Today is a leap day. February 29th.
There won't be another February 29th until 2016.
Today is precious. Today is sacred.
Lately, I have felt the spirit of giving on my heart. I have felt extremely blessed, even more so than usual, and I have felt like I need to be sharing it. Sharing it with others. Sharing my blessings with those that don't have as many. Helping those in a tough spot. Giving to and serving those in need.
I have tried to find ways to do this in my own life. I'm not perfect, and I could always give more. I'm trying to give more. It's a continuous journey, one with constant room for improvement.
Today, in honor of this leap day, on this special day that only comes once every 4 years, I want to share some of my favorite volunteer service organizations. Ones that I have participated in, and that I think make a big difference in people's lives.
The first is World Vision. I have sponsored a child through World Vision since 2006. Her name is Rosa and she lives in Mozambique. She was 4 when I first started to sponsor her and she is now nearing her teenage years. I have watched her grow and known that I played a small role in her life.
World Vision is a very well known worldwide organization that has its hands everywhere. They played a huge role in the Haiti relief after the earthquake. They incorporate birthdays, holidays, and other fun things for the sponsored kids, and have now make it easier to communicate with your child by offering an email option for sponsors to write to their kids. Every Christmas, they have a gift catalogue, and in the last few years, Matt and I have bought a goat and 2 chickens to be donated to a family in need, and it only cost us $100. Seriously - a goal and 2 chickens for $100? What a bargain! Our money can go so far.
I believe in their mission and am proud to be a sponsor of a child through World Vision. It felt like a huge commitment at first - I didn't know if I would be able to commit to spending that much money each month on a child. I was in college when I first signed up. But it's completely worth any stretching that needs to be done to make sure the money is there. We've given so long, it's become a permanent part of our budget and is not going anywhere.
The next is Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. This organization is one that links up volunteer photographers who are willing to provide free remembrance photography to families of children who pass away either in-utero or shortly after birth. I am proud to be an affiliate photographer of NILMDTS and I am honored to be able to provide this service to local grieving families.
I take great pride in every photography project, session, and event that I photograph. But nothing touches my heart quite as much as NILMDTS sessions do. After a family's life is turned upside down by the death of their baby, the photos that we provide are all they have left. I couldn't imagine a better avenue for my photography to serve and give back.
The last organization is my local soup kitchen. I have volunteered there in the past and did again last weekend. It is an amazing service to those who are in need in our own community. I think it's easy to think that homelessness or extreme poverty only occurs other places. In the slums. In other countries. To other people. Not to small town folk in my little central Minnesota town. But it's not true. There are people in need everywhere, especially in our own hometowns. What better place to give back than right in our own communities. It was an honor to work at the soup kitchen, and I hope to be able to contribute there more this year.
My challenge to you: how can you give back? How can you use the precious days you are given, like today, to help others. To serve others. To make a difference.
It doesn't have to involve money. It doesn't even have to involve time. Something as simple as a smile for a stranger, or helping someone load their groceries can make a big difference in someone's life.
Have you seen the movie "To Save A Life"? It's produced by the same people that made "Fireproof." Yes, it's bit of a lower budget movie and it's a little cheesy in parts. It's Christian-made and it will impact your life. We have watched it twice through Netflix because it was that good. It makes you wonder who you have impacted in your life, and it also makes you wonder how you could have done more. If you could have made a difference to someone who desperately needed it. It made me want to do better. It made me want to do more.
If you watch it, let me know what you think.
Here's to enjoying Leap Day, and to looking forward to the next time it comes around. And here's to making a difference and serving others with each of the precious days that are given to us!
God bless you all, and thank you for reading.