Archives For Giving

Know Your Values

March 4, 2015 — Leave a comment

Roy Disney Quote

Advertisements

I’m not a fan of resolutions.  As I think about the changes I would like to make in the coming year, I feel like a failure for not achieving those changes in the past year….again.  And beginning the year feeling like a failure is a sure-fire way for my resolutions to fizzle out…….again.

144330104

Rather than making resolutions, I spend some time reflecting on the accomplishments of the past year and I encourage you to do the same.  Look through pictures or the calendar to aid in remembering all that was achieved in the past year.

Did you get the oil changed in the car?  Did you clean out a drawer or closet this past year or spring clean a certain % of the house?  What books did you read?  Did you do a bible study, pray daily, or do devotions?  Did you learn to take care of your body by staying properly hydrated drinking 8 glasses of water a day?  How did your family spend time together?  Did you participate in a canned food drive?

By contemplating on accomplishments made, you will realize the successfulness of the past year and be ready to build on those achievements this year.

Review the past year in the following areas and make goals in each area for this year:

Personal growth

How did you grow personally in this past year?

  • What books did you read?  Recreational reading is also important as we need time to relax and recharge.
  • Did you do a bible study/specific devotions/read the bible in a year/etc.?
  • Did you pray daily or most days of the week or month?
  • Did you enjoy any of your hobbies or do things you like during your free time?
  • Did you develop your strengths or weaknesses by taking a class, finding a mentor, seeing a counselor, or reading specific books?
  • Did you ever give more than take?

Health

Were any lifestyle changes made?

  • Did you drink more water?
  • Did you cut back on soda?
  • Did you limit sweets to once a week?
  • Did you only go out to eat only 3-4 times a month?
  • Did you learn to eat more fruits and vegetables?
  • Did you decrease your plate portions?
  • Did you find a few activities to love and do to stay active?

Family

What investments were made in your family?

  • Did you enjoy any family nights?
  • Did you plan and do any activities during the Summer or holidays/weekends?
  • Did your family go on vacation or spend any weekends away together?
  • Did your family do any mission or volunteer work together?
  • Did you study the bible as a family or one on one as parent/child?
  • Did you tell your family members you love them regularly?
  • Did you hug your child often?

Giving

How did you give of your time and money?

  • Did you volunteer at the local soup kitchen or with another organization?
  • Did you go on a mission trip (domestic or international)?
  • Did you donate unneeded items to a local mission?
  • Did you supply canned goods to local food bank?
  • Did you support a missionary/favorite cause/organization/family in need financially?
  • Did you make a meal (freezer or fresh) or provide a gift card for friends or family going through a difficult time?

Organize and clean

How did you take care of your house and property?

  • Did you clean out or organize any cabinets, drawers, or closets?
  • Did you clean out the garage?
  • Did you clean up or add anything new to the landscaping?
  • Did you clean out or organize toys?
  • Did you clean out any files?
  • Did you add pictures to any albums?
  • Did you do any car maintenance?

Finances

Were any positive changes made regarding your finances?

  • Did you pay off any credit cards?
  • Did you use coupons?
  • Did you make a budget?
  • Did you take advantage of sales rather than pay full price?
  • Did you save any money?
  • Did you eat at home rather than eat out?

This is not an all-inclusive list so please feel free to add your own questions or areas.

In order to realize success in these areas this year, white space will need to be created on the calendar.

How do you spend your time daily?  Can less be spent on social media or watching TV?  Can you travel less for work or cut overtime hours?  Is getting up earlier a possibility?  A shorter lunch may provide some time to perform a few tasks.  Are there any other areas that can be cut back to realize your goals this year?  Decide on priorities and fill in the calendar with those first.

Did you do all that is on this list and will you be able to carry out all you set out to do this year?  Probably not.  And that’s okay.  All growth and achievements are something to be celebrated no matter how small.

Even if you’ve never realized your success in the past, I urge you to recognize it now.

I would love to hear what you plan to accomplish this year!  Please share in the comments below.

© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

155306122

I knew the carnival had come to town even before I saw the rides.  Friends on Facebook announced it by posting comments about the influx of ex-cons and drug addicts with no teeth and filthy clothing.  I didn’t think too much about the comments and even laughed at a few.

When I took my kids to the carnival on opening night, I struck up a conversation with a woman carnie who wasn’t busy at the time.  She shared how she was a mom of three kids, one of which she delivered just four months earlier.

When asking if her kids were with her, she about burst into tears as she explained they were at home and she wouldn’t get to see them until carnival season ended 4 months later.  She didn’t feel the road was a good and stable place to raise kids so she left them with her parents during the busy carnival season.

