What was your motivator for launching 818 Ministries?
Bear with me guys. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared how we got started, so for all of our new volunteers/readers, I wanted to give you some history.
818 Ministries began, for me, on September 18, 2014. I woke up that Thursday morning having no idea my mother, Robin Dotson, would walk into a doctor’s office to be told she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two days later, mom and dad visited me to tell me in person. All I remembers of this conversation was sitting down on the couch and dad saying, “Rebecca we need to talk. Your mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.” Many details and statistics followed but those 7 words are all I remember. Several weeks passed and mom underwent surgery that was successful in making her a Breast Cancer Survivor. Following surgery, she began chemotherapy. The day of her first treatment, I forwarded her a devotional by She Reads Truth, LLC (an online daily devotional based out of Nashville, TN). The current series they were sharing was about giving thanks – and that specific day was titled Giving Thanks in Suffering. A couple hours later mom called me and said, “Bec – I’ve found my verse! Friends have sent me cards, called me and emailed me with verses that have been a wonderful encouragement but I haven’t felt like God had given me my verse for my journey yet. And it is Romans 8:18; it was at the top of She Reads Truth today.”
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18, ESV)
This verse is something the whole Dotson family started clinging onto as the nausea, fatigue and other side effects of chemotherapy began to settle in. About a week later I woke up in the middle of the night and realized something that still gives me chill bumps. God was so gracious to give mom the verse Romans 8:18 at the top of a devotional about suffering on her first day of chemotherapy. In addition to that, September 18th was also the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The number eighteen now has a different meaning to our family.
When mom came home from her first treatment and talked it over with me she told me about an elderly woman that was at the treatment center taking chemotherapy. She was there when mom arrived and she was there when she left. For several days following this conversation, I could not get this elderly lady out of my head or my heart. What is her story? Does she know the Lord as her Savior? Does she have a support system surrounding her?
And if there was one elderly lady in mom’s treatment center who did not have a support system and may not know Jesus as his/her Lord and Savior, how many others are there in our world today?
A week or two later, I began crocheting hats to prepare mom for when she might experience hair loss as she continued chemotherapy. This is when the Lord began to give me a vision for what would become 818 Ministries. The hats did not take long to make and were very easy.
Apart from hats, another thing that continually encouraged mom was cards friends and family would send her in the mail. All along, I could not stop thinking about the elderly lady alone in the treatment center. Does she have a support system sending her 8 or 9 cards a day and a daughter to crochet her hats to keep her head warm? Maybe, but maybe not.
After much prayer and consideration I got to work. I began designing a website and social media handles. I gathered advice from friends and family. After three months of planning and preparation, I decided to launch 818 Ministries as a two-fold ministry (soon to be nonprofit). One, to make hats (and teach others how) and pair them with handwritten letters to give to patients in need of encouragement facing serious illnesses. And, two, begin a devotional blog alongside women I do ministry with (and mom of course!). I want to have an impact on not only the patients touched by a handmade 818 item but I want to encourage the growing community of people who get involved and give to 818 Ministries.
A quote by Charles Spurgeon defines my heart during her mom’s sickness very well –
“…if it shall come to pass that for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s you shall endure suffering in any shape, shrink not, but rejoice in the honour thus conferred upon you, that you are counted worthy to suffer with your Lord; and joy also in this – that your sufferings, your losses, and persecutions shall make you a platform, from which the more vigorously and with greater power you shall witness for Christ Jesus.”
Do you have a life verse(s)?
Acts 20:24 - However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Maybe I naturally connect to the metaphor in this Scripture because I enjoy running, but I love the symbolism that our aim is to run our race, in our lane, with our eyes on Jesus.
What are 5 of your favorite things?
Coffee: I love the smell of it and I love how it brings people together. Some of my favorite conversations I’ve ever had have happened over a good ‘ole cup of joe!
My Bullet Journal (or as I often call it, my BUJO): this one is probably a phase, but they’re pretty trendy and fun these days. It is a type of planner, but rather than me trying to explain, just check it out at www.bulletjournal.com!
My new apartment: I recently moved into my own townhouse and am living by myself for the first time (can anyone say #adulting?!) and I am really enjoying it. It has provided a lot of sweet quiet time over the last several weeks and my new living room has become my spot for my time with the Lord.
Brooks tennis shoes: I’ve trained in them for about 5 years and I don’t know that I would ever be able to switch!
Our volunteers: the continued growth of 818 could not happen without the support and hard work of our amazing volunteers. I have been amazed this week (and so grateful) for many of you and the time you continue to invest in encouraging patients facing serious illnesses.
What are 3 of your favorite books?
Many of my favorites have already been said by others, but here are a few (I couldn’t narrow it down to three):
What is your favorite hobby and how did you get into it?
Running! I began running in late high school with my dad – it’s always been “our thing”. I did my first half marathon my senior year of high school and caught the long distance bug that hasn’t left me since. I train with Knoxville Endurance here at home and it is a blast. In the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to complete several half marathons, two full marathons and 4 Ragnar Relay races with many of my closest friends (and my dad of course!). Most recently I ran the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December during our Impact Squad visit inside the hospital. It was an incredible experience that I’d love to repeat again this coming winter