Friday, February 27, 2009

Serenity's Story Part 13 - Surgery

A couple of nights before the scheduled surgery, I was laying in bed praying and I had this overwhelming feeling that God was going to cancel surgery again. I woke up my husband once again and told him the news. He was very supportive but basically thought I was just in denial. I had been really hoping to have more time to donate the needed blood so....At the time I thought, Okay maybe I am.

The night before the surgery, my parents drove down even though the roads still weren't completely clear. We spent most of the night just loving on her and praying.

The morning of the surgery we went down, checked in. They stripped her down. I gave her a pre-surgery bath. The anesthesiologist came over and gave us his hour long what might happen scenario. Then the surgeon's assistant came over to give us our last minute instructions, when she suddenly realized an oversight. "Serenity tested positive for RSV three weeks ago?"

"Yes!” I replied, we mentioned that several times before. She did test positive but she had been placed on the synagis shots to prevent infection and she never had much trouble getting over it."
The assistant looked very concerned. "Oh?” she said, “We never schedule a surgery until at least six weeks from the time they test positive. I'll go check with the doctor, but I'm sure he'll want to reschedule." I just looked at my husband and smiled that "I told you so" grin.

Sure enough, they apologized for the oversight and then rescheduled her surgery for the day before Valentine's Day. This gave us plenty of time to get second opinions and get people together for a blood drive.

Always trust God, He always lead us in the right direction. If we were to get angry or frustrated because of all these changes, we would have missed out on God's perfect will. We do not have to understand the reasoning, we just have to trust God to take care of us and when we do, I promise you…. He WILL.

We arrived in town on the 11th. We knew that it was a good possibility that we might be stuck in the hospital for awhile. So we decided to spend the first night in a nice hotel away from the hustle.

As always, when you are going though a trial, God's favor follows with you. We had seen this throughout our entire experience. However, now more than ever.

While Tom was in the hotel checking in, he began talking to the manager. Now these people live in a town known for their pediatric and adult transplant facilities. They hear a lot of sob stories on a daily basis. But because of God's favor, ours stood out to him. He wanted to do something to help us out. Not only did we get the normal hospital rate of $53 for a room, over half off the normal cost and that includes a full hot breakfast. But he also gave us a free upgrade to their nicest suite. They treated us like royalty the entire visit.

The good treatment didn't stop there. Once we arrived at the hospital, we had to spend the day doing more tests. While we were in the lab getting blood work done. A lady who was there with her own child, came up to us out of nowhere and handed me a check for $100. She said that she just wanted to help out. When I began to study the check I noticed that there was scripture on it. I knew she was being obedient to our Heavenly Father to bless us. It was as if He was saying, "Fear not my child for I am with you."

While waiting in the family room during her surgery, I held onto the vision God had given to me before. Once again I knew that I wasn't trusting any man with the life of my daughter but I was placing her directly into the hands of God.

However, despite my efforts there were a couple of concerns that I couldn't shake. The main one was the fact that Serenity would have to be placed on at heart and lung machine. One of the most dangerous parts of the procedure was getting her heart to beat again on its own.

I was also dreading having to see her with the breathing tube. I didn't want to have to see my baby living by machines again. God knew this and because of His love, He answered my prayers.

We received several updates throughout the surgery, but the one I most remember is the nurse calling to say that they were surgically finished and were attempting to take her off the heart machine. She said to be patient because it could take awhile.

We immediately called our prayer chain to start praying. Then in less than 20 minutes, the surgeon himself came out to tell us all went well. She was fine and would be heading to recovery soon.

When I saw my baby for the first time afterward, I could not believe my eyes. She was breathing on her own. (a miracle in itself) She wasn't swollen hardly at all and besides the draining tube, she just had this very small bandage over her chest. Our God is so very good! He delivers us from even our smallest concerns. courtesy of

Here she is less than 24 hours after reconstructive open-heart surgery:

Our God is So good!

Added Information:

Given.... any Surgery is a far cry from a heart transplant! We were blessed beyond measure to be delivered from that particular path. However, reconstructive heart surgery is not without it's concerns.
During our extended PICU stay, we witnessed the aftermath of many pediatric heart surgeries. Most of which were much less extensive than Serenity's. They were very swollen, breathing on a ventilator and some even had their chest cavities left open for a period of time! These images only fueled my fear for Reni's surgery.
I practiced 2 Corinthians 10:5 "Casting on imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into capitivity every thought into the obedience of Christ. I did not dwell on these images for an instant instead I focus on the promises of God.

Throughout our journey, when fear would start to creep in I would envision Serenity much older, laughing and playing just like any other normal, healthy, happy young lady.

On many occasions I had to desperately cried out to God for help. He never left my side! He was always there and He always answered me the same...."Trust me my daughter...You have given her to me...Now trust me!" I am so very glad that He gave me the strength to listen!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hi/Lo Thursday

This post is part of "Hi/Lo Thursday" on the Riggs Family Blog. Check out their blog to read everyone else's "Hi/Lo" posts and get your link on their site.

"But let all those who put their trust in You REJOICE: let them ever shout for joy, because You will defend them; let them also who love Your name be joyful in You. For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as a shield." Psalm 5:11-12

Our Hi and Lo this week was actually combined into one particular situation.

My husband's place of employment had a HUGE layoff- Lo

His job was spared - High

They cut back his time from between 50 and 60 40 and then to 30. For a family of seven, living on one income, his overtime was our bread and water. This will definitely affect our lives. - L0

Once again, He still has a job - High (Praising God for His shield of favor during this time of need)

Many friends and co-workers were not as fortunate - Lo

Please remember to pray for the families who are unemployed! Pray that they each will seek God as their source...For

"My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:19

"The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich and he addeth no sorrow with it." Proverbs 10:22

"Let them shout and be glad, that favor my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of His servant." Psalm 35:27

It's Time for Toddler Talk Thursday!

Kung Fu Reni

Once again Eli was playing rough and ended up with a boo boo. He fell and hit his head against a wall.

Mommy hears his cry.

Mommy: "Eli what's wrong?"

Eli: rubbing his head "That wall.....that hit me!"

Mommy: trying not to laugh "That wall hit you? Ahem.. Well, that mean ole' wall. We'll have to teach it a lesson."

Serenity over hears the conversation and never misses an opportunity to be cute. She picks up a nearby broom and defensively poses facing the enemy (you know...the wall).

Reni: "Wall ou wanna piece of me? Wall you hear me? speaking louder.. Ou wanna piece of... me? Hi Ya!"

She swiftly hits the wall with one side of the broom...then the other. She stops for a second to stare with a mean glare. Then talks to the wall in her normal third person way.

Reni: "Wall ou have nuf Neni? Neni say.. Ou eve Ligah lone....K? she then answers herself....K!"

Eli: lovingly places his arm around his sister "Thank ou, Neni! Ou my hero."

Serenity drops the broom in triumph. Then together they walk away confident that mean ole' wall will never mess with them again!

Married at three

Elijah and Serenity enjoyed their play date with their cousin Talynn, especially Eli. He never runs out of good things to say about his beautiful little friend.

Eli: "Mommy, Talynn's my VERY best friend."

Mommy: "Yes, I know....You love Talynn!"

Eli: "Yep! We're gettin' married!"

Mommy: "Oh, you are?"

Eli: "Yep!"

Mommy: "Eli, why do people get married?"

Eli: casually shrugs his shoulders "I dunno"

Mommy: "Well then....why are YOU getting married to Talynn?

