A season of second guessing

This is the back of our tree as the ornament side is leaning against the wall because it will not stay standing any longer. It's been that kind of week.

       It’s been this kind of week.

 

With Christmas just days away, we have definitely reached that time where I start rethinking everything I’ve done. Have I done enough? Did we do too little? Did we do too much? Should I have done this? Should I have done that? What about…? And the list goes on and on.

It has been especially rough this year with Hope 2.0. It’s worked differently that it has in the past. Instead of people helping others directly, all but one of the helps has sent me a donation and then I have decided how to use it to do the most good. This wasn’t the original idea, but it has worked out. I’ve really enjoyed it, and when I look towards next year, I’m going to think about this format and how to best make it work.

I’ve read the stories people told and I’ve looked at what we have to give and have tried to figure out the best way to help the most people. I feel such a responsibility to be a good steward especially with the money others have given. What would they want me to do with it? What would they see as the most good? And let me tell you, it has been hard.

I made a plan and sent out emails to families. I learned kids’ names and what kind of toys they like. I learned what stores were close to people and how we could do the most good. I learned about families needing food. I heard about people being desperate for help, not qualifying for government assistance or just being too late for most charities. For example, to be a part of the Salvation Army’s Christmas assistance, you have to register in the beginning of October.

And maybe that’s what so great about what we have done here. These are the people who fell between the cracks. Maybe in October, it looked like they wouldn’t need any assistance for Christmas but by the time December rolls around everything has changed. I know how fast life can change. I’ve heard about illness and hospital stays and deaths in families. I sent a package to a family living at a hotel because they have nowhere else to go.

I made decisions that were hard but felt right. I sent the emails and made promises that had to be kept. I spent the money I was sent and felt really good because we had helped everyone that asked for help. We sent gifts and stockings filled with surprises to 7 little kids with the sender’s name as Santa. And then I got a notification that there were new comments on the blog.

Three new families needing help. Okay, I might be able to do a little more. And then over the weekend two more requests came in. A single dad, a grandma, families who had taken in nieces and nephews who needed a safe place to live. People asking for winter coats and food.

Let’s be real honest. Saturday night I sat and cried. I felt guilty for the people I hadn’t been able to help. I felt guilty that maybe I had done too much for the first group we helped. I felt guilty that I wasn’t able to do enough for anyone. And then my husband reminded me that I had done enough, that I can’t save everyone. I can’t help everyone. And it sucks but it’s true. And considering this is all done on faith with hope, I was feeling pretty low and hopeless Saturday night.

God works in mysterious and wondrous ways. Sometimes I can picture him looking at us, at me, shaking his head with a little smile the way a parent would and saying, “Oh, ye of little faith.” Sunday night I got a message on Facebook from someone who couldn’t have known how I was second guessing all my decisions. They told me they wanted to help. And their help is enough to do something for everyone who hasn’t received help yet. It’s enough to fill the gap that I couldn’t fill.

And while I still wish I could do more, I also know that God provides. The week between the first needs and the first helps was so hard for me. Everyday I had to say to myself that it was still early. That people would help. People would give. It would be okay. And people have given and it is going to be okay.

With 4 days until Christmas, I’m going to try to stop second guessing every decision I’ve made. I am going to slow down and relax and enjoy the time I have with my family. I’m going to be grateful for everyone who helped me make this Christmas a little easier for some families. I’m going to be thankful for what we have and what we have done. I’m going to stop wondering if I did enough. I’m going to be joyful when I get messages from people we have helped and stop worrying if it was enough when they tell me it was so much and how excited they are when packages arrive. I’m going to take great joy in the message from the mom who tells me how much her daughter is going to love what we sent and how excited she will be Christmas morning.

Stop second guessing yourself.

Thank you to everyone who has supported Hope 2.0 and me this year.

Merry Christmas!

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A Cheerful Giver

*Originally printed in The Hometown Treasure 2016 Countdown to Christmas*

As we move closer and closer to Christmas, people become more generous. Or maybe it’s just that there are more opportunities to give. There are food drives and donation boxes and red buckets everywhere you look.  There are opportunities like Shop with a Cop and Operation Christmas Child Shoebox.

