Knee-goo. Keep the tissues handy. Once upon a time there was a couple with three children. A nice family, they served at a church, the kids went to school and participated in sports. They made plans for the future. And then the unthinkable happened. A few words from a doctor, and their lives were changed forever. Erik Rees (with Jenna Glatzer) chronicles his family’s journey in “Never Ever Give Up: the Inspiring Story of Jessie and Her JoyJars® (Zondervan, 2014).
When Jessie was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma -- DIPG for short, lives were changed. And not just in the ways you might think. Jessie’s DIPG took her to hospitals on a regular basis for tests and treatments, and on those multiple trips, Jessie noticed that there were other children who seemed to be suffering, and she started asking “what can we do to help?”
From that simple question a movement was started. A movement which encourages those suffering from pediatric cancers to “Never Ever Give up!” NEGU (knee-goo) was the message that Jessie shared with children as she handed out her JoyJars® (toys, games, and love). The project started small, Jessie handing out her jars full of joy, but it went viral. According to the blurbs on the book cover “Soon Thousands of JoyJars® were distributed across the United States and to over twenty-seven countries.”
Each member of the family had a different journey through the ten months of Jessie’s battle with DIPG, and Erick shares a little of each of those journey’s along with much of his own and that of Jessie. But this is not a book about death and dying, it’s not a book about cancer, it’s not a book about grieving and mourning, as much as it is a testimony to the goodness of God, who has a plan even when we don’t understand it: (think the Old Testament Joseph: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” It’s a hymn of hope, even in the face of insurmountable odds; and there’s a call to make a difference –perhaps in the fight against pediatric cancers, and maybe against something else. Maybe it’s something small, maybe it’s a major campaign, but we can each find a cause and fight for it.
The book can be summed up in the closing paragraphs: “ Use your gifts and passions to guide you to do good, and you will live a blessed life. Keep Hope Alive in your heart, and help others do the same. Plese help Jessie’s life set off a tidal wave of compassion around the world.”
“And never ever Give Up/”
“I NEGU… do you?”I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. I was invited to be part of the launch team, to get the word out about the Jessie Rees Foundation and JoyJars®. I hope you’ll take the time to go to here and learn more about Jessie, the foundation, JoyJars® and how you can help spread joy throughout the world.