Monday, December 15, 2014

May we all be rebels like that

I do not know about you, but the Christmas season around here can be a bit stressful. There are the all of the additional events and activities that pop up all month long, but then you have the cooking and shopping and wrapping and ...

Each year I TRY to keep a focus on the whole reason for the season, especially with my kids. I do a pretty decent job of that. Well, kind of. I do have the best of intentions, though. Sometimes we do a cursory run through Advent activities, and I have a special book I read to the youngest each year.  Some years we even finish that book before Easter/summer/beginning of school.

One thing that I struggle with, though, is keeping the season fresh and focused for ME. Sure, there are lots of books and blogs and various reading materials out there. They saturate many of the bookstores I frequent, but quite frankly, most of them are pure fluff with a pretty red book cover. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it just does not do it for me, so I generally pass.

Then I read a blurb for a new book that was available to review, and almost passed on it because 1.  I do not have time to read anything, much less a fluff book, and 2.  I hate that so many of my very limited posts these days are review posts. I decided to bite the bullet, though, and see what this new offering was all about.

Oh, my.

Watch for the Light English

Watch For The Light--Reading for Advent and Christmas, a new book by Plough Publishing House, is a compilation of writings/essays/thoughts from 55 people, spanning a period of hundreds of years.  People like Henri Nouwen, Thomas Aquinas, Madeleine L'Engle, Karl Barth, Brennan Manning, Bonhoeffer, Philip Yancey (my favorite), and Dorothy Day are each assigned a day, from the beginning of Advent until Epiphany (January 6) to give their take on the history and heart and timelessness of the birth of Jesus.

From the introduction:

Even we who genuinely love Christmas often lose sight of its point. How many of us, content with familiar traditions and feelings of goodwill, forget the dank stable, the cold night, the closed door of the inn? How many of us share the longing of the ancient prophets, who awaited the Messiah with aching intensity thousands of years before he was born?

We miss the essence of Christmas unless we become, in the words of Eberhard Arnold, "mindful of how Christ's birth took place." Once we do, we will sense immediately that Advent marks something momentous:  God's coming into our midst. That coming is not just something that happened in the past. It is a recurring possibility here and now. And thus Advent is not merely a commemorative event or an anniversary, but a yearly opportunity for us to consider the future, second Advent-the promised coming of God's kingdom on earth.

More than any other time that I have added supplementary readings to the Christmas story, THIS book has reached into a place for me that has often had to be manufactured--reflection and wonder.  There is power in obtaining a glimpse into the hearts of people, many long gone, whose journeys have uncovered different types of insights into the God story.

One day, after finishing one of the readings for the day, and doing a little Wikipedia research about the author that I had never heard of before, I realized something very intriguing--most of these people were rebels. Or at least not understood or appreciated during their lifetimes. The very words I was reading would have been considered too unsanitized for the cultural sensitivities of their day. They would have been ridiculed or ostracized by both the secular culture AND the religious structures of their day. But (and here is the beauty of it) they would have been embraced by the very God they contemplated.

I just love that.

And I really love this book.  It is a keeper.  You should check it out, too.  You can find more info about it here.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Central for review purposes.  No other compensation was received.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Jessie and Her JoyJars

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

Believe me, I do not need a special month to keep childhood cancer front and center. We live it everyday--just like so, so many other families. Families that are part of an exclusive club that they never wanted to join.

Before Harrison was diagnosed, cancer in general, and childhood cancer in particular, were just kind of nebulous ideas. Sad, tragic even, but not overly personal. I would have seen the gold ribbon Facebook posts/profile pictures and scrolled down much like I would do with pet cruelty posts or the unending college football posts that occur every fall. Passionate posts/pleas from some, but not really affecting me on a personal level.

Of course, all of that changed a couple of years ago...

