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Hugs, Hope & Peanut Butter"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!"

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.

The mother of an eleven year old dying from brain cancer told me that she felt like running into the street screaming, "My child is sick. Won't somebody help me?" It saddens me that so many parents are desperately searching for SOMEONE who cares and who will 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 sent me into depression feeling that my life was empty and without purpose. Instead, it propelled me into a new direction. God had big plans in mind for me! I simply did, each day what God gave me to do, and it gradually grew until the Hugs and Hope Club for Sick Children was the result.

Because I belonged to online prayer chains, I often received e-mails 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 my little ministry in the fall of 2000. It started as a small and very part-time hobby and it's mushroomed into a full-time job and a huge organization with over 500 volunteers worldwide.

My disability was a new beginning simply disguised as an end. Since my web site went up, I've received hundreds of e-mails from distraught parents begging to post their child's story. 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 club�s volunteer "hug-givers and hope restorers" do. They mail out hundreds of packages of "happy mail" to our "club kids" and provide much needed moral support to their parents. We also send Bible story books to the children, and family Bibles to their parents.

The Hugs and Hope web site 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, providing encouragement, and 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. By posting their story on our web site, we were able to find musicians who volunteered for 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."

It�s true that when a door closes for you, God opens a window. He opened a big window for me, allowing me to be part of so much more than I ever thought imaginable. I thought being disabled meant that I was not able to accomplish anything worthwhile, but I was so wrong! Now, with God�s power and guidance, I�m doing the MOST worthwhile work of my life. Instead of feeling bad about what I can�t do, I concentrate on doing what I can and helping families battling childhood cancer and other diseases. I trust God to use my efforts to accomplish His will in the lives of people who need Him.

Several months ago, using the prayer of Jabez as my example, I began asking God to increase my responsibility and opportunities to witness for him. I prayed that He would lead me to do only that which was His will, and that He would give me the strength to carry it out. I asked Him to lead me to the people He wanted me to serve and to show me His will. Immediately, the Hugs and Hope Club�s growth exploded exponentially. I�m amazed at how appealing a simple ministry of friendship and kindness is to people. I can hardly keep up with the hundreds of emails I receive daily requesting to be part of the group. This validated for me that Hugs and Hope was indeed a ministry given to me by God. Radio programs, magazines, and internet newsletters call for interviews. God has given me the opportunity to speak for Him to hundreds of people. This is ironic because I am not talented at all in this area. It�s funny how God calls us to (and enables us to) do things we wouldn�t normally think of on our own. I am humbled at the awesome responsibility He�s given me. It�s an honor and privilege to be used by God to help people. I am an ordinary person with no special talents except that I care about sick children. Yet God can use my passion for Him and for kids to convey His message of Love to not only those children and their families, but to all the people I come into contact with. I�m so grateful that He allows me to be part of His work in these lives. I benefit as much as they do, as I�ve made many wonderful friends.

I�ve learned many valuable lessons through my work with the Hugs and Hope Club. For instance, everyone has problems; but the best thing we can do is forget our own troubles and focus on someone else's struggle.

I read somewhere, "pain is inevitable, but misery is optional." Sure we all have pain, but we don't need to wallow in it. We don�t have to be miserable, no matter what our situation.

Many of the wonderful Hugs and Hope volunteers suffer with serious illnesses, financial struggles, or family problems. Yet, instead of focusing on their troubles, they encourage others. When you take your mind off your problems and give joy to others, you find contentment! As you focus is uplifting others, you experience peace and happiness yourself.

God can accomplish tremendous things with our smallest efforts. I�ve done little myself, yet the Hugs and Hope Club accomplishes much as a group. God uses my meager effort to gather others who have talents I lack. We work together with phenomenal results. Musicians contribute music for children and organize benefits. Publishers and authors donate books, sewers and knitters make blankets, dolls, and teddy bears. Youth groups create and send hundreds of cards. Individual efforts may not seem like much, but the cumulative effect of the group is remarkable. After posting one child�s story on the web site, her bank fund increased by thousands in one week!

More lessons learned: One person CAN make a difference in this world. I was shocked to discover God was using me to accomplish something worthwhile, but I shouldn�t have been surprised. God has a purpose for every life. Everyone can contribute something meaningful. You don't need to HAVE a lot in order to GIVE a lot. God gives us unique talents to use according to His plan. There are many ways to serve God. And serving Him is a joy, not a burden. You know you are doing God�s will when it is such a source of pleasure that you can�t NOT do it! I�ve tried to cut back on the time I spend working with Hugs and Hope Club families, but when I turn my focus elsewhere, I receive countless requests begging me to continue Hugs and Hope because it�s such a blessing to so many. Though I try other endeavors, I�m unable to resist the pull from sick children. I feel compelled to invest time in this ministry. I believe it is what I am meant to do. When you�re engaged in what you are meant to do, time disappears. You put forth great effort, but there is no struggle. You do it not because you have to, but because you can�t tear yourself away. It is a joy to pour your heart into it.

When The Hugs and Hope Club began, I was praying for one little boy named Michael. Before long, it was twenty children. Now it�s over a hundred. The web site started as one page. Now it�s over 150 pages. The volunteers suggest and carry out wonderful projects for kids like sending pillow cases, blankets and tote bags filled with activities to hospitalized children. Some crochet angels to remind the kids that God sends his guardian spirits to watch over them. Other volunteers make bibs for babies and WWJD bracelets for older kids. We send out get well balloons, birthday boxes, Christmas stockings and ornaments. The outreach of the group grows daily. God causes the increase.

Whether you excel at organizing projects, creating web page graphics, writing encouraging notes, or even if all you can do is mail a Veggie Tales video to a hospitalized child, it ALL makes a difference and it can influence people for good.

It�s my prayer that through the Hugs and Hope Club, hurting people will know the awesome love, peace, and joy available to those who seek and serve God. Our message is that no one must face struggles alone. God cares about our pain and desires to be intimately involved in our lives. He is able and desires to help help us through trials.

The "fruit" of the Hugs and Hope Club is that many families are turning to God for the encouragement and strength they need. Some of these families have no friends and no relatives to lean on and the volunteers of the Hugs and Hope Club are all they have in this world.

Many of these moms and dads suffer from depression and the support received from Hugs and Hope volunteers has literally saved their lives.

The joy that God bestows when you share His love is more rewarding than anything else in this world! I love this quote from Bernie Siegel, "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."

God is good. No matter how much you give of yourself, He always gives you back more. Love and happiness are like peanut butter. When you spread them around, you can't help but end up getting some on yourself!


The Hugs and Hope Club ministry, designed to share God�s love and His Word with families of critically ill children, has won several awards for exceptional achievement in helping children.

Founder Marsha Jordan was named "Angel of the month" by HerPlanet.com and was honored by being named one of The Phenomenal Women of the Web.

The Hugs and Hope Club motto is Jeremiah 29:11

"I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.

Plans for welfare and not for calamity, and to give you HOPE and a future."

Visit the Hugs and Hope Club's web site at Hugs and Hope

Join Us! Together we can make a difference

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Marsha Jordan

Peanut Butter Queen, humorist, and all around fun lady
As seen on Wisconsin Public Television and WGN TV, Chicago
Author of "Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter"

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To contact Marsha, email jordans@newnorth.net