FROM THE MIDDLE

  • When Holding on Means Letting Go

    Sometimes the only reason I’m still holding on is because my fear of the fall is greater than my belief in what I cling to. I hang on out of desperation rather than faith. I clutch the rope so tightly because I can’t handle another disappointment; my grasp is firm because I’d rather clutch the taut, tired shred than be found empty-handed at the bottom, dreams shattered in fragments all over the ground.

    I don’t release my grip because I know if I let go this time, it will be my last. I won’t have the strength to try again—I’ll resign myself to that life on the bottom, that place where hope’s deferred splinters pierce the soul, that spot where shards of what could have been crumble into dusty flakes to be trampled.

    I’ve done everything I know to do. I’ve prayed every prayer I know to pray. I’ve hoped against hope and waited on Him, serving in the small place He’s asked me to work. And now I’m left dangling in thin air, held only by a gauzy line frayed thin by uncertainty.

    And I wonder now if holding on is really the right thing to do.

    Maybe the answer isn’t found in holding to crumbling dreams with blistered palms.

    What if I take my hands off ?

    What if the tattered rope has me hanging when, if I could just let go, I would land in the deep, sheltering lines of His hand?

    What if when I let go, that thing I’ve held so tightly becomes free to be transformed in the hands of a mighty God?

    What if the one situation I’m clinging to is the last piece of the puzzle, but He can’t get His hands there to shift it into place because I won’t move mine?

    Sometimes the greatest form of faith is in letting go, in taking our hands off the tattered rope and releasing it fully into His hands.

    Be encouraged today. God is faithful. He is trustworthy. Give Him your rope. Be willing to let go so you can hold on—to His promise, to His hand, to His heart.

    “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” – Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV)

  • Planning to Stay

    In my best, bubbliest letters—hearts dotting, lines swirling—in smeared, late-eighties fuchsia it lines the first blank page of the Bible I used as a teenager. Even then—before I knew what life was really like, before I had my first taste of stagnancy, before I realized how easy comfort and complacency and compromise truly are—it convicted me.

    I don’t know who said it. I don’t know where I heard it. I haven’t thought about it in years. But yesterday as I was praying, telling God I trust Him, reassuring Him I’m ready to take the next step, asking Him to guide me and give me wisdom, this quote popped into my head. It caught me off guard, and the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I became.

     “I know you are willing, Deidra, but how are you planning?”

    And for the first time in a long time I was struck by the vast chasm that exists between willing and planning.

    Willing is a mindset.

    Planning is action.

    Willing is a state of being.

    Planning is a state of doing.

    Willing is intent.

    Planning is preparation.

    Willing is an adjective—a descriptor, a qualifier.

    Planning is a verb—an actor, an existing state.

    All over again, I’m struck by the hot pink truth of it:

    We like to make things easy on ourselves by saying, “Well, I’m not a missionary,” or “That’s talking about something else,” when actually it applies to every area of our lives.

    If I am willing to lend a helping hand or give a word of encouragement or a smile of grace but never actually do it, what good have I done?

    If I say I am willing to volunteer my time and talent and resources to help others but stay at home with the door locked and the lights off, how does that help?

    Planning is the proof of willing.

    Planning is going; willing is staying.

    Go doesn’t only mean to Africa.

    Go means to do what you can, where you are, with what you have.

    Stay doesn’t just mean a physical location.

    Stay is a condition of the heart.

    Are you willing but not planning? Are you saying you’ll do things but you never do them? Be encouraged today. Go. Be the light to your world. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. It doesn’t take much. Sometimes the smallest acts of kindness have the biggest impact.

    “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

  • How to Get What You Need

    Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you: that’s what Jesus said (Matthew 7:12). We like to call it the Golden Rule, and although it seems simple enough, it’s been my experience that the most uncomplicated solutions are often the hardest to employ. It’s level of difficulty is right up there with the big guidelines like believe without doubting and don’t worry. Really? Who can do these things? Jesus makes them sound easy, but putting them into action is so hard.

    What Jesus asks us to do though, He gives us the faith and strength to do. He has not given us any impossible commands; He has given us directives that require a close personal relationship with Him to achieve. He said we can do all things through His strength—the power we must learn to become dependent on.

