Bridget’s Bridge to Hope

IMG_3481Yesterday, room 422 at Lexington Children’s PICU had allot of sunshine beaming in it, and it all came from the joyful hearts of Adam and Samantha as they held their little Bridget.

It did not matter that Bridget was not as responsive they hoped she would be at that point in time, but Bridget had fought the good fight and had crossed the bridge to a better place in her journey to recovery.  Adam and Samantha were clearly happy to have a chance to briefly hold their little girl once more.

This couple had prayed nearly nonstop at Bridget’s bedside.  They did not give up hope.  They reached out and asked for prayers from others, and many responded with their “yes”.  They knew they must reach out to heaven 20160730_142312for grace to be prepared for anything that might be given to them, but their confidence was in God alone. Because of their spiritual maturity, they understood that God does not create suffering but does provide grace to endure.  But like any desperate parents – they were asking the saints to beg God for Bridget’s healing.

Through the duration they placed her daddy’s blessed medals in her tiny hand. They reminded them that we are assisted by heaven.

Bridget is not completely out of the woods, but there is a strong indication that she could move out of PICU soon and happier days will be in the horizon.38450

We are happy that this journey is not ending but looks hopeful to better days and we believe we owe it to prayer and the wonderful care of Lexington Children’s hospital.

Prayer is natural.  It is a loving conversation with the Lord who loves us and helps us through the trials of life. Heaven is always tuned in to our calls, afterall “heaven is real.”

Blessings,

theresa@1heart2souls

 

 

 

 

 

Vivians Victory

viv vicGod is Here

Rod and Maria Dunlap are not an ordinary married couple and in their first two years they have not had an ordinary marriage.  They are an extraordinary twosome whose first year of marriage withstood trials that most couples do not experience within their lifetimes.

Recently, I made arrangements to meet with Rod and Maria for dinner and I found myself fondly thinking of them as I drove from work to a restaurant in Newport, Kentucky.   Since I was running a little late, I knew that Maria’s engaging smile would greet me just in front of her cheerful personality; while Rod’s more quiet but strong presence would  be right beside her.

Maria and Rod had been a referral to 1heart2souls in May 2012 by way of Maria’s sister, Clare, who had reached out to 1heart2souls to be a partner in a walk-a-thon for the benefit of their baby that was due in August.

Rod and Maria were married in May, 2011 and by Christmas that year they broke the news that they were expecting a baby. The good news spread to family and friends and the excited parents could only think of all the good days ahead in raising the fruit of their love.

March 7th, 2012 was a day they had been looking forward to with great anxiousness.  They were scheduled for an ultrasound that would reveal the baby’s gender and a better view of their baby’s sweet features.

Maria and Rod were not prepared to hear the news the doctor gave them that day; their baby daughter had a serious heart condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). A defective heart that affects only 4 out of 10,000 babies and their baby was one.

So began the journey of two people who began their love story like most young couples who are ready to start making their dreams a reality.  No marriage preparation class or book had prepared them for what was about to turn their world upside down in an effort to save their baby’s life.

Tears, prayers, time, family and friends fortified their hope, but one day through her tears Maria’s heart  was moved by a thought that suddenly jolted her – “God is here!”, “God is here!” Rod and Maria knew the journey would be hard, but this was their little girl, and they would help Vivian (Vivi) fight for her victory.  The following four months of testing and patiently waiting for Vivian to make her way into the world were times to discover the greatest and weakest attributes of each other.  By the time Vivian arrived, Rod and Maria were ready to exchange their own lives so that she might have hers.

vivian victory 1A Victory Party for Vivian

From what we understand, there was an all-night welcoming party that was celebrated in the waiting room by the Lees family (Maria’s family) for Vivian Teresa who was born July 24, 2012 around 6:32 AM.  Within a short period of time after holding their bundle of joy, Vivian was transported from Good Samaritan hospital to Cincinnati Children’s where the race to save Vivian began.   Rod and Maria, who hardly had time to hold their daughter in their arms, vigilantly remained at her side. Maria’s posts on her blog “God is Here!” had a growing audience as Maria posted their ups and downs of their journey as they prepared for Vivian’s Victory.

“Every day we are counting Vivian’s Victories.  She is beating the odds that were set before us.  She is not blue, she is breathing on her own, we are able to hold her and love on her all day long and I am able to attempt nursing (which is complete torture for Viv).  All of these are huge blessings.  I am learning through the news of her Abernathy Syndrome (which there have only been 400 cases recorded by the way) that every moment is a blessing.  As hard as it is to verbalize, we aren’t guaranteed any moment with Viv.  She is doing awesome, but that could change at any moment.  God is really shaping my heart to overly appreciate the moment we are in and to be overly grateful for the grace we are receiving.  In the heat of emotion, I got so angry at God–why do I need to learn this with my daughter?  Why can’t I learn this some other way?  Why can’t I learn any of this any other way than what I am?  It just isn’t fair.”

