outreach on a budget

“Mama, why is that man pulling stuff out of the dumpster?”  she asks with childlike innocence.

Her needs have always been met so she can’t imagine why somebody would need to dig through the trash.  She has enough food to be choosy about what she “likes” so she gives no thought to where her next meal will come from.

outreach

With so much to be thankful for sometimes our blessings blind us to those experiencing real need.  Gratitude without action does nothing to feed a hungry soul.  And it doesn’t warm a child who has no bed.  People do that.  People, who are willing to be the hands of God.  You don’t have to have a lot of money, you only need a willing heart!

  • Do you regularly indulge in specialty coffee?  Or ice cream?  How about those non-essential pantry items?  All of our little splurges add up and could easily cover the monthly needs of an impoverished child.  Consider depositing the money that would be spent on those purchases in a jar and use the funds to sponsor a child.  You may miss that sweet treat, but that hungry child won’t miss the gnawing in his belly!
  • Do you know a family that is working to raise money for an adoption?  Many of these families do some type of fundraising.  Get involved!  Help organize an event and enlist your own family to help get the word out.  Don’t underestimate the value behind a simple purchase or small donation made to such an effort.  God can multiply our love offerings and make a few dollars do the impossible!
  • Perhaps there is a family nearby that you know struggles to keep food on the table.  Get to know them and include them in some of your family activities, making sure to provide plenty of nourishing food.  Friendship is easier to accept than a hand-out!
  • Back-to-School sales are the perfect opportunity to stock up on supplies such as pencils, notebooks, crayons, rulers, glue stick, etc.  Children in third-world countries are absolutely ecstatic to receive such treasures!  Let your kids choose some of their favorites and get them involved in packaging it all up to send off to an organization that will get it distributed.
  • Malaria is a serious threat in some countries.  Mosquito nets, which help prevent infectious bites, are very inexpensive and are a great way to help from afar.  Have your kids do a study on malaria, making note of the spread, symptoms and treatment of it.  Awareness stirs the heart to action!
  • Keep an eye out for handicapped or elderly neighbors that may need help with yard work, or splitting and hauling wood.  Befriend them first (the less an act seems like “charity” the easier some find it to receive), and then let them know you have willing hands to lighten their load.
  • What about that exhausted, single mother in church?  Look for ways that you might minister to her heavy burden.  You could sit with her during the service and help manage her children.  Maybe you could offer to babysit once a month to give her a little breather.  Even better, invite her over for some “girl time”…and be willing to listen!
  • Do you have an exchange shelter that you know some of the underprivileged visit?  Declutter and purposefully place some of your “good” stuff over there.  Many of us have more shoes and clothing that what we truly need.  Offering from the overflow of your closet could be a serious blessing to someone that knows what it is to go without!
  • Spiritual poverty is rampant.  OneVerse is an organization that translates Bible verses in languages that often don’t have even one.  For a monthly sum of $26, you can sponsor a new verse each month.  Or you can form and group to donate collectively, increasing your potential impact.  They also offer the option to honor a loved one by sponsoring a verse in their name!
  • Outreach begins in the home!  Sneak around and do up some of your kids chores or sneak money into the jar where they are saving up for that special purchase.  Rather than force-feeding them demands to be kind and giving, let them catch the bug from you!  Children who actually see their parents entrenched in selfless giving are very likely to jump on board!!
Don’t despair if your budget is tight…God has truly made a way for each of us to get involved.  You don’t have to look to your neighbor and compare yourself to the resources they have to make a difference.  The Lord saw the widow drop everything she had into the offering box and He was pleased.  He took an eager boy’s simple lunch and used it to feed thousands.
He isn’t asking us to do great things, He’s just asking us to do what we can!
Signature

My little glass house

glass house

 

It hit me so hard I nearly fell on my face.  The harsh reality that I didn’t truly trust Him was a force that left me gasping.  I was torn wide open and the bleeding wouldn’t stop.

