Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Give This New Year Away #15-Help Those Who Help Others

Do you know someone with a thankless job? Someone who is always going out of his  or her way to help others? Where do those people go when they need help? They may not even ask for help when they need it, because that's just how selfless they are. Maybe there's a pastor or counselor who has walked with you through tough times this year. Maybe one of your children's teachers has given extra time and attention to help your child grow. Take this opportunity to lift up someone who lifts up so many others.

Taken from "101 Simple and Thoughtful Ways to Give This Christmas Away" written by Matthew West

Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me. Romans 16:2

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Give This New Year Away #14- Plug the parking meter

Isn't it nice when you receive an unexpected gift?

One thing we have done in the past when our family has been on vacation up north is randomly plug the expired parking meters of vacationers that are busy sight seeing or shopping. In this town $.25 would get you an hour of parking, so it's a small gift but one nonetheless.

If you are walking to your office, running out for coffee or lunch or just taking a walk during the day, if you see a car parked at an expired meter, toss a quarter or two into it. You may never knnow why they let that meter lapse, but most likely you will make a positive impact on that persons day but dropping a quarter in that meter.

It's not about the reasons or the rewards...its just about doing something good for another.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Give This New Year Away #13-Donate to Haiti relief efforts

We have all seen the stories and pictures of the destruction from the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked the island nation of Haiti.
Tens of thousands of lives lost, hundreds of thousands displaced.

Plain and simple, we need to show our love for all these people that have been ravaged by this disaster...along with Salvation Army and Red Cross, here is a list of some of the trusted Christian organizations that are offering help, assistance and support to Haiti:

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mander Collision, K-Love and Milwaukee Wave, Friday night to help Milw. Rescue Mission

This Friday night from 5-7pm join Mander Collision and Glass, K-Love 105.3 FM and the Milwaukee Wave at Mander Collision & Glass in Waukesha as we help save Homeless in the Milwaukee Area

For every donation of $25 or more to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, Mander Collision and Glass will give a certificate good for one Free Windshield Chip repair or one Free paintess dent repair (some restrictions apply). Please see here for more details.

105.3 K-Love will have your chance to win tickets to the Milwaukee Wave Faith & Day Day with Matthew West, Collision of Comedy at Fox River Christian Church and the Jeremy Camp/Mark Schultz/Point of Grace concert at Elmbrook Church, plus CDs and more.

Several players from the Milwaukee Wave will be in attendance to meet and greet fans, plus some great giveaways.

Mander Collision is located at 1604 Manhattan Drive in Waukesha, just off Hwy 18. Click here for directions

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Give This New Year Away #12- Skip that coffee or soda, donate the money

If you are like me, caffeine is a regular part of your day. Coffee, soda, lattes...they are liquid energy for you to get through your busy day.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much money you spend each day on these drinks? Each week? Month? How much did you spend last year? If you are one of this people that stops everyday at the chain shops...that adds up quick.

Change your habits, cut out just one soda out of that vending machine, one coffee from the coffee shop and put the money in a jar. At the end of the month donate the saved money to a local charity. It may not seem like a lot, but every donation helps. Do this on 2, 4 or 6 month cycles.

Increase the number of things you cut back on. Like to grab that afternoon snack from the vending machine? Pack a piece of fruit instead.

Do you smoke? Improve your health, save a bunch of money and make a positive impact in other loves with the money.
Positive changes start with small steps...start taking those small steps today.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Give This New Year Away #11- Read the Name Tag

This one is courtesy of the Matthew West book "Give This Christmas Away"

Has this ever happened to you? You've been at an event where you had to wear a name tag. Hours after the event, you're talking to a stranger and suddenly that person calls you by name. Huh? How do they know my name? Then it dawns on you. I forgot to take off my name tag! Get into  the habit of looking for the name tag of every checkout person you see. Then wait for the cashier's smile or startled expression when you actually use his or her name. Calling someone by name is a guft that says "I'm interested in who you are." Every time you see each other, gather another detail while the person is scanning your soda or counting out your change from the drive-thru order.