Vivi’s Victory

The prayers of many poured in while extraordinary graces showered onto Rod and Maria as they endured all the trials, heartaches, and heartbreaking disappointments.  After 59 days God decided Vivian’s life had accomplished what was necessary and she was called home.  While the sorrow was nearly crippling, the supernatural joy and love of having had Vivian’s life given to them made it possible to carry their lives forward. Thus, Maria wrote on her blog:

“My Dearest Vivi,

Oh, Baby Girl-words will never be able to begin to describe the love my heart holds for you.  In 59 short days, your sweet soul captured the hearts of all who fumbled onto your path.  You, my sweet girl, are an inspiration and light to each of us here, and to any that are not.

Being your mom is a joy that humbles me–why did God chose me to be the mother of such an amazing saint? Someday, I hope to see as you see, but until then, I am in complete awe.

I never wanted to be ‘that mom’ you know the one that thinks her child is so special–but I couldn’t help it–you are so precious.  It always made me feel better about this when after someone visited you they would tell me that they felt like a better person.  There is something about you Vivi that drew people so close, encouraged people to be better.

My dear, in your short stay on this earth, you have taught me so much–you have taught me to love every moment…to cherish the little things that are so mundane we take for granted.  I don’t think I ever in my life have gotten so excited to change a diaper or clip nails or do laundry.  You have taught me through your actions how to suffer with great grace.  Never once did you back down or stop fighting as you lived your mission on earth.  Every blow you took like a total champ–even as you left this world, I know your cries weren’t because of pain, but sadness that those were our final moments as a family on this earth.  You have taught me to love courageously, to give my all to God….even if it is my most precious treasure.  You have taught me the importance of community, of gratitude, of patience and perseverance.

I will always smile when I remember your sweet little quirks–your lover for Mr. Lambie, how you would always look to see if Daddy or I were around, and the image of you smiling in your sleep.  I will always love your feistiness–how you tried to pull out your tubes how even hand restraints wouldn’t keep you from hitting people when they were doing an echo or ultrasound, how you always demanded to have your hands by your face, or on your face, or rubbing your werewolf ear or suspended in the air while you were sleeping, or gripping onto Daddy’s finger.

My most precious moments were the ones when I got to hold you for the first times–the day after you were born, a few days after your surgery, and today.  My heart will always long for you.

Viv, you did such a great job here.  If our ultimate goal is to leave the world better than we found it-you definitely did achieve the goal–what a victory.

Being your mom will always be an honor and a joy.  A breath-taking experience of God’s great love.  I know heaven is a much happier place since you arrived.

My precious Vivian, thank you for being here.  Thank you for choosing me to be your mommy.  Thank you for making us a family.  I will love you until forever.

St. Vivian, Pray for us!

I Love you Baby Girl,

Mommy”

vivian victory 2July, 2013 – A Tribute to Rod and Maria

Just as I had thought, Maria’s smile greeted me with genuine eagerness to see me; it was good to receive both their hugs.

It had been only ten months since they parted with little Vivian in the wee hours of the morning on September 21st, 2012 so I took extra care not to intrude into their sacred space.  But they were both eager to talk, and I was eager to listen to Rod and Maria share how their journey had continued. I admired their solidarity with each other. It was obvious that the pain and sorrow had stretched them and bonded their love to a higher degree. There was no bitter edge to their words; and no hesitation in their shared view of the blessed 59 days they had with Vivi who had spent all her days at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rod and Maria –

You claim Vivian’s Victory to be that she was victorious in bringing hearts to God – and I agree.

I met with you and I thought you would tell me how hard it had been since your Vivi left this world to be with God. But even though she took with her the core of your hearts, you still give thanks to God for choosing you to be her parents.   I saw that no matter how hard those 59 days were, you are happy that Vivi’s life was a special gift to you to share with others.  Your attitude of gratefulness is to be admired and desired. Your complete “yes” to   suffer without bitterness was your magnificat to God. Your right, Maria, no one will ever know or truly understand this suffering but you and Rod.  While other parents have had to go through similar journeys of the heart, no two journeys are the same when they are traveled side by side with Jesus.   I was moved by your words in recounting how you felt a portion of the passion Mary’s heart endured when she journey with her Son to the cross.

It is apparent that Vivi (which means life) was recruited by God to a mission where her broken heart would cause many to view life with greater respect and dignity.  And for you, she placed a jewel in your hearts to remain as a little victorious crown signifying the Glory of God that was at work.

Your eyes swelled with tears as you recounted how so many people supported your little family as you stayed at Vivi’s crib side hoping for a miracle.  In retrospect, as you contemplated Vivi’s life, you realized how God was massaging and refashioning hearts as you and Rod forged through each day with Vivi.

Rod’s strong words of love and compassion reminded me that there are many parents who go through similar experiences, but they are not prepared to handle the challenges emotionally or financially.

