2012: A Year to Remember


But if you’re anything like me, it’s so easy to let the loudness of life—the perpetual busyness, the multi-tasking, and the to-do list a mile long—to overshadow the moments that make our journey through life worth it in the first place.

Sometimes I have to see to remember. So I began looking through the images that were captured from last year’s travels—from conferences and colleges in the U.S. to the impoverished communities of developing countries all around the world.

With each photograph, a flood of memories washed over me. Beginning with Operation Baby Rescue (OBR), I thought of the dozens of babies our team helped rescue while in Guatemala—each one of their little faces lighting up in my mind, each one with a story.

I saw their young mothers weeping with joy and relief. I saw the tired eyes of a father come to life as a nurse leaned over to say, “She’s going to make it.”

From the bright lights of a stage, I saw the faces of hundreds of college students from all over the country eager to become a part of this extraordinary movement that is saving the lives of children.

I saw small groups sipping coffee and excitedly planning Rescue Nights. I saw advocates who were passionate about the destitute and about bringing justice for the marginalized and forgotten.

But the impact wasn’t just limited to rescuing babies. I saw stay-at-home moms joining forces with young professionals, grandparents, and elementary school kids to find ways to fight poverty from a world away. This Christmas, they generously gave to provide chickens, fruit trees, clean water wells, and so much more through Gifts of Hope . . . gifts that transformed families and communities alike.


Although I’m involved in so many projects and causes, it seemed fitting that the year began and ended with my eyes on Operation Baby Rescue. With your overwhelming support, we finished the year big—raising the funds to rescue 347 children suffering from malnutrition, disease, and abject poverty. And the world is taking notice.

The January/February issue of Christianity Today highlights the miracle of OBR in a featured story entitled “The Great Tiny Baby Rescue.” It’s a look back to OBR’s remarkable 2012 chapter, with a glimpse of what’s in store for 2013 . . . The perfect way to reflect on what has truly been “A Year of Hope” in the lives of so many children.

I’m taking these moments and all these unforgettable memories with me into 2013. With flashes of creativity that propelled us through challenges, moments of kindness given and received, tears shed, laughter shared, and lives changed . . . it’s these moments that stay with us.

That’s why remembering is so important. It makes us move. It makes us invest. It makes us hope.

What will 2013 look like for you? Are you ready to make it memorable? Start by making a difference in someone’s life today. Even if you forget . . . they never will.


The Dust on Your Shoes

“He’s risen to something. But he’s still got the dust of the streets on his shoes.”  Jack Roeser

We have not been able to talk or think about anything else. The Newtown tragedy has consumed our thoughts, and those precious children break our hearts. Each one of us can relate in some way.

My son’s friend texted him this week a picture of his basketball shoes. On them were written by hand the names of each child who was lost in Newtown – Grace, Charlotte, Ana, Noah, James … He told him to do this with his shoes too.

When tragedy strikes, we look for ways to honor the ones we lost and to remember … to never forget.

Whenever I return home from a Baby Rescue trip, I have a little system. My whole suitcase goes down to the laundry room and sits for a few days. My theory is this – if any creatures decided to hitch a ride home with me, they can come out in the basement laundry room instead of my bedroom or closet. After a few days I will begin to do the laundry, but the last thing I always clean are my shoes.  They come back stained by the roads I traveled while I was away. These shoes at times walk through mud, dirt and filth that we cannot imagine, living here in the United States. But they lead me to mothers and children who are desperate – mothers and children I simply cannot forget.

The dust of poverty and hopelessness remain with me long after I return home.  To be honest, part of me doesn’t want to clean the dust off of my shoes. It is the last physical reminder of where I have been and what I have seen. It is as if that dust represents each child – like I have written their names on my shoes … Blanca, Diego, Marta, Danny, Guadalupe, Henry …

This Christmas I am so very thankful for all of the advocates that have joined the rescue with me. They have not forgotten. They have written the names of these children on their hearts and have passionately carried this cause. And as a result, hundreds have been rescued.

But there is still so much more to do. In a few days we will celebrate hope coming to the world.  That hope should inspire us and challenge us to get involved and to do more.  So, let’s keep the dust on our shoes a little longer … and never forget.

Join the rescue.


This week you are hearing from Michele again. Perhaps like her, you did not know about Operation Baby Rescue last year … but you know now. And knowledge forces us to answer some tough questions in life. With knowledge comes responsibility. But responsibility can provide some incredible opportunities and … hope! Hear how Michele answers the question, “What if in giving, someone else’s life might be saved?” 

