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Cindy Brinker Simmons Discusses Being Restored and Reconnecting Life's Broken Pieces

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
April 28, 2024 3:30 am

Cindy Brinker Simmons Discusses Being Restored and Reconnecting Life's Broken Pieces

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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April 28, 2024 3:30 am

Losing her tennis phenom mother to cancer at 12 years old, Cindy felt God was punishing her by allowing her mom to die. 

A few years later, a friend helped her understand the Gospel - and that knowledge grew to a sustaining faith when cancer once again invaded Cindy's life. 

www.brinkersimmons.com 

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Welcome to Hope for the Caregiver.

This is Peter Rosenberger. This is the program for you as a family caregiver. We're so glad that you're with us.

Healthy caregivers make better caregivers. Hopeforthecaregiver.com. You know I like to find interesting people that I can bring your way and my way to learn from to gather how they've walked through their journey. Today I want to introduce you to Cindy Brinker-Simmons. She is an extraordinary individual with a lot of deep journeys and walks with the Lord through some tough times.

She's one of us and she has been there. Cancer seems like a lifetime foe in her life, but she fights back. I want you to hear how she's done this. She was born in the University of Virginia, public relations veteran. She's the author of Restored, Reconnecting Life's Broken Pieces. And she established in memory of her mother, who a lot of you are going to remember, tennis champion Maureen Connolly Brinker. She has got a powerful ministry she's done to families who are dealing with cancer.

And she's on the board of Wipeout Kids Cancer in Dallas, which is the oldest pediatric cancer nonprofit. She's the president of Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation. And by the way, Cindy, do you still play tennis?

I'm a has-been, Peter. But I'm still in the tennis world because of my work with the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation. We put on tournaments for gifted and talented young tennis players. So I get my fill of tennis going to our tournaments and seeing these young people. You haven't downgraded to pickleball, have you?

Not yet. No, no. It's the fastest-growing sport, but I'm kind of a purist. So I will get back to tennis because it's a great sport. Well, I think that's great. And you've got your own journey, not only with your mother.

I believe you were 12 when you lost your mom. And then history came back and brought another one to you with your husband, Bob. And I want you to just share your heart on this. And you're on the board of Dallas Theological Seminary. You've got your hands onto a lot of things.

And all of it is connected towards ministering to people who are struggling with very, very serious issues and sicknesses. I'm glad you're here. Thank you for being willing to come and just share your story. So tell me how you're doing today. How are you?

Yes. Well, thank you, Peter. It is an honor, a real honor and a great pleasure to be with you today. And just to put that little wrap on tennis, tennis does kind of go in my DNA. I think I was the Lord's destiny to play tennis, and it's a great sport.

But now I'm on the other side. But I am doing well, Peter. Thank you for asking. My story is really quite interesting how God, as he does with all of us, Peter, he's always working. He's always working. And his goal is our redemption. His goal is our restoration. His goal is to make us whole.

And it starts really with me to answer your question. When I was 12, I was seated on a very uncomfortable pew seat next to my 10-year-old grieving sister, Brenda, and my 38-year-old grieving father. We had just buried my mom, and I just sat there so angry, so confused, just so heartbroken. And Peter, what I thought is that I thought God was angry at me. I thought that God was punishing me because I thought I had done something so bad, so terrible, so almost heinous that I was responsible for mom's passing, that I thought I was incurring the vengeful anger of a God that was just flat out angry at me. And, you know, honestly, I wasn't too crazy about him either.

I just was so stunned that this had happened. And that's where my 12-year-old heart was parked, thinking that God literally hated me. Did you have a way of, I mean, how did you get to that point? I mean, had somebody portrayed God as this, you know, you better behave yourself or God's going to get you kind of thing? Or how did that work?

Great question. I have thought about that over my lifetime, dozens of times. And if my dad had thought I was parked there, he would have said, honey, honey, no, no, no, you have nothing, nothing to do with that. Mom's passing is absolutely non-related and independent of anything you've done. I think perhaps, Peter, when I'm really thinking through this, I think I was 12 and I had just started playing tennis and I am a competitive person. And I think I was really challenging my mom because I had just found out who she was.

