Tuesday, August 28, 2012


2 million children are believed to be exploited through the commercial sex trade.
Our post today comes from Heather Huffman. I met her through the 31 day challenge and she kindly offered to write a guest post for me. She has such a heart for the people being exploited through human trafficking and I have no doubt that once you read what she has to say, you will agree. On top of all that, she is absolutely a fantastic writer. 
 Two million children are believed to be exploited through the commercial sex trade. That’s a stomach-turning statistic if there ever was one. But when I began to learn about the faces and atrocities behind the numbers, it became a number I couldn’t turn away from.

I was in my thirties, wondering how the heck the path of my life had ended up where it had, when I decided to pick up my pen and write again. After years of silence, I’d committed to honing my craft and finally realizing my dream to publish a novel.

I finished my first novel, Tumbleweed, over the course of the next year, but when I hit a wall with editing it, I set it aside and started work on what would become the book that changed my life: Throwaway. It was inspired by a dream I had about a prostitute and a police officer. The dream was just one conversation between these two star-crossed lovers, but I became obsessed with them. I thought about them constantly and how they got to where they were.

When I look back over that period in my life, it’s almost eerie how everything came together. Research I did for the novel Throwaway opened my eyes to an entire world I’d never known existed – modern day slavery. Once I knew it existed, I knew I somehow had to become involved in the fight. Something in the back of my mind kept repeating that my books should be a voice for the voiceless, but I had no idea how to accomplish that.

It just so happened that while I was trying to figure out what to do, I was invited to a symposium on human trafficking. It was a daylong event that armed me with facts and clarified how I could best use my talents to make a dent in this enormous problem. I decided that day to give away indie versions of my books to raise awareness.

Many of those around me thought I was nuts. But those books were downloaded more than 50,000 times over the next months, and I began to hear from readers around the world. One even asked if she could translate my work into Russian. From that one crazy act sprang a much larger movement. As people—former foster children, rescued slaves, survivors of abuse—reached out to me with their stories, I knew I’d made the right decision.

It was also through my readers that I first learned of the groups Project Liberty and The Covering House, and have since committed to helping them in the fight against human trafficking. Project Liberty is a group out of Lansing, Michigan that’s committed to rescuing children from trafficking. They’ve also been wonderful about educating me on the reality of this crime. The Covering House is a group out of Missouri that offers shelter and restoration to victims under the age of 18 after they’ve been rescued.

A funny thing happened because of the momentum the books had built up back in those indie days – I was contacted by a publisher out of Seattle called Booktrope. They were pioneering a new publishing model that could survive and thrive in the changing book market. Several talks and emails later, I’d signed a contract with them to republish the first four books, as well as my fifth book, which had yet to be released.

Not only are the first four now proudly sporting the Booktrope imprint, my seventh book, Devil in Disguise, was released this summer. In terms of shedding a light on human trafficking, this is the book the others were leading up to. In it, the main character’s younger sister is taken by human traffickers. Through the course of the novel, I’m able to show readers some of what I’ve learned over the past few years. The trafficking element is woven into the story, and it’s intentionally not heavy-handed. It’s a book with as much laughter as there are tears.

Though my publisher now charges for the books, my reach has grown exponentially. I recently learned that my books have been downloaded approximately 500,000 times. I can’t even wrap my brain around that number. In addition to a having a greater reach, I’ve also dedicated to give a portion of my book royalties to the organizations I work with.

My publisher also helped me line up Leave your Mark Graffiti Parties in Missouri and Georgia, with more to come in 2013. More than a book signing, graffiti parties also serve to raise awareness for human trafficking and help inform others how they can get involved. Often, these events are held in cooperation with one of the non-profits I partner with as fundraising opportunities. I now also speak in schools, churches and women’s groups, raising awareness for the fight against trafficking and the groups I work with.

Looking back, it’s surreal how far I’ve come on this journey. I know there’s a lot of work left to do, but it’s a start. If we all start somewhere, then we can change that number. Two million children can be children, not a statistic.

Keep up with author Heather Huffman on Heather Huffman’s Facebook Author Page.  Visit her book website www.heatherhuffman.net or contact her on Twitter @Heathers_Mark.
I have an e-copy of Heather's newest book, "Devil in Disguise" to give away!

All you have to do is link to this blog on your facebook or twitter accounts and then leave a comment here letting me know that you have done so! I will announce the winner on Friday!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Goals and Orphans

There are 121 million children out of education worldwide.

Lest my original readers think I have forgotten about my 12 Goals for 2012, I have not. Will I accomplish them all? Most certainly not. But they have definitely grown me as a person, nonetheless.

I think that everyone should set goals for themselves that are hard/nearly impossible to attain. I truly believe that's how we achieve really great things. The trick is to not let it rule your life or stress you out. I struggle with that a lot. Things that should have been fun and educational, like reading 100 books in one year, become some kind of deadline to meet or else people will be disappointed in me.

That's a ridiculous thought. As if anyone really really cares whether or not I meet these goals. I'm sure that people are cheering me on, but if I don't meet them, I'm not going to devastate anyone's world.

