Go Giver Collective

I have exciting news, friends!

 Go Giver Blog has found an official place to call home at http://www.gogivercollective.com!

I am so happy to announce not only that this blog is an official “.com” but also that Go Giver is turning into Go Giver Collective.

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I know there are some questions as to why there would be a change, so I will just take the time to answer them right here!

Will Go Giver Collective still have the same message of Go Giver Blog? 

YES! Absolutely! This blog will still have the content you love about life, positivity, and helping others. I am just adding a bit new content to some of the posts I have started to add a little already.  The blog will have more posts about small things like travels, clothes, or books along with the theme of Go Giver. Go Giver Collective will be a place to continue to share the message of being active givers in our world instead of being major consumers in all aspects of life.

Why choose Go Giver Collective as the new blog title? 

Like I said, this blog is first and foremost about giving encouragement, truth and love to others. The word “collective” means that something is “done by people acting as a group or cooperative enterprise.” The goal of Go Giver is to not only encourage readers, but to also challenge readers to live a life of giving as well. If we all work together to share a little light to others, the world (and social media), can be a much brighter place.

Will there still be weekly posts? 

YES! The blog will still be updated every Saturday. However, there may be a few more posts added during the middle of the week as more content is added and more posts are written.

How can I get the latest updates about posts and projects? 

There are several different ways to keep up with Go Giver Collective. You can “like” the Facebook Page, subscribe to be a reader on WordPress, follow me on Twitter, or follow me on Instagram. Twitter and Facebook tend to have the quickest updates about blog posts soon to be under the new hashtag #GoGiverCollective and you can look at past posts by following #GoGiverBlog.

Thank you so much for your support, this would not be possible without all of you!

Thank you for coming along on this exciting new adventure with me and the new Go Giver Collective!

Much love. Much grace.

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The Truth About Refugees

Liz a dear friend of mine. I have known her for about 4 years and while she is younger than me, I have always seen her as a mentor and leader. She is full of such compassion for others, especially those in from other cultures who are in need. Her gracefulness is an attribute I strive for everyday. Liz is such a wonderful woman and I hope you enjoy her post as much as I do!

When Chelsea first asked me several weeks ago to write a piece about refugees, I had no idea that by the time this was done, refugees would be a major, controversial news topic.

When I wrote the first draft, almost no American news outlets were talking about refugees. There had been no attack on Paris. There was no nationwide debate over admitting Syrian refugees. No one was breaking down the refugee process, and no governors were sending letters to the White House about refugee policy.

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Photo by: Mitra Dhital

But now that all of that has changed—now that we all know more than we ever knew before about refugees and have arrived at our new opinions of what should be done—what I have to say hasn’t changed a bit.

You see, my husband and I spent the last two years working for a refugee ministry in a major US city, living in an apartment complex that housed several hundred resettled refugees. Our complex held mostly Bhutanese-Nepalis, but we were also blessed to have neighbors from the Congo, Burma, Cambodia, and Iraq. For two years, it was our job to help them with anything they needed, most often dealing with the medical and immigration systems, though we also led citizenship classes, taught Bible stories to the kids, and helped a house church get started.

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Nepal is right between India and China. Bhutan is North of Bangladesh and Southwest of China.

Through months and years spent eating together, living together, and worshiping together, we became friends and more than friends with these precious people. We walked together through sicknesses, births, holidays, and everyday life. We learned that they and their children have experienced more trauma than most of us can imagine. Every refugee story is unique, yet each has a tragic common thread—violent displacement from homes and land, coupled with fear for their safety if they try to return. Most of our friends had spent upwards of twenty years stuck in UN-controlled camps, not allowed to work or relocate, waiting and praying for something to change.

Unfortunately, the trauma doesn’t necessarily end for most refugees when they arrive on US soil. After years of waiting, they are suddenly thrust from shacks or tents into a modern apartment in a large American city. Many don’t know what a refrigerator or oven does, and they often use these appliances as storage space. We even heard of a family in another city drinking toilet water because they didn’t know how to use the sink! Most families feel overwhelmed, isolated, and helpless after arrival, unable to speak English, drowning in culture shock, and with little or no natural support network. The volunteer agencies that are legally responsible for refugees after arrival do all that they can, but usually the agencies’ resources are stretched impossibly thin. Often, all they do is rent an apartment, drop the refugees off at it, and give them a bus pass to get to English classes.