    Because sometimes other people don’t follow the Golden Rule. Sometimes other people are mean, even downright nasty. Sometimes people are judgmental. Sometimes people are harsh. Sometimes I don’t feel like being nice. Sometimes I’d rather cry. Sometimes I’d rather hide. Sometimes I’d rather tell that person exactly what I think. But no matter what has been given to me, I must remember that what I give, I get in return. It may not be given back on the same day or in the same manner or from the same person to whom I gave, but I will—some time, some place, some way—be given back what I put out to others.

    It’s like all the other paradoxes in the Bible: to become first you’ve got to be last; to be master you must be servant; to receive you must give your best, even out of your own lack—not just the leftovers, not a half-hearted, smile-on-your-face-but-cursing-under-your-breath kind of giving, but giving what you wish you had—giving what you need.

    So how do you get what you want—what you need?

    Give what you need yourself.

    Give what you want an abundance of, even if you don’t have it right now.

    Give in spite of.

    Give even though.

    Because even if other people don’t care, God does. And He is true to His word. He will honor you for your sacrifice. He will bless your obedience. He will lend you what you need to give.

    Need peace?  Exude it.

    Need grace?  Offer it.

    Need encouragement? Impart it.

    Need faith? Speak it.

    Need love? Show it.

    Because the opposite is also true.

    If you don’t give it, you won’t get it.

    You will never receive that which you are not willing to give.

    Is there something you need today? Peace or grace or hope or strength or encouragement or a smile? Give it—even if you don’t have it within yourself. Lean on His strength; borrow from His endless supply. You will find God fills those who are empty. He will meet your need when you are prepared to meet the needs of others. Remember, there is no reaping without planting.

    So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

    And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

    Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:7-9 (NIV)

     

  • Why Quitting is Selfish

    Congratulations, double exclamation point, smiley face, parenthesis, hugs, parenthesis. I type the fraud through tears. Flooded with drops of not good enough, my eyes leak what the heart overflows. Her success feels like my failure, a cruel reminder of the position I’m not in, the place I’d like to be. I've been really tempted to quit lately, and this just serves to reinforce those feelings. I'm tired, no one cares anyway, it won't really matter, someone else can do it. I rehearse those lines almost daily.

    Why does he always do that—turn someone else’s joy into a sorrow all my own, make me feel so tired I can't see the truth? I’m genuinely happy for her—she’s worked hard and is so talented—she deserves all this and much more. My work isn't the same as hers. It's for a different group, for a different purpose, but just as needed. But within the span of mere seconds he’s crept in, reverting me back to the fourth grader who sucked at long division, the seventh grader gangly and awkward, the high schooler ever-seeking, never-finding, the graduate student desperately trying to prove herself.

    He wants to create competition from camaraderie, to make things that have nothing to do with me all about me by designing perceived divisions. He wants me to give up, to lose focus on the goal, to feel that what I do isn't important or needed. That’s what Satan does—he alters perception, warps reflection, amplifies inadequacy. He wants me to see my lack through her abundance, my can’t through her can, my exhaustion through her finish line. He tries to divert my attention by getting me to focus on my current location rather than my destination.

    But now I understand. Satan may try to stop me temporarily, but only I can do it permanently.

    I’m not where I’m going to be. It’s my time to be faithful in the little things, to trudge on when it goes without notice. God has a plan, but it won’t come to pass the way it’s supposed to without my cooperation.

    Plans require work, partnership. They require trust and patience and courage. God cannot work His plan for you without your consent and participation. The plan’s success is dependent on you—He will never force anything on you—even victory.

    What about you—will you believe the lie that because you’re not in the same place on the journey as someone else that you aren’t doing it right or that what you do isn't important? Don’t believe it. Be encouraged today. Satan wants you to stop. He wants you to think no one cares and that what you do doesn't matter. But remember, quitting is selfish. It limits your impact and potential. Others need you--your story, your words, your example. Your plan isn't just about you; it's also about everyone He's already prepared to see and hear you. If you quit now, how will they know? If you quit now, you could rob them of the only chance they may have to see Him.

    It takes perseverance and determination, but in the end, your faithfulness will be rewarded. Don’t let Satan convince you to quit. Remember why you started in the first place. If you need a break, take it, but please, never, ever give up. Someone somewhere (someone you may never even know about, someone who may never have the courage to reach out and tell you, someone who is about to let go) needs what God has put in you.

