This past weekend I was walking by a park near my house with Townes and I felt so overcome with excitement when I passed the basketball and tennis courts. Strange, I know, but the courts were filled with young men playing pickup games and people playing tennis. My enthusiasm stemmed from seeing something I haven’t seen in a long while and also at its familiarity.
Just one year ago when I passed these same courts the scene was drastically different. All the nets had been removed, there was yellow caution tape around the courts as if something tragic had occurred on them. Not one single person could be seen. My heart was elated to witness this scene before me and be reminded that ever so slowly, we are making our way out of the guise of this past year; and that yes seasons do change. and I don’t mean our seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, but rather the seasons of life spoken of in Ecclesiastes (See Chapter 3). The goodness of the Lord will shine through and he will birth something new.
One whole year. So much has changed, but yet, simultaneously it’s as if time stalled.
I can remember today one year ago as if no time has passed. Sitting at my desk in my office, checking email I am sure and just settling into my day. Scott had the morning shift at the hospital this Friday morning, and I was due to take the afternoon shift as we had fallen into a new routine given the impact of the now global pandemic.
Imagine my surprise when my phone started ringing before I had barely taken a sip of coffee. I think I sat dumbfounded for a split second until I realized Scott was calling me…on FaceTime. FACETIME?!?!… subconsciously my soul had to know why but I was so nervous and cautious when I answered.
The image of our doctor and nurse practitioner standing there on the other end of the screen is forever engrained to memory as if someone has branded me with the image. I only needed one answer, “does he have his ukulele?”
Side note: if you don’t remember, our doctor had promised to play us the ukulele when he came with the new of a match for Townes. It became our running question and/or inside joke depending on your perspective every time he came to visit us.
One day I hope I have to explain to Townes why our beloved doctor was wearing a mask (please let us not be wearing them all the time by then) and the beauty of the story as tears streamed down my face as the most beautiful sounds strummed from his instrument (I’m sure he would disagree but for me no rhythm had sounded so beautiful).
My son had a match.
And so, one year ago today we knew in a moment, everything changed.
One year ago, we all gathered together via zoom to take communion in unity, over 100 people were on that call. I am still blown away when I think of it. Oh, we have much to be grateful; the ways in which the Lord revealed himself to us along the way such a profound and mysterious piece of our journey.
The other day a friend said, ‘the glory of the Lord in your story is astounding.’
Me: “I know. If someone asks me about how the Lord showed up for us. I have to ask, ‘how much time do you have because there are so many stories upon stories wrapped up in this one continuous testimony. Wouldn’t I be doing it an injustice to leave one detail out?”
When I look at my son, I don’t see a ‘cardio’ baby or a heart transplant recipient, I see a child who God chose before the foundation of the world, a child who God knew before I had even dreamed of him, a God who determined the exact time of his birth and where he would live. I see the identity of which he has been given and purpose I will watch be fulfilled. (See Jeremiah 1:4-5, Acts 17:26)
Let’s take a minute together to realize these same things apply to you and me. The way I see my son is the way our Father in Heaven sees us; after all we are still his children. He doesn’t define us by the same set of circumstances we sometimes label ourselves with, and he doesn’t consider how others have defined us. He only sees us through his lens. Could we begin to see ourselves the same way if we just focused on scripture?
I think it’s worth a shot, don’t you (maybe you need to be reminded as do I)?
You may now know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31 (yes even the ones that fall out)
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
I chose YOU when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalm 139:17-18
I am not distant and angry but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (he is literally your biggest fan)
And I could go on, there are so many scriptures that illustrate who you are to the Father. A reminder is always a good boost for your spirit. Even consider, picking one to mediate on and I can promise before you know it, your heart will believe it. Talk about life changing!
Townes these days is enjoying his newfound freedom in movement. I am simply amazed at how fast one can crawl…don’t leave a cabinet or a gate open because if you do I promise you this kid will somehow have suddenly appeared ready to completely pull out every item or make his attempt at the climbing the stairs. Yikes!
Over this last week, he has discovered walking. While he gets places faster by crawling, he is slowly but surely gaining confidence in walking.
Food is, well, still his favorite pastime and we have discovered macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. And forgive us in advance if you happen to be hanging around on a day where this is a chosen meal, his behavior (excitement) is a bit embarrassing just like taking Luna to the dog park.
The Spring weather has afforded us many wonderful days outside strolling the neighborhood, sitting at the park and swinging in our swing. Townes has even made a new little friend just a couple months younger than him while spending time at the park. He has been able to spend more time with his cousin, Joshua, and has learned, much to Luna’s pleasure, how to toss the ball for her (and to mine, two birds – one stone, score!)
And his little personality is starting to blossom, and I am afraid that I am in for it one day. He started flirting with all the pretty nurses at a very young age and I have said now that if he doesn’t marry a blonde girl then I will be shocked. But now, I have noticed how he can work a room, like he can read it. He is quiet and observant at first but then responds accordingly. “oh goodness, help me now!”
He also seems to be a bit ‘dramatic’ which I know he did NOT get from me. Thanks Scott. If I do something or ask him to give me something that he then decides he shouldn’t have, he starts this little cry (which mind you is not a real cry), then puts his two arms and hands out and throws his head down between then like he is just exacerbated, beside himself with what has transpired. (Note: I have to force myself not to laugh as if to encourage him).
