Monday, March 30, 2015

How You Can Live Hope Too

The magic of Easter isn't just the candy-filled memories.  It isn't just the pitter-patter of little children discovering the thrill of their first egg hunt.  It isn't just the family gatherings when spring is more than a coming season - it's in the air.  Easter is special because it is the holiday that champions HOPE.  Scripture says, "Death, where is your sting?"  (1 Corinthians 15:55)  We worship Jesus, who overcame it.  And he offers us that same hope not only beyond the grave, but in our everyday life.

I want to introduce you to Stefani Healey.  She is the Vice President of the Brooke Healey Foundation, a foundation that Parents Magazine recently named as a Powered by Parents Top Charity.  Even more, she's a mom like you and me.  In fact, I met her in the preschool halls.  But in the wake of the unthinkable, she is living and breathing hope to hurting families through her important work.  I want you to know about it.  What follows is my interview with her:

1.  What is the name of your foundation, and why did you start it?

The name of our foundation is The Brooke Healey Foundation. It was started because our daughter, Brooke, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain cancer called DIPG, or Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. She was diagnosed in January of 2013 and passed away later that year, 6 days after her 5th birthday. 

Stefani's daughter, Brooke

We were overwhelmed with generosity during Brooke's struggle and we knew that we would need to pay back others who had helped us.  We also learned of, and met, so many children who are diagnosed with cancer. Some children have a great chance of recovery, and some, like Brooke's, need much more research in order to find a cure. We were unaware of the pediatric cancer world, for the most part, and probably didn't think about it further because it was scary, and we thought it could never happen to us. We are determined to raise awareness about pediatric cancers and specifically what help children and families need.

2.  What strides has your foundation made, and what more needs to be done?

Our foundation is still new and growing, yet we have done wonderful things so far. We have helped children who have needed things like a new bed, air conditioning, and funding for medical treatments. We have given Broadway tickets, purchased adaptive equipment for kids, and donated to families to allow a parent to stay home from work and be with their child. Just as important, we are also funding research through a dedicated and specific group called the DIPG collaborative. This year, as a collective group of parent-run foundations, we have raised over $2,500,000.00 for the research of DIPG. In April, four of our board members will travel to a DIPG symposium with the leading doctors from around the world to learn more about the disease and to decide where this money will be spent. We will also participate in discussions that will shape how doctors, nurses and other medical caregivers can better serve these children.

There is much, much more to be done. There will be many kids diagnosed with cancer this year. 27,000 parents will hear the words, "Your child has cancer" this year alone. These children will need help in so many ways. It is unacceptable that only 4% of The National Cancer Institute's budget goes towards pediatric cancer research. These are the things that need to be changed. We are branching out with our fundraising each year, and we are looking for volunteers to help us grow further.

3.  Finally, how can others help?

Others can help in many ways. Supporting a local family who is currently battling cancer by bringing them dinner. Speaking the name of a child who has died, so that they are never forgotten. Simple things like that help. There are also opportunities to create real change. Becoming a volunteer, committee member, or committing to be a board member for a charity is probably the best way that I can think to help. Our foundation, as is true with others, cannot survive without help from others. Finally, attending fundraising events or donating to a cause is vital. We need funding to create change and promote awareness. These children are too important to ignore.  

Do you want to work for cancer justice on behalf of little ones?  Please share this post and help spread the word!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easter Giveaway WINNER Chosen!

Moms, Thank you for your support and the many entries that I received - including bonus ones!  For those of you who are new followers, welcome to the Vocational Mothering family!  The computer has chosen a random winner, and the winner is:  Lucky Erin Koerner from Kansas!  Congratulations, Erin!  There is an email waiting for you to confirm your address!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Bunnies, dye-colored eggs, hunts in ruffled dresses...what does Easter really mean?  I am reminded of scripture's exhortation:  "Seek the LORD and LIVE!"  (Amos 5:6)  Easter is about true life - the kind of never-failing, ever-loving, all-consuming life that Jesus offers us each and every day.  He wants our children to know this life.  He wants to cup his hands around their faces, the ones whose mouths are covered with Easter peep-colored sugar, and look into their wide, excited eyes and say, "I died and rose for YOU."

This year, I was excited to find some useful tools to help me teach that message to my children.  And the super cool thing is that I want to give them to ONE LUCKY WINNER too. This GIVEAWAY is live for the next 24 hours only!  Courtesy of Zonderkidz publishing, your Easter basket this year could contain these four resources:

1.  The First Easter Ever, with illustrations by Dennis Jones.  I just read this book to a group of ten kindergarten children in Sunday school last week, and it was a hit.  It comes with humorous illustrations that you can use as a springboard for biblical discussion.  The children particularly liked the page that demonstrated Jesus' ascension into heaven.  They might have read about it before, but it was the first time they had ever seen it like this in a storybook.

2.  A Father's Love (I Can Read) from The Adventure Bible.  I was eager to snag an I Can Read title for this giveaway - and my own library!  Seriously, how much would I rather be using reading time to impart God's promises rather than learn more about Dick, Jane or Spot?  As a mom, I am ALL about multitasking!

3.  Come, Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book from The Beginner's Bible.  This title was previously on back-order due to its popularity.  I can't wait to receive mine, and it goes without saying that it will be a kid favorite!

4.  Stories about Jesus from The Beginner's Bible.  This is a board book for your littlest audience. That being said, it covers a lot of ground.  It highlights many important events in Jesus' life and ministry in the illustration style that has made The Beginner's Bible so beloved. My three-year-old chose to read this book first of the bunch!

If you want these titles in your own Easter basket, register below by providing your information.  If you also "LIKE" my blog page on Facebook, follow my blog on TWITTER, or TWEET about this giveaway, you will receive bonus entries too!  ONE winner will be chosen TOMORROW by an automated system, and I will notify the winner by email - so be watching!

Please note that anyone who registers for this giveaway will automatically get a link to join my blog's email listserv.  If you do not want to join, simply ignore the link.  If you would like to join, please make sure that you click on the link embedded in the email to activate your subscription.  I'd like to extend a warm welcome to the Vocational Mothering family with a free printable too!

Disclaimer:  I received free copies of these resources from the publisher in exchange for an honest review for this giveaway!