You witnessed first-hand while Vivi was in the NICU at Children’s that there were seriously ill newborn babies who did not have their parents at their crib side.  You felt a great sadness for both the babies and parents.  It is true, that there is such little awareness by our society that these little sick babies often do not have their mommies and daddies beside them because of financial reasons, or lack of preparation for such devastation in their lives.

You want to continue Vivi’s mission by helping others understand that life is fragile and sacred and that each moment is a blessing from God.

Rod, you so eloquently voiced that you and Maria want to help parents who have children that are seriously ill, or have suffered infant loss in any practical manner possible.  You take this as a grave responsibility that Vivi did not die in vain, but lived for 59 days to move hearts in many ways.

Your words were “we owe it to Vivi; she would want us to help others.  It would be selfish for us not to do so, especially where there is such a need. During Vivian’s stay at children’s we saw many babies whose parents could not be there with them.  We want to make it possible for working parents, or those that have financial hardship, to be with their babies as much as possible.”

Your pact with Vivian and God is coming to fruition when you hold the second annual fundraising walk-a-thon on Saturday, August 17th, benefiting parents that have been given a poor prenatal prognosis or have a child with special needs.   1heart2souls is joining you again in this effort and we will be praying and working to help this walk-a-thon be successful so that Vivian’s Victory can be a source of hope for others.

I thank you for meeting with me I am humbled by your compassionate hearts.  Contributed by Theresa Gray

Vivian’s Victory Walk-a-thon

1heart2souls thanks Rod and Maria for sharing Vivian’s story. We hope our readers will support their efforts to raise funds to assist parents to be with their babies while they are hospitalized or assist them when they send them off to heaven.  We are adding links to Maria and Rod’s blog and information on Vivian’s Victory Walk-a-thon in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Please see our facebook post for additional information or go to http://www.1heart2souls.org/)

http://viviangodishere.blogspot.com

Celebrating Life that Was, Is, and Ever Will Be

Happy Birthday, Hope and GraceFor the past three years our family has gathered together at the invitation of our children, Chris and Luci Klare, to celebrate the lives of their two daughters, Hope and Grace who passed onto a new life with God on June 23, 2009.

This year, with no exception, beyond the joy of being together, the good food, the laughter from the children, and the pink and white balloons that represent the purity of  their love – the memory of  sorrow and joy is painfully remembered.

Each year, as we release the balloons as if they will reach heaven, I visualize that Hope and Grace’s little hands will sneak out of  a cloud and swoop one up.  These two twin girls have not been entrusted to God, no God entrusted them for over seven months to Luci’s womb and their entire life outside the womb in the embrace of Chris’s arms and then He called them back when their purpose had been accomplished.Happy Birthday, Hope and Grace!

I admire the hearts of these two young parents, they know that love is stronger than death – it supersedes, it never dies. They know in reality that their goal is to be reunited with all their children some day in heaven.

Luci’s voice thickens as she passes out the balloons , Chris quietly sits back and observes as he smokes his occasional cigar.  The balloons are released  and a somber moment passes through us.

Then with a sudden shriek of a happy child, we break into laughter and joy and the business of celebrating.  Life has moved on  for Luci and Chris as they stay busy with their two  children, Maria and Joseph, and baby five due around Christmas. (No, I don’t think they will name the baby Jesus)

Summer 2013 051It is love.  It is true love in it’s best form for they know all so well that Hope and Grace were, are and ever will be with them in this life and in eternity. It is the honor and dignity they give to their children recognizing that in  their brief life on this earth they were able to  fulfill the Will of God and give birth to a deeper and more profound meaning to  love itself.

 

Happy 4th Birthday, Hope and Grace from Maria and Joseph!

 

 

 

 

40 Weeks in 40 Days

mary_cross1heart2souls begins this season of 40 days of Lent by placing into our hearts the sorrow and anxiety of those parents who have suffered the loss of their babies,  are beside the cribs of their suffering little one, or whose babies in the womb are at high risk for survival.

Through these 40 days, we meditate the ultimate sacrifice a woman gives of her body to  become a safe vessel by which for 40 weeks an innocent and completely dependent baby sleeps.  There is a significant correlation between Jesus being in the desert for 40 days fasting and in prayer in order to prepare to give his life so others may have a new life in Him and an exptectant mother who prepares to also bring forth life.

When we get calls or emails from the parents (and we have had several the past week)  of these babies asking for prayer,  we know their need is urgent because often they do not know how they will endure their sufferings another day.

So, dear mothers and fathers of our special little babes,  we unite in prayer these 40 days for your intentions. We pray with Mary to Jesus that she will console your hearts.

Oh, Mother of Jesus, you have the perfect maternal heart, you experienced the joy of knowing you would bring the Christ to the world, and then immediately encountered the sorrow of knowing that He would die for us. During your motherly life, you began it in poverty, giving birth to the King in a stable, taking on hardship you and Joseph fled  your country to Egypt to protect your baby from being slaughtered, and then traveled back to live a humble quiet life waiting for when his time would come.

