Monday, December 28, 2015

From little things come BIG things.

Have you ever been completely overwhelmed with goodness? Have you ever realized that dreams really do come true? Is it possible that there is still LOTS of good left in the world today?

Three and a half years ago our family embarked on a journey that was uncharted territory. We had no idea what the future would hold. We had prayed for a happy and healthy baby.  We got one of those - Happy. Parson Blue was far from healthy. A rare genetic condition attacked her lungs and she would struggle for each breath until she was 11 months old when a donor completely changed things. 

After 5 long months inpatient at Texas Children's Hospital, at the age of 11 months old, Parson received the best birthday gift ever in the form of new donor lungs. Through our transplant journey, the amazing doctors and nurses at Texas Children's Hospital became family to us. The care we received was not only life saving but heart changing as well. They cared for our child and our whole family in the process. 

We didn't take the journey alone. Our family has been carried along many days by a band of supporters we dubbed "The Parson Blue Crew."  All along our journey thus far, they have given generously of their love and prayers of support. 

Parson has enjoyed an AMAZING two and a half years with her new lungs. She has learned to walk, enjoy books, talk, read books, laugh and enjoy books. The kiddo LOVES books. Because books make our family very happy we wanted to "give back" to Texas Children's Hospital in the form of a children's book drive.  We put out a call for new books...and The Parson Blue Crew went to work. 

In larger than life fashion, our tribe proved that BIG things come from little things. I expected to receive 20-40 books at the local drop off locations throughout the drive that would last from Thanksgiving through mid December. To allow our out-of-town friends and family to participate, we also set up a wish list through The Blue Crew completely blew any expectations I had out of the water. Boxes began to arrive daily. One day we received 34 boxes of books. Then one day we received 407 books in one day. The Blue Crew proved to me, book by book that goodness abounds. 

We've got board books and we've got complete sets of books.  We've got Seuss and we've got trains. We've got Wimpy Kids and Dork Diaries and Hunger Games and Harry Potter. The books came by plane they came by train, folks even brought and dropped them off. They bought for babies and they bought for big kids. They even bought Fox in Socks. They've bought books about sports stars and Minnie Mouse too.  They even bought coloring books, crayons and crafts too. Stacks and stacks of books to share. 

To date we have received over 2700 books and more books are arriving each day. Even the UPS man and postal carrier are proud to be a part of our drive. 

Our little book drive has proven to me that sometimes all you have to do is ASK. Our dream of a book drive to stock the book cart at Texas Children's Hospital has now become a HUGE reality. The Blue Crew reminded me that BIG things can come from little dreams.  One little sick baby brought together many people and because of a dream we made a BIG delivery of books to Texas Children's Hospital. 

In addition to delivering over 2700 books, we also packed extra special care packages including books for children in the PICU. After a very emotional delivery day, we came home to 39 more books on our doorstep. Safe to say...we will be headed back with another special delivery of books very soon. 

Thank YOU Blue Crew! You were insanely generous. From little things come BIG things.  

The Happy Family delivering books. Lots of books.
Jennifer,  Darby (8), Parson (3) and Rodney. 

Parson Blue Crew Book Drive drop off box
Wahooo!  More Books!  
Parson... Before and after transplant. Blessed. 

This kiddo LOVES books. 

This is the little book that started it all. We brought this lift-a-flap book to many therapy sessions to entice Parson to reach, roll over, scoot, stand, and even start walking.  Many of the flaps are gone, but sweet memories remain. 

I'll help you get that one Momma.

This kid knows. Can't you sense the love these two have for one another?  Parson and Dr. George Mallory, TCH Lung Transplant Physician.

Big sister Darby and cousin Victoria, Loading up to deliver books. 

A very warm welcome from our TCH lung transplant family. They helped us unpack and deliver smiles/books.

Melissa Nugent and Jennifer Maddox - two of our TCH family members. 

#texaschildrens #donatelife
Special care packages for kiddo's who would spend Christmas in the PICU

BELIEVE. This word became very special to us during our time at TCH.

More of our special TCH family that welcomed us when we made our care package deliveries to the PICU.

Friday, October 2, 2015

What's your 10-2?

