God alone is Sovereign

1 Chronicles 29:11

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Anna Grace - December 31

I have some time to BLOG because we are not able to go see Anna Grace just yet today. Whenever a Heart baby has surgery or has a problem they "lock down" the PCICU and no visitors are allowed to go in until the baby having the problem is situated & stable. So... today there is a little baby who had been moved from PCICU to the "7C floor", but for some reason is now having to come back to PCICU. So.... we have not yet been able to see our daughter today. We are hanging out in the PCICU waiting room until we are able to go in... along with all the other parents of the heart babies in PCICU. Everyone wants to see their baby, but we all appreciate that they "lock down" when there is a problem. We have been able to talk with Anna Grace's nurse on the phone and she said that Anna Grace had a good night last night. That's all we know about her right now.

So... I went to the doctor this morning to see him about some extensive swelling I have been having in my feet & legs as well as to have him look at my stiches. He said that the swelling I'm having is normal and that the remedy is to lay down with my feet elevated above my heart. So, I have been laying on the floor in the waiting room with my feet propped on a chair. Certainly not ideal but hopefully it will help. He also said that I have had an "extensive repair" and that if I didn't take it easy I would end up back in the hospital. I can't really do that so I'm going to really try to obey as best I can. It's a fine line to walk because I know I need to take care of myself and at the same time I want to be at the hospital with my sick baby. The good news is that he said that both of these problems should be much better in a couple of weeks so hopefully in 2 weeks I'll be doing much better physically and can be there more for Anna Grace.

On another note.... Zachary has been having a big time this week. His Aunt & Uncles & cousins from Charlotte have been staying at the town home along with his Mee-maw & Pops. He is playing all day with his cousins and riding bikes & playing at the playground. He doesn't appear to be missing me too much right now with all of the fun he is having playing with the "big kids". I think his Aunt & Uncle are taking him to the Aquarium today. He's never been to an Aquaarium & I know that he is going to LOVE it.

The townhome that we are staying in has been such a blessing. It is HUGE and really looks like a model home - it far surpasses our needs - God is so good to provide for us what we need and MORE. It's about 15-20 minutes away from the hospital, we couldn't have asked for anything more perfect for our family.

With all that being said we are just trying to hang in there knowing that Monday is going to be one of the toughest days of our life and certainly in Anna Grace's life. It's so hard knowing what she is about to endure. They have been talking with us about some of the details of the surgery, but we haven't talked with her surgeon yet (Dr Bradley). It is overwhelming - especially since she is so tiny. I think we have wept more over the last week than in our entire lives.

Thank you all for continuing to pray for our family and for Anna Grace. Love in Christ - Tina

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Anna Grace had a very good day today. Her white blood count came down to within normal ranges, she is breathing very well and is doing some exercising (crying mostly but getting in some ab crunches occasionally). Of course all her exercising is allowing her to get some much needed rest. We are very grateful to the abundance of grace Jesus is pouring into our lives.

We talked with the social worker today about TEFRA. She said that we really can’t complete the application until after Anna Grace’s surgery. After her surgery we will have a complete doctor’s report about her heart. So, as it stands right now we will be completing the application on January 12 and the social worker will help me complete it.

Our family has been wonderful and we are very grateful for them all. From the ones who have been present in Charleston to the ones who can not be here they have all been a huge encouragement to us and we know they are covering us in prayer.

And to the countless friends, most that we know personally but some we do not; we want to say thank you from the bottom of our heart. Please forgive us for not answering all your messages but know we are reading them all. There have been many many messages that have brought us to tears. But most importantly thank you, thank you for your continued prayers! They are felt and the Lord is moving. May you all be blessed for your faithfulness to pray.

Sorry for the short blog tonight but we are both physically and emotionally exhausted.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Anna Grace - December 29

So... our little girl's surgery is not going to be tomorrow as we had been told. It is being postponed until either Monday or Tuesday next week. Anna Grace has had an elevated white blood cell count (which indicates a sign of infection) & has ben on antibiotics for this since she was born. Although her white blood cell count is coming down the doctors feel that they want her to have a full course (7 days) of antibiotics before they take her into the OR. So... that will mean her surgery will be on Monday or Tuesday but that Tuesday would be the latest. We know that God is in control off ALL the details in this and are trusting HIM. Because her surgery is now going to be next week, the surgeon on call next week is Dr. Bradley. So, Dr. Bradley, not Dr. Shaw, will be doing her surgery. Dr. Bradley is the most senior heart surgeon here at MUSC and has the best statistics with the Norwood Procedure. God is in control, thank you Lord :)

In the meantime, we are praying that Anna Grace's white blood cell count will continue to come down. We are praying that she will be able to continue to stay off the ventilator until her surgery and that she can remain comfortable and gain strength over the next few days as we await her surgery.

On another note.... I am meeting tomorrow morning with a social worker here at MUSC to complete the application for government assistance called TEFRA. It is like Medicaid, but it is not income based assistance - it is diagnosis based. We believe that Anna Grace's diagnosis qualifies her for TEFRA, so please join us in praying that we will qualify for this assistance and that we can get approval for TEFRA soon. We've known about TEFRA for a few months now, but you can't apply for it until the baby is born. So, now that she is here are are working on getting this application expedited as soon as possible.

I am being discharged from the hospital tonight so Brian & I will be leaving our little girl at the hospital tonight when we go back to the townhouse. Although we knew we would have to do it, it is hard to leave you baby at the hospital and go "home" without her. We are blessed that she has had such wonderful nurses looking after her and know that God is with her at all times.

Thank you all for continuing to pray for us. We will keep you updated each day as we know more.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Anna Grace - December 28

Well, our little Anna Grace has arrived! I type this BLOG from my hospital room at MUSC in Charleston. It was a little unexpected, as we had planned to have her by c-section on December 30 - but the Lord had other plans for our little one.

We arrived in Chalreston on Saturday (Dec 26) and I went into labor on Sun (Dec 27). We ended up not having a c-section as planned, but having her "naturally" because my labor progressed pretty much prefectly. She was born on Monday, December 28 at 3:48 am weighing in at 8 pounds 3 ounces! Once she was born there was a "Stabalization Team" waiting for her so I got a quick glace at her before she was quickly wisked away by this team of doctors. They worked on her for 2 hours getting her stabilized before moving her up to the PCICU (Pediatric Cardiology Intensive Care Unit). That's where she is tonight as I type up this e-mail. It is VERY HARD to not have her with me and it has been very hard not being able to hold my sweet little daughter. I stood by her incubator tonight for an hour singing songs to her and holding her little hand. They are also not feeding her (for various reasons) which is very hard as a Mommy to hear your baby cry for milk and not be able to feed her.

The doctors spent pretty much the entire day doing tests on her. There are a multitude of tubes and lines going into her little body, the have done 4 echocardiograms today as well as ultraounds on her brain and kidneys. This evening we talked to the cardiologist who told us that our little girl has Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome, but more specifcaly Tricuspid Atresia, Transpoition of the Great Vessels and a CoArch. The tests reveal that she will be having the most complex open heart surgery there is called the Norwood Procedure. They are also going to be unable to wait to do the surgery and as it stands right now her surgery is scheduled for Wednesday morning. Dr Shaw will be doing her surgery and it is a very long open heart surgery as well as risky. However, if we don't do the surgery she will die within 48-72 hours so the surgery has better odds than that. It is a very hard place we are living in right now. Brian and I cried over our little girl today - true gut wrenching sobs. We have also spent time in prayer over our little girl and the doctors today. Please join us in praying that Anna Grace can remain off the ventilator until her surgery and that the Lord will show mercy on our daughter and give her the strenght to make it through the surgery. Also, that the Lord will give us the strength we need to care for her and make tough decisions on her behalf. The doctors have warned us that the next two weeks will be very difficult ones. Lord help us. Please pray for Brian & I over the next couple of days that we are able to get some rest because we are so very tired.

