June 27, 2010


i think for as long as i've been an adult i've been enamored with the concept of a community.  in theory it sounds like a really great way to have an extended family of sorts and be assured that no matter what comes your way you'll always have this posse who has your back, so to speak.  but the older i get and the harder life becomes this theory of a tight knit community seems more like an illusion; something that sounds super on paper but is rarely practiced well enough to be successful.  we go through seasons where we're close for a few months and then someone moves or goes out of town or gets married or has another kid and the dream fizzles.  we all feel like little islands orbiting the same city.  

i guess i think of it this way: keeping up with your own family is hard enough, right?  it takes work; investment to remember Birthday's, plan holidays, have expectations and just maintaining the peace can be exhausting.  so why do we assume it won't be the same with this glorious notion of a "community"?  because they're not exactly family?  maybe....but i think that community often fails because we don't have the family mentality. community still allows every individual a freedom or independence to not live sacrificially.  i believe that we are to live sacrificially within our own families, where there is an obligation to give, to serve, to love and to forgive - because they will ALWAYS be our family.  but in a community there are no real guidelines to force anyone to do or be anything to the rest of the group.  but what if there were?

maybe i'm getting ahead of myself.  what i just wrote makes sense to me, but maybe it isn't clear enough.  sorry.

The word "community" is derived from the Old French communit√© which is derived from the Latin communitas (cum, "with/together" + munus, "gift").  i really like this breakdown of the word because it makes the point i am trying to convey.  the word "community" literally means to be a gift to one another and with one another.  

i want to be apart of a thriving, successful community just as much as the next guy, but i can't help believing that there need to be some challenges put on us to maintain such a community and be real in it and actually grow together.  most of what i'm processing here is very basic Christianity, but how well are we really living that on a day to day basis?  how many of us keep our own families at arm's length, as well as the friends that we keep?  how many people do we actually let "in" to the deepest parts of ourselves without fear of rejection or criticism?  

i have a few challenges for those of us seeking community.  if it's going to be real and if it's going to work these are some of my suggestions. 

1)  don't be exclusive

it's really easy to be drawn to people who are like you and have similar things going on in their lives and have similar likes and dislikes.  -duh-  and that's all fine and dandy, we do have our "very best friends".  but real sacrifice comes in when we reach beyond our boxes, our likes and dislikes, our comfort zones and not only befriend someone who is very different from us, but we go further to maintain a good friendship with them for an extended period of time.  throughout our entire lives we all share memories of the "popular" kids at school and the "cliques".  these golden circles that open their arms to people who are like them and generally not anyone else.  we can recall being rejected by that group at some point in life.  for most of us it was middle school or high school.  i have memories of that group at my church, in college, and even today as a 29 year old.  

if we are going to thrive as a community we must NOT be exclusive.  open arms, open doors, no more boxes or golden circles.  invite the guy who annoys the crap out of you and find out who he is.  get a cup of coffee with the girl who has a very broken heart and can't seem to connect with anyone.  call the friend who is 20 years older than you but has always taken an interest in your life.  hang out with the friend who obviously is always looking for approval and make them feel important.  when your tight circle of friends goes out for beers, call someone who's never come before and invite him into your life.  basically try something new.  be a gift to someone that's not exactly like you.

yea, i know this isn't easy or comfortable, but it's love.  it's stretching ourselves and our boundaries and making a difference.  be a gift.  it doesn't mean you have to be best friends with these people, but you might be surprised how much you can learn from someone who is unlike you.  

i recently watched that movie 'The Blindside' with Sandra Bullock, and if you've seen it you can relate.  Because that white, wealthy family invited a poor, shell-shocked African-American boy into their lives it changed them all forever.  not just the boy who got to change his life because of generosity.  but it changed every person in that family and even the surrounding town.  isn't that the kind of gift we should be?

i also want to mention here a blog i wrote a few years ago where the Lord spoke to me about a wounded kitten that so badly wanted to get into my lap.  you can read it here and make the connection.  

2)  ask not what these people can do for you, but what you can do for these people 

i once had a talk with a performer who seriously struggled with playing a show for a small crowd.  he felt like he was throwing his pearls to swine to sit on stage and play his heart and soul out to a room of 3 unattentive bodies.  he says, they don't pay attention, they don't clap and they don't buy cd's after the show, what's the point?  why should i waste my time?  [usually i would have agreed and been apologetic and said better luck next time]  but this particular night the Lord struck me with a word.  it was something He had told me recently about my own life, and i saw that it applied to this situation as well.  

ask not what these people can do for you (or give to you), but what you can do for them (or give to them).  the Lord showed me that when i enter a room full of people, i always have a choice to be a giver or a taker.  i explained this to my musician friend and he was challenged; as was i when the Lord first told me.  

if we have the mindset of what we can give, not what we can get, then our expectations are totally shifted.  i told my friend that if he entered that room thinking of what he could give to them then he wouldn't suffer the same disappointment because his expectations weren't to receive, but to give.  so that if he did get a compliment or an applause or some cash at the end of the set, it would be a surprise, a blessing, a treat.  because he wasn't expecting it.  

the Lord showed me this when i would have anxiety about hanging out with a group of people i didn't know well or that i felt insecure around.  He told me to enter the room as if i had a bag of gifts to give to anyone who spoke to me.  the gifts are compliments, questions, interest, encouragement, buying a cup of coffee, setting up a lunch date, or just a general conversation centered around that person.  in practicing this for a couple years now i have found that i am less insecure, more confident and more engaged than ever before.  i try and go beyond the "Hi, how are you doing?"  "Fine.  How are you?". if given the chance.

apparently it was Ghandi who said it, but i read it on a magnet: 
"be the change you wish to see in the world."    

