Sunday, April 29, 2012

A few more pictures from days 3-5

Lowell and I this beautiful Sunday morning sitting out in front of the Ronald McDonald House waiting for the shuttle to take us to the main entrance.  It was such a nice morning with the sun shining.  I could have sat there in the sun all day.  Just made me thankful for God's beauty all around us.

This is our room at RMH.  So blessed!  They said they'd bring in cots if we needed more beds.  Later on I'll have to write about this place.  Quite amazing really.  Makes me not feel so guilty eating at McDonalds to support them. ;o)   (It's their fries that I just can't resist...)
 This was our last few minutes in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU..."pick you") before being taken to 3rd floor's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU..."nick you") for her step down room since her heart was so stable.

Just arrived in the NICU, getting ready for the doctor and nurse practitioner to check her in by running all her vitals and measurements and tests for their records.  She had the feeding tube put in her nose that morning since she was struggling with sucking and swallowing.  The heart doctors need to have her eating a set amount of milk and regulate it for surgery.  I was able to bottle feed her twice with what I had just pumped to help her learn.  :o)  She could only get a little in her mouth and then I had to pull the bottle out to let her swallow before going on.  She couldn't figure out how to suck and swallow simultaneously.  Since her episode last night, she is not feeding and is back on an IV I think until surgery.  Things keep changing in here, so you never know.  

Thursday after lunch when I came back to the NICU to see her settled in, she wasn't looking so good.  She was jaundice and her birthmark across her eye lids and nose was showing up really dark.  This wasn't her best moment, but I took one of her anyways. 

Dr. Rajabi.  He stopped by Thursday afternoon to check up on us and see how we were doing.  Very, very nice of him.  He was so happy that Cayla had been doing so well when most babies in this situation aren't.  He even agreed with me when I gave God the glory and credit for this miracle of no Norwood surgery.  He couldn't deny it and didn't even try.  He and all the staff at Hillcrest have just been so above and beyond in their care that it just makes you feel special.  God has given us great doctors through this whole process.  For those who asked me to tell him thanks for taking such good care of me, I did tell him and he smiled and said that he just had a good patient who did everything he said to do.  Apparently not all do.  :o)  

Friday night, my in-laws came and brought Lowell up for the weekend.  They weren't coming until Saturday, but surprised me by coming in on Friday night!  :o)  Grandma and Cayla have some kind of connection going on because every time she holds her, she's awake and focused on her and they're sharing secrets with each other or something... :o)  So precious!  I guess by the time she gets to Daddy, she falls asleep on him.  :o)  We are all so amazed she's ours and so beautiful and so, so precious.  Daddy's heart has been stolen big time by little miss Cayla Joy.  :o)  

These last 3 pictures were taken today after she'd been put in the incubator.  She now has a breathing tube down her tiny little throat and an IV back in her umbilical cord.  She was on a lot of medication today and hardly woke up which is good, since I'd hate for her to be awake and so uncomfortable with that big old tube.  She's been stable all day today.  They do not have the breathing tube in because she's having trouble breathing, but to lessen the work her body has do right now, so she can put more energy into her heart to pump blood.  Don't know if this will stay in until Wed. morning's surgery or not.  I guess we'll find out tomorrow.  

Well, there's some of the latest updates.  It's 11pm.  Time to pump and go to bed.  :o)  Thanks again for all the prayers for us and our precious Cayla Joy.  God is faithful!  

Rough night for Cayla

Well, we slept well and no one came in last night to check my vitals.  Very nice indeed.  We did wake up about 4am, and I decided to go pump since I was awake.  Got the largest amount yet!  After 20 minutes I headed back to our room and Lowell was sitting up waiting for me.  He said my phone rang, and we got a call from Cayla's doctor while I was out.  She was losing her color and crying so they started checking her over again.  They couldn't get her vitals back where they should be, so they had to sedate her to insert a breathing tube and she is now on oxygen.  They needed to put an IV back in her, so they were able to still use the belly button to do that and she is now intubated which I guess just means she's got that breathing tube down her throat.  Lowell looked at me to see how I was reacting and asked me if I was ok and you know, I was.  Despite the emotions of yesterday, I am feeling much more at peace now.  I guess the Lord knew I needed to get it all out of my system yesterday before starting to hear news where Cayla is taking some steps back.  Lowell held me and prayed and we were both able to go back to sleep for another hour and a half when the phone rang again. 

The doctor was calling to update that she was still stable and reexplained everything to Lowell.  The cardiac doctors will be coming in to assess her situation early this morning and hopefully give us some report.  They want to figure out if something is going on that might warrant moving her surgery up or who knows.  We'll see what they say this morning.  So, we're getting ready to go back to the NICU and start our day.  Such a different feeling in my heart this morning than I had yesterday.  God is in control.  Period.  That's the bottom line and I am truly good with that.  Focus on God is my goal for today and the next few days, weeks, months and years.  I guess with a goal like that, it should never end.  :o)  God has promised to be faithful, He cannot break that or He wouldn't be God.  So, I go into my day ready for whatever happens, knowing we will not be moved because God is right here with us.

