A Bigger Purpose
Our journey and place in this life is for such a bigger, deeper reason than we may realize!! I have a husband that has a giving heart and a heart for others, however, his personality type is different than mine. The Lord is using these differences to teach me and mold me in certain areas. Savannah Lanier is another gift that has touched our lives and will touch our lives in ways we have not seen nor experienced yet... but I KNOW IN MY SOUL, THOSE EXPERIENCES ARE DRIPPING WITH OIL, THEY'RE SO ANOINTED!
Ava said tonight, "I can't imagine our lives without Savannah!" ~and we can't!
God is using JR and my babies in this new chapter of life, to gain revelation and wisdom. God is molding me in deeper ways I couldn't experience if I were in a different situation.
Some situations can be easily influenced by "professionals" that tell us our kids are in a low percentile or show us a graph that leaves us feeling doubtful and hopeless from all the negatives and can nots! I want to remind that "momma and daddy out there" that may be thinking the worst case scenario about your future..... God makes NO mistakes! Our futures are better because of our children, no matter how many chromosomes they have! I see daily miracles and statistics that are being proved wrong! God is bigger than any chart or statistic! The Lord will use our babies to show the purest love, leaving us in awe of how good God truly is!
Today has been a day of great burden and heaviness in my heart. I've seen posts concerning racism and hatred and I have seen the current report concerning a country where Down Syndrom is disappearing.
"Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women -- close to 100 percent -- who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy."CBSN
How can so many get infuriated over the horror and injustice of racism and yet be ok with exterminating a population because they are different than what society deems as acceptable? Does this remind anyone of what Hitler tried to do? How is this even ok with anyone?!?
Imagine how one with Down Syndrome is feeling as they hear these reports. How do you think they feel knowing their worth is even up for debate?!
All men and women, young and old, are created equal...all in the image of God!
God does not make mistakes....EVER.
I reached out to a friend this morning because we share so much in common, even though we have never met. You see, we share such similar stories of being pressured to abort our precious children because of a prenatal diagnosis. We both share a passion to educate all that will hear the truth and reality of DS and the beauty that consumes us because of it. We want the world to know OUR CHILDREN ARE WORTHY OF LIFE!
It is part of our mission and journey we have been given, to educate as we are educated and share love and compassion. At the same time not judging one who has made the choice to abort after a prenatal diagnosis. It is not for us to judge, but to love as we have been loved. To teach as we have been taught with compassion! God can restore choices made, redeem, and use it for His glory. The things we walk through in life isn't in vain! It is to minister and relate to another in ways someone else can not.
I can not be silent and will speak out against both racism and this modern day genocide! I firmly believe in the power of one! More importantly, I believe in the power of The One, my Heavenly Father, and what He can do through His people! I will stand with those oppressed and mistreated. PLEASE SEE THE PERSON, not a color, not a religious belief, not a disability! It starts with us individually, choosing daily what we support with our silence. Please join me and speak up for these precious children that are not given a chance in society, much less an opportunity to choose what kind of society they want to live in!
I have to say this is a very different and emotionally exposed blog entry. I'm writing this in hopes to help someone that has a hard time "letting go".
I have read and heard about others going through stressful and emotional times and how they have not been able to stop crying. I have thought, "Is there something wrong with me because I am not doing the same?"
There have been two times I have really sobbed in my adult life. I cried so hard, in fact, that I was dry heaving and pacing from room to room. During a 23 year relationship with my previous marriage, there were many times I had to condition myself to repress emotional pain. I learned to cry without making a sound as to not upset my two daughters. Sometimes I didn't cry at all, I was just numb with repressed emotions.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, surrounding the time of my youngest daughter's heart surgery, I teared up several times, but just couldn't let myself go emotionally. I never let my emotions go and cried. I found myself asking my husband if he was ok and being affectionate towards him in a comforting way. I was trying to be strong and was actually giving what I wanted. However, everyone demonstrates love and support in various ways in their own "love language". I did have the presence and support of my husband and family and I'm so thankful for that. I absolutely do not take that for granted!
I had a few people tell me it was ok to cry and "stop trying to be strong". I honestly thought to myself, "If I could cry, I would!" I also thought maybe this was God giving me a peace and keeping me strong for my family.
But of what consequence is all of this? I’m writing this post because I’m on a quest to make crying something normal and acceptable in my life.
