Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I know we all get bombarded with e-mail forwards. A lot of them can be considered junk mail... but there are those that just some how reach me and touch me if just for a moment. In one that I received from a friend recently was the following scripture verse:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

What a peaceful message of hope that I just had to "forward" on.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The What If Game

Ever find yourself playing the what if game? About a week ago I was playing that game. What if I had done this? What if I had chosen this? What if I had said no? What if I had said yes? At first, I considered some of my choices..."bad" choices. But the more I thought about things, I began to realize all the stuff I would have missed out on if I hadn't chosen the path I am traveling. Maybe I had some missed opportunities along the way, but then again maybe I wasn't ready for those opportunities. Our paths aren't straight and I think we learn something and even gain something from each choice we make. I don't know...I just feel like the path I am traveling, the life I am living is preparing me for something wonderful. I can't explain in words, but it is a feeling that gives me hope everyday...and gives me the strength to appreciate my life...and all the choices I make as long as God remains at the center.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Human Contact and Interaction

Where do I even begin with this subject? I have been learning a lot on my journey of looking outside myself to help others. But yesterday was very moving for me and I just felt the need to express. So be prepared, because I have a lot to share.

First, in the morning I read a comment from an acquaintance who tossed out the idea that maybe all we need isn't God...that we were created to "live" together with other people. I thought that was an interesting concept...one that considered more thought. I thought about my desire to share and connect with others. I thought about only needing God in my life and being satisfied. Now, I might have misunderstood this individual's comment, but am thankful that it was said because it really made me think.

As I attended a beautiful funeral service for my friend who passed away, my heart was full of saddness and yet hope. As I remembered my friend and listened to the words spoken about this amazing individual, I was overcome with emotions. Another friend reached out and put her hand on my shoulder. How comforting that moment was. How much that human contact was appreciated. I remember hugging the wife of my friend, a woman who holds a special place in my heart, just hoping she could feel the love and prayers I had for her.

I had a friend who has been facing a lot and yesterday just broke down. She desired to be understood by someone close to her. She desired to be comforted. As she cried I reached my arm out and put my hand on her back. I knew that wouldn't solve the challenges she is facing, but just wanted her to know that I was there.

As a thought more about the concept of being created to "live" together with others, one of my photos came to mind. Here is a group of eighth grade students in the middle of a team building exercise. Remember that age? It can be such an awkward stage. I remember only associating with my group of friends. Yet on this day, these eighth grade students let their walls down and spent the day working with each other. They held hands. They carried each other. They enjoyed themselves as they interacted with each other. It was a wonderful moment...one where human contact was abundant.

Some would think that I am using these examples to say that I agree with the statement that God isn't all we need. But for me I don't agree. You see, as I thought more about how important that human contact and interaction was and how I personally desire to "live" together with others, I know that the one who will always remain is Christ. To me there is a difference between desires or wants and needs. Part of my faith is knowing that no matter how much I "desire" human contact and interaction all I "need" is God.

This leads me into another discussion I feel the need to express...that would be the importance of church. I have several individuals in my life who feel that church isn't important because they can worship God by themselves and on their own time. I definitely understand the importance of having an individual relationship with Christ. I think it is wonderful to worship Christ on your own. But there is also something important about worshiping Christ together with others. To me church is a place to gain more knowledge about God's word. It is a place where I can find support in my faith and life struggles. It is a place where I can interact and make human contact with other believers and give praise and thanks to the creator, the one who blesses me with the wonderful people I am in contact with each day.

Matthew 18:20 (New International Version)
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


This week has been difficult, not just for me. Someone I considered a friend passed away suddenly. My heart breaks for his wife and his children. My heart breaks for the rest of his family. My heart breaks for his close friends and all who were lucky enough to know such a wonderful man. I wish there was something I could say to bring comfort and peace to them. I wish I could help in some way.

It is times like these where I begin to understand that maybe the best thing I can do is pray. I prayed that God would give them comfort, strength, peace, and love. I prayed that they were surrounded by His love and surrounded by all those around them. I prayed that they lean on each other and just continue to support and love each other now more than ever. I prayed that they remember the great life he lived and the wonderful memories he created. I prayed for them. Sometimes, that is all we can do.

