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Walter Mitty and the residual affect of how we speak love



Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 | 2 comments

Children in Manila - by Casey Neistat

I’ve been thinking about those giant crosses in Chattanooga off I-75, how they provoke response on either ends of the spectrum.

And, earnestly, I’ve been trying to consider the other side, the point of view different from my own…

but the closest I get is believing I c o u l d be wrong.

And all that set me wondering, how people interpret and process the same thing so differently; of course, not just three crosses, but most anything in life.

Beauty, art, music–our tastes and perspectives are as individual as we are unique.

And then I thought about love.


I thought about HOW MONUMENTALLY DIFFERENT my husband and I speak love.  One of the wisest, best, most beneficial choices we made early in marriage was the decision to read through the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  It was then we understood that I most often speak love in words and encouragement, and he most often speaks love by service and action.  It helped me to see when he loved me even if I didn’t feel it, and hopefully visa versa.

We weren’t speaking the same language at all.  Had we not made this revolutionary discovery, though we loved one another, its expression would have been lost in translation, and potentially, tragically so.

Thank God gift-giving is at the bottom of both of our lists. *

Though I always appreciate receiving presents, gift giving is the least way I express love.  And my favorite presents?  Surcies–personal and intimate, typically of little dollar value but large in significance and meaning.  My next favorite type of gift is anything practical (I’m the wife who delights in, not offended by, a new kitchen appliance….).  Likely a combination of the two is the main reason I detest giving money–that hardly meets my “requirement” for personal, and though you can purchase something practical, it’s not practical in and of itself.  At least not to me.

Maybe I’m beating this dead horse deader or overstating my obvious conclusion, but, to me and others like me, those three crosses are impractical; which is consistent with how I’m wired to give and receive love.

A commenter to Crosses and Planks shared this beautiful video of how Carey Neistat spoke love in a language I’m accustomed to hearing often (by his actions) – in a way that compels me to live the Gospel, not build monuments or even love with only my words.  He was given $25,000 to make a promo video for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; instead he made a difference for thousands with permission from 20th Century Fox.  His video below is a must-see:


On his You Tube channel, Carey asks the question, “What would you do with $25,000?” and then shares a link to Unicef to help the children affected by typhoon Haiyan.  Might you consider doing something right now to help?  If not Unicef (of which I have no personal experience), if you’ve been thinking about sponsoring a child in “one of those programs”, I can vouch for Compassion International after traveling with them to Calcutta.  Sponsoring children not only changes lives, it can save them…and if you can’t commit to a monthly child sponsorship, please…please consider a one-time gift.

A group of bloggers will be traveling to Uganda this week with Compassion, some of them dear friends.  They’ll write about the painful devastation of poverty…but I promise, you’ll see hope in each story.  I hope you’ll read every post; and to sponsor a child in anticipation of what they’ll share?  Well, YOU will be a partner in their journey!  Say yes?

,Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion
* (Which will only make sense if you’ve read Chapman’s Five Love Languages; and if you haven’t, here’s a link to buy a copy.  If you aren’t feeling loved by your spouse, I urge you to read it.  This translates to all of your relationships.  I’d pick up the general edition and not the ones specified for children/teens/genders.) (p.s.  If you use my affiliate link, I’ll earn pennies on your purchase…and thank you.  Win-win, yes?).

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10 Things Salvation Army Bell Ringers Want You To Know



Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 | 70 comments

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Last week I did something I never thought I’d do.  In some ways, I even felt bad for the people whose lot it befell every Christmas season:

I stood sentry over a Salvation Army famed red kettle and rang my little bell like there was no tomorrow.

Ringing the Salvation Army red kettle at Christmas

Thank you for supporting my online Red Kettle?
Gifts of ALL denominations are needed and GREATLY appreciated!! 


And I loved every minute of it. 

It was an uncharacteristically warm December afternoon – near 80 degrees and a balmy breeze – and though it didn’t feel like Christmas on the outside, it sure felt like Christmas and charity and beauty on the inside. 

With a favorite story from Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways still ringing in my ears, I was the “violinist” offering my gift.  I chose to make my bell ringing an artful gift offering, and I was fully present and engaged in the presence of everyone who wasn’t afraid to speak.  For two hours, I remained mindful that I’m “an image-bearing poem, called by God to offer myself alive in the world, for God’s glory and the benefit of others.” (p. 165, A Million Little Ways.)

