Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Are you doing something that's bigger than yourself?

Good morning from the dry heat of Arizona! I’ve received tons of stories on how people are doing something bigger than themselves. Keep em’ coming! But I’ve also received questions on how just one person can do something to change the world. This earth is so big and you’re just one person, but you can make a difference. Here’s a story I share in my new book: On December 19, 2007, in upstate Washington a customer decided that she didn’t want to pay for her own drink only, but also for the car behind her, to wish the next person a Merry Christmas. The driver of the car behind her was shocked by the gesture and then he paid for the car behind him. And this went on for 1,112 cars! Seriously!

You can make a difference any minute, any hour, any day. Start small and dream big. Mother Teresa said: “If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.” Do something bigger than yourself today, then go to Facebook and share your story. This week, we’re choosing one story and giving that world-changer a free t-shirt. See you on Facebook!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thoughts on poverty

"I'm convinced that God did not mess up and make too many people and not enough stuff. Poverty was not created by God but by you and me, because we have not learned to love our neighbors as ourselves."-Shane Claiborne

This quote makes me stop dead in my tracks and really think. I've never thought of myself as being a contributor to poverty before, but what if this is true? How does the above statement alter my own reality? I recently finished reading Austin Gutwein's book entitled "Take Your Best Shot", to be released September 15, 2009. In the book, he shares the story of Hoops of Hope and how it all began. I couldn't help but walk away from that read completely inspired to be part of the change, not just through Hoops of Hope but to be a world changer to a world in great need. I was forced to ask myself the question, 'Am I living for myself or for something much greater?'. Have I learned to love others as I love myself? And if I have, how is it changing the world around me?

When you see someone in need, what do you do about it? When you're introduced to a cause that compels you, do you join forces with those that are making a difference in this world or do you weigh the cost? Things to think about...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Take Your Best Shot

"If you think making a difference is going to be any easier when you're an adult, you're mistaken. Doing something new that's bigger than yourself doesn't depend on how old you are. It depends on how available you are. If you choose to be available, God will work through you even if you are young, and even if you are just a 'regular person'."

Today's blog contains an excerpt from Austin's new book Take Your Best Shot which will be released September 15th from Thomas Nelson. To pre-order the book, click here

Friday, July 17, 2009

Taking my best shot

Wow! I've never written so much in my life, but the new book is finished and available for pre-ordering. It's called "Take Your Best Shot" and I'm so excited to be able to share the story of Hoops of Hope and the children of Africa with you. I was able to write it with an amazing writer named Todd Hillard. Just click here if you would like to order it.

What excites me even more though, is being able to hear from you. Being able to hear what you're doing, inspires me a ton. Every day I receive emails from friends across the world who are using their passions, their talents, their unique God-given abilities to help change the world. It's amazing how something so small can turn into something big. You just have to do something! In fact, something as simple as smiling can make the day for someone. Share your stories with others by visiting the Hoops of Hope Facebook Page. You never're story could help inspire someone else to change the world.

See you on Facebook!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How are you going to change the world?

I recently came across a blog that asked their readers this question, "How are you going to change the world?" They had anyone and everyone take a photo of themselves holding a piece of paper with a statement on how they are going to change the world. It was so inspiring to me to see people from all across the universe show how they are going to make a difference. There were responses like, "Love each one" "Smile More" "Stop Human Trafficking" "Designing and creating clothing that alleviates poverty" and "Be joyful."

I want to ask you, "How are you going to change the world?" As one small individual in this massive world, what are you going to do? Sounds intimidating... one individual in a large world. Don't be discouraged. Because what you do plus what someone else does plus another will add up to make a MASSIVE impact. We can't do everything, but we can all do something. And each little bit helps.

My response would be, "Love with no exceptions" That means that no matter what race, economic status, or personality type someone is, I will choose to love them. No matter what things they've done, I must love. No matter how dorky they are or how arrogant, I will love. There should be no exceptions in love.

So we ask you, "How are you going to change the world?" We'd love to hear your ideas so please reply to this post and begin changing the world.

