Tag Archives: church

The Clothing Exchange: Bartering, Giving, Saving & Making A Difference

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You know what I love most about the above photo? Its location.

These folks aren’t camped out waiting to purchase tickets to the newest Batman movie. They’re not waiting to get into the V.I.P. line at a night club nor are they waiting in line to get to their Houston Rockets seats.

This was the scene outside the doors of Eagle Heights Fellowship in Mont Belvieu, TX. This is the Church home of Penny Glass & her three well-rounded, funny, adorable daughters.

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Mrs. Glass created an ingenious bartering system called The Clothing Exchange and it has grown exponentially over the last few years. As a result of her need to provide for her own children she wondered, “What if there was a place where I could give up what we don’t need in exchange for what we do need?” She approached her Pastor and pitched her idea. He fully supported her and gave his permission to use the Church as headquarters for this economically sound solution to clothing needs.

Viola, the Clothing Exchange was born!

How it Works
Many families are having trouble dealing with the current economic climate. They’re struggling to bring home the bacon (in my house it’s veggies). As a result clothing is an area that may be sacrificed in order to keep the family car running, keep electricity on, and stock up on groceries.
The Clothing Exchange allows families and individuals to bring in used but reusable clothes in exchange for a voucher equal to the number of items donated.
So, for example, Molly donates three jeans and five blouses which she’s outgrown-eight items. On exchange day she bring in her voucher and picks out eight items of her choice. She can choose 8 pair of jeans or seven jeans and one blouse or maybe she wants six pair of jeans, one pair of shoes and a scarf. Any combination is allowed as long as she doesn’t exceed eight, the number on her voucher. All participants are made aware that there is no guarantee they’ll find somethung in thier size or something they’ll like. But all are still willing to take part because it means they’ll be donating to others in need even if they get nothng in return. However, according to Penny, there’s never been a situation where a participant couldn’t find clothing they could use.

Simple, smart, effective and very much in need. In fact the need is so great that hundreds of people from miles around came to donate their used clothing in hopes of helping others while providing for their own families. Talk about a win-win situation.

Economic Ripple
So is there a positive economic effect? Most definitely! Most families shop at big department stores. Others, like myself, love thrift stores. When we shop at these locations the money doesn’t always stay within the local economy. Big companies need to spread their profits all over the globe in order to thrive. They have to pay for advertizing, put money into payroll and employee benefits and maintain thier facilities.
The Clothing Exchange allows local money to stay local—in the bank accounts of members of the community. So Mr. J donates his sons old clothes yet comes home with more clothes for his son without spending a single cent. With the savings Mr. J can put more money into an emergency fund or save for his son’s trade school education. Now imagine hundreds of families within a certain area doing the same thing. This creates more economical stability within the region. It makes sense, too, that if a family is more stable they’re able to donate to charities, give to missions and shop at local farmer’s markets. These all help give strength to the local economy.

An important aspect to the Clothing Exchange that builds a strong economy is what Penny does with the clothes that cannot be used in the exchange. See, if donated clothes have rips, tears, stains, etc they’re either given back to the donor, given to other churches or given directly to the homeless. This ensures only clothing of the highest quality are available on Exchange day. Providing the homeless with clothibg has several amazing results. It helps build confidence, gives a sense of added security and it offers an opportunity to excell. Imagine being homeless, sleeping on the streets, unable to shave and shower. Across the street from the box you live in is a NOW HIRING sign in the window of a locally-owned diner. You know you qualify for any open position. You’d work hard and put in extra hours if someone would just give you a chance.
Problem: You don’t feel presentable. And the fact is, most employers won’t hire someone who smells bad and is dressed like….well….a homeless person.

But, if the clothing exchange provided you with a fresh pair of socks, a pair of shoes, nice slacks and a long sleeved shirt and maybe even a tie; well your future could look very different. You can wash up in the restroom of a convemience store, change into your new duds, then walk confidently into that diner and tell them “You sould definitely hire me”.

This is one way a homeless person can become a productive member of society. All because of the generous hearts of Clothing Exchange participants.

Want to Join In?
The next Clothing Exchange event will be in Feb or March of 2016. In the mean time
1. Set aside those items you no longer want or need: shoes, shirts, pants, jackets, sweaters, hats, etc.
2. Tell others about this blog so they’re informed on how they may participate.
3. Follow this link to the Clothing Exchange facebook page so you can stay up-to-date on future events-
https://www.facebook.com/groups/237924579719778/?fref=ts

A Lot Can Happen in Thirty-Eight Days: A Lack of Priorities Can Be Costly

A LOT has happenned over the last few months. I won’t go into the details right now, they’ll unravell in the blog posts to come. One thing I can say is I’ve regained perspective and focus. As much as I hate to say it, I had lost focus and God saw fit to slap me around in order to show me my own foolishness. (OUCH!)

