Undaunted: Student Edition | Christine Caine

“Each had come to Greece expecting legitimate employment. All had brought with them dreams, hopes, and aspirations to do something more with their lives than their own families had ever dreamed possible. All of those tender, youthful dreams had been shattered beyond anyone’s worst fears.”

As you know, I love story and how it impacts others. Christine Caine’s, founder of the A21 Campaign, story is no different and Undaunted Student Edition: Daring to do what God calls you to do is a book all teens (and adults should grab a copy of Undaunted for themselves) should read. Trust me on this one.


In Undaunted: Student Edition, Christine Caine uses her dramatic life story to show teens how God rescued her from a life where she was unnamed, unwanted, and unqualified. She tells how she overcame abuse, abandonment, fears, and other challenges to go on a mission of adventure, fueled by faith and filled with love and courage. Her personal stories inspire teens to hear their name called, just as Christine heard her own—’You are beloved. You are the hope. You are chosen’—to go into a dark and troubled world, knowing each of us possess all it takes to bring hope, create change, and live completely for Christ. Part inspirational tale, part manifesto to stir readers to lives of adventure, Undaunted: Student Edition shows the way with spiritual wisdom and insight.

Sharing her personal story, the pain, the hardships and the healing, Caine shares her heart and how it shaped who she was and how the Lord worked through it to remind her of beautiful truths: the God made us, chooses us, is always with us and loves us deeply.

And He redeems us.

Throughout the pages, Caine encourages students to hold on to hope. It’s a touching story of how Christine and her husband are spreading that hope through the work they do with human trafficking as well as spreading the gospel and equipping the church and people around the world.

“God help me not to close my eyes to other people’s horror or ignore injustice. Help me fight the injustice you hate. Help me value people and speak up for those who have been silenced. God, you have loved, chosen and healed me, and I want to help others be set free. If anything-anything!-like this happens in my lifetime, help me not to sit back and pretend it does not concern me.” After a visit to Auschwitz before starting the A21 campaign

“He does not ask, Are you capable? He asks, Are you willing?”

I also liked the discussion questions at the end of each section; questions for students to wrestle with and work through.

The way the Lord has worked through Christine and her husband is inspiring and this book gives a glimpse in that journey and path that got her where she is today. So teens, youth groups and anyone else reading, be sure to grab a copy of this one. You’ll come away changed.

(Thank you DJC Communications and Zondervan for the readers copy in exchange for my honest review!)

…Every coin in the case looked different after that…

“In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning writes, “We are all equally privileged but unentitled beggars at the door of God’s mercy.” I thought of that as person after person walked past without donating or even making eye contact. I felt my frustration rising until I realized how unentitled I was. No one deserves mercy. And no one walking by owed us a die. Mercy is, by definition, undeserved, or else it isn’t mercy.

Every coin in the case looked different after that.”
Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski


This is the true story of a young man searching what it means to be homeless in America and it’s a fabulous book I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. “By his own choice, Mike’s life went from upper-middle class plush to scum-of-the-earth repulsive overnight. With only a backpack, a sleeping bag and a guitar, Mike and his traveling companion, Sam, set out to experience life on the streets in six different cities—from Washington D.C. to San Diego.”

Have you read this book? What do you think of the quote? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Children’s Devotionals by Zondervan

Bilbo and I are much alike. We both found a ring…I mean, we both have a soft spot for adventure. And who wouldn’t? How much fun is it to drop everything, run down the path yelling “I’m going on an adventure!”

Enter in this awesome gem for kids! If you’re looking for a children’s devotional, good news. I found two more options. The first? The Adventure Bible of Devotions by Robin Schmitt.

The Adventure Bible of Devotions | Robin Schmitt

Grab your spyglass and compass and set sail for adventure! Like a map that leads to great treasure, this revised edition of the NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions takes kids on a thrilling, enriching quest. This year long devotional is filled with exciting fictional stories about kids finding adventure in the real world. Boys and girls will learn more about God and the Bible, and be inspired to live a life of faith—the greatest adventure of all. Companion to the Adventure Bible, the #1 best selling Bible for kids.

adventure bible devotional-zondervan

Much like the best-selling Adventure Bible, this 365 Day Devotional is the perfect addition to help your young one grow in faith and in the Lord.

Besides the daily story, each page has a short extra at the bottom of each page. I think they are fantastic additions!

