Prosperity Consciousness in Action
Manna from Heaven
"I’m so sorry, but there’s a possibility your position may be cut.”
Those words would strike fear into the hearts of many but, for Susie Whiting, they were simply a call to action."
“I didn’t go to fear at all,” Susie said. “I know that when I practice spiritual principles, they absolutely work. So instead of worrying about losing my job, I set a strong intention for prosperity, began spending a lot of time in prayer and meditation time for myself and our ministry, and buckled down to do my spiritual work.”
Susie serves as Hospitality Coordinator for Unity of Phoenix, overseeing the provision of food and beverages for congregants after Sunday worship services. It was May of 2007, and the church was in a budget crunch. The mortgage payments on millions the church had invested to buy and build its new campus were causing some financial strain; consequently, the budget was being trimmed. Among the items in question were the hundreds of dollars spent on refreshments each week … and, if those were eliminated, Susie’s job would follow the same path.
“I focused on the spiritual flow of Intention, Effort and Grace,” Susie said. “If you set an intention, do your affirmations and prayer work, and then put some effort into making your intention happen, Grace will just drop in. So that’s what I did: I simply opened a space for Grace.”
It immediately began to work. Dr. Ramsey Gordon stepped up and offered to provide healthy treats—like fruit and nuts—for the Table (which he continues to this day). Then, out of the blue, congregant Kathy Eveland told Susie she had been to a bakery-—La Dolce Vita-—where they were talking about donations. When Kathy explored the situation, she learned that the bakery had drastic-ally overproduced biscotti. Could the church use it?
“I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” Susie said. “It was a manifestation of ‘manna from heaven.’
“They pulled a pick-up truck into the Courtyard and began unloading palette after palette of biscotti. There must have been over 22,000 biscottis! We barely had enough room to load them into the kitchen; the boxes were stacked over our heads. “It was so incredible!” Susie continued. “We had so much that we were able not only to serve our own needs, but also to share the wealth with food banks and other agencies in need. We were experiencing spiritual law in action.”
And prosperity continued to flow.
As the biscotti began to dwindle several months later, Jeff and Tammy Root were heading to worship services. Tammy, who was pregnant, was suddenly struck with horrible hunger pains; experience told her that she needed to eat something quickly. She hurried to the Hospitality Table, but it was bare. Jeff and Tammy decided this was a message from Spirit that they needed to donate some food to the cause. As a distributor of industrial appliances, Jeff had bakery contacts across the Valley. He personally purchased a wide variety of tasty treats-—such as cupcakes, red velvet cake, cookie dough and pastries —and donated them to the church. Then he set out to teach Susie to “fish.”
“Jeff alerted me to the fact that lots of bakeries throughout the Valley discard whatever bread they haven’t sold by the end of the day, and that some of them might be willing to donate it instead of throwing it into the trash,” Susie said. “He hooked me up with the Wildflower Bread Company.”
Susie started with the Wildflower Deer Valley because of its close proximity to the church. “The employees had tears in their eyes, because they were so happy they didn’t have to throw it away,” Susie said. While Susie had asked for only breakfast items, sorting them at the store proved too time-consuming for employees; at the end of the day, they needed to be able to quickly throw all of the leftovers into bags and hand them off. So Susie made arrangements to pick up everything one evening each week.
Congregant Joyce Olson volunteered to pick up the items, then Susie sorts through the many donations each week. She separates out the pastries, cookies, raisin bread and other breakfast items. Then Board member Penni Honey jumps in to drop all of the remaining goodies – of which there are a lot! – to the Desert Mission Food Bank each week.
“Every week they provide us with anywhere from two to five gigantic black trash bags just overflowing with everything from pastries to huge loaves of bread,” Susie said. “Again, their generosity has turned out to be a wonderful blessing, and a way for us to share the gifts we received with an even wider audience.”
Next Susie turned to Wildflower’s Gilbert store. She began contacting Unity volunteers who lived in the East Valley to see if they would be willing to help. She hit the jackpot with Karen and Jeff Robinson, whose weekly pick-ups have blossomed into a fullfledged bread ministry.
“We told Susie we’d be happy to do the pickup in our end of the Valley, so we headed out that first night to pick up what we thought were a few cookies and muffins for church,” Karen said. “When we arrived, they handed us four great big Santa Claussized bags of bread. It was wonderful, but clearly the church didn’t need all of it … We said, ‘Gosh! What are we going to do with all this bread?!?’
“We jumped online and started looking for shelters and food banks where we could take the excess. We started with the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank and André House (a ministry to the homeless and poor populations of the Phoenix area). When we did our first drop off, I opened up the back of my car to lift out this massive amount of bread, and all I could hear in my head was, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ I said to Jeff, ‘We need to bless this bread.’ So now Jeff and I bless the bread every time we deliver.