One woman who started with the name tag connection at the checkout counter says that she knows that Jill the cashier "has a black Swatch watch exactly like mine though hers is misplaced and needs a battery, plays piano, loves Odwalla juices, prefers cooler weather, and enjoys art galleries."


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Monday, January 11, 2010

Give This New Year Away #10-Volunteer at a homeless shelter

The economic downturn has effected many lost, foreclosures increased, homelessness has skyrocketed.

Homeless shelters are seeing an overabundance of people of all ages, including families that are in need. Along with beds and supplies, homeless shelters need volunteer help. If you are reading this, you most likely have a warm home, a bed to sleep in, comfort that those that are homeless do not have.

Not sure how you can is some information provided by the National Coalition for the Homeless:

Remember that service providers need help at all times of year—not just holidays—and will appreciate regular volunteers who can be counted on to show up. 
Here are some ways you might help:

  • Work at a shelter. Take an evening or overnight shift.  Help with clerical work such as answering phones, typing, filing, or sorting mail.  Serve food, wash dishes, or sort and distribute clothes.
  • Help build or fix up houses or shelters. Check with your local public housing authority, or find the nearest chapter of Habitat for Humanity by calling (800) 422-4828 or visiting
  • Offer professional skills directly or assist in job training. Direct service providers may be able to use many services and skills, including secretarial, catering, plumbing, accounting, management, carpentry, public relations, fundraising, legal, medical, dentistry, writing, child care, counseling, tutoring, or mentoring.
  • Share hobbies. Teach your hobbies to a group of people staying at a homeless shelter.  Ask them about their hobbies and have them teach you.
  • Invite people experiencing homelessness to a community event.  Invite people who are experiencing homelessness to a worship service, public concert or picnic, city council meeting, etc.
  • Organize an event at a shelter. Plan an evening program such as a board game or chess night, an open mic poetry reading, a guest storytelling or musical performance, or a holiday party.
  • Work with children.  Assist program directors that are coordinating events such as field trips, picnics or art workshops for children staying in homeless shelters.  Find out if there are children who could benefit from tutors or mentors.

Involve others! Encourage your classmates, co-workers, church/synagogue members, or civic club to join or support your efforts.



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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Give This New Year Away #9- Offer An Encouraging Word

Encouragement can come in many different forms. It can be a simple gesture, a short conversation or even a pat on the back.

It can more detailed like a letter or email, even a public declaration.

We can all use encouragement during our day, but do we know when someone else needs it?

Open your eyes, focus your hearing. Watch for that co-worker that is struggling. Listen for that friend that is feeling down. Pay attention to others and do not dwell on yourself.

Look in your own house at your spouse and your children. Be a positive force in someone's life everyday offering even simple encouragement....sowing the seeds and creating fertile ground.

Mark 4:9 Then Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let them hear"

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Give This New Year Away #8- Give Your Good Stuff Away

 If you are like me, you accumulate lots of stuff. New clothes, new toys, lots of books, just lots of stuff. But what do you do with all of the old stuff that begins to fill the drawers, closets and shelves of your house?

There are many great organizations that would gladly take you unwanted (but still good and useful) items:
Salvation Army
Teen Challenge
Milwaukee Rescue Mission
St. Vincent DePaul
your local church
These and many organizations like them thrive off donations of items, from people like you, to help fund their programs.

Take a day to look carefully at the clothes you have, books, CDs, movies, kids toys, thos fancy little gadgets you bought.
If you haven't worn it or used it in a year...Give it away. Someone else can use it and you can help benefit any of these organizations.


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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Give This New Year Away #7-Feed The Hungry

We have just come out of the holiday season...Thanksgiving, Christmas, New years...holidays that may of us indulge in. Parties and gathering filled with food, treats and more.

2009 saw an astounding increase in the number of people and families that turned to the help of food pantries and other assistance programs. The need has grown, but the response has not. There are many great organizations that help supply these food pantries. in SouthEastern Wisconsin we have Hunger Task Force and Feeding America WI just to name two.

Next time you go grocery shopping, consider picking up a few extra items to donate. Maybe start a food drive at your place of employment, your child's school or your church. The need for food is not seasonal, it is year round.