My husband and I are raising two little boys. Living in a world filled with entitlement, we are trying to raise them to be givers, to earn what they have and give when they can. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” We are trying to raise cheerful givers.

One of the ways they love to give is by putting money in the red buckets. They love the ringing bells, and I know this time of year, I had better have money ready for them if we are heading to the store. The boys want to give on the way in the store and on the way out. They want to stop and talk to the bell ringers. They want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. If we head into a store and the red bucket isn’t on the stand, it makes them mad. How can they give if the bucket isn’t there?

Another way we are teaching them to give is going through their toys and donating some of them. They boys have an abundance of toys and at least once a year we go through them. Some of the toys get put up for a later time, some get thrown away, and some go into our donation pile. The first time I let the boys help sort through the toys to get rid of some, they were 5 and 3 years old. I will never forget that day. They asked who the toys were for that we were giving away. When I told them that there were kids out there who don’t have a lot of toys to play with or may not get presents for Christmas, they were shocked. My oldest picked up one of his favorite trucks and told me it was for the little boy who wouldn’t have any presents for Christmas.

That same year, we were asked to ring the bells for the Salvation Army red buckets. We were on our way to Wal-Mart for our turn when I decided I should explain to the boys once again what we were doing and why. I told them how they needed to remember to say “thank you” and “Merry Christmas” to the people who put money in the bucket. I told the boys that the money was not for us to keep. We were just helping. They wanted to know what the money was for so I told them it was to help buy food and presents for people who needed help.

It was one thing for the boys to hear that some kids don’t get presents for Christmas, but it was completely different for them to hear that some kids don’t have food. They didn’t understand that there are people out there who are hungry and don’t have food. They asked if we could stop and buy pizza for the hungry people. It was such an obvious thing to them. If people are hungry, we should feed them.

I think about my boys and the way they love to give and then I think about the way we adults look at giving. How many times have we looked at those red buckets and groaned? We pull the couple of coins out of our pocket and toss it in. Or we look away and walk as fast as we can past the bell ringers. Or we go through our closers and pull out the clothes that are about to fall apart or are so outdated that no one would ever want them and put those into our donation bag, but hang on to the nicest stuff even if it is 2 sizes too small and we’re never going to wear it again. How many times do we give not with a cheerful heart but with a sign or a groan or a roll of our eyes?

I think about that first Christmas. God gave us His best. He gave us His Son. And it wasn’t with a shrug or a groan. God didn’t think He was too busy to give to us that year that maybe next year He’d have the time. God didn’t look at us and say, “I’m just going to hang on to this because I know what those people will do with My Gift.” God didn’t look at the earth and shake His head and walk away. God looked at the world and loved us so much that He gave us the best that He had, the most He could give.

As we head through this Christmas season, as you hear the ringing bells and see the donation boxes, remember the way God gave to us on the first Christmas. Even if the only thing you have to give is a smile, give with a cheerful heart.

 

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Another great way to give is with our Hope 2.0. We have helped many people but new needs are still coming in. Please help me bring some hope and Christmas cheer to people who really need it.

Hope 2.0 Update

I thought I would give everyone an update on what’s going on with Hope for the Holidays 2.0. Things are moving very slowly, and I find myself needing a big dose of hope. The first time I did this, it got shared a lot. People saw the post and helped. This year feels different. People aren’t seeing the post even if they wanted to help.

I have shared and shared and shared the Hope post until I think my friends and family must be getting super annoyed with how many times it is showing up on their news feeds. And then I learn things like I had shared it 4 times before my best friend saw it. There are several people who I know I can count on to read and share no matter what I write, and they never saw it (or have just stopped sharing and liking my words.) I’ve shared in a couple of groups with very little response even when I’ve just been asking for prayer and nothing else.

It all makes me very nervous and scared and leavings me needing my own hope. I have to take a moment and remember that everything I do here is a giant leap of faith. I remember that I said we were going to move, help and be brave. I need to remember the brave part. I remember that God has a plan and I truly believe that the needs posted here will be filled.

