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5 Marvelous Mission-Trip Fundraisers

Dear Friends, “Those trips are expensive! How can you afford it?” “I’d love to take a mission trip, but I could never come up with that kind of money.” These represent only a few of the questions and comments our family (five now young-adult children plus Dad and Mom) has heard in the more than 50 short-term mission trips we’ve taken through the years. Because of multiple mission trips, we’ve sometimes had to raise more than $10,000 in one season. So how do we do it? How can you? Large and in Charge   As you prepare for your mission trip, remember the One who called you to go. God doesn’t order what he can’t pay for. If he’s leading you on a mission trip, you can trust him to guide your fundraising, too. But don’t sit around waiting for pennies from heaven. Instead, ask God for creative ways to add dollars to your mission trip account. Feel free to consider some of the following (all of which our family has used, often more than once). The Write Start     This classic mission-trip fundraiser involves writing letters to friends and family explaining your trip and the funds you need. But don’t discount the power of persuasion. A student I know wrote a letter as the first of what she thought would be several fundraisers. Donations poured in, and she ended up with $2802—just two dollars more than the total needed for her trip. The negative side of this approach is that lots of people write fundraiser letters, and yours may get tossed aside. Recently, we’ve ditched the traditional letter in favor of social media posts with a quick link to an online donor campaign. Your sponsoring organization may provide one, or you might consider something like KickStarter or GoFundMe. (Here’s an example: our daughter Melanie’s current fundraiser site.) Sales Pitch What about that junk cluttering up your (or your neighbors’) garages? Offer to haul it off at no charge, then organize and sell it. One church group I know has a huge garage sale each year and shares the profits with anyone taking a mission trip. Advertise the sale via traditional channels (neighborhood social networks, local newspapers, and signs) but make sure to let your visitors know the funds raised go to support a mission trip. During our missions garage sales, we provide posters showing pictures of past trips, country and specific ministry information. We also add a big “donations” jar to our checkout table. Even those avid garage-salers who want to talk you down from a $1 item will often throw a bill into the donations jar! Bake it Off Do you bake mouth-watering muffins or crazy-good cookies?...

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Do’s and Don’ts for Hospital Visits: Lessons from My Summer

In August, our son was involved in a serious accident. If you’ve never received that phone call or text—the one that tells you your child’s in trouble—please know I don’t recommend it. No matter how big your faith, your heart pounds, your mind races, and tears well in your eyes until you hear, “He should be OK.” Even with those words, I ran on pure adrenaline from about 6:15 in the morning until about twenty-three hours later, in which time I flew from Philadelphia (where I had just finished teaching at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference) to Los Angeles, rented a car, and drove two-plus hours to the hospital where my son lay in the CCU. I actually reached his side by 10:30 Pacific Time, but it took me a few more hours to calm down enough to doze in the chair beside his bed. In what we see as a miracle, our son spent only three days in CCU and was released from the hospital in another two. But during those days, I learned a few things about how to best minister to those in the hospital—and their families—that I thought I’d share here. These do’s and don’ts will change the way I minister to others, I know. Do let your friends know you’re praying for and thinking about them. Even if you can’t visit (as most of my friends couldn’t because of the distance), social media posts, texts, and emails mean a lot. With longer stays than ours, patients and families can sometimes feel neglected. Don’t forget them or the battles they face. Don’t expect them to respond. A hospital room is a surprisingly busy place. At first, the volume of “Is he OK?” texts and other messages overwhelmed me. Even when I stayed in a nearby home, I had to be at the hospital early to catch the doctor, and I never wanted to miss any detail of his recovery process. I communicated when I could and hoped for forgiveness when I didn’t or couldn’t. Do keep your visits short. The patient’s main work is recovery, and any caregivers are doing their best to aid in that work. You may not realize the patient has just returned from an exhausting procedure or needs a bathroom break. Give your words of encouragement and hope without settling in for a long stay. Don’t ask too many questions. Allow the patient or the family to share as they wish, but resist the urge to ask for too much explanation. Different people have different comfort levels, and medical or other questions often take time (and expert opinions) before answers are known. Do think about the caregiver. Andrew already had...

