Ahhhh!!!! Something terribly wrong has happened to my blog and the background, layout, and "gadgets" that previously were on the sidebar. Please be patient as I attempt to fix this...if you have any suggestions or ideas, please let me know!! I am desperate!!!!
Two years ago today, my life was forever changed in the most amazing way. Your birth and pregnancy not only tested my body's limits but deepened my faith in God and truly brought me to realize that I had been living my life relying too much on my own strength.
August 18th of 2007....it was late in the evening and I started to realize (for the approximately 50th time) that something was wrong. But, this time it was something different. It wasn't anything like the kidney stones, pulmonary edema, or cardiomyopthay. It wasn't really contractions either. I just felt that it was important that I get to the hospital quickly. I finally managed to tell Daren. I got in my car and drove myself to the hospital where I had become a "frequent flyer" during this pregnancy. Shortly after midnight they started running tests to figure out just exactly what was going on. Early on the morning of the 19th, we realized it was not only my 35th birthday ~ but that you two had decided that, 9 weeks early, you would be the best birthday gift I could ever hope for! :0)
So, they loaded me up in the ambulance and took me lights and sirens to Plano, Texas just outside of Dallas. Tyler, where we lived at the time, did not have a level III NICU and the closest one was 2 hours away. (about 60 minutes when your screaming down the interstate that your babies are coming and the ambulance drivers are begging you that they'll drive faster if you just promise not to have them on the way there....I did my best and made it.)
Your daddy made it to the hospital with just minutes to spare. Nana Joyce was standing at the end of the hall when they brought me onto the labor and delivery floor. I was SO happy and relieved that she was there!! (Thank you mom for making sure you got there!!) 45 minutes after arriving at Presbyterian Hospital of Plano, you made your grand entrance!!
Megan Hope arrived first. You were so tiny!! I had never set my eyes on such a tiny baby. I only got to see you for about 3 seconds and then a team of nurses rushed you off to the NICU ~
They were kind enough to get a picture of daddy and you before they took you off...I hated watching them wheel you down the corridor and out of the OR without me...but my job wasn't done just yet. Your sister was on her way too....
Ashley, you for some reason felt that the further up into my rib cage you could squirm, the better. You had a hold of one of my ribs and would not let go. You were holding on with all you had. Finally, after 45 seconds of wrestling with you, you graciously gave in and let go. Sweetheart, I didn't even get to see you. You were so tiny! So much more tiny than your "tiny" sister!! You fought so hard to breathe but it just wasn't going to happen on your own. There was an amazing team of neonatal doctors there and they RAN you down the hall and into the NICU where a tube was put down your throat to help you breathe. You weighed only a little over 3 pounds. Meggie just over 4. (And I still can't figure out if your combined weight was 7 pounds....how could I have gained 80 pounds...Maybe I was loading up for those last 9 weeks that you were supposed to me "with me")
I told Daddy to go and be with you. You both needed him and he needed you. We were blessed with an amazing team of physicians, physicians assistants, and nurses. They not only cared for you, but they cared for us.
As I made my way out of recovery and into my own room, they wheeled me to the NICU on the gurney so I could see you. I was terrified. I felt as though I had failed you in some way to cause you to come this early. You both had to fight so hard, but Ash, your road for the first few days was much more difficult.
I didn't get to hold either of you but for 30 minutes at a time every four hours. They called it "touch time". The rest of the time, I sat in a chair and watched you all day, every day, until the nurses made me leave to get some rest.
They had given us "cuddle dolls"...small doll shaped pieces of fabric that we were supposed to wear between our clothing and chest. Then, you slept on them and this was supposed to make you feel secure and safe. And ya know what? When you had the cuddle dolls, your heart rates stabilized as did your pulse ox. I would have done anything to help you....anything!!