I mean, my mom was so quietly humble, it took your breath away. She never talked about her fame as a tennis star. She was the number one in the world in the early 1950s, in 52, 53, 54. She won Wimbledon three years in a row. She was the first woman and still the only American woman to win the Calendar Grand Slam, which is winning the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Open in one calendar year. And today there are only five players that have achieved that accomplishment. I mean, she won everything. She played nine Grand Slam tournaments and the Grand Slam tournaments are the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Open. She played them nine times, won them all and only lost a set. That would be like the Dallas Cowboys winning the Super Bowl every year.

You know, that's just not going to happen. But she was invincible. But yet there was one opponent she couldn't beat.

And that was ovarian cancer. And I think when I found out that my mom was so famous, I kind of became a little competitive with her. And she would take me out to hit some tennis balls because I insisted on that.

And she thought, well, if Cindy wants to play tennis, I'll do that. Again, it's in my DNA. And I think maybe I was just a little, as a youngster, I was a little more difficult.

I had just this competitive spirit. And maybe I thought that maybe I hadn't been this kind to mom or maybe that I had done something to upset mom. And in terms that upset God, you know, Peter, I cannot put my finger on it. But someday when I'm in front of my beloved God and I can sit down, he's cradling me in his arms and I could say, God, why did I think that about you? Why?

He'll share that with me. But to this day, I don't know. But that is what I was feeling. And again, I kept it as a secret. Nobody knew that but me. So, of course, what I did is I wanted to earn God's love back and I wanted to perform.

But you know what was interesting, Peter? Not only was our family dealing with mourning my mom's loss, but our sorrow was exacerbated because the world was mourning mom's loss. Because not only was she known as mom to me, she was known to her adoring public in the 1950s as Little Mo, the tennis champion. And she did all of this before she was a teenager. She actually had a horseback riding accident that cut short her career at 19. But she was a phenom. And she was one of the most publicized women in the world. In the world.

In the early 50s. So the world was mourning. So we were all sharing in the sorrow of my mom. But life beckons.

We can't stay in neutral. Life beckons us to move forward. So I finished high school and I went to college at the University of Virginia and I played tennis there. I did have a very active junior tennis career.

I was number one in Texas and one of the top juniors in the United States. And I loved tennis. So I really loved tennis. But also for me, Peter, it was a way to keep my mom's legacy alive. It was a way for me to keep her memory going. It was a way to stoke those fires so people would never forget this magnificent person. So I played tennis because I loved it. But it was also, again, my way of keeping mom's legacy and her memory in front of people. So I went to University of Virginia, played there. And I actually played a little bit on the pro circuit. Were you still at odds with God during that time?

Very good question. I had come to know Christ at 16 and by the daughter of a pastor. And that is what happened. When I was 12, I began searching to understand this God who I thought didn't love me. And also I went to a huge performance mode because I thought I had to earn his love back. So that's why I was so intense with my tennis and practiced all the time. And I was also very rigorous in my school work.

I went to a very, very rigorous school that was very challenging. So I really focused on earning God's love back. And when I was 16, I met the daughter of a pastor who said to me, Cindy, there's nothing you can do to earn God's love back.

He loves you with an unwavering love. And his outrageous grace has paid for that through his son, Jesus Christ, dying on a cross and literally through his bloodshed offering you a place in heaven with him. And that God loves you enough that he would have his son to die for you.

And Peter, I was astounded. I mean, having someone die for me to sacrifice for me and that precious young lady shared the gospel with me. And that night at age 16, I got on my knees and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And things totally changed, totally changed.

My whole worldview changed with that. But yet again, life went on, went to college. And then I came back after I played some professional tennis, but I joke because if you blinked, you would have missed my professional career. But I came back to Dallas and started a very robust career in public relations, was having so much fun, was living large, still as a new baby Christian. And then this amazing young man walked into my life that loved the Lord, so handsome, so kind.

He just radiated the love, the light, the goodness of God. And it was Bob Simmons. And Bob Simmons and I married a number of years later. We were best friends and we had a son and we were about to adopt a little girl when all of a sudden, as you said in your introduction, life struck again.

It came at us with two by fours, with four terrifying words. Bob, you have cancer. And three years later, in fact, we buried my beloved Bob and William was nine at the time. And both William and I did have gaping holes in our hearts that no EKG will ever detect. It started with mom's passing and now it had grown a little bit bigger with Bob's passing. But, Peter, but things were different this time. Things were different because this time I knew this God. This time I knew how much God loved me. And this time I knew that God's goal was to restore and redeem me. And this time, although the grief of the loss was still very great, I could choose joy because I knew this time, which was 33 years later after my sweet mom's passing, this time I knew this God and his son, Jesus Christ.

So that's why, Peter, I wrote the book Restored Reconnecting Lives Broken Pieces. Life is hard. You know it.

I know it. And we all know, all of your listeners know that suffering is a universal experience. I mean, none of us, none of us are immune from the bumps and bruises of daily living.

It is called suffering and it can be painful. Let me ask you, as you went through this with Bob, and there's a lot unpacked with your story, but as you went through this with Bob and now you're looking over at your son and he was just a kid. And you had to have seen yourself in his eyes. And what were the words that you spoke to him in those moments and subsequent moments?

Yes, yes. Well, fortunately, fortunately, the difference between William and myself at his age, William had become a Christian in his young life. He had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and our family, Bob and myself, raised William to love that Jesus. And as a matter of fact, Peter, when Bob was diagnosed, he had a very, very rare cancer. It's called desmoplastic small cell round tumor. And typically it's a childhood disease and children ages 10, it starts with children mostly, but it primarily is diagnosed with young males, young white males, young white males ages 10 to 30.

So it's young kids and adolescents. So somehow Bob escaped that season of his life and was diagnosed with it later. But it took really three weeks, a number of weeks to diagnose it. And immediately when it was diagnosed as this very rare and deadly disease, as we walked out of the oncologist's office, my beloved husband gave us a mission statement. And he said, and he always called me sweetie pie. And I called him beloved. He said, sweetie pie.

I don't. And we were given three months. He was given three months, Peter, to live.

So Bob said, sweetie pie. I don't know if I have three months. I don't know if I have three years.

I don't know if I have 30 years. But from this point forward, we are going to choose joy and we are going to glorify the Lord. And Peter, that's what we did. And that's what William did. And as a family, even though we would not have chosen that.

I mean, you hear this, that God gave us the 10 commandments, not the 10 recommendations, because we would never have chosen this. But Bob many times said, Cindy, sweetie pie, we ought to feel so honored that God felt that we were worthy and capable and strong enough to handle this suffering. And Peter, oh, my goodness. People watch. They watched you and your sweet Gracie. They watch people who go through these drought experiences, these desert experiences, because a watching world wants to see if, certainly when you're singing from the mountaintops and praising God and singing Hallelujah, people watch, too.

But when you're in that dark desert experience, people are watching how you respond. And Bob and I chose joy. As a matter of fact, our caretakers and our nurses would say to Bob, Mr. Simmons, Mr. Simmons, what is it that you have that makes you so joyful?

Because they all knew, the caretakers knew the terminal prognosis of this very deadly cancer. Mr. Simmons, Mr. Simmons, what is it you have that makes you so joyful? And my sweet beloved would say to them, it's not what I have.

It's who has me. And that's the way we responded as a family. And William heard that. And now he was young. And of course, he didn't quite understand because he was only six when Bob was diagnosed and nine when Bob went home to be the Lord. So as he got older, Peter, his and my conversations became deeper, obviously.

And there were tears as he was in his late teens and even in his early 20s where he had to reckon. He had to reckon with that God. And he and I told him, honey, throw everything at God. He can take it.

Take your anger, take your angst, take your, God, why? Or God, why couldn't you? When other people survive cancer, William would say, Mommy, why couldn't God have?

And I think we all have blanks. You know, I'm sure you have to. You know, I was thinking because when our oldest son was nine, he asked a very hard question of me and he said, Why should I believe that God cares about my hurts when I see what he allows Mom to go through? And that's a question that I don't think there's a lot of theologians that would want to tackle. And here I was looking at my son with his big brown eyes and in a moment that was uncharacteristically wise. You could tell the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit because that's not my normal suit. But I looked at him and I said, you know, son, I don't know why.

