Maddie Morris and Her Parents: From Silly Mustaches to a Teen's Christmas Wish

Wed Nov 30 05:00:22 EST 2022
Episode 205

Maddie Morris has had a brain tumor three times. In the past, friends and family showed their support by posting pictures of themselves on social media sporting fake mustaches. The pictures brought a smile to young Maddie’s face while she endured treatment, and they even inspired her parents to write a middle-grade novel about the experience. But as now 19-year-old Maddie prepares to have surgery once again this December, she has a bit of a different wish that she’d love your help with this Christmas.

I remember just praying over and over, ‘This load is getting to me, and I need some help.’ And just the reality that that works—that it's not just for the surgery moment, it can be the weeks before where you wake up, and you think you should feel heavy and dreary, but you don't. It feels like somebody else has the load for now.
Chad Morris

Episode references:

Mustaches for Maddie

Character of Christ by Elder David A. Bednar

Show Notes:

1:49- No Attempt to Catch an Avocado
6:41- Eight Years Later
8:06- The Red Sea
11:53- When We Don’t Get the Miracle We Want
14:35- The Bigger Dream
18:07- A Window and A Mirror
23:10- What Do Trials Do For Us?
26:51- A Farsighted Approach To Challenges
30:33- Fear Holds Us Back From Each Other
32:21- The Power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ
34:44- Just Showing Up
40:31- This Year’s Christmas Wish
43:02- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?


Morgan Jones Pearson 0:00

In 2017, Shadow Mountain published a book titled "Mustaches for Maddie." The book told the story of a 12 year old girl named Maddie with a quirky sense of humor who is diagnosed with a brain tumor. To make Maddie smile, friends and family began sending funny pictures of themselves with fake mustaches and soon it spreads to include people Maddie has never met. What many readers may not realize is that Maddie was based on the author's daughter Maddie who really was diagnosed with a brain tumor and who really did think mustaches were hilarious. Today Maddie is 19 years old and unfortunately her brain tumor is back. But this time she has a bit of a different request for those that listen to this episode, a surefire way to make her smile.

Maddie Morris just graduated from high school and is hoping to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints soon after her next surgery. She loves singing, performing in musicals, reading, cooking, and crocheting cute stuffed sea animals. Maddie's parents Chad Morris and Shelly Brown are the authors of multiple books in addition to "Mustaches for Maddie." Other titles include "Squint," "Willa and The Whale" and their newest book "Virtually Me" which will be out next year.

This is All In, an LDS Living podcast, where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Pearson and I am so excited to have Chad, Shelly, and Maddie on the line with me today. Welcome, everybody.

Chad Morris 1:39

Thanks for having us.

Morgan Jones Pearson 1:40

No, thank you so much. I'm so excited about this conversation. And I've been really, really looking forward to it. So I wondered, to start us off, you guys have had quite the journey over the last 10 years or so. And I wondered if you could walk us through a brief timeline of Maddie's journey from the initial diagnosis to the present day.

Shelly Brown 2:07

So it's a brain tumor. When Maddie was nine years old, we were making guacamole in the kitchen. And I threw her an avocado, like I just tossed it at her just playing around just thinking she'd catch it. She didn't even try to catch it, not even like at all. She just kind of let it hit her chest and fall to the floor. And I was like, why did you not even try to catch that? And she said, Oh, well, because sometimes my hand doesn't work. And I found that to be one of the strangest things any of my children have ever said to me, because hands should work every single day. Like your hands just always work. And so I immediately was concerned. And I said, What else doesn't work? Let's look at your face, smile for me. You know, I'm like, Oh, we better call the doctor and we took her into Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake. And they took a look inside and said she has a brain tumor the size of two and a half golf balls. And that's where the journey started.

Chad Morris 3:06

Do you want to add Maddie?

Maddie Morris 3:07

Yeah, we didn't know like whether it was cancerous or not at the beginning. But they tested it later and found out that it wasn't, which we're really grateful for that I had surgery, I think like two weeks after we found out about the tumor. And my hand just kept getting worse. I would hold my arm and it would just kind of come up towards my head and I would hold my hand in a fist just naturally. And by the time that it was time for surgery, I couldn't even pry my fingers open, like my hand was closed so shut that I couldn't open it, which is scary to have to fight your own own body like that. But the the surgery was very successful. They removed 90% of the tumor and got me on lots of meds and stuff to take care of me and my hands working again. Everything was fine.

