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One Word: Drive

In Doing Good Well by Chris Marlow1 Comment

DRIVEblogOver the holidays, I debated over and over if I wanted to choose a word for 2016. I struggled to focus on it, and truthfully, I’m over the idea of resolutions and all of that. But, as I reflected back over the last few years, I realize that selecting one word each January (like ask in 2013 and 2015’s fight) helped guide my year and keep it in focus.

So, as I thought more about it the last few weeks, one word kept popping up over and over.

That word, and the word I’m choosing for 2016, is Drive. And if I had to be honest, it scares me a bit. Drive means I need to be focused, on the offensive, and ready to push forward. Part of my soul wants to disconnect and rest, but 2016 is not the year for it.

Help One Now has a lot of momentum. Thanks to our brilliant local leaders and our amazing tribe, we may actually may make more of an impact in the next year than in our entire history. Major projects are launching in 2016: a new medical clinic in Uganda, a community center in South Africa, new dorms for our kids at Yahve Shamma, a new village in Peru, and a big project and trip to Ethiopia to help keep families together. Oh, and we’re launching two new countries in 2016–Dominican Republic and the Congo.

As I write this, I’m currently on a plane to Haiti with a group of MLB players, and when I get back, we have a big gala in Raleigh with Jen Hatmaker. We had three amazing new board members just join us, and I have this little book coming out in September.

Years and years of hard work are all coming together in 2016. No doubt, we will need to drive the momentum and opportunity forward; thankfully, we have an amazing team and a group of investors who support our work.

Of course, I’m driving personal goals as well for my family. This year, we will purchase a home. Over the past four months, I’ve been fully focused on eating well and working out with my CrossFit community. And, my family is in key transition times in life; this summer, I will celebrate 20 years of marriage, my oldest daughter turns 16, and my youngest will start high school.

And sometime this year, it’s possible that I will start writing the next book.

You see, this is why I’ve avoided choosing a word. All of this scares me to death. Yet, I’m so humbled to be in this kind of position, to enjoy these kinds of opportunities and hopefully, to be part of a movement of people who fight to make the world better because we were willing to drive forward.

It’s going to take focus, hard work, and blood, sweat, and tears to drive it all forward. No doubt, I will take key seasons of rest to make sure I have the gas in the tank to reach the finish line.

I’m grateful for all the opportunities that 2016 is presenting, and thankfully I get to work with a group of amazing people. Together, we hope our drive will push us to do good, do it well and of course, do it together.

So let’s drive forward, day by day, to reach our goals, pursue our dreams, and see how God can use them to make an impact in the world.

#drive2016

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Making Your Holidays Matter: A Generous Life

In Doing Good Well by Chris MarlowLeave a Comment

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This concludes my series Making Your Holidays Matter. Be sure to catch up with parts 1 (Practicing Thanksgiving), 2 (Serving), and 3 (Buying Good). 

Christmas week is upon us, and with it comes a celebration of the greatest act of generosity that the world has ever seen. God sent his Son to be a sacrifice for us all. I try to imagine that kind of pain, that kind of love, that kind of sacrifice.

I can’t. I’m glad I’m not God.

So then–what do we do now, here on the other side of this sacrifice from God? We have this opportunity to be united with Christ, forgiven and gifted to live a life of purpose and impact. 

We must mimic God! We must follow His example and also live a life of generosity. We must refuse to give into the flesh, which says that life and all that we have, our wants, desires, and needs are about us and for us.

Instead, with joy, grace and gratitude, we give. We give our time, our talents, and our resources to help move God’s mission to see the broken made whole, the wounded find relief, and the lost guided back home.

Generosity doesn’t happen out of guilt or manipulation; we give because we care! We give because–well, what else would we rather do? What else will give us this kind of joy, peace and hope?

We also give to guard ourselves, because we know other things want to capture our hearts and turn our life inwards. We give to avoid what can be the scariest moment in life–the one when you think you don’t need to trust God, because you trust yourself more.

Generosity often hurts; it requires something of us. Yet, when we give, we move closer and closer to God and we bring joy to the Father’s heart.

So, let me encourage you to give this holiday season! Give to your local church, give to a friend or family member in need, or give to your favorite charities who are doing good work.

