When she was six years old, my daughter, Erin, was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease: FSGS. Her disease causes her immune system to attack her kidneys, and slowly, they fail. She is nine now, and we remain hopeful and have faith that God is able to sustain her. But, it isn’t always easy. When Erin was first diagnosed during one of her early hospital stays, a sweet child life therapist saw her struggling and feeling down. She asked Erin what she would do if she could do anything in the hospital that day. Erin told her she would like to make a pillow that looked like a kidney. Armed with a t-shirt, hot glue, and stuffing, that’s what they did. This strange looking pillow ended up being a comfort to Erin—so much so that she asked if we could start making kidney pillows for other kids going through the same ordeal. But, we hesitated. Then, in 2017, Erin went through a rough time and the pillow idea came back up again. This time, we went for it. We started making kits that come with all the materials a child needs to make a silly kidney pillow. In just a short time, it grew in popularity. It blossomed from taking pillow kits to our local hospital to sending them to other countries. My daughter and I have a heart for kidney kids, so it began as a way to offer encouragement and hope to other families struggling with the diagnosis. As a believer, I wanted to give them a little more to help them understand God’s greater purpose, so we now include the smile tract—a brief message of the Gospel—to go along with the smiley face appliqué that each child receives for their pillow. Silly Kidneys started as something to bring a smile to my daughter’s face has now allowed us to minister to other children and their families around the world.
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