    But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. – 2 Chronicles 15:7 (NIV)

  • How Playing the Victim is Playing You

    Life is full of difficult situations, and many times we are treated unfairly or experience wrongs and hurts we don’t deserve. Life just isn’t fair. I’ve learned over the years that it is these experiences that shape us the most. The truth is, the difficulties we go through change us. Not maybe. Not sometimes. Not if we let them. They do. But, we are not powerless in the process. We get to choose if the change will be good or bad. We get to choose if we will use the thin places, the trying times, the tragedy, the loss, the sadness to create good or to build up walls that keep us in and others out.

    It is a choice; it is a daily decision; it is a conscious effort to do the right thing in spite of all that’s wrong. And it isn’t easy. But we must realize that the decisions we make not only affect us, but those we are connected to as well. And if we don’t choose to let things go, to keep moving in spite of the fact that we don’t understand and are wounded, to create positive with our negative, we start to engage in victim mentality.

    There’s a difference between being a victim and having a victim mentality. A victim is someone who has been wronged, who has suffered mentally, emotionally, or physically at the hands of another. But a person with a victim mentality is someone whose view, outlook, and way of thinking is centered upon the victimization experienced. They are those who make the choice not to move on; they decide to stay in the moment of their hurt; they resolve to focus on what they have experienced rather than to produce something good from it.

    Victim mentality is dangerous for three primary reasons:

    1. It permits the past. Victim mentality keeps us bound to hurt. It relives the past and rehearses pain. It replays the offense and projects it into every area of life, causing us to review it constantly.

    2. It penalizes the present. Victim mentality punishes today. It keeps us from living now, from focusing on the moment and the opportunity at hand. It imprisons and confines and condemns.

    3. It pilfers the future. Victim mentality steals potential, keeping us from moving on. It robs the desire to look forward; it embezzles the prospect of hope, of change, of good.

    We can have a victim mentality in our spiritual lives as well. If we aren’t careful, we’ll become hurt and jaded and angry when God doesn’t answer a prayer the way we think He should or when we have a moment of weakness and fail or when other Christians hurt us. The enemy will try to creep in and convince you that your identity is in your mistake, that you are guilty and no good to God and you can’t do anything for Him, that you can’t be forgiven, that He’ll never answer you, that He doesn’t want good for you, that He doesn’t have a plan for your life, that things will never work out, that you can’t measure up, that you can never live a Christian life, that church isn’t the place for you, that all Christians are hypocrites. And if you buy into it, it will destroy you.

    Just like in other areas of life, you have to make a hard choice. Get up, learn from it, move on, do something good, use your experience to help someone else or wallow in your hurt, relive the failure and pain, try to punish other people and God by refusing to get over the damage, project it into every other area of your life, use it as an excuse for failure and non-committal.

    Be encouraged today. Everyone experiences pain. Everyone fails. Everyone gets rejected. Everyone is a victim in some way at some point in their lives. You don’t have to let your experience define you. It doesn’t determine your future. Get up. Learn from it. Forgive. Move on. God wants to use you, but He can’t if you refuse to let go of the past. You are an overcomer through Christ. You have the power to make the right choice. He will give you the strength you need to make it through. But you have to be willing to take it. You have to be willing to work through the pain of the past to fulfill His purpose for your future.

    I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. – Philippians 4:13 (AMP)

  • Right Here, Right Now

    It seems some of us are stuck right now. Some in good places, some in bad, others in limbo. And it seems we all want to know what to do with this place, this season, this now.

    Many of us are full of questions:

    What next?

    Where do I go from here?

    Well, that didn’t work out. What do I do now?

    Well, guess what? I have an answer.

    Be where you are.

    If God isn’t opening doors for you to move on, if He hasn’t given you the next set of instructions, if you keep trying to make things happen but they just won’t, if every attempt you make to take the next step forward gets you pushed back five, if you don’t know where to go from here, it just may be that right here is where you are supposed to be right now.

    Right here, right now may not be a place you like.

    Right here, right now may be painful.

    Right here, right now may feel like it will never end.

    Right here, right now may seem like the worst possible place to be.

    But, right here, right now is where you are, so be there.