Missing my church family this morning.  My first Sunday at the hospital, and I'm sure not my last.  Thanks for your prayers!  Gotta go see my precious Cayla Joy! :o)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Check out day for me

I almost don't feel up to writing right now being so tired, but I think it will help me finish out this crazy day.  I just need to remember I'm still hormonal, greatly sleep deprived, sore, and not always quite sure how to deal with everything going on around me.   I know I could never have made it through today without Lowell here.  God's Word reached through my thick head many times today, sustaining me when I felt overwhelmed.  These 2 verses were on my mind too, I just wish I could truly say the "always" part of verse 8.  I would've had a better day if I was truly able to say this first phrase...

"I have set the Lord always before me: 
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: 
my flesh also shall rest in hope."
Psalm 16:8-9

Tonight, my heart is glad (pretty tired, but glad), not because of circumstances, but because of Jesus Christ being at my side.  My flesh is resting in hope that can only come from Him.  I am exhausted physically, emotionally, mentally, and more I'm sure.  I haven't really gone into detail about the delivery on Tuesday, but Dr. Rajabi stopped by Thursday to check on me at the hospital and told me my incision should be pretty sore for a little longer.  Partly because he had to deal with adhesions.  The scar tissue from my previous c-section 16+ years ago had fused with parts of my intestines and had to be cut apart and cleaned up.  He said that there was a lot of cutting and scraping going on during surgery which will compound my healing in the new incision.  I am feeling good, but still in pain today when standing after sitting for any length of time.  I did get checked out of the hospital as a patient today which made me a little nervous since I don't physically feel ready to take on the world yet.  I will be at the hospital for at least another 2 weeks, maybe more.  So, that makes me feel a little better being around very helpful and sympathetic nurses and doctors who are more than willing to keep an eye on me as well as Cayla.  Just tonight, Lowell worried about me when I was gone longer than usual to pump and asked Cayla's nurse to go check on me.  I had fallen asleep pumping again and had just got up to clean up and go back to the room when I knocked over the bottle of milk I had just pumped.  They say don't cry over spilt milk, but that doesn't apply to a nursing mom who's fighting for every drop.  I was standing there when the door opened, saw Jennifer the nurse and burst into tears (for about the 6th time today).  She just took right over, dealt with the mess, and then looked at me and started to talk to me about my day and what all was going on.  She listened as I cried, talked with me about it all and then told me what I was going to do.  She was now my nurse and not just Cayla's.  :o)  She told me to go back and hold Cayla for a few minutes and then Lowell was to pack me up and take me downstairs in a wheelchair to the mall and get some fresh fruit or a simple snack.  Then take me back to our room at Ronald McDonald House (RMH) and put my feet up and put me to bed to read, relax, sleep or just rest since it was only 7pm.  Lowell didn't hesitate one bit since this was already pretty much his plan, but was glad to have the nurse tell me so I couldn't argue.  I didn't argue, and off we went. 

Today was the last day we could be at the hospital, but still didn't know where we were going to be tonight.  We somehow didn't get on the waiting list for RMH and I was being discharged.  I can't stay in the NICU and thought we were going to have to sleep in the RMH family room that's in the hospital and sleep in recliners.  The social worker from yesterday realized our dilemma and made the call to RMH herself and come to find out that the lactation nurse was really concerned last night about us and made a call herself to RMH saying that she had a new mom who really needed a room and didn't want her sleeping on a recliner, and asked if there was possibly any way we could get bumped up the list.  Not sure how long the list was.  It might not have been that long anyways.  But apparently between these 2 people pleading on our behalf, we got a phone call before lunch saying we had a room for as long as we need it at the RMH!  I don't think I cried then, but could have.  I know I definitely felt like it if I didn't.  We had no idea they went to bat for us. 

We were able to hear the doctors' reports as they came through this morning.  Cayla's doing well, but now they have found another problem, this time with her little bottom.  Not wanting to go into it all on the blog, it appears she will need another surgery around 6 months old to correct this problem.  We have not heard an official word on the surgery part.  If this is true, it would have to be worked around her more important heart surgery.  I hear news like this and initially want to cry and did.  The feeling that everytime we turn around this week, we're hearing of more problems she has that will require surgery in the future outside of her heart surgeries.  This kind of hit me at a moment when I felt that if they find one more thing to have to operate on her little body, I'm going to lose it.  A few tears came out, but then those verses came to mind.  I was instantly reminded that none of these really are life-threatening surgeries and the one big life-threatening surgery has been eliminated.  God is working in her life.  God is working in our lives.  I just needed to change my focus there a little bit and realize that the Lord is at my right hand and we will not be moved.  Ours and Cayla's strength will come from the Lord.  We can love her through all this and still have a heart that is glad.  I love that, because after all my tears today, I need a glad heart and so will little miss Cayla.