10-2 will probably never be the same for me. I guess I should say... THANKFULLY 10-2 will never be the same for me. It's the day that I got the worst case of whiplash I have ever had. That was D day -  Diagnosis Day for Parson. The day when the doc said that really long phrase as they wheeled her out for her first surgery.  Whew. My neck gets sore all over again when I recall the events of that day. 

But you know what? Three years further down the road from d-day, I am a MUCH better person. I know what matters. I no longer sweat the small stuff. I cherish moments and people, not things. I am assertive. And I have developed some mad negotiation skills. 

One of those really dark nights when Parson was very sick, I prayed in desperation for God to save her. I looked up on the bookshelf and "Plan B" by Pete Wilson jumped out at me. In this book, he leads the reader to discover that "Plan B situations force us to rely on a power beyond ourselves."  The book helped me reframe my situation in the shadow of the cross and navigate the greatest storm I had ever faced.   

It is kind of a cool kwinky-dink that the CB lingo for 10-2 means "Receiving Well".  It is reaffirming to the symbolism of what 10-2 has been in my life. Some days I actually want to scream to the heavens "I'M RECEIVING IT WELL. My cup runneth over Good Buddy." On the tough days I want to scream "UNCLE! You have got me on overload. You can stop sending me 10-2  messages at any point."

Not gonna lie, some days are just tough.  The day when one of the 11 Meds squirts out of the extension tubing all over your work clothes. The day when you haggle with insurance over coverage of IV needles. The day when you wake up and learn one of the lung transplant buddies you have made along the way got his angel wings last night. The day when the home health report list your kids prognosis as "fair".  Those kind of days are just tough. 

And even though the 10-2's define us, it is the 10-3's and 10-4's that are the difference makers. Someone once said "Adversity introduces a man to himself." Ain't that the truth?!? How you play the hand you have been dealt is really where the rubber meets the road. I heard a quote that sums up the 10-2 kind of days. "When you trust God with your greatest fears, you discover your greatest joys."

So what's your 10-2? When is the defining moment where God really got to your heart? 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Underdog

So I have always loved an underdog. I absolutely love it when somebody sneaks up from behind and wins. The guy that  proves 'em all wrong and shakes things up. The bracket buster. The runt. The long shot. Even though I really don't care much for bumper stickers, I secretly love it when the car in front of me proudly boasts a sticker that reads  "My kid beat up your honor student". I have always been a sucker to fall in love with that kinda kid.

I always get a little sick to my stomach when report cards come out and my FB newsfeed is littered with pics of the most recent school awards that Sister So&So's kid have won. The All A honor roll, good citizenship, perfect attendance and highest AR point total. You know what I am talking about - the kid can't even hold all the certificates. 

Don't get me wrong, I am so proud for you and your kid - but I love the underdog. "And the underdog Award for the 2nd Six Weeks goes to ...." 
 I am thinking there should be a certificate for making it to school on time and fully clothed for a whole week.  Maybe one for surviving sight word hell and living to tell about it. An award for understanding and applying the "new" math concepts. Both students and/or parents could be eligible to receive the aforementioned awards. Can I get an amen? 

I love the kid that struggles with their sight words. The one who has his color changed at least once a week. The fella who can't keep his hands to himself. The one who makes you laugh outloud when all of your adult super powers tell you not to laugh outloud. The Kid who is saying what the rest of us are thinking.  The ones who cheat death. These ones just go straight to my heart. 

This week we are celebrating a HUGE upset, a come from behind victory that snuck up on everybody - a David with his slingshot episode -- I'm talkin' about the UNDERDOG baby!

Dyslexia can't hold this kid back. ADHD can't slow her down (pun fully intended).  Darby Clark Herrington is here to charm you with her superpowers. She competed in UIL oral reading and placed 4th in the competition. And her school took home the 2nd place trophy. Boom baby! Take that dyslexia. Booyah! She just sucker punched that ADHD in the gut.  My kid did it!  As MC Hammer would say --"Sound tha bell cuz school is in session. U CAN'T TOUCH THIS!!"  