Shelly Brown 4:19

Unfortunately, that was a really long hospital stay. They anticipated two to three days and it turned into weeks. And in that process, we had my cousin who wanted to do something nice but didn't really know what to do. Because what do you do? What do you do for a kid who has a brain tumor and is getting surgery in a hospital? Like what do you do? You know, your heart goes out to them but how do you how do you help and and so she just came up with this silly idea where she took a picture of herself wearing a crazy mustache. She posted it with the hashtag mustaches for Maddie on social media. And then she encouraged friends and family to do the same and they did. And when they did, they encouraged their friends and family to do the same as well. And that spread around in a way where we were getting pictures of people wearing silly mustaches daily by the hundreds, which made a big difference because that hospital stay was hard, really hard. There was a lot of tears. There was a lot of physical therapy, there was a lot of medication, finger pricking, and tubes and things just kids don't want to have to go through. But to be able to see that there was a whole cheering team by the hundreds that was on your side and cheering for you made a big difference.

Morgan Jones Pearson 5:40

Yeah. Maddie, I'm curious when your mom like when she tossed the avocado to you. Obviously, up to that point, you hadn't said anything about your hand not working just right. So what was going through your head? Like should I tell my parents about this? Should I not?

Maddie Morris 5:57

Well, at that point, it wasn't too bad. It would just kind of come up sometimes. And I could put it down. And it was fine. If I thought about it, but it just naturally came up. I honestly didn't really know that it was weird. I kind of just thought, I guess that just like happens sometimes. You know, my mom freaked out about this.

Shelly Brown 6:22

The best part is she told me she goes well, I'm at that age where we're always being told our body will be going through changes. She was like, I don't know what to expect

Chad Morris 6:36

Hands not working is not one of those things.

Morgan Jones Pearson 6:39

Fair though. Okay, so since that initial, which I didn't realize that it's never been cancerous, so despite the fact that you've repeatedly you've had these tumors each time they've been benign, is that right?

Chad Morris 6:55

Yes. It's very dangerous, because it pushes against the brain, her optic nerves, right? Because it's pushing on the right side of your brain. It affected the left side of her body, right? But it's not cancer. So that's great. So it doesn't like spread the cancer cells into other parts of her body. But tumor's a tumor, we don't like it.

Morgan Jones Pearson 7:18

Yeah. So just recently, you found out that you have a tumor again, is that right?

Maddie Morris 7:24

Yes. So I actually had a second surgery, about a year and a half after the first one when I was 11. And that one, there was a cyst growing where the original tumor was. And they were able to remove this cyst and most of the original tumor as well. And we thought it was gone.

Chad Morris 7:49

Yeah, the doctor came out so excited, like, miraculous. I think we got it all. And we were thrilled because we can never tell. There's always a chance to can come back. And unfortunately, eight years later,

Shelly Brown 8:03

It's come back. Can I share a story with the situation? I was a little frustrated, when I found out two years later, we were gonna have to do it all over again. Because it was very, very hard. And it was very hard on Maddie. And it's just hard as a mom to watch your kids go through things. And there was a part of me, that was like, we already did this, like, do we have to do it two times, like do we really have to go through all of this again, and this time they were going to have to do a more invasive surgery because they had already done the less invasive surgery, and they couldn't go through that same space. So they were going to have to do a craniotomy. And it was just scary to me. And I was thinking, I don't want to have to go through this for her again. Like I don't want to have to see her suffer again. I don't want to have to do the physical therapy and everything else that comes with this. I think knowing was a little scarier for me the second time around. And I had this moment in my scripture study where I just realized in many ways I'm the children of Israel like we've already we've gone through so many steps to get to the Red Sea, just to find out we're standing in front of another surgery and another the Red Sea is sitting right there and I think that's like what am I supposed to do at this point that the army is coming behind me and I feel trapped. And I don't want to do this. I don't know what else to do. I thought I already did all the steps you told me to do but there is always that miracle that happens at the Red Sea where he opens the Red Sea and you can't get to that place without being tracked a little bit. You don't see those miracles. Sometimes we feel like a rock in a hard place. But sometimes we won't see those miracles until we're at rock and a hard place. And that's a very difficult thing, I'm sure for the children of Israel to have been able to tell when they're standing there, looking at the ocean, or the sea in front of them, and the army behind them, you know. And that became a very real story to me. We had prayed from the first surgery, I said [to the doctor], What about that 10% that's left? And he said, what's going to happen to it, it might just sit there, there's all sorts of options. And he goes, and for all I know, it could just fall off. And I was like, I know what I'm praying for specifically praying for.