Confession:  I have never consciously done anything like that “to the glory of God” and to practice what Emily preached in AMLW made all the difference in the world (anyone who has self-doubted what they have to offer needs to read this book).

Because of my attitude and approach, this small act of service was delight not drudgery.

Unexpectedly, I learned a lot in those two hours, and so I offer you:

10 Things Salvation Army Bell Ringers Want You To Know

10 Things Salvation Army Bell Ringers Want You To Know

1.  We aren’t judging whether you give…or not!  I’ve always assumed some level of guilt if I didn’t put money in the kettle, that the ringers were judging me.  This could not be farther than the truth!  Bell ringers actually don’t care if you don’t give (keep reading!!).  You don’t have to explain you’ve mailed a check in or that you gave last time, I promise.

2.  We aren’t judging how much you give!  Have a pocket full of change?  Fantastic!  Found a dime when you got out of your car?  Drop it in!  Got a wad of ones you’d like to unload?  Bring it!  It is not the size of your donation that matters, we’re thrilled with every person who’s willing to give regardless of amount.

3.  We love eye contact and a friendly greeting.  Speaking to Salvation Army volunteers is a gift in and of itself.  We appreciate it.  Especially for a lone volunteer, your kind words are good company.  A simple “Merry Christmas” or “Thanks for what you’re doing” are perfect acknowledgment.

4.  Making eye contact and speaking is not a contract to give.  Speaking does not obligate you in any way to contribute.  Please don’t not speak because you don’t wish to/aren’t able to put money in the kettle.  Remember, no one is judging.

5.  We like to hear your stories.  Tell us about the time you volunteered.  Let us know if you’ve ever benefited from the Salvation Army’s ministries.  It reminds us why we’re lending our time to this worthy cause.

6.  We notice when you avoid us.  We’re staring straight at the parking lot for two hours; we know where you’re coming from and where you’re heading.  Really, truly, you don’t have to cut a wiiiiide path to avoid us.

7.  You give us great ideas.  One man said he always carries a pocket full of change in every denomination–four quarters, five dimes a few nickles and pennies.  “That way,” he explained, “You always have what you need when something requires change.”  Simple brilliance.

SAimage8.  Giving teaches your children.  The sweetest contributions came from the little ones.  Their eyes twinkled.  They delighted in the giving.  And, if you take advantage of this visual teaching opportunity, you can seed a spirit of generosity in your children that hopefully will last for life.

9.  You, too, can volunteer!  The Salvation Army would LOVE for you to volunteer!  Check out your local operation and let them know your availability.  Bell ringing is a fantastic family, friend, youth group or school club activity, but there are other ways to get involved throughout the year.

10.  If the bell ringer happens to be a friend of yours and she tells you she has to use the bathroom, for goodness sakes, take the bell out of her hand and relieve her so she can GO!  This happened to a friend (who contributed some ideas to this post) who ended up having to wait until her volunteer relief showed up before she could use the restroom.  (Note, a reader clarified in comments that all volunteers may take a break if necessary by returning their kettle to Customer Service while they take care of bidness.)

The Salvation Army has been around for over 130 years and it helps people in a number of ways; last year alone it serviced over 30 million people.  Its mission is simple:  “…to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”  What you may not realize is most of your money stays local, to help people in your community; and I read that 82 cents of every dollar goes to direct assistance, not administrative costs.

My real life experience was so positive, I’d like to offer my support for the Salvation Army virtually!   I’m inviting you to join me:


As you’re planning year-end giving would you please consider making a contribution to my Online Red Kettle?

My goal is modest and any amount is welcome.  Would you also share my post?  If you’re like me, the more you learn about the Salvation Army, the greater your admiration will grow.  I had no idea the breadth of support for our local communities until agreeing to volunteer; digging deeper I’ve only grown in my respect for an organization that has faithfully served those in need for over a century.

Thank you in advance for giving.  It blesses me, yes, but so much more a people in need.

Your turn:  Do you have a story about volunteering for the Salvation Army?
Have you been a beneficiary of their services?
Please share by clicking Comments under the post title and tell us about it!

UPDATED:  Heartfelt thanks to all of you who are sharing this post!  Every FB Share, Like, Stumble, Tweet (or sharing w/YOUR local Salvation Army) blesses my socks off!  I didn’t realize how many misconceptions I had about Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell Ringing until I had the pleasure myself.  (And while you’re here, consider subscribing to my blog?  It’s free and your subscription is greatly appreciated.)

