"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Another precious part of Jalene's Garden..."right side up hearts".

There were two things that happened today regarding the planning of Jalene's garden that were so special to me. This post will be short and sweet, but they were both too precious for me to go to sleep tonight without sharing with you...

First, as I mentioned in last night's post, the company planning the memorial garden for Jalene's family asked Rowan for ideas as to what should be in the plans.  As if that wasn't enough, today they emailed me and told me that they would love Rowan to design the entire memorial, and that they plan on being "under his direction" the day of the event.  I told Rowan about this, and you would not believe his huge, ear-to-ear, beaming, grin and puffed-out chest.  He was so excited to be the "project manager":)  A few hours later, I asked Rowan, "Do you want to go with me to Hobby Lobby and Home Depot sometime this weekend, to look for more ideas for her garden?"  He thought for a minute, got an even bigger grin and said, "Mom...if I'm the one in charge, wouldn't YOU be coming with ME?" ... He is truly taking this job to heart!

Then, Jalene's Mom sent me some photos tonight of a very special wind chime that Josh Gad (the voice of Olaf) had given them in Jalene's memory.  It is SO beautiful, and Rowan can't wait to use it in the memorial garden. (You will find out later why wind chimes are an extra special part of this garden, according to Rowan:)  For now, the thing that I'll share that was special about tonight's texting back and forth with Jen, is that when Rowan saw these pictures, the first thing he noticed was the flower stands in the back ground.

He immediately said, "Mommy, those need to have lots of pretty flowers coming out of them for Jalene's garden."  I told Jen, and she said that we could use them.  I explained to her that Rowan loved them because he saw "upside-down hearts" at the bottom of them.  When I told Jen that, she let me know that the planters were actually upside down in the picture, but if he wanted them that way, they would probably work that way too.  I let Rowan know that they could go either way, and then he blew us away once again, saying: "Well, I know our hearts are upside down because she is gone, but they should be right side up that she is in a better place, so right side up...so they remind us to be happy."

There you have it...lesson learned.  We will be using the planters in Jalene's Garden, right side up, and better yet...we all need to try to: "turn our hearts right side up and be happy"!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"When it's right...it's right. It's one of a kind Mommy, just like Jalene."

It always amazes me when God reveals himself in something as simple as picking out a bird feeder.  Then, all of the sudden, a few moments in our day turn into a whole, special, blog-worthy story.  It happens a lot when Rowan is around...and it happened again tonight.  There is going to be more to this story in a couple of weeks, but for now, I hope this little portion blesses you all.  It sure made Rowan and I happy.

Rowan is going to be helping a group of people put in a special memorial garden in Jalene's families' yard soon.  This week they asked if Rowan could give them some input regarding the design elements, because they know what a special connection Rowan has to Jalene and her family.  I was thrilled that they thought to ask him, and I told him to be thinking about it.  He has plans to meet with them next week to go over his ideas.  Well, last night, as he was drifting off to sleep, he told me, "Mommy, I'll try to dream about Jalene when I go to sleep tonight, and I'll ask her what she wants in the garden. OK?"  Sure enough...he awoke happy and excited, with some wonderful news for me... that it worked, he was able to talk to Jalene.  Then tonight he really went into detail with me.

So I don't ruin all of the surprises that we hope will be put into the memorial garden, I don't want to tell you all the specifics of his dream just yet.  But rest assured, you will be blown away when I do.  Rowan did indeed dream about his friend Jalene in Heaven and he gave me great detail as to what he saw and heard in his dream, and about his conversation with Jalene regarding the memorial garden.  It was beautiful.  It moved me to tears.  I took notes as quickly as he could get the words out this evening.  This weekend he is going to draw me pictures to explain it even better for me, and I cannot wait to see that piece of artwork, so the dream truly can come to life.

Tonight we ran into a store while Ian was at soccer practice, and I told Rowan that we should look in the garden department to get some more ideas.  This is after I had just taken all the notes about his dream from him, in the car, sitting in the parking lot of this store.  Well, as we looked at the bird feeders in particular, one certain bird feeder caught both of our eyes at the same time.  He got wide eyed and stood up in the cart and said, "That one Mom!"  I said, "That is really pretty Rowan".  He continued saying, "When it's right...it's right.  We have to get that one Mom."

