Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wrap Up in Hope: Purchase a Quilt to Support the Rescue1 Home

Handmade King Size Quilt -- $275 Shipped from Thailand

Don't you just love handmade quilts? I have several that my great-grandmother made. They speak to me of my mother's people, a hard-working heritage of sharecroppers and coal miners. When I wrap up in that quilt, I study the even, hand-sewn stitches and the color patterns, and I feel the strength of a woman who was the backbone of her family.

The quilt you see pictured above was made by the girls in one of the Rescue1 Homes of Refuge in Thailand. It is a beautiful, large king size quilt. These girls who have been rescued from a victim's life of despair are learning how to make something beautiful. They sell these quilts and all the proceeds go to support the home of 76 children, all rescued from a life in human trafficking. This is a handmade quilt made by the girls at one of the homes in Thailand. It is a large king size quilt and it is beautiful. They make them to raise support for their home of 76 children. There were two for sale earlier this week, and now there is just one.

Would you like to wrap up in this? When you do, you can feel the strength of these girls who have been given a chance to live a life free from the horrors of trafficking, and you can know that you are making a difference.

Drop me an email ASAP ( 2rebeccapowell [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll send you details for purchasing.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Don't Miss the Mission!

As Christians, we live every day on the mission field. My husband is currently on a mission trip serving with Rescue1 in Thailand. He is doing very concentrated, focused work on the mission field there, and he promised to write some blog posts to let people get a look at what he's doing and what Rescue1 does meeting the needs of orphans in several different group homes. I love that the first post he has written speaks to the fact that the mission field is anywhere our feet are. God is always faithful to provide us with opportunities to serve Him and minister to others--if we are ready to see them.

* * * * * 

My first missed opportunity was at the airport waiting on team members to arrive. A gentleman asked about my Rescue1 shirt. I responded with a polite, quick answer and continued to busily prepare my paperwork. I realized later that he had lingered, wanting to talk, and I had missed the opportunity.

The second missed chance to minister was basically the same. I got that familiar check in my spirit, that question God has to ask me far to often: Are you going to do your work or Mine? Thankfully, I did not leave the Nashville airport before He had my attention. The next opportunity was to come soon.

 As we were ready to roll down the runway for our 12 hour flight to Tokyo, the flight attendant came and asked if I would like to get out of the middle seat and take an an aisle seat for the trip. Of course I would! My new seat was next to a 21-year-old Navy man who was leaving for a 3 year tour of duty in Guam. As we talked, he shared that he was engaged and that he and his fiancĂ©e were expecting. To further add to his plate, he felt he would be re-routed to the Middle East very quickly, as tensions there are mounting. Off and on for 12 hours, God allowed me to sprinkle His love and grace on this young man. I asked God for His ears to hear and His words to encourage the young man to understand the love of Jesus. No preaching--mostly listening--and sowing seeds.

I left him with a prayer and my card in case he ever wants or needs to talk. As we exited the plane, I was thanking God for another chance to serve and to leave the results to the Holy Spirit.

* * * * *

What an adventure! Would you pray today for this young man and his situation? Pray that his heart would be open to God continuing to work in his life. If you've ever missed an opportunity to share your faith with someone, be reminded that another chance will come along soon. Ask God to help you to be ready to serve. 

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rescue1 Rodeo: What One Church Did About Human Trafficking (Video)

With 27 million people enslaved in the world today, how can you make a difference? You can care enough to do something...

Recently I had the privilege of working with my husband at the Rescue1 Rodeo in Jemison, AL (close to Birmingham), sponsored by the Amazing Grace Worship Center. It was literally my first rodeo, and it was so much fun--but the best part was that Amazing Grace WC raised tens of thousands of dollars for Rescue1, a ministry that is seeking to end human trafficking by raising awareness, by rescuing children in Asia from the sex traffic industry, and by rescuing women and children right here in the US who are being trafficked.

This rodeo came about because the Amazing Grace WC had a group of ladies who heard about what Rescue1 was doing, and they just decided to do something to help. They simply asked the Lord, What can we do? And then they did it.

Surrendered hearts, willing hands, and the audacity to believe that you can make a difference--that's what it takes to change the world.

