Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Life Lessons 101 with Teacher Katie

teacher clip artLife teaches us many lessons--we all know this.  Today I'm thinking about unwanted advice, and how to deal with it.  We've all had unwanted advice.  There's the pregnant woman who hears advice on everything from stretch mark miracle creams to natural labor, or the young mother who gets stopped at the grocery story by 47 elderly ladies, who each have something to tell her that she's doing wrong (bundle that baby up!  don't give her a pacifier!  you should be feeding him more!).

I get unwanted advice as the parent of a child who has cancer, too.  Well-meaning people tell me how to better treat Emma's cancer; all-natural diets, cut out dairy, think positive (that one is particularly amusing), get more exercise.  The list goes on.

I haven't ever (okay, not often anyway) gotten upset over the unwanted advice.  I usually just smile and nod, saying something like "that does sound like good advice", because really, when is 'get more exercise' not good advice? 

So today's life lesson is to laugh off well-meaning but annoying people.  That wasn't a very nice thing to say, was it?  However, I figured this was something that everyone goes through; we don't have to get angry or bitter at those people who are trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to help us with our lives.  They do mean well.  So laugh it off with me, and maybe, just maybe, give some thought to what they say.  You never know...they might have a point.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks and Giving

Thanksgiving clip art This season is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Thanks and Giving campaign.  We are urged to give thanks for the healthy kids in our life, and give to those who are not.  I have a confession to make.  I despise this quote, and those commercials.  I felt this way long before Emma got sick, actually.

Six months before Emma was diagnosed, some friends’ little boy was diagnosed with cancer.  This was right at Thanksgiving time—right when St. Jude was airing these commercials.  EVERYTIME one came on the TV I would start sobbing.  Literally.  I would immediately start praying profusely, thanking God that Emma was healthy.  I would say something like, “Thank you, God.  Thank you, God.  Thank you, God.  Please keep her healthy.  Please God.”

I would usually finish the prayer with words for my friends’ son.  I spent hours upon hours praying for them.  And I begged God to never let “that” happen to me. 
I believe that God was preparing me.  We know from the Bible that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle (that’s not to say that any of us particularly like to hear this quote).  However, getting thrown into the arena without any warning would be much worse than getting a little introduction to the subject beforehand. 

God was letting me recognize what I would come to think of as my greatest fear, so that I could learn to not fear.  He had mercy on me, and said, “While you think this is the one thing in life that you couldn’t handle, I’m going to show you that with My help, you CAN handle it.  With My help you can do anything.”

Today I dislike these commercials because I don’t like being on the receiving end of those “gifts” that St. Jude is asking for. I would much rather be the one doing the giving. Have you heard the Bible verse, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”? Well, I can attest that it is true. And yet, how can I not be thankful for the gifts? The people supporting St. Jude saved my daughter’s life.

So all of that is a round-about way of saying I’m thankful for St. Jude, even their tear jerking commercials, and especially their wonderful, fabulous, kind-hearted, caring, loving donors.  If you have ever donated to St. Jude, I am personally telling you thank you today.

Here’s the rest of my Thanksgiving "What I'm Thankful For" list:

1.      God's mercy.  Without God’s love I would be on my way to hell.  Not because I’m a “bad” person.  Not because I haven’t done enough good to make it to heaven.  Just because Heaven is perfect, and I am not.  God loves me anyway, and sent a way for me to get there—Jesus.

2.       My husband and children.  I have the best husband in the whole wide world.  He is an amazing father, provider (he works himself to the bone sometimes!), and husband.  And my girls?  What can I say about them?  Emma shouldn’t be here, so I am magnanimously thankful for her.  Ashlyn is a spit-fire who never ceases to make us die laughing as she points her finger at us and gives us a piece of her mind in jibber-jabber.

3.      My church.  I love the people in my church, and I wouldn’t trade a single one out for someone else.  Are any of them perfect?  No.  Do we sometimes split hairs and disagree?  Uh, yeah.  But when I needed someone to pound on the gates of Heaven with prayers for my daughter, they stepped up to the plate.

4.    The rest of my family!

5.    Pumpkin Pie. Yum.

6.    Books.  I could crawl up in a hole and read for the rest of forever.

This post turned out much longer than I intended!  Thanks for reading, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S.  The family I mentioned above is still fighting a raging battle.  Please visit their website, and pray for them www.prayfornoah.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Who Do You Trust?