Set your goals high for yourself. No one else. The world does not hinge on your accomplishments.
147 Million Children

"We are two moms who love orphans! We met eight years ago as we were both going through our first adoptions (one domestic and one international) … Thirteen kids and seven adoptions later, we are bound together through faith and mission. We love “doing life together” and accepting the call to speak up for orphans everywhere. We want to help as many people as possible to see the 147 million orphans as scripture calls them, “…those who have no voice.”   We want you to see YOUR PART in helping change the life of an orphan. Could it be adoption, sponsoring a child, volunteering for orphan care ministry, rocking babies at an orphanage, financially supporting someone adopting, or buying these products?"
I love these moms. I love their mission. I love their hearts. And I love everything about their ministry.
They offer so many ways to get involved, and they even offer fundraising opportunities for those who would love to adopt, but just can't financially. 
By the way, if anyone wants to give me a Christmas present, click here. Thank you in advance.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hello Somebody and Confessions

1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.

Confession: I am failing at this $2.00 a day challenge. 

I have tried to think of good reasons that I am failing: I am busy. My body isn't used to that little food. I need to be at the top of my game all the time as a mom.

But the simple fact is that I love food and it's hard for me not to partake with friends. And I love food.

It's unbelievable to me that I can eat so much that I love food and don't think of it as a necessity for survival, but a luxury to enjoy.

Lord, help me to understand how blessed I am. Give me self control. Make me frugal. Help me to be a good steward of everything You give me so that others might come to know You!

Hello Somebody
This organization might get my vote for the trendiest.

Hello Somebody was begun as a result of a mission trip to Honduras. The founder encountered children there who preferred food over toys. His initial goal was to provide one million meals that year.
Now they work in several areas through other organizations to better the world, including stopping sex trafficking, getting water to Guatemala and livestock to Rwanda, and rebuilding after tornadoes ravaged parts of the United States. If you choose to donate directly to Hello Somebody, you will be ensuring that children receive food, education, and personal development.

As an added bonus, Hello Somebody has a store with some rockin’ merchandise. Seriously, I would buy everything in their store if I could. It ranges from CD’s to clothes to fragrance and all of it is great quality and superbly artistic.
 Please continue to consider sponsoring a child this month! Specifically children that have been waiting for a sponsor for over 6 months. You could help give them a future!

Real Post Forthcoming

I am so exhausted I don't know what to do with myself, but I promise that we are going to get back on track today. I have life updates as well as a few confessions to make.

Friday, August 3, 2012

America vs. the World

An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide.

 I have been asked several times by several people how I can give money overseas when there are people in my own country that need help? I thought I would take time at the beginning of these 31 days to explain a few reasons I do what I do. 

1. The need in Africa is great and there are few resources.

We talk about the cycle of poverty being hard to break in the U.S. It is. Especially if you have medical problems. But the cycle of poverty in Africa is almost impossible to break. In America if you are hungry you can go to a food bank. In Africa there isn't any food to give to a food bank. In American if your house blows over on you, you will receive medical care, insurance or not. In Uganda, if your house blows over on you and you have no way to pay, you will be left on a gurney to die.

2. Christians don't really belong to a nation except the Kingdom of God.

Don't get me wrong, I pledge allegiance to my flag and I appreciate the fact that I live in a free country. I routinely thank service men and women for fighting for me. But I am not only responsible for the poor in my country. I am responsible for the poor everywhere. And if you're a Christian, you should want to see people saved from the intense poverty seen in other countries. If you think Americans suffer, you haven't done enough research.

3. Third world countries are open to hope.

It is so difficult to witness to others in the U.S. I'm not saying that we should give up or that it's impossible that others will come to know Christ, but Christians need to go where people are desperate for Someone to save them. Keep witnessing to your neighbors here, but don't forget that while Americans tend to routinely reject the Gospel there are people all over the world who would accept if only they knew who this Jesus was. 

That was probably a lot more harsh than what I intended it to be. I don't want anyone to think that I don't care about my neighbors here in the U.S. I want everyone to have health care and to have enough to eat and have a job. I want all to come to know the peace that I found in Jesus. But at some point we have to quit being so inward centered and start realizing that the church is world wide. 
Hands in Service

Based out of the Christian Fellowship in Nashville, TN, Hands in Service is, indeed, a jack-of-all-trades organization. They have developed eight different ministries in Uganda ranging from metal workshops to schools to farms. But as different as these seem, they all have one thing in common: their help is a hand up to the people of Soroti, Uganda instead of a hand-out.

Hands in Service support local small businesses in a variety of ways, which is so important in sustaining change in developing countries.

One impressive part of Hands in Service is their commitment to working across denominational boundaries and to promote unity in the body of Christ. We all like to say that we’re all for unity, but their mission statement was like a sip of cool water for me!
 I accidentally ruined my bowl of oatmeal this morning so I had to make a new one. It was such a strange feeling to do that... knowing that at the end of the month I would probably go without breakfast. How odd to have to be so careful how I cook, because if it burns or just doesn't turn out edible I don't eat. 

