Eleven Years of Miracles

Eleven years ago today I witnessed 2 miracles happen right before my very eyes.  I witnessed not only the miracle of childbirth, but the miracle of my child SURVIVING birth.  A tiny, 6 pound 0.1 ounce baby girl with a head full of black hair and almond-shaped blue eyes entered this world and not only survived birth but turns 11 years old today.

We were told at week 17 of our pregnancy that we were thinking “emotionally instead of logically” because we refused to abort “our fetus;” and that we didn’t know what we were facing by allowing her to be born.  Oh, but as Dennis told that doctor….”you don’t know my God!”  Eleven and a half years ago we were given the CHOICE to continue Hannah’s life or to end it.  For us, there was no choice and looking back there are still no regrets.

I know that if you keep up with me on Facebook or follow this blog; you might think at times that I have regrets because of how difficult live has been, especially the last 3 years with Hannah, but make no mistake; no matter what we go through with her, I will never, ever, ever regret choosing life for her.  To think that a doctor not only gave us that choice to make but then criticized us for NOT making the “right choice” (aka abortion) still to this day, confounds me and angers me.  Isn’t it amazing when you go through certain challenging times or tragic times in your life that you can remember every single detail of those times?  Well, I remember every single detail of that day in the high-risk OB’s office….from what I wore to what the doctor said verbatim.  I remember the grief, sadness, uncontrollable tears that Dennis and I both felt; but I also remember the PEACE.  The peace that only God can give during your most difficult moments.  I remember not knowing how to pray but I do remember that feeling of the emphatic “NO” I practically yelled at the doctor when he asked us the 2nd time if we wanted to abort.  I even remember him going so far as to say, “we can do the procedure tomorrow, you can rest and return to work in a few days and then try again to get pregnant if you want in 3-4 months…..no harm, no foul.”  NO HARM, NO FOUL?  How could he say that?  He has just given me permission to kill my baby…..how would that be no harm and no foul?  To this day, his words haunt me.  To this day I get angry when I think of it and to this day it saddens me greatly to think of all the women who have made that heart-wrenching decision opposite of what I did.  I just cannot fathom the guilt and despair I would have lived in and still be living had I “practiced my right to choose.”  I have had people question me on my stance against abortion and my answer this past 11 years always takes me back to that day on March 8, 2005 when the doctor gave me a choice…..to continue with my pregnancy or terminate it.  It was an emphatic no then and still would be today.

Today, I have an 11-year-old.  Today I celebrate her life.  As difficult as the past 11 years have been, mainly with her health issues, I wouldn’t trade or change one single thing.  Because of Hannah, I am stronger than I ever realized.  I am more resilient than I ever dreamed and I know God better now than I have ever known Him.  I am more free in my way of thinking and in my actions.  I have learned the true meaning of grace, mercy and perseverance and I have learned what love is all about.  All of those things I have learned because of a little girl who the doctors told me to abort.

Today, we will celebrate Hannah all day.  She is so excited about her birthday and has been talking about it for 2 weeks.  She wants chocolate cake and lots of presents and even told  me this year what she wanted (and yes she is getting all of it).  HA!  I am thankful for another year with her as we weren’t guaranteed one day and God has given us 11 years.  It is difficult to put into words how special that is to know that He continues to perform miracle after miracle and has left her with us this long.  I am not living in a dream world…..I know life is but a vapor and I try to cherish life with her; even in the most difficult of days; and we have many of them.  I am just so grateful that no matter how challenging, how hard, how sad some days are that God blessed me with Hannah.  Dennis and I are so blessed to call her our daughter and God truly has used her to reveal Himself to us so many times; not to mention miracle after miracle after miracle!

Happy Birthday Hannah….mommy and daddy love you so very much!  There are not enough words to express how deep our love is for you.  We are the blessed ones and today we celebrate you!

5 weeks after Hannah was born and we had just gotten out of the hospital! She was SO tiny.

Smiling looking at daddy of course!

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Pure LOVE!

Fairhope, Alabama.....Hannah was about 7 months old here. I love the way she is looking at me in this picture!