And then I climb in bed at night, and it’s dark out, and I lay awake thinking about all this. I think about all the people who have posted about having a need. I think about how it seems Facebook is hiding my posts from people. I think about how I’m failing these people who need someone to care about them and to help them. I think about how I am not in a position where I can help everyone who comments with a need. I can help, and I will help, but I cannot do it all by myself.

So far we have 7 families in need. And no families that are giving. And in the daylight, I remember that God does not set us up to fail. I believe that there will be givers, and we all need to have patience while this works out.

I would ask that if you are reading these words you would share them on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else you would like. This only works if people know about it. Also, if you haven’t liked my Facebook page, you can find it here. I am doing 25 days of Christmas songs there right now and will also post updates as they come.

To end this post on a slightly happier note, we took the boys to see Santa. Thanks to Misti Yoder Photography, LLC for the awesome photos.

They were both very excited to get to see Santa.

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Cameron whispered into Santa’s ear what he wanted for Christmas so no one else could here. I’m hoping he asked for a little Christmas magic because we could use some over here right now.

 

Angels Among Us

The version of Angels We Have Heard On High in the video above is amazing. It’s The Piano Guys with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The video also includes clips from the world record breaking live nativity with over 1000 angels. It is worth watching.

Angels are so important to the Christmas story. They bring the news to Mary, to Joseph, and to the shepards. Each time it starts out the same. The angels tell them to not be afraid.

Imagine Mary standing there in her home and suddenly there is a man standing behind her. Imagine Joseph, his world collapsing around him as he learns his love is pregnant and he’s not the father. Imagine those shepards, watching over their flocks, settled down for the night and suddenly someone appears shining in the night’s sky.

Do not be afraid was probably the right way to begin. When I think about any of those situations, I know I definitely would have been afraid. In fact, afraid probably isn’t a strong enough word to describe how I would have felt.

These angels knew what to say. They were sent by God to give the best news. They knew there was no reason to to afraid. “You’re going to have a baby, and not just any baby but the Son of God.” “Marry your bride. Together you are going to raise the Savior.” “The Son of God has been born, and you get to be there!”

There was no need to be afraid. These angels were bring the best news ever. They brought cause for celebration. The Son of God was coming to earth!

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!'” – Luke 2:10-14

In the song, it says that the mountains echoed the sound of the angels singing the praises of Jesus’s birth. I’m not sure it was just an echo. I can imagine it being such a joyous occasion that even the cries of the mountains could not be contained.

And those shepherds, dirty and tired from tending their sheep, from chasing down the ones that wondered off. They were sitting around thinking it was just another night when suddenly their whole world changed.

I’m not sure what angels look like. When I think of Gabriel appearing to Mary, I imagine him to look like a man you could pass on the street without a second thought. When I think of the shepherds, I picture the classic angel look, the white gowns and wings and light. I’m not sure what they look like, but I know God is still sending them to earth.

I saw one once

It was night, and I was driving a friend home. This involved a lot of county roads with woods and fields, also known as a deer’s best friend. We were just getting off of the main highway which was well lighted. Just as the street lights were coming to an end, I saw something move. It was dark and person shaped but more like a shadow of movement than an actual person.

It bothered me and stuck with me. My friend didn’t see it, I was sure. I didn’t say anything about it, but I kept thinking about what I had seen.

We kept driving and a couple minutes later turned onto a dark county road. Whatever I had seen was really bothering me so I asked my friend if they had seen it. Nope, he had no idea what I was talking about. So I started telling him about it, where it was and what it looked like.

We were driving up a hill, and what I didn’t realize at the time was, while I was telling my story, I had taken my foot off the gas petal. We had drastically slowed down. And as I finished my story we started down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, standing in the middle of the road was the biggest deer I have ever seen.

Had I not seen the figure by the side of the road, had I talked about it right away, had I not taken my foot off the gas, I would not have gotten stopped in time. I have no idea how my little car, my passenger and I would have faired had I hit that deer, but I know it wouldn’t have been good.

And no one will ever convince me that it was anything but someone sent by God that I saw by the road that night. Do not be afraid for God is with you.

Angels among us 

We’ve gone through hard times just like everyone else. Our hardest time felt never ending (although it did end just like everything does). We had to rely on our families a lot. We struggled individually and as a family.