When Emma was 1 year old, one of my husband's cousins (who was 5) passed away.  She had cancer.

Shortly after this I was taking a class for work on germs/illnesses/cleanliness.  A statement was made that statistics showed that children who attended daycare had a much better chance at never getting cancer because they had built up such a strong immune system.

Whew!  I felt this huge relief!  After the pain my husband's family was going through, here was this tiny sliver of assurance that this wouldn't happen to me, because I worked at a daycare, and my daughter had come with me everyday since she was 9 weeks old.

Statistics?  I laugh in the face of statistics!  Ha!  Ha!  Ha!

Okay, as sad as that all is, the experience taught me a vital lesson.  You can't put your hope and trust in anything or anyone other than God.  Psalm 121:1&2 says "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth."

So what are you putting your hope in?  Do you take peace from reassuring statistics?  Do you hold on tight and hope things go your way? 

I've learned that even in the face of pediatric cancer things can go well.  Do I like cancer?  No.  Would I give it back in a heartbeat?  You betcha!  But I have felt God's hand on us so often, and I have a peace now that I never knew before--a peace that tells me everything will be okay, no matter what happens.

I wish for you all to find that peace (though maybe not in the same way I found mine!).  And in case it isn't clear, I mean a peace in God.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ronald McDonald House Charities

This month's charity highlight goes to...The Ronald McDonald House Charities!  This is one of Emma's favorite places ever.  Whenever we go to Memphis, she hope hope hopes that they will tell us that we have to stay there.  And let me just say, they are a wonderful group of people.  We are given a comfortable, spacious room.  We have a huge pantry of food at our disposal.  There are playrooms, craft rooms, game rooms, movie closests, playgrounds, bikes, scooters, fitness rooms, a chapel and more.  When you donate to this charity, you are HELPING THE FAMILIES who stay there.  Families who are going through hell, much of the time.  So here they are!

WHO: Ronald McDonald House

MISSION:  The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. Guiding us in our mission are our core values:
  • Focusing on the critical needs of children.
  • Celebrating the diversity of the programs we offer and the staff, volunteers and donors who make them possible.
  • Staying true to our heritage of more than 36 years of responsible stewardship.
  • Operating with accountability and transparency.

THEIR STORY:   The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia thanks to Dr. Audrey Evans, Philadelphia Eagles’ player Fred Hill (whose daughter, Kim, had leukemia), Leonard Tose, owner of the Eagles, Jim Murray, the Eagles’ general manager and Ed Rensi, the McDonald’s regional manager.
     The McDonald’s owner/operators in Philadelphia made the House possible, donating proceeds from the sale of Shamrock Shakes.

HOW TO DONATE:  You can always drop a few bucks (or coins, it all helps) into the little boxes at McDonalds.  You can also donate by visiting here.  But it gets better than that!  Each individual House has their own website, so if you want to donate to a specific location you can do that, too!  Our favorite is, of course, the RMH of Memphis, but you can search the home website for your local chapter.  There are other ways to help as well.  You can collect pop can tabs, which they will recycle and the proceeds go to RMHC.  You can also volunteer at one of the houses, or donate supplies (each house has a "wish list").

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Patient of the Month

I am a very proud mama today because Emma is St. Jude's official patient of the month for November!  If you haven't seen her story/video yet, please visit www.stjude.org and scroll to the bottom right corner.  There you will see Emma's picture, and a link that says "Meet Emma". 

Watching the video and reading her story made me cry.  I really can't help it.  The day of the interview we spent the morning at the Memphis Zoo with the camera crew.  It was such fun!

I am so proud to be a part of the St. Jude family, and as I say in the video I don't believe Emma would be alive today if she had been sent to another hospital.  NO ONE else would have been able to get her diagnosed and on chemo in less than 24 hours, which  was vital to her survival.  It is because of my thankfulness to St. Jude that I was thrilled to help their cause in participating in the patient of the month interview. 

Because of the huge debt of gratitude that our family owes St. Jude, I am proud to support them in other ways as well.  That is why we are participating in the national Give Thanks.  Walk.  This walk will be held across the nation on November 19th.  We are taking donations to support our walk this year, and I hope you will donate to this very worthy cause.  You can see our fundraising page at http://www.mygivethankswalk.org/emmaclark

I am so proud of my little girl, and I can't help but ramble a little today about it.  Thanks for bumbling along with me!