What refugee families need most as they walk through the long transition period is a friend who can help them gain confidence and competence in their new host culture. This can be through something as small as taking them to the supermarket or having a meal together—things that anyone with a little time can do! These sweet people have come to our nation from war-torn lands, often with no access to the Gospel and little hope for their earthly lives, and they are here in our cities, waiting for someone to notice them, care for them, love them. You don’t need any special qualifications to help them—just find out if there are refugees in your city and who is helping them already, and existing ministries would be happy to have you volunteer!

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Photo credit: CNN.com

It is my prayer that this short piece helps you see refugees a little less as a political discussion and a little more as people. Rather than arguing over whether or not to accept more, why don’t we spend a few hours of our time showing the love of Christ to those who are already here? Why don’t we welcome the stranger with love? Why don’t we walk through life with other people just as broken as we are, other mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, and see what we can learn from each other? I don’t know whether or not Christ would approve of the politics on either side, but I know He is honored when His people choose to show love. May we reflect Him in our lives as we serve the orphan, the widow, and the stranger.

Grace and peace.

Liz

Liz is a proud graduate of Louisiana Tech University, though she currently does absolutely nothing related to her degree. She and her husband have spent the past two years working with a refugee ministry on the West Coast and are briefly back in Louisiana before moving overseas to work with Muslims. She enjoys reading, hunting, fishing, learning about other cultures, and thinking about exercise but not actually doing it.

Apathy.

Loss. Destruction. Hurt. Fear. Agony. Distrust.

These are just a few of the emotions and realities that have come the past few days.

But fortunately for us Americans, we can soon forget all these things. There will be no one to remind us of these horrible events. The media will soon move forward, social media will spin into Christmas mode, and the thought of all of these events will be less than memories in our hyper, fast-paced, American minds.

We won’t have to worry about the Syrian refugees walking onto our soil in masses in search of help and care like European countries.

We won’t need to rebuild our cities and public entertainment centers destroyed by a suicide bomber.

We won’t have to try to rebuild thousands of years of history because of a massive earthquake literally ripping our culture from its foundation.

Our reality, as Americans, is that we will be more worried about cooking our huge meals for our families, finding the perfect gift for our loved ones, and we will continue to fight about who is the loudest candidate running for President. We will fall back into our habit of picking apart each other’s opinions, Facebook status’, and outward appearances. We will return to being jealous when a friend does well on a project, being angry about immigrants coming to our country, and looking down on those living in poverty. We will continue to fight each other to be the best, fastest, or most liked.

How can we claim a life of love, and yet give none of it- How can we claim a life of limitless opportunity, and not allow everyone the chance to experience it-

While we definitely have problems of our own, abandoning the plights of others seems incredibly selfish and small-minded. We see the struggles, fears, and life-threatening circumstances of those in other places everyday on the news, and yet can find a way to justify our forgetfulness and apathy. We want to help, as long as it doesn’t affect us. We think that the refugees need homes, but are unwilling to give them our own. We feel the sadness of the attacks in Paris, but the next day decide to fight about Facebook pictures.

How can we claim a life of love, and yet give none of it? How can we claim a life of limitless opportunity, and not allow people the chance to experience it?

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I feel turmoil and anguish writing these words. Not out of fear, but of great sadness. The loss is so great; and yet all we can seem to muster is a Tweet that hopes those in need will find somewhere else to go.

But I am asking, if not to us, then where?

Why not us?

Friends who claim lives of love and peace in Jesus Christ: why are we so unwilling to help the helpless? Excluding our “rights” to freedom, liberty, and saving our economic system, is there a justifiable reason? Who are we to turn away the needy? Are we not instructed to give freely, even at the risk of our own safety?

Please know that I write these words with love and not judgement or anger. I write this blog to be a light in an ever-dark cyberspace. Sometimes that light comes out as encouragement. Other times that light must be truth. We must be aware of our fellow man in hurt and agony. We must show compassion and love to those in need.

Now is the time.

Much love. Much grace.

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“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless,tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

-Statue of Liberty

Working In A Pregnancy Information Center

I was so excited that Jessica agreed to write for “Perspectives” this week! She is a dear friend of mine with a heart full of such compassion for others. We have been close friends for over four years, and she has kept up her love for others the entire time I have known her.  Jessica’s passion for people has taken her down a different road than she ever imagined.

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As I sit here trying to put words and thoughts onto paper, I am watching the cursor blink repeatedly. I am struggling to find the appropriate, most impactful words to describe what Chelsea has asked me write about: my job. You see, I have a unique job. It is controversial, rewarding, and challenging.

 I am the Executive Director at a pregnancy information center. The Back Porch is a pregnancy information center that is located directly across the street from an abortion clinic. I counsel women every day who are literally minutes away from getting an abortion.

