Barbecues, Shelving, and Non-Profits

For the past ten years, we’ve had a bit of a love affair with our “Patio Caddie” barbecue. It’s a handsome, polished dark-green enamel, 20-inch diameter pot on a tripod that sits above a propane gas tank. It’s an easy to use, efficient unit that cooks to perfection and then “disappears” to the corner of our patio until next use. We lovingly dubbed it “R2-D2” and always spoke highly of it to others.

Unfortunately, it has recently developed gas leaks and the manufacturer no longer stocks the spare parts needed to fix it. And, the model is no longer made. So, we had no other option but to buy a model that is its successor — something we could do most economically via on-line purchase.

It arrived the other day — in a box, ready for assembly. Of course, that’s when the fun began. We sorted out the box and found the assembly instructions — 18 pages of caption-free illustrations (albeit the parts were named for each step) — kind of a Legos-for-grown-ups game. Somehow, with patience and perseverance we got it together and we didn’t blow up the neighborhood when we tried it out.

It’s possible that our success came from on-the-job-training of assembling shelving and a butcher block table we bought at Ikea a couple of months ago. Instructions for those were also in the style of the no-caption, multiple cartoon-drawing type. In both cases, we discovered the “right way” by putting them together the wrong way, disassembling, and then re-assembling them correctly.

Hopefully, we’ve learned valuable lessons from these experiences — ones that can help us on our “current” DIY project. That would be following the step by step instructions in the NOLO Press’ book How To Form a California Non-Profit Corporation. We’re doing this is hopes of achieving “501c3 Non-Profit” status for Big Love.

Unfortunately, at first glance, the process of “assembling” the paperwork for this makes putting together Barbecues, Shelving, and Butcher-Block tables child play. Technically the process involves fewer steps that any of those, but they are considerably more complex.

We thought we’d find some solace in the fact that the book provides a lot of written “How-To” instructions. Upon closer examination, however, the “How-To’s” seem to be riddled with incomplete definitions and even contradictory or conflicting information.

The book suggests the best approach is to submit the paperwork as a “church”. Subsequently, it identifies fourteen characteristics that the IRS associates with a church. Without going into the gory details, some of these are obvious but other terms are ambiguous. And, there is absolutely no clarity about which or how many of the 14 characteristics are necessary or even most important.

Instead, it offers citations for court rulings. But these, too, seem often vague, highly situational, and confusing. In one case, the ruling seems to contradict itself from paragraph to paragraph. In one paragraph, the court found the organization didn’t have certain characteristics and therefore it WAS NOT a church. In the next, it found the organization had another set of characteristics, so it WAS a church. The ruling then moved on to other issues without reconciling these conflicting ideas! Go figure!

Undaunted, our intention is to press forward and make our best effort. Then we will release and trust Spirit to bring forth the highest and best outcome. When we step back, it seems like the process may be part of the flow of life. Life’s processes and “rules” are at best unclear. Faced with ambiguity and uncertainty we do the most, hope for the best, and then trust and release the rest. And, at the same time, we ask for the loving and supporting prayers from all who are willing to offer them.

We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends!

Olivia & Steve


It’s Your Turn! 

What’s your approach to facing confusing or difficult circumstances? Do you “follow” instructions or do you just “wing it”? Where do you turn to for help and/or support? How to you keep your spirits up in the face of adversity? What lessons would you share for those of us who need a little help or support?

If you’re willing, please share your responses in the comment section under this blogpost as it appears on the Big Love Community Facebook page.

Big Love News:

As we explain in this blog, we are in the process of forming a corporation and applying for a 501c3 designation. And, beyond asking for your prayerful support, please let us invite you to help us in two other ways:

1. If you know of someone who is experienced in these matters and might be willing to provide advice and guidance (hopefully on a “Pro Bono” basis), please help us connect with them.

2. There are filing fees and other costs involved in this process — approaching $1,000.00 even if we take a DIY (“Do-It-Yourself”) approach. If you’d like to make a donation in support of Big Love to do this, please contact us. By and by we’ll be putting a link on the Big Love website for “Donations”. In the meantime, we can provide a link to our PayPal account if you’d care to give us a “Love Offering” (or mail us a check!). Thanks, in advance, for your willing generosity!

If there are topics you’d like us to address, please send us an email from our “Contact Us” web page.