the odds & the end

As many of you know, my Love and I are making another cross-country move this summer.  We have the opportunity to spend a little over a month with our family & friends before we settle into our new place.

Also you may have seen I have launched a grant writing & social media consulting business called bmtmedia. As I have expressed over and over again on this blog, my heart is for nonprofit work, and I am hoping this business will help me help more nonprofits.

Due to these things, there won’t be very many posts over the summer and I will be closing down Coffee Shop Communication in August. I have loved writing for you and learning from you, but at this point I need to focus my attention on the move and on bmtmedia.

I will start Coffee Shop Communication back up in September over at bmtmedia.org with more of a focus on communication for nonprofits. I would love for you to join me over there in September.

Thank you all for faithfully reading Coffee Shop Communication for the last year and half. I appreciate your help in building our community. I hope to see you over at bmtmedia in the fall!

let us not forget

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Spring201010 Summer2010035*The pictures are from the Arlington National Cemetery website.

Let us not forget . . .

  • All of the men & women who have fought selflessly for our freedoms
  • Mothers and Fathers, Husbands and Wives, Sons and Daughters that have sent their loved ones into war
  • The ideals this country was founded on which our Armed Forces fight

Thank you to all who have given selfishly to protect the freedoms we each enjoy and to their families who sent them off. 

Happy Memorial Day. I hope ya’ll have a wonderful day relaxing with your friends and family.

 

 

philanthropy spotlight: Interlink Resources, Inc

note from Bethany: Each Friday this summer I am going to highlight a nonprofit organization making a difference in this world. This series is to introduce you to some organizations you might not have heard of and give you an opportunity to be involved in a problem you are passionate about. If you have an organization you would like to be featured, please let me know about it by commenting on this post or emailing me at bethanyplanton@gmail.com.

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Interlink Resources is very near to my heart. I first got involved Interlink my junior year of high school. I traveled to Kazakhstan 4 summers, and I worked part-time at Interlink while I was in college. Read more about my first trip to Kazakhstan here.

Interlink Resources is a not-for-profit humanitarian aid organization working together with the people of Kazakhstan to provide hope for a better future. Interlink desires to

  • DISCOVER the talents of ordinary people
  • INSPIRE an exit from the comfort zone
  • CONNECT relationships across cultural boundaries

They accomplish their mission by increasing the quality of life for orphans and children with special needs.

You can connect with Interlink through their website, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

my favorite date ideas from marriage adventures

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My friends Carrie & Erv Starr recently released their book Marriage Adventures: The Secrets to an Extraordinary Life Together (affiliated link), which I reviewed here on Coffee Show Communication. I highly recommend this book for all couples and for anyone who might ever be in a romantic relationship. Carrie and Erv are committed to making their marriage their only marriage and helping others do that as well.

As we are all well aware of, having a successful marriage takes hard work. Carrie and Erv have boiled the secrets to making your first marriage your only marriage and having an extraordinary life together into three categories:

The book revolves around these three categories. Instead of writing the book by topic, Marriage Adventures is written in chronicle order starting from when Carrie and Erv first met to their 10th wedding anniversary. So through out every chapter, Carrie and Erv show how these categories have played out in their marriage. They also give numerous date ideas. As I was reading the book, I underlined every time they gave a date idea and wrote date idea in the margin.

As Carrie explains, “With all of this busyness, we saw the need to establish a weekly date night so our marriage wouldn’t get lost in the commotion. We chose one night a week where we would not plan anything expect time with each other. We guarded this time as sacred ground. If someone else asked us to do something at that time, we always said no. We had to say no a lot. We still do.” Date nights are important to the healthy of every relationship. They give a couple the opportunity to practice healthy communication and deepen their intimacy with each other.

Here is a list of my favorite ones.

