Archive for the ‘Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things’ Category

I don’t exactly remember when I met Kim, but I do remember that I was excited to find someone with four important things in common. 1) our first names 2) our middle names 3) service to our communities 4) love for the Savior. What great things to base a friendship on! She has a lovely place in the blogosphere called From The Heart Online, you really should check it out! And now, without further delay, here is her piece on one of the ways her family shows her community the love of God.

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She walks slow, parading her garbage-poking stick like some kind of baton. He struts a little, wielding his. We search the boulevard and ditches for bags and wrappers to stab and slide into our garbage bag.

Hundreds of others (each one in a bright yellow Tee) spread across the city with gloves and bags, on the hunt for trash. Eleven churches work together to keep this city tidy each spring.

Cool, eh?

I wanted to get in on it, but no way would I drag my kids into community service. They’ve got to want it.

I mentioned the upcoming event, and what it’s about. I asked if they were interested.
“Yeah … but I want to have a grabbing stick so I don’t have to bend down.”

He’s six.

Not eighty. … a young, robust six.

But when they told Dad about it, he offered to make them a poking stick. They were thrilled.

These two tender-hearted kids love to help. Maybe they did sign up to get the poking stick and the free hotdog. Or maybe they were in it for the adventure of an outing. Either way, they voluntarily served their city and had a great time doing it!

And now, when we drive past that boulevard, I hear from the back seat;

“Hey! That’s where WE cleaned up!!”

That’s right. Way to take ownership kiddos.

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Salvation Army worker

There’s nothing more “Christmasy” than hearing a Salvation Army bell ringer. I wonder if you’ll take a look at my past with me? A stroll down memory lane if you will…

I had the most beautiful upbringing in the whole world. Part of this heritage includes a family with its roots entrenched in the Salvation Army. My father, the eldest son of Salvation Army officers started his young family where his foundation lay…at the SA. My mother had her life changed when at 15, after a Billy Graham crusade, she filled out her followup paper work with SA for Saint Ann’s Catholic Church, and the Salvation Army showed up at her door. I have a plethora of family members that has served as officers of the Army and are now retired. As someone who has had the pleasure of watching their lives from the inside, let me tell you, they do the most good.

My own spiritual formation took a turn when I was 14. An uncle from my mother’s side started a non-denominational church and we began attending there. However, there have been key moments in my life when I have found myself right back where I started…at the Army. Two times stand out in particular. Once was the Thanksgiving when my father encouraged my family to help serve Thanksgiving dinner at the corps they were attending. My children were all tweens at the time, and at first they were a little annoyed that our family traditions were going to be “interrupted”. But, by the end of the dinner, I can honestly say that they were truly more grateful for things that previously they had taken for granted.

The other time that stands out in my mind was around the same time as the first. We went to church with my parents who were then attending a Salvation Army church in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Army has much more conservative services than my children were used to, and the congregation there was much more…shall we say ecclectic? First, a lady with a FULL BEARD, stood up and gave a testimony. I gave the “look” to my boys, more than once, and eventually they were so intrigued by her praise to God and to the love and acceptance that the rest of the congregation showed that her that they were okay on their own with my evil eye. Next, a lady with an oxygen tank got up and played the accordian for special music. I’ll never forget my daughter whispering very sincerely and innocently in my ear, “This is better than a circus!”

…and then I realized. How many churches would celebrate these dear ones? Would mine? Even more importantly, would I? I am reminded of an old song we used to sing when I was in the Army. “To love the unloved, in the service of the Lord.” It is service to the Lord when I love those the world calls unlovely. And the unlovable aren’t just those who look different than we do…or those who smell different than we do. Sometimes they are the co-worker in the cubical next to us, or dare I say it, the person we are living with…

Please consider giving to one of the most nobel causes on the planet. The Salvation Army has made the world a better place in so many ways. Won’t you help them do it? You can either contribute to your local kettle, or if you’d like you can make a donation here.

Today is Cyber Monday…and in order to get into the spirit of things, I am featuring 4 gifts that you can give 4 Christ’s Sake! So move over Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, here we come!

