serving others with hearts, glitter, and unicorns

Written by Lisa VanEngen

Lisa Van Engen is a writer from Holland, Michigan. She loves to offer up encouragement about making a difference at her website About Proximity. Lake Michigan and hiking are two of her family's favorite things to do.

March 14, 2013

serving others

A rag-tag group of elementary students sat at a table and hand-crafted Valentine’s cards. The cards would be delivered to shut-ins of the church. In the pile of crayon smears and scratchy writing lay my daughter’s card. She has a flair for the dramatic, so the card pulled out all the stops with oodles of hearts, glitter, lots of words and a generous amount of pink.

The Wednesday night of card making had long since passed when a letter arrived in our mailbox. On the envelope read Ellie’s name. She smiled proudly. You know the look when a little one feels the thrill of receiving something that seems grown-up.

We gathered around her as she opened the envelope to reveal a beautiful pink card complete with hearts and glitter. Her pen pal was the 83 year old shut-in who had received her Valentine. Written on the pink polka dot pattern was a beautiful note in cursive. Jane explained that she had an 88 year old husband. She signed the letter with love ya! A five-dollar bill was taped inside.

Ellie’s eyes grew wide at such a surprising treat. She placed the bill in her piggy bank and displayed the card on her dresser. I have a feeling it will stay there for some time. Later that night she came downstairs with a piece of paper, a letter to her new friend. She asked Jane to call her El, short for Ellie of course and told her six facts about herself. She drew a flower, a cupcake and a cat head. On the backside of the letter she drew a unicorn.

When we give, the gift we receive back is often deeper. (Click to tweet this!) We don’t expect this, but it has a way of happening.

  • A whisper of thanks so genuine it dusts away our own ingratitude.
  • A smile that is so moving we remember it for years to come.
  • The warmth of the assurance that we are capable of offering hope.
  • The way our vision deepens, expands and we are left with the knowledge that our life is so much more.

You can touch another life, whether you are 8 or 83, hearts, glitter and unicorns span all generations.

Have you ever been touched in a deeper way than expected when you cared for someone else? 


  1. SimplyDarlene

    Yes… indeed!

    Love comes back bigger than imagined when we give of our real self.

    Miss Lisa – thank you for this God-grande reminder about giving.


    • Lisa Van Engen

      I love that, it is all about giving of our real self. That authentic giving is what gives back 🙂

  2. Mickie Alderink DeVries

    Love this, and soooo true. What a kind heart she has!

    • Lisa Van Engen

      I hope to be so sweet when I’m 83. I hope we still have car talk when we’re 83 too. We’ll be waiting for our great grand kids in the school parking lot 🙂

  3. Amy L. Sullivan

    Always, always, always. I’m not sure why I’m always surprised when this happens, but I still am.

    • Lisa Van Engen

      I agree Amy, always surprised, totally should not be. Along with this, seriously humbled too.

  4. Diane Harvey

    Thanks, Lisa. A beautiful picture of love and friendship. Seemingly small things can make a big difference sometimes! 🙂 (*insert pink and glitter here!*)

    • Lisa Van Engen

      Very true! I love that you inserted pink and glitter 🙂 perfect.



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serving others with hearts, glitter, and unicorns

by Lisa VanEngen time to read: 2 min