Last night, I broke my rule and took text messages til 11pm. They started again at 7am. My phone is still dinging. I wish I could program my phone with a book on tape so that every time it dings I get the next sentence. I think I could be so much more productive.

Most of my dings came from a Mom who needed help for Christmas. She’s actually been dinging me most of the week. I do love her. I love her children. I believe there is a need. The problem is she broke a pretty significant rule. She has already asked several other agencies for help and received help from them… it just wasn’t enough. I have to admit, I didn’t sleep well last night. I should have been happy that I had my rule of justification. I should have been able to shut down my brain. I couldn’t.

I woke up this morning to see that a dear friend of ours had challenged his family to raise funds for Empower Youth on his behalf. It was a beautiful gesture and his sister who LOVES him and EY started a neat little fundraiser on facebook. I was tickled to death. Then, I saw a post from one of her friends on her page that said to “please take her off this list. She’s tired of getting these posts.” My heart sank. It’s really hard sometimes to do good things. I just wanted to hug my friend’s sister and tell her that the ugly facebook post must have been an angry elf.

It takes discernment to filter through the decisions that must be made with something as simple as Christmas. As the leader of Empower Youth, I pray for discernment every day. I also go to seminars. Read lots of books and am networked with leaders of non-profits across the county, state, and nation.

The reason I chose to not bend my Christmas rule even for my friend is because my friend relies so heavily on others to help her that she didn’t think to put one thing back for her children since last Christmas. That’s hard to swallow. That’s generational poverty. If I break the rule it also means another family gets turned down. This is messy work. I’m sure I will fret all day. That’s why I put it in writing…it’s easier for me to remember why I said no.

For my second friend, I want to give encouragement. Those who stick their neck out often get their toes stepped on. The trick is to keep going…to keep loving…and to be gracious. I’m learning not everyone has the heart to do what I do or can love the things I love. This also goes the other way–there are causes that just don’t resonate with me. I don’t begrudge people for feeling the way they do. I learned a long time ago that I can say sorry and mean it. I really do mean it when I have overtly or inadvertently offended someone. I read my friend’s response to her angry elf. She said a simple sorry and it actually I think diffused the elf.

Tis the season for messiness… and through that messiness there will be good things done.

Stay focused friends– there is much to do.

–Lori Conley