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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lyrics in motion: Caleb Hawley Edition

The talented Mr. CALEB HAWLEY and I after his APPLE STORE PERFORMANCE on 2/25/11

I have made some amazing connections being part of a church community here in NYC, Caleb Hawley being one of them. You may have recently seen him on this little tv show called American Idol.  Here's a video of his audition in NJ:

So, I met Caleb  2 years ago yesterday (2/25/09) when I attended my first ever small group with Forefront Church near Columbia University. His beautiful wife Samantha was there, along with a great group of intelligent and well-spoken individuals. Throughout the group, we looked at different social justice and global issues, such as poverty, equality, violence, war, and race. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend one discussion involving an excerpt from  The Violence of Love by Oscar Romero due to scheduling conflicts but I have never forgotten that day. Maybe it was because the group had such an impact on me but the connection was definitely an act of God. Being a part of Forefront for the last 2 years has and continues to make lasting impressions within me. There are SO many people that go under the radar every time I attend and it takes a few conversations to see what people are doing to move and shake this crazy world that we live in. ENTER Caleb Hawley.


After an amazing show at the Apple Store on 14th Street last night I HAD to approach him and his manager wife about making his first music video. I have been delving into video every since I bought a flip mino 3 years ago from my own Rude Monkey Theatre Group online store.  I have taken some footage from trips to the orphanages in Mexico with Corazon De Vida, my recent trip to Uganda with Lead Uganda, and just everyday goings on and have developed an affinity for motion picture. I have been dabbling in photography for almost 10 years but stayed focused on my theatrical studies (specifically in acting and directing) so it makes sense that I am going in this direction. I have produced and directed shows off-broadway but it's been such a tremendous undertaking. I know that putting music in video form will ALSO be an arduous task but I am gearing up for it as we speak. I have met an amazing network of videographers, photographers, AD's, actors, Producers, musicians, artists, etc. that would aid in my next venture so I am faithful in the next step. Something about last night's performance and my recent conversation with independent artist manager, Dave Margolis led me to this point. I have been praying for clarity since I recently fell upon a stumbling block in my career and I am slowly, but surely coming face to face with it. Everything has been slowly unraveling before me and MUSIC has helped me through it, as well as my continuing relationship with the dude Upstairs.


Stay tuned in the next couple of months to see the progress of this next phase in my life.
I've come a LOOOOOOOOONG way since my bartending days. I know that God has a plan that is bigger and deeper than I can ever imagine. All I have to do is trust and keep my faith in the process. Wish me well my friends. Until the next one.

$2/day CHALLENGE: DAY 20

Line of people waiting for a hot meal at Father's Heart




One of the suggestions to a successful run to the $2/day challenge was to experience a day at a local soup kitchen. It has been 20 days since I've had 3 meals worth more than $2 but instead of eating at a soup kitchen, I eagerly volunteered at one. Now, I have been volunteering at Father's Heart for about a year now and have met some of the elderly, working poor and neighborhood people who stand in line to receive a hot meal.  The difference is that I have enough to make a hot meal (most days).  I have been doing okay at home making my rice and beans, mixed green salad with tuna, oatmeal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so I did NOT participate in taking a meal of pineapple chunks, 2 eggs, 2 pieces of turkey ham, some potatoes and a sliced piece of wheat bread. I was, however, in charge of cooking the turkey ham and potatoes and it was amazing. We ended up feeding 632 people in a span of an hour and a half and still had plenty left over.


God works in such amazing ways and I am grateful every time I spend a Saturday morning to see his work come into play. I spoke to Pastor Perry about the program and he shared the same sentiments. People who come through the doors of Father's Heart is led there because of the love that God has for them. We hear, over and over during the orientation that our "Father wants us to come home." It's okay to go astray after being hurt or feel abandoned by him because of the loss of a job or shunned by family members, but his heart is always open whenever you're ready to let him in again. The hope and faith that he instills in us is constantly being challenged when we go through difficult times and the loving staff at Father's Heart reaffirms that God is always there-through the good AND especially in the bad. We just have to hear him knocking to door of our heart and let him in. I have been knocked down a few times in the last, almost 5 years of living in NYC but God has never abandoned me. I've shut him out a few times in the course of those almost 5 years but coming to Father's Heart this morning reassures me that I'll continue to be looked after.