Whether because of parental, cultural or societal influence, crying has become something swept deftly “underneath the mat”. Crying, to many of us is uncomfortable, awkward and even embarrassing. It signifies physical weakness in men, and emotional fragility in women.
Is it possible allowing yourself to cry, “break down” and sob is so difficult because it requires you to really “let go”? Am I so tight from life baggage the prospect of being fully human, letting myself be free enough to grieve, mourn, be entirely vulnerable is terrifying at a subconscious level?
Is the reason I haven't released current emotions because I was trying to be strong for my two older daughters? Is it because I was afraid of being too exposed and vulnerable? Was I subconsciously afraid of appearing weak? Or was there no need to let emotions go because I knew God was ultimately in control of Savannah's open heart surgery and this was in fact, God giving me "peace that passes all understanding"?
For me the answer is "yes" to all of the above. I have never taken drugs of any kind, including those to suppress emotions. I want to cry, but I have repressed so much over the years, it is hard for me to do so. I believe I simply feel too exposed and vulnerable if I really "let go". Crying is a God given emotion and acts like a pressure release valve. Crying has also been clinically proven to release toxins! As a Christian, I have verbally released burdens and pain at the foot of the cross. Reconditioning myself to know my worth and being ok to "let go" is a process. It is a process worth walking through, not only for myself, but for those precious daughters I wouldn't let see me cry before.
Society has taught us that " real men" and "big girls" don't cry. Life and relationships are hard enough, but to tell both men and women to shutdown, that crying is for sissies, or to be vulnerable is unacceptable does not make for a happy life. I believe allowing myself to be more vulnerable around my loved ones takes a great deal of strength and exhibits tremendous trust. With time, I pray to gain more of both and teach my children that "real men" and "big girls" that are strong and trusting, actually do cry.
Lord, this doesn't feel good. My stomach is in knots. I'm worried and scared. I don't want my baby to hurt. I don't want my baby to be afraid. I look at my precious little Savannah as I change her diaper, as I bath her, and as I kiss her tummy to make her laugh. I cannot help but think that her newborn skin, flawless and new, will be forever changed after July 12, 2017. There will be a scar, but it will also be a reminder of God's healing and renewal!
As Savannah quickly approaches her open heart surgery I have many emotions and feelings that I keep inside.
I'm staying very busy to occupy my mind. I also tend to repress emotions that are overwhelming, as to not deal with them.
When I've come across photos of a little one after surgery, I've gasped and tears have fallen.
I think about her chest being cut open and someone literally having her heart in their hands. I think about her being prodded and poked. I think of countless wires and tubes coming from her body. Then, I think of the healing that will take place and the physical strength she will gain.
I'm reminded that God promises to never leave us. He created Savannah and made her in His image. He was very aware of her heart defect before she was even conceived. He also knew how He would chose to heal her. He is able to divinely heal her because He is God and 'The Great Physician' ! However, God has chosen to use a surgical team to heal her. I think about the countless people we will be in contact with because of the way God has chosen to heal Savannah! There will be so many that we can be a light and testimony to!! That is where my faith comes in. Trusting in God and His omnipotence is what will strengthen our faith and draw us closer to Him! Is it easy? Absolutely not, but most moments of hurt and trials are where the most wisdom and growth occur! We will feel the presence of God and have a peace that only comes from Him. I know we will see things that will leave us knowing it was ONLY God that did it.
I want Savannah healthy and to feel good and full of energy! That's what I focus on, too... her well being. Like I have said before, I don't want her to be afraid or hurt, but I truly believe God wants that very same thing for Savannah and actually, He wants that for all of us!
I know my Heavenly Father loves Savannah far more than I and wants to bless her! He is in complete control and I'm not! Walking in faith is not for the weak! It's so much harder to do than say!
I trust Him, though. I truly do. However, I'm Human and a momma human at that! I am protective and defensive, I need prayers and covet them! Several moms have paved the way for me and so many others! Your outreach means more to me than I can express! I, too, want to be a light and encouragement to others like many have been for me! I will share our journey as The Lord prompts me to share it. I don't want to just "go through the motions" of life. I want to be a conduit for love to others, and by sharing our story, help the next one in line.
As a part of Savannah Lanier's Baby Dedication, we were asked to answer the question, "Who would you like to see your child become in 18 years from now?"
The truth is, life has conditioned me not to trust in my own plans and hopes. It is always a smart idea to have a "game plan" and goals, but with a complete surrendering to what God sees as best. This is not only true for me, but for each of my children and each of you.