Chad Morris 10:42

We should explain what fall off means...it gets dangerous the tumors against the brain, and they will pull it away from the brain because it has some, some damage it can do so. So if it naturally falls away from the brain that can pull the tumor out.

Shelly Brown 10:56

Thanks, Chad. Because I didn't explain that well. And so he said, If it just falls off, you know, then it'll be fallen off, it'll have died and fallen off. And I was like, that's what we're praying for. And so we prayed for two and a half years. For that to happen, I then found ourselves at the Red Sea, having to do it all over again. And the doctors while they were in there, they pulled at it and tugged at it and got as much of the soft tissue off that they could but didn't want to do any damage to the brain where it was the tumor was attached. And then they turned around and said, I don't think there's anything else we can do. And they were like, can you think of anything else? And they were like, No, and they turned back around, and it had fallen right off. So we felt like we already had one miracle. And we're pretty confident good things are in store, but it's still scary every time.

Morgan Jones Pearson 11:51

For sure. Well, and I guess one thing that and this is because this is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately–hope and hoping for miracles. You know, the prophet has talked a lot about expecting miracles. And I've thought a lot about this contrast between expecting miracles, and then almost like being afraid to hope for the miracle because we've experienced disappointment in our lives. And so for you guys, when you've seen miracles, but then also have seen this thing repeatedly resurge, how do you continue to live with hope and faith rather than fear?

Chad Morris 12:34

Great question. I think I think it's tricky, right? I think a lot, a lot of the times we want to expect miracles, and we get nervous. Because we would rather expect a miracle we want than whatever miracle God wants to give us. And I think the more our hope is tied in a specific result, then as we go through life we feel disappointed, right? Because we don't always get exactly what we hoped for. But the more our hope is in Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father, that they they love us more than we can ever imagine, they are very aware of everything that's happening. And they've got great things in store. I think when your hope is in that place, they always come through. And so that's what's so tricky, because I think our minds naturally go to okay, I want to hope that we show up for the next surgery and the doctor says nevermind, it's miraculously gone which is likely not going to have gotten could still do it if he wants to. But the likelihood there is not good. But that whatever it is we have to face that they'll take good care of us and there's miracles in store. And it's probably better than what we would have thought or expected for so I hope that answered your question. But yeah, I think that's key: hope in them.

Morgan Jones Pearson 14:02

For sure. Well, I heard a quote recently, I believe it was Emily Belle Freeman said, God will give you a miracle or He'll give you something better. And I think that that is true, although a lot of times the the better is not the way that we imagined it

Shelly Brown 14:19

It is the children of Israel, right? That's something better. Like that army's gone. They're not going to chase them anymore. They're gone. But it's so hard for us to see that that's what's coming.

Morgan Jones Pearson 14:30

Right, because we're in the middle of our story. Chad, you were set to go and I should say Chad and Shelly you both are authors, and very accomplished. But Chad, you were set out to go on a big book tour when you found out about Maddie's tumor, the second time, the resurgence, and you put everything aside because you said that being a father and a husband mattered most to you. I wondered I think this is true of a lot of people where there are situations that arise and the things that we've dreamed for and worked for have to kind of be put aside for other things that matter most. And so for all of you I guess what would you say to others who are finding that sometimes we have to put our dreams aside to do what matters most?

Chad Morris 15:21

Great question. Yeah, yeah, that was tricky. I had, I'd worked for a long time to try to become an author. And this was my, my first book coming out that was supposed to come out, I think two weeks after Maddie's surgery, no, it came out I remember we were in the recovery room, the day I was supposed to be out touring, sitting in there. And I think dreams are still really important. And I think we still have to work for those and hope for those and pray for those. And to tell you the truth, I don't know that I had to give up a dream or anything like that. In fact, it was kind of just priorities, it was going for the bigger dream. In fact, I think it was kind of lucky to have this dream I'd worked for forever, and have a contrast with my little girl having problems. Because when the two were kind of up against each other, it was like that choice was so easy. A no brainer, I would much rather go in and support my daughter than worry about book stuff. Right? And I think a lot of times the choice is not that easy. The contrast isn't that, it's more like, Hey, do you work on your dream? Or do you hang out with your daughter? And you have to make those tough calls every day, because the bigger dream is my family, this wonderful, awesome thing we work hard on. And I want to be there to support and lift and help and all that good stuff. And the other ones just another nice other dream, right? Which I think we can work on too. I think God cares about those two. So what I would say is that I think God cares about everything we care about. But I think He also cares a lot about us keeping it in the right priorities. And that's a good thing we can think and pray about and work on what matters most most. And work on the other things in the time we have left over.