I need to go to bed, but I just wanted to talk about checking in at RMH.  We are blessed to be sitting here tonight.  God is good.  So... if any of you read my blog from a while ago about a call from Nurse Mary Lou, you might remember my reaction to hearing that we qualified to stay at the RMH.  I was pretty much overwhelmed at that initial phone call to think that we were going to be one of those families with a sick child that was able to stay at the RMH.  I didn't want to picture me and my family in that way.  So, here we are, facing that moment when the RMH is our destination for the 1st time.  Lowell and I had all our stuff and were on the shuttle bus.  As it pulled up, I started crying before I even stepped off.  I couldn't stop.  We walked inside, Lowell started checking in and I could hold it back no longer and burst into tears in front of everyone.  I couldn't stop either.  I wasn't really thinking about it consciously, but somewhere inside me realized this had come true and we were here and I had no control over the tears.  Lowell just held me and time stood still.  When I had a some kind of control, he was able to finish, but I was sitting there the whole time unable to speak as tears just rolled out my eyes.  I was a little overwhelmed to put it lightly.  My eyes were unable to focus and the room was kind of moving when I realized that I am physically exhausted and just needed to sleep.  We quietly went through the tour, were showed our room with all the instructions, and as soon as Lowell closed the door, I started crying out loud again.... crazy feeling to be so helplessly out of control of your emotions.  It's also the stupid hormones working against me too.  I just got my pumping stuff and went down to the little room and pumped and sat and thought of my precious Cayla Joy.  Calmed me right down.  Lowell had walked to Rite Aid to get my prescriptions for pain.  I came back, made up the bed, and had just laid down when Lowell got back and  we both crashed for an hour and a half before my alarm went off and we needed to go to the NICU to get my dinner they ordered and see Cayla.  I am so grateful for all that RMH is doing for us.  This is an amazing place.  I am so thankful to have a bed to sleep in tonight and that God worked out all the details for us and here we are.  And I can rest well because I know Cayla is in great hands tonight over in the NICU.   Oh, I did take some pics of our room here, but haven't had time to download.  Maybe in another post I'll add a bunch more pictures of  our time these last few days. 

Now it's off to bed, and I am really looking forward to no one coming in to check my vital signs in the night, or wake me up for blood work, etc.  Thank you Lord for all you've done for us today.  :o) 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quick note on her upcoming surgery

I don't think I said anything about what this surgery is, just said what it's not.  It is not the huge 1st HPLHS surgery called the Norwood where they have to reconstruct the right side of the heart to do the functions of the left side too.  Cayla has been 100% miraculously blessed by God to have her aorta already created on her right side of her heart instead of the left.  I believe I've heard a couple of doctors say it's kind of rare.  I think I said earlier that she will have to have surgery on the aorta to split it from the coronary artery, but that's all part of surgery #2 coming up when she's 3-6 months old.

Her surgery next Wednesday, May 2nd, will be considered much more of a minor surgery.  When she was born, they were expecting her to be pale with a blueish tint since her red and blue blood, oxygenated and unoxygenated, are mixed.  But, she came out looking all nice and pink and healthy, which I guess was a clue that too much blood was flowing through her pulmonary artery.  This surgery is only to go to that artery and tighten it up by banding it.  We're talking about an artery that's probably a couple millimeters or so in size, I don't know, but very small that will have a band that can't be bigger than a thin piece of thread wrapped around to decrease the blood flow.  How you would band something that small and control the flow through it?  I can't imagine.  Dr. Stewart said it's fairly routine for him.   Good to know.  Don't envy him though.  So, there's not even anything going to happen inside her heart, just outside with no invasive surgery this time... minor surgery.  She is one blessed little girl!  God has been very gracious to us and to Cayla.  We thank Him and praise Him for this!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Some of Cayla's recent diagnoses

Well, there's so much to write.  What to say first.  I don't feel like going through delivery day ordeals, so how about an update on Cayla's latest diagnosis.  I think I'm up to talking about all of it...  the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I guess we'll see.

First of all, Cayla was moved out of the PICU today!  :o)  They were going to put her in the step-down unit until her surgery, but decided to put her in the NICU so she could get more help with sucking and eating.  She did have a hard time getting the whole sucking from a bottle down, so they put a feeding tube in her nose this morning. I will not be able to nurse her until after her surgery since the heart doctors are wanting her to eat exact, controlled amounts.  But they will still work diligently with me to pump so my milk will come in and she will still be getting my milk.  But overall, she's doing so, so well physically, you would wonder why she's anywhere near any ICU's (that's what one of the heart docs said). 

Her heart.  It is definitely a hypo plastic left heart syndrome (HPLHS) heart.  Her left side is non functional.  BUT it is true that her aorta, which is a major part of the left heart, is really on the right side and completely functional.  Huge answer to all the prayers!  So amazing and very uncommon, but God chose to do this and has eliminated the necessity of having the 1st and worst of the 3 needed surgeries!  Praise the Lord!  Now, what they did say that we hadn't heard before was that the aorta and coronary artery start off at conception as one.  After 4 weeks in the womb, they separate.  Cayla's did not separate.  They are still fused together as one.  They will need to be separated.  This will happen during surgery #2.  Her aorta also has 4 valves at the base instead of 3 which is common apparently with HPLHS.  Her pulmonary artery is also connected to the large combined pair which will make splitting them more difficult.  The valve between her 2 right chambers does leak and will also need to be fixed at some point.  Something was also mentioned that (don't ask me to remember the name) somewhere in her heart she has the wrong number of arteries.  I don't think Lowell was told what all that means, but just that there are many little and big things that will need to be corrected on her heart. 