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Wonder why it matters?}

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Freeset’s 12 Days of Freedom



Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 | 1 comment

12 Days of Freedom with Freeset logo

One of my greatest life highlights – and most-treasured among many wonderful blogging opportunities the past eight years – was my blogger trip with Compassion International to Calcutta, India.  Prior to that trip, the people of India were barely on my radar; but having left behind a piece of my heart, perpetual ache for the lost and impoverished there strums through my veins.

How could I ever forget?  The sights, scents, sounds, tastes and touches of this foreign land pierced my senses, branded my soul, but most remarkably, seeded great hope.  How in the world could I see hope in the face of such dire circumstance?  I witnessed first-hand how an organization can work with locals to make a substantive difference in the lives of those living in bondage and poverty.  By relieving many of the burdens for one member of a family, it benefited all.  I saw this during home visits, and had the privilege of listening to personal testimonies of parents whose children took part in a Compassion project.

Ever since that trip, anytime I hear mention of Calcutta I pay close attention; which is why, when I first learned about Freeset, I became a fan of its work there.  A quick explanation if you aren’t familiar:

Freeset Collage

Freeset is a fair trade business located in one of the largest, most infamous sex districts in Calcutta, India, where more than 10,000 women stand in line selling their bodies. They are often trafficked from poor families in rural India and then forced into prostitution. Freeset started with just 20  women brave enough to seize the opportunity to leave the sex trade behind, and has now grown to almost 200 women (their stories are heartbreaking but hope-filled). The women at Freeset are employed in dignity, able to move from being the product, to making products. They receive a fair wage, medical insurance, reading and writing classes, daycare for their children, and retirement. Because of the choice Freeset offers for freedom, it provides the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and exploitation for these women once and for all. {Please click to read the full story behind Freeset.}

Empowering women to help themselves:
a beautiful, significant work.

I count it as one of my blogging gifts that Freeset (USA) president, Kristi Griem, became a friend of mine a few years ago.  While a friend to many, she’s a downright freedom advocate for those who need someone to champion their cause–in Freeset’s instance, women who believed their only hope for survival is in selling themselves for next to nothing, or who are forced to prostitute themselves by no choice of their own.  When she asked me to write for Freeset’s 12 Days of Freedom, I had to say yes (surely it is my privilege to introduce at least a few of you to Freeset for the first time–let me know if that’s the case?).

Rather than me telling you more about the organization, I’d rather you click around their site and read the tabs that pique your interest.

In response to yesterday’s post, today’s Worshipful :: Cheerful Giving :: Call to Action?  Go shopping at Freeset!  Especially for your friends and family who are socially minded (and for anyone on your list), Freeset will provide them with an attractive, quality product and support the women who created each piece.  It won’t cost you a fortune, either.  A few samples–

Freeset Wine Bag Unisex gift

If you’re looking for opportunities for year-end giving, please consider investing in future freedom for at-risk women and girls.

Freedom Initiatives is a trusted partner of Freeset and your support by contribution of any size is going to change lives on the other side of the world.  Which is pretty amazing when you take time to think about it.

Click any of the links below to learn more about Freeset, and be sure to Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter.

Freeset White Logo FINAL


Robin Heart Signature - Green




{Click to share your thoughts!}

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A simple question?



Posted by on Dec 10, 2013 | 3 comments

Great quote asking why we celebrate ChristmasAsked in church Sunday – not judge-y at all, and almost said in passing to make a different point – but which has had me thinking ever since.  My answer, no my response to my answer, is a game changer.

An important distinction was suggested when I shared this on instagram:  you can do both.  But if you’re a believer doing the lesser at the expense of the greater, might you reconsider your priorities?

The trappings of the Christmas season are almost unavoidable in our culture.  If you aren’t intentional, I don’t see how you can resist getting wrapped up in the celebration while relegating worship to a Christmas Eve service and maybe reading a devotional or decorating your home with Jesus-y art.  Or maybe that’s just my custom.  Again, this is no judgement, just a small, personal ephiphany I thought worthy of sharing.

But now that it’s on my periphery, I’m moving toward intention; maybe a few of you will, too.

Worship – our response to God  and a means of honoring and revering Him – is expressed by listening, speaking and/or doing; it can involve the mind, heart or body.  

Giving is one means of expressing worship.


