set aside less than three hours for family time. It doesn’t take A LOT of time–just focused, quality time. For some of you, you can schedule a little less or a little more—the key is to be deliberate and treat these times like you would a work meeting.

  1. Honor Bedtime Routines.

Shhh-don’t tell anyone, but our older kids still like to be “tucked in.” It looks different for each of them, but our bedtime rituals are an important part of our day. For my 14 year old, it’s simply sitting on his bed and saying good-night. If he has anything to say, this is usually the time he will say it.

Not gonna lie—sometimes I’m exhausted and looking forward to hubby time, or my glass of red wine or maybe catching up on work.  Sometimes I even take tucking in rain checks for the olders, but I realize I’m investing in life-long relationships with these little people that live in our home.

Take the time now and reap the rewards later—you know, like when we become mother-in-laws and expect our grown sons to call us just to check in on us. I’d like to think that one day I’ll be able to trace those calls back to 5-minute bedtime routines:)

  1. Make Them Part of YOUR Daily Activities.

HandUp is an all consuming force that has required many sacrifices for my family. But instead of making it HandUp vs. my children, I have found ways to include them in this work. I admit my mistakes and give them updates on how the boys in Haiti are doing or will give them the heads up when a busy season is coming up. It isn’t perfect, but children are very understanding if you teach them to be.

Find ways to connect your children to your work and teach them the art of listening to others—even when it isn’t that interesting to them. Their future spouses will thank you for it.

  1. Take a time out.

Although these should be used sparingly, sometimes it takes a severe schedule detour to get back on track. I don’t regret having to miss part of my daughter’s Open House or driving 80 mph to make it to my son’s football practice on time—(sorry law enforcement and other innocent drivers). Those 30 minutes of dinner and discussion drove the point home to my children and they realized that they were not honoring the relationships God gave them.

Parenting is a never-ending opportunity of teachable moments.

If you want your kids to have successful families, we must be deliberate about teaching them how—both by example and through instruction.

These practices have made our family stronger but of course, they aren’t perfect. Just like anything else worth having–it takes work.  My husband and I understand that we are sewing seeds for our childrens’ future.

But in the meantime, we mustn’t forget that we have the potential to bring others to Jesus simply by how we love one another. So love well, my friends.

What do you do to keep your family centered?

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Why Abundance is Not Synonymous with Charmed

I live a life of abundance.

I reside in a great big house with a pool and have five healthy kids living inside its bedrooms.

I have an incredible husband who makes me coffee in the mornings and kindly dismisses most of what I say on my “woman-specific” days.

I have a thorough and honest housekeeper and my entire household gets to go to the dentist twice a year.

But none of these things—including the health of my children and a husband who provides well—are what make up my abundant life.

Sure—health and provision make my life exponentially better —but I don’t think these are the blessings Jesus referred to in His statement to bring us a life of abundance in John 10:10.

After all, He goes on to say how He will lay down his life for those who belong to Him. I don’t think He would have laid down his life so we could have healthy children, multiple bank accounts and live in excellent school districts.

If this is what He meant—then most of the world is royally screwed. Pardon my expression.

So what is an Abundant Life?

It’s inviting a little inconvenience and perhaps some chaos into our otherwise easy lives. It means saying “yes” to helping others when it’s not necessarily the right timing.

Inviting a life of abundance means relying a little less on your abilities and a little more on your faith. Of course, you’ll find that relying on faith cuts deep into your tight schedule, expectations, comfort zone and pocket book. It creates new headaches and new problems to solve.

I recently heard a mom complain that she couldn’t handle the stress of being a dance mom. While I want to be careful not to diminish the anxiety she was feeling, I did have to ask myself if our tolerance to difficult circumstances hasn’t gotten a little frail. That many of us have failed to flex our problem-solving muscles by focusing on trivial things that really aren’t problems at all.

Major inconveniences at best.

I admit that I wanted to grab that sweet, stressed out mama and say, “You need to come to Haiti with me and I’ll show you what real problems look like.” But I didn’t…because that would have been rude and self-righteous; but I did think it.