It was hanging way up high, out of reach, on a horizontal hanging pole, with several other different bird feeders.  There were dozens of the other styles on the shelves, but we looked and looked and could not find a single one of the one he wanted, on the shelf.  I asked a cashier if she could get that particular one down for us, so we could buy the one hanging.  She got a ladder and started to retrieve it, but noticed that it said "for display only", so she apologized and told me that she couldn't sell me it.  I asked if she could see if there were anymore in the back or if any more were on order.  She said that she just gets what she gets when they stock them, but that she couldn't guarantee there would be more of that one coming in.  I explained to her what we wanted to buy it for, telling her about Rowan wanting to get it for Jalene's memorial garden.  She said, "Sorry, there isn't anything I can do.  They don't let me sell the display models.  You can come back tomorrow and ask a manager."

I knew, from looking at Rowan's disappointed face, his closed eyes, and his praying hands, sitting there in that grocery cart, that I just had to have this birdfeeder.  I sought out a manger right away, not wanting to wait until tomorrow.  To make a long story a little shorter, let me just say that we ended up having to talk to 5 store employees.  The original cashier, a manager, another manager, then a stock man, and finally yet another manager (who was actually off of the clock already, and had been headed out the door).  Everyone's first response was "Oh no, we don't sell display models".  Then I would proceed to tell them what it was for, and they each decided to try to help.  They looked in the back, they tried to scan it but the item came up not found, they keyed it in manually and it said not a valid item, etc.  They said it must be discontinued, which is why it wasn't in the system anymore.  Finally, they all felt so bad, seeing Rowan with his head bent down, praying that he could get this bird feeder for Jalene's family, that they decided to just sell us the display model as we had originally asked.  Then, since it would ring up, they didn't know what to charge us.  I told them, "Name a price".  All 5 of them went back to the area where the rest of the bird feeders were hanging, looked at the prices of the other styles, talked among themselves, and came back after a few minutes, offering us a what I considered to be a pretty low price.  They said that they went somewhere in the middle.  I told them I would have paid double or more than that, and the sweet stock man said, "Are you kidding, with a reason like that, for his friend, I wish we could sell it to you for a penny." 

Talk about faith in humanity being renewed or restored:)  The five employees, Rowan and myself all had the biggest smiles on our faces when we finally swiped our debit card and purchased this amazing bird feeder.  Rowan had tears in his eyes, and looked up to the rafters and said, "Thank you Jesus!"  He thanked them all profusely too.  Then they wrapped that bird feeder up and bagged it in three bags.  Then the stock man said, "Here, let's put it in one of the tubs you bought too.  I'd hate to see that get broken, especially after all that."

On our way through the parking lot, headed to our car, Rowan said again, "When it's right...it's right", adding this time, "It's one of a kind Mommy...just like Jalene.  I can't wait for her Mommy to see it, it's so perfect!  And Jalene is going to LOVE it!"

Here are a few pictures of this Heaven-sent bird feeder, though I think it will probably show it's true beauty even more when I am able to post pictures of it hanging in the memorial garden at Jalene's family's home. 

What Rowan found so special about this one, which I hope shows through well enough in the pictures, is that the blue glass tiles reminded him of "Frozen" or ice, and that the frosted mosaic tiles on it gave gorgeous pink and yellow reflections in the light.  Rowan wants all of those colors in Jalene's garden:  blue for her love of "Frozen", yellow to represent Jalene's Journey and her battle with brain cancer, and pink because she wanted Heaven to be "all pink!"  This particular bird feeder is not only beautiful, but it has every single one of those colors represented on it.

As I mentioned, there was much more to Rowan's dream than just the colors.  He explains detailed information about what Jalene was doing in Heaven, what he heard, what she said, and what she wanted in the memorial garden, so that her family would be able to feel her there and remember her.  Once I share it with her Mom, Jen, and after the memorial garden is complete, I cannot wait to be able to post pictures of the finished product, and then to share Rowan's visions with you all too.  For now, he will meet with the people who are designing and putting in the memorial, share his story and his drawing with them, and I hope...make his dream a reality for Jalene's family.

Rowan and I were so blessed tonight by what some may have considered a lengthy, frustrating, time-consuming, shopping experience.  For us, thankfully we were able to take the time, have the patience, pray, and watch it all work out perfectly...just as God must have had it planned all along.  Our sincere thanks to the staff of the store tonight, who shared their time and efforts with Rowan and I, even their personal, off-the-clock time, to not just give us true "customer service", but to also renew our faith in humanity.  There are lots of good people out there, who really, truly, care.  I hope you all get to have similar experiences, and that you take the time to recognize them.  And remember, as Rowan said, "when it's right...it's right".