Next time you have the urge to go out for lunch, why don't you brown bag it. Save that a months time you could save a good amount and donate it to your local food pantry. Skip one coffee, one soda or that afternoon snack out of the vending machine and save that money.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Give This New Year Away #6-Clear the snow

Across the country, many of you are seeing cold and snow, some more than others. Beautiful as the snow may be, for some it can be something  that is difficult to deal with. The single mom with little kids, the elderly man that doesn't get around as well as he used to. Maybe its the couple that works two jobs just to make ends meet.

Seeing inches of snow piled up on the sidewalks and driveways can be almost daunting.

Be a good neighbor, shovel the sidewalk for them while you are doing yours. Snowblowing your driveway? Take a few extra minutes and do theirs. This is especially good when you know that neighbor only has a shovel and the snow is heavy and wet. Yes it may be cold and could take you extra time, but imagine how happy someone would feel if they came home and all the snow was gone.

Don't forget about the people that get stuck in the snow...if you can lend a hand, stop and offer assistance. Wouldn't you want someone to do the same for you if you needed help??

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Give This New Year Away #5-Serve in your church

"Wait a second Jon, you want us to do more than just sit in a pew for an hour each Sunday??"

Yes that is exactly what I am saying. Churches do not just run themselves. The pastors and their support staff cannot do everything themselves.

"I am not biblically sound enough to teach or preach"

Guess what...either am I. But I use my God given gifts to help out. My wife and I, along with our small group, were encouraged three years ago to serve in our church's Children's ministry, helping out one Sunday per month, giving some of the regualr helpers much needed off. This was uncomfortable for some, but 3 years later, most are still helping. It grew so much that a number of our small groups are volunteering.

No matter the size of your church, there are opportunities to help. Good at fixing things? I bet they could use you? Excellent typing skills? The office could use help. Love children? Read bible stories to the Sunday School. Love to greet people? Become a greeter or usher.

One or two hours a month...not a lot of time, but imagine the impact if even a dozen people joined you. Don;t be afraid to step up and help out. You don't have to feel obligated to volunteer for everything that is asked of you...pick and choose what is right for you. But most importantly, start serving.

It is another one of those simple ways of Honoring God, but serving in His house!

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Give This New Year Away #4- Be a teacher!

You are never too old to learn.

You can always turn every situation into a teaching moment.


If you are a parent, this is an ongoing process, always teaching your children…rights and wrongs, what to do and not to do. Not only is this something a parent can do with their children, but each of us can do this on a daily basis. Teach your children about your job…what you do, what you do to succeed. Stay at home moms??? You have a very important job...teach you kids about the things you do during the day.


No kids? What about your spouse? Teach them about something you are interested in? Teach your parents…help them with the internet, their DVR or another piece of technology they are struggling with.


In our work lives, we can teach as well. Help that coworker next to you that is struggling with a program, document or project. Teach them how to find new clients, make more appointments, be more productive with their time.


There are many ways that we can all reach out and teach others around us…we just have to open our eyes to the opportunities.

Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.

~ Proverbs 9:9, NLT

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Give This New Year Away #3-Hold That Door

Hold the door open for others

Today is Monday January 4th, which means many of you will be returning to work after an extended holiday weekend or a longer break. Gone is the lost art of holding the doors for people.

I remember as a young boy, my grandfather instilling in me "make sure you always hold the door open for a lady". I think it goes far beyond that. We are always in such a rush to get where we need to go, we don't look to see who is behind us.

Stop for a moment and hold the door open for not just one person, but for a handful of people. Same thing goes for the elevator door. Don't just ignore the person that you see racing to catch the elevator...make sure you hold it for that person. This is something that can be done more than once, make it a habit. Slow down and help that person...whether you know them or not.

We are God's fellow workers. - 1 Corinthians 3:9


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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Give This New Year Away #2-The coffee is on me

Pay for the coffee for the person behind you in line.

Much like #1, this could come as difficult for some of you, but imagine the feeling you would get if the person at the counter said to you "Someone has already paid for this for you". Pay for that cup of coffee for that person behind you. Give them a little liquid gift. Sounds pretty simple doesn't it.

Guess what...someone else has already done that for you, has paid the price for someting for you...Jesus Christ. When He was nailed to the cross, He not only died, but paid the price for all of our sins. The debt has been paid!