  • Hike in a nearby natural wonder
  • Candlelight dinner
  • Backyard picnics
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Picking apples
  • Renting Jet Skis at a near by lake or reservoir or river
  • Going to an amusement park

your turn: what did you and your spouse do for your last date night? 

wrecked by jeff goins

I have been reading Jeff Goin’s blog and following him on Twitter for a couple of years now. Jeff writing has challenged me in many ways. One has been to keep writing. Another is to live bigger than myself. Last year Jeff published his first book titled Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life.

Jeff Goins grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. His life was changed during a study abroad program in Spain, where he fell in love with travel. After studying Spanish and religion in college, Jeff spent a year touring all over North America and Taiwan with a band. He now lives in Nashville with his family. You can connect with him online at goinswriter.com or follow him on twitter @jeffgoins.

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We live in a broken world. There are starving children and abusive spouses. There are people dying of diseases. There are broken homes and broken families. There are drive-by shootings and drunk drivers. We tend to cushion ourselves from as much of the brokenness as we can. We tend to seek a comfortable life. We strive for the American Dream and then are disappointed when it is not all it promised.

 

 

 

But what happens when the brokenness of this world slams into our comfortable lives? What happens when the brokenness becomes so real we can’t go back to our comfortable lives? 

We become wrecked. Wrecked “means to have a transformation that goes beyond mere words – to be introduced to another way of life, to follow in the footsteps of a teacher who is call ing you through the eye of a needle. Often it involves being catalyzed by an encounter with pain. The process is horrible and ugly and completely gut-wrenching – and at the same time, beautiful. It is real and hard and true. Most of all, it is necessary.”

I was wrecked summer of 2006 in the country of Kazakhstan. This experience set the tone for my life. It has directed my path. You can read more about my own Wrecked experience here.

“We are Jason Bourne – trained and equipped and destined for greatness, but without any idea who we really are.” 

Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life is an invitation to you to join Jeff and countless others in a life not about yourself. It is an invitation to be a part of a larger story. As Michael Hyatt put it in the Foreword, “It is an invitation to lead a wrecked life – one that is shaken up but transformed by confronting the world’s most difficult challenges. It is about living the life we are often afraid to live. It is about sacrifice and service. It’s about stepping into the pain and discovering fulfillment in the most unlikely places.”

As I read through this book, I found myself agreeing over and over with Jeff. We may use different words to describe this lifestyle, but we both want to encourage our readers that there is a different way to live life. We don’t have to follow the status quo.

If you are wanting a fulfilling life, if you don’t want to live a life all about yourself, if you feel like there is a better way to live, this book is for you.

Let me leave you with the mini manifesto from Wrecked:

Instead of wanting more, we will strive for less.

Instead of easier, faster, better; we will opt for slow and deliberate. We will take our time.

We will seek first the needs of others and trust that our own will be provided.

We will discipline ourselves to believe.

We will find our lives by losing it.

We will seek the pearl of great price and sacrifice everything for it.

We will become less to gain more.

We cannot become who we are without going through the pain.

your turn: have you been wrecked? If so, how? 

philanthropy spotlight: Blood:Water Mission

note from Bethany: Each Friday this summer I am going to highlight a nonprofit organization making a difference in this world. This series is to introduce you to some organizations you might not have heard of and give you an opportunity to be involved in a problem you are passionate about. If you have an organization you would like to be featured, please let me know about it by commenting on this post or emailing me at bethanyplanton@gmail.com. 

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Blood:Water Mission 

 

 

Founded by the members of the band Jars of Clay, Blood:Water Mission is a grassroots organization that empowers communities to work together against the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. There is a vital link between living with HIV/AIDS and the need for clean water. In 2005, Blood:Water launched the 1000 wells project “as a nation-wide effort to raise enough money to provide clean water and sanitation to 1000 communities in sub-Saharan Africa based on the equation that $1 provides one African with clean water for an entire year.”

Blood:Water Mission Stats:

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Stats from Blood:Water Mission

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Stats from Blood:Water Mission

You can connect with them through their website, Twitter, and Facebook.

