But first, a warning: I am only scratching the very tip-top surface of some of this stuff today. There is just sooooooo much to know and learn and discover and apply to our lives. PLEASE try not to get overwhelmed.
Remember Idea #1: Pray for wisdom. Ask God to show you where to start, how to start, and how much to do at a time.
Here we go.
5. Have a party.
I’ll admit it. I don’t like parties. Well, the parties where people sell stuff. I’ve hosted ONE in my lifetime, and it was only because I love my friend Shalla dearly and wanted to help her support her family.
But parties where you sell jewelry and bags and other crafts made by impoverished and/or trafficked women from around the globe? Oh my word. AWESOME.
Here are some organizations that you can host a party for: One Mango Tree (Uganda–that’s where my bag in my profile pic is from), Timbali Crafts (Swaziland–more on that in #6), Women At Risk International, Woven Joy, and so many, many more. Please link to any you know of!
6. Spend your money more purposefully.
I definitely need to research this one more. Several of you have asked me recently how you can know what stuff is fair trade and what’s not. Oh, that’s tough. I know that information is out there. I just need to carve out some time to gather it. (If anyone has helpful links/resources, let me know!) Heather Hendrick is awesome about finding out stuff like this. Here’s a link to all her posts she’s categorized under Fair Trade. And here are the ones under Feel Good Shopping.
This weekend I met an incredible gal named Suzanne who has been to Swaziland and now is a distributor for Timbali Crafts, which is made up of 90 Swazi women who serve as cooks for 2600 children a day at 14 different care points. These women are widows and single grandmothers, and making these crafts helps them support themselves and their families (more on this to come in a later post! so exciting!).
There’s also the Advent Conspiracy. I love, love, love this idea of putting a stop to the consumerism and materialism this Christmas and giving to those in need.
Christmas is the perfect time to give a beautiful gift handcrafted by someone who really needs the money. As opposed to Wal-Mart who will be just fine without your $25 (or $250).
7. Search out women to pray for.
Some of my favorite women to pray for are the gals at Heartline Haiti. We started the Prayer Doulas awhile back, and even though we’ve slacked off, there are still lots and lots of expectant mamas in Haiti who desperately need our prayers. And what an honor to pray them through their pregnancies, deliveries, and those early days, weeks, and months of motherhood.
I’ll have lots of names and faces for you to pray for while we’re in Cambodia. And I’d love to feature others you can pray for as well.
8. Volunteer somewhere.
As I told my friends in Michigan, the public schools are one of the most important places you can volunteer. My girls and I are reading buddies one morning a week for an hour at an inner-city school here in Columbus. And after we get back from Cambodia, we’re going to volunteer for an hour a week at the elementary school right here in our neighborhood. There is so much need, and the teachers are so overwhelmed. Kids are hungry and hurting, and it’s impossible for their teachers, no matter how loving and hard-working, to give them all the attention they need (educationally and otherwise).
There are also crisis pregnancy centers, women’s shelters, food banks, local libraries, and all kinds of other places that meet the needs of the community. I’d love to hear about some of the creative ways you’re serving your neighbors.
9. Develop relationships.
I’ve heard it said that we say we love the poor, but we don’t really know the poor. Make a serious effort to get to know someone poor. I dare you to ask God to present you with an opportunity. I believe with all my heart that he’ll knock you down with his answer.
10. Share your story.
Have you gone through a divorce, been abused, had an abortion, or been trapped in sexual sin or a painful addiction? Do you have any idea how much your story could encourage someone going through the same thing?
A beautiful gal named Krista shared her painful story with us at the retreat, and it had such an impact on so many. She’s still right in the thick of it in so many ways, but her day-by-day trust in God is so powerful. There is hope!
Even if your story isn’t very dramatic, God can absolutely use it. Pray and ask him for an opportunity to use something you’ve gone through/are going through to encourage someone else–and maybe even share the gospel.
11. Share a meal or cookies or whatever.
I’m thinking of neighbors in particular here. Just taking the opportunity to bless someone when they least expect it. Reaching out of your comfort zone and getting to know someone. The holidays offer a perfect excuse to share a dozen cookies or some other treat.
Invite a neighbor over for dinner. I think it’s crazy (and sad) that very few of my neighbors have ever actually been inside my home, and we’ve lived by each other for five years now.
12. Sell something you have and give away the money.
I won’t elaborate on this one. You can look back through our purging series for ideas.
13. Start a ministry.
Dream big. If there’s something you want to do, and you don’t see anyone already doing it, start your own thing. You don’t have to be a bigwig to start a ministry. You just need a big heart, big faith, and the go-ahead from God. So again, lots of time in prayer (seeing a theme here?).
14. Take something out of your schedule.
I think busyness is one of the devil’s most favorite tools to wield against us. It’s slick, sly, and works like a charm. Many kinds of busy are unavoidable (full-time job, taking care of littles, etc). Other kinds are not (TV, Facebook, romance novels). If nothing else, you definitely have time to pray. You can do that while nursing, changing diapers, washing dishes, driving, laundry…
Start small. Sacrifice 30 minutes a week. Do something for others instead of (fill in the blank).
15. Take a trip.
Lots of debate going on about short-term mission trips doing more harm than good. Again, I don’t have time to get into it right now. Here are a couple links. But goodness, I just can’t tell you what it does to your heart when you see poverty and suffering with your very own eyes.
16. Donate or sell your talents.
The sky’s the limit here. What can you do (most likely from the comfort of your own home) to earn a little extra money? Or what do you know how to make/do that would benefit someone directly?
Ideas: my sister makes banners and donates part of the proceeds to Asia’s Hope. She’s also making banners for me to take to several orphanages in Cambodia. I met a lady in Michigan who loves to knit. She knits baby blankets for little ones in need and is going to knit some hats for kiddos in the schools that might not have warm winter clothing.
What other ideas do you have?
And let me send you off with a simple 5-step plan for loving the poor.
1. Pray hard. 2. Pick one. 3. Start small. 4. Dream big. 5. Find joy.