HUGS, HOPE, AND PEANUT BUTTER
    Happiness: Not as Elusive as You Think



When my little grandson received third degree burns, I learned firsthand how helpless a loving adult feels when your little one is suffering and you can't take the pain away. This experience helps me to empathize with parents of critically ill children. One mom told me that she felt like running out into the street screaming, "My child is sick. Won't somebody please help us?" It saddens me that these parents are so desperately searching for SOMEONE to care and to help them through the ordeal of watching their helpless child suffer. So I decided to BE THAT SOMEONE and do as much as I could.

I've found it amazing how MUCH I CAN do, even though I'm disabled. Maybe the very fact that I AM disabled is what has allowed me to do so much. I have the time that most people can't spare. And I have the ability to understand what it's like to be sick, frustrated, and afraid. So actually, my misfortune has become an asset in this situation.

In 1998, due to complications of an autoimmune disease, I lost my eyesight. Fortunately, I regained some vision, but I was no longer able to work. Suddenly I had a lot of time on my hands. This could have caused me to feel that my life was empty and without purpose. Instead, it propelled me into a new direction. I didn't know at the time what big plans God had in mind for me! Because I belonged to online prayer chains, I often received emails requesting prayer for sick children. I decided to post their stories and pictures on a web page in order to network with others who wanted to help these kids too; and so began the Hugs and Hope Club for sick children in the fall of 2000. It started as a hobby and it's mushroomed into a full-time ministry.

Since my website went up in October of 2000, I've received hundreds of emails from distraught parents begging to have their child's story on my site. Though suffering parents may know in their heads that God cares about them, during their struggles, they sometimes need a real live person "with skin on" to show that love to them. That's what the 400+ volunteer "huggers" do. They mail out hundreds of packages of "happy mail" to our "club kids" and provide much needed moral support to their parents.

The website features children from all over the world and receives hundreds of hits each day. It also features a chat room so that families of the sick children may communicate with each other, sharing ideas and encouragement. Before I began this project, the days dragged by for me. Now there are not enough hours in the day to do all that I want to do for these families; and I spend many hours each day on the Internet sending encouraging emails, creating webpages for the children, updating volunteers, or contacting organizations and individuals to help families of children like Nathan.

Nathan and his little brother PJ have the fatal Batten's Disease. Their parents are desperately trying to raise the $100,000 they need each month for medical treatment to save their boys. I found the old saying to be true that when a door closes for you, God opens a window. That's what happened for me.

I thought when I became disabled that I was no longer able to accomplish much that was worthwhile, but I believe that I am now doing the MOST worthwhile work of my entire life. Instead of feeling bad about what I can no longer do, I concentrate on doing what I can to help families battling childhood cancer and other diseases. We each have problems of our own; but the best thing we can do is forget about our troubles and focus on someone else's problems. As I read somewhere once, "pain is inevitable, but misery is optional." Sure you will have pain, but you don't need to wallow in it. You don't have to be miserable,no matter what your situation. When you take your mind off of your problems, and concentrate on bringing joy to others, you will find contentment! When your focus is on bringing happiness to others, without even realizing it, you bring happiness to yourself.

The response to my meager effort has been phenomenal. Musicians have contributed CD's of children's music and organized benefits. Publishers and authors donate children's books; quilters and sewers make quilts, dolls, and teddy bears. Youth groups make and send out hundreds of cards. Anyone can help. You don't need to HAVE a lot in order to GIVE a lot to a child in need. Whatever your talent, you can use it to benefit suffering children. Whether you create website graphics, organize benefit concerts, write encouraging notes to disheartened, weary parents, or mail a Barney video to a hospitalized child, it ALL makes a difference in the lives of these kids. And the joy of giving to helpless little ones is more rewarding than anything else you will ever do!

One of my favorite quotations is from Bernie Siegel, "Love is deep involvement with another. If you say that you don't get back as much as you give, then you are not really loving. Love doesn't measure. IT JUST GIVES." Love and happiness remind me of sticky peanut butter. When you spread them around, you can't help but end up getting some on yourself!

Write to Marsha and let her know what you thought of her story. Marsha Jordan

Marsha Jordan, a grandma disabled by an auto-immune disease, lives in northern Wisconsin with her husband of 26 years and her toy poodle, King Louie. She enjoys entertaining, decorating with antiques, and rubber stamping. Her HUGS AND HOPE CLUB has won several awards for exceptional achievement in helping children and Marsha was named "Angel of the month" by Her Planet.com. The program relies upon the support of individuals and organizations: the people who write to the children as well as those who donate to the cause in other ways. Interested sponsors or those wanting to learn more about the program are encouraged to visit the website at Hugs and Hope Foundation.

~ Marsha Jordan, Director ~
HUGS AND HOPE FOUNDATION
A ministry designed to share God's Word and His love with families of critically ill children.



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