Category Archives: Impact Opportunity

Choosing Joy – How One Man Holding a Sign Can Make a Difference

Sale Sign

A local furniture store has been advertising a HUGE, EVERYTHING MUST GO, SALE OF THE CENTURY, kind of sale since before Memorial Day weekend. They have big banners in the window and a fleet of 3 cars with big signs attached to the tops of them, that people drive in a caravan around town all day long.

And then there is Paul.

Paul is a young man, I would guess in his 20’s, who stands in front of the store with another sign that advertises the sale.

Every day on our way to and from work, we see Paul. And he is dancing and shaking his hips, and waving as people drive by.

He is a young man, holding a sign for his job. All day long, six days a week, he is out on the sidewalk holding his sign.

And Paul exudes JOY.

It has been HOT and then wet and rainy, stormy and windy all wrapped in one.

And yet, Paul is there waving and dancing and reminding me that we can find joy if we choose to in ANY circumstance.

I think of how often I come to my nice comfortable work space, a job that provides financially for our family, and I am unappreciative of the work I “have” to do and I forget that I “get” to work in the comfort of air conditioning, with chocolates and nice people.

I stop choosing joy and allow the stress to overwhelm me.

Yesterday I was driving by and saw him there again and felt very strongly that God was telling me I needed to stop.

But that is ridiculous, and creepy right?

And I stopped to get gas and asked God to tell me out loud if He really wanted me to stop and meet this man with the sign. (Let me just say that God doesn’t give into my demands…He lets the Holy Spirit do some heart work on me instead)

My heart was pounding and so I drove back to where he was. Except there were 2 cars blocking the driveway entrances…so I had no place to stop. (Excuses I know!)

But I felt like this was something I was supposed to do. So I voxed my closest prayer partners and told them this crazy story…so that I would be held accountable.

And then today at lunch Dominic mentioned the man with the sign and I told him that I felt like we needed to go and stop.

And after lunch we did just that.

We brought him a cold soda, a baggie of chocolates (which maybe wasn’t the smartest idea because it was super hot out) and a Choose Joy card with a $20 “tip”.

I asked him his name – it’s Paul if you hadn’t caught that before.

And I told him that we see him every day, dancing and waving and holding his sign, and that what he does matters. 

He is bringing joy to people on the streets of Marshall. He is getting paid to hold a sign but he is doing that job in such a way that it makes a difference.

Maybe God wanted someone to tell him that he was doing just that.

I am so glad we stopped…that moment brought me such joy and a a renewed perspective that we ALL can make a difference – we just have to make the choice to choose joy. (<====Click to Tweet)

Is there someone in your life, someone you see on a regular basis that maybe needs to hear that what they do matters? Take the time today and tell them. Ask them their name and thank them for what they do.

Words can be life changing…what if what you say to encourage someone is JUST what they needed at that moment?

My hope is that Paul will know how much God loves him. It is just an honor to be a small part of sharing that love!

Photo Credit: jakerome

The Copper Anchor – April Impact Opportunity and a Giveaway!!

Lisa Print modified 1

Sometimes following our dreams can be risky.

The world may tell us that we are crazy or that our dreams are out of reach….

But if you are following God’s plans for you, Oh, the places you’ll go!

My dear friend, and amazing blog designer, Lisa Larson is following a BIG dream with her husband and kids. She recently shared that they are pursuing adoption.

A big, and at times scary, dream…but one they feel God calling them to.

I have had the opportunity to get to know Lisa over the past year and LOVE her heart for others. Yesterday she opened her new Etsy shop.  They hope to sell these beautiful digital prints, like the one above, so that they can raise funds to help with their adoption costs.

Lisa has so much talent in design – I mean have you seen the beautiful details on my blog? She used those God-given gifts to create some amazing prints. I had a hard time choosing which ones I wanted to order!

I picked out 4 that I will print and use in our toy room!

I would love to help Lisa and Jerad meet their fundraising goal so it seemed perfect timing to feature their shop as my April Impact Opportunity!!

Lisa hasn’t asked me to post this….I just really believe in her and their desire to add another child to their family through adoption.

Would you consider making a purchase to help too?  Right now the digital prints are only $5 and $10!! Once you purchase the digital download you will have access to the print to copy, share, print etc.

A friend on FB suggested that they could even be made into a canvas print! With all the deals I find for canvas prints, I loved this idea!

Following big dreams aren’t easy, and sometimes they take some hard work and a lot of faith….but the journey can be amazing can’t it?!

