4th Annual Chemo Care Tote Campaign

As part of “Giving Tuesday” I am kicking off  my “4th Annual CHEMO CARE TOTES” Campaign.

When I began my journey with Thirty One in 2011, I wanted to make a difference.  Actually, I have been making  difference all of my life – from collecting funds for MD as a child to working in soup kitchens and food pantries to bringing a smile to those who are struggling.  I want to share my spiritual gifts of “helps and encouragement” so others know someone cares when they are struggling.

Here is the message I received from past recipients:

Wanted to let you know I have handed out all of the beautiful bags you had donated for women battling breast cancer. Each person loved the bag and it put a smile on their face to know someone was kind and providing a sense of support as they started their chemotherapy treatments. Thank you again for supporting our patients.

Yes, I cried the first time!… Now, I get goosebumps every time I read it.  Cancer has touched each of us in some way – a friend, a family member, a sister, a mother, a father, a child, and the list goes on.

This project is near and dear to my heart.  It is a tribute to my family who fought a good fight against this dreaded disease and lost: Edythe (kidney cancer), Elsie (breast cancer), Pop-pop (lung cancer) and my dad (prostrate cancer). I spent many hours in the Oncology Units with Elsie and Edythe as they underwent chemo treatments.  I held their hand when they struggled with the insertion of the needles.  I was there when they were sick from the chemo and sat by their bedside when they were too weak to go out.  As a friend said #cancersucks.  It takes many from us long before their time.  It ravages families.  It leaves children parentless.  It has parents burying children.

With my own health struggles, I have spent many hours in the infusion units of local hospitals.  I am blessed to only have to be there a short time – time for blood work and special testing.  The many women I have seen are not there for a one time visit, they are there for weeks of painful treatments.  They smile and carry on conversations  while encouraging each other.  My heart breaks and the tears come each time I leave the unit for I know what their struggles are like.

Your gift/ sponsorship of $25 will pay for the bag.   I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with a variety of things like a blanket/scarf, notepad, pen, bottle of water, lotion, warm socks, chap stick and crossword puzzle book. Donations will again be delivered to the local Cancer Care Center at Southern Ocean Medical Center to bring a smile to the face of those who are fighting this dreadful disease.

chemo bagsLast year, we delivered 31 bags BUT this year, my goal is 50.  I know it is a HUGE jump but I am confident we are up for the challenge. Yes, I know it is the holiday season.  Yes, I know money is tight.  STOP for a moment and think how you would feel if someone handed you an unexpected gift – no strings attached – when you were feeling your lowest.  Let the love of this holiday season shine through with your help.

For $25 you can bring a smile to someone who is fighting the cancer battle.

You can sponsor a bag in memory of someone, in honor of someone or just anonymously. Payments can be made via check, credit card or through Paypal at hopesgiftcloset@comcast.net as a friend/family.   If you see me at a vendor event, I will be happy to accept your donation.

Won’t you help us to make a difference today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The Surrendered Giver


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…..

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us (2 Corinthians 8:1-5, NIV).

My husband is a surrendered giver. I struggle with giving. I tend to blame my reluctance to give on the fact that I grew up in a shack on the edge of town. My mother often worked two and three jobs a day just to put food on the table. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a middle-class family, lived in a very nice house in a beautiful neighborhood, and never had to worry about having his needs met. You can see where my rationalizations took me. Yep – to a place of sin.

God wants us to surrender everything we have to Him because the reality is that giving is the antidote to selfishness. I can choose to be selfish or selfless. But I need to live in a way that searches for opportunities to be generous. Over the years, Dan has taught me so much about what it means to be a surrendered giver.

We are to give as much as we are able to give. Two years ago, we downsized so that we would have more money to give away. We both drive older used cars. There is nothing wrong with buying a new car or a bigger house – unless it affects our ability to give.

The church in Macedonia saw giving as a privilege. We need to do the same.

We need to look for opportunities to give. Love gives. For God so loved the church that He … gave! A surrendered giver gives out of gratitude for what God has done in his life and is willing to stretch and develop a generosity reflex when presented with a need.

Jesus measures what we give by what we have left. Do you tithe the ten percent we are challenged to give? How would you respond if Jesus asked you to double your tithe? Whoa! That is a lot to ask – right?

We have a friend who attended a conference where the speaker challenged each attendee to double their tithes and see what God would do in their lives. Our friend accepted the challenge and has seen his business mushroom into a huge success. Today, he not only gives a double tithe, but he also gives to meet the needs of many in our community. He is also one of the most humble and unassuming people I have ever met.

Another friend has a great way to look for opportunities to give. He has two accounts. One for his living expenses and then there is his God account. He is a Day Trader. Each morning he gets up and says, “Where are we going to give today, Lord?” I know this attitude absolutely delights the Father who is the ultimate surrendered giver.

The reality is that if my checkbook does not reflect my faith, I have an immature faith. God does not need my money. He wants me to give so He can bless me!

How about you? What kind of giver are you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The Hope Button

Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message….

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a hope button? Something you could just press when you felt pessimism and misery weighing you down?

Friend, you have a button like this available for your use. It’s nestled in between despair and the dawning of hope recorded in the book of Lamentations. The writer, Jeremiah the prophet, is utterly broken. Jerusalem, the City of David, had been attacked and destroyed. Jeremiah sees no hope of restoration, wholeness, or safety.

He cries out to God with many complaints such as “he has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship” (v. 5), “he has weighed me down with chains” (v. 7), and “he has trampled me in the dust” (v. 16). Jeremiah is remembering all that went wrong and his soul is depressed and despondent.

