A tumbleweed of thanks
Part of our 2014 Palooza-ing was gifted to us.
Family and friends gave us priceless contributions towards the epic spring break trip Maren and I took to NYC last year. Friends slipped us money and said, “Go. We insist. Have fun.” Brad’s parents covered much of the cost of our Disney trip in October. A group called Tina’s Angels sent us on an overnight to Great Wolf Lodge here in Cincinnati. The Karen Wellington Foundation for Living with Breast Cancer (KWF) sent us to Lake Lanier, Georgia where we stayed in the vacation home of a lovely family who donated the experience.
We are so blessed, so grateful, so humbled.
When I was asked by the KWF to share part of my story to help continue to grow the foundation, I was pleased to do so. I want more families affected by cancer to enjoy vacations. A talented filmmaker captured our KWF story and shared it at the annual fundraiser last weekend. Here is the video.
I am so very grateful for our experiences and for the richness of generosity that surrounds us. It’s quite overwhelming and Brad and I struggle with our unworthiness often. We’ve drawn a hard lot, we understand that, but plenty of other people have struggles too. Again and again, we seek to pay our blessings forward somehow, someday.
The photo-turned-painting (photo credit: Sandy Powell) that is featured in the film is a wonderful summation of the week. I don’t have adequate words to describe it; this is one of those times where an image is worth a thousand words. (See the video if you want to see the photo.)
Greta is tickled at her prominent role, and I’m happy for her to have a special Greta highlight. Little sisters need spotlights; big sister Maren gets all the firsts.
Maren has seen the video and understands it has a role in helping the foundation. She’s perceiving that Greta and I have taken on a role in “being important” and “helping other people” in a way that she’s not privy to. It’s a small, unfortunate fallout of a seven-year-old not quite mature enough to see the big picture. When I boil down our conversation over the past few days, I hear from her, “I want to help. I want to matter. I want to be seen.” Mama Bear Jen wants to stomp out the soft whimper of “I’m not important.”
I can’t fix everything. Maren needs to be okay with not getting recognition, to serve without reward, to applaud her sister, to be gracious and to give grace. She will learn all these things in time. Today, she’s seven, and she’s the most awesome, kind-hearted, helpful, polite, room-brightening kid I know. Today, she wants to feel like she matters, and I think that is a teachable moment.
I told her several stories, some of which I have written on this blog, about the awesomeness of Maren and how she regularly buoys the people around her. She looks at me with her increasingly tweenage gaze and appreciates the truths I’m saying. However, she still echoes, “But what about other people, not just my family and friends?” (And my heart swells with pride: she gets it.)
My ‘thanks’ to the KWF and participation in the annual fundraiser has blown tumbleweed-style into my daughter’s desire to spread hope and love. Isn’t that what giving is all about?
I swear I need to duck sometimes with the way that blessings ricochet around me.
What would be a way for Maren to share of herself in a way that would give/help/serve others, perhaps the cancer community? That’s what I’m thinking about tonight. (I’m asking you, too. Any ideas?)
I find it ironic because I attend very few cancer events (there are many!); with small children, my biggest sphere of influence is still at home. I measure and weigh activities that take me away from my inner circle. Maren’s heartbeat to serve, however, is causing me to look at it from her perspective. Yes, of course she wants to help. I’m her mama and she loves me. We’re raising her to love and serve and give. She’s identified a need: the crappiness of a breast cancer diagnosis. She wants to make a difference. How can I facilitate her service?
Better yet, how can I point her in a worthy, age-appropriate direction and watch her run?