I am frequently asked, “What Wish have you granted that stands out from the rest?” It’s a difficult question, because there are so many and each one holds its own charm. Every child is unique and I like to think that their wish is the best wish each and every time. However, I do have some pictures and stories to share…
Listening is a fine art that requires focus and genuine interest. Frequently, I have found that I am forming a response in my mind rather than listening to the person who is speaking to me. Sound familiar? We are anxious to provide an answer from our wealth of knowledge, while the speaker, our friend, may not want an answer at all.
When your partner, child or best friend comes to you pouring out a complaint or concern, their greatest need is to be acknowledged. The best way to do this is to “reflect” what they have said. In essence, you are holding a verbal mirror up so that the speaker knows you heard him and he also hears himself more clearly. It requires listening very carefully. Whatever your mate, child or friend shares, share it back in a paraphrase. They will know that you actually listened and heard their complaint. This opens the door for more conversation. Details can be added, clarified and anger diffused. Eventfully, they may even ask for your opinion.
A Gift List may contain an I-Phone, I-Pad, Laptop, car, trip, cruise or another lavish item you’ve longed to possess. You may or may not receive these. Don’t despair, think about the best gifts you have received?
When I consider that question, I find that the very best gifts aren’t tangible items at all. Sure, I loved my first two-wheel bike, but the day my Dad sat in the middle of our living room floor to play jacks and marbles, I felt like the most special daughter ever! TIME is a gift that we are not required to give to other. Family and friends can get so caught up in their responsibilities that they do not have “time” to spend with loved ones. Time is what life is made of and meant to be used wisely.
There are hundreds of pictures on Pinterest showing how to decorate with twinkle lights, fairy lights, and icicle lights. They come in every color, combination and shape imaginable. But WHY are we drawn to their display? Here’s a possible answer in case you are seeking one.
Like the stars in the heavens, or millions of phones lit up at a concert, or decorations at weddings, during holidays or for no purpose other than beauty, I think we are drawn to the light that illustrates the power of one when joined with many to make an impact.
One candle in a room lights a corner; 4 candles lights a room; many candles light a home. One person brings kindness to a dark corner of this world. Four people lift up a neighborhood. Many people bring healing and wholeness to a community.
How do you shine? Everyone has a light inside, though some are dim and others have nearly gone out. Will you help revive that one? Some show kindness; some offer structure and direction; many have a heart for hospitality. We are a huge collection of broken pieces to create a mosaic of purpose and provision.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, there’s the prevalent question, “What does it mean to be thankful?” Defining words include gratitude, appreciation, acknowledgment, recognition, approval, positive reception, admiration, enjoyment, pleasure, and praise. These terms can get lost in daily living and never be more than a passing thought. How do we live thankful lives every day?
Food! We love it!
Especially during the holidays, we look forward to the delectable legacy of Grandmom’s homemade Pound Cake, Aunt Suzie’s mashed potatoes and Uncle Ron’s mouthwatering deep fried turkey! And if we can have it all as well as eat it, we are among the most fortunate. Not wanting to put a damper on the delight of chomping down on a crisp turkey wing, give some consideration for those among you who are not able to partake in a similar fashion. Be informed. Ask. Prepare ahead of time. Request parents to bring an alternative meal if necessary. Just be sure there’s an understanding prior to the meal. It may be less stressful for young children to eat ahead of the adults if they require feeding or supervision. That allows a more relaxing meal time for adults and children. Every situation is different, so the communication beforehand is vital.
Holiday movies, songs and clichés often present a picture perfect setting with angelic faces all aglow and doting parents lavishing a mountain of gifts and goodies for all. Let’s get real! I admit that as a young mother and wife, I tried so hard to provide that Hallmark day for my family. Was I successful? Well, let’s see…if we don’t count the times that the Christmas tree fell over smashing breakable ornaments and my screaming, “DON’T come in here! You’ll cut your feet! GET OUT!” Or placing the crockpot full of hot red cabbage not-so-gracefully on the white table cover and spilling it all over the table settings…or the times when children and their parents acted out of sorts. You get the picture.
We are NOT perfect people. Get over this fantasy. Provide what is possible—a good sense of humor, instant forgiveness, a sense that everyone is welcome and the day is for enjoyment—no need for a perfect performance. Expect a certain amount of spills, chaos and noise.
One way to avoid unkind or angry words is learning to communicate better. This happens through a change in the way we think and our expectations of others. While we may see ourselves as verbally astute, many people find it difficult to hold a conversation with others. This is especially true for children and adults who may experience the following communication challenges. Recognize that everyone’s brain does not work and process life exactly the same way. Embrace the differences instead of fighting them.
Are you prepared? Family get-togethers can often be stressful. Add in the needs of a child who may be physically, mentally or emotionally challenged, and the results may not be the warm, hospitable event each person envisioned. There are ways to prepare; in the next few weeks, I will be sharing ideas. Since every person is different and each family unique, these are meant as suggestions—take what fits and discard the rest—but give some a try.
Working with children who are very ill takes a toll on one’s heart and mind, but the hardest thing to hear is a child’s words, “I wish I could get better.” Though I try to be the best fairy godmother ever, I know this is way out of my power to grant. I can only reply, “You want to get better. We all want you to feel better” It is heart-wrenching and I must remind myself that my job is to encourage and try to find something that will lighten the burden of one so young who should never have such a heavy heart.
It’s no wonder so many children wish to go to Disney World, Universal, Sea World, Lego Land and similar parks filled with fantasy and wonder. Haven’t we all longed to escape reality for a little while and fly away to Never Never Land and let our hearts and minds rest? Caregivers and those who work closely with the sick, bereaved or otherwise challenged in our communities do need a way to receive refreshment. It’s especially difficult for parents and siblings of those who are ill. Sickness doesn’t take a break; there’s no vacation from it. Every time New Hope for Kids sends a Wish child and family on a trip, I heartily pray they will receive the much-needed respite without being ambushed by a problem that necessitates a trip to the hospital. That’s one reason wishes are granted before a child is grievously terminal. Waiting too long makes it difficult for the child and family to enjoy time away if it is still possible. The family longs to make lasting memories at the child’s dreamed for venue. It is crucial that this happen in the early stages of illness. Another benefit is the support gained from other Wish families who gather 6 times a year for fun and friendship. Wishes do not cure illnesses; they do not wipe away all sadness. Wishes do give hope, happy memories and a time for refreshment and family time.
The most authoritative voice in the decision-making process is that of the child’s physician. The physician is charged with a decision—does this child have a life-shortening illness or not? He/she is asked to sign a New Hope for Kids Medical Acknowledgement Form verifying that the child DOES have a potentially life-shortening, life-threatening illness. He is NOT stating that the child will die within a certain time frame. WHY is this a requirement? There are many diseases and disabilities that make life difficult and challenging for a large number of children and their families, but they are not all life-threatening. While we are aware of those who have a variety of afflictions, we have determined that the following criteria for eligibility of a child to receive a wish from New Hope for Kids: