Monday, April 18, 2011

Give Love

This past weekend I had the privilege to attend a woman's conference at my church called Original. It was an inspiring weekend full of beauty, God, celebrating being a woman, inspirational speakers, and being with my intentional friends! The end of February I was on the Original website scoping out the specs of the weekend. I came across the part entitled Give Love. The idea behind Give Love was to see a blessing put in someone's life that has influenced you in some way. Along with myself nominating someone, I had to include three other people. The end of Feb, I had just spent a quick visit with my friend, Stefanie Boyce. She was at my house for a brief time, and was having a hard day. Once again, Stef left my house inspiring me and lifting me up. Even in her time of hardship. So, it was the next day of so when I came across the Give Love process. Stefanie immediately came to mind and I got busy in the application process. Three of her friends instantly came to mind. Katie Henry, Angie Devore, and Andrea Bercos were contacted right away and they were on board and excited about the process. All of this had to happen ASAP because the application was due by the last day of Feb. I think I gave them a day or two to get it done. I handed the application in the last day of Feb. We all had to write a little something about our friend and why she deserved it. That was the easy part. We also had to nominate her for something. This was the hard part. We couldn't settle on just one "thing." I nominated her for 4 different things thinking that if she was chosen, the Original leaders could help us in the choosing of the "thing." During the week that I was home (central Il) for my speaking events and news appearance, I get a call from Lisa Yonke, one of the Original leaders. She told me that they would be honored to have Stefanie blessed at the conference. AMAZING! She also asked if me, along with the other ladies that nominated, and Jut, Stefanie's hubby could be at the church Tues afternoon for a video interview. It just so happened that Jake, the girls, and I were heading home that Tuesday. I quickly called the other ladies and Jut, told them what was in the works, and if they could get to the church. Long story short, we all make it to the church and made an amazing video (see below). Andrea Bercos decided to attend the entire conference. She was at my house for the weekend. It was so nice! The other ladies, Katie and Angie were in charge of getting Stefanie to my house Friday evening and not really letting her know why. This was all to be kept a secret from Stef. They successfully got her to my house. She knew we were up to something and tried to get it out of us, but we all stuck to our guns and told her to just trust us. We got her to the church, and I think she was a wee bit disappointed we weren't going to get mani's and pedi's. Not that she wouldn't want to be at the church, just that our time together was going to be short and maybe we would be doing something different. So, we listened to the first speaker, Nancy Alcorn.......AMAZING! Then there was a short break, then Give Love. The Original ladies started presenting gifts or blessings to people and families. The gifts kept getting bigger and better. Oh, I should say that we didn't really know what they were going to give Stef. Lisa kinda led on to a few things to me, but never said anything definite. So, they announce the final nominee as "The next story is one of true Faith and inspiration." The lights go dim, and our video (see below) starts to play. There on the 3 big screens is Jut, I look over at Stef and she is crying. After the video is over, they invite all of us on to the stage. They talk a little about Stef and start presenting her with her blessings. The first was a small wicker basket filled with some bath pretties. They then told her she and Justin were getting a spa get away to Sundara spas in Wi. The basket also contained $500 in Visa gift cards. They then presented her with two rather large Easter baskets for Jayden and Brooklyn. Then came a $300 gift card to Ingrasia Furniture for something for their new home. Then the whopper. Out came a BIG cardboard check for $2,500.00. WHHHEEWWW! I thought it was over at this point. However, to my total shock and complete unexpectedness, they started talking about me. She said, "Here is Kelly, unbeknown to us, until the interview process, did we know that Kelly's oldest daughter has the same thing that Stefanie's children have. She could have wavered and hoped that someone would nominate her, but instead she nominated her friend." They then started presenting me with blessings. I got the small wicker basket with bath pretties, the same vacation for Jake and I, $500 in Visa cards, and two HUGE baskets for the girls. WOW! How generous! I'm still in shock of it all. I was so excited to do this for my friend. It was so easy to do because I love Stefanie and her family so much. I really feel like this is where my heart is. I want to have a giving and generous heart. I want others to know my extreme love for people. I'm ready to sign up to help with Give Love next year! So, it's not over. After we get off the stage and they dismiss us from the conference, Stef and I get bombarded by people. Words of encouragement, hugs and kisses, extreme love from total strangers. A complete blessing. Then, one of the pastor's wife comes up to me with this older lady with tears in her eyes. She introduces us and the woman pulls me close to her and tells me she had a son that passed away in the 80's of the MPS disorder, Hunter's syndrome. She comforted me and gave me encouragement. WOW! Then, another woman comes up to me, asks me my name, pulls her check book out, and with tears in her eyes tells me that she has been extremely blessed in her life and wants to bless me. She writes me a personal check. It's another experience of people's generosity and complete selflessness that awe's me every time. I wish and pray that more people could experience something like this. Not necessarily getting something (not that it isn't amazing) but to experience giving is such an amazing thing. I'm so happy for Stefanie and what she received. What a great end to an extremely busy week. Before you watch the video, please pause the music player so that you can hear the video. Love you and GIVE LOVE! CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Natural History Study, Round 1