Morgan Jones Pearson 17:18

So the thing that I think is so cool about your family story is that as a result of this experience that you went through with Maddie, Chad and Shelly, you ended up writing a book. And Shelly, you already mentioned the mustaches for Maddie. But you kind of wrote a book based on this experience. And it was fictional to a point but obviously vary based on your daughter's experience. And as a result, you not only have been able to share that story to let people that are going through something hard know that they aren't alone, and to maybe inspire others to recognize how they can do something small to help. But also you've had a chance to share other stories about other hard things that kids deal with. So I wondered how can you see that this experience and how it led to these books has uniquely blessed your life?

Chad Morris 18:15

Good questions Yeah, that took us a little bit to decide to write this story. It was our publishers idea. And we took a little convincing, had to talk to Maddie and she read all the drafts. And in the end, people were so awesome to us. And so good, that we just felt like it was a story worth telling, right? Bring more hope out there to the world. And being able to write other ones. It's been a great experience. We get kids that write into us, right? Specifically about mustaches for Maddie. Right? We got one just a couple of weeks ago, from a girl it's like I have a tumor like Maddie and I loved her story, right? And just talk how she can relate to it and, and loves the hope of it. And you know, it's just great to have a little bit so we sent her a few other free books. So of other stuff that we've written and have other kids that write about some of the others. We wrote a book about it. A kid who struggles with his eyes while he's trying to drop comics. And some kids can relate to the eye problem, or sometimes they just relate more generally. So yeah, my life's tough too and I want to do stuff and things get in my way. And I'm just grateful to read the story. They don't usually say it that way but that's the message from the chat. We love it. We had a kid in the book Mustaches for Maddie. Maddie makes up a game to try to get more people involved. It's one of the ways she's dealing with the craziness, that she can play. And a teacher wrote us and said after they had read the book as a class, the class decided to run out to recess and all play the same game that Maddie made up in the book and she said the whole class played together and said, I've never seen them be this close. And we love how kind they're being. And we just get these cool stories and emails and get to meet people. And I love it, I think it's a great blessing to us.

Shelly Brown 20:17

I think these books offer both a window and a mirror. So for there's a lot of kids out there who are struggling with big kind of health issues or self esteem issues or things like mental health issues, that could use a little bit of a mirror so that they can see themselves in stories, and they can be the heroes of stories, even in the middle of their struggle, and they can come off conquer, if you will. But it's also great because their window stories so for these kids who don't have the same concerns, they're able to look into the story and sympathize and understand and build empathy in their hearts for for people who are struggling. And it does something good for the soul. And I think that the more stories like that that are out there to help create strong, resilient, empathetic souls, probably the better for the whole world. I don't take credit for the books though, by the way, I'm not speaking for Chad, but I know that I am not taking much credit. There's a lot of praying that goes on. And so as I say, these books are good for the world. I'm willing to do the typing. But there's a lot of inspiration.

Morgan Jones Pearson 21:33

And I was gonna ask Maddie having read the drafts, like your dad said, as they were working on it, what did you notice about their ability to capture, like, the actual emotion and the things that you were experiencing? How good of a job did they do it at?

Maddie Morris 21:52

Oh, so something that's kind of like funny, people don't always realize that the book is only based on a true story. Because there are definitely certain aspects of this Maddie that aren't me. And there are definitely things that happened to her that didn't happen to me. But overall, like, I think it's really cool that we were able to share my story and help other people because keeping it to ourselves doesn't really do anything, it doesn't help us it doesn't help anyone else. And there's no real purpose in that. So I'm glad that we have had the opportunity to help other people and and create more empathy and compassion. But especially in the kids that read it.

Morgan Jones Pearson 22:50

I love that. Well, I wonder too, you know, talking about the empathy and the compassion and being able to share your story to help other people, additionally, Chad, you said in an email to me that you've learned that God lets us go through trials for various reasons, I wondered what are some of the other reasons that you all have seen as why you believe God has allowed you to pass through this?