Like any other horrible, potentially life threatening illness, cancer brings details and fears and events to a family that no one could ever prepare for. Some families put their details out there, in the form of social media posts, or Caring Bridge updates, or prayer requests. Others keep their info close to the chest, meting out details on a more selective basis. Everyone copes the best way they know how. But if you are in the club, you quickly learn to read between the lines for 'the rest of the story'. Such sad, sad stories, regardless of the ultimate outcome.

I think that is what drew me to the book Never Ever Give Up (the inspiring story of Jessie and her JoyJars), written by Erik Rees (with Jenna Glatzer) about his daughter, Jessie--and the rest of his family. It is their story of how they discovered Jessie's rare form of brain cancer when she was eleven years old. It documents the next steps--telling others, chemo, radiation, travel, school, 'normal' activities, praying, side effects, more faith, less faith.

And then it tells the story of how Jessie died. The reader knew this was going to happen early on, just like her parents had been told from the beginning of their journey was the certain medical outcome given the nature, location and progression of her tumor. There was not a miraculous healing. It was not a glorious, peaceful passage of time and events. It made my heart heavy to read through the details of their story, but here is the deal--it was so real. The feelings, the pressures, the what-ifs, the heartbreaking prayers, the guilt, the sadness, the never ending changes and adjustments, the crushing fatigue--the reality of cancer, especially if that person/family member dies.

Because that is what too many people with cancer do--they die. And their shattered, forever altered families are left trying to just continue to live.

I have read (and blogged about) many books/stories/blog posts about childhood cancer in the past couple of years. Good books that talk about God and faith and the nitty-gritty details of chemo and radiation and their side effects. But here's the thing--as good as those particular books are, and as tough as their stories were and continue to be, their particular children did not die. And as gloriously amazing as that is for them, the questions of faith and God and healing and restoration still linger for those who had different outcomes, and thus cannot fully relate to those stories.

This book helps to bridge that gap, and provides a glimpse into one family's struggles with these huge issues, and whose prayers were not answered in the way they desperately hoped for. It offers a different perspective. This is refreshing and is so very needed.

Never Ever Give Up is full of great insights and quotes.  Here are just a few that stood out for me:

All I had asked for was to become a good father. God had blessed me three times over with beautiful children, and I had tried to live up to my end of the bargain by being present for them in ways my own father never was. I supported them, disciplined with love, tried to understand their individual needs and personalities. What Stacey and I had built was a loving and faithful family. Why would God let one of my children be harmed? I didn't have the answers, and it left my mind reeling. All I could do was pray for a miracle, and that's what I did, night and day. Please, God, heal my daughter. (Page 40)


Jessie felt lucky.  he was scared, but she'd already found a purpose. I decided to ride in her wake and feel lucky too. All of my family was together that night. We were all under the same roof and we were all okay. From then on, life would always be that simple. Every day that Jessie was alive was a good day.  (Page 50)


(After giving an update to a friend...)
"I don't know how you do this every day," he said.
"Me neither."
"This really sucks.
     It took me aback for a moment.  He had skipped right past all the platitudes that people usually lean on--all the words of comfort you say when you really don't know what else to say.  or two months, I was used to hearing "God has a plan," and "Hang in there," and "I'm sure she'll get through this"--and those were the same sorts of things I was saying too. But it was also amazing to finally hear someone tell it like it was.
     Because it did suck.
     It sucked that my daughter could barely walk anymore. It sucked that she was now salivating so much that she carried a spit cup wherever she went. It sucked that she felt so lonely and limited. It sucked that she was terrified to eat and that my other kids had been traumatized to watch her choke.  It sucked that my Jessie had brain cancer. It all just sucked!


Doctors don't tell you everything when you're dealing with pediatric cancer. They tell you about the things they're approved to do which mostly means things that the Children's Oncology Group (COG) recommends because they've already been tried (and, uniformly, have failed at doing anything more than extending a child's life by a few months). One thing I learned along this path was not to give up control of my daughter's treatments. I knew that if I just obeyed everything the doctors told me, then my daughter would die, just as all of their previous patients had done. Were they even really looking for a cure? Or were they content to just keep trying to same old things that didn't work because it was too much trouble to get approvals and funding to try something that hadn't been tried before?  (Page 135)


I did feel upset with God. I wrestled with myself between wanting answers and knowing that God doesn't need to explain himself to me. The praise didn't fall as easily from my lips when I felt this scorned. I wanted to do right by him, but I also wanted him to do right by me.  (Page 143)


And last but not least...

