Invest Hope’s Hurricane Matthew Update

I have had a number of folks ask how Hurricane Matthew has affected both Invest Hope and those living in Peredo. Our director, Ginny, recently posted this on her blog:

“David and I have talked with people in Peredo and they say it is flooded and gardens are destroyed. Thankfully, as far as everyone knows, everyone is OK.

We have had a few people ask about sending Invest Hope relief money. We are not taking relief funds specifically for the hurricane at this time. If you do want to help, we recommend donating to Samaritan’s Purse who in on ground in Haiti and already has significant relief work experience in Haiti in the name of Jesus. [Link listed below.]

Please continue to pray for the people in Peredo in the coming weeks/months as gardens were destroyed and roads washed away by water.”

If you want to contribute to Hurricane Matthew relief in Haiti via Samaritan’s Purse, please click here.

If you would like to contribute to Invest Hope’s current programs and future projects via our general fund, please click here and then click the big DONATE NOW button on the righthand side of our page.

Thank you!

40 Days

Simply put, Lent is a period of fasting which leads up to Easter. It recalls the 40-day fast of Jesus in the wilderness. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends right before Good Friday. The purpose of Lent is to be a period of fasting, self-denial, spiritual growth, and simplicity. Essentially, Lent is a spiritual spring cleaning for Christians. It is a time to eliminate things that hinder our personal relationships with Jesus Christ and our service to Him.

2012 was the first year that I participate in Lent. Some denominations do not put as much emphasis on this season as others, and I grew up attending a church that didn’t press the importance of fasting and self-denial during Lent. Feeling the need to spiritually spring clean, I decided that I would observe it on my own.

Many people choose to give up an array of things during these 40 days. Most people select their favorite foods, while others decide to fast from certain habits. My obvious choice for 2012 was to give up peanut butter. Anyone who knows me (and my family) knows that we have an addiction to Peter Pan peanut butter. We use it as a condiment, we eat is as a protein, we add it onto our desserts… but we are most known for sitting down with a jar and a spoon, and enjoying just it with an ice-cold glass of milk. Giving up all brands and types of peanut butter was a true challenge. I craved it for weeks. Each time I wanted it, I prayed. I found myself speaking to God literally every hour of the day because that is how often I wanted a spoonful. Lent proved to be extremely effective.

For 2013, I pondered giving it up again… but decided that I needed to be more creative in my selection this year. I then considered the “Real Food” pledge, where I would eliminate all proceeds food from my diet. The pledge is to eat only whole grain, fresh fruits and veggies, locally raised meats, nuts and seeds, limited beverages, and no refined sweeteners, including granular sugar. I’m sure to a lot of folks, this could seem like a drastic measure. However, I already eat this way 99% of the time. Although denying myself peanut butter and non-organic foods for 40 days would certainly prove its point again, I felt like there were other things hindering my personal relationship with Jesus. Actually… there was one specific thing.

I have to admit that I have an addiction greater than that of peanut butter, but it isn’t in food. It’s a habit. I abuse the use of my iPhone. At night, it is right by my pillow. I use it’s alarm to wake me in the mornings. As soon as I turn the alarm off, I am checking Facebook and Twitter, my email, and Game Center (because I have several on-going games with friends). I spend at least an hour in the mornings on various apps. Throughout the day, I am constantly checking in, updating, scrolling, and pinning to the point of ignoring friends, co-workers, and family. It doesn’t stop until I am lying in bed at night… and even then, I can stay awake longer than I should if there is a good Google + chat going on.

At first, I tried to talk myself out of giving up my phone for Lent. I had every excuse in the book. What if someone urgently needed to reach me? When I travel to Haiti, how will I communicate with family? How will I let folks know where I am if I don’t Foursquare my location? The more I tried to talk myself out of it… the more apparent that I needed an intervention from the one thing that consumed a large portion of my life.

After many prayers, I realized that I can set my own rules, as long as they were drastic enough to refocus my brain, heart, and time… and help me spring clean my spirit. I don’t have to give up my iPhone entirely… but I do need to give up a large portion of it. This is what I will be fasting from and denying myself to in the next 40 days:

– My iPhone will NOT be within my reach while I’m in bed.
– I will not access ANY games.
– I will only have access to Facebook, Google +, Instagram, and Twitter from any device for one hour per day, probably 8-9pm (although the time may vary when in Haiti.)
– I will not use Get Glue, Foursquare*, or Pinterest.

– I will still answer phone calls, emails, and text messages when time permits. I plan to only respond to emails twice a day, unless there is an emergency. I do still plan to blog, also when time permits. I want to stop my iPhone dependency, live more simply, and spend free time reading books and in prayer.
*I will allow myself to check into MIA & CLT airports ONLY during my travel for my family.

The next 40 days are not going to be easy, but they are going to be worth the sacrifice.

Are you giving up something for Lent? Please comment below. I would love to pray for you during this time!

