Thursday, June 28, 2012

Less than $1.25 a day

A few days ago I took the Survive 125 challenge issued by 58:. (58: is "an unprecedented global alliance of Christians, churches and world-class poverty-fighting organizations working together to end extreme poverty in our lifetime by living the True Fast of Isaiah 58.")

I took the challenge three times before I made it through the month on the allotted budget. The choices required to survive were difficult to work through even on website that had no consequences in my real life.

It got me thinking. What would living on $1.25 a day would look like in my world?

It would mean...
  • No air conditioning in the summer in Alabama
  • Fear
  • No trips to the pool to cool off
  • No money to pay utilities
  • Worry
  • Walking everywhere we go
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner would consist of mostly beans and rice, if we were lucky.
  • No dinners out on a busy day
  • No new tennis shoes when the ones my little guy is wearing are worn out
  • No "inexpensive" redecorating projects in the dining room.
  • Stress
  • No trips to the doctor for issues that are anything less than life threatening. And sometimes no trips for the life threatening ones.
  • No private school (or for my homeschooling friends- no money for curriculum and activities)
  • Concern for the well being of my family
  • The inability to pay our mortgage
  • Dependence
  • No TV, movies, or typically entertainment of any kind
  • No trips to Sonic for Happy hour- another "cheap" fun day
  • Hopelessness
  • No running the washing machine, dryer or dishwasher
  • No new clothes- not even from the thrift store

The list could go on and on. 

The goal of this post, and I believe the Survive 125 challenge, is not to make anyone feel guilty. Guilt doesn't change anything.

The point is to get us thinking. Acting.

What if we took a look at our daily budgets and tried to find a way to put $1.25 a day to better use. Intentionally use that $37.50 a month, $450 a year to make real change.

What would that look like? Child sponsorship? Groceries for a neighbor? Donations to poverty fighting organizations? How would those changes build relationships? Spread the gospel?

Will you take a minute to take the challenge and check out 58:'s philosophy?

Is there a change you could make?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In our own backyard...

Everyone is looking for something to do on these lazy summer days, right? How about dedicating a day, weekend, or even one day a week to a local injustice fighting organization?  It just makes sense that the closer a place is to where we live, the better the chance that real relationships will happen. 

Lately everything I study, read, learn, and do reiterates that this kingdom life is all about relationships--God's relationship with us, our relationship with Him, and our relationships with each other. The more we get to know someone, the more we love them, the more time we spend with them, the more we share our faith with them, the more likely we are to forgive them if they mess up, and the more likely we are to keep fighting for them.

So, if you live in my neck of the woods, check out these great local organizations. See if one of them might be a place for you and your family to build some new friendships and share God's love.

The Firehouse Shelter, a shelter for homeless men, located in downtown Birmingham has the following volunteer opportunities:
  • Overnight Hosts
  • Bible Study Leader
  • Prepare & Serve Meals
  • Painting
  • Maintenance Work
  • Yard Work
  • Transportation Driver
  • Clerical Assistance
  • 12 Step Speakers
  • GED/Literacy Tutors
  • Receptionist
To volunteer, please:

The Firehouse also keeps a "wishlist" of needed items, equipment, food and services on their website if you would like to help with some physical needs.

Founded in 2004 by Dr. Brenda Lovelady Spahn, The Lovelady Center in Birmingham offers life-changing programs, such as medical services, counseling services, addiction counseling services, life-skills training, parenting classes, job training, job placement, childcare, nutrition, housing, and post-secondary education for women who have been in prision, with the goal of providing the tools necessary to overcome barriers to success.

There are many ways to be involved with the good being accomplished at the Lovelady Center.

  • Prayer Warriors - The Lovelady Center needs your intercessory prayer to continue making a difference in God's Kingdom. This is our greatest volunteer need, for groups to come in and pray for The Lovelady Center.
  • Room Makeovers - Help make a difference by upgrading and decorating a room at The Lovelady Center. E-mail Melissa Chrietzberg at 
  • Lovelady Mentor- If you are a woman looking to help others grow in their relationship with Christ, come in and walk alongside a Lovelady as a Lovelady Mentor. Please contact the Development Department for information at (205) 836-3121 or email our Mentor Program Coordinator, Tracie Faulk, at 
  • Church Services and Devotionals Morning Devotional and Church Service Leaders, as well as Teachers, Tutors, and Biblical Counselors are needed daily. Please contact the Development Department for information at (205) 833-1064 or email Melissa Chrietzberg at

Grace House is located in Fairfield, Alabama, and has been helping girls who have been "abandoned, abused and neglected find love, warmth and safety" for the past 20 years!

Currently, Grace House has a full time house parent position available. 

They also have the following volunteer opportunities available:
  • Office Assistance
  • Tutoring
  • Mentoring
  • Special Events
  • Landscaping/Yard Work
  • Painting
  • Help with school supplies, uniforms, etc.
  • Whatever you can imagine, they can most likely find a place for you!  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Right where you are...

"Wherever you are, be all there."
That quote by Jim Elliot is a great reminder for me. Judging by Jim's life, he didn't mean be stagnant.  Instead, I believe he meant to serve intentionally, with all you have, wherever you may be.

 Here are a few ideas on how we can be more intentional in our living and serving.

25 ways to serve...

1. Pray that your eyes will be opened to what God has for today. Ask Him for wisdom. Be prepared to hold "your plans" loosely, ready to change them when necessary.