Happy girl!

Geez, I looked so young here! Hannah was probably about 6 months old, I am guessing!

Hannah and Cletus! Cletus was my parents cat! I loved Cletus, God rest his soul! The only person in my family happy when Cletus went home to Heaven was Dennis! He hated that cat and well, Cletus hated Dennis! HA!

Who doesn't look cute in pigtails?

She loves her camo!

Love this smile

So happy

Beautiful blue eyes

Happy girl with pigtails

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Dance finale! She rocked it!

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Hannah LOVES her Henny

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Just because it is "Throwback Thursday" and this picture makes me smile and brings me joy!

 

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Hannah 2

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A little Throwback Thursday picture of a few years ago.....first day of school!

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Mimi left us her piano and everyday Hannah and I sit down and she sings while I play. We have mastered "He Touched Me" by the Gaithers!

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Until next time………

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To The Police Officer…..Your Life Matters

I see you.  I respect you.  I admire you.  I hurt for you.  I am scared for you.

Your life matters!

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You took an oath to serve and protect knowing full-well that you might have to one day pay the ultimate sacrifice.  A sacrifice you are willing to make for me so I can be safe.  What that sacrifice should NEVER entail is a HATE CRIME perpetuated by some cowardly low life scum bag who is full of hate and evil.  I AM ANGRY and so I cannot imagine how angry you are.  I am scared for you…..for our country…..yet, you still choose to put that uniform, gun and badge on each day knowing full well that you now have a target on your back.  How do you do that?  I couldn’t!   Here you are still willing to protect and serve a community where you are a possible target.  You still kiss your families goodbye and get in your car, on your motorcycle, on your bike, on your horse, or on foot each day not knowing if today will be the day your life is put in jeopardy; not knowing if you will make it home at the end of your shift.  You  might be scared, but you don’t show it.  You keep going toward danger, facing it; not backing down or running away.  I admire you.  You prove each and everyday regardless of what is going on in this crazy, messed up, evil world that you took your oath seriously and you will face whatever comes your way head-on.  You do it with grace, dignity, strength and determination.

I am married to one of you.  I am a sister to one of you.  I am a friend to many of you.  I am scared for all of you.  We are family; the thin blue line family where blood does not bind us; instead we are bound by loyalty, love, strength and respect.  I might not be an officer but I bleed blue with the rest of you.  I will stand with you always.  My heart aches with these cowardly, senseless, hate-filled hate crimes against our officers.  YES, HATE CRIMES!  Let’s call it what it is…..HATE……by the same people you have sworn to serve and protect…..how senseless is all of this?  Wake up America…..the men and women in blue are here FOR US, not against us!  Fight alongside of them and for them, not against them.  Why is this so difficult?  Why is there this much hate for those who are here to protect us?  I don’t understand and I wish so badly it would just stop!  Stop it already!  Stop!

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For all of the officers out there…..the ones I love; family and friends and the ones I do not know please hear me.  Your life matters.  You are doing a job that most people would never and could never do.  You are the strongest of the strong mentally, emotionally and physically.  You are willing to forsake your own life for the life of a stranger.  You are willing to provide law and order to a world that seems to have lost its moral compass and fiber.  You see things that most people have no clue about and wouldn’t be able to handle.  You deal with horrific crimes and tragic circumstances.  You bear the weight of the world on your shoulders and yet you continue to do it day in and day out with little pay.  You probably don’t feel valued (especially right now), but you continue to go out and do your job each and every day regardless of that.  YOU MATTER……I see you……I pray for you……I value you……I STAND WITH YOU.

I know my standing with you may not seem like much but I have a feeling there are more of us who do stand with you than those who stand against you……I just wanted you to know that you are not forgotten.  I wanted you to know that my heart aches for the loss you all must feel, because I feel it.  My heart hurts as I know yours does.  Thank you for standing up for what is right.  Thank you for protecting me.  Thank you for sacrificing your well-being so that I can feel safe.  Thank you for your service.  Please know you are not alone……I see you……Your life matters more than any words I can type.  Be safe.  Be vigilant.  Come home to your families at the end of your shift NO MATTER what!