 After my husband and I graduated from Louisiana Tech University, we moved to Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Canada is a long way from my Louisiana roots, but we know that God has called us here to work in church planting. My husband and I are here to build relationships with people, share the Gospel, and start new churches. When we moved here last summer as missionaries, it was the biggest leap of faith we’ve ever taken.

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Leaving everything we’ve ever known. Leaving family and friends. Not knowing if I would get a job. Adjusting to a new culture and lifestyle.

But God was faithful. He provided me with a job at The Back Porch within the week we arrived in Edmonton. I have always had a passion to help women and this job fit the bill perfectly.

 In Canada, there are no legal restrictions on abortion which means that it’s an option to the mother for the entire 9-months of the pregnancy. Yes, let that sink in. Also, the Back Porch is one of only two centres in the entire country of its kind. Most abortion clinics have legal injunctions, or bubble zones, that strictly prohibit any pro-life activity inside that zone. If you violate that bubble zone, then you will have to answer to the law. Well, our bubble zone at The Back Porch happens to be very small which allows us to do our unique work in talking to clients in their 11th hour.

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I’m not going to lie to you. It’s not easy working where I do every day. There are times when I ask myself, “Can I keep doing this?” I watch hundreds of women each month walk across the street to have an abortion. I watch ambulances pick up clients when something has gone wrong. Some clients leave the clinic relieved and other clients leave the clinic doubled over in pain and sickness. There is no stereotype for a woman who seeks an abortion. I have seen and heard stories that make me cry tears of sadness and utter disbelief and tears of joy. It’s easy to get discouraged when there are more women who choose death over life for their unborn child.

But I know that God has placed me here for a season of growth.

He has taught me that I cannot do this on my own strength. I can only rely on Him to get me through the discouraging times. He has taught me how to be a better leader. He has strengthened abilities that I never knew I had inside me. Sometimes I do need to an occasional escape to the mountains to rejuvenate, but that’s okay because I have learned this past year that God commands us to rest. I can’t do this all on my own.

I could tell you countless stories, but there are those rare times where God gives me a glimpse of exactly why He placed me here. He gives me the pleasure to meet precious babies whose lives have been saved through this ministry! And when I meet them, hold their fragile bodies, smell that baby scent, and look into their beautiful eyes, I say to myself, “It’s worth it. This is what it’s all about.”

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Jessica Bennett is a wife and friend who is a Southern girl living in Canada. She enjoys spending quality time with family and friends. She and her husband, Justin, share a love for the outdoors, coffee, and their sweet cat, Millie. Her passion in life is to experience travel and adventure and be Christ’s Love to those along the way.

Digging Deep

Making friends and starting relationships has always been a bit of a difficult task for  me. When I was younger I would make friends, but then move on to the next ones quickly, effortlessly and without a second thought.

Part of this I owe to the multiple locations that my family has lived since moving tends to make friendships harder to keep up with and to start in general. Now that I am older, I am about to move on to a new part of life. I will be graduating from college in a few months and I keep feeling that there is no point in creating new relationships since I will be leaving in a short time. Why cause unnecessary heartbreak or waste anyone’s time?  I feel this way because I tend to be such a tourist in life. I have always loved meeting new people and having new experiences for the excitement… but once I decided I wanted to know that person on a deeper level, that friendship became too difficult for either me or the other person. I would enjoy learning about the deepest fears or joys a person has, which in the world we live in is  scary for most people to acknowledge or feel comfortable doing.

This behavior makes loving others so difficult.

It becomes harder to love that person once you know them on a deeper level…. because you truly know that person. You come to know their quirks and habits, but also what dreams they have or who they find facinating. We as people -even if you aren’t a part of the Millennial generation- are finding these relationships take too much time, energy, and are ultimately not worth the time.

What if we spend months or years getting to know someone and then not like them? Or what if they find they don’t like me for who I am?

All of these are FEAR. Fear of commitment. Fear of intimacy. Fear of rejection. We are beginning to let our relationships be overrun by fear.

But perfect love casts out fear.

If you are familiar with the Bible (even if you aren’t), you have heard 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. One of the most common verse passages spoken at weddings, but one that shows what love is even in platonic friendships. It talks about what love is, and isn’t. The last few words say that “love always perseveres”. Even through the fear, the quirks, the joy. Love is supposed to keep going forever.

This is such a hard message to accept. This means I cannot be a tourist. It means that I must try to dig deep to help the roots of relationships grow. Even if I am in a place for a short amount of time, I need to invest in others and love on them.

Love does not care about the time had, but about the effort put into the relationships.

Give love. And give it deeply. Get to know those around you, even if you are just passing through.  I encourage you, no CHALLENGE you to make deeper friendships.

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