3)  open up; closed is never attractive

another aspect of this "giving" is being open.  i try and live by the creed that if we are children of the light then we should be exposed by the light.  meaning that if there is someone who takes an interest in your life: the good, the bad and the ugly, then open up and share with them.  there is a little bit of Jesus in us all and when we expose our mess to a friend, that little bit of Jesus in them comes out and touches us.  but if we were to keep it to ourself all the time, we'd miss out.  

i'm realizing as i write this that i live by a lot of one-liners; another is: if you can't talk about it, it owns you.  this conviction has led to many spontaneous confessions.  and after each confession the freedom i have felt is insurmountable.  let's create a community of people who aren't afraid to expose our sh*t to each other in order to get prayer, to get advice and to get well.

i mean who wants to approach someone and start to dig deep with them only to find a "CLOSED" sign hanging from their blank face?  not me.  life is short and i want to live it.  you don't have to expose everything in one breath, but be willing to let someone "in" if they're interested.  who knows what they may offer you.  what they've been through themselves.  you never know.  

the more i practice this in my life, the more love, support and prayer i receive.  it's amazing the response mark and i have gotten just from sharing with people about our baby's heart.  i bet i couldn't count the number of people who are praying for her and for us right now.  most i have never even met.  and i'll tell you what, i need those prayers now more than ever before in my life.  thank you for responding to our openness.  thank you for giving.

every other thursday night a group of young women get together at my house.  collectively we call our gathering the wives club.  (i know it's a little cheesy, but it's who we are).  we recognize that marriage is hard and without the love and support of other women who are on this same roller coaster, we might not make it.  our first meeting was nearly a year ago and at that meeting we had an incredible breakthrough that has bonded us in a way that nothing else ever could have.  but it took us all being vulnerable, being open.  it does every meeting.  that first night one woman was bold and shared her struggles with intimacy in her marriage and suddenly it was exposed that out of the 12 women in the room, 6 had been raped or molested at some point in their life.  it was shocking and sad, but it united everyone's hearts in a way that has kept us together and moving forward in our marriages and in our lives.  we don't have all the answers by any means.  we're all on this same long road, learning, growing and asking lots of questions, but at least now we have each other.  for support and council.  

if you'd like to join the wives club, it's not exclusive, cliquish or intimidating.  all are welcome.  whether you've been married 2 months or 15 years, we have both and everything in between.  send me an email and i will send you our meeting schedule.  babies are welcome.  

4)  be available, think creatively, and act on it

so often we hear of people's misfortunes in life.  i feel like those misfortunes just multiply the older i get.  so-and-so is in the hospital again.  the whoever's can't get pregnant.  he cheated on his wife.  they can't pay their bills.  their marriage is seriously falling apart.  he lost his job.  everyone's having a baby and a baby shower and everyone needs money.  the reality of life hits us all.  for the most part we all feel so overwhelmed with our own issues that when someone else's issues arise we aren't even available to give or serve because we're already exhausted from our own lives.  

be available.  when someone shares their hardships with you, listen and give.  if you hear of it through the grapevine and feel a heavy heart for them, ask the Lord to give you a creative idea on how you can bless them.  i believe that when we give to those in need it opens the door for us to receive our own blessings.  telling them you're "praying" is great.  but seriously how often do we actually remember to pray for their situation?  be honest.  

do something active and involved.  drop groceries off at the house who can't pay their bills.  collect money for the family adopting a baby.  take the girl from a broken marriage out for a pedicure.  offer to babysit for free to the couple who desperately needs a date.  give good shower gifts to expecting moms and blushing brides.  host prayer meetings for the sick and struggling.  set up a fundraiser for someone who seriously needs money.  invite the family who got evicted to come and live in your home.  the person who's car broke down, let them borrow yours, or carpool with them, or give them your car!  be creative and act on it.  don't wait till someone else has the idea or hosts the prayer meeting.  YOU do it.  who cares if you don't know them all that well.  giving is giving.  right?  yea it's sacrificial, that's the point.  if we're going to work together as a community stay engaged on this deeper level.  

basic christianity - do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  put yourself in their shoes.  passion and compassion, people.

5)  beware of false community   

i love facebook as much as the next guy.  it's an easy way to keep up with a slew of people from all over the world without having to actually talk to them.  but how genuine can it really be?  we can choose to engage with whomever we want, and chose to ignore whomever we want with absolutely no consequences.  this new age of technology and social networking is great, it really is....but i think we've lost a very real part of relationship amongst the lol's and brb's in cyber space.  we get a false sense of community just by checking people's twitter statuses and summer photo albums.  that's not real relationship.  that's not community.  after you look at all those pictures and comment on their status, you're still at your house, alone, having not connected with that person on a deeper level.  we can check out people's lives and never tell them we were even looking at their profile.  again, i do like the site and i like staying connected, but i think we need to make sure it's not our only connection to those people.  especially those who live in the same town as us.  remember the little islands we live on?  

get back to the basics.  call each other on the phone.  talk in person.  go out for lunch.  invite each other over for dinner - rowdy kids and all.  plan trips together.  take your kids to the park.  live life in person.  beware of a false sense of community.  pray together.  hug.  laugh.  cry.  be human in person.  

and i will just throw this out there.  it drives me absolutely nuts when i'm hanging out with someone and they spend more time texting, checking their facebook, and updating their twitter than they do talking to me.  have we really come to this?  unplug, people!  we were meant to interact with each other on a real level.  when you're hanging out with people, be a person.  make eye contact.  be engaged.  don't mess with your phone unless it's important.  unplug.

so these are some of my thoughts on community and how it might work more successfully.  of course they're just ideas and i've not seen many of them practiced well or often but i'd love to.  to me this is love.  these 5 suggestions represent what loving others well might look like.  i'm sure there are a lot more we could do, but this is getting winded and my body is sore from sitting here for so long.  

in my heart of heart's i want to live in this place with a group of people.  i want it to be real.  i want it to consist of a broad variety of people from different walks of life.  i want it to be love and most of all i want it to last.  i want to see us all live on the level that we believe in it too.  to believe we're not alone on this journey called life.  that we really are united and bound together not because of generational blood, but because of the blood of Jesus.  it will be hard, yes.  it will get messy, yes.  we are still fallen and broken people.  but it's hard for me to grasp that it can't happen when so many of us have such a longing and hunger for community to exist.

let's chose light and love above all and serve one another.  let's be a gift to one another and with one another.  get out of our boxes and love bigger and wider than we ever have.  let's abandon the little orbiting islands we all live on and choose to make our community an obligation, like our family.  we need to live sacrificially for one another, to love, to serve, to lift up, to forgive, no matter what.  because this IS our family, and always will be.

who's with me?  

Ecclesiastes 4:9 
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down his friend can help him up.

But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Matthew 18:19-20
I also tell you this: If two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.  For where two or three are gathered together because they are mine, I am there among them.          