We lift these parents up and place them into your beautiful maternal heart, the protection of  St. Joseph and the love of the Son of the Creator, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. During these 40 days allow us by our prayers to help alleviate the weight of their cross  and we hope our readers will join us in praying for their peace.

 

THE GIFT

A Tribute to Vivian Teresa …

 This post is long overdue.  We at 1heart2souls have gone through a “dry” time in our journey.  We have contemplated and prayed about our mission to help parents asking ourselves at times if our prayers truly make a difference.

Recently we watched a young couple hang on to the prayer of a miracle cure for their infant daughter, Vivian.  We read Maria’s  many uplifting posts on her blog, “God is Here!” while she sat at Vivian’s crib-side. So many who read her blog assured them prayers and sacrifices were being offered for a miracle cure. Relics were taken to bless their baby to obtain this miracle, grandparents offered God their assurances of all their trust, friends and siblings were vigilant in offering their hands and feet as well as their hearts in serving this family during their very difficult journey.  Vivian was born July 24th with  a condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome a condition that prompted the prayers of many, and by September the need for prayer became more urgent.

Friends,family,acquaintances, churches, nuns in convents, all pleading God to support this couple and heal this baby’s heart if  it was His will.

It was 430am September 21st and I had just returned home from time praying at our church’s adoration chapel.  I had an inclination to call Maria. I had felt so peaceful that morning after pleading once again for our Lord to hear our prayers for Vivian and her parents-asking again for a miracle if it was for His greater glory.  But I went on to bed thinking about Rod and Maria and how they must be at Vivi’s crib-side.   Around 8am I received a text that at 5:13am Jesus visited Vivian in the quiet dawn of the early morning to invite her home.  I have to admit, my heart sank and my tears were unrestrained.  My heart felt wounded similar to when my own daughter had suffered the loss of her twins, Hope and Grace.  I allowed myself to cry and allowed myself to tell God that my imperfections caused me not to be 100% happy that Vivi was not given an earthly life with her parents.

How quickly He let me know that His love for them was greater than I would ever understand.  So, I composed myself  after awhile and prayed in thanksgiving for Vivi’s  beautiful life.

We can only imagine what it must have been like.  Little Vivian awakened by a most beautiful lady and a court of angels creating and  lining a path for the brilliant light that was approaching her. .. no we cannot even begin to imagine how beautiful this moment must have been for Vivian, her final words of elation very well could have been “God is here!”…and there was likely no hesitancy except to longingly look at her parents and love them good-bye.

God’s will was fulfilled.  All prayers were answered.  We will be enlightened someday regarding our wonderment of “whys”.  But we know for sure that  many miracles did take place that day. Not only was Vivian’s heart permanently cured, but the soulsof many were miraculously healed as well.  Many souls, some that simply ran into Vivian’s story out of  “coincidence” are more compassionate, more giving, more caring, more loving as of September 21st than they were before July 24th, when Vivan was born into the lives of her two amazing parents, Rod and Maria.

Vivian’s victory was the victory over sin and eternal suffering.  She was victorious because by her suffering she left an everlasting gift to so many, especially to her parents. It is such mystery.  The same mystery as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The pain of longing to be with Vivian will always be present.  There are no words that can take this pain away.  Only the love of others will provide her parents the solace and hope needed to make it to the end of their own life journey when they will one day truly be united with their little Vivian in a place where joy and peace perpetually exists.

“Jesus we trust in you! Vivian, you are now a saint in heaven, pray for us.”

 

-theresa gray

Families We Heart – The Yusko Family

 

Mother and Father’s Name:    Aleisa and William Yusko

Siblings’ Names:    Sophie (birth daughter), Gavin, Greta

Your Baby’s Name:     Nora Rose

  • Five words to describe the feelings you had about being a parent?

 Aleisa: challenging, rewarding, selfless, priceless, testing

William: rewarding, fun, responsibility, exciting, challenging

  •  What was it like finding out you were having a baby?

Aleisa: I was taken off guard, but excited about having a new baby in the house again! Nervous, but up for the challenge!

William: A little exciting.  A wake up call.  We’d been talking about adding to the family but hadn’t officially given it the okay.  We both wanted another child but wished we would’ve decided to do so a couple years earlier.  We weren’t really trying, but not preventing either. If it happened it was meant to be.

Siblings: Sophie was extremely excited. Gavin and Greta didn’t believe Mommy at first. Once they realized we weren’t kidding, they too were beside themselves!