I am featuring Blood:Water Mission for two reasons:

  1. This organization is making a difference in African countries.
  2. I have a chance to have a story published in a book called Couch Rebels: Because stories like this aren’t told by potatoes. 238-wide“For every copy of Couch Rebels sold, the organization, Blood:Water Mission, will be able to provide three people with clean water for one year. The goal of this Cause is to sell 15,000 copies, which means that 45,000 lives can be directly impacted through your participation in this CausePub project!”  My story The Adventures of a Kazakhstan Junkie tells of the first time I traveled to Kazakhstan. Will you take a moment and vote for my story to be published in Couch Rebels? You do need a Facebook or Twitter account to vote. 

how to communicate when you don’t know what to communicate

In 1942, Abraham Maslow published a paper called “The Theory of Human Motivation.” In this paper, he presented his hierarchy of needs. In this theory, the most fundamental needs are presented in the lowest level of the pyramid. His theory is a person does not move up in the next level of need until the lower level is met.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Why do I tell you about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? To show we all have needs.

  • We need oxygen to breath.
  • We need water and food to have strength to do work.
  • We need sleep to recover the day’s activities.
  • We have a need for relationships and we have needs to keep our relationships healthy.

One of the needs we have to keep our relationships healthy is communication. Communication is crucial to every relationship. And “what kills relationships is miscommunication and misunderstanding (The 5 Money Personalities).”

Understanding that doesn’t make communication any easier though. There are times when we feel we need to communicate with our spouse or a friend, but we just don’t know what to communicate.

Many evenings as my Love and I are getting ready for bed one of us will ask the other what he/she needs.It is a time to check in with each other to see what we can be doing for each other to fulfill the other’s need and improve our relationship. But I sometimes I find answering this question is difficult.

I can feel that I need something from him, but I cannot put my finger on it. I cannot verbalize what I need. 

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When this happens, I like to pull out a blank sheet of paper and start writing. I just let myself word vomit on the page. I just write whatever comes to me.  I use this as an opportunity to process through our relationship, my feelings, and my needs. This writing is meant for only me. This writing generally helps bring me much needed clarity on my needs.

If there are things I want to discuss with my Love, I can then bring them up in conversation or write him a note at a later time.

Your spouse has needs as well. Here is an article on Start Marriage Right on how to identify your spouse’s greatest needs and start meeting those needs.

“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

your turn: how do you communicate when you don’t know what to communicate? 

activism vs slacktivism

Recently I wrote a piece for my friend Josh’s blog titled everyone is an activist. I believe everyone has the ability to be an activist. We all have causes and ideas we are passionate about. Some are passionate about the environment. Others making sure children around the world have food. We can’t help but share these with our friends and family in conversations, posts on Facebook, tweets, etc. Our passions just spill out of us. And these are great first steps about getting information out about the cause we are passionate about.

But since writing that piece I have come to realize true activism has another step. To be an activist, we must actually support the cause with our money and/or our time. Organizations cannot feed the hungry or vaccinate the sick or plant trees or provide education without money or volunteers. Organizations need our time and they need our money to be able to accomplish their mission.

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Yes, it is easy to help increase awareness by sharing it through a Facebook status or a tweet, and those are good things. But real activism takes commitment. It takes intentionality. It takes blood, sweat, & tears. It will cost you. But through it you will find life’s purpose. You will be fulfilled.

So what are you passionate about? What makes you excited? What organization do you think just hits the nail right on the head? Go, support that organization. Grow your passion. Be intentional. Be committed. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

your turn: how can you be more of an activist? 

*These thoughts were fueled by the Idealist Blog’s article UNICEF Takes A Stand Against Slacktivism.

before tomorrow comes

share your story

 

note from Bethany: This is the third post of a three part series on sharing real life stories of living bigger than yourself. You can read the first one here and the second one here. This last one is written by my Love Gary. Gary has also written Valuable Amateurs, Principle: little word, and Principle: big word.

