Several years ago, I learned it’s better to label someone’s thought, fear, question, or concern before they can actually address it and in doing so, the power of it is gone.
Let me give you an example and paint a picture for you. I am, oh, so thankful for my youthful appearance and for someone who is quickly approaching 40, I am more thankful for it by the day, especially since I ignored my parents all those years and neglected sunscreen, is tanning oil not the same thing? 🤷🏼♀️
I mean, let’s be honest, I remember my own mother’s 40th birthday vividly (unfortunately she probably does too). And at my mom’s expense my typical sassy teenage attitude paired with my own logic led to a very unfortunate interaction for my mom. I think it’s safe now to apologize for my less than empathic response to her turning 40, especially since I will be knocking on that door sooner rather than later.
But overall, I do not look my age. And believe it or not there was a time when, I counted down my days until I turned 30. I know most people dread it but for me it was welcome, it was credibility. You see, I work in a male dominated industry and pair that with someone who looks 16, let’s just say I wasn’t winning any prizes for having people willingly want to trust me immediately with one of the most important aspects of their life. I even had to pull out my driver’s license one time at a networking event to prove I was indeed over 30 and had been in this industry for, at the time, more than 7 years.
Jeez…So I quickly learned to open a conversation with “I know what you are probably thinking, I am so young. Well, yes I am, but I am older than you probably think….” This destabilized them, it answered their lingering question and took the focus from it away, so now, we could get down to business without that pesky distraction.
So today I thought I would write about a question I have answered more over the last month than I ever thought I would. And frankly, just a year ago I was preparing to hop the pond (yes, remember when we used to travel?!) to Croatia with my cute little Esty purchase – a hat that read “Baby on Board” We were going to announce Townes’ pending arrival abroad because you know it’s not really official until its Social Media official….you know what I didn’t see coming? The last 10 months.
So I want to write about this question because if I have been asked it, then I know there are many that have wondered it, pondered it, pushed the question down to never come back up and some have chosen not to ask but still the question lingers.
Sometimes the question is asked without the person actually considering what they are asking me, The Momma, until after its spilled out. And sometimes the words start to come pouring out like the beer I long to pour on football Saturdays (please, please, please, let there be football to watch in approximately 5 weeks) and then the person politely stops…but its too late, humpty dumpty has already started to fall, I know what was meant to follow the abrupt period.
“How Long Will His Heart Last?”
And let me be clear, I do understand the question and I do not think anyone who has asked me intends to upset me. I believe their intentions are pure and their hearts in the right place. The process of transplant is about education and I, too, am still learning.
Remember that trip I just spoke about last year? Well, right before I left my best friend from college, Sunshine, (and no that’s not her real name and yes there is a story there. There always is, right?) asked if I would meet with her friend that was doing a medical rotation at Vanderbilt Children’s. I said sure, I will get with her once my feet are replanted on American soil.
The point of telling you this part, is for you and for me. For me to be reminded that my kind and loving Father was already putting people and information in front of me long before I even knew I would need it, and by doing so, when I needed the reminder the most, I could look back and know without a shadow of a doubt I was loved, protected and provided for. He was intentionally taking care of me and not just me, Scott and my beloved, Townes. But the best news…. he does it for you too.
At the time, when I met with Sunshine’s friend, I was fascinated by her youth, determination, and passion for something a knew absolutely zero about. Pediatric Cardiology. As she was talking about all the doctors whom she had learned from at Vanderbilt, (some of whom I now know well) she spoke of her interest to study pediatric cardiology but then potentially the idea of actually focusing on these children as they grow older and reach young adulthood into adulthood. When I asked her why, her response was simple, “well because this field is still so new. We don’t know much about these patients, their longevity, the health of their hearts. I want to be a part of that.”
That one conversation with this special young lady at the time seemed interesting and I loved her desire to help these kids as they matured into adulthood, but it was also foreign…
Now a year later, my son will be one of those young adults.
The children’s heart transplant program at Vanderbilt was founded in 1987, I was 4 years old. It was founded by 2 doctors, one of whom was doing her residency at Vanderbilt at the time. She is now one of the doctors on our team. Yes, that’s right, the same woman who helped found that program is one of our doctors – its still new.
Sometimes we take for granted the advancement of medicine, because we assume these procedures, surgeries, specializations have always been done. But this means that had I been born with the same diagnosis as my son, its likely I wouldn’t have lived.
We traveled to Africa 2 years ago…by far the farthest I have ever traveled but also by far (pun intended) worth every lost hour of sleep on a plane and the time it took to get there. Townes nursey is Safari themed simply because of this trip. I often joke that my soul is in Africa and I long for the day that we take my son to explore the beauty of another country and ultimately he bear witness to the creativity of our Creator and the majesty of this continent.
One of the countries we visited was Botswana. Did you know that Botswana is a new country? It didn’t gain its independence from the Commonwealth (Britain) until 1966. Now I know you are probably thinking well that was over 50 years ago and yes while that is true, think about all the systems the people (tribes) of Botswana have to figure out, how to run a government, how to create commerce, some by trial and error, some by asking other countries for help but all the same, this country has spent a relatively short period of time constantly evolving and changing until they find what works for their people, their citizens.
Kinda like pediatric heart transplant…its evolving, changing, improving and as time passes more discovery and innovation. The oldest pediatric transplant recipients are my age – so the answer is, “we don’t know how long his heart will last.”
In the last 2 weeks I have heard a statement that I have never heard before, by 3 different pastors. Or maybe I have heard It before, but it has never resonated with me, you know like settled deep in my heart.
What I do know: I am a citizen of Heaven and until my son is old enough to make his own decision, he is a citizen of Heaven too. I am a citizen in Heaven before I am even an American citizen. Wow.
What a perspective.
And if I have learned anything over the last year of my life it’s that all of his Promises are Yes and Amen and the benefits of being a citizen of Heaven are abundant.
While some circumstances I wouldn’t have chosen occurred and things aren’t always the way I would have imagined, I want you to know, this isn’t a reflection of our Savior or our Father in Heaven. It’s because we live in a fallen world. A fallen world all because Satan (that tricky little devil – I mean that phrase came from somewhere), convinced Eve that the fruit from the Tree of Good & Evil was better. And when I say convinced it wasn’t even a hard sale, it was simply just placing doubt in her mind. (See Genesis 3)
What I have experienced time and time again over this last year is that I am Near to God and can come to him with any bold requests and I can do so with Confidence (Hebrews 10:19). His promise is that I can Abide in Him and him and me (John 15:4) and when I do, I discover even more of his goodness and so much fruit is produced.
The new covenant promise (Jesus) spoken by the old testament prophet Ezekiel has even more significance to me now, but it rings true for you. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you.” 36.26 And it’s through this Spirit we have direct access to God the Father and Jesus has given us his authority here to “go and do”.
Do you know what was discovered in the newly established country of Botswana not even 10 years after obtaining its independence? Diamonds.
Here is a country that had just been “born” so to speak and now in it is discovered something so rare, so unique, so valuable. So, when I think about that question, “How Long will his Heart Last?” I remember that beauty is everywhere. That the light of Lord can refract and shine ever so brightly and even in the tiniest of places. That the Lord has gifted us with talents and skills and innovation to continue to discover and evolve, to advance medicine. That what we know today will not be what they know when Townes hits 20 or 30 or goodness even 40 (let’s not calculate my age at that time).
I remember that Jesus is for Life. Jesus healed all who sought after him; he even charges us with the task of doing the same in the authority we have been given in his name. When we look up and rely on our Savior we experience all his benefits: LOVE (John 15:13, Ephesians 3:14-19), PEACE (Eph 2:12-14), STRENGTH (Psalm 73:26, Isaiah 12:2, Phil 4:13), JOY (Romans 14:17, Romans 15:13), HOPE (Romans 5:5, Hebrews 7:19) and all these things can be accessed on the mountaintop or in the valley.
I don’t have all the answers, but the truth is, none of us are promised tomorrow. Sure, some people may be at higher risk than others for uncertainty but there isn’t a guarantee. James 4:14 puts it this way “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
And so, Scott and I will continue on in this journey walking by FAITH and not by SIGHT as we have since we first learned of Townes diagnosis. (2 Corinthians 5:7). Things are seldom as they appear in plain sight.
I claim and believe Psalm 91:16 over Townes the same today as I did the day he was born and everyday of life, “You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you. For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation.”
And, I pray that as we raise Townes to be a Man after God’s own heart that the Lord will impart the wisdom on us so that we may raise him differently, as a child of the one true King with an eternal perspective who already knows where his citizenship lies.
And guess who turned 6 months old… ½ of a year?!
All My Best,
I have written this in part for a friend of mine who recently received a diagnosis. I am believing and declaring in the name of Jesus that she is cancer free. I will intercede on her behalf even when she doesn’t know what or how to pray…will you join me?