Even through this difficult challenge, I can see him working through me and around me and I wouldn't have it any other way. If you are reading this and don't believe that there IS a GOD or something orchestrating the goings on in your life, that's okay. I have been there. I can truly say that I once felt alone- even with a thousand friends on facebook and myspace, even friendster and a rolodex full of names and numbers. However, cultivating a lifestyle with Christ in mind and people around me who ARE believers is SO much better. I am not here to convert anyone but genuinely testifying how my life has changed with a mere belief that GOD died for us. ME, even. I have done my share of denouncing Faith and religion, especially after losing my father when I was 7 and experiencing sexual abuse and neglect growing up but all those things happened to get me to the place where I am now.
My mother and I
My brothers and I
I have 10 more days that I am committing to this challenge and a little over 4 weeks before I run a half marathon here in NYC. If you are interested in partnering up with me in Celebration Generosity or the World Vision half marathon, please click on these links: WORLD VISION donation page and Celebration Generosity

Thanks for taking the time to read this and supporting my efforts to seeing the world change, one day at a time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

$2/day CHALLENGE: DAY 8

The 13 year old boy you see in the picture above is Mpande Brian. He is a constant reminder that 2.5 billion in the world LIVE on LESS than $2/day.





I have made a very difficult, but necessary decision to commit to this challenge for another 3 weeks. Even after a difficult week, I feel that to truly experience what 2.5 billion people go through on the daily, I will try attempt to eat on only $2/day and document it. Part of this decision was made because of a recent email about some of the kids that I taught in the LEAD UGANDA program. They are doing an amazing job at their schools and living on LESS than $2/day. Yes. I know I need to be EXTREMELY careful with this challenge since I am also training for a half marathon (13.1 miles) on April 3rd. I have talked to my trainer and we have devised a meal plan so that I get enough sustenance on this budget AND run without passing out. I will, however consult with other nutritionists to see if this can continue without doing permanent damage.

UPDATE from last week:

  • Day 3: (free meal but stuck to what $2 could be)  I was on the set of Blue Bloods and had oatmeal with a few raisins and a bit of brown sugar, green salad and french beans. Then I got home and had an apple with half a teaspoon of almond butter (Ran 2.5 miles on the treadmill-easy pace)
  • Day 4: I had oatmeal again with agave nectar  ( about $.53 didn't have raisins), a bowl of lentil soup with onions, carrots, celery and a few spices ($1.10) one banana ($.19)
  • Day 5: Banana ($.19), another bowl of lentil soup with couscous ($1.25), 1 apple and 1 orange ($.65)
  • Day 6: Promax bar ($1.10-bought a box of 12), rice with potatoes and green salad ($.85) 
  • Day 7: Promax bar ($1.10), Veggie(flour tortilla, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, onions, scrambled egg) burrito (free-shift meal at Alias- but it would cost .90 to make)

 GOING on Day 8 and starting with a Promax bar.

Here's a little inspiration since it is, after all, V-day:


On Love



When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep,
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire,
that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart,
and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say,
'God is in my heart,' but rather,
'I am in the heart of God.'
And think not you can direct the course of love,
for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night,
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.



Kahlil Gibran
1923



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

$2/day CHALLENGE: DAY TWO

This is me in Mexico, one of the many poverty-stricken countries in the world.  This is one of the 14 orphanages that I help support with Corazon de Vida (www.corazondevida.org) Quick little tidbit: In 2002, half the population in Mexico was living in poverty and one fifth was living in extreme poverty.  At the national level, in 2002 the rates for access to electricity, water and sanitation were 98, 90 and 80 percent, respectively.

