I Will Shout Your Worth
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned on my Instagram page that a big announcement was coming! Today we want to share!
God put on my heart a fun way to “SHOUT” the worth of not only Savannah Lanier, but ALL OF MY CHILDREN AND YOURS, too!
💛What started out as a confusing and hurtful time, has placed a passion and fire in me that is now one of my missions in life! At my 20 week prenatal checkup, it was discovered that Savannah Lanier had a heart defect by an ultrasound tech and she began to tell me our daughter probably had Down Syndrome. A doctor wasn’t present, but my two other daughters were. They were confused and I was convinced she was mistaken and very out of line. However, I kept it “cool” as I reassured Alexis and Ava that everything would be just fine and there was nothing to worry about.
Little did I know, my encouragement to Alexis and Ava that day was more true than I knew! I have shared more details in articles and blog posts that I encourage you to read!
💙Why do we feel we have to “SHOUT” the worth of our children? Why does an extra chromosome, autism, any disability or differences make one unacceptable, unworthy, or unloved? Fear and ignorance, it’s as simple as that. I stand with so many and want to share our story and continued journey to be a light of HOPE, ENCOURAGEMENT, and INSPIRATION.... while showing love and compassion. Our family wants to educate and love until more and more good people are even better and forever changed because of the knowledge and inspiration they have gained from knowing a child, teenager, or adult with special needs.
Here is a way I want to share....
I reached out to gaffren t-shirts about a vision I had of a cool jersey t-shirt that says “I Will Shout Your Worth!” because those are the words that came to me with every blog post, every article written, and every IG post made.
I wanted our username on the back as a silent way to invite anyone who will listen, read, and see how “normal” and fun ones’ life can be while living with the beauty of Down Syndrome!
Our desire is to spread awareness and how “normal” and fun life is with Down Syndrome or any disability! ❤️ We want to show all who will hear, that our children have purpose, are loved.... and that we we “Shout Their Worth!” This t-shirt can be fun to wear to promote inclusion whether it be a disability, or anything that makes one different! Being kind and respectful is always the golden rule. This can be a sweet addition to a gift basket for a family that has received a prenatal diagnosis or delivered a precious little one!
You can get these fun shirts at gaffren ! USE THE CODE SAVANNAH10 for a 10% DISCOUNT!
Our lives are not the gloom our prenatal specialist tried to portray and even pressured us to terminate. Until I take my last breath, Savannah.... “I Will Shout Your Worth!”
Self Love Is Not As Important....
We are swinging into this week with smiles! The last two weeks have personally been difficult for me. I tend to repress some of the most difficult times in my life, as to not deal with them. If they are repressed, I won’t have to deal with the overwhelming emotions that come with the particular situation. Maybe that is a mechanism our mind and body does to keep us from losing it, but it always comes back for us to face!
I have always been the one to take care of others, been expected to be strong, and have also put upon myself the pressures to make sure everyone around me and closest to me are happy and at peace.
I’m sharing this as a mom, a mom that has been a single parent of two, an only child taking care of her mother without a father ever in the picture, and as a friend. If I do this, I know others do, too! I want to be an encouragement sharing this!
As women, we by nature are expressive and need to vent/talk. I’m guilty of looking to my husband and others for only what my Heavenly Father can give. This week I had to confess being self absorbed and self centered. As much as I give, I don’t think of myself as selfish. I most definitely don’t put my needs before my children or husband, so how have I been self centered? When we take our eyes off of Christ and allow certain thoughts to flow freely, our thoughts can get snagged on an issue or problem! We become wrapped in our own emotions! It isn’t popular to say anything against “self love” but, we just have to find that balance! Loving God will enable us to love and serve others the way He would have us to. By loving God before ourselves, we will be able TO SEE OURSELVES THE WAY HE SEES US... and that is the most beautiful way to love ourselves!
Matthew 22:37-39 King James Version (KJV)
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Feed With Love
My family and I try to think of ways to serve and do something special for others, especially around the holidays. The first thing most of us think of is to “feed the homeless”, which is great! However, there are so many types of needs. After experiencing three deaths in nine days this month, I’m reminded that there are different types of hunger. Not only do we have physical hunger, but we also have emotional and spiritual hunger. We have ALL experienced these needs in various degrees! I want to not only challenge my family, but my social media family as well, to show love and compassion in beautiful ways!
Oakley from “NothingDownAboutIt” said it perfectly when she said that sometimes sharing our acts of service publicly can take away from what we are trying to do. I agree and understand what she is saying! It can take away from the intimacy and heart of truly serving another with humility. However, she also said that this is an opportunity to rally TOGETHER and promote doing something wonderful! (I’m not quoting her, just paraphrasing)
I heard that a group of amazing moms are making THIS THURSDAY 12/ 21/17 #FEEDWITHLOVE
It’s an opportunity for our communities near and far to “feed” in various ways. If this Thursday isn’t convenient because of children and schedules, take an opportunity sometime in the next week to make a difference is someone’s life! Here are some ideas I thought of and I would love to hear YOUR ideas!