Maddie Morris 23:21

For me, like, especially my first surgery, as just a nine year old kid, I feel like I was decently selfish. I just didn't really. I was a nice kid. But I didn't realize what other people were going through around me. And that everyone was having these challenges and things. And when I'm going through something as big as a brain tumor, everyone around me knows it. And they are trying to show love and help me and serve me. But it made me realize like, people are going through hard things every day. And not everybody's challenges are big and obvious to everyone else. And we need to find ways to show love for others. And just assume that everyone's having a hard time in some way or another. One of my favorite quotes is "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." And I think that's something good to live by. It's just that like, everyone's going through something hard. So you might as well treat everyone with with love and kindness like they are.

Chad Morris 24:31

I think if I can chime in. I think another great reason is that trials give us an opportunity to rise up and do good and allows other people to do it too. But Maddie as was mentioned, Maddie loves mustaches. She thought they were hilarious, right? And so when these people start sending in these pictures, not only was it like something kind but it was also something really creative and really funny. Right, which people don't always think about with trials. I mean, we got got pictures of stuffed animals with mustaches, babies with mustaches, somebody put a giant mustache on their car for her. We got a whole school classes that did it,doctors offices. A group at Nickelodeon and Discovery Channel put them on for her. In fact, shout out to Jennette McCurdy who plays Sam on iCarly heard about it and sent Maddie a private message showing her moustache collection to Maddie and just said I'm thinking about you, hold this all goes well. it was just his opportunity for all these people to just do some good in the world, which I think that's one of the reasons God lets us go through trials. We can rise up, we can do good. We can make somebody else smile, we can make their day a little bit better. You know, humor is a big deal in our family is one way we deal with things. When people read the book. They're like, I'm surprised how funny it was. That's another way you can you can try to rise up when things are hard. We can try to find out we can try to find a laugh while we're expecting the next miracle and I think God trusts us to do that.

Morgan Jones Pearson 26:15

Maddie, did you have a favorite moustache that you got?

Maddie Morris 26:19

Not specifically, there were definitely ones that I thought were were funnier than others. I really liked the babies. There was some with like, animals and stuff that were really funny. I thought the fake mustaches were better than the real ones.

Morgan Jones Pearson 26:37

Yeah, yeah, I'm with you. Everybody should just steer clear. What do they say?

Chad Morris 26:45

Like no shave November?

Morgan Jones Pearson 26:46

Yes, yes. I'm like please no. Well, Maddie, I'm also curious this has been obviously a roller coaster of emotion for you. And something that has, because you've dealt with it for so long, I would imagine greatly affects your ability to have a "normal life," which I don't think there is such a thing. But what have you found to be helpful to you? Or what would you suggest to other kids that may find themselves in a similar situation?

Maddie Morris 27:20

That's a good question. I think, kind of like what I was saying before, it's important to take time for yourself, and especially when you're going through hard things to take care of yourself. But also, it's important to find ways to look outside of yourself, and try and serve other people. That's one of the ways that we can find some of the best joy in our lives, I believe, is by serving other people and doing things unselfishly, just out of love.

Shelly Brown 27:58

I think it's hard when you're in the middle of really difficult things. I mean, there's a lot of struggle in life. I mean, good old Buddhist beliefs of life is struggle and we all see it. It's a test, it's a challenge. But I think what Maddie is saying is is spot on, like looking outside of yourself is really critical. And President Nelson talked about that myopic view of struggle, and that we need to have that much broader sense of everything going on. And I think when we're myopic, it's really scary and sad and frustrating. And our trials seems so huge. But when we're able to pull back and get a much broader sense of the whole plan of salvation, we do start looking at our neighbors for for maybe how we can help and we look at our blessings in such a bigger way that we're like, look at how much I've been given, instead of that small view of look at what I'm going through, it's so hard.

Chad Morris 29:00

Even on top of that, I think, trying to serve other people, when your life's not going great, it's Christlike, right? Like when John the Baptist dies, and he goes off to be alone. And the other people follow him. I'm sure he would have rather just hung out and sorrowed in his own way and grieved, but that's the time where you get where he's blessing, multiplying the fish and bread or on the cross and he's taking care of his mom and there's all these times where we have reasons very valid real reason to say I can't serve right now because I've got this going on.