Another busy week ahead of us. We (the 4 of us) are traveling to Central Il today after Jake gets off work. Then, on Sunday, Livia and I are flying out of Bloomington to be a part of the Natural History Study being performed at the University of Minnesota by Dr. Whitley. We will be there until Thursday morning. When we arrive home will be the start of the woman's conference at our church. Very excited for this. Anyway, the study is a very important thing in the world of Sanfilippo. Not only for our generation of children, but for the future of Sanfilippo. Our hope is that one day when children receive this diagnosis it won't be followed with the word terminal. Not only is this study beneficial for learning more about the disease process, but it is also a requirement of the FDA in order for a treatment to come to the United States (in respect to what is currently being done in the UK.) The days will look like this. We arrive Sunday and settle into our hotel. Monday will be a day of meeting the physicians and signing consents. Jake will fly in Monday evening to meet us. Tuesday we will be meeting psychologists, meeting with audiologists, and more physicians. Wednesday, Livia will be under anesthesia. They will replace her tubes if need be, perform an ABR, MRI, echo-cardiogram, and a lumbar puncture. The lumbar puncture is the only "new" procedure that she's never had. Livia has to have all of these procedures through the year, maybe twice. So, not only is this part of our regular schedule of procedures, it's also being paid for. Livia's physicians and geneticist at home will all be getting the results of the procedures. The other families that I've talked with that have gone through this study said that everyone was very accessible, knowledgeable, and friendly. On a side note, I am looking forward to spending some time with just Livi~Lou! The hotel has a really nice water park that we are going to try out one day. Jake and I looked up diner's-drive in's-and dive's last night and we may venture out and find a neat place to eat. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel, prayers for meeting new people, prayers for knowledgeable and friendly staff, and prayers for Livia being patient, brave, and safe! I'll have my computer with me while we are there, so I can keep everyone up to date. Round 1, here we come. There will be a round 2 and 3, keep an eye out!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

4 simple words

I never thought I would be so moved by my children's words. When you have a new baby and they start babbling, it's always so exciting. Then the first words of mama, dada, and more start to come. This all happened for Liv, but she never really formed any sentences. Her speech, to me, is fairly good. I understand a lot more than what other's do. But I'm mom! There are times when she puts 3 to 4 words together, and I cling onto those sentences like you wouldn't believe. I'm fearful for the day, that I may not hear her precious voice anymore. She love's to sing "Happy Birthday," "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," "ABC's," and a few more. When we were home last, she gave me the impression that she needed to potty, and was maybe having a hard time going. So I sat her on the potty and clear as day she said to me "I WANT TO POOP!" My mother in law, Cindy, heard this, and we celebrated these words. I never imagined I would be so moved by my child telling me she wants to poo. Finley's speech is getting better everyday. She has passed Livia up in her verbal abilities. I listen to her words (Finley's) with more focus because her words, hearing them, mean so much. It's kinda like the saying, you don't know what you had until it's gone. Not that I don't have Livia's words, but I can appreciate their voices a little more because there is that chance I won't have Liv's words forever. So, this morning as I was getting Livia ready for school, I told her that I loved her very much. Without a prompt from me, she looked me in the eyes and said "I LOVE YOU, TOO." These 4 simple words have radiated in my mind all morning. It's something so precious and meaningful that I want to keep it forever. It was that moment that I knew Livia is doing really well. It was so perfect because it happened. 4 simple words that I hope isn't the last time I hear it. Listen to your children and know how fortunate it is to be able to hear them.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Girl Scout Troop's Generosity

Have you ever received something in the mail that makes you cry and cry and cry? Even if it's a box from a girl scout troop? Well, I have. Livia received a rather large box in the mail one day. It was filled with girl scout cookies, teddy bears for she and Finley, hair ties, pictures, notes, t-shirts, an official GS vest donned with badges, extra badges, and a GS tote with flip-flops. There was even a little gift for me, but that one is for me. Anyway, Heather, a school friend of mine is a Troop Leader to a group of amazing young ladies in Tuscola, Il. Their troop is #2336. Heather contacted me one day and asked about Livia and what kind of cookies she likes. She told me that she would like to tell her girls about Liv, our foundation, and what giving to us would look like. She really went above and beyond what I thought she might do. I think I was most touched with the letters from the troop girls and the badges that Heather had made. I got to see Heather when we were home last. She made the effort to come and visit with us during our Monical's fund raiser. She expressed to me how important it is to teach her young ladies the importance of giving. I applaud you Heather for instilling such an important value in these young women. I really feel like giving is such an awesome gift. I love doing it myself. Some days I wish I had more resources available to give more than I'm able. Through my life with Liv, and the experience of having our foundation, I'm learning what generosity really looks like. It doesn't always have to be money, items, or things of value, it can also be words or random acts of kindness. These, to me, are worth more than any amount of money. Knowing people are there for you to walk with you during your difficult times is what generosity means to me. Getting an email from a complete stranger telling me how our story has affected them, for the better, is generosity. Someone volunteering their help, is generosity. A random phone call or note in the mail, is generosity. Getting a goody box from a girl scout troop, is generosity. People loving me and my family, is generosity. I think everyone could benefit from doing something nice for someone else. Pick up the phone and tell someone how proud you are of them or that you are just thinking about them. Buy the car ahead of you in the drive up their cup of coffee.

One of my favorites:

Proverbs 11:24-25 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

Thank you Girl Scout Troop #2336 for making a little girls day and learning what generosity is all about.