Every now and then, a certain message sticks out among the rest. Throughout the past couple of months, an overarching message has been clear to me; honesty.

Being honest isn't always easy. We overlook it in society today. We hide our imperfections, we had our true selves, and we put up our best self-portrait for everyone to see. Ignore this trend in society, turn away from it and be honest. If you need help, ask for it because there are those close to you willing to help. Let people love you for who you are; those that do will be those that will be by your side through it all. 

Honesty is something I struggle with. So let's work together to become more honest with ourselves, friends, family, people, and God. I bet our relationships will become stronger than ever. 

Be you. You are uniquely special, and remember you are loved,

Dakota (Social Media Guy)

Don't get burned out

The feeling that giving brings is amazing, but when you give and give and give, you can get burned out.

If you are volunteering as a tutor at an after school program during the week, spending Saturdays working on homes of the less fortunate, working in the nursery at church Sunday morning and coaching that afternoon at a low-income soccer camp, you’re probably tired.

When you first get a giving “high” it’s easy to want to give more time, more items or more money. You feel wonderful (as you should) having helped those in need.

When that giving “high” wears off though, sometimes because of too much work or not enough “me” time, giving becomes difficult and you can get cranky. No one likes cranky givers.

It’s important to remember why you started giving in the first place ­­‑to help. Not to have a write-off on your taxes. Not to brag to your friends about how you’re a good person. Not to make yourself feel like you are better than others. Just to help. Help is the one thing everyone needs. No matter who you are, you can’t do everything alone. That drive to help others and in turn make the world a more loving place, is the key to successful giving.

You want to choose to help with something you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s a sports camp or possibly a sewing club. If it’s something you are passionate about, you won’t be burned out too easily.

You also need to remember that it’s OK to say “No.” It’s better to give yourself fully to something you are passionate about, then to spread yourself too thin. There are so many great organizations and programs that are in need help, but if you are already super busy with other projects, no one will be mad if you kindly say, “No.”

Everyone gets burned out some-days, even if they don’t admit it. Sometimes you just want to sit at home in your PJ’s and do nothing at all. That’s OK. Take your “me” time and think about why you help in the first place. Once you remember why you started volunteering, you’ll feel renewed and excited to start the next day.

Get invovled

LABL was started by two guys who wanted to help women in need. It’s easy to think, “Yeah! Awesome! I want to be awesome and help people in need too!” But where do you even begin? 

First things first, (obviously)...

Figure out your passion and how you want to help. If you don’t enjoy yard work, I wouldn’t suggest volunteering for your local Parks and Recreation Department.

Figure out something that you think you can do for a short amount of time every week without it feeling too much like work. It could be as easy as reading to children, gathering can goods or even walking a dog.

Second, find a place that needs help.

Check out local newspapers, community websites, church newsletters, and bulletin boards in stores and libraries.

Everyone is in need of volunteers and many organizations seek out ways to publish their needs for free.

Some counties and townships have a list of non-profits in the area on their government website. Check out their websites to see if any of the organizations strike your fancy.

Once you’ve found an organization you would like to help, call them.

It can be terrifying to call strangers, but I guarantee if they work at a non-profit and are looking for help, they will be nice to you.

Many places have volunteer coordinators whose only job is to help you find a place within their organization where you feel comfortable to volunteer.

Tell them your skills and ask them where they need help!

Even if a place does not list a need for volunteers, don’t be afraid to call or even stop by and ask how you can help.

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that need done that can help a community immensely.

Once you’ve talked to an agency, it’s time to budget… time that is.

Be realistic with the agency and yourself. If you can only help for three hours a week between work, school and other commitments, that’s better than zero!

You don’t want to go in there stressed out about everything you have to do and I’m sure they don’t want a cranky person hanging around.

The final step is spread the love.

Tell everyone about your volunteering experiences and see if they want to help! Don’t be afraid to use social media to tell friends about your great doings.

It might inspire them to get out and help to!

Still not sure where to start? Here are some helpful links to get you out into the community and helping those in needs!

The U.S. Department of Education has a list for students to find awesome organizations in their community and across the world to help during the week or over long summer breaks.