 

Auld Lang Syne

I still can’t believe that another year is coming to an end. It seems to have gone by so quickly that I barely remember anything happening. But when I scroll through my blog posts over the past 12 months, I am reminded that a lot happened. I giggle because I still haven’t figured out what to really do with this blog yet. There were some about healthy eating posts, quite a few photos of fingernail polish, and a lot of randomness. I hope soon, I get things figured out. 🙂

Some of the cool things that happened in 2012 include:
Participating in The Daniel Fast
Meeting Big Daddy Weave, Kerrie Roberts, Brandon Heath, Joe Moralez, Chris August, Britt Nicole, and Group 1 Crew
Attending Women of Joy and ICOM conferences
Traveling to West Virginia and Indiana – two places I had never visited before
Applying for my passport

With the new year a mere 36 hours away, I am starting to set goals for 2013. I would really love for this blog to come together, I want the word ‘aspiring’ removed from my bio… making me a full-fledged runner, I plan to attend several new conferences this year, I’d like to make time to read a lot more than I do now, and I hope that I can finally travel to Haiti.

What are some goals that you are setting for yourself in the coming year? Please comment and share ways that you plan to accomplish them.

My Name is Jenn, and This is My Ah-ha Moment.

What an honor it was last month to receive an invitation to participate in Mutual of Omaha’s Ah-ha Moment campaign. What a surprise to find out the campaign’s tour would be scheduled in Winston Salem on June 10th, my 35th birthday. Without hesitation, I quickly accepted the offer with both gratitude and enthusiasm. This would certainly help make my day memorable.

What exactly is an Ah-ha Moment?
Mutual of Omaha describes it as:

It’s a moment of clarity, a defining moment where you gain real wisdom – wisdom you can use to change your life.

Whether big or small, funny or sad, they can be surprising and inspiring. Each one is unique, deeply personal, and we think, worth sharing.

Mutual of Omaha celebrates and honors these moments and the people who act upon them. We’re proud to have the products and services that can help people insure their possibilities.

A few weeks after accepting the invitation, it started to sink in that this was really going to happen! I needed to prepare. I researched the campaign, and debated which of my life’s many ah-ha moments would I choose to share. The more I anticipated this somewhat surreal situation, the more nervous I became. Am I really worthy of this invitation? What IS my ah-ha moment? Does anything I say or do really inspiring others? Finally remembering that I also had to renew my license on June 10, I considered contacting Mutual of Omaha and gracefully stepping down.

How many invitations were given out? Would backing down from this opportunity be a huge mistake? I continued to review my life, searching for something that would be meaningful. I knew that I had many moments of clarity in my life, but one alone just didn’t seem to hold the value of all of them put together. Then it hit me. There is something pretty amazing about my journey. It is like a giant puzzle. Could this realization be the ultimate in ah-has?

I started to make note of my time line:

  • At age 4, I decided I wanted to be an artist.
  • Age 18, I entered art school.
  • Age 22, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
  • Age 24, I was victim to my first layoff.
  • Age 26, I fell victim again.
  • At age 30, I was burnt out. Tired of ‘corporate America’, I desired a job that meant something. I wanted a job that made a difference. I looked to the medical field for a solution, and enrolled in nursing & coding courses. In September of that same year, I had officially retired from Graphic Design and was employed in a medical office.
  • At age 32, I realized that even a job in medicine doesn’t always make your life fulfilling. That, and I really missed being creative. I looked for opportunities to freelance, but I still sought something more. I dove into volunteer work with well-known charities. Although I gained a lot of knowledge working with these nonprofits, I was heartbroken at how some ran their organization like a corporation. Yes, a corporation – the same thing I fled from two short years before.

 

I had spent the better part of the past three years fine-tuning my freelance business into JennB.Creative. I wanted my creativity to be used to a maximum, while assisting nonprofits and start-up businesses. I wasn’t in it to become rich; I just knew the struggle of wanting to get a business off the ground. I aspired to give them the opportunity to have professional marketing material on their budget. I did all of this while working full-time for a local hospital and searching for the right nonprofit that best suited my beliefs.

As you read last month, my search is over. I am now happily involved with Invest Hope, a faith-based mission seeking to end poverty in Haiti by providing means for Haitian businesses to get off the ground. I never saw the entire correlation between my life’s desires and Invest Hope until I was forced to search for my perfect ah-ha moment. I think it’s pretty awesome to see things come full circle. It reminds me that there IS a purpose to my life, and it is unfolding at just the right speed.

Today, after renewing my license, I pulled up to a Silver Stream travel trailer parked outside of the Old Salem Visitors Center. Still a bit nervous, I walked up to a petite blonde sitting under a canopy, and introduced myself. It was time to share my moment with the world. I was still very nervous… okay, beyond nervous. Even with words of assurance from the Mutual of Omaha crew, I could feel my chest turning red with anxiety. I was escorted to a bar stool in the front of the travel trailer, and prompted to tell my story. I was probably too enthusiastic about it, but the emotion overwhelmed me. Anxiety turned to appreciation, and I was overcome with happiness. This experience was, in fact, my biggest eye-opening moment. Ah-ha!

