Compassion & deeper understanding

“Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, ‘What else could this mean?’” – Shannon L. Alder

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Throwback: Tidbits of wisdom from Pastor Rick Warren

This is part of a series called “Throwback” – where I revive journal entries and blog posts written/posted on this very day, years ago.

Written on June 3rd, 2014 (three years ago), after listening to an audio devotional called “Daily Hope”. Pastor Rick Warren’s wisdom is so relevant and powerful for my life. 
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  • When you’re thinking about other people over yourself, you’re expressing true humility.
  • Humility is not denying your strengths; it’s being honest about your weaknesses.
  • Degrading yourself is not humility. There is a clear difference. 
  • You can’t serve The Lord on earth directly – you can’t even see Him. The only way to do it is through other people. 
  • Marriage is not a 50/50 relationship; it’s a 110/110, where both sides outdo each other in giving honor.

Devotional: Honor

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Rom. 12:10)

Yes, the Bible says to honor your father and mother; and yes, it’s very right to honor those who have served in the military; and the concept goes for quite a few people who have achieved great things…but what about honoring the every day person? Didn’t Jesus believe they were worth dying for? Didn’t God create them for a unique purpose to serve the Kingdom, alongside you? 

I’m talking about the person who mops the floor at the restaurant; the person who disposes of your trash; the homeless person who swallows their pride and asks for some help to get by; the parking attendant; the server who delivers your food; the back kitchen cook you’ll never meet who makes your food; the crossing guard who walks your kids across the street safely to school; and even a person who can never do anything for you. 

Jesus died for them, too; you are commanded to love them; and honoring them clearly exhibits your understanding of what it means to be great in His Kingdom. 

Devotional: Wherever I am, there He is

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

Thank You, Lord, for always loving me – no matter how many times I fall off the altar. When I disrespect my leaders; when I dishonor the Sabbath; when I think impure thoughts or do impure things; when I don’t include You first and throughout my dealings, or neglect You completely; when I don’t follow Your will our of selfishness or fear; and the list goes on.

I always realize later that God is all I need; that He could’ve provided and/or handled my problems eons ago if I had let Him; that I wasted so much time, happiness, and resources trying to do things my way or because I was living in fear and not love and His courage; and that He loves me so much to where He gave the ultimate sacrifice to show it:

“For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

His love goes even beyond that to where even after all of the mess-ups, when I am ready to turn around and head back to Him – He’ll run out to bring me back home. It doesn’t matter if I’m still knee-deep in sin or not sure where to go; I just need to really want to return, and He’ll be there. On demand, immediately. The ball is always on my court.

SHAFT: Startup documents

I’m going to start a series that documents my journey of forming and operating SHAFT Foundation, Inc. – my family’s nonprofit organization – inspired by years of participating in the Operation: Christmas Child project, doubled growth year-over-year, and our desire to do more of God’s work and being a smarter steward of the funds tithed by my family and donated by that of our generous friends and family who have been critical to the cause.

I won’t get into the backstory here since I wrote about it weeks ago. 

I’m going to call this series “Elevator SHAFT” because I think I’m clever (and humble, lol!), and because documenting the ups and downs of this adventure will resemble an elevator shaft that takes us where we need to go (and that is not always “up”). Hope you’ll enjoy it; and if you don’t – this is for me any way, so it’s been hater-proofed =P

Anyway – I received our approved entity documents from the state of California a few weeks ago, and the official date of formation is February 7th, 2017. My first choice of entity name was accepted, so that’s awesome news.

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I am now in the fun phase (and I mean that in the most sarcastic tone possible) of startup applications – to obtain an EIN (Employer Identificataion Number) and for the IRS to recognize us as a nonprofit organization. I always knew that nonprofits were heavily regulated, but knowing and feeling are two different things. I’m currently completing Form 1023 – to prove I am a legit nonprofit, so that I can receive tax-exempt status – and this application requires about 30 pages of not just filling in numbers or checking boxes, but writing paragraphs and paragraphs of explanations, getting letters from my CPA vouching for me, and supplying a lot of sensitive documents.

Whoa.

One easy thing for us is the fact that this organization isn’t complicated with bloated hierarchies of officers and directors – it’s just Christine and I – so the bylaws and ownership certificates are minimal.

I can’t wait for this necessary evil to be done with; and to finally reach out to my family and friends and announce that their generous contributions not only go far in helping other people, but there is an immediate benefit in that they have tax deduction opportunities. I feel that this will increase the donation amounts and the amount of donations – which will be important this year as we focus on doubling the amount of shoeboxes from last year, and have plans to spend even more time doing work to help others in need.