Yet somehow, he reaches for the hope button in verse 21 and it becomes his turning point:

“Yet this I call to mind and there I have hope…”

What is the “this” that Jeremiah is calling to mind? We find it in verses 22-23:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Jeremiah is shifting his focus from the rubble around him to the fact that he is still standing. He remains unconsumed because of God’s great love. “Compassions” is plural illustrating how God showers us with new compassion every morning. Even though Jerusalem laid in ruin, the Word of God lasts forever.

When Jeremiah pressed the hope button – recalling God’s great love and compassion – he could say in the midst of grief, “I have hope. God is my portion and He is enough.”

Have you felt hopeless in a particular area of your life lately? It’s time to press the hope button. You’re still here. God’s mercies are for you today, and they are waiting to bless you tomorrow.

When I went away to college, I was discouraged and miserable because I felt lost without my family, friends, and all things familiar. I cried most days for the first few weeks. I did however have a Christian roommate with a flair for art. She painted our dorm room walls with Bible verses. Guess what she painted? Lamentations 3:22-23 which reminded me every morning when I opened my eyes that God’s compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.

The next time you find yourself sitting in a heap of discouragement, press the hope button. Surround yourself with the promises of God. Recall His faithfulness and refresh your faith.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

I am Offended and Hurt

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message…..

She put me down, right there in front of “all them.” Sure, it was subtle, but it was real and … worst of all, it wasn’t the first time. In fact, every time I encourage others around that one particular subject, she circles right back and shoots it down. You can’t get one thing past her.

Hmph! Well, if she’s going to put me down like that? Well…I’ll show her. I don’t have to put up with this.

I thought about leaving the gathering. But I didn’t. I just sat there, internally fuming, while externally smiling.

Later, when I got home, I wondered why I even bother speaking up, encouraging others or taking the risk to be open and honest. Women always hurt me. Like that one time I shared the vulnerable details of my heart, only to get word it was being passed through the meat grinder of women’s chattering mouths. Or the other time when I shared my hurt and it was misinterpreted and stomped upon by those around me. Or worst yet, when I shared about God and felt all the crawling judgement of others walking up and down my body.

The more I think about all this, the more the problem bothers me. And worst yet, I fear: what if the real problem is – me? Perhaps it’s not their issue, but my fatal-flaw issue. One I was born with. What then?

I must not be good. I must be unlikable. I’ll always have this problem.

When I look deep within myself, I see faults:

I sometimes seek to impress others.
I hate feeling like people aren’t approving of me.
I never want to be seen as one doing wrong.
I have a hard time when people disagree.
I feel like less of a person when I’m not adding value.
I feel worthier when God is using me for important things.

Yet, when I look a level deeper I see something else. Yes, I am flawed, but not fatally – thanks to Jesus. I say things wrong, but I am always wanted. I make mistakes, but I am always loved. I do need to say, “I’m sorry,” but I am always forgiven.

I am not the sum of what I do, but the product of how I’m loved by Jesus.

The same goes for you. Love pours out of you, because Love came for you and conquered all. He taught. He led. He bled. He died. He was buried. He rose to heaven. For you.

With this, we no longer have to create perfect love that demands perfect responses from others. Instead, we can rest in Him who is perfect love. We can trust His love to compel us. We can breathe deep and gain perseverance and endurance from the endlessly beautiful gift he extends to us. The gift called, “sweet relief.”

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day! 

 

How to Make a Godly Decision

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message:

My husband said to me, “Kelly, you need to be more straightforward with people. Answer with an outright ‘no’ when you know you need to say ‘no.’”

I mulled over his words, considering them.

He had a good point. I have a hard time saying no. I want to make everyone happy. I don’t want to let people down. My central goal is to leave them encouraged.

And to avoid feeling unlikable. To avoid dealing with those awful residual icky feelings of knowing a person may not want me anymore, think highly of me, or desire to be my friend. Or worst yet, they talk behind my back and form some kind of club that hates me. The idea of all this hurts enough to live a life that rapidly throws out a yes.

Even the idea of it horribly stresses me out.

Are you like me? Do you say “yes” when you have an inkling the right answer is “no?” Why? Underneath your altruistic, save-the-world, love-on-every man, give-your-whole-life-over goal, what are you seeking?

Do you want to appear the do-it-all woman?

Do you want people to know you are capable?

Do you not want to look weak?

Do you hope to never let anyone down?

Do you believe God has called you to do everything?

Do you cringe at the idea of not being liked?

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

This verse teaches us: Our goal is not to be loved by man, but to love God first and foremost. We can’t easily pursue God’s mission when we’re caught in the web of everyone else’s approval. The only approval we need is the approval of Christ Jesus. Just as many men disliked Jesus, there will be many times when we are disliked too. The value of Christian life is not how liked we are; it is how loved by Jesus we are.

With these foundational truths in our pocket, we can ask God 3 things when making a decision:

1. Are you calling me to do this?

Consider: Our immediate and half-hearted action plan may prohibit God’s perfect and powerful plan. It may be another’s gifts that are meant to be used for this unique situation, not ours. Sometimes our best strategy is to move out of the way, so God can move in.

2. Am I doing this out of love?

If it’s absent of love, it is worthless.

“If I…do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)

3. Am I wise to wait on this?

If we don’t have clarity, there’s validity in waiting. Pray. Seek. Ask. Repeat. By faith, believe God has our way.

Jesus is “The Way.” And no matter how you answer… “yes” or “no,” he always loves you. Always. And He’s prepared to help, guide and lead you in all of your ways.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!