The Kindness Effect by Jill Donovan

Have you heard of Jill Donovan? I hadn’t actually until around the beginning of January when a women’s event was announced for a local church where she would be speaking. After finding out that it was “the Rustic Cuff” lady, I was interested! I love Rustic Cuff, and that’s only from seeing so many people I know wear the bracelets and also receiving them as gifts. I’ve never even been to one of the stores (yet)!

I started trying to find out more about Jill before the event (I registered mid-January for this event and have been getting even more excited since!) and found out she has a book. You know me… once I find someone has a book, I’ll most likely HAVE TO HAVE IT. That’s what happened. Ordered it, had it in a week, started reading and now I feel like I know more about Jill Donovan than I would if I had just gone to an event.

Her book, The Kindness Effect, was exactly what it says – the effect of kindness. She told about stories, both personal and what had been relayed to her, and how those little moments had big impacts on so many people. It’s encouraging to read, no matter where you are in life.

There were soooo many good things in this book that I jotted down, but to save you from reading yet another novel (on top of this book!), I’ve trimmed it down and just want to make this a reflective time for you with quotes/paraphrases and questions I also asked myself while reading her book.

…she took what could have been the most devastating moment in her life and turned it into the greatest accomplishment.

page xiii / foreword / Mary Lou Retton

Have you ever re-gifted something? Have you ever accidentally re-gifted to the person who gave you the original gift?

Do you think it’s rude or even fraudulent to re-gift?

I do not know the significance of what happened, but I do know that one day this pain will serve a purpose in some capacity of my life.

page 38 / Chapter 5 / Jill Donovan

I read this quote and immediately felt connected to it. This is exactly how I feel. We never know how things play out or what will become of life, but when we give it all to God, our all-knowing God who has control of it all, we know He makes everything work for the good of His people. Trusting God to bring me through my day can be a struggle when all I want to do is wallow and cry, but He’s brought me this far. All glory to Him.

I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

Psalm 121:1-2

Her writing reminded me that great success and fulfillment or growth comes from the pain and suffering we are put through. God has a plan for us. Sometimes, or a lot of the time, we don’t enjoy how we get to the end of that plan, but we should (because we can) rest in the fact that it’s always for our good and that Someone greater is in control. It’s all a journey. In reality, we should find joy in that journey – regardless if it’s enjoyable.

…when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

James 1:2-4

I was intrigued by the stories she shared about customers that came into her store. Simple acts of kindness, even as something small and material as a bracelet can mean so much to someone. People could stand in the long lines outside the building and get to know a stranger. Wouldn’t that be such a great way to share the Gospel?

…it’s not really about the cuffs at all but about the people. It’s about the stories, joys, and heartaches we all share. And it includes learning how to be there for one another during those times.

page 50 / Chapter 6 / Jill Donovan

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Colossians 3:12

How well do we receive/give gifts?

How do you feel when you receive/give?

Where do you set your expectations? Have you felt disappointed before because your expectations have been too high?

Are you expecting something in return when you give?

With misplaced expectations comes the inability to live in the moment. High expectations steal whatever might come and often bring disappointment and hurt feelings.

page 62 / Chapter 8 / Jill Donovan

Do you fear failure? How does this fear hold you back?

This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

Love does not fit into a particular mold. It is not cookie-cutter. It is it’s own language. We all speak it slightly differently.

page 74 / Chapter 10 / Jill Donovan

Is this not what Jesus showed us? #5LoveLanguages because we all need different things. By meeting people where they are, by getting to know people and what their needs are in this area, we’re able to intentionally love people the way Jesus did and always will do.

…I’ve learned it’s far better to be inconvenienced than to be disobedient.

page 85 / Chapter 12 / Jill Donovan

Whoa. Sometimes following God’s commands are hard. You know what the right thing is but it’s uncomfortable and it’s downright inconvenient. Doesn’t God know you have your own plans? That’s me sometimes, always the planner. God’s way is always the best way and if we just set aside our need for comfort and convenience… our life would be full of more joy of obedience. God sure wouldn’t be shaking His head so much, ya know.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6

…an intersection that God had intended all along…

page 89 / Chapter 12 / Jill Donovan

Has anything ever happened to you that seemed coincidental?

I thought the above quote was a great wording for those little coincidences. It’s like this happened so this happened which meant that could go this way. I’ve had those moments in life and they’re unexplained, things just work themselves out by the grace of God.

I did allow myself to worry and fret, then those fearful feelings would wind up filling the space where hope belongs. Worrying adds no benefit, but hope does.

page 102 / Chapter 14 / Jill Donovan

Worry and stress adds nothing to your life, the situation and takes away from the joy you could be feeling. If we have faith, we have hope in what God has for us and what comes tomorrow. Worrying about something is usually about what’s coming tomorrow. Doing so robs us off the present gift from God. We’re wasting a gift. God wants us to have joy TODAY. If we waste it on worrying about tomorrow, look how that makes us.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

Psalm 46:1

Grace bridges gaps that from all appearances look too wide to ever be crossed. Growing up I thought grace was only something we said before each meal. Later I learned grace is much more than a prayer; grace is undeserved favor, a gift that cannot be earned.

page 113 / Chapter 16 / Jill Donovan

Have you had to show grace to someone you thought was undeserving?

