Our Guest Post from Melissa Tagg’s Blog

Hi Everyone!

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic response to our guest post at Melissa Tagg’s blog!

If you still want to check out the original post, you can visit Melissa’s blog at http://www.melissatagg.com/giveaway/grantwriting-guest-giveaway.  However, we also wanted to preserve the post in its entirety here at the Books and Biscuits Blog.


Grasping what it means to be called ~ a guest post

Do you know what’s the absolute best part of writing a book? It’s when the book is all done and out there in the world and you, as the author, hear back from readers. I had the wonderful delight of hearing back from a reader, Brittany, shortly after From the Start’s release.

One of the things Brittany told me in her email is that she specifically connected with the grant-writing and philanthropy piece of this story. Here’s part of what she said:

UntitledI love that she resonated with that angle in From the Start! And I was curious to hear more about her background in the nonprofit world. So Brittany and her husband, James, worked together to write this wonderful guest post. I found myself nodding all the way through the post and I couldn’t wait to share it with you.

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UntitledIn From the Start, the concept of philanthropy permeates much of the story.  Kate’s mother writes a grant that establishes the James Foundation, a medical missionary nonprofit in Africa.  Colton creates a foundation and must determine what to do with it.  Kate herself wants to make her own impact on the world by helping write the annual report for her mother’s nonprofit, or simply making a difference through her writing.  Even Kate’s dad gives back to his community through his work at the Maple Valley Scenic Railway and Museum (aka The Depot).

When you think of philanthropy, what does that mean to you? 

It could mean raising money for a favorite nonprofit, like Kate and her mom.  Or, it could look more like the large-scale giving that only seems possible by wealthy business people, actors, and athletes, like Colton, through formal foundations.

Not everyone goes through life as a grant writer or creates their own foundation.  Some people volunteer at their church, help at their child’s preschool, or put a contribution in the offering plate on Sunday.  Others work at nonprofits, start their own businesses, or help manage government programs to assist people in their community.

James and I have both been blessed with opportunities to work in nonprofits, foundations, universities, and churches. These experiences have provided us with the opportunity to serve our neighbors in a variety of ways – ranging from community development work in some of our country’s poorest communities to contributing to the formation of broader concepts and ideas surrounding philanthropy in an academic setting.

Doing any kind of work that serves our neighbors and families is hard and fraught with obstacles.

We as humans, corrupted by sin, are always tempted to put our own interests above those of others – including, sometimes, our families. Even if we find ourselves motivated to do something good for someone else, even more roadblocks tend to spring up in our way. Foundations don’t support a program that could transform a community you’re working in. The family member that you’re trying to help becomes combative, insular, and uncooperative while you’re coming to his or her aid. At times, organizational bureaucracy, the self-interests of others, and our own frustration and tiredness affects our work.

Thankfully, as Christians, we can take joy and comfort in the gift of Jesus Christ, who won for us eternal salvation when He rose from the grave on that first Easter Sunday nearly two millennia ago. Through His ministry on earth, He gave us a perfect example of how we can love our neighbors and families, and, in turn, be of service to them. In His death and resurrection, He showed us perfect love and perfect mercy – a love and mercy that saves and frees us to be loving and merciful to others. It is in this great Easter message that we find our strength and joy in the midst of all of the struggles and hardships we endure while serving our neighbors.

It is only by starting with Christ’s gift to us that we can live out our true calling in this life (our vocation) to be of service to those around us.

God created us all with vocations – callings of service. That calling includes the work that we could perform for society, such as teaching, business, philanthropy, construction, accounting, law, medicine, farming, or any other kind of job. We have callings to our families – to be good fathers and mothers; sons and daughters; brothers and sisters; etc. We have callings in our churches and our communities. This may be volunteering or donating money. It could be as simple as praying for someone in need or providing an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.

Long before we were married, we often discussed the enormous impact that our extended families have had on our work.  While James’ parents worked in various churches and human service organizations, my parents served as avid volunteers, those people who always seem to help in a million little ways.

Together, we’ve discovered that there is something incredibly fulfilling to know that we, as a family, can be used by God for big and small things.

FromTheStart_300rgbSometimes, we’re grant writers, like Kate and her mother, writing the big grants to government agencies and foundations that systematically change the work of an organization on a large scale.  Other times, we find ourselves involved in much smaller tasks like helping family with chores or volunteering for a church event.

In each of our lives, God calls us to do good work.  We may be called to be parents, children, friends, students, teachers, pastors, business owners, good employees, or even grant writers.  Through God’s grace, we are joyful for these opportunities and eager to share our time, talents, and treasures for the benefit of others. This is certainly hard work and, by ourselves, we are definitely not up to the task. However, thankfully, it’s not up to us.

God gives us all of the tools that we need to be of service; lays out the opportunities for us to share our gifts; and even gives us the will to do these things.

By the end of From the Start, Kate and Colton finally discover what it means to fully grasp one’s vocation in life.  It’s likely nowhere close to anything they once imagined, but, in following God’s will for their lives, it is exceptional and perfect.

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James and Brittany first met as graduate students at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, where they spent several years sharing milk and cookies over endless conversations about Christian philanthropy and giving.  After getting married and working at universities and nonprofits across the country, they co-created the Books and Biscuits Blog (www.BooksandBiscuits.com) about books, cooking, and their other adventures.