Her club foot and other abnormalities.  When we arrived at the NICU, the nurse practitioner was giving Cayla an overall exam.  She got to her club foot and said, "I don't think this is really a club foot.  If it is, it's very mild."  She said she could turn her foot and with very little pressure get it in it's normal lined up position.  She felt it's more of just a positional deformity and not due to a muscular or bone abnormality which is much easier to correct.  We'll see, she might just need a brace to fix it.  Some other problems they have found, possibly due to the same unknown reason for the club foot, are that she has a slightly curved spine and will probably have to deal with scoliosis at some point in her young life.  She also has some ribs that are fused together and some short ribs, but they don't think this will be an issue for her, could be, but don't know or just didn't say.  At one point I heard the nurses giving a run down on her and heard them say something about her neck bones I think.  I will ask about that tomorrow.   I think there were some other things, but right now at 10:40pm I can't think of what else was said.  The things she has to deal with are not necessarily life-threatening outside of the future unknowns of her heart.  That makes all this not seem quite so bad.  I know there's other stuff, but I just can't think at the moment.  :o}

I think this is all I can write for now.  I've just had my vitals taken for the night and was told that no one will need to come in during the night.  I might actually get a good 6-7 hours of sleep tonight!  :o)

I do want to close with a grateful, thankful, blessed heart.  I just want everyone who has prayed for us to know that those prayers have just allowed us to be carried through so much!  So many prayers have already been hugely answered and she's only 2 days old!!  I'm going to start crying again...(I heard Lowell's voice on the phone tonight and started crying earlier...).  I know a simple written Thank You isn't sufficient, but God knows all our hearts and from the bottom of my heart I give you all a Thank You for so many prayers.  Even those that I've never met!  You've all blessed our family tremendously!  God is in control and we are resting in that! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pictures of our precious Cayla Joy's 1st 2 days in this world!

Cayla a couple of hours after birth.  Notice anything??  There's no oxygen, tubes, etc.... just monitors!!!  She is doing so amazingly well!  :o) 

Grandma (Lowell's mom) with Cayla

Big brother Samuel and his new little sister Cayla... almost 17 years apart!

Cayla's little, left, club foot.  It almost makes it look like 6 toes instead of 5,
but she has all the right number of fingers and toes! 

The new, complete Sowry family the day of her birth! 

This morning I got to hold her, cuddle with her, love on her, kiss her all over and she knew my voice and responded to me so amazingly!!  It was wonderful!   Plus she was wanting to nurse with that instinct to turn to me and that little open mouth searching!!!  :o)  But I couldn't yet until they knew more about her surgery.  They weren't sure when her surgery would be.  If it was going to be this Friday, they weren't going to feed her until after surgery and just use the IV with electrolytes.  If the surgery wasn't going to happen until next week, then they would start feeding her this afternoon.  I had to wait, but she was sooo ready!  

Just look at that little chubby face!!!  I can't believe she's ours!!!  Had so much fun kissing that little face all over and just breathing her in!!  I was actually able to pump a good bit of milk this evening I think because I got to spend so much time with her today! 

I could've sat all day with her, but my uterus was contracting and throwing me into great fits of pain and had to go back to my room.

We had an awesome mother-daughter talk and cuddle time this morning before lunch.  :o)  So, so sweet!

Last shot this morning before they came and got me.  So much fun!

Grandma got to have sweet Cayla cuddle time too!!   Love how she's looking right at her and listening! 
You can see she's pulled off almost all of her monitors.  The little stinker... :o)

Grandma and Cayla discussing something very important.  :o)

Lowell and Samuel seeing her before we left this morning.  So, so sweet!  We are all so much in love with this little girl it's going to be hard not to spoil her.

Grandpa (my dad) and Cayla Joy who was now ready for sleep time!

We went back at 2pm to see the lactation specialist and the boys got cuddle time with her for the first time!  :o)  Samuel and his baby sis! 

The big brother and the little sister!  He was so comfortable holding her!  Loved every minute of it! 

Grandpa getting snuggle time with little miss Cayla Joy! 

So precious!  She was starting to get really sleepy.

Daddy cuddling and talking to his little princess even though she's starting to just want to sleep.  When she started crying on her bed, he just stepped right over face to face with her and started talking to her and she instantly got quiet and just listened to him.  It was sweet to watch!  She loves and knows her Daddy already too!  :o)

Proud Daddy with his precious Cayla Joy!!

Me and my precious Cayla Joy this afternoon!  I actually got to nurse her and she latched right on so beautifully!!  What a huge answer to prayer!  Problem was, she was so tired that she'd latch on, suck a little bit and then fall completely asleep and stop nursing.  So, we will get to try again tomorrow morning. Yay!   :o)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Last day!!! Woo Hoo!!!