So I respond, ‘Townes are you showing off?’ His response, he peeks up at me with a big smile. Oh gosh….you see what I mean, help me!
This weekend we are preparing for Townes’ one year post transplant biopsy. Yes, this is routine and yes, we knew it was coming but no that doesn’t make it easy. He will also be having 2 other small procedures done as well so it may be a tough day for our best boy.
We will go in on Monday morning at 6:00 am to prepare. I am beyond overjoyed that Vanderbilt has changed some of their visitor rules and Scott will also be allowed to accompany us (more good news…progress)!
The heart biopsy is a regular procedure done through heart catherization where the pediatric cardiac surgeon will take a little piece of the right side of his heart. This is done to run tests to ensure no signs of rejection exist that the echocardiogram did not catch. Thankfully, Vanderbilt Children’s is a center that chooses to perform these procedures every couple of years rather than every year but it’s a necessity at the one-year mark since a heart transplant recipient has the greatest chance of rejection within the first year.
This week has presented me with so many emotions, like I’ve jumped back on the rollercoaster. I can remember each day leading up to the 27th of last year, so it’s as if in some ways I am reliving them. I remember walking in and noticing visibly how Townes’ health had suddenly shifted and now instead of the life I used to see in his eyes, I now saw the illness taking root. I can remember how our doctor’s use of words changed and his delivery seemed much more urgent. I remember that suddenly it felt as if the odds were stacked against us and we were the ones looking foolish fully believing our son could be home in our arms by Easter; this time last year our prayer seemed simply impossible. But then…
Jesus can always turn your impossible into POSSIBLE. Oh, you of little faith. Even faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain. Don’t believe, go look it up yourself, Jesus words, not mine. (Matthew 17:20)
As we approach Monday, I feel these little fears pop up. I’ve at least identified that these fears aren’t what you may think – they aren’t actually tied to his procedure(s) at all or that the results may show something we don’t expect.
These fears are actually tied to being back in that environment, the hospital. It’s like my body is having a physical and emotional reaction and one I didn’t prepare for. My body is remembering.
Recently I have learned more about the Jewish ritual called the Shema. Every heard of it?
The Shema is a daily morning and evening prayer and is considered by some the most essential prayer in all of Judaism affirming God’s singularity and kingship. The Shema is a prayer from the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy. There is so much to be gained from this entire chapter, so I encourage you to read it, dissect it, pray over it, ask the Lord for revelation but together I want to focus on verse 10.
“Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land that He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did no build, and house full of all good things which you did not fill and carved cisterns which you did not carve out, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plan, and you eat are satisfied, be careful that you do no forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
Do you see the simplistic beauty in this one verse? It’s a reminder that the Lord made a covenant with Abraham and the Lord has to fulfill it. The fulfillment of the covenant is dependent on only one party and good news, it’s not you or me! Verse 10 outlines all that the Lord has done – again a reminder of what he has done, not me. Thank goodness, this isn’t dependent on me.
The Lord wants us to remember all he has built for you his chosen one. The good things he has given already is a promise of what is to come in the future. He freely provided basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and then the much more in this verse in the olive trees and vineyards which I believe we can translate to the abundance he so graciously offers. He made a covenant to meet these needs to Abraham and out of that covenant he promised Abraham would be the Father of many nations which makes us the benefactor.
Now practically applying the truth found in Deuteronomy 6, I have all the more reason to go into Monday with confidence. Not just declaring that Townes’ biopsy will reveal health and wholeness but that even with these little fears and the physical evidence of the trauma I pushed down, he will take care of those too. I have nothing to fear.
In reflecting with gratitude over this last year on not just the one huge, answered prayer but also all the small and tiny prayers answered along the way builds you up, reminds you who your Savior is and strengthens your relationship with him. And since we are only human, it can be easy to forget all the ways in which he has shown up. What a beautiful practice of the Shema, remembering who God is and what he has done, daily.
I am so thankful for all of you to allow me a space to journal, to keep notes, to give updates, you have helped strengthen my own faith to remain steadfast in the waiting. Scott and I have been working on some things and we hope to have an exciting announcement coming soon, so stay tuned…but in the meantime.
We would love for you to take communion for Townes again this weekend as we celebrate his 1-year heart anniversary, to pray for his doctor’s hands on Monday, with praise thank the Lord for the gift that is my son and his health.
And lastly, I would like for you to join me in a prayer for our donor’s family. An organ recipient family can write a letter to be delivered at the one-year mark to the donor family. I have written ours, delivered it to our transplant center and expect it to be delivered in the next couple of weeks. I would love and cherish if over this next week or two you would pray for our donor family. I trust the Lord implicitly with their hearts and needs as I do not know them, but I have been specifically asking for him to deliver a joy they simply cannot explain when they think of their beloved child. That they recognize this joy is greater than the grief, I know they absolutely feel. I pray that if they do not know Christ their eyes and hearts have started to open to Jesus, and if they do, then our donor family have experienced him more intimately and through it they’ve gained a greater revelation of being loved.
With my sincerest and heartfelt love,