Words to Treasure - Short verses for them to remember.
Did You Know? – Facts about things God did, faith and interesting history facts.
People in the Bible Times – Short tidbits about bible characters, like Joseph, the Levites, Thomas and Pharaoh
Life in Bible Times – Mini lessons of history and culture to help kids understand what life was like back then.
Live it! – Activities to learn more (i.e. Ten Commandments leap frog, ideas to raise money for the poor, creative ways to worship God, like writing your own song, art and crafts)

It also includes topic index and scripture index to help them look for certain topics on their heart. This is the type of devotional I look forward to reading with my little nieces (as we plan our next adventure of course)!

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing | Leather Bound Edition

I didn’t think they could make this children’s devotional any better. Then they came out with the leather bound edition. Y’all – buy this right now for your kids! Right now!


I’ve already gushed about it here, but just in case you don’t click on the link – this is one of the best, if not the top spot best, children’s devotionals out there. It’s beautiful and inspiring and I want an adult version to come out. I’m kidding, but not.


From Jago and Sally Lloyd-Jones, the creators of the bestselling Jesus Storybook Bible, comes this gorgeous and innovative collection of 101 simple-yet-profound thoughts on faith. Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing shares deep spiritual truths from the Bible told in a conversational tone—drawing insights from creation, history, science, the writings of great thinkers and preachers and writers, and more—to turn the reader’s eyes toward the God who loves them with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. Perfect for family devotions, bedtime, story time, or even as a companion to The Jesus Storybook Bible, this accessible yet theologically rich book reveals biblical truth in word and image—all working together and designed to do one thing: make the reader’s heart sing. This edition of Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing features a beautiful Italian Duo-Tone binding. To learn more about the book, the illustrator, the author, and much more, visit: www.thoughtstomakeyourheartsing.com.

Be sure to pick up your copy!


…power does not lie in using it…

“Power does not lie in using it, but in having it and using it in the right purpose.”
The Lamb and the Fuhrer: Jesus Talks with Hitler by Ravi Zacharias


Ravi Zacharias has written plenty of awesome material. I really enjoy his Great Conversations series, as they are thought provoking and interesting. He has three others in the series as well, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha, New Birth or Rebirth? Jesus Talks with Krishna and Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks with Oscar Wilde on the Pursuit of Pleasure and I promise are worth your time. This quote also reminds me of what Uncle Ben once said: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Have you read any of his books? Or comes across quotes like these? I would love to hear your thoughts!


It’s an Amani Party!!

Eeeek! This post makes me so happy! While I wasn’t able to last year, I normally host a Fall Amani ya Juu party, as a way to spread the word about this wonderful organization as well as sell their beautiful products. Most of the time I want to buy.them.all. Africa is a beautiful place (I’ve had the blessing of seeing Botswana and Zambia) and I love to partner with organizations working there in any way I can!

So count this as your official invitation! If you live in the Austin area, mark your calendars for Thursday, October 17, 2013! It’ll kick off at 7:00 and I’d love for you to stop by. There’ll be snacks and drinks and a chance to get some shopping done. All the money goes right back to the organization and the women who create these wonderful products!

So here’s some pics of some of the goodness that will be on sale. If you aren’t in the area, be sure to check out their online shop! More details at the bottom!

If you haven’t heard of Amani, well here’s a little info from their website: Amani ya Juu (“peace from above” in Swahili) is a sewing and training program for marginalized women established in Nairobi, Kenya, with sister centers in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Liberia. Women at Amani are learning to work together through faith in God who provides a peace that transcends all cultural and ethnic differences. Amani portrays a unique picture of diversity, with women coming from Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, and other African nations.

amani africa

How cute is this bowling set???

How cute is this bowling set???

So many cute belts, bags, cases, kitchen stuff...I love everything!

So many cute belts, bags, cases, kitchen stuff…I love everything!

One thing I love, is each product includes a tag with the name of the woman who made it.

One thing I love, is each product includes a tag with the name of the woman who made it.

Amani began in 1996 with four women sewing placemats together in Nairobi. Since then, Amani has grown to over 100 women representing ethnic groups and experiences from all across Africa. As women return to their homelands, they carry Amani with them. Amani has established a presence of peace in five African nations (Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, and Uganda) and two US cities (Washington, DC and Chattanooga, TN). Each Amani center is locally registered and independently managed with support from an international leadership team.

They have the cutest kids stuff!

They have the cutest kids stuff!

I mean STOP. These are the cutest!

I mean STOP.

The stationary to me is new - so I'm in love.

The stationary is new to me and I’m in love.

So cute!

So cute!

I love their jewelry - it's so unique and beautiful!

I love their jewelry – it’s so unique and beautiful!

Amani is committed to holistic development. Women gain experience in stitching, quality control, purchasing, bookkeeping, management and design. As new women enter the program they are mentored in quality workmanship with strong emphasis on ethical business practices and harmonious relationships with people of different backgrounds.