Eli: with his best "well duh" attitude "Cuz Talynn toad me to!"

Mommy: trying hard not to laugh "Oh I see and what are you going to do once your married."

Eli: again shruggs his shoulders and sighs out a "Dunno! Talynn tell me that later"

Mommy thinks to herself:

Wow! He knows more about marriage than I thought!... wipes away a tear...sniff...sniff.....My baby's becoming a man!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Laughter Lives Tuesday

Laughter LivesThis post is part of "Laughter Lives! Tuesday" on the Riggs Family Blog. Check our their blog to read everyone else's "Laughter Lives!" posts.

Usually my Laughter Lives Tuesday posts are filled with the hilarious stunts of my children, but this week the jokes are on Mom and Dad

I'll start it off with one of my most embarrassing moments.

When I was in high school my parents owned a Christian oriented Restaurant. We had Live praise and worship music on Friday and Saturday nights, which always served to bring in a very respectable crowd.

On weekends, I worked in the kitchen during the day and a hostess at night. Needless to say, every weekend I had to bring a change of clothing with me to work. One morning I had to drive through a nasty ice and sleet storm. The extra slow and cautious traffic caused me to be quite tardy. As soon as I arrived, I pulled into the first avaliable parking spot, which just happened to be right up front. Then I grabbed my change of clothes and darted inside. The sleet and ice continued to fall all day long.

After my first shift, I went back into the storage area to retrieve my clothing. Upon examining my belongings, I noticed I was missing my extra pair of undergarments. At the time, I just thought that I must have been mistaken, and probably had forgotten to pack them. I finished getting dressed and went right back to work.

Just before closing time, a local pastor (who knew me and my car very well) parked in front right next to my car. He was always very friendly and usually enjoyed talking with me. However, this particular night he seemed very withdrawn. Throughout our entire conversation he could hardly look me in the eye. We talked only briefly for a few minutes. Then I gathered my things to leave.

When I reached my car, suddenly all the uncomfortable moments made perfect sense. For to my mortified surprise, I saw my black, frilly lacey panties frozen solid to my bright white sports car. Yes folks, in the mad dash to make it inside, my underwear had become caught in the door. The wind and ice had frozen it just perfectly to reveal every skimpy detail. I literally had to scrap them off my car.

Every customer that night had to walk past my car at least twice. Once going in and once coming out. Each time with a perfect view of my unmentionables.

I can just hear them now.."Mom why is there underwear stuck to the side of that car?"
"I don't know honey, but don't look. (covers childs eyes with hand) We don't socialize with THOSE kind of people!" :)

My Husband in ALL his glory:

Anyone who knows my husband.. knows he's quite a character. He will do just about anything for a laugh. Here is just one example of his silly behavior.

It was a couple of nights before Serenity's open-heart surgery. So we had a lot on our mind. We were very concerned, but desparately trying to hold it together. Anyway, we pulled up to the drive thru and decided that we wanted to order a couple of hamburgers and an order of cheese curds. ( you know the little fried pieces of cheese) Well... Tommy was determined to lighten up the night and make me smile.

As soon as he heard the squeaky teenagers voice say, "Welcome to Culver's can I take your order?" My wonderful husband switched to his thickest Redneck accent and began ordering.

"Uh ya, I'll take a couple of em' hamb burglars, um... throw some cheese on there, but nun of those there onions, they give me gas sumin' awful. Woo Wee! I might have to sleep with you tonight, cause my wife over ere' would kick me outta bed....ya know what I'm sayin'? So no onions, Oh and a don't put any of that green rabbit food or any of those squishy maters on there neither..... man those things ooze right out of my buns and all over my britches every time! Makes a horrible mess! And a I'll take a sweet tea, give my little lady a coke. Oh ya and yer beggest order of those there Cheese Turds. (yes with a T)"

"Excuse me sir.. (trying not to laugh) what was that last one?

"You know them there Cheese Turds... Yer beggest order!"

As the little voice tried to repeat our order, we could hear about a dozen people over the loud speaker giggling in the background. Then when we approached the window, we saw teenagers EVERYWHERE laughing hysterically. The ones who noticed us driving up, began poking the other ones in the ribs, trying to quiet them.

When the window finally slid open, the guy at the register was turning purple trying to hold the laughter in. His eyes began to water as he managed to squeeze out, "That'll be $12.65 sir."

Tommy now speaking in his normal voice said, "Man, you look like you're about to explode. It's alright! You can laugh. I don't really sound like that."

At that moment the laughter throughout the entire restuarant just exploded. Before we drove away, several of them thanked us for bringing a little excitement into their dull night.

Mission "Make Wife Smile" Accomplished! :)

Serenity's Story Part 12 - God's Miracle Confirmed!

In the early part of January, we received a phone call from the hospital stating that our insurance had denied our claim to be placed on the transplant list. When faced with a million dollar procedure this would have been very discouraging to most. But after remembering how time and time again God had directed our path, we just knew He was in control. God had taught us during our experience to never question anything, but just to trust HIM fully.

It turned out that the transplant specialist had written them a very encouraging letter. Serenity just looked too healthy to need a transplant and he had to explain why a baby with this diagnosis should be placed on the B list. The insurance company was not about to put so much money up front without more proof that she needed it. So they decided we needed to come back to the hospital for another heart cath.

So we traveled back the 400 miles, just missing the worst ice storm our area had seen in years.

Now remember, during the last heart cath, we almost lost little Reni. The doctors had to perform chest compressions for about 15 minutes in order to stabilize her. We were very leery of going through another cath. So we made sure that we were prayed up. We had people all over praying for our daughter.

I can not explain just how hard it was handing my baby over to that nurse knowing where she was going. I had to dig deep inside of myself and pull strength directly from the throne of God. It took all the trust in my Savior that my heart could handle.

God did not let me down. Once again He met me at my level of faith and gave me the assurance I needed to continue. This time my peace came through a vision while I was praying.

In this vision, I saw Serenity laying on a surgical table and the doctor standing directly over her. Throughout the room there were many angels. There were two angels guarding the door, one for very nurse, one directly over Serenity's head and the doctor had two, one for each one of his hands. I can still vividly see their angelic hands cupped over his, guiding his every move.

This served as a constant reminder throughout our journey, that we were not placing our daughter into the hands of any mortal man, but rather directly into the hands of God. God never makes mistakes! We knew that our little Reni was well protected.

Needless to say, She sailed though the entire experience. All most exactly to the very minute they said they would be through, the doctors came into talk to us.

The transplant specialist said, "We have terrific news, bad news and some more good news. First of all the terrific news is…. we can't see any myopathy. I know that it was there before, but it's NOT now. I can't really explain it except someone just messed up somewhere. So that just throws the whole transplant theory right out the window."

I thought my heart was going to leap right out of my chest. Did he just say no transplant....Yes He did... He just said NO TRANSPLANT! Thank you Jesus! No one messed up anywhere quite the contrary someone did something right. God healed our daughter!!

Then the specialist proceeded to tell us, "Okay now the bad news, the more she grows the more narrow the coarctation becomes. In that aspect, she is getting worse and it needs to be repaired as soon as possible. The good news is our transplant surgeon can do it on Friday."

All of this news just completely overwhelmed us. The surgeon came in to tell us why Serenity's repair would be quite a more extensive than usual. Usually when they repair a coarc. they just go in through the side and basically cut out the narrow area. That is the way they fixed mine and the way the other hospital would have fixed Serenity's before.

