Thankful for People Like Brenden Foster

Today is Thanksgiving – the day our country sets aside to celebrate family and think about our blessings.

As I write this, most of my food preparation is completed. My husband and I are waiting for our daughters and son-in-laws to join us for a dinner with all the trimmings.

We’ll fill our tummies until we think we can’t eat anymore – and then we’ll find room for one last bite of apple or pumpkin pie.

A fire will blaze in the fireplace while we spend the evening playing games and enjoying each other’s company.

I’ve heard several people say over the past several days that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday because it’s one of the few that isn’t consumed in commercialism. Instead, the focus is on spending time with family and friends. We think about what we “have” instead of what we think we “should have” or “want.”

Today I’m also thinking about a little boy, Brenden Foster. Exactly a week ago today, I wrote about Brenden’s dying wish to feed the homeless.

Last Thursday, here in Western Washington, people from all over took part in the Stuff the Truck food drive in Brenden's honor. Seven semi-truck loads of food and more than $95,000 in cash were donated to benefit Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline – organizations that provide food to those in need.

But, it didn’t stop there. People in other parts of the country from Los Angeles to Ohio to Florida also held their own food drives.

While reports were coming in of how much food was being donated throughout the day, Brenden’s family knew he didn’t have much longer to live.

But Brenden told his grandmother that he was at peace. He also told her that angels had come three times, but he wasn’t ready to go with them. And that when he became an angel, he would continue to do good work.

Brenden died last Friday, after seeing what had been accomplished for the hungry.

Today I’m thankful for my family, friends, home, and job.

I’m also thankful for little boys with big hearts who inspire me to be a better person.


Never Too Young or Too Old to Make a Difference

Brenden Foster is only 11 years old.

Brenden is dying from leukemia and doesn’t have much longer to live.

And Brenden has inspired thousands across the world to help feed the homeless.

One day he was on his way home from one of his clinic appoints in the Seattle area and saw a large encampment of homeless people.

He wanted to help. “I thought I should just get them something.”

But, he was already too sick to leave his bed, so volunteers passed out 200 homemade sandwiches on his behalf.

"They're probably starving, so give them a chance," he said.

Through the media, people have heard about his desire all the way to Saudi Arabia. He’s received wishes, encouragement, and prayers from all over.

And Brenden wonders, "Why at so young an age? I could have done more. But if it has to be now, it has to be now.”

People are losing jobs. Or scared of losing their job. Last night’s news report told how the number of Thanksgiving dinners that need to be provided for people this year has grown by astronomical numbers compared to what was provided only a year ago.

Because he’s touched the hearts of people, they’ve done what they could to help make his wish to feed the homeless come true. One woman told him that 20,000 cans of food were collected and donated to a local food bank in his honor.

Why have people chosen to be generous during a time when many are struggling to survive financially?

The answer is so clear . . .

Because even though he’s dying, Brenden is more concerned about other people than himself. His attitude toward life puts things into perspective and teaches an important lesson.

It’s not all about “us.”

His unselfishness is a reminder that we’re not here on earth to serve ourselves. It doesn’t matter how young we are – or how old we are. We all still have the capability—and the need to reach out to others. We all have a purpose.

Is there someone you could help today?


Climbing Challenges and the Buddy System

Are you a climber?

If given a choice, do you take the elevator or the stairs?

Like many people, I have a job where I sit in front of a computer all day. Then I return home to either sit in my home office and write, or in front of the TV with my laptop so I can catch up on e-mail.

All that inactivity isn’t healthy, but it’s often difficult to work-out when we’re tired and feeling various responsibilities pressing in on us.

My oldest daughter and I work for the same company and department. Last Monday we decided, along with another coworker, to become stair buddies. Twice a day we hike down to the lowest parking garage and then climb nine flights of stairs to the fifth floor where our office is located. While I catch my breath, the other two twenty- somethings run up and down several additional floors.

It’s a great workout - combining cardio and weight training – and we feel exhilarated when finished.

I'll admit, the last several flights of stairs are difficult to complete. My thighs burn and my breathing becomes labored. My hope is that it will soon get easier and I’ll be able to hike up to the seventh floor without huffing and puffing.

Even as much as we mentally want to climb those stairs, we’ve admitted that we wouldn’t continue to be disciplined or motivated without our buddies. Without encouragement, it would be easy to quit. Because it’s hard. And because it hurts.

Sometimes we face situations in our lives where it feels like we’re climbing not just stairs, but mountains. The next level may appear insurmountable. We may become weary and tired of pain. And we may want to just give up.

That’s when we need our friends – our climbing buddies – to come along beside us with encouragement. Reassuring us that we can make it if we just keep going.

I have buddies like that. Friends who stay with me during a rough time and then celebrate wiht me when I reach the peak of a personal mountain. Do you?

God is also with us, whispering in our ear, “You can do it. I’m here. I’ll help you.” Do you hear Him?

If we’re open to it, God will use us to physically represent Him to someone who is facing a tough climb. Do you know someone who could use a climbing buddy today? Will that be you?


What do You Have to Lose by Trying?

Yesterday, while listening to the radio during my morning commute, a thirty-seven year old woman called in and shared an inspiring story.

As a child, an accident caused her to lose all the fingers on one hand. At the hospital, three surgeons told her mother there was nothing that could be done. A fourth surgeon became aware of the situation just as he was leaving to go home for the day. He approached her mother and said he was willing to attempt the surgery necessary to reattach the fingers to the girl’s hand.

His words were, “What do we have to lose by trying?”

The surgery was successful, and today the woman has full feeling and movement in her hand.

The doctor died several years ago, but recently, the woman felt compelled to call his wife and ask if she knew what he had done for a little girl that day. The man had never spoken about it, as he usually kept quiet about his work.

The doctor didn't perform the surgery out of desire to elevate himself. He just wanted to help. And because of being willing to try, he changed a little girl’s life. In more ways than one. Not only does she have a normal, functioning hand, the woman learned something she’ll never forget. Don’t be afraid to try something out of fear that you might fail.

Are you holding back from anything?

What do you have to lose by trying?


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