Have you thought about God’s grace and how undeserving we all are?

Understanding grace gives me the freedom to not judge, or to not decide what I think others deserve. I now let God deal with the hearts of those who offend me.

page 113-4 / Chapter 16 / Jill Donovan

Showing gratitude during the hard times often doesn’t make sense to our human nature.

page 138 / Chapter 21 / Jill Donovan

Losing my Dad fills my mind day in and day out. It’s one of the most life changing and difficult things that’s ever happened to me. He was a huge part of my life. Even in those last days, I was grateful for his continued laughter and smile. I’m grateful for all the time we did have together. I’m grateful for the hope and knowledge of where he is and that he’s in the best hands possible right now. I have gratitude because of my hope that comes from my faith.

You don’t have to wait until you are financially secure to give to someone else. You don’t have to wait until you have all your emotions in check to comfort someone else’s heart. Do the very best right where you are. Even if you think the printing is outside of your box or your current comfort level, obey that voice, and you will soon realize that the reward of gifting comes back to you in ways that exceed even your own dreams.

page 155 / Chapter 23 / Jill Donovan

Women’s Event Experience

February 21st, I went to a women’s event at a local church to hear Jill Donovan speak, something I registered for and read her book for. I’ve been so excited for this. I was also sick this week and had a lot of things to do, but I was making it to this event! I wanted to at least hear from the woman whose book now means so much to me.

She didn’t disappoint. Jill is hilarious and seems to be able to laugh at herself. She genuine and touching.

During her talk she told about three things that she’s found that hold people back from irrational kindness: Comparison, Forgiveness and Obedience. These three things hold us back from being FREE to irrational give.

Comparison means we’re constantly comparing ourselves, or even what we have, to others. Maybe not all the time, maybe not something you even want to admit, but we probably do when it counts. Comparison kills the joy of doing what’s right or even dreams we have for ourselves. In her book, she also talked about comparing your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20. How fair is that??

LACK of forgiveness. Have you had trouble forgiving someone? I’m SURE we all have at some point, we’re always needing to be forgiven as well, right?? Have you felt the freeing nature of forgiving someone? Whether deserved or not, forgiving is necessary in this life. Unforgiveness keeps us caged and something she said was that the person who we are needing to forgive OWNS us until we do forgive them. Don’t let them own you a second longer!

Obedience can be hard. Have you seen a 5 year old go after sweets though? Put that down! Here comes the crying. We think we can do what we want sometimes. Obeying God is the best thing we can learn and grow in. God tells us what we need to do, we’re just too busy making our plans, trying to get out of it, doing other tasks we think will please God enough to forget about this one little thing. God pushes us and if we just trust that push, we would be able to feel the joy that comes with obedience!

CFO is what these three things make and Jill called God our Chief Freedom Officer. If we work on these things, leaning on God, His word, and His little pushes we can experience the freedom to irrational give and show irrational kindness to those who we normally see as undeserving. Is that so irrational?

At the end of the event, everyone filed out and got into appropriate lines either to buy her book, get a snack or wait for her to sign a book. I, obviously, already had her book and had been holding it most of the evening. Waited, waited, waited. What was I going to say to her? Why do I get so weird talking to another person? She’s just another woman of God. I need to chill!! I blanked and probably almost forgot my name. It was my turn and it was over before I knew it. Why did I waste so much time AGAIN getting hyped up and it wasn’t so bad?? Besides that, I walked out with my best friend and looked at what Jill Donovan wrote in my copy of her book.

“One day at a time” is something Dad said so many times. As an alcoholic, he would take it one day at a time. Every day can be a victory. When he passed, he had over 21 years of sobriety. One thing he always came back to and held close to his heart was the one day at a time motto. How coincidental it was that this is what Jill wrote in this book without knowing this piece of my life. Or rather, what an intersection by God this was right there in the foyer of that church.

Fun Facts About Jill

She went to the University of Tulsa for her law degree! I received my Bachelor’s degree from there! She went on to teach as an adjunct law professor there as well.

I thought she was FROM Oklahoma, if not from exactly Tulsa. She was actually born in Baltimore and raised in Pensacola.

She’s multi-talented. Completely. If you have a hobby of any kind, she’s probably done it it’s going to happen in the near future.

She could probably be a comedian! Was this a hobby for her one year???

Jill also lost her Dad to cancer while she was in her twenties – I can relate to that.

Jill is one in a million. Kind. Genuine. Authentic. Warrior.

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