However, this simple procedure would not have been enough repair for Serenity. Her arch was narrow in two places, not just one, so they were going to have to go in through the front and completely reconstruct the arch using donor tissue. What better surgeon for this than a transplant surgeon? This would be a cake walk for him. Suddenly I realized God's reasoning behind stopping so many surgeries before and leading us to this particular hospital.

Added information:

How do we know this was a miracle and not just misdiagnosis? Some of you may be wondering. The answer itself amazes me. God perfectly planned every detail to ensure there was never even room for doubt. Serenity's health was rapidly declining. With my God given assurance came sudden, medically unexplained improvement. The more she grew, the worse the heart defect became, yet she improved. Something changed! Something that was once there... was now no longer causing her problems. Plus several experienced doctors from three different hospitals all saw the same condition while reviewing her second heart cath. Then the same doctors reviewed the third heart cath and it was no longer there.

Why did God miraculously heal her of the myopathy and not the Coarc.? This was a question that I had myself. Then one day while seeking God...the answer hit me like a ton of bricks. I believe there were two reasons. One as mentioned before... It serves as proof for His miracle healing of the
myopathy. Two, He was teaching us to trust Him in ALL aspects of His healing power. It came easy for me to trust God with my daughter. However, I a hard time trusting God while my daughter rested in Mortal hands. I had a fear of human error. After receiving God's vision and going through her surgeries, I no longer have that fear. I don't just say the words any more.... Now I KNOW.... God is ALWAYS in control! I do not place trust in any mortal man... for my trust belongs with the one who is incapable of making mistakes!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Serenity's Story Part 11 - Heart Transplant Evaluation

Heart transplant? Who has time for that when there's stuffed zebras lurking around?

A few days after we arrived home we were scheduled for a heart transplant evaluation. We had to travel another approximate 400 miles. Now this wasn't as easy as it may seem, because even though Serenity was home, she was on a very strict medication schedule.

4 am -Propranolol,
6am -Captopril,
10 am -Digoxin, zantac, and lasix,
12pm- Propranolol ,
2pm -Captopril
8pm -Propranolol
10pm -Digoxin, zantac, captopril and 1/4 of an aspirin

We had to stop several times to give her medications. This all became a little overwhelming after while. I was able to get very little sleep. Having to wait until after 10 and waking up before 4 was hard enough, but it was hard for me to sleep in between those times as well. I was concerned I might oversleep. Then because I was so very tired all the time, I was afraid I might inadvertently give the wrong medicine at the wrong time and overdose her or miss a dose of a vital medication.
Some of these were very important medications and the function of her heart depended on them. She was on this schedule for approximately 2 1/2 months. It was a lot of stress and made traveling very interesting. Nevertheless, we made it there.

When we arrived at our hotel, once again we were bombarded with the number 7. The first thing we noticed was our room number, 322 (3+2+2=7, also Serenity's time of birth) Then when I picked up the phone to call and check on the kids, I noticed the last four digits of the hotel's phone number was 7777. Now I am not one to believe in numerology. However, I do see the significance in the number 7 throughout the bible. There are many examples of the number seven meaning completion (God created seven days, Jesus shed his blood seven times, etc.) I believe this was God's way of reminding us throughout our experience that He was in control. He was about to make our lives and our miracle journey perfectly complete.

I turned to look at my husband and said, "This is where our journey will end. God is going to complete our miracle from this hospital."

We spent an entire day going from one test to another. She had x-rays, an echo cardiogram, blood work, we even saw a physiologist to prepare us for what a transplant would bring. We saw the transplant specialist, two different transplant surgeons and two neurologists.

All of them were very impressed with our daughter's health. The neurologists were in awe at the fact that she had no neural damage. "Considering what she has been through, This is very rare." they said.

The transplant specialist was even more amazed. Serenity's records had been sent ahead, so he had already reviewed everything. He said, "Looking at the records they sent and looking at her now. I can't believe I am seeing the same baby."

He then proceeded to tell us a story of a baby whose (by his own words) condition wasn't even half as severe as Serenity's, yet this baby was unable to leave the hospital or vent until AFTER transplant. "Serenity is just unique!" He said many times.

After much deliberation he decided that Serenity was much to healthy to be place on the "A" transplant list. They wanted her to keep her heart as long as possible. However, because of the condition that she had, they thought it eventually would be inevitable to face transplant. So they decided to place her on the "B" list. It is very rare that a child of any age be placed on this list. That is how well she was doing.

We were very pleased with the results of our evaluation. Not only had our Savior given us time with our family, but for HIS birthday he also provided us with another huge praise report.

Even though we were home. We never ceased from reading the healing scriptures over Reni. Every morning when we awoke and every night before bed, we would claim God's promises for our daughter. God continued to remain faithful.

Added information:
I praise God for my unique baby. I praise God that although we dwell in this world we are not of this world. Through the blood of Jesus we have overcome the world and all the destruction therein. We are children of the Most High King! We no longer are governed by this world but now we can choose to belong to the Kingdom of God! Yes I praise God that when compared to the normalcy of this world...We are always "unique!"
"I pray not that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
John 15:16
"For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." 1 John 5:4-5

Friday, February 20, 2009

Serenity's Story Part 10 - Another Step and Good Things Continue

With the removal of the vent also came the removal of her sedative and pain medication. Serenity had been on a medication called Fentanyl for about a month. This is a pain medication that we were told is such stronger than morphine. Without proper weaning the withdrawals can be horrible.

We discovered this the hard way. The first day of her withdrawals, I sat by her bed for 14 hours straight without even a bathroom break. Up until this time, Serenity had slept most of the time. So even though it was hard to be in the PICU and not home, we hadn't actually had to spend much time watching her suffer. This by far was the hardest time for us as parents.

She would cry constantly with little to no sound because her throat was very sore from the vent. Nothing we would do could soothe her. She would have cold sweats and what they call "addict jitters." She would just shake all the time and throw up everything we tried to give her.

If you have ever been, known, or seen an addict on television, this is what our baby who was only a few weeks old looked like. The doctors began to give her small doses of morphine and adavan to help with the symptoms. Serenity would stop shaking almost immediately after receiving her "fix".

I stood by her side, praying and reading scriptures until she was through the worst part. It took a few days but God brought us through that valley as well.

Good Things Continue

The day they told us we were moving to a regular room, We were ecstatic. It was almost surreal. The entire PICU staff was very sad to see us going but were happy that Reni was well enough to leave. The doctors were pleasantly surprised that the oral meds were working so well. We knew that the medications had a HUGE help.

After spending Thanksgiving away from home, I had made up my mind that we would be home for Christmas. We were missing our other children tremendously and I knew that God wanted our family back together as well. When we first mentioned this to the doctors, they were less than optimistic, (to put it nicely) they actually laughed like, yeah right. Once they realized I was serious then they became concerned I might be in denial. However, the closer we came to Christmas the more realistic our request became.

On December 14th we were transfered by ambulance back to the second hospital, this time to a regular room. Then on December 16 we were released to go home. Yes, that's right HOME!

Walking out of the hospital with our baby in our arms was like a dream. I was in complete awe that the entire experience. The sky was bluer, the sun was brighter. The world was beautiful. I just kept saying, "We're really going home. We're taking our baby home. Tom, we're REALLY taking our baby home."

Both of us could not stop smiling. Then when we finally arrived home with all of our children together again at last, things only got better. My brother surprised us by decorating our home for Christmas. His family put up outside lights and inside decorations complete with tree.

