Julianna is a seven-year-old GA at Northside Baptist Church in Del Rio, Texas. I spoke with her last month to find out more about a project she and her mom, Jessica, and her brother, Ben, work on together in honor of her sister, Brooke, who passed away in 2015.
Brooke was diagnosed with a pediatric cancer as a young child. Throughout her battle with cancer, Brooke and Jessica brought awareness to pediatric cancer and the need for research by creating and giving away “Brooke’s Blossoms” headbands. Their motto — “Planting seeds of faith, love, and hope for cures… one smile at a time!” — is what creating these beautiful headbands is really all about. Once the headbands were created, they were shared with children in medical facilities across the country and around the world.
Talking to Jessica, I found out her mom was her GA leader at FBC Pleasanton, Texas. Jessica said, “GA was a special part of my childhood and instilled in me from an early age the needs around the world and how important it is to serve. Now I run a global nonprofit that reaches kids with cancer around the world.”
Jessica went on to share that as an adult, she realizes her time spent in GA was time God used to prepare her for this ministry to honor Brooke’s life and share God’s love with others who are facing the same challenges her family has faced.
“I know the Lord was preparing me, even as I was the young age Brooke only lived to be. I see this full circle of His love bigger than we can fathom encompassing the heart of my youngest daughter, Julianna.”
Fast forward to last month. I “met” Jessica via a Facebook message sharing a post about Julianna’s project with her GA group. They had created what appears to be almost a ton of “Brooke’s Blossoms” during one of their meeting times. In the post I saw girls and women have a great time as they picked out flowers and feathers to create colorful headpieces to be shared with girls battling cancer around the world. I knew I had to meet Julianna and award her an I Led a Project badge. She had earned it!
Julianna never got to meet her big sister Brooke, but Julianna’s middle name, Faythe, is a reference to Brooke’s amazing faith in Jesus. And when I met little-sister Julianna, I immediately fell in love with this snaggle-toothed seven year old who asked me if I’d like to make a few “Brooke’s Blossoms” with my friends at work.
One of the neatest things I get to do as the national WMU Girls in Action consultant is to award badges to children I meet who are doing amazing things in their own churches and communities so others will learn about Jesus. Sometimes that comes in the form of supporting missions, and sometimes that happens when others provide comfort or care for someone in God’s name.
What a privilege to award Julianna her I Led a Project badge and learn from her that no matter our circumstances, we can give God the glory and honor while we share a smile (and a beautiful headband) with someone who may not know God.
One of the things I shared with Julianna while we were on the phone was the statement that I want all children to learn as they serve others: I’m doing this for you because God loves me and He loves you, too!
You can imagine the tears I shed when I received this picture from Jessica just a few minutes after our call ended.
Talk about legacy. Jessica’s mom knew the importance of missions discipleship for her own daughter. Jessica experienced missions discipleship as a child and learned the importance of serving others. Brooke wanted to see other children smile and know God loved them, so she and her mom, Jessica, made amazing “blossoms” to share with other children battling cancer. And now Julianna (and Ben) are working with their parents to continue Brooke’s idea of sharing blossoms.
What a legacy. What a family. What a God we serve together!
And, yes, this fall I will be making Brooke’s Blossoms with a few friends in honor of Brooke and my new hero, Julianna.
Heather Keller is the Girls in Action, Children in Action, and Acteens consultant at WMU. She is going to lead a “Brooke’s Blossoms” project herself this fall as she makes a few headbands with her friends from church and work.