While looking for a job, she had been rejected by corporations, gas stations, retail stores, restaurants, and on and on.  She was getting desperate as she worried how she would care for her children.  She then met some carnies who showed her love and acceptance and offered her a job.

She now found she was rejected by society as a whole because of the job she held.

As she opened her heart, shame filled my own.  The pain on her face was evident.  And I had added to her misery by participating (even silently) in the social media fodder and buying into the stereotype.

The fun we sometimes have at others expense is often greater than the concern for their heart.  Those “funny” comments hurt real people with genuine feelings.

Everyone has a story.  Everyone has needs.  Everyone needs love.

This woman was working hard to give her kids the best life possible on the limited means she had.  I felt for her as I watched her love on the other carnies’ kids who were traveling with the group, while missing her own so much.

I could relate to her because I had been rejected in different areas of my own life.

I’m sure you’ve also felt the sting of rejection.  When made to feel unwanted, unworthy, or unacceptable for one reason or another, it’s miserable.

So let’s no longer take part as others “tear down.”  Let’s counter that by “building up.”

75676800

There are 2 simple ways to “build others up.”

First, we need to see everyone as God’s masterpiece.

People of all ages, races, social classes, well-educated, non-educated, agreeable, disagreeable, from all walks of life, each are made in God’s image.  Each has value and worth.

Second, we need to do something.

In Australia, there is a rocky cliff called, The Gap, that is a notorious suicide spot.  For nearly 50 years, Don Ritchie, who lived across the street, scanned the cliff each day.  If he saw anyone standing alone and too close to the edge, he hurried to their side.  He would give them a warm smile and ask if they would like to come in for a cup of tea.  He never counseled, advised, or pried.  He just offered a smile and an invitation.

Don is officially credited with saving 160 people but unofficially the number is closer to 600.  Many of the survivors said it was Don’s smile that made them want to live.

Don says, “Never be afraid to speak to those you feel are in need.  Always remember the power of the simple smile, a helping hand, a listening ear, and a kind word.  It’s pretty simple.”

What if we are the catalyst that helps someone feel accepted, loved, or cared for all because we were willing to engage them in conversation, offer a listening ear, or give a simple smile?

At the very least we will bring a boost to their day.  But we may just save a life in the process.

Who will you see, accept, value, and love today?

You may also like:

Feeling Bad About Yourself?

Should You be a “Yes” Parent?

My Kid Doesn’t Meet My Expectations

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

 

Bob Goff succeeding at doesn't matter1

Visit Jill Savage’s site to learn more about Hearts at Home’s Compassion International trip.

Sponsoring a child is an amazing way to make a difference in a child’s life and possibly save them from exploitation and poverty.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

You may also like:

Desire To Be Weak

A Scary Yet Amazing Trip

Does God Shop at Garage Sales?

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

It’s 4 days before my daughter and I join 13 other people from our church for a mission trip to Ecuador.  The reality of what we are about to do is finally beginning to sink in.  Although I’ve been to Ecuador before, there are still butterflies.

132077687Will any of us be detained in the airport?  Will we find ourselves in a difficult situation because we don’t know the language or culture?  Will I be able to keep my daughter safe?  Will we get sick from the food?  The worries are sometimes overwhelming.

However, even though we are nervous, we are also excited.  We get to meet new people, attempt to communicate when we don’t speak the language, try new foods, see beautiful landscapes we may only see once in our lives, and spread the love of Christ in the process.

I’m personally excited to share this experience with my daughter.  The last mission trip really changed my perspective on life and I know it will do the same for her.

Affecting me in a deep and profound way were the two home visits we made in Quito, Ecuador.

One was the home of a disabled couple.  We discovered this couple must maneuver a wheelchair and walker up a damaged walk, climb a few stairs, and navigate some tight corners just to reach their front door.  Once inside their 2 room apartment, we found it furnished with only a couple of plastic lawn chairs.  A clothesline was strung across the living area with clothes drying above the concrete floor.  They had very little food in their tiny kitchen with tiny refrigerator.  Apparently any refrigerator is a luxury in Quito so they were blessed by someone who donated it to them.

100_2410The 2nd home we visited belonged to a mom of 5 kids, one who has cerebral palsy.  There was a steep staircase from the street leading down to their apartment.  The 2 room apartment with a concrete floor was sparsely furnished similar to the 1st one.  The other room held two beds that all six shared.

The kitchen, big enough for only 1 person to stand in, had no refrigerator or stove.  The bathroom was outside and was shared with the woman upstairs.  When one of the kids needed to use the bathroom, the mom was forced to lock everyone else in the apartment while she took the one outside to use the facilities.  And to top off everything, the mom had to carry her child and her wheelchair up the steep staircase whenever she needed to leave the house.

