Friday, June 12, 2015

3 Reasons Why We Sell Lemonade

There's been a lot of attention this week.

Lemonade Days, benefiting Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, is this weekend. When we accepted the honor of being the New York State Hero Representative Family we agreed to have an event this weekend. Our lemonade stand event is tomorrow (Saturday June 13th) and we are excited!

In order to raise the most money possible, I have been a social media crazy person...posting, commenting, tweeting, repeat. Social media raises awareness and brings attention to the cause. We had a benefit at a local jewelry store yesterday. We had an incredible turnout with 10% of the proceeds benefiting ALSF. 133 bracelets were sold and we received a check for $455 from the jewelry store. Amazing.

There was a radio interview, a story in our local paper, and tomorrow a story will run in the Buffalo News. Wow! We have been able to discuss the purpose of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation with many people through these opportunities. Incredible!

As much as I love people and love events, it feels uncomfortable to receive attention. I wish I could just stick an ALSF banner over my head and withhold my name from articles. But people gloss past the names of charities, but they remember stories.

I realized that with the stories running in the newspaper I had an opportunity to share my heart, in my own words, unfiltered on my very own blog with anyone who may happen to click on the link after reading our story in the papers. This is a blog that I updated regularly for several years after Brady's diagnosis. With time, the old saying rang true, "No news, is good news," and the frequency of my writing decreased.

But on the eve of our Lemonade Days event, I find myself sitting here thinking about why we keep doing this. Our impact is small in dollars, but in my heart and mind money is not the greatest currency. There is a lot more to our story.

3 Reasons Why We Sell Lemonade

#1: Our son is well and we are grateful.
You can read about Brady's journey with cancer but clicking on the links to the right. At one point in our lives, we had a son that was very, very sick. There were prayers said on his behalf, God intervened, and he was made well. That is the short story, but in the details of the story you will find a mom and a dad who look at life a whole lot differently than they did before. You will see two people who used to think that saving as much money as possible was the best philosophy in life and who now treasure the opportunity to give more (and also spend more than they used to on just plain fun!).

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadows due to change.
James 1:17
Brady's healing was a good and perfect gift. We will never stop thanking the Lord for it. One one of the ways we chose to do that is by supporting Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation to help other families experience healing for their child with cancer.
#2 We cannot forget the other children.
When you become a cancer parents, you are instantly thrust into a world of horror. That sounds dramatic and morbid. The suffering of children with cancer is one of the most horrific things you could imagine. Brady's treatment and suffering was very difficult, but what he endured was a pin prick compared to what thousands of children are dealing with at this very moment. I will never forget the faces I saw at the hospital, the screams, the looks of utter despair on parents' faces. Among the most devastating of memories I have is seeing the teenagers who were sick. Kids who knew what was happening in their bodies, who should have been playing basketball or going to prom, but were instead realizing that the end of their life was near.
I recently prayed for a boy named Jonah. His parents had to make an agonizing decision when he entered hospice care. They had to decide to do palliative radiation to his lung tumors so that it would be the brain tumors that took his life as doctor's said it would be a more peaceful way to pass. Can you even imagine.
My heart broke as I read about a sweet boy named Wes with Neuroblastoma. His parents posted asking for prayers as he had just relapsed. For the fourth time.
When your child stops treatment, you can also chose to stop participating in the world of pediatric cancer families. You can unsubscribe to the blogs, leave FB groups, stop checking in on Caringbridge. But every time I consider doing that because I just cannot handle the heartache, I consider this...
What if that were Brady? What if his story were too sad and people stopped reading and praying and caring. What if?
I feel as though we were changed by this experience. Once you look into this world, you cannot look away. The heartbreak you experienced becomes a deep sympathy for other parents going through the same thing. You have to be there for them, because someone was there for you. God is pretty clear on the topic of joining people in their suffering.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galations 6:2
We support ALSF and families of children with cancer because we want to help bear the burden. We knew the burden of having a sick child and people wept when we wept and rejoiced when we rejoiced. We will do the same.

 Jen Hatmaker said it beautifully when she wrote, "Suffering invites us to be radically human with one another."
#3 There is hope!
As a Christian, I wrestle with the reality that children not only die of cancer, but for many, their suffering is unspeakable. This issue has never caused me to doubt my faith, but it has sent me searching for a clear answer to the question, "If God is good, then why do children have to get cancer?"
I have studied my Bible, I have scoured the internet, and even recently I asked my pastor to give me his insight on the topic.
In my search for answers, God has given me HOPE and REASSURANCE.
I read something that described it this way (I am searching for this reference to link to it), "The reality is that even with Jesus' cross and resurrection, losing a child seems to make very little sense. But without Jesus' cross and resurrection, it makes no sense."
Read that again and let it sink in.
In plain language, that means...children suffer and die and it is awful. But to think of that reality without the hope of Jesus and the promise of heaven because of his death, burial, and resurrection would drive someone to despair!
As a believer I believe that God is good, but not in a way that I understand goodness. My understanding is limited and cannot compare to that of the creator. It's like my understanding can only see one thread of a giant, masterfully woven tapestry. The thread that I see, children suffering, is ugly and awful. God sees the whole tapestry. He created it. He weaves that horrible, ugly thread into a beautiful and perfect plan.
The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18
Now that sure does make me frustrated. But God understands this frustration. After all, He created me! My pastor reminded me that the one who wrote the psalms cried out to God in anger and frustration over and over again. And hey, God let that be in the Bible. Our confusion and even our anger doesn't intimidate God.
So I must forge ahead, accepting God's goodness and my limited understanding of the big picture.
Instead of asking WHY does this happen, I will ask God to show me HOW can I help?
Our hope is in the Lord. We can share our hope by giving back, not forgetting about those who are suffering, and by being bold with our faith.
And we can do all that by selling lemonade. One cup at a time.

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