May 21, 2010

i look for redemption in everything

i figured it was probably time for an update.  i have run into people over the past month who i don't frequently see in person, but who keep up with my blog and it seems the lingering question is "how's it going?".

so, to answer that....i will have to say that things are going well.  i have switched to an OB in Myers Park who delivers at CMC Main (off East blvd.).  he was very kind and as strange as it may sound....i think he might be gay.  a gay OBGYN?  i know,  right?   i quietly observed him throughout my entire exam, as much as he observed me.  i just look at it as one more interesting character in this crazy story.  never a dull moment, people.  never.  besides getting a new OB and going to a closer doctor's office, things pregnancy-wise are going as they should.  i have been dubbed a "high-risk" pregnancy, even though Dr. Miller doesn't really consider ME to be high risk, but the baby is and we're better off monitoring her and me on that level.  usually a high risk pregnancy categorizes those women with high blood pressure, diabetes, or other health conditions that are, well.....risky during pregnancy.  after my first appointment Dr. Miller assessed "you know, jessie.....you're not techinically high risk, so i should send you to a regular OB within this practice.  but.....i like you, so i think i'm gonna keep you!"  i blushed.

so to sum all that up, i am doing fine.  i suppose i'm just in the waiting period.  i start my 3rd trimester next week and honestly am so glad it's officially here!  like i said in my last post, i have chosen to stay positive this summer and not dwell on the difficult things which are to come.  i'm glad i have taken that stance because i am realizing more and more everyday all that i have to celebrate and be thankful for right now.  we have been blessed and then blessed again.  let me share:

recently someone gave mark a van.  our band van (some of you may remember the elk van: R.I.P.) broke down a few months ago and then mark had a fiasco with a craigslist vehicle purchase that almost took his life (a tire fell off while he was driving on Interstate 77 going 55 miles an hour!).  after he gave that p.o.s. truck away he was just riding our little scooter.  so we are very thankful for the gift of the van!  blessing...

i have also been receiving giant boxes of hand-me-down baby girl's clothes in the mail!  it's been so much fun to get these hand-me-downs and start visualizing my little baby girl in them.  i for one LOVE hand-me-downs, and who doesn't love FREE?  so thanks to my friends and family who took the time to send the boxes.  major blessing....

mark has been working from home developing applications for iphone, ipad and android.  he loves his new line of work and i love him being home everyday.  he's so smart that it's sexy.  plus he has a tan and is working on his figure.  i love my husband.  i realize that even if we lost everything we will always have our love.  that's how it all started anyways.

another blessing is that we got a decent check back from our taxes - which we were planning on spending on a new car for mark; but now we don't have to.  we also have received an unexpected financial blessing from some friends.  i am amazed and blessed.  there are no words.  the Lord is good, all the time, you guys.

after stalking my Medicaid case worker by phone for about 3 weeks and her never returning my calls, i finally receive a Medicaid card in the mail - for NOAH!  which is good.....i did apply for him as well and am super thankful that he is now medically covered for a year.  we are still waiting for MY medicaid card to magically appear in the mail. my dad asked me last week what i would do if they denied me.  and i sassily said "i'm gunna march my butt right back up those stairs, stand in line for 2 hours again, then wait for an appointment for 3 hours again and re-apply.  that's what i'm gunna do.  but this time i will pack my own lunch and bring a book."  i won't take no for an answer, i'm an American!

i am also super excited to announce that more family is moving into town.  mark's brother joseph and his wife caitlyn are planning on moving to charlotte at the end of the summer.  mark and i are REALLY close to them and we can't even express how awesome it will be to have them nearby!  they debated going elsewhere for a few years but when they heard about our baby's heart and all that we are in for over the next 3 years they decided to come here and support us.  i am amazed at that sacrifice and love.  yay!

as you can see, we are just as overwhelmed with good things as we are with, well....the hard things to come.  i look for redemption in everything.

on another note, we have had an update on our baby's heart since my last post.  we went in about a month ago to see the pediatric cardiologist at The Sanger Heart Institute.  he did another echo cardiogram (i always think of dolphins when i say that word.....because don't dolphins communicate with echos?).  anyways.....on our way to the appointment i said a little prayer and just asked the Lord that nothing would be worse.  that's all i prayed.  the dr. did the echo-thingy and we saw our little wonder dance and wiggle on the screen - how i love her more and more each day!  then he took us into a debrief room and said that he saw something a little different.  -my heart stopped-

he continued....

it's actually nothing worse....and if i can say it, surprisingly.....it's a little more positive than what we were suspecting.

i'm breathing again, i feel the blood pulse back through my body

originally her diagnosis was Tricuspid Atresia with Transposition of the Great Arteries.  Tricuspid means that there are only 3 chambers, when there should be four - hence the "Tri" in Tricuspid.  but what the doc told us was that they DID see all 4 chambers this time - which was the positive part, but 2 of them are very under-developed causing the 2 good chambers to be larger and work over-time.  now her diagnosis is Double Inlet Left Ventricle with Transposition of the Great Arteries .  which sounds just as complicated, but is a slightly better diagnosis than the Tricuspid Atresia.

so with all of those changes, our baby WILL still need all 3 surgeries and the first one will still need to be within her first week of life, it just may not be as complex as they originally thought.  which is good.

so yea.....now all we do is wait.  and i keep getting larger and larger as the summer progressively gets hotter and hotter.  our 7 year Anniversary is this Monday (the 24th) and mark bought us tickets to see Wicked , which i am SUPER stoked about!  i love musicals.  don't judge me.....

we also have tickets to Chicago the first week of June to visit my Aunt Kathy.  since mark can work from anywhere that has WIFI, we have a lot more freedom to travel.  but my travel days are limited so we figured we should get out of town before July, so we're not cutting it too close to my due date.  we also realize our life is only going to get more complex once this baby is born and travels will be few and far between.  for 2 wanderlusts this is a bit disappointing, but to every thing there is a season, right?  we'll get her heart fixed up and be sailing the sparkly caribbean as a family of four before we know it!