Until next time………

No Sleep and The Author

I was one of those “lucky” moms whose child slept through the night from the day she was born.  Her heart was so bad that she rarely was awake the first 4 months of her life.  The middle of the night feedings occurred because I set my alarm and she never woke up for them because she was fed through a g-tube.  During the daytime hours I would try to bottle feed her but after about 10mls she would fall fast asleep and I would have to finish the feeding through the tube.  Even after her first open-heart surgery she was in such a good routine with sleep that she not only slept 12 hours straight at night but took 2 naps during the day.  Heaven!  Then, even after her napping stopped at the age of 4, she still continued to sleep 12 hours straight (again, very blessed).  Unfortunately, since March 2014 all of that changed! She gets up anywhere from 4-10 times per night between the hours of midnight and 4:30am….the past 3 weeks it has been really bad and I am exhausted. It is so incredibly difficult to function during the day and naps don’t happen for either of us.  I honestly do not know how Hannah goes all day long with no sleep at night.  She looks exhausted.  Her skin is so pale and her eyes are red, heavy and have black circles and bags underneath them and even with a smorgasbord of medications at night prior to bedtime, she still doesn’t sleep through the night.  On top of that where it used to take her 5-10 minutes to fall asleep, now it takes up to an hour and a half.  We have tried everything, even a later bedtime, to no avail.

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I usually hear her little feet walking down the wood floors to our room and I immediately hop up out of bed before she gets to our room.  We don’t say a word but I lead her back to bed, tuck her in and the process repeats usually many times for the next few hours.  The other morning it started at 1am and I got up with her several times and I guess I crashed so hard that I didn’t even know she was standing by our bed.  Dennis woke up and saw her and took her back to bed that time….I believe it was about 3:2o am.  One morning about 2am I felt kisses on my arm…..funny thing I thought….I know this isn’t Dennis waking me up…..if it is, he is a dead man!  HA!  Nope, it was Hannah and I got out of bed and walked her back, tucked her in and repeated that process a few more times.

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I guess I am blogging about this because it hit me funny on Tuesday of last week.  I know I am just now blogging because I have been so tired my brain is in a fog and sitting down to type a blog has seemed like a daunting task.  Anyway, Hannah had to have more blood work done and we were on the elevator at Nemours heading to the lab.  The lady on the elevator with us had a tiny baby with her and I made the comment, “oh I remember those days…..those were the good ‘ole days.”  She looked at me like I was crazy and said….”I don’t sleep….the baby is up many times during the night…..I can’t function.”  I looked at her and thought to myself…..wow, I was so lucky back then…..I guess I am getting that part now.  I just smiled at her and said…..”I hope it gets better…..lack of sleep is no fun.”

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I have found myself, when I am out and about (which isn’t often) except for Publix and Target shopping; that I just watch people.  I wonder about their stories.  I find myself wondering if they are happy, sad, thriving or barely surviving.  I remember after Hannah was born, she was in the NICU.  After the 3rd day, I was discharged and the hardest part was not being able to stay with her and not bringing her home.  I remember leaving the hospital that first time and just sobbing as we got in the car.  I went in the hospital with a baby (pregnant) and left without one.  I asked Dennis to stop at Walmart and as we were walking I felt like a zombie…..I was looking at people and wondering about their stories/lives.  I remember thinking…..no one knows what I am going through.  No one understands.  It was so hard to wrap my head around my own story at that time but yet, I was wondering about others.  I still find myself doing that.  Of course my biggest question that I think about others, even though they might have a sad or bad story…. is do they know my Jesus?  Do they know the author of their story and do they trust Him with continuing to write their story?  That is a difficult thing to do.  No matter how bad your situation is, the lack of sleep, the lack of help, the lack of accomplishments, the lack of love, the lack of respect, admiration or peace; do you trust the Lord to be the author of your story?  I will admit, some days I am okay with it and other times I have asked Him to write a little faster or let me take over!