    Do what you can.

    Use what you have.

    Don’t make excuses.

    Don’t wish it away.

    Don’t put things off.

    Be where you are, because right here, right now serves a purpose.

    Right here, right now is maturing you for what’s ahead.

    Right here, right now is the place you demonstrate your trust.

    Right here, right now might be the result of your poor choices.

    Right here, right now may be beyond your control.

    But no matter its cause, right here, right now is where God has allowed you to be.

    And so you must be there.

    Be open to it.

    Learn from it.

    Grow in it.

    Be encouraged today. Right here, right now is a destination all its own. You might think its limbo; you might think it’s a punishment; you might think it’s where you’ll be forever. But remember, we’re on a journey. This is just one stop along the way. The time to move forward will come, and until it does, you have a responsibility to be faithful right here, right now. Don’t dismiss right here, right now because it’s uncomfortable or a place you don’t want to be. Don’t neglect what you have right now or miss what you can do right here by wishing you were somewhere else. Be right here, right now. God is with you.

    It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – Psalm 18:32 (NIV)

    Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure it out on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. – Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)

  • For When You Get Mad at Church

    Disclaimer: This post is brutally honest and is not for super holy people who have it all together.

    I’ve been mad at church lately. Not my church necessarily, but the church as a whole. I’m angry with how apathetic some people are. I’m annoyed by lack of commitment. I’m irritated that church attendance doesn’t matter to people anymore—that some only attend when there’s nothing better to do or when they feel like it or when they need something from God or feel guilty because they haven’t been in a while. I’m outraged that 10% of the people do 100% of the work while the other 90% sit around criticizing the 10% for what they’re not getting right. I’m infuriated that people have taken the Bible and twisted it to make it say what they want it to so they can justify their lifestyles and have a guilt-free existence. I’m aggravated that so few are willing to reach outside of the walls of their Christian box to help others who truly need it.

    My anger is justified; I am in the 10%. I serve in various capacities week after week after week, and have done so for more than 20 years. It’s my right to be judgy and condescending and have an attitude. I’m entitled to my resentment. Right?

    WRONG.

    It seems like the aforementioned are good things to be upset about. Seems holy. Seems righteous. Seems noble. Until I look in the mirror and remember I’m no better than anyone else. I’ve got 99 problems right now, and apparently, neither grace, nor love, nor acceptance, nor forgiveness is one of them. Truth is, the main problem is me. I’ve been so fixated on what everyone around me is or isn’t doing that I’ve lost sight of what I’m doing, of what He’s doing. I’ve evaluated my performance on the skewed scale of comparison rather than on the true gauge of God’s word. And what’s that gotten me? A big, fat, nasty stinking attitude—an attitude that’s not Christ-like, an attitude that ain’t helping nobody.

    So how do I fix my problem in 3 easy, alliterative steps?

    Review – I need to go back over some basic stuff—mainly my Bible. I need to take inventory in my own life and stop concentrating on everything else. I need to remember that I am responsible for my journey, not everyone else’s.

    Repent – I need to ask for forgiveness and God’s help. Without God’s grace and support I won’t be able to get back on track.

    Reset – I’ve got to put things back in proper perspective and reorganize. I have to put my focus back on God and the job He’s given me to do.

    You probably don’t have these issues. But in case you ever do, review, repent, reset, rinse, repeat.

    If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:3-10 (NIV)

  • Distorted Vision

    In the New Testament, we are encouraged to walk by faith and not by sight. I’ve always thought of this strictly in terms of my ability to see. I must live according to my faith in Christ because on my own, I am simply unable to ascertain all that is around me; I can’t see everything; I am limited. But the truth is our eyes are pretty powerful. They constantly send information to our brains about the world around us. Most of what we do and how we do it is based on the visual cues our brains receive from our eyes.

    And although we must have our eyes to see what is around us, they themselves are not what give us vision and perception. Our eyes are receptors, collectors; our brains are processors, directors. Our eyes provide raw data, but our brains assimilate the information.

    Our brains piece together information received through the eyes and make assumptions based on that data. They automatically put things into perspective based on context (other items around us), and use past experience to process current information. To our brains, perspective is reality.

