Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Never Ever Give Up by Erik Rees

This is an inspiring story on many different levels.  Some may have heard of 12-year-old Jessie and her battle with cancer or her famous NEGU "Never Ever Give Up" motto.  Others may have seen her on the news or heard of fundraisers to fill JoyJars for children with cancer.  Or, like me, you may have never heard of Jessie Rees until this moment.  No matter where you find yourself, this is a story worth reading. 

There are unfortunately many children who get cancer, all of which have stories to tell.  What makes this situation unique is Jessie's reaction to her circumstances.  Instead of wallowing in self-pity, she looked to the other children suffering through treatment and asked "How can I help them?"  What began as a simple act of her filling a few jars with toys to give to children at a local hospital has grown into a huge foundation (www.jessie.org) that has raised over $3 million to give hope to children with cancer and their families.  Jessie's life only lasted 10 months after her diagnosis, but her legacy continues.

This book can also be a resource of hope to families dealing with similar issues.  What really stood out to me was when Jessie's father talked about making the decision to be bitter or better.  No matter what difficult circumstance we find ourselves in, isn't that always a choice?  This family was hurting and struggling - but their choice to continue to care for others in the midst of their pain is an example to be followed.  Erik writes "We cannot understand with our finite minds God's infinite plans.  All we can do is to trust that when we are suffering, there is a greater cause.  God doesn't let us suffer pointlessly.  So when you're hurting and wondering why God isn't taking your pain away, consider that you're playing a role in a greater picture than you could ever imagine."

Yes, this story was written to raise awareness of childhood cancer and rally support.  But it was also written to inspire us to take the initiative to care for others and make a difference in whatever way God has impressed on your heart.  Use your gifts and passions to help others.  Jessie left us a great example of how to do just that. 

Thank you, Rees family, for sharing the intimate details of your story with the world.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

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