Tag Archives: poor

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

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The Frugal Life: Give #Plasma, Save #Lives And Get Out Of #Debt

When someone asks how they are supposed to get  out of debt I give them several helpful tips including one that I think is underrated and often forgotten…Give Blood/Plasma.

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I live about eight miles from a facility that pays around $25 every time I donate blood. Following the rules and regulations I can give blood twice a week without posing any danger to myself. (Side Note: It is very important not to give blood too often because you can do serious damage to your body and even die from it so please follow the guidelines of your blood donation center.)

Giving plasma twice a week would yield $50 to put toward getting out of debt or increasing assets. A maxed-out credit card with a $500 limit (+ interest) would be paid off in just over 9 weeks. A $50 weekly payment towards the principal of a car note would help pay off the vehicle sooner and help reduce total #interest payments. Paying off such debts frees you from #slavery to creditors. Proverbs 22:7 is worth reading concerning this concept.

Thinking of investing in stocks? Deposit that $50 into a brokerage account, like Scottrade.com each week until you’ve accumulated the total amount you wish to invest. You’ve just created an #asset without going into debt to do so.

Not only does giving plasma or blood help you support a frugal lifestyle but you literally give the gift of life.

We are all familiar with the economic impact of a bread-winner dying. What if you gave blood, saved a bread-winner and therefore kept a family out of debt and above the poverty line?

Proverbs 19:17 states If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord —and he will repay you! (NLT)

God Himself has told us we’ll be repaid for helping those who need assistance. Does this mean you’ll be rich as a result of being generous? No, but it does mean God’s paying attention to your every action and will reward you with friendships, great health, His guidance and protection and maybe money as well. His repayment comes in many shapes and sizes, it’s not limited to monetary wealth.

Imagine a child dying from loss of blood. Not only is this emotionally traumatic, it affects work performance which then affects one’s wallet.

Giving blood or plasma not only saves physical lives but boosts the global economy as well. I challenge you to search for the blood donation centers near you. Ask if they offer payment for donations. Give blood/plasma, save lives & get out of debt!

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What about you, BBM reader? Have you ever given blood/plasma as a way to help others and/or increase your income? If not, would you consider it now that you’ve read this post? I’d love to hear your stories.

The #Frugal Life: A Frugal Mentality

How Much is Enough

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Often, upon hearing the word frugal, inaccurate images float through the mind’s of many people.

Some imagine a penny-pinching Grinch that hoards every dollar as if clinging to life itself.

Others imagine a destitute fool who doesn’t recognize the so-called “finer things in life.”

My hope is that this blog post gives a better picture of the mind of the frugal individual. Set aside the inaccurate, and sometimes insulting images in your mind, and let’s discover the real reasons for developing the frugal mentality.

There is a scene in the movie The Great Gatsby where Gatsby is on the second floor of his bedroom, throwing pieces of clothing down to the woman he loves. His intention is to entice her with his riches, impress her with expensive clothing, and therefore hold her affections.

This is a far cry from the frugalist’s mindset and definitely far from the mind of God. I say this because of what is written in #Matthew 6:33

Seek the Kingdom of #God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (NLTse)

God prompts us to seek His Will, His pleasure and His mission for our lives above all else. We are not to be trapped in the vicious cycle of working hard for material gain just to be foreced to work even harder to afford even more. If we concentrare on our relationship with God first, He will align our mind and goals with His and therefore free us from such dangerous materialism that inevitably lead to greed.

The Christian Frugalite (yes, I created a new word), following the Spirit’s direction, is free to see things as they really are. Free from the prison of materialism. The frugalist understands that the really important things are neither material nor monetary. Unlike the get-all-you-can attitude of most folks, the frugally minded actually see the ultra-lavish lifestyle as both sickening and greedy.

The movie scene I described earlier actually turned my stomach. Why? Because I think of all the desperate people in the world who could benefit from the generosity of the ultra-rich.

Can you imagine the problems that would be solved if every mega-rich celebrity or sports personality decided to sell their mansions and some of their many luxury vehicles, then donated the proceeds to feed the hungry or help rescue victims of human trafficking? What if all those millions were funneled into creating jobs for those in desperate situations instead of being used to buy expensive purses, over-priced shoes and jewelry?

That would be an amazing thing!

It is the Christ-centered, frugal mind that can do this world the most good because it is not trapped by the unproductive idea of gathering more and more stuff. The Frugalite is free to give to charities, churches, and the indigent on the street without feeling she has missed something.

