Service Project Playlist 2017

A few years ago, when Food Shelf Friday was new, I did a fun post about songs I like to listen to during service projects. The list was a bit small, and today I was thinking of more great tunes to energize and inspire while serving others, so I decided to brush it up and bring it back. Enjoy!

1. “Do Something” by Mathew West: I love the opening part when he’s complaining about all the trouble in the world and he says, “God, why don’t you do something?” God’s answer? “I did. I created YOU!” It’s an awesome reminder that God put us on this earth to be a blessing to others!

2. “Hands and Feet” by Audio Adrenaline: An oldie, but a goodie (2001, but I could swear it’s A LOT older). Audio A still appeals to this recovering grunge gen-Xer.

3. “Kings and Queens” by Audio Adrenaline: (not the original or newest version of the band, but the brief period when Kevin Max Smith from DC Talk was the frontman). This song is powerful, both lyrically and in presentation. The music video is fun too. It has the band and some Haitian kids having a snowball fight of sorts with color war powder.

4. “Shine” by the Newsboys: Another ’90s classic! It’s upbeat and joyful, and it talks about being a witness by the life-changing joy that springs from your relationship with God.

5. “Wherever We Go” by the Newsboys: Another great upbeat song about the joy and power of knowing the Lord. It’s ok to have fun as you serve the Lord and others!

6. “Give me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath: Nothing inspires compassion like seeing the world through Jesus’s eyes. I don’t know about you, but I often miss opportunities to help others because I don’t think of it until it’s too late. So this song is like my prayer that I would see things how Jesus sees them: to notice needs and be moved to help.

7. “Fix my Eyes” by For King and Country: This is one of my favorite songs. It’s upbeat and powerful. The chorus lists wonderful acts of service that we all know we should be doing if we’re actively living out faith the way Jesus taught, and then it closes with the clincher, “…above it all – Fix my eyes on YOU!” I love that reminder; it’s easy to burn out trying to be good or do good things when you take your eyes off God and see only the world’s troubles.

8. “Evidence” by Citizen Way: I love the message of this song! “It’s not a flag on a field, not a sign in my yard. Not a cause that I join, not a phrase on a coin, it’s the change in my heart…” Love, acted out, is the true evidence of what we believe.

9. “What are You Waiting For” by Natalie Grant: Sometimes helping others is hard, and affecting real change can feel practically hopeless. But you do have the power to make a difference, so what are you waiting for?

10. “Live it Well” by Switchfoot: This is a new song, and a current favorite of mine. It’s a great anthem about the drive to make your life count and make a positive impact on the world. My favorite part is the bridge, where they sing, “I got one life and one love. I got one voice, but maybe that’s enough. ‘Cause with one heartbeat and two hands to give, I got one shot and one life to live.”

All of these songs can be found on iTunes, Spotify, or YouTube, so check it out! If you have additional ideas, share them in the comments!

Hunger Heroes: Helping Kids Serve their City

I am so sorry that this is late. I wrote it on Thursday then completely forgot to post it on Friday. Better late than never! -K

 

When J was little, he was a big fan of Spiderman and other superheroes. My boy may be big now (16! We’re looking at colleges! Yikes!), but this week I got him to go with me to the Lego Batman Movie. It was fun to relive that part of his childhood together, and we got a kick out of the little kids in the theater and their running commentary during the show!  Kids love superheroes – the costumes and capes, the gadgets and automobiles, the super powers – what’s not to love!?! If your kids are superhero nuts, it can be a great tool to teach them about serving others and how they can be a “hunger hero” in your community.

  1. Superheroes are all about the serve: Ask your kids why Batman protects Gotham City, or why Superman watches over Metropolis. They’ll tell you that their heroes just want to help people. We all have the power to do good and help others – even without a cape. Have your kids brainstorm about ways they can be a hero in their community.
    Random acts of kindness
    – Sharing with friends
    – Picking up litter
    – Helping friends and neighbors
    – Helping out around the house
    – Serving at community events
    – Much more!
  2. Superheroes have the tools: From supernatural powers to high tech gadgets, superheroes are equipped with the tools they need to do the job! Talk to your kids about what tools you need to serve your community. Maybe it’s carrying a bag on your next trip to the park so you have a way to collect litter. Maybe it’s preparing blessing bags, or printing out the food shelf scavenger hunt sheet before your next shopping trip. Being prepared creates awareness of the needs around us and empowers us to help when opportunities arise.

