Pumpkins, Candy and Dressing Up

It’s that time of year once again. The time when there’s that little nip of coolness in the air, especially the first thing in the morning. Even the sunlight seems crisper, giving us a hint of the chill that’s soon to follow. Yes, it’s that time of year that shuffles in the true end of summer. And shuffle is a good term, because I always go into it dragging my feet, kicking and screaming, because as I’ve said many times, I’m a spring/summer/flip flop type of girl!

We can feel the chill in the air every morning, even though it sometimes warms up in the afternoon. The trees turn into a palette of new colors; oranges and yellows and reds. And all those leaves begin to fall all over the yard, getting raked into piles of crisp color that we adults are just a bit tempted to jump into it when no one is looking, like we did when we were children!fall-leaves

Yes, I will admit, the colors are really pretty, and can be breathtaking, depending on where you go to see them. My husband likes to drive over to the mountains and enjoy the spectacular views. And they are pretty. But if it’s up to me, I’ll look at other people’s pictures on line and think how pretty they are, and then dream about how long it’ll be until it gets warm again.

Then there are the pumpkins. Everywhere. In store and even restaurant displays, and piled along those roadside stands. Some even have carved faces already, and yes, I’ve been tempted to buy a couple of them to carve, but our granddaughter isn’t old enough this year to appreciate them. (Next year!) I remember growing up and my uncle making the most beautiful jack-o’-lanterns. Over fifty years ago, he was painting faces and other designs on the pumpkins rather than carving them, because they’d last longer. He was certainly ahead of his time, and if he were still here today, I’m sure he’d still be doing it, only more elaborate.

And speaking of pumpkins, don’t you think the pumpkin craze is getting a bit out of hand now? I do like pumpkin pie, but pumpkin spiced coffee? Pumpkin glazed donuts? Pumpkin flavored pop tarts? Pumpkin flavored Oreos? Please, no……
However. There are a few things that I can appreciate about this time of year.

candy_0For one, there is a LOT of candy on sale right now. And I do like to keep my candy bowl on my desk filled with all kinds of wonderful chocolate candy bars, miniature ones of course, just in case I get an urge during the day for a quick pick-me-up! Chocolate can do that, you know. And I’m sure many of you reading this are like us, and buy your supply of Halloween candy based on what YOU like to eat, and not necessarily what the kids are going to want, so you can enjoy the leftovers! Is there any other way to buy it?

And I have to admit I do enjoy seeing the costumes the kids are wearing when they come to our door to get their candy. The little ones are always adorable, and this year I’ll certainly be looking at them in a different light, since next year our granddaughter will be old enough to be dressed up her own costume; maybe a ballerina, or a bumblebee, a princess, or maybe even a butterfly! Now that will be fun! Of course, I’m sure her daddy will want her to be dressed in camouflage, but I think Mommy and Grandmom will have the final say on that one…at least for next year!

pauline-and-fowler-halloween1951In fact, when I was growing up, most of us dressed up for Halloween, but very seldom in anything scary or spooky. My hometown had an annual Halloween parade, with several of the main streets blocked off so the participants could march around our little business district and the county courthouse. Children and adults paraded around streets in costumes and competed for prizes, and the streets were filled with onlookers. My aunt and uncle actually won first prize in the adult division one year, dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy. Weren’t they looking sharp? (How many of you know who Raggedy Ann and Andy are?) And if memory serves me correctly, I think some of the local churches sponsored the parade and contributed the prizes!

I can’t remember the last time I saw a Halloween parade. But they were a lot of fun! At least to us kids, and the adults who still acted like kids. It was just a fun time to enjoy ourselves, and get candy, of course!
So I guess I’m sort of stuck with it being fall. I can’t change it, so I guess I have to make the most of it. I can wear my jeans and sweaters with my boots, enjoy our toasty fireplace with a glass of wine, and count the days until Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And I can remember that spring is, sort of, just around the corner!

Waiting for the Right Time

The right time? That isn’t really why you’re waiting, you know.

You’re not really waiting until you have more money. Or until you get that better job so your finances will be more stable. Or until you can afford a big blowout wedding to impress your friends. Or until you can afford to go on that dream honeymoon in Aruba!

It’s all a bunch of convenient excuses. You’ve already been living together for several years. You’re playing at marriage. You share your money; you share a home. You may even have a child together. But there’s no ring on either of your hands. But there’s no real commitment. If there were, you’d get married.

So what’s the real reason? You want to be able to leave if you need to? Then you don’t need to be living together, because you’re probably already looking to see who else is out there.

Or you say you want to be sure? So there won’t be a divorce? Let me tell you, if you’ve been a couple for a while, you should know there’s no such thing as really being SURE it’s right. Some days you are, and some days you aren’t. Marriage is a commitment between two people who love each other. You’re as sure it’s right as your commitment to each other. There’s no guarantees. Marriage is what you make it. It’s a work in progress. Each and every day.