Oh, I say all the good Christian things a good Christian girl says.  And I’d almost convinced myself that my heart believed the words.  But two ER visits in the same day with our not-quite-two-year-old had left me nearly undone.  I felt a little like Abraham that night only rather that willingly handing it over, I clutched all that was “mine”  and ran for my life.  He couldn’t have my baby and that was final.  Surely He knew I could never bear it.  And so I ran and ran and ran.  Only I was running from an imaginary threat because though I was a mother in the throes of panicked exhaustion, my little man was never in serious danger of losing his life.

But my knee-jerk reaction of fear and the absolute refusal to rest in His will has caused me to re-evaluate.  I’m not liking what I see.  That night I was unwilling to surrender my precious child, which is normal enough, but I knew in the deepest places of my soul that He had to come first.  That is was possible to make a god of even a child.  And so I asked Him to show me what else I was holding back.

The raw, real answer isn’t pretty.  Because he showed me everything.  Everything is what I’ve been refusing to give him.  I’ve stuffed it all down in a bag and cinched the top shut tight.  On occasion I may take something out and hand it over for awhile.  But if He doesn’t use it “right” or if it looks like it might get “broken” I snatch it back and stuff it safely in the bag.  I say I love Him and I try to trust Him but I have limits.  And they don’t extend far.

I’ve bought into the world’s standard to a far greater degree than I’m comfortable admitting.  The standard that says a nice house, car and salary are signs of success and the absence of any or all of the above are a sign of failure.  And so I’ve spent three decades building my world. It’s filled with little gods and big gods and they’re all squeezing out the one true God.

I’m comfortable though I squirm when the groceries run low.  I’m secure though I panic when the bills are too high.  I’m right where I want to be until I’m bored and want to be somewhere else.  And then I think I deserve or have earned that chance to escape.  You do it, too, if you’ll only admit it.

We erect plastic gods and worship at the altar of abundance.  We say we want to be used but only if it doesn’t require too much or shake up our lives or throw off our routines.  We want it all and we want it now and we want it exactly the way we envision it.  We aren’t sold out for Christ.  We barely manage to rent out a small space of our free-will to serve Him in the scary places.

We value the opinions of others with far more passion than the opinion of God.  And we cherish the breath of life more than eternal life.  It’s crazy.  Backwards, mixed-up, stupid-crazy.

I’m tired of acting like it matters what color my walls are when there are children peppering this planet without the shelter of walls at all.  I’m tired of chasing after financial security rather than trusting that what He provides really is enough.  I’m exhausted from climbing ladders and erecting walls that keep the Lord safely at arm’s distance.  Comfortable feels so good yet oddly suffocating at the same time and it’s because it’s not often where He wants us to be.  Comfortable is more a place to visit for a brief rest than one in which we should seek residency.

Yet we all run there and start throwing up the walls that define this place as home.  We settle in and plan to stay, barely remembering we’re just passing through.  We make big deal about the accommodations while we’re here and we begin to think we need bigger and better and more.

But He wants us to live with the kind of reckless abandon that has people thinking we’re a little out there. He wants us to live a life of absolute surrender in the face of complete uncertainty.

But what does that look like practically?  Does it mean we have to sell everything we own and move to a country without running water and live on a dirt floor?  For some of us, yes.  For others of us it simply means we toss all those plastic gods in a great heap, set fire to them and then let Him fill the empty spaces with what He chooses.

For me, I can already feel Him moving.  Speaking.  I hear Him asking me for things I’ve been clutching tightly and reminding me they were never really mine to begin with.  He’s asking me to go.  To move right here where I am and I cringe because living without reserve for Him right here is scary.  And I almost think it would be easier to be the one called to that far off country of dirt floors.  But if I’m giving Him me it means I no longer call the shots and I don’t get to choose where He sends me.

He’s given me a heart for special needs adoption and I’m drawn to the neediest of the needy.  The kids who aren’t pretty or lovely or healthy or loved.  The ones that are most unlikely to ever find home this side of heaven.  It’s crazy and expensive and would turn my world on its ear.  My husband agrees though we can’t get approved until God moves.  But when He does, we’re going in!

I want kids who are so sold out for Christ that they cannot be bought by the world at any price.  I want them to love freely and without shame.  I want them to see Jesus and run toward Him rather than away.  I want them to be willing to literally lay down their lives if that’s what He asks for.  I want them to go where He calls without worrying that I might selfishly hold them back.