My favorite time of the year is Christmas. I always love going all out for it. I was feeling a little depressed about not having time to do all of that. So this meant an unbelievable amount to me. Not only we're we blessed with decorations, but Tom's place of employment had all chipped in and bought our entire family everything on their Christmas lists.

Of course the greatest gift was having our entire family together and home. We had the best Christmas ever that year.

Added Information:

Never underestimate the power of God! That's all I have to say....Never underestimate the power of God!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Toddler Talk Thursday - Faith as a child

"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." Mark 10:15

Toddler Talk isn't always comical. Sometimes it's enlightening.

The faith of a child never ceases to amaze me. The other day Elijah was playing rough, like boys tend to do, and accidentally scratched his tiny hand. He came to me with the beginning of tears in his little eyes.

Eli: "Mommy, I hurt (pointing to the outer side of his hand) right there.

Mommy: "Oh Eli, you want Mommy to kiss it"

Eli: with a pouty quivering lip "Yeah Mommy... kiss it."

I bent down and placed a big kiss right on his ouchie.

Mommy: "There... does that feel better?"

Eli: not quite convinced "Yeah... a little better."

Then suddenly he perks up! With a great big smile and hope filled eyes he blurts out his announcement.

Eli: "I know! Jesus will make it all better. He make Neni all better and he make me all better too!"

Mommy: "Yes He will! Good boy Elijah! You ask Jesus to make you all better!"

He runs excitingly away to play. A few minutes later he returns still smiling from ear to ear.

Eli: "Mommy Jesus did make me all better! It don't hurt more. See Mommy I toad you Jesus make me better too."

I give him a little smile of approval.

Mommy: "Yes Eli... you sure did!"

I think that every adult could use a lesson from a child when it comes to the concept of faith. Eli never said, well if God feels up to it today.... if it be His will...or if He feels the need to.... He simply said, "Jesus will make it all better." That was it! Plain and simple! Then he skipped off, confident it would did! :)

Serenity Story Part 9 - Excerising God's Assurance

Over the next few days, our assurance was tested. We would talk with the Cardiologist that performed the second heart cath. Every conversation we had was very negative on his part. Not because he was a negative person, but just because he had to lay out the facts, according to the medical side of things.

He explained to us that a heart transplant wasn't as simple as just taking out an old heart and putting in a new one. There were many, many side effects, such as possible rejection to the organ. According to him our daughter would never live another day without taking medication. There were risks of lung damage, liver damage, kidney damage even neural damage.

Through this all, I felt as if God had risen me above the situation. Nothing this doctor said even phased me. I didn't know how God would do it, I just knew that He would.

I wasn't going to tell God how to do His job. If God miraculously healed her... than wonderful. If it meant that our daughter had a heart transplant... than so be it. Either way I knew that she was going to be okay! I knew that she would live a normal, healthy life. God was going to perform a miracle and be glorified in a BIG way. We were just going to walk through the doors that God opened and be content with the ones He closed.

After he finished, the worse possible scenario speech, my husband politely stated. "Well, o-kay then, we won't be needing one of those, but thanks anyway." I laughed then added, "What he means is…. we will go where God takes us, but our daughter is going to be alright." Sounded annoyed the doctor replied. "I don't think you understand. This condition does not just go away. It only progresses. You need to be prepared to face these things."

I knew he was geniuly concerned with our well being. I smiled and very politely stated. "I don't think you understand just how BIG our God IS."

The doctor just shrugged his shoulders as if saying, well I tried.

From that moment on Serenity began to significantly improve. They began to switch her medications from intravenous to oral, preparing her for transfer to a hospital that specializes in transplants. They also decided to try extubating her again... But not without making sure we knew that success was very unlikely. One nurse said "I have never heard of a baby with Reni's condition that was able to be taken off the ventilator before transplant and since she has already failed once....well....(she glanced toward the ground) the odds are very stacked against her."

On December 1, 2006, they removed the tube again. This time God and Serenity left all those doctors and nurses scratching their heads.

Courtesy of

Added Information:

Be confident in knowing that with God's assurance, also will come an attack of the enemy. He will hit you with facts and circumstances, anything he can to steal what God has given. He will use anything and anyone...even those closest to you. He wants nothing more than to discourage you. However, if you are standing on God's promises and fully trusting Him... all he can do is try. God is Always in control.

Although we knew the facts were plain and simple, we could not allow ourselves to keep our eyes on those facts. We weren't denying the medical predictions...we were simply deciding to believe God's Word instead. Just as the
Casting Crowns song states, "Out of all the voices calling out to me...I will choice to listen and believe the Voice of Truth." The voice of Truth didn't just HE SHOUTED that my daughter was healed!

We were respectful, but we were firm. I know this particular doctor must have thought I was completely off my rocker. The entire time he was laying out his grim predictions, I could not wipe the smile off my face. I sat there through the entire speech with a confident grin. I'm sure he was thinking...she's completely lost it, call in the medic team this woman needs special attention. I had so much respect for him and his professional opinion....I just had more respect for God's. I wish I would have explained my confidence in more detail with him, although I'm not sure he would've believed me even if I had.

After God's overwhelming assurance, no one was going to convince me my daughter was not going to live a long healthy life. It was like someone trying to convince me that I have a completely different color of eyes. It was something that I knew with all my heart. I know my eyes are deep dark brown. I know my name and I knew my daughter was healed. Plain and Simply stated, everything contrary to what I knew, were only spoken words.

God lifted me to a place where the negative could not reach. He met me at my level of faith and boosted me to a higher place. He continues to hold me there still today!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Laughter Lives Tuesday!

Laughter LivesThis post is part of "Laughter Lives! Tuesday" on the Riggs Family Blog. Check our their blog to read everyone else's "Laughter Lives!" posts.

Funny Conversations:

Kayleigh and Gracee had just finished a big glass of milk and decided some juice sounded tasty.

Kayleigh: "Grace you want me to wash your cup out too?"

Gracee: "Yes please"

Kayleigh begins rinsing both of their cups and then reaches for the dish soap

Kayleigh: "Grace you want me to use soap on yours?"

Gracee: very quickly and loudly "NO! NO! The last time you used the soap.... mine tasted really funny!"

Kayleigh: "Mom always uses the soap!"

Gracee: "But.... Mom's juice still tastes good."

Kayleigh: "Yeah, and for some reason Mom's juice never has any bubbles in it either."

Serenity and Eli are having a nice conversation about Dora the Explorer

Eli: "Dora does too know me!"

Reni: "Na uh!"

Eli: "Her do so... she even said my name on TV... last night."

Reni: "No her do not."

Eli: "Neni, yes her did... her say I had ate a farm at McDonald's!"

Reni: "NO er don't ate a farm at McDonalds!"

Eli: "Yes I do... Dora say, McDonald's ate a farm ELI...ELI.... O! So see Neni her does know me!"

Having a nice friendly breakfast in our home isn't as easy as it may seem. A few days ago I overheard this conversation:

Reni: "Ligah, You put bubber on er toast?"

Eli: "Yep!"

Reni: "Why?"

Eli: "Cause it tastes good.... and then I eat it!"

Reni: "Oh! I eat toast too!"

Eli: "Neni you want some butter on er toast?"

Reni: "Yeah"

Eli: "K... come here closer..."

Suddenly I hear Reni scream

Reni: "NO!! MOMMY!"

Mommy: "What's wrong Reni?"

Reni: "Ligah's gonna eats me!"

Mommy: "What?"

Reni: "Ligah bubbered my head.... now I taste good."

This is what I found:

"Hmm.... I wonder if I would taste even better with some jam?"