I had no idea how I'd be today, but I'm excited and am trying to keep myself under control.  So many things I want to finish up today.  My mother-in-law is on her way to pick me up to go get my pre-op blood work done this morning in Willoughby, about 45 min. away.  Then we'll stop at Target to get my nursing "paraphernalia"... (haven't mentioned the stop at Target to her, but hopefully it won't be a problem...)  I ran out of insulin this morning and have the doctors office calling in more for me to pick up later.  Another trip to Wal-Mart... Oh well, I started  making a triple batch of chicken enchiladas a few days ago, but didn't do them, so last night at 11:30 pm I was cooking chicken and cutting it up to be ready to make the sauce and wrap them up today.  Lowell wasn't too happy with me since he didn't want me to make them in the first place, but he still did all the dishes... all the pots, pans and everything last night and tonight and even swept the floor!  I do think I'll keep him.  ;o)  He's been trying to get me to pack my bags for well over a week, but I couldn't figure out what to pack.  Well, now I needed to do laundry before I could pack, so in between cooking chicken, cleaning up and all, I did laundry.  Finishing it up this morning.  So, packing will be in my future, finally.  Yes, I'm a procrastinator, but what can I say? :o)

Ok, it's 10:41pm... I have to get up at 2:45 or 3am... what am I doing here?  I've tried to write in this blog all day, but couldn't sit still enough to do it.  Sorry.  Didn't get home till after 2 this afternoon.  Very tired.  My blood sugar plummeted and I was shaking like crazy while at Target.  I'm so thankful for my mother-in-law taking me today so willingly!  I am blessed!  Kim Hunsicker came over again today and helped me make the enchiladas... took a fraction of the time!  :o)  She helped me finish up laundry and then pack.  So when Lowell got home, I was pretty much ready... Yay!  Still couldn't sit still or lay down like he wanted me to.  I'm wired I tell you... even now.  I know he's in bed and I need to be, but I had to take my insulin at 10pm and have my snack then and drink a glass of milk.  So now that that's all done, I guess it's off to bed.

Missing my mom alot these last couple of days.  Many tears over her, and everything else.  Can't seem to get any semblance of control over these crazy emotions and hormones... Really, really tired and must go to bed.  So, so excited though and very blessed with all the people praying!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  And here's the verse Pastor shared with us tonight when they came over to pray with us...  Love, love, love it!  :o)  I will try to post when I can this week.  :o)  God bless you all! 

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee."
Isaiah 26:3

Saturday, April 21, 2012

3 days...

Haven't been able to write much.  I'm feeling like there's always something I need to be doing that hasn't been done yet.  I can't sit and write in the blog when I'm feeling like something else needs to be done... But since it's about 5:45am this rainy, wet, Saturday morning and all I can do right now is eat popsicles, I guess I can take a few minutes to write. 

I have so much to be thankful for as I sit here having just read through everyone's updates on facebook and see so many people going through some very tough times.  I am so thankful for my little family, soon to expand.  Lowell has been so loving and protective of me that it makes me want to cry.  Samuel has been too and been so willing to help in every way.  Lowell did the dishes, Samuel vacuumed, pampered me, picked things up for me I could easily have got myself.  Many times, it's the little things that make a big difference.  I praise the Lord for my wonderful family. 

We are gearing up for an exciting week ahead.  I have to say, this week has dragged and gone by so slowly.  There've been so many friends willing to come over and help me with doing things, but I've been telling them, I'm fine.  Up until recently.  The last 2 people who asked, I took them up on their offer.  Kim came last week, and Beth Stillwell and her daughter Kathy came this week.  I think they must have been as shocked as I was that I said yes to their offer of help.  Beth did my dishes on Monday and came back Tuesday with Kathy and they swept and mopped my kitchen and bathroom floors, and dusted and vacuumed the dining room and living room, while I was babysitting Elise.  Thanks for friends that take charge and made me lay down with my feet up with Elise while she napped.  I heard Beth doing dishes while I heard myself snoring on the couch.  Such a weird feeling.  I love the family of God.  Why anyone would fight through life on their own without the support of godly friends to walk along with them, is beyond me.  I don't think I'd have survived many things in my life without the support and prayers of my church family over the years.  I love going to church every time the doors are open to be refreshed, loved, built-up and encouraged by the family of God.  Sunday mornings are busy and I don't always get to fellowship much, but watch out on Sunday nights, Wed. nights, Seedline, and any other activities during the week.  That's when bonds of friendships are built and made so strong!  For those who just go to church on Sunday mornings, I just have to say, you don't know what you're missing... at least at my church.  I guess I say all this just because I am so grateful for the love and support from my church family.  There's nothing quite like it, and they've played such a huge part in this whole pregnancy with their love and care of me and my family.  Love you all!

This was our last week obviously to babysit Elise.  I have to say yesterday was sweet.  She's teething something fierce and was all out of sorts, but when she fell asleep in my arms on the couch, she was so sweet just laying there.  Then she rolled over across my belly on top of little miss Cayla Joy.  It was cute.  Samuel took a couple of pictures for me, with me snoring in between.  I guess I could've smiled more, but anyways... we were both exhausted.  :o)  So sweet!  Going to miss her, but am looking forward to bringing my own little one home soon! 

