Teen Challenge Welcome Baskets

004This past Friday my husband and I had the amazing opportunity to have dinner at a Teen Challenge  in our state.    It is one of the most wonderful blessings to hear testimonies of how God has transformed the lives of men, women and teens who were previously in unspeakable bondage to drugs and other addictions.

Through the power of the Word of God, their minds are no longer conformed to the pattern of this world.   They know the truth about who they are and who God is.  They experience the true joy of knowing and following Jesus Christ.  And they have been set free from addictions and lies that held them captive for years!  (Applause, applause, applause)

How often do we read or hear on the news about how the drug epidemic is taking over and more lives are being lost.  But there are many, many stories of victory and hope through Teen Challenge.   There truly is no depth of addiction so far down that God cannot reach down and touch.

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The place we visited has both a men’s ranch and a women’s house for adults and teens who struggle with addictions.  I was able to get a few minutes with the director of the women’s home (aka the Pink House) to discuss what needs they had and to get a better idea of how I  might be able to help.

The top of the list was PRAYER.  I can do that.   Then the list went onto finances, volunteers to lead bible study one night a week, drive the women to church on Sunday and donations.  Donations ranged from dog food (because they have one at the house) to shampoo, toothbrushes and other personal toiletries to Welcome Baskets.

Because we live several hours away from the place we visited, I am unable to commit to any weekly volunteer opportunities.   I so wanted to help with Bible studies or drive them to church, but it just isn’t doable right now.

But I can pray  I also love the idea of creating Welcome Baskets for the women coming into the Teen Challenge program.  The director suggested the following items:

1.  Journal (preferably with Scripture)

2.  Cute pen

3.  Lip balm

4.  Gum/mints

5.  Pretty body soap

6.  Bookmark

7.  Chocolate

When the girls/women arrive they need some encouragement.  They are often limited in the items they can bring from home and the old way of living is going to drastically change.  Welcome Baskets offer love, encouragement and a sense of belonging.

The first weeks the women live at Teen Challenge can be difficult as they are away from family for extended periods and as they adapt to a lifestyle far different from the one they most recently experienced.

I am so excited about preparing  Welcome Baskets.   With this list of ideas in hand, I will be scouring sales for these specific items.    Hopefully I will be able to find a few more cute things that I can include.

Some other ideas for general donations* to the women’s house would be:  hand lotions, note pads, water bottles, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, handmade bracelets.   While many of the girls/women arrive with their own personal toiletries, there are occasions when they are picked up straight from jail and have literally nothing to start with.

What an amazing way to share the love of Jesus with others.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 NIV

*Each program has different items that are acceptable to donate.  If you are considering donating to a local Teen Challenge, please confirm what items they will accept.

**Pictures and quotes are from a recent Teen Challenge newsletter.

(I am linking up with Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.)

Pennies with a Purpose July Update

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 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
Proverbs 31:20

In April, I wrote about the need to move my Pennies with a Purpose jar to a more prominent spot in the house.   You can read about that here.  The move resulted in more change going into the jar.  However, I still didn’t feel like I was giving this my best effort.

It wasn’t just about how much money went in the jar.   I needed to pray for the children who needed the medicine to prevent parasites from growing in their little bodies.   Money helps, but prayer heals.     This needed to be in front of me every single day.  A reminder to pray.  A reminder to choose loose change over crisp dollar bills at the store.

So the jar moved to the bathroom.  Yep.  The bathroom.  A place I know I will be every single day of the year!  Multiple times.  :) When I brush my teeth and go to rinse, I come eye-to-eye with the jar.   And then I pray again.  I pray for the pennies to grow and multiply.  I pray for the children in need and for their health.

This daily reminder in front of me has even changed the way I think in the every day tasks of life.  At the grocery I hear the cashier say “That will be $1.91.”   Instead of looking for the penny or the exact change, I choose to hand them $2.00 in paper money.   The coins will go to the jar.   When I clean my purse out, I find myself excited about the loose change.   See the penny in the parking lot – pick it up.   Seriously, I find myself thrilled to see a penny on the floorboard of my car.   The pennies have a purpose.

There is something to be said for the daily reminders to think of others and to make choices that will benefit them.  It changes us in the process.  (no pun intended ;) )

Do you have a specific ministry or need that you keep in front of you to keep you focused?   Leave the details in the comments.  I would love to hear your ideas.

Important Life Choices

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This week I had two nights in a row of personal hurts that tore into old wounds I thought had healed.

In the one situation bitterness was just waiting for me to grab hold of it and run.   In the second matter, disappointment sent up my invisible “you can’t hurt my feelings” wall.   This was quickly followed by the voice of self-pity and withdrawal.   Maybe you aren’t familiar with these thoughts, but I know them all too well.

I also knew that I was not going to follow the rabbit trail of satan into the pit.  Grabbing hold of the hem of the garment of Jesus, I clung on tight and prayed.

