Tuesday, March 24, 2009


*not meant to offend or spark debate about the Catholic church, just my thoughts and where my heart is at this time*

I've gone to church all of my life, from two weeks of age. I was baptized and married in the Catholic church and have joined many services: lecturer, communion minister, youth group mentor, choir and pantry pals (stocking a local soup kitchen). I've never really questioned my religion and at times have been very prideful of it. It is the longest standing Christian religion, the first actually, with St Peter as the first Pope and buried underneath the Vatican. How cool is that?? I still would LOVE to go there!! *hint hint - I need more pics Liz!* With such a long history comes "dark days" as I have called them. Our country is only a little over 400 yrs old to the European nations and only about 250 years standing on it's own...and don't get me going on how corrupt politics over here are already. So, for a religion being 2000 years old...I don't think a few hitches in the middle ages is too bad.

Lately, I've just been calling myself Christian when someone asked me my affliation. Ian DESPISES denominations and refuses to pick any, only calling himself Christian too. When William came into our lives, we kind of fell away from the church we were members of. We attended the smaller Catholic church in downtown Wilmington, St Mary's Basillica. It was BEAUTIFUL! And I liked the smaller communtity compared to the much more crowded Catholic church on the other side of town. But it didn't have air condition, it was a much older church...and with a new baby and no air circulation...ugh! It became convenient to not go. Once William got a little older, we did go, but only when it worked with nap times...didn't want to subject everyone else to tiredness induced tantrums. Yes, there is a nursery, but what's the point of going to church as a family...if your family isn't together? My brother and I always sat with my parents...with a coloring book and cheerios in hand. :)

Enter Matthew! Of course from February until his birth in June, I pretty much was not allowed off the couch except to have a needle stuck through my tummy. Then he arrives and we are ALWAYS at the hospital for the first five months until we reach the decision to start hemodialysis...which again puts us the hospital all the time, but at least has cut down our hospital over nighters to ZERO! * I heart hemo * :) When we have needed God the most, I felt like I had forsaken him. I was always inviting (pleading with) Him to come to MY house and bless and look after MY family...but I never went to His house. Now I do know, or I least I think I know, God doesn't care if you talk to Him in your kitchen or in a cathedral...He just wants you to check in...remember Him and maybe even (gasp) say thanks every now and again. For both the blessings and lessons (which alway suck at first, but end up making you a much better person). Seriously, that's all...He's much less demanding than my biological father... he wants me to rub his feet all the time. ;)

So, Ian and I start talking and praying (which due to exhaustion and duty rotations and wrestling practices hasn't been as much as it should be) about what we should do next. I tell Ian I want to find a home, a church for us as a family. Natually, I look at Catholic churches and even call the local one up for a membership packet. When I get it...I throw it away (sorry trees). And then I get my "sister, Audrey" on the phone. "Can I still be one of your boys godmother if I'm not Catholic?" I can! Yay! She's involved in a parish that isn't as "by the book". So the search starts. I "research" religion and beliefs and found my fit. Now to go to the church and see if it is a true fit.

The hard thing is to leave the "comfort" of the Catholic church. I knew this would take baby steps...as change usually does for me. I like the flow of mass, saying the Lord's prayer every Sunday while holding hands with strangers, the peace offering as you shake hands and say "peace be with you", and I love that I get to hear three bible readings, old testament, new testament, gospel, all one sitting. I always had issues with confession with a priest (I always choose to go directly to God), I never quite understood how much power the Pope has...and I think he doesn't need to be getting into politics either, and yes, why can't priests get married? I know they are supposed to live a completely Christ like life and Jesus never married. I know that with marriage comes a family and with a family comes responsibility and worries...which can take you away from your obligations to your church family. But all the other "religions" seem fine with their married pastors, preachers and ministers.

Ian and I, last Sunday, went to our new church. Good Shepherd Lutheran church. I know...all of you are shaking your heads now or rolling your eyes. (yeah, it's pretty much Catholic - but it's different). It's how I think the Catholic church was meant to be...how it was in the beginning. Not so much focus on rituals and deeds, more focus on God and His words that are written. It has the same exact flow and all the things that I love about the Catholic mass, but no Pope, confession is to God alone (unless you need spiritual or emotional support from a priest) and the priests are allowed to married if they choose to do so. The big step is now...I'm a Protestant. Christians are grouped into two groups: Catholics and Protestants...almost like an "us" and a "them"; "Rebs" vs "Yanks"...luckily with a lot less hostility, but hostility is still there.

