The gifts weren't donated to families in need. They were sold.
For $2 each.
Why? So that parents that would normally not be able to purchase gifts for their
children would be able to do so without simply receiving a “hand-out.”
And the really, really cool part?
The money raised by the sale of the gifts was poured back into partner schools in two communities.
And get this.... The same exact thing happened in Joliet as well as Aurora!
9,500 toys collected.
3,500 community members blessed in Aurora & Joliet.
$11,500 raised for schools by the Aurora Gift Mart alone!
I'm telling you... This was one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of!
And Orchard.....you guys are AMAZING! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the 800+ toys you donated and to all of you who were a part of serving at the Gift Mart event! What a beautiful way to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
I have no idea why I thought of this, but did you know they have Shakey's Pizza in Tokyo? I remember walking through the Takeshita-dori district (I think...) and seeing one. For some reason that blew my mind. Apparently, they're all over there. Anywho.
Whenever people ask how they can pray for me, I almost always ask them to pray the same two things I pray for almost daily for myself and our church community.
The first prayer is this:
1. God, help me to hear Your voice.
I honestly believe that the most important thing I can do as a husband, father, leader, follower of Jesus, etc... is to HEAR God's voice in my life. I'm just convinced that as long as I have my ears and heart open to hearing God's voice in my life than I cannot go wrong! Which also means, that the minute I stop listening/hearing.... Oh man. I'm in trouble!
It's almost hard to put into words how dependent I feel like I've become on hearing God's voice in my life these days. I've never valued it as strongly as I do today. Which is why, if I go a day or two without having that time to just get quiet and listen, my soul begins feeling dry and weary.
One of the best decision I've ever made was the decision to aggressively and intentionally protect the best part of my day (mornings) and reserve that time for the most important parts of my life - praying, journaling, reading, writing.....LISTENING to God's voice. And it's why I don't do early morning breakfasts with people, meetings, phone calls, etc... Because I've decided that the most important part of my life deserves the best part of my day.
I'm excited about our community being a part of Advent Conspiracy again this year! This was an awesome experience for us last year as we had the rewarding opportunity to give a significant amount towards clean water projects in some really thirsty areas around the world. (Learn more about what we were a part of here.)
In case you're not familiar with Advent Conspiracy, here's a great video that communicates the idea behind it.
The programs aren't sacred. The methods aren't sacred. The ministries aren't sacred. The service times aren't sacred. The communication style isn't sacred. The committees aren't sacred. The bylaws aren't sacred. The denomination isn't sacred. The style of music isn't sacred. The color of carpet isn't sacred. The font that's used on in the bulletin isn't sacred.
The only thing that's sacred is the mission of Jesus.