But if all we ever do is sit around playing house how will they ever learn to serve with everything they have rather than just in neat, tidy ways that fit nicely around the empire of their lives?

I feel my little glass house beginning to shake.  I secretly long for it to just shatter.  I want to be sold out, too, and free to follow where He leads.  I want to toss aside the shackles of fear and bondage of public opinion and  live as though each moment is the big one.  I want to stop acting like the dumb stuff matters and to exchange “normal” for the uncertain and unexpected.

I want to bleed for God and His people.  I can no longer stand not to be living the life He planned for me while I seek out the life I’ve planned for myself.  From this day forth, I am His.  With abandon and without reserve.  May God in His abundant mercy hold me fast to that promise!

How about you?  Are you ready?

bpfbbutton

 Linked up with Growing Home, Deep Roots at Home, Raising Mighty Arrows, A Mama’s Story, What Joy is Mine, Graced SimplicityA Wise Woman Builds her Home

 

Signature

Planted in the Shade but Blooming with the Son

blooming

 

I’m a writer by passion.  I can only assume it was God who placed that need within me because He’s laced through everything that flows from my fingertips.  I write to free myself of churning thoughts and conflicting emotions. I write to encourage or to reach out an understanding hand to a hurting heart.

I write because He’s asked me to.

Sometimes I’ll pore for hours over an article only to have just a handful of people take the time to read it.  Other times I’ll tap out a casual post, bereft of perceived extraodinary, and it’ll be pounced on like ants at a picnic.  There’s just no telling and I’ve stopped trying to guess.  {Okay, I haven’t completely stopped trying to guess, but humor me here!}

I’m an average girl, full of insecurities, inabilities and occasional ingenuities.  I blend in with the crowd because I’m ordinary.  Nothing special.  Plain Jane.

Until He plucks me out of that crowd and gives me a moment in a pretty vase for others to glimpse my heart and see that it burns for Him.  Those are my moments because He chooses to share them with me.  But apart from His grace, I’d live my life as moss beneath a rock, deep in the forest.  Never noticed.

The not-noticed times hurt a little.  A friend shared this article the other day and it put glue to the fragmented pieces swirling within.  And it made me realize what I want is not really to be noticed, but to make an impact.  And I simply cannot do that.

Only He can.  And it’s those times when I’m willing to be hid in Him, when I’m not forcing it or making a bigger deal of it than is necessary, that He speaks through my pen.

I have blogging friends who are really going places.  Their Facebook pages have sucked in a steady flow of followers while mine climbs and drops with little noticeable change.  They’re traveling to meetings and conventions and making connections that keep the momentum flowing.  And I’m home because finances won’t allow it or logistics won’t hear of it or because I’m just too chicken to waggle a timid toe in the doorway of such places.

Things are happening around me and sometimes I’m a part of it, but most of the time I’m not.  And because I am made up of the worst kind of selfish, I wish for it to be different.  But then I think, do I really?

I’m quiet and shy (until I’m not, that is) and I’d probably faint if my name or my writing was cutting a steady trail through cyber-space. I like slow and steady.  I like that I’m a little bit of nobody, writing a little bit of something that just might reach the heart of exactly one person who truly needs it.  That is humbling.  That is my pace.

I write from my heart and I try to refrain from posting if I don’t feel the Lord pressing something to it.  But sometimes I forget to invite Him at all.  Sometimes I make it all about me and what I can do and how I can find my place among the somebody’s.

I recently wrote a post that came so easily and seamlessly together that I felt certain the Lord really was guiding my words.  And then almost nobody even looked at it.  Seriously.  My pride was a little bruised.  I was confused.

“But Lord,” I said “where are the people I wrote this post for?”  I waited impatiently while I shamelessly stalked my own blog for page views or comments.  Not happening.  And over on Facebook I was being unliked with unprecedented fury.

“What’s the point?” I fumed.  ”Why take the time to write the words burning a hole through my heart if nobody is going to see them anyway?”

And then, mid-hissy-fit, I felt His answer…

We wrote it for you.  You needed to read it.  I used your hand to write a message for your own heart.

Okay, then.