A life of abundance may mean looking down one day and wondering what happened to your pedicure-starved toes or realize you don’t remember the last time you had time to drive your car through the carwash.

Yet, in the midst of all the controlled chaos, there is a deep soulful satisfaction sustaining you. You begin to powerfully experience Jesus day-to-day, and there are moments where His presence is so undeniable that you vow to do whatever it takes for more of those moments.

Abundant living means fresh encounters, daunting challenges and a heart that is ALIVE.

I am a little embarrassed at the perception some people may have of our household. Just today I had someone sarcastically tell me how sorry they felt for me having to commute by foot to the HUGG office and navigate the motorized toys and grass to make it to work.

I laughed and had to resist the temptation to defend myself. I wanted to say, “Yes—it may seem like I live a charmed life but believe me—we’ve invited our share of heartache and hard work into our lives—ON PURPOSE!!! We are actually almost perfect. So there!”

But seriously—I can’t defend myself because at the end of day—

All of my good deeds are filthy rags before the Lord. At the end of the day, a charmed life leaves me lacking. (Isaiah 64:6) And that is when I realize that Abundance is Jesus. 

Your material blessings and the extra perks like health are given to you for a purpose.

Your house is given to you so you can open your doors to the broken hearted and lonely.

Your healthy children are future forerunners of faith that will carry on your legacy.

Your free time is given to you so you can sew good works in the lives of others.

I think that is why the health and wealth gospel is frowned upon by so many people. It makes us feel like our joy is measured by the things we have. And the things we have are given to us because we are “oh so deserving”.

Do some Christians get to experience health and wealth? Sure! And to God be the glory, but abundance isn’t measured by the good things we have- its measured by the good we give because of Jesus.

Jesus gave up His own life so you would have life to the fullest. Don’t glide through it simply enjoying your blessed life. This kind of life is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.”  It is boring and ineffective. Did I mention boring?

And if your life isn’t easy right now, don’t get lost in the struggle and remember that we all have seasons of simply receiving. Sometimes you just have to ask for help.

We were never meant to live fairy tales here on earth. Abundance doesn’t mean ALL easy, it doesn’t mean ALL hard, it means ALL Jesus. And that, my friend, should be more charm than any one of us could ever want.




























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Why Giving HUGGS is Saving Lives

Let me assure you that this is NOT a call for donations.

What I am asking is the following:

For you to consider carrying HUGG pieces in your church book stores, coffee shops, gift shops and lobbies.

For church leaders to learn more about a movement that seeks to create jobs in impoverished communities such as Haiti. We should be casting a vote to support artisans like Max by using our purchasing dollars for good. 100% of HUGG sales go back into our operations to create more jobs in Haiti. But more importantly, your purchase is saving lives. 

Let me explain HOW:

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting with the Association to Save the Children in Canaan and Onaville.

This committee was founded on the principles that all children have the right to shelter, education and access to food. Canaan is located about 10 miles outside of the capital city of Port-au-Prince. It is a post-earthquake, make-shift city settled on dry dusty hills with no plumbing nor electricity. It is a hard place for a family to carve out a living, but it is even harder for the children that drifted to this settlement without an adult to care for them.

Max, a HandUp artisan, knows just how hard it is to be an orphaned child in Haiti. He found himself a homeless teenager in Canaan. Although he loved his village, he knew that God was calling him to the city of Port-au-Prince. He didn’t know what he would find there, but he knew the answers were ahead of him.

After a few months of living on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Max was approached by a young man by the name of Patrick. Patrick had just aged out of an orphanage and was living with 6 other young men who had transitioned from the same boys’ home. Later Patrick would share with me the reason he was drawn to Max.

“I knew we needed someone like Max in the apartment. We needed someone to teach us more about the Bible and Jesus.”

After several visits with this young evangelist, Patrick invited Max into the tiny 3-room apartment he and the other young men shared. It wasn’t long before Max carved his place within this band of brothers. It would be months still before I’d show up in their apartment, asking these young men whether they wanted a job. These 8 would become the backbone of the HandUp program.