one thing you can be praying about - or keeping an eye out for us is that we have to move.  our landlord informed us last week that he is moving back into his house at the end of June and we need to skidaddle.  awesome.....7 months pregnant.....middle of the summer......moving.  so we're busy looking for a new place to rent that will suit our growing family.  my biggest stipulation is that we stay close to the hospital (CMC Main).  where we live right now it takes about 10-15 minutes to get there.  either we stay around here, in the SouthPark area, or we get closer to the hospital.....but i don't want to move further away.  we have a few houses we've looked at but are still waiting to hear back from landlords and what-not.  so....yea, it's crazy but to be honest i am a bit excited about it.  i like change.  our landlord here is a little flaky and hasn't fixed several things that needed fixing and it's been a year.  so....we're ready to move on and hopefully find a nice place with plenty of room that's close to the hospital.

if you see anything or know anyone that needs tenants, let us know.  send me an email and i'll tell you our price range and how many beds/baths we're needing, etc....  pilesofsmiles@gmail.com

i think that's about it.  thanks for stopping by.

jessie, mark, noah and baby girl mathis

family bike ride at Hilton Head Island

Pappy, GB & Noah at Hilton Head Island

Family photo at Finneas' dedication

Me and little Rocky Balboa at Hilton Head 
(Noah got his first black eye falling down the stairs at our house)


April 20, 2010

life has a funny way of happening: part II

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.  ~Emily Dickinson

Plan A: a miracle

march 23, 2010:
i didn't sleep all night.  i was too excited about the coming day where we would learn the gender of this new surprise baby who was doubling in size everyday, bouncing around in my womb.  it had seemed like a year since i peed on the magic stick that told me i was pregnant.  that little stick that changed my life.  in reality it had only been a couple months and thankfully in those months my heart had really begun to mend and get excited about this new arrival.  i spent those months seeing a counselor each week, and as we processed the trauma of my previous birth experience and the loss i had felt with the Lord, i started to remember Him.  to remember His history in my life.  the timeline.  the relationship.  i never could have made up in a million years the encounters i have had with Jesus.  i read old journals, listened to old teachings and worship cd's.  and slowly my heart started remembering too.  i looked to this day, march 23, 2010, as the day that me and my baby would bond in a new way.  a bond that would get me through the rest of the pregnancy and the birth.  this baby was special.  i couldn't wait to know.

as the words "it's a girl" came out of the technician's mouth our room erupted with laughter, tears, and squeals of delight.  i lay on the table, with goo covering my belly and just cried.  my mom had noah - who was very restless after having to wait in the waiting room for over 35 minutes.  so she took him outside for a some fresh air.  the technician finished up, and asked mark and i to wait in a room for the doctor to come speak with us.  as we waited we both began texting friends and calling family.  the elation we both felt was so overwhelming.  a little girl.  we couldn't believe it.  i rubbed my belly with a new sense of pride.  the bond i was anticipating was definitely there.  my family was complete.  i couldn't be more thankful for this little miracle.  

when the doctor came in she did not share in the celebration that filled the room, she didn't even seem to notice it.  she carried the printouts of the ultrasound and sat very close to me with concern in her eyes.  "we were unable to get a clear image of your baby's heart."  -what?-  she showed mark and i a series of images that looked like blobs and explained that at this point (i was 18 weeks), they should be able to see all 4 chambers of the baby's heart, and our baby didn't seem to have them.  i went numb and just stared at her.  mark sat in the corner and kept texting friends; he doesn't trust doctors what-so-ever, so he didn't feel concern.  she then proceeded to explain that we will need to have a follow-up level II ultrasound at CMC, where they have more specialized technicians and doctors who can better diagnose if the baby has a heart condition or not.  she had already made me an appointment for the following day - to stress the importance of having this done immediately.  

as we left mark still had his "i don't trust doctors attitude", and didn't think we needed to go to the level II ultrasound.  but me....i was utterly and morbidly crushed.  the term "buzz kill" doesn't even scratch the surface of what i was feeling.  we all got in the car to drive home and we explained the whole thing to my mom - who was in the back seat with Noah.  i was a wreck.  mark was in denial.  we decided to sleep on it and see how we felt in the morning.  i, of course wanted to know my baby was ok, no matter what the cost.  the congratulations texts washed in throughout the rest of the day, but i couldn't bring myself to respond.  i felt as though there was something wrong with my own heart.  it wasn't working properly all of a sudden.  again, another sleepless night.

the next morning i had an idea to call my previous OB, Dr. Peacock and get a second opinion.  they had me come in right away that morning to have another look at out baby girl's heart.  after 45 minutes of searching for the "cross shape" in her heart, the images also came up empty.  i met with Dr. Peacock after the ultrasound and sobbed like i have never sobbed before in my life.  being that we have been through a lot (he delivered Noah), he held my hand as i slurped back tears and snot and asked questions that requested honest answers from someone i trusted.  he shared quite a bit with me about heart disorders and how rare they are and that there is absolutely NOTHING i did to cause this, and how the heart forms during weeks 3-8 of gestation, and that there's a possibility she may also have a chromosomal disorder as well.  my head was spinning and i choked on my own words.  he gave me a hug and told me i had to be at that level II ultrasound at CMC later that day, no matter what mark thought.  i trusted him.  it was good to get a second opinion, but the news was more devastating than i could handle.  

it's shocking i actually made it home.  the number of tears that came out of my face is hard to determine.  and as another hammer fell, it felt like it had fallen right on my heart.  it definitely was not working properly now.  i struggled to breathe.

my mom cancelled her clients for the rest of the day.  my sister-in-law magically appeared to watch Noah, and mark told work what was happening so he could come with me.  i won't go into much detail on how the rest of the day panned out because, to be 100% honest i don't remember that much.  what i do remember went something like this:

super fancy ultrasound machine.  sweet nurse.  sweet baby girl, dancing on the screen.  she looks perfect to me.  she's so beautiful.  i can't breathe.  mom hands me kleenex; i must be crying again.  mark holds my hand.  we both are sweating like pigs.  the doctor comes in.  she's soft-spoken and carries more concern in her eyes than anyone i have ever met.  she also does an ultrasound.  my little baby girl is swimming.  everything looks absolutely perfect to me.  i want to go home.  no, i want to go to the beach.  i close my eyes and imagine myself on a tropical island somewhere.  laying on the white sand, letting my worries drain out of me as the sun warms my skin and i feel happy and carefree again.  the doctor leaves to make a phone call.  she returns and explains she got me an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist - tomorrow.  tomorrow.  tomorrow i am going to chicago.  no.  she says if i don't keep this appointment i may never be able to see this cardiologist because his office won't accept the uninsured.  bastards.  what's wrong with america?  they sit me up and the doctor starts explaining what's wrong.  there's definitely something wrong with her heart, but she may also have a chromosomal problem.  if she has a heart condition and trisomy 13 or 18, she will not live.  considering you are uninsured and that you had such a traumatic birth with your son, you may want to consider terminating the pregnancy.  can't breathe.  i need to lay down - NOW.  the only reason i'm telling you this, jessica is because in the state of north carolina the cut-off for termination is 20 weeks, and you're 18 weeks now.  oh god....i'm going to throw up.  someone get her some water.  we could go ahead and do an amniocentesis on you today, right now and in a few days it would tell us what chromosomal disorders your baby might have.  that way you can begin to prepare your life if you baby has down's syndrome, or turner's syndrome, or trisomy 13, 18, 21, 22, 45, 99, 11, 2, one million and forty five.  can't breathe.  lay down.  i am laying down.  just breathe.  close your eyes, jessie.....go back to the beach.  i just wanna go to the beach.  

the rest i remember is blurry too, but we declined the amnio because i was feeling so sick and coming in and out of panic attacks.  we held onto the appointment with the cardiologist and went home.  i didn't even have any tears left to cry.  apparently my mom contacted my aunt (in chicago) and she changed our tickets so that we'd still be able to go - just a day later.  i tried to explain as much as i could to my sister-in-law when we arrived home, but i can't remember what i said.  mark called some close friends to ask for prayer and i, still wanting the beach, wanting to be warm all over, made a hot bath and did my best to drown my worries in it.  the last thing i remember is hugging and kissing the daylights out of my son, mark forcing me to eat a grilled cheese and then going to bed around 7:30.  

surprisingly i awoke the next morning (thursday) feeling a peace that couldn't be explained.  the day from hell was over, and that made me feel better.  i played with noah all morning and loved on my husband.  we didn't say much.  what was there to say?  i took a walk and sat in the sun - thank God the sun was out.  i decided to email a very small number of friends to be praying for the appointment and for us.  somehow, i magically felt better.  mom met us at The Sanger Heart Clinic at CMC and we all got some coffee before seeing the cardiologist.  the nurse was really sweet and both she and the Dr. did the ultrasound together.  as i watched my baby girl on the screen, i felt like she was strong.  she was feisty.  she was going to be a lot like me.  she was going to make it.  before the doctor said anything, i just watched her dance and wiggle and arch her back like she was going to be ok.  in speaking with them later, mom and mark felt the same way.  that ultrasound was called an echocardiogram and it had colors.  it focused in on the heart and was able to show the flow of blood in and out of her heart.  the fact that her heart is beating, and has been beating since the beginning is a good sign.  for the first time since tuesday i said a little prayer for her.  "please Lord....let my daughter be ok".  

i cleaned up the goo from my belly as the lights turned on and we were directed to another room down the hall.  the Dr. showed us some pictures of normal hearts first so that we could better understand what was wrong with our baby's heart.  the diagnosis he gave is known as Tricuspid Atresia with a Transposition of the Great Vessels.  if you're anything like me, you may not know a whole lot about the heart.  

the good news was this: she will be able to have surgeries to correct her issues.  the other good news was: based on this particular heart condition she only has like a 2% chance of having a chromosomal disorder, like Down's.  everything else on her body looks completely normal, which is really, really good news.  he believed we didn't need to have an amniocentesis, unless we just wanted it for "peace of mind".  right now we can't afford $5,000 for peace of mind.  the bad news is:  her heart is not normal and never will be, even after her surgeries.  she may not be able to play sports growing up, or do other high energy activities.  she will require 3 major open heart surgeries within the first 3 years of her life.  #1 will take place in her first week of life.  #2 when she is 6 months old, and #3 when she's 3 years old.  each surgery is in the 90th percentile for success, but can take up to 6 weeks in the hospital for recovery.  

this is our baby.  this is how she was formed.  i can't allow myself to ask why.  i can't allow myself to get sucked into the black hole of "why me?".  this is where i am today and i am choosing to finish out this pregnancy as positively as i can and just hope and believe that she will make it through her surgeries.  i have to believe the Lord has a destiny for her life; she has already been through so much.  i am choosing to not worry and not waste my summer being sad and filled with fear about the future.  i'll have plenty of time to worry when she comes.  why do it now?  this is surely the hardest thing i will ever have to do in my whole life.  i am not looking forward to feeling helpless and waiting during her 4 hour surgeries.

plan A: a miracle

yes, of course we are praying and asking the Lord to heal her heart before she is born.  we are asking other people to pray as well.  but i have to be honest here and tell you that i cannot put all my eggs in one basket.  i have already endured so much heart ache in the past year with being disappointed with the Lord.  i may not have the faith to believe for her healing....but that's where i need my friends and family.  do i believe that the Lord could heal her?  yes.  but even when Jesus walked the earth he didn't heal everyone.  at the pool of Bethesda, a place where sick and crippled people hung out everyday, all of them needing a miracle, a touch from Messiah.  even there....Jesus only healed one person and then he left.  i am not sure why the Lord chooses to heal some and not others.  there's much about the Lord that i don't understand.  but i do believe it can happen.  i just can't fully own that it WILL.  

plan B: heart surgeries

mark said he was amazed that someone actually went to school to learn how to perform open heart surgery on tiny 7 lb. newborns.  that is a miracle.  we are beyond thankful for the team at The Sanger Heart Clinic and Levine Children's Hospital at CMC.  i have switched OB's and will now need to deliver at CMC, where the cardiologist will be called as soon as i go into labor.  all of this gives me some peace.  people who know what they're doing will be present when she is born to take care of her broken heart.  i am thankful for doctors, medicine and hospitals.  