1) Making bagged lunches and taking them to the homeless, along with blankets or gloves is a great idea!
2) Making a meal or taking snacks to The Ronald McDonald House is another great idea! JR and I stayed there this summer while Savannah Lanier had her open heart surgery and they were a great blessing to us. Seeing different groups come in to serve and provide meals made me want to pay it forward!
3) Going into Nursing Homes and passing out stuffed animals, snacks, drawings from your children, coloring books with crayons, large print word find books, and simply listening and giving a hug to “The Greatest Generation” can make an incredible difference in a life! There are some sweet people that never get a visit while in a nursing home!
4) Do you know someone who has lost a family member this year? Bring them flowers and a love note. Just letting others know they’re not alone and loved is a tremendous gift!
5) Baking goodies with your kids, then taking a walk around to your neighbor to disperse them along with saying a heart felt “Merry Christmas” can spread sunshine that one may desperately need.
I’m sure there are many ways we can ALL make a difference and spread love not only this Christmas, but throughout this new year! Make 2018 a year of LOVE and compassion.
God Is Love
1 John 4:7-11 (NIV)
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
I Want My Momma
We all know that “Keeping it Real” stories make the best ones, right?! Yesterday was a real one for my sweet son by marriage. The nanny we recently hired to care for Savannah on the two “out of town days” I work per week, wasn’t able to come Tuesday. We were in a pinch and our recent Citadel college graduate just happened to be home for the holidays!
I went over routines, special songs that would calm Savannah ( especially during diaper change because she has become VERY mobile and doesn’t like to have her diaper changed! 🤪)! I also made a specific and detailed list as to what to feed her during the day, among other details.
Well, let’s just say Savannah wanted her Momma and she was going to let him know it! She threw everything he tried to feed her. She threw the yogurt, she threw the applesauce, she threw her milk. Finally, he gave her bread and sat her in front of Sesame Street and all was well in the world. That would calm me, too!
He changed her diaper and SURPRISE, she fought him on that, too.
She rolled over, got up, and sat her bare poop bum on the rug all while shooing him off of her.
Thankfully, I wasn’t late getting home. They both were equally glad to see me! I was very appreciative and publicly thank him. I also believe we won’t be having grandchildren anytime soon!
Saying Goodbye To My Mom And Baby Within Hours
I found out on Thanksgiving Day that I was expecting my fourth biological child. A week ago today, I began to bleed (Friday). The very next day (Saturday), my mom went to be with The Lord.
I held on to hope with this baby, because I did bleed at times during my last pregnancy. Yesterday, it was confirmed that I miscarried.
The hope I held on to was the positive pregnancy test I still had, although I was bleeding. However, I knew in my heart what was going on and understood how that was physiologically possible. Losing my mom and losing our baby within hours is a hurt that is so heavy. Through it all I know God is good. He has a plan. He has a purpose. Plans to prosper and not to harm. The fact that I am an only child, no father present, and discovering my mom had no life insurance is a bit stressful to say the least. I’m having to be in “business mode” while being an encouraging Momma to my three precious children, especially during the holiday season! I know I need to grieve and I have in brief increments. This is definitely going to be a process. However, I’m so blessed and have a grateful heart. I know my mom is in heaven and got to hold my baby before I did!
This journey is not a mistake or a punishment. To those that have suffered a loss of any kind, please understand this it is to take you to a spiritual level that you couldn’t get to by remaining on a mountain top. Be encouraged. Keep the faith!
The analogy I gave to Alexis and Ava (my 13 and 11 year old daughters) is this:
Intense workouts can hurt physically, sometimes giving one pain in one’s side or cause one to gasp for air, but both cardiovascular and physical strength will be gained! Just like those intense physical workouts, spiritual growth comes from the pains of life and the experiences that are a part of our journey. We will be stronger. We will be wiser, if we chose to be. Faith is believing and trusting in Christ. I speak of His goodness. I speak of His love. I chose to walk in the faith I say I have. I chose to be better, not bitter. I chose to be grateful. I chose to say “Thank you, Lord. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for my mom’s salvation and the peace of knowing she is with you. Thank you that my unborn child is safe in your arms. Thank you for the promise that I will see them both again one day. Until then, help me be a clean conduit of your grace, goodness, and most of all.... your love.”