I’ve said many times before there’s a big difference in a wedding and a marriage. A big wedding takes a long time to plan, and is over in a few short hours, and forgotten within a few days. A marriage is a lifetime commitment that shouldn’t end. You don’t need that big dream wedding to start off your marriage on the right foot. It might be nice, and produce some awesome photos, but it doesn’t guarantee a successful marriage.

Nothing does. Marriage doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee, or a trade-in policy if you’re not happy. But if you’ve decided to just live together as if you were married, then for heaven’s sake, go ahead and get married!

And if you can’t afford all the trappings of a big wedding, remember you’ll be just as married if you go to the justice of the peace as you will with a formal wedding. (You can still wear a simple wedding dress and carry a bouquet of flowers if that’s important to you…I know several women who’ve done that!) In fact, smaller weddings can be more intimate, more about the two of you, than a huge formal affair that’s about the venue and the guests! Get married on the beach, or another place that’s special to the two of you.

What matters is the TWO of you. And your commitment to each other. That’s what makes a marriage!

You have no idea what tomorrow will bring, so stop saying you’re waiting for the right time. If you love each other, THIS is the right time.

In a Little Country Church

There’s just something about those little country churches. Small. Intimate. Simply decorated. No fancy sound systems. No orchestra; not even an electronic keyboard or guitar. And certainly no PowerPoint presentation to display the words to the songs.

This one had just a simple spinet piano, with no microphones to project the music or the preacher’s message; the church was too small to need them. There were about ten rows of old wooden carved pews seating only 6-7 people per row. With hymnals and Bibles nestled in a shelf in front of us. Obviously everyone knows everyone else. Because they’ve been worshipping there for decades. And have probably worshipped there through several different preachers.

This is the type of church I grew up in, as did many of my friends.

The other day we once again visited this quaint little country church to celebrate the life of the 90 year old mother of one of our dear friends, who had advanced to her heavenly reward and joined her beloved husband, who had been called home four years previously.

Sarah Lee and her husband had been married for 67 years when he passed into eternity. Now she is with him once again. Although I’d only met her personally less than five times, I knew her through her daughter, and wished I’d had the opportunity to really have gotten to know her.

She and her husband were blessed with four children, six grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren, and most of them were in attendance to bid her farewell. She had lived her entire life in this little farming community, raising her family, working alongside her husband on their dairy farm, enjoying being a homemaker, doing her share of volunteer activities, and faithfully serving this little church as a teacher, pianist, and eventually as the first female elder in the church.

As we sat there waiting for the service to begin, listening to the pianist playing some of Sarah Lee’s favorite hymns on that old, but well-tuned piano, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of nostalgia for these beautiful country churches with their small congregations. Everyone, including those of us who didn’t know hardly anyone at the service, were made to feel like part of the family, and felt like we had known them all for many years by the time we left.

Sarah Lee’s service reflected her life and the family she had adored. Held in the same church where she and her late husband had been married seventy years previously, it was obviously planned by loving family members who will always remember and honor the matriarch of the family.

A number of flower arrangements were placed around the casket, and one in particular caught my eye. It contained a stuffed Dalmatian and two toy fire trucks, sent from the county fire auxiliary of which Sarah Lee had been a charter member. I couldn’t help but remember a similar arrangement that had graced the floral remembrances for her husband a few years earlier…an
arrangement of flowers in the shape of a tractor, as a symbol of the farm life her husband had loved and been devoted to.
Her son-in-law spoke about the woman he had obviously loved dearly, and recounted the story of how he’d once asked her who her favorite child was, and she’d told him a mother has no favorites. “I love them all equally!” Then he asked her who her favorite son-in-law was. He said she had to think about it for a few seconds before she answered, so as not to leave out anyone, “why, it’s you!” Of course, it was, since he was the only one at the time.

Nine of Sarah Lee’s relatives had formed a family choir for the service, beautifully singing three of her favorite hymns, including one of my favorites, “Amazing Grace”. And how fitting it was to have her three great-great-grandchildren “sing” along at various times; I could just imagine her watching from heaven, and smiling in approval, her beloved husband by her side once again.

As we took the short ride to the cemetery I couldn’t help but remember the last time we’d been on this drive, when her husband had been in that same hearse, which had been led to the cemetery by a huge John Deere tractor, and followed a few vehicles back by another tractor pulling a wagon with a model of a cow on it, each symbolizing the dairy farm he and his wife had worked and loved so much.

It was a small cemetery. Just as I’d remembered from the last time, the headstone already in place and marking the location of Sarah Lee’s husband, the ground already prepared to receive Sarah Lee. No amount of camouflage could disguise the preparations that had been made for the casket to be placed in the ground and covered over, after the graveside prayers had been said.

