8 Things My Daddy’s Death Taught Me

1. Life is Short. We hear other people say it all the time. And in the grand scheme of things, it is indeed short. Very short. As one of my Granny’s friends at the nursing home says, “It’s like you go to sleep one night and wake up 20 years older. I don’t even know where all the time went. It just went!” And as fast as it goes, rest assured there never seems to be enough of it. When our time here draws nigh, we seem to always want more of it and when our loved ones’ time is up, we find ourselves wishing they had more time as well. Sorry folks, it’s not gonna happen. I’d love to sit here and say otherwise, but when our time is up, it’s up. No do-overs. No replays. No bargaining with The Man upstairs. If you want to spend time with your children, do it. If you want to swim with the dolphins, do it. Want to write a book? Do it! Go back to school? Do it! Parasailing? Go for it! Which leads me to Number 2.

2. No Regrets. All of us will have 2 dates on our headstones: The day we came into this world and the date we leave. Which do you think will matter the most when you breathe your last breath? NEITHER. The thing people will always remember is the little dash between the two. That little dash represents everything you did and didn’t do during the time between those 2 breaths. Don’t wait until you find out you’re dying to decide to do something. Do it now. While you’re still able. Because you’re already dying. We are all in the proces of dying right this second. Some of us are just doing it faster than others. Life has a 100% mortality rate! The very thing you’re dying from may not even be what actually kills you! That’s what happened with Daddy. So do the things on your bucket list and when those are complete and you’re still breathing, add a few more, etc. Don’t let death sneak up on you and then sit there thinking about all the things you wish you had done or hadn’t done and the things you wish you had done differently or the things you had said. Which brings me to Number 3.

3. Swallow Your Pride. Repeat after me, “I’m sorry.” “I forgive you.” Once you master those two very important phrases, your life will go a lot smoother. Will having to eat crow or apologize for things you’ve done and said be a tasty treat? Probably not. Who am I kidding? It definitely is not. But the repairing of a relationship is sweet. Don’t allow squabbles to go on for years or even weeks or days just because you think the other person should apologize to you first or they should do something first (like pick up a phone) before you can do anything or speak to that other person. Maybe that other person is thinking the same thing and they’re waiting on YOU to make the first move. Does it mean it’s right to always have to do things first or to have to apologize when you’ve done nothing wrong? No, it’s not. But if you cherish that person and the relationship, you will do it. You have a choice to make. You can always be right or you can be happy. And not being able to say the things you want to say because someone is almost comatosed or has passed away is not a situation you want to be in. It’s heartwrenching not being able to say all the things you’ve wanted to say during your lifetime but for whatever reason never did and have that person not be able to respond back.

4. Boundaries. Never. Ever. Ever allow someone else to dictate who you can and cannot have in your life (unless you’re 12 and then, well you still have to listen to your parents…Sorry). But seriously…if somebody has a problem with you spending time with people you love or the people in your family who were a part of your life LONG before they ever came along, then they are the ones with the problem and you are going to have to do one of 3 things:(1) Kick them to the curb. They probably have emotional/psych probs anyway and this is a form of control and an attempt to isolate you from family & friends who could actually help you or perhaps talk some sense into you. (2) See your loved ones anyway and just deal with the consequences. Let the other person scream, yell, throw things, threaten to kick you out, whatever, and just go abt your life, avoiding them, until they cool down. Or lie about where you’ve been and who you’ve been with (but lying is a no-no to God so that’s not really an option) Note: you will probably have to do this forever until you finally do either Number 1 or 3. (3) Set boundaries. You will just have to sit this person down and set them straight. Tell them that you plan on continuing having this person in your life regardless of what they think or feel because they are important to you and that they are important to you as well but you will not tolerate being controlled or isolated and that you are more than willing to include them in things that you are doing. And if they want to show out, well, see (1). I spent too many years, arguing and fighting over stupid miniscule things that were nothing more than my spouse telling me who I couldn’t see or talk to or else he was gonna pack my “crap” and move me right in with them b/c I wouldn’t be welcomed in his house any more. Looking back I wish I had just packed up and left but I didn’t. Unable to work and 3 kids, I had nowhere to really go. Knowing what I know now, I think I would’ve lived in my dad’s shed rather than have someone dictate who I am allowed to associate with. So when Daddy got sick this time, I had to flat out take a stand and stick with it. Be prepared for that.

