So, we've survived Black Friday (no, I didn't take part in the madness!), Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. I thought we were done with all these post-Thanksgiving "holidays". But I've been hearing all day on K-LOVE Radio and Facebook and Twitter that today is "Giving Tuesday." Who invents these things?
Well, I don't know who came up with the Giving Tuesday idea, but I kind of like it. It's the perfect opportunity to tell you how you can help support the ministry of While We're Waiting.
If you're new to the blog, you're probably not familiar with While We're Waiting. WWW is a nonprofit ministry to bereaved parents, co-founded by my husband and me and our good friends, Larry and Janice Brown. My husband and I lost our 17-year-old daughter, Hannah, to cancer in February of 2009, and the Browns lost their 34-year-old son, Adam, in action in Afghanistan in March of 2010.
Early on in our grief journey, we found that nothing was more helpful to us in the healing process than spending time with other Christian couples who had lost children. One Sunday after church, we had lunch with the Browns, and we discovered that we had a similar desire to help bring families who had lost children together. Three hours later, we left that booth in Cotija's Mexican Restaurant with a God-given dream of a ministry in which we would host retreats for bereaved parents. By the time we left the restaurant that day, we already had a location planned, dates picked out, and a name for this fledgling ministry.
Since that day in late 2010, we've had four weekend-long retreats for parents, two weekend-long retreats just for Dads, and six one-day mini-retreats for Moms. At these retreats, we share our children's stories, lift each other up in prayer, and encourage each other as we seek to live well while we're waiting to be reunited with our kids in Heaven one day. We have seen broken hearts begin to mend and a number of lives changed forever. And this is not due to anything we've done. God's presence has been so evident at each one of these events, and His hand is clearly on this ministry. He even helped us achieve nonprofit 501(c)(3) status earlier this year, without the assistance of an accountant or an attorney. Believe me, that is nothing short of a miracle!
When we first started our retreats, we charged the attendees a minimal fee. We quickly abandoned that idea, and we now offer our events at no charge. We couldn't stand the thought of a lack of finances keeping anyone from coming to a retreat. A voluntary love offering is collected at each one, and thanks to the generosity of our attendees, we've always pretty much broken even.
The ministry of While We're Waiting is expanding in our outreach to bereaved parents. We've started a private Facebook page where Christian parents who have lost children can support each other, encourage each other, and pray for each other. (If you are a bereaved parent, search for it at "While We're Waiting--Support for Bereaved Parents" and request to join.) We have begun sending "condolence packages" to newly bereaved parents which include items that we found helpful to us as we started our grief journey. (If you know someone we could send one to, click here to send me an email.) We also have a dream of starting "While We're Waiting" monthly support groups around Arkansas, and someday around the country. Do you realize that there is nothing like that (that we are aware of) specifically designed for Christian parents who have lost children? There are secular groups, like Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents USA ... but nothing faith-based. I could go on and on ... I am so passionate about what God is doing with this ministry!
I've never been any good at fundraising. When my kids used to have to do fundraisers for school, we'd hit up the grandparents, and then I'd buy whatever else they had to sell myself. I couldn't stand to ask people to spend their hard-earned money for wrapping paper, or popcorn, or whatever other little trinkets they were selling. I'm still pretty uncomfortable with the whole fundraising idea. But funds will be needed as the ministry grows.
Do not donate to While We're Waiting if it would cause you to give less to your local church, which is where I feel our first responsibility lies in our giving. And we wouldn't want you to give less to any other ministry or missionary that you may already be supporting. But if God has blessed you, and you have an abundance this year and would like to donate some of it to a worthy cause, we'd be grateful if you'd consider WWW.
So, if you'd like to participate in "Giving Tuesday" -- although I realize that by the time most of you read this, it will actually be Wednesday -- please consider making a tax-deductible donation to While We're Waiting. You can do so by going to the While We're Waiting website and clicking on the "To Donate" tab. You can be assured that we will be good stewards, and that every penny you give will go directly to the ministry. Thank you so much!