  •  Tell us about Nora:    

When we first found out we were pregnant we decided that we were going to wait to find out if the baby was a girl or a boy. We were so excited for our 20 week ultrasound thinking the only thing we’d have to worry about is whether we’d have enough will power to decline the knowledge of the baby’s gender. A couple of soft markers lead to a level 2 ultrasound, which then brought us to an amniocentesis.  Based on the soft markers and our family histories we were given a 70% chance that this was a healthy pregnancy. Our “worst case scenario” was Down’s syndrome. While that was scary to think about, we would accept it if that were the hand we were dealt. The news that our baby has Trisomy 18 knocked us down to the floor. “Incompatible with life” resonated in our minds. Despite being given the option to terminate, we chose take a leap of faith and to carry to term. We were told our baby likely wouldn’t survive to term, even then it would be a lot to expect a baby with Trisomy 18 to make it through delivery. And on the off chance he or she survived delivery, we wouldn’t have long with our baby. Straying from our original plan of waiting to learn the gender, we decided to find out. We did that through a gender reveal cake. Our geneticist sent the big news to us in a sealed envelope which we gave to our friend and baker. When we took that first slice into the cake and saw that it was PINK we knew we were having a GIRL! We named her Nora Rose and treasured each day of my pregnancy with Nora as a part of our family, wondering if that might be all we would be given. Every little kick and jab was a precious gift. Nora remained very active on into the day of delivery. Her heartbeat was equally as strong. Without any complications except for our rattled emotions, Nora Rose arrived into this world with a big hearty wail! To embrace her and kiss her as she was placed up onto her Mommy’s chest was incredible and exhilarating! Just as quickly as that moment was given to us, it seemed to be wisked away. The nurse gently, but urgently removed Nora from our embrace. Nora’s heart rate had dropped dangerously low. We had requested that drastic measures to resuscitate not be taken, as they were often futile and could inflict unnecessary pain. We were urged to bring in our pastor. It seemed like that was the end. In absolute desperation we cried out to God to breathe life back into that baby, please spare her! The heavy silence that hung over the room was broken by a loud cry. Her heart rate was back to normal. After a few minutes she was back in her Mommy’s arms. We probably could have flooded the room with all of the happy tears! From that point on, Nora has decided to prove everyone wrong. She is a month old now as I write this. She requires only a little help with some oxygen, but is otherwise a “normal”, beautiful baby girl. She eats from a bottle on her own, she has her fussy periods, she loudly alerts us when she’s hungry, and she responds to our touches and our voices. We never could have imagined how precious this little life actually is. She is such a gift from God and we feel so incredibly blessed that He chose us to be Nora’s parents!

  • Why choose life: 

Initially it seemed senseless to carry to term. My first instincts were, “What’s the difference if the baby dies now or later? If the outcome is going to be the same, why prolong the inevitable?” Those thoughts were out of fear and emotion. My best friend pointed out to me, “We’re ALL going to die sooner or later…” Never were truer words spoken. I knew deep down in my heart that this unborn life had a purpose, I just wasn’t sure what that could be. It turns out that Nora’s purpose is way bigger than anything I could have ever tried to conjure up in my own mind! I’ve learned that if I can just release all of the control I think I have on life and let God be in charge, without a doubt He will sculpt it into something beautiful!

  • If you could do it all over again or change something, would you?

Aleisa: I would most definitely, without any doubt or hesitation, do this again. Nora Rose was worth every tear and every sleepless night. The only thing I would change is that we wouldn’t have worried so much! I can’t even say that I would change her extra chromosome because that’s part of what makes Nora who she is, and in my eyes she is perfect, beautifully and wonderfully made!

William: I would not have been so scared or worried.  I think of all my wasted sleep, time, and energy that went into worrying.  I wish now that I would’ve trusted God more than I did and that I’d been able to be the one who calmed my wife’s fears and worries.  I feel like those times were wasted opportunities for any joy or happiness during the pregnancy.  

  • If you could tell families in the same situation something, what would you tell them?

Aleisa: Rely heavily on your faith. God does not make mistakes. He WILL use each and every life He creates for His glory. Even in what we, in our limited perceptions would deem as unfathomable, I can promise it isn’t once you’re in the middle of it. Stay focused on the present moment, enjoy each day and each moment as they come without giving even so much as a fleeting thought about what you THINK the future MIGHT hold. God will give you all of the tools and perspective to deal with each new day and each set of circumstances as they come. It won’t be easy, but you will be richly blessed!

William:  Please don’t waste time worrying about the uncertainty and all the what if’s.  But with that said, It’s in our nature and nearly impossible not to worry no matter how strong our faith is.  I even remember reading accounts of other couples who offered up the same advice but I wasn’t strong enough to take it.   Instead of all the worry just Give up control and let it be.  Let God’s plan for your life play out and simply enjoy each day.  I would also add to share how your feeling with family and friends.  It sure did help knowing people around us were loving on us and praying for us.

  • If Nora could tell us all what’s in her heart, what do you think she would say?