    A few years ago J and I created blessing bags, and while they were great if I was in my car, they didn’t do me much good when I was walking down the street. So I started carrying Subway gift cards in my wallet so I would always have something to offer a stranger who approached me for help. Instead of fumbling around digging for a few bucks in cash (which I probably don’t have on hand), I pop out a card and hand it over. I picked Subway because they’re EVERYWHERE, they don’t serve alcohol, and their food is filling and nutritious. And gift cards take up very little room in my wallet or phone case, so I can always have them on hand.

  3. Superheroes protect their secret identity: The mask and secret identity are standard practice for comic book heroes. The supers are not about praise or fame, but prefer to remain a mystery, popping in to save the day then retiring to a private life. Believe it or not, this is actually biblical! Matthew 6:2 says, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” The Bible commands us over and over to help those in need, but we’re not to make it a show. It’s not about us, it’s about making life better for someone else, and showing them the love of Jesus through our actions. Talk about this with your kids. You can even reinforce this lesson by letting your little heroes wear their masks when dropping off food shelf donations or helping around the house.

 

I hope this gives you some fun ways that you can talk to your kids about being a “hunger hero” and serving their community just like their favorite masked men and women!  If you have additional thoughts, feel free to leave a comment!

Documentary Film Review: The Drop Box

Back in 2015 I saw a lot of social media buzz about a film called The Drop Box. People were sharing the trailer, and I watched it several times. It sat in my Amazon Prime wish list for about two years, but they never made it available. This month we’ve been doing the free trial of Netflix. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, we were the last household in America without Netflix. And when the free trial is over we’ll go back to being the only household without it. I just won’t pay for another streaming service, and most of what I’m missing on Prime isn’t on Netflix either. The Drop Box was an exception. Thanks to Netflix, I finally got to cross it off my list.

The Drop Box is a documentary telling the story of Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak, his family, and their unique ministry of providing a safe box where unwanted babies can be abandoned safely. South Korea has a problem with infant abandonment. The culture’s unforgiving and life-altering stance on unwed pregnancy means that unmarried women’s lives are virtually over when their pregnancies are discovered. Parents disown pregnant teens, schools kick them out, and they have no options. So it is not uncommon for these girls to hide their pregnancies (receiving no prenatal care), and abandon the babies soon after birth. Other mothers abandon babies because they are born with special needs, and the parents have no resources to care for them. In 2013 there were 203 abandoned babies found on the streets of Seoul alone.

This seems shocking, even barbaric. But it’s not just a Korean problem. Here in the United States, hundreds of babies are abandoned every year at churches, fire stations, and hospitals. Many of the abandoned infants in America are born addicted to drugs.

The Lees’ journey to becoming an infant drop site started with the birth of their son, Eun-Man. Eun-Man was born with serious physical and mental disabilities. Through their experiences raising him, Pastor and Mrs. Lee learned in a deep and personal way the value of each and every life. When, a few years later, a little girl with Down’s Syndrome was left on the doorstep of their church, they started thinking about how to save more abandoned children.

Today, they have the drop box. It’s simply a box built into the side of the church. When a mother wishes to abandon her newborn, she opens the door and places the baby into the heated box. This triggers a doorbell in the church, which is also the Lees’ home, and they rush to collect their new visitor. The police are called, and the baby is cared for and prayed for until the police arrive to place him or her in the foster system.

Sometimes the Lees end up taking in the children themselves. With their staff and volunteers, they are currently raising 15 children, all of whom have some level of physical and/or mental disability. Their work is physically and emotionally demanding, expensive, and often heartbreaking. But they keep going every day because they passionately believe in the value of each tiny life.

As I mentioned, The Drop Box is available on Netflix. You can also get information, or donate to the Lees’ work on the film’s website. There is no doubt that orphan care is close to the heart of God. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” The Lees’ work is inspiring – sad and beautiful.

Have you seen The Drop Box? What did you think of it? What additional ways can we get involved in caring for the “orphans and widows” of our world?

