Gifts of the Season: Advent Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

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Advent (meaning “arrival” or “coming”) is a spiritual season of preparation leading up to Christmas, as Christians get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This season is characterized by personal prayer and repentance along with corporate expressions of anticipation, hope and joy. Of course, another hallmark of this holiday season is the focus on giving.  According to the American Research Group, this year it is estimated that shoppers will spend an average of $854 for gifts, up … [Read more...]

Joy, Heartache, and the Plan of God: Our Adoption Journey

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What happens when you have one plan and God has another? By LISA MURPHY Adoption has been a tremendous blessing to our family.  It’s also broken our hearts. Our journey to adopt a second child began three years ago.  My husband Jimmy and I sought the Lord, and God prepared our hearts for a beautiful baby boy.  Even before we met him, we knew our son had desperate needs – open heart surgery was his most pressing physical need, but he truly needed a family that would love him – … [Read more...]

Veterans Day: Honoring Those Who Have Answered the Call

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Veterans Day is for celebrating those Americans – across all time and all wars – who have answered the call to protect liberty, defend freedom, and crush tyranny.   By Col. Randal Scott Carter We celebrate Veterans Day on the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, the armistice that began on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.  The timing of this holiday is deliberate relative to history, but it also seems fitting that this day comes deep in the … [Read more...]

Son of Promise: Reflections on God’s Power and Providence

Paul and Veena (May 2012)

My daughter Ruth recently wrote about a miracle that took place in our family 22 years ago, causing me to reflect on the providence of God and the power of His precious promises during that defining time in our lives. Here is how God used our trials to strengthen our faith, deepen our surrender, and teach us to rest in His grace.   By Veena Malhotra Today as we commemorate Veterans Day, with hearts full of gratitude for the U.S. military, my thoughts go back to Veterans Day 22 years … [Read more...]

The Day I Grew Up

I remember feeling all alone on November 11, 1990.

22 years ago this Sunday, I was a young child sitting in church when my mom suddenly told me to call an usher.  Here is what happened the day I almost lost my mom and brother... and how that experience still impacts me today.    My mom was 29 weeks pregnant, and I was a spunky six-year-old.  It was a Sunday, so my mom and I were in the morning church service (typical).  My dad was out of town on business (also typical).  It was November 11, 1990. The kind ushers had just taken … [Read more...]

Cracker Barrel Salutes Veterans with Month-Long Celebration

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Are you looking for a way to get a head start on your Christmas shopping and support the troops at the same time?  Here is a great initiative that offers you the opportunity to do just that! Cracker Barrel Old Country Store salutes veterans of the United States military, many of whom are guests and employees, with a special month-long celebration of Veterans Day in addition to year round efforts.   From November 1 through November 30, 2012, Cracker Barrel will donate 10% of the retail … [Read more...]

September 11, Eleven Years Later: A Tribute to My Uncle and the FDNY

When Sean was a student at Georgia Tech, he helped organize an American flag memorial display which consisted of 2,977 flags, one to represent each life that was taken during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "The flags are a poignant gesture, and my uncle would be proud to see that students set them up on campus every year," said Sean.

Sean Donnelly's uncle, Kevin Donnelly, was a lieutenant in the FDNY’s Ladder 3 Company and was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001, after climbing 60 floors trying to save everyone he could.  Eleven years after that tragic day, Sean reflects on his uncle's heroism and sacrifice: The question, “Where were you on 9/11?” is echoing throughout America this week.  Well, I can describe every minute of that day, and the following week as well. That’s … [Read more...]

Lopez Lomong: How do you spell “AMERICA”?

Lopez Lomong (second from right) racing at the 2012 US Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo credit: T. Banse/VOA)

In our first piece in the Lopez Lomong series on the Salt Shaker, we shared an overview of his story from World Vision.  Then, Lopez described his terrifying experience of being ripped away from his parents by rebel soldiers at the age of 6. After his kidnapping, Lopez was taken to a camp where boys were forced to become rebel soldiers, killing other people, or dying themselves.  From there, a series of miracles occurred. Lopez was befriended by three older boys in the camp, who rescued … [Read more...]

Lopez Lomong: I Was Running for My Life, Now I Run for Team USA

Lopez Lomong, 27, was born in South Sudan and is now an American track and field Olympic athlete.

What is the most compelling story of the London 2012 Olympics?  The story of Team USA Olympian Lopez Lomong -- one of the "lost boys of Sudan" -- involves the youngest country on the planet, sacrifice, love, hope, sweat and tears.  We look forward to highlighting his adventures, and we join the people of South Sudan in honoring this amazing athlete and human being!  We shared an overview of his story from World Vision, and this is the first in a series of in-depth articles … [Read more...]

From Sudanese “Lost Boy” to U.S. Olympian: The Story of Lopez Lomong

Lopez Lomong is a Sudanese-born American runner who proudly carried the U.S. flag in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and will also compete in the London 2012 Olympics. (Photo: Andrea Peer/World Vision)

We are thrilled to highlight the story of Lopez Lomong, who is running with Team USA in the London 2012 Olympics. But behind his remarkable accomplishment is a turbulent — and inspiring — life story of danger, poverty, and ultimate redemption.   This South Sudan native is not only training hard to compete, but is also working tirelessly to bring help and hope to children and families in his home country who continue to struggle one year after the celebration of its independence.  My … [Read more...]