10 Small Ways to Make a Big Difference

Hello all! I want to wish you a Merry Christmas full of warm love, bright joy, and the celebration of God’s most precious miracle. The lead up to the holidays has been keeping me so busy that I’ve hardly had time to keep up with writing! This season must be keeping you all so busy, as well! There are so many festivities ahead! I hope you have found peace during this busy time and been able to keep up with the tasks rather than feel drowned by them. Since I have a few plans coming up, I will be taking taking a little break from writing here until January. It has been such a gift to connect with you this year and begin sharing our journeys together. I feel truly blessed to have gotten to know you all more deeply and connect with you in the midst of our struggles. Thank you for being a part of this blog. I am looking forward to posting more here in the upcoming year! Have a beautiful season, dear ones. God bless.

In the spirit of the season of miracles, I think one of the most precious little miracles of all is gratitude. Gratitude certainly changes our perspective, and in the sweetest of ways. Oh, what a breath of fresh air and warm embrace of peace. Gratitude is something I pray we’ll carry with us in our hearts. Something I’ve noticed about gratitude is that the more thankful we are, the more willing we are to give and share freely. There is such freedom to knowing we are cared for! It can be difficult to find ways to volunteer and donate in the midst of severe illness, so I thought I’d share a collection of ten small ways to do so. Like Mother Teresa said, “We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.” It’s the small things that make a difference. It’s the small things that whisper hope and joy to aching hearts and lonely days. It’s the small things that build in us a greater compassion, love, and generosity. Let’s live in this today.

  1. Each day, you can support charitable efforts towards hunger, breast cancer, animals, veterans, autism, diabetes, literacy, and the rainforest by clicking the free donation buttons on the Greater Good website! Each time someone clicks, sponsors fund these causes. You can also shop at this site, and each purchase directly funds the cause of your choice (for example, the purchase of one item can fund 25 cups of food). You can visit their website by clicking here.
  2. Freekibble is another great free-donation resource. Each day, they post two questions, one about dogs (at Freekibble) and one about cats (at Freekibblekat). For every person that answers, 10 pieces of kibble are donated (So if you answer both, 20 pieces are donated!)
  3. You can help remind our troops we care by giving them a gift subscription of Guideposts Magazine for $10. Guideposts is filled with inspirational, heartwarming stories 🙂
  4. You can make blankets for local animal shelters or All Girl’s Allowed Baby Blanket Ministry. Some time ago, a girl in one of the chronic illness support groups I’m in created a post about ways to make a difference while sick, and she shared such a sweet idea. She would knit blankets for the beds at local animal shelters. I came across a program for a charity called All Girl’s Allowed that allows volunteers to make and donate blankets to their Baby Shower program. You can click the link above to find out more!
  5. Saeed Abedini is an American pastor who is serving an 8 year sentence in one of Iran’s more brutal prisons for sharing his faith. You can join the international community as they petition his release by signing this petition (here) and follow updates from the ACLJ (here). But one of the the most precious and valuable things to this family is your prayers for him, his family, and the persecuted church during this time.
  6. On the note of the persecuted church, you can purchase 5 New Testament Bibles for $25 through the organization Open Doors for people in the most persecuted and high guarded countries.
  7. Boycott Uggs (and Ugg alternatives). One of my cousins shared a link of Facebook not too long ago about the truth behind Ugg boots. The article explained how inhumane this company is towards sheep, and how while many people mean well by buying knock-off boots, those companies are also inhumanely harvesting other furs. Peta advocates this cause, but if you choose to look into it, I truly and deeply recommend just reading articles and not upsetting yourself by watching videos. You can understand the issue quite well without graphic evidence of the abuse. For this small way to make a big difference, replace fur or leather boots with cruelty-free options.
  8. Use items that aren’t tested on animals. Peta’s Beauty Without Bunnies and Leaping Bunny’s Compassionate Shopping Guide are two great resources to use to find companies that don’t test their products on animals.
  9. Shop fair-trade and items made in your home country. I made a list of Fair-Trade and American-made gifts that you can view here. There are plenty more great places to shop! One of my favorite places to shop is Etsy, a host for handmade shops.
  10. Above all, the greatest way to make a difference is to give our hearts to Christ. The greatest way to share is to allow Him to grow His love, peace, and grace in our hearts in a way that entirely awakens our souls to the beauty of life in Him. It’s through Him that we are moved to love and service. It’s in Him our hope is found. Commit your heart to His love and He will love through you in the most miraculous, exciting, refreshing, brilliantly beautiful way. It’s a joy that cannot be explained, not this side of Heaven anyway 🙂

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’ ~Matthew 25:34-40 (NLT)

 

When You Feel Lonely

As September unfolds and brings a new season, and the chill of Autumn begins to touch our towns,

I hope you find yourself warmed by the sweet embrace of loving company.

