How Can We Really Help the Poor?

So all week long I’ve been trying to figure out how to express my thoughts about the angst that the political rhetoric of this presidential election is causing in my spirit. I have written and rejected more than one blog post because I couldn’t remove the negative emotions from it. The overwhelming negativity, political lies and confused cheerleaders are all strong magnets; I have to continually pray them out of my brain. Politicians would have you believe that their Robin Hood methods of providing more for the poor would actually help people, however it causes me to ask, how can we really help someone in need?

After lost sleep and many deleted words, I have chosen to simply write an appeal for an organization that I personally know is helping poor people, and whose vision and mission are aligned with what they actually do.

I prefer to hand my hard-earned resources over to someone I know will actually use the money or goods as they say they will. So there is no mistake, this post is not to ‘should’ on anyone or try to guilt anyone into giving anything – my intent is to reveal the needs of a small mission in the Appalachian mountains in Kentucky.

Jim and Rita Cmolik operate Hills and Hollers Ministries and their non-profit mission is about relationship “between our God, our neighbor and ourselves.” They are building those relationships with the people of Appalachia in McCreary County.

This is not a ministry that is about simply giving free stuff to poor people. Yet part of having a relationship with someone is helping them with tangible needs when they need it. The primary way they do that is through their Community Closets that provide clothing and household goods. Much of what they give away is second-hand clothing and they also provide new items when possible – especially after a fire has taken everything a family owns. And unfortunately, there are many fires, largely due to wood stoves and space heaters used as a primary heating source.

How can we help? We can go through our closets and give away clothing and coats. I also went through the linen closet and found sheets and blankets not being used. Shopping the “After Christmas sales” for new kids clothes and men’s t-shirts ended up being less expensive to drop-ship to them directly than if I had gone shopping and filled another box. Then the “white sales” came along and crib sheets were down to $4 each, less than I could purchase the material and sew them myself. And of course financial donations allow them to purchase other material goods or building materials that are needed and that are the tangible side of building relationships.

One reason that you will rarely (if ever) see Jim and Rita actually asking for clothing donations is that they have found over the years that many people will send items so filthy or torn that they have to pay for them to be hauled to the dump, which ultimately takes away from the ministry financial resources, becoming a hindrance rather than a help. So if you do give, to them or any other ministry, make sure it’s something worth giving.

Just to be clear, no one involved with the Hills and Hollers Ministries has asked that I write any kind of an appeal for their mission. I am only writing about them because we trust them and we have been blessed by sharing in their ministry and wanted to share this information with anyone looking for a way to truly support the poor.

So, if you are looking for someone to actually help, and that kind of ‘giving to the poor’ appeals to you, here is information on their mission and answers to questions you may have. Check out the Facebook page link and the Hills and Hollers Ministries website.

Here is how to reach them:

Contact Us…

If you’re interested in learning more about our ministry in the “hills and hollers” you can email us at or contact us via “snail mail” at:

Hills and Hollers Ministries
2281 Lick Creek Road
Whitley City, KY 42653

Hills and Hollers Ministries is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt non-profit 501C (3) organization.  Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.




5 Minute Friday: Loss

We lost our jobs. That means we lost our paychecks.

Some have subsequently lost houses, lost sanity, lost freedoms.

To stay afloat, we have lost privileges that we might have thought were rights. Luxuries too easily defined as ‘needs’ when we don’t have to think about giving something up to pay for it.

Those losses all hurt.

Opportunity cost it’s called. Example? To have the opportunity to send sympathy flowers to a friend who lost his wife, means we give something up. Groceries? The rare dinner out?

But with loss can also come gain – or a positive loss, shall we say.

Loss of stress. Loss of angst over corporate politics.

Loss of time-saving surcharges.

Loss of worry over when to fit ‘life’ into work life, how to find what is laughingly called ‘work-life balance’.

Loss of stress cannot be measured in terms of dollars.

Sometimes a loss is actually a positive.

What have you thought of as a loss that you can turn into a positive?


I link up with Lisa-Jo Baker every Friday and we write intensely for 5 minutes. Find us/Join us here: Five Minute Friday.


Lessons Learned.

This has been a week of lessons learned the hard way for me. So here is today’s:

Warning for anyone doing business with Verizon Wireless, in my case specifically on Main St. in Fuquay Varina, NC, but perhaps this happens elsewhere in their stores:

For several weeks now the GPS in my Samsung III phone has been defective, losing signal every few blocks, invariably when I am lost… so I have insurance on the phone and thought I’d exchange it for a phone that works.

The young man, Bert, who assisted us, upon hearing what the problem was and that we had the insurance, took the phone and excused himself to the back office for 5 or so minutes. When he returned to us, he informed us that if we turned in the phone on insurance they would charge us for a new one since there was DAMAGE FROM LIQUID in the phone.

Given that the phone has NEVER had any contact with any liquid in the year I have had it, we were shocked and at that point he proceeded to remove the rubber cover (which has never been removed) and the back of the phone and pull out the battery and show us that the little ‘x’s’ were missing in the pink section which indicated that water had gotten into the battery. We left the store with the defective phone.

It did not occur to us until we were discussing it over dinner to wonder what had he done with the phone when he took it in the back of the store? He gave no explanation.

If all he did was check the battery in the back room, why could he not have done that in front of us initially?

I have no way to prove whether or not he personally put liquid on the phone itself; nor would they be able to prove that he did not. All I do know for sure is that I can guarantee that to my knowledge there has never been liquid of any sort touch that phone, yet apparently the insurance we purchased is essentially worthless.

