Sunday, September 7, 2014

Never Ever Give Up - The Inspiring Story of Jessie and her JoyJars by Erik Rees with Jenna Glatzer

11 year old Jessie loved to shop - fashion and sweets being among her favorites.  She was, for the most part, your typical "tween"....until she was diagnosed with an inoperable, incurable brain tumor.  Being diagnosed with this rare cancer wasn't what made her atypical as far as kids was the fact that despite being in the biggest battle of her life, she never once focused on herself.  Her focus was always on other kids suffering with cancer and how to bring true joy, hope and love to them.

Her life can be summed up in a simple question asked to her dad: "How can we help them?"

This simple question turned into an international movement called NEGU: Never Ever Give Up. 

Jessie began taking paper bags filled with treats and little goodies to children fighting cancer in the local children's hospital.  These simple acts of love, seeded with hope blossomed into JoyJars - packages filled with toys, games, goodies and love.  It didn't take long before these JoyJars moved beyond her local children's hospital and thousands of JoyJars were sent all across the U.S. and to over 27 countries.

This story is told through Jessie's dad, Erik.  He opens his heart and soul and allows readers to fully see, both the good and the bad, the joy and the heartache his family went through during Jessie's battle.  I think the most impressive part of Erik's telling of this story is that we see that even a Pastor...a man of with emotions, fears and worries, just like each of us.  Many tend to put Pastors on pedestals of faith that most 'ordinary' believers feel they never measure up to.  His words, his openness, has touched me deeply.  While this family was filled with a great amount of faith, the journey wasn't always smooth - even bumping heads on 'faith issues'.

Erik even speaks of his experiences with the family dealt with in this new modern 'social media' world we live in.

I felt drawn to read and review this book because I have spent a dozen years trying my best to bring love, joy and hope to cancer patients through weekly cards and letters....sometimes including a small gift as just 'take their mind off cancer' even if it's only for a few moments.  Even before I finished reading this book, I hopped on FaceBook and pulled up JESSIE REES FOUNDATION: NEVER EVER GIVE UP and began following them.  September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, so my FB page is sporting the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month logo in it's iconic gold coloring.  To quote the mother of a child that I "angeled" through her journey of cancer several years ago (who to this day is still in remission - Praise God!), "Let's start a GOLD RUSH!"  I post this review in honor of all the children that I've supported, encouraged, and (continue to) all know who you are!

I wish to thank Zondervan (through Handlebar) for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

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