Making A Positive Difference in Texas

Although the epic winter storm in Texas is gone, the damage it left in its wake continues. Families displaced, homes and apartments destroyed – there are many people who suffered a great deal of loss.

Here are a few links to several groups I respect and trust who are doing the hard work to help families here in Texas. These “boots on the ground” organizations are making a tangible difference in the lives of families devastated by the recent winter storm.

Operation Care: https://operationcareinternational.org/

Texas Baptist Men: https://www.tbmtx.org/

Buckner International: https://www.buckner.org/blog/hope-after-winter-storm-uri

Samaritans Purse: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/

Each of these organizations offer hope to those who are trying  to sort through the damage of the storm. Please reach out to them if you need help. These organizations also offer opportunities to volunteer and give. Each of us must prayerfully consider ways we can help.

I want to encourage you to reach out personally to those you know who may have experienced loss during the storm. Simply checking in with family, friends and neighbors can make a positive difference to someone in need. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Let’s each take one step to serve, care, pray and give.

One specific ministry that could use your help right now is Exodus Ministries in Dallas. This ministry offers transition housing for women and their families. Our Engage Parenting program has the privilege of leading parenting classes for them. We recently found out that they experienced a tremendous amount of damage and loss at their residential apartment complex. Please consider prayerfully giving to help them in this time of need.  Click here:  www.exodusministries.org

Choose to Engage

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As the conversation continues concerning racism in our culture, I want to offer a few simple solutions. I know that the problem of racial division is deeply complex, but I do think that there are steps each of us can take to work toward harmony and unity.

It’s not just the government’s responsibility to ease racial tensions, it is also every individual’s responsibility. It begins in our own heart. It begins with a new focus of love and understanding within each one of us. How can you and I make a difference? Here are a few thoughts:

Mindset. Let’s ask God to put a love in our heart for all people, not just those who look like us and think like us. Psalms 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all. He has compassion on all He has made.”  If the Lord has compassion on all that He has made, shouldn’t we do the same? Let’s ask God to open our eyes to see each person as a creation of God, to see their value and worth, rather than seeing their outward appearance. As we pray, let’s ask God to open our eyes to new friendships and seek His direction in connecting with people different than ourselves.

Action. We must be deliberate if we want to get to know people of other cultures and communities. It takes stepping out of our comfortable little world and intentionally reaching into the lives of others. How do we do that? Getting involved or volunteering in our own city is a good place to start. Let’s look for ways, not simply to give a handout (making ourselves feel good), but rather give a hand up by building relationships and connecting with people. Let’s be aware of the opportunities to develop friendships with people of other cultures at work, at church or at places we tend to visit on a regular basis.

Love. The word “love” is used in such a flippant manner in today’s culture it seems to have lost its depth and meaning. When we love someone, we sincerely want the best for them. We see the potential in them and encourage them in their journey. We listen. We care. We persevere. We lift up. Love requires time and commitment. Love breaks down the barriers of us/them and simply says, “We are all in this together.”

Racial reconciliation begins with us. It begins as each of us takes a step outside our comfort zone and into community, engaging with people whose lives may be very different than our own.

Will you take the first step?

 

If you are looking for a way to serve in your community, prayerfully consider joining the Engage Positive Parenting Initiative team of volunteers. Click here for more information.

Three Tips to Being an Effective Volunteer

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Are you currently using your gifts and talents to serve in your community? This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and it is the perfect time to talk about finding a place to plug in and be a  blessing to others. Last week, I blogged about how our happiness tends to increase when we genuinely serve others. This week, I want to talk a little bit more about how to jump into volunteering and serve effectively.

There are countless volunteer opportunities around us. Whether you are a busy parent or a business person or an empty-nester, there are simple and meaningful ways each of us can reach out and help.

Begin by considering the issues that tug at your heartstrings. What is your passion? Ask the Lord to lead you to the place where you can best use your God-given abilities to make a difference. You may want to consider serving together as a family. There is no better time than the present to make a decision to step out of your comfort zone and into the lives of others in need.

Certainly we want our time of service to be worthwhile and genuinely helpful. I want to offer three ways to increase our effectiveness as we volunteer.

