NICU Nursing Gifts: Letter From A Family

Everyone has a way they receive love.  Gary Chapman covers the topic thoroughly in his book The Five Love Languages.  From what I remember of the book, and from what I identify in myself, is that we receive from all of the five ways love is expressed, but each of us has a primary love language.

Evidently, my primary love language is quality time.  My secondary is acts of service.

But one thing I love so very much are words.  I love written words and spoken words.  I love the bridge words create connecting one person to another.  And recently, I received the most beautiful words from a beautiful family.

This family gifted each nurse who took care of their baby with a rustic cuff and the letter below.  I’ve changed a bit of the letter to protect the family’s privacy, but wanted to share because of the insight it provides.  Sometimes we get so focused in, we forget how much value each of the little things holds in the hearts of those we as nurses get to care for.

As I read through this letter, the following passage of scripture was stirring in my thoughts.

Matthew 25:34-40 NLT
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” 
Then these righteous ones will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?”
And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”      

NICU Nursing Gifts: Letter From A Family

Hope– a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, a feeling of trust. 

We were so excited when we finally had our son on that autumn day in 2016.  He was beautiful and sweet and just perfect.  Then two days later we were told he wasn’t going home with us and that our perfect little boy wasn’t medically perfect.

Our emotions leapt from total joy and excitement to fear and confusion.  The next few days are totally lost in our memories, and the following weeks were so emotional and draining.  There is nothing to prepare you for the sadness and complete helplessness you feel as a parent with a child that is sick to any degree, let alone in and ICU where we weren’t sure what the problem was or what the solution would be.

The things we do remember are the people who were there to take care of our son.  Upon arrival at the NICU, a nurse had prepared our baby’s bed with personal bedding and had placed the sweetest blue knit cap on his precious head.  Within the first few days, our little man had a handmade name tag on the door to his room.  A few days later, a nurse brought in an outfit and said, “Let’s dress this sweet boy!

Being such an emotional time, I had never even thought to put clothes on my baby!

November arrived and our little turkey got to make his very own first craft!  A turkey!  Made using his little footprint.

Nurses who had taken care of him before would stop in on their shifts just to check-in on him.  We really felt as though the nurses here cared for his health and loved him as all children need to feel loved.

Although we as his parents were not the patients ourselves, we felt cared for.  The nurses here engaged in conversation with us both medically to keep us updated and socially to keep us feeling sane and a part of the world outside of that room.  Each night, a nurse brought in fresh bedding for us to sleep on and always asked if we needed anything else.  We received comfort in the form of positive words or encouragement, friendly smiles and even a few much needed hugs.

You are what gave us HOPE.  We desired for our baby’s health to be taken care of and we had to trust that it would be.  In some cultures, blue is representative of hope.  The shade of blue we chose is the same shade of blue as the knit hat he received in his first night in the NICU.

When you wear this bracelet, please remember that what you do matters.  You give hope to a lot of families.  Your kindness, patience, and individual care matters.  We are forever indebted to this staff and this facility.

Love,
a NICU Grad’s Mom & Dad

 

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Crazy, right?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

 

Thank You Notes

Thank You Notes

My great aunt and uncle lived in North Carolina and would come to Oklahoma once or twice a year for visits. Mostly I remember them visiting over the summer, but I also have some holiday memories tucked in my mind, visualizing a Thanksgiving one year and some Christmases too.

Although this sister and brother-in-law to my Grandma lived in North Carolina, I very much knew them. Aunt Venita and Uncle George were not the great aunt and uncle my mom forced me to hug or demanded I talk to. Actually, none of my great aunts and uncles were unfamiliar to me. I had the opportunity to build my own relationship with siblings on both my grandparents’ sides of the family. And one thing I knew about my Aunt Venita and Uncle George is that they liked Thank You Notes.

It was a pain as a kid having to write them.  Although, I did love what they’d send me for my birthday and Christmas. I even remember my seventh birthday specifically. Aunt Venita mailed a pretty pink spring dress. I opened it and could not wait to wear it.

Seriously. I know we say that as a figure of speech, but I really could not wait, made evident by what transpired a few hours after I opened it.

I’m certain I tried the dress on, although I don’t specifically remember. What I do remember is getting in bed with such excitement to wear my new dress the next day that I could hardly go to sleep.

