The dream is becoming a reality. Semper Vita is happening. It is exciting! At the Northwest Ministry Conference it was clear that the idea is timely. Churches are ready to do good in their communities and would love to connect with others. Semper Vita’s software will help them do just that.
What we need from you
It takes a lot of people, prayers, partners and money to make this happen. Would you join us as we seek to help churches be the church in their communities? Would you commit to one or more of the following:
Pray for Semper Vita:
Pray for the software development. Pray that the right partners will sign up. Pray that God will bring us volunteers. Pray that we would continue to work toward making this dream a reality. Pray for financial provision. Pray that God will bless Semper Vita for His glory.
We need money to reach the thousands of people in our communities with the love of Jesus. Whether $5, $500 or $50,00 your donation will help us to finish the software, to reach out to potential partners and to move Semper Vita forward as an organization. Would you support us? To donate please go to our donate page.
We need people to help us make this happen. Are you a videographer? We could use your help. Do you like marketing, administrative support, finance, sales? We could use your help. There’s stuff to do for everyone. Please join us and help us make this happen. Contact us to volunteer as part of Semper Vita.
We need churches and non-profits to partner with us to impact the community for good. Please consider partnering with us to reach our communities with the Good News.
Happy Christmas Eve...in the hustle and bustle lets remember the reason we celebrate: Jesus!
Making a difference everyday
You are reading the final post about 46 ways to make it Christmas everyday. This journey to Christmas started on November 10, 2008, as a result of Bart Shatto's inspiring song at the TSO concert. His challenge to make it Christmas everyday inspired me two years in a row. This year I chose to come up with ways to continue spreading the Christmas cheer.
To date, we've looked at 41 ways to make a difference. We started 46 days before Christmas and today I'm finishing up with 5 final suggestions to make it Christmas everyday.
Suggestions 42 through 46
42. Give free food to help alleviate hunger. It's easy to join the approximately 220,000 daily visitors from around the world. According to the site, to date "more than 300 million visitors have given more than 500 million cups of staple food." Just one click on the yellow "Click Here to Give - it's FREE" button and you make a practical difference to someone.
43. Support a child by giving free healthcare. Be one of the about 70,000 people who visit the site daily. Choose the "Click Here to Give - it's FREE" button and you'll be part of the over 100 million visitors who've helped more than 2,161,000 children. Here's what your visit will help fund:
"the administration of Vitamin A to prevent life-threatening childhood illness and disease as well as one preventable cause of childhood blindness; the manufacture and fitting of children's prostheses so that a child injured by a landmine or other accident can still walk, run and play and still has a fighting chance to be a productive contributor in his or her society as an adult; eye surgeries that can reverse one kind of childhood blindness; and HIV testing that will alert medical personnel that a mother may pass the infection onto her child at birth so that she can be treated and the newborn spared of this terrible disease. When you click, once per day, every day, you are helping to get these types of treatments and services to the children who need them most."
44. Adopt a sister in Burundi. Just $30 a month will feed, clothe and shelter a widow and her children. In Burundi, a little country of about 8 million people, 1 million people were killed in a genocide. Thousands of war widows struggle to survive, feed their children and find shelter. For just $1 a day you can help these widows recover and become self-sufficient again.
45. Help people in Rwanda achieve reconciliation. Rwanda Partners works for Rwanda's healing and reconciliation. You can donate toward various programs: healing and reconciliation workshops ($50 each), income generating projects ($75 each), farm animals to help poor families ($35 each), or classrooms and dorms at the New Hope Center ($100 each).
46. Give to yourself...and invest in others. When you discover your unique wiring, you can unleash your potential to make the world a better place. Use the Semper Vita training to learn about your strengths and personality. There's no one like you anywhere. Find out how to maximize who you are and make a difference everyday! Please feel free to "Contact Us" to get started.
May these suggestions help us to continue the love and giving of Christmas throughout the year!
The right treatment can change the day.
My front wheels were damaged last week during the snow storm in the Greater Seattle area. One was clipped by a snowplow the other just dinged on a curb. An expense I didn’t need three days before Christmas.
So to make sure I have a car during this season (given that the replacement wheels would take a week), I decided to get all new wheels at a national tire chain. (You know the one that invites you to return your tires if ever you’re not satisfied.) At their nearest location, they didn’t have the wheels and they offered no solutions. I asked for other locations. Grudgingly, they provided me with phone numbers for two nearby locations. (I had to call them myself.)
Before I called I prayed (I tend to pray about most everything) and asked God to lead me to the right place and provide the wheels at a good price. The first number was busy. I tried the second. A courteous manager listened to my situation and offered a solution. He could get the wheels from another location in about an hour. The four wheels were about the same price as the two replacement wheels I had already ordered. So I canceled the first order and purchased the four new wheels. They had an employee drive (about 30 minutes each way) to get the wheels.
