The Faithful

  • It Feels Like Home: An Update On Cara's Trip To Costa Rica

    I've told you before that Cara's a nut for traveling. Not only traveling, but mission work. We think she's awesome.

    Here's a couple of photos from her Facebook and an update from her personal blog!

    Click here to check out her blog, Ankle Deep where she talks about how she feels more and more at home in Costa Rica as she continues to travel there!

    Costa Rica Missions CR Update 2

    I just think it's the coolest that Cara was celebrating the USA win along with us, even though she's, like a gazillion miles away in Costa Rica! Read our commentary on the game here!

    Remember to continue sending thoughts, prayers, and good vibes her way!

  • An Everyday Trip: Costa Rica Mission Work

    There are some people who I just love to be around. They're an encouragement. An inspiration. Rarely are these people my age. I find inspiration and encouragement and knowledge from those who are older than me, who have done more than me. That is not the case with Cara.

    Cara and I have been friends for years. We met in the seventh grade at church when she and her twin sister were placed in our small group. We became fast friends -- there were times and still are that we look at each other, laugh and say, "we're the same person." I wish that were true.

    Cara 1 We were never up to any good.

    You've read a lot of Cara's posts already. She's shared some pretty amazing memories and stories with you and, believe me, there are many, many more to come. When we were younger, we used to try and figure out who was going to end up where. Would I be a novelist like I'd hoped? Would Johnny be a pro basketball player? When we played those games, there was never any doubt that Cara would work in the mission field. From day one, she was a fighter. A rebel. Someone who challenged status quo. Brave. Courageous. We fell apart naturally as we both went to college, but recently got to meet up, which began her contribution for Everyday Conversations. I've never been so happy as to hear that she was continuing her passion -- she had colorful and inspirational stories of her times spent in Costa Rica, her love of the children she met in Gabon in Africa. One instant, she is a college grad, spending time working at a local restaurant and frozen yogurt shop. Another, she's explaining the ramifications of sex trafficking all over the world. It's inspiring, a little scary, and really hard to keep up with.

    And always willing to have a blast. And always willing to have a blast.

    Today, Cara leaves for Costa Rica on what seems like her 2709th trip. She fell in love with it when we were in high school. What I can't possibly wrap my head around, though, is how Cara described this trip to me. She leaves soon for Uganda, where she will be working at an orphan care center. She'll actually be the director (which, we like to remind her of when she scowls and crying babies in public..."my kids won't cry." We'll see how long that lasts.) and work with children who have been affected greatly by Joseph Kony. She's headed directly in the line of fire -- and no one would expect anything less. When she told me about Costa Rica, though, she said "I wouldn't have planned a trip to CR so close to my trip to Uganda, but I'm happy I have. It'll be so relaxing." Relaxing. That word is used for beaches. What will Cara be doing? Manual labor. Ministering to children. Building churches. Construction work. "Normal stuff," she says.

    So, on her way to Costa Rica today, let's make Cara feel the Live It Everyday love. We're sending prayers, thoughts, and good vibes your way, Cara. We're thankful for people like you!

    Headshot (4-24-14)

    Until next time, Haley & the Live It Everyday Team

    PS - check out Cara's personal blog, Ankle Deep, where she posts regular updates about her traveling experiences and walk with the Big Man. You'll love it.

  • Silence Roaring: A Missionary's Encounter With Sex Traffickers

    It was a beautiful day in the tropical country of Costa Rica and I was surrounded by my best friends. I was working for some organizations in the capitol city, San Jose. My favorite organization is Lightforce International. This amazing group of people fights against sex trafficking and towards the rescue of girls trapped in prostitution. I've volunteered for them several times both in and out of the States. Working with them has opened my eyes to things unseen and truly I have become an aware person from my training.

    This specific day we were celebrating my friend Tono's birthday. My sister and two best friends were in Costa Rica working alongside of me, so the five of us and another Costa Rican friend, Jeff, decided to make an excursion to the beach, Holla!

    Silence Roaring 2

    Silence Roaring 3

    You know those moments when you are so full of life that your skin crawls with joy? This was the day. All 6 of us crammed into an SUV with Jeff in the back, Tico style! (Tico = Costa Rican) and journeyed three hours to the beach with the windows down, music blaring, sun in our face, wind beating across our skin, and Tono swerving his way through the winding Tropical roads. These are the adventures I live for and the memories that I treasure.