I don't know the future, but my life and the lives of my children are in the hands who holds the future. I have hope, not in my own dreams for my children, but in The One who gave my children to me.
God gave me the privilege of being Alexis, Ava, and Savannah Lanier's momma and gave me two sons through marriage. What I want for not only Savannah Lanier, but for all my children, is for them to know their worth and to never accept being treated less than the priceless gem they are!
I love my children more than words and I'm committed to giving my all to each of them. I will not enable them, but teach them to value hard work, to lose graciously, to win with humility, to value all lives, to be kind, love with compassion, and to treat others the way they want to be treated. I will not be afraid to say "no", but look for reasons to say "yes". I will wrap my arms around you daily, but most importantly cover you in prayer.
Specifically for Savannah Lanier, I want her to know she is worthy of life! God made all of us different. Our differences are what make us unique and special. I want Savannah Lanier to know that although she may have many challenges, she is limitless as to what she can do and accomplish with hard work and determination.
Savannah Lanier is a miracle, as are all of us. We will continue to see miracles in the first words spoken and in those first steps taken! We will continue to see miracles as we witness our children change lives for the better, including our own!
18 years from now, I want Savannah Lanier to know the love of Jesus and for her to know Him as her Savior. I want her to continue to spread joy and happiness with that smile that lights up a room! I want her to know God had a plan for her and knew her before she was even born. I want Savannah Lanier to surrender to God and His plans for her, whatever they may be. It is not for me to say what she will become, but whatever God has planned for her, I will be right beside her. I will be her advocate, her educator, and her loudest cheerleader!
I look forward to the future with hope in Christ and the knowledge that He will never leave Savannah. He will never leave any of us.
I anticipate God doing more amazing things in and through Savannah Lanier, not just in the next 18 years, but throughout the long, beautiful life she has ahead of her!
Yesterday was a sweet reminder of the importance of connecting with other moms! Although everyone has a unique journey that has a special purpose, similarities in circumstances, beliefs, and experiences can begin a lifelong bond.
After our prenatal diagnosis, while in the hospital to deliver our third beautiful daughter, and even during all of our routine checkups with our pediatrician, we were never given any information (other than worse case scenarios) about Down Syndrome. We were never directed to support groups to gather positive stories that may encourage us with hope. We were never provided with resources that are available to greatly help our children, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. We were never even given a brochure or told exactly what Down Syndrome is. Unfortunately, this is the common story I have heard from other moms.
My only resources were Google and Web MD. YIKES!! I found myself having such moments of desperation to know our unborn daughter would be ok.
I slowly began to find mom's like me on IG that truly inspired me and continue to do so. Through Instagram, I was able to see so many beautiful children that had an extra chromosome. I saw families that were living life as usual and doing amazing adventures together! That gave me hope!
One day, when our extra chromie baby was about 6 months old, my husband saw a tv show that was interviewing a lady named Nancy Gianni. She is the founder of GiGi's Playhouse, which is named after her daughter. GIGI's Playhouse is an example of a positive resource! They provide weekly physical therapy for babies and toddlers and have various social classes that include activities and music. Most of all, this organization provides education and support for the entire special needs family!
They have a location in Atlanta, which is only 90 minutes from where we live. We made plans to go that very weekend!
We finally felt there may be a place for us!
When we arrived at GiGi's Playhouse and began to talk to other parents, we were directed to another organization called 'Babies Can't Wait'. They also provide various local therapies for one with special needs. Through 'Babies Can't Wait', I made my first local contact with another special needs mom. (That is the pretty lady in the photo with me!) She has inspired me by making amazing baskets full of gifts, information, and encouraging words! She then takes them to the hospital when notified about a family that has just had a precious little one like ours! We have an important mission field to love, encourage and give hope!
How has the medical community dropped the ball in the matter of delivering positive feedback and hope during a diagnosis of DS? Lives are more than a medical book and statistics. Instead of pointing a finger, I feel it's our duty to share our story to cheer the next one in line! We can also educate the medical community by sharing our story. Paving the way for others and advocating on behalf of our children can bless those that come behind us in countless ways! The question I ask myself and try to live by daily is, "What are some things I can I do, to be the person I needed, to someone else?"
God has used this "journey within my journey" to open my eyes to a future I look forward to with HOPE and standing arm in arm with some wonderful new found friends!
