It’s About Giving

I am now a blogger for Compassion International!!  This is my first assignment from them…  The #itsaboutgiving party just kicked off and we are going to be focused on giving! Yay!

First of all, Compassion has set a goal of $20,000 to reach by Christmas to help children living in poverty.  To do your part, visit Compassion and check our their catalog.

I give because I love Jesus.  And He has called me to give.  For me, being authentic and really following Christ, means giving.  Always, with my whole life.  It cannot be an after thought or something that I do because it gives me warm fuzzies.  It’s been written on my heart, to love and to serve and to give to others.

I have always been inclined to give at Christmas, but it’s become so much more this year. And this year I am poorer than I have ever been.  Which makes giving a bit more creative, there’s more thought and more intention behind each act of giving.  It also means getting over my pride and accepting blessings from others.  Being the recipient of a gift is much harder for me than giving a gift, but I am blessed to have a God who loves me enough to meet my every need.

Because my non-existent finances (I survive on $175 a month and I have a ten year old daughter) for most of the last year, I can’t just write a check.  Therefore, I have been forced to really look at what giving is, what God expects of me.  While I do give financially, that gift is very small.  But…I do have lots of stuff and I have found that instead of bring me joy, it just stresses me out.  So, I have very intentionally went through my closets and cupboards to find nice, good quality items to bless others with.  It’s a way to give, with intention and love.  I want to bless people, to show them the love of Christ.

My daughter and I also are doing Random Acts of Kindness to celebrate Advent this year.  Every day we do something to show others love.  It might be giving time to serve the homeless, it might be taping quarters to candy machines, it might be picking up litter, or raising money to buy stamps for an at-risk youth ministry.  But it’s all about giving and loving others.

The phrase “#ItsAboutGiving” to me really is talking about life.  Life is about giving.  It’s not just a Christmas thing, God expects us to give all the time.  Our culture tends to focus on giving at Christmas, which is awesome.  But I think we need to do a better job the other eleven months of year.  We don’t get off the hook for the rest of the year.  I have learned that being a Christian is consistently giving of ourselves, it’s always been focused on loving others.

Why do you give?  How do you give?  Is giving significant?  I want to hear your thoughts.  God bless.

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Out with the Old, In with the New

Lately, I have been doing A LOT of reading and research, along with praying and seeking God’s direction.

I have read literally hundreds of articles about starting a non-profit and running a nonprofit.  They all say about the same thing.  A lot of articles out there are simply saying that you shouldn’t even try.  That is probably true for some.  There are so many small nonprofits who are not sustainable and who struggle every single day, even though they are doing great work.

How will we be any different?  In fact, in some ways, our goal is even more challenging (speaking from a donor standpoint).  And our goal is WAAAY bigger…so big that a lot of people don’t think it’s possible.  (Let’s keep in mind that during history, I am sure a lot of people didn’t think we would send people into space either.)

First off, we are going to choose to ignore about half of the “rules.”  These are great rules for small, incremental change.  We are going big and fast.  No time to waste on slowly building.  We will be single minded (but broad enough to actually address some underlying issues) in our focus.  Serve orphans and their communities.

Sustainability is something I believe in completely.  It isn’t fair to staff or those we serve for an organization to not have a sustainability plan.  But at first, it’s going to be a little rough and perhaps a bit hairy.  Appropriate partnerships and collaboration are going to be one of the keys for our mutual success.  There are other organizations out there who want the same thing that we want, their approach might be different but it also might work.

I think that in life sometimes it’s important to just do it…  I realize the population that we have chosen to serve is vulnerable.  I feel that we must do our due diligence to make sure that we are serving them carefully, prayerfully, and with best practices.  Fast does not have to mean sloppy.  It means moving quickly and seizing opportunities.  Trying new things.  Being pro-active in change.  There are some amazing models out there and I am anxious to get started.

Moving quickly doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind.  It means intense planning.  Studying models that work and then doing them.  Not spending years developing and testing.  It means getting your hands dirty while you study and develop.  These kiddos need families now…the longer we wait, the bigger the problem becomes.

You only get one chance in this life…and you are not getting out of here alive.

