Wednesday, August 31, 2011

“Jeopardy! : I’ll Take Faith for $300 Alex.”

I am so excited to introduce you to one of my best friends...
my little sister Justine.
She will make ya think and make ya giggle!

Take the floor Justine...

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3

A little boy had gone to school for the very first time. Now this school had many children with a variety of ethnicities and religion. It was not long until this little boy made friends with classmates.

One day he came home from his school and his mother asked curiously, “So have you made any new friends so far?”

“Yes. I met a new friend named Joshua Yoder,” He stated proudly.

“Oh really? And is this a little Amish boy?” his mother pried.

The little boy furrowed his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know,” he innocently said.

My former preacher told this story one Sunday in church and I think it is a very powerful example of how God intends for us to live in our journey with Him. Because of the little boy’s child-likeness and innocence, he did not even notice the differences between him and his new friend. I believe God does not care about our appearance, but rather what is in our hearts.

We often put people in a box full of categories that helps us define them and not always positively. I believe this box is created in many ways throughout our lives and often gets in the way of what is really important: living like Jesus would. Loving people no matter what and having a simple faith with a direct relationship with God the Father.

Many things can hinder our “child-like” faith in our everyday lives. Some people are swayed by other people, but for me there was something that happened for four years of my life that put my faith in jeopardy and sadly sometimes still does.

Before I left for my new and exciting venture to Indiana University, my parents had bigger concerns for me other than gaining the “freshman fifteen.”

“Now Justine, you know how you were raised. You are going to see and hear a lot of things you are not used to. Just stick to your morals,” my Dad wisely advised.

I shrugged off this idea. I knew where I came from and I knew exactly who my savior was. I had been baptized when I was 16 and Christ was fully in my heart. Or so I thought.

It wasn’t until my senior year of college when I realized something horrible had happened.

Many of my classes taught us to question EVERYTHING. Nothing was true until it was PROVEN to be. We were to ALWAYS consider other possibilities. It was easier to prove an idea as FALSE than true. This was burned into my mind as I was often tested on these concepts.

One class I took even went to state that the Bible was very sexist. Thankfully one brave gentleman would courageously raise his hand to protest every time religion was dismissed as a valid idea. I’ll never forget how the professor would try to ignore his hand in the air and finally say a long drawn out, “yeess?” Her response at one point was:

“The Bible you are referring to John,” she said as she raised her eyebrows and her head did a little shimmy, “is not a fact. It is simply someone’s opinion.”

What if I would have gone to a Christian college instead? If only my faith could have been stronger through out my schooling. What if I would have protested these ideas in the classroom?

The what’s and if’s ran through my head as I would catch myself trying to critically think about the Bible. In my heart I knew I still believed in the Bible and Jesus Christ as my savior, but the mentality of needing FACTS always sprang forward as my faith got pushed to the back of my mind for a later time.

I believe in education to it’s fullest, but the way school has taught me to critically think has become my cross to bear. My child-like faith was on the endangered species list for awhile and the poacher’s were waiting like vultures for me to give up the little piece I held on to.

Thankfully moving home, attending church regularly, and meeting my significant other has slowly but surely nursed my faith back, almost to what I desire. I know this situation may not happen to all Christians who attend a public university, but I do say beware and do not let “educational” theories and ideas devour your child-like faith.

I still struggle with this questioning and pray about it quite often. I do believe in the power of prayer so your words of encouragement and prayers would be greatly appreciated.

So from now on it is my goal in the Jeopardy puzzle of my life to say, “You can keep your $300. I’ll take faith, for eternity, Alex!” No doubt about it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Who do you think you are?

We have a few new readers

So I wanted to take us back to square one,

Just for a second…

((It won’t hurt I promise))

We are in the beginning stages of starting a school the slum

Kechene, Ethiopia. We are doing some serious fundraising!!

And we would love for you to become Awake and Alive and partner with us as we are taking on this crazy task!!


There are kiddos out there who are being left at home for hours by themselves.


Their momma’s are widows and have no other option then to work for up to 12-14 hours a day to make a living just so their children will not starve.


They have no government help. Even the people in the capitol view the people of Kechene as cursed because of how poor they are, so they won't even help them!

So why a school!?!