Things I am thankful for today.... That Anna Grace weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces upon her arrival, that despite having to be put on Prostagladin which is a drug that she needs to stay alive but will often times cause babies to "forget" to breathe she is still breathing on her own like a champ and is able to remain off the ventilator, that we have family that traveled to Charleston to take care of Zachary and to be here to support us, for Crossbridge Ministires here in Chalreston who have reached out to us and ministered to us since we have been here, that I had a textbook perfect labor & delivery of Anna Grace, that we have so many friends & family who are praying for us and our sweet girl.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Anna Grace - December 23

Just got home from two doctors appointments this morning. The first was with my regular OB/GYN. They weighed me (I'm officially 50 pounds heavier today than when I started this pregnancy!) and checked my blood pressure (120/80 - looking good!). They also did an ultrasound on Anna Grace which showed that she does still have fluid on her abdomen although it does not appear to have increased. Anna Grace - although she was squirming - was not practicing breathing today which concerned me a little bit because she's uaually a champ at breathing. From there I saw the doc who checked my cervix and said that it was intact and that I would not be having a baby today :) That was super great news! Since today was my last visit there before Anna Grace's birth they asked me to keep them posted on her progress and I said that I would.

From there I headed over to Dr. G's office. They performed another ultrasound which showed the same thing as the first ultrasound. Since she was not practicing breathing they wanted to put me on the monitor for 20 minutes to check out her activity - which of course showed that my daughter's heart beat was steady and normal and that she is a VERY active little girl who never, ever sits still! What a blessing! Dr. G came in to talk with me after that and said that he & his office would be praying for us and asked me to keep him updated on her progreses. All of the staff there came to hug me and tell me goodbye since that was our "final" appointment there. They also asked for our BLOG address and said they would check out our updates on AG here. It truly was bittersweet saying good-bye to them. What a blessing they have truly, truly been to our family!

So, as it stands right now, we are still planning on going to Charleston on Dec 26. I have an appointment with the doctor there on Dec 28 and then she is scheduled to be born on Dec 30 (unless she comes sooner)! This time next week my little girl will be born. I am excited to meet her and yet wish that it wasn't quite time for her yet knowing all that she will have to endure upon her birth.

Thank you all for continuning to pray for us - specifically that things go well for her birth, for God to give her strength & endurance once she is out of my womb, for wisdom and discernment for the surgeons and doctors who will be treating her, for peace and security for Zach while he adjusts to the new home and being away from Mommy & Daddy and for comfort & wisdom for Brian & I. God is soverign and we trust Him - Amen!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Anna Grace - December 17

The appointment with Dr. G went very well today. I was having some "pains" last night - not sure if there were contractions or what they were specifically, but it was enough to send me to bed and I was scared that we might be having an unexpected delivery in Greenville. Thankfully after some prayers & rest the pain subsided. I mentioned it to Dr. G today & he said that I most likely did too much yesterday and that I needed to rest more. Not an easy task with a very active 2-year old boy at home, but I promised to try :) My cervix looked good & they monitored my tummy for contractions for 20 minutes & there were none - praise God!

As for our little Anna Grace..... she weighs in today at 6 pounds 9 ounces. The amniotic fluid surrounding her looked good and the fluid on her abdomen has not increased - again - praise the Lord! As usual, she was squirming and moving & giving them a hard time as they were trying to look at all of the "things" they needed to see, but what a wonderful sign that she is thriving & comfortable - always a blessing for Mommy to see!

So, since she was doing so well I don't have to see Dr. G again until Wednesday next week (12/23) unless of course I feel a decrease in her movement. That will be my last appointment with Dr. G. He has been such a part of our journey it will be strange to not see him a couple of times each week. He will be one person we will certainly be making a visit to once Anna Grace is home & doing well. What a sweet day that will be!

So, right now the plan is to leave for Charleston the day after Christmas. We will have an appointment in Charleston on Monday the 28th for a final look at Anna Grace before her scheduled delivery on December 30th. I can't believe it's almost time for her to be born - I am excited & nervous all at the same time.

We thank you all for your continued prayers for our family and for Anna Grace.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tighten Down With Christ

Today my wife and I had two car seats installed at the Greer Fire Department in preparation for the arrival of Anna Grace coming sometime within the next two weeks. As one of the firemen was installing the base in the back of my jeep I asked what was the most common mistake he see’s with self installed car seats. He said most are installed by individuals, which turn out to be to loose and then went on to tell me this story:

“I pulled a call the other day where a woman was blindsided and hit from the side. The impact sent her child locked in the car seat all the way across the car and the child’s head hit the other side window. The seat belt holding the car seat was not tight enough.”

As I was driving home I thought this sounds like a good analogy with the way most people are in their faith with God. People have the tendency to just tighten up their relationship with God enough to make them feel safe. Attend church sometimes; give once to twice a year if that much, read God’s word maybe a few times a year, pray only when things get really bad or maybe just pray over dinner. They tighten Christ around themselves just enough to feel safe but leave the belt of life just loose enough to not have Him controlling them completely.

Then when life produces some kind of crash they fly across the car of life and smack their head against the realities of this world. They become bewildered and shaken up, sometimes not knowing how they will survive the trial they find themselves in.

Let me encourage you today to allow Jesus Christ to buckle you down tight. Seek Him with all your might while He might be found. Ask God to tighten your life seat belt by enlightening the eyes of your heart and renewing your minds to His overarching sovereignty and control in all things. Ask God to reveal sin, grant repentance and increase faith in your lives. He is faithful and will not disappoint those who seek Him in humility.

I’m no stranger in understanding the need to have a tight seat belt in this life. With Anna Grace’s possible heart issues, I take comfort in knowing that my seat belt is God. Although the road may get rough and I can feel the every bump, I’m securely planted and rooted in my Savior who is the Christ and His name is Jesus. May He receive the glory that is due to Him and Him only through my trials and sufferings.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Anna Grace - December 14

Today was a very good appointment with Dr. G. Anna Grace's heartbeart was strong & steady at 158 BPM. My amniotic fluid looked good and the fluid on her abdomen has NOT increased (Praise God)! While I was there Anna Grace was practicing breathing - apparently this is a normal thing babies at this age do in-utero and it means that she is being a "normal" baby :) She was also so very active that the ultrasound tech could hardly get the pictures that she needed - also a very good sign that she is doing well today. I also had the privilage of looking at her face today which I have to brag on...... she has the chubbiest little cheeks you have ever seen AND we also noticed that she has some little fat rolls on her legs. What joy it brought to me that I just had to share it with you too!!!!

So... things went SO well at today's visit that I don't have to go back to see Dr. G again until Thursday - unless of course I notice a decrease in her movement between now & then.

There is still much to be in prayer over.... that her little heart will continue to sustain her, that the fluid on her abdomen will remain as it is or decrease, that she will continue to gain weight and strength, that she will be able to remain in my womb until December 30. There is also SO MUCH to be praising God for.... truly everything about today's visit was an answered prayer. Thank you all for continuing to be faithful to pray for our sweet Anna Grace!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Anna Grace - December 11

Today's doctor visit was a good one. The ultrasound showed that Anna Grace still has fluid on her abdomen, but that is does not appear to have increased - which is a good sign that her heart is holding steady. On a positive note, my amniotic fluid has increased (praise God)! Dr. G gave us the option of going down to Charleston today to have the doctor's there look at Anna Grace to determine if she needed to go ahead & be delivered or not. He said that most likely what would occur if we did that is that they would want to watch her & do another ultrasound on Monday to determine if she needed to be delivered. So, Brian & I decided to stay in town & we will go back to Greenville on Monday to see Dr. G for another ultrasound and then make a determination at that time about going to Charleston for delivery on Monday. He did caution us that if Anna Grace's movements decreased at all over the weekend that I am to go to the hospital in Greenville - so please join us in praying that she remains an active little girl throughout the weekend and we can go see Dr. G in Greenville on Monday as planned.

Some other pretty amazing things occured while we were at our visit with Dr. G this morning. The sweet nurse who usually sees me was there again today & performed my ultrasound as usual. During our time together today, Brian was able to share his testimony with her as well as share the Gospel with her. She began to cry as Brian shared how the Lord saved Him and I of course being pregnant began to cry too. She gave us both a hug and left the room. Then Dr. G came in and asked why we were making his staff cry :) Brian told Dr. G that he was sharing with her how God saved him. At that point Brian thanked Dr. G for waiving our fee for his services (which he has done for our last three appointments) and Dr. G said that this was his ministry and that he was glad to do it. Brian asked Dr. G if he could pray for him and he said yes, so the three of us prayed together in Dr. G's office. Friends, we ask you to please join us in praying for Dr. G and his office - they have truly been a blessing to us - certainly not a coincidence - but a blessing from our sweet Savior :)

Also, on another note - we had some roofers come to the house yesterday to patch our leaky roof. They feel pretty sure that they were able to fix the leaks (at least for the time being). They did not charge us for their services. We didn't share with them our situation with Anna Grace so we're not really sure why they didn't charge us for their services, but we are thankful for their generosity. If anyone needs a roofer we have one to recommend :)

One more blessing to share with everyone.... Crossbridge Ministries is a ministry in Charleston who we met with when we were there in September. They basically minister to families who have sick children/family members at MUSC and are in Charleston from out-of-town. They become your friends & church away from home while you are away from home. They have been faithful to pray for us and for Anna Grace since they found out about our story. I e-mailed them yesterday to let them know that we might be heading to Charleston earlier than expected as well as to let them know the location of the townhome where we will be staying while we are in Charleston. The director from Crossbridge e-mailed me back & told me that that we would be virtually across the street from each other. Truly, that is a blessing and again, not a coincidence. How wonderful to have a Christian support system whlie we are going to be away from home.

So.... we have all our bags packed and I suppose we will just keep them packed as we don't know when we will be heading down to Charleston. But for the time being we are enjoying being home together and our little girl has a few more days of comfort in my womb. Z will be home from his Grandparents in the morning so Brian & I are going to have a quiet evening together tonight.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Anna Grace - December 9

Just got home from the Maternal Fetal doctor appointment. Dr. G said that my amniotic fluid has stayed steady, which is a huge PRAISE. However, he noticed that Anna Grace has fluid build up in her abdomen. He said that this is an indication that her heart is failing and is unable to pump the fluid through her body. He said that he wanted to see me again on Friday morning to look at the fluid in her abdomen. If it has increased he's going to send me down to Chalreston for delivery. There is some concern about her lung development because she is only 36 weeks along, but there is not enough amniotic fluid to do an amniocentesis to check her lung development. So, basically, if there is increased fluid in her abdomen on Friday she is going to have to be delivered whether her lungs are developed or not becase it means her heart is failing. He also said that if I noticed a decrease in her movement today or tomorrow to come right into the office to be checked.

So, please be praying that Anna Grace's little heart can sustain her for a little while longer so that she can remain in my womb as long as possible. Also, please pray for discernment for me - for me to be able to tell if there is decrease in activity and I need to go ahead & go to the doctor. Please pray for Zachary to handle all of these changes well because things could change for him very quickly. Please pray for strength for my husband Brian - being the leader of family is a huge responsibility. Also, not quite as big, but certainly something to be prying for.... with all of this rain we've had we have had several roof leaks so we really need a roofer to come and at least fix these leaks in our roof pretty quickly so that we don't come home to a HUGE mess.

Things I am thankful for.... for Dr. G who cares so much about Anna Grace, for Mrs. L who is so faithful to keep Z for us, for my husband who I can not imagine going through without his love & support and most importantly - for our Lord who promises to "strengthen and help me and uphold me in His righteous right hand".

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Anna Grace - December 4

We had an appointment with the Maternal Fetal doctor in Greenville on Friday (Dec 4). Our appointment was early (8:30) so we had an early morning of dropping off Z with Mrs. L to get to Greenville on time.

Let me just stop for a moment here & say THANK YOU to Mrs. L for being SO FAITHFUL to keep Z for us during our many doctor appointments. She never says "no", although there are plenty of times I'm sure she's had to rearrange her schedule to accomodate us. She is truly a blessing to our family and Z just LOVES going to her house :)

So... as Brian & I are sitting in the waiting room of the Maternal Fetal doctor's office in walks Anna Grace's Cardiologist. We did not have an appointment with him and this is not his office. When I saw him I said "Wow, I didn't expect to get to see you today" to which he replied "I'm just here to see you for a social visit". Now, for those of you who may not know, we don't have Maternity Insurance so, if we had an appointment with the Cardiologist the "office" would have had to charge us, so this sweet doctor took time away from his day to come see us away from his office for a "social" visit. So, they called us back & we had our ultrasound of our little Anna Grace. She looked great and appears to be growing normally (with the exception of her heart). She weighs in at a whopping 6 pounds 3 ounces (PRASIE GOD) and was a very active little wiggle worm. We were also blessed to have been able to just look at her little face in 4D. It's amazing technology and we were able to see even the most minor little details of her face. She has chubby little cheeks and a dimple on her chin and the cutest little pouty lips you've ever seen. The also has fat little arms & fingers. So basically I'm saying that she is SUPER CUTE!!!!!! It was a very sweet time to just look at her so peaceful, perfectly content in my womb :)

After all the "pictures" the Cardiologist came in for our "social" visit which he informed us that her heart looked the same (Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome) so we can still expect to deliver her in Charleston & she will still be having her first surgery most likely when she is about 2 days old. He also wanted to be sure that we knew how things would "play out" once she was born. She'll have to be put on a ventilator immediately and will have a feeding tube inserted as well as other "lines" run. She will be in the Pediatric ICU - unless there is no room there - in which case she will be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. They will start doing testing on her immediately once she is out of the womb to confirm the findings of her "in womb" echocardiograms. Then the surgeons will come up with her specific "surgery game plan". It's all going to be pretty quick. At the conculsion of our meeting with the Cardiologist, Dr. R, he prayed for us and for Anna Grace. We won't see Dr. R again until after Anna Grace is home from Charleston. He will be her "regular" cardiologist in Greenville. I am truly thankful that God brought us to Dr. R. He has certainly ministered to our family and we are grateful that he will be Anna Grace's doctor.

After we met with Dr. R - then we met with the Maternal Fetal dcotor, Dr. G. He told us that my amniotic fluid is low and that he wants to monitor it closely. He said if it drops below a certain point he will go ahead & send us to Charleston to have Anna Grace delivered early. So there is a possibility that she will be born BEFORE December 30th. Please contunite to pray with us that this does not hapen and that she can be born on December 30 as scheduled. As uncomfortable as these last few weeks of pregnancy are, I really want my little one to get as big & strong as she can be before she has her first surgery. Dr. G said that everything else about her looks great and normal. Dr. G was also very generous with us and did not charge us for his visit on Friday. It truly is a testimony of how God is taking care of all these details for us through this journey. Thank you Lord :)

So.... as of today, I am trying not to be anxious, although I have to admit it is difficult for me. She's going to be here very soon and we don't know what her future holds. We are TRUSTING GOD that whatever plan He has for our family is perfect. We are also TRUSTING GOD that He will give us the strength to make it through each day of this journey. Thank you friends for continuing to pray for us & encourage us & love on us. You will NEVER KNOW how much it means.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bread of Life is the Word of Life that leads to Eternal Life

There are some text in the bible that are just plain tough to wrap our minds around, but nevertheless they are still God’s inspired written word, and they do need to be dealt with if we are to grow in the Lord and help others grow as well. John chapter 6 has some of these texts. I encourage you to listen to John Piper preach and try to deal with these text as he moves his church through the Gospel of John.

Unfortunately, to really get up to speed you need to listen to November 22nd's message (50 minutes), and then to his most recent message on November 29 (50 minutes)

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Weep Not For Myself

I’m currently reading A Pilgrim Who Made Progress – The Life Story of John Bunyan Author of the Pilgrim’s Progress by William Deal. Mr. Bunyan was put in jail for preaching without a license in 1660 and one year later his wife Elizabeth Bunyan went before the judges to argue for her husband’s release. Here is a small excerpt from the book:

Elizabeth, now quiet upset, replied (to Judge Twisden), “He preaches nothing but the Word of God!”