Nora My tiny heart is so filled with love and gratitude for being given this life. You were told I might not live, the outlook was grim. You were given the option to end my life, but instead you took a chance on me and let me continue to grow where I was safe and warm in Mommy’s belly. This is just the way God made me. I don’t realize there is anything “wrong” with me or that there are statistics that imply I shouldn’t be here. All I know is what it is like to be loved. Because you gave me a chance, I get to experience the warmth of the sunshine, I get to hear the birds singing, I know the smell of spring time. Best of all I know what it’s like to be cuddled, kissed, hugged and stroked by my Mommy and my Daddy, my brother and sisters and all those who love me. My presence in your lives, no matter how long will bless you immeasurably. That’s just my little way of saying, “Thank you!”

cincinnatibirthphotography.com

Special Thanks:

Thank you so much to the Yusko family for participating in “Families We Heart” and being apart of our family at 1heart2souls.  We love you and will continue to pray for you!

<3 luci

If you would like others to continue to follow Nora’s story or would like to reach out to this family:

Blog:   www.iwillcarryyou.wordpress.com

Email: aleisaak@aol.com

Donations to: 1heart2souls.org

In honor of: Nora Rose Yusko

**Any donations received to 1heart2souls in honor of your child will be used towards our effort to provide healing blankets to parents, receiving blankets to babies, and in supporting our NICU fund at Children’s Hospitals.

the physical. the emotional. the spiritual.

The past two weeks have truly been physically, emotionally and spiritually demanding.

The physical.

On April 12th I began to have very “laborous” pains in my side and I was finding it difficult to breath through them.  I have never been in full active labor so I wasn’t sure if this was preterm labor or not, but found it necessary enough to drive myself to the hospital.

After arriving at the hospital, I was quickly met with all the preventitive measures they take with an expectant mother who is breathing heavily and moaning uncontrollably.  Immediately I was hooked up with IVs  of fluids, magnesium (yack), heartbeat monitors and contractions monitors.  Within 20 minutes of my laying in a hospital bed I was in pain so badly that they decided to give me an epidural – SHEW! RELIEF!

2 days of uncontrollable pain and we finally discovered that I was suffering from the age old kidney stone.  I won’t go into full detail of how I dealt with the pain when the pain meds wore off and what I said while dealing with the pain, but in my dearest husband’s words he said that that I looked and sounded like a “wild african beast”  … And I concur the sounds I made to deal with my pain were crazy! 🙂

But I am feeling so much better after 5 days of fluids and a little pain medication.  I was able to make it through the delivery of my first kidney stone.

The emotional.

Fresh out of the hospital I got a text from my pal Melanie…

Aleisa is having her baby tomorrow and we need the 1h2s blanket.

Aleisa is a mother that Mel introduced 1h2s to a few months back when she had just found out that she was expecting a baby girl with Trisomy 18.  (Trisomy 18 babies have a 50 percent chance of being born alive and even a slimmer chance of  living long after birth.)  So I reached out to this amazing mom, who started a blog to log her journey of carrying Nora Rose… I simply let her know that 1heart2souls and our team of moms will be praying for her throughout her journey.

I never expected that on the day of Nora’s birth I would be able to meet Aleisa and William – two beautiful souls.

April 17th, it just so happened I worked near the hospital Aleisa was delivering.  And instead of waiting to give Mel the blanket, it was suggested I go up there and meet with them and deliver it myself.  I walked into the room and literally felt chills overwhelm me.  It was as if I was walking into a holy place.  I instantly saw Aleisa tearfully and joyful awaiting to hold her little Nora,  and William full of support, like a knight in shining armor, by his wife’s side ready to be a rock for whatever was going to take place that day.

As I was giving them their blanket and talking with them I can’t tell you how many times I  swelled with emotion and tears  knowing what they must be feeling and remembering all the feelings I felt almost three years ago laying in a hospital bed awaiting to hold Hope and Grace.

I saw and felt in that room so much love and excitement for a baby who truly has been sent from Heaven to change the hearts of many.  I felt honored to have met them.  I feel emotionally and spiritually connected to this little Nora Rose because she too said, “YES” to God before coming to Aleisa and William to take on this special task for him… AND LOOK WHAT SHE IS DOING! Amazing.

Nora went home last week and doing well.  Aleisa is daily posting updates on Nora and how she is doing so please follow and give her words of encouragement HERE

I can only imagine how many sweet kisses she is giving the world by her presence each day! Oh, … how I feel like I got a big one that day!

Also if you want to know what heaven brought to the world that day… you can see it in on  Mel’s Beautiful Beginnings SLIDESHOW…warning you will need tissues… her pictures are breathtaking and tell a story words cannot.

… she captured Heaven love showering the world that day!

The spiritual.

Ever since Nora was born and I saw her beautiful picture via text message, I couldn’t and I can’t stop thinking about Hope and Grace.  I think about them every day… But now it’s like they are constantly showing themselves to me that they are thinking about me too!

Hope and Grace were born on June 23rd.  23 is a special number for me.  Every 23rd of the month it’s a huge reminder and heart wrencher for me.  I know they are extra present those days.  But now it’s like I am seeing the #23 everywhere!

