Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Above and Beyond

Occasionally, I find myself sending out mass emails to family and friends asking for some sort of "viral" help. Many of you have been involved in online voting to win funds for some sort of Sanfilippo research. I usually initiate this voting with mass emails encouraging friends and family to go online and vote. With all your help, we've won a majority of these contests. Thank you! I also send mass emails to a select few family and friends asking for another kind of help. At times, I'll get emails that offer free diaper samples or a chance to win a sleep safe bed. Basically, special needs give a ways that could come in very handy. Recently, I sent a mass email to that select few asking them to get free diaper samples for us. I then had some of those recipients send them out to people they knew that would be happy to help. A week or so ago I got an entire pack of diapers in the mail. I thought it was our free sample. I put it aside thinking we're going to be set with diapers for awhile. The other day, my mom asked me if I got a pack of diapers in the mail. I said yes, and shared in my joy of getting an entire pack for free (when initially I thought we may only get one or two....hence the help hoping to maybe get an entire pack with all the email participants.) She then informed me that my great aunt's friend wanted to do more than just a free sample and ordered us a pack. I'm so thankful for this gesture. I had no intentions of people ordering us diapers, or looking for a hand out. Just a free sample that may add up to a pack. When people go above and beyond, it humbles me and makes me want to pay it forward. We've seen a lot of generosity, and that going above and beyond since Livia's diagnosis. I'm learning that people want to do something or want to help. And if it's buying us a pack of diapers, which does help, then I feel like they are easing the pain of a terminal situation. What I mean by this is that people who want to be involved in our family, and know the details of Livia's diagnosis, know that right now there is nothing out there to help her. Our responsibility as her parents, is to give her the best life possible, right now. That means, keeping her healthy and keeping up with her appointments, providing her safety with more than you can imagine, keeping her happy, and loving her unconditionally. People want to help with this, and we can't do it on our own. It takes a community to raise a child (this is an entire new blog with that past statement!) Anyway, I'm so appreciative of the people that want to help our family and the foundation. Thank you for the diapers, the cards, the emails, the money, the words of encouragement, the prayers, and everything in between that I'm leaving out. Every single "above and beyond" touches my heart and helps my child! This is such a good example of what we want Liv Life to look like. I know this is my way of paying it forward.

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.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Minnesota and a Roller-Coaster

The last week of October was spent at the University of Minnesota for the Natural History Study. My dad went with us, which was great. I enjoyed his company AND help, tremendously. Even though it was only our second time there, I felt like an expert at the routine of the trip. Getting to the airport, getting through security, what I needed for Liv, flying, getting our rental car, getting to the hotel, GPS, etc.etc.etc. I know all of this seems routine, but the first time we went, it was nerve-wracking. Anyway, it was a smoother process this time. We flew in on a Monday, and got there at a decent time. Enough time to venture out and have a little fun. I decided that we should go to the Mall of America. I'd never been before, so I thought what a perfect time to go. We arrived at the mall around lunch time, and all that morning Liv had been telling me "play." This meant that she was done sitting and wanted to get up and play! I was, too! So, we grabbed some lunch and sat around the edge of the food court and watched the roller-coaster's, rides, and fun going on around us. Livia was so excited, and secretly I was too! I did think that the amusement park would have been bigger, but it really is a nice size for little kids. Not too overwhelming. So we ate and then went for some fun. When we got our ride tokens, Liv bolted to the Merry-Go-Round. This has always been her favorite. I love how vocal and giggly she gets when she's enjoying herself. It really is the best sound! My dad watched us go from ride to ride. Since Livia has special needs, I got a special pass that allowed me to ride with her AND it didn't count against her tokens. Pretty nice. She was having so much fun that I decided we should step it up a notch and try a "real" ride. There was one coaster that didn't have flips and looked pretty safe. She JUST made the height requirement and I was secretly jumping up and down inside myself. We jumped in together and off it went. There was that typical incline before the ride really took off. I did have a temporary moment of "oh no, what did I get her into. How is she going to react to this?" It started going faster than I expected. After that first turn, I heard it.....squeals of laughter and enjoyment. We could see my dad standing below and I told Livia to look at Papa and wave, she said "PAAAPAA." It was perfect! We went on the ride twice.

The rest of the MN trip went pretty much just like the last one. We even stayed in the exact room as last time. We had great accommodations and were treated well. Dr. Whitley took a lot of time talking to us about potential therapies, time lines, and procedures. Developmental testing is the tiring day. At least Livia gets to play during this day. Lots of forms to fill out. YUCK! Some of the questions they ask are frustrating, but necessary. Then it's the day in the OR. Livia did a lot better this time because she didn't have to have her tonsils or adenoids messed with. She is such a trooper. Good traveler, and brave patient. During the wait while Livia is in the OR is when Dr. Shapiro comes in to talk to us about Liv's developmental testing and the forms I filled out. This is really the worst part. They tell us where she is functioning compared to her age. We know that she has digressed some, but to hear the things out loud that the Dr. has to say is always hard. It's moment's like this that I have to remind myself why we are here. So, to end this post, I'll share the pic of Liv and I on the roller-coaster.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Unexcused absence

I have neglected my blog, for really no reason. Life has been busy, but who's isn't? I've felt like I haven't balanced my "jobs" very well lately. I've also been very consumed with some situations that have occurred in my life. Without going into detail, some things have happened that have made me very sad, angry, and confused. When things happen with people you are closest to, it can be hard to separate and ignore that this is their life, their decisions, their consequences. Because, when you love and care about people that are making choices that you don't agree with....it's hard. Last night at life group, we watched a video from Jimmy Evan's marriage series "Marriage on The Rock." It was such a powerful message and made me think of so many aspects of my life, not just marriage. I walked away from last night with the situations that occurred recently weighing heavy on my mind. I took away from this video something so simple, but so powerful. Our mouths are God's mouths. The words that come from our lips are nuclear. Words have the power to encourage, but they also have the power to destroy. We should use our words as if they are coming straight from the Almighty. Proverbs 18:20–21 — “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (NIV)

From the time we are born, and when we are little children, the words we hear from our parents, family, and loved one's are words that we always believe to be true. Last night the analogy was used comparing words to seeds. If our words are like seeds, and we continually walk around planting seeds of negativity, then we will bear bad fruit. If we plant seeds of positivity, we bear good fruit. This analogy, again, is simple, but can be true in so many aspects of life. Raising our kids, our marital relationships, friendships, employees/co-workers, everything! Words can wage war, or they can bring peace. Also, once words are spoken, you can't take them back. Hopefully, if you're spitting bad seeds everywhere, you can recognize it and change. But only you can bring about this change. Negativity, untruths, bitterness, and anger are all very ugly and can affect everything in your life.

This blog was started because of Livia's diagnosis. Where we are today, in life, is really quite amazing to me. My kids, my spouse, family, friends, strangers (some of who are now friends), my church, and everything in between are all amazing blessings. I feel extremely encouraged to be able to say that I am a happy, healthy, lady walking around with a heavy heart. I can't ignore the sadness that comes along with Sanfilippo Syndrome, but it doesn't cause me to be bitter or plant those negative seeds. I've quickly learned that life is way too short not to be happy and make the most of every single day and every single relationship that is put before me. Our pastor said this, that will always be in my heart. In the end, when we go to heaven, what is the only thing that we can take with us? It's not our things, our stuff, our prize possessions, it's only our relationships that will be in heaven with us. Today, be an encourager and find what makes you happy. It will make everything else in your life shine.