The missionary who arranged the tour explained the dad abandoned this family and left them to fend for themselves.  The mom had recently been fired from her job because she was caught stealing food from her work’s kitchen.  The little money she made could not feed her children, so in utter desperation she resorted to stealing the food her children needed.  This explained the meager food in the house. 100_2425and1

I suddenly felt the need to escape this woman’s apartment.  Choking back sobs, I ached to be alone.

The shame I felt was overwhelming.  Just a few days before leaving for the trip, I had complained about our carpet and countertops.  The stress of getting ready for the trip made me snap at the kids and my husband.

The appalling need in front of me was making me come to terms with the overly blessed life I was taking for granted.  Even more distressing was their joy in contrast to mine.  By their standards, I had it all and yet lacked joy.  By my standards, they had nothing but had unmistakable joy.

My longing for more rather than being content with what I had was stealing my joy.  When my family didn’t meet my expectations, they were subjected to anger and frustration.  In comparison to the Ecuadorians, the love for their family superseded all other needs.  Somewhere between the altar, the delivery room, and now, I had allowed that joy to turn to stress.

I came home a different person.  My family comes first (after my relationship with God).  Time with them is protected as much as possible.  All requests for time already spoken for on my calendar receives the same response, “I already have something on the calendar for that time.”  I have found this garners more forgiveness than the unwillingness to sacrifice time with family.  And since I use it regularly, nobody knows when my time is filled with obligations or family.

And when the “I wants” threaten, I turn off Pinterest and pull out photos from these home visits.

I can’t wait to see how God uses the experiences on this upcoming trip to change my daughter.

We may be nervous at the unknowns.  But we are also eager to get there and do what God has asked of us.  To learn the lessons He has for us.  To experience the culture and scenery.  And hopefully make a lasting impact on the people we serve all while God is at work changing us to become more like Christ.  It’s going to be an amazing trip!

You may also like:

Perfect Mom?  Hardly!

Can Anger Be Controlled?

Finishing Last

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Donation quote

You may also like:

10 Ideas to Show Love to a Stranger

Don’t Shut the Shades on Life

Christmas Tradition – Giving

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

87823077Rain and cold made it a miserable weekend for a garage sale.  But I pressed on anyway with our “Pay what you want” garage sale to raise money for mine and my daughter’s mission trip to Ecuador.  I was a bit worried nobody would show up to shop.  And I was also concerned with how people might respond to paying whatever they desired.  It was entirely possible to empty the garage and only have $10 to show for all my effort.

Throughout the two days of the sale, there was a steady stream of people.  Some paid much less than what some items were worth but most paid more than I would have asked.

Throughout the two days, as I huddled near a space heater, I sat amazed at the generosity.

One family came in and the mom explained to her children they could choose their own price and the money would be going toward a mission trip to Ecuador where little kids would be helped.  Her four children, ranging in ages 4-9, brought their own money to spend.  Choosing small toys, without any prompting from their mom, each gave generously because they wanted to “help the kids in Ecuador.”

One woman came in, looked around, read the sign about the trip, and began talking with me.  She shared she and her husband would soon become missionaries to Papua, New Guinea.  We had a nice visit and at the end of our conversation, she handed me $20.  She bought nothing but simply wanted to support our mission trip.

The sale was surprising on another level also.  Throughout the two days, items I thought would be popular were still on the tables and racks.  Due to friends donating merchandise to the garage sale, there were many cute girls and boys clothes, baby clothes, and shoes for boys and girls, none of which were selling.  It was baffling.

139970264I had so much left when it was time to wind down the garage sale at 1:00 on Saturday, I chose to make all remaining items free.  It was a bit selfish on my part because it would save us from having to cart all of it somewhere to donate.  However, I prayed people would come in that had a need and would be blessed by whatever they took.

An older couple came in and were completely shocked to hear everything was free.  The husband and I visited as the woman filled bags with toys and clothes for their grandchildren.

In talking with this gentleman, I discovered he lost his parents at a young age so he and his brothers grew up in an orphanage.  As we talked, another couple came in.  When I explained everything was free, the woman became extremely excited.  She was like a kid in a candy store, filling bags as fast as possible.

As the woman worked, she shared she was from the Philippines.  She married an American and moved to the States but her family still lived overseas.  She went on to tell how the flooding in the Philippines had taken everything from her family and their entire community.  Many kids run around in their underwear because they have no clothes.  To help, this couple looks for clothes and sends as many packages to the Philippines as possible.  The woman works at a second-hand store because they allow her to take the items that don’t sell so she may send them overseas.

