#madm linkup: Food Pantries

MADM-Circle-FinalIt’s time for another Make a Difference Monday Linkup!

Today I want to talk a little bit about canned goods – and how I just have too many of them in my house.

Honestly, if you looked in my pantry, you’d be shocked at what you saw. I don’t consider myself a hoarder, but Tim and I won’t run out of food any time soon. I have cans of soup, cans of fruit, cans of tuna, cans of  veggies…there are boxes of pre-made food and bags of side dishes. There is candy and sweets. There is uncooked pasta and ready-to-use marinades. There is a lot of stuff in that pantry. Some of it will probably go bad before we even get around to eating it.

And then I look at the food pantries around the county. They are always in need of food. They need basic staples to give so that other people can simply eat. They subsist on the kindness of people who have plenty to fill their shelves. They gladly take the day-old bread from Panera so that they can give it to people who have nothing. They work hard and barely have enough to give to the huge need. I even heard that a local pantry is closing their doors this month. It’s so hard to imagine so much need.

So, here’s what you can do.

  • Every time you go to the store, pick up a few extra items. Shop carefully and choose what is on sale if you’re on a tight budget. Because every single can counts
  • Find food drives to participate in locally. If you can’t get to a local food bank (or your community doesn’t have one), grocery stores and the like usually have ways you can still help
  • Donate regularly. I’m sure it eases a lot of people’s minds to know they can count on you, even if it’s just for a few things.
  • Pay attention to your local organization needs.

That last one is important. For example, every year my church collects cans of yams and cranberries in October to go in the Thanksgiving baskets supplied by our local mission. As a church we commit to 1,000 cans of each. We’re a large church, so it shouldn’t take long to get that many, but we always struggle. Why? Because we don’t make it as big of a deal as it really is (that’s hopefully changing this year). If you’re reading this and local, here is some info about the yam & cran drive.

As the holiday time gets closer, I grow more and more aware of just how much I have and just how much others need. Little ways to give make a big difference.



#madm linkup: Sole Hope

make a difference monday

(I may have told you I would stop writing about One Girl last week. Whoops).

I was first introduced to the awesome work that Sole Hope does about a year ago at the Influence Conference (we’ll talk about how sad I am that I missed this year’s conference later). Their premise is so simple. Turn everyday items like jeans, milk jugs and plastic folders into shoe for kids and adults in Uganda.

Taken directly from the Sole Hope Website:

Core Purpose

To effectively put in place preventive methods to combat diseases that enter through the feet and to create a positive physical and spiritual difference in the lives of individuals in impoverished communities.

Core Values

Relief: We believe in addressing the very real and present problems associated with the feet through medical intervention as well as taking preventative physical measures.

Education: We believe that education of the youth and their caretakers is essential for long-term solutions.

Sustainability: We believe in supporting communities and teaching the trade of shoe making. We innovate and demonstrate solutions that combine the best of indigenous and contemporary practice to create sustainable skills and employment.

Pretty impressive, right? What impressed me even more were these images: 200 girls and another 30-40 leaders tracing, cutting and connecting with the mission and vision of Sole Hope at the One Girl Conference:

View More: http://katiekillionphotography.pass.us/onegirl View More: http://katiekillionphotography.pass.us/onegirl If you’re looking for a practical, easy way to make a difference with your small group, a group of friends or just your family, consider Sole Hope. They are super easy to work with and super fun to be in partnership with! I’ve loved every minute of our collaboration. I will update this post with the number of shoes we cut out soon! (We’re still cutting the leftovers and still counting!)


#MADM linkup: What I Learned at One Girl

one girl logoIt happened. One Girl came. One Girl went. I have about a thousand mixed feelings that I can’t quite put into words about the whole weekend-the whole experience-the whole reason behind One Girl. This will be my last Made a Difference Monday post about One Girl (for now). Here’s what I learned about making a difference and running a conference.

  • Everyone needs to feel like they are important. Simple things like smiles, hugs and eye contact make all the difference in the world.
  • Being nice is easy. Truly loving people requires commitment and sacrifice.
  • You are only as good as your team, so surround yourself with amazing people and make sure they know you couldn’t do it without them.
  • Be gracious and kind. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.
  • Expectations can determine reality.
  • Never go into a weekend like this thinking you’ve got it all figured out.
  • Expect the unexpected. And then learn to embrace it.
  • Giving of your time is one thing. Giving of your heart is something else entirely.
  • Smile and laugh a lot.

Next week will be back to regularly scheduled #madmlinkup fun. Right now i’m just too tired from one of the best weekends ever!