our concerns are many, as you can see.  another one being that we are uninsured.  due to the fact that this pregnancy was a surprise to begin with, we were unprepared as far as insurance goes.  and then of course no one ever imagines that their child will be born with major complications.  i spent 5 hours in the department of social services applying for medicaid a few weeks ago.  we are praying that medicaid will accept us and cover as much as possible of our medical bills to come.  my aunt (who is an accountant) is also helping us look into grants and scholarships for congenital heart defects.  there's got to be money out there somewhere for people like us.  we're good people, we pay our taxes!  but money is what we will need...and lots of it.  we're already being billed for the 3 appointments we had that week and it's over $6,000 already.  not to mention the basic costs of OB, labor and delivery.  i was going to Lake Norman Hospital, one of the cheaper hospitals, and now i have to deliver at CMC, one of the most expensive hospitals.  so yea....i applied for medicaid and i also wrote Ellen Degeneres.  what?  she gives away money like it's toilet paper.  you never know.  and apparently on Mother's Day she has a big special where the whole audience are all expecting mother's.  i wrote her a week ago.  so maybe she'll call me and want to have me on her show and pay for all our medical bills.  you never know.  i also told her about our band, Public Radio.

so i have finally gotten up the courage to blog this publicly.  it's been a rough couple of weeks, i can't even describe what we've been through.  i am writing it now, finally because i have another echocardiogram this thursday.  it will be the last one until we are close to her due date august 20.  this ultrasound will show the cardiologist in more detail what the surgeon will need to do exactly at that first surgery, because now her heart is bigger than when they first saw it.  why am i telling you now?  because i need your faith.  i would love to have a strong heart that believes we'll walk in there Thursday and the Dr. will see nothing wrong at all - but i don't feel totally confident in that.  if you do, and you pray, then i am asking for your support.  i am open to your phone calls and emails, but if i don't respond, please don't take it personally.  this is all more real to me than it will ever be to you.  she grows and kicks inside of me everyday and night.  before you say too much, put yourself in my shoes.

i am believing for plan A, but am very, very thankful for plan B.   

February 12, 2010

hey ladies, grow up

Before you get your panties all up in a wad, hear me out first, ok?  I have a few bones to pick with my gender and most of them have to do with insecurities.  I know this because I AM a woman.  I just wish that our issues didn't have so much control over our lives.  Fear controls so many of us, and it shouldn't.  i want to make a list of some suggestions we women can do to help ourselves out, our husband's out, and our friends.  

1)  Give things a try. Maybe you've never liked sushi before but your husband LOVES sushi.  It's not going to kill you to try it - unless you have fish allergies.  Maybe college football isn't your thing but your husband has his team and really gets into the game.  Join him!  Grab a beer, make a pot of chili and ask questions about plays or calls you don't understand.  If you have a good attitude about watching the game with him, he will probably be impressed and happy to have his wife getting into something he likes.  

2)  Fight for your free time.  I know that plenty of stay at home Mom's just don't go out anymore.  Too tired, too much work, too whatever.  Make it a priority!  I'm sure you have at least ONE friend or family member who wouldn't mind babysitting for free at least once every week or so.  You need the break; even if it's just going to a book store, getting a cup of coffee and reading a book by yourself for a few quiet hours.  Or if you have some extra cash, go get a pedicure; pamper yourself every now and then.  Mark and I arrange times where we can go out alone and have time with friends.  i.e. A couple weeks ago there was a get together at a bar nearby that we both wanted to go to but we couldn't bring Noah to a bar -duh- so we just took turns.  I went for an hour and a half, then came home and Mark went for an hour and a half.  Also, plan ahead.  Find a reliable sitter.

3)  Just because you're a girl doesn't mean you have to be girly & delicate all the time.  Watch some tough, action movies.  Go play paintball.  Get involved in whatever sport or video game your husband likes.  He will be pretty turned on that you're showing interest.  Trust me.  Even if you're HORRIBLE at video games, ask him to show you how to play.  At the very least you both may get some big laughs out of event.  I recently heard that a friend's wife had surprisingly gotten into a World War II dvd series that he liked a lot.  He was very impressed and proud that they could share that together.  Watch Rambo.  Ride a motorcycle.  Smoke a cigar.  One of my favorite bumper stickers says "Well-behaved women rarely make history". 

4)  Naturally I have to insert here that there are some women who think they are too tough or too independent to have chivalrous husbands.  Ladies, don't be too proud for your man to open the door for you, or take your coat, or pull out the chair for you at a restaurant.  If you're lucky enough to have some chivalry in your life, do NOT reject or belittle it.  True story, a guy friend had a girl tell him "I can open my own door", and he decided if he gets told that one more time, he will never offer it again!  Be careful, friends.....we DO want chivalry to stay alive.

5)  Try not to be picky and high maintenance - especially in high stress situations.  For instance, there's a bunch of you trying to make it to an event on time and you all need to eat.  Your only options are gas station food or Burger King.  Go with the flow and don't complain about it.  Just eat the Burger King - I'm sure there's a salad or grilled chicken something you could eat!  Be picky when you're on a nice date, not a road trip.  Put other's before yourself - it's basic.  If you're on a special diet, then come prepared with your own food or snacks.

6)  Choose a good attitude.  I feel like this one can be the kicker.  Life is hard - duh- but it's how we respond to those hard things is what matters.  So many people argue that one can't control how they respond to things, but I completely disagree!  I believe we always have a CHOICE.  You can choose to be cool and calm, or you can choose to get offended and pissy.  Of course hormones play a roll in being a female, but it's not really fair to blame them all the time.  I don't want to be off the hook because I have raging hormones.  If I'm being an unrealistic, sassy b*tch and my husband calls me out, I stop and think about it before I respond.  Usually he's right because he doesn't often tell me that.  I apologize and choose to have a better attitude, because deep down I don't want to be an unrealistic, sassy b*tch.  Do you?  We can choose!  We have the power!

7)   Don't avoid vulnerability like the plague.  In my 29 years of life I have learned the more vulnerable I get - sharing hard things, crying in front of people, asking for prayer, being transparent - the MORE love, encouragement, hope and support I receive, by the bucket-load!  Seriously.  My last blog I posted contains some of the rawest, hardest things I have ever been through and am still going through currently.  But after I posted it, that very same day I received over 8 phone calls of comfort, encouragement & sympathy and I am still getting an influx of emails from people, who are not only saying they're praying for me and are in my corner, but also people telling me how much my transparency has convicted them to deal with hard things in their own hearts.  I am so overwhelmed with these responses mostly because my honest intention for writing that blog was to just let people know where I'm at.  So that if I seem unconnected or am lacking celebration over this new pregnancy, it's because there's a BIG messy story behind it all.  Over the Rhine has a lyric in one of their songs that says "Pain is our Mother, she makes us recognize each other" and I always think of this line in moments like this.  Paul in 2 Corinthians also confirms this, but he goes further to say that we are not only recognized in pain but also in comfort.  