My youngest daughter will face open heart surgery in the next couple of months. If I allow my repressed feelings and emotions out, I admit I just don't want my baby to hurt or be scared as she is in a room full of strangers and can't see me. I want to tell the surgical team that the 'abc song' comforts her. I want to tell them to please think of their own children as they prepare our Savannah Lanier for surgery. I want to tell them to please try to comfort her with love and compassion when she's crying as they place the IV in her arm. What I fear most, is not being with her after strangers take my baby behind closed doors... out of my secure arms and out of my sight. My prayer is not only for Savannah to be overwhelmed with comfort, peace, and minimal discomfort; but, for guidance, knowledge, and sensitivity to overwhelm the surgical team. I pray the "Great Physician" will guide every movement, as the surgical team will literally have my daughter's heart in their hands.
I am only as happy as my saddest child. I am only as well as my sickest child. I know in my spirit, Savannah will be just fine, actually better and stronger for it! Like anything in life, while going through the "fire", we are more aware of God being at work around us. We feel His comfort and sense His presence. My prayer is while we are in the hospital and thereafter, we can be an encouragement and inspire another like moldable clay in "The Potter's" hands.
I think of the verse:
O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, and you are the potter.
We all are formed by your hand. (Isaiah 64:8, NIV)
Sometimes we feel like the undefined lump of clay that the potter drops on the wheel. But the potter knows there is beauty in that lump of clay just waiting to be developed.
Two things need to happen to make the pottery strong and usable. The clay must go through the fire of the kiln to be strengthened and it must be glazed.
Going through "the fire" and trials of this life that do not feel good, can and will make us stronger! It places us on paths we otherwise wouldn't be on, strategically placing us before individuals that may need a smile, a word of encouragement, or to hear how good our Lord is as we journey through life. This upcoming surgery will forever change us, just like the clay after it's molded and fired, it's no longer the same.
My prayers, since our prenatal diagnosis, have been that God would heal Savannah's heart. Her heart will be healed! It will be healed through surgery. My prayers will be answered. Savannah will be stronger and healthier. I will continue to trust my "Potter", my "Great Physician". Savannah Lanier is already strong, but she will be even stronger! She is lovely, precious clay that is not only being molded, but is being used to mold me. All of my children inspire me to be better. They inspire me to leave a legacy they can be proud of. I will always fight for them and protect them with my life. They will always know they never have to go through "the fire" alone and together we will come out stronger than before!
Life is about choices and I chose to love, protect, and be your advocate, Savannah Lanier! There isn't anything I would change about you, my daughter! You are perfectly imperfect and worthy of life and all opportunities!
We are thankful for our DS diagnosis and the lessons we have learned and all the ones ahead of us. We are thankful for the spiritual growth and inner strength we are gaining daily... all because of you! God has already used you, and this is just the beginning! He has so many wonderful blessings for you and to provide through you, showing others what pure love is without discrimination.
Every stage, like any child, has its challenges! I have seen during the 13 years of parenting, the reward is worth any challenge. We are the ones that grow and seem to develop more than our children, gaining spiritual growth, inner strength, and wisdom! Our babies are an inheritance from God and a blessing, worthy of life, no matter what society has conditioned so many to believe.
I had fear and a desperation in my heart to know things would be great after our prenatal diagnosis. I clung to The Lord and had head knowledge that He makes no mistakes, but emotions clouded my heart knowledge of this fact for a while. You just turned 1 last week and you are a beautiful example of God's love and deserve a chance for countless opportunities! My heart's desire is to educate and encourage others as I am being educated, with hope and love! There's still so much I don't know and I am learning as I walk through this journey with you. We will both learn together. We will laugh together and cry together. We will experience the beauty in life with love with compassion for one another.
Down syndrome is a wonderful journey within our journey. Life in general comes with challenges, some more than others, but what if we really tried to see beyond challenges and our differences with compassion and love? What if we realized we are more alike than different? The impact that would make on the world would be unmeasurable! We are only at the beginning of this journey, but God is molding me and revealing so much about acceptance, sensitivity, inclusion, and what true love is.
Emotions are not easy at times when given a prenatal diagnosis. Standing up for life and wanting to scream to the world the worth of your child after trying to be convinced to terminate because of an extra chromosome is something I will never get over. I look at my three precious children and see lives that God has allowed with a plan and purpose... three lives that are already His, He has simply given me the privilege of loving, teaching, encouraging, and taking care of them. One thing I want for you, Savannah, and your two sisters, is for you to have compassion and love for others, whether one has an extra chromosome or not, and to show the world there is "NOTHING DOWN ABOUT IT"!