Watching the pallbearers bringing their precious responsibility to the site, I was reminded of a scene in my own life ten years ago, when my own precious mother was laid to rest. It’s a surreal feeling. You’re there, but you’re really NOT there. Unless you’ve sat in one of those graveside family chairs, you can’t comprehend.

Prayers were said, more tears were shed, for a well-loved mother, aunt, grandmother, great- grandmother, and great-great-grandmother. One by one, each of the pallbearers took off their boutonnieres, kissed them, and laid them on top of the casket; their final duties completed.

It was then time to begin to heal, and continue family traditions with those who were left behind, remembering, and never forgetting this very special woman.

Whether we attend a small rustic country church, a modern lavish cathedral, or something in between, it doesn’t matter where we worship, but Who we worship. Because God is God. He knows our hearts. He knows we love Him. And when one of our loved ones leaves this earth for their next, and final, everlasting life, He knows our pain. He knows our sorrow.

But He also knows how the story ends.

Why did this service at this little country church make such an impression?

Because of its simple, yet poignant, reminders that when our loved ones leave us, we must remember not only the essence of who they were and how much they were loved and will be missed, but, as Sarah Lee’s preacher said during the service, “Death tries to have the last word, but it does not. We belong to God in this life, and in the life to come.” We say goodbye for now, but in reality, it’s “See you later.”

Sarah Lee, we’ll see you later!

On the Night Before Your Next (and last) Wedding

You never really believed this day would come. You’re so excited you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to sleep! Because tomorrow is the day you never thought would happen. The plans have all been made and everything has been double and triple checked. The rehearsal went off without any problems. And now, in just a matter of hours, your life will be changing once again.

But this time, the change is for nothing but good.

The last few years have been long and difficult. Those first few months after the breakup and divorce were some of the worst times of your life. You didn’t know how you were going to continue on.

But you did.

It was rough at first. You had no idea what to do to make ends meet. You were depressed. Scared. Angry. Hurt. Lonesome. So very lonesome.

You tried to avoid going places with friends because every time you saw a couple out together at dinner, you got upset, because you knew they had to be happy. Well, they may not have been happy, but at least they were together.

Everywhere you looked there were couples. Walking and laughing together. Holding hands. Or arm in arm looking in store windows and pointing to things they liked. One time you saw a couple in a jewelry store looking at rings and you almost ran out of the mall in tears.

Everything was a constant reminder of what you’d lost. What you didn’t have any more.

What you thought you’d never have again.

Then you decided you had to go find someone. You couldn’t take it any more. Every person you knew who wasn’t married or in a relationship was a potential target. Even though you’d known them for years, and never ever thought about the possibility of a romantic relationship (Well why would you; you were married then! Now it’s time to find someone, and find them now!)

Every time someone of the opposite sex paid any attention to you, you were sure that was The One! Even if you weren’t attracted to that person. You tried to be attracted, because you were afraid there would be no one else. You didn’t want to be alone and you felt time was running out.

And none of those “The One’s” were the one, were they? Because you were trying to force something to happen, when that wasn’t the plan the Lord had for you. He had The One picked out for you for quite awhile.

But until you were ready, you couldn’t meet The One. And you never thought about how The One had to be ready to meet you as well.

And just when you’d given up, when you’d stopped looking, when you KNEW you’d be single and alone for the rest of your life, it happened. And you didn’t even realize it at the time. Because you’d stopped trying to make things happen before it was time.

You didn’t even realize you were both falling in love. You started out as friends, talking and laughing and comparing all your life experiences, and realizing how much you had in common. You liked each other’s kids and grandkids. You gave each other little gifts for no reason, and talked for hours about nothing. You liked each other’s friends, and they all liked your new friend. And you almost never compared that person to your ex. You didn’t need to, because there was no comparison needed.

And surprisingly, all your friends knew before you did, that you’d finally gotten it right. They weren’t even surprised when he asked you to marry him and gave you the most beautiful engagement ring you’d ever seen. You were the only one who didn’t see it coming, because you’d finally stopped trying to force your life into the mold you wanted it to be, instead of letting it happen the way the Lord had planned.

And now, tomorrow, you will stand on the beach, in a long pink dress, with flowers in your hair and in your hands, with all of your children around you. He will be beside you, take your hand, and as you slip those shiny gold rings on each others’ fingers, you will promise to love and cherish each other for the rest of your lives. Your friends will all be there laughing and crying with tears of joy. Pictures will be taken and your smiles will show the world how happy you are!

You’ll slice into a beautiful wedding cake decorated with flowers and seashells, and you’ll carefully feed each other the first slice, and toast each other with crystal glasses, celebrating your new life together. And after dancing on the beach under the stars you’ll head off to a romantic honeymoon, just the two of you!