  1. Consistency – Let’s show up on time and be there each time we are scheduled to serve. We are not just volunteers, rather we are an important part of the whole process. Our help is valuable and the organization in which we serve depends on us to be there. Also, it is easy to do a one-and-done service project that makes us feel good for a moment, but true change (both for us and those we serve) happens when we commit to being there on a regular basis.
  2. Humility – Pride says, “I’m going to go in and fix these people because they are broken.” Humility says, “I’m broken. They are broken. We all are broken in different ways. We all need love.” When we serve with a heart of humility, we help others recognize their value, rather than making them feel like “a project” or helpless.
  3. Connectivity – We build a connection and give dignity to others by listening to them. Ask questions and pay attention to their heart and their pain. We must also be vulnerable and real and be willing to share a little of our own struggles as well. Relationships are developed not only by what we do, but by the way we listen and the way we speak.

True service is not simply to make us feel better about ourselves, but rather to impact the lives of others in a positive way. The apostle Paul wrote, “Each of us should not only look out for our own interests, but also the interest of others.” May each of us find the place that we can joyfully give a little of our heart to elevate and love another person.

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For more information about joining the amazing team of volunteers at Engage Positive Parenting Initiative go to: www.EngageParenting.org

Photo at top of blog by Cristi Tohatan on Unsplash

Increasing Happiness through Cultivating Kindness

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Do you have a genuine desire to help others and improve the world around you? Research tells us that people who demonstrate kindness through acts of altruism or volunteering on a consistent basis generally experience a higher life-satisfaction and even show fewer depressive symptoms. Whether you get involved through an organization or club as a volunteer, or simply reach out to a co-worker or friend who is struggling or lonely, caring and compassion has multiple benefits.

Certainly, our motive in volunteering is not just to make ourselves happy, but a sense of satisfaction and contentment is a welcomed outcome. Typically those who are required to volunteer (for a school assignment, college application, etc.) do not feel the same sort of satisfaction as those who are intrinsically motivated. A sincere desire to help others is one of the keys to experiencing a sense of contentment and well-being.

It’s difficult to give love if we don’t feel loved. Demonstrating a true compassion and love begins in our heart, when we recognize our own brokenness and need for redemption. When we know and receive God’s love, we are better able to pour out that grace-filled love toward others. John (the beloved disciple) put it this way, “We love because He first loved us.” As we draw close to Him and embrace His love, we can allow that love to overflow into a life of care and service.

Additionally, studies show that the recipients of acts of kindness who are encouraged to participate or cooperate in some way experience a greater level of happiness than those who simply receive the benefits with no participation. I found this research particularly interesting, since the parenting outreach I started several years ago invites parents to participate in the classes and empowers them to discover their own solutions, instead of simply being told what to do.  And yes I’d love for you to consider joining our team of volunteers at Engage Positive Parenting Initiative! For more information go to www.EngageParenting.com

So where do we begin? Prayerfully ask God to lead and guide you to a place where your gifts and talents can be used to help others. He has equipped each one of us with unique abilities to care and serve. The apostle John reminded us, “Let us not simply love in words or in speech, but in actions and in truth.” May we be faithful to step out of our comfort zone and into the lives of those who could use a helping heart.

Paper bag Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

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Next week is Volunteer Appreciation Week. It’s the perfect time to join the team at Engage Parenting! Find out how at: Engage Parenting Volunteers

ENGAGE with Giving Tuesday

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The stress of poverty can have long-term emotional and physical effects on children. Recognizing the importance of encouraging parents to nurture their kids and help them break out of the cycle of poverty, Karol started ENGAGE Positive Parenting Initiative in 2012. ENGAGE uses a unique discussion-based approach to empower parents in their responsibilities of raising their families. We cover topics ranging from education to nutrition to emotional and social well-being.

This year ENGAGE added programs for moms in prisons (80% of incarcerated women are moms) and teen moms in public schools. We invite you to participate in making an impact in changing lives for generations to come.

Giving Tuesday is a wonderful day designed to turn our hearts toward caring for others following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We invite you to join with us in bringing hope to children by strengthening parents sense of responsibility in the home. ENGAGE is a non-profit completely run by volunteers. Your gift of $50 – $100 will provide lesson books, class materials and snacks for the parents we serve. Thank you for engaging with us as we continue to encourage parents to love, nurture and build a better future for their kids.

Click Here to donate.

Click Here to Volunteer

Click Here to Join our Prayer Team  and fill out info at the bottom of the page.

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