    Silence Roaring 5

    We arrived at the beach mid-morning and decided it was time for breakfast. We stopped at a small restaurant and ordered our preferences of Gallo Pinto and tortillas. We enjoyed time together celebrating international friendships and Tono's 21st birthday. My best friends are, how should I put this ... loud and proud! We are Southern women -- beautiful, bold, and chatty. We were using our "outdoor" voices on this open patio and had just covered our swimsuits with light jackets. We were laughing and rolling with the good times.

    Silence Roaring 4Silence Roaring

    Two men walked into the restaurant and sat at the table next to ours. I had direct sight to their table from my position. As time went on, I realized these men acted oddly. They were clearly co-workers of some sort but unlike the friendly Tico, way they didn't exchange a word. And they didn't sit across from each other but side-by-side directly facing me. They ordered their food, spoke no words, received their food, ate, and were still silent. The only active habit they had was creepily staring at our table.

    Time passed and the eerie feeling of these two men started to make me feel on edge. "Hey guys, if you are going to speak in English, talk quietly, and cover up. Zip up yours jackets and put away your phones," I warned my table. I didn't want to cause too much concern or let the men know I had become aware of their hunt, so I watched with an eagle's eye over the entire restaurant and took mental notes of what I observed.

    As we left the patio, I made certain to stay in the back of the group, my fist clenched. We filed out of the restaurant and my loud friends were totally oblivious to the situation that unfolded. The two men pulled aside the two Tico guys with us and asked, "Are these girls in high school here?" The boys, confused, slowly answered no and walked away.

    Every red flag had been signaled and I was alert as to who was near us or watching as we returned to the car and drove off. We piled into the car and resumed our gallant ways of goofing off and safely made it to the coast. The crew unloaded the towels and sat around each other gazing into the beautiful horizon, listening to the waves crashing upon the shore.

    I had my best friends safely with me and started a conversation that I knew was going to be uneasy.

    "Tono, do you know what just happened back there?"

    "What do you mean?"

    "Those creepy men, do you know who they were?"

    He was puzzled and realized I knew something he didn't. Let me break it down for you.

    Red Flags

    1. Two large men who work together sit alone in silence in a restaurant as they are clearly there only to watch us.

    2. They targeted four young, white, foreign women who spoke English and, as far as they heard from my friends, our Spanish was non-existent.

    3. When they pulled aside someone from our group they chose the boys since they would have to get through them first anyway before getting to us girls.

    4. They didn't inquire as to how OLD we are but how YOUNG.

    5. They asked if  we went to  school "here" to receive an answer as to whether we even studied anywhere in Costa Rica, hoping the answer was "no," hinting to our American citizenship.

    These men were traffickers. And we were potential prey.

    Tono and the rest of the group were shocked and startled. They could see that I was disturbed by their obliviousness because I care about their safety.

    The conversation that took place was painful as I told stories of trafficking in their own hometown. Tono and Jeff had never been told in detail of the crime and were shocked to find out that the largest hotel is actually a brothel and that most of the prostitutes are forced, one way or another, to work against their will.The piece of information that was perhaps the most eerie and uncomfortable was that the same brothel in the hotel was, at the time, building a sister brothel on the very beach we visited. The men were, no doubt, scouters. The group became silent, their brows scrunched as they gazed across the ocean, and all I heard was waves crashing against the shoreline. One conversation changed their life.

    Later that night, I was guest speaking at a church, Tono's precious father is the pastor. I was asked to speak about my work, or really anything on my heart. I had my speech planned out but when I arrived at the church I pulled out a blank page and scribbled a brand new message.

    I took the stage, humbled and feeling burdened. I introduced myself and the work I was doing in their country and I explained how honored I felt to share with them my experience. I then daringly gave a series of intense facts about trafficking in their country then I instructed, "Please raise your hand if you knew." In the same way that silence roared on the beach with the waves crashing on the shoreline so too did this room become silent and suddenly those small crickets outside of the doorway had my attention. With my statement I peered over to the pastor, who had a cracked smile at my bold move with all hands hidden out of sight.

    No one was aware.

    I proceeded to inform the people about the problems in their own city. One conversation changed those people. One conversation broke through everything they thought they knew about their country. And one conversation was the beginning of a changed world. Let the waves crash.

    So, readers. What are your thoughts?

    I encourage you to become more aware.

    My challenge to you is to have a conversation with a friend about trafficking, discuss and research it.

    Not For Sale by David Batstone is an incredible introductory book to world trafficking and leaves you feeling inspired and empowered to help. Check it out.

    Until next time, Cara Hope Starns

  • A Weekend Recap -- Show Hope's Family Fest

    Happy Monday! It seems like we hardly got a break this weekend! We had a ton going on, but all of it was so exciting! On Saturday, Adriane (Owner & CFO) and I got to travel to Nashville, TN to visit Show Hope, a charity that we work with! It was such a great event and we loved every second of it! Especially the ice cream when we were so hot, we thought we'd melt.

