5 THINGS MY SON TAUGHT ME ABOUT GIVING

 “Daddy, wook at dis” little Mitch said with enthusiasm.  He just discovered a leaf covered in a fresh blanket of snow. In his young mind, he thought he discovered the only remaining leaf on earth – for the rest had disappeared in a wintry wonderland.   

My little boy didn’t have much time to live – only a few years, in fact.  He was diagnosed with a fatal disease – so my wife and I learned, in a hurry, the value of time and that each moment was a gift beyond price.  So, when my little boy handed me this leaf as if he found a treasure beyond measure, my heart melted, and I was reminded of 5 valuable lessons about the gifts of giving.

Start with the Heart

It wasn’t the leaf that was special, but instead because it came from the heart.  Most often, the sweetest gifts in life are felt with the heart, not with our hands.  A smile, a gentle compliment, or the recognition of a positive change are sometimes the sweetest gifts we’ll ever give or receive.  When we share our hearts with others, our own heart enlarges.  A simple, snow-covered-leaf held gently by a tiny hand became a beautiful gift.

 Little Things Are Big Things

Isn’t it interesting that when we forget the little things in life, we begin having big problems?  The little things make or break relationships, bank accounts, and personal well-being.  At the same time, the little things have the potential to make beautiful outcomes.   Often, it isn’t the big gifts that make a difference, but instead the accumulation of little ones.  I’m not talking about earrings and other things – but instead the gentle acts of kindness that keep our relationships healthy and strong.

A Thoughtful Gift is a Gift Twice

Little Mitch taught me the most meaningful gifts aren’t really about the thing itself, but instead the meaning or intent behind it.  A thoughtful gift is really an evidence of our affection; a way of saying “I understand you” or “I care.”  A thoughtful gift is a gift twice.

When You Give, You Get

There is a heavenly paradox that when you give to others, you always seem to get.  The sweetest memories in life often come from the times were losing ourselves in the service of others.  I could tell by the look on my sweet son’s face when he handed me this leaf; he got more out of giving than he got from keeping.

Moments Over Material Things

Perhaps the greatest thing I learned from the life and death of my son is that moments are far more valuable than material things.  I’d give everything I own away for just one more day.  Yet, when I think back on my time with my son, those moments that mattered are gifts I can hold near to my heart.  This photo is one such moment.

This holiday, as we think of giving gifts to each other, we have an opportunity to make this Christmas extra special.  Yes, there are gifts sitting patiently under the warm glow of our Christmas trees, but perhaps the greatest gift we can give our loved ones is a chance to step outside our routine and experience the joys and gift of giving to others.  We can make memories, which are the most beautiful gifts of all, by finding ways to serve others.

Join Mitchell’s Journey this holiday season to discover the beautiful Gift of Giving. Attached to this article is a free program that will schedule a seven-day task list into a calendar.  This tool will give you prompts and ideas on ways to love and serve others. As you give back to others, you will find your holidays enriched, and you'll have experiences to last a lifetime. I promise. 

This is your chance to let your light shine and give to others.

 

 
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2017 GIFT & BLANKET DRIVE

2017 GIFT & BLANKET DRIVE
For those who are interested in helping Mitchell's Journey lift the hearts of children this holiday season, we're holding our 5th annual Gift & Blanket drive and will be donating all contributions to Shriners Hospital, the same hospital that cared for Mitch and many other children with DMD. This time of year can feel cold and scary, especially if you're a sick child in a hospital. So, we want to help children feel loved in the same way Mitch felt loved.

The second image in this post is the card we attach to every gift and blanket - so families who receive your donation know it comes from a generous heart (you) who was touched by little Mitch.

Please send packages by December 20th to:

5526 West 13400 South #102
Herriman, UT 84096

CHRISTMAS GIFTS

I just love Christmas ... I love everything about it. I remember when I first bought this little USB Christmas tree ... Mitch thought it was so cool and he loved to come to the office and see it aglow on my desk. The screen saver (behind the tree) is close to my heart because it reminds me of Mitchell's love of sunsets, cozy atmospheres and his romantic view of the holidays. To him, he looked forward to giving gifts to others then snuggling up in a warm and cozy home with the people he loved. That's all I want to do anymore: give and love.