At this, Twisden, white with rage shouted, “He preach the word of God! He runneth up and down the country and doth harm too many people!”

Standing firmly, Elizabeth looked at him with tender eyes and replied, “No, my Lord, it is not so; God has owned him and done much good by him.”

Twisden replied, “God! His (Bunyan’s) doctrine is the doctrine of the devil!”

Elizabeth standing calmly replied, “My Lord, when the Righteous Judge shall appear, it will be known that his doctrine is not the doctrine of the devil!”

Elizabeth weeping went on, “I weep not for myself, nor for John Bunyan; our case is in God’s hands. I weep to think of what a sad day it will be when you poor creatures who have so treated him today shall stand before the Judge of the universe to give an account of your deeds!”

John Bunyan was released from prison 11 years later. One main reason he stayed in prison so long I believe is because of comments like this:

John Bunyan being led away by the bailiffs turned and shouted to the justices, “If I were out of jail today, I would preach the Gospel tomorrow!” John did continue to preach from the jail to prisoners and some outsiders each Sunday; So much for silencing God’s Word which will never happen.

Lord thank you for John and Elizabeth Bunyan!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Life of God in the Soul of Man

When I heard or read somewhere that George Whitefield; the great England preacher-evangelist of the 1700’s was influenced greatly by the reading of a letter written in the 1600’s I knew I had to get a copy. The letter which later turned into a book is The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scougal. Whitefield tells us in his journals that Scougal’s book was a main key used by God in his conversion. Here is the blurb from my copy I recently picked up:

Henry Scougal died in 1657 at the age of 27 but by then he was already Professor of Divinity at Aberdeen University.

This timeless classic was originally written to encourage a friend and stimulate his spiritual life. It was so appreciated that it was later published as a book for a wider readership.

A hundred years later a copy was sent to George Whitefield by his friend, Charles Wesley – it was instrumental in Whitefield’s conversion. This book provided much of the stimulation behind the Methodist Revival of Britain and the Great Awakening in America.

This is a book I highly recommend, although it can be a challenging read since it was written in the 1600’s. Nevertheless, it was very edifying for me and one I will use to look back on as God continues to grow me. Pick up a copy here.

Here is just a little sample prayer from the book:

I am persuaded, O God, I am persuaded that I can never be happy, till my carnal and corrupt affections be mortified, and the pride and vanity of my spirit be subdued, and till I come seriously to despise the world, and think nothing of myself.

But, oh! When shall it once be! Oh! When wilt thou come unto me and satisfy my soul with thy likeness, making me holy as thou art holy, even in all manner of conversation! Hast thou given me a prospect of so great a felicity, and wilt thou not bring me unto it? Hast thou excited these desires in my soul, and wilt thou not also satisfy them?

Oh! Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God, thy Spirit is good, lead me unto the land of uprightness. Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name’s sake, and perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth forever, forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anna Grace Update

Sorry it has been a while since my last post about Anna Grace. Brian & I met with the Maternal Fetal doctor about 10 days ago for an ultrasound to check on our little girl. The ultrasound showed that she is in the 46th precentile in size and weighed 3 pounds 14 ounces. It also showed that everything about her appears to be growing normally (with the exception of her heart) so that is something that we are so thankful for! My pregnancy has been going smoothly with no complications at all so I am currently on a doctor visit schedule just like any woman having a normal pregnancy - other than having more ultrasounds than usual. It truly is a blessing! We see the Maternal Fetal doctor again on December 4 for another ultrasound to check on her progress. As long as things continue to go smoothly we are still planning on delivering Anna Grace in Charleston at MUSC on December 30. Please continue to pray with us that she not come before that date.

Some other things we are thankful for..... I had some sweet friends come on Saturday & paint my kitchen & dining room. It was so sweet of these ladies to do this for me - it looks great and I had so much fun fellowshipping with these ladies. I also had the privilage of having my Dad come out from Texas last week for a visit which was also a sweet time of fellowship.

So, now I'm in the market for some baby girl crib bedding. I'll be hitting some consignment stores this week in search of something and I am truly looking forward to getting her crib set up even though it might be a while before she can sleep in it.

As I ponder the paths of my life, I’m amazed at how good God has treated me and has gently kept me moving in the right direction. The Lord has graciously given me a lovely beautiful wife who is doing a wonderful job of raising our first and only son, little Zachary. She is doing a perfect job growing our second child, little Anna Grace who is due to arrive December 30th with fireworks. Honey I love you!

I join with King David in 1 Chronicles 17:16 in saying…

“Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”

Thank you Father for choosing me before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4) and predestining me for adoption into your family (Eph.1:5) in and through Christ Jesus.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November 2 Fundraiser

There is so much to say about the fundrasier that was hosted in Anna Graace's honor last night at Starry Nights that I don't even know where to begin. There were so many people working behind the scenes to make it all happen. There were donations of food & the facility. There were people who started preparing the food over the weekend - making spaghetti sauce & baking cakes & desserts. There were several ladies who spent their entire Monday setting up & preparing the rest of the food for the spaghetti dinner. There were COUNTLESS volunteers during the event who set the food up, set up the buffet, poured drinks and cleaned up trash. There was one sweet friend who helped people sign in at they entered Starry Nights and coordinated all of the donations. There are probably other people who were doing things that I didn't even know about. The details of the whole event are overwhelming - God was certainly using his children last night to minsiter to our family in a a BIG WAY. So... in addition to the volunteers there were so many wonderful friends & family members who came to the event to help support us in a physical & financial way by donating money toward Anna Grace's medical expenses. This is SO HUMBLING to us. I don't know for sure, but I would guess that there were probably 200 people who were in attandance last night at Starry Nights. It was overwhelming to see so many people praying for and supporting our family in such a physical way. We feel so blessed and are so thankful that God has provided for our needs - our need for friends to help encourage us during this difficult time and for providing for our family in a financial way. Brian & I prayed this morning that God would bless each one of you and that He will give us clear guidance about Anna Grace's medical care AND that we would be good stewards of the resouces He provided us through last nights fundraiser. So, today the Bentley family is a little worn out - but its a really good kind of tired. Even though we don't know why our daughter is sick we know that God is holding us in HIS hand and that he is going to take care of us.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fundraiser at Starry Nights

So, Zachary and I went up to "Starry Nights" the afternoon, the facility where the fundraiser is going to be tonight. There are a handful of sweet, sweet ladies who are working tirelessly to set up tables & prepare food for all of our guests this evening. The facility is beautiful and the ladies are doing a fabulous job putting it all together. I am just amazed at all of the work and effort on our behalf. It is truly humbling!!!! I also have to take a moment to give a shout out to Starry Nights - this facility is graciously being donated to our fundrasier this evening free of charge. Also, all of the food for tonight's event is being donated from multiple sources and then my sweet friends are preparing all of it for us. My prayer is that GOD will be glorified tonight at Starry Nights through this fundraiser and in the lives of the workers & guests who will be there this evening. What a blessing!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fundaraiser - Monday, November 2

Sorry that it’s been so long since my last post. Things have been pretty quite for us these last few weeks and that is certainly a BLESSING! We have another appointment next week with the Maternal-Fetal Specialist so we will have more to report on Anna Grace’s progress next week, but as for now I am feeling good (just a little tired) and if my size is any indication then Anna Grace is growing at a rapid pace!

I wanted to post about something that is happening on Monday, November 2 (this coming Monday). Some very sweet friends of mine are hosting a “Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser” for us that evening at 6:00 pm. We currently do not have any Maternity Health Insurance so all of our doctor’s visits for the time being are being paid out-of-pocket. God is providing for us in lots of ways these days and we are SO THANKFUL! We are trusting HIM day-by-day to take care of our needs, "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." Nahum 1:7

So, this post shall serve as YOUR OFFICIAL INVITATION to our Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser. Again, it is Monday, November 2 at 6:00 pm at Starry Nights in Inman, SC. To view the e-vite you can click here http://www.evite.com/pages/invite/viewInvite.jsp?inviteId=WEQELBNNDEAIUGZRVQIY&li=iq&src=email&trk=aei6 or you can contact me by e-mail for more info verybusymom2008@yahoo.com

We are excited about seeing friends and family there and pray that God will be GLORIFIED through this event for our family!