Serenity's Story Part 8 - God's assurance!

On our way back to the room, my mother called my cell phone. I immediately could hear the excitement in her voice. She had been desperately seeking God, praying for reassurance. Through her tears of joy she said, "Dana, Reni's going to be okay. God has given me the assurance that she is going to be okay. "

When I hung up the phone I was having mixed emotions. I was ecstatic that my mother had received that assurance, but at the same time was annoyed at the fact that I myself had not yet received it.

I knew that God could take me to the place where I know but I know. Just as I know about my salvation, I could know about my daughter's healing. I never would voice any doubt. I only spoke the truth as God had written it but up until that time there was always this 'what if' in the back of my mind. What if the doctors were right? What if she didn't make it? I didn't want to think those what ifs.

I wanted to know, just as I know that the color of my eyes are brown and there is never a well… what if they are blue... in the back of my mind. I wanted to know that my daughter was healed. I struggled with that for several days.

One night, I came to the end of my rope. I knew that without that assurance my faith was not going to make it. I desperately cried out to God. Within my spirit I heard him reply, "Would you still love me?"

What? Lord is that you?, I thought.

"Would you still love me?"

I sat there and thought about it for awhile. If God chose to take my daughter from me today, could I still love HIM?

My mind drifted back to Serenity and how much I loved her. There is nothing that I wouldn't do for her. I would give my life, if it meant it would save her from just a small amount of pain. Then it dawned on me, how much greater is our Heavenly Father's love for us. Our love fails dramatically, compared to HIS love for His children. I knew that it He chose to take my little girl from me, It would not be because we were being punished, But ultimately because that is what would be best for her. You see, only God knows the future. Therefore only He can determine was is best for us.

At that moment, I fully trusted God. Within my spirit I heard his voice again. "Would you still love me?"

I replied, "Yes Lord, I would still love you! I would still serve you and hardest of all, I would still praise you."

I suddenly felt a release, like a 100 pounds had been lifted right off my chest. I fell asleep that night praying. Sometime in the middle of a very sound sleep, I was suddenly awaken. Whoosh! The Glory of God fell upon me and I began Worshiping and Praising the Lord. I was laughing hysterically. The only words I could manage to speak through the tears of joy were, "Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus."

I immediately awakened my husband to tell him that I knew our daughter was healed.

Courtesy of

Additional information:

God knew before time ever began that our daughter would be born with these birth defects. He knew exactly where our journey would take us. He knew exactly how He would use it for our good and His Glory and He knew that she would receive His healing. He was just waiting for me to completely surrender her to Him.

One of the hardest parts about being a parent is learning when to let go. All of my children where dedicated and I went through the motions of saying, "Yes Lord I'm placing this child in your hands. He or She belongs to you. " However, at the same time I was still desperately holding on. A mother wants to be the one to kiss those boo boos away. A mother wants to be the one who wraps her arms around them and makes it all better.

I knew what God's word said according to healing. I knew that it was His perfect will to heal her. I stood firm on those promises. But I had to completely let go, stand back and allow Him to move.

Every trial we encounter has a purpose and a promise. God uses trials to mold us and make us into the person He created us to be. (James 1:1-2) While His purpose is being perfected within us, we stand on His promises. We learned so much from our journey, but the greatest lesson He taught us was...... just to trust Him.

In order to receive a miracle from God. He first will rid us of any obstacles. (perfecting His vessel) These obstacles may be unforgiveness, bitterness, selfishness or simply just unbelief. For me it was completely letting go and giving God complete control over every aspect of my life.

I had to get to the place where I could honestly say, "Whatever happens.... Whatever road you take me down Lord.....I will still love and serve you with my whole heart. " God heard my words and then saw that my heart was sincere. Once that obstacle was gone, His hand was able to move swiftly and mightily within our midst. This was the turning point in Serenity's health.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Serenity's Story Part 7 - A Heart Stopper / An Almost Broken Hope

A very discouraging part was knowing we would have to face surgery on the Mitral valve. A date was set. We began to fast. However, the doctors didn't like the fact that we were never able to get into that left ventricle (atrium?) to measure pressures. They wanted to make sure they were doing the right thing, so they ordered another heart cath to be done the day before.

This procedure was suppose to take two hours and the nurse said she would call us half way through with an update. Two hours into it we had not received an update yet. We began to get a little concerned. We continued to wait. The more we waited, the more tension began to rise. I started feeling very ill. I hadn't eaten in a very long time and the stress was beginning to take it's toll.

Finally three hours into it, the phone rang. I jumped up and ran to answer it. The woman on the other end began to explain that Serenity's heart rate dramatically dropped about 30 minutes into the procedure. She said, "We had to perform chest compressions for 15 minutes in order to stabilize her, but she's doing fine now and the doctor will be finished soon."

At that point, I thought that I was going to pass out. I started getting very pale and feeling very faint. My family instructed me to go get something to drink and rest awhile before we talked with the doctor. I wasn't gone but just a few minutes and was heading back to the waiting room when I ran into my husband and my parents.

I could tell that something was very wrong. "Is it time to talk to the doctor?" I asked. They just lowered their heads and my husband replied, "We already did." Surprised, I said, "You did? What did he say?" I could tell something was very wrong. "It's the Mitral valve isn't it?" I asked. My mother just shook her head. "No Dana, it's something much worse." Worse than the Mitral valve? What could be worse than that, I thought.

My mother continued to say, "He says that only a heart transplant can save her. There is nothing more that they can do for her here." I stumbled back, gasping for air as if someone had just hit me in the chest with a baseball bat. Heart Transplant? I never could have imagined that we would be faced with THOSE words.

I began to cry as they tried to explain her condition to me. "Why? Why can't they fix her? Why can’t they fix my baby?" I asked over and over again. I could see the hurt in my dad's eyes as he watched the hurt in mine. He just softly kept replying, "It's the heart muscle itself, They can't fix the muscle."

This was the reason for all the confusion. The reason why they couldn't decide between the mitral valve and the coarctation. She had Restrictive cardiomypathy, a physical hardening of the heart muscle, known only to progress. A disease that hardens the muscle tissue until it is no longer able to perform.

We all cried for several minutes. Then my mother wiped the tears away from her own eyes, looked sternly at me and said. "Okay are you finished? Did you get it all out.?" I slowly nodded. She added. "Okay then wipe your tears and let's get back to work. Serenity needs you to be strong and God is still in control."

Together we prayed.

Afterward, in a daze I walked back to the PICU. Once I arrived they told me that Serenity hadn't made it back to her room yet. So I walked over to the family room next to the entrance.
The room was divided into two sections by a partial wall. I noticed that no one was on the far end of the room. I walked to the back and in privacy collapsed to my knees. I began to call out to God like I had never done before.

By the time I finished, God had given me the strength I desperately needed to continue on. I was determined to find a way out of this situation. I have always been one who enjoyed learning. So I decided that I would find out as much as I possibly could about this condition called Restrictive Cardiomyopathy. I wanted to know exactly what we were up against. My husband and I made a trip to the hospital's computer lab.

It is the only time in my life that I have ever regretted learning about something. I wished I had never typed in those words. Every single article that came up read the words, "transplant or death", "irreversible damage", "no known cure,""Condition only progresses". The worse part was, most of them stated that it’s usually caused by a previous condition. Meaning, most of the patients with heart transplants ended up being reinfected by the disease and having to have another transplant.

We walked away from the lab feeling like our faith and hope had just been crushed. But God always knows when we need our faith boosters and He always comes through!