152987306This couple had come to our neighborhood garage sales hoping they could find some good deals on clothes.  I told them their timing was a God-thing.  I explained I had prayed all the items at our garage sale would be a blessing to those receiving them.  I also shared how most of the clothes and shoes had failed to sell and I could not understand it until that moment.  All those items were meant for this couple.

We filled the back of their truck with clothes and shoes that would soon be headed for the Philippines.  They thanked me profusely.  I waved them off telling them they had blessed me way more than I blessed them.  When I walked back in the garage, the man I had been visiting with before looked at me and said, “That was beautiful.  Growing up as an orphan, I can’t tell you how much that scene touched me.  I used to love it when the Lutheran truck would roll into the orphanage because I knew I would be getting some new-to-me clothes.”  He then opened his wallet and gave me what was left, $20.

Two women came in as the man and I talked.  Hearing us discuss the couple sending clothes to the Philippines and about our mission trip to Ecuador, one of the women walked over and handed me $20.

There are some truly wonderful people in this world.  So when world news discourages, criticism crushes, or daily life overwhelms, look past the bad.  You will always find people who are willing to display incredible generosity, astounding kindness, and impressive courage.  They not only encourage us but they make us feel as if everything is going to be okay.

And by the way, our garage sale was a success and brought us within $200 of our mission trip goal.

Does God shop at garage sales?  He may not shop but He certainly shows up.

You may also like:

How Should I Pray for Myself?

A Marriage Beyond Hope

10 Ideas to Show Love to a Stranger

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

Strategic placement

 

You may also like:

3 Surefire Ways to Ensure You Live Your Priorities

Shopping Cart Joyride

Overlooked

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

But I Don’t Wanna!

May 13, 2013 — 3 Comments

157113311

I’m a Christian Women’s Speaker.  God called me to this profession 17 years ago but I argued with Him for 14 years before agreeing.  I tried to appease Him by teaching Sunday school, bible study, kid’s clubs, and emceeing events but it wasn’t exactly what God had in mind.  So I finally threw up my hands and said, “Fine!”

Desiring to be “real” I share much that makes me extremely vulnerable.  Opening up and sharing personal stories can be scary and sometimes gets the best of my emotions, making me nervous.

So was the case when I spoke recently.  After speaking the first night of a retreat, I became so nervous about speaking again the next day, I made myself sick.  So I did what I always do when I’m scared.  I called my husband, Craig.

I informed Craig that I had no idea why I was doing this speaking thing and I must have heard God wrong.  After all, He wouldn’t call me to do something I hated so much.  And I just wasn’t going to do it anymore after this weekend.  My emotions were obviously in overdrive.  Although I felt the need to share my feelings with Craig, I think he got the idea from the shaky inflections, short and breathless words, and just general panic in my voice.  Continuing on, I filled him in on my plan of calling and cancelling all speaking engagements on my calendar and removing my speaking information from my blog.

Craig’s response?  A very flat, “Uh huh.  Whatever you think God is telling you.”  He’s obviously heard this many times before and doesn’t realize just how serious I am.  This time!

After saying goodbye to Craig, I picked up my bible hoping God would calm my heart enough to be able to sleep.  I just opened my bible and it fell to Psalm 40:8-10;

“I delight to do your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart.’  I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, you yourself know.  I have not hidden your righteousness within my heart; I have declared your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your loving-kindness and your truth from the great assembly.”

105643580Seriously???  This bible roulette thing wasn’t working out too well.  I was tempted to let it fall open again.  However, I knew God had already said what I was supposed to hear.  He really knows how to rain on my parade and my plans.

I texted Craig the verses I read.  He wrote back, “So I guess you won’t be cancelling any speaking engagements then?”   My response?  A very succinct, “Well, duh!”

By the end of the weekend retreat, I left extremely blessed meeting so many wonderful women, hearing their stories and what phrases touched them, and filling my car with the gifts of chocolate (there are definitely some benefits to this speaking thing).

So I continue to speak.  Unfortunately, I’m sure I will quit many more times in the future but these verses are ingrained in my brain now.  God is in the business of stretching us.  And although I may threaten my husband with quitting, he will not listen, God will continue to speak, and I will continue to obey.

Am I alone?  Are you scared to do something because it will stretch you out of your comfort zone?  I would love to hear about it if you’re willing to share in the comments below.

Blessings always follow obedience.  Be sure to visit on Thursday when I share the unmistakable blessing that followed this particular time of obedience.

You may also like:

And We’re Waiting…..and Waiting…..and Waiting……

Does Prayer Work?

I Can’t Change the World but I Can Change Me

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Love Always

February 20, 2013 — Leave a comment

Baby Love

You may also like:

Cherish Every Moment

Watching Someone Drown

Missing Extraordinary

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson