It feels like we have been here before. Eight years ago, I told you about One Tough Little Bird as she battled her cancer. Today, Little Bird is a lively, happy teenager with teenage joys and concerns. Life is worth celebrating.

When more loved ones start to battle their demons and ask for help, we gladly answer the call.

Years ago, our church congregation had a shortage of teenage boys. None, to be exact. Those that were with us had all graduated and moved away. So I prayed for our ward to get youth. Because we needed them. They help bless and pass our sacrament. They offer good examples of teenage boys to the girls. And they bring joy to life.

As an answer to prayer, our ward got the Snyder family. One amazing family to bless our lives. Two amazing young men and one fantastic young lady to join the ranks of our youth. The vibrant young lady fit perfectly in our small group of girls, falling exactly in the middle of my kids in age. The tall young men added a much welcome sight to our sacrament services. Each of their young faces and bright personalities brought life to our ward and blessed all of us.

Their parents, M&MJ, were just as vibrant and genuinely big-hearted. When my family visited their home the first time, we felt engulfed by their true friendship, like it was perfectly natural for them to open their hearts and make us part of their lives. And they immediately became friends. Real friends who took you up on your offers to help; who gladly invited you to their home and accepted your own invitations; who held real conversations—both parents and kids—that showed they knew you were intellectually on the level and interesting to talk to. Friends who gave genuine smiles whenever they saw you. Who naturally discussed prayer and scripture study as their daily routine. Who asked you to pray with them or for them because they knew you would follow through. Basically, they were the friends who treated you like the friends you really strived to be.

I have met a few people (not many) like this before. You know those people you desperately want to be friends with? Who you want be cool (and not an idiot) around? Who you want to spend time with and not go home anytime soon? Who help you realize that Eternity will be even more of a blessing because they’ll be there? The Snyders are those people. And the amazing thing is, they welcome you and claim you as a friend. Conversations happen as though they have always known you and no time has passed between your visits. Have I mentioned how natural and genuine this behavior is for them? For all of them, parents and kids alike?

After a couple of years, they moved from our ward, but we still keep in touch. Our family gained amazing friends. Our daughters gained good examples of young men in the church. We all gained an example of a family of faith and strength.

I think of them and express gratitude for them often. Partly because our ward finds itself in the same situation as when they first entered our lives: no young men, less than a handful of young women because they have graduated and moved away. I think of what a blessing young people are and how we need more of them.

During our LDS General Conference in March of this year, MJ sent me a text that said her son The Wolf, now a young adult, had been diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was starting chemo. Since then, he has responded well to his treatments and is now moving on to the next stage: radiation. The battle is still on, and battles are costly in all aspects—financially, physically, and emotionally. The Wolf’s story brought back memories of Tough Little Bird’s experiences and my own feelings of uselessness when realizing there is only so much I can and know to do to help ease any burden, and then the feeling of strength when realizing there is MUCH each of us can do, mostly by simply being there physically and emotionally, showing our loved ones they are not alone. And remembering how faith in the good of humanity is restored because we realize that when someone sends out a genuine call for help, others will answer because they care.

My family rallied together to help our Tough Little Bird, and we now answer the call of The Wolf. Because cries for help will come, and friends are friends in good times and bad, and work to make a time of crisis a time of triumph.

Life is glorious.

Rally around and answer the call of The Wolf.

To read The Wolf’s story and offer support, check out www.gofundme.com/wolfyfightscancer

Advertisements

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 9.20.12 AM.pngThank you, Bruce Seely, for the being our morning radio voice. Our car radio has tuned into you for over a decade. Every school morning has been started well with your “Great Music, Sound Ideas.” Thank you for sharing the beautiful classical music. It has been a great way to start the day. Your voice on the air will be missed, but we all wish you great joy and success in your future adventures!

Bruce started on the air in junior high and is retiring from broadcasting after 50 years. For more fun details, read here: http://www.classical89.org/about/hosts/seely/

Over the last two weeks, two fine local high schools, Skyline and Olympus, have been in a friendly competition to see who can raise the most money for the Souper Bowl of Caring, a charitable organization that works with our local food bank to get food to needy students in local school districts. These two high schools have been rivals for over 50 years, a rivalry that both my husband and I were part of, being alumni of these schools. Skyline and Olympus have participated in this fundraising rivalry for the past three years. Though both schools have a percentage of students who receive free and reduced lunch, each dollar raisedand can of food collected through this fundraiser goes to feed students throughout the district, not at just at these two schools. A friendly competition can work magic.

Souper Bowl of Caring is a nationwide event. Every state participates. Utah has placed second for most money raised, after Texas. In 2016, Utah raised $883,000, with half of that being raised by SHS and OHS’s district. For the last three years, Skyline has won their friendly competition with Olympus, with both schools raising a substantial amount for their district’s fellow students. In 2015, both schools combined collected just over $10,000 and about 9,000 cans of food. In 2016, these fine student bodies again answered the call with similarly amazing results.

This year, Skyline and Olympus have out-shined everyone. Not only have they raised money for hungry friends, they have shown what good sportsmanship, friendly rivalry, and a truly charitable attitude really look like. This year when the call came, Skyline raised $40,800, setting a new record for most money raised by a Utah school, and collected 6,571 cans of food. One school, just over 1,400 students. Winners and totals were announced during halftime at the Skyline-Olympus football game this weekend, and you can imagine the cheers that camefrom the packed stands on both sides. True to their good nature, the Skyline student body officers who accepted the win gave credit to their worthy rivals, noting that Olympus, with just over 1,500 students, raised $25,138 which more than doubled the amount of money raised by both SHS and OHS combined in 2015. Both schools beat the old state record of $25,000.

What do these amazing students get for their efforts? What motivates them to dig up their change and raid their pantries to help others? Serving is in their nature, and they have fun with it. Students had incentives like duct taping a willing teacher to the wall at lunch, watching their SBO’s get their legs waxed, or getting 10-15 extra minutes of lunch. Other motivators include having an obnoxious song play over the loud speakers in between classes and at lunch until the daily goal is met. (“The Song that Never Ends” needed to end.) They do not serve for recognition; that’s just a bonus.

There are moments that make you proud of the teenagers in your life. This is one of those moments.

Thank you, Skyline and Olympus students for your example and generosity. I already knew you were amazing, and this again proves it. You did not seek such recognition for serving, but you deserve this shout out. You have put us adults to shame in a good way. I have no doubt that when the call comes again to serve your fellow people, you will again accept it without hesitation, whether or not a record is set or a competition is at stake. You have inspired others with your selflessness and joy in service. You have also proven that the need to serve is often found among the friends, friendly rivals, and strangers within your own walls and boundaries. And you have proven, yet again, that teenagers are a force to be listened to and acknowledged. You continue to help me prove that teenagers are awesome.

Go Eagles and Go Titans!