She understands the importance of paying a homeless person to wash her car instead of going to the car wash. In fact, giving to those less fortunate gives the frugal person a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

So the next time you’re tempted to think of a Frugalite as stingy or cheap, you may want to consider that she is not hoarding her pennies, she is proactively funneling them to where they do the most good.

I’d really love to hear:
*What frugal practices have you adopted?
*What frugal habits do you plan to employ in 2015?

Tiny House Option- Part One: The Problem With The American Mindset

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One day recently I had the TV on as background noise while I got things done around the house and online. A certain real estate show featured a couple who were considering moving due to different issues with their #house. One of the issues was cramped space. Of course the space around us is an important consideration in a home. A kitchen in which you can manuver around each other easily is preferrable to a one-person-only space wherein if the oven is open there’s a danger of both parties getting burned. Issues like the commute to work, distance from schools, Church, friends and family are very important factors when considering a home purchase or selling one’s home in order to move to another house.

As I continued listening to the program I heard a phrase that bothered me. The husband of the couple stated that their bedroom was small by “today’s standard”. Immediately I thought, “Man I was with ya’ until that phrase”.

Here’s the Problem:
Buying a new home should not be influenced by “today’s standards”. That phrase tells me the house hunter is concerned with how his place will compare to his friends, family and neighbors. Exodus 20:17 warns us not to want what our neighbors have. In other words our desire should not be fueled by seeing something our neighbor owns. It should be fuled by a desire to have what God wants to provide then use #His generous gifts to His glory. When we compare what we have to what others are blessed with we essentially tell God two things…

•”What You’ve given me isn’t enough. I want what You gave them”.
•”I know what you’ve given me is part of your plan, but it’s obviously a flawed plan”.

Could you imagine flying into God’s throne room and making those statements directly to Him? Of course not! That would be rude and disrespectful. Yet, when it comes to money and material posessions we think to ourselves that God is supposed update our blessings according to the human standard of the day. Thankfully, that’s not how God operates. God is more concerned with supplying our needs than granting our petty materialistic desires.

When we hold onto the desire to have the shiny toys, big house, fancy cars and coolest electronics we do two things:

First we deprive ourselves of the ability to experience the joy of having less. Most Americans are convinced they “could never live in a Tiny House”. The idea of less space means having less stuff and God forbid they sell the PS4 and the Xbox1. Surely they can’t be expected to survive with only five pair of shoes instead of the twenty five they currently enjoy.

(Don’t get me started on the fact that they haven’t worn eighty percent of those shoes in over three years.)

Sadly we, the human race, have allowed money and stuff to be the source of our joy and happiness in our lives. We feel that if we have to down size we are somehow downgrading or moving backward financially. That mentality is so very off-base.

The second thing we do by holding onto the materialistic mentality is set ourselves up for unnecessary spending. We are daily witness to the fact that those in big houses feel the need to fill those houses with stuff like cars, paintings, clothes, game consoles and games, pool tables, big TVs, an upgraded kitchen, designer furniture, etc. Filling the space is just the beginning of the dominoe effect. Next is being sure all the stuff is maintained, that is followed by upgrading when a newer model is introduced. It’s not hard to see why even those earning tremendous salaries can still end up living paycheck-to-paycheck.

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The Tiny House phenomenon sweeping America has captured my attention partly because it helps us escape the materialistic mentality and therefore helps reduce spending and increase savings.

There are folks in this world with no clothes, food or house. If they had the opportunity to walk into my house right now they’d feel like they had entered a palace.
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A kitchen with a working stove, and fridge, next to a living room where most of us enjoy cable television would be unheard of to many poverty stricken families across the globe. Lying on my memory foam bed would be more than a dream come true. Air conditioning? That’s far beyond their most ambitious dreams! Who am I to tell God that what He’s allowed in my life isn’t enough? If anything we should be saying, “It’s too much for me to keep all to myself. Who can I bless?”

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So when you’re listening to your waterproof shower radio, using your scented body wash and drying off with a freshly washed, 100% cotton towel, you may want to ask yourself: What if I chose the Tiny House Option and lived with less so someone else could have more?

The Christian Walk: Taz Bright interviewed by Hannah C. Mathiot

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This article is part of a series of interviews with ordinary Christians and their personal walks with God. Recently, I had the pleasure and privilege of talking to Eustace Bright, known to his friends as "Taz." Taz is the owner of Bright Balance Ministries, and was raised in Huston Texas.