I really don't. And I said, but here's what I do know. And I said, he loved us enough to go to the cross for us. And I explained to him what that meant. I said, if he loves us that much, I'm willing to trust him with these other things, however painful it is. And it is. And I cannot imagine the grief that you guys have had. And yet I will say this, I want to get you a read on this.

R.C. Sproul said that Scripture makes a case that there are those, like those called to the ministry, like those called to the role of prophet that you see that these men were called in Old Testament. And Deborah, one woman.

She was a judge, I guess. But there are those who are called to suffer. Scripture affirms this.

Job, of course, being the most prominent, but you have the man that was born blind and all this kind of thing. But I think we can reasonably deduce from Scripture and see the handprint of God through this, is that if there are those who are called to suffer, then there are also those who are called to care for those who suffer and to be with them in it. And I think that one can reasonably say that, you know, Gracie is called to suffer for whatever reason. There's no other explanation that she's still even alive.

She has defined medical things over and over and over again. And that I am here as one who is called to care for her in it. You were in relationship now with two who were called to suffer. And you were called to care for them in the midst of that. If I have theologians listening right now and I'm in error, feel free to call me or write me at peterattheinternet.google.

No, I'm just kidding. But I think Scripture affirms this. There are always those who are going to tear up a roof to get somebody to Jesus. And so in your journey, how does that connect with you? Oh, such great insight and great questions. First of all, I would say that we all suffer. And as we all know, that suffering is a universal experience. And I almost think, Peter, honestly, it would almost be a little bit of hubris or arrogance to say, well, why do I suffer and not other people? Because it's not right to say that I shouldn't suffer and other people should suffer because we all suffer. So I think what I share with people is a number of things that we all suffer.

And none of us escape that. Nor do I think it would be right to ask God to spare us. Why would we be spared and other people wouldn't? Because what I have found in a number of things, and this is what I share in my book, is that many times the greatest blessings are found on the road and path of suffering.

And that's the only way to receive them. And what I've also found is that through our suffering, Peter, scores of people came to know Christ. My dad came to know Christ through our cancer journey. When Bob was sick, it was before Caring Bridge. So I had a little call in, a five minute communication where people could call in on the phone.

And it really went viral because caretakers heard about it or nurses heard about it and would tell nurses in Seattle, who would tell nurses in Venezuela, who would tell nurses in Tokyo. So it was just a call in and I would two and a half minutes, I would talk about Bob and how he was doing his weight, his medicines, how he's feeling. In the last two and a half minutes, I gave a little sermonette and I always ended with, to God be the glory.

And through that, Peter, it's amazing, the revival and the breakthrough, because people are watching when you suffer. And I honestly, and Bob said this to me a number of times, as a matter of fact, we had dressing changes. Every night at midnight, I had to do a dressing change because where his cancer was, was in his intestines and stomach.

That area, it's the peritoneal lining that holds all of your basically your gut together, your lower intestines. And so he had like a Frankenstein, staples. William thought he was his dad. He was so cool.

But we had to dress every night. And so one night... By the way, I did a whole bit with Jeff Foxworthy on You Might Be a Caregiver If... And I said, if you've ever changed a dressing while cooking a turkey with dressing, you're probably... Yes, that's great. Does that resonate with you? Yes, that resonates.

Oh, my goodness. Except we had to do it at midnight. But many times I was up cooking at midnight.

Absolutely. That's priceless. So one night it was dark. It was two in the morning. And I knew Bob would have phantom pain and I would be massaging his back.

We lived in the hospital a lot. But the times we were living at home, I would massage his back when he had phantom pain. And all of a sudden, at two o'clock in the morning, he sat up and said, Cindy, Cindy, I found it.

Well, that begs the question. Number one, he scared the living daylights out of me because everything was quiet. He sits up, it's dark in our room. And he said, I found it.

Well, that begs the question, well, what did you lose? And so I just threw off the comforter and was looking through the sheets to see if maybe the dressing changed, maybe a syringe had fallen or some of the tape. And he grabbed me gently by the hand. He said, sweetie pie, I found our ministry.

It's the ministry of suffering. And we should feel so honored that God felt us capable of living through and sharing the gospel and being joyful through this. Now, at two o'clock in the morning, I wasn't exactly feeling joyful. Maybe when the sun rose, I would have felt a little more joyful.

Ministry hours don't start till 8 a.m. Exactly, brother. But that was so profound because God used that again.

We never would have chosen that, Peter. But God used that to bring so many people to him. And I would love to share one of my favorite stories in the book that really crystallizes this. So when Bob first was diagnosed with this this horrific cancer, he had to go in to what to basically have a purge of all of his tumor. So he had a day of surgery and and there were so many tumors, they couldn't count them all. But he had to stay in the hospital for a week. So, again, William at the time was sick. So I would go to the hospital as long as I could.

Then I had to come home. And normally William was bathed by Bob. That was what my beloved did. He bathed Bob.

He bathed Bob, bathed William. But I took over that because I was in the hospital. And the first night that I was home and my beloved was at the hospital, William turned at me at six years old and said, Mommy, is Daddy going to die? I mean, I probably should have thought that he was going to ask that question, but it just caught me so off guard because we were just beginning this journey, Peter. We hadn't even started it.

This is like within three weeks of finally getting diagnosed. And I said, well, honey, daddy doesn't intend to, because I thought that was at least that put William at bay. And so that satisfied for the moment. But the next day I went to the hospital and I told Bob what had happened. I said, sweetie, William is asking this question and I want you to answer that for your son. So I prayed, I prayed, Peter, that William would not ask me that question again because I knew I had five more nights of being at home. And by God's grace, his outrageous grace, William did not ask me that question again. So the first night that Bob came home from the hospital, I was bathing William and William looked at my beloved and said, daddy, are you going to die?

And Bob, being the iconic hero that he was to myself and our little boy, looked William straight in the eye and said with such an epic response. He said, honey, yes, yes, daddy's going to die. Yes, honey, yes, daddy's going to die. And then he looked at me and he looked back at William and said, sweetheart, mommy's going to die. Mommy's going to die too someday. Mommy's going to die. And then he looked at our precious little boy and with the sweetest, most tender, most soft voice, and I could hear it as if it was today, he said very softly, and William, someday you're going to die.

And honey, I hope that's a long, long time from now and you live a long and fruitful and happy and productive life. But sweetheart, someday you're going to die. But sweetheart, the question is not whether daddy's going to die or mommy's going to die or William's going to die. But sweetheart, the question is, where do you go when you die? And at that point, William piped up and said, oh, daddy, daddy, you would go to be with Jesus. You would go to be with Jesus and there would be no more suffering and no more hurt.

Oh, daddy, that would be such a good thing. William never asked that question again. So Peter, what a gift, all I can just do is just say, I praise God for a husband that was so courageous and so strong as that Joshua 1-9. Be strong and courageous because I'm always with you. Do not be terrified.

Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is always with you. Bob knew that. And we imparted that to our little boy. So William, fortunately, did have a young faith, but as I said, over the years, he had to reconnect with God and talk to him.

And he did. He had some very candid and loud conversations with God. But but conversations that William now knows chats because God wants us to take our heartbreaks and our angst and the things that keep us up at night to him. There's no other place to take them. Well, exactly. And Peter, it's not like God is going to say, oh, really, you're feeling that way?

I had no idea. God knows our hearts. He knows our most innermost beings, but he wants us to communicate with him. And so now, after a series of those conversations, William is at a place that he knows that God is who he says he is. He knows that Jesus is his Lord and savior. He knows that Jesus is his rock. And even though in life loved ones of his will die. And even though in life he'll have some heartbreaks and disappointments and some things that will cause him great frustration and sadness.

He knows that he can depend and trust God no matter the circumstances, because many times we cannot control our circumstances. But we can control our response. Many times. Many times.

When have you found that you could control your circumstances? Never. Exactly. Exactly.

What has this many times been? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

I'm trying to be a little kind to people, you know, because it really is all the time. It is. And, you know, we can't control our responses and choose joy. You know, misery is a choice. Joy is a choice.

Suffering is unavoidable. It is. And I want, in the brief little time we have here left, would you tell us about your work and what you're saying to these families that you're engaging with? Because you are, you're on a mission.

I am on a mission. I mean, it's very clear. And you go boldly into people's heartbreak and their suffering where they are terrified. And you see it on their faces. You've been there. You've seen it on your own face.

You've seen it on your son's. And you go into these places. What is happening with that? What are you doing? And what are you seeing, more importantly, what are you seeing God do? Yes.

Yes. Well, first of all, I do tell people, as you say in your book and in your work, trust your instincts. Because, you know, there are going to be people around you that are going to maybe be critical or naysayers or who just want to give you their solutions. And so I tell them to trust their instincts and to do their research. I mean, they need, you know, when someone is sick and hurt, we need to do our research, learn about nutrition and treatments and talk to people and study about the disease. But at the end of the day, and particularly if there's a loss, we never want to have any regrets. So what I say to people and my world is pediatric cancer and I've been to so many funerals, so many funerals.

And so I speak a lot to moms, particularly because they're the caretakers. And what I share with them is that now if they've lost a child, number one, they're going to have a big hole in their time. So what are they going to do with that hole? It's like the hole in your heart.

What are you going to do with that? So I encourage them to absolutely pause, to get settled, to grieve, yes. But life beckons you forward.

You can't stay in neutral. And what I encourage them to do is that grief is an action word. And I encourage them to get involved, to put their grief into action, to be other focused and not self-focused and to look at something.

It could be an organization, it could be something for childhood cancer, it could be something else, it could be SPCA. But get involved as a family to look the other focus, not self-focused, to want to make a difference. Because otherwise, if you turn your grief inside, the enemy can use that in horrific ways. And the worst thing is you don't want to be isolated because typically these families have other children. So they need to now, again, because sometimes those children are always my moms who have multiple children, to remember that they have other children have needs too. So as a family, to get back into normalcy and certainly as a family to do things together for other people. And to have also, especially to the caretakers, to have community groups, to get into a community because God made us relational and we need to be around people. And community ushers in hope and joy and undergirds us with prayers. So I do encourage families to make sure that they're in community, especially with even other people who are undergoing that same situation or perhaps that are walking that journey.

Maybe they've walked a little before, walked a little after them. But it's very, very important to get back into a healthy routine. And while you're a caretaker, Peter, and you address this, you don't want to just survive, you do want to thrive. I mean, the caretaker used to be the old adage is, if mama isn't happy, nobody's happy. In this case, if the caretaker isn't happy, nobody's happy.

Well, that's an interesting description for me. I've learned a couple of things over this, over the years, is that I'm no good to my wife if I'm fat, broken, miserable. And one of the things that I've also helped my caregivers understand, this audience understand, is that there's a difference between grieving and despairing. And we're going to grieve.

We're going to mourn. But mourning and grieving is, when you mourn and when you grieve, there's an implication of acceptance that this is really happening. And we're not in conflict with reality. When you're despairing and raging about it, you're in conflict with reality. And when we can step from despair or raging out at it and step in that place of mourning, Jesus said, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. But you're not going to get that comfort if you're too busy despairing or raging.

That's right. And so we step in that place of mourning, and that's where that community can help just stand with us and respect and mourn. Absolutely. We don't need to get over it.

People that say you need to get over it and put that behind you, no, you need to walk away, put them behind you. Because it's okay to mourn for this. Jesus was a man acquainted with sorrows and grief.

He was. And so we're going to mourn all the way until he wipes the tears from our eyes in heaven. Absolutely. That's what's going to happen. We're going to mourn. We're going to have tears. And that's not going to change any time on the horizon because of this broken fallen world we live in. But we don't mourn as those who have no hope, scripture says.

That's right. And so I look at the way I approach it is that, you know, happiness is a bit elusive because it's based on things making me feel good. But what I can do today, right now, is strive for healthiness and to be healthy in how I approach this.

I love that you talk about it. You know, people take charge of your health as you go through these things for caregivers and for the patients alike. Because, again, I mean, how does Gracie's life improve if I'm fat? If my blood pressure is skyrocketing, if my sugars are high and all those kinds of things, how does her life improve with that? How does her life improve if I open up my wallet and moths fly out?

You know, how does her life improve with that? So I need to be industrious. I need to be healthy. I need to be focused on what I do. And this is what you are helping model for so many families. This is through your work. When you go into these places, this is through the work that you started with the foundation and with the other things that you're doing.

What are those things again? Right. Well, and let me just say, too, Peter, if I can just say one thing you said, you know, in Psalm 34, 18, it says that the Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. I mean, that's who our God is.

And to your point, you were talking about just very quickly and then I'll answer that. You know, joy, it's an intentional choice, but it's not based on your circumstances, but on your relationship with God. And when you know that you know that God is at work, even when you can't see it and you know that he is orchestrating a good plan and purpose for you, even when it might not be apparent, it's trusting God. And that changes everything because that's when I love what you said. It's not morning because we were all going to be grief stricken when things happen. I mean, this hole in my heart will stay.

It started as a little 12 year old and now with Bob, it expanded. But now I had Jesus in my heart and that satisfies. Nothing else does. So joy is an intentional decision. And just to your wonderful listeners, choose it no matter the circumstances, because God is glorious even when your circumstances are not.

Trust him. He has a great plan for your life. But what I did, yes, I turned my sorrow into action. And, you know, compassion is not necessarily a high intensity word because sometimes you just come and sit and listen to people. But for me, I when I sat on that pew when I was 12 years old mourning my mom's loss, I said someday, somehow, somewhere, someway, I want to do something to eradicate the scourge of a disease that has just taken this beautiful, talented woman.

I mean, she was 34 years old and I was 12. So when I came back from the University of Virginia, I started Wipe Out Kids Cancer. And it was just started initially. I was working in an equestrian club doing public relations. And it was just really for members. And we had events that were horse shows because it was an equestrian center. And then we also had it was a country club. So we had tennis courts and swimming pools.

So we had tennis tournament. We had people swim and got got pledges per lap, swum. And and we had a bake sale and a dance marathon. It was very organic and we expected to raise two thousand dollars. We raised six thousand dollars for the American Cancer Society. We did it again next the next year. We raised fifteen thousand dollars in the next year.

Twenty two thousand dollars. And Peter, a movement was started because people caught the vision. And really, I don't know anybody who hasn't been affected by cancer. So, you know, one out of two men, one out of three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. And statistics say that one out of 300 young boys, 20 and under and one out of 330 young girls, 20 and under will be diagnosed with cancer before they're 20. So so cancer happens. And so this movement started.

And now, 44 years later, I wasn't expecting this. We have raised tens of millions of dollars for novel and innovative cancer research projects. But what we also do is we have service projects, support programs that help provide hope and comfort to these courageous young children with pediatric cancer and their resilient families. And also, it's just an outreach of this. The net proceeds of my book Restored are going to benefit Wipe Out Kids Cancer and also the Maureen Conley Brinker Tennis Foundation. So I won't receive any monies from it.

But again, this is my first fruits. It's my way of just giving back to these precious families. And then to the Maureen Conley Brinker Tennis Foundation that's named after my mom. It's a very large junior tennis foundation.

We have tournaments, little tournaments, regional, national and international tournaments for gifted and talented young players. And so it's just when you give back, what I found is that grief is not a new emotion, nor is activism a new phenomenon. But when you marry the two, when you merge, when you blend those two grief with activism, Peter, healing starts to take place. And that's what I saw in my own life.

And that's what I've seen. So many people who volunteer with Wipe Out Kids Cancer have lost loved ones. Many people on our board, half of our board has either lost children or have gone through cancer themselves or lost very, very close loved ones in a nuclear family. And it's their way of giving back. So when you are other focused, again, you turn your grief into action. Great things happen.

And that's what I really encourage people to do. And it certainly has helped me grieve, yes, because pain is mandatory, but suffering is optional. And I use that word as a as an emotion, as suffering is optional when you choose joy.

Suffering is optional only based on how you choose to respond and whether you choose to embrace it and to go on and live positively and choose joy. You will either live a life that's victorious or a life that just is soaked in bitterness, anger. And dear friend, what I've seen is bitterness and anger is just like cancer.

It seeks to destroy. It really is. It's a cancer of the soul. It is. And it has torment with it. Such torment. And there's no need to live that way.

I tell this to myself and my fellow caregivers. Our goal is one day to stand at a grave. We may not make that happen, but that's the goal. When we stand there, you know, as we've seen our loved one all the way to the cemetery. But are we going to be there with clenched fists? Are we going to be there resentful at them, at friends and family, at doctors, at God, at ourselves? Or are we going to learn to live peacefully with this and trust the ever-living one whose wounds for me doth plead, as the hymn writer said? And so that is a good word.

