Volunteering in Your Community

It is good. It is necessary for a healthy community. Someone needs to do it.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction… (James 1:27)

Some have volunteer opportunities everywhere they turn. Others have limited circles and no known connections. If you want to help others, how do you make it happen?

Know your calling. Why do you want to do anything? What, in a broad sense, are you called to do? Remind yourself of your motivation so that you can serve from the heart and not just off the checklist.

…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Know your availability. You can’t give what you don’t have. If you aren’t free 20 hours a week, don’t sign up to work 3 days a week at the neighborhood thrift store. Before you make any decisions about what you will do to offer a cup of cold water to anyone, know when and how much time you can offer.

Know your gifts. What are you good at? If you love nothing more than serving dinner to the entire block, a soup kitchen is probably a good fit. If you are an extrovert and communicate well, leverage those people skills on a one-to-one basis or as a group leader or teacher. If you prefer limited small talk and being outside, check into a list of houses needing yard work or repairs from a local church or agency. Habitat for Humanity is a lot of fun as a group project and serves great needs. I am by no stretch of the imagination a contractor, but I have enjoyed several years of builds with that program.

Know your possibilities. Start asking. Talk to friends. Let people know you are exploring options. Get ideas. Research local agencies. Call places and ask questions about need. Brainstorm. Pull together a list or pool of what might work. Now you have what you need to make a choice.

Enjoy! Put your heart into it and be blessed.

Protect August

Well, now, y’all, I am tired. Producing more than refueling. So much to do…like writing a blog post.

You’d think that all the principles of margin and time management we discuss here would cut that out forever. But, no. Some times in life are simply a marathon to push through until the finish line. We’ve chosen wisely and planned well, but sometimes we are called to do a lot. It’s a heavy load.

So today…since I need to write a blog post anyway…let’s talk about being in that kind of a push. What am I doing to handle the load?

First of all, pray for grace and strength. You need it. He loves to give it as we rely on Him.

Then, look for the light at the end of the tunnel and protect it. With the end in sight, you will push through in hope. Will there be a break at the weekend? Do you have a vacation scheduled in a couple of months? Will the project be over in 6 weeks? Take a minute to think about what is coming and make sure it doesn’t get overrun. You will need it.

For this household, it is August. We are not planning, or accepting, or scheduling, any new commitments or responsibilities during that month. It’s not a month off (a vacation), but a month with all the breathing room we can get our hands on. We will work hard during the week, then we will have weekends and most evenings to relax and restore. That time is necessary to recover from a push like this, as well as being a HUGE motivator on the long days. If I know it is coming, I can hold out better!

Although it may be tempting, don’t stop prioritizing. You will keep first things first AND hopefully catch a few things that don’t actually need to happen right now. Those can be pushed to a time when you have more time and energy — or cut out entirely.

Cut the corners you can. Dinner tonight is from the slow cooker. Quesadillas are a quick and easy option for another night. Do surface cleaning as maintenance, but deep clean the storage closet another time, far in the future. I love cooking meals from scratch with fresh ingredients, but this is not the week for that. Accept it, and move on.

Finally, don’t give up good habits you have made. It’s tempting to cut out planning time or prayer time or routines, but now is the time you really see the worth of your effort. Hang on!