Well, I had my last OB appointment on Thursday with Dr. Rajabi.  Glad he's back safe and sound in town.  The others were nice, but he has a calming confidence about him, that makes me glad he's my doctor.  My mother-in-law came over early on Thursday and we went to Target in Mentor on the way to the appt.  I didn't have a diaper bag yet and I wanted a simple monitor so I won't have to hover over her while she sleeps.  I have a feeling I'm going to be a little eccentric with her and her breathing.  Since she only has one side of her heart, the oxygenated and unoxygenated blood will all mix and lower her oxygen level in her blood overall.  She won't have blue and red blood, she'll get purple blood.  Much prettier.  ;o)   Doctor Lorber said that it will just make her a little paler looking overall until they do the 2nd surgery between 3-6 months to help separate the two.  So, back to shopping... I love the diaper bag we found.  I love flowers, but this is something the boys will have to carry around too.  So I was good. Found this beautiful black bag with bright green highlights and insides.  I think it's beautiful and am so pleased with it!  We took a little longer there than we should have and  were a little late by the time we got to the doctor's office. 

They did another non stress test which Cayla "technically" didn't quite pass since they needed one more big movement from her, but it was no use to keep trying.  I drank some cold water and she got the hiccups!  It was kind of funny watching a spot on my belly jump every couple of seconds.  Dr. Rajabi passed her anyways and said she did fine.  She earned all her points on the ultrasound test again.  Her head is still down in position and facing back, so still no pictures of her face could be taken.  She did give us a picture of all the fuzz and hair on her head, but I haven't scanned it. Oh well. 

Dr. Rajabi came in and we went over my blood sugar levels again and set up a plan for Monday night.  He said he would still operate with higher blood sugar, just not with low.  So, that took some pressure off.  That just means I can pig-out on pop corn and yogurt the night before... Woo hoo.  :o)  He also reminded me that this is a teaching hospital and he will be given a resident to assist during the operation.  Depending on whether they're a 1st, 2nd or 3rd year, will determine how much they do, but he will be right there watching them.  I said that's fine, I trust him.  When Samuel was born in Fairfax hospital, there were 9 people I believe around the table. Two doctors, two nurses and the rest residents and students.  Oh well.  He also said that Dr. --- his name translated into English means 'eagle', but couldn't tell you what it was... is the head doctor over the P-ICU, will be there at the birth to be the one that takes control of Cayla's journey after birth.  He will be in charge of who gets to see her first and run their tests and so on.  Dr. Lorber's dept. will get her first to do the ecocardiogram directly on her heart.  And then after that, who knows.  Within the first 24 hours, all 12 doctors in the congenital heart dept. will have looked at and analyzed and discussed their thoughts on Cayla's heart and what needs to be done.  Dr. Lorber will take everyone's input and go to Dr. Stewart with their consensus on what needs to be done to her heart.  And then they'll go from there.  Have no idea how it will all come out in the wash, but there is still a chance that the aorta is not functional and she will need the first Norwood surgery.  We are trying to prepare for everything.  He also asked if we had insurance and was glad to hear we did.  I told him our bill from Cleveland Clinic for Feb and March was $12,000.  He said, oh, it could easily get to half a million before we're done.  He said we're going to give you the best care whether you can pay or not.  It will be covered and assistance will be given if needed. Wow. So, overall, had a good talk with Dr. Rajabi and can't wait for Tuesday morning to get here.

I need to go run errands this morning with Lowell while Samuel and Gary sleep in... I will close for now, but will update the blog as much as possible as we go through these next couple of weeks.  Thanks so very much for all the prayers for us and for our precious Cayla Joy.  Love these tested and true verses!

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3:5,6

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A little overwhelmed.

I sat down to write in my blog and just started crying. We are so, so blessed!  God has been so good to us!  I don't even know how much I can go into right now, but I want to.  My feet are swollen and am needing to put them up, but here I sit. 

Today has been one amazing day.  It started with a nice quiet morning eating my last 2 pieces of toast with some eggs.  Church was so good.  Larina's song, "Be Still and Know that I am God" was so beautiful I could hardly play at times.  Then Pastor's sermon on personal revival spoke volumes to me.  I love my church!  I was then invited to my friend Tina's house for a little "bath" instead of a shower.  It was a time of spiritual refreshment where each of the 7 either read Scripture, sang, and just uplifted me and my family to the Lord.  It was great to laugh, sing and pick on Dottie since I can't do that at the store anymore.  :o)  Tina even made sugar-free jello with cool whip that looked like a watermelon even though it was black cherry jello... delicious and some deviled eggs.  She tried to make things that I could eat!  Some people are so thoughtful.  What a sweet time of fellowship.  Thank you Tina! :o)

Our church was having a sandwich and dessert fellowship after church tonight.  When I came home from Tina's, Lowell had already made up the sandwiches and displayed them beautifully on a platter with some tortilla chips in the middle!  He's been so helpful!  I love that man! :o)  I started freshening up for church and was trying to think who was on the schedule to do special music tonight when I realized it was me... You know, I'm blaming all this on the pregnancy.  I grabbed a couple of books of music and headed down to the church.  I kept changing my mind.  I tried to sing, but just don't have the air I need, especially when sitting down at the piano accompanying myself.  I was changing my mind before and during church and couldn't decide what I should do.  During prayer, I put the mic away and decided to play an arrangement of "It is Well With My Soul".  It IS well  with my soul and the song just hit a chord within me and was glad I chose to play that.  God gives you what you need, when you need it.  Then Pastor talked about the Titanic and how a warning had been sent from another ship almost 2 hours earlier, about ice ahead and the warning wasn't heeded because it wasn't coded right.  He said that man who received the message, but didn't pass it on could have prevented many deaths.  We have been given a message from God that's even more important, but we aren't passing it on to warn people of what's ahead in eternity.  I have to say, I was convicted that I need to be seeking people out to tell about Jesus Christ and what He's done and pass on the warning of a very real place called Hell.  Even if I could try to talk to one person a week.  I don't know, but God's still working on me.