There was Jessie, with two tumors in her brain, walking to raise money for a 'grown-up' cancer.  Where were the walks for pediatric cancer? Where was the race for that cure? Seeing the huge strides in breast cancer awareness and funding was inspirational to us because we've seen in our lifetime massive improvements in early detection, survival rates, and treatment options, as well as a new openness in discussing what was once a taboo subject. What they've done is phenomenal, and I don't want to take any of that away from them, but I wanted some of that same awareness shone on DIPG and other cancers that afflict children. Its easy to look at it as just a matter of numbers and statistics--there's more money in curing cancers that affect more people--until it's your child and you're being told that not only is there no cure now, but a cure isn't even on the radar.  It's like being told your child is not important enough to save. There are no beaded survivor necklaces for DIPG because there are almost no survivors.  (Page 158)

One way that the Rees' are honoring Jessie is by continuing a project that Jessie began almost immediately after her diagnosis, called JoyJars.  JoyJars are packages filled with toys, games, and love for other kids with cancer.  It was a beautiful, giving projects that Jessie started, and has grown into a huge ministry in the time since her death.  The book tells about the JoyJars and the foundation called The Jessie Rees Foundation (NEGU:  Never, Ever Give Up).

So beautiful.

I checked out the NEGU website, and was thrilled to find that I could not only register for Harrison to receive a JoyJar (there is a section for kids who are post treatment and currently show no evidence of disease), but siblings can also receive one, even if their family member with cancer is no longer here to enjoy their own JoyJar. This is such a unique organization, apparently modeled after a unique family and their precious Jessie.

Let me just add this for the record--I hate cancer.

However, I do love this book and this organization.  You can find out more info at their website, and Facebook.  Go here to register someone to receive their own JoyJar.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Hub, in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was received.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Being Metaphorically Rich in Family and Friends

 Not too long ago, I ran across a folder of old writing assignments from high school. They included stories of Care Bears and unicorns, as well as my favorite, called 'Soap Opera Society', in which I do a pretty impressive treatise of class structure based on soap opera characters. A future blog post, perhaps?

Anyway, I found this essay about my mom, dated 10/31/85.  Now, I might be completely crazy, but I do not remember feeling this much teenage angst about my mom. But, being the mom of a couple of teenagers myself, I realize she may remember it as much worse than this. It did make me laugh, though, and decided to post it here for moms with angsty kids everywhere.

                                                                 Her Shining Face

Sure, there are times when I feel I can't stand her (Wow...). Sometimes, I just want to yell at her and tell her to leave me alone. I get flusterated (yep, that is the word I used.  Don't know if I was trying to cute, or if I was just clueless) when she tries to make me as perfect as she can. But, I still love her with all my heart, even through the rough times.

My mother wants the best for me. She doesn't mean to be pushy, but at times she is. She gets on to me for my grades, my clothes, or some other little thing, and sometimes I just blow up (I remember NO blowups.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it). I don't even stop to consider what would happen if one day she wasn't around for me when I needed her. I seldom think of all the time, money, and most of all, love that she spends on not only me, but the rest of my family as well.

My mother is the one who encourages me to be the best I can be. Sometimes, though, I become discouraged because I don't think I can achieve what she knows I can. If it hadn't been for my mother, I would never have made it through Junior Miss, and I certainly would not have won first alternate or the scholastic award (and most definitely not the award for highest ticket sales, since she sold them for me at work. And, yes, there was actually a trophy for that). She motivated me into wanting to win.  It wasn't something she wanted for herself, but for me.  It was when I realized this that I finally felt I had a chance. (I think she saw the writing on the wall a few hours before the competition, though, when I told her how I responded to one of the pre-interview questions--"Are you rich?". My answer, "No.  I don't even have a job". I don't think they wanted such a literal answer--LOL).