#MADM Linkup: It’s One Girl Week!



It’s finally here! It’s One Girl Conference week!! All the prayers, all the preparation, all the sleepless nights (oh wait, those are still happening)…it all comes down to a few hours beginning Friday night and running through Saturday. I could share more about why I feel like One Girl matters here, but you might just want to read this post instead. It’s all there. Why I love One Girl. Why One Girl matters. Why I believe One Girl can change the world, one life at a time.

I’m so excited. We have great numbers so far. 200 girls. 65 moms. 100 volunteers.  We have great content about pursuing God and pursuing a change in the world. We have amazing breakouts scheduled. Heck, we even have cool swag on the way here.  It’s all exciting.

But, the most exciting part for me? That girls that maybe have never believed it before will hear a message of life change:

they are loved

they are pursued by God

they matter

they have a place to belong

they have a story to tell

I cannot wait to tell you all about One Girl next week. But this week, can I ask for your help? I have set up a super simple Google Doc. I would love to cover One Girl in prayer in the hours leading up to and during the conference. Would you pray with me? Here is the link:

Pray for the 2014 One Girl Conference

Put your name, or just that you’ve taken the slot. Thank you!



#MADM Linkup: Where I’ve Been Edition

MADM-Circle-FinalHi! Remember me? I used to blog here. And then the last few weeks happened.  I’ve gone on vacation. My sister got married. There was a long holiday weekend. A dear friend got married this weekend.  Another of my grandfather’s died. Oh, and the One Girl Conference is just a few days away.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. And, every time I go to blog, I have about 1,000 other things that pop up on my list to do. So I do nothing. Paralyzed by the blank blog box and the ever-growing to-do list.

But I miss you girls. I miss the community. I miss knowing you all have my back when I embark on crazy adventures.

Today, I just want to remind you that you can and do make a difference, right now, right where you are.

How do I know?

  • Because you’re engaged with your family and friends.
  • Because you believe in the people in your life.
  • Because you cheer your virtual friends on when their goals seem crazy.
  • Because, just by reading this, I know you want to make a difference.
  • Because you’re still here, living and breathing. That means God’s not done with  you yet.
  • Because I believe in you. I believe in your dreams. I believe in the big and small ways you’re changing everything.

I promise I’ll write a real post again soon. But probably not until after One Girl. Because right now, I’m not just writing about making a difference. I’m praying about it. I’m dreaming about it. I’m willing this conference into existence in just 12 days.



#MADMlinkup: One Small Step


It’s time for another make a difference Monday post! Today I’m super excited to tell you about an awesome event happening in Bloomington on August 30. My friend Sarah is a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, a Christ-follower, and an advocate. She is passionate about her children, passionate about life and passionate about making a difference. I still remember when I heard that her oldest daughter, Lillian, had been diagnosed shortly after birth with Prader-Willi Syndrome. You can read more about PWS here. At the simplest – PWS means Lillian is always hungry, will always be hungry, and will always have to have her food intake carefully controlled.

Out of nowhere, Sarah and her husband had to learn a lot about having a child with a special need, learn how to manage Lillian’s constant hunger, and raise their daughter, despite this unexpected diagnosis in an otherwise uncomplicated pregnancy. While many people would crumble under that kind of struggle, Sarah and her husband rose to the challenge. They are a constant inspiration to me. They have two beautiful children. They have a strong, wonderful marriage. They are tireless supporters of PWS research and believe that a cure is possible for their little girl.

As part of their constant dedication to finding a cure for PWS, Sarah hosts a One Small Step event in Bloomington. One Small Step is a free family event, obstacle course, craft fair and more – all dedicated to helping raise money for PWS. They are raising money through donations and pledges, committing to help other PWS families as they learn how to live with and manage PWS. Here’s a little more about the event:


I am always amazed by Sarah. She fights for her daughter every day. I cannot imagine how tired she can get sometimes. She has to be careful about who she leaves Lily with because they have to know how to manager her food intake. She has to worry about social events and school, both of which center around (often sugary, empty-calorie) food. She has to be strong when the world seems to fight her at every turn.

It’s funny. I emailed Sarah to have her answer some questions for me for this post. Then I realized, all at once, that she doesn’t have time for that right now. She’s a few days away from a big event. Lily started school last week. She has a lot on her plate all the time. So instead, I combed through her facebook page and found some awesome information from when she was doing an awareness month about PWS. This one, in particular, stood out:

“How can friends and family best support you, Lillian, and your family? And on a related note, what actions or things said are NOT helpful, even when really well-intended?”