    Here are some sneak peak photos from the event; we'll have more up this week and a couple of other surprises from the day. Hope you guys have a great Monday! SHFF 1 We loved getting to meet Mary Beth Chapman, President and Co-Founder of Show Hope! Also Steven Curtis Chapman's wife. She's literally the coolest person.

    SHFF 2Don't mind us; we're just trying to find any way possible to cool off.

    SHFF 3 This is a hint for our surprise later this week... (Do I look cross eyed in this picture? Maybe...)SHFF 5What good is a family fest without a proper photo booth? I was laughing so hard, I could hardly smile!

    What were you guys up to this weekend? Leave us a comment!

    Photos // Kyser Lough, Apparel // menwomen
  • A Rainbow In The Clouds: A Tribute To Maya Angelou

    Maya Angelou

    via

    A great voice and inspiration in our generation has passed away. To hear that Maya Angelou had died at 86 yesterday was heartbreaking for me. Of course, I didn’t know Maya personally, which makes that statement sound rather silly, but I have met her. Two years ago, I was working for my campus newspaper, The Murray State News. When we got word that Maya Angelou was giving a speech as a part of our annual Presidential Lecture Series (which has brought in speakers like Spike Lee, Ben Stein, and Bill Nye (you know, the science guy)), I was ecstatic to get the opportunity to meet and interview her. Excitement soon led to unashamed nervousness as I realized I would get to not only be in the same room as the woman whose works I had poured over in high school, but that I would get to speak to her personally. Amazing. I did my research -- I examined interviews from Maya in her younger years; I looked for interviews from her more seasoned years. I watched the way she really spoke to her interviewers; I focused on her ability to impart wisdom.

    When the day came that I was to meet her, I was sick. No part of me wanted to go to work, to put my heels on, and pull out my recorder. It was a great opportunity, I knew, but there were other things to do. Lay in bed, actually, sounded the best at the time. But, I was working. It was my job. I ran across campus in my wedges which later rubbed blisters the size of quarters in my heels. Every time I wear those shoes, I think of that day, sprinting through the parking lot in a dress. I was warned that tardiness would not be acceptable (that's a bit of a problem for me). I waited outside the concourse that led to the room where she apparently was waiting. In the mean time, I met one of my very best friends, who I'm still incredibly close to today. Maya had interviews with the local newspapers, The Murray Ledger and Times, The Paducah Sun, they were all there and much more versed than me. I looked at my prepared questions, and began to tremble. This was a big deal. She was a big deal. She is a big deal.

    “What’s your name?” she asked me as I walked in the room where our student body president, our adviser, my soon to be best friend, a cameraman who I'm also close to, stood. My pen jiggled in my hand. I told her my name.

    “And you have questions for me, Ms. Russell?” What could I do but stammer yes?

    My first thought when I saw her was that she was much older than I had anticipated. She was on oxygen, and was continually on the cameraman to “put that thing away” when it strung up to her nose, intertwined in a long, gold necklace. She did so nicely, of course. The woman doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Her eyes were masked by shaded lenses, but she looked at me as she spoke slowly and deliberately. Her hands were manicured and laid delicately across her brown dressed lap. She was in a wheelchair. She was 84 years old.

    Looking at my notebook, which fit perfectly in the palm of my left hand, I read my first question. I could hardly hear myself I was so nervous. But she began talking, and that made all the difference.

    She told us to be an inspiration, no matter what our age. The words she used? A rainbow in the clouds. She explained that our age didn’t matter. “Not enough adults tell you that you are the best we have,” she told me. “We need your courage; courage is the most important of all the virtues.” I scribbled, my hand still shaking. She was the kind of woman you wanted to drink coffee with. I wanted to absorb what she was saying, never forget it. What Maya Angelou said to me that day was insurmountable. What I remember, though, is the way she said my name every time she answered a question. Her answers were long and thoughtful and as she looked at me, spilling out words of reassurance, she said my name. And she told me, quite simply, to be a rainbow in someone else's clouds.

    Today, I am sad. Maya Angelou is gone. But, her words will be with us always. They have changed and shaped the nation and forever, I am grateful.

    __________

    Maya Quote

    “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.”

    “I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be bettertomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that everyday you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    “Listen to yourself and in that quietude, you might hear the voice of God.”

    “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

    “I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.”

    “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated."

    “Nothing can dim the light which signs from within.”

     

    Maya, you were quite a woman. And you will be dearly, dearly missed.

    Haley

  • Family Events Are The Best Events

    You guys! So much exciting news!