A fresh vision, a new perspective

I have spent so many hours in prayer and reading my Bible.  Seeking God’s heart and will for my life.  Reading blogs, statistics, researching other organizations, reading books, and plans until my eyes hurt and my brain in on overload.  Reaching out to people, never getting a response…this cycle of feeling hopeful, then let down.  But I don’t that’s not God’s will for my life.  Learning to just keep my eyes on Him so I don’t sink in doubts.  I love the story of Peter walking out on the water to meet Jesus.  I want that kind of trust — and to continue the same trust when I see the waves.

I wanted to share my facts with you all, you can find these on probably a million websites, they are pretty commonly stated, but I think it still bears repeating.  [The source is: www.unicef.org/uniteforchildren]

It is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide.  (The current population of the United States is just a little over 300 million, just to put that in perspective.)

Every single day 5,760 more children become orphans.

2,102,400 more children become orphans every year in Africa alone.

Every 15 seconds, another child in Africa becomes an AIDS orphan.

There are an estimated 14 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa (a number higher than the total of every under-eighteen year old in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Ireland combined).  This was projected to hit 18 million in 2010, those numbers have not been released yet (or I haven’t found them!).

8 out of 10 children orphaned by AIDS lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…

Each year 14, 505, 000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen.

Each day 38,493 orphans age out.

Every 2.2 seconds another orphan ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home.

Briefly, I would like to remind us of one thing — THESE ARE CHILDREN.  Somebody’s baby.  The only difference between them and our children is the location of their birth!  They are innocent and vulnerable.  Every single child deserves to know what love feels like, to have someone to call their family.

I have many more statistics and thoughts about those to come, but let me leave you with this one brutally real statistics and a reminder that these are not numbers, these are PEOPLE.

Number of caring adults needed to change the life of a child:  1

$30,000 in 3 Weeks!?!?!

Launching our new campaign tomorrow morning!  We need to raise $30,000 in the next three weeks.  I realize that this is an insane number.  To break it down…that’s $10,000 per week or about $1429 per day or $60 per hour, every hour.

Through Christ, impossible things for us become possible.  We are simply trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to serve Him and His children.  And we are believing in faith that He will provide the funds to protect His children.

The reality is, the orphanage we are working to purchase cannot sustain any longer.  There is no money for food, medical care, or school fees.  They have taken local loans for food and their credit has been maxed out.  The children were only eating once per day, now they are not even getting that.  As it is the rainy season, transportation has become all but impossible.  I was not aware of this until a couple of days ago, but because the director felt that we were the right people to purchase the orphanage, he ended all advertisements of the property.  I also feel that God has called us to this, but they are in desperate times.

The only other offer is one that will immediately close the orphanage and it will be re-purposed.  The children will then be moved to other orphanages or quite possibly, let to fend for themselves on the streets as most orphanages are already over crowded.  This orphanage maintains a wait list of over 100 children and has 50 beds that are full.

I view this possibility as heartbreaking.  For the orphan who has lost everything, this is again a total loss.  They will be forced to leave their community and their school.  For the orphan who still has extended family, they will be losing that tie with their family, their community, their school, everything.

One of the children that comes to mind is seven year old Oliver.  She is HIV positive and lives at the orphanage.  She was found along side the road with her elderly sick grandmother.  She has two sisters (one HIV positive) and a brother who still live with their grandmother, but will need care as the grandmother is dying.  Oliver was taken in because there was room for just one and her condition was most severe.  If the orphanage closes, she will either be left to care for her younger siblings or she will be forced to move away from everything she has known to another facility.  Please remember, she is SEVEN.  The age of most first or second grade children.  These are real children, who are innocent and vulnerable.

Please consider a donation for this cause, like us on Facebook, share us with your friends, pray for us, come to Uganda with us, volunteer with our local Spokane projects.  There is so much need…what is God calling you to?

Sweetness

My daughter, Fiona and her friend are preparing to raise some funds tomorrow.  They are selling snow cones for the orphanage fund.  They have graciously decided to donate all the proceeds.  What kindhearted girls to want to help other children!

I have spent several hours today, working on a strategic plan for the next five years!  And thinking about funding.

One of the most important things, I believe, is becoming self sustaining.  It is less stressful for employees and orphans if you are not constantly wondering about a grant being funded or not.  I think that using grants to enhance our programs will be a good use, but not to sustain us.  As a grant funded employee, the stress could become almost unbearable…never knowing if you are going to have a job soon.

There are so many “little” details…  Benefits, travel, health, the list could go on and on….but I am sooo happy about our progress this far.

Please continue to pray for the right staff and volunteers!