Be bold in asking. Be bold in giving.

I was a very shy, quiet little girl. My favorite place was clinging to the back of my mom’s leg. As I grew and aged, my voice slowly became a little louder, a little bolder. Fast forward to becoming a Sole Hope Ambassador, finding out that we were to organize and run a Walkathon nearly sent me into a panic. I would have to put myself out there and ask people to join us, for donations, to help. But I did, and they came. They lovingly came, and walked and donated.

When I heard about the devastation to the community in Far Rockaway, NY and how Full Gospel Tabernacle was helping the community, I put out a very simple request to friends to help by donating food pantry items, new toys for the kids for Christmas and monetary donations. And again, for some reason, I felt that uneasiness of reaching out and asking people to help. But again, they lovingly and happily donated.

And look at their generosity! Bags overflowed with new toys for the kids, food, paper products, wipes for their food pantry, and donations that will hopefully help Full Gospel Tabernacle buy a refrigerator and help build an indoor food pantry. I know this shouldn’t surprise me, but I’m amazed by the generous and loving hearts of my friends to help strangers in need.

Gifts for Full Gospel Tabernacle, Far Rockaway NYGifts for Full Gospel Tabernacle, Far Rockaway NY

And I’ve learned it’s good to be bold. Be bold in asking. Be bold in giving.

My adopted life verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:19 “Do not quench the Spirit” (or my favorite translation, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire”). I need constant reminder and reassurance of this. When God calls me to do something, even if it means stepping outside of my comfort zone, when the Holy Spirit puts that fire in my belly, I need to listen. I shouldn’t let my fears of failure, my pride, allow me to quench that fire. The Spirit has equipped me so that I can be bold. And when it’s coming from God, it’s not about me, it’s about Him. So why take it personally? This photo below acts as the wallpaper for my phone, so I’m constantly reminded, Be bold. Do not quench the Spirit’s fire.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

Help Full Gospel Tabernacle (Far Rockaway, NY) help their community

Remember Hurricane Sandy? Not that long ago, but for many of us, we’ve moved on. Maybe you lost power, maybe you were unaffected. But we’ve had Halloween, The Election, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, etc since the storm. Life has continued for many.

But the devastation is still very real.

In the sermon today, our pastor said that besides food and safety, people need to feel a sense of belonging and significance/love. That reminded me of what Full Gospel Tabernacle in Far Rockaway, NY is providing for their community. They are personifying God’s love and building their sense of community by providing food/goods while loving and caring for the needs of their neighbors.

Step 1: Watch this BET video featuring Rev. Vega from Full Gospel Tabernacle. I could not get the video to embed, but you can watch it here. Here are a few of my less than stellar screenshots…(clicking on each image will also launch the video).

Rev. Jorge Vega

This sweet woman is 95 years old, and has been without power since the Hurricane. Thanks to the generous folks of Full Gospel Tabernacle, she has food and blankets to sustain her. And better yet, she has loving church family to check in on her.

Taking “the church” outside the four walls and loving their neighbors. People have generously given, and the church members are working tirelessly to distribute everything to the rest of the community.

Step 2: Monetary donations are needed! Funds are desperately needed to help get Full Gospel’s food pantry up and running. Right now, they are running the food pantry outside so they need money to buy a new refrigerator, cabinets to store food, stock up on food, etc.

Send checks (made out to Full Gospel Tabernacle) to:

Full Gospel Tabernacle
361 Beach 42nd St
Far Rockaway, NY 11691-1208

(718) 327-2221

Step 3: Host a Holiday Drive for Full Gospel Tabernacle and their community

Items needed:

  • New toys: As you stock up on toys for your own children for Christmas, consider buying a few for kids who lost everything. All ages are needed, boys and girls. Dolls, books, backpacks. Nothing violent. And remember that this is a predominantly African-American community, so please attempt to represent the population, especially with doll purchases. Get your kids involved and make cards to go along with each toy purchased. Let the recipients know how much they are loved!
  • Food & Home supplies: Soups, beans, Canned Fruits and Vegetables, Rice, Diapers, wipes, paper towels, etc

If you live in the Boston area, please email me. I will be collecting items to give to Rev. Vega’s family members who will be delivering everything on December 15. Otherwise, mail service is up and running in Far Rockaway, so feel free to mail checks and packages directly to them.

Please help. Your gifts will directly impact a community that is rebuilding.

Give back this Tuesday! #Giving Tuesday

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are filled with consumption. We overindulge with mass amounts of food and deals. So let’s give back on Giving Tuesday.

