Spectrum

I refer to the notion of a spectrum often as a representation of variations of some original or unifying element. In a nutshell, there is often the good, the bad, and everything in between. Or, it might not be a question of good and bad, but, instead, merely a survey of the colors of the rainbow. But, here, this evening, I’m thinking of a spectrum that encompasses the darkest, hardest times that I experienced in the midst of my Dad’s decline and eventual passing due to brain cancer, as well as extremely bright moments that have surfaced since. There are people all around me who, at times, have walked along with me carrying a portion of my load. There are others who have offered a word of encouragement or a prayer. Then there are some who have, much like Jesus, completely lifted the load off of my back and replaced it with the far lighter weight of hope. It is a load that, I’m learning, will continue to be an encouragement for me as long as I trust the source of the light in this spectrum of my life and continue to take each step with Him as He moves.

When I read a particular e-mail from Hands and Feet Project director Mark Stuart saying that they wanted to honor my Dad by naming the kitchen after him in the new home being built for older boys at their Haitian orphan care location in Grand Goave, Haiti, it was a life-changing watershed moment. The darkness of mourning was peeled back to reveal sunshine-bright rays of hope and the hollow feeling of hopelessness and loss was replaced by meaning and purpose. At that moment, precisely, color started to saturate my life’s canvas again, but, to a greater degree than it ever had before. At that moment, my Dad’s legacy was transformed from the dark agony that he suffered through at the end of his life into a ray of hope shining through the windows of a place known as “Grandpa Rockwell’s Kitchen” in Haiti. From a room bearing his name, children will receive their daily meals and nourishment for years to come.

The Hands and Feet Project changed my life with one overwhelmingly gracious gesture. This is significant considering the fact that the consolation of mourning sons who’ve lost their fathers isn’t even the focus of the work they do. So, imagine just how much more of a significant impact they have on each and every child’s life that enters the safe walls of their Hands And Feet Children’s Villages in Haiti, leaving behind the hopelessness, hunger, malnutrition, fear, and despair that they were born into.

When the orphaned and abandoned children of Haiti are taken in by The Hands and Feet Project they are literally walking away from death and into life. Unfortunately, however, The Hands And Feet Project is now at full capacity with 100 children living full-time in their two Children’s Villages. The Hands And Feet Project needs your help to raise the funds to build two new buildings in order to expand and be able to take care of more children who’ve been abandoned or orphaned.

This is their life story and your support will play a critical roll in allowing hope to shine on it. It will mean absolutely everything to them.

This is my Dad’s story, too. His memory will now live on with The Hands And Feet Project and in the daily lives of these kids.

This is my life story, too. I’ve been graciously blessed and I will stand by these children. I’m asking you to stand up with me.

http://www.handsandfeetproject.org

https://www.facebook.com/BeardsHandsAndFeetProject

Joy: Is It All In My Head?

Joy. It is the feeling I experienced today, mixed equally with gratitude, when I received the news over the phone from my neurologist’s nurse that the MRI I underwent three days ago showed “no acute change” in the pineal region of my brain where a ruptured benign brain tumor was removed fourteen years ago. It had been two years since my last MRI. The discovery of basal cell skin cancer on the side of my head this past fall (which has since been removed) raised concerns that adverse consequences might be surfacing from radiation treatments I received in the fall of 1998 to treat the pineal gland tumor. This heightened concern, in combination with a string of headaches I’ve been experiencing for a couple of weeks, had me on edge and fearing the worst leading up to and since the MRI. But, the news that I received today released, in me, a surge of gratitude for what I view very sincerely as a new lease on life. Its like I just came up from the bottom of the deep end of the pool and broke through the surface of the water, able to take in a chest full of oxygen that, just moments before, I wasn’t sure I would ever get close to again.

“Joy.” It is the word that the lead singer of Audio Adrenaline used repeatedly in a conversation that I had with him after his band’s 481088_10151484213989268_2073100386_nconcert in Gaffney, SC, two nights ago. The band was in Haiti last year to shoot a music video for the song “Kings & Queens” which can be heard frequently on Christian radio these days. The song is focused on the plight of orphans in Haiti, children who are living examples of what Jesus referred to in scripture as “the least of these.” What struck Kevin most during his time there was the utter joy exhibited by the children being served in the children’s villages of The Hands & Feet Project. He explained that, in comparison to the lives of Haitian children outside the reach of orphan care, the children currently being served by Hands and Feet are healthy, happy, and fully alive. Thanks to the Hands and Feet Project they are cared for, sheltered, educated, given health care, and raised in a loving, family-style environment that allows them to develop as children with the hope of a future.

The hope of a future, however, is simply not there for so many Haitian children who live in a country where only half of the population has access to clean drinking water and only half of Haitians fifteen years of age or older can read and write. Kevin described the prevalence of parents who sell their children off into the abandon them at the local hospital, sex trade, abandon them at the local hospital, or worse. A disproportionate number of adults drowning in the hopelessness that surrounds them in Haiti choose to commit suicide and take their children with them. We’re not talking about kids whose parents just can’t afford new Nikes for their child on the first day of the new American public school year. We’re talking about a a sizable population of children who are abandoned in a country where the odds are already stacked heavily against those who do parents. In Haiti only half of the adult population can read and write and only half have access to clean drinking water. Without outside help, the children who’ve been abandoned have no hope.

