Tuesday, December 27, 2011

“She is Mine……..First”

I learned my one of my most valuable life lessons at the side of a teeny tiny infant Isolette almost 20 years ago. I can actually bring up a picture of the place in my mind and the reaction in my soul is recreated, in better than 3D resolution. This lesson has been foundational for me throughout my life but especially during the early and lingering moments with Maddi and her recovery.

All those years ago, as I peered at my eldest daughter through the shiny plastic, longing to snuggle her I was overcome with anger and a stubborn resolve to get her well. I just had the worst conversation with the doctor stating that they had never had an infant as young as my daughter survive that particular respiratory illness. She was 7 days old when she fell ill and RSV was little known at that time. He said that I needed to prepare myself.

I foolishly and in a frenzy fueled by fear and despair had a very grown up tantrum right there with the doctor. I don’t remember but I can visualize the poor doctor walking away shaking his head at my denial and at his own regret. After my ill-timed melt down I was left in the dim lights of the Infant Intensive Care Unit staring down in disbelief at the, should be pink, girl I so desperately longed to get to know.

At that moment in the humming quiet, I heard without question…. “She is Mine……..First”. I not only heard it but I felt it throughout every cell in my body that God’s claim trumped mine no matter how much I loved that tiny little soul. I felt much like I envision the water obeying God’s will……automatic, no disputation, no recourse. I was lovingly put in my place. It was such a profound…. “Every knee shall bow moment”. Even now as I write that manifestation reoccurs.

In a misguided attempt to enforce my faith to keep my daughter alive I found myself face to face with the fact that I had absolutely no control. I had been taught all of my life, “Ask and Ye Shall Receive” and “if the desire is righteous nothing will be kept from you” “IF you have enough faith, righteousness, or if you are willing to sacrifice……….” Blah, blah, blah (pardon my disrespect). All of this was taught with the accompanying “If it be thy will” clause but at that moment, the fine print seemed the size of a roadside billboard.

I was chastised and reminded that God….is the Father and I cannot force, beg, plead or negotiate with his will. No amount of faith, obedience, good works, endurance or sacrifice can have any effect on the will of God. I also learned that as protective and possessive as I was with “my” newborn daughter, she really wasn’t mine. She was HIS first and I was blessed enough for any amount of time I had with her. I had to be willing to let her go and “Be Still and Know that He is God”. That was a humbling moment for me, one that has since framed in my life.

Once I did let go with my whole heart and allowed myself to be in full compliance without any reservation or bitterness, my daughter began to heal.  It was not a coincident that she began to improve…..it was by divine design so I could identify, recognize and remember.

As my life progressed that lesson became an anchor during many other trials. It was invaluable during the numerous miscarriages I experienced while trying to have children. I miscarried many more than the four children I have been blessed to raise. Each time as I found myself mourning a birthday that should have been, I was strengthened by the plural form of “She is Mine………First”.

As I struggled at times with my ability to parent effectively, the knowledge from that moment taught me that I had a divine resource to help me in that sacred opportunity. I also gained a valuable insight that these sweet children were my literal brother and sisters before this life. I was meant to be a mentor, not a dictator and it wasn’t about me. I could not accept their achievements, successes or triumphs as my own. I could celebrate with them and be a support when they needed it. I could correct and guide but not overpower. I could influence the structure and opportunities to help them on their way but their personalities and preferences were determined long before I entered the equation and dedicated 9 months to the development of a body for those souls.

Last year, as I once again stood at the bedside of one of my children on the cusp of life and death, the lesson learned all those years ago still proved true. From the very beginning of Maddi’s recovery, I never asked for a miracle, not because I didn’t want one but because I knew if that was God’s will it would be so. God knew the desire of our hearts; we prayed and asked for the strength and peace to be content with HIS will regardless of the outcome.

The day I whispered in Maddi’s ear with tears choking my words,

“We love you and want you here, but if you can’t get well, go with Jesus,”

I could hear the echo in my mind,

“She is Mine…… First”

and each of my cells reacted once again.

I am so humbled and overwhelmed that we were graced with such a miracle and mercy. We are blessed for the deeply sacred nature of our experience. I am so grateful that God in his infinite wisdom walked with me down the original path twenty years ago with my pride and willfulness only to help me find a contrite spirit and willing heart in the form of a life lesson. I know I couldn’t have gone into this last year without all the years of practice and for that I am not only grateful but truly blessed to know;

“She is Mine……..First”

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Random Evidences of God and OCD

22 December 2011

I just cleaned out my hairbrush and I saw it as an evidence of God’s Love…. I am driven to remove every small hair out of the tines. I was chastising my OCD nature by saying…..”it isn’t like I am going to kill someone and they will be looking for my DNA.”

That led me to the thought that God actually used his magnificent resources to create an individual so unique that even down to the smallest part it is identifiable. How amazing is that. There have been more people born than I can even number and each one is unique! That is a testament that God loves INDIVIDUALITY.

It is way more efficient to mass produce things, God didn’t do that with our mortal shells……. He made them unique in its smallest part. Talk about OCD……maybe that trait isn’t a negative after all, maybe it is a divine quality.


Of course my genius children bring up the points that could argue my observation, like identical twins or DNA anomalies but I  stand firm in my personal interpretation of the data, putting those issues in the outlier position.

