Letter from the Executive Director

Letter from the Executive Director

Ever wonder what happens when you donate your hard earned money to various nonprofit organizations? Where exactly your money goes? For what the donation is actually used? Whether or not the donation is managed wisely? Those are normal questions to ask. I’d love to address those questions for anyone considering donating to Life In Abundance (LIA).

As a non-profit, a large portion of the work that we do at LIA is dependent on the donations we receive throughout the year from private donors. Because we are a Christian faith-based nonprofit, we have found ourselves fairly limited in our ability to receive grant funding for our program. This is due, in part, because we include religious activity (eg, evangelism, prayer etc.) within the scope of the work that we do with our clients. We also encourage our clients to participate in certain faith-based activities (eg, finding a church home, actively serving in their church, and getting involved within their church community through small groups, etc). Although many foundations are happy to donate to worthy causes, many are not willing to do so when faith practices are encouraged or required of the population the organization serves. As disappointing as that may be, the Lord is faithful and continues to sustain LIA through private donations.  Because of the importance of private funding, I want to share what we do with the dollars that are donated to the Life In Abundance ministry.

Life In Abundance is focused on strengthening communities in the Upstate. We offer sound biblical counseling as well as assistance to women transitioning out of crisis. Through our WINGS (Women in Need Gaining Strength) program, we help women receive the counseling they so desperately need, as well as connect them to much-needed community resources. Additionally, we provide hands-on help when needed. The resources to which we connect our clients are not always free, even though they may be significantly discounted. Our goal is to be help women receive whatever assistance is needed in order for them to get back on their feet while they move through a process of healing.

Here’s how your donation to LIA impacts the lives of the women and families we serve:

Sponsorships:
When and only when donor funding is present, LIA is able to offer sponsorships to women who can’t afford to pay for their own counseling due to financial hardship. These sponsorships provide a way for counselees to receive much-needed help and for our counselors to be moderately compensated for their services. Additionally, these sponsorships are strictly monitored and the clients who receive them are held accountable to keep scheduled appointments and to remain in compliance with the work assigned by counselors during sessions. Counseling fees at LIA are based on a sliding scale that is up to 75% lower than what most other counseling providers charge. Since the beginning of 2017, we have been able to provide sixty-eight sponsored counseling sessions, serving roughly seventeen women in need.

Vehicle Donations and Repairs:
In the last three years, LIA is proud to have been able to connect several single moms in need to vehicles which have been generously donated to the ministry. Although the vehicles themselves were donated, LIA still incurred the cost of the property taxes/tags and vehicle inspections to assure the road- worthiness of each vehicle at the time of the donation. Additionally, LIA has been blessed to be able to partner with a local automotive repair ministry to help cover the cost of automobile maintenance and repairs for women in need. Because of this partnership, the women we have been able to help are able to maintain a means of transportation to take their children to school, to get to work, to go to the grocery store, to go to doctor’s appointments, etc. These donations are critical and impact entire families. They are truly life-changing.

Training:
In the past year, LIA has been able to help several women who are attempting to re-enter the workforce after many years away from it. Through a partnership with a local computer training organization, LIA has provided clients with critical training on basic computer skills and Microsoft Office products to help these women increase their marketability as they search for employment. Additionally, LIA has been able to help another client receive professional help and job placement assistance after 30 years of struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia. Although we gladly orchestrated the training for these precious clients, those training services were not free to LIA.

Your donations matter. Your donations change lives.

At Life in Abundance, we know that you could choose to donate to a number of worthy organizations. We humbly ask that you might consider us for your future charitable giving. We remain grateful for your kind and generous help as we serve the Kingdom together.

From the Executive Director:

From the Executive Director:

Some people wonder what we do at Life In Abundance (LIA). They may already  know that we offer pastoral counseling, but they may wonder what it’s really like to enter into our ministry as a woman in need. As a potential client, they may wonder if they will be understood, validated and met with compassion, or if they will be met with judgement and legalism. They may wonder if anyone will be able to meet them in the pain they are experiencing, and if anyone – for the first time – will actually listen to them. They may wonder what will happen if they are finally able to share their hearts – their deepest thoughts and experiences (no matter how confused, dark or ugly) – without receiving condemnation or judgement.