***to be continued***

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rowan representing Jalene at the "TOMS Style for Sole Event" sponsored by UIW Student Athletes

Some days, Rowan really does get to do some pretty cool things.  Today was one of those days for sure!  Student athletes from the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio provided plain canvas TOMS shoes and paint supplies today, and the Child Life staff from Methodist Children's Hospital invited frequent flyer patients from the hospital to the 1st ever "TOMS Style for Sole" Event.  Each child had a pair of shoes in their size, waiting for them.  They got to paint their pair of shoes however they wanted, and take them home.  It was so much fun!

Rowan had no idea what to expect at first...but he was excited that there would be other kids from clinic and the hospital there.  He was also feelin' good because this morning he picked out his Team Jalene T-shirt, his dog tags and his cross from his friend Briana.

They had a pair of TOMS in Rowan's size, waiting for him, and he chose his paint colors.

Orange, Yellow and Blue...

Then he got to work creating his masterpiece.

As Rowan started painting, his design idea started coming together...and what a great story there was behind his color choices.  His favorite color is orange, so he started with that in the front.  Then he wanted to use yellow to represent Jalene and her battle with brain cancer.  He said the blue was to match his blue eyes:)  He decided it would be cool to mix some of Jalene's yellow with his orange, for the second panel, and then some of her yellow with the blue too, for the third panel back, so there was "a little bit of Jalene in all of it".

Then came my favorite part.  Rowan said he wanted to do solid yellow on the back panel because it showed that Jalene was "watching over him", and that she "always had his back".

I think that idea was beautiful, heartfelt and perfect...and that Jalene would love it:)

This whole experience was so much fun! And of course, Rowan made it even more meaningful with his big heart, precious explanations, and his out-of this-world love for Jalene.  

And the end result was one pretty cool pair of TOMS...

...which Rowan was very proud of.  He said that they would "sell for $200 on ebay, or $2000 if people knew he made them in Jalene's memory":)

The event was more than just kids painting shoes though...MUCH more!

Rowan got to see a few of his friends from clinic, and to meet a few new kids, as well as all of the UIW volunteers...plus there were a lot of amazingly unique shoes to check out...


It was a great turn out for a first ever event, and it went so well that I heard they plan on doing it again next year, which is great news!


These group photos I took, show just how many amazing University of Incarnate Word Athletes were there today.  They held fundraisers to purchase the shoes for the patients and some of their siblings, and then showed up today to set up, clean up, and assist the kids with their shoe painting projects.  We cannot thank them enough for this wonderful day!

What a beautiful bunch of student athletes, with even more beautiful hearts!

Thank you UIW!

Two of my most cherished photos from the day are these two...

...and I'll tell you why...

The first photo is of Rowan with a young lady who has spent more than her share of time at Methodist Children's Hospital, yet she gives back to the current patients there now.  She arranged for Mickey and Minnie to bring goodie bags that she made, to Rowan and the other patients, just this past Valentine's Day, while he was hospitalized there at MCH.

The second photo is of a girl we just met today.  She also spends lots of time at MCH and getting her own infusions.  Her mother approached me today because her daughter wanted her picture taken with Rowan.  Why?  Because on some of her previous stays in the hospital, she has received gift items with Rowan's foundation's name on them.  This inspired her to give back too, and now she donates items for patients and their parents in the hospital too!

So humbling, and amazing, to see God at work in these children, who endure so much themselves.  What a beautiful circle of giving they have created.  It brings tears to my eyes.  When they could be feeling sorry for themselves, for all that they don't get to do because of their illnesses, for all they miss out on because of their hospitalizations, or even their loss of limbs...yet they decided to turn the bad into good, and to give back to other patients like themselves.  This is what God wants of all of us, to be like these special kids.  Rather than complain or feel sorry for ourselves, we should turn our focus on others, to keep things in perspective. 

Ladies, so nice to be with you both today.  Thank you for what you do for others!  Rowan will keep doing it, just like I hope you continue to do, and who knows how many more people you 3 will inspire!  God bless you all!

And finally, this picture seems like a great way to close this post...

We might all be just one person, but if each of us help even one other person...the ripple effect that begins reaches countless others...just as Rowan and I learned today.