Thank you for helping to support Lisa and her family! And even if you can’t purchase a print right now I know they would love all the prayers they can get!

For fun I decided that I am going to give away one of these print downloads!! You can get one entry by heading over to Lisa’s shop and coming back and leaving a comment with your favorite print. You can get additional entries for sharing this post on FB and Twitter and if you purchase a print of your own that will give you another entry! Please just leave a comment for each entry separately and also make sure to leave your email address so that once I have a winner picked I can have Lisa send you your pick of prints direct!

Giveaway will remain open until Monday April 7th!

Linking up with my fellow dream chasing sisters today over at God-sized Dreams.

GSD Link Up Picture

Exodus Road – March Impact Opportunity #enditmovement

Exodus Road

 **WARNING: This post contains potential trigger warnings and discussion around sensitive topics specifically related to childhood sex slavery **

Did you know that there are approximately 27 MILLION men, women and children trapped as slaves in the world today?

Slavery as defined here:  “Slavery occurs when one person completely controls another person, using violence or the threat of violence to maintain that control, exploits them economically, pays them nothing and they cannot walk away.”

I will be honest with you…human trafficking is something that I have either ignored or pushed aside in the past….it wasn’t anything that I thought I could do something about and pretending it didn’t exist was just easier.

And then I was introduced to Exodus Roadan organization that was at Allume last fall.

I attended one of the breakout sessions where Laura Parker was speaking. My eyes were opened to the realities of child sex trafficking and I was horrified.

She, her husband and children were living in Southeast Asia doing humanitarian work when they discovered the enormous problem of the child sex-trade.  I imagine that I would be outraged, sickened even…but would I actually do anything about it?

Laura’s husband Matt decided that rescuing even one girl was important enough so armed with undercover equipment and with the aid of some locals, Matt would go into the dark underworld of child trafficking, posing as a “john” and work to rescue children one by one.

From her book “The Exodus Road”…..

“And Sarah shuffled towards the couch.

She was dressed in street clothes, disheveled hair. Her eyes never left the floor, and she fiddled with a napkin, tearing it into shreds.

I watched as men talked over her, laughed around her. Sarah had been sold by her mother in Burma, trafficked across Thailand and now into Malaysia, and had landed here – in a brothel, without money or passports, unable to speak the local language.

Two days earlier, they sold her virginity for $600.

She was 15 years old.”

I don’t know about you but when I read that, I want to cry. And the reality is that this is happening in our own backyards. Yes right here in the USA. I recently read a story about a warehouse in Nevada that held over 20 girls hostage as they were taken in vans to alternate locations and forced to have sex with up to 15 men in a days time.

It is sick and wrong, and I needed to stop putting my head in the sand and pretending that horrors like this aren’t happening!

So what now you might ask? How can you help?

First – pray! We as a body of Christ need to be in prayer for these innocent children. For their families who make the choice to sell them into slavery, for the perpretrator who profits from the innocence of a child. We need to be in prayer about all of it!

Second – Spread the word! Sex slavery of children isn’t fun to talk about. But I don’t feel like we can be silent. We need to spread the word, bring awareness to the world and collectively make efforts to see a change. For more information, please head to Exodus Road. Or check out the #Enditmovement. Both sites have stories, media tools etc. that can be used to help spread the word.

Third – Sponsor an Investigator. You have probably heard of sponsoring a child, but if you want to help Exodus Road keep undercover investigators in the field, making a difference one child at a time, consider a $35 monthly donation that helps cover the daily costs of keeping these men in the fields. We may not be able to do the rescue work ourselves, but we can support those who are brave and able enough to do so.

I know this isn’t a “fun” post to read, but the reality is that this is happening all around us and we can’t keep silent anymore. Will you join me in speaking out? #enditmovement

I have a copy of Laura’s book available to send to one of my readers. Just leave a comment below and you will be entered to win. I will pick the winner on Monday.

**Congratulations Elaine! You are the winner of a copy of Exodus Road – I have sent you an email and will get your book out to you!**

Photo Credit : Exodus Road

Mercy House Kenya- February Impact Opportunity

Mercy House

Each month I am sharing a different non-profit organization with you here. It is my hope to help raise awareness about an organization that you maybe haven’t heard about yet and help you find ways to get involved.  Not all of us are called to minister in a 3rd world country, some of us are called to raise awareness here – this is my hope with these impact opportunities!