From me being born and raised in the South, Catholic is NOT cool. I was told, at the age of 12, to get out of a small town southern church (that I am omitting the denomination ,but will never set foot in because I think they are judgemental hypocrites) to get out of their church because I was contaminating it just by being Catholic. The beautiful, small Catholic church on the base of Fort Benning in Columbus GA, was vandalized and burned to the ground with hateful notes spread about the site. Being the minority, I never understood the hate some of these groups had...but I guess that goes with every other hate crime out there. So, going from Catholic to "the others", is hard pill to swallow actually. But it's just a name...who cares really right?

Sunday afternoon, I hadn't felt that happy in a REAL long time! I couldn't stop smiling and the little things that usually get under my skin...didn't. Both Ian and my mother noticed the difference and made comments about it. Singing in church always did that for me...and singing in a church that I now agree with 99% instead of 85%...well that's just awesome. Can't wait for next Sunday!

Monday, March 23, 2009

What's for dinner?

Well, I've been writing out a menu for the week for about a month now. It's kept me in line and has helped a bunch with grocery shopping since I go in with a definite list rather than "easy dinners" to check off. So to make me even more accountable to keep up with my menu, I'm posting it on here now. Plus, I like seeing what others are having for dinner and after seeing Steph's menus for the past few weeks...I just want to do mine too. :) So here's what we are having at our house if you drop by:

Sunday: O'charley's restaurant with my parents. :)

Monday: one of my creation casseroles of brown rice, broccoli florets, one can cream of broccoli soup, one can cream of cheddar soup, leftover baked chicken (shredded - I just don't like cubed hunks of meat), onion to your liking, garlic powder to your liking, shredded cheese to stir in and use as a topper (I used velveeta...which is crap to shred, but I do it anyway), French's fried onions to top too. Yeast rolls to go with.

Tuesday: Cheese ravioli and salad.

Wednesday: Pot Roast, sauted mixed veggies with balsamic reduction *yum*, and garlic mashed potatoes.

Thrusday: Hamburger helper (cheddar bacon melt) (I need one pre-packaged meal a week!), green and wax beans.

Friday: shrimp, glazed carrots, white cheddar macaroni

Saturday: leftovers

What are you having?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Special delivery

*OK, so click on the pics to see the full pics, my computers all types of funky today!!*

Two exciting mail adventures in 24 hours. First, the arrival of my pre-ordered Twilight before it was even available in stores...woohoo! Happy surprise! And then, this morning, the arrival of a thank you note. About two weeks ago, I sent a thank you note to Dr Gomez, my Maternal Fetal high risk specialist. It commemorated our anniversary of the first fetal surgery for Matthew. It was at that meeting that I told him to do everything he could do for my son. God would decide if he lived or not, but I wasn't going to make that an easy decision for Him! I loved Dr Gomez, more than any of the other doctors I saw at the practice...and whenever possible we would make sure we were all teamed up together for the procedures that followed the four surgeries he did.

Here is a picture of me with my earthly miracle worker...yes, I'm short...but he really is THAT tall!

our hero

In my note to him, I simply said thank you for doing all you could do for me and Matthew and enclosed an updated picture since he hadn't seen Matthew since around Christmas time when we dropped in. They really are a family to me there and I keep in contact via phone and email to many of the people there. It's not often that your doctor actually gives you his personal cell phone number too!

I had been expecting an email from one of the girls or something that they got my letter and "oh how cute Matthew is"...cause secretly (not so secretly) that's what all mom's want to hear. ;) But I know where near expected a letter...let alone from a busy doctor. When we have talked it's always been a quick catch up of Matthew's progress and then he's off to help another mommy to be out. Some of the girls have told me that there is now an unusually high number of PUV babies from all over the state. 6 cases since we have been "discharged" from care. I knew of one of those. Doctor Gomez, with my permission, has given my contact info to those women that wanted to talk about the diagnosis, but I didn't know there were so many more! And I didn't know my small part in there care.

Dr. Gomez told me in his letter that it should be him thanking me. For me pushing him to not give up the fight. Telling him that I am having a baby, a tiny person with a soul that is already loved before he arrives. He said I inspired him when I kept "raising the bar" in patient/doctor relations. He came to realize that his cases were people/families...not numbers and statistics. He already had my permission to write up about all the surgeries (4 in total) and procedures (23 total taps and infusions), but decided against it in order to advocate about patient rights and treatment. Because of our history and relationship, he has been able to save 5 out of the 6 PUV baby cases that have come to him. He took it on as a personal mission of his own to keep the mothers motivated with things got rough and to push for lung development with infusions and steroids.