No, it’s not a dream. It’s finally your dream come true. This is real. It’s been a long time coming, but tonight is your last night of being alone. And this time, you’re not scared, not worried that you’re making a mistake. This time it’s right.

It’s your last wedding.

And this time the wedding is also a marriage.

Be blessed! Your time has come!

Talking At, Talking With, or Talking To…

There’s a difference you know.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. There’s actually an art to having a good conversation.

How often do you think you’re talking TO someone when you’re actually talking AT them, because they’re not listening to you? They’ve heard you say the same thing so many times they’re tired of hearing it. You’re lecturing them without even realizing it, and lecturers don’t expect a verbal response from their audience. Talking AT someone makes you appear condescending; looking down on them. Like you really don’t want to hear their opinion on whatever subject you’re talking about, because your mind is made up; you won’t want to be confused with other ideas, because you KNOW you’re right.

How often do you talk to someone and you wonder why they’re giving you only one or two word answers? Or no reply at all. You’re talking TO them, but it’s a one sided conversation. Because you’re so convinced you’re right in everything you’re saying, you won’t really listen to the other person’s opinion, unless it agrees with yours. And if they disagree or give an opposite opinion, then you really talk TO them; about how wrong they are, repeating what you’ve already said, and not bothering to address their comments or opinions. You didn’t really listen to what they said, because it didn’t agree with your opinion.

Talking means speaking in order to express ideas or feelings; to communicate information. To share ideas.

Which is fine. But don’t you want to have dialogue with the person you’re speaking with? Notice the word I just used. With. Speaking WITH someone implies you want their feedback; their participation in the conversation. Speaking with someone shows that you want to hear their thoughts, their feelings, their opinions. It’s a two way conversation, which is the way conversations should be, in order to be meaningful. The other person may not agree with what you’re saying, but when you listen to what they say, and think about it, you’d be surprised at what type of dialogue might take place.

Although I didn’t include it in the title, there are also those who talk OVER other people, rudely not letting them say what they’re trying to say. Because they think they’re so much more important than the person who’s speaking; that their ideas are much better and more important than anything anyone else would have to say. And they’re so anxious to prove it, to get their ideas out, that they interrupt in the middle of the other person’s sentence, not giving them a chance to finish speaking.

I was always taught not to interrupt someone else when they were speaking. I think it’s still a good rule to live by. Unfortunately many people today have forgotten that lesson, or else choose to ignore it. And it makes them appear rude, arrogant, and sometimes foolish.

When was the last time you shared a conversation with someone? When you not only spoke what was on your mind, but actually listened to what the other person said in response? And thought about it before you answered.

Listening is an important part of the art of conversation, too.

All too often today we’re caught up so much in ourselves, and with our own self-importance, we don’t really talk WITH people as much as we talk AT them or TO them. Or sometimes DOWN to them. We don’t always listen to others when they’re speaking, because we want to have the last word.

It happens in marriages. It happens in the workplace. It happens among friends. And it certainly happens in politics. But that’s a whole other story.

The next time you complain that you can’t have a conversation with this person or that person, think about your conversation style. Are you talking TO them, AT them, or WITH them?

And are you LISTENING to what the other person is saying?

Try it sometime. You may be surprised

Healing a Tiny Heart – Part 14

This story could have had a number of different endings. When Ashley B and Coleman found out that their two month old son had a huge hole in his heart which needed open heart surgery to repair, they began a journey that, although they prayed would have a happy ending, they really didn’t know.

They uncertainty and fear was tremendous. Although they had faith in the doctors, faith in God’s healing power, this was their baby. Their firstborn child. They were just adjusting to being new parents, to a new way of life which now included three of them instead of just two.

Now this.

But this has been an incredible journey. A journey of faith, and a journey of miracles. This journey has brought many people together who didn’t even know each other before. But they were brought together because of being asked to pray for one little baby boy. And they did.

Cash’s heart surgery was successful. “Almost textbook” to quote the surgeons. But for his parents and grandparents, “textbook” was not a word they would have chosen.

But he continues to do well, and his mom continues to update us on his progress. Hopefully he will be able to come home in another week or so, and they can begin to resume their “new normal” life, loving and caring for their son, and doing the things new parents want to do with their baby.

Until then, Ashley B continues to share her story with us. And we continue to lift this family up in our prayers.

“This morning [October 14] was the first time I saw Cash’s scar. It was really a whirlwind of emotions. I started to cry, but then the tears went away. Why was I crying? My boy is a true fighter. Look at him and all he has been through. My little Rockstar. God is so good.

Our boy has had an eventful morning. In 4 hours he has had 2 x-rays, an EKG, an echocardiogram, (ultrasound of his heart), his drainage tubes taken out, and the pacemaker wires removed.

