When we met with Cara Deese we couldn’t help but to be inspired. She has truly made a difference and continues to help bring awareness to a growing problem. People like to help others and we all have our different ways we like to serve. As 1 Peter 4:10 says “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s Grace in its various forms.”
My gift is collecting and gathering. I like to do this through serving at my kids school and in any area I get a chance honestly. I have friends that are good at fundraising, cooking a meal for someone, educating others, and so on. I love seeing when we all come together for a cause and see all our beautiful gifts merge!
Last Fall, about the time Carrie and I were starting B. Perdy, I had a dark cloud hanging over me of uncertainty. I knew when January 2017 rolled around I would be having another CT Scan after my abnormal scan at my Oncologist office back in July 2016. During that July scan the doctors had found spots on my liver which had changed. In the chance that my cancer had come back I wanted to help in a small way. I felt like I kept remembering what it was like getting my own confirmed cancer diagnosis at the age of 29 with two small kids. Coincidentally it was in the month of January but in 2012. The detail that I remember of that day makes it all to real. It was literally as if my world came to a screeching halt as I sat inside our sedan to pick up my 4 year old son from speech therapy. I kept pushing through the Fall of 2016 with this burning urge to help others that were getting the same news that I had received 5 years earlier. I wanted to make bags of strength for people to be able to go home with. I wanted them to know they were not alone. In my opinion serving others is simply just that…letting someone else know that they aren’t alone.
In late October, I told Carrie Brockway and many other people in my life about my idea. They were on board to help. I collected all of November hoping to fill 25 canvas bags. My amazing friend, Natalie Mathews, came to my rescue helping me. She wanted to donate 100 canvas totes. I remember when she approached me to help I was a basket case with excitement. Even then I really didn’t think I could fill 100 bags in a month but much to my surprise and thanks to many all 100 were filled! All the items in the bags were items that helped me during my doctor appointments, hospital stays, or just when I was at home. These bags had cozy socks, a journal, a calendar, a pen, tissues, magazines, chapstick, and more. The most important thing for me was to include a letter in each bag to let the women receiving the bag to know I knew what they were feeling in that moment. I shared a few words that helped me during my journey with them as well. Then there was the saying monogrammed on the bag. This took me a bit to decide upon but with the help of Carrie we narrowed it down to “Strength is within you”.
After a month of collecting and many hours preparing bags in my guest bedroom the delivery day had arrived. I had coordinated with my surgical oncologist’s office to drop off the bags, shared my story with the office manager and the idea of the bag. Carrie and I went to The Surgical Clinic to deliver all 100 bags on a sunny December morning. I was filled with absolute joy! I was excited, emotional, and thankful. Then when I returned a month later in January for my own personal scan (which I learned was clear) a sweet nurse approached me. She saw me and gave me a big hug. She overheard who I was and had heard I was the one that had delivered the bags. She then said to me she was so thankful for the bags of strength for their patients to give them during their visit. She said it had brought a smile to patients’ faces and tears to others eyes! As she shared this with me it brought tears to my own eyes, chills all over my body and warmed my heart knowing that these women felt the love poured into each of those bags as I prayed over them. This idea was brewing in me and I felt God pushing me to ACT. I listened. I obeyed. I’m so thankful I did.
One of my favorite verses is Matthew 5:16. It says “Let your Light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” I have tried to live my life by this verse and I will be honest sometimes I fail. Do you ever get that internal God nudge? That feeling that you know God is at work within you. That is the feeling I had last Fall when I decided to put together these bags for cancer patients. If you feel that God nudge in you in any area of your life do not hesitate. Don’t be scared of the unknown. Take a leap of faith and act! As author Mandy Hale said “You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need a to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens”.