When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful. ~Barbara Bloom
I’ve never met Kendra…not in person anyways. The truth is I only know of her story by coincidence, but then, I don’t really believe in coincidence. I believe every encounter is significant; a God moment or a God opportunity, if you may. A couple of months ago, my husband and I had gone for a hike at a local park. We had planned on doing 6 miles this particular day, but ended up cutting our hike short to about 4 miles because the weather was so hot, it was almost unbearable regardless of our well thought out preparations. We were sweaty and achy from the hike and our iced water was now so warm it had lost the ability to refresh anyone. Needless to say, we breathed a sight of relief after cranking up the cool air conditioner in my little Yaris and quickly heading home for showers and the biggest glass of cold water we could drink.
As we were approaching the entrance to our subdivision, we were immediately met by pink STOP signs and a group of adorable young children begging us to stop for some cold lemonade. Stop at a lemonade stand on such a hot day…you bet! At first I was just taken by the children and their cute lemonade stand, but then as we got closer and I was able to make out what their signs read, I was touched. These children were raising funds to help Ms. Kendra who is battling with stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma and in desperate need of a bone marrow. Their signs didn’t just read STOP, they read; help Ms. Kendra! I was curious and felt compelled to inquire about Ms. Kendra and her story.
Kendra Easley is a 22 year old young mom who struggled to make sense of her life as a teenager. I bet many of us can relate to that…however, not many of us can relate to the circumstances that led to her having a child as a teenager, only to find out three months after giving birth that she has cancer and may not live to raise that child. Kendra became so sick that she had to be placed in a hospital room where everything had to be sterile and where she cannot be around anyone other than the medical personnel, not even her 18 month old son is allowed in her room for fear of her catching an infection given that her immune system is so low. Kendra is on disability because of her illness and has been raising her child on her own (although the baby’s father does help her out from time to time, especially since the diagnosis). Kendra had to purchase all new furniture and items for her apartment because everything she owns has to be sterile. This became an added stress for her as she is not able to work due to her illness. This is the reason the children were raising funds through the lemonade stand, to help provide her with some financial relief during this difficult time.
I stood there talking with the children while taking pictures and drinking lemonade, all the while wondering what God had in store for Ms. Kendra and her precious son, Payton. I cannot remember if I liked the lemonade or not, but I do remember the feeling I had in my heart when I walked away. I prayed for her that day, and for the next few days after that. I prayed for Kendra every time I saw the pictures I took of the kids with their big pink posters, and then after several weeks, I decided to stop by and inquire about her with the Robertsons. This couple has known Kendra since she was a young kid attending their Sunday School class at church but as she grew older, they had lost touch, until they found out about her situation. See, Kendra had wandered away from her faith and hit a few bumps in her life, and it wasn’t until the diagnosis that she realized her need for God and her family more than ever.
Danica (Mrs. Robertson) tells me that as soon as she found out about Kendra’s condition, she began to donate blood in hopes to be a match for a bone marrow transfusion. Every time Danica would come home from the hospital, the kids would ask her about the band-aids in her arms and she would tell them that she had a friend named Ms. Kendra who was very sick and needed blood, so mommy was giving her some of her blood to help her live. Of course, Danica couldn’t have known the profound impact this would have in her seven year old daughter, Reese. Even though she had never met Kendra in person, it was Reese’s idea to do the lemonade stand to help Ms. Kendra. The rest of the family and a couple of neighborhood kids joined in and just an hour and a half after the first lemonade was sold, they had collected $130.00! The best part is that some weeks later Kendra’s doctors were able to use her own morrow and she began to improve. This blessing allowed Reese to eventually be able to meet Ms. Kendra at the hospital for a short visit.
Although Kendra is not out of the woods yet, she already has something many people in her situation lack; a hope in God that is unshakable and the loving support of friends and family. Danica tells me that Kendra is truly an inspiration to many; “she has such a great attitude about her situation and such a joyous spirit, it is contagious to those who are blessed to know her personally”. Her desire is to become an inspiration to other Young girls who are struggling as she once did. She hopes her story will encourage young single moms and those suffering with this disease, and she hopes people will see hope rather than sadness and suffering when they look at her life.
I often wonder what Kendra looks like; this young mother I’ve often prayed for but have never seen. I figured her treatments have probably aged her a few years. I know she has lost her hair and is swollen from the steroids constantly being pumped into her body. She probably has dark circles under her eyes and her lips are probably pale and cracked from lack of moisture, even so, I think she is beautiful beyond looks or feelings. Much like the Japanese and their broken objects, Kendra is full of gold from the many cracks in her life. She shines bright through suffering and her story radiates hope.
After my conversation with Danica Robertson, I felt compelled to do something to help Kendra Easley. I would like to encourage my readers to post encouraging comments for Kendra on this post. I will forward them to the Robertsons and they will see to it that Kendra gets them. If you wish to send cards or letters of encouragement for Kendra, or if you wish to make a monetary donation to Kendra’s fund, please contact her through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me at email@example.com and we will work out the details. Meanwhile, please keep Kendra in your prayers.