Relationships built upon God’s peace transform even the most troubled lives. Amani women participate in singing, praying, and Bible study as part of daily activities. Visits to one another’s homes also help them care for one another. As women live out peace, they also pass it to their neighbors in need. The women extend Amani’s culture of peace by sharing resources with other Amani centers—mentoring new leaders, conducting skills training, and contributing toward start-up costs.

Have I mentioned how much I love their bags?

Have I mentioned how much I love their bags?

amani africa

If you need a scarf, they have fantastic options!

If you need a scarf, they have fantastic options!

Another new addition? Computer and iPad cases!

Another new addition? Computer and iPad cases!

amani africa

amani africa

Hope you can stop by!
October 17, 2013 @ 7:00 p.m.
If you can make it, let me know and I’ll pass along location details!
If you can’t make it, please be sure to check out their online shop. It’s full of even more beautiful stuff!


A Japanese Legacy

One of the favorite parts of my trip to Japan this past summer, was when we went to hang out with Mariko’s grandparents.

We hopped on the train and headed over to their house (which they’ve lived in forever) and spent such a relaxing and wonderful afternoon. Do I speak Japanese? Nope. (Unless you count “I eat rice in my house,” then yes, I’m fluent). Do Mariko’s wonderful Grandparents speak English? Nope. But were we able to have an amazing time? Why, yes we were! With Mariko translating, it worked out perfect.



There was one time during lunch when the chopsticks weren’t being my friend, so I attempted to be stealth and just grab the cucumber with my fingers. I figured that was better than trying to stab it with the chopstick. Totally thought no one was paying attention to me, but nope…totally busted. How’s that for immersing myself in the Japanese culture? But they simply laughed.


But more than that, I’m so thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from them, be encouraged by them and simply get to know more of their story. A legacy is the only thing you’ll leave behind and I promise you, the one they have started has already made an incredible impact on the world!

My hope and prayer is that this glimpse into the lives of Shizuko and Saichi Ohashi inspires and encourages you as much as it did me.


As a teenager during World War II, Shizuko still can recall the constant bombings on her city and watching the B-29 Superfortresses fly over their city. It’s hard for me to even imagine what that would have been like. To have a never ending fear of a bomb falling from the sky. To not know when it would end. What if my country, instead of unleashing the power of the A-bomb, was victim to it? How would my heart have handled losing such a war? I believe she said it best: That while losing was a blow to Japan, simple put, war is never a good thing.

Yet, even while having lived through that history, joy abounds from each of them.


But our time there wasn’t all sadness and dark times from decades past. Most of the time we spent chatting about family, our adventures and faith. Both came from Buddhist backgrounds, but after their two daughters became Christians, they started going when they were in their fifties. At first they started going because Christianity wasn’t about money (as their experience with Buddhism had been). That led to discussions with several pastors and finally one led them both to Jesus.

Two quotes that stuck with me? “Believing in Jesus and being a Christian is joy” and “We have Jesus to protect us.” Said with such conviction and decades of life experiences behind them, it was such a great reminder of Truth.



What a joy and privilege it is for me to be able to share some of their wisdom, story and to spend time with them, even if only for one summer afternoon.


To end, I’ll close with a very special 4 Questions with Shizuko (some the same, some a bit different!)

1. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I was growing up, I didn’t have the option or choice to get an education. If I could go back, I would like to study all kinds of topics. I especially want to learn to speak English so I can communicate my grandchildren, great grandchildren and more American friends.

2. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
As you know it is very important to have a son to carry on the family name in Japan. We didn’t have boys, but God blessed us with wonderful and God-loving son-in-laws.

3. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I want the next generation to know this most important thing: If they could, meet Jesus when they are young and memorize as much of God’s Word as you can.

And you know me, being the romantic that I am, tossed in a couple of extras for the interview!

4. How did you and your husband meet?
I was sewing clothes for family and friends with my free time back then. There was a country rail road employee apartment near our house and Saichi asked the apartment manager if he knew a good seamstress to sew his clothes. She recommended me to him, so he started to come over and that’s how we met!

5. What’s your advice for a lasting marriage?
Trust each other. Don’t talk back to each other, but share your opinions. Care for each other, especially when it comes to healthy living.

(Interviewed with the help of Kumiko Barnes)

We're best friends now.

We’re best friends now.

Thanks so much for reading! I never get tired of hearing people’s stories! So who has inspired you? What about your grandparents? I’m excited to continue in this Grandparents series!


…not deeper still…

“We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom


If you haven’t heard of Corrie ten Boom, the short version is she and her family hid Jewish families in Amsterdam during WWII until the Nazis found out and they were sent to concentration camps. She was also a believer and her story is incredible. If you haven’t read The Hiding Place, I can’t say enough how much you should read that book.