    We've talked a little before about the charities that we work with. By now, you probably know that 11% of each sale goes to a charity that is in the same category of the design that was purchased. Homes For Our Troops was featured earlier this week (here and here) as we enter into the season of celebrating our great nation on the Fourth.

    Today, though, I have some exciting news. News that makes me want to jump up and down. Seriously, people. Get. Excited.

    Every year, Show Hope, an organization that benefits from our world peace designs (you can click at the bottom of the post!) host a Family Fest in honor of Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman's (the president and vice president of the organization) daughter, Maria Sue, who passed a way a six years ago. And guess what? We're going! We're going and we encourage you all to head out to the day of fun planned in Nashville, Tennessee! Click here for all of the details and plans for fun!

    Here are the designs that support Show Hope!

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    men // womenDSC_4283-KyserEdit
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    men // women

    Tweet us and let us know if you're there! We'd love to hear from you!

    Patiently awaiting Saturday, Haley

    Charity // Show Hope, Event // click here, Photos // David Wallace
  • Withering Plant: The World Through A Humanitarian's Eyes

    Withering plant, c'est moi. It is a blessing to be the humanitarian always dreaming of traveling the world and progressing world peace but it comes at a price when I feel trapped in a dying society. Are ya' with me? All you international geeks who stalk the Washington Post and wish your friends knew where Syria is, whether Putin is the good or bad guy, and what the heck Palestine is. But let's face it, even us international geeks fear addressing the latter.

    C'est moi -- It is me.

    Withering Plant Graphic 1

    But that is what us passionate people long for. To be engaged in topics beyond the latest fingerprint-reading iPhone, which celebrity just went to jail, or juicy dating gossip. We are disinterested in the millennial trends of bubble necklaces, crop-tops, or the infamous: #selfie, #MCM, #WCW, #TBT, #SS, #Hashtag.

    #ShutUp #ICantEven #SorryImNotSorry

    Phew. I need a breather.

    This generation is withering away.

    I too am withering away because this culture drains me. How can I go about my days feeling inspired in a place that lacks perspective? Right now I am serving as a coordinator for a brand new charity called Childero. We are building a foundation that financially supports orphans in Uganda. Dero in the local language means light, so the organization's mash-up name signifies Child of Light.

    As we diligently build this organization, I often feel like a withering plant. I work two jobs throughout the week and I find myself drained of joy because being a waitress just isn't my dream job when I'm longing to be in Uganda with the kids. And working 40 hours a week on top of  my other commitments leaves me exhausted. Moreover, living in this society that focuses on making sure the memory is documented online before it is ever lived out in real life, I mean ... That is just stupid. I refuse to bond myself with such short failings in life.

    Q: So how do I replenish my joy? How do I maintain a respiratory inspiration?

    A: I look for people in need right here.

    I am a huge advocate that age, place, and resources mean nothing. Last week I taught the youth group students at my church. We discussed the idea of "missions" and service trips. I told them that you don't have to buy a $4,000 plane ticket to Africa to change the world. You don't have to be 35 years old to finally be qualified enough to make a difference. And surely you don't need an entire soccer program or soup kitchen full of resources to create the only way to a lasting impact.

    NO. It is here and now, as we are. You can make a difference for one person if you just look around you.

    I too fall short. One morning at the restaurant the entire staff was plagued by poor attitudes. No one had anything nice to say that day and the complaints were relentless. I usually feel immune to such attitudes but by the end of my shift I found myself guilty.

    My shift was nearly over but the manager sat one of my tables and I was forced to stay. I slumped myself over to the table half-heartedly greeting the elderly woman who sat alone. She mumbled something back to me with her head down and I about lost all of my patience because mumbling customers get under my skin. "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" I yelled at her inside of my sound-proof imagination. She continued to look down and mumble to herself so I proceeded with my duties, "What would you like to drink?" I asked. She responded by murmuring something about needing alcohol and hinted towards serious alcoholic habits.

    My entire soul froze. My anger evaporated and I realized that this woman just needed someone to talk to.

    "Ma'am, are you okay? Is your day going all right?" I was completely invested in this woman. I peered past her eyes into her soul and made sure she knew I was here to listen.

    She began to tell me a story: Her life was a mess, she was depressed, her husband was a jerk, and she said, "I just want to leave this world." With that, I broke past any boundaries that my job, the booth, or being strangers posed and I pulled her into my arms. We embraced and she fumbled over her words. I just told her that her day was going to get better.

    I took her order and we continued about our business but before she left I encouraged her. She was truly grateful. The foxy lady even put on a fresh coat of lip gloss before heading out to face the world again.

