Saturday, May 31, 2008

Where my heart is lately...

(Warning, this is kind of long, sorry):

Lots of people end up with "causes"...you know, those specific issues that are near and dear to your heart and that you just wish you could wave a magic wand and fix. For Brianna, it is AIDS and Africa. For me, lately, I've been really struggling with the issue of healthcare in America and specifically, the financial and emotional burden it places on families who have children with chronic and/or serious medical issues.

Henry's heart issues have really brought to light a very tangible thankfulness in my own world. The fact that it isn't really all THAT serious, that it should be a one-time surgical fix (plus likely a lifelong standing appointment with a cardiologist), that while we do have a high deductible insurance plan...once we make our yearly deductible, things are covered 100%. I feel so incredibly blessed that while we have a son with an imperfect heart valve, it may squeeze our budget for a time being, it may stress his mommy out, it may make for more doctor visits...but we are so so so so BLESSED beyond measure.

And it gets me thinking about families who have children with serious health issues that need lifelong treatment...families who not only have to deal with the heart ache of having a sick child...but also have to deal with the financial burden of all those bills...I cannot even begin to imagine how much added pressure that puts on a marriage, on siblings, on mommies and daddies in general. Add to that, that so many families face losing their jobs because they can't be 100% committed to work, families that lose their homes because their medical bills soar high into the MILLIONS, families who after all that...just might even lose their babies.

Somehow, it seems like medical bills shouldn't count into the main credit rating of life. Somehow, you shouldn't lose your house because you can't pay the doctors. Somehow, the financial world should have an exemption clause for these sorts of things. But, they don't. I suppose it would be impossible to determine where the line would be drawn...

Anyway, all this to say that a few months ago I sat at a presentation for St. Jude Children's Hospital. And it just killed me. In a good way. St. Jude's is AMAZING. It is TOTALLY 100% free to all families, regardless of their financial status. They freely share ALL medical research with anyone and everyone around the globe. When they figure out a new procedure, they video tape it and make it available to physicians anywhere...so, a doctor in Kenya can learn how to do the latest surgical procedure. Anyone who has used St. Jude's services has had nothing but the most glowing reviews. I could go on and on, but you can go check it out for yourself. I can't really do it justice. (A local SM girl was basically sent home to die because her brain tumor was inoperable...dad called St. Jude's who had them get on the very next flight...they did the surgery 2 days later...she's home now recovering! Amazing!)

Fast forward to Henry's first birthday. The kid really doesn't need anything. He has more clothes and toys than I care to admit. And frankly, I really don't need more junk to pick up off my living room floor. My initial thought was to just put "No Gifts Please" on his birthday invites.

And then I got an idea. I called St. Jude and asked if they had any kind of in-lieu gifting program...and they DO! So, they made up these cute little postcards with Henry's name and the date of his party and assigned us a specific Tribute #. People can donate to St. Jude in Henry's name...a few weeks later, I'll get a final tally of how much was donated (just the total, not how much each individual gave) and a list of the people who gave (so I can send out thank you cards). I'm really excited!

One of my nightly prayers before I lay Hen Ben to sleep is that he will grow to be a man with a servant's heart...maybe this will help lay the builidng blocks for that...

11 comments:

Jacquelyn said...

Jeanette, you are so awesome! What a great idea!! children learn by example and it's never too early to start cultivating an "others-oriented" perspective. Way to go.

Peggy said...

You never cease to amaze me!!

You certainly live your life as our God commands us--to help others.

Peg

Jeannett Gibson said...

Thanks for the kudos, but I certainly have lots of room for improvement in all things God has commanded us to do! (I hope this post didn't look like a "Hey, look how great I am!" advertisement...)

Brianna Heldt said...

SO awesome! What a wonderful idea!

We obviously can't make it :(, but please do send me one. (Haha, see how I'm assuming I'd be invited! Must be getting puffed up from living in such a large house. HA!)

I've always been so amazed by St. Jude's work. None of our children have chronic medical conditions, but I have several friends whose children do, we had a bumpy year with Kaitlyn last year, and no doubt someday we will adopt at least one child who does. ANYway this is something near to my heart, and I loved your post. Healthcare in our country is a huge issue for many, many people, much of it going unnoticed by the rest of us.

I'll be praying that hearts are opened and that Henry will be honored by some good donations to a great organization!

Rachel Slagle said...

what an awesome idea. and i can totally relate on the whole kid having so much stuff issue - jason said to me yesterday that this house is really dillon's and not ours :)

(and i totally didn't read this post like you were gloating)

Kristen Borland said...

such a sweet idea. i think it will mean so much to henry some day!

Tracy Regusci said...

I love this idea, do you remeber we did the same thing for Serafina's first birthday except we choose the Make-a-Wish foundation! It was a lot of fun. What a perfect thing for a first birthday. (although we have all ready bought a birthday present)

Carrie Haughey said...

I love the idea!! I have always felt that until babes are about 2-3 they don't really understand the concept of a birthday party and presents, so to have donations made to a good cause is such a great idea. I am going to have to keep that in mind!!

Carrie Haughey said...

not that I have anything against birthday parties for little ones... I hope that's not how that came across...

*aron* said...

that is SUCH a great idea... you are SOOOOO awesome!

we went to a wedding this weekend and they asked for donations to charity in lieu of gifts on the invites and listed some charities... they also were donating all the money from their money dance to charity - so generous!

joy said...

what a fabulous idea, jeannett. thanks for sharing.