This is my baby. My baby who was born at 7lbs 8 oz, 21 1/2 inches long. Pure perfection. He came out perfect. He had a head full of hair, big bright eyes, perfect skin, ten toes and ten fingers.

Fast forward just two months, and this is my baby now.

As a mother, it kills me to look at my baby with these scars, not because his skin isn’t perfect anymore, but because I know the hell he went through to get them. I know the heartache it caused to watch him go through all of this and get those scars, and I feel completely helpless.

Cash will have two scars in his stomach from the drainage tubes and a scar on his chest forever. I will tell him every day that he is mommy’s little hero. Our strong boy. A fighter. A heart warrior.

He is now breathing completely on his own, the wires and tubes are gone. It’s horrible watching your baby being in pain while the nurses are working on him. It’s even more horrible that you can’t pick him up and comfort him.

I knew the moment I felt Cash kick in my stomach I had one tough cookie, but I had no idea how truly strong he would make his Daddy and I become.

We love you so much Cash. You are our whole world, and we thank God every day for giving you to us.”

Ashley B
October 14, 2016

Cash’s scars will fade, Mommy. But he will forever wear them as his badge of courage. As a reminder of his strength and determination. Mommy and Daddy will have their scars as well, but they will never be seen on the outside. They will live forever inside of your hearts, in your spirits, and in your memories.

And today, October 15, they finally got to once again hold their son!

Cash is not the only one who has proven himself to be a tough fighter. You two have as well. That’s what parents do when their children are hurting, when they are sick.

We are so proud of all of you.

Thanks to all of the staff at CHKD for taking care of this little miracle. And for the other work they do with so many thousands of other children.

Previous posts in this series can be found in the “Healing a Tiny Heart” Category on this blog.

I Didn’t Get to Say Goodbye

“Everyone hug your parents and tell them you love them. My heart was shattered into a million pieces tonight. Not sure how I’ll ever be whole again! I just want to wake up from this horrible nightmare.”

Words from another daughter who lost her mother totally unexpectedly. Without warning.

It’s never easy. Even when we’re expecting it, it’s terribly hard.

When it’s unexpected, it’s even harder. And when it’s your last surviving parent, that’s far worse. Because you’ve joined the adult orphan society, and you hadn’t even requested membership.

In the past eight months I’ve had two friends who lost their mothers unexpectedly. One actually found her mother dead when she went to pick her up for church. The other received the news just yesterday from one of her mom’s friends who’d found her at home on the floor, after not being able to reach her for a day or so.

The unexpected death of a parent, especially a mother, is traumatic. A thousand thoughts go thru your mind at the same time. What you should’ve done, how you should’ve been there and stopped it (which you couldn’t have), wondering how you’ll get thru the next hour, the next few days. The rest of your life….

You want to call her and talk to her, hear her voice again. You want to hug her again, and feel her hugging you back. And you want to wake up tomorrow morning and find out it was all a horrible dream. In fact, when you wake up the next morning, for just a few seconds you’ve forgotten, and everything’s fine.

Then you remember it isn’t fine. And won’t be again for quite a long time. The darkness comes over you, overwhelms you, and there’s no relief. You don’t know where to turn to make it better, because you can’t.

But you need your time to grieve. Time to be inconsolably sad. Time to take out all of the memories in your heart and your head and replay them. Because they’re suddenly all you have left of her. There’s an empty feeling of despair you can’t stop, and don’t think will ever go away.

But it will.

You will gradually, slowly, recover. Everyone recovers in their own time. In their own way. There’s no formula for it. There’s no way to stop the pain, because with loving someone that deeply, there comes that deep pain of loss.

We daughters experience it so strongly when our mothers leave us, whether expected or not. We were part of them, living inside of them, for nine months. And when they leave us, a part of us goes with them.

To my friend, I can only offer my heartfelt sorrow as I hear your sobs, your cries, your heartache. I can offer you a shoulder to cry on, and an ear to listen to your grief. I can offer my own stories of survival after that first devastating news sinks in.

I can offer my prayers and I can assure you that you will survive. Even though you don’t think you will right now.

“Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

But my friend, the night is long, and the morning seems to take forever to get here. The night in this case lasts far longer than the 8-10 hours we’re used to. It can last for months.

But when that morning finally starts to appear, with that first hint of pinkish light, you slowly begin to heal. Your tears have all been caught and saved, and the Lord begins to pour then back over you as a refreshing shower of his grace and love. A renewal you need so badly.

My friend, I can’t make it better, or easier. But I can assure you that one day you will once again be ok. It just doesn’t seem like it right now.

Healing a Tiny Heart – Part 13

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that it was only last Monday, October 3, that Ashley B and Coleman’s world was rocked with the news that their two month old son had a huge hole in his heart that would require surgery to repair. They have been through more in the past ten days than many more young parents could ever imagine.

Their initial reaction was shock, and then, of course, fear! Fear of the unknown. Fear of what lay ahead. Fear of losing their firstborn child.