I'll never forget what my mother did for me during Junior Miss (wow, enough about Junior Miss, already!), or all the other little things she does that I know will continue. I only hope that even when times are bad, I'll be able to see her shining face to pull me through.

Isn't she lovely?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

God's Money Box

We have always been a cash kind of family. I think being in debt is absolutely horrid from a freedom standpoint, and until my car accident several years ago and the unending medical bills and collection agencies that followed, we had never carried a credit card balance that could not be paid off each month.

We have also always been a church going family. The Wednesday and Sunday night kind--and the ones that make regular money offerings. When my oldest child was very young, I heard a radio show one morning on my way to work that recommended making 'giving money at church' as tangible to children as possible. As soon as they are old enough, give them a quarter to put in the offering plate as it passes by. Make sure every family member does this. When the child is old enough to understand money amounts, then increase that to a dollar. Then five dollars, etc. At some point, encourage them to give their own money, and not just hand over the parent's money. The point of this is to help them understand early on that giving is individual and tangible.

This made sense to me, because I was so used to writing out a check, and many times that was in my own adult class, so my kids would really have no way of knowing that I was even giving anything, much less that they could be giving as well. 

Several years later, we had moved to another state, far away from family, but still going to church, and still living paycheck to paycheck. Money was much tighter than it had ever been, but we were still credit card debt free. This was the first time that the boys became more aware of what 'payday' meant, as in 'no, we can't go get more cheese until payday', and 'I know those shorts are a little tight, but they will work fine until payday'. They were still putting money in the offering plate, but it was not really a tangible concept for them. They had no clue what the money was going for, or that the bulk of what we were giving was still in check form. And when my youngest asked one day why we could not just keep those few dollars and go to Sonic after church instead of waiting for payday, I decided that I needed to be more proactive in their training.

Enter God's Money Box.

It is not really a box. It is more of a tupperware container without a top. It was quickly made by taping a sheet of paper around the outside and writing in a crayon 'God's Money', and was meant to be temporary until I could get something cuter. And box-like.

That was eight years ago...and we still have the same container.

Anyway, it very quickly brought giving and sacrifice to life for my boys. Every payday, I would go to the bank and withdraw some money for the week, mainly for incidentals and cash type purchases. The boys knew that if the cash was gone, then there would be no 'extras' for a while. As soon as we got home from the bank, one of them would take $10 and put it in God's Money Box. We would put spare change in there throughout the week. Maybe an extra dollar every now and then.

Slowly but surely, the money began to add up. We left God's Money Box out on the kitchen counter, so that the boys could see it every day. They learned that this money was not theirs to use for fun stuff, or even food.  We did not 'borrow' from it to go buy cheese or shorts and pay it back later. It was to bless other people. We did not really have a plan for what we wanted to do with the money when we started using it, but we began to look for ways to give that were out of the box, so to speak.

Our first use was to buy a children's museum membership for a great family that loved museums, but just could not swing the fee that year.

We emptied God's Money Box for a family stranded in our town because their medical appointment had run into the next day and they did not have money for a hotel or food.

When people have fund raisers for their personal causes/benefits, we empty it out again. Yes, it is a little strange at times to give amounts like $76.81, but the recipients do not seem to mind.

When there is a canned food drive at school or church, we cash that money in and head to the nearest dollar store for macaroni and canned chili with pop tops.

Massages, or flowers, or frivolous happies for church nursery workers.

There have been so many fun stories that are now part of our larger family story due to what we are learning from God's Money Box.  Things like--

--a little money over time can become bigger money

--large or small amounts can mean a huge deal to people, in need of 'stuff' or encouragement

--we need to be proactive in wanting to serve. If we did not have this system in place, then we would not have access to the money when it could best be used. We still live paycheck to paycheck, but God does not want us to use that as an excuse to hold onto the little we have left over each month.