Philippians 4:6 (New International Version)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Get Out of the Way!

I had an amazing conversation and just inspirational and uplifting time with a great friend this past weekend. I shared with her my concerns, my questions, my worries, and my feelings. She shared with me and it was wonderful. During this conversation she said something that really stuck with me.

"Get Out of the Way!"...No, we weren't talking about slow drivers. No, we weren't talking about someone blocking the television. We were talking about questioning God. We were talking about our impatience sometimes as we anticipate the future. We were talking about trying to hear what we want to hear from God, not what He has to say or wants us to hear.

God speaks to us if we truly listen to what He has to say and He guides us. We have to be completely open to Him and agenda-free. We have to get out of His way...out of the way of His plans for us...out of the way of His love for us.

So put as nicely as I can put it...I pray that we can truly "Get out of the way!"

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


"Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible. "
Corrie ten Boom

Yesterday was a difficult day for me. My faith was weak. Yet, I turned to some very important people in my life who lifted me up. They encouraged me and gave me strength. I cried to God who held me. I turned to Him and he gave me hope.

I hear of people who question God or turn away from Him when they face tough times. They feel that He has let them down...that He has left them and they start to lose their faith. God never promised sunny days all the time. But He did promise to hold us during these difficult times.

I felt His presence in my heart yesterday as I cried. I felt His love as those close to me lifted me up. I was held.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Reaching Out

It is amazing the way God has been touching my life through this journey of reaching out to others. Last night I was re-energized and refreshed as I attended a Praise Team service. The church was full of people singing with our praise team. We sang song after song lifting our hearts and our minds to God. We sang for almost 2 hours. They were prayers set to music. It was wonderful. A couple individuals came up to me last night letting me know that if I ever needed to talk that they were there and that they were praying for me. It was comforting and nice to know that though I don't know these individuals too well, that they care about me and have me in their prayers.

This morning I turned to some close people in my life. I asked them for encouraging words of support and love....and faith. I know we all have those days where we just need to support and comfort from friends and family. In the past, I had been closed off from others...facing things on my own and just trying to stand strong. But now, as I reach out to others, my eyes are open to the many people reaching out to me. I am so comforted knowing that I can lean on them sometimes, and just allow them to be there for me.

Thank you God for holding me and for blessing me with wonderful people who are reaching out to me!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Changing Seasons

Well I made it to work this morning. Hooray! I know it isn't that bad outside. It is just windy with flurries which are starting to accumulate. Most people who know me know how tense I get driving in such winter conditions. After an accident last year, which could have been a lot worse, I find myself gripping the wheel and just trying to stay calm when I "feel" like my car is sliding. I drive at a slow pace as large SUV's and even small cars speed past my jeep. Yet even though I struggle driving in winter weather, I find myself really enjoying the snow and this time of year! My sister and I talk about how we could never live in a place that doesn't have a winter...doesn't have snow. It is the time of year where I realize the importance of slowing down...both while driving, but also in life. The year is almost over and what have I accomplished? How have I made a difference? It is the time of year when I think more of family and friends...and of just curling up on my couch with nice cup of coffee...flavored of course. It is just a comforting time full of memories and reflection.

Thank you God for the different seasons of the year and of our lives!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Turn

Today was an important day. I had some visitors who have really supported and encouraged me and have taken such good care of me. Even when they visit they provide meals for me and bring with them stuff that they think I might need. Today it is my turn to provide for them. I planned, organized, and prepared a special dinner for my guests. I wanted to show the kindness to them that they have and will always show me.

It is definitely nice to be taken care of, but sometimes we need to be the ones to take care of others. We need to thank those who care for us and say to them, it is my turn to take care of you. What can I do for you?

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I know it has only been 6 days of looking outside myself and hopefully touching hearts but I came to another big realization today. As I spent a large part of the day helping an individual prepare for a major project, I begin to think of the word "worthy". I felt the feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious that he/she was feeling. I saw the concern that he/she had. I was surprised that I didn't once think about what I could be doing for myself or what I was missing out on...such as taking a nice Sunday nap or watching football.