But I did.

And then I woke up. The fact that it was still dark outside didn’t mean anything to me. It was usually dark when I got up for school.

However, the fact that my mom was still there did mean something to me. She was usually gone for work by the time we were supposed to wake up.

In the moments before I realized this, I got out of my bed, wide awake and ready for the day, put on my dress, and my shoes, and exited the room feeling dressed to the nines, because in my mind, I was. Entering into the hallway I could hear Mom’s voice. Curious as to why she was there, I walked over to my parent’s bedroom door to see my mom in her pjs! I assumed something was wrong.

Oh something was wrong. Mom wasn’t late for work. She was going to bed!

I had such anticipation of wearing that dress that I had hardly slept and woke up round about time for the ten o’clock news!

I wish I could tell you I was just as eager to write the thank you note.

I wasn’t.

Nevertheless, over the years I learned how much a simple thank you note meant to the people who received it, and I began to feel that it was the least I could do for the gift of what they gave to me.

In fact, I screen shot this Facebook post back in May. A friend wrote, “I love getting thank you cards in the mail. It makes your gift seem appreciated. It’s becoming a lost art.”

She’s right. But not in The Meadows Home.

I’ve had this post stirring in my heart, and portions of it sitting in my folder for over two years. I took pictures of Caden writing thank you notes after his 9th birthday. At nearly every age I’ve had my kids write thank you notes. From the time they only had the ability to sign their name, to copying a formatted example I provide, to getting the gift list and writing them independently, each child has been raised with value placed on expressing gratitude in a note. 

I know a lot of people approach it differently, but here’s a couple of my personal goals when writing thank you notes.

  1. In the event the receiver didn’t physically hand me the gift, the note communicates the gift arrived whether by mail or passed along from another person. It doesn’t leave the giver wondering if I ever got it.
  2. My goal is to communicate consideration of the cost. We live on a budget in our house. And thanks to Dave Ramsey, regardless of our future earning potential, I imagine we always will. With that in mind, I envision each gift given to me coming out of a budget. That means someone chose to take money from something else to purchase something for me. Furthermore, it cost their time. To spend time working to make the money, then to spend time using that worked-for money to buy a gift for me, to spend even more time to wrap it, package it, mail it or bring it to a celebration which takes again, more time! I aim to communicate how valued I feel by acknowledging the value of what was given- time and money.

And for a little cake topper here, Thank You Notes are a keepsake. For the words person like myself, a special note can be retrieved on the difficult days, and in the trying times, to be the much-needed reminder of the goodness in life.

But there’s one more. Yep! Bonus material right here on heathermeadows.com. ☺️

I wouldn’t have thought about it, but now I know it—Thank You Notes can open doors.

Because my routine for writing Thank You Notes was established years ago, it was natural for me to send on a note of appreciation in 2014 to Video Revolution for their help in getting us set up with a camera to record some of our speaking events. That little Thank You Note led to a connection with Stevie Fernandez who invited us to share our story for Explore Tulsa a year later, and giving me his card for InVision Media Group.

Fast forward to 2017. Stevie created an incredible speaker video from Saint Francis’ Hospital Week for me, potentially opening even more doors to share not only my story, but the messages this story has written.

I’d say Aunt Venita and Uncle George developed something of great value in me from their expectations of a Thank You Note. If they were here today, I’d write them one to thank them.

Proverbs 18:16 NLT Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people!

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

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Summer Done Possibilities Begun

I remember years ago listening to parents comment on this time of year. Statements like, “I cannot WAIT for school to start” or “It can’t come fast enough” just made me a little sad inside.

I wondered, “How could anyone ever feel that way about their children? Their precious babies. Their little miracles from Heaven.”

Well, let’s just say, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under Heaven.” And for the parents in this house, school is an activity under Heaven we are so grateful to have. That Solomon sure knew what he was talking about!

There was a season of my life that I couldn’t even imagine receiving delight from the first day of school. I’ve even written about the emotional challenges of our little ducklings setting sail into a new school year. But that season is o-ha-ver-er! Yep. Just imagine it like Jim Carrey saying it, making over into a four-syllable word.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my children. And so did all those parents I’d listen to years ago and wonder where, in their heart, could they want their children to leave them for hours each day of the week.