About a week ago, I read a wise quote that said, “The past is practice”. He proceeded to add the promising truth that “In Christ, you can accept your failure and live in light of the grace that covers it all”.
I responded from a relationship prospective : “Sometimes it is hard when another reminds you of failures and that you do not quite measure up. There are certain personality types, like mine, that want to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable. It is easy to become an enabler. When we realize we have always been enough and that God made us in His image, loving us in spite of our flaws, molding us through mistakes we make, we will worry less what others say to us or how they judge us. Getting older isn’t that bad! I say that light heartedly because we do gain discernment as we age and realize no matter what we do or do not do, it can not make someone genuinely love you or show respect to you. How another treats you or loves you is their decision and between them and God. We are only responsible for ourselves, our attitudes, and our actions. Be the best YOU and live accountable to God, living out the purpose He called you to do. There is no need to persuade or argue, friends. That is The Holy Spirit’s job!
Some of these words can also reflect my burdened heart, as the political events have unfolded over the last several weeks. As I rear my three daughters, I am embarrassed to see how so many ladies have behaved. I am ashamed of how the word “racist” has been thrown around. How can we speak of peace and love and behave with such hate and destruction? I wonder if many have forgotten what patriotism is or that protecting the ones we love (whether it is our immediate family or fellow Americans) doesn’t make us intolerant of others. We are just intolerant of those that try to do us harm.
We all say things and do things that we wish we hadn’t. There will be a time that each of us will fail. We all have differences, from skin color, special needs, religious beliefs, and backgrounds. How we respond to failure and differences is reflective of our hearts. Are we maintaining respect and dignity? Have we forgotten that although God extends grace, there are also consequences to our actions.
As my family and I continue our journey with Down Syndrome, I’m sure we will face discrimination and intolerance. I am not afraid because I know this is a calling from God. We chose life! We chose love! I can not make someone accept our differences or be kind to my daughters, but would not ever tolerate cruelty of any form. We can be an example to others by maintaining dignity and educate as we are being educated, then let God convict another’s heart. We can never argue or riot someone to seeing things our way, but we can have laws and boundaries to protect the ones we love. Even God can not change someone who is not willing to change!
Today is our future past. Even though it is practice, remember there are consequences to every decision and attitude. My prayer, although our issues may differ, is that we can be like “the woman at the well”, having an encounter with Jesus that forever changes us. By sharing our testimony, we can make a positive difference one life at a time and live in the light of grace.
2017 will be the year for my youngest daughter's heart surgery. Honestly, I won't allow myself to think about it much because my mind goes into too much detail. I'm the kind of person that deals with the situation when it's time, then I tend to repress those emotions because they're too overwhelming. Fear is not reflective of my faith and can taunt me at times. My fear is "I don't want my children to suffer in any way". I would gladly take it for them.
As strong and positive as I try to be, the reality of Down Syndrome hits me in moments. I wonder how my daughter’s life will be in reality, not just in the positive fantasy I try to maintain. Every time she has an appointment with her cardiologist, I hold my breath and my stomach is in knots wondering if the MD will say it’s time for her inevitable heart surgery.
What I have to remind myself is that after the heart surgery to repair the AV defect she has, it will be a new beginning for her! Her heart and lungs will not have to work as hard. As much as I do not want any of my children to suffer or be in any pain, I have to face the reality of a necessary event for a brighter, stronger future for my daughter!
In any situation in life, we have to go through the fire to become stronger!
For one who is a parent of a special needs child or typical child, we see them fall as they are trying to walk. We see them cry when they are afraid or frustrated, but we give them comfort while in our arms. We encourage them to keep going and begin again as many times as it takes to accomplish the goal! Not only are we seeing our sweet children grow and continue to make milestones, but we are growing and learning as much as they are! I know as a mama of a 12 year old, 10 year old, and 9 month old, I certainly have and continue to gain wisdom daily.
Whether we are facing a new chapter of our lives, seeing a new stage our child is entering, or even facing a new beginning after our child's heart surgery, we can learn from the fire and be stronger for it! We should never forget, it's never too late to begin again until we accomplish our goals!
I write about life and family. My heart's desire is to educate as I am being educated, while inspiring and encouraging others through the beauty of Down Syndrome.