Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fundraising 101

It's that time of year around here.

Not just in my home, but in my community at large.

And we love it.

People are preparing for all kinds of missions trips.

We've been so excited to be able to give to people traveling domestically with the Thorn Production, friends serving at an orphanage in Africa, kids leading soccer camps in Argentina, teens leading Young Life Camps here in Colorado, friends fundraising for an adoption, and young leaders with YWAM headed all over the world --- to name a few.

In the past few years alone, our children have made multiple trips to Mexico, Germany, Alabama, and Trinidad and Tobago.

I am thankful we live in a place where there is a culture of giving -- and going.

Today, I'd like to give you an inside look at our "fundraising" process for those also considering whether or not they can  afford to send there kids on mission.

1.  We encourage savings -- ALL YEAR LONG.  The average cost of a trip has been approx $2,200 per person.  In the past, Elizabeth has been able to save over $1,000 in a year -- and Hosanna (even without a job) has been able to save more than $500 to put towards her own costs.

2.  We insist that our children pay a portion of their own way before we seriously look at fundraising.  We want our children to be the first to take THEIR calling, THEIR mission seriously.  We remind them that it's a perfectly legitimate way for them to spend their birthday money.  If they aren't willing to "pay a price" -- or sacrifice for the sake of going -- we don't feel it's fair to ask other people too.

The cost we expect up front from a particular child is based on the child's age and ability to earn money.  Generally, any where from $300 - $500.

3.  Next, we sit down with the child(ren) and come up with SEVERAL ways for them to WORK and EARN the money.  Our older daughters have regular, paying jobs.  Easy.  Our younger children have to be creative.

Besides the usual babysitting and misc household chores they can do for the neighbors, Victoria can knit like a machine.  Here is a sample of her work:

She uses bulky yarn and knits on a loom for accuracy.  She is currently selling this hat/scarf set for a $30 donation.

Here's another example:

Victoria also makes and sells homemade laundry soap in 5 gallon buckets.  $15 per bucket.

Our neighbors and friends buy her soap and switch out their empty bucket for a full bucket when necessary.  She also sells homemade Glass and All Purpose Cleaner for $5 per container.

** Let me add a little note here:  Victoria profits off her scarves and laundry soap BECAUSE HER PARENTS BUY ALL HER SUPPLIES.  More on that later.

Benjamin wants to do "manly" chores.  Fine then.  He began by making a flyer which he attached to neighbor's doors with a rubber band.  Whereas it's not quite time for Coloradans to begin mowing their grass, all the snow/dirt/slush this time of year does make for messy cars.  He advertised he would come to their home, detail and wash their car for a $20 donation.  His mother also insists that he be a Poopper Scooper.  I do not allow any job to be "beneath them" at this point.

Insert (and expect) kink:  Shortly after the flyers went out, Benjamin broke his foot in a basketball game.  Cast and Physical Therapy for approx 9 weeks.  This makes any walking/standing activity difficult.  No impossible, but difficult.

Since he was limited, we decided to do an Intercessory Prayer Calendar.

Benjamin has been "selling" dates on his calendar.  If you buy April 1st, the cost is $1.  If you buy April 21st, the cost is $21.  When someone signs up to be his "intercessor" for that day, in exchange for their donation, Benjamin is mailing them an "Map" put out by Every Home for Christ (which we got free from our church) and a list of "Prayer Points" both for his mission trip and the country in general.  It's a great family activity -- and great for Ben to have had to sit down and research concerning the country he'll be working in.

We have several dates available April 4 - 14, and April 22 - 28.  

I allow them to use my facebook to advertise and from there they branch out to neighbors, their own friends, and family.

4.  Billy and I sit down and decide how much we can contribute to the trip.  After all, they are our kids.  In the past, we have funded anywhere from 30% - 100% of their trip costs.  However, we do not offer this money until after the work is done.  We want our kids to work as hard as possible to cover the costs themselves.  After all, they are going to work, to give.  It's not a vacation.

Also, if I decide that in March, for example, I can give my son $200 towards the costs of his trip, why not have him work for it?  In the past the kids have cut coupons, helped dad with yard work, maintained our cars, etc to get their money from mom and dad.  It's a win-win.

This also goes towards fundraising supplies.  If I ALREADY plan to give Victoria $15, why not buy her yarn to knit a scarf she can then sell for $30.

5.  At this point, they are well on their way to earning their own money for their trip.  Therefore, we now allow them to send out "support letters".  Again, because we live in an area where giving -- and going -- is a part of the culture, people are accustomed to such letters and WANT to be apart of young people learning to live on a mission.

Truthfully, we probably couldn't do it without the generous support of our family and friends.  It takes a village and we are so so deeply grateful for ours.

6.  Finally, we sit down as a family and discuss different ways to use our gifts and talents to create fundraising events -- and sometimes involve others who are fundraising in our efforts.

Events Calendar

Kindermusik Playdate, March 26th at 10am
Ages 4 months - 6 years and a caregiver
$10 suggested donation per child

Mountain Dew Cakes
$10 suggested donation per cake
Will deliver, Saturday March 30th

Car Wash, TBA

Krispie Kreme Doughnuts

In this way, we raise the remainder of the funds $10 at a time.  $10 becomes $100 -- and $100 hopefully becomes $500.