5. Little Things Matter. Little things truly are the BIG things. When Daddy was in ICU for those 3 weeks I was able to spend a lot of time with him. Did we spend hours in deep thought or discuss the secrets of the universe? No. It was mostly spent feeding him ice chips and just holding each other’s hand and saying “I love you” back and forth and apologizing and telling the other one that it was okay, they’re forgiven. Some times we sat and did nothing except just Be. Just existed in each other’s presence. Occasionally he would squeeze my hand and I’d squeeze back and place it to my lips. And then he’d go back to sleep. Speaking of little things, have you ever been so thirsty that scabs form all over your lips and tongue and roof of your mouth? It happens. He couldn’t have anything to drink for a while. But I will never forget the first time he was able to take a sip of his smuggled Coca-Cola! To him it was like heaven. We dont think abt little things like that everyday–about something as small as being able to drink what we want when we want it. But now’s a good time to start. Daddy wanted nothing more than to go home to sit on the porch and drink a cup of coffee. How many times have you sat on your porch wishing you were somewhere else instead of just being in that moment? Why do we always wish we were somewhere else doing anything else with anybody else rather than just enjoying where we are? If you knew that was going to be the last thing you ever did, wouldn’t you try to savor all of it? Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sunshine as it kisses your face. Listen to the sounds of your kids’ voices as they laugh and squeal. (Trust me one day you will forget what they sounded like) Dance with them in the rain and don’t worry about your clothes or your hair and makeup. Commit to memory the looks on their faces when they are truly excited about something. Do you see that sparkle in their eyes? We should all still have that. Not every minute of every day. But find the little things in your every day life that make your heart  happy and your eyes sparkle.

6. Take A Lot of Pics. Okay, I’m not talking about 5,000 per family function, but seriously, snap pics. Not just posed ones though. Try some candid shots when no one knows you’re looking. (Be sure to get a few clips of some video, too!) And get them printed. Don’t just save them on SD cards or thumb drives. Actually print them. It’s not too expensive and you’ll be able to look back at all of them one day and smile as you remember all the fun times you had together. CD’s are only designed to last about 10 years and no one knows for sure how long SD cards will last. So if you want to be able to have them in the future, PRINT THEM OUT. Then one day when you’re bored, you can pull out the photo albums and sit on the floor with your kids or spouse and reminisce. Don’t end up with a collection of media that may not even last a decade and then they’re not even viewable. Or in my case, a large ziplock bag of 35 mm film from 13-18 years ago that I still haven’t developed. One day when your friends or loved ones are gone and your memory of what they looked like or sounded like will begin to get hazy, you’ll wish you had them to remind you.

7. Be There. Go to family gatherings, whether it’s Christmas or a birthday party or a recital. I know it’s impossible to make it to everyone of them and most of us have more than one set of family these days with step families and in laws and add to that friends, work commitments, church, etc, but you can carve out time during the year to go to something. If it’s impossible, maybe try to have a reunion once a year. If you live close enough, drop by every now and then. Pick up the phone and call them. Almost everyone has a cell phone now and we keep it with us at all times. There’s no reason that we can’t call or text someone just to say “Hey, I was thinking about you. I love you.” There will come a day when you can’t just stop by or pick up a phone to hear their voice and you will miss that. Time with our loved ones is something we can never get back once its gone. Kids grow up and move away. Grandparents get Alzheimers and forget who we are. People die. Don’t keep putting off talking or going to visit someone b/c you never know when you or that person will be gone…Forever.