Last year at this time, mostly all the Christmas presents had been bought. More stuff to add to our already abundant stash. While running out of ways to camouflage the gifts, and hiding places were filled to overflowing, I sat empty.

I know there has to be more, more than just consuming at Christmas, I thought.

I believe these words as Truth spoken from the One whom Christmas is about, “It is more blessed to give, than receive.” Yet for all my life, what has driven my heart more than giving at Christmas, is getting. Getting the best deals, the most popular toy, the latest in technology. Yet, in all that getting, it never quite seemed enough.

“What would be the reward for the person who knew the meaning of enough?…If we really understood the meaning of enough, we would choose to live very differently. We would use our resources to help more people instead of buying more things for ourselves. We would be satisfied with what we have instead of always wanting more. We would lead a very different life.”Awake by Noel Brewer Yeatts,

Different is what we decided. We prayed for a turning of hearts from asking, “What can we get?” to “What can we give?” We decided last year the money that would normally go to buying presents to add to our already robust lot, instead will be given to help someone in desperate need. We took the step as a family, and we took it in faith. Whatever the need that we are to fill, as a family, we sought God, and He believed He would lead us to it.

He has been faithful in leading, and now I must be faithful in the following.

Though I did not know about Operation Baby Rescue last holiday season when we told our children Christmas will be for Christ the following year. That by giving to others, we give to Him — Whom He loves becoming our priority. I know now.

Jesus came to give His life that ours might be saved.

This question sobers me now. What if in giving, someone else’s life might be saved?

Will you consider giving to help save a life? Will you join the rescue?

A Year of Hope

This year I have been working with hundreds of advocates across the country to make 2012 a year of hope. As the year is coming to a close, it is amazing to see all that has been accomplished and all that is ahead. I am beyond excited for the launch of this new video and our Christmas campaign. Take a minute to watch … you will be encourage and inspired.  And you might just decide to join the rescue!

2 weeks later …

It has been 2 weeks since I stepped off the plane from Guatemala and back into the hustle and bustle of my daily, crazy life. In the course of my day, there is not a lot of time to reflect or think back on all I experienced … the children I held, the stories I heard. Yet, for some reason I do find myself reflecting whenever I get the chance. I just can’t shake this one … too many stories, too much pain, too much emotion. And if I don’t reflect, I will simply go numb. I will block it out. I will move on.

But, the problem is, I don’t want to move on. I don’t want to forget. And, today, I’m thankful that I’m not the only one.

Take a minute to read what my new friend Lauren wrote this morning about Legacy. She was with me in Guatemala and was profoundly impacted … and I am so thankful for that. She is now using her voice to become an advocate for these children.

Thank you Lauren for reminding me that leaving a legacy is about so much more than me … it’s about changing a life.


At the End of your Tears

Nothing left.

Emotions pushed to the brink.

Tears shed until no more are left.

What do you do when you find yourself at the end of your tears?

Just two days ago we rescued a group of seven children. I tried to know each and every name and each and every heartbreaking story. How much did they weigh, what were their symptoms and prognosis? Did they have any family? Were they going to make it? Did the rescue come in time?

I feverishly took notes, but after helping rescue more than 16 children in less that 48 hours, I must confess, they started to run together. Each new story seemed worse than the one before. Little details of little lives …

Yeterday I heard the words, I never wanted to hear … “we lost one”. I didn’t want to believe it. “One of the ones we rescued?”, I asked. As if it really mattered whether I was part of the rescue or not. But, it mattered to me. I know that not all the children make it, but I didn’t want one of the ones I helped rescue to lose their battle.

He was one of the seven. He had almost gone unnoticed. There were so many children that day and he did not get to ride in the ambulance. He rode along in another truck and in the rush of activity and chaos in the rescue center, I barely noticed him or his condition.

I knew I had details on each child, so I looked up my notes only to find this:

Nelson Alexander | 1 year old | 13 pounds | Malnutrition | Diarrhea

While his condition was certainly not good, it paled in comparison to the other children rescued that day.

But overnight, he had developed some breathing problems. And, in the early morning hours as they rushed him to the hospital, he died.

This beautiful boy who had been alive only hours before, was gone. He was the only son of his young 19-year-old mother.

There are not enough tears or words to express what I experienced yesterday. I will never forget it as long as I live.

As another group of children were coming in on a rescue and the staff was rushing around to treat each and every one, a funeral was happening on the porch of the rescue center.