I’ve decided {again} that I’m okay with being a little person swimming around in all my not-noticed moments.  Because He notices and when the time is right, He’ll share what He’s given me with whoever might need it.  He can create those moments of impact I secretly crave.  Until then, I’m done.

I’m done with trying to push my way where I don’t belong.  I’m done bartering for the spotlight.  I’m done trying to steal His thunder.  I’ll share what I write but that’s where it ends.

I write because I believe He’s asked me to.  And now I sit down, content and humble, because He’s asking for that, too!

 

Is there something you’ve been wrangling from God?  Are you willing to hand Him the reigns?

bpfbbutton

Linked up with Growing Home, Deep Roots at Home, Far Above Rubies, Time Warp Wife, A Mama’s Story, The Modest Mom, What Joy is Mine, Mom’s the Word

 

Signature

How on earth did we get here?

tolerance

I’m itching to write something but honestly, I’ve got nothing.  I’m overwhelmed by the oppressive lack of morality in this world and I feel somewhat numb.  Where is my place?  What is my role?

I’m not a hater, an activist or an alarmist.  I don’t rally behind political agenda (from the right or the left) and I don’t pretend to believe the state of our current affairs can be attributed to any one man or administration.  I haven’t boycotted Walmart because of the magazines in their checkout and I’d probably still buy a latte from Starbucks if I didn’t detest coffee, though they claim not to want the business of Christians.

I guess the truth is, I’m confused.  How did we get here?  How did we get to this place where simply buying groceries gets you caught in the political cross-fire?  I just need milk, for goodness sake.  I don’t want to be supporting abortion by buying it or aiding and abetting the swiftly moving current of moral decline when I walk out with a loaf of bread.

I’m disgusted that we’ve traded in Biblical truth for political correctness.  That there are hidden agendas everywhere making me a supporting party simply because I don’t spend hours trying to figure out what business is supporting what uncouth organization.  I’m raising children.  I’ve got a family to tend to and hearts to win for Jesus.  My plate is full yet I feel strangely empty.

Because while I’m not an activist by nature, I am burning inside to bring healing to the masses.  I don’t honestly want to waste my time trying to take out those screaming for tolerance and women’s rights {and who are simultaneously being intolerant and stepping on the rights of everyone who opposes them}.  I’ve got better things to do.

I want to chase down the hearts that are hurting, confused and scared and offer them a glimmer of hope and life.

I want to wrap my arms around those who have never known a mother’s love.

I want to pass along clothing to someone who needs the warmth.

I want to give food to one who has gone much too long with far too little.

I want to smile at someone nobody else notices.

I want to hold the sweet baby that was to be a victim of abortion and whisper words of encouragement to the brave mother who chose life instead.

I want to break bread with sinners and share my Jesus with them.  It’ll be a well-matched meal since I’m a sinner, too.

I want to get my hands dirty as I minister in the fertile soil of this endangered land.  My goal isn’t to eradicate evil but to rescue those in it’s deadly path.  I don’t want to save the world, or end it by purchasing supplies from the wrong store.  I simply want to be the beautiful hands and feet and heart of God, sweating it out in the field with the lost and dying.

But is that enough?  How do I balance the desire to share His love with my abhorrence for the wickedness that abounds?  How do I meet the need without getting swept away by righteous indignation?  How do YOU do it?

bpfbbutton

Don’t always have time to drop by? I’ll visit your inbox with new posts! Enter your email below:

Linked up at Raising Mighty Arrows

Signature

What’s my thing?

I have a friend who is gifted at balancing a hundred things while also seeing to the needs of her husband and four kids.  I have another who finds it relaxing to sit and cross-stitch or paint-by-numbers in the evening after a long day.  Yet another thinks nothing of organizing huge events for charitable organizations, while managing not to neglect her family.

I’ve got some pretty amazing friends!  But I’m not them.

I’ve tried cross-stitch and I’m actually pretty sure I’m allergic.  Stress-induced hives threaten to take over my body at the mere thought of tiny x’s.  Not my thing!

If somebody were to even approach me with the idea of organizing an event that people were actually going to pay money to attend, I’d either fall over laughing…or dead.  I don’t even plan family birthday parties.  Not my thing, either.

