What. A. Week. I am utterly spent, and my heart is full. Generosity is definitely the word ringing in my heart this week.
I am thankful:
~ for one of the very best GCS elementary Spring Concerts I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a couple). The 4th and 5th graders (including our Samantha) sang worship songs in several languages, played melodiously on their recorders (insert winky face here), and played instruments as well as used sign language. I was so moved by their clear, young voices lifted in praise, and I was struck by how much I knew they were blessing their Heavenly Father’s heart. I can’t express how grateful I am that our children have had the privilege of growing up in the community of GCS. There’s no such thing as a perfect school: there are highs and lows, strengths and weaknesses. And our kids are far from perfect. But I know that they are getting SOAKED IN JESUS, at home, at school, at church…and I know that I know that I KNOW that the years my babies have spent at GCS, engulfed in the faithful partnership of prayers, instruction, and encouragement, are shaping their tender hearts for their future. And God continues to make a way where there is no way, through His unparalleled and unexplainable generosity. There are no words.
~ for a rip-roaring good time for my little cowgirl! Zoe had a blast at 1st grade Rodeo Day with her classmates: roping steers, scooping cow patties, barrel racing. She chowed down on delicious homemade chili and dirt pudding. Such a fun day.
~ for a special rite of passage this week: Tatum K’s very first Sunday School class. Our beloved Miss Linda has taught every one of our babies at the age of 2, and her gentle hugs and tender instruction have welcomed each of them into her classroom. Absolutely surreal to see little Tatum K with the flag and her stickers and her little crown. My heart.
~ and then for the event we have been eagerly anticipating and planning for for months: the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala and fashion show! It was quite a production to gather all the kiddos from the ends of the earth, and pack the bus with all their gear. (We can’t even make it to CHURCH on time…we had to make it to Dallas by 3 o’clock. The struggle is REAL!) By some miracle, we made it, checked into our complementary room at the palatial Hilton Anatole hotel, and took Sawyer to the check-in area. The cancer kids are the VIPs of the event, and all the real action takes place backstage, where parents are NOT ALLOWED. Instead, they are each assigned to a “buddy,” a staff member from Children’s Hospital. How thrilled was this mama to find out that SaSa was going to be in the capable hands of our beloved Nurse Brittney! It’s always hard for me to let him go, but I trust her COMPLETELY. Sawyer had the time of his life backstage with Brittney: he played games, got new toys, and made crafts. He met some pretty cool celebrities: Chuck E. Cheese, Spider-Man, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Oh, and Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, and Tony Romo were there too, but they were not nearly as exciting as the superheroes.
Out in the ballroom, Josh and I had the rest of the Tribe, all doodled up in our finest. Incredible silent auction items, including the original paintings created by each fashion show child, filled the lavishly decorated atrium, and beautiful people were everywhere. No detail was left overlooked for this “Evening in the Garden,” from the stunning floral wall backdrop for 3-D pictures; the intricately embossed programs, menus, and auction paddles; to the wisps of smoke hanging on the massive runway, flanked with impressive cascades of flowers suspended from the ceiling overhead. Our children’s eyes could not get any bigger! (Nor could mine!) One of the highlights of the evening for Josh and I was watching our children get their first taste of fine cuisine. The menu was over the top. Our kids are in no way picky eaters, they are very adventurous and great sports. But this was definitely quite a stretch for them… 2 year old Tatum K loves salad, and she dove right into her plate like a big girl with a big fork! She stabbed a juicy red beet and popped it in her mouth. But it immediately came right back out! I think she thought it was a tomato, her favorite. Beets apparently are not as palatable. Zoe wasn’t too sure about the peppery watercress. Tatum DEVOURED the juicy filet mignon once I diced it for her, while the other Littles were very entertaining in their attempts to saw off hunks of steak and then laboriously chew and chew and chew and chew it. Kora’s face wore every variety of disgust as she sampled each course, from the goat cheese in the salad to the roasted brussel sprouts and finally the edible flowers on the panna cotta dessert. Gavin, Big Kids, and Mom and Dad on the other hand, happily chowed down every decadent course with gusto. The Littles managed to get by on dinner rolls and the bits of fruit garnishing the dessert.
It was awesome to watch each of the models, kids of all ages in various stages on and off treatment, walking with celebrities and superheroes and community helpers down the runway. Some were shy, and some worked the stage with confidence and swag. Sawyer came out with his escorts, members of the Dallas Fire and Rescue team. Click here to check out the video of his runway walk…he owned that stage with long strides and tipped his hat to the crowd like a pro. It was priceless. I hope you can hear the announcer, who quoted Sawyer, “I have no more cancer, because Jesus healed-ed me!” The wonderful folks at CCF even had that phrase embroidered on a blanket for him!
But no matter the setting, the beauty of the decorations, the grandeur of the hotel surroundings or the prestige of the celebrities in the room…the inescapable fact was that we were here because of childhood cancer. Our family never could have afforded the tickets to attend the event, even just to watch Sawyer. Our attendance was made possible because of the personal kindness of the Executive Director and the generosity of another cancer family who had lost their daughter to cancer several years ago. This night wasn’t just a high society event for entertainment, but Children’s Cancer Fund is committed to the mission of funding cutting-edge childhood cancer research, staffing Dallas Children’s with top notch Child Life Specialists, and they have been supporting families battling childhood cancer for 31 years! Initial reports show that more than $1 million was raised at the Gala! Just astounding. It was a very special, truly unforgettable evening for our family.
~Saturday morning was ANOTHER special event, the 8th Annual Collin Boyd Strikeout 4 Cancer Baseball Tournament. Collin is a 2x childhood cancer survivor here in Tyler, and his dedicated family hosts the tournament every year to raise funds to support other newly diagnosed families in East Texas. Like us, they have become passionate about bringing beauty and outreach out of the ashes of their personal pain, and they work tirelessly to involve the community in this incredible event. This year’s beneficiary was sweet Georgia Crim. In one day, the tournament, home run derby, food sales, and silent auction raised more than $30,000 which is directly gifted to the Crim family! GLORY TO GOD! Please continue to pray for Georgia. She had a successful surgery to implant her port and her first round of chemotherapy this past Tuesday. Miraculously, she was able to attend the tournament on Saturday, and was mostly smiles (she and Sawyer are such sweet buddies). But it’s a long road ahead. And please also be in prayer for Baby Lucas, who goes in for his 4th infusion tomorrow. Jesus, we ask for HEALING for these precious babies!
People hint vaguely sometimes, not necessarily with ill intent, that families with terminally or chronically ill children “sure get to do some amazing things.” And yes, sometimes that’s true. Sawyer has met sports stars, gotten autographs and tremendous gifts, had VIP treatment, and our family was given a free trip to Hawaii. Unbelievable. Ask me if 1% of these “side benefits” are worth holding my son down while a 1 inch needle is pierced in his chest ONCE. Let alone monthly or weekly for 3 years. The countless nights in the hospital, the dreadful drugs and side effects, the PTSD and strain on marriage and family….ask any parent of a medically fragile child if it’s worth a fast pass at Disneyland or a backstage meet-and-greet with Taylor Swift. There are no “perks” that come with a sick child. Don’t get me wrong, we are genuinely grateful for the unique opportunities we have experienced because of the compassion and generosity of others. But it’s not a fair trade for a healthy child. Not by a long shot.
Let’s love one another GENEROUSLY this week. Everyone is walking through something. Everyone can benefit from an extra measure of grace and compassion. Maybe you are the answer to someone’s prayers.
Thank you for giving thanks with me.
““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”” John 16:33
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21