I thought I lost this tree a year ago, but Natalie recently found it buried under other Christmas decorations. Today, when I look at this little tree I think of Mitch and the beautiful gift he was and remains in my life. Despite the heartache that comes and goes like an evening tide, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Though painful, I wouldn't trade the gift of Mitch for anything.

I just hope one night I can see my son in my dreams so I can tell him how much he mattered to me and how very much I love him.

SO EMPTY, YET SO FULL*

It was an especially hot summer day when two mothers and 4 children walked into Pioneer Park, each with an arm full of gifts they were about to give away. Quietly they began placing all manner of toys throughout the playground. Each toy had a sticker attached to it with an invitation to play with and keep, signed Mitchell’s Journey. 

Cathy O’Grady, a follower-turned-friend from Boston, was in Salt Lake City and wanted to do something in memory of little Mitch. So, she purchased two carts of toys that included baseball bats, footballs, bubbles, chalk, soccer balls and other things kids used to play with before the advent of technology … before the age of digital isolation and endless distraction. 

She was kind enough to let me follow her and a friend, Tracey Langston, so I could take photos of their random act of love and kindness in memory of Mitch. Each of them wore a Miles for Mitchell shirt because they wanted to take my son with them. 

“Watch how parents will put their phones down and suddenly start playing with their children when they’re given a toy.” Cathy said. Sure enough, exactly as she described, I saw it with my own eyes. Parents who moments earlier were busy scrolling through never ending streams of Pinterest posts, social feeds, texts, emails and other things suddenly set their devices down and began to play with their children. 

I saw adorable little kids stumble into a lonely soccer ball, pick it up with curiosity and then show it to their parents as though they won a lottery. I marveled at how these small, inexpensive toys changed how people interacted with one another. As these anonymous gifts were discovered, the playground went from friendly to an excited frolic.

After these good Samaritans were done placing toys … when parents and children alike were playing with one another, I told Cathy how humbled I was by her act of kindness. As my eyes filled with tears … fighting back a wave of grief … I told Cathy something about little Mitch just before he passed away. As Mitch was facing the realities of his own death he wept and wept as he told me how much he wished he could be like regular kids. My soul unraveled and my heart fell to the floor as I heard my son describe what he wanted to do in “real life” but could not. “Dad, I don’t want to ride a skate board in a video game, I want to do it for reals.” Mitch sobbed in ways only a dying child can know. And my soul writhed. 

I told Cathy how grateful I was for the gifts she gave others. She didn’t just give toys, you see. These little gifts were a means to a much greater end. Cathy gave the gift of play. The gift of relationships.

So, on this hot summer day, never a swing set looked so empty, yet felt so full. I wanted my little boy to be seated there and was pained that he was not. I wished with all of my heart I could push him back and forth, long after the sun set. I wanted to play with Mitch and see his face and hear him laugh, yet he was forever gone. Instead, I saw other children and parents enjoy what I no longer had – and yet my heart swelled with gratitude for their happiness.

I am so grateful for people like Cathy and Tracey … who seek to build others up and serve with love. I wonder how the world would change if everyone gave freely and not want anything in exchange. Something divine happens when we love and lift … for the very act of giving is itself a supernal gift.

You can see more photos of this experience at the park on instagram.com/mitchells_journey/

You can also learn more about Cathy and the many other good works she is doing here: http://sofiasangelsfoundation.org/

THE GIFT OF GIVING

This afternoon Natalie huddled around Mitchell's Christmas tree with our kids and some of their cousins to make blankets for children at Primary Children's Hospital, the same hospital that cared for our son.

Mitch was so grateful for the blankets he received from loving supporters. Because it meant so much to him and our family, we want to pay that goodness forward.

There are many across the United States and the world who have expressed interest in shipping quilts, blankets, toys and books in memory of Mitch. If you're planning on sending anything, we will be taking all donations to the hospital Monday, December 22nd.

We'll be sure to post photos of that day.

You can ship parcels to:
Mitchell's Journey
5526 West 13400 South #102
Herriman, UT 84096

The funny thing about giving is you always seem to get more in return than you ever give. It is a paradox with a promise. 

Natalie was so excited at the end of today's blanket-making exercise. Her heart was overflowing to think that other children who are in a place so unfamiliar to their homes during the holidays might find some comfort and be made a little warmer.

We wish we had the resources to cover the world with love.