Monday, October 19, 2009

My House is CLEAN

I just had to make a post about my “clean the house day” which was this past Saturday. There were six of the most beautiful women you will ever meet who showed up on my door step Saturday morning complete with rubber gloves and cleaning supplies with smiles on their faces ready to minister to me by CLEANING MY HOUSE!!!! They cleaned baseboards, window sills, windows, my refrigerator, relined my cabinets, dusted fans and any number of things that I would never have done (and VERY rarely ever do for that matter)!

We spent about 6 hours cleaning on Saturday, with a little bit of visiting along the way! I know they must have been exhausted at the end of the day because I know I was and I didn’t work NEARLY as hard as they all did. It was a very special day for me because I feel like my house is super-clean and I can now get Anna Grace’s nursery set up which is going to be a really sweet, sweet time for me.

God is so good to plant this seed of ministry in the hearts of these ladies. After all, cleaning someone’s house is not a glamorous ministry nor is it a ministry where you get a lot of recognition – but for the Bentley family these ladies have truly blessed us and I thank God for them!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Anna Grace Update - October

We had our appointment yesterday in Greenville with Anna Grace’s Cardiologist, Dr. R. and then with my Maternal-Fetal Specialist, Dr. G.

We started with the echocardiogram and then met with Dr R. to discuss the results. Basically, he reconfirmed what they told us in Charleston – however, there we a few things about her heart which were being “monitored” to see how they grew to help determined her surgical plan in more detail. So, those things we were “monitoring” are her aortic arch – which Dr R. said is too small to use. So, she doesn’t have a “working” aorta. The plan for surgery is to make a “Y” connection off her pulmonary artery and “create” a new aorta. Also, the valve that we saw last time which had an issue is the valve that goes to her aorta and since she doesn’t have a working aorta that valve is no longer going to be an issue. Dr. R. also confirmed that when she is born she will have to be on a drug called prostaglandin which will help keep “holes” in her heart open which normally close upon birth until they can do surgery. Dr. R. said that they are also going to have to do her first surgery sooner rather than later. We can expect her first surgery to be within a couple of days of her birth. The name of her first surgery is going to be the Damus-Kaye-Stancil (not the Norwood like I previously mentioned). If you want more info on the procedure you can check out this website http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~soninr/Damus.html Whew, it was a lot to take in.

Then I met with Dr G who looked over the rest of Anna Grace’s body to see how it was developing. Basically, we are continuing to monitor her stomach and esophagus. We won’t know for sure about any of that until she is born. However, everything else about her looks normal and is growing just fine. As a matter of fact, our little girl now weighs 2 pounds and 15 ounces so just shy of 3 pounds. She is in the 70th percentile in weight. That is a blessing!

I go back for another ultrasound in 3 weeks and we won’t have another echocardiogram until the first week in December. The doctors stressed again the importance of carrying her full term and that delivering her in Greenville could be very dangerous. So, please continue praying with me for no pre-term labor and no delivery before December 30.

So…. As always we are TRUSTING GOD with Anna Grace and our family. Thank you all for continuing to pray for us!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thank You Lord

So it seems these days in the life of the Bentley’s that God is moving HIS hand in BIG ways. We have so much to be thankful for and I want to be faithful to share with all of you about how God is moving.

I posted recently that a family at our Church is going to be allowing us the use their townhome just out of Charleston for as long as we need it when Anna Grace is born. This is such a huge blessing for our family and we are overwhelmed and this family’s generosity and in how the Lord has provided for our need, but it is something that we weren’t praying for. Truly, we had been praying about the Ronald McDonald House and for God to work out the details with it. However, there is a lady at our Church, Ms. D, who came up to us after we made the post about the townhouse in Charleston and told us that SHE had been praying for God to provide us a house for us in Charleston and that the Lord would NOT provide the Ronald McDonald House. The Lord answered the prayer of this faithful saint in such a big way. We were truly blown away. This person also shared that she has been praying for something specific in her own life which the Lord has not yet answered for her, but HE showed her that HE does HEAR. What a comfort to us all to know that our Lord hears our prayers!!!!!! Halleluiah!!!!

Something else BIG going on in our life right now is a fundraiser which our friends are hosting for us on November 2. Many of you have probably already received an e-vite to the fundraiser. This all came about because some dear sweet ladies that I go to MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) with wanted to do something for our family. These ladies came up with the idea of hosting a spaghetti dinner to raise money for our family’s medical expenses. Now, as for the details of the event – all I really know is that it is going to be held on November 2 at 6:00 pm at Starry Nights in Inman , SC. These ladies are doing all of the cooking for the event, which, boggles my mind. I can’t even imagine how to logistically prepare to feed so many people, but these ladies are volunteering their time and talents to prepare this for our family. Wow!!!! I am so overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people. God is again showing Himself as our PROVIDER in this. Everyday HE is showing us that we are not alone and that HE is providing for us. I am so humbled, truly I am humbled and certainly convicted about how many opportunities I have missed to help others in their time of need. May God OPEN MY EYES to see opportunities where He would have me minister to others needs!!!!!

I also want you all to know that we thank you for continuing to pray for our family. So many of you are faithfully praying for Anna Grace and for Zachary and for our family and our needs. Thank you, we hope that you know how much we love and appreciate all of you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Saturday, October 17

I wanted to follow-up with everyone about something that was mentioned in an earlier post. I have had many wonderful friends approach me over the last 6 weeks about wanting to come over and clean my house as a way to minister to my family. So, that prompted me to plan a big "spring cleaning day" or rather... "fall cleaning day"! I am having a baby and like most women who are expecting a baby I want to get my house in order before the new little one arrives. This is really something FUN for me to focus on right now... I know that seems crazy that spring cleaning might be a fun event, but what it really means is that I am preparing my house to bring a new baby home and that is something sweet to hold on to!!!

If this is something you are interested in helping with you can e-mail me directly at verybusymom2008@yahoo.com and I will forward your contact info onto a very sweet friend of mine from MOPS - Ms. L - who has VOLUNTEERED to organize this day for me and will contact you about the details of the day.

Thank you friends for being willing to come and help us with this.

Love in Christ,

Check out the HUB when you get a chance....

Philippians Preview 1 from The Hub on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Update on Anna Grace

Got some dishearten news from Anna Graces Greenville doctor last Thursday that did not get posted up – He said Anna Graces leaky heart valve is a sign of her heart deteriorating in the womb and is not a good sign. We are not sure why the doctors in Charleston did not tell us this, but nevertheless it is what it is. He said she will continue to be ok in the womb but will be at a higher risk once born and makes the first surgery much more complicated.

We have another ECHO in a few weeks in Greenville. We are suffering well in Christ by His power and strong hand. Praying He does what seems good to Him. Thanks for your continued prayers and may God richly bless you for your faithfulness to pray.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Creation vs. Creator

Mars Hill Church

Glory, Glory, Glory

Listening to Pipers conclusion lecture at his conference this year With Calvin in the Theater of God http://www.theaterofgod.com/ – He said he is retiring John Calvin early in his talk because that’s what Calvin would want and focus on Christ. 10 minutes talking about Calvin and setting up his lecture on Jesus Christ as Denouement in the Theater of God. 50 plus minutes left….This is how he sets up the 50 minutes on Christ being the focus of all things in the Theater of God…

A few things that John Calvin has burned on his (Pipers) mind getting prepared for this years conference is...
Glory, Glory, Glory in Christ….Glory to His Word…Glory to His Person…Glory to His Grace and Glory to His Life….Infinite value of the Glory of God…Majesty of the Word of God and all is to be done by the word of God….