But Ashley B and Coleman have persevered; they have been strong, even in their moments of weakness. They have relied on each other, and on the Lord. They have relied on the doctors and nurses at CHKD, and they have prayed. Their family and friends have surrounded them with love and support.

Just one long week after baby Cash was diagnosed with the hole in his heart, they found themselves sitting in a surgical waiting room, waiting for the surgeons to repair his baby heart. Waiting for the news they both dreaded and anticipated. And they were so relieved when the news was good!

This series has been mostly written by his mom and dad. Their own words are for more powerful than any I could write.

Here is the latest update:

“With so many medical terms and so many things going on, we have heard things a hundred times over, and then sometimes not really hear them at all.

Apparently our little guy had one more thing repaired that I just caught while hearing the medical team making their report last night. He had both an ASD and VSD repair apparently. ASD is more common. One in twenty people have one and never know. [ASD stands for Atrial Septal Defect which causes a hole in the wall between the heart’s upper chambers. VSD is Ventricular Septal Defect which is a hole between the lower chambers of the heart. ] Cash’s was a small flap in between the two upper chambers, while the VSD repair was the very large hole in between the two bottom chambers.

The good news is that Cash finally got to eat ate last night [Wednesday night] for the first time since Monday night. And this morning his catheter was removed. The drainage tubes are having more fluid/blood draining than they originally anticipated, so he may have that in for another day.
His blood pressure is still high. Last night they had to increase the meds; this morning they are lowering them. His blood pressure needs to be down before the IV can come out of his neck.
He will still have the other two IV’s in for a while.

Our poor baby was very restless all last night, but seems to be feeling much better with the catheter out. Who wouldn’t?! The doctors also said the pacemaker wires on his heart will most likely be removed today. Things are moving forward, and as the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. Please keep the prayers coming. God is listening. And acting on them!”

Ashley B
October 13, 2016

Thank you all for taking the time to read about this sweet little boy. Thank you for your prayers.

Previous posts in this series can be found in the “Healing a Tiny Heart” Category on this blog.

Healing a Tiny Heart – Part 12

This post was written yesterday by Ashley B, on her and Coleman’s second wedding anniversary.

Most couples celebrate their wedding anniversaries, especially during the first few years, with a romantic dinner, a night out on the town, or even a weekend away in a romantic hotel or bed and breakfast. Just the two of them.

Ashley B and Coleman spent their second wedding anniversary having dinner at the CHKD cafeteria, while their two month old son lay in his crib in the PICU unit, recovering from open heart surgery the day before. Not exactly the romantic evening they’d planned for this event even a couple of weeks ago, but where else would they spend their evening? They certainly wouldn’t leave their son’s bedside for very long. He needed them, and they needed him.
Yesterday they received one of the best anniversary gifts they could ever have…their infant son’s open heart surgery was successful.

“While today we celebrate our two year wedding anniversary, we have a little warrior who has given us the greatest gift. A true miracle from God.

He is a fighter. It’s still so hard seeing him like this and not being able to hold him.

He hasn’t been able to eat since Monday night. He still has a catheter, drainage tubes, an arterial IV, as well as two other IV’s, and is on oxygen. But we have overcome another huge hurdle; the swelling is down and the breathing tube is out!!

His blood pressure is still higher than the doctors would like to see, and they noticed his urine is cloudy, which could mean there is some infection starting. Which we certainly do not want.
Today I’m really trying to reflect on everything my husband and I have gone through, not only in our two years as husband and wife, but in our ten years together. From boyfriend and girlfriend, to fiancé and fiancée, to husband and wife ,and now, the best part, to mommy and daddy.

The day I married my husband was the best day of my life, until the day we had our son.

Pretty close to the day I found out I was pregnant on December 4, 2015, I had prayed for Cash. I think the day we bring Cash home with a healthy heart will be just as comparable.

Happy Anniversary to us!”

Ashley B
October 12, 2016

These are the times when we realize how very lucky we are for such excellent doctors and nurses and hospitals to care for our children when they are so ill. These are the times when we truly realize what’s important in our lives.

Most of us will thankfully never go through an ordeal like this. We will never know the worry, the stress, the anxiety, the fear, of wondering what each hour will bring.

Parents, hold your children close. Hug them. Kiss them. And tell them how much you love them. Spend as much time with them as possible. They are a true gift from the Lord, and you as parents are entrusted with those children that were selected just for you. It is your responsibility to care for them, and raise them to be everything the Lord intended for them to be.

Little Cash is a warrior. He will have an amazing story to tell one day. He has already begun his warrior journey, and is winning battles none of us would ever want our children to even have to fight.

I look forward to seeing the adventures this little man will go on, and the proverbial dragons he will slay, as he grows from an infant to a child into an adult.

