Enough Already

We are blessed. We know it, but do we always act like we know it? Sadly, no. We tend to take our lives for granted and get lost in a sea of what others have that we want. Call it the human condition or sin nature or whatever you want. I call it devastating.

This week I decided it isn’t enough for our money to be going to help other people. Our hearts and minds have got to be more invested if we want to turn things around.

Our family is going to do three things each week to stay on top of this greed issue. The first idea I got from Kristen Welch in her new book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. There are so many helpful tips and encouraging words in this book! Now, I know that we are fortunate to have a pantry that always contains food. I am pretty sure my girls know this too, but we too easily forget. So, one night a week, we are going to eat rice and beans like so many in the world do. I started it this week and used the recipe Kristen included. All but little Kaitlyn really liked it. She can just eat rice if she really wants to. I know we will get tired of this, but that is when we will remember that we have the choice.

IMG_2053

The second thing we will be doing is a service project for MUST Ministries. I love that they are local and one day the girls will be old enough that we can go volunteer as a family. There are two things we can do to help-one is to decorate paper bags for lunches. The other is to roll up plastic forks and spoons in napkins for meals served there. They use more than 200 forks and spoons and 70 lunch bags every day, so this will be a big help. My plan is to do one of these each week and bring the girls in when I deliver them.

IMG_2118

The last thing has been ongoing, but slacking. Our Food for the Poor project was begun last year as a way for Lauren to help others. She has been relying on me selling makeup too much and needs to be more hands on. So, one day a week they will be earning money for it. This week they picked up 594 pine cones for me, and I donated $15. In a few weeks, we will have another lemonade stand.

IMG_2060

The FFTP project is very important to us and need to stay at the front of our minds. People ask me when I will go on a mission trip, but I don’t want to come home changed to a family that hasn’t. My prayer is still to raise the funds to build a school for Food for the Poor. Raising around $50,000 will take much more effort, so we are in training mode now. When that school is funded and built, I want all four of us to go see it. I want us to truly understand how good we have it.

It is one thing to have compassion, but without doing anything to help others, that compassion is empty. We have known that, but we haven’t been intentional enough lately. The great thing is that we can just jump in and help now. It is never too late!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Advertisements

Turn the Tide of Greed

There’s more to life than what we’re living. It’s not all about how much we have, but about how much we are willing to give. These ideas beat at my subconscious. I can’t get away. I may be able to make it through the day when I ignore them, but those aren’t days worth living.

My family has what we need, but do we even really want it all? No. That is evident by the toys left in the corner or the DVD’s unwatched in a drawer. We keep pulling away from the commercialism that threatens to consume us, but its force is a daily one. Some days it is so subtle we don’t think we feel it. We don’t hear it in our ungrateful tone of voice.

We have worked on this coming up on two years now, and some days it feels like there has been no progress made. We want more. We don’t appreciate more. It is a vicious cycle that has to be dealt with constantly. Just like life, this fight goes to the bitter end. Consumption is an ugly battle that is waged on us always. If we are not aware, we will ultimately lose. That is it.

Want to know the good news? As long as we fight it, we are winning! As long as we stay aware of its presence, we can get ahead of it. No, greed does not take a day off, so we can’t either. It is easy to slack off or coast through life thinking we defeated the giant, but it creeps back in when we least expect it.

There really is more to life and we need to start living it. The worthwhile things in life are done for other people, not ourselves. They do not happen on their own and we do not just start to put others first. It takes a tender heart and a plan.

We need to consistently put others first. Day in and day out, this idea has to be bombarding us as much as greed if we want to turn the tide.

This week is our spring break, so check back Friday to see our new family plan. We are going to keep up the fight against greed and selfishness, one day at a time. It will take awareness and intention, for none of us can afford to be anything less than intentional.

Linking with Holley Gerth

The Sick, the Broken, the Forgotten

People everywhere are in desperate need of hope. They are wandering around searching for someone to care. Will you be the one to see it? Will you begin to show them that they are loved and seen?

There are so many times that I feel the weight of these needs is going to come crashing in on me. Like the next breath I take will bring them toppling to the ground. I need to stop thinking other people’s lives or happiness depend on me. I can’t heal anyone. I can’t give them a job or a friend or take away sadness. That isn’t my job.