(This idea came from the I-Heart blog. To see some of the photos from their post, click here)

Tara K.

Monday, July 13, 2009

They never even see what they look like

The first time my dad and I went to Africa, we would bounce down these endlessly long dusty roads in trucks. Every time we would stop for water or fuel, tons of kids would gather around to figure out who the strangers were. I wasn't just a stranger-to them, with my super fair skin, red hair, and freckles, I was just plain strange! I was as different to them as Africa was to me. For fun, my dad would take his camera and snap a picture of the kids and then turn the camera around so they could see themselves. Click. Click. Click. These kids loved it. Pretty soon there would be a big line of kids waiting to get their picture taken. What was the big deal about this?! One of the World Vision workers told us that most of the kids had never seen what they look like.

-Austin Gutwein

Today's blog contains an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Austin's new book Take Your Best Shot which will be released September 15th from Thomas Nelson. To pre-order the book, click here

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bumps for OCC

We came across an article about a 12 year old girl from Florida who was so inspired by Austin and the Hoops of Hope story that she decided to set up her very own charity volleyball tournament, Bumps for OCC, to help kids have a better Christmas this year. We are so proud of her and would like to share this excellent article that sheds light on her story.

Please take a moment to read the article here.

Thanks Torii for stepping up to make a difference for others in this world. Good luck and have fun at your tournament!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The stuff that expires

It's time to quit buying. No, I don't mean we have to quit buying things, but we need to stop buying into the idea that things that expire are more important than the things that do not expire. Don't let that idea pass you by. It's seriously important because, to be honest, the stuff that expires doesn't satisfy anyway. I mean, do things ever really make you feel good in the long run? No, they don't. Most of the time they just fuel your hunger for more-a better cell phone, more shoes, the latest gaming never ends.

-Austin Gutwein

Today's blog contains an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Austin's new book Take Your Best Shot which will be released September 15th from Thomas Nelson. To pre-order the book, click here

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm happy because I'm still alive

I received an email from my sponsor child, Naomi, this past week and was heartbroken by some of the things she wrote. One of the first statements she said after her greeting was, "I am very happy because I am still alive." The heart of a young girl in Kenya: "I'm happy to still be alive." I imagine she wakes up every single morning with this grateful attitude, but I can't imagine the circumstances that bring her to say this phrase. It breaks my heart to think of the way she lives, yet I'm almost jealous of it.

The thing is, she truly IS happy. She is so grateful for the life she's been given. Though she doesn't have an ipod, a queen sized bed, or a shopping mall down the road, she is utterly happy and grateful. She finds joy in her friendships, her school, and the fact that she woke up this morning to enjoy another day. Naomi's letter humbled me in many ways. She has taught me that I should be grateful for being able to open my eyes each morning and live a new day. Sometimes I wish I didn't have so many material things, because I know it distracts me. Our culture tells us that we must have more to be happy. Although, what I've learned from traveling to Kenya and seeing the lives of people there, is that you can have less and even be happier than the richest man in America.

Tara K.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I couldn't stop staring at the TV screen. The story was really scaring me, and the little was awful. She was in a place that was completely foreign to me. I had never seen anything like it. The landscape was beautiful, but everything else just seemed horrible. My dad had just put a DVD into the player. It was only four minutes long, but they were four minutes of the most powerful images I had ever seen, and it was the most powerful story I had ever heard. Pictures of the little girl and her life flooded our family room, like Africa was pulled right into our house through the television. I could see it. I could almost touch it. I could definitely feel it. Minute by minute, my life was being changed forever.

The little girl's name was Maggie. She and I were both nine years old when we met through the TV screen, but she had already experienced a lifetime of tragedy. She lives in Zambia, and she had lost the most important people in her life- her mother, her father, her aunts and uncles, her grandparents... even her little brother. They had all died of AIDS.

Today's blog contains an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Austin's new book Take Your Best Shot which will be released September 15th from Thomas Nelson. To pre-order the book, click here