8. Love. Love. Love. It’s true that love covers a multitude of sins. When our children smart mouth us or yell they hate us, we continue to love them. When your sister hasn’t spoken to you in months because of some self perceived wrong that you committed, you still love her. The problem is we often misinterpret anger or hurt as hate when in fact, if we didn’t love them, there would be no anger or hurt. It’s the fact that we love them that makes it hurt. Think about it. If a stranger at a grocery store, jumped in front of you and then cussed you out, would you be angry? Yes. Would it hurt your feelings? Probably, depending on what they said to you. Would you dwell on it for months and refuse to ever go back to that store because of it? No, probably not. Why? Because you don’t have a personal investment with that stranger or the store. The very fact that what someone says or does hurts us to our core is evidence that you really do love and care about that person. So if you love someone, tell them. Show them. Pick up a card for 50 cents or $1 and mail it to them. Hug them. Every chance you get because one day your arms will be empty and you’ll want nothing more than to be able to wrap your arms around them one last time and them be able to squeeze you back. Don’t be afraid of the words, “I Love You.” Don’t forget to tell people you’re proud of them. Some people are better with words than others. Just because someone doesn’t say those things all the time, doesn’t mean they don’t. They may just speak a different love language than you. Express your feelings ever how you can; just make them known. Don’t leave people behind questioning if you really cared about them. I was blessed in that I had the time to talk to Daddy and we got to say the things we wanted to say to each other. Not everyone gets that chance. You can be here one second, laughing and singing along to the radio on the way to the beach and BAM, you’re hit by someone who ran a red light and in a split second, you’re gone. Or someone you love is gone. Show them you love them while they’re here. While you’re here. Because in the end, how we lived and how we loved will be all that mattered.

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Lights, Camera, Action…

So this morning was anything but ordinary. My daughters and I had the opportunity to audition for a short film that will bring awareness to trafficking. Not just human trafficking but different types of trafficking. And hopefully, it will also bring in some new projects and interest in our small town.

Being from small town U.S.A. has its downsides. Like the fact that there isn’t necessarily a buzzing night life or a lot of things for teens to do on the weekends or during the summer without having to  drive to neighboring cities. But it also has its perks. Like being on a first name basis with your physician or knowing who your neighbors are. Not just what they look like, but really knowing them. Or do we?

As I walked through the audition location on my numerous trips to the restroom (thank you, nervous bladder), I found myself looking at all these people rehearsing their lines, getting ready to “act” like someone else and thinking to myself how much the entirety of it all was more of a resemblance of real life than a film audition.

Some times we put on a little too much makeup, hoping to cover up a self-perceived flaw. Or we wear certain colors to make ourselves appear thinner. Or we don an accessory to draw attention to a more flattering part of our bodies. Yours may not be Cover Girl or Maybeline. It might be a smile that you plaster across your face to hide the pain of a broken heart. Or a cheery voice that says, “I’m doing great!” when you really feel like Humpty Dumpty and all your parts are scattered about with no hope of being put back together again.

Moms, in my opinion, are some of, if not THE, best actresses in the whole world. Seriously. If someone had cameras that followed us around all day, every day, we would all have a nice little golden man sitting on our mantles. Some of y’all know exactly what I’m talking about.

We can be about to snatch our children bald-headed in the car on Sunday morning and as soon as we get to the door of the church and the greeter asks how we’re doing, we slap on that smile, shake his hand and say, “I’m just fine Brother So-and-So. How are you this morning?”. We can be in the middle of breaking up WW III in our living room and become a totally different person with a different voice and everything just by the telephone ringing. We’re threatening the kids with our bulging eye balls, gritted teeth and blunt hand gestures while the person on the other end of the line is having a lovely conversation with Holy Holly Homemaker.

We can fool just about anyone for a short time. Teachers. Cashiers. Bank tellers. It’s just what we do. We can turn “that voice” or “that look” off and on with the flip of a switch. But those who know us….REALLY know us…aren’t swayed by our phony upbeat voices or smiles. They know the real us. The “no-make-up, hair-in-a-ponytail, stay-in-your-pajamas-all-day- long” us. The “my-husband-left-me, I-just-got-fired-and-someone-ran-over-my dog-so-excuse-me-but-I’m-gonna-stay-in-bed-and-cry” us. The “I-can’t-find-my-cell-phone, I’m-sick-of-this-messy-house-and-if-you-smart-mouth-me-one-more-time-you’ll-regret-it” us.

Can you imagine how exhausting it would be if we had to pretend to be somebody else all day, everyday? Yet so many of us do and then we wonder why we’re so tired and worn out. It’s not from our jobs or kids. It’s from starring as the leading actress in “Days of Our Lives”.  Why do we put ourselves through it day after day? What are we afraid of people seeing? That we aren’t perfect? That maybe when all the costumes come off and the makeup’s removed, we aren’t so different after all? Whose approval are we seeking anyway? Whose approval are we yearning for when we constantly pretend to be who we clearly aren’t? God’s or the world’s?