The church raised over $25,000 at last year's rodeo, and this year's rodeo was blessed to more than double that amount! With 270 children being served in Thai orphanages, and many more who need a home, a hope, and a future, it is incredible to think of what can be accomplished with these monies. Below is a video clip from the local CBS TV station there in Birmingham. You'll see my husband Rich and with him is Genia Blankenship, the first lady of Amazing Grace WC.

Those stats blow your mind, don't they? Here they are again:

  • 300-400,000 American children introduced into the trafficking industry each year
  • $32 Billion in profit generated each year
  • The world's third largest illegal market (fast becoming the second largest)
  • 27 million people enslaved
  • 80% of all trafficking is sex trafficking
  • 12 - 13 years old is the average age of entry into the sex trafficking industry (both boys and girls)

My husband and I got to talk with a lot of people at the rodeo, sharing these stats with any who would listen. Many conversations were with people who had no idea that this kind of thing is going on. And when they wrap their heads around the fact that it goes on overseas, they are literally stunned to find out that it is going on right here at home. But it is. One lady we talked to became physically ill as we spoke with her. She understood prostitution but she had no idea that millions of women and children are being trafficked against their will. "I want to know more, and I want to know what God might be asking me to do now that I know this," she said, "but right now I am getting physically sick over it. It will take me a while to process this."

I know how she feels. Who wants to believe this? Who wants to wrap their heads around the truly dark, evil world we live in? Who wants to think of children as young as 3 and 4 being used for such evil, ugly purposes?

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke

When you look at this huge, gargantuan problem--and when you understand that Americans are the #1 consumers of sex trafficking--it does make you sick. But then, after you process, it should also make you want to do something about it.

At the Rescue1 Rodeo with my favorite cowboy!

My husband is traveling in Thailand with Rescue1 over the next couple of weeks, and he'll be guest posting right here on Mom Seriously so you can learn more about Rescue1 and the world-wide problem of human trafficking. Follow me on Twitter and I'll let you know when his posts are up.

Visit the Rescue1 website to learn more.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

5 Tips for First Time ACT Test Takers

Do you have a student taking the ACT test for the first time? There's no reason to stress when you learn these five tips for first time ACT test takers...

If you have a son or daughter taking the ACT college test for the first time this month, congratulations! You've come a long way! Don't let this college entrance exam make you or your child nervous. There's no need to stress and here's why: they are going to be taking it again. Yes--really. The ACT is not a one-time test--so don't look at it like it's a make-it-or-break-it kind of deal. That's why any student taking it for the first time can relax. The first time is the one and only time you should take it cold.

5 Tips for Taking the ACT for the First Time
Check out these 5 tips for taking the ACT for the first time from my son David, who created the ACT College Test website full of test prep tips and strategies. Talk these over with your test taker--and breathe!

Don't Study. Yep, you read that right. The first time you take the ACT test, you shouldn't study. In fact, you shouldn't prepare at all beyond a look at this list of the 21 Best ACT Tips (and a good night's sleep). What you're going for with this first time is to get a baseline--a where-I-stand-now score so you'll know what and how you should study next time.

Do Choose Your ACT testing site carefully. You're going to take the ACT again. Oh, believe me. You will. So, keeping that in mind, be sure that you choose carefully the testing site location. One of the best ways to insure that you get a higher score each time you take the test is by sticking with the same test site. It's one less thing to worry about. When you're familiar with the test location, you're going to be more relaxed and that makes for a higher score the second time around.

Do Eat Breakfast. It's a long test, okay? And no one around you will be able to function if your stomach is a growling distraction. Even if it's only a blueberry muffin (blueberries are great brain fuel) or a protein shake, your brain will think better when your stomach isn't empty.

Do Plan Ahead. Plan now for the next test date. Schedule it. Pay for it. When you walk in to your first stab at the ACT, you'll be much more relaxed knowing that the next test date has already been scheduled. Consider this your practice test. No matter how well you do on this first try, you are guaranteed to do better the second time you take it. With that in mind, the pressure's off.

Do Take Your Time. Go at a natural pace as you take the test. Keep track mentally of what parts you finished, what sections you almost finished, what you didn't finish, and what you almost didn't finish. Part of the strategy behind the ACT is just knowing how much time you have for each portion, and disciplining yourself to answer the questions within that framework. Knowing where you need to speed up, and where you have time to go back and check your answers, will help you when you take the ACT next time.