The manager told me what time to be at the store - they were staying open till all their customers were helped. Once I arrived, I learned that they had put me in the system at the time of my call – reducing my wait from four hours to two hours. What amazing service. They apologized on behalf of the other location. I thanked them for the excellent service – and told them they were an answer to prayer.
Preferential treatment: You can help kids and teens
So why write about wheels on the Semper Vita blog? Not just because it's a great story about a person who went out of his way to help someone in need but also because it's a great analogy about the plight of struggling kids and teens. Some people see them as necessary inconveniences while other people go out of their way to help them - making a difference in their lives.
I'm including three Seattle-area organizations that are serving homeless or at risk kids. (Not in Seattle, check out your local organizations. Want help? Contact us and we'll help you find the organizations in your area).
Here's three ways we can help kids in need:
Since 1990 Vision House has provided transitional housing with
integrated support services to homeless single mothers and their
children. Their premise:
Friends of Youth delivers a broad range of services to youth and their families to improve their emotional stability and self-sufficiency. "Friends of Youth envisions all youth having every opportunity to succeed."
You can help by donating your time, providing needed items or giving to the great work.
1. Volunteer opportunities include:
2. Want to provide needed items? Here are some things on their wish list:
"New Horizons Ministries has been serving Seattle's street youth population since 1978. The faces have changed over the years but the nature, heart and extraordinary resilience of these kids remains. That's how we see these youth – as people who are quite extraordinary."
As a multi-cultural organization, they see their mission as follows: "to be in relationship with homeless and street involved young people, serving and loving in the way of Jesus, equipping them to leave street life."
You can help financially, by volunteering or both. To give to the work visit their Ways to Give page on the website. Looking for volunteer opportunities at New Horizons? They range from putting together
a building work group, to serving in a food group, providing office help,
or working directly with the youth.
Just three more ways to make Christmas special and continue the spirit well into the new year.
As for my car? It was ready after about two hours. Guess what? The wheels look great. Thanks to some great customer service and a caring manager.
During this season of giving, please indulge my shameless request to invest in our mission.
What will I be getting this year?
There was a time when the content of the gifts with my name on it mattered a great deal. One year I just couldn't wait. When my parents were out of the house I went on a search for the Christmas gifts.
Unfortunately I found them. Sure it was exciting to discover their secret location. It also was fun to find out what they had bought. The truth is that my parents had good things in store for my sister and I. They usually did.
The gifts were great, if only I had waited. Finding the gifts ruined the experience. It took away both the joy of the anticipation and the fun of getting the gifts. Rest assured, on Christmas day I did an awesome job of acting surprised. Of course my mom will know now; she reads this blog. (Sorry mom!)
I learned a huge lesson that day. Not waiting until the right moment is a bad idea. Figuring out what you're going to get before you get it ruins the joy of getting the gift. I never look for gifts anymore (you'd hope not at my age, right?) and I don't try to figure out what the gift(s) might be. The end result? Getting gifts is fun again.
Surprise me for Christmas!
So, have you been thinking about what to get me for Christmas? If I'm anywhere on your list, please consider giving my gift to Semper Vita. It would give me great joy. Your tax-deductible gift will help make our vision a reality. Just think of how many people we can help once we build the software. So, if you were looking for what to give me, look no further. In just a few clicks you can make my Christmas wish come true. And, it truly is another way to extend Christmas all year.
Oh, and I promise not to peek!
It's the season to spread cheer...
It's cold outside. The new snow on my deck measures 10 inches tall. I'm glad I have a home with insulated walls, a heater, warm clothes, electricity and food. I can't imagine being cold, hungry and homeless. This time of cheer is so much harder for our friends and neighbors in need. Everyone of us can make a difference. That's what I believe - it's the Semper Vita premise. Check out these suggestions for making Christmas better for people in need.
Ideas 33 through 37 (out of 46) to make it Christmas every day
Donate the following to a local food bank, charity or church:
Call a charity or church (or maybe you know someone personally):
HT: K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky
We can't live without water yet some people don't have any.
Well, what about water?
My water comes from a well. It's my family's own well that provides wonderful, great-tasting water. There's plenty of water and plenty of pressure. I love the well...except when the power goes out.
If there's a power outage then our water runs out too. Power outages typically aren't planned so we can't prepare. When the power goes out our available water is reduced to amount that's left in the storage tank. Sometimes it's plenty, other times it's hardly any. When there's a storm approaching, we fill up gallon jugs. You never know when it might run out.
I consider our situation an adventure, and...I love adventures. It's easy though. My water shortages are always temporary.
No potable water
Imagine that about one sixth of the world's population does not have access to potable (that's drinkable) water. In fact:
Solve it with one dollar
One person, Joshua Guthrie, a 16-year-old Sophomore, started Dollar for a Drink. What is it? A non-profit organization that raises money for fresh water wells in Sudan, Africa. He's raised $5300 out of $8000 needed.