We pray that God would bless and multiply our efforts.

Does that sound like a lot of work?  It is.  Lot's of work -- added on to our regular, already full lives -- for several months a year. 

But, if my kids can't handle it -- how are they suppose to handle the hard work that comes from being set in a foreign culture, with foreign language and food, little sleep, and physical labor in the hot sun for up to 10 days at a time?

Worth it?  I think, yes.  The training process, the giving, the sacrificing, the hard work, the going -- all worth it.

Until next time,


Friday, March 15, 2013

{13 Great Books in 2013} - Plain and Simple

As far as raising our family is concerned, Billy and I have never been good at following other people's prescribed formulas.

We have tried.

We have every Heritage Builders book in the tool chest.

We have books on family date nights, family vacations, family devotions, and on and on and on......

We have programs for organized chores, scripture memory, christian education, teen dating, and on and on and on....

Never made ANY of it work.  You heard me.  Never.

It took awhile, but eventually, we gave up following other people's to-do-lists for the most part.

Don't get me wrong.  We love hearing other people's stories.

We love advice, listening to teaching and we actively seek out mentors.  We read  ALL.  THE.  TIME.

However, we have learned that there is no substitute for praying and trying to hear God's guidance on behalf of your own family.  There is no substitute for cooperating with what God is already trying to do in the lives of your children.

We believe this so much so -- that all our parenting advice to others boils down to READ THE BIBLE - DO WHAT IT SAYS.  PRAY, COOPERATE WITH WHAT GOD IS ALREADY TRYING TO DO.

In a nut shell, I guess, we are just simply better at writing our own.

When Elizabeth and Hosanna were babies, around early '97,  I found this book....

It starts off with the sentence, "I'm a lousy mom."  I sympathized.
Basically, it's a sweetly written, honest look at Carol Brazo's journals during the years she stayed at home with her 3 children.  3 children which she birthed in just under 3 years.  

A blog - before we knew what blogs were.  

In her accounts of every day life, she referenced reading a book by Sue Bender called Plain and Simple - and the journey she took to the Amish.

Bender is provided a unique perspective when she's allowed to live with an Amish family for a time and absorb their culture.

Carol Brazo wrote of Bender's book, "Many books provide enjoyment.  This book nourished deep places inside me."  

When you love a particular author and they suggest a book they love -- you just go right out and buy the book, yes?  So, I did.  And I've read 2 times a year ever since.

I've been accused of being boring, ridiculas and well, obsessed with the Amish.  I, however, am pretty sure I am none of these things.

The author writes of the Amish, "No distinction was made between the sacred and the everyday...their life was all one piece.  It was all sacred and all ordinary."

I told Billy once, "What if we (and our children for that matter) are just...ordinary"?  A question I think about often.  I, like many, many of you, crave a life of meaning.

This little gem can be read in a couple of hours.  And provide you with an awesome dose of soul nourishment to boot!  It's out of print, so plan to buy used.

That my ordinary life is sacred -- and therefore wrought with well...words I longed to hear way back then, in 1997, as well as right now, today.

Blessings my friends.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

{13 Great Books in 2013} - The Way of the Wild at Heart

The day my son turned 13, I was at the pediatrician's office.

Me, "Something's wrong.  He's got ADD, ADHD, he eats too many carbs, he can't sleep, he smells...and whatever it's affecting HIS BRAIN.  He's disorganized, tired, and WAAAAAAY TO SARCASTIC."

Doctor smiles and speaks slowly.  "Shanna, this is what puberty looks like in boys".


I let this absorb for about 3 seconds -- then shake my head NO (after all, I've had 3 daughters already go through this).  "I think it's something serious," I say.  "Something with initials".

For once (or maybe for the dozenth time), it appeared my mommy instincts were malfunctioning.

Still, I checked in with vision therapists, counselors, pastors, football coaches and dietitians.  I tried chore charts, positive reinforcements, negative reinforcements -- for both my son AND myself.

Billy and I had countless hours of conversation.

Billy, "The path our son follows to become a man, will be different than that of our girls."

Me, "Fine. What's the path then?  Just explain to me what the path looks like?"

Sometimes, it's really the parents that need the counseling, yes?

Insert:  Prayer.  Lots of prayer.

It had been on my mind for awhile to read this book.

I'm a big fan of John and Stasi Eldredge and the books that they write.

The Way of the Wild Heart is EXCELLENT and I'd recommend it for anyone with a husband or son (or boyfriend for that matter).  It was an answer to prayer for me as it really did lay out a clear path for the masculine journey.  I so clearly saw my son, and breathed a sigh of relief that he was actually only in the beginning of stage 2 (out of 5).  He wasn't crazy, and neither was I.

It affirmed some big decisions we had recently made on his behalf  (no, we didn't put him in military school). And gave us some general guidelines for the next couple of years.

I also so clearly saw the journey my husband has made, and appreciated him all the more for it.

Basically, this book helped me fall back in love with my teenage son -- and deeper in love with his father.  I bet you'll love it too!