At 13 days into this journey, Megan became very sick. I had left to pick Daddy up from DFW airport and was only gone about 90 minutes. When we walked back into the NICU, there was a bunch of stuff going on in your wing and we wondered what it was. As we started to walk in, we were met with one of the physicians. They told us that you had become very ill and the next 12-24 hours could be your last. "Necrotizing Entercolitis" is what they told us you had (or NEC) and that is an intestinal infection that can perforate your intestines. They took you out of bed with your sissy and stopped all feedings, put you on IV anti-biotics, and there we sat. Crying, feeling defenseless. Your daddy and I would have traded places with you in a second. It didn't seem fair that you would suffer. You had never done anything. You never cried, except when they put the IV in....I think I cried just as hard as you did. We couldn't hold you. We weren't supposed to even touch you. How was that supposed to be possible?? The 12 hour mark came and you were still stabilized. The 24 hour mark came and still, you were with us. 24 hours turned into 48 and 48 into 72... for 7 days we watched with hopeful anticipation and deepening dependence in God that you were in His hands. Never has my faith been tested to this level. I wish my relationship with God had been on a more intimate level before this happened because the well of strength to draw from would have been deeper. BUT, God did use this opportunity to draw us ever closer to His heart and there isn't a person on this earth that could ever convince me that miracles still don't happen. Ashley held her own by herself in the "big crib".... though she much preferred you to curl up with. They kind of gave us the 30 minutes we were supposed to get to hold Megan so that we could hold you twice as long. That helped soooooo much!!
From that point on....there were still small steps backwards, but progress forward far outweighed those steps. And before we knew it, you were home. We were all home together and the next phase of our journey as a family of 5 began. It was a long 8 weeks with you in the NICU. It was a long 8 weeks to be away from your big brother. But, that was behind us and forward we did march! There were tough days and there were tougher days. But God's grace and mercy sustained us. For a short time, you shared a bed...but soon, we realized that THAT would not last long. Ashely, you did not leave Megan alone. :0) Such a sign of the way you were while I carried you in the pregnancy and the way you are today. Kory FINALLY agreed to touch you and look at you. It took some "constructive direction" but it did happen over time. He kept saying "No!! Take them back!" (More about that story at another time....) So, through all these words, what I am trying to say is.... I love you! I loved you from the second I knew you! You brought me closer to God in ways I am so thankful for!! I could not think of a birthday gift more incredible than to share it with you! I look forward to the time we have together...You are such miracles!! True miracles. Thank you for the blessing you are in my life!! Happy Birthday girls!! Mommy loves you!
Keep smiling!! You've brought joy to so many!!! And always remember that you're not only beautiful on the outside... but your hearts are beautiful too!
And keep laughing with that giggle that comes from the tips of your toes!!!
So, my friends....it's 4:30 in the morning and I woke up, tired, but unable to go back to sleep. I've learned over time that when I can't fall back into a peaceful sleep, God has something to say to me, that in the craziness of my day, I wouldn't probably hear.
This dark quiet morning is no different. I rolled out of bed, stumbling over various boxes and totes that for some reason I can't bring myself to unpack. I found the laptop (that my brother so graciously let us borrow) and turned the light of my cell phone on to look for my Bible. As I found my Bible, I also found a book by Sheila Walsh; "Extraordinary Faith ~ God's Perfect Gift for Every Woman's Heart". And trust me, I thirst for that very thing.
Chapter 1 ~ An Uncertain Beginning ~ When Our Plans Fall Apart
(This is no "luck" to find, this is my God. This is one of the many ways in which, when I still my heart and turn it towards Him and sit in silence, He speaks ever so softly and tenderly.)
The introduction to this chapter starts with a quote and Scripture from Hebrews.
My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust our ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me!!
~Eliza E. Hewitt, 1891
Hebrews 11:1 ~
Now faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for,
the evidence of things NOT SEEN. (NKJV)
In my lifetime, I have been blessed to know many people of great faith. Sheila Walsh and her testimony has been a truly pure example of true faith in every life circumstance. I gravitate to her writing because there is a connection I feel with her testimony and I believe with all my heart, God has put this amazing lady and her writing in front of my journey to let me know, "You are not alone My child"!!!
There are a few points in this first chapter that I wanted to bullet here below. I encourage you to pick up this book if you find yourself in a valley with faith wavering and hopelessness or helplessness (true attacks from the enemy...and not thoughts of God).