Do you believe that there are no coincidences, only God incidences?

Lately I have become a little more skeptical.  I hate it.  Even at our 1heart2souls meeting my team was talking about little “signs” from heaven that they have been receiving… and I found myself not embracing their stories with faith.  Well since Sunday I feel like Heaven is bum rushing me.  Every time, and I mean everytime, I look at the clock it displays: 1:23, 2:23, 3:23, 4:23 and so on… typically I see 11:23 especially.  And then I think, OK just coincidence… but then yesterday was the 23rd and I really feel my heart saying, “Luci wake up.  Put on your eyes of faith, they are here with you.  God is here with you.”  So, now when I see 23… I see my girls “poking” me from heaven!

I have learned so much in the past few days.

There are no coincidences.  There are no mistakes.  All things DO happen for a reason, even the most painful ones and in seeing them through eyes of faith we can recognize the blessings we are receiving and be grateful for them!

Thanks for all your support throughout the years emotionally, physically and spiritually.  I am so happy that 1heart2souls is still able to help the families that need the support also.  It fills my heart with joy to be able to continue to pass on the love I have for my daughters and be able to help others.  And that goes for everyone at 1heart2souls… We all are so proud to have the chance to share our love with others from what we have received from our children!

with all my love,

<3 luci

“I could never do that.”

From the moment  my husband and I found out that we were having conjoined twins and shared our story, many have said to me, “I could never do that” or “I don’t know what I would do” (if the situation ever happened to them).

Almost immediately, my response is, “I know, I once felt the same way”.  Of course, that was before Hope and Grace changed my heart. But I am no one special.  I wasn’t given an extra amount of virtues over anyone else.  I wasn’t brought up in a family with an awareness of or knew  anyone with a deformity, disability or had lost a child.  When I found out I was pregnant, I was just like any regular girl who dreamed of the future with a “perfect” healthy baby and all the joys it would bring. 
I even remember occasions in my young adulthood looking at parents with a child with disabilities or hear of someone who had lost a baby and saying to myself, “Wow,  I would never be able to do that.” or, “surely God would never ask something like that of me, I couldn’t handle it”.

But then at the young age of 25 and shortly after I was married … something extraordinary was most certainly happening. 
Two tiny lives were beginning to thrive. 
So what happened when they told me the twins were conjoined?  What happened when Dr. C said “they only have a 1% chance of making it to birth alive”? 
My first gut instinct was sadness.  Sadness that all the dreams of having a perfect child were now gone.  Secondly, I was scared.  “What happens next?” I had already built this love for a child (unknowingly two children).  It was there.  I couldn’t suppress it.  I couldn’t hide it. I couldn’t pretend that I wasn’t a mother, their mother anymore.
I gave myself time.  I gave myself the chance to think of how I had felt for the past weeks knowing I was carrying a baby.  I allowed myself the time to grieve and be sad.  I allowed myself to fall to pieces.  And in falling to pieces andbecoming completely vulnerable and broken,  I found my hope.  When we break and crumble, when we feel abandoned and alone, I believe that is when we beg God for answers and He gives them to us because we are open to listening!
“God, Why?!”
“God, I can’t do this!  Why me!?  Why us!?  We love life.  We wanta big family.  We are going to be great parents!  We would love our children! Why give us these babies, this circumstance, this heartache!?”
For us, our answer was almost immediate as we laid on the floor crying and begging for answers.
I love life.  I loved the thought of being a mother from the moment the pregnancy stick gave me a plus sign.  My protective motherly instincts kicked in and I knew my heart was knit with theirs, loving them the whole way through my pregnancy until I held that life in my arms.  Nothing had changed, really.  God knew that we loved life.  He heard our desires for a big family.  So instead of 1 we got 2.  He heard our hearts when we desired to be loving parents; so what better way to love our children than to give them the chance to live and allow others to love them.  God heard my heart’s desire to have a family that was Christ-centered!  Thus, He answered our prayers as He prepared my family to long for heaven.  And boy, do we long for it now more than ever!

At the end of the day.  I was still a mother.  I was still Hope and Grace’s mom.  They were happy and thriving as long as they lived in me.  And when they were born, we held saints, God’s great gift of love in our arms.  We held the truth of life and the rewards of heaven in our arms. Now, they are still happy and thriving. 
I am no one special.  We all at one point will be asked by God in some way to stretch our love beyond what we know is possible .   I am sure this will not be the last time I am asked to stretch out my love.  But so far, my children and my husband have been the greatest gifts of love that God has given me.  I believe it is through my “yes” that  I love him back.  I can’t imagine what my life would be like had I never felt the love of  my girls when they were born and held them on my chest.  The weight of  their bodies was miniscual in comparison to the weight of love that day crushed my heart .  I still feel it.  I still feel the same amount of love I did June 23, 2009, and I would do say “yes” again If God asked.
So what would you do?  I hope you would  turn to God;  crumble in His arms and allow Him to wrap you in His love and strength.   He truly never gives you more than you can handle, and He never asks without giving abundantly in return.  Only His love will give TRUE happiness and fulfillment that lasts forever! 
God Bless,

luci

TIME, LOVE, AND ETERNITY

I love holy music, especially authentic Christmas music.  I listen to it year round.  It exudes love, tenderness, and holiness.  Yes, I am listening to the beautiful holy music of Christmas.