God knows our hearts. He knows our motivation. He knows our intentions. There is not one person on this earth who can search our spirits or hearts like He can. He’s never impressed with our “performance” because He’d much rather spend time with the REAL person He created.

Maybe the reason we were made with so many faults and imperfections to begin with is so that we can look at our brothers and sisters and say, “They went through this same thing and the Lord brought them out on the other side.” Or “You know what, I know you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, but I’ve been where you are right now and you don’t have to do this alone.” If we used our true, unedited experiences to edify and encourage one another instead of pointing fingers or shaming each other, we would have no need to pretend to be anything or anyone other than who we are.

I thank God that He is one of those who knows the real me. He knows my imperfections, but He also knows my heart. I don’t have to pretend to have it all together or to know all the answers. I can stop right where I am and say, “You know what, Lord? I just can’t do this any more.” I don’t have to smile when I really want to open the flood gates and squall my eyes out. I can just sit down, cry, and allow Him to bottle my tears. I don’t have to keep quiet when I want to scream at the top of my lungs because He understands my frustration. Does that mean I have a free pass to walk around being a tyrant and mistreating people? No. But it does mean I don’t have to act like I’m perfect. I’m free to be the real me. Which is a good thing because it’s the role I was created for.

Just As He Said

Have you ever read or heard something so many times you find yourself barely paying attention every time you reread or hear it again? I’m guilty of it myself. It’s usually during one of these times I catch myself surprised by something I had never noticed before. This past Easter sermon was one of those occasions.

When the women went to the tomb and found Jesus missing, they became very upset. Probably quite hysterical. They wanted to know who took their Jesus and where had they moved Him and they wanted to know right then! And the angel told them that He wasn’t there, but had risen. We are familiar with this part of the story.  But for whatever reason, I had never heard or read the second part of what the angel said. It wasn’t anything profound, but for some reason those four words stuck with me through the week.

“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said,”  ~ Matthew 28:6

He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee,” ~ Luke 24:6

Can you imagine the scene that morning? Their emotions probably ran the gamut of anger to despair to confusion. They probably even questioned their sanity for a second or two. They had walked with Jesus. Listened to His teachings. How could they have forgotten something as important as His promise to rise from the dead? Did the angel chastise the women and say, “Look at you. You spent all that time with Him and you still don’t get it. You should know where He is. Did you pay attention at all when He was talking or did you just show up for the free food?” Of course he didn’t. The angel gently reminded them.

How many times in our own trials and tribulations do we cry out, tears streaming down our cheeks? How many times do we shout, “Where are you, Jesus?” How many times is our grief or situation so overwhelming that we forget what Jesus has said? Any other time, we could recite Bible verses like the alphabet, but then that one event comes along that sets us into a tailspin and we become so wrapped up in our own private (sometimes public) freak-out that we can’t even breathe much less remember what Jesus said.

Do you need to be reminded? I know I do! Sometimes daily. Sometimes minute by minute!

In a world where we are bombarded by lies and deception, we need to remember the things Jesus has promised us. We need to be reminded of the truth. Why? Because Satan would love nothing more than to keep us bound by our struggles and the defeating thoughts that come with them. Jesus came to set the captive free. That prisoner is you. It’s me. It’s the lady at McDonald’s who rolls her eyes and huffs every time you ask for the napkins she never puts in the bag. It’s all of us. John 8:32 says we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. If you believe one thing that Jesus has said, then you must believe them all because Jesus cannot lie.

So what did Jesus say? What are some of the truths that you can hold on to?

1. We are not alone. “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:20

2. We are healed by faith. “Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” ~ Matthew 9:22

When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” ~ Matthew 9:28-29

3. All things are possible with God.  “Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.'”  ~ Luke 18:27

4. Don’t worry. “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:25-34

5. He will carry our burdens so we can rest.Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30

6. He will return.  “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. ” ~ John 14:3

No matter what you are going through right now, whether your circumstances are good or bad, I pray you can find comfort in these promises. ..these truths. Find solace in remembering the words of our Savior. God bless you all!