The best way to support us is to truly understand PWS and the struggle that it is on a daily basis. To know that we try our best to include Lillian in any and everything she can be. We want her to have best friends and sleep overs and play in sports that interest her and exceed in school. And please know that those things are so not easy for us or for her.

It might not come as natural for her as it does for your children, and we’re going to need a lot of grace and understanding when we get frustrated over the circumstances. We might be frustrated because we can’t escape the fact that food is everywhere and it is going to throw a wrench in her ability to focus and cause her distress and anxiety.

It would help if people would realize that food doesn’t have to be involved with every single event/party/celebration. And if it is, it would be helpful if it wasn’t the main focus or used as a “treat” or a prize. It would be helpful if people could get creative with holidays and instead of a candy exchange at every holiday, maybe create a craft or handmade cards or toys to exchange or games to play. It would be helpful if parents considered other children’s dietary issues during sporting events and if the snacks after soccer practice or cheerleading meets or t-ball weren’t loaded with sugar (because that’s a horrible idea anyway).

That being said, what does not help us, but is always meant to be well intended, is when all of those things happen mentioned above, holidays/parties/celebrations etc and they are surrounded by cake/cookies/sugar/candy and then you offer to get a healthy alternative for Lillian. Thank you for the thoughtfulness, I know you mean well and are going out of your way to insure she can be included. And we appreciate that VERY much. It’s still not creating a safe environment for her though, or any child with parents who would prefer not to indulge their children due to behavioral issues or allergies. Trust me when I say, there are a lot of moms who struggle and have a difficult time with this but choose not to say anything to you. I hope that this doesn’t come across as ungrateful, because every single one of our closest/best friends and family have done exactly this. And it’s thoughtful and we appreciate it and the thought really does count. Unfortunately it’s just not all that helpful.



You can read all of the questions and answers Sarah covered here: https://www.facebook.com/onesmallstepbloomington

If you feel inclined, donate to the One Small Step  – Bloomington event here: http://onesmallstep.fpwr.org/dw/walking/location/993

Sarah, you are an inspiration to me every single day!




#MADMlinkup: #IamN

936049_816153555085953_4083501225951310831_nI usually use my Make a Difference Monday posts to talk about uplifting, encouraging, practical ways that you can help your neighbors and friends. Today, though, I am addressing a bigger, scarier, and more personal issue.

The news this week has been overwhelming to say the least. Ebola. Kidnappings. Hurricanes. Destruction. All horrible things. And then, there is the news coming out of Iraq. Thousands of Christians are being forced to run for their very lives. Hundreds have been killed for refusing to denounce their faith. Women and being raped before being murdered. Children are being beheaded. Men and being shot and killed in the streets. Those that have run are facing starvation.

It makes my stomach hurt and it makes my head hurt and it breaks my heart. As a Christian, I am horrified. I cannot help but think of my own faith and my own life. I wonder what I would do in that situation. I wonder if I would have the strength to stand up for my faith. I wonder what I would do if the people I love were being killed in the streets. I wonder what would happen to me.

As a human being, I am disgusted by the blatant disregard for human life. I know I live a life of blissful ignorance and safety. But the fact that there are people in the world that are willing to do this to other people, who think that they have the right to do this to other people, makes me sick. Regardless of your faith, you should be angered and disgusted by the atrocities happening around the world, including, but not limited to the ISIS genocide in Iraq.

So where does that leave us on this Monday morning? We are small individuals on the other side of the world. What can we do to help? Is there anything, really we can do?

First of all, pray. If you profess a faith, use it. Pray for the people being persecuted. Pray for the children losing their parents. Pray for the children losing their lives. Pray for our government and leaders as they look to Iraq and try to think of a response to the horrors Pray for peace and understanding between religions. Pray for strength. Pray for life. Pray for peace. Pray for those without voices.

Use social media wisely. The response is outrage, and I get that. I AM OUTRAGED. But, use your power of social media wisely. Follow the #IamN hashtag to read stories and lend your voice to the cause. Don’t lash out and assume all people associated with a religion are like this rebels. Use your voice to ask for an end to the horror, but be careful not to add to it.

Research ways to help. I was going to list ways to help here, but they’re overwhelming. Start with your local church. Ask them what they are willing to do to help. Champion this cause if they’re not yet doing anything. Be careful with your money, but use it. You might help a new refugee find a new life and a new home.

Talk honestly and openly about what scares you, what inspires you and what matters to you in this darkest hour.

Above all, love the people around you. Hold them close. Do not take them for granted.