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Friday, March 14, 2014

Ordinary People: Extraordinary Courage

Although I have no photos this week, there were lots of moments.  There were lots of the ordinary moments like spelling test reviews, laundry, dry cleaning runs and dentist appointments.  There were some extraordinary moments like Drew getting a fish, getting a scary, but ultimately all-is-fine call from the school nurse and me making a dinner that required measuring, marinating and baking.

There was a lot of work in planning for Kyle's Kamp Casino Night.  I know I have mentioned it no less than 341 times, but the 3rd Annual Best Yet will be Saturday night and I'd appreciate  your prayers that all goes smoothly.  I know that it will.  The people I have walked beside are brilliant and talented and dedicated.  I can't figure out how I got lumped in with such a stunning group of folks, but God works in amazing ways and I'm beyond honored and blessed.

So, it seems I need to hustle here and join these worker bees to get us all set up.  I wasn't going to blog today, but I thought I'd pull from one of my very first posts here about the first time I attended Casino Night.  Ordinary, every day parents become heroes every single day; some when faced with kids stricken with physical sickness, some when faced with kids struggling with emotional problems and some just trying to get through a sleepless night when the morning comes so much sooner than we expect.  I've been trying to look for beauty in the midst of the broken world of late and in the search have found true heroism.  The following is when I first saw the beauty of Kyle's Kamp.

Lessons in Heroism 
originally posted May 2012
"Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards, they simply unveil them to the eyes of men.  Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak, and at last some crisis shows us what we have become."
Bishop Wescott

I read this quote in my Community Bible Study lesson guide.  It was referenced in the chapter regarding the people surrounding the trial and crucifixion of Jesus;  those who ran away, those who judged, and Peter, who denied his Savior.  I think the word hero has been thrown around a lot in our culture of late.  It struck me that many true heroes have been unveiled to me in the last few months.  They don't look like Superman or Wonder Woman and they wouldn't likely call themselves heroes.  In fact, I am sure each of them would rather have skipped the occasion that forced them to become strong and heroic. These folks look, well, kind of like me.  They are parents, who were, like me, going through the routine of their days:  breakfast, school, work, shopping, laundry, sports practice and then the crisis appeared and in a single moment they have had to become stronger than they ever thought possible.  It is clear, at least to me, that God has prepared these parents for these moments.  It is clear that He has grown them strong in training them for what they have been forced to endure.  It is clear that now is the time God has meant for them to be unveiled to the people around them (like me) to teach these people something of what real strength and courage are.

A few weeks ago my husband and I attended a benefit Casino Night to raise money for families of children with cancer.  I will tell you honestly, that the day of this benefit was crazy, as most of our Saturdays are, with a golf assessment and baseball double header for one child, and a baseball game each for the other two children.  It was hot and then there was a thunderstorm and I was wet and dirty.  I got home and I had exactly 25 minutes to wash off all of the day's muck and change into a dress and heels which made me feel like a fraud, because a dress and heels really don't go with my life lately.  In short, I was not very excited at the beginning of this evening.  As it turned out, the night provided many a lesson for me, as so many people and places God puts in my life seem to do.  Apparently, at this age, my brain is supposed to be fully formed, but God keeps throwing things at me, forcing me to learn more and more.  In this case, I gained a firsthand look at the strength, dignity and generosity of His people, most specifically, His people who are facing circumstances that I'm pretty sure might cause me to break. So the night turned out to be emotional and convicting and utterly full of hope.  (Also, as a bonus, the lovely and talented Mrs. C. and her hubby were accompanying us and for me, when the lovely and talented Mrs. C. is around, things always start looking up.)

Mrs. C. and I parked ourselves, purely coincidentally, next to the cupcake table as Rob, the man who put the night together, took to the microphone.  Rob was a teammate of my husband's in high school.  At the age of 6, just over a year ago, Rob's son was diagnosed with leukemia. Rob spoke of his son and his wife and two other children and of the circumstances that had brought him to this night.  As Mrs. C. and I sobbed into our cupcakes, I realized that if I was Rob, I might have curled up in my pjs in my nice, dry house on a rainy night and probably would have been angry at God for the awful disease that was infesting my little boy's small body.  As he spoke, I realized that Rob was not only there because of his son.  It was his son's diagnosis that had brought him to this place, but he was there for other unselfish reasons:  for other parents, for other children.  Rob had met many parents and many children at Children's National Medical Center.  He had met many who could not afford the astronomical bills associated with the fight against pediatric cancer.  He wasn't just holding this benefit for his own child.  He was and is tirelessly working towards helping many, many other families who have been thrust into a battle they did not expect, they did not choose, and that they are fighting with everything that they have, even when what they have is very, very little.

Rob has also planned a baseball tournament to be held Memorial Day Weekend.in Northern Virginia to benefit the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's National Medical Center.  As of this writing, the tournament has raised $165,081.**  My two youngest boys and their teams are playing in this tournament and I'lll take this opportunity to post the website  at the bottom of this post so that you can donate if you wish.  If you are not able to donate, I would ask for your prayers for Rob's family and for all of those families who find themselves forced to face a crisis that will show them who they are and ultimately who God means for them to be.

In addition, I want to point out some other heroes, who very often hide their fight for their children.  These are the parents of children with mental health issues, anxiety and depression and mood disorders.  As far as our culture has come in recognizing these diseases, I'm afraid we have not come nearly far enough.  We are asked to raise money for cancer, diabetes and other physical diseases.  We run races, we attend fancy benefits and we post websites on our Facebook pages.  And this is not a competition. These are all very important and very worthy causes.  But when was the last time you received a request to help parents pay for research for emotional disorders or to help pay for the extremely expensive care, often not completely covered by insurance, for children hospitalized with these problems?  We don't often see parents standing in front of a room to describe their child's sicknesses when they have to do with an illness that attacks their minds, not their bodies.  Please remember these families in your prayers as well.  Please reach out to these parents who are fighting for their children in an area of medicine that is far from exact.  It is often two steps forward and one step back with medicines and therapies and wildly differing opinions.  Remember these parents with compassion and without judgement.  Their struggle is often silent and hidden, but I have found that their tenacity to fight for their children in the face of illness that threatens just as horrifically as cancer or diabetes, is breathtakingly courageous. And I am shown again, that God's everyday people, my friends and my neighbors, can and do answer the call to be heroes for the children He has entrusted to them.

**Two years later Kyle's Kamp has raised $850,000

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