 

 

Apologies

Due to several current health crises in my family, there will be no devotions or posts this week. I do ask for any and all prayers, please.

Hopefully, things will settle down soon and I can get back to blogging. But most importantly, I pray for complete healing for myself and my family members as we tackle these issues head-on.

Thank you so much.

Do You Want To?

Verse of the Day: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” ~ Isaiah 6:8 (NASB)

 

When my children were toddlers, I discovered (like many parents out there) that the best way to get them to help around the house was to make it fun. Almost anything could and would be made into a game or song. And they loved it! They loved helping. They would beg me to let them help do anything and everything. They would actually fight over whose turn it was to help mommy.

Fast forward twelve years. No amount of singing the infamous Baby Bop’s “Clean-Up” can coax them into doing anything that isn’t their responsibility to do. The plea for help usually goes a little something like this:

Me: Will one of you put the clothes in the dryer, please?

Teen 1: I did it last time.

Teen 2: No, you didn’t! I did it last time.

Teen 1: No, I did! You put them in the washer last time!

Teen 2: Well if I put them in the washer last time, why should I have to put them in the dryer now?

Teen 1: Because I put them in the dryer after you washed them. So if mom put them in the washer this time, it’s your turn to put them in the dryer!

Teen 2: But that’s not fair because it’s my turn to wash dishes today. I shouldn’t have to put the clothes in the dryer AND do the dishes!

Teen 1: That makes absolutely no sense!

Me: For crying out loud! Somebody just put them in the dryer!

Teen 1: Ugghhh! I guess I’ll have to do it just like I have to do everything else around here!

Does any of this sound familiar?

Maybe it’s in your home with your own families. Or perhaps there are a few adults who come to mind. What about in your workplace? Your church?

We are always quick to shoot our hand up to volunteer for something fun or if it benefits us in some way. But if we ever feel that it’s someone else’s turn or it’s out of our comfort zone, we tuck our arms down tight, refusing to budge… Until no one else raises their hand or speaks up either.

“Fine, since no one is going to do it, I guess I will. I have to do everything else around here, I might as well do that, too!”  And we ever so reluctantly raise our hand or sign the volunteer sheet.

There is a key phrase in our thinking and daily conversations that we often overuse. Have to.

We don’t have to do anything.

Someone’s saying, “Except pay taxes and die,” right about now. But that isn’t true either. You can decide to not pay your taxes and deal with the consequences of being audited or penalized or prosecuted. And some of us may not ever die before we witness Jesus return. And if we do die a physical death, we don’t have to die a spiritual death.

That’s the wonderful thing about volunteering. You don’t have to. You want to.

And our decision to follow Jesus and to obey God’s commands are the same way. It’s a want to.

God didn’t command Isaiah to go and preach to the tribes in the north. He didn’t force him to go. He asked him to go.

The only thing that mattered was that Isaiah was willing.

It didn’t matter that he was a man who had sinned. Or that he was living among a sinful nation. God forgave him (Isaiah 6:5-7). It didn’t matter that he had no idea how he was going to accomplish it or how the message would be received or if he would die in the process.

The only thing that mattered was that he was willing to do what God had asked.

 

Search Your Heart

Is there something that God has asked you to do? What’s holding you back? Are you afraid that you aren’t qualified for the job? Do you feel like someone else should do it instead of you? Do you feel unworthy to be used by God? What would happen if you said, “I’ll go. Send me.” ?

 

Today’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, there are times that I feel so busy that I just can’t say “yes” to any more jobs. And I admit there are times that I just don’t want to.  Please give me a servant’s heart. I want to be available to be used in when You need me, Lord. Help me to remember that I don’t have to be a perfect person or have all the answers. I just have to be willing. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Shaken, Not Stirred

Verse of the Day: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

 

Years ago, my grandparents owned a little country store. Every day after lunch and again, right before closing, my PawPaw would bring his bucket of empty cans over to the bench nestled against the large side window where he had mounted a small can crusher. I would watch in amazement as he would carefully place a can on the ledge, pull the lever, and raise it back up to reveal a perfectly flattened disk of aluminum. Then he would let me have a turn.