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If you’d like to support Help One Now, we are currently running our End of Year campaign. Please consider helping us close 2015 strong and start 2016 in a position of strength. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email

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Making Your Holidays Matter: Buying Good

In Doing Good Well by Chris MarlowLeave a Comment

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So far, we’ve talked about Practicing Thankfulness and Serving, two really amazing ways to help Make Our Holidays Matter. The third way is by Buying Good.

The day is fast approaching; in what seems like only hours, we’ll be celebrating the birthday of the One Man who changed everything for everyone.

Tis the season to slow down and enjoy the goodness of life and to know that we have a future of hope and peace. He is the reason for the season; we know that, but we often don’t live it. Sadly for many, Christmas has become one of the most secular and consumeristic day of the year.

Kids can be found crying when they discover that their gifts were not what they wanted. Families simmer in conflict because we can’t get along for more than forty-eight hours. The secular overshadows the sacred.

But, it does not have to be that way; we have 7 days to ensure that this Christmas, we capture the opportunity to allow the sacred moments to become the most important moments.

Now, most of you will buy gifts for family and friends. This is great, for gift-giving can truly be a blessing. These days, it’s even better when we can purchase really great products that make a double impact. They bless the receiver, and they also support the people creating them with living wages and other sustainable benefits. As we navigate our way through this advent season, we literally can sprinkle Doing Good into our shopping.

Opportunities

The organization I’m privileged to lead is selling necklaces made by Haitian artists. When you purchase a necklace, you’re creating jobs for Haitians, but a portion of each purchase will help us educate kids in four countries around the world. How cool is that?

My friends Kristen and Sarah also have some great organizations that they recommend as well. There are so many opportunities to make a difference.

I can’t think of a better, more natural way than to use the money you’ve already planned to spend to literally bless multiple people. No doubt – Buying Good is a powerful way to make this holiday season matter.

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Making Your Holidays Matter: Serving

In Doing Good Well by Chris Marlow2 Comments

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Last week, we talked about Practicing Thankfulness as one of Four Ways to Make Your Holidays Matter this holiday season. The second way is to serve.

The holiday season reminds us that life never wants us to slow down, but in fact, the forces of culture want us to speed up! This is why it is critical that we choose not to obey culture and her demands; instead, we must decide to live a life that reflects a better way to spend our time, money, and talents.

During the holidays, we move so fast that suddenly, it’s all over. Those holiday moments will be nothing but memories. Did we make an impact? Did we rest? Did we spend quality time with people we care for? Did we serve those in need?

In a few weeks, we will celebrate the birthday of the One who served more than any other human in history. It’s almost impossible to fathom the sacrifice that Jesus made on the behalf of the world–me, you and the person you may be serving.

Years later, He again showed the world an example of what it means to serve by hanging on a tree. The world will never be the same because of His brilliant acts of sacrifice and service.

Jesus left us with these powerful words: “As the Father has sent me, so I’m sending you.” He said to “serve the least of these,” and then goes even further, commanding us to serve our enemy.

Here are three reasons why we are all called to serve:

1) Spiritual Formation

When you choose to serve others, you’re building a strong, powerful foundation. Serving requires sacrifice; you may have to give up some comforts in life.

When you serve others, you draw closer to Jesus. You enter into a deeper connection with Him, as you learn to empathize with those who are suffering. It may sound selfish, but serving others is an exercise that builds strong, powerful spiritual muscles; it helps you to be healthy.

2) A Significant Impact

Of course, we don’t serve for ourselves. Our service leads to something beautiful: impact. This holiday season, you can change someone’s life by serving them with humility, dignity, and mutual respect.

Serving others leads to a more empathetic life. When you do serve others, I would encourage you not to see it as a project, but as a relationship.

Here are 7 ways to serve:

  1. Help a single mother/father who may not be able to afford gifts; give them a gift for their child.
  2. Serve at your local homeless shelter. Pay attention to those you are serving. Being present and treating people with respect is vital.
  3. Give your boss or co-workers a simple gift card from Starbucks or your local coffee shop for $5 and just say, “thanks.”
  4. Ask your local elementary school if they need help or have kids who need help. Be a support system for them.
  5. Write a note of encouragement to a friend who may struggle in the holidays because of pain or loss.
  6. Help an elderly neighbor get stuff done for the Christmas season.
  7. Invite friends over for holiday parties or for Christmas. Many people have nowhere to go for the holidays.