Yesterday during a meeting with ‘Babies Can’t Wait’, the subject of inclusion and school for Savannah Lanier came up. I was overcome with fear and “what if” scenarios! Then, today after seeing a sweet post from @nothingdownabout_victoria on Instagram, I had to respond and actually “preach” to myself! I’m sure this topic is something all of us mommas have at some point!
I already have “fears” of future school days and cruelty towards Savannah Lanier. It can almost be paralyzing!! We are in constant battle between flesh and spirit! We have fears because we are human! Then, The Holy Spirit reminds us to “fear not”. God doesn’t put that statement in His word 365 times for no reason!! He is almost screaming to us to fear not! However.... we as Momma humans, protective and Momma hen like, have to painfully let go as different chapters end and stages evolve. It is meant for us to let go. We are meant to teach, love, and encourage our babies to grow and leave the nest. So, why does it hurt us to do that at times? The answer is simply... fear. We then see God do sweet things through sweet people. We see God reveal Himself in situations and we see our babies defy odds. Then slowly but surely the fear of that particular area, disappears. We are stubborn creatures, after seeing God do the impossible, we still doubt. The beautiful part of this, is God continues to show His love, conquers our battles, and reveals that He is bigger than any fear!
There is apart of me that wants to shelter Savannah Lanier and just surround her with others that will accept her and that are like her. Then, I’m slapped with conviction! Separation just promotes discrimination! If we don’t see others that are different than us, if we don’t get to know ....truly know... others that are different than us, then we never learn from those differences. We only see superficially, not through the eyes of Christ. We would never gain compassion and we would never know how to love unselfishly. “Lord continue to guide this journey and teach me to love through Your eyes. As each chapter ends and a new one begins, replace any fear with faith and peace that rests in only You!”
My sweet little lady~ Mommas can get caught up in the mundane obligations of life. You and your two older sisters make me realize laundry will always be there, dishes will forever need to be washed. My need for things to be picture perfect has been replaced with a better perspective.... Life isn’t perfect, but we can choose to see how imperfectly perfect it actually is and be happy in it! We can see what really matters, which is an investment in each other and in lives, not in a perfect looking life!
I look at your sweet smile and curiosities and stand still in the moment. I laugh when I see you pull things out of baskets, whether it’s a little trash basket or laundry basket.... and then throw them! You are so intrigued by the newness of life’s experiences. I see wonderment in your eyes and experience laughter with you over the silliest noise or element of surprise. You make me feel an innocent and easy love again. I say “easy” because it is truly easy to love you and your sisters. You are not only part of my flesh, but the spirit that resides in me. You help give me purpose and love that is like no other. I love you “more than words” and no matter what you do, that will never change. .
Oh sweet friend, first off CONGRATULATIONS!
Our beautiful Savannah Lanier is now 18 months old and she happens to have an extra chromosome! She was also born with Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), which is a “hole" in the wall that separates the top two chambers of the heart. This defect allows oxygen-rich blood to leak into the oxygen-poor blood chambers in the heart. ASD is a defect in the septumbetween the heart's two upper chambers (atria). Savannah had open heart surgery just 3 months ago to repair this defect and she is thriving! I went public with my Instagram account shortly after our third daughter, Savannah, was born because I want to show “there is nothing down about it” and to shed light as our precious family walks this journey. I am still learning myself, and will continue to do so with each new chapter. The emotions you may be struggling with is NORMAL! You are human. You are being blessed with a direction meant for YOU!! GOD MAKES NO MISTAKES! Please remember that!
It was at my 20 week ultrasound that we first discovered a heart issue with Savannah. My biggest concern at the time was that they would accidentally tell me the sex, because we wanted it to be a surprise at birth!
My 11 year old and 9 year old , at the time, was present during the ultrasound.
The technician found an issue with Savannah’s heart and then said “the child may have DS”. She wasn’t a doctor, nor was there a doctor present. The way she said it was anything but professional.
Then, I did have amnio to confirm.
I understand “what if scenarios” will haunt you! The unknowns can consume you.
There was a period of time where I couldn’t even read anything about DS or look at photos of children with DS. Out of ignorance and a desperate heart, I prayed that God would “heal” Savannah.
I believe the negative scenarios given by “medical professionals” , simply being ignorant (not stupid) about Down Syndrome, and not having inclusion in many advertisements can subconsciously make one believe a DS diagnosis is like a death sentence. Rhetorically speaking, how wrong is that?!
After several doctor appointments, I was convinced I was going to have quasi Moto from Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Shame on the medical community for doing that to us and countless moms!
Don’t feel guilty for any and every emotion you’re feeling! One day, I was so desperate to know what Savannah would look like, that I used this silly kids app “baby maker” , where you put a picture of you and the Daddy to see what your app “baby” would look like.
It was a low point to say the least.
