Even On The Tough Days

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Today my grandson underwent his second open heart surgery. 

He is a precious, blue-eyed 5 month old with a contagious smile and a winning personality.  He is quite accomplished at flirting with the nurses and is intent on carrying on his own method of conversation with the doctors.

He was born with a serious heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, better known as HLHS. HLHS is a rare congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped.  Typically, a series of three surgeries is required, with a heart transplant likely at some point.  We are hoping and praying the need for transplant will be well into the future.

One thing I’ve learned through this journey with Elijah is this:  when the news you hear is less than perfect and well, the scope of your emotions can range from one extreme to the other.  You begin to seriously question what you’ve always thought to be important.  You find yourself cherishing moments that otherwise may appear trivial. 

For parents of these special children, such moments may include the first true bottle feeding, doubling a birth weight, making that first trip to Walmart after being confined to home for what seems like forever, or possibly even celebrating birthdays on a monthly basis. Whatever the case may be, it’s noticing those moments that say, “We love this child, and we’re so thankful to have him with us.”

Which gets me to thinking…  Shouldn’t I always feel this way, in all my relationships? Shouldn’t I review my priorities from time to time to ensure I’m placing importance on the proper things? Shouldn’t I celebrate the little moments of my day more often, holding dear those precious people God has entrusted to me?  Shouldn’t I choose to live each day in a way that says, “I love you, and I’m so thankful to have you with me”?

Yes, I should; we all should. Yet we get caught up in the busyness of life and sometimes forget.  Until, that is, a stark reminder comes along as in the case of my sweet grandbaby. I’m so thankful for him and for the prompting to not only love and enjoy being with him, but to carry that same mindset and focus into my daily interactions with others as well. 

Learning to live a little better, love a little more, and laugh a little louder.  That’s a good place to be, even on the tough days.

 

Dear Little One, Our Heart Baby

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Dear Little One, Our Heart Baby:

You are so very much loved. And I believe somehow, even at your young age, you know it.

It is evident in your sweet smile.  In your tiny giggle when we play with you. In your inability to hide your excitement when you spot someone familiar. Yes, there is no doubt you are loved, and no doubt you feel that love.  And I am so grateful.

I’m grateful God handpicked you for our family. What a privilege to have been chosen to love such a special child.

If not for you we may have never been introduced to other families affected by Hypo-Plastic Left Heart Syndrome (#HLHS). We may have never realized the magnitude of children dealing with health issues on a daily basis, nor the impact it has on their families. We may have never truly appreciated having a hospital for children right here in our hometown, nor understood the importance of those great doctors, nurses, and other medical staff devoted to caring for children like you.

It has been an eye-opening experience, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes filled to the brim with blessing.  And as hard as it has been at times, I am grateful.

I’m grateful for the many prayers spoken on your behalf when we first learned of your heart defect. We were so broken, yet we found peace and comfort.

I’m grateful for the prayers voiced during your first open heart surgery and the long recovery that followed.  We were scared and anxious, yet peace and strength became ours.

I’m grateful for the continued prayers since then, and for those already whispered on your behalf as we prepare for heart surgery #2. I am especially grateful for those mighty prayer warriors making preparations even now to fall to their knees, lifting you up in prayer at the very time you undergo this surgery.  How could I not be thankful for God’s love displayed so beautifully through His people?

In light of that love, this is our promise to you, our precious heart baby:

We will show up for you, even when the going gets tough.

We will pray for you, even when we’re unsure how to pray.

We will love you completely, even if it causes our hearts to break.

We will teach you of God’s wonderful love for you.

And we promise to do these things not just on surgery day, but every single day of your life. Why?  Because dear little one, you truly are loved that much.

 

 

 

 

Today I Found Peace

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Today I found peace.  Which is a big deal for me.  Especially since that peace came as I prayed my grandson through a medical procedure.  The fact that this peace centered around him and his heart condition is even more amazing to me.

You see, in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I tend to worry. Specifically when the well-being of my children (or that sweet grandbaby of mine) is threatened.  I’ve been known to panic when I think one of them may be, or is about to be, seriously injured.  My husband and kids can attest to this, and it’s not a pretty site.

The good thing about my panic mode is that it calls me to action, forgetting all else except saving that child.  Comically, I’ve pulled off some rather amazing feats in response to those incidents that could have ended badly throughout the years.

Like the time I miraculously slid across the floor, on both knees, grabbing hold of my toddler just before he took a steep fall out the front door.  Somewhere between dismounting from the bar stool and saving my toddler, I launched my full plate of food (which was sitting in my lap) straight at my unsuspecting brother.  At the end of the fiasco, not only was he quite impressed with my mad ninja skills, but he was most certainly surprised to find himself wearing my dinner.  Thankfully, he was a good sport about it.

The crummy thing about my panic mode is that it almost always leaves me in a state of tears, feeling emotionally spent.  Even if my crazy antics (and no doubt, God’s beautiful grace) bring us to an acceptable outcome, I can’t help but consider what may have happened.  Those lingering what-ifs wreak havoc on this momma’s heart.

Yes, there are times I am able to take my thoughts captive and push those what-ifs out of my mind.  But at other times, they are a bit more stubborn and I’m a bit weaker, and I find myself back in that familiar place of worry and panic. A place that is anything but pleasant.  It destroys my joy.  It closes off the peace my heart so desperately needs.

As a woman of faith there is no doubt I love God, and there is certainly no question as to His great love for me, my children, and my grandchild.  As much as I love Him, I still worry at times.  And I hate that.  But even though I worry, He remains faithful, patiently teaching me that He can, indeed, be trusted.

So do you know what I’m doing, my friend?  I am learning to trust.  To surrender these difficult situations to Him, even when — especially when — I’m scared they may not turn out as I think they should.

No, it’s not easy; but little by little, I am learning to trust. Guess how I know?

Because today, I found peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)