Morgan Jones Pearson 29:38

And nobody would blame you.

Chad Morris 29:41

Yeah, but but if there's something anytime we're trying to be like Christ, and I'm not saying you have to be superhuman about it. There's definitely times where you're like, I just can't but that idea of even when life's hard you can try to help somebody out. There's always you go to the hospital when Maddie has these surgeries and you see all these people with other problems, some of them even bigger or more serious than ours, right? And you realize, hey, this is this is tough for us. But there's other ways you can you can help and people, other people have it worse than us. Right? And anyway, I think it's that's a great concept to try to reach out yourself and serve other people even when your life is bad.

Morgan Jones Pearson 30:22

Yeah, that reminds me of the talk "The Character of Christ," by Elder Bednar. That's one of my favorite talks. And he talks about that turning outward when we ourselves are going through something hard. So I wonder for you two, Chad and Shelly, we've talked about other people serving Maddie, but how have you seen her turn outward In the middle of her own struggle?

Chad Morris 30:46

Maddie is always good at that, actually. So that's, that's interesting to try to think.

Shelly Brown 30:51

Yeah, it's difficult because she says she was a selfish nine year old and we all are a nine, let's be honest. But she's always had a heart that looks around and sees if somebody's lonely.

Chad Morris 31:03

Yeah, she's good at like writing notes for other people, or especially back then on text. But she's great in reaching out to the other people in the neighborhood, right? Fighting people to things and making sure they're not lonely.

Shelly Brown 31:21

She's a fabulous minister to her sisters. But I don't know she one thing I'll say for Maddie between being nine years old and being 19 years old, at nine years old, she was scared. But we had a discussion about really, you know, sometimes you just look at the worst case scenario. And I said, worst case scenario, God takes you back to Him. And I'm like, "How do you feel about that?" And I think realizing that she was okay, she was going to be okay, if God took her back, that's a good place to have made it so that she lives her life with a lot less fear now. And living your life with a lot less fear does allow you to reach out to people, because fear holds us back from each other a lot. And so living her life as a lot less fear, I think makes it easier for her to just even talk to the people in her class or at work or things like that.

Morgan Jones Pearson 32:20

Absolutely. I love that. So I wondered, Chad and Shelly, for you, thinking about other parents who are in similar situations with their kids and I think especially at this holiday season, that's a tough time to be dealing with any kind of medical issue, and especially watching a child go through that. So what has been helpful to the two of you as parents in getting through this emotional roller coaster of health challenges.

Chad Morris 32:53

So I'm a thinker. And that's a good thing and a bad thing. But like when Maddie first got this tumor, it bothered me big time. And like, I would go to work and just look at my computer and catch myself just kind of spiraling and all these worries or thoughts about stuff. And it was really hard, right? I just wasn't getting things done like I wanted to. And I've been in positions where I get to teach about the Atonement of Jesus Christ so many times before. But this is one of those moments where you're like, I hope this is going to apply to this. So I remember just praying over and over, like, this load is getting to me, and I need some help. And just the reality that that works, that it's not just for the surgery moment, it can be the weeks before where you wake up, and you think you should feel heavy and dreary, but you don't. It feels like somebody else has the load for now. It's like I'm gonna let you give done what you need to get done. I'll carry this for you now. And the tricky part is that that's not a one time thing. You can have a good day and you feel like the Savior's helped with this today. And then the next day right back to where you thought, which is tricky, right back to where you were, but with more prayers and more help and overall I think over time, I just say that the Savior wants to help. Right, other people do too. He can help directly, He can send other people to come help you out. But He wants to and wants us to invite Him to. And I think that's the biggest. In fact, if you don't mind, I'll tell you another story. When Maddie went into the second surgery, Maddie is doing all the craziness. She's there under the crazy stress but Shelly and I are in a waiting room for most of the day, these surgeries can be 4-8 hours long, and and just our personalities are very different. I'm like, when I go into that, I'm like spiritual a-game, I will be praying like almost every moment that we're there. Meanwhile, Shelly has got a different way of exercising faith. She's like, I've already fasted. I've already prayed. I'm trusting the Lord.

Shelly Brown 35:21

At that point, I will get extreme, like, I get ulcers. And I'm like, Yeah, I can't sit there for eight hours and think about surgery, like, oh my gosh, I'll go crazy.

