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.




Accidental Sabbatical … all about Hope!

Will it be just a vacation or an Accidental Sabbatical?

Are you unemployed or do you know anyone who is?

Millions of us have been thrown into an Accidental Sabbatical due to unemployment. We find ourselves on this journey for many different reasons – in my case, as a trailing spouse. Some people have been casualties of downsizing or rightsizing or corporate politics. Still others have been left behind in a divorce, or widowed. Some have even been forced into retirement long before they would have chosen it.

There is no ‘how to’ manual for being unemployed, there is no scientific formula for a job search. However there are definitely things you can do to improve your life, meet new people, and enjoy the journey. It may not have been your choice, but it is a sabbatical after all.

Maintaining hope is the toughest part of the assignment for me, so when I heard Kay Warren speak about her Hope Box, I created one for myself, filling up index cards with scriptures and inspirational thoughts and keeping them in a small box labeled ‘Hope’. These surprising gifts sustain me daily and cover many areas… among them: hope, perseverance, change, significance, provision.

This book offers hope and inspiration, ideas and resources gathered from the lessons learned during my Accidental Sabbatical. The goal is to encourage and help us all survive and thrive as we figure out how to be, where to belong and what to do.

As you read, you may find that your sabbatical might not be so accidental after all.

** Priced to be affordable for everyone! Available on Buy the Paperback and get the Kindle version for 99 cents!


Jesus is alive!

Sunday has come!

“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”
Luke 24:5-7

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.


The book is almost done. It is almost ready to release to the world…

And then a friend shared this quote … a sweet reminder of why I’ve been writing it:

“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, Redemption

I pray that this little story that He has written me into, says everything about Him.

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?

Trust for the new year

I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea… But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 NLT

Are ‘trust’ and ‘faith’ the same thing? Do they look the same when you live them out? I think that’s what trust is — living out your faith.

Excitement runs up my spine as I wait to see what God has ahead… what is new… what has already begun …  God has a plan and purpose for this next chapter of my life and I wait for the pieces of that to be revealed in 2013.

Hemingway said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

In what are you putting your trust this year?