Cindy, if people want to find you, where do they go? Yes. And I will say this last thing.

If you could just summarize my book, you just said it, it would be summarized in two words. Two words. Trust God.

Trust God. Indeed. Yes.

Define my book. Thank you for asking. Restored has a website. It's Brinker Simmons dot com. Brinker Simmons dot com.

Yes. And then you can find out about social media from that and how to get in contact and if you would like to purchase a book as well. But Brinker Simmons dot com. And I invite people to go on the website because it will just introduce them to the message of Restored and the endorsers and what people are saying. And it takes snippets from the book and just speaks to the heart of those who are suffering and in fragile places.

Well, please take advantage of this. I brought Cindy on the program today because I wanted her to speak to your hearts directly, those of you who are affected by this, with cancer particularly. And isolation is one of the most crippling things that we deal with as human beings. We were never meant to be isolated.

And we want on this program to go into that isolation with the hope of the gospel. And I want you to go to Cindy's website, Brinker Simmons dot com. Brinker Simmons dot com.

B-R-I-N-K-E-R-S-I-M-M-O-N-S dot com. I'm going to link to it through this recording here for the podcast or the show, my website, everything else. But I want you to go and I want you just to start connecting, whether it's getting the book, whether it's looking at all the videos, the resources and everything she has. Do not do this by yourself.

OK. Friends don't let friends care give alone. And we're committed to that here. Cindy, I want you to know how much I appreciate you being here. Thank you so much for taking the time. Thank you, Peter.

It was totally my joy. Thank you. Thank you for what you're doing, dear brother. Yes, ma'am.

This is Peter Rosenberger. This is Hope for the caregiver. Hope for the caregiver dot com.

You've heard me talk about standing with hope over the years. This is the prosthetic limb ministry that Gracie envisioned after losing both of her legs. Part of that outreach is our prosthetic limb recycling program. Did you know that prosthetic limbs can be recycled?

No kidding. There is a correctional facility in Arizona that helps us recycle prosthetic limbs. And this facility is run by a group out of Nashville called Core Civic. We met them over 11 years ago and they stepped in to help us with this recycling program of taking prostheses and you disassemble them. You take the knee, the foot, the pylon, the tube clamps, the adapters, the screws, the liners, the prosthetic socks. All these things we can reuse and inmates help us do it. Before Core Civic came along, I was sitting on the floor at our house or out in the garage when we lived in Nashville. I had tools everywhere, limbs everywhere and feet, boxes of them and so forth.

I was doing all this myself and I'd make the kids help me and it got to be too much for me. And so I was very grateful that Core Civic stepped up and said, look, we are always looking for faith-based programs that are interesting and that give inmates a sense of satisfaction. And we'd love to be a part of this and that's what they're doing. And you can see more about that at standingwithhope.com slash recycle. So please help us get the word out that we do recycle prosthetic limbs. We do arms as well, but the majority of amputations are lower limb and that's where the focus of Standing With Hope is. That's where Gracie's life is with her lower limb prosthesis. And she's used some of her own limbs in this outreach that she's recycled. I mean, she's been an amputee for over 30 years. So you go through a lot of legs and parts and other types of materials and you can reuse prosthetic socks and liners if they're in good shape. All of this helps give the gift that keeps on walking and it goes to this prison in Arizona where it's such an extraordinary ministry.

Think with that. Inmates volunteering for this. They want to do it. And they've had amazing times with it and I've had very moving conversations with the inmates that work in this program. And you can see, again, all of that at standingwithhope.com slash recycle. They're putting together a big shipment right now for us to ship over. We do this pretty regularly throughout the year as inventory rises and they need it badly in Ghana. So please go out to standingwithhope.com slash recycle and get the word out and help us do more. If you want to offset some of the shipping, you can always go to the giving page and be a part of what we're doing there.

We're purchasing material in Ghana that they have to use that can't be recycled. We're shipping over stuff that can be. And we're doing all of this to lift others up and to point them to Christ. And that's the whole purpose of everything that we do. And that is why Gracie and I continue to be standing with hope. Standingwithhope.com.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-28 04:17:21 / 2024-04-28 04:35:57 / 19

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