These kids have no where safe to go while their mothers have to work so they are left on the streets and are vulnerable. We are taking them off the streets and into a place where they can be educated…because education is something that can not be taken from them.

How are they vulnerable?!?

They are left with no one to feed them, no one to ((((hug))))them if they fall down and get hurt, no one to protect them if they come into contact with a stranger, they can easily be taken…trafficked…abused.

These kids are real…

I have hugged them, and held their hands…

They have taken part of my heart.

So…Who do we think we are?!?

Well this is Danielle’s Story

And this is my (Jolene)’s story

of how we became Awake and Alive.

We both understand that God is using us. Neither one of us is qualified to be running a charity but that is what makes this so beautiful.

All of the glory goes to God!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Give Away!!!

I am more then excited about this fun new friend I have made!

Her name is Sarah.

She is a stay at home momma of 2 and she makes some AhhhMazing jewelry!

Because she is SO amazing she has decided to do a

giveaway for Awake and Alive!!

Check out her Etsy site

Sarah has a friend who's little boy has SMA Type 1 and so 10% of all her sales goes to

Sophia's Cure Foundation

to help fund a cure for

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (

Isn't she awesome?!? Thanks so much for sharing with us Sarah!!

Your about to think she is A LOT MORE AWESOME when you see what she is giving away!!


This is a $54 value! And Sarah said that who ever wins can personalize

the necklace how they want!!

You know you want it...

So here is how you can get it!!


Be a follower of Awake and Alive’s blog {leave me a comment that you do follow..1 Entry}

4. Like Sarah’s FB page (leave me a comment that you did…1 entry)


1. Leave me a comment with your Blog or Shop URL {1 Entry}

2. Follow Awake and Alive on FB here {Again, tell me you follow..1 Entry}

3. Share this giveaway on your Blog, Facebook, Twitter,

{one entry for each, tell me you shared... 3 Entries}:

Take our button off the side and post it on YOUR blog until this give away is over {tell me you did...3 entries!!!}

For each entry leave us a separate comment on the blog.

You have the potential for 10 entries!!!

We will draw one winner for the necklace on Friday September 2nd.
It will be a VERY HAPPY FRIDAY for some special!

Monday, August 22, 2011


I want ya all to meet our buddy Keith. He is one of Awake and Alive's fantastic board members. And he has a pinch to say about sending his oldest baby girl off to college...

This past weekend we delivered our daughter to a southern Indiana University, well delivered may not be the right word, perhaps delivered and set up would be more appropriate. By the time the room was rearranged for the fourth time there wasn’t much time left for weeping and gnashing of teeth. Katelyn is our baby girl, our firstborn and the emotions ran high for all.

She only looks slightly embarrassed..
My prayer is she will embrace the college experience, this new season of her life, and turn outward with arms wide open. “Arms wide open” reminds me of a song by the rock band Creed.

Stapp, of Creed, wrote the lyrics when he found out with great surprise that he was going to be a father. In September, 2000 Creed released a limited edition single of "With Arms Wide Open" with some profits benefiting a foundation to "promote healthy, loving relationships between children and their families". Wow, what a novel concept for a secular rock band to promote. Some Christian’s suggest to me those rockers are only about fast cars, women, and drugs. The truth is secular musicians have been promoting love, responsibility, and peace for years. Maybe these folks could take a lesson from Creed. What a great way for Stapp and Creed to put their money where their mouth is supporting foundations that nurture love and respect between children and their parents (but I digress). This isn’t supposed to be a blog about my Christian baggage (I have plenty.)

My wife and I have tried hard to raise our children with a ton of love.
Many times we have failed but,
every once in awhile we got it right.
We read every night to our kids, we keep bedtimes,
and we don’t let them have soda (except every once in awhile.)
That is about it. And now Kate is on her own,
and that is scary.
I hope she is not like me, I hope she understands,
that she can take this life, and hold it by the hand,
and she can greet the world
with arms wide open.

The song took on a whole new meaning for me this past weekend. You are probably very familiar with the lyrics but here they are anyway. I have substituted the word “she” for “he” near the end of the song for emphasis. I think you will get the idea.