I'm not saying that paying for someone's coffee will be the greatest gift they have ever received, but it could be the spark to light their day. The greatest gifts don't always have to be large, wrapped with a big red bow and be given on birthdays, Christmas or anniversaries.

Best way to do this is quietly, without attention being drawn to you, but in most cases you will need to say something to the person simply to make sure the bill is paid in full. Watch the reaction you get...but you don;t need to say anything other than, "This one is on me!"


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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Give This New Year Away #1

Tell 5 strangers "Have A Wonderful Day"

How simple can our words be when used to make other feel good?
When you are having a rough day, doesn't a simple but nice gesture make you feel better?

For some this first one could be difficult or uncomfortable...but its really now that hard. Think about the retiree who bags your groceries, the teenager working behind the counter at your favorites fast food restaurant, the man that works in the booth at the parking lot you park in everyday. There are many opportunities to share a few uplifting words with people that probably never hear them.

Say them with sincerity and imagine the warmth you can add to someones days with just a few pleasant words from the heart.

With God's Help we will do mighty things. Psalm 60:12

2010, Give This New Year Away

Resolutions...we all have good intentions when we make them at the beginning of the lose weight, to read more, to give up smoking...the list goes on and on.
How many of us really accomplish what we set out to do at the beginning of the year (I do know one person that has been successful giving up something for an entire year for the last few years!)

I have mentioned it a couple times over the past few weeks about the inspiration I got from Christian singer/songwriter Matthew West and his book "Give This Christmas Away", which listed 101 ways for you to inspire others. I loved the book and thought "Why just do this at Christmas? Why not all year round?"

Many of the 101 things listed in West's book can be done anytime of the year, but I am inspired to to at least one thing each day in 2010, but to also make it a quest to have as many people join me as I can.

Call it a give to others, to Pay it Forward, to live like Jesus by loving others even in the simplest ways.

I will be posting and Tweeting each day about different ways to give to others, many that won;t cost a penny, some that will require spending a little money, but all that can impact one or more people. Most of these can be done by anyone no matter that age, sex, financial status, etc.

Our country has been filled with so much negativity that it's time to turn it around, make a positive change one person at a time.

Whether one person or one million people join me doesn't matter...this is my quest for 2010. No looking for recognition, pats on the back or Thank Yous. The reward I get is know I have done something to brighten the day, week or life of another that may need it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009...glad that it's over, but blessed none the less

For any of you that have followed the ups and down, peaks and valleys or good and bad of know that it was a difficult year for the Kurozawa family. From job loss to financial problems, van repairs and health issues...we ran what seemed like a gambit of issues.

Looking back at everything, it was frustrating, stressful, almost forgettable year. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
Conversely, we were blessed with many good things too. Overall my kids were healthy, we were able to take a family trip to Disney World over Easter (though when I returned to work the following week I was laid off :), despite financial troubles we never went hungry, without shelter, heat or the other basic necessities of life. i do have a new job with a company I love, have made lots of new people through social media and have broadened my skill set.

All in all our year was one of the toughest we have had as a family and it has not ended on the brightest of note, but I know that God has blessed us and continues to everyday. Some days it is hard to remember that when our bank account floats towards $0, when we wonder how we will pay the next bill, or have to tell our kids "no we can't do that because we don't have enough money". I remember it when we are able to do things that many people don't get a chance to do.

My wife Holly's opportunity to sing in a choir with Michael W. Smith, My son Noah and my first Packers game (thanks to my new boss), getting to take my kids to a variety of different concerts, events and shows through good fortune or the kindness and generosity of others.

One of the greatest joys I have gotten this year is seeing the joy in my childrens' eyes when they are rewarded with something simple or when they have learned how important it is to help others in need (more need than we are in).

You cannot place a monetary value on those special moments when your kids talk about wanting to help others, how they want to sacrifice to help someone else.

Based on those moments, and from the inspriration of new friend Matthew West, my next blog post will discuss my vision for 2010. No matter what happens with my job, my money or anything related to that...I will be Giving This New Year Away.

With the grace of God, 2010 will be the best year ever for our family and I hope it is for you too!