 

I couldn’t sleep I had to listen

To a conscience knowing so well

That nothing comes from indifference

I look inside of myself

 

Will I find some kind of conviction?

Will I bid the hero farewell?

Will I be defined by things that could have been?

I guess time will only tell

I guess time will only tell

 

So don’t let it be

Before tomorrow comes

Before you turn away

Take a hand in need

You could change everything

 

- Alter Bridge ‘Before Tomorrow Comes’ first verse and chorus  

Several years ago the youth group of my home church did what they do every year, and hosted a 30-hour famine.  This event is designed to give youth the opportunity to understand what it is like to go without food and other comforts most of us take for granted and to also give back to their communities by doing service projects.  I had been involved in my church’s youth group for about three years during this particular famine, and several of the older youth boys wanted to take the idea of the famine to heart and not just do it one weekend a year, but commit to a whole year of weekly service.  I was stoked and stunned at the same time. I told them that if they were serious about committing to their idea, then I would be their ‘mentor’ through the process and help them find a permanent project they could do once a week.

Photo Credit: Kids Health

Photo Credit: Kids Health

Alter Bridge is one of my favorite bands, and ironically enough, the CD that contained this song had just recently been released when the guys wanted to start their service project commitment. I never told them this, but I kind of made this song my personal theme song during this time. The lyrics to the song couldn’t describe the attitude of our group of men any better. Experiencing even just a taste of what many people in our communities lack can have a profound effect, and it is so true that taking a single hand in need can change everything.

The mission project we decided on was to help a local downtown ministry called Blood-N-Fire [now called Inside Out]. This ministry really defies description in what it attempts to do for the people in our downtown; they provided a food kitchen, after school activities, manual labor for the elderly, lawn mowing services, landscaping, home maintenance, a thrift shop, and Sunday worship services for different age groups. The work we did ranged from sorting clothes to babysitting after school activities to helping build houses. It didn’t matter how big or small the task seemed; nothing was beneath those kids, and no task was too great. I can’t remember any task that Bob, the director, gave them that they did not complete. These were men who didn’t want to be defined by what they could have been.  And for a few people in our community, they changed everything.

is your relationship worth 46cents?

share your story

 

note from Bethany: This is the second post of a three part series on sharing real life stories of living bigger than yourself. You can read the first one how much is “enough”? here. Today, I share one of my stories.  

 

 

 

I don’t remember when I started writing letters to my family and friends. I can’t really remember not doing it so the habit must have started in early elementary. Growing up, I loved to write letters to my grandma, aunt, and cousins.

Now I have graduated from the Lisa Frank and American Girl stationary (sort of), but I still have a habit of sending a fair share of letters and cards.

  • I love to send little notes to my niece, nephews, and sister decorating the envelopes with lots of stickers just to let them know I love them.
  • I love to send thank you notes anytime I receive a gift so the giver knows I appreciate his/her thoughtfulness.
  • I love to send birthday cards and anniversary cards and Christmas cards.
  • I love to send Congratulations cards when a friend does something fantastic.
  • I love writing notes for my Love and putting them in his lunch.

Every once in a while, I will hear from a friend how much a card made his/her day, but most of the time I don’t know. And that is ok.

Photo credit: Josh Zimmerman

Photo credit: Josh Zimmerman

I know there have been plenty of times when notes have made my day. Like when I was in Kazakhstan missing home and I would have a note from one of my family members or friends to read or when my Love hid notes in our apartment for me to find or when friends have written how much I mean to them. I have a shoebox full of such letters and notes from over the years. Every so often I pull the box down off the shelf and read through those notes. It always lifts my spirit because handwritten notes are priceless.

Receiving a handwritten note can mean the world to the receiver and only cost the writer a little time and a few cents. But it does take intentionality. It takes some planning. That planning is worth it though, and it is a simple way to live bigger than yourself and have a huge impact on someone else.

your turn: who do you need to write a note to today?