Well I just heard the news today
It seems my life is going to change
I closed my eyes, begin to pray
Then tears of joy stream down my face
With arms wide
open Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open
Well I don't know if I'm ready
To be the man I have to be
I'll take a breath, take her by my side
We stand in awe, we've created life
With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open
Now everything has changed
I'll show you love
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open
If I had just one wish
Only one demand
I hope she's not like me I hope she understands
That she can take this life
And hold it by the hand
And she can greet the world
With arms wide open

We love you Katelyn Grace.

~I think so many people can relate to this post, whether you have a brand new baby, sent your baby to kindergarten, high school, or far away to college, this time of change is a great time to stop and reflect on the precious little ones in your life.

Thank you Keith!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bringing home Ben

This is Co-founder Jolene's journey as they followed Gods call on their lives to adopt again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Where does your kiddo sleep?

This little girl is 4 and sleeps in this bed, with her parents and another sibling in Kechene, Ethiopia.

It will show you where kids all around the world sleep!
Make sure ya look at all the pictures too! WOWZA....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One womens sacrifice...

Hiya Friends,

We are so excited to introduce you to this gem!! Her name is Meggan and she is a momma to 2 BEAUTIFUL Ethiopian sweeties!

I mean come on!! Isn't this one beautiful family?

Here is meg to fill ya in one what sparked her to give 2 weeks of her commission from selling 31 Gifts
to Awake and Alive...
while her honey is currently unemployed!!

That takes some faith and passion!

Here is the floor Meg,

The journey to starting a family hasn't been an easy one-after 3 tubal pregnancies, a miscarriage at 12 weeks after one round of intense IVF we KNEW we were fighting a higher power at the whole biological children thing...

Long story short, we quickly fell in love with the images of the children in Ethiopia, our hearts grew BIGGER that we had ever imagined in such a short period of time for them and their country-I had NO idea exactly how much my heart would be pulled at! I can't even begin to describe the raw emotion i have felt for our children's birth country in the last 4 years, everyday it becomes more and more clear how God has been and continues to use and teach me to be an advocate for these amazing children and the people of Ethiopia.

Fast forward to where we are right now. Ryan had an "amazing job" (or so we thought, i mean he made really good money, he was gone all the time, he put in 60+ hrs a week, didn't get to see us very often, stressed to all get out, etc etc)

BUT the income was really good-so who cares right? The amount of money you make-does that make one an amazing person? Does the amount of money you make put you at a higher status? Unfortunately it does. For 3 months now Ryan has been looking for a new job as he was let go from his position in May.

The last 3 months has been the BEST thing for our family.

We have grown so much in our faith, as a family, and as a couple. He's gotten to see our kids do things that he wasn't around for before, he gets to get them breakfast in the morning, he gets to have dinner with us at a normal time, he has time to think about other things other than what his commission check will be or has to be at the end of every month.

So, I have decided to donate my whole commission for this fundraiser for Awake and Alive, and by doing so i STILL have MORE than what we need here.

We're put here for a reason, and I have felt very strongly about paying it forward and giving back, i just feel fortunate that I am in a position to have a job that allows me to do that,

and to have a heart big enough to WANT to do it and a strong faith to teach me WHY we do it!

That is some serious faith... am I right?!?!

Thank you sweet Meggers for this huge sacrifice, given in love for the children in Kechene, Ethiopia!

Bringing Stella and Ben home!

Here are a few very precious moments of mine. I (Jolene) am sharing them with you all only in hopes that just one person might be inspired to be the difference in the life of an orphan!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Lord Relented

This morning I reflected on the difference between justice and mercy. It all began by my devotional reading of 2 Chronicles 1-6. The verse that most struck me was 3:1- “So Solomon began to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to Solomon’s father, King David. The Temple was built on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the site that David had selected.” Several things about the Temple’s location caught my attention.

The first was the reference to Mount Moriah. Traditionally, this was where Abraham had been prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac, when the Lord sent a ram to take the boy’s place on the altar. Genesis 22:9-14 describes “When they arrived at the place where God had told Abraham to go, he built an altar and placed the wood on it. Then he tied Isaac up and laid him on the altar over the wood. And Abraham took the knife and lifted it up to kill his son as a sacrifice to the Lord. At that moment the angel of the Lord shouted to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Yes,’ he answered. ‘I’m listening.’ ‘Lay down the knife,’ the angel said. ‘Do not hurt the boy in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld even your beloved son from me.’ Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering on the altar in place of his son. Abraham named the place ‘The Lord Will Provide.’” Notice that Abraham’s knife was lifted when God mercifully stopped him from following through with the sacrifice.

