I read Never Ever Give Up and it has stayed with me more than any other book I’ve read this book is such a heartbreaking read but Jessie Ree’s is a true hero. Her faith, strength and Never Ever Give Up spirit is contagious and one you will be happy to carry with you from the moment you close the book and on.
Because this is one of my favorite books in 2014 ( and beyond) I wanted to share with you a little Q and A with the author and her father Eric Rees
Q: Never Ever Give Up is immensely personal. Why is it important to share your daughter’s story? I had three goals for sharing Jessie’s story; increase awareness of childhood cancer, give people facing personal hurdles in life hope and to create a wave of compassion through personal acts of kindness.
Q: Jessie had a strong faith in God. How did she draw strength from her relationship with God during her treatment? Jessie did have an amazing faith in God which inspires me daily. She would pray for herself, listen to worship music during treatments and do her nightly devotions with her mommy. She drew her strength from Phil. 4:13 and asked God daily for support.
Q: How did your experiences with Jessie’s illness strengthen or challenge your faith? During Jessie’s fight it strengthened my faith as I depended on God to give me the wisdom, strength and peace to walk with Jessie and the family. I truly thought He would heal her physically. Unfortunately, God choose Heaven as a means of healing which challenged my trust in Him for months. Now, Heaven has never been more real to me and I can’t wait to spend time in eternity with Jessie and my Heavenly Father.
Q: Do you have advice for other Christians who may be questioning God’s plan? I don’t know if I would call it “advice” but I would let them know they are not alone in their feelings. I questioned God many times and still do. I don’t question His love for me or Jessie. I questioned His choice in using Heaven as a healing agent. But now that time has past, I see His plan. Jessie was an Angel sent to Earth with a message (Never Ever Give Up) and a mission (childhood cancer). How else can you explain how one twelve year old girl, fighting cancer, choose to give to other kids and started a global movement of compassion that has raised millions of dollars to “care” for children/families fighting cancer around the world. My only answer is, God had a plan! In addition, I would encourage them to realize God’s plans don’t always match up to our own plans but He is still a loving and caring God. Faith in God is all about “believing” in our hearts and heads that God loves us no matter what and when we fully depend on Him, He will show us the way.
Q: Where did Jessie come up with the idea of creating JoyJars? Why did she do this, instead of focusing
on herself? Jessie came up with the idea after she started treatment and learned there were lots of children that couldn’t leave the hospital. She just had a burden for them and wanted to help them. The name actually came from taking her middle name “joy” and adding it to “jars”. She choose to spread joy because she knew life was about giving not getting.
Q: How did making the JoyJars, not only help others, but also begin helping your family? JoyJars gave Jessie a sense of purpose during her fight with cancer. She loved filling each one and sending them out to kids. She really loved seeing pictures of kids holding her JoyJars on Facebook. Our entire family helped Jessie with JoyJars and today we still stuff “joy” as a family in her honor.
Q: Over 80,000 JoyJars have been distributed internationally. How have you accomplished so much in such a small time frame? We are actually nearing 100,000 JoyJars in all 50 states and 28 countries. We just received a request from Lima, Peru. Social media has been the best channel of communication for us. Jessie simply just started at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and it grew week by week. We now partner with over 275 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.
If you haven’t read Never Ever Give Up yet, then run to your local library or bookstore and grab a copy! If you would like to help out the Never Ever Give Up foundation hop on over and see what you can do. You can also help with their Joy Jars mission and help put a little joy in a child’s life.