“Well, the saying is, ‘What you bless, multiplies!’” Karen laughed. “And it has done exactly that: tripled, quadrupled and more! Wildflower asked if we wanted to pick up on additional nights, so we began picking up four nights a week from that location. We had just bags and bags of bread.
“One day when we were dropping to Vincent de Paul, their shelves were already full, but they knew the veteran’s home in south Phoenix was in need.
We drove there and asked the kitchen coordinator if they could use some bread. He became so emotional, and said, ‘God has sent you ... You must understand; I’ve been praying for someone to help me. I have 65 men here, and we have no bread today.’
“We’ve gone there every week since,” Karen said. And it didn’t stop there! To help fill the need, Karen and Jeff currently pick up bread from two Wildflower Bakery stores and four Paradise Bakery stores, and make regular deliveries to 11 agencies (in addition to helping supply the Unity of Phoenix Hospitality Table). They are on the road almost every day either picking up or dropping off goodies they collect, logging over 10,000 miles since March!
“It’s really incredible,” Karen said. “The more we bless what we are doing, the more it grows! We’re touching hundreds of people each and every week.
“And every time I tell someone our story, our ministry grows more. They’ll say, ‘Hey, have you checked with this agency? I know they need help.’ ‘Have you checked with this bakery? I think they donate!’ It’s really amazing how people show up when you open up the space. I’ll mention to my friends that there was a real need for underwear or deodorant at the shelters, and everyone will buy a package and bring it to me to drop off that week. They constantly bring me clothing and household items to drop off since I’m going there anyway.
“This isn’t our work; it’s God’s work,” Karen emphasized. “All I say to God is, ‘Just let the gas keep flowing, and new tires rolling,’ and I know I’ll be blessed with the money to keep doing this.
“This experience has been life-changing,” Karen continued. “My husband said he has never seen me happier. And we’ve had so much fun going through this journey together! There’s a kick in our step; there’s such wonderful purpose in the ability to help others. And it all started from our agreeing to pick up a few cookies …
“And this is just within our little corner of Chandler,” Karen marveled. “Just imagine what’s available in Scottsdale, Glendale and everywhere else around the Valley!”
Congregant Connie Cornelius is helping to answer that question. She has just begun picking up the leftovers from the Paradise Bakery in north Scottsdale. Aside from the free flow of breads and pastries, complimentary coffee has also been a part of the Hospitality area’s prosperity.
“For years, (congregant) Susan Greenhalgh provided us with complimentary coffee from her restaurant, the Calico Cow,” Susie said. “When she closed the restaurant, that source was shut off. But just around that same time, Scott Kinney began volunteering at the Hospitality Table in the mornings. By the grace of God, he happens to work at a coffee distribution company. He drew on some contacts, and has been supplying us with really nice coffee every week since.
“What are the odds that someone like him would begin volunteering at just the right time?!?” Susie marveled. “He was definitely an answer to our prayers!
“This is a clearcut example of how spiritual principles and prosperity thinking work,” Susie said. “Before I had barely even begun to think about this prosperity consciousness, it started to happen. I created a space, and people immediately stepped in.
“Now we’re serving all of this unbelievable donated stuff to our congregants, so the love offerings we receive cover utensils and paper products. The Hospitality Table has remained open, and my position is not only secure, but has expanded. And we are not only feeding our own spiritual community, but thousands of people in our extended community, as well!”
“It’s all about consciousness,” Penni Honey said. “As soon as we were able to release the concept that (the church) had to provide Hospitality, and moved into a place of being willing to receive, that opened us up to opportunities of abundance that we hadn’t even thought about.
“That was multiplied even further when we started giving what we received back out into the world,” Penni continued. “At first we were freezing all of the excess we got to save for upcoming weeks. But when we stopped thinking that we wouldn’t have enough for the next week, and started releasing the excess to others in our community who could use it, that’s when abundance really began to flow.
“In the biblical story of ‘manna from heaven,’ the people are very specifically told not to store or hold on to what they were given, because doing so displays a lack of trust that there will always be enough,” Penni said.
“What we’re seeing with our Hospitality story is that we truly always have what we need,” Penni continued. “But we had to trust far enough into that before the spiritual principle really came into action. This whole process has also demonstrated that when you can graciously and willingly receive, you bless a whole lot of people in the process. A lot of us are really good at giving to others and affirming prosperity; however, we often don’t practice graciously and gratefully receiving. That’s a very important part of true abundance.”
“From just one individual seed, a giant oak grows,” Susie said. “Everybody steps up to do their own little part to ensure that the seed blossoms. Each person doesn’t have to do a lot … but the little they do opens a portal for other good to come through… “And through them, Grace just drops in.”