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Summit 2012

May 4, 2012

Summit 2012

You can watch the conference live! For those who have a little time during the day check out the movement and get involved.

World Orphans: “God’s Heart for the Orphan is His Heart for You”

April 10, 2012

When seeking to advocate for the defenseless, I tend to struggle with where and how to begin. How do you effectively advocate or “speak up” for those who can’t speak for themselves? This could be a daunting task if scripture had not already specified how God has done this on our behalf. It is interesting and yet humbling to know you and I were indeed orphans – without Christ. We needed God the Father to “speak up” on our behalf and call us by name into His glorious kingdom and family. We couldn’t bring ourselves to His grace. He had to initiate our freedom and redemption. This is not of our own doing.

An orphan had no control on what decision his/her parents made nor have they any idea in what might happen to them with no oversight or nurture. The church is not only asked but demanded to speak up and care for theses children and we cannot forget this at any cost. If God is the Father, who is the mother? Think about it…

Check out this blog I follow from “World Orphans” by Jedd Medefind. I encourage you also to take a few moments and think the question he gives you at the end of the post.

Read the full post here.

We see God’s strange interest in the people on the margins carved upon every page of Scripture. It was evident in Yahweh’s selection of a nation of slaves to be his special people. It echoed in his choice of sheep-tenders to be the first to hear news of the Incarnation…

Houston’s Orphan Aliance (1418)

April 10, 2012

Houston’s Orphan Aliance (1418)

The Alliance 1418 is a network of adoption, foster & orphan care church ministries that have a passion for caring for the fatherless.  John 14:18 tells us that our Father in heaven will not leave the orphans and that He will come to them, that He will be their advocate.  These church ministries are following God’s command to care for the orphan and the Alliance1418 desires to support this and be a network that provides resources, connecting with each other in order to equip and support families on their adoption, foster and orphan care journey.

Operation Christmas Store

December 14, 2011

Operation Christmas Store this Sunday! Pray God moves in the lives of everyone there. 300 Foster children will be receiving gifts for Christmas and loved on by Houston Northwest Church. Pretty cool to see a church step up to defend and love the orphans in Houston!! Let’s get after it!!

Houston NW is hosting a very special outreach event for foster families:

December 18  |  3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

We will be transforming our campus into a “Christmas to Remember” for hundreds of children and their foster parents. HNW church members will have the opportunity to connect with these families and help them to know the hope that can be found in Christ and assure them HNW is a church filled with people who care about their destiny.

While foster parents “shop” at our Christmas Store, the children will be involved in a variety of fun games and activities. This special day promises to be one that will delight these foster families and provide HNW members with an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love for them!

Do you want to make a difference in someone’s life this Christmas? There are many ways for you to get involved:

  • Attend one of the Wednesday night Operation Christmas Store preparation sessions scheduled; next two sessions are taking place on Wednesday, December 7, and Wednesday, December 14, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
  • Select a gift tag off of one of the Giving Trees on the HNW campus and purchase a gift for the Christmas Store. Return your gifts by December 13 at one of the gift drop off tables in the Worship Center and Kidventure atriums.
  • Donate gift wrap, gift bags, bows and tape for wrapping gifts in the Christmas Store. Donation boxes are next to the Giving Trees.
  • Click here to make an online donation for the purchase of gifts for the Christmas Store.
  • Sign up below to volunteer to serve at the Christmas Store.

Kenya | Please Help!

April 29, 2011

Well, we have now been here for 1 month! A lot has happened already, so I wanted to give everyone an update on how we are doing! We are truly loving being with family – it is such a blessing! You appreciate family even more when you’ve spent so much time far away. Reilly loves it here! She goes swimming almost every day and loves spending time with her Granddad, GiGi and Nana. Stephanie has been able to relax a lot before baby Houlden James joins us in August, and we’re both so thankful for all the help we’re getting with Reilly.

As for me, working for myself has been busy, which is good! Design by Tipton is acquiring more and more business, and we are so thankful. God truly has provided for us in a somewhat stressful time. Unfortunately, the sale of our home fell through, so we are back on the market. This turn of events definitely holds up some things for us, but we are trusting God and His sovereign timing. We are so thankful for Houston Northwest Church welcoming us back into the family as if we had never left! They have already been such a support to us through love and encouragement.