Ultimately, it is a reminder that this life is not about us, or for us only. Money can become a crutch and a snare, for people who have little and for people who have plenty. Giving and generosity come easy and naturally for some people. Not so much for my boys. Not yet, anyway.

But they are learning. And God's Money Box sure is helping.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Like Battery Acid to the Soul

In the midst of trying to clean out some stuff/papers/cabinets, I found a piece of paper covered in my handwriting. I have no clear recollection of even writing it, but since the paper I wrote on is dated December 2013, then I know it was somewhere around that time. About six months ago, I guess. As I was looking over it to see if it needed to go in the trash bag or in yet another drawer unofficially called 'to be dealt with another time', I thought, "Hey, this is pretty good." If it had not obviously been my handwriting, then I do not think I would even have recognized it.

It was written in my church's prayer room one Sunday morning after the worship service, in that hour I have down time while my youngest is in Sunday School (or whatever it is officially called now). It ends in the middle of a sentence (just like in An Imperial Affliction--google it if you need to), which just means that time ran out and I had to pick up my kid. I thought about finishing out the story before posting this, but figured I would never get around to it, and that last paragraph is worthy of its own post anyway.

All of this set up to say--I think this is good, God inspired stuff, and not because of anything I wrote or thought up on my own.

One of the coolest things that I learned in college did not occur in the classroom. It was in a small Bible Study class, and the topic was about the different names of God. It is not as evident now in English versions of the Bible, but in the original languages, the names of God and the mentions of Him were much more specific. In many places, when the people came to understand something about God in a new way, they would call Him a new name, to reflect that new understanding. Anyway, it is a pretty fascinating topic to study, and adds much depth and understanding to scripture.

It seems that two of the most common names that some people in the know love/claim are Jehovah Jireh, which means "God My Provider" and Jehovah Rapha, "God My Healer"--great names, and so powerful and true about God's nature and character. In fact, right now I am writing this out on the white spaces of my church's weekly prayer list--a trifold brochure that currently has 267 listings for specific health issues. My son has been on the list for two years now. I get the desire and need to pray for healing of health concerns. However, I learned something really cool a few years ago, probably from a Beth Moore study (which is where I learn so much nowadays).

The first mention of Jehovah Rapha is in Exodus 15:26. The backstory is that Moses had just led the Isrealites from Egypt. They have crossed the Red Sea (a very cool story/miracle in itself) and Moses tells them it is time to keep going. After three days with no water, they finally come to a place named Marah that had water, but they could not drink the water because it was so bitter. Then, the people became bitter as well. God performed a miracle by making the water safe to drink. Scripture then has God saying this in verse 26:

And He said, If hearing thou wilt hear the voice of Jehovah thy God, and wilt do what is right in His eyes, and wilt hearken to His commandments, and wilt keep all His statutes, all the disease that I have put on the Egyptians, I will not put upon thee, because I am Jehovah thy healer.  

Or, in another version:

God said, “If you listen, listen obediently to how God tells you to live in his presence, obeying his commandments and keeping all his laws, then I won’t strike you with all the diseases that I inflicted on the Egyptians; I am God your healer.”

I guess the English version 'healer' made so much sense that I had not felt the need to look up its meaning more in depth--I mean, it was talking about diseases, after all. I never knew the original translation for healer at the end of that verse meant "the healer of all my troubles". God called Himself Jehovah Rapha, and although He was/is definitely a healer of physical diseases, it originated as a term to show He was also the healer of bitterness.


Jehovah Rapha was not first introduced to help with blood pressure issues, severed spines or cancer.  He was the one to heal bitterness (and by extension, brokenness, anger, disappointment, confusion, etc). How many people need to experience this kind of healing?