1. Since human trafficking is the very first issue addressed here at What In The World R U Doing 4 Christ’s Sake? I thought it would be nice to find an item that donates its proceeds toward ending human trafficking. Look what I found! A beautiful necklace!!

This necklace is made by survivors of human trafficking. Isn’t it lovely? The proceeds from the purchase of one of these necklaces goes to Made By Survivors, an international charity working to stop human trafficking and modern day slavery. This lovely jewelry features silver beads as well as semi precious stones. All for the cost of $88. You can purchase this item here.

2. If you are planning on sending Christmas cards, you may want to check out this possibility. Cards That Give is a non-profit organization that features beautiful cards from hundreds of various charities to which a portion of the proceeds goes to your choice of charities. The pictured card is from the organization God’s Love We Deliver, a charity that brings meals to the critically ill.  These cards are appropriately named “Ice Dining”. A box of 12 cards goes for $17, and can be purchased here.

3. Many of you know how much I ADORE Ann Voskamp. Her book, 1000 Gifts has changed the lives of so many, mine included. She has served as an ambassador for Compassion, and her fifteen year old son Caleb, has decided to use his beautiful gift of carpentry to help raise money for Compassion. This beautiful wreath is called Cradle to Cross Wreath and follows the life of Jesus, well, from the cradle to the cross. Isn’t it beautiful? This beautiful way to celebrate the life of Christ is handmade, by Jacob himself and is available for $68. Check out this website for more information…

4. If you’re more interested in helping someone personally, this family is attempting to adopt 2 children from Ecuador. Adoptions can become ridiculously expensive. This family has designed a tee-shirt which they are selling in order to help them with the cost of adoption. $20 makes you the proud new owner of this shirt…and you’ve helped two children find homes!

Concrete jungle
marble grey and bleeding
Unaware of Who it is they are needing.

Dripping rain forests
lush emerald gold
Downpour weeping stories untold.

Middle-aged prostitute,
mascara lines on face,
vanished, gone without a trace.

Homeless beggar
cardboard prayer
rolling by on life’s conveyor.

Profane rappers
subconsciously plead
calling for spirit-mouths to feed;

See right through us
Conflicted souls,
fear in eyes, shot through with holes.

Flames of fire
simmer deep within
Follower’s hearts to free from sin.

Christian’s hide,
trembling we cower
As if God-in-us doesn’t have the power.

Bold and aggressive,
Yet meek and mild,
We must become the Church in the Wild.

**This poem was inspired by the radically relevant teaching we have been receiving by Anthony Thompson at FHC’s Saturday Night Services. I will be linking this poem with the D’Verse community where we were given the writing prompt of Wild.

I have followed Lisa @ Lisa Notes for some time now. She always shares her heart and gives scriptural foundation with her thoughts. In a world that questions the validity of the Bible, I really appreciate that. Recently, I stopped by her place and read this post. I was so excited because I knew that this post would be perfect for this site! Lisa has a practical idea all of us can do in order to make a difference in our world. This is a great followup to Kristen Bridgman’s post. I know you’ll enjoy this post as much as I did.

Sometimes you look away.

You see the man under the bridge or on the street corner.
But you don’t want to.

So you fiddle with the radio or watch the traffic light or check your phone.
All to avoid the human being.

But other times, you can’t help but stare.
You wonder.
How did this happen? Did he used to have a job? A family? A home?

I often see these men on my way to our public library. They hang out under the Governors Drive overpass.

One Wednesday afternoon a couple weeks ago I couldn’t help but stare. I was first up at the light. The gentleman had a sign.

And this time, I actually wanted to help.

I looked around my car. One opened pack of gum. I couldn’t give that.

All I had to give was eye contact and a smile.
I gave it.

I had been unprepared for the good work God had prepared for me to do.
For this man.
On that Wednesday afternoon.
Under an overpass.

Why?
Laziness? Fear? Cynicism?

But as of yesterday, I traded in my empty bag of excuses for a new package tucked under my driver’s seat: a pair of new socks filled with peanut butter crackers and a juice box.

And a handwritten note that says,

“God has planned good things for you to do today.
Jesus will help you. He loves you!”
Ephesians 2:10

Will it make a difference to a man under a bridge?
I can’t predict.