Ya know that “wake up call” moment when everything important to you starts slipping away and you hit your knees asking Him to please, please, please step in and allow you to keep that which is most precious? Yeah, I had that moment- for 38 days in a row. It was brutal, agonizing, painful and an emotional rollercoaster. But, it did cause me to run to Christ’s feet, reprioritize, rethink and come to certain realizations about myself. One question God kept asking me is, “Would you be this distraught if I were to threaten to leave you?” At this question I replied with the intelligent response of, “Aaaaahhhh…..well…..”

Needless to say I had to evaluate exactly where I was placing God in my list of priorities. You’d think this would be an automatic response for someone in the ministry, right? Shouldn’t a long-time Christian have this down to automatic pilot? Yes…..and no. See, I think I was relying on automatic pilot a bit too much. I made a conscious effort to please and love my wife. (I’m now divorced….more on that later) I text my son daily saying how much I loved him. Throughout my day I’d text or email folks asking how they were and if they needed prayer for anything in particular.

You may be asking, what’s wrong with that Taz? Nothing at all, except that I wasn’t speaking to #God as often as to these fellow-humans. My significant other, my son and other sinners got more of my time and attention than my Creator!

(Just thinking about that reality makes me hang my head in shame and annoyance)

Did I really mess up that badly? Did I really put my wife before my Savior? SHAMEFUL!

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of spending more and more time with Christ has been a goal of mine for quite some time. I always wanted to think of my entire day as a long conversation with God, interrupted by daily chores and interaction with others- I just wasn’t getting it done! So, God grabbed my by the ear, pulled me into a confined space, sat me down and had a good Almighty-to-sinner conversation. He didn’t pull any punches nor did He sugar coat anything. He ripped open this wretched heart, magnified my evils and brought me to tears. I trembled, shook, felt regret and remorse, apologized and begged forgiveness. I dove into The Word, read three Christian book, including “The Purpose-Driven Life” and “The Story” and got closer to Christ.

I felt “washed”, as if I had a #spiritual shower with extra highly-concentrated cleanser added.

Aaaaaahhhh, that felt good!

So, what does this have to do with #financial world?

Good question, the answer is simple: Do not put anything, including your financial goals, before your relationship to God, period!

Infact your financial goals, outlook, attitude, etc. should be a RESULT of that first-place relationship. Your devotion to Him should result in seeking His direction in finances. Following Him should result in seeing His financial goals for your life and His goals becoming your goals. You line up with #Him, not the other way around.

Need proof that this concept is a reality? Well let’s look at ancient Israel. Many times they have served as our Biblical examples of what happens when we follow God and also the tragic consequences of straying from His path. Joshua chapter 7 is where we find the account of Achan who disobeyed God by keeping precious plunder from a recent victory.

Pause for one second. Achan may have had really good reasons for keeping the treasure. Maybe he would have sold half and donated the profit to a local charity. Or maybe he planned to buy materials to help mend his neighbor’s tents. What about feeding the hungry? He could have had a grand feast planned form them, right? While all those intentions are not evil in and of themselves, the fact that he violated the Creator’s command is still sin!

The punishment for Achan’s sin is found in verses 22-24. He and his family, yes his family, were all stoned to death and their bodies burned. Seems a bit harsh? Not really. Remember sin is a violation of the most pure, perfect, Holy and magnificent being in the entire universe-God. The more we respect a person or that person’s position the more severe the punishment for an offense to that person. Assaulting your neighbor on the street is one thing, assaulting the President of The United States, i’m sure you’ll agree is something different all together.

We cannot allow our financial goals to be placed ahead of a close relationship with Christ. We must “keep the main thing, the main thing”.

A few of you may be tempted to make use of the old saying, “Experience is the best teacher”. While this is a true statement, most people are unaware of the rest of it. “….and it’s a fool who learns by his own”.

Don’t be a fool. Learn from the mistakes of others. Learn from those who have already- foolishly- tested the waters. Stay on the path that God has laid out for you, keep Him first, love Him more than precious stones, metal and American green. I speak from experience when I tell you that if He is not first in your life it could cost you A LOT.

I lost A LOT in just 38 days.