During this hard time, I opened the front door of the house to let more light in through the screen door. I found a shocking surprise. Sitting on our front porch were boxes of food. I stepped out and looked around expecting to see someone.

There was no one there. There was no note included with the food. I have no idea how someone could have gotten those boxes to my front door without any of us seeing anything, especially considering the giant picture window in our living room.

I still don’t know how the food got there, and honestly, it doesn’t matter. Whether it was delivered by someone from earth or not, I believe it was sent by God. Do not be afraid for you are not alone.

I also believe we have angels working with us right on this site. Over on the post Hope For the Holidays, strangers are helping strangers. And maybe all of the givers live on earth or maybe they don’t. Either way, I believe every commenter over there found themselves there through God. Do not be afraid for you are not alone.

This Christmas season watch for the angels. Do not be afraid. They are bringing good tidings of great joy.

Hope For the Holidays *Update*

Just before Thanksgiving, WANA (a private project where strangers help strangers) was supposed to start again for the fourth year. However, this year it was on Facebook rather than a blog where people could share their needs in a more private way.

I felt moved and decided to host something similar here calling it Hope For the Holidays (since I couldn’t get a hold of the original blogger). I wrote a post and slowly but surely people have showed up with needs and strangers have helped us fill those needs.

And every time I get discouraged that needs won’t be filled, more givers show up to help. And while I have been told no that I can’t share our project in places that seem like they should be willing to help, Matt over at Must Be This Tall To Ride wrote a lovely post about what we are doing and asked his readers if they wanted to make magic with us.

Together we have helped moms and dads, aunts and uncles, families that need just a little help this year. We have sent toys and clothes and gift cards to help with food. Christmas morning there will be presents under trees in houses that Santa Claus would have been missing. Families that worry about how they are going to buy groceries next week can breathe a little easier.

Thank you so much. None of this would have happened without those of you who have helped, by filling needs, sharing the project with your friends and family, and praying for us.

But our work is not done. We still have needs that I would like to see filled.

There is Jo, a mom of two little boys (ages 4 and 6) with a baby girl on the way.

There is a mom who is “looking for an angel” with a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Santa won’t be making a stop at their house without help.

There is Wanda, a grandma taking care of her grandsons (ages 5 and 1). She left a violent situation and they had to leave everything behind.

Heidi is a mom of 6 with one on the way. Not only is Santa missing their house this year, they don’t even have a tree those gifts belong under.

There is Brian who is 16 and has a 13-year-old sister. They know things are tight this year and there won’t be any presents under the tree. They aren’t asking for gifts. They just want to do something nice for their parents and get some help putting food on the table so their parents won’t have to worry so much.

Sara is a single mom with a 14-year-old daughter. Because of illness and missed time at work, things are tight. She doesn’t need things but is wondering how she’s going to put food on the table this Christmas season.

Elaine and her husband have 5 kids, 2 girls and 3 boys. Their car broke down and any “extra” they could come up with had to go to repair it.

Every comment that comes in I read. Every need breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes. I wish I could help every person. We pray for the families that need help and those that are helping. We pray that God would send us help to meet the needs that are left.

If these stories touch your heart and you have a way to help, please go to the original post and reply to the person’s comment. If the stories touch your heart but you don’t have a way to help, please pray that the right people see the needs.

If you have been helped, please go to the original post and update your need.

If you have been helped and are willing to share that story, please email me at 2crazylittleboys AT gmail.com. I’d love to share all those stories (and pictures if you are willing to share those).

Thank you for giving. Thank you for reading and sharing. Thank you for praying.

And as a bonus, my crazy little boys decorating the tree:

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Can one pizza feed the world?

Raising boys with giving hearts is so important to me. We live in a world that is full of entitlement, and I don’t want my boys to be like that. I don’t want them to think they deserve everything they want just because they want it. I want them to love to give.

We work hard on this. It feels like the most important thing we can teach them other than to love Jesus. Several times a year we go through the toys to give some away. The boys are great about it. They want to help others and they find it hard to believe when I tell them about other little boys and girls that don’t have toys to play with. They are kids so sometimes they just pick out toys that they never play with or the broken toy that somehow made its way into the toy box instead of the trash can. But sometimes they pick out old favorites that still get played with so another little boy can have a toy.