There are so many ways to serve; if you have an idea, leave a comment here or on Facebook and let us know other creative ways.

3) To prove what you believe

If you follow Christ, it’s easy to forget that we are held accountable to live a life like Jesus. We need grace and we need mercy, but we also have to mimic Jesus’ life. We have to make an effort to live in such a way that others will see the love of God seeping through our lives.

When we are thankful and when we choose to serve, we are showing the world a glimpse of who Jesus really is. We break through all the noise, confusion, and chaos in which mainstream Christianity bogs down, and we’re able to prove that we do believe in Jesus by the life we live and the way we serve.

So make this holiday season beautiful! Sit down with your family or friends and create a simple plan to serve. Soon, January will be here, and this wonderful season will be in the history books. Let’s ensure that we can look back and see a beautiful reflection.

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Making Your Holidays Matter: Practicing Thankfulness

In Do Good by Chris Marlow4 Comments

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And… just like that, the holidays are here.

Every year, we are faced with the same two options. We can follow culture like a zombie, dragging ourselves through the chaos of  holiday parties, travel, shopping, cooking, decorating, and spending time with family and friends (which often brings both joy and pain).

Or, we can choose to capture the essence of the season by living an intentional life for the next six weeks. We can enjoy the holidays–with her ups and downs–but also be committed to making an impact along the way. The good news? It truly is your choice!

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will share four ways to make an impact this holiday season. These are easy, practical things that you can do to ensure that this holiday season will have a deeper purpose for you and your family. The first way? Practicing thankfulness. 

A Thankful Heart = A Good Life

Often, we’re so busy moving forward–trying to juggle all the things of life–that we simply forget how beautiful our lives are. It’s so easy to be obsessed with what is going wrong or the stuff that we don’t have. We forget about all the good things that we do have already.

Be Thankful in the Valley

Now, let’s be real. We’re all dealing with various battles in life. Often the journey gets hard; we struggle to be thankful when we’re so focused on the negative.

These negative things are very real; usually, they can’t be ignored. Often, the problems of life–the reasons you are in the valley–are out of our control… sickness, tragedy, depression, and more. Yet, even in the midst of the valley, even when we can’t think of a single thing to really be thankful for–this is the very moment that we need to practice thankfulness. This single act can change everything.

No doubt–the holidays can make our problems seem worse. Yet, I believe that when we practice being thankful, we remove the fog. Rays of hope shine down from the Heavens into the valley to fill us with joy.

Be Thankful On the Mountaintop

Maybe life is going amazing right now. You are in a season of blessing and abundance. Often, when we’re on the top of the mountain, we forget to take a step back, pause, and practice being thankful for the all good things that we have.

Remember, these seasons don’t always last forever. We shouldn’t live in fear, but we do need to be realistic. We just don’t know what battle is around the next corner.

So enjoy and be thankful for the now. Whether you’re in a valley, trudging through the mundane, or you’re on the mountaintop, living an amazing life, you can help your soul become and stay healthy by expressing thankfulness.

Practice Makes Perfect

The key is this: you have to actually practice being thankful. Write it down, say it aloud, or tell your family and friends. Being thankful is powerful in private, but it really matters in public. Like a muscle, the more you practice the art of being thankful, the easier it becomes. Being thankful will truly change the dynamics of your life. You will be filled with more joy, be content in the good and bad, and overcome life’s toughest challenges.

Here are a few ways to practice thankfulness this season:

  • Take 5 minutes to write down the reasons why you are thankful.
  • Gather your family or friends together and share with each other three reasons that you are thankful. Don’t be general; be specific.
  • When you come together around the table to break bread this holiday season, have each person share one reason why they are thankful.
  • Don’t forget–not everyone has family, food, or a home to celebrate in. Being together with family over the holidays can be good or bad, depending on family dynamics. Those emotions are real, but you can still practice thankfulness in the midst of the tensions.