Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hope is Alive at Give Kids the World

Last night, I had the awesome privilege of spending a few hours at one of my favorite places here in Central Florida: Give Kids the World. Having survived the horror of the Holocaust, a man named Henri Landwirth founded this magical place to bless families from all over the world. The resort-like village offers Make-A-Wish-Foundation families a cost-free week away from the stress and chaos of constant medical appointments and exhausting treatments. They exist to fulfill the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families "for as long as there is a need."

"Over 115,000 children have had their dream come true at Give Kids The World. No child in need has ever been turned away – and no child ever will. Give Kids The World is a place where families find joy, laughter, serenity, and a lifetime of memories."

This weekend, my teenager and I volunteered at the Park of Dreams pool area. David assisted the photographer capture precious memories of young princesses and pirates while I handed out towels, let people in and out, and served the families in various ways. There are always special moments, like when we both spotted a young dad swinging his little girl to Enchanted's That's How You Know, her red dress flowing like petals embracing the light.

The pirate party by the pool was a hit, as it is every Friday night. During the week-long stay, each family experiences Christmas on Thursday, the Mayor's birthday party, princess parades, pirate and tea parties, pony rides, free movies at Julie's Safari Theater, and much more. They also receive free admission to the Disney parks, Universal Studios, Sea World, and others. Can you even believe a place like this exists? The goal is to shower the kids and their families with kindness, goodness, and love. The village is a bit of heaven on earth.

Julie's Safari Theater at Give Kids the World

I am so thankful that God spared Henri's life. Although he could have grown bitter and cold having witnessed and experienced such cruelty, Henri chose to love instead. The village he founded is, to me, a story of redemption, courage, and love. His spirit, his kindness and compassion make me want to reach out to others and say, How can I give you the best of this world today?

Henri had a choice to make, and he chose the path of healing and blessing. Today, regardless of the losses we've faced and the heartbreak we may have experienced, we can choose love, forgiveness, and grace. We can choose to bless.

We can choose to give each other the best of this world and, in so doing, we will change the world.

Hope lives!
Dr Mari

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wisdom from Mother Teresa

"Active and contemplative are not two different lives;

it is only that one is faith in action through service,

the other faith in action through prayer." (Mother Teresa)


"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love." 

(1 Corinthians 13:13)

I am so thankful for the example of faithful ordinary people
through whom God does extraordinary things.

May we joyfully exercise our faith, 
giving it hands and feet
to reach a hurting world.

With love,
Dr Mari

For a reminder of small things we can all do to make a difference in someone's life, check out Josh Wilson's song, I Refuse.