One question I get asked every time is, “What is his name?” meaning the little boy to receive our toy. I don’t know is not consider an answer. I’m the mom. I’m suppose to know.

Maybe that’s why our Hope For the Holidays project is so close to my heart. It’s real people asking for help and real people replying to help. And even if they aren’t using their real names, you have names to associate with real people and their stories.

 

Ringing bells

Ringing bells

 

Last week we rang bells for Salvation Army. Salvation Army is my charity of choice, and it was a really easy way we could do something to help. I also thought it would be a fun way for the boys to give their time instead of items. Plus they could ring bells and who doesn’t love that.

On our way to ring the bells, I explained again what we were doing. I told them if people put money in the bucket, they needed to remember to say “thank you” and “Merry Christmas.” Then I explained that the money was not for them to keep. It was for little boys and girls who didn’t have presents or food.

Food?

It was so hard for them to understand that there are people who don’t have enough food. My boys have never had to worry about where their next meal would come from. Thank You, Lord, my boys have never known real hunger. Even during our hardest, darkest times, there has always been food.

If you know Connor, you know he loves food. It just broke his heart to think about little kids not having food. And with his childhood innocent and giving heart, he had a plan.

We drove past a Little Caeser’s. Connor said, “I know! Let’s go to Pizza! Pizza! and take pizza and Crazy Bread to the hungry people!”

“That’s a really nice idea, Buddy.”

I kind of wish I had stopped at Pizza! Pizza!

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During bedtime prayers, we’ve been including prayers for “Mom’s project.”

“What’s it called again?”

“Hope For the Holidays. We’re helping people who need presents and food.”

“We should go to Pizza! Pizza! and get them food. Then they won’t be hungry.”

How simple is it when you look at it through the eyes of a four year old? If people are hungry, stop and get them food. Through the eyes of an adult, it feels so hard. But maybe he’s right. Maybe it is that easy. Maybe we’re the ones making it seem so hard.

Maybe if we all gave a little, if we all gave a pizza, we could change the world.

Thank you all so much who are helping with “Mom’s project” whether it’s been through actual giving or prayers for those in need. If you are in need or are looking to feel a need, be sure to check out what we are doing with Hope For the Holidays.

 

My Faith Is Just My Faith

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about my faith as it is seen through the eyes of others. It’s been an interesting experience. To me, my faith is just my faith. It’s something that has always been a part of me. I don’t remember a time without it. There wasn’t one morning where I woke up and suddenly realized that Jesus was the Christ.

Now that’s not to say that there aren’t defining times of faith in my life. There are definitely moments that I look back on and know that God was working in my life. And while there are no times in my life where I questioned the existence of God, there are certainly times where I was far from Him.

I’m at an interesting period in my faith right now. Suddenly, I am listening more carefully and doing things I feel God is calling me to do when they make no sense to me. Or when I’m not even sure that I want to do them. Or when the thought of doing it has me literally on the verge of throwing up.

And then I pray that I’m making the right decision. I pray that the words that I’m using are the right ones, the ones that will make the most impact, the ones He wants me to use. Before yesterday’s post, Hope For the Holidays, I was sick and shaking. What if it didn’t work? What if there’s all these needs and no one to help? What if it’s just an epic failure, and then everyone knows that I’m an epic failure?

And then I prayed again. Hope For the Holidays is probably the most prayed over blog post I’ve ever written. And after I prayed, I felt at peace. I was still shaking. I was still nervous. Those are human reactions. But I knew that if it was right, it was going to work. I actually had prayed for God to shut my blog down and not let it work if I wasn’t supposed to write those words.

In the last couple of weeks, people have been talking to me about my faith. I’ve been told I was brave. I’ve been told that my faith is awe-inspiring. I’ve been told I’m doing God’s work.

It’s amazing for people to look at me and my words and see my faith like that. To me, it’s just my faith. It’s just who I am. Most of the time, I feel like a scared little girl just trying to do what her Father wants her to do.

You look at me and say that I am brave? I am so scared every time I write. But maybe being brave is writing when you are scared.

You look at me and say that my faith is inspiring? It’s just who I am. It doesn’t feel inspiring.