II Corinthians 1:3-7

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.  Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.  We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

8)  Get Help.  If you just can't seem to get past your insecurities, or even find the courage to attempt any of these things I have listed, then you may need some extra help.  There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with help.  Maybe it's both you and your husband who need help, but he refuses to go, so you feel stuck.  That's a lame excuse in my opinion.  The only person you can change is yourself.  Start somewhere - start with you.  9 times out of 10 your husband will begin to see changes in you and wonder what's going on.  Those changes may prompt him to join you.  I am seeing a counselor myself right now and carry no shame about it what-so-ever.  I have broken places in my heart and in order to be the best woman, wife, friend, daughter and Mother I can possibly be, my heart needs to get healed.  It's been one whole year that I know it's been shattered and it's not going to glue itself back together on it's own.  So I am taking active steps in getting well.  I have always loved the saying "Hurt people, hurt people.  But people who get healed, become healers".  I want to be a healer, and in order to be that I must be healed.  The only thing I have to fear is fear itself.  Time is merciless too.  I really don't want to be 40 or 50 and still have never dealt with these hard things.  Do yourself, your marriage & your kids a HUGE favor.....seek help, then be willing to receive whatever help is offered.  I am willing to do whatever: read 100 books this year, read the Bible cover to cover or pray on my face for an hour each day - if that's what may help piece my heart back together.  These kinds of things don't just go away and they don't just magically repair themselves.  We must take action and choose.  This also goes for unresolved conflict and unforgiveness.  Both are arrows that painfully remain in our hearts, causing us to lose blood, to lose heart, until we are willing to pull them out and get sutured.  Don't let anymore time pass.  As I revel in the final year of my 20's I am beginning to see that we're not getting any younger.

I started writing this blog months ago and then just saved it and sat on it because I didn't want to seem too offensive; women can be touchy & sensitive you know?  So I hope none of this comes across as so.  These are just some rules of thumb that I have learned for myself over the past 6 years of marriage.  Consider this a challenge of sorts.  I think women are attacked by way of insecurity, and I for one do not want to be owned by it anymore.  There's a freedom in letting go.  Try it.  Let your husband be who he is, don't be so ashamed and embarrassed when he does or says something stupid in public.  Don't take life so seriously.  Laugh more.  No one else cares if your hair is a mess because of the humidity.  No one else notices the zit or the hole in your stockings.  We are not and will never be perfect.  I appreciate the women in my life who are free and encourage me to be free.  Sure there are people who size us up and judge & criticize every little thing we say, do and wear....but who cares about them?  The truth is they only do it to others because they're completely insecure with themselves!  Don't be that girl.  No one really likes her.

January 28, 2010

life has a funny way of happening

control is an illusion.  if you are convinced that you have "control" over anything in your life, you are sadly mistaken.  we can make goals in our lives and have plans, but nothing is 100% proven to actually go the way we think it should.  if you know the Lord - at all, then you have probably already figured this out.  i suppose i'm having a refresher course, at 29.  here's what happened.

Part I.

to start at the beginning, i had an extremely horrific labor & birth experience with my son Noah.  what began as something i had "planned" (a natural birth), progressed many hours into a cataclysmic, drug-induced, frenzy to save not only my baby - who was stuck in the birth canal losing oxygen - but i also feared for my own life and at one point stopped praying and started cursing.  i did not give birth to my son, he was pulled from me with forceps after 3 hours of unproductive pushing.  because i was losing blood so rapidly i did not get to enjoy my son but for only a few moments.  then they took him from me, cleared the room and i was in major surgery for over 3 hours due to a 4th degree tear (if you don't know what this is, i'm not going to explain it - it's too graphic).  the days to follow were beautiful, getting to know my son and welcoming friends and family who came to visit.  except there was one, major problem.  i was paralyzed from the waist down.  literally.  

we went home against medical advice and just hoped and prayed the Lord would heal my legs.  i used a wheelchair and a walker my grandmother let me borrow.  after 2 weeks there was no improvement.  we called some doctors and had an MRI and a few other diagnostic tests run.  no conclusions.  everyone was stumped, they had no answer as to why i was paralyzed.  the only answer that made any sense was that i had some nerve damage from where the baby was wedged in my lower back/hip region for over 3 hours when i was pushing.  the nerves were pinched and probably damaged.  the neurologist had only seen a case similar to mine once in his entire career.  he said it was a petite girl who gave birth to a large baby - like me.  she wasn't able to walk for 6 months.  I was devastated.  i was also still healing from the 4th degree tear and the surgery, which after a few falls (trying to walk on my own) needed to be re-stitched.  i was falling apart.

we shared all of this information with friends and family and asked for prayer.  there was nothing else that we could do.  after 3 months i WAS able to walk again, but had to be very careful.  it still took another 3-4 months before i could walk up and down stairs, run, squat or dance by myself.  this was the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life.  mark and i both agreed that we were done having babies.  neither of us could face going through such an experience again.  i was convinced my body wasn't made to give birth.

i lost my faith to a degree and felt as though the Lord had abandoned me.  i couldn't understand why ALL of my friends were able to have natural births with only minor set-backs but mine went so dramatically wrong, in every way.  i am thankful to have my legs back and that it didn't take 6 months for a full recovery, but i still have a lot of questions, a lot of grief, and a lot fear.  i've spent the past year just trying to move on with my life and find my joy in the fact that despite the nightmare experience, i now have an amazing, healthy, handsome, hilarious little boy.  i love him more than i could ever explain.  