Volunteering is always great, but I know it may not be practical for some. So here are some other quick, kid-friendly and fun ways to give back this Tuesday.

Give Blood. Okay, the kids may not enjoy this one, but you may be able to give blood while they are in school. To learn more about where you can give blood, visit www.redcrossblood.org

Download the Charity Miles app and take a walk, go for a run, take a bike ride with your kids.

Charity Miles is an iPhone/Android app that empowers you to earn corporate sponsorships for charity by walking, running or biking.

Just choose a charity and press start. As you walk, run or bike, the app tracks your distance and you earn money for your charity. Bikers earn 10¢ per mile; walkers and runners earn 25¢ per mile, all up to our initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool.

Go through your cabinets or stop by the grocery store and deliver food to a food bank. Or search for a local food bank via Feeding America.

Go to your local store and pick up medical supplies for Sole Hope.

I’ve mentioned the wonderfulness of Sole Hope before. They are always in need of donated medical supplies for their Foot Washing and Jigger Removal. Imagine the selflessness of washing someone’s jigger infested feet. Reminds me of Jesus!

Kids can help pick out the first aid items (listed below), help package them and bring them to the post office (field trip!).

  • Bar Soap
  • Sharpies
  • Large Safety Pins
  • Surgical Gloves
  • Cotton Balls
  • Medical Razor Blades
  • Medical Tape
  • Antibiotic Cream
  • Gauze
  • Band Aids

Mail them to: Sole Hope, PO Box, 1492, Asheville, NC 28802

Learn more about Giving Tuesday and other ways to give back on their website GivingTuesday.org.

My (failed) adventure in teaching kids to give

I think it’s safe to say that giving is important to me. (Hi, here’s my blog about it.) But that doesn’t mean I’m good at it. Parenting is the same way. It’s important to me, but there are times that I overwhelmingly feel like I’m failing. Put the two together and it leaves you feeling pretty low.

Upon picking the boys up from Vacation Bible School today, they handed me a list of Offerings they would be collecting this week. Awesome! I was so excited to see that giving would be incorporated into their daily lessons. And since one of the most effective ways for the boys to learn to give is by doing, I wanted to incorporate them into the process. I reviewed the list to see where we could start…

Monday – hugs and handshakes (Okay, we’ve got that covered. Give Love. Something 5 year olds are great at!)

Tuesday – non-perishable food items

Wednesday – spare change for Blood:water mission

Thursday – clothing

Friday – first aid items

So off we went to the pharmacy to pick up the first aid items. First the boys fought over who got to carry the basket. Before we even entered the store, a stranger stopped and said “You’ve got your hands full”, something I hear constantly. If you’re keeping track of things not to say to a triplet parent, add this to the list. It is not encouraging. So after much yelling to the boys to stay with me and to put things back on the shelves, we finally made it to the first aid aisle.

I took this photo while the boys were fighting over As Seen on TV toys and were begging me to buy them all. Clearly this whole lesson on giving was sinking in. Oh, and they broke off two large price signs in the process.

After more frustrations, we made it out alive and headed next door to the supermarket to buy the non-perishable food. I didn’t want to just take something from our pantry. I wanted to talk to the boys about giving while picking out the food and focus on the people we were buying for. Instead, they each grabbed a child-size cart, raced through the store, kept slamming them into each other and the back of my heels. Needless to say, I heard about 10 more “You’ve got your hands full” comments. Fighting, yelling, packages being knocked to the ground, no one was listening to me. I was done. They lost their treat for dessert. My heart had turned from excited and encouraged to done.

As we got home, I asked the boys to help package up the food so they could take it to VBS tomorrow.

This photo looks like they are helping, but in reality, they were hoarding food, fighting with each other saying “the cans are miiiiiiiiiinnnnneeee”. I couldn’t even get the third boy to help. Imagine the loving, giving heart they are learning when I yelled “This is not about you! It is important for you to want to give!”

So there you have my very real parenting fail in my attempt to teach the boys the importance of giving. I am off to ask them for forgiveness for losing my temper and try again.

My encouragement comes from a conversation I had earlier today with one of the founders of Impact Foods (much more on them later). Here was a 26 year old, who started a company because he wanted to give back. Why? His mom taught him the importance of philanthropy and loving others by volunteering at food banks, giving back through the community, etc from a very early age. My hope is that these small things I’m doing with the boys, albeit covered in failure, will add up over time.

Here’s to hoping the spare change for Blood water Mission and clothing donations go much smoother.