You look at me and say that I’m doing God’s work? WOW. That one just blows me over. I hope you’re right.

Thank you for giving me a different perspective on my faith.

Hope For the Holidays

December 2011 I was a part of something amazing. A blogger I love, Martini’s or Diaper Genies? (MODG), had gotten some ugly comments on her blog about how rich she must be. She responded with a very sarcastic post about how amazing she was and then asked for everyone to give their financial stats in the comments. The regular comments came, like, “I must be rich too since I eat ham.” But then a very different comment showed up.

A woman named Catherine commented and gave her actual financial situation. She and her husband were losing their jobs. They didn’t know how they were going to pay the bills let alone have anything under their tree for their young child to open Christmas morning.

And just like that hearts were softened and lives were changed.

MODG and her family helped Catherine, even though she wasn’t actually asking for help. It felt good. It felt right. So MODG came back to her blog and shared it with her readers and a movement happened. She called it WANA (We Are Not Assholes). She asked her readers to be honest and open. If you had a need, share it and let us help you. If you could help someone, comment on their need.

It was amazing. It exploded. So many people needed help and wanted to help that I can’t even share that blog post with you because it crashed the system and is lost forever.

People shared their stories. They shared their illnesses and job losses. They shared their fears of not knowing how they were going to feed their families or even put gas in their cars to get to their jobs that barely paid the bills. They shared their heartbreak that Christmas morning at their house Santa Claus wouldn’t be coming. They shared how their kids were old enough to understand how hard times were or young enough not to know there weren’t any presents where there should have been.

But if you are a mom or dad, you know that it doesn’t matter if your kids won’t know or will understand. You will know. And your heart will break. You will feel like you failed at something big.

Of course, Christmas is about so much more than presents under the tree. But that empty tree, or empty spot in the corner where the tree should have been but you couldn’t even afford one is just a glaring reminder that you failed your family.

It was a truly magically thing to be a part of, and I will never forget that Christmas.

WANA continued for the next two years. You can read MODG’s post for 2012 here.

In February 2014, MODG came to her readers again and told us she had to step back. As a mom, she just couldn’t blog anymore. It was too much. And as a mom, I completely understand where she was coming from. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be criticized for every choice you make for your kids by strangers.

Last week, MODG posted on her Facebook page that she still was unable to get back to the blog but wanted to have a place for WANA to continue. She made a post for it on Facebook. I clicked the button to get notifications whenever anyone posted on it.

And then I waited to see what would happen.

Later that afternoon someone finally posted on it. They had a need but would prefer private messages. And that’s when I realized this wasn’t going to work. When you post on ANYTHING on Facebook it shows up on the timeline of ALL your friends. It is hard enough to ask for help from strangers. How much harder when all your friends and family are going to see you asking for help?

I felt moved. I have this little place on the Internet that I can do whatever I want with. I felt called. I sent MODG an email sharing my thoughts with her and asking if I could run WANA through my blog. It felt so right.

And then I waited.

It’s been a week since she put the post on Facebook and I haven’t heard back from her. The last time I looked there were 15 comments on her post and no signs that anyone was helping fill those needs.

I completely understand that. Someone says they need help but can’t share that need in a public forum with all their personal information attached to it. And if you don’t know what the need is, how do you know if you can help? Do you send them a message and have them tell you their story? What if you can’t help then? “Sorry you just spilled your guts to me, but that’s not a need I can fill.” And then everyone feels bad?

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I have a deep faith. If you’ve been reading recently, you know I’ve been doing things recently that I feel God has called me to do even (or especially) that I don’t understand. This is one of those times. Maybe I can’t help everyone that has a need, but I can share my little piece of the Internet to connect people.

Because I never heard back from MODG, I don’t feel like I can use the term WANA. I’m calling this Hope For the Holidays. Because that’s what we are going to do here.

We all need hope, and when times are tough it’s really hard to find hope.

If times are tough for you and your family, I’m asking that you share your story with us here. Let us give you hope that things will get better and that people do care about you.

If times are good for you and your family, I’m asking that you help give hope to those who need it.