Yesterday was my birthday.  I am sixty-one and in the autumn of my life.  How blessed my life has been;  I believe there is nothing in the future that can shake the foundation by which makes my life blessed – my faith and trust in the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit along with the friendship of Mary and the saints in heaven.   My life has known so much love.  Sometimes I question how I could have deserved such a loving husband and my dear children whose little tender faces I recall kissing at birth and all their lives thus far.  I don’t know how time could have slipped so quickly, but now my nine children are all grown, thank goodness I still have two teenagers at home.  I find it soothes the pains of letting my now adult children go and be with their spouses and do what they are suppose to be doing – building their own families.

i am also grateful for the very special parents that were chosen for me.  My mother is 90 and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.  If there is a blessing to have Alzheimer’s I guess it is that her attention can be diverted from the worries of the present moment. Along with my twelve brothers and sisters, we now are experiencing the pain and sorrow of watching our father live out his last days.  At 97 he is still giving us pearls of wisdom and joy as he struggles for every breath he takes.  As I sat with him last week his words were, “everything I did, everything I had, was by the grace of God”.   My dad was born to two Mexican peasants, struggled to get an 8th grade education, jumped trains at eighteen from Oklahoma to San Antonio to take his earnings from work to his mother.  When I was four he and my brothers built our first real home by his own genius and hands.  That home still stands sturdy housing another family.  When I was twelve he chose to move his growing family out of Texas to Kentucky as he advanced in his work.  We will never forget how he studied nightly in our damp dark basement in his little “shop” to get his GED so that he could be promoted.  He retired at 65 after 30 years with a successful job.  What I recall mostly from my childhood is the sacrificial love of my parents.  How they did without so that we might have all the basic needs of health, education and most importantly – our faith.  Now my father is being prepared for his new home, he is being blessed by all of his thirteen children being able to visit him before he departs to his eternal home.  What a gift of love from God to this good, humble, and holy man.

On my birthday in 2009 my expectant daughter and husband received news that their precious little babies had little to no chance of survival, yet at their birth they were given the gift of 46 minutes with their parents and changed their hearts, mine and many others forever.  What they brought was the gift of love and life to others, because love does not end with death.

Tonight, I am thinking of a young man who in a very short period of time left a lasting impression on my heart as well.  Tomorrow he would have been twenty-seven years old had he not passed away in his sleep on January 19th.  Paul was a handsome, intelligent, and witty young man who happened to be blind.  He had lost his sight four years earlier by fate of a degenerative disease.  Yet, if you had been introduced to him and shaken his hand, you would not have known about his blindness unless someone told  you or if you had noticed his walking stick or seeing-eye dog friend, Anthony.  Paul had a captivating smile but more captivating was his obvious love for Christ.  It was this love that brought him and others together to talk about how we could share this love with those who were seeking for meaning in their lives.  In the 27 years of his life Paul accomplished more than most individuals who are given a long life. His biggest achievement was in the work of evangelizing others to have reverence for the name of Jesus. He believed that if one had reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus, then all else good would follow.

Three lives, three different spans of life time, three ripples in the ocean of Divine Love.

Tonight, Lord, I praise you and thank you for the generous gift of my life that was granted to me because my parents cooperated with Your Divine generosity in creating me and loving me.   Heavenly Father may you be Praised, Loved and Adored, now and through all eternity.  Thank you for all of your creation, every man, woman and child…all your creatures great and small!  Grant your special blessings on parents that are suffering from any anxiety as they pray and work to keep their families united in peace and love.

-theresa gray

Executive Director, 1heart2souls

Choosing Thomas


HEROIC COURAGE, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

Lee Hancock a reporter for the  Dallas Morning Times produced a narrative project  about a family facing a Trisomy 13 diagnosis. The story, begins  Sunday, Aug. 30, documenting the family’s decision to keep their unborn son and their subsequent journey through perinatal hospice.  Lee thought it would have great interest to the readers.

“I teamed up with a photographer to follow Deidrea and T.K. Laux. We were with them step by step for more than three months after their unborn son was diagnosed with a terminal condition. Our intimate video and two-part narrative documents how the Lauxes’ lives and their son’s life were impacted by compassionate end-of-life care. It’s a story highlighting the power of faith amid tragedy. We help readers explore how parents can find joy and celebrate the gift of a child’s life, even as they endure the heartbreak of a life ending too soon.”

We hope you will take time to view this emotional but beautiful video of two parents who displayed heroic courage and love.