As my last re-run before getting back to regularly scheduled posts, I wanted to share something that happened last year, but perhaps means more to me this year due to some significant changes in my life. But I’ll get back to that at the end of the post.
Originally Published August 11, 2011.
Ali has an absolutely precious Sunday School teacher named Miss Bobbie. She is about my parent’s age, has grandkids the age of my kids, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
…yet she still has the energy, somehow, to wrangle and teach a group of four year olds every other Sunday – and constantly be bubbling over with joy, loving every minute of it.
She has taken on her cancer and resulting chemotherapy as a mission field – she is constantly looking for ways to share God’s love with all of the other people that are with her receiving hours of chemo treatments.
As part of this mission, she uses her Sunday School craft time to allow the kids to write letters and draw pictures for the other chemo patients. She has an amazingly organized system – she hands out the cards, remembers who got which child’s card, remembers a fact about that patient, and then writes that patient’s name and information on an index card to send home with our kids to pray for.
Miss Bobbie’s love for people both humbles and inspires me.
We’ve been praying for Miss Judy Green for several weeks. Ali has enjoyed making cards for her and never forgets to pray for her before bed. She probably doesn’t understand the term “cancer”, but she does understand that Miss Judy Green is sick, that her cards make her happy, and that her prayers make a difference.
A couple of weeks ago, I got an unexpected box in the mail from Build-A-Bear. They occasionally send me items to review to see if I’m interested in giving them away here, or just to give Ali to try out. But this time, they sent me a stuffed teddy bear as a part of their “love.hugs.smiles.” campaign, and all they wanted me to do was give it to someone who could use a smile – no strings attached.
Immediately, I thought of Miss Judy Green.
Then I dismissed it as silly – what grown woman wants a child’s toy?
Upon further deliberation, though, I decided that it would be good for Ali, so we set out decorating the “Bear Condo”.
Ali literally spent hours painstakingly and perfectionistically coloring the box.
She wrote “Miss Judy Green” across the top,
She really wanted to take the bear to the hospital and march it into Miss Judy Green’s room, but I did my best to explain that we couldn’t do that. So she delivered the bear to Miss Bobbie, and then began the impatient wait for Miss Judy Green to receive her gift.
One week went by, but Miss Bobbie only teaches every other week. Two weeks went by, and she couldn’t wait to ask Miss Bobbie, “Did you give my bear to Miss Judy Green??”
“No, not yet – I haven’t seen her again.”
On Monday afternoon, Ali and I received a phone call from Miss Bobbie.
She had chemo that morning (and still amazingly had the sound of boundless energy). When she arrived, she had asked the nurse if she could get Miss Judy Green’s mailing address. As there are hundreds of people in and out of the chemo treatment room, she doubted that she would run into her again.
The nurse skeptically said that she would have to contact the patient, ask for permission, and get back to her later.
I have a feeling that Miss Bobbie’s exuberance may have pushed the nurse into starting the process right then. And as she was checking for her contact information, she said, “I’ve got better news: She’s going to be receiving her treatments with you today!”
As it turned out, she was sitting directly across from Bobbie. She explained her delivery and gave the bear to Miss Judy Green.
…who happens to be a retired elementary school teacher and adores children.
…and who happens to collect teddy bears.
Her face lit up as she told Miss Bobbie that she would be sleeping with the bear that very night, and she was going to name him ChemoBear – she needed a new friend to help lift her spirits during this time.
As Bobbie told me this story and relayed Miss Judy Green’s excitement and emotion over her gift, I realized that none of it had been accidental.
Ali had not accidentally gotten assigned to pray for Miss Judy Green.
Build-A-Bear had not accidentally sent me a bear to give to anyone I wished.
I did not accidentally think of Miss Judy Green.
Miss Judy Green had not accidentally been scheduled to get chemo on Monday, directly across from Bobbie.
ChemoBear was meant for her, because God doesn’t just like to do huge things in our lives – He goes out of His way to orchestrate multiple people, events, and even corporations just to send tiny reminders of His grace and His love right when we need it the most.
And the privilege of Him allowing Ali to be a part of that gift and see how she can touch other people’s lives – what a priceless treasure.
Miss Bobbie has finished her treatments and is in remission. I do not know Miss Judy Green’s status, but I pray that she also is enjoying normal life again.
My Dad leaves on Monday to go to Memphis for cancer treatments for his Ocular Melanoma that was discovered in August. He will have a plaque attached to his eye, which will be made of gold and contain a radioactive seed that will be focused at the cancer. He and my Mom will have to stay in Memphis for a week (because his radioactive eye will be tracked by Homeland Security and disallowed to cross state lines), and then the doctors will remove the plaque. The purpose of this treatment is to keep his cancer from spreading.
Although Ali has been praying for Pop to get “all better” for months, I have been afraid to use the “C” word with her. However, re-reading the above post brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of the positivity of a child, the faith of a child, and the encouragement that a child can bring. Such as this note that Ali chose to write during one of her quiet times, on this quite appropriate note card that she managed to find on her own:
So last night, I told Ali that Pop was going to Memphis for cancer treatments.
Her response was, “What even IS cancer? I’ve never known what that means all my life.”
– leave it to an adult to forget that kids don’t have their same traumatic associations with words.
But whether she understands or not, I’m glad she knows.
Because children have power.
Children’s actions have power.
Children’s prayers have even more power.
…and I personally think that God really likes to show off for children, just like He did for Ali and Miss Judy Green.