Giving always makes you feel good. And this time of year, more people are in the giving spirit. And there are great charities to give to. (We personally love Salvation Army and will be taking the boys to ring bells for them this year.)

As great as giving to a charity to help random people is, giving to a specific person to fill a specific need is amazing.

This is all going on faith. I have faith that this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I have faith that people needing help will find this post. I have faith that people able to give help with find this post and be called to help where they can.

Some tips on making this work:

-When you post a comment, you do not have to use your full name (or even your real name) if you are wanting to remain anonymous.

-If you leave an email address so people can contact you, please leave it as name AT place DOT com so spammers are less likely to find you

-Please leave a real email address in the box for it when you comment. I am the only one who can see it and that way I will be able to contact you if I need to

-And I especially need you guys to share this post on social media. The only way for this to be successful is for people to know about it

Choose hope this holiday season. Let’s share Hope For the Holidays (no matter which ones you celebrate).

I choose hope.

**update**

It has been pointed out to me that my instructions may not be clear enough if you weren’t a part of the original movement. So I would like to clarify.

If you have a need:

Please share your story. Share as much as you feel comfortable with. This is important. People want to connect with you. Your story will touch hearts. Give us specific needs we can help with. It is also helpful if you leave your email address in your comment so people have a way to reach you.

If you can fill a need:

Please reply to the comment of the person you are wanting to help so we will know if the need has been met. It is then up to you and the person you are helping to connect so you can help them. If I need to be a go between, I can be, but it will be much simpler if you connect with each other.

When you leave a comment, the is a box to check if you want to get an email when there are new comments. I would suggest clicking this box so you will know when someone replies to you.

The best part of Hope For the Holidays and the only way it works is for us to connect with each other. Real people helping real people.

Thank you to everyone working to make this a hope filled holiday season.

An Open Letter to Glenn Beck

Dear Glenn,

Friday night I wrote a blog post asking my readers to watch your show this evening. I didn’t know what you were going to say. I just knew that God wanted me to share that message. I shared with you what I had written and you replied to me. You said the kindest things about my faith. That alone is a story that I will tell for the rest of my life. It meant so much to me.

This morning I watched the radio program and listened as you gave teasers about what this evening’s show was going to be about. Let’s be honest, it made me extremely nervous. I don’t know that I could have been more nervous if I had actually been on TV with you. I had put myself out there only on faith in God that your message was going to be important.

I was sick to my stomach all day waiting for your show to begin. But at five o’clock as you began to speak, I felt completely at peace. I’m not sure you were more than four or five sentences in before I knew you were going to share about your health.

What an amazing and terrifying story.

I could relate to so much of your journey for I have a similar one. I started having health problems at 19. I started having dizzy spells which would cause me to fall. I had such horrible headaches, and I started having terrifying problems with my eyesight. I was originally diagnosed with an earache and put on medication that caused my heart to race so fast I thought I was going to die.

Eventually I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Psuedotumor Cerebri, a fake brain tumor. It’s hard to diagnose because my body behaved as if I had a brain tumor but there was no tumor in my head. Over a period of eight or so years, my symptoms would come and go.

You told tonight about a doctor telling you that it was your faith in God alone that caused you to be able to get out of bed. During my last flair up, my doctor told me that there was so much pressure inside my head he had no idea how I was able to stand or see. He was sure that there would be lasting, permanent damage to my eyesight.

I went through the treatment, again. There was a lot of prayer during this time. We prayed not only for me to be well but also for me to be healed. I did become well and my doctor was amazed that I had no issues with my eyes. I remember clearly him telling me that if I had walked into his office for the first time that day he would have no idea I ever had Psuedotumor Cerebri, an uncurable disease.

My journey was much different from yours but so very similar. God truly performs miracles still today.

I remember those times when your programs changed. I remember how odd I thought it was at the time. I remember wondering what was going on. I never thought that you didn’t care anymore. I knew there had to be more to the story than what I had. There was a couple of times I would change the channel or just turn the TV off, but I kept coming back because I knew that whatever was going on it was important.

The message of love is such an important one. It feels as if so much of the world has forgotten that we need to love one another. And sometimes I wonder if people have forgotten what it means to love. Loving someone isn’t always agreeing with them. Love isn’t even always liking someone. Jesus told us to love one another. He never said we had to agree or even like each other as long as we love each other.