Anyway, through some of the most horrid, cruel and horrendous conditions, sights and treatment, Boom was able to be a light to people in their darkest times and still see God’s hand at work. This quote was actually first said by her sister (to Corrie), Betsie, before she died in the Ravensbrück death camp in Germany. To have such faith…wow.

Her life impacted so many and does even today. What a life story! Have you heard of Corrie? Have you had a chance to read any of her books?


…live as those who can never be the same…

“It’s time for you and me to live as those who can never be the same because we have encountered both the great power and the great love of I AM. And in the days to come, when you’re questioning, needing, searching, wondering, asking, and struggling, you will find HIS sufficiency at the end of  every desperate prayer. When you cry out all the things that you are not, you’ll know HIS answer is, “I AM.””
I Am Not, But I Know I AM
Louie Giglio


Louie Giglio, who helps lead the Passion Movement, is one of my favorite preachers of modern times. He has a way of bringing out the amazing truths of scripture. This has been one of my favorites of Giglio’s books since I read it a couple years after college. What a beautiful truth to know the Great I Am!

Have you read any of his works? What do you think of this quote? I would love to hear your thoughts as always!

The Reason for God | Timothy Keller

Why hello modern day C.S. Lewis. I mean, for real Timothy Keller. For real. This is by far one of the best Christian apologetic books I’ve read in a while. It’s an easy read, yet so many great points to think about and ponder. Whether a skeptic or believer, you should read The Reason for God! I believe a decision about faith is too important a matter to not think about it.

Here’s the list of chapters so you have a better idea of what he covers. The first part he address is common arguments against Christianity and the second is reasons for belief in Christianity.

Timothy Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, addresses the frequent doubts that skeptics and non-believers bring to religion. Using literature, philosophy, anthropology, pop culture, and intellectual reasoning, Keller explains how the belief in a Christian God is, in fact, a sound and rational one. To true believers he offers a solid platform on which to stand against the backlash toward religion spawned by the Age of Skepticism. And to skeptics, atheists, and agnostics he provides a challenging argument for pursuing the reason for God.

Part 1: The Leap of Doubt

  1. There Can’t Be Just One True Religion
  2. How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?
  3. Christianity is a Straitjacket
  4. The Church is Responsible for So Much Injustice
  5. How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?
  6. Science Has Disproved Christianity
  7. You Can’t Take the Bible Literally

Part 2: The Reasons for Faith

  1. The Clues of God
  2. The Knowledge of God
  3. The Problem of Sin
  4. Religion and the Gospel
  5. The (True) Story of the Cross
  6. The Reality of the Resurrection
  7. The Dance of God


There’s lots of quotes to share, so let’s dive right in!

“Everyone has faith in something….What is religion then? It is a set of beliefs that explain what life is all about, who we are, and the most important things that human beings should spend their time doing.”

“At the very heart of [Christians'] view of reality was a man who died for his enemies, praying for their forgiveness.”

“Love is the most liberating freedom-loss of all. Human beings are most free and alive in relationships of love [whether for a friend or romantic love].”

Regrading injustice: “When people have done injustice in the name of Christ they are not being true to the spirit of the one who himself died as a victim of injustice and who called for the forgiveness of his enemies. When people give their lives to liberate others as Jesus did, they are realizing the true Christianity that Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and other Christian voices have called for.”

“If there is no God, then there is no way to say any one action is “moral” and another “immoral” but only “I like this.” If that is the case, who gets the right to put their subjective, arbitrary moral feelings into law?”

On the resurrection: “The resurrection also puts a burden of proof on it’s nonbelievers. It is not enough to simply believe Jesus did not rise from the dead. You must then come up with a historically feasible alternative explanation for the birth of the church. You have to provide some other plausible account for how things began…If the resurrection of Jesus happened, however, that means there’s infinite hope and reason to pour ourselves out for the needs of the world.”

So now that I just did a quote slam, what do you think? Have you read any of Keller’s writings? Any of the quotes resonate? I would love to hear your thoughts!

…at work in our brokenness…

“As mature Christians, we begin to recognize His presence in the face of adversity too – seeing God powerfully at work in our brokenness.”
Blessed Be Your Name
Matt and Beth Redman


We live in a hurting and broken world. If you haven’t had tragedy strike in your own personal life, then all you have to do is watch the news and you’ll see stories of loss, heartache and pain. But! (What a beautiful word sometimes) I hold on to the truth there’s hope. Hope for something beautiful and faith that through it all is a God still at work. So wherever you’re at today, hold onto to that beautiful hope Redman so wonderful points out!

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