Chad Morris 35:30

She's like, I need a stress release. I need to watch a funny video or, or something. So you can imagine the two of us sitting next to each other in a waiting room. And I'm trying to do like focus and prayer. And Shelly's like, hey, check out this video. It's really funny. And I tried to be nice and watch a few. Yeah, that's funny, you know, but then she's annoyed that I'm not laughing with her. And I'm annoyed that she showing me this stuff. And then Shelly's cousin shows up in the waiting room at the hospital and just says, You know what I was just thinking this morning. I know Chad, and I know he wants to be focused. And I know, Shelly, and I know she wants somebody to talk to. So I'm here to talk to Shelly, Chad, you can go do your thing. And I think that's just another great way, the Lord just wants to help. Right. And again, it's not all the big things, but little ways He wants to help out along the way.

Morgan Jones Pearson 36:24

But that's such a good story. It reminds me, my grandma was a widow for like 15 years. And she had a neighbor whose husband passed away. And my grandma didn't know the neighbor very well. And she called the lady and she said, and we didn't know about this until after my grandma passed away. But the lady said, My Grandma called her. And she said, I want you to know, I'm going to come over and sit with you. But you should also know I don't expect you to say anything to me. And my grandma, like that would have been so far out of her comfort zone. But she did it because she knew what she had felt like. And she knew that she would have wanted somebody to come and sit with her and to not feel like she had to talk. And so I think just recognizing, you know, this is something that I would want somebody to do for me and being thoughtful enough like your cousin Shelly, to think, you know, this is the situation that will be going on here. And how can I help in that? Shelly, would you add anything about your thoughts about how you've been able to get through this as a parent?

Shelly Brown 37:32

You know, I was thinking I was listening to Chad and thought, you know, you covered a lot of what I was thinking the only thing I wanted to add he then hit on right after was just that we don't know what to do for others. And I think I learned that in this situation. What can anybody do for a child with a brain tumor? Like what can you do, you can't do anything big, you can't take the tumor away, you can't delay the surgery and help out and none of that stuff is going to come to do it. All you can do is whatever you can do. And I think I just learned that you just try you try to do something, you try to do anything. My cousin I was just talking to this is ironically, you guys, this is all the same cousin. I have lots of cousins. But all of these stories are the same cousin, which tells you a lot about this woman. We were talking on the phone and she said when she had her twins, one of the neighbors down the street, knocked on her door. And when she opened it, she was standing there with a couple of bags of cool frozen corn that she had frozen herself and then a vacuum cleaner. And she goes, I froze some extra corn for you. Can I vacuum your house? And she's like, it was so awkward and awesome at the same time. She was like, yes. And yes. And she goes, no, my house wasn't perfectly clean. At that moment. Of course it wasn't, you know, like she just had twins. But I think sometimes we say I can't do that. That's so weird. It's okay. It's really okay, to do those things that come to your head, even if they sound a little off. Even if you're like, I don't know, do they want me to show up at the waiting room? She literally just showed up at the waiting room. Doing the mustaches? Like that's kind of a weird thing to do. But I don't know why not. Why not? If you can't think of anything else, write them a card. I had a friend ship Maddie a bunch of small craft items to make her own crafts. They were still were small, silly things but Maddie had a lot of fun with them. It really the sky's the limit. Just say a prayer and do the first thing that comes to your head and your heart and you're not going to do it wrong. And truthfully you might do it wrong, and that's okay, too. I think it's okay to do it wrong sometimes and have them go, "I really just didn't want company at that moment" and say, Okay, I love you. And I think the it'll still be okay. Because it's in grieving times and things like that when we're struggling, grieving for whatever reason, even just grieving for just the struggle of life. You might not do it perfectly. And that's okay. It's okay to have them say, No, not right now.

Morgan Jones Pearson 40:28

Yeah, perfect. Maddie, you have got from what I understand a little bit of a different request, this time rather than pictures of mustaches. Can you tell me a little bit about what you're thinking in terms of what people could do for others right now, in honor of your upcoming surgery?

Maddie Morris 40:52

Yeah, so kind of like what we've been talking about this whole time, just the idea to look outside of yourself and find ways to help and serve those around you. Not only is it a great thing to do for me and to show support for me, but also it's a great thing to do around this the holiday season. Like with Light the World and everything that goes on during this time. There's so many ways to serve. And it's a lot of lots of programs and events to go to to serve, especially at this time of year. So my request, I guess, is that you find ways to serve others and if you want to share it on social media with the hashtag make kindness for Maddie.