But I can predict this:
It will make a difference to a woman in a car.

Some things you can’t prepare for.
But some things you can.

ready* * *

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose:

I first stumbled upon Amy’s blog several months ago, and was blown away by her purpose for blogging. She states, and I quote, “Can one beyond-blessed family move from addicted to ourselves to devoted to others? This is where I share our story. Thanks for tagging along.” Many of her posts include practical ideas on how to get children beyond self-absorbtion and into being mindful of others. In today’s “it’s all about me” society, I think that’s an amazing feat, don’t you? You must visit her blog, amy l. sullivan, as it is a plethora of ideas and encouragement to do things for the love of Christ. This is a recent post on her blog about what she is doing for Christ’s sake.

Get Kids Invested in Serving Others in Five Easy Steps

Step 1: Find a cause that interests them. For this group of girls, the cause was a local center that houses people traveling to Asheville, North Carolina to seek medical treatment.

Step 2: Brainstorm a tangible way in which kids can see the results of their giving actions. The girls loved the paintings they created (with a little help from a local artist!) for the new children’s wing.

Step 3: Get out of the house and go see the where and why behind actions. It’s easy to forget conversations. Experiences linger longer in little heads.

Step 4: Enlist the help of someone who knows more than you to explain why kid-sized help is important and needed.

Step 5: Celebrate small. Four paintings and a bin full of children’s books and board games will not change the world, but I’m pretty sure it impacted little hearts.

Click here to view the video behind our involvement in this cause. Happy Saturday, friends. Hope you find ways to impact little hearts this weekend.

 

Linking with beautiful Jen, Michelle, and Shanda:

 

Sometimes we think that it’s only big things that count
For the Kingdom.
Martyrs and missionaries.
Skill and sacrifice.

I have a friend.
At first glance she’s done nothing
out of the ordinary.
But… she went to church… again.

You may be like me
Thinking, “Big deal!
Everyone calling themselves Christian
should go to church.”

And Jesus draws in my dirt,
Quietly, calmly.
Humbling me in my lack of understanding.

And her story changes me
perhaps more than her.
You see, my friend was raised in church.
Loved God, truly.
Was a Sunday School teacher at 12.
Felt accepted as a rising worker for Christ.
Felt safe in the sanctuary of “God’s House”.
Until…

Until she was violated at age 15 by a traveling minister.
Young friend, became pregnant.
And was ostracized by church members.
Told she “asked for it”.
Told she was “a disgrace” by her family.

Brilliant girl, really.
Knew she wanted a different life.
Worked hard.
Finished high school at 15.
Started college after giving baby up for adoption.
Had her own apartment the same year 15.
Had to get away, get away from the voices.
The voices that told her she was dirty.
She had to get away from the church.

She married a man.
Who loved her, kindly.
Had two children of her own.
After years of healing hurts,
God was calling her to love what He loves.
But church is where she was violated.
Church is where she was betrayed.

But then…One warm, sunny Sunday
this Dear One walked through the parking lot.
Her stomach turning somersaults,
tying itself into pretzel knots.
Her hands filled with the fingers of her girls.
When she entered, would they make her feel not good enough?
Would they love her the way that she was?
Would they condemn her as harlot?

Would they hurt her children?
Judge and betray them?

I met her at the door
and embraced her.
She trembled a little.
Determined to trust again.
Determined to be loved again.
Determined to become vulnerable.

Every Sunday, she sits beside me,
This woman of great courage.
This woman who obeys His call
His voice.

Can you hear His voice?
Calling?
Hurt ones?
Calling you to love what He loves?
His Church, His Body?
Calling you to trust as a child once again?

Can you hear His voice?
Calling?
Churched ones?
Calling you to love who He loves?
The lost, the hurting?
Calling you to love and understand until it doesn’t hurt anymore?

Or will you waste time like I did
and continue to judge before listening?
Jump to conclusions without evidence?

And Jesus still draws in the dirt.
Quietly, calmly.

Linking with dear Jen

and lovely Michelle

and the friend who oozes creativity, Emily