Counseling can be a scary thing to undertake – lots of unknowns, lots of vulnerability, lots of potentially overwhelming feelings. The LIA support team (both counselors, administrative staff and volunteers) understands what it takes for some of our clients just to make the initial call to schedule an appointment, much less to walk through our door for their first appointment and complete the paperwork. Our support team does a wonderful job of making our office a warm and safe environment for our clients to begin their journeys of healing.

Many of our clients have had previous experiences in counseling through secular practices and are happy to note the difference that pastoral counseling has made in their lives. I think most of our clients would tell you that they have been pleasantly surprised by their experiences with LIA. Most would tell you that they feel received, heard, and loved. Most would also tell you that through their counseling relationships with the LIA counselors, they have experienced appropriate transparency, compassion, love, and biblical truth.

At Life In Abundance, we are honored that the Lord allows us to walk with our clients as He facilitates the healing process within their lives. It’s something we don’t take lightly. Pastoral counseling is a specific calling on the lives of our counselors, and each of us recognizes that.

As the founder and Executive Director of Life In Abundance, my heart’s desire is to see the women who come to LIA experience healing by developing an authentic relationship with Jesus. So many of us have been taught who Jesus is, but have never really experienced an authentic relationship with Him. As a result, when we find ourselves in a place of suffering or crisis (think disciples in the boat during the storm, Luke 8:24), our limited experience with Him, along with our limited understanding of who He is and how He sees us, ultimately fails us.  Many of us have a lot of biblical head knowledge, but it’s by authentic experience with Him that He moves that knowledge into our hearts. That process is truly life-changing (think about Jesus sleeping in the boat as the storm raged around it). I don’t know about you, but I want the peace that Jesus had in the boat when I find myself in the midst of a storm. At LIA, our objective is to point our precious clients back to the One whom ‘even the wind and the waves obey’, Luke 8:25) We consistently do that through effective pastoral counseling and discipleship with our clients.

If you want to experience the healing impact of pastoral counseling as you work through a situational difficulty or crisis, please give our office a call at 864-408-8547.

The Importance of ‘Haverot’

The Importance of ‘Haverot’

Opening up to others can seem like a daunting task. Fears, insecurities and past hurts are often the reason we are hesitant to form deep, meaningful relationships. In times past, I have overlooked the God-ordained significance of close fellowship with others. However, God has shown me immeasurable blessings through vulnerability and sincere friendships.

When my husband and I first moved to Greenville, we decided to join a large, local church. This church was vastly different from the churches that I had grown up attending – where Sunday school was the closest thing I could equate to Bible study or small group activity. I was overwhelmed by the size of the church, as well as the church’s challenge to its members to be “an active member”. Everyone was encouraged to serve (utilizing their gifts) and participate regularly in a small group. An introvert to the core, I promised myself that my husband and I would join a couple’s group where I could hide behind my husband’s Biblical Studies degree and wait for him to expertly answer any theological or scripture-related question.

However, God had other plans. In fact, try as we might, my husband and I were unable to find a couples’ small group that met at a time convenient to both of our schedules. Inevitably, with frustration and some trepidation, I joined a women’s small group. It was one of several with which I would become involved. Although I was unaware at the time, it was through my participation in these small groups that God was preparing me to lead my own small group.

God began using the women and the group studies to ignite a passion in me for learning more about His Word, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. Further, He began maturing my prayer life. I began hearing Him and learning more about His character in ways that I previously had not. He was using my “active membership” within that church to bring clarity to His purpose for me – a call into the counseling ministry. As Henry Blackaby discusses in his book, ‘Experiencing God,’ I had joined God where He was already working. He was weaving together people and themes throughout my daily life and slowly revealing parts of His plan for me.

As God was revealing these things, He was also impressing upon me the importance of connecting with other believers. Although I know God hears our prayers whether we are praying alone or with others, I was reminded of Matthew 18:20, which says, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” There is undeniable power when we come together and pray for one another. In James 5:16, Scripture reads, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” If God says it, we are to take Him at His Word. So, if there is power in unity, there is also power in confessing our sins.

Following Biblical instruction by confessing our sins and praying for each other requires transparency. It means shedding pretense and presenting ourselves – warts and all. That is terrifying for many people. We want to cling to our pretense because it feels safe. That, in itself, is a false security. The more we hold onto the facade, the longer we remain bound by strongholds. The sooner we embrace vulnerability, the quicker God brings His healing activity into our lives. What we allow God to work in us while others are watching may be the precipitating event that draws them into a more authentic relationship with Christ.

