Tag Archives: sacrifice

Generosity: A Practical Expression of Love

Operation Spread Hope, Love & Joy, Part IV

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Photo taken at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen

Point to Ponder:
What do you do to help, honor and/or recognize mankind during the holidays?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Last Sunday, when the kids and I arrived in Austin for the holidays, my dad picked us up from the airport and we headed to Belton where he lives. Rather than stay on the interstate he drove off the beaten path through “the country” so that we could see the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen that opened in 2005. My father is a veteran and has always cared deeply for our veterans, military, and fallen soldiers, but a recent story of generosity and love from the national news intrigued him to drive through the cemetery to see Christmas wreaths placed on every tombstone. The story goes like this:

In 1992, Merril Worchester of Worchester Wreath Company in Maine began a tradition of donating and placing 5,000 Christmas wreaths each year to decorate the graves of veterans laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, and to show his gratitude for their sacrifice, and that of their families. In 1992, 25 volunteers joined him. Many years later he doubled the donation to provide 10,000 wreaths at Arlington. In 2007, 3,000 volunteers showed up at Arlington National Cemetery to help place the wreaths on a chilly Saturday morning. They came from around the country, some with tears in their eyes, to honor veterans most never knew. In a few hours in freezing temperatures, the volunteers placed more than 10,000 balsam fir wreaths with blazing red bows on graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

The annual tradition went on for many years until a photo of the project was released on the internet. Suddenly, Merrill received national attention and thousands of requests came in from people wanting to help at Arlington and wanting to emulate the project at their national and state cemeteries. What became of this beautiful display of generosity and love was the birth of a non-profit organization called Wreaths Across America, whose mission is to remember, honor and teach by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies on a specified Saturday in December at Arlington as well as veteran cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.

As we made our way through the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery we were able to see see all 6000 plus tombs adorned with Christmas wreaths. The mood was solemn yet the sight was awe-inspiring and it served as the perfect teachable moment for Durant and Malaine.

Now that I am aware of Wreaths Across America, my family will contribute in the upcoming years and do our part to ensure that all veterans tombstones have a wreath during the Christmas season. For this year, we are carrying on a Christmas tradition inspired by Dave Haney, our former pastor at Riverbend Church in Austin. Each Christmas Eve, he and his family bake cookies and deliver them to the local fire station. Therefore, as an expression of love and gratitude, the kids and I baked and delivered freshly baked brownies to the fire house in Belton. As always, the firemen were extremely thankful and generous with their time.

To me, our military and public service professionals like policemen and firemen and even emergency room, hospitals and healthcare providers all provide extremely dangerous and sacrificial services. This allows us safety, order in our communities and help during the most inopportune times, all the while taking time away from their families on the most special holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. While each of these individuals do choose their profession, it doesn’t diminish the sacrifice by both them and their families.

As we enter the week of Christmas, I encourage you to continue to participate in Operation Spread Hope, Love and Joy by extending your generosity and gratitude by delivering Christmas goodies to your local police station, fire station, emergency room and hospital.There’s no doubt they will be grateful and touched by your love…and depending where you choose, you’re likely to get first-hand tour of the fire house, fire trucks and a few cute pictures.

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Action Item:
This week extend your generosity, love and/or gratitude to military or public service professionals.

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Arm Yourself with the Best

iGnite team

The iGnite team during our 2015 summer boat outing

Point to Ponder:
Are the five people you spend the most time with causing you to give up on your dreams, or do they nurture your dreams and your life?

“If we surround ourselves with people who are successful, who are forward-moving, who are positive, who are focused on producing results, who will support us, it will challenge us to be more, do more and share more. If you surround yourself with people who will never let you settle for less than you can be, you have the greatest gift that anyone can hope for.”
– Anthony Robbins

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

It was just over nine years ago that my short, yet colorful life journey began making sense. All of the “who, why, and what for” puzzle pieces created a vivid and crystal clear picture of my purpose, which is when I created iGnite. The process wasn’t sophisticated nor predictable. Rather, it consisted of a few meetings with a dear friend and mentor at Starbucks where I revealed my heart’s desire and vision, coupled with challenging questions and critical thinking. Within a few weeks I answered his tough questions, though my business brainchild remained nameless. We both recognized that the name had to be something I loved, and that conveyed an inspirational, energetic and timeless message. As we tossed around different ideas he said, “it sounds like you want to ignite their lives!” “YES!”, I shouted. He smiled, I wrote it down, and the rest is history.

I love to share and reminisce about that story simply because of its spontaneous nature. There are also many more stories like this, all of which have provided me with unforeseeable lessons and growth opportunities over the past nine years. One of the most important pieces of advice that has provided me with the most personal and professional value, is “Be intentional with whom you surround yourself with, and arm yourself with the best.”

iGnite began the first Monday in October of 2006, and by February I had hired a professional business coach, Michelle Ewalt, who I worked with for three years. She was aware of all of my thoughts, plans, and ideas for iGnite, which for a one-woman show was a giant feat. She also knew that Russell and I wanted to have children one day, so during a meeting she suggested I spend my time determining the five, non-negotiable characteristics I wanted in an iGnite leader. I explained that I wasn’t interested in sharing this business with anyone else, simply because I couldn’t imagine another person loving and caring for our members and aligning with the vision as I did. But what she knew that I didn’t know at the time was this; “no branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain on the vine.” (John 15:4). I realize this verse has much greater meaning beyond my situation, but Michelle knew that on my own, the mission would not be fruitful. She also knew that if I wanted to see my personal goals come true, like having a family, forming a team was essential. And so, that exact day I identified and wrote down the five, non-negotiable characteristics of an iGnite team member. Within one year, the inspiring and wonderful women began appearing, and continue to, which currently make up what I think is the most beautiful, talented and special team in all of Austin and beyond. As a result, our membership is a mirror-image of our team, making up a spectacular community of love, health and kindness. The fruit is rich and we are blessed!

One of the unforeseeable lessons I learned is that in order for me to give my gift, which is the ability to personally and professionally give and be the best Neissa and pursue my dreams and passions, it can’t happen alone, and I must arm myself with the best. Per the words of the late world class track athlete Steve Prefontaine, “to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” I’ve decided that I don’t want to sacrifice my gift, and so with intention I not only arm myself with those who are the best at what they do (both personally and professionally), but I also arm myself with people who are better than me (personally and professionally) so I can up my game, grow, and become my best. As the late Jim Rohn says, “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”

This week I invite you to be intentional with me and arm yourself with the best so you don’t sacrifice your gift. And, so we can be our best, we must constantly be evaluating and asking ourselves the following questions from Jim Rohn: “Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question. Is that okay? Life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.”

Action Item:
Make a short list of the five characteristics of the people you want and need in your life that can help you become your best.

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