Category Archives: Serving Others

Charities for Life

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Christmas is almost upon us, which means you’re probably wrapping your presents and doing some last-minute shopping. Now, take a breath. Stop for just a moment and think if there are any people around you who are in need. No matter where you live, you probably drove past at least one homeless person today, and there must be dozens of charities in your area that could use a donation or a helping hand.

If you’ve already blessed your own community and want to make a difference across the world, check out two of my favorite charities that help children in need:

Compassion International

Compassion has many programs to ensure children in need have nutritious food, education, healthcare, job preparation courses, and more. They also share the Gospel with these kids, giving them a real hope for their future.

Robby and I have two sponsor kids through Compassion, a little boy in the Philippines and a girl in Africa. We love to read their letters and to hear how our monthly donations are used. This is a great way to bless children in need throughout the year.

This month, you can also shop Compassion’s Gift Catalog, where you can select an item to give to a family in need—items like Bibles, chickens, goats, pigs, garden seeds, textbooks, bicycles, and more. If you’d like, you can make the one-time donation in honor of a loved one and a card will be sent to them explaining what you donated in their honor. This is a perfect way to honor a loved one and bless a family in need.

Sweet Sleep

Most people are aware that children in poverty need food, shelter, education, and healthcare. What most of us don’t think of is beds. Many children in poverty sleep on bare floors where they’re susceptible to parasites and bacteria. Others are without mosquito nets, leaving them prone to malaria.

Sweet Sleep works with communities throughout the world to provide beds, sheets, and mosquito nets to children in need. This not only gives them comfort, it gives them an opportunity for a future. Sweet Sleep also provides each child with a Bible in their own language, supplying them with faith and a new hope for the future.

This Christmas, pray that the Lord will give you guidance on how to bless those in need, whether they’re in your city or a world away. And may God bless you and your family this Christmas and throughout the New Year.

 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (See Matthew 25:40 NAS.)

When It’s Not About You

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Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations that are…well…they’re just not about us. Perhaps God has His eyes on someone in far greater need; or maybe your role is just to bring others together, to plant a seed, or to make a way for someone else.

This month, I found myself in a very frustrating “it’s not about me” situation. Here’s an excerpt from the blog I wrote, which is now posted at Lift Up Your Day. I hope it encourages you!

Excerpt:

I felt so convicted! While my heart had been turned inward, God’s heart was focused on Lynn and what she needs. I know God loves me as much as He loves Lynn and, yes, this will work out for the good for all of us. (See Romans 8:28.) But this issue is about Lynn and making sure she’s safe in her own home.

In other words, this isn’t about me….

We all love it when God moves in our lives, when we’re the focus of His blessings. But as we grow in the faith, we learn that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NAS). We should want God to trust us to be His messengers, comforters, teachers, and servants. It should be our heart’s desire to be God’s hands and feet in this world.


To read the full blog, click here.

Happy Birthday, Big Sister!

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Happy Birthday! (Photo by Ashley Jones, 2016.)

 

It’s been a full year since this blog, BigSisterKnows, was “born.” Since then, I’ve posted forty-one blogs. Perhaps you read the one about Robby’s garden, our Christmas tree traditions, or my mother-in-law’s taco soup recipe. Whichever ones you read, I hope they blessed you in some small way.

 

In the Beginning

I originally created this blog to “build my platform,” as they say in the publishing world. This meant getting as many readers as possible to follow the blog. Numbers count, so shares, likes, and comments, would be crucial.

The “platform” would also provide a venue to share what I learned as I wrote my Christian living book, Girls with Gusto (still in progress). I liked the idea of using the blog as a way to share my insights and Biblical knowledge with you. I knew this would be my outreach to the world, my ministry.

 

But then…

After a couple months, my frantic drive to post, post, post, calmed down bit, and I started to listen to what you had to say. I read your comments and posts. I noticed what you “liked.” I saw what engaged you and, more importantly, what made a difference to you.

Then I learned something. No matter what I write, it needs to meet a need, a pain point. And because all of this is supposed to glorify God, it should also be encouraging in a sincere and godly way. (No platitudes like “Just keep your chin up” will be spoken here.)

I finally realized that knowledge can only get us so far, even if it’s knowledge of the Bible and God. The real important part is how we feel about that information and how it affects us. We all need to feel God’s love and His hand at work in our lives. We also need to know we’re not in this alone. We need to be lifted up, and we need to lift up others.

 

And Now…

I still have to have a platform to get my book published. I still have some really neat insights I can’t wait to share with you. But I want it all to be meaningful to you, to help you get through the day. To encourage you to look up and see God’s smile over your life.

So, I want to thank you for my blog birthday gift—for all you’ve taught me, whether you’re a regular reader, a fellow blogger, or a close friend who’s said “You know, I’d like to read a blog about….” (No, Rach, I probably won’t post anything on Alabama football, but I do appreciate the suggestion.)