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WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust: Obstacle Course

Although the overarching theme of this blog is “Read. Write. Pray,” missions and mission trips take a prominent place here. The necessity of taking the gospel to the nations has become my heartbeat, and I’ve been blessed to serve overseas as well as to help send many of my family members on mission trips across the world. This blog has gone silent for a while in part due to the pre-publication work on a book I wrote that will release November 1. Out of the Dust: Story of an Unlikely Missionary is already available for pre-order. (If you live in my area and want to buy a copy, let me know.) This book shares the amazing memoir of Avis Goodhart, servant of Jesus Christ and missionary to Peru. Everyone has a story, but not every story needs to become a book. Avis’s challenging, inspiring story did. For the next few weeks, this blog will feature devotionals that include excerpts from our book. These provide both what I hope will be a thoughtful read and an intriguing sample of a book you’ll want to own. Avis and I donate all the proceeds from Out of the Dust to her nonprofit, Go Ye Ministries. I encourage you to sign up for her mailing list here. After we finish the devotional series (and about the time of the book release), I’ll share more about Avis and her passion for the least of these. But for now, let the devotions begin. Out of the Dust Devotionals By Avis Goodhart with Marti Pieper  All excerpts are taken from the book Out of the Dust by Avis Goodhart with Marti Pieper (ANEKO Press, 11/1/14).  All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™  #1 Obstacle Course  Scripture Reading: While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-20) Thought: Following God requires faith (and persistence). Excerpt, Out of the Dust: When I set out at the age of fifty to make my first international mission trip, I met some obstacles even before I landed in Honduras: “I’m sorry,” the man at the ticket counter said when we attempted to check our unusual baggage. “You can’t travel with all these. You’ll have to choose what to...

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READ: Review, Garden Graces by Janice Elsheimer

During what’s proven to be a painful year, I’ve neglected the READ portion of my blog. I still did plenty of reading, but I haven’t reviewed many of my finds. I’m contemplating some changes in the way I post reviews, but in the meantime, I want to share some possibilities for your Christmas shopping this year. Today’s would be perfect for the green thumb or gardener wannabe on your list. Does a love for tending plants transfer at the genetic level? I’m not sure if nature or nurture left me with a love for watching and helping things grow. I do know my engineer father longed to return to his days on the family farm (and did so, to his great delight, for nearly twenty years in retirement). And my mother, who grew up in the city, is never happier than when coaxing seedlings to sprout or sharing the bounty of her vegetable garden. One of my earliest memories is of my mother giving me the privilege, at three years old, of choosing flowers to fill the area below my bedroom window. “Ageratum” may seem like a big word for a three-year-old, but I never forgot it or the fuzzy blue flowers that brought me such delight. This explains why Janice Elsheimer’s Garden Graces: The Wisdom in Growing Things (Beacon Hill, 2010) spoke to me right away. Janice has a wonderful way of viewing life through the eyes of a seasoned gardener. Her book allows us to travel with her through the various seasons, plants, and problems of her gardening life—and the rest of her life as well. Janice’s poignant, transparent voice allows both gardening and grace to become a shared experience of wonder. Practical gardening tips mingle with life truths in a way that encourages the reader to celebrate gardening as an organic, spiritual experience. The “Soul Gardening” section at the end of each chapter provides a gentle push toward self-examination, even pruning. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to read Garden Graces and absorb its reminder that life—and gardening—holds treasures best found by digging in the dirt. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have roses to tend. Do you have a family heritage of gardening? How does time spent in the garden enrich your spiritual life? Feel free to share in the comment section below.   Find a local Christian bookstore:  Find this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at Christian Book Distributors (FTC Disclaimer: I bought this book from the author, a personal friend. I was not required to post a review or a positive...