No. They loved their children. Just as much as I loved and love mine. They were just speaking from a different season.

For example, a season like the one we’re in. You know. Two teenagers in the house. TWO!!! One of them being a female! The cry of my heart day-in and day-out, “Dear Jesus, help us!” But let’s not put it all on the teens. Oh no, no. The others. Those other two gave me a nice illustration just this past Sunday for how very timely the school year starting was for our home.

Standing at the ironing board for over four hours was not the ideal way to spend my Sunday afternoon. However, it is my own fault.  If I didn’t despise the task so much I wouldn’t have to spend such large chunks of time. Guess it’s part of that whole a stitch in time saves nine thing. But I don’t do stitching either so, carrying on.

Here I am at the ironing board with a boatload of wrinkled clothes draped across the couch awaiting the steam, when Caden comes down stairs half smiling in an attempt to avert his need to cry.

He said, “Mom, Gavin bit me.”

Puzzled, I replied with a question, “He bit you?

Caden raises the leg of his shorts to reveal a bite on the inside of his thigh! The inside of his thigh! Wow! Talk about pain! And problems. Wooie! Gavin was in trouble! Yep. Say that one with at least three syllables to get the intensity of the moment.

While I’ve never been a biter, I do get that even the best of circumstances lose thrill and passion.

I mean I’ve seen the Disney traveling families who have had so many magical moments they are over it! Over. It.

I also remember back to those days having my very, very best friend in the whole entire world, over to stay the night. One night wasn’t enough. So we’d ask for another night. Then that night wasn’t enough so we’d ask ,pretty please, for just one more! You know the story. After a week we were so sick of each other that every little thing brought aggravation and annoyance. It was like, “When is she going home?!

Point is. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. And too much of summer break, too much of staying home together in the same general area can end up turning something good into something not so good.

And another point. Enjoy the season. Soak it up.

My Mom has been the best example to me in that. So many times we say, “I can’t wait till this” or “I just wish I could go back to that.”

You’ll never hear my Mom carrying on about how she wished she could go back to soak up more moments. And the reason this is so significant is because my Mom only had nine years of her life to spend with her baby boy. We’d all understand wanting to live in the past when the past is the only place you have with one you love. But that is why we make the most of today, because we never know what tomorrow holds.

My Mom truly makes the most of every opportunity. She lives in the here and now. Life is happening today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Today.

Which brings me to my most favorite back-to-school post I saw, and last focus point to share. It said, “180 days of opportunities to make a difference.”

Wow!

Or as Junie B. Jones would say, “Wowie! Wow! Wow!

Each day is an opportunity to make a difference. Our kids walking the halls of their school. Our kids sitting at their lunch table. Our kids playing at recess. Our big kids pulling into the parking lots, sitting in their concurrent-enrollment courses and working at their part-time jobs. From taking tests to simple interactions with teachers and peers, our kids have an opportunity every single day to make a difference.  How in the world could we hoard that?!

And each day they head out the door and each night we tuck ‘em into bed, we echo the prayer of this back-to-school post,

Praying for a productive year filled with physical, mental and spiritual growth. New friends. New memories. And lots of fun!

Happy Back to School!!!!

Go make it awesome!

Colossians 4:5-6 NLT Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

Brooklyn ~ 11th —- Jaron ~ 8th —- Caden ~ 5th —- Gavin ~ 2nd *if Brooklyn wasn’t wearing heels she’d be eye-to-eye with her oldest little brother

If you prefer Vlogs over Blogs ☺️ then here’s a YouTube link for you ❤️

I Can’t Breathe

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? I mean literally. Have you ever been met with such force that you lost your breath and momentarily lost the ability to take in another one?

There are a few things I think about when I imagine taking a breath. It has to do with tidal volume and vital capacity and respiratory nursing world technicalities. But before I learned about all of that terminology and mechanics of lung function, I learned what it felt like.

I remember back to my seven-year-old days being mechanically ventilated. Being intubated. Some call it life support.

I remember coming out from sedation.

Sedation. Those drugs that make you sleep; time passing without ever even knowing its existence.

I remember having moments of wakefulness and feeling that tube in my throat and thinking, I can’t breathe. It’s a scary feeling.