Well, Pastor dismissed church and told everyone to head back for a fellowship time.  I had to take my insulin first, so I stayed behind in the sanctuary and got that done.  By the time Lowell and I got back there, everyone was waiting for us and they gave us a very, very special surprise.  Pastor caught us all off guard and asked us to come up with him and presented us with a "money tree"!  They moved the chalkboard and there it was!  Tobias had even origamied some bills with a quarter in them in the shape of a heart with a cross where the quarter came through. Amazing!  I was just stunned. Didn't see this coming and one of the amazing things is that I know this group of people and how well secrets can be kept... they all kept this for 2 months!  I am still shocked!  :o)  I have just never seen anything like this.  I just feel so loved by my church family.  It's not a huge church, but they just gave $1,000 for one of our college girls to go on a missions trip this summer, and they just gave a large sum to our annual 30 Pieces of Silver Offering too.  And then on top of all that, they gave us a lot of money on this tree!!!  Everyone was wanting a seed from the tree to take home... :o)  What an amazing gift!  God is so faithful and getting us through!  Wow! 

I am truly overwhelmed!  I just have to praise God for the people He has put in our lives at this time in our lives!  I can't say enough.  Thank you doesn't even start, but they all know we love them, and we know they all love us!  Thank God for His children! 

It's late now and I need to close up for now.  Thank you to everyone who has been an amazing part of this day and thank you to a great and mighty God!  :o)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ten Days!

Well, I started a post last Thursday night, but much has changed since then, so I'll just start over.  It's now Saturday evening, April 14th.  Lowell took this picture last Wednesday night of the crib in our room.  We get to borrow it for as long as we need to.  :o)  It's beautiful and in great shape!  Thanks Ann!


Last fall we moved upstairs to the long room before I knew I was pregnant, but it has plenty of space for us and Cayla.  Haven't done any decorating up there.  We were given  some flowers that hang on the wall and this beautiful white crib.  I didn't have any bedding, bumper pads or anything more than sheets for the crib, but wasn't too worried.  For some reason, I'm not feeling like I'm in any hurry... I have a little over a week.  I don't know what's up with me, but oh well.  I stopped in to see a friend yesterday and she gave us a beautiful bedding set that had the exact same flowers in it that are for the wall!  So, last night I washed it all, and Lowell and I put it all on the crib and it's so cute!  He even put the flowers up on the wall.  This is so amazing how God works.  There's a baby shop in Jefferson I believe is called "Another Time Around."  She said this was the only bedding set they had and it's not like she had a bunch to choose from.  But that it matched perfectly is so neat and it was brand new considering it's a used baby store.  If you haven't been in there yet, you should!  Such inexpensive baby things... especially clothes. So anyways, it's just great to see how God so perfectly meets our needs.  Here's a picture of the crib now and a picture of me and my hubby.  And yes, I finally got my hair cut Friday afternoon!  Feels so much better!   :o)  Amazing what a simple thing like a hair cut can do for morale...

Lowell called me from work yesterday to say they had baby shower for Cayla at his work.  Wasn't that just sweet?  He said they had a really cute cake with her name and a duck on top.  They sent home the whole top cake with the duck, very cute.  I didn't get a picture before they started eating it today.  But his boss took pictures of it all and said she'd email them to us.  Don't have them yet, but will have to post some when she sends them.  They gave us a Wal Mart gift card and this so soft and cuddly, purple baby blanket with Cayla's name on it.  Lowell's standing behind it on the end of the crib.  Here's another picture of it below.  You can kind of see the back of it through the crib.  It's black with purple and pink flowers all over it.  Very special blanket, and I am so glad God has given Lowell a work place that is so good!  He really enjoys the people he works for and works with.  They even got a bag and gift for big brother Samuel.  :o)  They gave him a family pack of 4 free movie tickets.  He's been waiting patiently to see "The Avengers".  I'm not even sure that's the title, and I have no idea when it's coming out, but I think it's got all the Marvel comic book characters in it like Captain America, Thor, Hulk and others that he has really wanted to see.  I have absolutely no interest in it, so he's already decided he wants to go with Lowell and 2 friends, Joseph and Gary.   Let's just say that made his day!  Thank you to all his office co-workers for the special gifts.  We already bought a few diapers from it last night to have when we bring Cayla home.  Wow, was that weird buying diapers last night...

This is a picture from last Sunday on Easter.  Samuel's sporting his new purple shirt, tie and pants.  He's looking so grown up these days.  Although at 16, he's still not quite as tall as Lowell's 6'3", but pretty close.  Love my boys and looking forward to having Cayla to balance the boy/girl ratio out in the house.  :o)

I guess while I'm posting pictures, I might as well post a pregnant picture I didn't put up from when I had 4 weeks to go.