I don’t do well trying to squeeze much more than the necessities into my days.  I keep the kids fed, clothed, disciplined and happy and I love on my man.  The end.  I want to do more.  I hope to one day make a difference beyond my own front door.  But in this moment, those opportunities are rare.

I’m praying for God to open doors and asking for peace when He instead chooses to close them.  I’m asking Him to lead me to my mission field and He keeps pointing to my family.  But I want a talent.  A skill that gives meaning to my existence.

I want more.  Lord, when is it my turn?  When might you show me what my thing really is?  I feel ready now!

Silence.

He says nothing.  Not even the whispered hint of an answer and no real hope that one is ever coming.  Until the phone rang.

The caller ID revealed the number of a long-time friend who got started on life almost two decades before me.   I snatched up the phone, eager to hear her voice.  But it wasn’t the sound of her gentle words that thrilled me…it was the message they held.

With no clue what I’d been battling in my heart, she had called to encourage me that I was right where I was supposed to be.

She reminded me that possessing compassion is a gift beyond measure.  And that while, in this season, it may most directly be played out in the home, it ultimately reaches well beyond.  Forgiveness is a “talent” that we’re entrusted with and should never attempt to bury.  Love is often the gift of choice and multiplies the more we choose it. 

Right now, those are my things.  I can look for the good in a person or a situation.  I can forgive the bad.  And love is something I have in abundance.  My heart longs for more, but my God says this is enough for now.  I’m chomping at the bit to go and He’s gently asking me to wait.  To develop these character qualities He’s instilled in me.  

One day, He whispers. One day I’ll give you wings to fly.  Right now, I want you to walk while you spread my love.  Start in your home, fill it to overflowing and let it seep out onto the world beyond.  Do things my way and you’ll find your way tucked inside.

And so I wait.  And laugh and love.  Because apparently that’s my thing! 

____________
Photos courtesy of Pinterest 
~~~~



Signature

New blog…New purpose

During my blogging haitus, I conditioned myself not to need the internet.  It’s crazy how strong the pull can get if you let your guard down.  I needed to step away.  I needed to get off Facebook.  I needed to breathe and reacquaint myself with my God and my family.

I’ve learned a few things:
  • I love to write.  I’m not terribly skilled and somehow I just know I use punctuation in all the wrong places, and fail to put it in the right ones.  But my heart is full of words just begging for release.  I’ve learned that longing is my gift.  My gift to myself…and my hubby!  Writing gives me an outlet so that all the chaos swirling in my head can find order in the written word.  And it gives my Robbie sweet escape from what might otherwise be an overwhelming onslaught of the spoken word!
  • I am a sinner in need of redemption.  I can publish a post on gently training your children and then by noon lose it with one of mine.  Blogging is a precarious business.  It takes gentle balance to offer the world a glimmer of hope without presenting yourself as someone you’re not.  I’m an unfinished project and you are, too.  You don’t have to be perfect for me to learn something from you.  So long as the same stands true for you, I may just have something to share!
  • My story is ugly.  There are times I want to hide from it in shame.  But then He reminds me that He’s got precious people out there who are dying from the need to hear of hope.  I can be one of those voices, if only I’ll let Him use me.  My eBook, A Broken Surrender, should be available soon and is a closer look at my own life and the way the Lord has truly brought beauty from the ashes!  
  • I’ve made some really awesome friends blogging.  God has placed wonderful people in my path that are a consistent source of encouragement and inspiration.  I am so grateful to be “surrounded” by ladies who keep me on the narrow path even when I can’t leave my home.  I truly missed this community!
  • Social media can be a tool if you’re careful not to let it be a trap.  Taking a break gave me perspective.  Just because you haven’t learned to properly regulate something doesn’t mean that it’s inherently bad.  I simply needed to yank myself out of the pit I’d jumped into and relearn to manage my time.  I’m back on Facebook at a new page.  Heeding the voice of God {and my husband} will prevent me from falling prey again.
I have some plans for this “new” blog, but rather than share all that right now, I’m going to sit back and see what the Lord has planned.  His way is guaranteed to be better than mine!

Connect with us on Facebook!


Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Signature