And if your days feel cold with loneliness and isolation, I pray that you will nestle into hope.

I hope you find a moment of courage to lift your eyes and your heart just a little higher, in order that you may see the loving heart of our Lord, outstretched for you.

I hope you’re reminded that our lonely times aren’t really barren, empty, untouched times but pruned ones.

I hope you’re reminded that there is a coming Love more abundant than any we can imagine,

A Home where He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).

If we can lift our eyes and our hearts a little higher than our hurts, even for just a moment, and look into the face of our Savior, we can trust He will comfort us with His mercy and teach us of His harvest.

Our gracious Savior is with us, Our God who places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).

I pray you will let Him draw near and whisper healing truth into your aching heart.

There’s so much joy ahead, friends. There’s so much joy around.

I hope this Fall season leaves you with little reminders of how all seasons will be redeemed;

I hope you let your worries fall away like the leaves of the trees.

You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. ~John 16:20-22

Week One: You Are Not Alone in Your Illness

I was so touched by the opportunity to connect with some of you through my post, 5 Truths Your Heart Needs to be Reminded. Your kind words and inspirational stories were so moving. Since there was such a meaningful response, I decided to dig deeper into that post and share more with you. For the next few weeks, let’s take another look at why these truths are so significant. Please join me as we discuss one truth each week for the next few weeks! I look forward to sharing this journey with you 🙂

~Week One: You Are Not Alone in Your Illness~

John 16 that has been one of the most comforting Bible chapters for me in my pain. During this chapter, Jesus has been ministering to His disciples about the coming terror of His crucifixion, and preparing them for the overwhelming sorrow they will experience. But in the midst of that, He is promising them His authority to overcome even this horrific death, and reassuring them of the unshakable joy that will thrill their hearts when He returns for them. As I read His words, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I feel hope ignite in my heart and peace soothe my soul. Though I’ve never seen His gentle face, I can vividly imagine the expressions upon it as He spoke. Empathy, hope, loyalty, humility, victory. After sharing His heart with them, offering them His peace, He says,

“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.” (John 16:32)

These words have touched and resonated with my aching heart, and I imagine that they must with yours, too. Although we feel truth in this statement for a different reason, many of our hearts can still feel the sting of the pain. You have scattered, each one going your own way, leaving me alone. We have experienced heart-wrenching times of feeling abandoned during our illnesses. But it is not this part of the statement that is so bold, so powerful, so timelessly true as what Jesus says next.

But I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

I truly believe this is one of the greatest truths we can delight our hearts with. I believe this is one of the most powerful truths we can accept in our trials of illness. Let our hearts reflect and hold tightly to this truth. For we are designed to share relationships with other humans, but we are sustained by a relationship with God. Although fellowship delights us and thrills our soul, it is but a taste of what unity with Christ is.

So what does it mean that God is with you in your struggles?

It means that He understands the agony of the pain you are enduring, because He felt these very things.

It means that He hears the cries of your heart as you suffer and is there to soothe you with His peace.

It means He understands the warfare your body is immersed in and has designed a rescue plan for you.

It means that He came before you to conquer death before it could ever touch your precious existence.

It means He has counted each tear that has flowed from your beautiful eyes, and that He knows the day that He will wipe them away and bring you to His eternal sanctuary where there will be no more pain or sorrow or tears.

It means He holds the seeds of faith you have planted in Him and will blossom them into blessings more beautiful than an endless field of fresh flowers.

The sustaining truth of “God with us” is a firm promise that God is able to fill our hearts, minds, bodies and souls with a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). To feel the spirit of His joy dwelling in your heart, despite any circumstance, must be one of the most magical and refreshing feeling known to a believer’s heart. It is positively divine! It’s so awe-striking to be lifted from gloom and sorrow into the shining hope Christ illuminates into our souls.

There are moments when we cannot see or feel or even imagine hope, but it is still alive and active and ready to lift us out of these lonely places. God is ready to wrap you up in His loving kindness. Community exists, companionship exists, family exists, and there is hope for all of these even in the most grueling of illnesses. I cannot word it any more lovely than Jamie Tworkowski has in his vision statement for the movement To Write Love On Her Arms, so I will gratefully share his words with you:

We live in a difficult world, a broken world. We believe everyone can relate to pain, all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.

We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty, but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions—moments, and seasons, and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real and help is real.

You need to know rescue is possible, freedom is possible, God is still in the business of redemption. We’re seeing it happen.

I pray that these words will encourage your heart and sit well with your soul. May you always remember that hope and love are your faithful companions, and you are not alone.

{If you’d like to read the original post 5 Truths Your Heart Needs to be Reminded, please click here!)