But, in a way that I would imagine is, at least, comparable to the gratitude that I felt and the joy that I experienced when I received the news today that my MRI was clear, the children taken in by the Hands and Feet Project experience the joy that comes with the security of a loving family environment on a daily basis. Compared to where they come to The Hands and Feet Project from, they, too, get a new lease on life and, according to Kevin, their own joy and gratitude is tangible and clearly evident in the children that he was able to spend time with. So much so that it was the defining characteristic that he chose to share with me when I asked him to tell me about his experience in Haiti.

Right now, though, The Hands and Feet Project is running at full capacity and can’t take in any more orphans than they already have. They are, however, working to expand and need any help that can be given to do so. Please visit The Hands and Feet Project’s website to learn more about what you can do to “be like Jesus to the least of these.”

The Gap Is Wider Than You Realize

Even before the 2010 earthquake that rocked it to its foundation, Haiti’s ranking as the poorest nation in the western hemisphere was an indicator of the gap between the life we know as Americans and the need that exists there. Without social services to provide for even the basic nutritional and medial needs, children are often abandoned or worse when parents don’t have the means to care for them. The 2010 earthquake took a bad situation for the children of Haiti and blew it wide open. Many have lost their parents as a result of the earthquake and now struggle, malnourished, to survive on the streets on their own without care. Many, in fact, have already been lost due to such circumstances.

For a relative few Haitian children, in comparison to the size of the need that is there, hope has been rekindled thanks to organizations that have taken them in. One such organization, The Hands & Feet Project, established in 2004, now cares for about 100 orphaned and abandoned children in two different locations in Haiti. Their population of children is organized into houses which allow them to grow and thrive in a Christ-centered, family structured environment where they are cared for, receive education, medical care, shelter, and food. The mission of the Hands & Feet Project is to give these kids a chance to grow up and become healthy, educated, Christians that can have a significant and positive impact on the future of Haiti, in terms of the economy of Haiti, the Christian faith of Haiti, and the nation as a whole.

Now, in 2013, The Hands & Feet Project is trying to raise awareness and gather funding to support the building of new structures that will allow them to double their capacity and care for more of these children who would otherwise have very little hope of surviving.

I signed on to participate with a handful of other people in the 2013 Country Music Half Marathon as a means of raising money to support the mission of The Hands & Feet Project in Haiti. As a part of this fundraising campaign I started growing a beard on November first and was gratefully able to find sponsors to fund its continual, untrimmed growth through the Half Marathon on 4/27/13 at a rate of $5 per day. So, with a total of $740 raised by the beard, I will now be wearing this beard through the 27th and attempting to complete a 13.1 mile run with it before I shave it off. Since we reached full funding for the beard, a couple more sponsors have stepped forward to bring the total raised to $900.

Matthew 25:24-40 describes part of a parable that Jesus shared:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Likewise, James 1:27 states:

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
It would mean a great deal to me, but, more importantly to the kids in Haiti that will benefit from it, if you would prayerfully consider making a donation to The Hands & Feet Project. I would love to, at least, reach a $1000 total and we’re not that far off.

If you are willing, you can donate directly online to the Hands & Feet Project at http://www.handsandfeetproject.org

If you do donate, please let me know by e-mailing me or posting on the Beards Hands & Feet Project Facebook page so that I can keep track as we close in on the $1,000 goal.

EVERY. BIT. HELPS.

For more information about my fund-raising effort involving the beard, the half marathon, and The Hands & Feet Project, you can visit https://www.facebook.com/BeardsHandsAndFeetProject

To learn more about The Hands & Feet Project itself, visit their official page at http://www.handsandfeetproject.org

Audio Adrenaline Resonates With KINGS & QUEENS (music review)

KINGS & QUEENS Audio Adrenaline Out 3/12/13

KINGS & QUEENS is a delicious first offering from the remixed line-up of Audio Adrenaline. At once it is a respectful nod to the legacy of Audio Adrenaline with light, pop ringers like “He Moves, You Move,” and “King Of The Comebacks,” but, also, a bold step forward breaking new ground for the band with songs such as “The Answer,” and “Seeker.” Both tracks are delivered skillfully by Dave Ghazarian (guitar), Jared Byers (drums), Jason Walker (keyboard) and original Audio Adrenaline member Will McGinniss, in an arrangement with a vibe that fits new lead singer Kevin Max like a tailored Italian suit. While the album as a whole is well done, “20:17 (Raise The Banner),” and “I Climb The Mountain,” passionately communicate hope and inspiration in a manner that is sure to resonate with many listeners. The lead single “Kings & Queens” is currently rising through the top ten on the Billboard Christian Songs chart and rightfully so. It raises a flag of hope and awareness for the orphaned and once abandoned children in Haiti that are now being served, fed, sheltered, and educated through the Hands & Feet Project, an organization founded by Mark Stuart and Will McGinniss in 2004. In fact, the entire Audio Adrenaline relaunch is an integral part of The Hands & Feet Project’s effort to raise the awareness and support necessary to expand so that they can care for more children in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, where the need for such care is so desperately critical. Put together cooperatively by original singer Mark Stuart, original bass player Will McGinniss, and the rest of the 2013 Audio Adrenaline line-up, this project delivers cleanly on a musical level and definitely has the potential to deliver on a humanitarian level for the orphans of Haiti through The Hands & Feet Project. Those two factors alone make this one of the most important albums to pay attention to in a long time. The legacy of Audio Adrenaline is alive, well, and moving forward.