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's Time for Toddler Talk!

Conversations with Reni and Eli:

Reni: "Ligah!"

Elijah: "What?"

Reni: "I bite you, k?"

Elijah: "What?"

Reni: "I bite you...right there (points to his arm) K?"

Elijah: "Okay!"

Serenity bends down and bites Eli in the exact spot she pointed.

Eli begins to cry: "Mom! Neni bite me."

Mom: "Serenity NO! You don't bite!!!!"

Reni shruggs her shoulders: "Ligah say k!"

Eli and Serenity are getting ready to take a bath. Elijah clothes get wet in the process. Serenity notices and bends down to pick up an article of his clothing. She holds it at arms length and gives a disgusted expression.

Serenity: "Eeewww! Ligah's panties wet!"

Eli: very defensive.. "Those no panties, Neni. I air wonder wear."

Serenity: "What?"

Eli: "Girls air panties....I a boy... Us air wonder wear!"

Serenity: "Why?"

Eli: points to the underwear, "See em' duperheroes? Girls air pretty princesses. Boys no like princesses. Boys air duperheroes!"

Serenity: "Oh!" nods her head then... "Ligah?"

Eli: "What?"

Serenity: "Er duperheros pee on er panties."

Eli: very loud and forceful "NENI those no panties...I toad you... those wonder wear and my duperheros not pee on em'! there is a slight pause.. then quietly he adds.........I do it."

Conservation with Mommy and the Toddlers:

Eli passes by and a trial of fumes lingers behind him.

In a disgusted tone Mommy asks, "Elijah did you have an accident!"

Quickly he replies with, "No Mommy!"

In disbelief Mommy asks again, "Elijah! Did.. you... potty in your pants?!"

"No Mommy!"

Carefully Mommy takes a peek inside his pullup and finds a very unpleasant surprise.

"Elijah Donavin you DID potty in your pants!"

"No Mommy, My not do it. Neni do it."

Mommy lets out a big sigh, "Reni pooped in YOUR pants."


Okay, whatever!!

A few hours later, Serenity passes by Mommy. The paint on the wall starts to peel as the stinch lingers behind her.

"Serenity did you go potty in your pullup."

Innocently she also answers with, "No Mommy, My not do it"

Again carefully Mommy peeks inside, "Oh Serenity you DID go potty in your pants!"

Then with a very sincere look, Reni replies, "No Mommy, I not do it. Ligah go poop (she points to her diaper) in there!"

Obviously he was repaying the previous favor!

Yes folks, I have some talented children. Some kids can read by the age of two, Some can count before they can walk. My toddlers have the ability to potty in each other's pants.

Or maybe..... they're just smart enough to blame it on each other!

Either way, genius...pure genius!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Serenity's Story Part 6 - Making Her Worse to Make Her Better

A couple of days before Thanksgiving the doctors decided that the reason they were having so much trouble determining the cause of her problem was because the staff of the previous hospital had done such a wonderful job stabilizing her.

They decided that first they would wean her off some of her heart medications. If she started to get worse, then we would know that it was the coarctation. If she didn't get worse, then they would wean her off of the vent. If she started to get worse then, it was because of the Mitral valve. Basically they told us that in order to make her better, they had to make her worse.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, things were pretty quiet. Our children and other family had to travel 200 miles to spend Thanksgiving with us at a local restaurant. Tommy's place of employment blessed us by paying for the whole thing. We hated leaving Serenity but we knew that our other children needed to spend time with us as well.

Serenity did very well over the next couple of days. They were successfully able to wean her off the heart medications. Things were looking up. Then the process began to take her off the vent. The first night was wonderful. I had my daughter back again. She was off the sedative, so she was alert and I was able to hold her. I just sat there rocking her for hours until the nurse finally said it was time to lay her down.

I left her room that night so full of joy and promise for tomorrow. However when I walked into her room the next morning. My parents were already there and Reni had a new contraption on, what I call the "miss piggy treatment." It was a hat with hoses that strapped to her face allowing her to receive more oxygen and the nurses had tied bows on it to make it pretty.

At first I just thought, okay she just needs a little oxygen to get her going, but she'll be alright. We joked about how silly she looked and just made light of the whole subject. Until we began to notice her chest sinking in her under her ribs with every breath. We could tell she was struggling.

When the doctors finally came in on the their daily rounds, things got a bit more serious. Serenity was having a hard time keeping her numbers up, even with the new contraption, she was laboring very hard for her breathes. They took her from my arms and said she would have to be re-intubated.

Now, you have to understand that it had already been several weeks since I was able to hold my baby. I was just beginning to really enjoy having my daughter back. Now they were taking her away from me again.
I could feel the tears swelling up, but I tried very hard not to show it. I began to tremble all over. I noticed one of the resident doctors looking at me with empathy in his eyes. He slowly walked over through the crowd and placed his hand on my shoulder. His words brought so much comfort, "Don't worry we'll let you hold her for a little while longer."

He spoke to the Intensivist and they decided to finish their rounds first and come back to do the procedure later. I had about half an hour longer with my daughter. I held her just a closely as I could crying and praying. My soft warm baby was to a cold distant breathing machine again. I could hardly stop my lips from quivering long enough to give her a quick kiss before I handed her back to the nurse.

We had to leave the room for awhile and were given instructions to come back in about 20 to 30 minutes. We spent the time in the waiting room witnessing to other PICU parents.

When time was up, we walked back to her room. We immediately noticed everyone standing around her bed staring at her with very concerned expressions. Then one of the nurses walked over and pulled the curtain back to block our view.

This did not sit well with my husband. He rushed to the door demanding to know what was going on. They proceeded to tell us that during the procedure, Serenity had become ghostly white. They were keeping an eye on her stats for awhile to make sure she was stable.
I know that there was more to this story, but we did not press the issue. We just waited patiently, praying and speaking life into her body. A few minutes later they walked out saying she was beginning to pink up and would be fine. Once again we came face to face with the real possibility of losing our daughter and God had sustained her.

Serenity's Story Part 5- An Answered Prayer

Three days after we arrived, we were life flighted to another facility. Upon arriving, they performed another echo. This time the cardiologist stated in his opinion that the Mitral valve wasn't the problem but rather the coarctation was the culprit. He expressed his views but after reading all the data, the other doctors and surgeon disagreed. After much heavy debate, they went ahead and scheduled Serenity for surgery on the coarctation.

On the day that her surgery was scheduled, My husband and I arrived to her room very early in hopes of spending some time with her before the procedure. However, our plans soon changed. We arrived to a room full of chaos. People in scrubs were everywhere quickly unhooking all of her machines, preparing her to leave. The moment suddenly began to overwhelm me as I realized that our daughter was about to embark on a very dangerous procedure.

I began to panic, asking the nurse question after question. How long will it take? Will she have to have blood? When will we be able to see her again? The nurse very calmly answered each and every one of my questions while we watched the staff begin to wheel her out of the room. Something just wasn’t right about this moment. I definitely did not have a peace about this surgery. That's when I closed my eyes and began to pray.

"Lord, I can't handle this now.... I'm just not ready....If this be your will then give me the strength to endure it, but if it is not your will, then remove this cup from me."

At that very moment, the nurses phone rang. A few seconds later he returned to say that the surgeon had canceled surgery for that day. There was too much controversy about what procedure needed to be done, so they were just going to wait. Whew! A sudden relief fell over me. I could not wipe the smile off my face as the guys in scrubs wheeled our daughter back into her room and began hooking her up again.