In a more common experience, I remember having the breath literally knocked out of me when I was about ten. My best friend Brad lived just down the road. Brad and Jon were the same age and after Jon died, Brad stepped in, giving his best to provide all the big-brother experiences he knew Jon would have given me. Like taking me fishing. Which included him fishing my hook out of his own hand on more than one occasion. Obviously, fishing wasn’t my knack. But Brad insisted I go nevertheless.

He’d call and scream into the answering machine on the early summer-break mornings, telling me to get my butt out of bed. If that didn’t work, he’d make his way down to the house to pester me awake. And we joined up for a decent amount of mischief, as Jon would have wanted, including throwing eggs off structures that I’m pretty sure people get arrested for. Brad was a gift of God’s grace in the tragedy of losing Jon. They were best friends, so having him was like getting to keep a piece of Jon.

However, I’m not sure I was thinking that the day he body slammed me over the couch. Don’t get me wrong- I deserved it. I had wrestled with the boys from my earliest beginnings. That’s what happens when you’re the only girl and the baby. If ya wanna be included, you got to run with the big boys. Who knows? Maybe it’s what developed my toughness for the road of recovery I faced.

But that day I hit the edge of the couch and fell off to the floor on my back, I looked at the ceiling and could not breathe. It was momentary, but no breath was to be caught. It scared me. And I think it scared Brad a little too.

I haven’t had the breath knocked out of me since that day. As I grew into a lady, I stopped wrestling with my big-brother figure and I played it safe going into vocal performance rather than high-impact activities.   But life has knocked the breath out of me many times over.

I remember having a dear friend, whom I loved very much, say something completely untrue about me. Our friendship shattered.   It took my breath away.

I remember sitting on an exam table and my obstetrician compassionately apologizing for our miscarried pregnancy. The feeling of emptiness took my breath away.

I remember being back in the burn unit recovering from skin grafts and Brandon walking in to my bedside telling me my Dad had passed away. I was in the same place I was when I found out my brother was dead seventeen years earlier. It took my breath away.

I remember my child making poor choices and receiving text messages from someone I loved and trusted telling me the behavior was linked to the way I had made my child feel. I was on the floor of parenting despair and that took my breath away.

I remember Brandon calling to tell me he had good news and bad news. Good news he was coming home and would get to spend the day with us. Bad news was he had lost his job in a highly unanticipated layoff. It took my breath away.

I could continue to trace back some moments where I felt someone had just knocked the wind right out of me, but the more important part is sharing how I got the breath to carry on.

There’s a worship song by All Sons and Daughters called, Great Are You, Lord. Here are some of the lyrics—

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

There are some key points to grab onto right there. When there is no breath left in you, He is your breath. God is breathing into our lungs. He is breathing in His life. His love. His light. His hope. We come up empty. We come up with darkness. We come up with brokenness. We come up apneic—that’s nursing terminology meaning not breathing. And He provides. Add this one to your playlist and sing it out when life’s trials, challenges and circumstances have knocked the wind right out of you. Praising Him in the storm restores and strengthens in supernatural ways we can’t even imagine.

So there’s one way—worship Him.

Here’s another—read, recall and repeat His Word. Psalm 34 is below with some bolded truths that I cling to. Remember—read, recall, repeat. There’s power in His Word! There’s breath for our life!

And finally, communicate to Him and His people. If you can’t breathe, you need intervention. I realized this when Jaron was born. Poor little fella couldn’t breathe—here’s that apnea word again, and retractions and all the things that go along with respiratory distress syndrome. It was more than a little skin-to-skin with mom could cure. Jaron Michael needed help. Specifically he needed some mechanical ventilation, but point is, when we need a breath, God is there to give it, but we need to reach out to Him and the people He longs to use to help us.

When life has knocked the wind right out of you, when there’s an internal anxiety and despair for air; let His peace, His presence and His breath fill your lungs as you walk in trust and rest. God is holding on to you.

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

Psalm 34 NIV
I will extol the Lord at all times;
    His praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me;
    He delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to Him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    He saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
    and He delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and His ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    He delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 He protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue His servants;
no one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.

Personal Connection is More Important Than Pretty Pot Pies

I am a girl who likes to eat, but doesn’t cook.  In other words, I cook to eat.

