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March 2017 - Generosity Gameplan™

Generosity MonkSacred Struggles

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:25-27

“Lent provides us with the grace-filled opportunity to reflect upon, and name our own sacred struggles. To recognize and accept that which we are most anxious about, that which keeps us up at night, that which prevents us from growing in our faith, hope, and trust…Are there any prayer intentions that you’ve been hesitant to name? Sacred struggles you dare not ask God to meet? Healings or forgiveness that you aren’t sure whether you are prepared for? What are you most anxious about now? As part of our commitment to be people of prayer and to embrace our sacred struggles, I would like to invite you to…jot down your Lenten prayer intention…your “sacred struggle” if you will, that is preventing you from growing and thriving in your faith.”
-from Father Tony Zimmer in his homily entitled “Sacred Struggle” on February 26, 2017 at St. Anthony on the Lake in Pewaukee, WI

As the first week of Lent draws to a close, I would encourage you to make the most of the opportunity to go deeper in your experience of prayer this Lent. With Fr. Zimmer, remember that it’s a “grace-filled opportunity” to lift up to God anything and everything that brings you anxiety. Such things become “sacred struggles” because we get stuck. We lose sleep. We worry. We start making other decisions that reflect the anxiety swelling within us. With Fr. Zimmer, let us give God our “sacred struggles” this Lent and see what happens to our faith.

How does this relate to generosity? When our lives our filled with worry and anxiety, we tend to hoard in fear rather than live open-handed, generous lives! Make the most of your prayer time this Lent, and I think your generosity will blossom along with your faith!

As a bonus for those who like to add music to their prayer time, click to listen to “Gracious God”Gracious God song by Jesse Manibusan. It’s a beautiful song that St. Anthony on the Lake is using this Lent. You will notice it speaks of the sacred struggle in the second verse.

Enjoy it in your time with our Lord today.

Nepali school childrenWe never know where we will connect with something that speaks to our heart’s desire. For my friend and colleague, Mike Luedke, it was through an unlikely friendship with a Nepali immigrant, Ojash, whom he met through work. Mike describes Ojash as a cool, calm, and collected guy who was able to help unravel a really tough tech problem while consulting for Mike and the company he was working for at the time. That demeanor drew Mike in, and they started to become friends over international cuisine – something they both shared an interest in. Mike was just out of school and already asking some tough questions: “What else is there in life?” and thinking, “I want more meaning.” On their lunch breaks, Ojash would talk about his homeland of Nepal and the rampant poverty and illiteracy. Mike recognized the vision and purpose Ojash spoke with when talking about making a difference there, and he was hooked.

Today, Mike, Ojash and about 15 others run Ganga Ghar, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “improve the lives of impoverished children in Nepal by sponsoring their education and ensuring adequate nutrition and clothing for their families.” They now sponsor upwards of 80 children.

In 2015, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which interrupted and redirected Ganga Ghar’s work. Getting relief and medical supplies into the hardest hit areas became the immediate focus. And just last year, Ganga Ghar re-opened a school that had been reduced to rubble in the quake.

Interestingly enough, Mike says that the earthquake has the Ganga Ghar team, and Mike himself, stepping back and reflecting on their work in Nepal, asking themselves: “Are we serving in a way that brings transformation to the lives of those we reach and those we partner with?”

As part of his personal Generosity Gameplan, Mike is wanting to re-confirm the giving of his currencies as a transformational act of generosity. Is it bringing about personal growth, relationship growth, organizational growth, community growth, and spiritual growth?

This examination is driven by one of Ganga Ghar’s core values – a “deep desire to transform the world by transforming the lives of others.” So now that the school is rebuilt, Mike and Ganga Ghar want to make sure they are continuing to connect with their donors’, sponsors’ and partners’ desires to change the world for the children and families in Nepal that need it the most.

Stepping back often and evaluating questions like these is an important part of your Generosity Gameplan. Things change. The world changes. Our circumstances change. It’s necessary for us to make sure that the giving of our currencies remains in line with our heart’s desire.

You can find out more about Ganga Ghar at their website: gangaghar.org or Facebook page: facebook.com/gangaghar.

Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, to discover stories of other generosity champions.