As soon as Max started receiving a steady income through HandUp, he went back to Canaan. It was simple at first. He started out by purchasing rice, beans and oil for a local lady to cook for some of the orphans there. Then it grew to him building a shanty for 16 parentless children.

Max’s shanty for 16 children.

He had very little resources and several of the other HUGG artisans started pitching in to help meet some of the children’s basic needs. Aside from taking care of the 16 most vulnerable children, he started working with other needy children in the community. Bible studies, crafts, singing and dancing all became part of a weekly program under Max’s leadership.

But it was too much for him to bear. He witnessed two little children die simply of infections that could have been prevented with antibiotics. After this incident, my Life Group in Conroe, Texas started supporting some of Max’s efforts by providing for food costs and allowing him to set aside some savings for emergencies.

These extra funds were the catalyst that Max needed to jumpstart his program. He formed a committee with HandUp artisans and local community members to bolster their efforts towards saving children from the grips of poverty.

Under Max’s leadership, the group has committed to taking care of 12 of the 16 orphans under Max’s care. The 12 boys will be living in a one-room house rented just for them. The rest of the group are girls and I will save their story for another day. We will continue to partner with the committee until we’ve placed each little girl in a loving home. But for now, this committee does the best they can to meet the needs of these children that God has entrusted in their care.

Max, Marcial and Richardson & the new home for Canaan boys.

Without HandUp Global Goods…

There would have been no job for Max and the other artisans.

Without a job, they would have been too busy surviving Haiti rather than helping Haiti survive and THRIVE.

Tools for Ministry

Max’s efforts to build a program in Canaan is a result of what he has learned under the leadership of HandUp staff. Education, spiritual discipleship, and mentoring are all things that have been poured into Max over the last three years. Without this holistic approach, Max would not have had the necessary skills to lead this ministry in Canaan.

A HandUp, Not a Handout

Because of one job, 16 orphans have their basic needs being met.

Because we give a handUp and not a handout, young men are experiencing a dignity attainable only through the work of their own hands.

Young Haitian men like Max must be employed, mentored, and trained so that they can be the ones to help their communities.

Once, these young men were destined towards the path of becoming orphan makers. Because of their jobs with HandUp, they’ve broken through systemic poverty and are being transformed into Opportunity Makers.

The Struggle is Real

Although our retail and wholesale orders are slowly gaining momentum; our donations are at an all-time low. Without these funds, we are unable to meet our operational expenses on the ground.

But I’ll be honest–it’s the sales that we need. We have beautiful pieces that tell an equally beautiful story. If we tell it right, God’s church WILL RISE to the occasion. I know God cares about the makers that make the things we wear and He desires to use the church to bless them, not to exploit them.

There are 23 young men in our program. Many who are also making an impact in the communities in which they live.  Would you allow us an opportunity to share their stories in your church?

THREE VITAL Ways to help:

  1. Host a Sunday Pop Up this Spring/Summer in your church.
  2. Invite us to come share the HUGG story at your next Event.
  3. Carry HUGG products in your church.
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Why #Blessed is Not Always Best

She wasn’t the first one to give me this feedback.

This buyer kindly shared with me that our pieces weren’t inspirational enough for her market. Christian shoppers want more crosses, inspirational sayings, more #blessed  please. I GET it.

I really do and at the end of the day we want to make our customers happy. If they want more meaningful pieces that tell the world about their faith, then we want to deliver! But I couldn’t walk out of that meeting without saying the following. “I believe that HUGG pieces are pretty inspirational. We are helping transform former street boys into craftsmen and because of this, they are changing their communities.” It may not have been quite that refined but I think I got my point across. 

I’ve been debating whether or not to post a couple of other thoughts that ran through my mind that day. They’re not ugly thoughts, just wanting us to rethink the whole Christian jewelry thing.

Not as Charming as You Think

Many of the charms, metal tags and inspirational crosses found in your typical gift shop are mass manufactured in uninspiring industrial buildings that may or may not be abiding by labor laws that respect the dignity of its workers. So even though the cute charms that dangle from our bracelets tell others about our faith—it may do so at the expense of another person across the world who is just trying to carve out an honest living.