Over the next few days, we just waited for a decision. We continued to sit and watch Serenity motionless, speaking healing scriptures over her day and night. Then occasionally, I would tickle her foot just to make sure she was alright and Reni would jerk it back for me.

courtesy of

Added Information:

It is so easy for us to say, "I trust you Lord." However, when the chips are down and things don't go the way we expect, are we content? If I hadn't felt an uneasy feeling about this surgery, would I have been able to cheerfully trust God? i'm not sure! Fortunately God placed an urgency to pray within my spirit and fortunately I had been diligently seeking Him the previous days... so I was close enough to Him to feel it.

I know a woman whose husband was scheduled for a surgery. She kept praying, "Lord your will be done in this situation. Let your will be done." However, the surgery was postponed several times and each time, she would get mad and stressed out. She was constantly complaining and grumbling, "God why are you putting me through this...It's so much stress...we have to make arrangements for our pets all those miles..... waste money on food and gas....only to do it all over again.....Can't we just get it over with..." Well just like the Isralites when they didn't trust God to bring them into the promiseland.....Finally God let her have what she wanted. Her husband went through the surgery and has since had major health problems because of it.

We don't have to understand God's reasoning, or even know it for that matter. We just need to ask for His will to be done...then trust Him to do just that.....even if it's not what we expect... We pray for Him to open doors no man can close and close doors no man can open. Then we walk through the doors He opens and are content with the ones he closes.

At the time, I knew I didn't have a peace concerning this particular procedure, but I didn't understand why. Now looking down from the mountaintop I can see the entire picture and God's reasoning is crystal clear

I will say...Yes Lord

"Come and hear all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul. I cried unto Him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God has heard me: He has attented to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which has Not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me." Psalm 66:16-20

The last few days, I have felt God drawing me closer to Him. I have felt His presence so strong surrounding me. I sit and quiver under an anointing. I feel God preparing my heart for something nearly surreal. I am in anticipation of something great.

The last few months God has placed an incredible compassion in my heart for complete strangers. I have laid in bed weeping hours at a time for the healing of those I have never met. He has placed such a hunger and determination in my heart. Then I have been able to witness His hand move in each of those situations.

God chooses to answer my prayers and I often wonder why..... why my prayers. I am so not worthy. I am not worthy of the anointing that makes me weep uncontrollably. I am not worthy of the spiritual "goose bumps" I'm feeling at this moment. I am not worthy of the intense heat that warms my hands when I lay them on the sick. I am not worthy to be His instrument. Yet I feel Him longing to use me more. I feel Him drawing me closer. I hear Him calling out my name. "Rise up my daughter! Rise up and take your place!"

He has been preparing me... preparing me for something great. Now I feel it is nearly at hand.

"O Bless our God ye people and make the voice of His praise be heard.. For thou O God has proved us: You have tried us, as silver is tried. You brought us into the net: you laid afflictions of our loins. You have caused men to ride over our heads, we went through fire and through water: but you brought us out into a wealthy place." Psalm 66:8-12

I can't not describe the love I feel. I can't explain the anticipation that makes me heart leap within me. I can not express my hunger nor thirst. All I can do is praise Him and say "Yes Lord! Yes Lord... although I know I am not worthy.... Yes Lord, I will answer your call...."

"Oh God thou art my God, early I will seek thee; my soul thirsts for you... my flesh longs for you.... To see your power and your I have seen you before." Psalm 63:1-2

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Laughter Lives Tuesday - Funny Pix

Laughter LivesThis post is part of "Laughter Lives! Tuesday" on the Riggs Family Blog. Check our their blog to read everyone else's "Laughter Lives!" posts.

This weeks theme is funny pix:

Well of course, I just have to start out with Serenity and Eli's "Potty" hats!

Elijah's funny attempt to impersonate his sister's favorite star...Hannah Montana!

He's so pretty here...It's scary!

Evidently we it comes to sibling rivalry, hitting, kicking and biting aren't enough anymore. Here Serenity demonstrates a new way to torture her brother. Eli comes running to me screaming. "Help me Mommy.... Neni make me stuck again!"

This is Reni's first attempt at dressing herself. I think we might need to hold off on that milestone for awhile....don't you?

Maybe she has a problem dressing herself because she would just rather run around completely naked. Keeping clothes on the little streaker is a task that we are constantly failing! Buttons, zippers, layers of all kinds of clothing, nothing worked until......

My stereo typed man of a husband found yet another good use for electrical and/or duct tape!

Serenity's Story Part 4

Our First miracle....
I sat there for hours at a time just reading, praying and crying. We would take the authority that Christ has given us to bind the sickness and disease, commanding her body to line up with the Word of God. Man said my baby was sick... God said my baby WAS healed. We were going to believe God's words.

The nurses would walk by and stare. I could hear them whisper, but I didn't allow this to affect me. I continued to read my scriptures and pray. I knew that God would be faithful to HIS promises.

After awhile of hearing only the constant beeping and seeing only her chest move up and down with every breath the machine breathed for her, I began to fall apart. I would poke her and tickle her, doing everything I could just to get some kind of reaction out of her, but nothing. She laid there, not even a twitch. I picked her arm up and gently let go. It fell limp and lifeless to her side. I began to cry. I cried out to God. "Lord please give me a sign that somewhere inside this body my daughter still thrives. I need to know she is still in there."

With a gentle touch, I took my hand and caressed the bottom of her foot, what had just laid motionless and lifeless before, suddenly jerked back. I thought my heart might leap right out of my chest. I began to play with her. I would tickle her foot and she would move it. We did this over and over for several minutes.

This was one of the first of many miracles to come. Still to this day, Serenity is extremely ticklish on the bottom of her feet. I know that God gave me this little boost to strengthen my faith. I had to have something to hold onto. He always meets us at our level of faith.

Her First Diagnosis....
A couple of days after arrival, Serenity was scheduled for a Heart Catherization. The cardiologist that performed it was very cautious and because of her size was unable to make it into the left ventricle (or atrium, I forget) But based on the results, they diagnosed her with Shone's Complex, and he recommended that she needed the Mitral valve either repaired or bypassed.

In order to do this we had to once again travel to a more equipped hospital with more experienced surgeons. The night before we were to leave, we were awaken by the sounds of the alarms on Serenity's equipment.

Somehow the respiratory therapist accidently pulled out her tube while suctioning it. Reni's pulse ox level and heart rate rapidly began to drop. The nurse informed us that in order to get the anesthesiologist there quickly to intubate her again, they were going have to call a code blue on her room. For those of you who do not know, that's the code they use when someone stops breathing or their heart stops beating. It's never a good thing to hear over the loud speakers especially when the room number they are calling... belongs to your daughter.

When those lights starting flashing and people everywhere started running toward our room, I thought MY heart was going to stop beating. It’s something that no parent should ever have to experience.

Once the doctor arrived and replaced her tube, Reni began to stabilize again. But regardless, we will always remember the terror that one moment brought

courtesy of

Monday, February 9, 2009

Serenity's Story Part 3 - Our Journey Begins

We immediately were sent to the PICU of a more equipped hospital. Once we arrived a pediatric cardiologist performed another echo herself. The results were devastating.

Like her mother, Serenity had a coarctation, which is a narrowing in the aortic arch and also a bicuspid aortic valve, basically that means that the opening to our valve has only two flaps instead of the normal three.

My worst fear had come true but that wasn't all. Serenity also had another problem that I did not have. She had a deformed Mitral valve. This was the kicker, because any surgeon knows that this is one of the most difficult valves to repair on an infant. It's hard to get to and because babies grow so fast, it has to be done again and again in the future.