None of their cases were as severe as Matthew's...and in all respect to "science" Matthew shouldn't be here, but he is. Because of this man that did everything I asked him to do. All this time, when anyone asks about Matthew I naturally give thanks to God, but never fail to mention Dr Gomez as well. It seems he's be doing the same thing. In his words, "without your fighting spirit, infectious laughter and the complete love you had for Matthew, I would have given up on you both. You didn't let me." This is the man that opened his office hours to us at 6am for an infusion when normal hours began at 8:30am, but he wouldn't be in that day and wanted to make sure things were done right! He has used "what I learned from our experience" to fight for those other babies...because of Matthew...those little ones have made it through the hardest part, being born alive.

It just really touched me that Dr Gomez took the time to sit down and hand write a letter, not email...not type it up...handwritten. It shocks me that he thinks so highly of me when I look back and see that I did nothing spectacular...I just fought for my son's chance...what parent doesn't? But it made me realize that maybe I did do something...I crossed the patient/doctor line. I made him get to know me as a person, not a patient. I made him care about Matthew. I shared his name, my feelings and thoughts with him. I told him Matthew's music preference and when we were done with an infusion, Dr Gomez would put on the Rolling Stones just to watch Matthew dance in utero! He visited my child at another hospital to say a prayer for him while he was in the NICU. But with all of that, I was just being me.

So once again i want to give a shout out to Dr Gomez and thank God for bringing him in our lives. It takes quite a man to throw credit to a hormonally challenged woman and it speaks that much higher if that man is a nationally published and recognized doctor in fetal surgery. I don't think I deserve his kind words and praise, but those other babies did deserve the right to life. And I'm so thankful he was their doctor too.

Matthew, one week old, 32 weeks gestation. First day starting peritoneal dialysis.

first day pd

Matthew, 8 months old (6 month corrected)

exersaucer Matthew

Friday, March 13, 2009

Quick prayer request

I just want to put out a prayer request for the Harden family. A beautiful baby boy named Matthew has been born. He has the face of a cherub and the spirit of a warrior, unfortunately his lungs and kidneys were not as strong. He passed a few hours after his birth on Sunday. Keep his mother, Jenn along with her husband and two older children in your thoughts and prayers.
This little baby boy took a piece of my heart with him as he entered heaven. His puv diagnosis was SO similar to my Matthew's on timeline of finding out. I've been in contact with Jenn for a couple of months and am just deeply saddened for her, but also rejoicing with her that Matthew is at peace and feels nothing but joy and light. I will see her little son every time I look into my son's eyes. "God's gifts" are found now on earth and in heaven.
Please check out her blog and meet little Matthew.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In honor of

All of the babies born with PUVs, some that are walking miracles and others that are guardian angels. These little ones' strength and resilience is awe inspiring. No comic books here...they are your true super heros and role models.
I want to introduce you to an amazing family I have been blessed to share this experience of PUVs with: the Campbells. Kristin and Chris Campbell have a beautiful little boy, baby Nels. Baby Nels however had a bigger purpose in life and now is spreading his sunshine and love in Heaven in the arms of his Heavenly Father. Please watch the attached video via the link I post and say a pray for the Campbell family. For peace, compassion and to keep baby Nel's spirit alive and well on Earth. Keep in mind all of the many many little babies that have passed due to this and others suffering due to the complications.
Jeremiah 29:11


Thursday, March 5, 2009


Every March, the National Kidney Foundation sponsors National Kidney Awareness Month, an educational outreach program aimed at raising awareness of kidney diseases. According to their education programs, approximately 8 million Americans suffer from reduced kidney function and up to 400,000 require dialysis or transplants to live.

For the rest of the month, many of the various kidney associations will be holding educational events and handing out kidney awareness bracelets. Early kidney disease has no symptoms and since people with diabetes or high blood pressure are particularly vulnerable, anyone suffering from those conditions are encouraged to test themselves often.

Here is a link to Matthew's hospital where he undergoes hemo and will eventually undergo his life changing transplant surgery. http://www.choa.org/default.aspx?id=694
Please, for the month and every month after, keep all of the patients, both children and adults, in your prayers. This is a rough disease that affects the entire family and not just the individual. Pray for the caretakers, doctors, nurses and extended family. Keep your health in check too. Is it time for you to go pee in a cup? Maybe this is the month to do so.


Swidget 1.0