This moth I want to tell you about a wonderful organization called Mercy House Kenya.  Founded by a mom and blogger Kristen Welch, when Kristen travelled to Africa and saw a need. From her site:

  • Annually, 21,000 women are hospitalized from having an illegal, unsafe abortion in Kenya. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • Abortion is a volatile topic in Kenya.
  • 13,000 Kenyan girls are kicked out of school for being pregnant. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • 25% of pregnant women in Kenya are HIV positive (ObGyn in Kenya)
  • Every 30 minutes, a woman is raped in Kenya. (Nairobi Women’s Hospital)
  • Mothers often force their daughters into trading sex for food in the slums (CNN)
  • More than 20,000 children are sex trafficked in Kenya (Human Trafficking)
  • 1500 women die in childbirth every day across Africa (WHO)

Kristen felt God calling her to DO something. So she helped start a home in Kenya. A place where pregnant mothers could come. A safe place that not only provides protection and shelter, but teaches these women about prenatal care, gives them an opportunity to finish their education, and partners with them to help them learn sustainable life skills.

As of May 2013, Mercy House Kenya had 11 girls and 9 babies with 2 on the way. Mercy House is changing and saving lives!

So you may be asking how you can help?

There are several ways you can support Mercy House!

I am a part of Team Mercy. By signing up to be a part of this team you are committing to a monthly sponsorship of $3 a month or more. You commit to advocating about Mercy House. Maybe you take information to your church to raise awareness. This summer I am doing my annual garage sale and have committed that all proceeds from the sale will go to Mercy House.

Shop in the Mercy House store. There are several products that are handmade in Africa that are available for purchase.  The women are taught how to make these beautiful paper-rolled necklaces and bracelets – see below! You can even host a virtual party and share the products with your friends!

red necklace

Pray! Pray for the women being helped by Mercy House. Pray for the staff and volunteers that make this beautiful organization possible. Pray that God would show you how you might become involved this ministry.

Love endures all. Love conquers all. Love is enough. Help me #spreadthelove http://ctt.ec/ad5lJ+  (Tweet This!)

God calls us to help the needy, to show love to our brothers and sisters and while I may never travel to Africa in person…I can love on the residents of Mercy House from my home in MN!  Will you join me?

Clothed In Love – January Impact Opportunity

My January Impact Opportunity comes a little late I know but for a good reason!

DeLonna

This is me and my dear friend Delonna in Washington DC earlier this fall! We had so much fun talking our way through the Botanical Gardens! 😉

Delonna is a fellow dreamer and a part of the God Sized Dream team. She has been such a blessing to me this past year and it has been exciting to see her grow her dream and watch the many ways God has used this dream to bless the lives of orphans.

I remember the day Delonna posted that she was opening a checking account for her non-profit organization, Clothed in Love.

In her own words – here is the mission of Clothed in Love:

“Did you know it is estimated there are over 150 MILLION orphans and abandoned children in the world?  That number makes me stop and think HOW CAN I HELP?

If you want to hear more will you join me over at Circles of Faith where I am sharing all about Clothed in Love and giving you a peek into Delonna’s shop! Oh and if you leave a comment over there you will have a chance to win a pair of earrings too!! Don’t miss this!

Impact Opportunity – Sponsor a Family!!

Christmas tree

I know that I said I was only going to do 1 Impact Opportunity each month – but I have very good reason for doing this now! 🙂

Christmas is FAST approaching. With Thanksgiving next week stores have already begun posting their Black Friday sales, and their Black Friday Pre-sales and of course there is Small Business Saturday (which I love by the way) and Cyber Monday.

Plenty of opportunity to shop and get some great deals in the coming weeks.

I really like shopping for Christmas presents. I often help my mother-in-law pick out the gifts for our kids. She loves it because she doesn’t have to get out and try to pick something out and we both know the kids will love what they get! Win win.

But for some families this time of year is especially tough. All the ads on TV and in the paper can be a reminder of what they can’t do. Maybe it is a single mother doing her best to just work to pay the bills. Or a single income family with small children that struggle to keep food on the table, much less by the “extras” of Christmas.

There are so many families out there in need. Many of them in our own community.

And it can be easy to push that out of our minds. Yes maybe we buy a gift for the Angel Tree, or Toy for Tots…all great organizations and doing so much for others. Hear me on this – giving in that area IS important and so appreciated.

But this year I really had to ask myself if we were doing enough?

For the past several years we have sponsored a family in our local community. For us we just started by asking at our church if the staff knew of a family that was going to be struggling that Christmas.