Part II.

the day before Christmas Eve i was feeling a bit under the weather.  i took some cold medicine, rested and started feeling better - except for the strange nausea i kept feeling.  i wrote it off and prepped myself for enjoying Christmas with my husband and my son.  Christmas Eve we had an awesome fondue dinner at my brother's.  my nephew got sick that night, so i assumed i probably just had what he had; a little bug...it'd go away soon, no big deal.  Christmas Day....still not feeling well.  i did my best to hide it and enjoy the day - which was awesome!  i told mark that night that despite the head cold, everything else i was feeling felt like i was pregnant.  but we both said that was impossible.  i'd been on birth control since march - remember we knew we didn't want anymore kids.

saturday and sunday rolled by.  we basked in the joy of our son at Christmas-time and the love of our friends and family.  we really have a lot to be thankful for.  there was still this nasty head-cold and nagging nausea.  finally sunday night i went and bought a box of pregnancy tests.  i knew the best time to take it was first thing in the morning, so i told mark i'd do it then. 

 it was instantly positive and i was utterly terrified.  i sobbed into the living room, handed mark the test and melted into his arms, heaving tears for what felt like an eternity.  he was gentle and calm and loving.  we both realized we had done everything we knew to do to avoid this and that it was clearly out of our hands.  we had no control.  it was just meant to be.  i called my mom & dad and asked them to come over.  (they thought we were mad about something....hahaha).  they were loving and gentle as well, but also couldn't hide their excitement at all.  dad took us out for lunch to "celebrate".  i was no where even remotely near celebrating.  that day i went in and out of tears every other hour.  called and made myself a doctor's appointment.  since i never had a period (due to breast-feeding), i had no earthly clue how far along i was.  i told the nurse over the phone i had the juiciest office gossip of the year.  she laughed and agreed.
the next day everything came to another devastating level.  i had just gotten off the phone with my sister-in-law who was out of town.  i told her i was pregnant, and she was sympathetic, but also couldn't hide her excitement.  i said goodbye and then went to use the restroom.  i was bleeding......like i'd been shot.  i started having a panic attack and called for mark.  he said it was probably ok.  but it didn't stop.  i knew this wasn't ok.  i called the doctor and they told me to get in the car immediately.  i had to pull over halfway there and change my clothes.  there was so much blood i was convinced that i was losing the baby.  they took me back right away to do some blood work.  i begged for them to do an ultrasound, or something to tell me the baby was ok!  but my doctor was in a meeting so i couldn't even talk to him.  the nurses told me to go home, rest and try not to think about it.  i cried all the way home.  i always wondered what this felt like.

next morning 8am i got a call that my blood work had come back and my hormone levels looked really good.  they said "you're numbers are so high that we would be able to see the baby on an ultrasound, come in right away!"  my head was spinning.  i got dressed and drove myself to the office.  i was so nervous as to what i might see on that screen.  i knew i needed some more support, so i called a friend and told her everything.  i was so afraid that i might see a dead or struggling baby on that ultrasound picture - i was so nervous.  my friend was in total shock, but was still comforting and sympathetic.  i felt some peace.

the screen showed a tiny little tadpole with a beautiful heartbeat.  everything looked great.  i could hardly believe this was happening.  how did that baby even get in there in the first place?!  my doctor was very straight-forward with me.  he said i wasn't even remotely out of the woods.  with all the bleeding, there was no telling whether this little one was going to make it or not.  i was told it was an at-risk pregnancy, and to try not to center my life around having another baby, yet.  only time would tell if this pregnancy would last.  i scheduled another ultrasound 3 weeks out and went home.  

those 3 weeks were the longest in my life.  i cried everyday wondering if i was more upset about actually being pregnant, or about possibly losing the baby, any day at any moment.  i was so observant about my body and every little thing i felt.  my nausea & exhaustion intensified everyday, along with an imbalance in my emotional stability.  the crisis in Haiti had me sobbing 5 times a day, wishing i had my pilot's license.  i shared my news with only a handful of friends and asked them to keep it quiet until we knew that everything was ok.  i still wasn't ready to celebrate.  everytime i told someone, i cried - like i had a fatal disease.

January 20, 2010

finally the day of my 2nd ultrasound - which also happened to be my 29th Birthday.  i had been waiting for this day forever.  mark was able to get out of work and come with me.  we held hands and watched the screen.  there it was.....little frog-legs and all, bouncing around, living it's tiny little life.  a perfect heartbeat, sweet little hands and feet and a tubby little tummy.  it was 5 times bigger than the first ultrasound.  i was still in shock.  the technician said everything looked great.  my baby was growing like a bean sprout and looked perfect.  mark and i thought we counted 6 fingers on one of it's hands, but the tech said it just looks that way.  we decided at lunch that we were ok with 6 fingers.
my doctor said since i hadn't had anymore bleeding and the ultrasound looked beautiful that there was only a 10% chance of miscarriage now.  and if i made it to 12 weeks with no problems, then there was only a 3% chance of miscarriage after that!  what wonderful news!  he also gave me some information regarding labor & delivery, on how to avoid what happened to me last time.  it gave me some peace and mark and i are looking for another doctor now because mine is no longer delivering babies.  : (  

i started seeing a counselor last week as well.  i realize i have a canyon of fear, grief, disappointment and trauma that i need to start dealing with.  i kind of feel like the Lord has allowed this so He can do a quick healing in my heart.  it's actually strange that after a year i still haven't dealt with this on a deeper level.  i want my heart to be well.  i want to trust the Lord with this pregnancy and delivery.  i don't want fear to control me.  but to be honest.....right now i am completely terrified.  i am slowly getting a little more peace and a tiny bit of excitement each day.  but i'm still not totally up for celebrating.  after posting a picture on facebook i got a ton of "congratulations".  which are all well-meaning, of course.  but i am still processing a lot and crying a lot.  most people have no idea what i went through.

i believe without a shadow of a doubt that i need a boat-load of prayer and grace this time around.  i can't deny that this baby has a strong destiny.  i mean who can?  it's alive despite the birth control and despite the hemorrhaging waterfall it survived!  it's alive!  the Lord has big plans for this little one, and i am definitely not one to argue that, at all.

my Mom made a really good point to me.  she said that i was a "surprise" baby as well.  i always knew this.  but for my 26th Birthday she wrote me a letter that said all these years they had always said that her getting pregnant with me was an "accident".  she realized from the Lord that that was completely inaccurate.  she said that the Lord knew exactly when she would need a good friend more than anything in life, and that friend was me.  if she hadn't gotten pregnant with me when she did i wouldn't have been around (in my 20's) when she needed a good friend the most.  and that we are.....my mom and i are best friends.  

she hugged me and said "you're getting YOUR jessie".

i am 11 weeks this Saturday.  prepare the world, people.  because a child with a strong destiny is coming to bring love, peace and change to the world August 20th, 2010. 

pray for my heart to heal.  i told the Lord we have a little over 6 months to put my heart back together.  this baby deserves it.