BONUS TIP: Make sure you know the answer to this all-important ACT test question.

Sharpen your No. 2 pencils and get to know the ACT test the first time you take it. Next time, things will be totally different!

Visit David's website, ACT College Test Prep, and find lots of information on strategies for taking the ACT test and getting the best score possible!

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Devotions for New Moms | Baby Boot Camp through the Years

This month I celebrate 13 years since my devotional book for new moms, Baby Boot Camp, was published. I'm excited to take a few minutes to celebrate the book--and the fact that now Baby Boot Camp is available in Spanish! 

My Book of Devotions for New Moms

"You wrote Baby Boot Camp! Oh, let me hug your neck!" Often I will meet ladies who read my very first book, Baby Boot Camp, and every time I do, it's a thrill. They never fail to bring me to tears as they tell me how much it meant to them to have a devotional book for new moms to carry them through those first few weeks with a new baby.

Aren't those some of the hardest weeks of your life? If you're a mom, you know those first weeks with a new baby are challenging in ways you could have never imagined.

:: Order Baby Boot Camp: Basic Training for the First Six Weeks of Motherhood

Spanish Devotions for New Moms

I'm especially excited that Baby Boot Camp is now available in a Spanish edition. It thrills me to see this new mom's devotion being given new life with a new voice that can further women's ministry to Hispanic new moms.

:: If you know a Spanish-speaking new mom, reach out to her with a copy of  Mi Bebe las Primeras Seis Semanas.

Classic Baby Boot Camp: The First Edition (Pink Baby Boot Camp)

Do you have a pink copy of Baby Boot Camp? That was my very first, self-published edition of the book. What an exciting journey that was with the Lord, for my whole family! Recently I got to see my dear friend Lynnae Hall, who posed with her newborn son, Hampton for that first cover. She is as lovely as ever.

For Baby Boot Camp to be 13 years old--Wow! It really seems incredible to me. When it was published, I was 33 years old, and my children were 8, 6, and 3. Read the story behind Baby Boot Camp here, and learn all the amazing circumstances that surrounded its publication.

If you're a Baby Boot Camp mom, I'd love to hear from you!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My 18th Year of Homeschooling: Last Man Standing

With two of three children graduated and out of the house, homeschooling looks a lot different this year. Now my youngest is the last man standing...

And then there was one.

And it happened really fast. Oh, it didn't seem so fast at the time. The days were long and full and sometimes frantic. There was always so much to do and so much that didn't get done and so much more that seemed to get pushed to the next day.

There were letters to learn and math facts to memorize and people to place on a history timeline.

There were stories--lots of stories--to read, to write, to tell, and to listen to.

There were breakfasts and snacks and lunch and snacks and dinner and snacks and dishes and baths and pj's and snuggles and laundry.

And if that is where you are today, enjoy it. Embrace it. Wring every drop of joy from those glorious "every day's" and rejoice that you get to do it. You get to be there. You get to watch it even thought you don't always see it because you are so caught up in it. You don't realize that the dominos are falling. It happens so fast and it is brilliant and miraculous and before you know it, you're down to one. Your youngest.

And he is taller than you. And so handsome. And very busy.

And that is exactly as it should be.

As I enter my 18th year of homeschooling, things might look a lot different from my first year, or my fifth, or even my tenth. But you know what it does look like? It looks like blessing. It looks like accomplishment. It looks like investments that paid off--deposits that earned interest--a harvest like no other! And while I'm the first to admit there have been plenty of tears as I have grieved the passing of one season to the next, there is a lot to look forward to this year with the last man standing. And I get to be here for it--wringing every drop of joy from these glorious "every day's."

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Setting Up Your Homeschool Student for a Successful Post-High School Journey

Over the years, I've enjoyed teaching many homeschooled high school students in writing and advanced writing classes. Every writing class that I've taught has included a research paper--but not just any research paper. I have my students do a career research paper. This is a semester-long project that includes researching a career through interviews, hands-on experiences, and lots of current Internet research. It never fails that there are students who become more determined than ever to pursue the career they chose to research. But sometimes, I will have students who encounter some unforeseen reality about their chosen career that causes them to veer off that path and onto something totally different. I'm always thankful when this happens, because in taking the time to do the research and talk to people, they are taking the time to make a wise choice regarding how they will spend their post high school years.