Actually - I could not be more proud of Darbs. In all seriousness, this is the kid who was a struggling reader - (remember, the aforementioned sight word hell). Through her UIL experience, she conquered some fears and came away with some amazing memory capital. Heck - we all did. The whole family is celebrating. She took this UIL challenge and owned it like a BOSS!  

By the way, Darby also had all A's for her first semester averages. (I'm talking about an epic celebration that lasted a week - Ice cream. Skating. Slushees. Trips to the Blue Store. Play dates. Happy meals. Sonic Happy Hour. Dance party.  Oh yeah!)


And the wee little, happy underdog isn't  taking no for an answer either. She is rocking her new lungs every stinking day! Boom. So take THAT filamin A genetic mutation. And BOOYAH take THAT "failure to thrive".   Even though we had two hospital stays to start 2015, she isn't gonna let a little cryptosporidium/RSV/rotovirus keep her down long. This kiddo got some new lungs and she is ready to roll. 

On this date two years ago, we left in a hurry to rush her to the ER. She laid limp in my arms, fighting for every single breath that her terrible, crummy lungs could muster. Feburary 4th sticks out in my mind as one of the worst nights of my life. I wasn't really sure she was gonna make it. I pleaded for her next breath. Mercy. I get so emotional reliving Feb 4th. It was a real low point. But thank you Jesus, the story didn't end there.  This little genetic mutation is a walking, talking miracle.  

In all honesty, God knew I loved the underdog. I am certain that is why he gave me two of them. I wouldn't trade them for any old stupid paper award certificate on this earth. I'm sorry that some of you Momma's got plain vanilla kiddos. I like mine with a little less class and a little more sass! These two curly headed tornadoes are David's in a great big Goliath world.  David's show us that life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. You know the ones who "gut it up" and take on Plan B one day at a time. 

To be honest, we have navigated some really rough days in our little family. Circumstances have often led me to say "Why Me?" a lot over the past two years. I mean, I didn't sign up to be a doctor/nurse/pharmacist - I just wanted to be a Momma. But doggone it, these two precious underdogs have given me  hope for days like February 4th.   I CAN do a lot of things I never dreamed I could.  My girls have taught me that some days you just have to put on your armor, pick up your slingshot and give it your best shot. 

After a really rough start to 2015, I remarked that I was glad to see January in my rear view mirror. I wasn't real impressed with what she had to offer so far, but reminiscing back to just two years ago really put things into perspective.  Take heart my friend, you may be down, but you are not out. You may be having a February 4th kind of day. Work may be awful. The stomach virus may be getting the best of your family. The flu may have knocked you off of your feet. Your world may have been rocked by sadness. You may carry a load of guilt ... and Goliath might be staring you down. But I can promise you - the same God of David delights in the underdogs. Another promise, the diahrrea will not last forever. All you gotta do is pick up a rock and give it a shot. My God is mighty to save. 

Underdogs unite! 

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. - Zephaniah 3:17 

My proud UIL winner. 

My beautiful mutation. 

My God is MIGHTY to save. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hi. My name is Jennifer....

Hi. My name is Jennifer and it has been one heckuva week. 

Lemme set the scene...

First, Monday was a holiday so I started one day behind. Then we added two different doctors visits to Lufkin. Added one trip to the Apple store in The Woodlands (because our iPhones won't hold a charge). Then three different therapy sessions. Also add in one major surgery for my mom. And to top it all off - new health insurance.  There is nothing that makes you call on the name of Jesus more than changing insurance when you have a medically dependent child. Oh Blue Cross Blue Shield how I miss you. I have spent the better part of this last week wrangling the swap from Blue Cross to Aetna. In network. Outta network. Sweet Jesus, be near to me. I have almost lost my religion by having to change specialty pharmacies.  Hell hath no fury like a transplant momma who can't get her kid's prograf and CellCept meds. If I got transferred to one more CAREmark pharmacy branch....... Oh, I need THEE every hour. 

I guess it was a mistake to say out loud last night that I was glad this week was finally over. Hindsight's 20/20. 