Lessons learned.

If you have any ideas about what might solve the defective GPS issue, or any other corrective action I could take either with the phone or Verizon, I would appreciate your input.


Themes in the puzzle.

The cover seems to be pulling back and I am beginning to see what is beneath it. Even as I see the themes revealing themselves, the picture is becoming clear, like a jigsaw puzzle where finally some of the pieces fit together.

This week the themes have included better health; new people, potential friends, colleagues or clients. Then a friend invested an afternoon over coffee, to tell me how I had also written her story in my book and that she had felt release with it.

Stakeholder Theory and Conscious Capitalism, being taught in the New Models of Business in Society class (on where Dr. Freeman assures us that companies care about ‘purpose, not profits’. Next week he has asked us to think about how we could implement these ideals by starting a company or as employees.

Simultaneously, in my other Coursera class, Irrational Behavior, Dr. Ariely teaches this week that everyone lies. Everyone. And that we make our decisions based on emotion, whether or not we realize it. But that with this knowledge, we can improve our decision-making and better assess risk.

All week I have been pondering on Jodie Llewellyn’s blog on Building a Writer’s Platform as I have been trying to figure out my platform for weeks now. In the same way that Dr. Freeman teaches to drill down to your business purpose, my writing is my business now, and my purpose is the same as it was in the corporate world. To help people and solve problems.

In business, while managing customer relationships, I helped people solve problems, and find solutions.

Now as I write, in my first book, Released, my prayer is that I help women or men who are in abusive relationships to find answers and hope and release.

My new book-in-progress, Accidental Sabbatical, provides hope, help, resources, for men and women, seeking to survive and thrive while unemployed.

For many years now at the end of each Friday, I have emailed my boss with the week’s activity and my numbers. It was always about the numbers. So as the boss of me now, here is my report to me at the end of this week.

The pieces are coming together. Purpose. Platform. Problem-solving. Providing Solutions, Producing Results.


Nuggets of wisdom on the subject of change …

The change process need not be negative. Indeed, when it is, it is rarely or ever successful.
~ Tom Peters
When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.
~ Viktor E. Frankl
If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.
~ Gail Sheehy
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
~ George Bernard Shaw

Some days I am tempted to move the furniture around in the house to effect change. Those are the days that I must listen to Viktor Frankl instead and understand that my challenge to grow and push myself must come from change in me.

So I ask myself, what do I need to change today?
Usually my first answer is my attitude.


Released is born!

Released is born!

The manuscript that I have been writing and rewriting for nearly 21 years now is finally published. It is available now on Amazon in Kindle* format and the paperback version will be up there in a few days. (I was going to wait until they were both up to write this, but my husband Stephen pre-empted me on Facebook).

When I was 18 and a freshman in college, I told one of my writing professors that I was going to write a book and he laughed and said “18 year olds don’t have anything to say yet.” It felt as though he had slapped me in the face, however if his intention was to give me an impelling reason to finish the book, it worked.

And although I was certain at 18 I had a lot to say, it took me until now to get the guts to stand ‘naked’ in front of the world with this story.

This is my true story of escape from an abusive marriage… an intensely personal story of God’s mercy and grace as He brought beauty out of ashes in my life. It is my desire to help at least one person who is caught in the cycle of verbal, mental or physical abuse to see a light and a way out.

Although this quote was not written about my particular story, I feel like it was:

Here’s what’s surprising about making sense of your life in God’s story:  the story is not about you—it’s about Him. He is both the author and the main character, and He has written you into His story to say something about Him.”

~ Mike Wilkerson in Redemption

Everything that I am now is because of the Almighty God and his grace in my life. I pray that He uses this story for His glory.


PS I’d be thrilled if you would buy the book, and if you do, honored if you would write a review on Amazon to help increase the visibility of the book so that others who need its message will find it.

*If you do not own a Kindle (and I do not yet), they offer free Kindle apps for PC, tablets or Smartphones.

Passion. Purpose. Profession.

More and more my life during this season is becoming about writing. As I work on writing my books and editing others, I am finding a different outlet for my passion, perhaps the purest, original one in my life.

Gabrielle Bernstein is quoted as saying “Allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession.”

My passion has always been communicating, in one way or another. I built a sales career when I figured out that talking to people was not wasting time but was actually doing my job. Once I was mentoring a new team member and she asked me what she should do to ‘build relationships’ that would build sales. I asked her, well how do you build relationships in your personal life? You reach out to people, either with an email, a phone call or a visit. You find out what they need and you build trust so that they give you the opportunity to meet their need or solve their problem.

So isn’t writing blogs, books, screenplays, or whatever you are writing just reaching out to the world to build relationship that fosters trust to meet a need?

This week, Chance Scoggins shared his heart in this post: Living So Your Life Matters.

Chance explores vivid truths about what makes a life matter. When I read it, I had had a particularly rough day with a migraine and nothing really visibly accomplished, and it encouraged my soul.

My passion is to encourage and help solve problems, and every day my purpose for this season in this new normal is becoming clearer.

Does your life reflect your passion? Are you living out your purpose in your profession?


For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

~ Steve Jobs
What am I doing today that will matter in five years? Or for eternity?


When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.

~ Viktor E Frankl
What do I need to change?


Always remember that the future comes one day at a time. ~ Dean Acheson

What do I want in my future?