God has opened my eyes to a way of seeing and thinking that is more like Christ. Our children are perfectly imperfect, just as we ALL are!
I prayed and wanted Savannah to be beautiful. (As conceded as that sounds!) I believe all moms have this fantasy of motherhood and others oohing and awwwwing over their newborn! That is normal, too!
I didn’t know anything about DS or know anyone associated with DS. All I had was web MD and google.
Don’t listen to statistics!!!!!!
Your precious child is and will be ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING he/ she wants to be!! They will just achieve it in their timing, with your love and support!
You will have concerns and worries... but, guess what? You will with any child!
I’m a mom of three girls and I treat Savannah no differently than I have treated my older girls!!
There will also be amazing physical therapists and others that help in accomplishing goals, if needed.
God will put in your path the most amazing, loving people because of this precious child. You will look back on this blessing and wouldn’t want it any other way!!!!
Remember, God makes no mistakes!!! Every decision, every choice, every occurrence or situation is for a PURPOSE, guiding you and molding you into the amazing lady or gentleman you are, only getting wiser and stronger!
My advise would be not to do amnio. If blood tests show a positive result, just enjoy your pregnancy!
Please don’t think of this diagnosis with gloom!
This beautiful child will smile and laugh. This beautiful child look at you and call you “Momma” or “Daddy”. This beautiful child will cry and be comforted in your arms. This beautiful child has a purpose!
DS is what our babies have NOT WHO THEY ARE!!!
There are Olympians and Emmy award winners that happen to have an extra chromosome. The sky is the limit on our children, sweet friend!
Surround yourself with POSITIVE influences and stories of everyday, but amazing parents that are in this journey with you!
Welcome to the “TEAM”!
Let me know if you have any questions or just want to talk!! I’m here!!!
How It All Began
As my two daughters and I walked happily to the ultrasound room, we did not have a clue how our lives were about to change forever. At the time, my biggest concern was that the technician would divulge the sex of our little one, as we wanted it to be a surprise at birth!
The technician was a woman of few words, and anything but cheerful. I introduced myself and my two daughters and explained this was their first time seeing a sonogram. They were very excited to see a glimpse of their little brother or sister! We still received very few words from the technician until she frantically said, “I need to go see if a doctor is still here. I see something that isn’t right!” She then walked out of the room, leaving my jelly-covered belly exposed.
My daughters immediately asked if everything was alright. Although my heart was pounding, I reassured them that it was. When the technician came back in, she told me, without a doctor present, that she only saw three out of the four chambers of my baby’s heart and that he/she may have Down syndrome. I was in complete shock and thought there must be some mistake. I was in protective mode for my two daughters standing beside me while trying to process the words I just heard. How could a person begin to make an unauthorized diagnosis in such a cold and heartless manner? This was supposed to be a happy memory that my daughters and I were to share together for the rest of our lives.
I reassured them, but inside I felt confused. I didn’t know exactly what Down syndrome was, but how the news was delivered didn’t make me feel hopeful! All I knew was that I wanted my unborn baby to be healthy, and I wanted to continue to enjoy my pregnancy like I did with my other two children. My heart was incredibly heavy from so many unknowns.
A few weeks later, a specialist told me the possible prognosis. I may miscarry (which I have no history of); if our unborn child lives, the baby would go to the NICU; or our baby would have to be flown to Atlanta for emergency heart surgery. The recommendation based on one ultrasound alone was to terminate the life of our child. Just four hours later and after another test, I was told our baby did indeed have all four chambers of the heart, but a defect was present. I was also told countless times that our baby’s femur bones measured smaller than average. I became very defensive and agitated after repeated recommendations to abort our baby. Was this life not worth living because of Down syndrome? Was this life not worth a chance because of a heart defect or because her femur bones measured smaller than average?
In a protective, defensive mode, I told the specialists not to mention abortion again and to not give me any more negative “what if” scenarios. I only wanted to know the facts, yearned for any positive sides of Down syndrome, and needed to be reassured of the love and beauty this child would bring to our family and others. I believe God makes no mistakes, but I needed to be reminded of that.
I needed to know our unborn child would be the beautiful baby I had imagined, that she could do anything she put her mind to! I desperately needed to find families and stories of beautiful babies that happen to have an extra chromosome like my unborn daughter. I needed to know that our family would still be able to live life to the fullest. I continue to have concerns and emotions that overwhelm me at times. Will she struggle in school? Will she fall in love and dance at her wedding?
In our appearance-focused society, it can be hard to accept what makes us different and embrace the differences of others. I am seeing more organizations supporting those with disabilities with love, compassion, and inclusion. This gives me hope! My desire is to educate as I am being educated, and encourage those who are feeling the desperation I experienced.
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!
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.