What is my job? I am to do everything I can to show them love. I should open my hands to help them. Babysit their kids, have coffee and let them talk, or physically give them what they need.

My eyes should always be open and alert to those in need. Often it isn’t the ones shouting the loudest, but rather the quiet ones you don’t think twice about. I should train myself to spot pain and figure out what that person needs. I may not have money to give, but I have ears to hear and lips to speak truth and arms to hug. If I can take care of the emotional needs, they may have the strength to face the rest of their life.

If we aren’t looking past our own lives and seeing others’ pain, why are we here? What possible purpose can be greater than reaching out to help another person? There are so many people out there who have no hope and feel attacked. Or possibly worse, they feel invisible. They honestly think no one cares or loves them. What do we do about this?

Well, we can keep going and ignoring deep pain. We can keep our noses buried in our phones and say, “Not my problem,” as we walk around them. We can look the other way. We can think of someone as a caricature and not a real person.

Or we could ask how we can help them. We can listen and nod and look at them. We can hear the heart beating inside them and help them find the purpose they so desperately seek. They are people who may have taken a wrong turn or have had something horrible done to them. Somewhere along the way, they have gotten off course and just need someone to pay attention to them. There is no training required. We don’t have to be experts. We just have to have a heart and eyes that are willing to see.

Will this be me? Will this be you?

Linking with Holley Gerth

God Can Use Makeup

My oldest daughter may only be 8, but she has the biggest heart for people! It breaks my heart to hear her say she lays awake at night sometimes thinking about children who don’t have enough to eat. I have been trying to figure out a way the two of us could help more, and I found it.

FullSizeRender (1)

We went into business together! A good friend of ours joined a company called Younique last spring and has had lots of success and met many new people. I held out until now because of past experiences with direct sales.  After knowing what a burden Lauren has had on her little shoulders, I decided to act. I asked her if she wanted to sell makeup with me and donate 30% of our proceeds to Food for the Poor. Her eyes lit up! Now I get to spend more time with my little girl and help families around the world. What could be better?

Food for the Poor not only feeds millions of people, but also provide emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, according to their website.  More than 95% of their donations go directly to programs that help the poorest of the poor. When we give to companies like this, we are being Jesus’ hands and feet. We are making a difference.

For those who don’t know, Younique sells makeup and skin care. They have only been around a few years but are growing by leaps and bounds. Their products are available in the US and Canada as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. It was just announced that soon Mexico and Germany will be added. Younique’s products are naturally based and some are gluten-free and vegan. The bestseller is the 3D fiber lash mascara. It is awesome and even one coat makes my puny lashes look good! The lip gloss and eye shadow pigments are beautiful as well.

Younique seeks to uplift, empower, and validate women around the world. My prayer is that in these next couple years, Lauren will grow to understand that she can make a difference. Her age isn’t important, and neither are her skills. All that is important is that she is willing to be used by God. The sooner she understands that every little thing matters, the better off she will be. God has been using children for His glory since the Old Testament, and He is still doing so today.

If you are interested in purchasing anything or hosting a virtual party, check out the party we are hosting until midnight of February 12 at:

https://www.youniqueproducts.com/sarahandlaurendonegan/party/1308506/view

I never want people to feel pressured to buy, but I want to give anyone who is interested the opportunity to have great makeup. If you can not make a purchase at this time, please say a prayer that we will succeed in helping to feed the poor.

Just think about the families we can help together!

Linking with Holley Gerth and Faith Along the Way!

Intentional Spending Month One

July first I had the revelation that I was tired of spending our money on things we don’t need. God blessed our family so we can be a blessing. If you haven’t read my post on intentional spending, you can find it here. So, what was the first month like?

Our family has decided to cut back, but for the first time spending less is out of love and a desire to give. That has made a big difference in attitude! When we realized that giving up things we don’t REALLY want can give a child food, it made us want to make do with less. Making these changes gives someone a chance at life and builds up our eternal rewards. When we get to heaven, God isn’t going to look us in the eye, and ask, “Were you happy?” He is going to want to know when we helped the least of these. His children.

Was this month difficult? At times, yes, just as any change is. On vacation we didn’t buy souvenirs and just left with our memories. Walking out of stores when I wanted something was disappointing for a minute. Then excitement kicked in. Because I didn’t buy that, we will be able to use that money in a good and lasting way. I found myself more at peace and more content.

