Today was my first time to speak in months. I thought I was going to give it up in August after my last scheduled speaking engagement and God had much different plans. Of course I chose this week for the new packed schedule of Worley events and as happens before most days I speak, the boys were not interested in sleep last night. Isaiah finally crashed after I rubbed his back for almost an hour at midnight and was happy to wake me up before 6:00 am. I got up and started getting ready and realized I have ONE pair of dress pants that fit me and they need to be hemmed about two inches. But, it had to work and it did. I then got the boys up and with Noah’s help we were all in the car and on our way by 8:00 am. Despite their lack of sleep, the boys were in high spirits and happy to play with the other kids.
As I turned the corner from our house I realized everyone’s trash was still out on the curb and I felt panicked for a second. You see, our trash day is Thursday and for a split second I thought it just might BE Thursday. Then the thought flashed through my mind that I might be in my version of Groundhog Day. The panick thickened as I started running through the events of yesterday in my mind and asking myself if I really liked the day! Then the “Mommy, MOMMY!!!” from the backseat brought me back to reality and I realized the trash truck must have just missed that street yesterday. Yesterday was a pretty good day but I cleaned the bathroom and I don’t have any desire to do that over and over until my movie ends.
I’ve spoken on several things in the past from bulk cooking, to couponing and The Happiness Project I completed last year, but I’ve never really had “a platform.” This time it was different. I spoke with my friend Christy on a program called Beads of Courage that is designed for children with cancer and other serious illnesses. Christy recruited me to help with a local event in 2011 and I really wanted to go to the Third Day concert instead. I didn’t know much about Beads of Courage and at that point I didn’t feel like I had an ounce of myself left to give anyone or anything. Plus, I have a dear friend who lost her daughter to a brain tumor when Samuel was a baby and it was one of the hardest things I ever watched. WHY would I want to be involved in that! My sister was visiting that week and she agreed to attended the event with me. We both left that evening with huge hearts, changed for Beads of Courage. We stayed up late into the night talking about how we would help the next year. I started praying about my role and how God would magically give me more hours in the day to fulfill said role.
At this time I didn’t know that Christy was considering not doing another event! I started doing little things here and there with Beads of Courage like decorating a table for a women’s event and wearing my shirt everywhere. But I still wasn’t “all in.” My sister and I talked about doing an event in her home town, but little did we know that just a few short months later we would receive phone calls only weeks apart that our Mother, Brother and HER husband all were joining the battle against cancer. This all came at exactly the same time I was being tested for everything under the sun to figure out what was wrong with me. Needless to say I was a little on edge and it brought Beads of Courage to the front of mind again. I started talking to Christy about the upcoming yearly event and even though my health was shaky and my schedule was packed, I really felt God leading me to step up with this organization. BUT, me being…well me..I still wasn’t completely convinced what MY role was. At that point it seemed like every time I turned around I knew personally someone who was just diagnosed with cancer. I’m not talking a friend of a friend of a friend here. I’m talking hit were hurts hard close people. Christy agreed to do another event and I worked behind the scenes as much as I could to help her.
The 2012 event was held outside on a night it was pouring down rain! God is so great and faithful that we were still able to surpass the financial goal for the evening. We were also honored to have the founder of Beads of Courage; Jean Baruch and the Director of Communications and Development; Ashley Ethridge in attendance. That night my job was to keep the buffet line full and serve the cake. Being by the food I was able to talk to a lot of people about how they got interested in Beads of Courage. Almost everyone I talked to was somehow connected to Christy or her co-host Crista. It immediately got me thinking about how the message of this organization needs to be shared with our community. We both had connections in the community so why not use them. (I think their might be TWO people in Katy that don’t know Christy and that’s because they are moving in right now!) After spending some time with Ashley who is also blessed with healthy children I knew there was a place for me. I didn’t have to live through a child with cancer to speak from my heart about it. Having a few seconds to talk to Jean made me appreciate her vision even more, and I wanted to be a part of the amazing things she is doing.
When I got home from the event that night I sent Christy an email and because she had just finished pulling off an amazing huge event in the rain she was not ready to hear my thoughts and ideas. Being the friend I am, I gave them anyway. I finally knew exactly what God was preparing me for this past year and I was ready to take it on. We decided to think and pray about what we could do to raise awareness and money for Beads of Courage. While she was thinking, I was contacting some of our mom’s groups and asking if they would even be interested in inviting us to speak. It’s common to want fun and encouraging speakers and light topics. While Christy and I are fun, this is not a light topic.
This brings us back to today, our FIRST speaking engagement with our previous MOPS group where we met. For me, it’s much harder to launch your new adventure in front of people you know rather than a room of strangers! I have to admit there was a large part of me that thought, “Debbie…really? WHAT WHERE YOU THINKING!” Samuel is my biggest fan when I speak. He always wants to help me prepare by setting up the room and hearing my presentation. He actually usually has helpful hints and good ideas to add. Today was the first time Isaiah was able to help with the set up as well. When they finished Samuel took one of the Beads of Courage cards that tells the meaning behind each color bead. He then went to each of the tables to pick the perfect beads. I was tempted to yell at him to leave stuff alone, but I just let it be. A few minutes later he came up to me with a beautiful beaded bracelet and said, “Mommy, these are all the colors that make me think of you!” I was so touched, and to think I was going to snap at him! One topic in my presentation is how we tell children about cancer and Samuel and Isaiah have had no choice but to learn about this. It’s amazing to me how black and white this is for kids.
It came time for Christy and I to speak and I was fine until they handed me the microphone. Then I just got sweaty and nervous! I said a quick prayer and was filled with a calm and confidence that comes only from the Lord. While we have a few kinks we’d like to polish up, the message was received and the ladies were very generous in their contributions to Beads of Courage. I’m not exactly sure where God is going to lead us on this journey, but I’m going to enjoy the adventure.
So WHAT is Beads of Courage? Founder Jean Baruch was a Pediatric Oncology Nurse and she could see that children needed something tangible to be able to tell about their experience fighting cancer and other serious illnesses. Beads of Courage says it best, “We believe in the power of pausing and acknowledging your journey. The journey that you never imagined you would endure. A journey with a roller coaster of emotions. It is through the medium of beads that we give a place for these emotions to be soaked up and the story told.”
Isn’t that the truth? We don’t plan for these journeys and it IS a roller coaster of emotions for everyone involved. The good news is, there are so many ways you can help and we want to come and tell you how! How can I be involved without a financial commitment. How can I sponsor a particular child? How can I help a family who has a child with cancer?
If you have a group as small as 10 and as big as….huge, we’d like to come and tell you about Beads of Courage and how you can help children and their families tell their story of painful treatments through their beads. YOU can help give a child, parent and everyone involved the COURAGE to fight this battle. There truly is a place for everyone!
You can learn more about the program here: http://www.beadsofcourage.org/
Please ASK your questions!