The mission brand movement is exploding as more shoppers ask about sustainability practices, ethical sourcing and ecofriendly alternatives. It’s a really cool thing that people are wondering about whether the communities that make our products are impacted in a positive way. But here is the not-so-good news–we’ve spoken to many retailers over the years and surprisingly, it isn’t the Christian community that is as concerned for the hands that are making their merchandise. I know–it surprised me, too but it is the hard truth, my friend.

Perhaps there should be a little less emphasis on expressing our faith through cute dangly crosses and more on living out our faith through the way we spend our dollars….

Just saying.

What would Jesus Wear?

I know, I know….this sounds a little too Christian pop culturish for my palette, but really. If Jesus had chosen to humanize himself in this century, what would he have chosen to wear? Would he have accepted clothes given to him by friends or would he have purchased from a second-hand store? I think I can safely say that he would have been mindful of the hands that made his clothing. Think about it–If he could sense a hemmoraging lady touch a sliver of his cloak (Matthew 9:20)—I am certain he would have felt the wounds of the person who made the things he wore. And I believe it would have mattered to him.

I don’t know about you, but I picture him wearing faded jeans and a t-shirt–something super casual. As for shoes–a good pair of broken in Birkenstocks. So this sounds a little cheesy but I can also see him wearing HUGG simple macrames.  I’d give him one in each color and a few extra for him to give away. My point? What we choose to purchase matters in more ways than we think.

With so many ethical brands popping up, it shouldn’t be too hard to make small adjustments to your shopping. Check out @thefairleslie for ideas on how to get started. I’ve said this before—it’s not about perfection, it’s about direction. We shouldn’t leave our faith at home when it comes to shopping. In fact, we should keep our faith in our pocketbooks by thinking twice about some of the products we purchase. THIS is inspirational. THIS is living a life that is #blessed.

P.S—We DID listen to the feedback from our Christian retailer friends. Sign up for our HUGG Happenings and be the first to know when our new “Created to Inspire” Collection releases.

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Have you Met Max?

A long time ago Max had a vision that one day he would be a leader in a village called Canaan in Haiti. His heart hurts for the people there, because of his role with HandUp Global Goods—he gets to do his part to bring relief to the fatherless children there.

He and two others (pictured below) from our program, are providing shelter, nannies and discipleship to 16 children. Max is in the center.

THIS is what happens when you think BIG about tackling problems like extreme poverty and orphan care.

Our formula, Job Creation + Spiritual Discipleship = Orphan Prevention comes ALIVE through the hands of young men like Max. He believes in the power of our formula and he invites you to become part of this story of redemption.

He wants you to know he believes in this revolutionary way of thinking—your investment in HandUp provides Max with essential training and tools to be able to guide his people in a more impactful way. 

He personally wants to make a piece of jewelry for every donor that donates to HandUp.

Donate today and let’s help them become the spiritual leaders God created them to be.

Learn more about Max here. 




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Here’s a Coupon for your Support!

Because you said “yes” to giving a “handup”; he can say “yes” to lifting himself out of poverty with the work of his hands.

Here is how YOU changed the harsh reality for these teens through your purchase or donation:

  • 23 young men who were facing life on the streets are part of the HandUp program
  • 10 new teens in transition are under the loving guidance of our new TNT House Parent
  • A new Program Director oversees production and programming
  • 16 former street boys work at HandUp & earn a fair wage, health insurance & more
  • We achieved highest monthly sales to date this November
  • An artisan microloan system has been implemented into our savings program
  • All 3rd year artisans were able to pay their housing this year
  • HandUp artisans founded two ministries; Be the Change & Ti Moun Canaan

The good that you’ve poured into these young men is spilling out into their communities and fueling social change one bracelet at a time!

Thank you for supporting our work. We can’t wait to see what we can do together in 2018!!!

Donate today and help us create jobs for 7 more teens in 2018!

$5 off your purchase of $25 PLUS Free Shipping:  Use Code THANKYOU

There’s still time to do your holiday shopping HERE!