2. Write a family mission statement. Together. (I can't wait to do this one.)

3. Write a hand written letter to a friend letting them know what they mean to you. (Thanks for this idea, Rebecca.)

4. Make eye contact with people in the grocery store. Listen when they talk.

5. Call a friend just to chat.

6. Put your phone away when you are with friends or family. Be fully engaged. 

7. Sponsor a child through Compassion International or World Vision or another trusted sponsorship organization. If you don't have the money to be a sponsor right now, be a child correspondent. Those letters mean more then we could possibly imagine.

8. Visit a neighbor.

9. Serve dinner at a local homeless shelter. Learn the names of the people you serve. It matters. They matter.

10. Make an effort to meet neighbors you don't know.  

11. Sort food at a local food pantry. Talk to the other volunteers. I have learned about many new opportunities that way.

12. Give some stuff away, not just junk, but things of value that could make a difference to someone else.

13. Babysit for a single mom.

14. Visit a local nursing home. Listen to the stories that the residents have to share.

15. Find a relief organization that you trust and be ready to give or serve when relief is needed. Have a plan for the unexpected.

16. Make a meal for a family struggling with an illness or celebrating a new baby.

17. Become an prayer partner with an injustice fighting organization. Reece's Rainbow, The International Justice Mission and so many others offer these prayer partner programs.

18. Deliver new magazines, coloring books and crayons to the ER waiting room.

19. Look for little ways to make life better for others. Pick up trash on the ground.  Let some one go in front of you in line.  Donate the free items from your "buy one get one free" deals to a food pantry. Give up that up front parking space. Hold the door for the person behind you.

20. Mentor a kid through an organization like Big Brother/Big Sister.

21. Run errands for a new mom or a mom with sick kids.

22. Use words of affirmation often.

23. Have a yard sale. Give the money to a family in adoption process.

24. Encourage others to serve, but remember what they do does not have to look like your journey. In fact, it often won't.

25. Whenever possible, clear your schedule of busyness.  Busyness seems to be one of the biggest enemies of intentional living.

What are some things your family does to live intentionally? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Reading Suggestions...

Are you looking for something to read this summer? 
Here are a couple of suggestions...

If you read either book this summer or have already read them, please share your thoughts. I'd love to hear your perspective.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Reece's Rainbow

A few years ago I purchased a cd for a friend going through a difficult time. There was one song in particular that seemed meant for her situation.  Since I had purchased it on itunes, I listened to the whole thing before I gave it to her. A few weeks later I ended up buying a second copy for me. (Yup, I really did buy it again, it's my little soap box, the artists should receive their due.)

The cd was Aaron Shust's Take Over.  Through that purchase, somehow, I found out about Aaron's blog. Being a natural people watcher and just general life observer, I love blogs. I love the seeing things through different perspectives and learning people's stories. So, I tucked Aaron's blog away on my blog roll and read it periodically.

Over the past four months I have read the updates more frequently. Aaron and his wife Sarah's youngest son, Michael, was born with Down Syndrome. Aaron shares so honestly. Authentically.

A few weeks ago, baby Michael had major heart surgery. The Shust family came to my mind several times while Michael was in the hospital, so I prayed. While praying for baby Michael, my mind wandered to little ones suffering the same types of Down Syndrome heart defects all over the world.

The little ones my heart focused on are the ones who are spending their lives in institutions or orphanages. Little ones without a family, proper food or medical care. Little ones without access to life saving surgeries.

Living with a disability is a challenge when you have a support system. It is hard to even fathom how these little ones around the world cope without anyone looking out for them.

Through my friend Joy, I learned about Reece's Rainbow. It is an incredible organization that beautifully brings attention to these precious children and works tirelessly to help them be placed in forever families.

In 2002, Andrea Roberts gave birth to her son Reece. Reece was born with Down Syndrome. At first, the Roberts family went through a normal "grieving" period. They grieved for themselves and for the loss of the life they had envisioned for their first born child. The Roberts family was able to find support through their city's Down Syndrome Association and Parent-to-Parent of Georgia. Andrea and her husband also found support through their faith. They knew that "God had given Reece to them, and them to Reece," for a reason.

In 2004, Reece's Rainbow was started at Northside Hospital in Georgia as an outreach for families with babies born with Down Syndrome. In 2006, the program broadened to include promoting the international adoption of children with Down syndrome.

Through God's grace, in only five short years, more than 500 orphaned children with Down syndrome and other special needs around the world have been found by their forever families.  Over $1.5 million in grant funds have been disbursed to make those adoptions possible.  

Reece's Rainbow's mission is "to rescue orphans with Down syndrome through the gift of adoption, to raise awareness for all of the children who are waiting in 25 countries around the world, and to raise funds as adoption grants that help adoptive families afford the high cost of adopting these beautiful children."

Here's how you can be involved..
Photo from Reece's Rainbow

Be a prayer warrior. 
The prayer warrior ministry has three goals-
1. Daily lift in prayer the needs of each waiting child.
2. Pray for Reece's Rainbow.
3. Pray for the families God is preparing for the waiting children.
Reece's Rainbow asks that you commit to pray for your child until they are placed in their adoptive family. Contact  Laurie Rhoades at to participate.

Be an orphan warrior.
Being a warrior for a child costs nothing but your time.
Use Facebook, twitter, email, your blog or any other way you can to help your chosen child find their forever family. 

Take part in the guardian angel project for Reece's "other angels", those children with special needs other than Down Syndrome who are also waiting for their forever families to find them. 

Sponsor a family who is adopting one of Reece's angels.

Check out this page for a list of creative ways you can help Reece's Rainbow.

In case you missed it... In December of 2011, ABC news featured this story about Mia, one of the over 500 lives changed by the work of Reece's Rainbow.