My church prayer list does not even have a category for this. There is a generic heading called Protection/Guidance/Personal, but this week that only contains ten listings, and all of them are missionary/military related. I guess that bitterness issues would be classified as the 'unspoken requests' in the prayer meetings I grew up with. This is by no means limited to my church. I am sure if enough people requested prayer for this, then bitterness would have its own category on the page or in the prayer meetings. I do not think that many people know or acknowledge their need for healing in this way enough.

One of the most powerful 'prayer meetings' I ever attended was right after I got married.  We were visiting a new church, and a young woman started her prayer by telling God how ticked off she was at Him that her freshly stocked freezer had broken that day and how she had gone home after work to hundreds of dollars worth of now ruined food. I mean, she was really

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wisdom--Out of the Mouths of Babes(ish)

This past school year, I taught a small class in my home. Every week about ten high school kids would get together for a couple of hours to talk about world history, literature and the Bible. One of my favorite things to do was read through the written assignments they turned in each week. On the last day of class I was doing a mad rush through all of the things that I needed to get back to them before we finished for the year, and I came across this paper written by one of my students--one that loves to write and has a unique grasp on language (and the appropriate use of high-falutin' words).  Somehow I had completely missed it earlier, and I am not even sure what the particular assignment was for that week, so I read it quickly, made a few comments at the end, and handed it back to him before their great escape out the door to freedom for the summer.

I recently asked him if he would be OK with me posting his words here. He graciously agreed. I keep saying that I am going to write the whole 'where is God when bad things happen' piece from my perspective, but I keep putting it off because I don't want to 'get it wrong' or presume to speak for God. Maybe that is just my excuse for being lazy. However, I love this perspective, and thought you might as well.

It wasn't that he didn't know what to do;  it's that he merely didn't do it. Every day, his life was the habitual practice of smiling, of hiding behind seemingly good spirits and wearing a mask so people would assume that he had it all together. It was easy, too. Having lived his entire life as the son of a pastor, it was easy for him to fake what he felt and easier, too, to deny it. Now, it wasn't that he was bad in the stereotypical, rebel-against-the-Christian-life way;  he merely wasn't active in his faith.  Sure, he was a Christian, and sure, he did his best to not sin;  however, his relationship with God had, as far as he could tell, evaporated. That, then, was the problem.

It seems sickening that the relief should have come from the tragedy of another. It was January. Things were normal, even to the strictest way possible. He was, at the time, at his grandparents' house when the news came. Of all the things in life to disrupt the normality of things, the announcement that one's good friend has recently been diagnosed with cancer is amongst the top of the list. Such it was, then, that when he, only twelve, heard the news, he was grieved; not like the simple oh-I-hope-he-gets-better kind of grieved, but more like the deeply felt, heart grasping fear and wonder and all those things that come with the announcement that one's good friend has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Such a thing is cancer, that when it enters one's life personally, one only then understands the reverence with which we should welcome life. No one truly understands this so much, though, as he who actually has the cancer. Still, though, the boy wondered. Still, though, he thought; and still, though, he prayed.

That was something that the young twelve-year-old was not in the practicing of doing. Praying, reading the Bible, actively pursuing God--or pursuing Him at all--these were not things that he did.  As I've mentioned, though, he was a Christian. However, if someone releases a prisoner from prison, the prisoner can either live life as a free man or mope about as though he were still imprisoned. So it is with Christianity. When God sets us free, we are free indeed; but all too often, we either fail to realize it or simply fail to care. So it was with the boy. He was saved, but he wasn't actively living out his faith. His life had no prayer or spiritual growth in it at all; and prayer is to a Christian as air is to a human. A Christian should no sooner not pray than a human should any sooner not breathe.  Nevertheless, the boy failed to realized this. His life, then, was empty.

However, when his good friend was diagnosed with cancer, it gave him reason that was good enough, he felt, to pray. So began again his prayer life. Soon, he was praying every day. A daily devotion with God became common practice. He began to actively live out his life for Christ.

