You know how some things are so close to your heart that you hesitate long before speaking them? Some things, people, and ideas are just too precious to not hold them close. I carry the Mooney family close like this in my heart, Matt and Ginny, and all four of their children.
This summer when we sold our house before having a place to move, we lived in the Mooney’s home, a gracious space dotted minimally with only things that matter, things of beauty, use, and meaning. A giant “E” rests up high on the dividing wall above the entire living area. The E is for Eliot, their firstborn. They have displayed his photos and footprints, but even those aren’t as real as the memory that rests there of his actually having been a gift to them and this world for 99 miraculous days. Eliot was born with trisomy 18 and wasn’t expected live beyond birth. Instead he lived a celebrated, world-shifting 99 days. Matt says, “DNA had placed faulty information into each and every cell, but that could not stop God from revealing Himself through a child who never uttered a word. Not a pulpit, not a slick presentation, not a best-selling book, but a 6 pound boy with trisomy 18. God found great pleasure to take a lowly thing in the eyes of the world and show truth.”
In letters Matt wrote to Eliot, he says: “At your funeral we released 99 balloons, each balloon representing a day of your life. How beautiful is was to watch. How quickly they were gone.”
When my own Titus’ body refused to gain weight and he had to come home from the hospital with a feeding tube that kept coming out, Ginny was my dear one who could put her hand on my arm, look me in the eyes, and say, “I know.” They didn’t ask to enter into the realm of knowing, but I have no doubt that they wouldn’t trade a second of it for the world. Matt and Ginny found themselves in a place of knowing the greatest love. They suddenly knew marrow deep just how valuable we all are, especially the ones the world might deem useless or too much to handle.
Fast forward to an organization they called 99 Balloons with their first initiative called rEcess (notice the capitol E). rEcess is a monthly respite program for families affected by disability. Children with disability as well as their siblings come hang out with trained volunteers, and the goal is to make it the best night of their week. There are currently 12 rEcess sites nationwide, and one in Canada, and each site is operated by a team of volunteers.
We at (in)courage would like to invite you to help give a rEcess-makeover to one of 99 Balloons’s awesome teams! Friends, this is such a huge deal.
Join us as we team up with Pure Charity in our new Giv(in)g campaign to provide a rEcess site with new supplies, toys, and sensory equipment. Join us in blessing a rEcess site with tools to further serve their community!
Many have come to recognize local children with special needs as one of life’s greatest delights and honors to serve.
Seth and I support 99 Balloons because we know very personally the impact of Eliot’s life on Matt and Ginny, our community, and the even the world. The way God taught them to love has changed us. If, when we serve the least of these, we are serving Christ, then we come to know that the “least” aren’t very least at all.