For the rest of this week, I’m going to offer a way to worship by inviting you to give.  I had planned this short series of posts a while back, but in light of Sunday’s question, I see it as much more than opportunity to give to worthy cause; cheerfully giving is one way for me to meaningfully worship.

I can’t wait until tomorrow–and I genuinely hope you’ll join me.



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Eyes on the Prize



Posted by on Dec 3, 2013 | 2 comments


Back in September I was one of several who wrote about a bold initiative and sweet partnership between incourage and Mercy House Kenya; how, through the influence of collective voices speaking on behalf of those who have little, we were seeking to raise $74,000.  Familiar to many, Mercy House in a tiny nutshell “exists to provide alternative options for pregnant girls living in the streets of Kenya. The Mercy House will aid them in education, nutrition, housing, prenatal care, Bible study, counseling and job skills for sustainable living.”

The goal was BIG, broken down into five phases:

And now we’ve almost fully funded Phase 5–a new home that “will allow space to help more girls, and in the future it will serve as a place for classrooms, all programs and offices.”  Thanks to the generous contribution of an anonymous donor match ($20,000 when we raised $20,000), as of this morning there’s only $5,000 left to go!  Almost $50,000 was raised in a single day!  Thanks be to God for these indescribable gifts from a giving people.

Won’t you help us finish strong?  The finish line is in sight, and to be a small part of this amazing work is blessing not only for the young girls and babies who receive services and support in Kenya, but also to generous givers.

(If you’d like to read more detail, Ann wrote a wonderful explanation at incourage yesterday.)

Look at these faces–this is the result of the ministry partners before now; let’s duplicate it for others who so desperately need it.

Mercy House Kenya Babies Smiling

Thanks, friends.



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Love mercy? Love Mercy!



Posted by on Sep 14, 2013 |


There is no greater use of words than to speak on behalf of those who have no voice.


While I’ve failed to practice this to the degree I believe it in recent years, I’m convinced that any persuasion or influence I have is at its best when serving others.


There’s an opportunity to help an organization that is changing HISTORY for the lives of the young girls it rescues.  Mercy House Kenya, a small but critical ministry in Africa that takes in pregnant teenagers (rape victims), provides healthcare and education, loves them in tangible ways, and then equips them to live on their own.


I’ve cheered from the sidelines as I’ve watched my friend Kristen Welch, author of  We Are That Family, imagine this ministry following her blogging trip with Compassion International.  It’s a beautiful, inspiring story of how one person with a vision can change the world.


She would humbly shrug her shoulders and remind me that any success is the Lord’s not hers.  But let me tell you this, 12 mamas and their 12 babies are alive and thriving because of Kristen’s (and many others) determination and perserverance, washed in a sea of tears and overcoming challenge that would defeat most of us.


{in}courage, DaySpring’s online community for women is celebrating its fourth birthday by championing Mercy House and throwing our all behind Kristen and her tribe of warriors (her husband, Mauren, Mercy House’s director, among others).


Four years ago I had the distinct privilege of publishing a piece on the first day {in}courage was launched (along with Holley Gerth and Nester).  (Woah! I just realized that means I’ve written 48 posts for incourage…not to mention a zillion for Bloom book club….but I digress.)  I had no idea what I was getting into but it’s a “yes” that has blessed me personally a thousandfold, both for the challenge of sharing my faith and because of those I’ve met along the way (online and off).  


Phase1-Van_BlogButton_300x300Today I’m inviting you to Kenya by boldly asking YOU to support Mercy House.  Between now and Christmas {in}courage is partnering with Kristen and her team to raise $74,000 for five specific projects.


Would you please consider a LARGE gift (truly, any size gift 🙂 ) for Phase 1, a van to transport the moms and babies?


It’s very easy to give through Pure Charity, and I encourage you to please read more if you aren’t yet convinced.


So often you can’t be sure of where your contributions are going; but I assure you Kristen and her team are wise stewards of the monies that come in.  Nothing goes to waste and they need outside support.


In addition to your financial support, there are other ways to partner with Mercy House Kenya.

  • Pray for workers’ (and the moms’) safety, wisdom and vision for their future.
  • Share this post and about our fundraiser on your social networks (Facebook Like, Facebook Share, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon–any and all!!).


Thank you in advance for sharing your words, influence and dollars for the benefit of others.  Is there any better use?



 Keep track of our progress–looks like we’re over halfway there!!

WAHOO!! Phase 1 is OVER-funded–

THANK YOU for your generous giving!

Please stay tuned for Phase 2!!!





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