I’m struggling. I feel torn between what is going on in the world and what is going on in my own little bubble. I keep seeing things on the news or on Facebook and the tears just fall. Aside from all of the hurt going on in our country and in our world, there is so much hurt here in our city. Homes wrecked from the hurricane. Senseless murders. Children and families with unspeakable trauma. Hungry people. Sick animals.

And then there are the little things that keep gnawing at my hope. A shopping cart left right in the middle of a parking space. What kind of monster just blocks an entire parking space with a shopping cart? A 75 year old lady straight up skipping me in line at Michaels (I honestly wasn’t sure if I was more annoyed or impressed by that one.) Law saying “hello” to someone and that person not saying “hello” back.

I feel so helpless. I feel like all of these hurting peoples’ lives deserve my thoughts, my attention, my prayers. I stay up at night thinking about these people. How do I keep from neglecting my own emotional needs? How do I open my heart and protect it at the same time? I keep trying to pull myself out of it, so I paint or I hug Law or I pray. I talk to Chase. I think about Thanksgiving and Christmas and family. I try to meditate. That one never works.

But then I feel guilty for all of the excess; all of the food that is cooked and then thrown away. All of the things that will be bought as gifts when the last thing we need are more THINGS. There’s a tug of war between the pieces of heaven that we get here on earth and the pieces of hell that we get here on earth. There is so much tension. Can you feel it?

I keep asking God to show himself. I need to see him, to feel his presence, and to know that he is still King. He still runs things. It’s hard when all of the evidence around me says otherwise. I suppose that’s why they call it faith.

One of the good things about being in the mental health field is that I know a lot of the tricks when it comes to how our minds work. I know how to pull myself out of a funk (when it’s an actual funk and not clinical anxiety or depression). I know that whenever I feel overwhelmed with all of the evil around me, it helps me emotionally and mentally to help someone else. In a way I suppose helping others is kind of selfish of me.

Giving Tuesday came at the perfect time. How do we overcome evil? By doing good – relentlessly, recklessly, and intentionally. We set fire to the world with kindness. That is where hope lies. Will you join me by giving whatever you can today? Here are a few of my favorite charities, causes, and nonprofits. I hope you’ll consider donating something; whether it is money, time, goods, or prayers. Do it for others, but do it to help strengthen your own heart as well.

Albany Humane Society  – Albany Humane Society and Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center take care of so many animals and work hard to find them forever homes. Their workers and volunteers are so passionate about the furbabies there that a few of them rode out Hurricane Michael at the shelter so the animals wouldn’t be alone. You can go to the site, click “donate” and choose whether you want to specifically give to operating expenses, pets requiring vet care, spay and neuter assistance, TNR (trap, neuter, return), or building repair/remodel. You can also donate on Facebook.

Chehaw Park – “While our main priority is to ensure that all of our animals are taken care of at the highest possible standards, the financial burden is immense without a steady stream of revenue from budgeted attendance and events. For example, the cost of direct care for some of Chehaw’s animals for only ONE DAY is probably higher than most realize: Two Rhinos (Sam and Dubya): $100/day or $36,500/year, Four Cheetahs (Ellie, Rhaegal, Viserion, Drogon) $80/day or $29,200/year, Two Camels (Bogart and Audrey): $45/day or $16,425/year, Lemur Troop: $70/day or $25,550/year. This cost includes things like various forms of coastal hay, peanut hay, alfalfa cubes, fresh produce, specialized grains and meat, necessary supplements, training rewards, additional heat or A/C, and zookeeper care. This does not include things like additional veterinary care, medications, vehicle maintenance, gas, etc. Caring for over 240 animals in the Zoo EVERY DAY can quickly become overwhelming. Please consider helping with the immediate animal care needs while we work to rebuild the Park and Zoo that we all know and love. #chehawstrong”

Liberty House – The Liberty House of Albany serves as a temporary shelter for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. It services over 17 counties in Southwest Georgia. They work collaboratively with the community to raise awareness, strengthen policies and improve coordination to support survivors and end violence.  I have personally met and worked with many of the women who have lived at the Liberty House and what they do here in Albany is truly remarkable. You can go to the bottom of their website or to their Facebook page to donate.

Happy Generation Children’s Ministry – This is an orphanage in Uganda run by my friend, Loy, and her husband, Abraham. The orphanage is committed to ensuring the well-being of all young orphaned, impoverished, abandoned, and sick children. They are currently renting their building, but their dream is to build a home for these children. You can sponsor a child, feed a child, send a child to school, or donate to the building fund through their website.

Campus Outreach Lexington – This one is a little more personal since it’s my brother’s ministry. My brother is on staff with Campus Outreach in Lexington as the Director of Mobilization and Staff Health. Andy meets with staff and helps mentor and disciple the college students in the Lexington area. Campus Outreach exists to spread the good news of Jesus and to make disciples of all nations. This cause is close to my heart. You can donate by following the link and clicking “give online”.

Together Rising – This is a nonprofit run by one of my favorite writers in the world, Glennon Doyle. Together Rising “exists to turn our collective heartbreak into effective action”. They provide food, shelter, clothing, medicine – whatever is most needed to whomever most needs it – immediately. They respond when crises hit. They have provided life-saving aid to refugees in Aleppo and across Syria, including the purchase of two ambulances and a mobile hospital, as well as funding a pediatric hospital. They have built a maternity wing in Haiti so women could give birth with dignity, and provided clothing and strollers to mothers giving birth in refugee camps in Berlin, Germany. They match families in need with families who would love to give for the holidays. They truly are the hands and feet of Jesus. You can give on their website or on Facebook.

Shine Village Initiative – Uganda – Preserving families, preventing orphans, proclaiming the gospel. Matt and Lovelyn Palm seek to empower families in rural Uganda toward self-sustainability. They are raising money to purchase land which will be used for sustainable agriculture – including crops and livestock. “In addition to assisting the families in our empowerment program, it will supply the ministry’s needs that are currently being purchased elsewhere. For example, the chickens will supply the nearly 600 eggs that we currently purchase every week for our Saturday outreach. A rain water collection system will also be crucial in this phase for sustainable water for the crops and livestock.” They also have a shop full of products made by Ugandan artisans. Empower these families even further by doing some of your Christmas shopping there. Win/win! Click the link to check out their website, donate, and shop. You can also donate on Facebook.

If we can’t save lives and drown out all of the evil in the world, let’s do what we can with what we have. Let’s love our family and friends, let’s help others, and let’s look for God in all of this.

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