Feed American makes donating food super easy by listing local food banks, demographics, needs and contact information

The Red Cross is not always out for blood… well I guess they actually are… but they also need help organizing blood drives and running them. Plus if you do give blood, they feed you and who doesn’t like free food?

Great Nonprofits keeps volunteers up-to-date on the many ways people are changing the world for the better and ways to find the best non-profits in the area.

Wish there was a volunteer search for life changing opportunities? You’re wish is granted! Just visit idealist and click “volunteer opportunities” to see the latest for your area!

Tears can change the world

Having compassion is not a weakness. Compassion for another can give strength in the most desperate times.

According to the Merriam- Webster Dictionary, compassion is a sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Those last few words are key: “…a desire to alleviate it.”

When we feel compassion for those who are in need, we want to fix it… We should fix it... We can fix it!

Harness your compassion and fulfill your desire to alleviate it. If someone says, “No, there’s nothing you can do,” don’t believe them. Help change the world by making sure it never happens again.

Compassion can urge us to host a spaghetti dinner to raise money for a friend in need or plan a food drive for a local homeless shelter or even run for a political office to change a town.

If your eyes start to well up when you hear Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” on the TV because you know those sad animals are coming on next (Pam's do every time), then take that compassion, those tears, and turn them into passion. Start volunteering at local animal rescues or maybe start a drive to benefit your local shelter.

Don’t think of your compassion for others as weakness. Pam is crybaby. She admits it. If you cry, she’ll cry too. She needs to take ownership of her tears, her compassion, and use them to fuel her drive to help those in need.

Instead of whipping tears away and hiding them from others, wear your heart on your sleeve, as they say, and show others just how compassionate you are. That you share their pain and you're going to do all I can to stop it.

Next time your eyes start to water, don’t wipe them away before people notice. Let them fall. Show your compassion for others and strive to alleviate the problem!

Love all refugees

We at Love And Be Loved are of course about love. Since we are all about love and loving others, our team tries to stay out of all thing political as to not hurt anyone feelings or make anyone upset.

This time, we feel that we must take a stand.

President Trump's executive order to interrupt immigration for a specific people group is wrong. We know this because the McCarrier family exists because a couple of people fought hard against a similar ban to stop immigrants coming from Korea after the Korean War. Korean immigrants were blocked from entering our country for fear that they would cause problems (sound familiar?).

Pamela's grandmother was one of the  many Korean people attempting to flee the war torn Korea for a prospect of peace in a better life in a country that offered freedom. Pamela's grandfather fought tooth and nail to get her and Pamela's father into the United States. She was one of a handful of Korean people allowed to enter our country.

Pamela would not be here if people hadn't fought against an immigration ban. Zoey, our C-E-Oey, wouldn't be here if people hadn't fought against an immigration ban.

Do we believe there are dangerous people in the seven nations included in this executive order? Yes we do. Do we believe that we must protect our borders and our people? Yes of course.

But when you block an entire group haphazardly and ignorantly, you don't just block out the "bad" people. You end up blocking our future wives, our future daughters, our future sons, our future husbands, our fathers, our mothers. You end up blocking generations of AMERICANS.

Please spread the message of Love. Don't get caught up in fear and hate.

We can make America great, but not like this.

We have power as a people, so don't let things like this go by thinking you have no role to play. Speak out against injustice. Support groups who are fighting against injustice.

And put love of God and others before yourself.

If you would like to read the story of Pamela's grandmother, her Aunt Katie Schell wrote a book. Pamela's grandmother as an orphan on the streets of Korea faced not just homelessness and starvation, but military brutality, forced labor, sexual abuse, death and so many more horrors. She is one of the most God loving, giving, generous people we know. She also was an immigrant from a war stricken country.

Start 2017 with some coffee!

Coffee coming soon!

Love And Be Loved is excited to announce its merger with Charitable Grounds Coffee.

Together we will make possible the sale of direct trade coffee, straight from the Oviedo farm, to your home, office, church or organization. We then take 10% of every sale and re-invest it in the spread of the Gospel and the elimination of poverty in Costa Rica. Using the fruit of one man’s labor, we fund the passion of another, and accomplish the vision of both.