For example, Cal was a senior who was headed for the police academy. Then he researched what being a police officer was all about, including interviewing several men who were on the police force in our community. He had been excited about carrying a gun, but realized he wasn't so excited about having to use one. He soon decided he just wasn't wired for that kind of job. But he discovered he loved interviewing the officers and telling their stories. He changed his course and headed to get a degree in journalism.

Kellye wanted to be an emergency room nurse. When she was a child, her older brother had a severe accident and was rushed to the hospital. She remembered the ER as place where she felt safe and comforted. However, upon doing her research, she saw the ER in a different light. Being a nurse wasn't what she wanted to do at all. She wanted to be a social worker. Those were the people who had really helped her during her family's crisis.

When my son decided to pursue business, he needed to look at all aspects of it. He had a job that enabled him to learn how to be a great employee. After several months, he received a promotion, was moved to supervisor, and took on more responsibility overseeing a group of several people. Building his ACT test prep website gave him real life experience in learning how to manage his time, develop his web skills, and learn how to ask the right questions to learn from his mentors' life experiences. During his college summer internship, he learned more about business theories, skills, and strategies from people on the cutting edge of entrepreneurship--and he knew he loved it.

:: Learn how to plan a senior project and choose a senior project, and make your homeschool student's senior year unforgettable!

All this led to a new project of creating a business that will provide an income stream for him as he transitions into life as a college student. While I and others helped him navigate through his first website, with this new business, he's on his own, and he knows the importance of getting the word out.

Whatever your child chooses to take on, be sure that you have given him the tools to make a wise choice that fits him and his gifts. Then give him the time and space to do the research that will help him discover the reality behind the career he's interested in.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Homeschool Seniors | Choosing a Senior Project

Choosing a senior project for your homeschool senior student can be a lot of fun. Keep in mind their talents, gifts, and abilities and encourage them to set goals to make their project a reality.

My entrepreneurial son set his sites on eCommerce when he began mapping out his senior project. It seemed like the perfect fit for a burgeoning business student who loves to write, and he had a lot of fun doing it.

Visit David's website, ACT College Test HERE. His site's topic? Tips for mastering the ACT.

After homeschooling for over 17 years, I can honestly say that while we had a great experience, and I'm confident that my kids didn't come up short socially or academically, there was one thing that was missing during those high school years: a guidance counselor. During that all-important senior year, and really all of high school, it would have been really nice to have had a person acting in the role of a guidance counselor to help us navigate through testing, scholarships, college apps, career decisions, and more. I relied heavily on my circle of homeschooling friends who helped me find my way through.

One thing I had learned from my daughter's senior year was that we should have started ACT testing as a sophomore. (Poor oldest child! Guinea pig of the family!) I also learned from her experience how truly valuable (read $$$$$) that score can be when it comes to earning scholarships. David took the ACT test a total of three times, and his top overall score was a 32. That put him in a place of opportunity: for summer programs, for merit/academic scholarships, and for federal scholarships as well. Preparing for the ACT is not that difficult--especially when you let him walk you through it with the tips and tricks that worked for him.

Choosing a Senior Project

When it comes to choosing a senior project, your child's senior project should look like something that he or she is interested in. If they are not excited about taking on this challenge, and if it's not something that they can have fun with, then redirect them to something that they will enjoy doing. It should be something that is career-oriented, something that helps them solidify what they are interested in pursuing through further education or something that want to jump into and pursue as soon as they graduate. Here are a few ideas:

Education. One homeschooled student I know started a children's performing arts camp. She planned out a two-week program for multi-age levels, secured a location, hired a staff, advertised, and took on the students. This experience and the paper she wrote about it was included with every college application she sent. [Please note, she spent her junior year planning this, and the summer before her senior year was when the camp took place. This way, she was able to put it on her college apps, which are due by the end of November, your child's senior year.]

Real estate license. In our state, you can get a real estate license when you're 18 years old.

Internships. Let your child spend the summer working for experience. Lots of places are glad to trade work for experience and a college recommendation letter. Try your local zoo, newspaper, museums, television station, or hospital.

Apprenticeships. If your child has no direction, give her two-weeks each with business people and other professionals that you know. Offer her a wide lens on career opportunities and let her narrow it down for herself.

Learn more about Planning a Senior Project HERE. Find out how you can set up your homeschooled high school student for success HERE.

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