Must go…… I have started a heated debate, I need inspiration or perhaps, desperation to defend my case.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Link to Someone New

I stumbled upon another blog that described a Traumatic Brain Injury so uniquely and it had a Christmassy theme so I thought I would share, I was entertained. The author is a stranger to me but is no stranger to Traumatic Brain Injury as she is a survivor as well.

I did not write the following and I give full credit to Kara Swanson for her humor and universal ability to bring home an idea that fits for every human being,  TBI survivor or not.


Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

December 2, 2011

Below is the post to read.  I hope I am not breaking some kind of cyber copy write law.  I don’t claim any authorship just appreciation.

Rudolph Rocks That Kick-Ass Blinking Nose

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Reflections

I know that it has been a year since the accident and that Maddi is doing amazing but my mind keeps coming up with things to blog about, most are not directly about Maddi but mostly about how we are coping with the huge change in our life. I think that if there is ever a universal theme among people it would be our need to adjust to change

I believe that everyone is going through something that they didn’t plan for.  When we all sat down and did our itinerary for life, I don’t think we could conceive what this life would really be like. It doesn’t take a huge motor vehicle accident to derail people’s souls bringing despair, discouragement or feelings of helplessness.

Sometimes it is just the day to day living of things. With a Traumatic Brain Injury, it is a life long journey, just like every other struggle out there.

“Time passes quickly but sometimes the days are long in living it.”

Some days are amazing and some are just plain dull and really not that much different from before. We just have different struggles now.

This season always brings out deeper feelings of compassion and reflection. Families are looking for ways to make Christmas more meaningful and less commercial, I know that we are, but in the background often times this season also brings out the fear of not measuring up. Not just with the gifts under the tree or with the family gatherings that leave us wishing for stronger ties… or fewer depending on your situation, but also with accepting who we are and our own capacity.

During this journey with Maddi, one of my roles is to help her not only accept the newness and strangeness of her brain but to celebrate the greatness of it. Being a walking miracle can only fill your cup so far. You still have to live in your own skin and sometimes with a traumatic brain injury you feel like you are being held hostage. Learning to be happy with who you are now, is all about acceptance……. but isn’t that the journey for EVERYONE?

I wish I was able to; take more risks, speak well, be more social, keep my mouth shut more often and be more assertive. My drive to do the right things for the right reasons sometimes has a habit of fostering impatience with my own shortcomings and outright misguided decisions. Accepting myself requires that I am OK with my; cautious nature, avoidance of conflict, verbal impulsiveness and deep love for people but in smaller groups. This journey with Maddi has taught me to be more accepting with my own limitations because as with any good teacher you can’t teach what you don’t already know.

The American Dream is one of perseverance and rising above any and all obstacles to reach your potential. This ideal brings tears to our eyes when we see the red, white and blue or hear a rousing patriotic tune. It is the ultimate “You can be whatever you choose” message. Sometimes this message breeds a sense of dissatisfaction because our expectations were grandiose. Being able to do anything you dedicate and set your mind to, is great, but only if it is tempered with reality that you CAN do anything, not to be confused with should do everything. It is easy to detail out all the attributes we should have, but it is rare to find them all in one person and to develop those attributes takes many years to attain.

  • I have friends that are amazing at fashion, design and decorating….. I am more about function than beauty but I sure wish I could rock some awesome high heeled shoes without feeling like a poser.
  • I deeply admire my friends who can take a conflict head on without agonizing about it afterward.
  • I want so badly to throw a party without fighting the need to vomit during the preparation stage.
  • More than anything I wish I could be that peacefully, calm, fully refined person but there aren’t enough drugs in this world to slow this brain.

But for every one of those attributes that I do NOT possess I have the core opposites which are the exact traits that make me so….…ME.

  • I am always looking for the function and the best organization for effectiveness whether in my home or in my profession, maybe my profession has something to do with the need for sensible shoes.
  • My need for harmony between people and being a problem solver should not be put on the “con” list.
  • The same thing that causes the deep, internal agony during conflict leads me to love deeply and without reservation. I have never met a person I can’t love,  I just need enough time to understand them.
  • My impatience and impulsive nature keeps me in motion and helps me constantly seek for better and to think outside of the box.
  • It also provides me deep understanding and empathy for the people who don’t fit the mold because I am one of them.

Sometimes it is better to play to your strengths. Playing to our strengths allows us to be who we are meant to be. I am not talking about sitting back, being comfortable and not putting forth any effort. I mean, be specific on our desired outcomes and use all our best gifts to achieve them and work around our weaknesses just like I am trying to help Maddi do.

The most successful people work within their genius not outside of it! There are as many personalities in the world as there are people; each one is just as valuable as the other. Each personality has its strengths and weaknesses and that is entirely by design at the hand of a loving Heavenly Father and a Savior who can help us see ourselves from their eternal perspective. I am grateful to know that perfection is not a prerequisite to be loved by my Heavenly Father or others around me. It brings me peace to know that conformity is not the end game.

Hopefully, the holidays will bring us feelings of hope, contentedness and peace rather than alternative. Maybe being more accepting with ourselves and each other we can find that Peace on Earth that is promised.

Perhaps we can recognize those melancholy feelings as longing for our Heavenly home and the arms of our Savior rather than a personal failing. The angels promised;

“Good tidings of great joy…….. The Prince of Peace.”

If there was one thing that this journey with Maddi and her traumatic brain injury, has taught me is that we are enough!

God needs and loves EACH one of us in our diversity and imperfections. The birth, life and death of our Savior allows us be just that….. ENOUGH!