Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Just Do it OK: Pockets of Hope for Oklahoma

Deadline extended to June 30th!!

OK.  So here's another dose of honesty from me.  You know, I posted last time encouraging everyone to jump in and give a little to the people in Oklahoma following the devastating weather they experienced last week.  I was moved by the stories I saw unfold on the news, and my heart was aching just thinking about the destruction and loss they now face.  As a former teacher, I was especially drawn to the images of the two elementary schools that were completely torn apart.  I thought I had a pretty decent idea going.  Create an online fundraiser for the United Way of Central Oklahoma and their OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund.  It seemed so simple, a no brainer really.  I just knew that as soon as I wrote some inspirational words and posted direct links to the fundraiser, it was a win-win.  Help others and act in faith.  The money would go straight to the source that could make a difference in people's lives.  Show what God can do when we are willing, right?  With Facebook and lots of people sharing my post, word should travel fast for sure.  A thousand dollars wouldn't be that hard to raise this way.  Man...was I wrong!

This is another case where my intentions are good but things just didn't happen like I thought they would.  Lots of people looked at my blog post and shared it, but only two people, donated to the cause.  It turns out, that was a good thing, just one of the ways God was telling me something about my approach to the fundraiser, full of heart and faith, wasn't complete.  Come to find out (and I should have known), CrowdRise, takes 5% of all donations to keep their website running.  That's understandable, but not what I am going for here.  Time to rethink things and make sure ALL money from this point forward gets where it needs to go, the OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund established by the governor of Oklahoma.  And so, I have kept talking to God about the situation.  "God, help me help the people of Oklahoma." 

I listened and listened, and God kept talking back in several ways.  He has a bigger story to tell here.  He does that a lot with me; I am learning.  After all, isn't that the whole point of my blog, to share about a faith that is real, honest, doable and usable, possible on a daily basis no matter who you are, where you live, or how much money you have?  Jesus' words kept coming into my head,

"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Something tells me I am supposed to keep circling these words.  So far A Mind Maker Upper's fundraiser has donated $75 to the OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund for Oklahoma tornado victims.  I will personally make a donation to make up for the 5% CrowdRise commission, so to speak, on these donations, and I apologize for not realizing the 5% deduction sooner.  Regardless, I am so thankful for this $75 because that is a great start, but I really don't think we are supposed to stop here.  My goal is, still, to raise $1000 through the influence of this blog.  That seems a little overwhelming and scary right now, though.  Thoughts of this thing being a flop have crossed my mind, but I know nothing with God is a flop.  So, I am not going to give up on this cause, and I pray you won't either.
I am thinking we need to get more everyday about this thing.  I realized in the course of trying to orchestrate a fundraiser, I have not given to my own cause.  And it wasn't because I didn't want to give.  To be perfectly frank, I was waiting to see how it would go, AND I was thinking we are broke right now in our family budget, so I am not sure how much money I can give at this very moment.  Well, if I am feeling this way as the originator of the fundraiser, how many other people are feeling this way too? 
So back to Jesus' words about the mustard seed.  These words make me think about pennies and our pockets of loose change.  I don't have the means to give a huge monetary donation right now, but money is not the point of the fundraiser.  God's point is that if we act in faith with just a few small steps, He moves the mountains.  All of us who are able to get on a computer and read a blog, have a pocket or purse of change.  If you don't have pockets or purses of change, maybe you have a drawer, a piggy bank, a pile of loose change somewhere.  Even if it's pennies, we can ask God to use our pennies for His purposes. 
I invite you to join me in using our pockets of change (mustard seeds of money) for "Pockets of Hope" for the tornado victims in Oklahoma.  I am going to make this a family affair in my house, and I will let you know how it goes.  I think the ideas are limitless, and I would love to hear other ideas and experiences from your own families.  What better lesson can we teach our children than finding our own ways to help others in need?  Our kids can make a connection to other kids, kids who have lost their schools and homes in a terrible storm. 

It doesn't matter to me how we decide to help, I just think we need to come together and see what God can do.  "Pockets of Hope" is what we came up with in our house.  If our idea works for you, we'd love for you to join us.  It's simple and stress free.  It can be done anywhere by people big and small, in schools and classrooms, at work, in our neighborhoods, Sunday school classes, sporting events...  Everyone has pockets of change somewhere! 
{Pockets of Hope for Oklahoma}
1.  Grab some empty plastic bottles or containers.
Gatorade bottles are great because they have a large enough opening for change.  Water bottles will work, too.  Just cut a slit in the side since the opening at the top is too small for change.  So for my family of five, I am rounding up 5 bottles.

2.  Put a label on each bottle so people will know where the money is going.
We are turning each bottle into our own personal change collectors.  We will tape a "Pockets of Hope" label on it and start taking it with us wherever we go (pictured below).  Email me at amindmakerupper@comcast.net, and I am happy to send you the labels we are using, or you can make your own if you want to join us in collecting "Pockets of Hope."

3.  Spread the word and invite others to join you in collecting change.
I am going to email a few friends to do the same thing and attach the bottle labels to my email so they can easily get started if they want to participate.  I am happy to send you a copy of the email I am going to use.  Again, you can email me at amindmakerupper@comcast.net.  For people who don't want to collect money but still want to give, we are going to leave a container on our front porch in addition to the bottles we carry around.

4.  Set a deadline for collecting all money and turn it in to the right place.
I think it's important for people to know that all money is going to the United Way of Central Oklahoma's OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund.  We will collect money from any friends who collect money with us, total our collections, write down how much we collected (see step 5), and turn it in to the OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund.  Their website lists 3 easy ways to get the donations where they need to go (below).  The  direct link is http://www.unitedwayokc.org/.

5.  Tell me about your contributions.
I feel we are empowered and strengthen in our faith when we share our stories and give generously.  If this blog in some way helps you put one foot in front of the other to help the Oklahoma tornado victims, I encourage you to share it.  You can do that by emailing me privately at amindmakerupper@comcast.net or by posting a comment below.  If you raise money, please comment or email your grand total when it's all said and done so we can see God's wonderful works! 

The deadline for A Mind Maker Upper to count donations in our grand total is going to be June 28th.  Let's raise $1000! 

I am reading Mark Batterson's book on prayer, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge.  His words hit me at just the right time.  No coincidence, I am sure
Pray about everything.  Then pray some more.  But at some point, we have to quit praying and start acting.  One of the greatest mistakes we make is asking God to do for us what God wants us to do for Him.

A prayer for today-
Dear Lord and Savior,
Forgive me when my works fall short of the good works You design for me.  Use me to help others.  Use me to share Your unconditional love.  Use me to comfort those in need.  Use me to make a difference in people's hearts.  Use me to inspire faith in You.  Use me to glorify You in all that I do.
In the name of Jesus Christ I pray,

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