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Interview with Never Ever Give Up author Erik Rees

Posted by Julie on October 21, 2014 in Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Erik Rees is the author of Never Ever Give Up, his personal story about losing his daughter to cancer and how in that fight, she decided to help others.

81mCOrMDvIL._SL1500_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.

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.

How did your kids handle their grief? What advice do you have for parents who are dealing with a tragedy?

Grief is a powerful emotion that everyone processes differently. Some get quiet and some get loud.  Our job as parents were to simply walk with them through their grief and let them know we were there for them no matter what.  My only tip for parents is don’t hide your pain from your kids.  Let them know you are hurting too and together with God’s help you will all heal.

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.

 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.

It started with a simple question: How can we help them? It became an international movement called NEGU: Never Ever Give Up. When Jessica Joy Rees was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 11, she chose to focus not on herself but on bringing joy and hope to other children suffering from cancer.

 

During the ten months she battled cancer, she and her family worked in the “Joy Factory” (originally their garage) making JoyJars®—packages filled with toys, games, and love for other kids with cancer. Jessie first handed them out personally at the hospital where she was being treated, but the effort blossomed quickly and there were soon thousands of JoyJars® being distributed across the United States and to over fifteen countries. Today, more than 100,000 kids have received JoyJars®, and they continue shipping each week to kids in over 200 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.

 

Jessie lost her battle with cancer in January 2012, but her message lives on in the Jessie Rees Foundation, which has become a beacon of hope for families fighting pediatric cancer.

 

Join the movement at www.negu.org.

To purchase Never Ever Give Up, click here.

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Book Review: Never Ever Give Up by Erik Rees and Jenna Glatzner

Posted by Julie on September 3, 2014 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Book Description:

It started with a simple question: How can we help them? It became an international movement called NEGU: Never Ever Give Up. When Jessica Joy Rees was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 11, she chose to focus not on herself but on bringing joy and hope to other children suffering from cancer.

 

During the ten months she battled cancer, she and her family worked in the “Joy Factory” (originally their garage) making JoyJars®—packages filled with toys, games, and love for other kids with cancer. Jessie first handed them out personally at the hospital where she was being treated, but the effort blossomed quickly and there were soon thousands of JoyJars® being distributed across the United States and to over fifteen countries. Today, more than 100,000 kids have received JoyJars®, and they continue shipping each week to kids in over 200 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.

 

Jessie lost her battle with cancer in January 2012, but her message lives on in the Jessie Rees Foundation, which has become a beacon of hope for families fighting pediatric cancer.

 

Join the movement at www.negu.org.

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negu-book

This isn’t a fun book to read. Childhood cancer isn’t a laughing matter and yet something called to me as I read the release. As I read the Rees family story, I discovered why Never Ever Give Up is an important book to read.

This family took what I consider the very worst thing to happen to a family and used it for good.

Erik Rees (with Jenna Glatzner) takes readers through their journey when they were told their daughter had an inoperable brain tumor. He shares the diagnosis, treatment, the emotions of each family member. He writes about the bittersweet blessings along the way—inspirational people, surprise video moments, and more. He’s also candid about the double-edged sword of having Jessi share her story through social media. It was definitely a full look at their journey.

Through all of it, the heart of Jessi shines through. She was a champion of “NEGU—Never Ever Give Up.” She also created JoyJars—jars full of toys and games she distributed to other kids with cancer. If anyone had a reason to sit back and rest, it was the Rees family. But they chose to bless others in their grief. And that’s worth reading and applying their mindset to our lives.

To learn more about the Jessie Rees Foundation, NEGU, or the JoyJars, I strongly suggest you purchase a copy of Never Ever Give Up.

I received a copy of Never Ever Give Up from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



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