How to be an effective liar (or recognize the one who is)

Toddlers are terrible liars. I love the recent internet video of the little girl adamantly arguing that she is not crying as she sobs. When my son was little he didn’t know how to explain his dad’s job (software engineer), so he told his teacher that dad was a chef – because he knew what a chef did. Their lies are laughably unbelievable.

Teenagers and adults are better liars, because they’ve learned how to play the game. For a lie to be believable, there has to be just enough truth there to get the listener to relax.

The Bible tells us that Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). He’s really good at twisting and manipulating the truth enough to sucker us in to believing his lies.

This morning I was in the shower, and I was contemplating my schedule. “I really need to carve out more time to spend with the Lord,” I thought to myself. Almost immediately, a verse from Matthew 28 came to mind: “…surely I am with you always…” What a comforting thought. I recognized the truth and almost fell for the lie. Yes, God is with me always, but am I always with him? When he is speaking, am I listening? When he wants to spend time with me, am I doing something else? When he is gently correcting me, am I open, or am I defending and excusing myself?

1 Peter 4:8 says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He doesn’t charge, he prowls. He’s sneaky. He wants to catch you unaware, to get you to believe the little twisted half truths. He reminds you of bad things you’ve done and tells you that it means you’re a bad person, unworthy of love and forgiveness. He reminds you of your imperfections and presents them as evidence that you are unusable in the kingdom. He takes a little bit of truth, like bait, and snares you with his lies.

Don’t fall for it. You are loved. You are worthy. You are useful in the kingdom. You are not perfect, but you are perfectly loved. Recognize this trick and learn to fight back. Fill your memory with scriptures that you can turn back at the liar.

Rhetorical question: what lies are you believing about yourself? What is the truth according to the Bible?

Volunteer Resource List

Like a lot of couples, my husband and I get in date ruts. We always seem to watch the same movies, eat at the same restaurants, and either go bowling or shoot pool when we want to go out and do something. There is a whole big world out there, but at the end of the day it’s hard to think of something original to do. So this year for Valentines, I made my husband a list of all the ideas we’ve talked about but never think of spur of the moment, complete with websites and phone numbers. Now when one of us starts the “what should we do tonight” conversation, we’ve got all the ideas and info right at our fingertips. This week I’m going to do the same for you – a list of non-profits you can volunteer with, including web links. Click on any blue link to go right to the volunteer signup page for that organization. “I didn’t know where to start” is history!
Amazon Smile: Set up your Amazon account so a portion of your spending goes to the non-profit of your choice.

Compassion: Sponsor a child  or volunteer with Compassion at an event near you .

County agencies: Your county probably has many volunteer needs. Check their website for listings. Here is the listing of volunteer needs in Anoka County, Minnesota, where I live.

Dress for Success: Find out how to donate clothing or funds, or consider a hands-on volunteer job. Dress for Success needs people to sort donations and help clients with clothing as well as mentors who can work with clients on job and interview skills.

Feeding America’s Food Bank Finder is intended to help the hungry find a food shelf, but it can also lead you to local donation and/or volunteer opportunities.

Feed My Starving Children: FMSC has permanent packing sites in Minnesota, Arizona, and Illinois, as well as mobile packing events around the country.

Homeless Shelter Directory: Find a homeless shelter near you. Volunteers are always needed!

International Justice Mission: IJM needs interns and lawyers, as well as everyday volunteers.

Meals on Wheels: Drivers and volunteers are always needed!

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits: Job listings including paid work, executive boards, and volunteer jobs at nonprofits in Minnesota.

RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program): Connecting people ages 55+ to local volunteer needs – I work with RSVP at my museum job. They are a huge blessing and make my job much easier!

Second Harvest Heartland: Second Harvest is a network of food banks in Minnesota. They have two locations in the Twin Cities metro area, and they support many other community food shelves.

Venture: Run or bicycle while raising money to fight hunger and human trafficking.

Volunteer Match: Helps volunteers find opportunities in their neighborhoods.

 

That should be enough to keep us all busy for a while! Don’t forget your church is a great resource for volunteer opportunities as well, and feel free to leave more volunteer opportunities in the comments!