Kind of ironic that I have a cookbook I’ll be offering for purchase soon. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll love this cookbook. Zero intimidation for those just needing to fix some food.

Some people get real creative in the kitchen.  The ideas start flowing as they get out bowls and ingredients, pots and pans, spatulas, spoons and rolling pins. Not me.  I have the stuff.  I just don’t have the passion.

What I do have passion for is people.  And I love when people come to our home, sit around our table, or out on our patio, and eat with us.  Which is what happened just a couple weeks ago when my friend from work was coming for dinner and a visit with her hubby and three kiddos.

I decided a nice chicken-pot pie would be a good fit for the evening; I could prepare it ahead and it would be easy clean up.  Win.  And win!

So there I was before dawn that Tuesday morning.  I got my chicken going in the pressure cooker and started on my piecrust.  I rolled it out, transferred it to my 9×13 dish, put the remaining crust in a zip-lock bag and placed it in the fridge to use for the top later.  Check. Check and check.  I was feeling quite productive, as the sun still had not even begun to rise.

The morning was going to be a full one, and so was the rest of the day, so it felt oh so good to get this dinner prepared in advance.

Let’s fast-forward to an hour and a half before our guests are scheduled to arrive.

Feeling like I’ve done pretty much all the work already, I come into the kitchen, get out my chicken I have already deboned and shredded, remove my already pie-crust-assembled 9×13 dish from the fridge, along with the zip-lock bag of the crust I was using for the top of my pot pie.  I stirred together all my remaining ingredients in a bowl with my chicken, added seasoning to my liking, hoping it’s what my guests will like too, and then pour the contents into the awaiting casserole dish.  Oh this feeling is so good!  I’m just going to roll out the top, toss it on, throw the dish in the oven and get my shower in plenty of time to spare.

At this point I’m feeling quite good at my early arising, thinking that this is what Proverbs 31 women are made of.

The feeling shifted.

Quickly.

I floured my surface and began to roll out the remaining piecrust.  I’m sure everyone who loves to make pies would have a plethora of suggestions and most certainly corrections for what was taking place.  Let’s just say, I was having some challenges getting my piecrust rolled out as smoothly as I did earlier that day.  I got to thinking that maybe I’d just have to start over and make an entire batch of crust again, but before I did, as time was ticking away and it seemed I was now on the verge of possibly needing to rush, I took that crust in my hands and said, “Lord, You make all things good.  Please make this pie crust good.”

Yes.  I prayed over my piecrust.  We’ve shared this blogging journey long enough now for you to know that I lean heavily on the Lord’s intervention over my daily activities.  I’m just a mess.  In so many ways.  But I know He cares about these little things too.

So there I go with a renewed confidence that the piecrust will be easier to work with.  And guess what?  It was!  I rolled that puppy out with ease.  I delicately rolled it up, grabbed two spatulas, came at it, inserting a spatula on each side, and I held my breath as I slowly and carefully transferred it over to the top of the chicken pot pie.  I laid it down ever so easily, and feeling like the hardest part was behind me, I let out a sigh of relief and began unrolling it, covering the top of the pie.

So…… the Lord made it good.

I just didn’t make it long enough!!! 

I think I said out loud, “you have got to be kidding me?!?!

The rush was on.  Without a doubt I needed to make another batch of piecrust.  And I did.  In record time.  Not in record time for those cooking shows, but in record time for me.

As I’m sifting the flour, adding in some crisco, and topping it with a beaten egg, vinegar and water, I’m asking myself, “Why do you do this?  Why do you want to cook for people?”  And while the question was a thought, the answer was a verbal statement.

People don’t come for the perfect meal but for the personal connection.”

Yep. That’s what I said out loud for my ears to hear and to get my mind focused on the bigger picture of this let’s-get-together-for-dinner idea.

The thing is, I’ve been in some homes where I’ve eaten some amazing food, but didn’t receive a sprinkle of hospitality. And honestly, I’d rather have a ham sandwich with a side of hospitality than a filet minion with none.

With that thought, I quickly added some additional crust to the bare part of my chicken-pot pie. I wish now that’d I’d have taken a picture, but at the moment I was working through everything I could to stay focused on the people and not the pot pie. But let me just tell you. My chicken-pot pie looked like it had a diaper! My original crust that wasn’t long enough, met with my additional crust and it pretty much looked like a diaper. But you know what? Our company loved it! And what they loved more was the time we were able to spend together.

