Friday June 29th, Overwhelmed (From Dad)

There have been times over the past three months when we have been overwhelmed by peoples’ generosity. Friday was one of those days again. We had an early morning, meeting the folks from Dean Video ( at St. Jude at 8 a.m. to film some more footage for the girls’ fundraising video. They brought so much equipment that it rivaled some of the medical equipment in the rooms at St. Jude. This is the third shoot they have done including almost seven hours of filming (for a video that will probably last no more than 10 minutes). There is also no telling how many hours these folks have put into making the film. When we called Andy Dean to ask how much it would cost to put together something like this, he said that they wanted to do it at their expense to help the girls and to benefit St. Jude. Dean Video is a for-profit business with real video experience, filming things ranging from company videos to TV shows to movies; and, they are so moved by the idea of “Finding Cures, Saving Children” that they have freely given up their time for this – and a lot of it. As they left St. Jude today, the emotion of it hit me. It is both overwhelming and encouraging to me that 1) the mission of St. Jude is so compelling, 2) people can be moved to such inexplicable generosity, and 3) 8 and 10 year old girls can be catalysts for things of this gravity. Probably my best attribute in my career is my ability to use words to influence peoples’ decisions. My daughters will, through the purity and honesty of their words, influence many more people than I will ever be able to. It is humbling to watch them. It is overwhelming to see people like Andy Dean, and his folks, give their time to help the girls tell their story. And it is with much excitement that we wait to see how big of an impact this may have. (If you need to get some videos made for your business, these guys are as good as their hearts are big.)

I wish we could raise enough money to fund the work at St. Jude for the next 50 years. There is no telling how many children will get a chance at life because of the donations being made today. In large part because people have funded St. Jude's battle over the past 50 years, about 7,600 children diagnosed with cancer this year will beat it who would not have before St. Jude was founded in 1962. On average there will be 34 children in the U.S. diagnosed with cancer today. Twenty-one more of them will survive than would have in 1962. It costs St. Jude $1.7 million per day to run the hospital. As someone bent on understanding the economics of decisions, I am tempted to ask if it is worth this cost. I’m not sure it would be worth it to spend that much to extend my life (I’m 37, have lived life fully, am repeatedly reminded that I am past my prime, and apparently have enough wrinkles to validate that sentiment). As the parent of a little man who hasn’t had a chance to fully develop his personality, to know the disappointment of getting cut during tryouts for a varsity team, to know the pride of making the team the very next year, to feel the little butterflies in his stomach the first time he asks a girl to go to a dance, to feel the big butterflies when someone says yes and he realizes he actually has to dance, to know the nervousness of moving into a college dorm for the first time, to feel the earth-moving high of falling in love with his soulmate, to feel that unmatched and indescribable feeling of seeing his own child open his/her eyes for the first time, and to experience God in a way that gives meaning to life; I would say that there is no sum of money in the world that is too much for these opportunities. And that’s just for my son. We’re not the only ones at St. Jude – by a long shot. One thing that I have been reminded of over-and-over since April is the woeful inadequacy of material wealth when compared to giving a three-and-a-half year old a chance at life.

I had a similar feeling of being overwhelmed this afternoon when I was looking at someone's swimming pool with a friend of ours who is a poolbuilder, Jay West. The West's are also neighbors and, if my memory is correct, have stayed at the house with our kids twice in the past two years while Ashley has taken me to the E.R. (it may hvae been three times but one of the visits was for a concussion and, ironically, I can't remember if they came over for that). Yes, even as an adult I still frequent the E.R. That can be part of living that "full life" I mentioned earlier, although some of our friends would argue that it's optional. To the point, when we were looking at the pool the family came out and wanted to introduce themselves because they have been praying for Ingram. These moments are difficult to explain. You want to cry. You want to hug them and say thank you. You want to ask God how it is that He has time or organizational capacity to sovereignly provide people to encourage you just when you need it, even though you don't realize that you need it yet. The grandeur of His sovereignty and grace is infinitely greater than the grandeur of our valleys - even the big ones.

Filming at St. Jude for the Girls' Fundraising Video with the Folks from Dean Video

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