It was because he/she was worthy of my time, my love, and my help. Seeing him/her calm was important to me. Seeing him/her prepared was important to me. Seeing him/her confident that he/she was ready for this project was important to me. Seeing him/her happy and being able to relax later on in the day was important to me. It was more important to me than my Sunday nap. It was more important to me than watching football. It was more important to me than cleaning my house, doing laundry, watching movies, reading, painting, spending time with my oh so adorable cats.

The point is that we all are worthy of being helped, of being reached out to, of being loved. When I think of the times that I turned away from helping someone or reaching out to someone in order to do something that I enjoyed, etc...I was in a way saying that they weren't worthy of my time, of my gifts, of my love. The same way when I used to put God in the background of my life. I was saying to Him that He was not worthy of my time and love.

Thank you God for helping me get my priorities straight!

Friday, November 04, 2005


I spent this past Thursday and Friday at a conference in Indy connecting with other grantmakers and just being inspired about all that we each can do even if being a grantmaker isn't our career.

Many people believe that philanthropy is just the giving of money and it is only what the wealthy can do. But they are mistaken. They are also mistaken when they think that philanthropy has to be a large gesture.

I wondered how I could help someone each day at this conference...how I could help perfect strangers. It was easy to reach out to those I knew, but definitely a bit scary when I don't know someone. But I stepped out of my comfort zone, kept my eyes and heart open, and helped with what I could when I could. They were simple acts of kindness...such as helping someone carry something when it was apparent that they had tried to carry too much...lending someone my cell phone when I knew that she needed to reach her husband...talking to someone who looks a bit distant and is a bit uncomfortable joining into conversations...sharing materials with other conference attendees...saying thank you every time the hotel staff served me.

Philanthropy isn't just about giving money or spending money, but sharing with others what we are blessed with.

Thank you God for all you have blessed our lives with, please guide us and show us how we can share our gifts with others. Whether the gestures are large or small, let them come from the heart.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Encouragment and Support

Well it is day two of my challenge and right off the bat, God showed me exactly what I needed to do. There is a certain amazing individual who is facing a couple of different transitions in his/her life. There is a lot on this person's plate right now, and though he/she is facing them with faith and strength, I wanted to let this person know that he/she is not alone and that we all are "cheering" him/her on.

I think we all feel overwhelmed sometimes and question whether or not we can accomplish all that is before us. We feel like we have to do everything ourselves or we fail. It is a wonderful realization that we can lean on our faith and in many circumstances the support of our friends and family. Life isn't always easy, but we don't have to face things alone.

Thank you God for our network of support and encouragement. Thank you for your unconditional love and faith in us!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Looking Outside Myself

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:16

Okay, now I have a renewed outlook on life that I must share.

I woke up this morning tired of it all. During this tough time I have been through highs and lows. I think I have felt almost all the emotions that exist especially frustration. Having faith is tough. I will admit that. It is hard to go from planning every aspect of my life to letting it go. My life has changed and my plans have changed, and it is difficult to embrace that sometimes. This morning I felt myself again being impatient...needing to know what the future holds...needing to know exactly what my purpose is. Then it hit me!

One of the reasons it is so difficult to have faith is because I am really only looking at myself and my life. Yes, I am going through a difficult time. Yes, I sometimes feel alone and sometimes feel lost. Yes, sometimes I start to doubt things. But why am I focusing on all of that? Why can't I just work through those feelings and then move on? Why is it just about me?

My ideas of success used to focus around career, traveling, and family. I wanted to be the perfect working woman...whatever that means. That isn't success! This weekend at the retreat I attended I was asked to write what I would like my best friend to say about me when I am gone. I took that question to heart. I thought about my past goals and realized that I didn't want my best friend to say that I had a certain career or even that I was a good person and a good friend. To me that wasn't success. As I thought about it...I wrote: "Jenn touched my life." I want to genuinely impact just one life and to me that would be the greatest success.

I have so much and have been blessed with so much even during the hard times. Why I choose to whine about my life sometimes is unbelieveable to me. I am going to look outside myself...reach out to others...and just give all I can to touch one person at a time. That is my new goal.

I am going to spend the rest of this week preparing my heart and my eyes to look outside myself. Starting in November, the month of giving thanks, I am going to reach out to someone every day for a year. I want to create a habit of looking outside myself. I want to touch just one life, one heart.