    But perception is often wrong. Our brains interpret data based on what has happened to us in the past, and on other items in our field of vision. Depending on where you are standing and what point of information you are focused on, your brain can make incorrect assumptions regarding the facts it sees. For instance, if you are standing far enough away and looking from the right vantage point, pieces of an item can appear to make a whole, abstract lines can form a complete image, and things can appear smaller or larger than they actually are.

    When I think of it this way, I can more clearly understand what it means to live by faith and not by sight, and I realize it has more to do with my brain than my eyes. It has to do with past experience and current context. What my brain tells me I see may not actually be there in the way I have perceived it; what appears to be a whole issue may only be parts; what looks like an outcome may simply be abstract lines; what looks big may actually be small. It all depends on my vantage point.

    Where I stand determines how accurately I see and perceive the information around me. If I am standing in Christ, I will be able to visualize my surroundings accurately; I will be able to put things into proper perspective; I will not make invalid assumptions based on what’s happened to me in the past or on the context of other things around me. From a vantage point of faith in Christ, I can understand that things aren’t always what they seem—that even though my vision is good my brain may misinterpret the stimulus.

    And that’s why it’s a faith walk—not because I can’t see clearly, but because my brain, my heart, my carnal nature takes what I do see and distorts it into something that may not actually be there. I have to trust not in spite of what I see, but in spite of what my history, my hurt, my habits, my helplessness, my hang-ups, and my handicaps tell me I see. Those take the information and distort it, automatically making assumptions that through the power of Christ are not so.

    Faith is not the opposite of sight; it’s the opposite of feeling; it’s the opposite of hallucination—things we make up, believe and perceive when we look at things from the wrong vantage point—any place apart from Christ.

    Be encouraged today. Things aren’t always easy. Life ain’t always grand. But, when we view life from the proper perspective, we will see God’s hand overshadowing, holding, guiding, and protecting; we can appreciate the truth—that no matter what happens, God is with us. We are held, we are His, and He will never let us go.

    For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance. – 2 Corinthians 5:7 (AMP)

  • Yet More I'm Learning from Bundling Up

    I’ve been conspicuously absent from this space recently, and I suppose most of you know why—the Bundle Up Club is starting to take more and more of my time. I hardly go anywhere without a loom in my hand these days. And that’s a good thing. Our operation is expanding. We now have volunteers in 4 states that have taken up the cause and started making items to donate. We have been given fundraising opportunities. Our social media audience is growing. This little seed of an idea is quickly growing into a full-fledged campaign. And I’m just going to be honest—it’s scary. Really scary. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. Some days I wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into. This thing seems too big and bold and ambitious for introverted me.

    But God is showing me more and more about Himself every day. And He’s revealing more and more about me. Here’s the stuff I’m learning:

    1. I’m scared of everything. Seriously. I’ve lived so much of my life in fear—of others, of myself, of opinions, of set standards, of failure, of success, of looking like a fool—that it’s kept me from doing a lot of things, the most important of which is serving God with abandon. I’ve been so afraid of what others will say or think or do that I’ve been content to do nothing with the glorious grace God gave me. How pathetically lame.

    2. I’m sick of doing nothing. For reals. The days of me sitting in my clean clothes in my clean church with my clean friends are over. I’m ready to get my hands dirty. I’m sick of sitting. I want to go—to where the lost and needy and hungry are. I’m sick of talking. I want to be doing. I’m sick of contentment. I want every single thing I do to be not enough.

    3. I’m fed up with judgmental people—me being the main one. I’m not perfect. You aren’t either. Let’s get over ourselves and go give some grace. It’s not mine to judge someone else’s condition. It’s not mine to say who deserves a helping hand and who doesn’t. Last time I checked, Christ died for ALL. Can’t we just use that as the sole qualifier?

    4. All you have to do is start. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know how or when or where or how much. If God gives you something to do, just start by doing what you can where you are with what you have. He will make all the crooked places straight. He will provide. He will give you opportunity. But you won’t get those things until you take the first step. You don’t need a straight path if you’re sitting down; you don’t need provision if you’re content where you are; you don’t need opportunity if you’re not even willing to get up and look for it.