Loving someone means wanting the best for them. It is possible to love those you dislike or that dislike you. That is a message that you have been spreading. I love every time someone comes at you with anger or dislike for what they believe you are and you respond with love and kindness, to the point where you even tell them you love them. And mean it. How amazing would the world be in everyone responded like that?

I’m very excited about the stories you’re going to share with us. Man in the Moon was an amazing story. I was disappointed that we were unable to see it live but so happy when you shared it on TV. Not only did I love it, but my four-year old son asks to watch it on a regular basis, and in fact, he got mad at me tonight when I said it was bedtime and he would have to watch it tomorrow. I know you will share stories that I can share with my boys.

I am so excited for our journey forward from here. I am excited to set the world on fire with love and kindness and hope with you. It feels as if so many are feeling as if they are without hope. Hope is an amazing thing and is what keeps us moving forward rather than crumbling under the pressures the world.

In my blog, I try to write about my real life. I’ve talked about the physical and emotional hurts I’ve gone through. I’ve told of hard days I’ve had. Yesterday I wrote about how grouchy I was for absolutely no good reason. And although my audience is so very much smaller than yours, I believe you are right that, regardless of the size, audiences connect when we share the truth rather than just the best of the best.

I told my readers on Friday that I had no idea why God wanted me to share with them that they should watch your show tonight. Sitting here tonight, I don’t know how your show affected them, but I know how it affected me. I know I’m supposed to be doing something. I believe I’m right where I’m supposed to be. This is going to be amazing. God is doing amazing things and I’m thankful for my little part in His big plan.

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

#LetsTellOurStory

Just Be Held

 

 

This song seems so fitting for this week. By now, unless you’ve been living in a cave, you have heard that Robin Williams died this week most likely by his own hand. Death is always hard. Suicide is always hard.

This death has left us all talking about depression and suicide. It’s left us wondering how someone who seems to have it all could be left feeling so hopeless, how someone who brought us so much joy and laughter could have been so alone inside.

And maybe it’s not fair or even right that this death is getting so much attention over others. I know to me it’s almost like I knew him. He was a part of our worlds through his movies and television shows. One of the first movies I really remember seeing in the theater was Hook.

There’s been a lot of talk on social media saying if you haven’t experienced depression, if you haven’t contemplated suicide, you shouldn’t be talking about this. I read Matt Walsh’s blog in which he said that Robin Williams didn’t die from depression but made the choice to end his life. I was shocked and horrified by the number of people who commented on it saying Matt should be killed or kill himself.

I’m not sure if the masses will think it’s ok for me to write about this or not. I have suffered through intense bouts with depression to the point where I have little to no memory of those time periods. However, I have never considered suicide.

I have suffered through periods of intense despair. I have laid on the couch in tears until there are none left feeling unable to move. I have felt alone and that no one else could ever understand what I was going through.

I have had times where I was so lost in the storm that I forgot to look to the cross.

But I have also had hope and faith and love surround me during those times. I’ve had people to talk to and help pull me back up.

Whether it be depression or just a hard time you are going through, there are times we all feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. We have this need to be strong. Don’t show them your weakness. Put on a happy face. And you can only carry that kind of weight for a time before your knees give out.

I love the pictures this song paints. How amazing would it feel if instead of holding on to all the stresses and hurts we would just put it down and let God hold us? There have been times these past weeks where I’ve been stressed and things aren’t going as I would like. And then I listen to this song and I can feel myself letting go. It’s almost as if His arms are physically around me.

If you are suffering, I would like to remind you that even if you are literally alone in this world, you are not alone. If you go to Him, God will hold you and never let you go. Instead of looking at the storm, look to the cross.  Let the cross be a symbol of love and hope.

 

 

Just Be Held

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you hanging on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
You’re world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
You’re world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

 

 

 

You can find all of the Worship Wednesday posts here.

**Depression is a serious disease. Suicide is not the answer. If you are considering suicide, please know that there is always hope and someone does care about you. I care about you. Find a preacher, a priest, a doctor, a friend, a family member or even a stranger to talk to. There is always a choice. There is always hope.