HOPE AND PEANUT BUTTER
and happiness remind me of sticky peanut butter.
The mother of an 11-year-old child dying from brain cancer once told me that she felt like running into the street screaming, "My child is sick. Won't somebody help me?" So many parents desperately search for SOMEONE to care and to help them through the ordeal of watching their helpless child suffer. I decided to BE that someone and do as much as I could. It's amazing how much I CAN do, even though I'm disabled. The disability has given me the time that most people can't spare. And I know what it's like to be sick, frustrated, and afraid. So I use my situation to be a blessing to others.
In 1998, due to complications of an auto-immune disease, I lost my eyesight. When I regained some vision, I was no longer able to work. With so much time on my hands suddenly, I could have chosen to be depressed about life being empty and without purpose. Instead I followed my inner urging to let God lead me forward. Gradually this path allowed me to create the Hugs and Hope Club for Sick Children.
Through online prayer chains, I often received e-mails requesting prayer for sick children. I'd posted their stories and pictures on a web page in order to network with others who wanted to help these kids too. My ministry began as a small, part-time effort, in which I, as one person, prayed for one little boy. Before long, it was 20 children. By the fall of 2000, it had mushroomed into a full-time job and a huge organization with over 500 volunteers worldwide serving hundreds of children. The web site, which started as one page is now over 150 pages. Our outreach grows daily.
My disability was a new beginning for me. The web site has received hundreds of e-mails from parents, reaching out for help and begging to post their child's story. Though suffering parents may know mentally that God cares about them, during their time of struggle they sometimes need a real live person to SHOW that love to them. That's what the club's volunteer "hug-givers and hope restorers" do. They mail out hundreds of packages of "happy mail" to the kids and provide much needed support to their parents. We also send Bible storybooks to the children, and family Bibles to their parents.
The Hugs and Hope web site features children from all over the world and now receives hundreds of hits each day. It also features a chat room so that families of children who need help regaining their health may communicate with each other, sharing ideas, providing encouragement, and contacting organizations and individuals to help families of children such as Nathan.
Nathan and his little brother PJ have the fatal Batten's Disease. Their parents must raise the $100,000 they need each month for medical treatment to save their boys. After their story was posted on our web site, musicians volunteered to do a big benefit that helped to raise money for the family. We wrote to television stations and, as a result, the boys were featured on the show "48 HOURS."
Last year, using the prayer of Jabez, I began asking God to increase my responsibility and opportunities to serve. Immediately, the Hugs and Hope Club grew exponentially. This simple ministry of friendship and kindness is SO appealing to people. I can hardly keep up with the hundreds of emails I receive daily requesting to be part of the group. Hugs and Hope is truly my ministry. Radio programs, magazines, and online newsletters call for interviews. I think I am not talented at all in this area, but trusting God, I can do these things. I am a part of so much more than I ever imagined was possible. And, I am blessed as much as the people I am helping, by my giving and by their friendship. It's true that when one door closes another opens. I thought that being disabled would mean being unable to accomplish anything worthwhile. But because I trust God to guide me, I'm doing the MOST worthwhile work of my life. I don't use my time to feel bad about what I can't do. I'm happily busy doing what I can do and helping children and families in need.
I read somewhere, "pain is inevitable, but misery is optional." Many Hugs and Hope volunteers suffer with serious illnesses or other problems. Yet, by focusing on this vision that is larger than they are, they wind up blessing people. Many of the moms and dads suffer from depression. The support they get from Hugs and Hope volunteers has literally saved their lives. As we focus on uplifting others, we experience peace and happiness. One person CAN make a difference in this world. The Hugs and Hope Club ministry, designed to share God's love with families of critically ill children, has won several awards for exceptional achievement in helping children. This work of love is making a difference, one smile at a time. Visit http://www.hugsandhope.com
* * *
* * * * * *
Marsha Jordan, named "Angel of the month" by HerPlanet.com, was named one of The Phenomenal Women of the Web. She grew up in a suburb of Chicago. Now a disabled grandma, she lives in the North woods of Wisconsin with her husband of 26 years and their toy poodle, King Louie, who rules the household with an iron paw. Once an active volunteer in many scouting, school, community and church activities, Jordan was an energetic home-schooling mom who also worked as a secretary until her life took a sharp turn. Her busy schedule took on a totally new direction when, because of an auto-immune disease, Jordan became blind for several months. Through her Hugs and Hope Club, she shares a message of hope and love. It is her earnest prayer that hurting people will come to know the awesome love, peace, and joy available to those who seek God and serve Him. Marsha enjoys creating web pages, collecting and decorating with antiques, rubber stamping, and having fun with her three-year-old grandson, Cobi, who is the light of her life. She's been published in 29 online newsletters and e-zines including Heart Warmers, Power to Share, and Warm Fuzzy Stories.
To contact Marsha, email email@example.com