It’s all about Him!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Housing in Charleston

So, many of you know that we will be having an extended stay in Charleston, SC upon Anna Grace's birth. There is a Ronald McDonald House across the street from MUSC that we have visited and are hoping to be able to stay in, but as I have mentioned before - it is a first come first served basis with Ronald McDonald House and they told us that they keep a full house most of the time. So, pending not being able to stay at Ronald McDonald we thought we would stay at one of the nearby hotels - not ideal and certainly not budget friendly, but that was our plan. Well, today Brian & I received a call from a family who we go to Church with who told us they just purchased a vacation home about 20 minutes away from MUSC that we are welcome to use for as long as we need or for as much as we need during our stay in Charleston, free of charge. Wow.... I was overwhelmed and began crying while I was on the phone with this person. Since our stay in Charleston really might be months long this truly is a HUGE gift. God works though His people to provide, may all praise & glory go to GOD for this blessing :) I am also truly thankful to this family for being so willing to share this blessing with us!

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Not only are we to come under submission and respect those who are our elders who are living today, but we should not ignore those who have passed on to glory. We should know our forefathers God has used down the history of time. Everything should be filtered through Scripture and obeyed, even Scripture which tells us to respect and listen to those who labor above us. I can think of no higher from of respect than to read and learn about those who have passed on to life in Christ.

A great way to start is to learn about John Calvin (500th Birthday this year) here. http://www.theaterofgod.com/

I’ve listened to the first two sessions (Julius Kim and Doug Wilson) which are very good. Also John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion can be downloaded for free here http://reformed.org/master/index.html?mainframe=/books/institutes/

For any who think learning about John Calvin will create Calvinist and that will kill evangelism let me quote one of the greatest preachers of all times – Charles Sprugeon who was a Calvinist said this: "Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you're not saved yourself, be sure of that!"

Our duty is to know and delight in God and make Him known throughout the whole world.

Another Joyful Toon from Mike Waters

Repentance Everyday, All Day Long: Tornadoes, Lutherans and Homosexuality

Friday, September 25, 2009

Doctors, Doctors & Doctors....

I know many of you have been reading our BLOGS so I wanted to update you about a couple of things from the other day.

Brian & I took Zachary to the doctor on Thursday to have the lump in his neck looked at. The docotr said it appeared to be a swollen lymphnode and he also had several others that Brian & I didn't know were there. The docotr basically said to watch it and that if it didn't go away over the next 10 days to bring him back in for some additional testing. So, please be praying with us over Zachary's health - that God would heal his little body & resolve these lumps without any further testing.

Also, the test results that my doctor wanted to talk to be about were about my Glucose test. If you've ever been pregnant you know that it is normal at about 28 weeks to have a one-hour Glucose test performed to screen for gestational diabetes. Well, I took my one-hour test on Monday & I failed it. So today (Friday) I got to go in for a three-hour more in-depth Glucose test. Please be praying with me that I pass this test and that nothing further comes from this.

Thank you friends for being faithful to pray for our family.

Love in Christ,


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Home for Our Cat

We really, really need to find a new home for our cat Nova. Please let your friends & family know that there is a lovable, fat, lap cat who needs a new home. She's an indoor cat who has been fixed & declawed. We really aren't going to be able to keep her for much longer and I would love to see her settled in a new home with a family who loves her. I don't want to have to take her to the humane society, but we really aren't going to be able to keep her, there are just other priorities for our family right now. Thank you for your help in trying to find a new home for our kitty. Tina

Update on Anna Grace

We have made it back home from Charleston, SC and our whirlwind day of doctor’s visits. Let me just say that it is good to be home! Zachary is in bed & I thought I would take the next few minutes to update everyone on what happened today in Charleston.

We started our day early with our first doctor visit being with Dr. S who is a Pediatric Cardiologist at MUSC. We met with a very nice nurse to start with who performed the echocardiogram of Anna Grace’s heart. Then she took the pictures for Dr. S to review while we waited. After some time we got to meet with Dr. S and he confirmed the diagnosis that Dr. R in Greenville had given us. Dr. S also elaborated on her condition which is a little more complex than Dr. R had originally thought. Dr. S said that she does have Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome. Specifically… Tricuspid Atresia, Transposition of the Great Vessels and the Atrial Septal Defect. He also noted that her aorta was significantly smaller than it should be and in addition one of her heart valves appears to be leaking. So… Dr. S basically said that upon her birth she will need to have her first open heart surgery at about 1 week old and that if the testing done on her heart upon her birth confirms what we see in the womb then her first open heart surgery would be the most complex type of surgery that they do, specifically a procedure called the Norwood. Dr. S said that her size is very important and so the bigger she is the better she should be able to tolerate the surgery. He also elaborated on some specific things we could expect upon her birth – basically that once she is born she will be wisked away to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where they will insert into her belly button lines that will feed her since she won’t be able to eat like a normal baby does. There is also a high likelihood that she will be placed on a breathing tube at this time until her surgery. He said that we would be able to touch her but that we wouldn’t be able to hold her during this time so as not to disturb the lines. He suggested that we make audio tapes or CD’s to play in a portable CD player that we could place under her incubator so that she could hear our voices when we weren’t able to be there with her. Dr. S was very informative and helpful and we prayed with him before leaving. Truly it was a very emotionally trying meeting.

From there we went swiftly to our next doctor’s appointment which was with the Maternal-Fetal Specialist – this is the doctor who will be doing the actual delivery. We were about 1 ½ hours late to this appointment so we were thankful that they were still able to see us. Basically here we met with a doctor in the practice, Dr. M. She is not the doctor who will be doing Anna Grace’s deliver, that doctor, Dr. C, was not there today and we actually won’t meet him until the day of delivery. We explained our situation to Dr. M and got into their computer system so that we would technically be patients of that practice upon delivery. We also scheduled her delivery date – Anna Grace’s birthday will be Wednesday, December 30 at 8:00 am – well, pending her not arriving any sooner. Please be praying with us that she does not come early because it really is critical that she not be born early. We won’t see these doctors again until her delivery unless there are complications in my pregnancy which require me to go to Charleston before her delivery date.

From there we went for an ultrasound to look over the rest of Anna Grace’s body to be sure that everything else with her looked fine. We spent some time during the ultrasound just looking at our little girl – she has two arms, two legs, all 10 fingers & toes. I started to tear up just seeing her beautiful face and how comfortable and peaceful she looked inside my womb. It was a sweet few moments where I could just enjoy looking at my little girl and enjoy her sweet movements. Our ultrasound technician left us to go review the pictures of our daughter with the doctor who came back in the room after about 30 minutes to go over the results with us. The doctor told us that there appeared to be an issue with Anna Grace’s trachea – the trachea is the tube that goes from your mouth to your stomach. She said that she would like our Maternal-Fetal doctor in Greenville to continue to watch that closely to see how it developed through the rest of the pregnancy. Basically, this would affect her ability to eat – which is serious – but obviously not as serious as the problem with her heart – so certainly secondary to that condition. It was not something we expected to hear as it has not been mentioned to us before. We believe that God is sovereign and that He is knitting together Anna Grace in my womb so in this we will trust Him too. But, please join us in praying that her trachea will begin to develop normally and that this will not be an issue for her. Our sweet daughter appears to have quite a road ahead of her.

After this we took about 15 minutes to eat some lunch at a Subway restaurant that was located in the hospital before it was onto our next appointment with Crossbridge Ministries. A friend of mine from MOPS told me about this ministry in Charleston and I gave them a call and we were able to set up a quick meeting with them while we were there. We met with two wonderful Christian ladies – Lynn & Julie. They met us at the hospital on some benches and they told us about their ministry. Basically, they minister to families who travel to MUSC from out-of-town for serious medical problems (like us). They basically become your adoptive family while you are away from your home, family, friends & Church. They will come to the hospital and pray with you, hold your hand – basically do what your friends & family would do with you if they were in town with you. It was a comfort to know there are people, specifically Christians, in Charleston that I can call if I need to once my family goes back home. I feel really blessed to have them there and thank God for these sweet sisters in Christ who are so willing to give of themselves to love on strangers. Please join me in praising God for these ladies!