We sat around our kitchen table for nearly 3 hours visiting, laughing and telling stories. We watched pool-soaked kiddos pop in and out of the house with giggles of goodness, a toddler make the most fun of a box of tissues, and Ruby even got to enjoy her favorite past time with our sweet friends, a few rounds of some intense tug-of-war.

And to think I could’ve let an imperfect pot-pie make me feel inadequate for such an experience. I would’ve missed so much.

Luke 10:38-42 NLT As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

By the way—come to find out, there’s a reason I’ve always felt frustrated with my chicken-pot pie. I’ve been working with half the dough. Through a conversation with my Mom about the ordeal it was revealed that I’ve been trying to make half as much go twice as far! Good grief! Now THAT is a completely different lesson, maybe we’ll revisit in a future post someday.

Until next time…. Reach out. Love and be loved. Be hospitable. Make connection. Soak up the opportunities. Whether it’s china or chinet, whether it’s roasted lamb or a diapered pot pie—personal connection is the goal!

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog, sharing with your friends and family, or making a purchase below? We can’t grow with out you.

GUEST POST: God Multiplies Goodness

*a special post from special guest Kim Couch*

Ten.  Ten Years. Ten years ago, I was finishing my first year of teaching, trying to figure out how to be a mom to my 18 month-old son, and building a new house with my husband. It was a time in my life when I was in a good place.  It was also ten years ago that I found a lump in my breast.  So, at that point when I felt everything was coming together–everything came to a halt.  In June of 2007, at the age of 28,  I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. The only previous experience I’d had with breast cancer was the loss of my high school friend’s mom due to the disease.  So, that was it.  The only person I’d known with cancer had lost her battle about ten years prior to my diagnosis.  It was at that very moment when I felt like I had been given a death sentence

Little did I know, while I was trying to grasp my new reality, God had already lined up numerous people in my life who would have an impact on the journey my family was about to start. Our family friends had resources that led me to Cancer Treatment Centers of America with the most amazing doctors and medical team.  Our pastor’s wife was a breast cancer survivor, so she was able to be an encouragement to me along the way.  Once I got set up with my medical team and had a plan, I was ready to go into battle.  I had decided that my attitude would be a major impact in my ability to beat this disease!  So right then and there, I decided that I would be positive and try to show God’s light to those around me.  I had a bilateral mastectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and 30 rounds of radiation.  I started in July 2007 and finished my treatments in April 2008.  

One of the first things I remember asking my doctor was, “Does breast cancer mean I can’t have any more children?

His response was, “Not now, but I’m not saying never.”  As time passed, I would ask him the same question.  Ultimately, the answer was the same.

There were many things on the journey that were hard, but looking back, the two hardest things for me were losing my hair and not knowing if I would ever have more children.  As I progressed on my treatment plan, my hair began to grow back, but I was still left with the pain of not having more children. There were points during this journey when I would imagine having another baby; however, while I obviously wasn’t pregnant, several of my friends were preparing for babies in their lives.  Although I was excited for them, it was truly a difficult time.  Please understand, I was grateful for my family of three and wasn’t willing to jeopardize my health, but I was still mourning the plans I had for my family.  My husband and I talked about and were open to the idea of adoption, but nothing seemed to work out for us.  I learned our plans are not always God’s plans.  

Finally, after about four years, my oncologist began to discuss the possibility of becoming pregnant.  Whoa!  When I was given that news, I panicked and questioned if it was something I really wanted. I felt like I had gone through the mourning process and had come to terms with my reality.  After about a year of praying and processing the idea, I had a sense of peace about the situation.  My husband and I decided we were ready to explore the idea.  We agreed that if I didn’t get pregnant then it wasn’t meant to be, and we would not seek fertility options.

In September of 2012, our first month after making the decision to try, we became pregnant!  A month later when we went in for our first ultrasound, the doctor said she saw something interesting.  I immediately thought the worst and asked if something was wrong.  She smiled and said, “Not necessarily.  You’re having twins!” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to get pregnant, let alone getting pregnant in the first month of trying, and to top it off, pregnant with twins!!  