Until next time…

When meaningful change can truly take place

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change” – Carl R. Rogers

When I’m trying to enact growth or recompose myself i.e. losing body fat, gaining muscle, building a new company, changing my practices, reorganizing my priorities, etc. – I need to:

Stop beating myself up about why I keep failing to change. I fail because I am human and make mistakes – I am not God and shouldn’t expect results as if I am my Father. I fail because I have limited knowledge – which is to be expected, like a baby will falter 100% of the time when learning how to walk. I fail because sometimes, it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.
Stop being impatient. I am causing undue stress on the process. Sometimes there are not shortcuts. I need to enjoy the journey and not just focus on the destination.

Understand that frustration is a matter of expectation. Yes – make well-thought out goals and take realistic steps toward change, but understand that sometimes your goals won’t be achieved; that sometimes, God has an even better plan for you than your limited knowledge wants. Most of your life’s greatest moments are unplanned – I guarantee it. 

So if the future is uncontrollable to a certain degree, and there is an unknown that you can never predict…why not focus on what you can control? 

Learn to really accept yourself as you are – warts and all. Be present in your circumstances – be they good or bad. And remind yourself that you are enough. 
I am far from perfect in doing these things (do as I say, not as I do lol!), but I can tell you that I can go much further when my gas tank is full =)

Love yourself. 

SHAFT: Decision to form a nonprofit 

THE BACK STORY.

Our family has been participating in “Operation: Christmas Child” for the past four years. It’s been a tradition for us to buy toys, clothing, and hygiene items; assemble them into shoeboxes; and ship them around the world to young boys and girls who do not have access to the necessities we take for granted here in the states, and some of who have never received a gift before for Christmas or any occasion for that matter. Ever.

It’s a cause that’s dear to us, and we’ve been committed to doubling the number of shoeboxes every year (I was inspired by Tony Robbins’ goal of doubling the amount of people he feeds every year).

In 2013 we and our wonderful friends and family put together 150 boxes; in 2014 we did 300; in 2015 we shipped out 600; and this past Christmas 2016 we put 1,200 boxes on a plane headed out of the country.


This year we are at it again, and doubling last year’s amount to 2,400. Who knows; we may even overshoot for more!


You can learn more about this initiative, the organization behind it, and stories of how a little bit of our hearts went a long way – here.

While we are Christian and “Operation: Christmas Child” is a Christian organization, this project goes beyond religion and is about giving from our hearts – what big or little we have; giving because it’s much more rewarding than getting; and giving to instill hope and change lives.

THE DECISION TO FORM A NONPROFIT.

We’ve been able to self-fund 1,000+ shoeboxes and wing it last minute over the past few years; but as we grew in giving – Christine and I agreed that we needed to plan further in advance, create a more sustainable and smarter system to do this, and it’s impossible to do it ourselves (our loved ones have been amazing at donating their time and financial resources to this effort).

  • We wanted to increase our funds to sustain this operation, and benefit our friends, family, colleagues, and organizations in the process by making their contributions 100% tax-deductible.
  • After looking through receipts over the years, we spent close to $10,000 in sales taxes when buying supplies at retail. If we were a non-profit, we wouldn’t have to pay that hefty bill, be a better steward of our financial resources, and can fund hundreds of more boxes.
  • We also aspire to spend more and more time doing God’s work versus our own self-focused work, and have a lot of ideas to give back and involve the community.

So – After praying and talking internally and with advisors for over a year, we filed paperwork in order to be a 501c3. And while the name is pending approval, we chose “The SHAFT Foundation, Inc.” For two reasons:

  1. It’s an acronym for “Shipping Hearts And Faith Together.” This initiative was founded on packaging and sending life-changing love and hope to kids all over the world, and doing so with our friends and families with the biggest hearts.
  2. Two definitions of “shaft” are a “ray or beam of light” or “a narrow pathway that gives access to hard to reach places;” and we felt those were perfect representations of what we’re doing. We want to project a light through the darkness, and reach places that are difficult to access.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT. 

The SHAFT Foundation acquires and directs resources (financial, time, labor, intelligence, possessional, relational, emotional, etc.) in order to benefit and change the lives of the poorest of the poor, the hard-to-reach, and generally those who don’t know love. 

The organization’s activities include – but are not limited to: Shipping shoeboxes filled with toys and necessities for children in need through our partnership with Operation: Christmas Child; equipping and enabling families with no access to education and/or tools to be self-sufficient; and raising money for these initiatives.

As soon as we receive our documents, you’ll be hearing more about our initiatives and opportunities to volunteer time, money, expertise, and possessions. We’re excited!