Today, pray for our country and the people who live that reality here. Then take some time to pray for those overseas that are not different from us, just in even more need.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Food List, Education, and Slavery

Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls.

Once again, a statistic that just makes me sad.

Education is something that we, in general, take for granted. I know I did. I didn't realize that having an education made me less likely to be the victim of domestic abuse or sexual exploitation. 

The sad thing is that these girls know it... they just can't do anything about it.

Pray for these children. Pray that they are given a chance to do something better with their lives for the glory of God. Pray that they would be given the same opportunities that we possess here in the U.S. 

Yesterday was hard. Really hard. I didn't realize how much I loved food, and I have to admit, I have caved in and drank coffee. I decided that if it meant I could be coherent all day then it was worth it.

My food was pretty devoid of color, but here it is anyway.

Oatmeal with bananas

Peanut butter sandwich, rice, and milk
This is basically my menu, at least for the next week. I also had spaghetti at dinner, which I took a picture of, but apparently my phone cord has walked away so no picture for you. It was spaghetti, I promise.

Food is so much cheaper here. I still get to eat 3 meals a day with my $2.00. I am so blessed.

Love146? What does that name even mean?

In 2002 the founders of Love146 took a mission trip to brothels in Southeast Asia. While I would love to tell this story, it’s probably best being heard from their perspectives:

And if you are anything like me, while watching that video you felt a little bit like you were suffocating from the inability to save those girls immediately.

Love 146 spends 50% of its money on the prevention of trafficking, which is, I believe, the most excellent way to spend their money. They use some of their funds to pay organizations already in the countries who know the language and the culture but simply lack the money to be effective.

While the organization was founded by Christians, it is not a religious organization, so their employees cover a vast array of humanity and enables all to be a part of fighting this heinous crime.
 Don't forget to look into Compassion. I found a little girl that I'm just dying to get sponsored. You can check her out on my Facebook page, or you can ask me for the link to find her.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Compassion International

According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die daily due to poverty.

This statistic just echos in my head every time I read it.
22,000 Children? I have to admit, it makes me a little angry. At myself first, because I am sitting here in my $150,000 house watching my $500 TV and typing on my $1,000 laptop. I know, I know, I need a house. And in the kind of culture we live in, it's hard to know what's going on without a TV and almost impossible to work without a laptop. But when you add up just those three things you could sponsor 20 children through Compassion International for their entire lives


What would happen if we would all pitch in? What would happen if everyone who read this blog said that $38 a month is not that much (by the way, it's not) and sponsored a child? It's really time for us to stop making excuses. 

It was not my intention to ask people to give money throughout this month, but I really believe that this is too important. 

I assume if you're reading this you were interested at some point in my child. So here's a picture:

My child is so precious to me. But every time I look at him now I am reminded that there are 22,000 Noah's that are dying today. It makes me weep.

Get involved. It's important.

I challenge you tonight to look through your bank account statement and see how much you spend every month on eating out. I did, and that's when I realized we just weren't as poor as we thought. And that's the night I contacted Compassion to sponsor Yanci.

I want to set a goal for this blog. I would like to see 31 children sponsored through Compassion this month. If you sponsor a child, either shoot me an email (kaseyacox@gmail.com), comment on this blog, or comment on my Facebook page. If you'll send me a picture I will try to make a collage of them and post them in September.

 Compassion International
I sponsored my first child through Compassion International the summer after my senior year in high school. Her name was Chinaika and she was from Haiti and I fell in love with her in a real and devoted way. Unfortunately I only sponsored her for two years when I realized that I could not financially make the commitment anymore. I called the Compassion office and told them, in tears, that I was a college student and could not support Chinaika anymore. The representative was kind and understanding, but I still regret giving her up.

I’m so glad that God blessed me enough to get involved again with this spectacular ministry. Compassion works through $38 a month sponsorships to feed, clothe, and educate children in 26 different countries. $38 is the average amount I used to easily spend on just a couple meals a week eating out.

Compassion works on a one-to-one system, meaning that my $38 goes directly to Yanci, my new sponsored child instead of being dispersed throughout the community. There are several reasons for this (just as there are several reasons to disperse the money as well), but to quote directly from Compassion’s website, “We've discovered that changed circumstances rarely change people's lives, while changed people inevitably change their circumstances.” They focus on building a child up from the inside out. Because of this and the fact that I, alone, am sponsoring Yanci, my letters, encouragement, and prayers are needed and sought after. I am important to Yanci, just like she is indescribably important to me.

There are several other reasons that I love Compassion: the Child Survival Program, the Student Leader Sponsorship program, and the ability to meet my sponsored child through Compassion-organized trips just to name a few. Please visit Compassion’s website for more information.
  In case you are curious, I did begin today. I will post pictures of my meals tomorrow, but I thought I would let you all know that I bought all of this:
For $27 and some change yesterday.

If you still want to get in on this action, let me know and I will share my meal plans with you.