So today, I got up and went over to Mom's to help out by mowing her yard and cleaning out her fridge etc. Just trying to earn some brownie points after her surgery, but my sister Sandra has the #1 daughter position locked up tight. We ate a little lunch (about 3pm) and then somewhere mid-fridge clean out the phone rang...

"Hey Jennifer. This is Denise with Rayburn Reality. I know this is short notice but there is someone that wants to look at your house. Would that be possible?"  

(It is 4pm. Our house is for sale. We want our house to sell. Did I mention it has been one heckuva week? ) 

"Absolutely Denise. Tell them they can see it at 5."  

I jump in the truck (with trailer and John Deere attached) and head to make sense of things in the country. Wow. My house is a WRECK! I live with TWO curly headed tornadoes that LOVE to make messes. 

I squeal into the driveway on two wheels, unhitch the trailer somewhere in the middle of the back yard and GO TO WORK!  I wiggled my nose and nodded my head like I Dream of Jeannie, but nothing happened- so I started cramming stuff in closets. Pulling up covers. Kicking toys into baskets & getting after it. I'M BRINGING BOOGIE BACK!  (I forgot to mention that my youngest tornado has a new found affinity shoes and has pulled out EVERY shoe in the house this morning. Ah sweet, precious Parson. And my oldest tornado is into creating things with duck tape. So tape, scissors and 1000 rolls of colorful duck tape lay amongst the sea of shoes. Ah sweet, creative Darby.) The floors desperately need attention, but there just is not enough time. 

Somewhere in the midst of my desperation, I have hidden and crammed things to the best of my abilities and decide I need to devote 2.3 minutes to the outdoor area of the house. (The yard is a complete mess too and the grass needs mowing something fierce.) I quickly wind up the water hose into a nice, tangled mess and push all of the kids rolling toys into a cluttered pile on the carport. As I trip over the blower on the back patio, I decide that if I use the blower to blow off the back patio, carport and front porch that'll make the grass look shorter huh?!?!   Anyhow, with 1.5 minutes left, I commenced to blowing. The back porch and carport looked a tad better, so I headed for the front. (I took the quickest route, thru the living room). Hi. My name is Jennifer and I may or may not have used the blower in the living room too. 

With the front porch (and living room) blown, I said a quick prayer, threw Parson in the truck and headed out again on two wheels. It is 5:02pm - Bring on the buyer baby!  

Now it is 11:47pm and everyone is asleep. I just had a much needed shower and I still don't think I have caught my breath yet. That last minute sprint to get the trash can from the curb nearly killed me. Can you say fat and outta shape? I feel like I have been on that old AstroWorld ride "The River of No Return." And now I can't find the little bag of rubber bands for my braces - guess they got "out crammed" in this drawer somewhere. 

Hi. My name is Jennifer. I'm 41 years old with braces and used a blower to clean my living room today. Oh, and I'm bringing boogie back. 

Just another day in my beautiful Plan B!  

Curly Headed Tornado #2-lover of purses and shoes. 

Curly headed Tornado #1-lover of life and creator of fun 

The DuckTape Chronicles...

And just some of the shoes....

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Parable of the Parasite and the Backpack

These two little rascals that spend their daytime hours (and sometime nights too) sucking the life out of me are constantly teaching me new lessons. Lately it has been through late night poop parties and backpacks. I know, that is way TMI, but bear with me I am going somewhere with this. Parson has had a nasty parasite, cryptosporidium, that we just can't get rid of. For two months she (we) have struggled and it hasn't been pretty. I have washed my hands 1000 times each day, washed one million loads of laundry and bleached everything in sight. Dr. Bocchini, Parson's new infectious disease doc said it best today. "We must attack this aggressively with multiple agents (especially since it is a nasty parasite)." Friends, it hit me like a ton of bricks...  I'm letting my attitude be attacked daily by nasty parasites and circumstances. It is not giving me diarrhea in the literal sense - but more like what my old PE coach used to call "diarrhea of the mouth". You know the "I cants". The "I don't wanna's".  The "can't I trade places with her for just a day. She has got a sweet life". The "life will never be normal again".  All those pesky little thoughts of inadequacy and stinking thinking. 

