Things I've Learned, Looking Back and Moving Forward
You start something. You think it's needed. You know it's needed. But you never foresee where it's going to go and what you're going to have to put into it! I have cried more in the past two years than I have in my entire life. Even when Mac died, I didn't cry. I was the "strong one" and kept everything in, to help ease the pain for those around me. Somewhere in these past two years, seventeen years later, I'm sure I cried for Mac. In fact, I'm crying today. I often cry now. ;) I cry because of the stories I get daily. I cry for the families that can't afford a gown. I cry when I pull off something great for these kids. I cry when I see the adorable children in Brave Gowns. I cry when I see them go home with hospice, and I cry when I see them go home in remission.
Is it always an ugly cry with tears down my face? No. It is in my heart — a constant weight I carry quietly. Daily I hear my family say, "I don't know the last time we saw your face. You're glued to your phone." Well, I try to answer everyone right away. I check on orders, on shipping, on materials, and on addresses that need to be verified. I don't have an average product. These famils count on me. If I don't get the gowns to the patients on time, I am sending a child in for treatment without their "magic gown." The gown they believe heals! The one that takes their fears away, and then I know I'm sending them into surgery in a standard, lifeless gown. One that has no give, no stretch, no comfort, twists uncomfortably, and doesn't have the design that makes them feel like a hero! I don't only let myself down, I let children down, and that's not in the cards for me.
What you don't see behind the scenes is that with my first significant order, the owner of my first cut and sew factory got cancer and instead of telling me, so I could go to plan B and work with him, he kept telling me he was on it and things became a hot mess quicker than I could ever imagine. Then my printing factory had a massive fire on their leading printer, which happened to be in the middle of printing 34,000 gowns at the time! Not only did we lose all the fabric, but we also lost two months of manufacturing time and a 78,000 piece order that we had already bought the fabric for. You might think that this was all covered by insurance, but please, do you really believe God would give me such an easy story? Of course not, he had to make me work for the faith I preach and carry within my heart, and he's been full throttle throwing tests at me ever since. I've learned so many lessons. You know, the cliche ones like "Never count your eggs before they hatch." "Never put all your eggs in one basket." Apparently, right now, I must be hungry and can only think about food, because I can only think of cliches with eggs in them, but they're all spot on, and remind me that I am not the first to go through this. I know I'm just getting started, I have my brother's legacy to keep alive. You have to go through the hardest to get to the good, but I would be remiss not to say that I have waivered, doubted, and dropped to my knees. But you don't stop when it's for kids. You fight with all you have, and every day, someone pops up out of nowhere with something that gives you hope to make it through to the next hump or in my case, often mountains. Today I woke up with a message that read:
"I was going to reach out to you. You beat me to the punch! I want to tell you that your strong faith of goodness reminded me that I also have that kind of faith. Somehow I stopped nurturing my faith and focused on feeling that strangers on the street are all serial killers! I watch too much Investigation ID. What I am trying to say is your spirit, faith, and energy awakened my spirit, faith, and energy. Thank you so much! I didn't realize my faith needed a jolt until I was faced with your beautiful faith."
So it left me wanting to thank each and everyone one of you because it reminded me that even when you're going through something in life, you don't know who you're helping along the way. To every person that has bought a gown for a child, gifted a gown to a stranger, sent me a message of their love for Brave Gowns, shared a picture of their child, and a story of how they made an impact, THANK YOU! For those are the moments that keep me going and won't let me back down.
So today, I vow to continue to dig within to find my strength. Find new ways to put as many Halloween gowns on children in the hospital as possible, continue to help one of my original factories rebuild after their fire by supplying them with a huge order that I know will come and completing my initial goal of 3.4 million gowns, so that every child in the US that is currently battling an illness, will be in a Brave Gown! I hope you will continue to be along for the ride with me, and when you see an opportunity to help, to spread the word or put a Brave Gown on a child, you do it for these brave little heroes too, because they deserve the best we can offer them! If the coffee industry alone makes $20 billion a year, then there's room for children to be wearing a Brave Gown while fighting a terminal illness!
I hope everyone has a safe, restful weekend! Do something different! It's Friday. Fill your soul, not your glass!