be change(d)

I have been changed –

to bring change, to bring change.

[music and lyrics by Aaron Niequist]

There has been much press lately about this video of Jim Wolf. Jim is a veteran without a home and lives here in Grand Rapids. He’s often found at Dégagé, a beautiful ministry downtown that offers an alternative to the streets. In September, Jim was given a makeover and saw himself, for the first time in years, as the man he used to be. Physically. He saw possibility and hope and, I pray, incredible memories in that mirror. The internet poured out support and shares and likes… but the reality is, that Jim is still struggling. It was an incredible first step, but that makeover didn’t fix his life. We saw that coming, right? Alcoholism, PTSD, homelessness… they aren’t easy problems to address, much less fix. The roots are deep and entangled and easily fed.

But effort, any effort, is an act of love and for that I applaud Rob Bliss for his idea. Anything that brings our attention beyond our front porches, anything that opens our hearts a little wider, anything that speaks to a broken core… bring it.

Flood the lights and open the doors.

Human trafficking, poverty, clean water, starvation, infection, lack of medical treatment… we are surrounded by a dying world in one form or another. Even the sane-est, the clean-est, the rich-est of us… we are dying.

There is no way around that save Jesus returning and restoring this earth. Might we do some work in the meantime? Let’s put faith into action.


Here are a few practical, tangible ways we can be the hands and feet of Love. ‘Tis especially the season for starting new traditions… and I think you may find something below that makes your heart smile.

How can we live out redemption’s melody?

Your family will be eating dinner together in a couple weeks. Many of us will add leaves to our tables and open the door to aunts and uncles and cousins and a million awkward conversations. How about if we put that conversation on hold for just a second (there’s no way to completely avoid it- you know that) and write a holiday card to a service member who will be away from family for the holidays? Have a bunch of cards and paper and crayons and markers and ask everyone- from youngest to oldest, loudest to shyest– to say Happy Holidays and Thank you. Put those cards (no envelopes) in a big manila envelope and mail it, immediately. Your deadline is December 6th.

letters to soldiers

Give to super typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines:

World Relief

Samaritan’s Purse

The most amazing piece of the writing conference I attended last month was the chance to meet the people behind some incredible overseas ministries. These are the people I talked with, along with link to their websites and mission statements:

Operation Christmas Child – fill a shoebox with practical and loving items that will then be given to children all over the world (Many of your schools are tackling this one this season. It’s SUPER kiddo friendly!)

Sole Hope – buy a simple pattern kit and video for $10 and have your family members cut out shoes from old jeans. The shoes are sewn together by women in Uganda… all you have to do is cut the pieces out. (Mulder family, get ready- we’re doing this!) 

Free the Girls – donate gently used bras to FTG, who will then give them to former sex slaves who use them to make a living selling used clothing while they recover and build a new life (Mulder women, we’re on this one, too… start going through your drawers, literally.)

The Exodus Road – help rescue a child from sex slavery by volunteering to host an event, sponsor TER corporately, blog for rescue, host a book club, or even be on a search and rescue team

Freeset – A fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. They make quality jute bags and organic cotton t-shirts, but their business is freedom!

Buying from Freeset makes you a small part of the solution. (People I know and love may or may not be receiving gifts in Freeset bags… act surprised.) 

Pure Charity – like a kickstarter fund for your tithing idea; a “personal charity savings account”

Ornaments for Orphans – This December 50 million Americans will set up Christmas trees in their homes. Buying a handmade ornament from here gives money to a ministry helping those in Uganda, Africa who have been orphaned due to AIDS.

Food for the Hungry – a Christ-centered, child-focused, relational ministry where you sponsor a child with a monthly donation… similar to World Vision and Compassion International

Mercy House Kenya – The Mercy House exists to raise funds to provide alternative options for pregnant girls living in the streets of Kenya. The Mercy House aids in education, nutrition, housing, prenatal care, Bible study, counseling and job skills for sustainable living. You can write letters of encouragement, buy supplies, or donate money.

Blood:Water Mission – loving on Africa by addressing the HIV/AIDS and water crises; help your kids start a lemonAID stand!

That’s a start, right? There are thousands more, but that’s a start. These are all ideas that serve the global community, which is often harder for me to wrap my brain (and heart) around. Let’s talk  local, too. What does your family support? Where do you go locally? I’d love to make this list of accessible service projects PAGES long. 

Giddy up.


About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), a bloodhound (Hank), 2 barn cats, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

7 responses to “be change(d)

  • Karen Van Stright

    THANK YOU Katie for being the prophetic encourager and shakin up my mornin with these challenges!

  • Carley

    You’re a good egg. Thanks for the list.

  • Marcia Kerstetter

    Thank you for once again bringing the world into my heart and making me think. Bkessings.

  • Nicole

    Thank you. I’m struggling with the loss of my dear sister only a couple of months ago and not feeling “in the holiday spirit” She was a giver and a doer, so I will take this message and do something as she would be doing. Funny how these messages come just when we need them, isn’t it?

  • Christy Jackson

    Just spent time filling out and drawing pictures for Christmas cards to be sent to soldiers. Boys LOVED it!! Thanks for the info:).

  • Kim Aguilar

    That is QUITE a list, my friend. A bit overwhelming for me, actually. The ones that speak the most to me are, okay, well, all of them I guess. But I get the most emotional about saving women from sex trafficking. I get a bit {a LOT} emotional about that. Unfortunately, I try to keep the big world problems at arm’s length because otherwise I’m a teary mess. Maybe one day I will be able to tackle the bigger picture, but for now, here are some of the ways our family tries to serve during the holidays:

    One thing that has always been a favorite of mine is singing at nursing homes. Elderly people die more around this time of year. My friend is an in-home nurse and she’s had four patients die in the past 2 weeks already. She said they just always go during November and December. Giving them a little bit of happiness, with a gift of song, which is easily given, is special and worthwhile. I mean, it doesn’t cost anything but time! So, I thought I’d mention it.

    Each year, there are several local charities that provide Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless. Here in AZ, a donation to Phoenix Rescue Mission (a Catholic charity) of as little as $1.92 will provide a holiday meal for a person in need. We try to give every year, even though we haven’t been able to afford to give a lot. Even a little makes a big difference to one person.

    Another thing is to donate to Toys for Tots or whatever is on the “Giving Tree” at church or the grocery store. We’ve done that every year, and it always makes me feel good to think of that child opening MY gift on Christmas morning.

    Always carry some cash. There is a lot of panhandling that goes on at this time of year. My dad taught me that whether or not a person is asking for money because they are hungry or want to get high is not my concern. He told me, “If they ask, we give.” The blessing is that the giver has always done his duty before God. No one ever said you have to give a homeless person everything in your savings account. So, I have given everything from pennies, to a hundred bucks (that’s quite the story), to a bag of apples I happened to have had in my car when I had no cash. I have never once had anyone that didn’t sincerely thank me for giving. And let’s be honest, you feel like a monster if you don’t have change for the Salvation Army bell ringers.

    When I was a kid, each year we did “The Twelve Days of Christmas” for a needy family in our church. It involved preparing a gift and leaving it on the doorstep and ding-dong-ditching each of the twelve nights before Christmas. The gifts were things like eggs (for the hens a’ laying) and a gallon of milk (for the maids a’ milking). We LOVED playing secret Santa to a family each year and have great stories from when we got caught and when we got away with it. This one is totally worth the effort involved and I can’t wait until Clark is old enough, and fast enough, to pull it off!

    So, there you go. That’s my list. Far less global, but that’s just where I am these days.

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