Finally, we met with the Ronald McDonald house. We met with the House Manager there who gave us a tour of the house. We were also able to be put on the waiting list since we have a scheduled delivery date – although it is a first come first served basis with Ronald McDonald house so we won’t know if we’ll be able to stay there until the day of her delivery. It really is a nice house and they provide dinner for the families who stay there everyday at 5:30. There are also laundry facilities there. Each family gets a room which has two twin beds and a sink. There are community bathrooms down the hall that everyone shares. The house is about 3 blocks from the childrens hospital so it would really be a blessing if we were able to stay there. Please join us in praying that God will work out the details with Ronald McDonald house.

After that we started our drive home – tired and a little overwhelmed with all that had happened. After we got home I had a voice mail on my answering machine from my doctor’s office saying they needed to talk with me about some test results, so I will be calling them on Wednesday to find out what that is about. Brian also discovered a lump on Zachary’s neck when we got home which we feel like will warrant a visit to the doctor’s office to have checked out. Please be praying with us about these two things as well.

Things I am thankful for today……

I am thankful for friends who gave so generously financially for us to be able to take this trip to Charleston – that truly was a blessing to not have to try to come up with the money for our travel expenses.

I am thankful that all of today’s doctor visits and tests were covered by Medicaid. Praise God who is our provider!!!!

I am thankful that I got to see my daughter’s beautiful face today in 4D – technology used the right way can be such a huge blessing!

I am thankful for a husband who loves God, loves me and loves his children.

I am thankful for the ladies of Crossbridge Ministries who are already praying for our family and are just waiting to love on us – talk about meeting physical needs – thank you Jesus!

I am thankful to be home and for the sweet kisses I received from my son when I walked through the door. Two year olds can be challenging at times but OH… those are some SWEET kisses. I cherish every one of them!!!!

I am thankful for my parents who kept Zachary for us and took such great care of him while we were in Charleston. What a blessing that I could go & know that he was being cared for and loved on!

I am thankful that God says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9

Tina B.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I ran across a link last night over at Aaron Sauer's website that I believe is a valuable resource for any looking to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ. The resource site is The Gospel Coalition

The site has a very good section for parents looking to find well written material that teaches God's word more than just "Jesus loves the little children." Check it out here.

See below for a 7 minute introduction of what the The Gospel Coalition is all about.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Joy That Runs Deep

"The heart that learns to die with Christ soon knows the blessed experience of rising with Him, and all the world's persecutions cannot still the high note of holy joy that springs up in the soul that has become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit."

The Radical Cross (living the passion of Christ) A.W. Tozer

Oh Father I desire to have that kind of joy? Please destroy my flesh and cause in me a spring that flows from the Spirit.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jesus Died!

The best 11 minute Gospel presentation I've ever heard!!! He is preaching from Psalm 24 for any who might be interested.

Medicaid and Jesus

Today has been a turbulent day for me. I received a phone call this morning about 9:30 from my Medicaid caseworker, Mrs. J. She was calling to inform me that Medicaid is going to deny coverage for our family. As she is a fellow Christian she didn’t want me just getting a letter in the mail with no explanation. She wanted to call me personally to tell me that we will have Medicaid coverage through then end of September & that it will cease beginning October 1. She also wanted to tell me a couple of things I could provide Medicaid to appeal the decision, but that even with the appeal coverage will cease on October 1 and perhaps be reinstated at a later date if the appeal overturns the decision. Of course this was not the news I wanted to hear, but I thanked her for her phone call and for taking the time to help us.

After getting off the phone with her I just began to weep. I went upstairs in search of my husband Brian to tell him the news. I told him what she said and Brian held me as I wept & wept. Now let me just clarify, this was not just crying here but break down sobbing that ended with me in the bathroom vomiting because I was so upset. Of all the news we have gotten why did this upset me so much…. I guess because I was focusing on the weight of everything… the seriousness of Anna Grace’s condition, the uncertainty of financial burdens, how is it all going to work out, am I even going to get to bring her home…. I was just focusing so much on the path that I don’t want to be walking that I was blinded to what – or more specifically WHO I need to be focusing on.

After some time my sweet husband began to remind me of WHO our God is. We are HIS children after all and HE is sovereign. This phone call from Medicaid was not a surprise to HIM and HE is in control. He promises that He is going to take care of us – NOT that we are going to be approved for Medicaid. There is a reason He has us walking this path, we have to TRUST HIM and continue to keep our eyes focused on Him. What a wonderful husband I have to help me direct my attention back to WHO it needs to be on – JESUS. These days that I am living in right now are truly requiring me to stay focused on Jesus at all times. It seems if I take my eyes off Him for just a second I will be swept away in a sea of worry and anxiety that will overwhelm me in a split second.

I want to share a story with you about Jesus found in Matthew Chapter 14: 22-33.

22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance[a] from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." 29"Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" 32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

You see, I can absolutely relate to Peter in this story in a way that I have never been able to understand before today. It was me this morning who was doubting and shouting “save me”. I am in a storm, I am in a trial that I can not fix myself. I HAVE to keep my gaze focused on Jesus – not my husband, not the doctors, not Medicaid. This is where I am today.

Please join with me in praying about God’s provision for our family – either through Medicaid or however it is God sees fit to provide for us.

I, of course, ask you to continue to pray for healing of Anna Grace’s heart.

Some things I am thankful for today…..

I am thankful that I have a husband who … “is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” Psalm 1:3.

I am thankful that we will still have Medicaid coverage during our whirlwind day of doctor visits in Charleston on September 22.

I am thankful that through this crazy day Anna Grace is still continuing to flip & kick and make her presence known.

I am thankful that I belong to a God who has a better plan than me, even if I don’t know what it is. How would I walk this path without Him?????

Friday, September 4, 2009

Calling for Freezer Ready Recipes

Hello friends,

In all of the list making & preparation I have been doing recently I thought I should add to one of my lists to prepare some casseroles or meals to put in the freezer than my husband could EASILY pop into the oven for a meal during the time that I will be in Charleston with Anna Grace. I'm not really sure how long I will be gone and I don't want my husband & son eating McDonalds for two months straight! I have a few recipes of "freezer worthy" casseroles, but if you have a recipe or two that you think freezes well and is "husband friendly" for the cooking then I would certainly welcome your recipes. Thanks for your help my friends!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Where is the Passion and Do We Really Care

Are You Ashamed of the Scandal

Listen to God use brother Washer to do some God exalting preaching...His message is God's message and we would do well to listen and take heed to His call if He so wishes to call.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September 22, 2009 - MUSC

I wanted to update everyone and let them know that I received a call today from MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston) to schedule our first whirlwind day of doctors visits at the hospital where Anna Grace will be born. We are going to be traveling to Charleston the evening of Monday, September 21 and starting our doctor’s appointments on Tuesday, September 22 beginning at 8:00 am. We feel like we should be able to get wrapped up by 5:00 or 6:00 that Tuesday so we should be able to drive home that Tuesday night & sleep in our own bed. Again, this is not a toddler friendly outing so Zachary will be staying in Spartanburg with his grandparents (thank you Mee-Maw & Papa)!

I was told that we will start our day Tuesday by meeting with Dr. Shirali who is a Pediatric Cardiologist and he will be performing another echocardiogram on Anna Grace’s heart. He will be giving a second opinion to Dr. Rauniker’s diagnosis of last week. I’m told that we will not be talking with any heart surgeons at all on this day. I guess that will be another visit as we get closer to Anna Grace’s birth.

After we meet with Dr. Shirali we will then move along to our next appointment where we will meet with a Maternal-Fetal Specialist for an ultrasound and to set up a delivery plan. Since I will be delivering Anna Grace in Charleston my regular Obstetrician will not be delivering her so this doctor will be the one to handle her actual delivery. I am truly praying that they will go ahead & schedule my c-section while I am there (I will elaborate on why this is important next). I am also praying that I like this doctor as much as my regular Obstetrician.