Previous posts in this series can be found in the “Healing a Tiny Heart” Category on this blog.

Healing a Tiny Heart – Part 11

I will not write my usual intro for this installment. Those of you who are following this story already know what has been happening. For you newcomers, please follow this link to the entire series.

The following is Cash’s mom’s account of yesterday…surgery day. I have only edited this for grammar and punctuation. Ashley B is not only a loving and brave new mom, but she has a way of expressing her thoughts and feelings that will touch your heart as you feel her pain. And rejoice with their good news.

“God is so good. Thank you everyone for the prayers. Please keep praying; our little Rockstar still has a few more hurdles to jump through.

Last night I don’t think anyone rested. Around 5 pm we had to watch our little boy being held down and pricked several times for lab tests. Several hours later we were told they needed three more labs; he was held down and stuck several more times.

His blood kept clotting and his veins were blown. It took several nurses to get two vials of blood. Upsetting him caused his already overworked little heart to push its limits to 215! Now it was 1 am.

Our little man had to stop eating at midnight (he eats about every 3 to 4 hours), and with still one more lab to do…more bad news… his IV was leaking. Now it was 2 am and our little guy was screaming with us in tears while he is held down again and being poked some more. It was so heartbreaking. But after everything was finally over he smiled at us and went to sleep!

At 5 am he had to be weighed and checked out. Now it was only two hours away from “go time”. He was very upset because he was so hungry. We were on edge trying to hold and love on him as much as we could. I wish I could have slowed down the clock.

They let us walk with him to the OR doors …the most terrifying walk of my life. At the OR doors we kissed our little boy, told him to be strong, and that we loved him so So SO much! He smiled at us as if to say, “it’s ok guys! I got this!”

Again time stopped.

In the waiting room it seemed like hours, days, months. Then the phone rang at 9:05 am for the first time. That’s the hardest phone call to pick up. I had Coleman answer. The whole room was silent.. waiting for a reaction. Watching Coleman’s face and tone. You could hear a pin drop.

He was stable, and they had begun. At 10:00 the phone rang again. He was on the heart-lung machine, meaning his heart was stopped and a machine was pumping blood for him.

At 11:20 we had another call. He was off the heart-lung machine! About 12:00 one of the surgeons cane out. Again, we all sat there trying to read him; trying to guess and prepare for what he was going to say.

“Everything went beautifully! They are stiching him up now.” We all took a deep breath. A huge weight lifted. With tears of joy I thanked God over and over again.
I could have leaped into the surgeon’s arms and given him a huge hug. Not long afterwards, the second surgeon came out and explained there was a little bit of a heart rhythm issue that Cash was having.

Now it was a waiting game again as to when we would see him. No one can ever prepare you enough for seeing what we had to see our precious little warrior going through. I cannot even put it into words what it was like seeing him for the first time after surgery.

It was my baby but not my spunky lil smiley-funny-face making baby. He looked like a doll as a machine breathed for him. A drain tube from his heart was coming out of his stomach. He had a catheter, 3 IV’s (one in his foot, one in his arm and a big one in his neck). A breathing tube took up his tiny little face, along with pacemaker wires and several other wires and tubes.

I thought seeing him would be the hardest, but no, it got worse watching him fight through the sedation, waking up and kicking. Watching him cry, but with his eyes closed and no noises coming out. Now that’s hard. Because now you know he is uncomfortable, and you can’t pick him up and love on him; you can’t kiss his sweet little face.

We were told the breathing tube would be removed shortly after surgey, however Cash had some swelling that hopefully will go down by the use of steroids, but it cannot be removed until this happens. This week has been so hard.

Today has been harder.
Cash is such a fighter. I love that little boy more then he will ever know. He is a true miracle from God. Tomorrow [actually today, since this was written on October 11] is a new day; our 2 year wedding anniversary. And although this is definitely not the way we planned on spending it, we received the greatest gift ever. We are blessed that we will get to spend it together, even it if is in ICU.

Our baby’s huge hole in his heart was fixed today.

Thank you all so much for the prayers. Please continue to pray for Cash on his long road to recovery. ”

Ashley B
October 11, 2016

Previous posts in this series can be found in the “Healing a Tiny Heart” Category on this blog.

Healing a Tiny Heart – Part 10

A parent’s worst nightmare is learning something is seriously wrong with their child. It is traumatic at any age in that child’s life, but far worse in the case of an infant.

Being told your 2 month old son has a huge hole in his heart, which will require open heart surgery to correct, is something no parents ever want to hear.

Knowing you have access to some of the best doctors in the country at CHKD helps some, but it still doesn’t ease that knot of fear in the pit of your stomach. You’re still scared.

Worrying about the upcoming surgery is difficult.

Seeing your baby boy wheeled down the hallway to an operating room where you cannot go with him is even harder.