The small white casket sat alone. The mother sat nearby knowing that these were the last moments that she would ever see the face of her little boy.

When I glanced in the casket, I could barely stand the sight. He looked so alive … just like he was sleeping.

Carlos and I gathered around the casket with the mother. He asked me to say a few words … what do you say to a mother who has lost her first and only child?

My words were few and I felt totally unprepared … but who would be prepared for something like this.

As I leaned over the casket I could not control my emotion and had to walk away … it was simply too much.

My crying turned to sobbing and I struggled to pull myself together.

As I walked back in the rescue center and just as I had calmed down, I realized the entire center was full … full of babies struggling and fighting for their lives.

My crying stopped – there were no tears left.

So, what do you do when you are at the end of your tears – when you are emotionally spent … done … and simply overwhelmed?

You fight. You fight for the ones you can still fight for and you let the ones you lose inspire you to keep going. For some we will simply be too late, but for so many others we will be just in time.

The same name

River Rescues

Today was an adventure and one I will never forget. I’ve done this before, but it never gets old and never gets any easier. We rescued 7 children today … 7 young lives. Their journey started hours away in the mountains and carried them all the way to a river bank where our group was waiting. We crossed the raging river … and I mean raging … to reach them.  (it had rained heavily the night before and the river was overflowing) The river was so rough that we had to wear life jackets. The waves in the water hit the side of the canoe with such force that the water came splashing in the boat – filthy water with trash and debris floating in it. I didn’t know what to be more afraid of – falling out of the boat and being dragged down the river, or having this filthy, contaminated water splash all over me or even get in my mouth. I was reminded that this is the same water the people in the surrounding communities bathe in, wash their clothes in and even … drink.

River Rescue in Guatemala

When we reached the other side we were met with 7 children and their families. Malnourishment, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, breathing problems, pneumonia, scabies, parasites … these were just a few of the issues affecting these children.

They bravely entered the canoe with us and made it to the other side where an ambulance was waiting to take them to the rescue center.

River Rescues

Through Operation Baby Rescue, the stories of 7 children are being rewritten today. Our goal is to raise the funds to rescue 1,000 children by the end of this year … children just like the 7 we rescued today. Tomorrow (Thursday) we are hosting a live chat – live from the Baby Rescue Center and answering all your questions about Operation Baby Rescue. Tune in and learn how you can join the rescue.

Watch this short clip with the story of one of the children rescued.

Watch the video on Vimeo.

I Knew You Would Come

Chapter Five “I Knew You Would Come” from World Help.

As I finished writing this chapter in Awake, I was getting ready to leave on a very special trip to Guatemala. It was the first visit where I would see the Baby Rescue Program in its entirety – from start to finish. I knew we were helping save babies and young children, but I had no idea the lengths our partners were going to make that happen.

All I could do was speculate on what I would see and experience. I could only imagine the long roads I would travel, the hills I would hike, the intense heat I would feel, and the beautiful face of the desperately hurting child I would find just waiting for our arrival. In my heart, I imagined they would say “I knew you would come”.

This week I am leaving again for Guatemala and I am thinking a lot about the word “rescue”. I believe that somewhere deep inside, we all want to be rescued from something . . . financial troubles, bad relationships, a dead-end job, addictions, etc. And as people of faith, we know what it truly means to be rescued. But what if we believed that we were rescued in order to rescue?

It is true that so many children around the world are waiting. “They are waiting to be rescued from hunger, disease, sickness, abuse, and slavery. They long to say ‘I knew you would come’.” (Awake)  And their stories inspire me to keep going…

We just admitted a baby into the rescue center weighing 2 pounds 12 ounces and is only 6 weeks old. Our team is working very hard to keep this baby alive and need the prayers of everyone at World Help at this crucial moment. This is a family of nine from the mountains and they have already buried two of their children due to malnutrition and contaminated water.


Our goal this year is to rescue 1,000 babies. We have already reached more than 10% of our goal – and I admit, we have a long way to go. But, I am committed to telling the stories of these children. I am committed to being their voice. That is all I can do.  And, that is exactly what I am going to do this week.

I am launching a new blog and I encourage you to follow my daily video posts of this incredible trip. Let me introduce you to the children of Guatemala. They will steal your heart and inspire you to action.  I can tell their stories, but I need you to spread the word. Use your voice, share their inspiring stories with your network of family and friends – and together let’s save some lives.