~ Psalm 37 "The Lord DELIGHTS in the way of the man whose steps he has made firm. Though he stumble, he will NOT FALL, for the Lord UPHOLDS Him WITH HIS HAND"(emphasis mine)
~ "I have stood with others as they have buried their children even though they were godly people who had asked God to spare their loved ones. The issue that troubles me most with faith is the burden many carry when they don't get the answer they have prayed for. They feel as they have failed n some way. That seems a cruel yoke to wear in the midst of pain. I have received their letters and heard their pain-filled words....
-> "If I would have had more faith, my child would not have died"
-> "If I had more faith, I would find a husband"
-> "If I had more faith, this curse of cancer would leave me"
~ "During my tenure as co host of "The 700 Club", we aired stories of those who had experienced God's miraculous intervention in their lives. The stories were inspiring and, Pat believes, faith-building. My problem with that when all you show are the stories with the happy endings, it can seem to those watching that God always responds that way if you have enough faith. Therefore, if your child dies or your husband doesn't come home, you have failed in some way.
~ "My heart ached for God's people who were longing to find some mysterious key that would unlock the answers they desired
~ "I like things to make sense to me. I want to be able to understand what God is doing, but that's not always the case. Sometimes the plans we have made, the hopes and dreams that we carry, fall apart at our feet. Are you in that place now? Do you wonder if god has abandoned you, or if you have missed God somewhere along the path? It is the loneliest place on earth as a believer to feel as if God has left you OR to live with the taunting voice that says you have blown it and missed Gods' best for your life. As we walk through this book together, I pray that we will receive a clearer picture of what it means to walk by faith, no matter what sight may tell us"
That is just a few of the points that struck a chord in my heart. I am excited to read this book. My faith is in need of an extreme makeover from our Father who loves us beyond comprehension!!
Sheila Walsh is one of the most amazing people that I "know". I say "know" because I don't "know her, know her"...I just feel a pure connection between her life and my own. From life struggles. She has been through a great deal, but God never left her side and it is so apparent in this book...and any of her book that you might read.
Below I've posted a picture of this book and if you click on it, it will take you to her website, where in her own words, you can read her testimony. (If it doesn't, go to: http://www.sheilawalsh.com/index.html
If you've struggled, if you have questioned, if you just need to find your faith again and be reassured that God is there with you, I urge you to pick up one of her books. If you can't afford to buy one, I will see what I can do to get one for you. Just click on the comment button at the bottom of this post and leave me your address or the address of where it can be shipped to and I will find a way to put this book or a Bible in your hands.
May God bless both you the reader and me the writer today in whatever challenge or battle you may be in. If you are on the top of the mountain, full of rejoicing...may your faith be strengthened and may you see the path that God has walked you through. Even as Christians, our faith can be tested. God does this to prune us and grow us into His likeness.
May your day be filled with the most abundant blessings and I pray that God touches your life today in a way that fills you with his peace, love, and compassion. And remember....He faileth NOT!
Taking time to smell the flowers.... And they said she would never walk.....
or talk....trust me...she does both...ALL THE TIME...and it's precious!!
Ashley with her great uncle Lewis.... it was so good to see him. This is my Dad's brother...GREAT man!!!
And there she goes again.....the OTHER direction....
Ashley is trying to figure a way to climb up the gutter.... she is
always into something....very "mechanical"...
And Kory....at three he does not stop.....talking that is. He will narrate the entire day...expressing or pointing out various things multiple times....you won't miss much with him around. He'll make sure you see it all!! Sweet Heart!
Uncle Lewis, Ashley, & Papa..... Hangin with the big dogs!
Buddy, you've grown up to be such a tall little guy. It almost makes the thought you are ONLY 3 insane!!!
Ah! We lost our Internet connection Friday & just got it back a few hours ago. So... I'll update those of you sitting on the edge of your seats (ha ha!) of the latest Cole calamity! :0) The "connection" with the internet comes and goes...so this may be a chopped up note....apologies!