His project encourages us to:
$1 provides one year of clean water for a person in Sudan. You can make a difference with ONE dollar!
HT: Jesus Creed
Give Wells, Provide Living Water
Lack of clean water is the leading cause of death in some of the poorer nations. In fact,
What can one person do this Advent season?
There's an Advent Conspiracy taking place
Advent Conspiracy has partnered with Living Water International to help solve
this problem. Learn more about Living Water International (LWI). Will you help build a well?
HT: Tamara Dull
Today's suggestion to make it Christmas everyday for someone is all about water. Semper Vita is all about experiencing life through service in community. I've included two great choices to give water, give life.
With a little time, attention and effort we can change a child's life and future.
Birthdays matter to me
My mother gladly takes the blame for my view on birthdays. She created the situation. Birthdays mattered to her. My sister and I never spent a birthday just getting cake and ice cream with some presents at the end of the day. No way. Birthdays were an event - always. I remember the birthday when the Sound of Music first came out in the Netherlands (I know this dates me.) My parents allowed me to bring 7 friends to the theater which was a big deal then. We went in our Volkswagen bus and had dinner and a special birthday cake afterward. Another birthday we piled about 20 kids in the bus and other vehicles and went to the dunes in Holland to play the equivalent of "Cowboys and Indians." Afterward we went to a Dutch Pancake house to eat dinner plate-sized pancakes. Yum. Of course before those there were the birthdays at home with games, magic (my dad would do magic tricks), a puppet show (the same dad would put on the performance) and more. After the fun we had dinner and cake. And, we always were allowed to select our favorite dinner. Mine: cooked spinach, mashed potatoes and meatballs. It still is my birthday dinner. (Weird, I know.)
Of course, birthdays are just the icing on the cake. The basics include food, clothes, school supplies, books, and toys. My parents provided those too of course.
Today, I'm writing about three ways to help children and extend Christmas to everyday.
1. All children need clothes, books and toys
Imagine that there are many kids that don't even have the basics. Many foster kids don't have enough for clothes, books and toys. In Washington State, my state, the government pays a maximum of $300 per year for a foster child's clothes. It costs about twice that to clothe them.
If you live in the greater Seattle area you can join Icon Church to help foster kids. On Saturday, December 6, they're going to Seattle to volunteer in the Tree House Wearhouse. Be part of a team that organizes and distributes books, clothes, and toys to needy foster kids.
2. Receive Amber Alert texts
Sadly, many children still get abducted each year. The Amber Alert system, named after an abducted child Amber whose parents fought to improve the search process, has helped to locate at least 250 children. The notifications have gone out through radio and television alerts as well as on freeway signs.
Now you can help more quickly and easily. The Amber Alert now uses texts to alert people wirelessly.
It's easy. Sign up for Wireless Amber Alerts and participate when an alert goes up in your area. Help save more children's lives through receiving a free text message with info of the local Amber Alert.
3. Make birthday gift bags to give a child a birthday
Everyone can do this one. It's a great event for a family, group, church, neighborhood, birthday party or company. I've mentioned Cheerful Givers on this blog before. They provide toy-filled birthday gift bags to food pantries and shelters "so that parents living in poverty can give their child a birthday gift." What a great idea.
Here's how you can help:
Thanks for spreading the cheer. Want to give to Semper Vita? We would love your help. We're working to connect people and organizations to do more good together.
Learning to be generous as part of gratitude.
This past week and weekend was all about Thanksgiving and contemplating the meaning of gratitude. A friend recently connected the concepts of generosity and gratitude. It's amazing how some of the most generous people are also the least well off. I'm finding that as finances get tighter, it's a bigger choice to give and be generous. However, generosity and gratitude are healthy for the heart, soul and pocket book, right? After all, God loves a cheerful giver.
What is generosity?
It's not all about money. For many of us the easiest thing to give is money. The hardest thing to give is time or genuine attention. Sometimes just caring is tough. So, how do we prepare for Christmas by making extending it to a daily lifestyle? Here are some more ideas:
1. Today is World's Aids Day.
I am going to do my part by visiting a Starbucks today - in honor of World's Aids Day. The event this season is - "Buy (RED)™. Help save lives." They're giving 5 cents to the Global Fund for every "hand-crafted Starbucks beverage" sold on December 1, 2008 from 7 am to 7 pm at participating US and Canada locations. (Every time you purchase a Red Exclusive beverage between Nov. 27 and Jan. 2, they will give 5 cents to the Global Fund so you can keep visiting them, enjoy your coffee and do good all at the same time.)
2. Make a coffee or lunch date with someone you know who might feel isolated. You can combine buying Red to give to the Global Fund and being kind to someone you know.
3. Let someone go in front of you - in line at the grocery store, in traffic or any where. If you're a praying person, pray for them as you let them go ahead. You may be the only one praying for them that day.
That's three more ways to extend Christmas - globally and locally, low cost and no cost (financially). Keep spreading the cheer!