Despite all the craziness of the last month, I have been able to devote a lot of time to Love 4 the Orphan. I have had the privilege of building relationships with leaders of a new church alliance in Houston that is committed to orphan care locally and globally. I’ve been able to share my vision of beginning a music/arts ministry for foster children and parents, and I am continuing to research the foster care needs in our local community. I attended a foster care/adoption informational meeting for Montgomery County to learn more details about the process, and Stephanie and I are praying about beginning this process ourselves. We have to wait until we move into our own home, so please pray that our house in Washington sells. Pray that God’s hand would lead us in his timing. Additionally, I have several meetings coming up, with leaders from foster care agencies, church leaders in Houston, and CPS representatives about the process of launching the ministry God has called me to start.

Finally, I’m most excited about the trip to Kenya the Lord wants me to go on in July! The agenda for this trip is overwhelming. We are going to evangelize, support an orphanage with 54 gorgeous children, kick off a pastors conference, facilitate a large village field day event, going into schools to love the students, going into prisons to reach the prisoners and much more!! I have begun attending meetings to prepare for this trip believing that the Lord is going to do something amazing. I will have the opportunity to visit an orphanage and do exactly what God has called me to do! Love the fatherless. The abandoned. I cannot wait!

Needs:

1. Prayer – With everything going on in our lives right now, we are forced to fully rely on God. So many things are out of our hands, so our faith is truly being tested! We can use prayer in the following areas:

a. The sale of our home – this is the biggest road block we are currently facing. We are held up in many ways (buying a home in Houston, pursuing our foster care license, etc.), so it puts us in yet another waiting game. Pray that we trust God’s timing and that a legitimate buyer comes our way.
 
b. Our church home – We have been welcomed back to HNW church with open arms, and it is most definitely our church home right now. We praise God for that community of believers!! It has been a rock for us, along with our families, in a very overwhelming phase of life. The more we do at HNW, the more we feel that we will probably stay. However, before we moved here, we wanted to consider other options rather than automatically going where we are most comfortable. Please pray that we will trust God and obey if he calls us away.

2. Provision
Financially, Stephanie and I are a little stuck. Between starting a new business and waiting for the sale of our home, we are forced yet again to trust in God’s provision. I still believe that God is calling me to be a part of the Kenya trip in July, so I am reaching out for help. The cost of the trip is $3,000, and I know with your help we can raise this quickly. Please help me in bringing the good news to those in Kenya and to love those God cares sooo deeply about! We have set up a link for people to easily contribute online, so if you are able to give and feel like you want to support me in this exciting step in my ministry, please click below!

Thank you!! Just by following this blog, you are showing your love and support, and I appreciate it more than you know. If you have any questions at ALL, please email me!

Made the Move…now what?

April 7, 2011

As many of you know, our family made the move to Texas and are now getting settled. It is surreal to think we are finally here. The transition of moving from Washington to Texas has been strenuous to say the least and we never anticipated all the emotions, sacrifices, and complications that are wrapped up in making such a big move across the country. Moving from Washington was difficult, because that is where our family began to take root. Many of our friendships where established there, our daughter was born there, and our faith was made strong there. We helped start a church where both of us were used to help build up others in Christ. We were used by the Spirit to work hard in bringing the gospel to one of the darkest and most unchurched regions of the US. It was truly one of the most challenging and rewarding times of our lives. Now, it’s time to move forward with what the Lord is leading us to do.

What about love4theorphan?

Being held up in a 3 month transition of moving to a completely different state has given me itchy feet and has made me eager to get started on this new venture of ministry. While we get settled and finish closing on our home back in Seattle, we are forced to take a deep breath for a moment and rest in what God has done up until this point in our lives. Here’s a rough draft of a timeline I’m creating for next few months to communicate a plan of action:

April:

  1. Finding a home…(church and family)
  2. Establish relationships with churches that have orphan care opportunities,
  3. Join the orphan care alliance of churches in Houston
  4. Build a prospectus to share the vision and accumulate funding
  5. Look for volunteers to help with admin

May:

  1. Begin researching the foster care epidemic in Houston
  2. Begin finding and meeting with agencies in our area
  3. Meet with our local body and share the vision of love4theorphan and the need around our city
  4. Share the vision with musicians from that church and get commitments to serve later in September
  5. Begin preparing for Kenya trip in July

June:

  1. Prepare for trip to Kenya in July
  2. Establish relationships with group homes in our area
  3. Continue research of foster care agencies throughout all of Houston
  4. Build a curriculum for music lesson nights

July

  1. Prepare for trip to Kenya
  2. July 25th-August 6th / Visit orphanage in Eld0ret, Kenya with 52 Children

August

  1. Re-evaluate the trip
  2. Having a baby boy!!
  3. Helping Momma with our newborn

September

  1. Begin once a week music lesson night at our local church with other musicians
  2. Continue establishing relationships with group homes and foster care agencies
  3. Begin planning trip to “Together for Adoption” Conference in October.

