“Writer’s block” has to be one of the most dreaded realities I face ever so often, and it feels as though it has been the ball and chain on my mind as I have traveling America with an amazing group of women. We have been meeting families with children awaiting a transplant of any kind, are in recovery, or have had a fully successful transplant. These families are knit together with a special kind of strength that wakes you up to a new reality. With all of these heart-shifting stories, I have been beating myself up for not being able to find the words to express what has been going on the past couple weeks. The inside of me is feeling so much, it feels as though no words can truly articulate the heart-shift I am experiencing.
I thought that my heart was awake to the need for organ donation before I left on this trip, but I was wrong. Only part of me was awake, and the realities seem to flood my heart so quickly that the verbal processor in me hasn’t been functioning properly. Here I am, right now, and I am going to try my best to find the words. Bear with me.
This trip began with some solid team-training, and after only two days we met our first little friend. Meet Eddie, a little two-year old with a big heart and great need for a new kidney.
Eddie has a laugh that will make anyone’s heart swell up with pure joy. These little fighters are shifting people’s worlds with each smile and invitation to play. You would never think that this two-year old had three tubes coming out of him and his trendy little back pack was a way of survival. He throws balls, makes truck sounds, and sings without hesitation. Eddie doesn’t dwell in the idea he can’t live a life full of excitement and adventure. He craves it, and his story serves as a reminder that we can still live in pure joy every day despite or situation. He has a special love for Finding Nemo, and his parents join him in the regular showing of this movie in their home. His parents shared with us how Nemo has inspired them as they began to relate Nemo’s story to their little boy. Just like Eddie, Nemo has a little fin that makes it little harder to swim but he “just keeps swimming.” While his parents may get nervous about Eddie acting on his two-year-old curiosity just like Marlin the fish, Nemo and Eddie don’t let the fear of being different hold them back from a life filled with fun and play.
Their story has welcomed us into the reality that you don’t have to experience tragedy to find a donor. If you are healthy and meet the requirements, you can potentially donate part of your liver, a kidney, and much more! Eddie is in need of a live donor due to the national wait list being so long, watch this video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6x8yK-dQWGQ.
After a couple days of driving, we made our way to Omaha, NE, and honestly none of the families we had contacted had responded. We didn’t quite know what we were doing, but we decided to reach out to more families, and Kourtney got a little crazy and may have told a family from Virginia that “we were in the area.” Within a couple hours, we got a response from a single mom in, yes, VIRGINIA. It was a 20 hour drive, not including stops. We hopped in our car early the next morning and drove for the next 30 hours and arrived at a sweet home in Virginia where we met Tymiere, a boy who inspires us all to defy the odds and pursue your dreams.
Tymiere is 11 years-old and was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at 5 months old, and discovered he was in need of a bone marrow transplant. He is still in need a of a bone marrow donor, and does not have any family that qualifies as a donor. It didn’t take long after we got there for Tymiere to team up with me and create an outline for how we were going to tell his story. His main goal was to inspire other kids with sickle cell or other diseases to not give up or give into the negative thoughts or things they hear. Tymiere’s dream is to be a singer and song writer, and it just so happened that he had a song written and we had a couple team members (Kendra and Chelsea) who knew how to create music to the lyrics and maybe even serve as back up singers. You could feel the excitement and energy fill the room as dreams seemed closer than ever to coming true. We all have the song memorized now, are dedicated to walking life with this rockstar, and are confident that Tymiere is a world changer. You can listen to his story and even his song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oZYyhW2xac.
This all leads us to this week where we met one-year-old Ma-Leiah who lights up a whole building when she waddles into it.Ma’Leiah just received her heart 5 weeks ago and is recovering so quickly that even the doctors are astonished. Andrea is her mom and she has been by her little girl’s side since day one, and we all became friends before we even walked into the Ronald McDonald House. We were blessed to be able to spend two days with these two beautiful ladies. Dancing to Sesame Street, getting excited about food, and finding book after book became the routine and we could have done it for days. We are still in the process of posting the video, but stay tuned so you can hear all of the details!
God is working behind the scenes and the dream for Ember’s Spark is expanding day-after-day. With all of this driving that we do, conversations continue to knit our team together in a special way as we discover each other’s differences, passions, and dreams. Yesterday, I spent time with God while I plugged some head phones in my ear and listened to some Jesus tunes. God revealed a truth to me that I believe has changed me forever: Life is all about the pursuit. The pursuit of people, God, and relationships.
God pursues us even when we are trying to run, we are scared, or we want to hide. Throughout the Bible, each page reveals a pattern of the Maker of this world: He is in pursuit of our hearts, our dreams, and our love. I think often times we get so focused on finding our own healing from our pasts, mistakes, or fears that we often isolate ourselves and even neglect the relationships we have with the people around us. There is this saying God gave me several years ago and it goes like this, “When you go out to change other people’s lives, they end of changing you the most.” Isn’t that crazy? You see the focus isn’t to change yourself through loving people and God, but it just kind of happens. When we surrender ourselves selflessly to loving people with God, He allows us all to shift each other’s hearts in a special, beautiful way. It is just a thought, but what if we focused more on building each other up rather than ourselves? Do you think maybe we would all begin to find healing, restoration, and grace?
Our focus shouldn’t be the reward, but where we are stepping next. I think our world is craves solutions that are designed for our specific story, but I am beginning to shift my thinking to the truth that the Bible holds all the wisdom/”solutions” we need. I encourage you to read John 4 when Jesus is talking to the woman at the well. He gives us all a picture of how to love people where they are at and gently tells them to get rid of the stuff that keeps making them thirsty, because He has a “water” that will never make you thirsty again.
Maybe this all sounds a bit off topic from this trip, but I don’t really think it is. It is all about loving people where they are at, not trying to find the solutions, but simply saying, “I am with you, I want to hear your story, and let’s walk life together.” God just loves to open up doors when we lock hands with the people He puts next to us and commit to doing this love and grace thing together. These kids and their parents are locking hands with us 20-somethings who don’t really know what their doing, but we are just resting in the reality that God does, and that the love that He showers us with is a love that moves mountains.