When explaining these problems, the cardiologist gave us very little hope for Serenity's recovery. She said "You had better just hope that it's not the Mitral valve." Then stated that Serenity's Pulmonary hypertension was off the charts high and when asked what happened to babies with numbers that high if not corrected, she looked me in the eye and sympathically stated, "They don't live very long, a couple of months at the most"

I felt like those words had knocked the very life out of me. The good news, (if you can call it that) was that all these conditions could be medically fixed. Even the Mitral valve could be repaired. It was difficult and dangerous, but it could be done.

Once the doctor had finished her diagnosis, my mother who had rushed to the hospital as soon as she heard, began her pep talk. She reminded me where our hope is. Nothing is impossible or even difficult with God. Jesus took His stripes for this very reason, to bring healing to my daughter.

The doctors began to stabilize our Serenity. That night they intubated her. She no longer had to breathe on her own, but she now had a machine to do it for her. Because of the pain and discomfort this causes, they placed her on a continual drip of pain medication and sedative. They placed two IV's , one for meds and one for drawing blood on a regular basis. They also put in a feeding tube and placed her on medications to lower her blood pressure and heart rate and a med to help with the function of her heart.

By the time they were finished I could hardly recognize my baby. The first time I saw her, I cried both tears of sorrow and tears of relief.... Relief, because she no longer had to labor for breath. She wasn't struggling just to survive. She was sleeping more peaceful than I had ever seen her before and that somehow brought me relief.

Once we were settled in, I pulled my chair up next to her crib and began reading healing scriptures over her. I would speak directly to her body saying...

"Body, I speak the word of faith to you. I demand that every internal organ perform a perfect work, for you are the temple of the Holy Ghost; therefore I charge you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the authority of His Holy Word to be healed and made whole. Father, we resist the enemy in every form that he comes against Serenity. We require her body to be strong and healthy and we enforce it with your Word. We reject the curse and enforce life into her body. Thank you Father that Serenity has a strong heart. Her heart beats with the rhythm of life. Her blood flows to every cell of her body, restoring life and health abundantly. Serenity shall not die but Live and declare the works of the Lord. Serenity shall NOT die but LIVE and declare the works of the Lord. In the Holy name of Jesus we pray. Thank you Father for healing our daughter"

( scriptural references: Proverbs 12:14-18, 14:30, Psalm 118:17, James 4:7)

Courtesy of Our Story on

Added information:
Every time that I went before the Lord in prayer for our daughter, I made sure to go before His throne with a pure heart. I wanted nothing to hinder me from reaching His throne. So each time I would pray, "Forgive me Lord if I have unknowningly sinned or stepped out of your will on this day. I pray that I might be forgiven, so that I come before you with a pure heart."

Then I would begin to give him praises (no matter what the circumstances were - We ALWAYS brought an offering of praise) The Word says that God inhabits the praises of His people. Where His Spirit is welcomed sickness and the things of this world can not be. For He is light, where there is light...there is no darkness.

We always spoke directly to her body. We always incorporated her name into each scripture. This made it much more personal, not for God's benefit, but for ours. The more we would hear the positive, the more we believed the positive. You receive as you believe! If you believe the negative reports of this world... you will receive the negative results.

This why it is so very important to satuarate yourself with God's Holy is the ONLY truth there is and it ALWAYS leads to victory!

FYI - Whether you are walking through a valley or standing on the mountaintop, Psalm 91 is an excellent scripture to quote on a daily basis.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Serenity's Story Part 2 - Serenity Arrives

Upon her birth, Serenity immediately began having difficulty in breathing. They rushed her to the nursery and began placing IVs and oxygen into her.

Serenity's God given fight was noticed right away. It took two hours, four nurses and two different doctors to hold her down and place the IV. After being poked and prodded many times, they were finally able to secure a vein.

Serenity fought them tooth and nail through the entire experience. Then after a few hours of being confined under the oxygen hood, she began to get a little edgy. At just a few hours of age, she managed to maneuver her hands up under the hood and with one swift blow, knocked it off her head and onto the floor. (Believe it or not that attitude has since only become MORE aggressive )

Her nurses were absolutely amazed at her 'supernatural' strength. One mentioned that in the many years she had been a nurse she had never seen that happen before. She also mentioned that we might need to rethink her name, for she wasn't very serene. However, It was never her personality that made her name worthy. It was the overwhelming peace that surrounded her entire life. God had His hand upon her from the very beginning.

While in the hospital, they ran many tests trying to diagnosis the cause of her problems. Over the next few days most of the tests came back with positive results and Serenity seemed to be doing much better. They were able to wean her off the oxygen and she maintained her oxygen saturation level very well. Her blood and lungs looked great. The only test that we hadn't heard about was an echo cardiogram they performed to check her heart.

In the meantime, I knew something just wasn't right. I was a mother of four others, so call it instinct or maternal wisdom, but I just knew. Plus, I had heart problems as a child. I had a coarctation repair when I was just five years old and am living now with an unrepaired bicuspid aortic valve. Heart problems was a definite possibility and I made it known. I also sent her back to the nursery several times because of grunting with her breathes. The nurses would check her pulse ox level and then send her back saying she was fine.

After five days in the hospital, they sent us home without our echo results. The two days we were home with her were very long and sleepless. Serenity would wake up many times during the night crying. I now know it was because she was having trouble breathing. Not knowing then, I would pick her up, pray over her then lull her back to sleep. At first, Her grunting wasn't a constant thing. She would have little grunting phases that lasted only a few minutes at a time. Then return to regular breathing. Newborn babies breathe rapidly anyway. So it wasn't hard for others to convince me that I was just being paranoid.

The Monday after her birth, we went back into the pediatrician's office for her regular check up. On the way there, she slept very peacefully, breathing fine. While in the waiting room I began to notice her breathes coming more rapidly. After she was weighed, and placed on the examining table, we noticed her starting to grunt a little. Once the doctor entered the room, he sat down beside her and started reading her echo results that had finally been delivered. Even though he was very focused on the results, he suddenly stopped reading and looked up. Serenity was grunting harder than we had ever heard her before. With much concern the doctor asked, "When did she start doing that?" Very aggravated I replied, "She's been doing that all along! Just not this hard."

He then informed us that the results we had been waiting for almost a week were inconclusive on the cause but diagnosed her with severe pulmonary hypertension, which denotes some type of heart problem. Basically we had just spent the weekend at home with a baby who very well could have had congestive heart failure.

I thank God for sustaining her until the very moment we laid her upon that examining table. Whenever I think about what could have been if it weren't for our Heavenly Father.... well, all I can do is praise HIM for His mercy and grace.

courtesy of our story on

Added Information:
The point that I want so much to make, has nothing to do with doctor or hospital error. I want to make it perfectly clear that we have only the highest respect for the care givers God placed in our lives. The late diagnosis of Serenity's heart condition was due to nothing but a series of unfortunate circumstances. ( the file was misplaced, then found and forgotten. Finally delivered for reading by a pediatric cardiologist 70 miles aways two days late, then returned misplaced again by different people, then finally delivered to our doctor only after a stern phone call from my husband... a definite attack of the enemy)

Satan tried with all his might to destroy our daughter, but God had other plans. My point is simply this.... despite of all those circumstances, God substained Serenity. Satan can try all he wants to, but when we are truly walking within the shadow of the Almighty (psalm 91), Satan has no authority over us. GOD is ALWAYS in Control!