 

Let’s Connect

As for my birthday wish—I want to tap into what you want and need from this blog.

To that end, I’ve created an email newsletter called Friends of BigSisterKnows. I’ll be soliciting feedback and suggestions from time to time, which I’ll use to help determine future blog topics. I’ll also send special information, updates, and freebies (think recipe cards!) that aren’t published directly on the blog site. If you’re interested, you can sign up here: Friend of BigSisterKnows.

You can also contact me directly through the Contact Big Sister page, or you’re welcome to leave comments at the end of individual blogs.

Please let me know what you like, don’t like, or want to see in the future. Every time we connect, it helps me—as a blogger, a writer, and a person who wants to know she’s making a difference.

If you have the time and inclination, please also like, share, and tag. (If you don’t know what that means [Mom], don’t worry about it.)

Thanks again for a great year. Now, let’s get started on Year 2!

~Ashley

The Blessed Beggar

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I saw him as I slowed for the red light. He was a disheveled elderly man sitting cross-legged on the ground next to a red duffle bag. I didn’t bother to read his cardboard sign; it didn’t matter what it said. With my right hand, I reached for the two dollars I keep in my console for just this occasion, and with my left hand I rolled down my window. I motioned him to me, but he was distracted. He had turned to what appeared to be a small dog sitting behind his duffle bag. I was struck by the wide smile that creased across his dirty face as he tenderly scratched the neck of his best friend.

Hungry. What more do we need to know? (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Hungry. What more do we need to know? (Photo by Ashley Jones)

When he did look up, I motioned him over again. I was afraid the light would change before he could manage to unfold himself from the ground and walk over to me. I handed him my meager donation as I said, “Hey there. How are you doing today?” It’s my standard question, and I’ve received many answers, mostly involving complaints about the weather, not having enough food, or insufficient clothing. This man answered differently.

“Thank you! This is really needed. You see, I’ve got this little 7-week old puppy there to take care of….” He turned in the direction of the dog and, again, his face lit up with a smile. I sensed that joy and happiness were new emotions for this man, or at least ones he hadn’t felt in some time.

The light turned green, so I told him quickly as I drove away, “Take care. I’ll pray for you today.” I didn’t even catch his name. But as I drove past his duffle bag, I saw the cutest little blonde puppy sitting on the ground and, I swear, that puppy was smiling. I have never seen a dog more content or a man more overjoyed.

The Blessed Beggar

I drove away a stunned. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps God had placed that puppy in that man’s life to give him something to care for and to love. He now had a responsibility – not just to himself, but to another being – and he was not taking it lightly. I smiled, convinced that little puppy will be fed, even if it’s the last morsel of food that man has to his name.

The Blessed Giver

I then felt God’s presence as He opened my eyes to a bigger picture. Here, this man was taking on the responsibility of feeding another living being, even though he had very little to give. How did my two dollars compare to that man’s generosity? Was I as concerned for his wellbeing as he was for his dog’s? Perhaps God placed that man in my life to give me someone to care for and love, if only for a moment. Was he, as a fellow man, my responsibility? Was I taking that too lightly? Would I be willing to share my last bite of food with him?

I had given that man a couple dollars, enough to help him get a cheeseburger but not so much that it hurt me financially. I had intended this to be a small blessing to him, and I believe it was. I believe I did exactly what God intended me to do.

However, I received a bigger blessing that morning than he did because he reminded me how important it is for us to look beyond ourselves and take care of one another, even when we don’t have much to offer. And I was reminded of the inexplicable joy we receive when we truly give of ourselves in the name of the Lord.

God’s Word

Jesus tells us to serve Him by serving others:

Matthew 25:31-40, NAS  “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

I’ve always loved this scripture, which reminds us to serve one another as we would serve the Lord:

Hebrews 13:1-2, NAS Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Helpful Tips

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to give but didn’t have any cash on you? Don’t miss out on these opportunities! Keep a few dollars in your car or in your purse at all times, designated for donations. I like to use some of my tithe money, which is already earmarked for God’s work. For safety reasons, I keep this cash separate from my wallet so I can pull it out quickly and avoid having to expose all of my cash and credit cards. I also keep my doors locked, and I only stop during daylight hours when others are around.

I know a couple dollars doesn’t stretch very far, so I also like to keep “cracker packets” in my car. These are easy and fun to make, they’re immediately helpful, and they show the recipient that I cared enough to make them in advance. To make them, simply use a rubber band to wrap a couple dollars around a pack of peanut butter crackers. Then add an individually-wrapped hand wipe and a note of encouragement. A business card for the local food pantry, clothes closet, or shelter, can also be added. Be creative and thoughtful, but avoid anything judgmental.

Encouragement

Don’t miss out on serving God! Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you guidance on who you should bless and how. No, we can’t do it all; we can’t save the whole world by ourselves. But we have an important role to play, and God has put needy people in each of our lives for a reason. Seek God’s wisdom. Then serve Him by serving others.