On May 8, 2013 we welcomed Karlee Jo and Kynslee Jane to our family.

I’m a planner.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but I’m so thankful God’s plan was bigger and better.  I’m a stronger person because of my experience with cancer, and I’ve learned to trust God…even in the ugly, scary times.  Although we may not see it at the time, God is always working things out for our best.  It took longer than I wanted to see what God’s plan was, but the wait was so worth it.  He turned my ugly and scary  into something beautiful!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.” Jeremiah 29:11

God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

A Little Thought from Heather:
I met Karlee and Kynslee on the day of their birth, and I’ll never forget their big brother trying to catch a glimpse of his brand new baby sisters as they were being rolled down the hallway.  A brief stop to let him gaze upon the miracle of their lives and God’s goodness beamed from the light of his little eyes.

Goodness.  Goodness is what I think of when I think of this amazing family.  So many times we see a diagnosis, but God sees a platform to display a mighty work of His hand– a work that can only be accomplished by His supernatural intervention.

Kim’s story gives hope to all.  Believing for a healing?  She did much more.  She believed for a healing without resolving to a sacrifice.  Did she desire to be healed from breast cancer?  Absolutely.  Did she forfeit her desire for more children?  Not at all.  She believed and held on, standing in faith for BOTH!  

I believe Kim is an example to all of us for how to believe.  Don’t believe for sufficient, believe for abundance; believe for fulfillment; believe for icing-on-the-cake; and in Kim’s case, believe for multiplication!

May you be blessed and encouraged today to continue standing confident in God’s goodness in the plans He has for your life!  ❤ Heather

*I pray this post spoke to you. Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.*

Happy 4th of July, Brave Fighter!

Seasons change in life.

Things change and shift, reflecting different pictures.

For a season of my life The Star Spangled Banner was one of my most favorite songs to sing. Today, I don’t do too much singing publicly, but I still sing. God bless my children and my hubby for all my singing they listen to around the house and in the car!

I remember singing this song for the first time in 8th grade choir. And then, my sophomore year of high school I was asked to sing this song at a basketball game.

Like I always did, I showed up with my accompaniment track, on a cassette tape in those days, and I sang the National Anthem at my first high school basketball game. Afterward, a coach encouraged me to do it next time without the music!

What?!

I could never sing without the music! That felt so naked!

The next few times I still brought my accompaniment, but then one random time I put on my big girl panties, pun totally intended, and I belted it out acapella.

I sang this song so often that one particular time I got finished, walked over to the student section where I planned to eat the hot dog waiting for me that I purchased right before I sang, and my friends said, “What happened? “ I had no idea what they were getting at. I mean, I would remember for sure if I cracked or flubbed. I’ve done that more times than I can count. But this instance I felt it went rather smoothly. Then one of them said, “You skipped straight to the bombs!” How funny! I didn’t even realize until that point that I had missed an entire stanza!

Time has changed very much. In the video you’ll notice my sweet Ruby Sue on the floor behind me and the kids’ cats moseying around, but as different as the picture looks, this is still one of my most favorites.

There is something about “the fight.” Something about a “perilous fight” and “our flag” still there that stirs my heart and my spirit.

We all face fights. We face unimaginable moments of hardship and difficulty, but we come from a people who are fighters.

I am so proud to be an American. Not just today on Independence Day. I am grateful I was born in this United States of America and have inherited the history of this country and my family.

We are a young country. We have many flaws in our past and our present. Something I can relate to and identify with personally.

But we are fighters. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Brave.

Brave is a word that has more definition, meaning and value to me than I can expand on in this post which I intended to be short and sweet.

But brave is something I connect with.

Brave is what the nurses called me in the burn unit during bandage changes.

Brave is what I tell myself when I’m standing on the brink of what I feel like I most certainly will fail at in my own ability.

Brave is what I tap into when I write posts, write this book in the making, show up to take care of NICU babies, step out on a limb to pray with someone I don’t know, parent my children each day, because honestly people, sometimes they scare me, and to record this song to share with you. Gracious that took lots of brave for me.

But just as we come from fighters. We come from so much more. Brave fighters.

I Timothy 6:12 NLT Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Psalm 27:14 NLT Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Happy 4th of July, Brave Fighter!

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.