I just got home from the most life-giving trip to Memphis with an Impact Squad of 7 nursing students from the University of Tennessee! It was their fall break and we did a fall break alternative trip to visit Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I'm still beaming over the memories we made!
If you're new to 818 Ministries or Do The Thing Movement, 818 Ministries is dedicated to donating handmade hats and handwritten letters of encouragement to patients fighting serious illnesses. Our Impact Squad delivers our hats to hospitals all over the US, most often dressed like princesses or superheroes! This gives our team the unique ability to connect with patients and encourage them in the middle of their day. These girls got to do just that and dressed up as characters to visit these two amazing facilities and deliver hats (dressed as Belle, Rapunzel, Jasmine, Elsa, Nemo and Dorey!).
To see memories from the trip firsthand, check out our recap video below:
As I reflected on the trip over the (very) long drive home, here are some things God reminded me of:
1. There is no language barrier to a hug or a smile. As both visits this week unfolded, I saw several examples of times a child coming up to someone on the Impact Squad with arms wide open. All they wanted was a hug. Given both hospitals treat children from all over the world, sometimes there is a language barrier. But I was reminded there is no language barrier to a hug or a smile! It was so sweet to watch our volunteers connect with patients over princess dresses, handmade hats made by our team or a craft. Sometimes, all that child needed to put a smile on their face was a big hug from Elsa!
2. We don't always have to have perfectly strung together words to turn someone's day around. The team had so much energy going into visiting both hospitals this week (I cannot thank these girls enough for their time and investment to spend their fall break serving)! Although so many families we met were facing tough battles that I can't fathom, all it took to leave them with with some hope and a smile was a big hug, a word of encouragement and a handmade hat made by our team. I'm finding that most often encouragement isn't really that complicated. I was reminded that there is so much power in really truly "seeing" people and meeting them in their hardships.
3. "Silly" is a great deterrant for life's storms. I'm very thankful for my team of superstars who, for HOURS, got down in the floor and just played, acted silly, giggled, made crafts and poured into these kids. In the midst of words they can't pronounce and statistics that can often leave us feeling paralyzed, it was incredible watch a space be created for these kids to just be "silly".
Below are some photos of my favorite Memphis memories including:
Prayer for the entrepreneur:
Jesus, help me be Your hands and feet in the everyday moments. I pray I would show up and really "see" those around me in the midst of the mundane, the hard and the unimaginable. I want to seek opportunities this week to offer a hug, a word of encouragement or a "how are you, really?" Don't let me miss these moments. Help me seek, find and act on many of them this week.
In Your name,
I had so much fun this past weekend with my Impact Squad in Charlotte, NC visiting Hemby Children's Hospital and Levine Children's Hospital!
If you're thinking, "What's an Impact Squad?" I totally get it. I'll share over time my story of starting 818 Ministries, but it was born out of my mom's cancer journey. We donate handmade hats and handwritten letters of encouragement to patients fighting serious illnesses. When we deliver them in a children's hospital setting, we typically have volunteers dress up like princesses + superheroes to hand deliver hats. We call those teams our "Impact Squad".
For this Charlotte trip in particular, I had the privilege of taking two UT nursing students and a close friend to visit the hospitals and dress up like Cinderella, Elsa and Olaf! Check out the recap video below!
Prayer for the entrepreneur:
Jesus, I thank you for the opportunity to lead. Help my feet move swiftly when I hear direction from You and not tiptoe in doubt. Help me speak courageously when You've put something in my heart and not sheepishly whisper. Help me act out of a place of integrity - always striving to remain "above reproach". Thank you for those that you have placed under my care to watch over and guide. Help me steward my time with them and help them grow closer in their relationship with You.
In Your name,