"I'm nothing special," Says Taz Bright, "my story is not unique. I'm a flawed, messed up, vengeful, violent man without Christ. But, I serve One who IS special, unique, patient slow to anger, quick to forgive and Perfect. In a world where both political stances and personal beliefs shift with the change of public opinion, it's good to lean on something that hasn't budged since before the beginning of time-His Word."

Taz shares with us his story of finding Christ at a young age, his struggles as the victim of identity theft, and how God taught him through these struggles.

"I heard the gospel all my life, growing up in Church, listening to only Christian music in my Christian home, raised by Christian parents. I attended a private Christian school up until 7th grade. I first felt The Spirit tugging at me when I was 8 years old but I kept pushing Him away."

"I kept attending Church and Sunday school & learned a Bible verse for every letter in the alphabet. I even taught Bible study as I got into high school. But it wasn't until I was a junior in high school at 16 years old that I actually made the decision to give my entire life to Christ."

"Now I'm in financial ministry as the owner of Bright Balance Ministries. I've been blessed with a talent for managing money and the gift of teaching. I firmly believe that it's because of these blessings God has charged me with the responsibility to help Christians manage, spend, invest and spend widely."

1 Peter 4:10-11 confirms that Christians should use their gifts to encourage and teach other Christians. "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."(ESV)

Like all of us, Taz has his own personal battles with sin, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, he has learned to fight sin and live within God's will for his life in humility.

"I gave my life to Christ twenty-two years ago in the summer of 2011. While I haven't been perfect, by any means, I can say I've grown a lot. Attending Calvary Chapel in Idaho Falls (and now also in Baytown, TX) has exposed me to exegesis, deep Bible study & how important they both are. Growing closer to God has helped free me from a violent temper, helped me gain purpose and direction and also helped me appreciate His patience with me. He's used two back injuries to humble me and, despite the pain, I'm actually thankful for those injuries because of what I've learned because of them."

Taz Bright gives us a stunning testimony of how God has used various trials in his life to refine him and teach him patience and forgiveness.

"For six years, an identity thief (former employee) pretended to be me by getting two jobs in my name, selling my social security number to eight people among other things. As a result, I was evicted from my home, my business failed, my car was repossessed, I was arrested six times for crimes I never committed, I moved back into my parents' house (worst part by the way) & I had to start over financially. This all occurred while trying to be a good example to my son. Through this struggle I learned patience, forgiveness and saw a practical, daily example of God's provision- a valuable lesson for sure. Now, I'm a business owner and financial minister."

The bible does not promise that the Christian walk is going to be easy. In fact, it prepares us for exactly to opposite. The Christian life promises suffering (Hebrews 2:10, 1 Peter 1:6-7).

Taz Bright gives the following advice for new Christians. "Accept the fact that you're going to hit road blocks. Even Christ faced opposition, ridicule, and 'advice' from well-meaning friends & family. Follow The Spirit's lead -not theirs. There will be times when you have to go into a private room, lock the door & take a deep breath. Allow those moments to happen and remember those who have gone through it before: Martin Luther King Jr, Billy Graham, Christ! You're in good company."

Taz also encourages other Christians to get involved in their local churches and serve their brothers and sisters in Christ. "I serve as a greeter at my small Church in Baytown & considering joining the worship team also. Church involvement is very important. The Bible tells us to "…not forsake the assembling of yourselves together…"(Hebrews 10:25) We need encouragement, prayers, deep Bible study- a support system- in this troubled world."

The Bible indeed calls Christians to stay deeply rooted in the Church. Hebrews 10:24-25 says: "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (ESV).

"I'm currently reading through a Bible Reading plan using my olivetree.com study app. The reading plan is about Peace, which happens to be very important considering my present trials. I'm experiencing the deep, constant peace of God even while dealing with things that would have normally sent me into a Hulk-like rage (Actually Hulk may have beaten me in the self-control department)."

Taz has also found great encouragement in a book called Interpreting the New Testament Text: Introduction to the Art and Science of Exegesis. "It will introduce you to the skill of interpreting God's Word so that you get what HE meant you to understand, not some private interpretation. Knowing God's Word is essential to navigating life's rough seas."

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we can only live according to his will by the constant grace, mercy, and love that God our Father gives us through Jesus Christ his son. Please pray continually for Eustace Bright and his family, along with the other Christians in your life and in your local Church. We all need prayer and encouragement constantly.

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