I am doing a Bible Study right now on the women of the Bible and it is amazing the stories of women throughout the Old and New Testament whose stories, faith and lack thereof can be applied today.  This week I read about Jochebed.  She was Moses’ mom.  She had to literally do something I cannot wrap my head around to protect her little baby from a certain death at the hands of the Egyptians.  She had to trust God to protect her baby and let him go.  By doing that, God used that baby to eventually free the Hebrew people from slavery.  Jochebed was willing to allow God to work, allow Him to write her story.  She allowed Him to write Moses’ story how He saw fit; she didn’t know what the outcome would be but she trusted, had faith in a loving and gracious God and allowed Him to use her.  Through that her son grew up and eventually led the Hebrew people to freedom.  I want to be a mom like Jochebed…..one whose faith and trust lies solely in the Lord allowing Him to be the author of my story and Hannah’s story, regardless of the way it turns out.  I want to put the pen down and let Him write the story of my life; even though often times filled with insomnia, disease and sadness; because He has a story to tell that will one day bring honor and glory to Him and truly that is all that matters in this life.

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Until next time……….

 

Changed Perspective…..Thanks to a Song

There is a song by Sidewalk Prophets called “To Live is Christ.”  It is a beautiful song….google it, you will love it.  I have heard it many times but as I drove home Saturday night from having dinner with friends and then doing my Target shopping I heard it again but this time I really listened to the words.  I had to google the lyrics when I got home to see that I heard them right.  One of the verses goes like this:

My great desire is to be with You
But this is the place you chose for me
This is the place you chose for me
To lift my cross and give everything
This is the time you gave to me
This is the time you gave to me

Again, I have heard this song 100 times but Saturday night the words spoke to me like never before……”My great desire is to be with You, but this is the place you chose for me.”  I have wondered many times “WHY?”  Why is this the life I am leading?  What is the lesson to be learned?  How am I supposed to do this forever?  But, after hearing these words…”this is the place you chose for me.”  God put me here…..He chose this.  All He has asked of me is that I lift my cross (this burden) and carry it and give Him my everything.  He has given me this time for a purpose.  What that is, I am not sure and I might not know until Heaven; but He just asks me to do it and do it well; as unto Him.

The chorus goes like this:

For me to live is Christ, For me to live is Christ
For me to live is Christ, to die is gain
I’ll never be the same, I’ll never be the same
For me to live is Christ, to die is gain

Now, I read this differently for my circumstances as I don’t believe the life I am living is literally going to kill me, but I do read it as I need to die to “self.”  Although, if I do die living this life; that truly is a gain as well.  I know after this is said and done and whether Hannah gets a complete healing here on earth or when He calls us home to Heaven (ultimately her healing will come, I just don’t know when or where He will choose to do it); I know if I die to self and take this job/ministry He has asked of me and do it to His honor and glory then He will reward that; as it is all He has asked of me.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will never be the same person again that I was  prior to having Hannah.  That old Tamara is gone; and that isn’t a bad thing…..of course I still have a lot of growing and changing to do and I can pretty much guarantee you that I will never live up to or be exactly who He wants me to be.

I have not looked at my life (especially lately) the way I have needed to, through God’s eyes.  I have not counted it all joy and I have never looked at it as my ministry and calling here on earth.  I mean, I am Hannah’s mom; who looks at that as a ministry…..but, you know what?  It is…..God called me to do this; trust me, if He hadn’t called me I wouldn’t have even had a child.  He gave me the desire to be a mom…..a desire I never had until about 3 months prior to getting pregnant. So, I can honestly say, this was HIS calling as Dennis and I prayed about it for months and months prior to deciding if starting a family was in God’s plan.  So, yes….He called  me and I will never be the same.