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YA Friday: READ: Made to Crave for Young Women by Lisa TerKeurst and Shaunti Feldhahn

I admit it. I’m not one to follow the trends. If anything, I’m the one standing on the sidelines, smiling to myself. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean I have to buy/read/eat/sing/whatever it.That’s why when Lysa TerKeurst‘s Made to Crave (Zondervan, 2011) debuted and hit all kinds of best-seller lists, I waited. It’s probably not all that good. The author has a huge network. Gotta be a combination of savvy marketing and the right book at the right time.  Or maybe it’s biblical, contemporary, life-shaping, fresh, and poignant —like its younger sister. Today’s review covers the YA version of Made to Crave, written with best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn. As the mother of young adults and as someone who writes for them (often through the pages of SUSIE Magazine), I try to stay in touch with YA literature. I rarely see anything as well-written, targeted, focused, and practical as Made to Crave for Young Women: Satisfying Your Deepest Desires with God. Although the original book addresses the food cravings many of us battle, this version speaks to the physical, emotional, and material cravings that grip young lives in huge ways. Topics range from body image to inappropriate means of seeking approval to tough issues like promiscuity and alcohol abuse. Neither author is afraid of stark statistics or the kind of transparent sharing that breaks down walls. The book moves forward with just the right blend of biblical truth, personal anecdote, and directed challenge. Lysa and Shaunti are not finger-pointing church ladies but big sisters coming alongside to offer hope and help. The practical steps they suggest include directed journaling, Scripture memory suggestions, and wholesome activities that will help readers retrain their minds and reshape their hearts. I doubt I’ll ever leap onto the next trendy bandwagon, literary or otherwise. But a book that says more than, “Just stop it” in its effort to help young adults recognize their cravings as idolatry? That’s a trend to follow.  Right away. BONUS: I can’t let YA Friday pass without reminding you to vote to help put SUSIE Magazine on the shelf at Wal-Mart. The first round of voting is over, and out of 4,000 products, we made it to the Top Ten! Find directions for voting by Twitter and Facebook (once per day, each way) here. How do you choose your books? Have you read this one? Leave a comment and let me know. Find a local Christian bookstoreFind this book on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or at Christian Book Distributors (FTC Disclaimer: I received an electronic advance reading copy free from the publisher. I was not required to post a review or a positive...

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READ: Review, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

Pastor Mark Batterson has a genius for making the obscure prominent. His In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day highlights the biblical story of Benaniah (Bena-who?) and makes a pertinent application to those who face challenging circumstances. And his Wild Goose Chase pulled its title from an ancient Celtic name for the Holy Spirit.  In The Circle Maker: Praying Circles AroundYour Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears (Zondervan, 2011), Batterson again draws from obscurity via a legend that pre-dates the Old Testament. Here, he uses the story of Honi the Circle Maker, a prophet who dared to believe a miracle and watched as it happened to the glory of God. This book has sources other than legend, however. Batterson shares both from Scripture and his own experience as pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. His basic premise: when you believe a prayer is in the will of God and will bring Him glory, you should circle it in prayer the way the Israelites circled the wall of Jericho. Pray hard, pray long, and watch for God to work. Batterson does a great job of sharing  both story and principle in an inspiring, entertaining way. At times, I felt his catchy sound bite-type wording seemed forced. At other times, I marveled at his agility in turning a phrase. At times, I wondered if he was veering into name-it, claim-it philosophy. At other times, I wondered why my faith is so small. And that’s the real strength of this book. Although “circling,” as I see it, is only a paradigm for effective, fervent prayer, this new way of thinking has already enhanced my prayer life. I realized I was often praying what I expected God to do anyway. It was time—past time—to trust God for the miracles I know He can do. It was time I asked Him for the impossible, the work only He can perform. Read this book with a critical eye. Go back to the Word and check its points. But I believe you’ll end up, like Batterson, circling your family, your friends, and various situations in your life with the kind of powerful prayers God uses every day. And that obscure Circle Maker? He’ll be smiling. What book about prayer has had a dramatic impact on you? I have a growing collection and would love to know your favorites.  Find a local Christian bookstore Find this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at Christian Book...

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