At first, I would slam it down as hard as I could. After all, I was a little girl, and he was a big man. Surely, it would take a greater degree of force from me than it did from him. Each time, the can would fly off the ledge just as the lever hit it, and it would ricochet across the floor.

Have you ever felt like that aluminum can?

Sometimes, things happen in our lives and we just seem to ricochet through it all, and pick ourselves back up with nothing more than a scratch or a dent.

Other times, the slightest amount of pressure from the outside world or inside our own minds, and SMASH – we crumple like an empty can.

So what is the secret? How do we face our trials and tribulations with unrelenting faith and perseverance like the disciples?

We must remain filled with the Word of God. We must remain filled with the Holy Spirit. He is our Comforter, Healer, Teacher, Defender, and Counselor.

  1. Devote time every day to reading and studying the Bible.
  2. Pray regularly.
  3. Encourage one another using scripture.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask others to pray for you.

 

Search Your Heart

  • What obstacles are you currently facing in your life?
  • Do you ever feel like you are surrounded on all sides by negative people or circumstances?
  • When faced with adversity do you push through or collapse beneath the weight of it all?
  • Do you ever feel like giving up?
  • Are you taking necessary precautions so that you are able to stand when everything around you is unstable?

 

Today’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, life is so hard sometimes. There are days that I feel like giving up. There are moments that I feel like if one more thing comes against me, I may be buried beneath the rubble. Help me to stand firm in my faith. Help me keep my focus on You and things that are eternal instead of focusing my attention on things that will not matter in the end. You knew what I would be facing at this very moment in my life. You went before me and prepared a path for me. Help me to stay on that path. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

My Story is…

There was a woman sent from God. Her name is Delaina.

Born on a Wednesday, almost four decades ago, she did something that no one said she would do. Something that could have only been ordained by God Himself–she survived…

I Survived.

If you or children have ever been a fan of “Veggie Tales”, there is a good chance you’ve heard or even sung along to a song about me. Well, it’s probably not about me per se, but it could be. If I was a fruit…or a vegetable. Which is funny, considering that is what all the doctors said I would be if I lived to be six months old.

What do you do when the baby you just delivered has no abdominal wall and all the organs that should normally be inside her are, instead, still inside her mother and her heart is where her stomach should be?

Can you even imagine the shock on the doctor’s face? Can you imagine the panic? The chaos that ensued in that delivery room as I struggled for every breath and every heart beat?

When all of my intestines and organs were finally delivered, they covered everything with sterile dressings soaked in saline and wheeled my incubator out to the awaiting ambulance. Two paramedics, my father, and an OB nurse, who pumped my tiny heart with her own hand just to keep me alive, accompanied me on a hundred mile journey to the closest hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit.

I wouldn’t live. There was no way. That is what the doctors, specialists, and nurses all agreed on. I was the first baby that they had ever seen, much less had to treat, that had been born that way. Most of the procedures they were about to attempt were ones they had only read about in textbooks. Some were merely the results of brainstorming.

And so they began.

With an I.V. in my head, a feeding tube, and a colostomy bag, they began to gently stretch the skin from my back towards my abdomen in hopes that it would eventually be close enough to close up with the help of transplanted animal tissue and surgical mesh until I was older. If I lived that long.

And I did. Barely.

After several months, the treating physician approached my mother with a request. He asked her to sign the paperwork that would halt all life saving or life prolonging treatments and to donate my body to science so the medical school could conduct further research as to why I was born the way that I was.

He reiterated that I would not live to be six months old and that if I did, I surely would not survive past one year. And if I did, I would be in a permanent vegetative state, blind, deaf, mute, and profoundly mentally handicapped.

That was his prognosis.

God had other plans!

I’m far from mentally handicapped or being in a vegetative state. I am definitely not blind, deaf or mute; although the three children they said I’d never have probably wish there were times that I would be quiet!

The only thing I’m missing is that belly button!

There have been so many times I have cried because of being different or not being able to do things that other children were allowed to do with no hesitation. There have been times I’ve wished that God would have allowed me to die when I was born. So many times that I have asked Him why He didn’t make me “normal”.

His answers are always the same.

“You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

“You are created in My image.”

“I have a perfect plan for your life.”

“I love you just the way you are.”

“You were created for a purpose.”

His answers are always enough.