I have been……not jealous, because I am just not a jealous person; but more like questioning why I can’t go on mission trips or serve in my local church or volunteer somewhere; because it has always been my desire to do those things.  But, this song showed me that sometimes our “serving,” our ministry takes us places we would never think.  God gave me a very special child.  Don’t get me wrong, all children are special but He gave me one that needs extra attention.  Heck, she is nearly 11 and I still bathe her and take her to the potty…..do you know how many times I have cried thinking what “normal” 11 year olds are capable of doing and Hannah isn’t?  The fact is though, she needs extra attention.  She can’t understand the same things as “typically-developed” children can.  I have to speak her language, which is minimal, to ask or tell her something.  She just doesn’t comprehend things the way other children do.  She needs extra help doing things…..from brushing her teeth, going potty, getting baths, eating; even drinking…..she has to have routine and structure (no flying by the seat of our pants in this household) and due to her many health issues she takes a slew of medications and cannot be around germs.  So, vacations and fun activities just cannot happen at this time.  I pray that will change soon; but until then all I can do is take this ministry/calling/job (whatever you want to call it) and do it as unto the Lord.  I haven’t always done it like that…..sometimes I do just enough to keep us alive….not going above and beyond and certainly, some days, not doing it with joy in my heart.

Is this my desire?   No, but it should be!  My desires should line up with the life God has asked me to live.  PERIOD!  Have I failed Him, ABSOLUTELY, I have.  Do I have a lot of changing to do?  YEP and that change can only begin with me!  My attitude and my willingness to die to myself.

Thankful for music; even though I am not musically inclined at all.  Music really speaks to me at times and I am thankful for a long drive home Saturday night and hearing that song again for the 100th time and finally really listening to it……helped change my perspective on this life I am living!

Until next time……….

Not A Day Goes By

Not a day goes by where you don’t cross my mind.  You had my heart from the moment I could recognize you and when you were gone you took a piece of me with you.  Today would have been your 95th birthday and I know you are celebrating in Heaven with the biggest plate of dessert ever; just wish I had been there to make it for you.  A plate with all your favorites…..coconut cream pie, cherry pie, pecan pie, buttermilk pie and lets not forget all the ice cream you could ever eat.  You weren’t just my Grandpa, you were my friend.  You loved me, prayed for me, encouraged me and even through all my mistakes you never gave up on me.  You didn’t stand in judgment of me or criticize me…..you just loved.  You always had joy in your heart and a song in  your head.  You sang to me….all those little diddies…..Like “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy; a kid will eat ivy too, would you;” and “you can’t have her, cause I want her, she’s just right for me.”  Oh wow, singing them in my head brings a smile to my face remembering you.  But, I think by far your favorite song was “The Old Rugged Cross.”

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best,
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine
Such a wonderful beauty I see
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

I love that song; every time I hear it I am reminded of you.  I get tears in my eyes when I think of that as your farewell song to earth and your friends and family when you laid your trophies down; you were clinging to the old rugged cross until the end and the  moment you left this earth you exchanged it for your crown; and what a beautiful, gigantic crown it must have been.  Oh Grandpa; just to hear your voice one more time and get one more hug.  The hugs I took for granted…..the love you showed me my whole life and especially after Hannah was born.  The way you loved my little girl, the tears you shed for her, for me, for Dennis and the prayers you prayed…..I will never forget.  You are always with me….in my heart and everywhere I look especially now since we bought this house; the house you built with your own two hands.  Everywhere I look, I see you. The special touches you made and just the fact that you built this house for my mom with so much love, tenderness and care; it feels as if a piece of you remains.

Throwback Picture.....not sure of the year, but Hannah was only about a year old here....so probably 2006.

Celebrating Grandpa's birthday in 2009.

Celebrating Grandpa’s birthday in 2009.

My favorite picture of Grandpa and Hannah.  Oh, how he loved my little girl and she loved him!

My favorite picture of Grandpa and Hannah. Oh, how he loved my little girl and she loved him!

Just a couple of weeks before he passed away.  Hannah walked in his room at Mayo and wanted a kiss from Grandpa......

Just a couple of weeks before he passed away. Hannah walked in his room at Mayo and wanted a kiss from Grandpa……

Today would have been your birthday and I know you are celebrating every single day in Heaven.  One day I will be there with you to hug you and hear another song…….until then; I love you Grandpa…..Happy Birthday!

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Until next time………