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think on these things.." -  Philippians 4:8

It is so easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others and before we know it, it has spread throughout our life and taken over the place where good and noble once lived. I recently heard this practice described as "pretty people problems".  There is even a Facebook page dedicated to random everyday problems that attractive people have. Most often brought about by over abundance, wealth, name brands, commercialism and in general trying to "keep up with the Joneses".  

I'm am SO guilty. I took Darby to Justice and let her pick out a new backpack for school. (Never mind that her backpacks from the last 3 school years are perfectly fine.) Out of pure guilt,  I am now toting a handmedown "Darby" monogrammed backpack for Parson's diaper bag. Pretty people problems. 

School is about to start and we as a human race are all gonna have the "don't wanna's". I don't wanna get up. I don't wanna wear that. I don't want another sandwich for lunch. I don't wanna cook supper again. I don't wanna go grocery shopping again. I don't wanna bathe the kids again. (Doesn't swimming count as a bath?) I don't wanna wash my hands one more time. (Reckon they will dry up and fall off as a result of good hand washing?) I don't wanna fight with my kid to eat something healthy, anything healthy. Guilty again. Lord help me, the only vegetable my 7 year old claims to like is candy corn- (that is a whole nother blog for a whole nother day.) 

"The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it more abundant." - John 10:10 

Forget what everybody else is doing. Go on a FB fast. Forget about those darned dead plants that you forgot to water - (no amount of water will bring 'em back now honey.) Get over the pretty people problems. The other folks vacation is always gonna be better than yours (especially when you haven't even been on one in years).  Their house is always gonna be bigger/prettier/have more storage & closet space. They are always gonna have great hair days and flawless skin. So, forget about the stretch marks and sleepless nights. Quit comparing yourself to everybody else. 

He came that you may have an ABUNDANT life!  He did not come for us to live a mediocre, so-so, unsanitized kind of life that I have been wandering around in. MORE abundant - in terms of joy, peace and people - not another backpack full of over indulgence. The pretty people problems are spreading like a bad parasite and robbing us of our JOY.  Sanitize yourself!  

So turn up the Lionel Richie. Sing some of your favorite hymns. Put your hair up in a ponytail. Go play outside with your kids. Fill up the tub for a good soak. Go barefoot. Get on the riding lawn mower and turn on the "good music for a good day" playlist. Sit under the shade of a magnolia tree.  Watch a sunrise. Watch a sunset. Better yet - watch both in one day. Go on a date with your main squeeze and get the drink with a little umbrella (pretend its a vacation). Turn up your favorite jam and have a dance party in the car. Call your BFF.  Read your Bible. Have a good cry. Say cryptosporidium 3 times real fast (it'll make you feel like a superhero). And for goodness sakes, let the kids skip a bath tonight. (Mammaw said it'll wear out their skin anyhow.)

Do yourself a favor. Wash your hands. Say your prayers. Quit listening to the devil. Stop the stinking thinking. Quit taking yourself so serious. Use some sanitizer on your life. Get rid of the diarrhea of the mouth. Attack it aggressively. Enough comparing yourself to others. God has richly blessed you and me. Think on these things. We have got it good-- the ABUNDANT life awaits. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

They just "get it"

Our family is in Houston, Texas for Parson Blue to represent Team Texas and Texas Children's Hospital at The Transplant Games of America.  It is so hard to put it into words. It is difficult to explain.  But I found MY people this weekend. People like me. People who "get it". 

I found the mother who knows what it feels like to pray/plead over the hospital bed of her child with every ounce of her being for just one more day with her child while you wait on "the call".  I found the mother who gave a huge part of her soul away to give another child one more day. I found caregivers like me who have set alarms at all hours of the day/night to administer life saving anti rejection Meds and other various medical treatments.  I found amazing brave big sisters and brothers who have daily taken a back seat to a sick sibling. I found other strong siblings who lost their best friend but will tell you about the importance of organ donation. I found miracle workers who are "on call" to make connections between life saving organs being harvested and transplanted all over the country  I found other families whose lives were rocked just like ours who now celebrate a "new normal" because of organ donation. I found people old and young who celebrate EVERY single day that they have been given and do not take even one single breath for granted. 