After confessing my hurts, my disappointments and my feelings to God this morning,  I journaled a quick prayer  that in part went something like this:  ”God – what is your plan and purpose for me this day?”   This day.  I don’t need to contemplate what God has in store for me six months from now and then find myself confused, overwhelmed or with hurt feelings.  I don’t need to mull over the past. Instead, I knew I needed to focus on today and to focus on what God had planned.

And then “today” happened like this.

Husband and I head out early for some quick errands.   I postpone shower until we will get home.  I may or may not have last washed my hair two  three days ago.     Last shower more than 24 hours.

Text from friend:  Wish u were off today!

Me:  I am.  Whatcha need?

Friend:  I’m off  too and would love to have a cup of joe with my friend!

*Pause* in the texting for my thoughts, in no particular order, to go something like this:

I haven’t showered.  I haven’t washed my hair in three days.  I don’t have time to do either.  I have been anticipating a quiet afternoon all week.  I have a long list of things I really, really wanted to do today.  Today is the last day this week that I will have a chance to do them.  Men’s bible study will be at our house tonight. I need to make a snack, dust the tables, pick up the shoes, wash the dishes, pick up the living room, clean off the dining room table.  I need to shower. We will be up really early in the morning and it is going to be a long day on Friday and another early morning on Saturday.  When will I have time to get it all done?  I haven’t made my grocery list or cut my coupons.  I wanted to clean out the kitchen cupboards.  (You would want me to clean them too!)  I HAVEN’T WASHED MY HAIR OR SHOWERED and we will meet in a public place for coffee.

*Resume* texting

Me:  How about this afternoon at Cracker Barrel for some coffee?

Friend:  Perfect!  Just text me with the time.

Me:  . . . You are getting the unshowered version of me.

Friend (very, very good friend): I’m good with the unshowered version . . any version will be perfect!

I asked God to order my day.  I asked Him to plan it for me.  This was His plan.  For four hours my friend and I sat drinking coffee, eating peach cobbler and rocking in chairs.  We allowed our souls to be vulnerable and open and to heal.  We shared stories of the battles we have been through and how God was faithful in the midst of the pain and uncertainty.

We laughed.  We encouraged one another.  Ministering to each other through the things God has shown us and taught us.  Inwardly we were giving numerous double fist pumps for the victories we saw where the enemy meant to bring defeat.  We celebrated life and embraced the joy offered by Christ.  And the weight of my hurts and my to-do list completely disappeared.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:11

CVS Donation Shopping Trip

019It has been awhile since I have diligently shopped the drugstores for freebies and really great deals.  I think I just needed a break.  But now I am ready to tackle more than one store again and really concentrate on grabbing free (or almost free) items to donate.

We are committed to donating food to our church’s food pantry each month, but God has really been impressing on me to search out more items to give to those in need.

Here is a breakdown of the items I was able to get at CVS this week for $1.00 each or less or free. :)

2 3-bar packs of  Dial soap   $2.00 each
(Used $1.00/2 printable coupon.  Buy 2 get $2.00 ECBs)

2  bottles of  Dial bodywash  $3.00 each
(Used $2.00/2 printable coupon.  Buy 2 get $2.00 ECBs)

2 bottles of Sally Hansen nail polish  ($3.29 each)  
(Used 2 $1.00/1 coupons.  Buy 2 get  $5 ECBs)

I rolled my ECBs from each transaction into the next one to minimize my out-of-pocket expense.   I had a CVS gift card from a previous promotion that I used to pay for the out-of-pocket portion.

My total cost for all six items, including tax:   $3.72

Need suggestions for items to donate?  Print out my Free Printable Donation Shopping list to help get you started.

Did you find any great deals for donations this week?

(Note the links in this post are my affiliate links.  See disclosure here.)

Back-to-School Encouragement

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The store aisles with new crayons and pencils, post-it pads, notebooks, pretty folders and cool backpacks . . . I can just smell the textbooks and clean hallways of school.    Okay – so I am a nerd and I love school supplies and I loved the first day of school.

In fact, I miss the joy of the first day of school and all the butterflies that went with it.    So I felt the need to find a way to celebrate the new school year and encourage others who might not be quite as excited about it .

I found this amazing free printable on Pinterest that was perfect for an encouraging card and gift.    I chose the generic one, but they have several specific to each grade.  Very cute!

Keeping it simple, I printed off the one I wanted it and then copied it onto card stock to make it into a cute card.   Several weeks ago, I grabbed an Old Navy/Gap gift card at Krogers for 30% off.  (Buy 2 $25 cards, get $15 off)   What a deal.   I was holding onto them for a special occasion and this is it.

A teacher’s spouse recently asked me to pray for them because they really needed some encouragement.  What a great opportunity to send a card, a gift and remind them that I am praying for them this school year.

1 Thessalonians 5:11(NIV) says: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”    As the school year is getting ready to start, ask God to show you how you can encourage a student, a teacher or a parent and how you might pray for them.

Please share your own back-to-school ideas for encouraging others.