I am guessing if you ask you will find there is a need.

Last year we set a budget, one that honestly was a little “safe”. I am not condemning that, just saying that this year it was put on my heart that maybe we needed to trust God and really give.

Dominic and I recently went to Virginia for a little vacation. A first for us really. We spent $700 on plane tickets at at least $300 on food etc….Just on us. It wasn’t a trip of necessity (although much appreciated), it was a splurge because we have been blessed this year.

On our flight home I got the email from our church secretary with the “wish list” for the family I had asked about this year. At the bottom of the list they wrote this...”This is our list but just know that you don’t have to get any of the items on here, we will be thankful to receive whatever God puts in your hearts. Our family is forever grateful for this blessing.”

That hit me like a ton of bricks.

We have so so much. It is embarrassing really. When I look around my house and see the used toys and thrown away food…..compared to so many we are rich and yet we always want more.

I shared the message with Dominic and he felt the same way. We started talking about what items we should get on the list and he said “Let’s just get them all!”

I get goosebumps even thinking about it! I was so excited!!

If we can spend $1000+ on a vacation, we needed to give and give big. This was our opportunity to pay forward all the blessings God has showered on us.

And added bonus, I got to do what I love and start shopping!!

The Fed Ex and UPS men must wonder what is going on with the stream of packages they have delivered this week.  The kids have had fun seeing what is coming and asking who it is for. And we get to show them that we can be a blessing because of God’s provisions.

Please understand this – I don’t want us to take ANY of the credit here!! This is ALL GOD. He made it possible for us to give big this year and I am just getting the pleasure of enjoying this process myself. I am giddy over the packages that are coming as well. Knowing that these gifts may be appreciated more than the gifts our own kids will get, just makes me smile.

I know some of you may be struggling yourself this year. Maybe you are that family in need. If so, I encourage you to reach out to your local church. There just may be someone hoping to find a family to sponsor as well.

And if you are walking in the land of plenty right now I am going to challenge you too. Look at what makes you “comfortable” and pray about God helping you get a little uncomfortable. I guarantee it will be worth it and He gets the glory!!

And with all these amazing sales coming up next week – now is the time to get shopping!! 🙂

Operation Christmas Child – November Impact Opportunity!

OCC-Allume-Packing-Party

Several women of Allume packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child as their impact opportunity!!  I participated in a different group (I wished I could have worked with every group!!) But instead asked to partner with them again this year in spreading the word about OCC!

Starting this month, and each month going forward, I will be featuring a different organization here. I am calling this an impact opportunity, like they did at Allume.  This will be a chance for you to hear about different ways you might be able to join and help make an impact in the lives of others.

I shared recently that I really felt God calling me to give more and Allume really gave me the chance to discover several organizations I had not heard of before. Each one touched my heart and I am hoping to partner with each one to raise awareness for their cause!

1313RW-B-616-Alexs-story-shoebox-690x460

At Allume, Alex spoke to us on behalf of OCC.  Alex was an orphan in Rwanda years ago when he recieved his first Christmas Box. He has a powerful story and I encourage you to click on the link and watch the video.

Each year our family packs boxes for children as well.  We do 3 boy boxes and a girl box.  It has become a tradition in our family and they get excited about finding the gifts and school supplies for children just like them.

OCC 2

I start shopping in mid August when all of the school supplies come out. This is a PERFECT time to pick up extra items for your shoeboxes because come November the prices go up and the availability goes down. So shop early!!

OCC also recommends that there be something soft in each of the boxes. A stuffed animal or something that the child can grab onto right away and find comfort from.

This year I found these cute stuffed fish for the boy boxes.

OCC 3

We also fill all the empty spaces in with fun, non-meltable candy treats.

One of the cool things you can do is pay for the shipping costs for your boxes (only $7 each!!) and then you will get a tracking code specifically for your box so that you can get an email update telling you where your gifts were sent!

0CC 5

I love that this is a fun, easy and affordable way to make an impact for a child who may not get any other Christmas presents this year.

There are several resources available if you have questions about participating: Click on the links below to read more!

How to pack a shoebox.

Order free materials to help promote this in your church or community.

More info on following your box!

Locate a drop off location in your area.

Do you and your family pack shoeboxes? What are some of your best gift ideas?? I love to hear about what you are doing to make your boxes extra special!

National Collection Week is November 18-25th. So if you haven’t started already – get packing!!

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