As I opened the envelope, I couldn't help but wonder what my son and daughter-in-law had sent me. Their cards have been cute, serious, tender, hilarious, and everything in between. Opening the card, a printed sheet of paper fell out, and as I unfolded it, a huge smile broke across my face. It was a donation receipt to an adoption agency in my honor for my birthday. I have enough stuff. I was thankful they had chosen to do something to bless a child, birth mother, and adoptive family in my honor. What makes it all the more special for me is that my son and daughter-in-law are committed to help kids have a chance in their daily lives: they are foster parents for kids in crisis in their county. They walk their talk!

So many issues get politicized and the human dimension often gets forgotten. In this special week when we celebrate life, I want to encourage you to remember the real life human stories that lie behind the political issues. Each life is a miracle (see the video), but even miracles need help in finding life with purpose and meaning.

With the devastation of Haiti, the ongoing challenges of AIDS and malaria in many underdeveloped countries, and the economic downturn's impact on our poor and elderly, we have many opportunities to be a blessing to others. I encourage you to find a place where you can celebrate life by offering help to those who need it. Here are a few that are important to my heart, but you probably have others (I would love to hear about them on my blog:

Many of us believe that every child has the right to be born. However, the right to life has to be more than just a chance to be born. Helping children find a home with loving parents, having access to safe drinking water, receiving the chance to succeed or fail, and being given the opportunity to learn about Jesus, are all crucial to a child's life. Churches, parachurch ministries, and emergency relief efforts can help us do many redemptive things in the name of Jesus. Let me share a few things that are near to my heart:

Care for the unborn, expectant mothers, and potential adoptive parents. You can do this through organizations, through your church or by receiving training and serving as a foster parent in your community. I serve on the board of Christian Homes and Family Services because of their work with birth mothers, babies, adoptive families, and foster care needs. I encourage folks to donate to such organizations and support them with their prayers.

Be a mentor — in particular, Big Brothers Big Sisters is a fantastic organization and one our church is very involved in helping. You can be a regular mentor (called a "Big") or volunteer as a lunch buddy or help in other ways. There is a shortage in almost every community of "Bigs" to help with the many "littles" who need a mentor and friend.

Habitat for Humanity is a favorite organization for many of my friends. We're directly involved right now with a family building their home where I live. The walls were all framed on our church parking lot and are now coming together as a house on the location where this family will live. The projects are well organized, fun, and involve the family who will live in the home.

Visit the hospital, whether as a volunteer or as a spiritual friend to those in need or a church ministry. I know of two godly men who are retired who visit the hospital every week and have blessed thousands of lives. I know many others who have volunteered at hospitals. What a great blessing!

Support a child in an underdeveloped country with a monthly contribution and maintaining contact with that child on a regular basis. Our family particularly loves to work with Compassion International and we support three children monthly. This ensures they have clean water, regular immunizations, clothes, food, and an education. Having visited Uganda and seen the operation from the inside, I am a committed supporter of their efforts.

Don't grow cynical, but find a way to help!
Meals-on-Wheels is a great organization and helps care for those who are older and those who are shut in because of health problems. Developing friendships with those you serve is a special blessing in taking part in this ministry and service.

Don't grow cynical on disaster relief, but find a reputable relief agency with a good track record and support them and encourage your friends to do so as well. Encourage your family and church to do the same. It's easy to get moved by images generated on TV and respond to high profile Hollywood supported efforts, but the truth is that most church and proven para-church related agencies do a better job at really delivering relief and often are better managed against fraud, waste, and abuse.

Most of all, remember the powerful truth behind our involvement:

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:10-11 TNIV).

For those who receive this by email, each of the organizations mentioned above can be found by a simple internet search or you can visit us on our website and see the article with the links: for helping others find life!