As a family, we are attempting to cut back on food costs and eat out less. I am going to start having the girls help me cook so they have a vested interest in dinner. When we do eat out, we can order water instead of Coke. If the two of us aren’t that hungry, we can share a meal. (That hasn’t happened yet. We are always hungry!)

The new motto in this house is “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.” So many purchases are not thought out, and that becomes very obvious when you start living this way. You start seeing your old self as wasteful. It is easy to be ashamed, but God just wants us to shake those chains off and live differently now. All it takes is seeing our mistakes and knowing there is freedom in saying “No.”

How have I been blessed so far? God is still in the business of providing what I want. I am throwing myself into this, and He has already rewarded me! When the girls start school next week, I plan on writing a book (not about intentional spending, yet.) I have thought about how there will be days I will want to write at Starbucks. I generally only go there when I have a gift card, and that will be especially true now that we are spending less. Then, two weeks ago, I found out I won a giveaway on a friend’s blog. It includes a $15 Starbucks gift card, which is about 5 or 6 trips for me. Wow! God loves to surprise us. Thank you Faith Along the Way!

How have we been a blessing? Well, my oldest has decided she wants to help kids who don’t have much. She has been doing chores and selling pictures she draws to family members to raise money to donate. We started a sponsorship with Compassion International. The girls picked Deborah from Togo, who is 5 and likes to sing and play with dolls. They can write to her and we will be praying for her. Last week we were also able to make a donation for a friend going to Haiti later this year. I didn’t have to wonder whether we have the money. We made that donation and it felt better than any other impulse purchase!

image

My family and I are working at this and reminding each other to stay on course. Last week I wanted to go to Dairy Queen until my darling child reminded me we have ice cream at home. My husband piped in with, “Yeah, Ms. Intentional Spending.” This week, he wanted to go out to eat but I said I had dinner planned. It takes sticking together and holding each other accountable. When one of us falls, we pick them up and keep going. This is a new way of life and our way to honor God with what He has given us.

Our new verses to keep with us always and soak in are 1 John 3:17-18:

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

 

 

I am linking to Faith Along the Way for the Saturday Soiree blog party!

Intentional Spending

Money. Spending money. Wants vs. needs. Yep, I’m going there. Are you cringing yet? I have always longed to be generous. To help people who need it. The problem is I want to spend and save the money we have. It is always: when we have more coming in, then I can bless others. Then when more comes in, it is still used mainly on us. Well no more! The VISA gravy train is leaving the station!

I just read a book on giving (I highly recommend I Like Giving) that got me all fired up and ready to quit spending cold turkey. For the next 3 months, I am not spending on my normal splurges: makeup and books (no judging). If I get weak, I will call one of y’all. The money I do spend will be recorded and I will write down the reason. For example, we just had lunch at Chick-Fil-A, and I wrote the amount and that we got to spend time with friends. The money I spend (except for essentials) should give me a return. No more impulse buys. Purchases will be thought out, and I will make sure I really do want it.

My girls are doing this too. The youngest can’t wait until her 6th birthday next month for a toy. She has been wanting it for a few months. She is paying for half, and I am paying for the rest. But no more cheap little toys that break on the way home! My 8 year old already gets it. This weekend she decided not to get the toy her sister wants. She said, “Mom, you know how you say we don’t play with the toys we already have?” Umm YEAH. “Well, I am going to save my money and play with toys I have.” I about fell over. She listens! What 8 year old says that? The younger my kids are when they learn about spending, the better they will be. Their future husbands will thank me.

For the next 3 months, as I think about where money goes, and think of reasons I am spending, I want this to become ingrained in me. Never again do I want to buy something and only use it once. Or forget where I put it before I use it. God gave my family money to use and share with others. I am responsible for instilling generosity, not greed, in my children. It starts with my example.

Once the three months are over, I am hoping our spending will be down for good and we can talk as a family. I want to give to charities that each of us feel strongly about. I want to have cash on me to give to someone. I want some of our giving to be planned and some spontaneous. We are all here to make a difference. We are here to help others as others have helped us. We are here on this earth to be a blessing. Let’s all start today!