Chad Morris 41:42

So she goes in predict surgery December 8. If people want to send more mustaches, that's awesome. She'll still laugh at them. That's great. You can still use mustaches for Maddie if they want. But she would rather this, do something kind. You can tag her. She can read that while she's recovering.

Shelly Brown 42:00

And what was it again, buddy?

Chad Morris 42:02

Make kindness for Maddi

Shelly Brown 42:03

Make kindness For Maddie— The number four? I'm actually asking because I don't know.

Morgan Jones Pearson 42:09

Yeah, no.

Chad Morris 42:11

Either way will work. Yeah.

Shelly Brown 42:13

You can find both.

Morgan Jones Pearson 42:14

You choose? Well, I love that so much. And this episode is set to air on November 30. So that'll be perfect. It'll give us a good week to flood social media hopefully with with those acts of kindness. And I agree Maddie, like nothing better that you could do at this holiday season, than turn outward. And there are a lot of people I think, like I said earlier, it's interesting to me that it seems like a lot of times there are people going through really hard things around the holidays. And it's important for us to remember in the middle of all of the happy, joyful things that there are other people going through a hard time. So thank you for that reminder. And for giving us something direct to do I love a good direct invitation. My last question for you guys is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? And we'll have each of you share your answer to that if you don't mind.

Chad Morris 43:12

Tough moms go first.

Maddie Morris 43:14

I can. I think obviously, there's like the basics, like going to church and studying your scriptures and doing the things that we've been asked to do. But overall, kind of like the message of everything that has been is being ready to be God's hands at all times, keeping yourself in a place spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, that you can serve others and do God's will at any, any time that he needs you and being prepared to do that.

Shelly Brown 43:55

That sounds hard.

Chad Morris 43:57

Which by the way, Maddie's an awesome example. She's hoping for mission papers soon after the mission call soon after the next surgery.

Morgan Jones Pearson 44:05

That's amazing Maddie, you'd be an awesome missionary.

Maddie Morris 44:09

Thank you.

Shelly Brown 44:11

For me, being all in has a lot to do with my heart. I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ comes down to having a heart like Jesus Christ. I think the choices that you will make the way that you will feel about yourself and the people that are around you. The way that you will live the gospel will come down to your heart and so for me, it's a matter of I read the scriptures so I can know Christ. And by knowing Christ, I can better emulate Christ. I say my prayers because I need them. Oh boy, do I need them. But it's just to ask Him to help me to be more like thy son and and for me the idea of Every day doing all little things is overwhelming like that that concept is too big for me. But the idea of changing my heart to his I can understand a little better. So for me, I'm all in by trying to, to adjust my heart in those little ways with every time I can feel it a little off, just make those minor corrections. It's not that close, by the way, just making sure everybody understands that, but all I can do are minor corrections. That's all I know how to do, right? Making those minor corrections as I keep trying to get closer. Thank you,

Chad Morris 45:33

I think Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are all in on us on you. Right? I don't know if that's the right way to say it. But, maybe the universe and a world and everything's for us, right, and the work and the glory. I mean, if you're narrowed down on what's most important to them, it's like, their kid, you know, Heavenly Father's favorite thing is just His kids. And he just asks us to try to do a little bit back to try to be all in loving him back and loving his kids back. And that's the same as the Savior. Right? The most important thing to him is obeying his father and helping us. And yeah, I think being all in is just trying to be like, just trying to show love back and love, love their kids. And I think they appreciate every little thing we do.

Morgan Jones Pearson 46:26

But thank you three so much. It's been such a joy to get to talk with you and Maddie, we will all be praying for you. I know I will. And we're rooting for you. So thank you all so much, and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, too. We are so grateful to Chad, Shelly, and Maddie for joining us on this week's episode. We invite you in the next week to share one act of kindness on social media with the hashtag make kindness for Maddie. If you tag us as well, @allin.podcast. We'll share all of the fun acts of service we're seeing. The book Mustaches for Maddie is available in Deseret bookstores, I would highly recommend the audiobook which you can listen to on Deseret Bookshelf Plus, because Shelly is the narrator and does an awesome job. Big thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix at six studios for his help with this episode and thank you for listening. We'll look forward to being with you again next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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