Last Friday: Had mammogram and ultrasound to diagnose lump found. "Radiologist" said he wasn't sure what it was and that he "suggested" I sit on it for now and come back in 6 months for re-evaluation. Yeah right. 6 months. For me, not a good enough treatment plan. (Not trying to be argumentative, but have heard too many stories of "mis (or over looked) diagnosis" ) My Dr.'s office called this morning...they didn't like that plan either. They have me scheduled to see Dr. Rable, a general surgeon in the Breast Care Center at Norman Regional so we can do a biopsy to get a firm diagnosis. Appointment: September 1.
Last Friday P.M./Saturday all day: My parents offered to keep the kids Friday night and all day Saturday. Woo hoo! Actually got to go out to dinner and talk. WAY OVERDUE and much needed. I'm thankful for that time. I've realized though that I can't expect perfection and fairy tale endings. The last 5 months have taken a tole on my heart and I need to lean on God for support and guidance and trust that we are in the palm of His hand. He's carried me this far and I know that He will continue to and protect my heart......... Saturday night, my parents gave the girls and I a birthday party! (For those of you just joining this journey, Megan Hope and Ashley Lynn were born on my 35th birthday two years ago...arriving at 31 weeks, we spent our first months together in the Plano, Texas NICU). The party was perfect! My mom made one of my all time favorite cakes....a bunny cake with "7 minute frosting"....delish! They gave the girls a Little People doll house...and they love it!! Megan's imagination runs wild as she acts out each "family" member. Ashely, is content to move all and any furniture that Megan puts in the doll house. A few times, I've seen the kitchen sink hurlled through the air...that's my girl!! Yikes. My mom....she gave me the best gift I've ever been given!! She took 400 (yes four hundred) pictures of me since the day I was born until today and put them all in an album for me. I cried like a baby...and I loved every tear that fell!! I have never looked at my life that way nor has anyone ever spent that kind of time to put something together just for me. It is something that I will treasure always!! Thanks Mom and Dad!!!
Another probably "NOT note-worthy" event, but one I will comment on because I can...has to do with the Nationwide NASCAR Race held in Michigan Saturday afternoon. It was a great race. From start to finish. (Love NASCAR!!!) I'd normally never comment on a race in a blog... maybe just to acknowledge Dale Jr.'s win....lol....but the closing moments of the race still make my blood pressure rise....(Those of you who aren't NASCAR fans and don't know who Kyle Bush is...you can skip this paragraph because it won't make any sense and you'll have no idea why this has my blood boiling....) Kyle Bush did it again. As he has at almost every race for the past three years. He races dirty. He doesn't know how to race clean and will stop at nothing to see his car in victory lane at the finish of a race. His persistence is not what bothers me. What bothers me is the crying, whining, complaining, and blaming he does after EVERY race he DOESN'T win. Seriously Kyle? Was it necessary for you to run into the right fender of Brian Vickers car as he pulled onto pit row? Was it a requirement for you to, as usual, stick your unwanted face into someones car when your feelings get hurt.....only to run away when the other driver is given the opportunity to get out and respond? Was it really all Brian's responsibility to notice how Kesslowski was moving up fast from behind and move up the track? Where was your rear view mirror? Do you not have one or is it tilted down so that you can check yourself out as you drive? As Brian said at the end of the race after you got your air time to cry and whine (someone hand this poor boy a Kleenex) "I didn't know this was the Kyle Bush show". He also went on to say that he wanted to get out of the car so that you could talk about this man to man....I think in the "man to man" statement...he gave you to much credit! You are like the playground bully who really doesn't have a spine after all. I'm so tired of the way you race. Sure, it gives for some exciting races...but I have a notion that they would be just as good without you ram roding everyone to try and catch the checkered flag! Your brother had made a 180 degree turn around from how angry he used to get...so has "Smoke" (Tony Stewart). You need to find out what they did to control their emotions and get on it, take part in it, or learn to use more appropriate "feeling" words.
