The gifting of giving cracks one’s heart one wide open and pours forth the gifts of joy and grace.  What I’ve learned about  grace over the years. Grace is the ultimate gift. It is a gift freely given. It has no ulterior motive. It is selfless. It cannot be bought or bargained for by the recipient. Grace is a force more powerful and more loving than any human emotion, need or want.

At least this is what I’ve learned over the years and it’s become a way of life all year round instead of just during the holidays.  

And here’s what’s been on my heart.  What if you and I could see the joy of a eternal gift in our own community?  What if we could radically change the lives of an entire family with a mere $100.00? What if you and I could give where we live, to one family, one father, one man? 


Kelly, a sweet friend had a radical idea sparking her heart to help one such family–the Smith family. They own the Applesmith at the Hilltop Mall and Mark is the father of 16 children and works full time as an electrician with Cornerstone Electric.  He has amazing kids whose hearts reflect God;  their daughter Whitney is serving in Haiti as a full time missionary with Gospel to Haiti.  Sheila, Mark’s wife is constantly looking for ways to help support Whitney’s clinic in Haiti, she has thrown all of her creative talents towards making unique items to sell at The Reach Boutique in Kearney or donating items to sell on behalf of Gospel to Haiti. 

At the clinic where Whitney works they often see cases of severe malnutrition, and this is what weighs so heavily on Sheila’s heart.  All this work and need while her family has their own need – but Sheila see’s her own need as so much smaller than the needs of the Haitian people that her daughter is working with.  And that’s probably true – but how many would see it that way?  

When crisis hits, how many of us would still have a heart for ministry?

 Each day Mark comes home after a long day of work and those ragamuffins rumble and tumble towards the door to hug their daddy–a man  in need of heart surgery.

In 2009, Mark was diagnosed with Atrial Fibulation which the heart beats irregularly and is normally controlled with beta blockers; but Mark’s condition deteriorated to the point where he was unable to work when his doctor recommended  cardiac ablative surgery. This procedure would help his heart beat normally and allow him to be drug free. There’s just one catch, the surgery is $40,000.00, a bill they could never cover (To read his entire story, click here: Mark Smith), a price he cannot afford to pay.

And it reminds me of our stories–yours and mine. Someone else paid the price we could never repay which seems so dear, so sweet, so incredible as we celebrate Christ’s birth, our season of joy and giving in remembrance of him. 

And that’s why Kelly’s words echoed in soul.  Her heart and her words reflect the power of community, the power of Christ’s love, Jesus’ ultimate gift and how faith can move mountains:

I was doing dishes tonight and it occurred to me that it would only take 400 families to donate $100 and it would be funded. That’s it! Think of how much we spend on Christmas each year! What if as a community of believers, we sacrificed one Christmas (just a little) so that these sixteen children can continue to have a healthy dad?? Doesn’t that seem so… easy?

What If?

Mark Challenge

What if 400 families in the central Nebraska chose to give to the Smith family? Already the Kearney / Holdredge community is stirring with the power of love and so is mine. I’m curious and excited to see the power of a gift in our community. Already $4,000 has been raised, will you be a part of it too? 

I’ll be posting regular updates and standing behind the Smith family with my voice and blog. So how can you help?

Where You Can Give 

Here is the link to the site: where you can pay via paypal, debit or credit card.

You can also take cash or mail checks to:

Mark Smith Medical Account
Great Western Bank
424 West Ave
P.O. Box 346
Holdrege, NE  68949


Other Ways to Help – Spread the Word

You can spread the word of the need this family has at your local church. Click here for a printable and downloadble  bulletin insert.  Mark Smith Bulletin Insert.


If you have a Facebook page, share this post or directly share Mark’s story from Go Fund Me. You can also help spread the word by downloading this graphic as your Facebook, Twitter profile picture. Click on the photo to download. 



Miracle_Full Description


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