The UN reports that 2.5 BILLION people live on LESS than $2/day. NOT just on food, but for every incidental out there. This is only the second day of the challenge that my pastor at Forefront Church presented to us and I know at least 50 people who are ALL taking the plunge.

SO far, my mind has been blown by the amount of things that we think is NECESSARY when, in actuality, it's all just pretty dang frivolous. A trenta non-fat soy latte macchiatto frappuccino with extra foam and 2 pumps of hazelnut syrup is NOT a necessity. That $2500 Louis Vuitton bag that matches your 3 in. Louboutins  is again, NOT necessary. It's pretty, but NOT necessary. Coming from a fashion background has taught me that frivolosity (yes, I make up my own words) and necessity are fickle fickle idealogies that people adhere to on the daily. Take Paris Hilton for example, how did her Simple Life reality show really show her what mattered in life and what didn't? It was a fun little experiment to take a well-to do ├╝ber-privileged heiress, have her work on a farm milking goats and make her shop at Wal-Mart (where they sell walls*) and interact with the majority of Americans who don't OWN an Empirical company like Hilton Hotels and see if she learns something. MAYBE for like, 2.3 seconds but honestly, she will still buy her $2500 Fendi handbags and $1600 Jimmy Choos and not even blink an eye. Who cares if there's 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day? I'll tell you. A whole congregation of about 600 people in NYC do, and I'm glad to be part of it.



Definitely looking forward to my small group tonight who will ALL chip in to eat on our allotted $2/day challenge:
Small Group Dinner Tonight:
Soup: 2.49 x 2 = $4.98/12 = $0.41
Rice: 2 boil-in-bag = $1.44/12 = $0.12
Sour cream (1 tbsp): $3.16/12 = $0.26 per tbsp
Total: $0.79/per person :)
*Wal-Mart reference: Hilton thought they sold Walls. She had never stepped foot in one.

 Attempting to open up cans at Casa de Paz Orphanage to prepare breakfast for 100 kids :)


We are committed to practicing Celebration Generosity raising and giving away $100,000 this year to 3 fantastic groups: The Bowery Mission, Northwest Haiti Christian Mission and The Orchard Group-Everyday Church

Monday, February 7, 2011

$2/day CHALLENGE: DAY ONE


So, my lead pastor at Forefront Church challenged us to survive on $2 a day in New York City. Now, the challenge involves nourishment, NOT travel or incidentals. If those were included, I would already have failed because it costs $2.25 for a subway ride to get to work. Now, if I were REALLY diligent and want to take the challenge further to include those things, it would mean leaving my house at 6am and taking the FREE ferry ride into Manhattan, walking from South Ferry to Union Square for work and packing a brown bag lunch. I only had a few hours to prepare from when the challenge was offered and starting it today.  Now, why the heck am I taking this up? Pastor Brian Moll lays it out here:
Why?   As an act of solidarity with those living in extreme hunger in our world (2.5 billion live on less than $2.00/day & 20% live in extreme poverty - less than $1.25/day)

How?  Again, download the challenge here and read all about how to meet the challenge head-on, either alone or with friends (highly recommend doing it with your friends/family/small group/co-workers!)

What?  This is in partnership with Celebration Generosity (CG), and this past weekend we heard about our partnership with Haiti to install clean water filtration systems to prevent the deadly disease cholera. Learn more about CG and what we'll be doing on Sunday, March 6th here.    I hope you'll participate with us, embrace a life on $2.00/day for 7 days, and imagine how we can be a part of the change this world needs.

NOW, I am adhering to JUST the meal plan of $2/day so I started off today with packing a lunch consisting of day-old home-made lentil soup with couscous and frozen red grapes. Since I work at Union Square, I immediately hit up the Farmer's market to scour the free samples of honey, apple slices and banana nut bread. This happens Mon, Wed, Fri and Saturday so I am totally STOKED!!! It's a total convenient thing too because I work in Union Square a couple days a week and frequently make lunch appointments in the area. Only 10 hours into the first day and I'm already doing AWESOME! Hope you are too.