Waiting for word from the surgeon that the operation is over, and that it was successful, is even harder.

Watching for the door to open, waiting for an update, makes time stand still.

Seeing the doctor walk finally out, no expression on his face, paralyzes you. But that’s how they’re trained.

The good news, though, can be read in this message from Cash’s daddy Coleman:

“Quick update. Cash’s surgery went very well! The doctors say it was almost textbook perfect. They said the only thing was, that once they took him off the heart/lung machine his heartbeat was abnormal for about 10 minutes, and then fell back into sync. They told us tonight or early morning it could fall back into abnormal beating again [which is unfortunately part of open heart surgery], but they are confident with medicine being given for a few months, they can fix it if needed. But they like to give it 10 days or so to fix itself first.
Again, we are so blessed beyond belief with so many prayers…by us and by all of you. I know there were so many angels in the OR with Cash who helped make this possible. I just know it. I’m feeling so happy right now!

Nothing in the world can prepare a parent to see their child this way, but little man loves us, and we love him. We are so BEYOND grateful for a successful surgery. I will continue to pray for the success to last a lifetime.

Thanks to Dr. G, Dr. T, CHKD and UVA, and to Jesus for instilling the knowledge in these people to fix my heart warrior, my buddy, my miracle, my son.”

October 11

What heartfelt words from a father whose infant son has just been given a second chance at a wonderful and exciting life.

Baby Cash still has a ways to go. He will be in the hospital for at least two weeks. He will be closely monitored, and will require additional medications for quite some time. But he made it through this, and he and his parents will have an inspirational and uplifting story to share.

This series is not over. Because this child’s real story is just beginning.

Please continue to keep them all in your prayers.

Previous posts in this series can be found in the “Healing a Tiny Heart” Category on this blog.

Ten Years Later

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years. So much has happened since I got that phone call from my mother that Wednesday night ten years ago. Little did I know what that one phone call would mean; what events would be triggered. And how all our lives would be changing forever.

Sure, it was to be expected eventually, but to me eventually didn’t mean then. It meant a time somewhere in the future, or so I thought.

But the future comes at unexpected moments. Tomorrow is today’s future, just like today is yesterday’s future. And on it goes.

Sometimes it feels like just a few weeks ago. Sometimes I still feel like I can pick up the phone and call her. And sometimes I don’t think about it. That is, until I happen to see a photo that reminds me of that other part of our life, back in the past.

There will always be reminders, and moments I wish we could recapture. And I really wish I could tell Mom all about our lives now; the things she missed:

Our daughter Ashley’s college graduation.

The excitement of Ashley and Chris’ engagement, of planning their wedding and shopping for wedding gowns, and I believe Mom would have joined us on that shopping trip.

Sitting beside me, holding my hand, crying together, as Ben proudly walked our daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.
The excitement of Ashley and Chris announcing their pregnancy to us; with my first reaction being, of course, “I have to call my mother!” But there are no telephones in Heaven.

The fun and excitement of Ashley’s baby shower, and how proud my mother would have been to be the expectant great-grandmother!
Words cannot express how much I wish she could’ve shared the wonder and amazement as Ben and I saw our beautiful granddaughter for the first time, and how I briefly imagined I saw my own mother’s eyes looking back at me as I looked at baby Rachel for the first time.

And I so wish I could share my feelings with my mother about being a grandmother, because she always told me one day I’d understand.

We still ride through my hometown on our way to my favorite beach, but unfortunately we don’t go there nearly as often as we used to.

I still look at the house on the left on that road going into town, the house where I used to live, and wish it were still ours, even though I know we did the right thing by selling it. It doesn’t look the same, of course, and I’m sure it’s been remodeled on the inside as well. I prefer to keep my memories of it as it was. It wouldn’t be right to go through it now; it would be too painful.

One thing I don’t do very often is visit the gravesite. I don’t feel the urgency to do so. My memories live on in photographs and other rooms in my heart; the cemetery is not a place where our memories will ever live. It is not the place where my parents are now.

I also don’t regularly put flowers or wreaths on the grave anymore. That first year after we lost her, we did that regularly. And we’d talk to her, tell her how much we missed her. But it didn’t feel right. She wasn’t there to enjoy the flowers or hear us talk to her. We’d given her flowers for lots of occasions over the years, and she’d always told us flowers died, and not to waste our money on them. And trust me, I heard her in my mind telling me that each time I brought flowers to that grave!

We still honor her memory at Christmas by hanging her “Grandmom” stocking filled with the red silk roses she loved so much. This year there will be another stocking beside that one, one with the name “Rachel” on it, and my mother’s legacy will continue.

Yes, it’s been ten years. A long ten years. But I can honestly tell you, even though you may think you will never recover from your loved one’s death, you will. You will not forget them, and your heart will heal.

But you will always miss them, and remember them.