When I was nearing the end of treatment and had been told that I was in remission, I finally felt free to start dreaming again about the future. One of those dreams included starting a program that allowed families fighting cancer to come and stay in our beautiful beach town on vacation.
When you’re constantly surrounded by hospital walls, beeping monitors, and medical equipment, you need a change of scenery. You need a place to go that’s slower, calmer, freer, and healing. You need a place to rest, hope, and feel normal again. You need nature, sunsets, and waves.
My husband Stephen and I talked in great lengths about how we would love to make this dream a reality down the road. We knew the complications of traveling during treatment and a need for a good medical team at your destination. We knew the families didn’t need to have to think too much, and be able to just relax. We also knew that families get financially drained during treatment and knew we wanted to fund their trip 100%. We envisioned working with my local oncologist to set up a protocol for the families. We envisioned stocking their fridges full of food and their rental homes full of goodies. We envisioned praying with these families and listening to their hearts and their needs. We envisioned date nights for the parents and planned fun for the kids.
This dream was so heavy on our hearts when we started praying about the first organization we would support with our business proceeds. We knew we couldn’t make our specific dream happen just yet, so we prayed for God to show us where we were supposed to invest our hearts and money in the meantime.
A few days later, we heard about Lighthouse Family Retreat. I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a vague post about Lighthouse from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a few years and for some reason I clicked on it.
This is what I found…
“Lighthouse Family Retreat serves families living through childhood cancer by creating environments on seaside retreats where they can rest, restore relationships, experience joy and find hope in God. “ (Lighthouse’s Mission Statement)
“Childhood cancer impacts everyone in the family. Understandably, the child with cancer most often becomes the focus of concern, often leaving the siblings feeling lonely, insecure and left out. Lighthouse offers special attention for every member of the family – moms, dads, siblings, and the child with cancer.
Our program offers fun, family-centered activities to help them “feel like a family” again. For children, time spent playing in a carefree environment is essential. For parents a daily group meeting, Common Ground, provides a safe place to share with others living through similar life challenges.
Highlights of a Lighthouse Family Retreat experience include families spending time together, moms and dads getting away for a special date night, kids having a blast at an UNbirthday party, incredible beach and pool games that everyone participates in, a Hollywood night, a dance party under the stars and a talent show that tops all talent shows.” (Lighthouse Family Retreat website)
I knew that was it.
Stephen and I contacted my friend who worked for their company and a few weeks later we were able to attend one of the Lighthouse Family Retreat events. We went on a Friday night and were able to witness one of their “talent shows.”
Picture relaxed families eating together under tents near the seaside with a gorgeous sunset as the background. Picture games and giggles and an actual red carpet for the kids to walk down as they enter the party. Picture dozens of adorable children from preschool to high school dressing up and putting on skits. Picture laughter and joy and genuine community. Picture so much love that you literally feel embraced the moment you walk up.
We spent the next three hours watching families facing one of the hardest battles in life laugh and enjoy every moment together. We heard stories of marriages that had been near the end before the start of the retreat and watched those same couples holding each other and working towards healing. We watched elementary aged girls get up and sing Fight Song with so much conviction that I don’t think there was a single dry eye in the place. We caught snippets of conversations between what I’m sure will be lifelong friendships. We heard corny jokes, witnessed some incredible breakdancing, and even watched the moms compete in a burping contest.
What stood out to me the most about that night was that if a stranger had walked up, they would have never known the secret battle these families were facing. The atmosphere was so filled with joy and life and love. One would think they had just stumbled into some magical little world where time stood still and little miracles were happening all around.
At the end of the night, one sweet mom got up and took the microphone and poured her heart out to the founders and workers of Lighthouse. She thanked them for what they had done for her children, for her marriage, for her family, and for her faith. Every time she said a thank you, the rest of the parents would chime in with a huge “YES!” The night ended with the families chanting about not wanting to leave and then they danced to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling.”
As Stephen and I walked to our car, we felt like we had just witnessed one of the most beautiful things we had ever seen and I don’t think we will ever forget it.
Lighthouse Family Retreat is the real deal. They love people. They meet people where they are at and pour everything they have into them. They bless, uplift, and help heal. Their purpose on their website states, “We exist to shine the light of Christ’s love to families living through childhood cancer.” They truly represent Christ’s love and are living out a beautiful truth.
We are so honored to have been able to be a small part of their mission and hope you know that your purchase made our contribution possible.
We encourage you to checkout their website at Lighthousefamilyretreat.org where you can read more about the incredible work they do and even make a donation!