Father/Mentor Figures | Jim Houlden

February 23, 2011

I remember the struggle of coping with my biological father’s death and how I desperately wanted to reconcile things from the past. I remember the insecurity I walked around with when returning home to Seattle, WA after hearing about the tragic news of his death during our Christmas vacation with family in Houston, TX back in 2009. I was embarrassed for trying to find him and even dreaming of the day I would meet him and forgive him in person. I wanted to introduce him to my life now. I wanted him to know the man I had become and the beautiful family God has blessed me with. I felt alone and confused during that time. I knew I had a lot of support around me. I was blessed to have a strong family and church to call home where people surrounded me with love and prayer. What I didn’t expect was the letter I received from my wife’s father. It was and has been the most encouraging letter I have ever received in my life.

It’s funny to look back on the events of meeting my wife and then her introducing me to her family. Stephanie comes from a kick-butt family. Her mother and father are successful and love each other and she and her sister are abnormally smart and educated (and gifted I might add). The events leading to our marriage have been unto this day…a miracle. A true miracle I tell you. I do not deserve to be married to someone of such caliber. I don’t know how I ended up in this family. My life is in fact a true “Aladdin” story. I know some of you might smirk when reading that, but I think it’s the truth. I was a street rat who ended up with the world’s hottest, smartest, and most thoughtful princess.

Now when imagining a women like that, you have got to agree that her father would probably be protective and even pessimistic of the jerk who is pursuing his daughter. That jerk was me. I was very immature at the time, but it didn’t matter. Jim looked past that. He trusted his daughter and even me. He was gentle but also stern in his acceptance. There were guidelines and trust me…I have withstood the wrath of the man. I have had “the talk”. All dads know what I mean when I say that, so I won’t go any further. I remember him saying to me on the day of our engagement, “Matt, you can call me whatever you feel comfortable with.” He went on to say, “If you want to call me dad, that will bless me, but if you feel more comfortable calling me Jim, then you can call me that. Just know that you can call me whatever you want.” This was an amazing gift and privilege and I wanted nothing more than to call my wife’s father “Dad”. It felt natural.

Now to get back to “the letter”…I remember this day like it was yesterday. I remember the tears that fell when I read it. It might have been just a letter to many and even to Jim, but to me it was a statement of love and acceptance that I will never forget. He didn’t have to write what he did, nor was he forced into it out of obligation. He was genuinely grieved for my father’s loss and wanted me to know how loved I was. He addressed the fact that what I went through must have been hard and that he couldn’t imagine the pain I must be going through. He then went on to say that he remembered his father’s death and how hard that was for him. He told me about the influence his father had in his life and that he is extremely thankful for him and what he meant to his development as a man. He told me about the love his father had for him as a boy until he was married all the way up unto his death. I could sense the respect and love Jim had for his dad. He then went on to say that he understood that I didn’t have that. He said he wanted to be that in my life. Wow, I choke up just typing this. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times the man has said I was “worth it”. Many times I heard him tell me that he was proud of who I am and that he believes in me. Awesome…

I have watched him love his wife, care and uplift his children, treat others with respect and dignity, give selflessly time and time again, and never complain about the troubles he had to go through growing up. I have gained so much wisdom from him and I want nothing more than to model my life after him. To this day he is teaching me to be a gentle and accepting father, a loving husband, and a strong and confident man. I need to be confident and I desperately need other men in my life like Jim to teach me how. The world needs more men like Jim and I hope to become a fraction of the man he has become over the course of his lifetime.

I’m so excited about being this to other fatherless children. Many fatherless children are begging to hear that they can make a difference in this world, that they matter, and that they are worth it. I want to tell them they are all these things. I want to love them and encourage them. I owe it to them because of what Christ has done in my life. I owe it to these children to lift them up and bless them in their affliction because of the way God has brought me into his family.

Lord, help me to be this to many!

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