The second reference was about 700 years later, during the time of King David. I still don’t really understand why it was wrong, but somehow David sinned by taking a census and God punished Israel by sending a plague. 1 Chronicles 21:14-22:1 teaches us, “So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand people died as a result. And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But just as the angel was preparing to destroy it, the Lord relented and said to the death angel, ‘Stop! That is enough!’ At that moment the angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth with his sword drawn, stretched out over Jerusalem... Then the angel of the Lord told Gad to instruct David to build an altar to the Lord at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite... So David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings... Then the Lord spoke to the angel, who put the sword back into its sheath... Then David said, ‘This will be the location for the Temple of the Lord God and the place of the altar for Israel’s burnt offerings!’”

Both stories involved a sword being drawn, a life ready to be taken, and a last minute rescue according to the command of the Lord. In both cases, God mercifully and lovingly allowed animals to substitute for the lives/ deaths of the people. This becomes the site of the Temple, where sacrifices are made daily to atone for the nation! And not just the nation, but Solomon’s prayer of dedication in 2 Chronicles 6 was for the entire world! Abraham was considered the Father of God’s covenant people, while Araunah was a Jebusite- a foreigner to God’s promises. And God had mercy on them both. Furthermore, Araunah hadn’t even called out for help. It was David who heard from the Lord and made sacrifices on Araunah’s behalf, yet God still rescued him. Solomon prayed “when foreigners hear of you and your mighty miracles, and they come from distant lands to worship your great name and to pray toward this Temple, then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. Then all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do.”

So I asked the Lord as to the meaning of all these awesome truths to me, today. I asked God how my heart could be purified and I could be brought into greater love for and understanding of God through all of this. My heart heard the following-

People deserve death. As unpopular an idea as it currently is, this is the Bible’s teaching. Solomon recognizes- “[Your people] sin against you- and who has never sinned?...” His father, David, a man after God’s own heart, angered God by taking a census which resulted in 70,000 deaths! Have I not done worse? We all deserve death. One of the absolutely central ideas of both Judaism and Christianity is that God’s mercy and love rescues people from what they deserve. Except for God’s great love for us, we would be consumed. Rescuing people who deserve what they’re getting- redeeming lives that don’t deserve redemption- is our way of reenacting our history and present experience with God. When social justice is our concern, we help those who deserve it. We are strategic in the ways in which we get involved with the poor and suffering. Justice is a Godly charge. But this morning I was focused on something all together different. It wasn’t justice that caused God to relent in the stories surveyed, but mercy and love. In this world, we are charged with helping those who help themselves and equipping all people with the resources to live meaningful lives. But in the kingdom of God, we are commanded to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This is not justice, but a reflection of our understanding of what the Lord has done for us. Both are necessary for the believer. Let us be faithful to articulate each.

Alyssa Mezsick

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing."
Mother Teresa

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mr. Pitiful

A buddy (Max Yoder) pointed this out, and I like his taste in music. Check out Max Yoder at

Thursday, August 4, 2011


It is true you can now find Jolene Shrock on Twitter... Go find me! I want to know whats happening in your day to day just as much as you want to know about whats happening in mine..

Monday, August 1, 2011

Burning out Bright

Burning out bright…

The first time I heard this song, I immediately noticed something about myself. Something I’m willing to bet you and I have in common—especially if you’re an American. It’s this: I live my life anticipating that it will be a long one; that I’ll live to be in my 80’s with my wife, children, and grandchildren surrounding me. Somehow I’ve bought into the fact that the next 60 years are guaranteed when, in reality, I am not guaranteed tomorrow. It’s phenomenal.

Some argue that it’s not practical or responsible to truly live as if today is our last day. Regardless of where you fall in that debate, there is a challenge in this song worth considering. If we truly believe that tomorrow is guaranteed, chances are we are also putting off some very important things that need to be addressed now. Take a step and do that thing you’ve put off for a while now, that thing that will make you burn out bright.

We are not promised tomorrow, and we would do well to not anticipate it so much.