    5. God is way bigger than you realize. I thought my version of God was big, but I’m beginning to understand just how small a box I put Him in every single day. He does what He wants when He wants with whom He wants. He runs this thing, y’all. There’s not one second we live that wasn’t orchestrated and set into motion by Him. If He can give you the idea, He can give you the plan. If He can give you the start, He can give you the finish. If He can give you path, He can give you the strength to walk on it. All it takes is faith.

    Be encouraged today. God loves you. He needs you. He wants you to get uncomfortable. He wants you to do something that’s bigger than you and out of your comfort zone. This song, “Do Something” by Matthew West is our theme song for the Bundle Up Club. Please listen and allow yourself to be challenged. God won’t ask you to do anything He won’t help you do.

    Do Something by Matthew West

    For more information about The Bundle Up Club and how you can help, please visit the following:

    Manning Twins Give Up Summer to Help Homeless

    Go Fund Me - Donation Site

    The Bundle Up Club Facebook Page

    Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ - Matthew 25: 34-40 (NIV)

  • Lessons I'm Learning from Bundling Up

    As most of you know, my twin daughters recently started a service project in which they are making hats, scarves, and blankets for the homeless. Needless to say, I became part of the team very quickly. Not only do I want to support and encourage them in their efforts and help them expand their influence, I believe in what they are doing. I want to make a difference in the lives of others—others who need it, others who don’t know about Jesus, others who crave to know they are not forgotten, others who can’t offer anything in return.

    In the process, I’m learning (or re-learning) some things about myself, about others, and about God that I’d like to share with you today on the off chance you may need to know them now or remember them for later:

    1. When God puts a burden or desire in your heart to do something, do it. Don’t wait. Do what you can where you are with what you have. When you step out in faith and obedience to His directives He will bless you. He will give you what you need (emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, financially, and any other –ly you can think of) to complete the task.

    2. You will probably be surprised by whom your supporters are and are not. People I thought would care or jump on board and help out (including some family members and close friends) have not responded to us at all. Conversely, there are those who I thought would have no interest and those who have no connection to us whatsoever who have donated to our cause. But the point is this—you don’t need to wait for validation or approval or support from other people to do the work God wants you to do. You may never get it. God is the only One who has the authority to endorse you and your vision. Just start. He will provide what you need to accomplish your goal. And once He does start providing, don’t focus on where or who the support comes from. Keep your efforts centered on the task and the God who gave it to you.

    3. Want to become more grateful for the things you have and less concerned with the things you don’t? Do something for someone else—someone who can’t reciprocate, someone who would love to have your life, someone who is far less fortunate than you are. It will quickly renew your proper perspective. 

    4. The most precious gift you can give someone is your time. We are making and not buying scarves, hats, and blankets for a reason. We want people to know they are valuable—worth effort and work and time. Money can be recouped, effort can be rewarded, but time is valuable because once spent, you can’t get it back. It’s really the ultimate gift, and where and with whom and on what you spend yours matters. A lot. It speaks volumes about your priorities and values.

    5. People (myself included) often use the words can’t and won’t interchangeably. I tell God and others I can’t do stuff all the time, when what I actually mean is that I won’t. We use can’t to cover ourselves, to make excuse. Inability, whether perceived or real, always sounds better than blatant refusal. It’s more palatable and makes us feel much better about ourselves. Think about it the next time you offer an I can’t to someone. Is it really that you can’t or is it that you won’t because you don’t want to inconvenience yourself?

    6. I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. – Edward Everett Hale 

    Some of these points are pretty harsh, I know, but sometimes the truth is hard. This project has made me realize a lot about myself and my motives. I want to be a better person. I want to be a better representative of Jesus. And that means I have to change. Some people will like it and some people won’t.  Some people will help out and some people won’t. Some of it will be easy and some of it won’t. But at the end of the day, I don’t answer for people; I answer for me. Jesus doesn’t call us to a life of comfort and complacency; He calls us to a life of work and servitude.

    Be encouraged today. The task set before you may be hard. You may not have the help or support of others. You may be saying you can’t because you feel like you aren’t able or you may be saying you won’t out of fear of failure or rejection. But remember this: God is faithful. His strength is perfect in your weakness. He is not sorry for the call He has placed on your life; He does not regret giving you the job you have. He needs you. You can make a difference. You can change. He will help you. Start today. Don’t wait.

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)

    Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ - Matthew 25: 34-40 (NIV)