I was told the video should be posted on Mutual of Omaha’s YouTube channel in roughly 14 days. Although I’m a bit embarrassed to see my video, I am really looking forward to it, checking out the other videos taped in Winston Salem, and to see where the tour stops next. I am forever indebted to have had this experience. Happy 35th to me!

Mission Statement

It seems as though I have had some struggles lately… pondering my life’s purpose. I was on a mission to determine how I could make the most of my years and figure out just why God has lead me down the path that He has.

I woke up one day – figuratively – when I realized that graphic design wasn’t satisfying my desire to help people. My solution was a job in the medical field. Certainly that service-oriented career would appease me. After going back to school and receiving certifications in Medical Office Administration, Medical Billing & Coding, and Nurse Aide, I quickly realized how badly I missed the creative release found in my previous art positions. Still trying to find my niche, but forgetting often to pray for guidance, I spent the course of 5+ years becoming more involved in community groups and national nonprofits.

Each year I donated more and more of myself, from designs to cash to time. I spent hours folding tshirts, selling ads, and raising money. I fell in love with the idea of turning this new-found hobby into a career, and started to apply for area organizations. With my marketing experience and my years of volunteering, I was called in for some interviews but all-in-all was unable to secure a position. This made me start to question my involvement… was I donating myself for the right reasons? …were the nonprofits I helped close to my heart? …did the money I raised or donated truly go towards the purpose I had intended?

After establishing my freelance business, I felt like I should start focusing more on faith-based or small local organizations, especially start up nonprofits. I was disappointed with the way larger nonprofits lost their focus and were filled with too much drama. I wanted to help on a smaller scale, in hopes of making a larger impact.

Jump ahead a few months. After making a VERY difficult decision to walk away from my most comfortable nonprofit (and the group of folks who I felt had become an extension of my family) I began praying that I would be introduced to whatever it was that was meant for me to serve God the best. I knew only He could provide me with the organization that would pull all of my strengths and fulfill my passion to help others. I was tired of trying to make things work on my own. I was bored with the limitations. I was annoyed with the drama. I was ready for a change. I was ready to make a significant difference!

Today I received a phone call from a friend. A friend, whom I have actually never met… and was only introduced to six short months ago. He (JW) was calling on behalf of his sister Ginny, whom I have also never met and have known for even a shorter amount of time. It’s one of those cases where I feel like I’ve known them longer than I have, and I just never stop to question it.

Ginny lives in Haiti. She is an RN from Ohio who has put a halt on a comfortable life here in the States to serve in a third-world country  devastated by earthquakes in Jan 2010 – the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Ginny spent most of her time in Haiti working as a Missionary Nurse for a nonprofit based out of the midwest USA. During that time, she was introduced to and later granted guardianship of her daughter, Odessa. The first time I heard her story, I actually was a bit jealous. A nurse, living on an island, helping people – AND the adoptive mom of one of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen. I joked that she was living the life that I thought would best fit mine!

However, the more I learned by reading her blog, the more I realized how strong Ginny is and how weak & unprepared I am to take on such roles. My biggest set back was that I never finished nursing school due to financial reasons. I didn’t feel that I had anything to contribute, even for a short-term mission. However, I couldn’t help but feel like she and I had been introduced for a reason.

The phone call today was brief, but covered a lot and can probably be considered life changing. Ginny has decided to start her own mission in Haiti. She wants to offer microloans and vocational training to Haitians as a way to build their trade skills and boost the economy. Initially I was asked to design the logo and assist with social media marketing. Before I could jump at the chance to scream YES! the conversation went a little further. I couldn’t believe what JW was asking. He said that Ginny wanted me to sit on the mission’s Board of Directors, if I would be interested. He said that if I agreed, Ginny encouraged me to start planning a trip to Haiti within the next year and explained that her mission would be built around the principal that everyone has something to contribute to the country. Having lived in Haiti for the past 3 years, Ginny has seen first hand the need for more than just medical and construction missionaries. In this 10 minute phone call, everything practically fell into place. God not only puts people in your life for a reason, but He uses them to answer our prayers.

I am so excited to see where this adventure takes us all. I hope that it will provide a chance for me to meet these friends, to gain new friends, to travel, to advocate, to help make a difference in Haiti, and most importantly to serve God!

Our first step is to actually name the mission, and establish the board members so that we can request nonprofit status and a 501c3. I’m sure I will be posting regular updates as this thing unfolds. Please keep Ginny & Odessa in your prayers, as she is the heart of this mission & the only one on the board living in Haiti, and pray for our mission.