After struggling over the past two years in my new identity, it feels so good to find my people. The ones who can't sleep because of the fear of rejection. The ones who are startled awake at all hours of the night because of screeching medical equipment alarms. The Momma's and daddies who have made hundreds of trips for physical, occupational, and speech therapy visits like me.  The ones who scour the internet to get info on the latest diagnosis or medical term that just came on their radar. The ones who know about kangaroo pumps, 12 French Mickey buttons and prograf. The people who know what it feels like to not sweat the small stuff. The ones who have run out of tears to cry.  The people who have more doctors cell phone numbers in their contacts than friends. The people who now have doctors and nurses as a part of their family. I found other people like me who have been carried by their friends, family and small town armies through prayer and support on the most difficult days of their lives. 

Clearly I don't need that alarm that I set somewhere around 2am to wake up at 6am. Why am I wide awake at 3:47am reliving it over and over!?!?  This momma can't sleep because she is so excited because her family went to a baseball game last night like a normal family. I cannot stop thinking about brave donor families. Brave transplant recipients. Brave siblings. Brave doctors. Brave nurses. Brave kids like my Parson Blue and brave people like me. 

I LOVE to tell Parson's story and feel an overwhelming responsibility to share it until she is able to share for herself. I am passionate about organ donation - it saved her life. I cannot wait to wake up and walk in a 5k tomorrow morning and celebrate LIFE (tutu's and Texas shirts included).  Oh how I needed this. There is something so healing about being around your people.  I cannot wait to find more of my people tomorrow - the ones who "get it".  

Brave Team Texas - TX Children's kiddo. 

Brave credentials. 

A Brave donor family. 

Two brave transplant kiddos. 
(Lung/liver & lung) 

Brave Blue. 

Brave big sister. 

Brave transplant Buddy. Kendall. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What IF it is all sacred?

What IF it is all sacred?

I mean the loads of laundry, the mowing of the yard, the spelling words, the caring for sick loved ones, the endless wet beach towels and bathing suits, the committee meetings, the chickens in the kitchen, the sight words, the pink eye, the flat tires, the genetic mutations, the stepping on lego's in the dark? 

There is nothing like a devastating medical diagnosis to get your attention right quick and absolutely change the way you think. I used to worry about this and worry about that. But somehow in the midst of the storm, an overwhelming peace came to me. Now the things of this earth grow strangely dim. The things that I used to think mattered, just don't really matter much anymore. 

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of HIS glory & grace."

I do some of my best thinking while cutting the grass on the riding lawn mower. One of my favorite songs to listen to while mowing is "Lead of Love" by Caedmon's Call (an old group I listed to while in college).  The song has a great line that says "Had to walk the rocks to see the mountain view. Looking back I see the lead of love."

You gotta admit, it is hard to beat the view from the top. But sometimes you have to cross the rocks to get to that awesome view. Most of the time those rocky patches seem to sneak up on us when we least expect it. Makes me think of an old saying I heard my Daddy say a million times...The bridge is washed out and I can't swim and my baby's on the other side. Sometimes life sends us detours (the plan B, curve ball kind of stuff) that you don't have any other choice but to "gut it up" and take it on. What IF all those things are sacred? 

sa·cred  ˈsākrid/   adjective
  1. connected with God or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.

What if the Legos, the bills, the diagnosis, the detour ... What if it is all connected with God?  What if all that "stuff" deserves great reverence from me? What if I have to walk the rocks to see the mountain view? 

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  - Colossians 3:17

Oh my sweet friends, it ain't easy, and it ain't fun, but please don't be scared to walk the rocks. Everything is sacred. God has amazing, SACRED things out there for you.  I promise, looking back you will see the lead of love. 

From Caedmon's Call "Lead of Love" ...
Looking back at the road so far, It sure has left it's share of scars
Mostly from leaving the narrow & straight.

Looking back it is clear to me that a man is more than the sum of his deeds. 
How you make good of this mess I've made, Is a profound mystery. 

Looking back, I know you had to bring me through.
All that I was, so afraid of, though I questioned the sky, now I see why.

I had to walk the rocks to see the mountain view. 
Looking back I see the lead of love.