    That one conversation may have prevented her from taking her life that night. The encounter gave both of us inspiration. An everyday conversation CAN change the world.

    We don't have to be world class humanitarians working overseas to make an impact. Inspiration cycles through willing people who go about their normal days seeking for opportunities to care for someone even on your worst of days.

    Withering Plant Graphic

    Who is that for you -- how can you Live It Everyday?

    The sluggish cashier at your favorite fast-food station?

    Your mom, who you maybe haven't said "I love you" to in a while?

    Your boss, who never has anyone to praise or encourage him/her?

    The grumpy old lady fumbling through her coin purse who may just need a word of kindness?

    Open your eyes. Look around you. We all feel like withering plants from time to time but I promise joy will replenish you the more that you seek to replenish others.

    Until next time, Cara Hope Starns

  • The Enslaved: Sex Trafficking in Cambodia

    Last week, I was able to travel with two of my very favorite people -- one of which is a contributor for Everyday Conversations -- to Nashville to attend a showing of Rapha House's new documentary Finding Home. It follows the successes and failures of the organization's goals to eliminate and free girls of and from sex trafficking in Cambodia. Though tearful and sometimes upsetting -- these girls were so sweet -- it was a great time. Not only did we leave enlightened, but also inspired. I definitely encourage you to pick up a copy of the film and check out ways that you can get involved. Cara, our Faithful and Peaceful contributor, works with many different sex trafficking organizations and victims in both Africa and Costa Rica. Later this month, she'll share her story and experiences with the horrible crime that is occurring in every corner of our world.

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    The vibe of this place was literally the coolest. It's called Mercy Lounge & Isaac (right) used to go to church here. Buuuut it's a bar. So that's pretty neat.

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    We named him Frederick.

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    We also got to check out some of there super cool merchandise. Cara and I were all about the bags and journals ... two of our favorite things!

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    Though we don't work directly with Rapha House, they're doing some awesome things and we definitely encourage you to check them out. Maybe purchase something from their Freedom Store (you can't go wrong with a handmade satchel or journal). If you are interested in the charities that we work with, you can see them here. We have some fun things coming up with all three and can't wait to share with you guys!

    See ya, Haley

    Apparel // men, women
  • Everyday Conversations Change The World

    Passionate, abrupt, impatient, and mischievous. Hi, I’m Cara. I'm the new contributing writer for Live It Everyday’s Everyday Conversations, I proudly represent the World Peace line that clothes passionate people and although I'm the international guru, I'm actually a pretty average person. (Besides my star qualities of quick wit and awkward nature.)

    Headshot (4-24-14)A few things about me:

    • I live off of dark coffee, pizza, and music.
    • So far I can run a solid 2 miles and I’m learning my 5th language but I fail at all things requiring hand-eye/don't-die coordination.
    • I fear rushing water and butterflies. Yet behold, I like bats.
    • Embrace the weird.

    On a more serious note, I believe that everyday conversations can change the world. I believe there are more people out there like me, passionate people who believe peace can overcome chaos. Passionate people who are fueled from what inspires them. Passionate people who inspire others.

    Passion is contagious, and so are everyday conversations. 

    I told you before that I am average. But my thoughts are not. My mind tends to wander from thinking about what I'm eating for dinner (pizza), to my crammed hourly schedule, laughs about something ridiculous I did earlier that day (perhaps running into my bathroom door, bruise as evidence), and then somehow I will be gazing on a sunset horizon as I drive to work and my mind will turn to the world. Images of human trafficking, acid attacks, honor killings, orphans, diseases, poverty, political injustice, abuse, rape, and crime after crime that humanity faces infiltrates my maybe-not-so-everyday thoughts.

    Collage - Gabon

    This is my mind. An average person stuck between the tugs of a normal and radical life. I find that I am inspired by the injustices of the world. My passion, my bite-back, is fueled by my roaring anger. I speak my mind, I tell people my thoughts, and I am determined to start a movement that an everyday conversation can change the world. A single conversation with one person has the potential to open up your mind and broaden your perspective.

    Gabon - Retake (4-24-14)

    Gabon - Silly (4-24-14)

    In these posts, you will read more about how a normal life collides with passion and determination to change the world. I promise that you won't solely land on stories but on challenges. Challenges to live life to the fullest, that inspiration would become respiratory, and that you would believe in the good that thrives among all things, to live peacefully everyday. What about you? How do you challenge yourself? What inspires you? Quite simply: How do you Live It Everyday?

    Costa Rica (4-24-14)

    The movement is contagious; proceed at your own risk.

    Until next time, Cara Hope Starns

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