Coming in 2017, you will be able to set up a subscription for monthly coffee delivered directly to your door, purchase individual bags of coffee, and sell coffee and LABL t-shirts as a fund raiser for you organization to spread the love in communities all over the world.

Please continue to check and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn how you can drink delicious coffee, wear fabulous shirts and spread the message of love - all at the same time. 

LOVE - Matt, Chris, Dakota, Pam and our C-E-OEY Zoey.

Be that bright spot

There is this surreal experience that occurs when you suddenly realize that everyone around you has a life and you're not apart of it. Like when you walk around school or campus and don't even know someone's name. That person has a family, friends, work, and their own thoughts and emotions.

You have zero idea what is going through their head. Maybe they just got a great grade on a test. Maybe they just are having a great day! Maybe they just received news someone they love has cancer. Maybe they just hate their roommate and don't know what do. The point is you don't know. So why not be a bright spot in their day?

Don't let anyone leave your presences feeling like you were a negative moment in their day. It might be the only moment you get with them. Make it a good one.

It's easy to be mean

It’s so easy to be swept up in gossip, bullying and just being mean without even realizing it. You’re sitting with a group of friends. A stranger walks past wearing something you would never, ever even think about wearing, and you make some funny comments to one another. You share a few chuckles and move on with your day. Seems harmless, right? It’s not like you were “actually” mean to the person. They don’t have to know. Trust us, we are all guilty of doing the same thing. No one is perfect.

Just that one little act between friends though; just one little side comment, shows no love.

We all need to work on truly loving each other and it is a battle that we will face day, after day, after day. Some days we will win and others we will not. 

We need to work on a complete lack of judging other less than ourselves. We need to work on supporting everyone we come into contact with. We need to work on following the greatest commandments Jesus gave us each and everyday.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31.

If we truly followed those commandments, we would never joke at the expense of another. An easy way to keep yourself in check - if you wouldn’t say it to the person’s face, it’s probably not a nice thing to say.

Love and Romance

Someone once asked Matt, "Does 'the one' exist?" His answer was so good, we decided to share it with all of you.

I took this to mean does the one in a romantic way exist, and not does Neo from "The Matrix" exist. To answer the question does the one exist in a romantic way is a tricky one, because I believe that the answer is both yes and no. I know that’s terrible, but hear me out. Do I believe that there is one single person in the entire universe that is a perfect soul mate for you? That you will be desperately searching for that person and if you miss each other then you missed the one and your love live will forever be terrible? No. Love is a choice.
Now there are people who you will be more compatible with - you share common interests, and desires, or you have similar goals and personalities, and that can make the start of a relationship easier. Other things play into that as well, like do you find the other person attractive? Do you like their traits? You won’t like all of them. No one is perfect. But when it actually boils down to making a relationship last and work, it’s a choice.
The love they show in romance novels and romantic comedies is infatuation. There are times when I don't “love” Pam in the romantic comedy way. I'm angry at her, or she has annoyed me or something else. When all that mushy stuff is gone and it comes down to me choosing to love her anyway, that is what love really is.
It’s when you get past the similar interests, the looks and the initial infatuation. When you get down to the dirt and the muck and still choose to love that person - That is where the yes part comes in, because the one is who you make it.
Our culture tells you that you will find that one person who completes you and only that person can complete you, but that’s a wrong way of thinking about it. God completes you. A person can’t do that and will fail to do that if that is what you expect from them. True Love is when both people are willing to sacrifice everything for each other. It’s a choice not a feeling. But if you think that the other person is a cosmic puzzle piece that completes your puzzle; then your thoughts about them are what they can do for me? How can they complete me? What do they bring to this relationship? When in reality a relationship is all about sacrifice. When both people choose to sacrifice for each other, the relationship works great.
We see this in arranged marriages - some don't work out, but many do. When asked, the couples always say that they simple choose to love the person and it has led to a healthy happy marriage. Now if there was such thing as the one like in the movies, what would be the chances that those arranged people were that for each other? And in retrospect, what would be the chances of any of us actually finding our match? The chances would be very, very small. So it might not be a romance novel but it's more. It's deeper and it's more fulfilling to choose love and choose that person to be the one.