OKAY....with that being said (so sorry for "venting".....no, no I'm really not....that's how I "feel")
In the late hours of Saturday, I managed to jam my right big toe into the couch and pop up the nail. (SHOCKER HUH???) I tried, and tried, and tried to pull it off myself...but I just couldn't do it. Urgent Med...here we come....again!! (I wish they had one of those cards you get punched every time you go and like the 10th visit would be free....now that's health care reform~) Got it numbed up, cut off, and wrapped up. Daren was anything but happy about spending his Sunday morning with me that way. Oh well, what's done is done. Sorry!!
So, that brings me to today. Monday. August 17th! Quiet day. Not much to share. I'm trying to get the kids outgrown clothes priced and safety pinned to hangers for the "Just Between Friends" sale at the OKC fairgrounds next weekend.(A LARGE children's consignment sale held twice a year) It's not a terrible task to do....but with Ashley wanting to try on everything and Kory digging though the piles while Meggie lays on the clothes....it's been taking me a little longer than I had anticipated. I've got 4 LARGE totes left to price and hang...by Friday afternoon. Not impossible...just starting to feel the pressure. (Oh....and mom and dad are having a garage sale this weekend as well and I have to get the other stuff over there to their house by Thursday...) Kory, who usually has school twice a week, is home all week. I love it, but it's just not the "help" I need right now. "Mommy? What are you doing?"... "Mommy? What's this?".... "Mommy? You not sell this. I put it away in my room."
All I can say is....let the good times roll!!! I've thrown a few recent pictures to the bottom of this post...hopefully they will help make reading this worth it....
In His Grip~
**My Dad and His brother (my Uncle Lewis) went on a fishing expedition out west...on the trail back home to Oklahoma, they stopped off in Utah to see my brother and his great family. The following are some of those pictures! I miss them so much!!!! (In case I haven't already said that at one time or another! Lol)
My amazing sister-in-law with the newest Rhodes addition ~ Noelle!
What a cutie!!! (Both of them!) :0) My sweet Lillian!!! Oh how I miss you girl! Somer!! Your hair is getting so long!! It looks beautiful!! Has it been long enough since I've seen you for your hair to have grown that much?? I love and miss you too sweet girl! Marin!! Your mommy's helper!! You are growing up so fast and every year you become more and more amazing!! I love you....give your new sissy a hug and kiss for me please! :0) The Rhodes Family ~ July 2009 I miss you all soooo much!!! My brother and his youngest..... GREAT Picture Dave!!! Sweet and Sassy!!! That's my girls!! Papa & His Girls! Noelle ~ You are a beauty!! I can't wait to give you lots and lots of kisses!!
I went to the Dr. today....LOVED her!! She was so compassionate and encouraging! Truly a breath of relief compared to the other physicians we've run across since being here.
She got me scheduled for a mammogram tomorrow (Friday) at 10:00 a.m. I'll once again call on you for prayer!! I know I am in good hands, so I am peaceful in that regard. Trying my best not to worry, but that's always a tough one for me. I'll post something as soon as I get results back. (hopefully tomorrow)
I am a Christian, not perfcet by any means of the word, forgiven by Gods grace. I am a wife to an amazing man with whom God has blessed me with!I am a Mommy to 3 precious gifts from God (4 year old son & 2 year old twin girls,) ~ Daughter to the best parents in the world ~ Little sister to a brother whose faith, integrity, & bold nature has inspired me to live my life better.I have been blessed by my sister-in-law & her amazing family who have shown me how much love a family can have for each other!! I am an aunt who ADORES her neices and nephews more than words can express! I am a sinner who is forgiven by the blood of Christ, I find my shelter, hiding in the Wings of The Almighty. I dare not forget where I came from and the battles I've endured, but I surely do not let them dictate who I am today in Christ. The shackles of shame have been torn off & I live in freedom of Christ love. One of my greatest desires is that through this blog, one heart is touched, hope with Christ is revealed, & love shown to someone who may feel so alone. May the words that I express and the journey's that I share, bring You Praise and Glory! It is forever in Your grip I shall stay
"We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle." ~ Oswald Chamber~
Christian Women Online
~One Amazing Family~
Dave & Darcy ~ You make this world a better place to live. Though miles and circumstances may keep us apart, my heart holds unmeasurable love & compassion for all of you!