After those two appointments we will be heading over to the Ronald McDonald house where we will be taking a tour & meeting with them about possibly staying there once Anna Grace is born. It would be really great if we can get in at the Ronald McDonald house as it is right across the street from the hospital and they only charge about $20 a day to stay there (as opposed to $75 + a day to stay in a hotel). The thing is that there is a waiting list to get into the Ronald McDonald house & we can’t get on the waiting list until we have a scheduled delivery date (hence the importance of getting this scheduled ASAP). It is a first come, first served type of thing from what I understand with the Ronald McDonald house. It would truly be a blessing to be able to stay there, especially considering that I will be having a c-section so will need someplace to lay down & rest throughout the day once I’ve been released from the hospital. A little plug for the Ronald McDonald House real quick while I’m talking about it….. if you ever eat at McDonalds there are little boxes by the cash register as well as little boxes outside of the drive thru where you can drop in your change (or even dollar bills). These donations go to support the Ronald McDonald house so PLEASE feel free to empty your change cup here next time you’re at McDonalds!!!

So, I want to say that I am certainly thankful that these appointments have been scheduled AND that they have been scheduled in the month of September. As far as I know we will still have the temporary Medicaid coverage on September 22 and that is certainly a blessing for us! Please pray for us specifically for safe travel to & from Charleston as well as for wisdom for the doctors we will be meeting with while we are there. Brian & I will be seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout these next several months as how best to proceed with Anna Grace’s care - there is a lot to consider for her and we are not medically trained so we are learning as we go and seeking God’s guidance.

Also, PRAISE to GOD for providing traveling money for us to take this trip to Charleston. This past weekend we received a monetary gift from loving friends which we believe should cover the cost of our travel expenses to & from Charleston. What a blessing! Thanks you friends – you know who you are!!!!

On a more frivolous & FUN note…… I want to just briefly mention that some ladies from my Church are planning a baby shower for me on Saturday, November 7. I don’t have any details right now other than the date. I am SO EXCITED about this baby shower because it is allowing me the opportunity to dream about bringing my little girl home and focus on something OTHER than open heart surgery. It is a very welcome distraction & I am so very thankful that God has placed these ladies in my life who are so thoughtful to want to do this for us. Thank you friends!

One more thing…. I mentioned in one of my earlier BLOG’s that we’ll be having a clean the house day. We have it scheduled for Saturday, October 17 and are planning to spend the entire day getting things in order, cleaning, painting & setting up the nursery, etc. If you want to come help you can plan to come at any time during the day on October 17. We’ll be here!

Thank you all for continuing to pray for Anna Grace and our family.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I pray you will take the time to watch these short video clips about missions and may God receive all the glory for what He plans to do through and in your life.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Rarest of the Rare

Today is Friday, August 28 and Brian & I met with Anna Grace’s Pediatric Cardiologist for the first time today. His name is Dr. Raunikar and he practices here in Greenville. Our appointment today was for Anna Grace’s first echocardiogram to further diagnose her heart condition and to start the ball rolling for preparing a plan of action for her birth. We felt very fortunate to be able to see him so quickly because as most of you know we are only temporarily approved for Medicaid for 30 days. There are no guarantees that after 30 days we will have maternity coverage and so as many doctors’ appointments that we can fit in during this 30 day period is a blessing.

Dr. Raunikar is a man probably in his mid-forties with kind eyes and a quick smile. His bedside manner was impeccable and I felt at ease with him from that start. He also gave us an indication at the start of the meeting that he was a Christian as he quoted Psalm 139 to us as he began Anna Grace’s echocardiogram.

So, Dr. Raunikar proceeded to look at Anna Grace’s heart and surprisingly she seemed to want to cooperate today, which is certainly something to be thankful for. The doctor talked to us as he went through the examination of her heart and told us what he was looking at which we too were able to see on a large monitor they had mounted to the wall. He was glad to answer questions and he was very thorough. After about 30 minutes of examining her heart I was able to get dressed and we met him in another room to talk about what he found in less technical terms.

So basically he confirmed her diagnosis as Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome – which we already knew, but he explained in greater detail about Anna Grace’s specific heart defects. He explained it to us like this, which made a lot of sense to me. He said that to say someone has a learning disability would be a correct statement, but to say that someone had dyslexia would be a more correct statement. It is a more specific diagnosis. So, saying that Anna Grace has Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome is correct, but it is a broad diagnosis. Specifically, Anna Grace’s heart appears to have the following problems: (now this is about to get technical so some of you will find this helpful & some of you will want to skip right over it which I totally understand). The biggest issues which he was able to identify today are that she has: Tricuspid atresia with possible transposition of the great arteries as well as an arterial septal defect. Whew, it’s a mouthful isn’t it????? If you want to read more about it you can go to this page & it will explain in greater detail about these problems: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/heart-encyclopedia/anomalies/tricuspid.htm

Dr. Raunikar then proceeded to tell us that this was the “rarest of the rare” for heart defects. So, the plan of action right now is that Brian & I will be traveling to Charleston to meet with a team of pediatric cardiology surgeons to get a second opinion on Dr. Raunikar’s diagnosis as well as come up with a more specific plan of action for her actual surgeries. I will also meet with a Maternal-Fetal Specialist in Charleston who will actually be doing my c-section. We are praying that we can get these visits scheduled before our 30 day Medicaid window expires so we sincerely hope that you will join us in praying that God will work these details out for us.

Dr. Raunikar said that the most probable plan of treatment for Anna Grace will be that she will be born in Charleston & upon her birth will have further testing done to re-confirm the findings from in the womb. Then depending on what they find upon her birth they will do her first surgery anywhere from a couple of days old to a few weeks old. If she gets through that surgery then at about 4 months she will have a heart cath done to be sure that her heart can sustain the second surgery (called the bi-direction glenn) which will be performed at about 6 months of age. If she makes it through that surgery then when she reaches 30 pounds she will have another heart cath to be sure her heart is strong enough to sustain the 3rd surgery (called a fontaine completion). These three surgeries are all open-heart surgeries and are pretty serious business for anyone, let alone a tiny baby. So…. Dr. Raunikar said that it really is critical that I not deliver her until at least 39 weeks and that she be delivered in Charleston. Also, the bigger she is the better. So – I am praying that I can carry her to 39 weeks & that she will be a BIG, BIG, CHUBBY baby! Zachary was 8 ½ pounds at 39 weeks so I’m praying that Anna Grace will match her big brother pound for pound!

We ended our visit with Dr. Raunikar by sharing our Faith with him and he in turn shared with us that he is also a Christian. As a matter of fact, he said that when he was in college he debated about being a Youth Minister or a Cardiologist. Obviously, God chose for him to go into medicine, but he is actively involved ministry in a closed situation so I can’t go into more detail about that other than to say that he is actively serving our Lord. What a blessing to have him as Anna Grace’s doctor! We prayed together at the conclusion of our meeting and it was truly a sweet time.

So, his office will be contacting us next week with the date of the appointments in Charleston. Brian & I will have to travel down there for a whirlwind day of doctor visits. Zachary of course will not be able to travel with us since this again is not a toddler friendly trip. We will post more info about those appointments once we know more.

So, I know this has turned out to be a VERY long post. There is still a lot to say, but I will leave it for another day that is not so packed full of technical lingo.

Please continue to pray for God to provide the financial resources we need to cover these medical visits – either through Medicaid or another way.

Please pray for healing of Anna Grace’s heart.

Please pray for wisdom for the doctors we will be meeting with in Charleston.

Please pray for Zachary as his little life is about to change in so many ways – that God will give him the maturity he needs to cope – and of course for loving caretakers to be there for him in our absence.

Please pray that God will CONTINUE to give us the strength to make it through each day & that we are faithful to glorify HIM in our words and actions during this time of great trial. (You know we CAN NOT do this without JESUS sustaining us)!!!

Here are some things I am thankful for today….

That Dr. Raunikar is a Christian. That Anna Grace cooperated during her echocardiogram today. That today’s doctor visit was covered by Medicaid. That we have wonderful friends & family who are faithful to continue to pray for our family. That we have found a home for our kitty Jedi (still looking for a home for our other kitty Nova). That we had a wonderful family vacation in Florida.