In her book, ‘Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus,’ Ann Spangler writes, “Jewish thinkers have considered it vital to study the Scriptures in the presence of other people.” She cites a famous line of rabbinic advice from before Jesus’ time: “Acquire for yourself a rabbi, and get yourself a haver.” Her book further describes “A haver (plural, haverim) is a male student who partners with another student to enhance learning…A female study partner is a haverah (plural, haverot).”

One of my most valued relationships is a close friend and prayer partner. In essence, she acts as my haverah. God has worked through the two of us in undeniable ways. Together, He has taken us further in our faith than either of us would have gone individually. My haverah challenges my thinking, as I do hers, as we seek to understand the scriptures together. When she is too tired to pray for herself, I step in. When I am too exhausted or distraught to pray for myself, she steps in and takes the lead. Our relationship includes laughter, tears, and at times, disagreement – all of which enhance our learning. Through all of our experiences together, God continues to encourage and grow us both in our faith and witness.

God has lead me to discover that being vulnerable with other believers brings significant power and freedom. Although it can be challenging at times, I have learned to silence my insecurities and fears and lay my heart open before other believers. I’m so glad that God had other plans for me when I wanted to keep to my introverted self. Had I followed my own desires, I would have missed so much that the Father wanted to show me!

  • Who is your haverah? Is it one person, or a group (haverot) of spiritually mature believers?
  • How have you benefited from having a haverot?
  • Who do you have that speaks Godly wisdom into your life and challenges your thinking?
  • If you don’t have anyone, what is keeping you from connecting? If you don’t know the first step to take, ask God to bring a person or group into your life. He knows your needs and is faithful to answer your requests!

 

By Stephanie Baker

Goal Setting Series: Reward in Goal Setting

Reward in Goal Setting

Celebration is a really important thing  to do, upon successful completion of any goal.  Setting a reward gives you something pleasurable to look forward to, in addition to the fulfillment you experience upon successful completion of your goals. The great thing is that you are not required to spend tons of money to enjoy that celebration!  It can be allowing yourself, as one of my clients decided to do, just to read a book of her choosing for pleasure – without feeling guilty and without being disturbed.  It could mean a bubble bath, or a trip to your favorite park.  Whatever brings you joy is a great way to celebrate.

It’s important to stop at the completion of a goal to celebrate all that has been accomplished, and all that God has shown you during the journey to that point.  In fact, you can see it as an act of worship by showing gratitude for His continued presence with you along the way, and for Him giving you the direction, the energy, and all of the other necessary tools to compete the journey. It’s a time of reflection, possible recalibration, and gratitude.  It’s also a time to examine lessons learned on both the positive experiences and in the areas involving challenge.

Celebrating a victory here is not just about brining joy to you, alone, though.  Your victory celebrations are for others, as well.  When you celebrate your victories publicly, you give hope to others who are trying to reach their goals as well.  You become living proof that it is possible to accomplish goals.  Your celebration might be the very thing that God uses to encourage others to begin their journey on the path He’s placed before them.  What a privilege to be used by God in that way.

Goal Setting Series: Relevance and Reward

Relevance in Goal Setting 

After you clearly articulate why you want to do something, and create a vision of how reaching that goal will change your life, it’s then time to come clean and admit the relevance of that particular goal.  Relevance, in this case, refers to how much you care about this goal enough to make it a priority.  Are you willing to let go of or cut something else from your schedule to work on this goal?  On a scale of 1-10, how important is it to you to reach this goal?  If your answer is a ‘6’, then, yes,  it’s true that you’re more than 50% committed. However, in that case, you probably need to take a closer look at the “why” you want to set and reach this particular goal.  You  may need to recalibrate.

A lower relevance score usually indicates that you’re trying to work on something that’s important to someone else, but you have yet to find or assign your own value to that particular goal. Until you do, your efforts will most likely fall short of achievement or sustainability.  A lower score on your relevance scale can also mean that there’s an obstacle you haven’t  fully examined or addressed, therefore, you’re not confident that you can achieve the goal.  In that case, it’s really important that you drill down and get everything out on the table.  It may be that through this process you change direction and disregard this goal altogether, or you might keep the goal and establish a better plan for addressing potential obstacles. Unturned stones here will most likely cause you to stumble in your journey towards reaching your goal. Time to be brutally honest and get to the bottom of how committed you are to this goal!

Next Week: Reward in Goal Setting

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