Why anyone gets cancer is a question that many people have tried to answer. I believe that some of their answers are correct, and that other answers aren't so much. Why the boy's good friend got cancer, I cannot say. Perhaps it was for the friend's own spiritual growth, perhaps it was for the growth of their family relationship. Whatever the purpose, I am without doubt that it was for a reason. And, in the grand scheme of things, maybe, just maybe, the boy's friend's cancer might have saved the young twelve-year-old's faith, because up to that point, the boy felt like he had no reason to pray, and prayer is a vital part of any Christian's life. The boy does not nullify the treachery and the devastation of his friend's cancer. He merely admits that without his friend's cancer, his faith would certainly not be as strong as it is today.

Thank you, Cade, for those beautiful words of wisdom.

(2019 update -- Cade in currently in college and planning on going to medical school to become a Pediatric Oncologist. How cool is that?)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Fault in Our Culture

Over two years ago, when we were newbies in the Cancer Club, I posted about some of the good resources that I had discovered. One of them included the book The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. This is what I wrote then--

The Fault in Our Stars, written by John Green--I suppose this would be labeled as Young Adult fiction, and I would never have bought it if we were not in this place. The main characters of the book meet at a teen cancer support group, so it takes a coming of age story in a new direction. The main guy, Gus, has the same type of cancer as Harrison (osteosarcoma), and is fourteen months NEC (no evidence of cancer).  It is not a feel good book, per se, and is not the kind of book that would be found at Bible Book Stores. The kids have cancer, and kids with cancer are sick and vomity and some of them die. Plus, they are teenagers, so that tends to take the story in places that too many YA fiction books go to nowadays (think Juno-esque). But, for some reason, it was good to for me to read. Not for my mom, or husband, or even Harrison to read, though. Not yet. Maybe when he is about five or six years NEC. 

The book had just recently been released at that time. Yesterday the movie version was released in theaters nationwide. Through good timing and circumstances, I was able to see the first showing of the day. I was prepared with my full box of Kleenex and post-movie chocolate. I knew it would be a sob fest, and it was. I knew it was something for me to watch alone, and I was.

So, what did I think?

I was impressed with how true to the book it was. Almost all of the dialogue and situations were from the book. The characters were strong and believable. I was not sure the character of Gus would be done well, but the actor (Ansel Elgort -- is that not a great name?) did a very good job. The adult characters were more one dimensional, which is understandable given the movie is not about them directly, and this is where the book did a much better job of showing how the situations that the teens found themselves living in affected the parents. That being said, it was the few parts of the movie with the parent scenes that affected me the most. You know, like rushing into a room with the kid yells because you don't know if it is a normal 'I need you to see something' yell, or if there will be body fluids involved. Cancer Club stuff. But again, just like when I read the book, it was therapeutic.  Maybe not for my mom, or husband, but for me.

Because it is Hollywood, the movie placed a significant focus on the romance/language part of the relationships between the main characters. In a PG-13 way. I am not surprised, but this still makes me sad. In the book, the physical relationship was more implied than described, and the mom in me liked this. This is not the case with the movie, and my heart was sad at the number of young people who will be seeing this movie and have their hearts captivated by a story of love and friendship and validation that will stay in their imaginations, in large part because of the physical images of intimacy portrayed.  Call me old fashioned or prudish, but I am still a firm believer that sex is for marriage only, even for cancer kids and folks that will not make it to marriage. But I digress....

I liked the book. I liked the movie. I hate cancer. I also hate cultural norms that devalue goodness and truth.

And speaking of goodness and truth--what goodness and truth can be found in cancer (or anything else horrific, for that matter)?  That post is coming soon...

My used Kleenex and remaining chocolate stash after the movie.

Disclaimer:  I am not recommending this book or this movie for anyone other than me. This may not be for you. And if you have children who may be reading/watching it, you should definitely be informed (not just for this, but for any book/movie). It will affect their hearts.  You can read a review of The Fault in Our Stars here.