Ok, moving on. I had a doctor visit last Thursday with Dr. Kayland I think her name was.  The ultrasound tech did her test on Cayla and she got all 8 points fairly fast.  She measured her and Cayla is now 6 lbs. 15 oz.!  :o)  She's right on target.  We had to do another non-stress test and she did fine.  She told me to lay very low this week.  Cayla seems to be in position and could decide to come early if I'm not careful.  I see Dr. Rajabi again next Thursday for my last appointment.   

Dr. Mayock I think his name is, that gave me the physical last week at Cleveland Clinic, called me this week asking me to get some blood work done Thursday while at Hillcrest.  So I did.  He said he wanted to check my potassium and kidney functions and other things.  Well, he called me this morning on a Saturday to tell me that all my levels of everything he checked were "outstanding".  Ok, but then he said he had to list my kidney function as abnormal because it was so high above normal.  I don't understand that, and he didn't really explain it, other than to say it's great and I'm super healthy.  I guess I'm just going to have to let it go and not try to figure it out... Nice to know I'm healthy.  All this they're doing is apparently because my pregnancy is "high-risk".  Just so blessed to have great insurance.  We got a bill from Cleveland Clinic this week too.  I have only been to them since February.  This bill was not including previous appointments with my regular, local OB, just since I started seeing Dr. Rajabi, it was for just under $12,000 already!!!  I haven't even had the C-section yet, nor Cayla have any of her operations that might be forthcoming...  I can forsee this bill increasing tremendously before the end of this year.  Our insurance covers 80% and we pay 20% up untill our family deductible is met at $2,500, then they cover 100%.  They said our part due was around $900.  This is all so, so surreal what it's costing and how much insurance is paying.  I looked at what things were costing and they listed one of the ultrasounds done at one of my visits with 3-D and who knows what, at $975!  Ok, moving on... but God is providing is all I can say!  He is taking care of us in miraculous ways! 

Wow, it's already 10pm and I'm exhausted.  Oh, I was going to say it was great having a friend come over last Wednesday who helped me clear my dining room table, mopped my bathroom floor and drove me around town to do my errands.  Thanks Kim!  You blessed me greatly!  And Samuel and I love hearing your stories that kept us laughing!  :o)

I have given up on making announcements... I was doing 2-step stamping with ink pads that eventually do need to be reinked, but I can only find the refills for 1 out of the 4 colors I'm using.  It was taking too long and we have come up with plan B.  Gotta love plan B's.  :o)  I might use the ones I've done as thank you's or something.  We'll see.  

I know there was more I was going to say, but can't quite remember sitting here feeling sleepy.  We're down to 10 days!  Amazing.  I love being pregnant and feeling her move around in there.  It's so, so amazing to think there's a baby in there.  I know, I'm tired and pregnant, so this is what comes out when I write.  As much as I love being pregnant, I can't wait to have her in my arms and love on her!  It's not long now. :o)

I really would like to ask you to continue to pray for Cayla and what all she'll have to face after birth.  Have no idea what it will be, but God does.  Keep praying also for my sugar levels that morning of delivery to be right, and that our precious Cayla Joy will be patient and wait until Tuesday the 24th.  :o)  We appreciate the love, support, prayers, money, and so much more that we have been blessed with by so many of you!  Thank you all who've been following us so far for all of this!  For all you reading this, here's a prayer from us for you and a good one for us too!

"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you,
 and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will
in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,
being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 
Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power,
unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;"
Colossians 1:9-11.

Monday, April 9, 2012

These past couple of days

Well, let's see. I have to start by saying... only 16 days!!!!!!!!!!  Wow!  That might as well be tomorrow... :o)  Ok, moving on.  Let's go back to last Thursday, April 5th.  It all started at 5:30am getting up and getting showered, getting Samuel up and out the door by 6:30am to go roofing, and then getting myself ready and out the door by 6:45am when my mother-in-law and niece came to pick me up.  Lowell was on his own that morning to get his breakfast, lunch and himself out the door.  Apparently he did fine. :o)  My 1st appointment at Cleveland Clinic was at 8:10 on 8th floor of the Crile Building.  Took us a while to get to the building because there were no left turns allowed for about 6 or 7 blocks.  I felt like I was back in D.C. where you can see the building you want to get to, but have no way of actually getting to it.  Like Lowell and the Kennedy Center... another story for another time... Anyways, that 1st "appointment" turned out to be answering what seemed to be 100 questions on a computer form... They apparently need my life history before I can have a C-Section.  Who'd-a thunk? 

Well, with that done, we then had to go back down to 1st floor to Internal Medicine.  I started with a nurse who took all my stats and checked all my medications, asked me more questions and sent me in to see the doctor.  I'm still not quite sure how this doctor fits into the scheme of things, but apparently he does.  He pretty much gave me a physical exam from head to toe.  He checked reflexes I didn't know I even had.  He had the same 100 questions again for me.  After he poked, prodded, listened, tapped, squeezed, glared, twisted and checked me, he went over my medications too. He was thinking my insulin was too high this past week and needed to be adjusted back down some.  He gave me some strict instructions on insulin for the morning of surgery.  He knew all about Cayla and acted like I'd been to him 100 times and were old buddies.  I'm just amazed at how many people it takes to have a special needs baby here.  :o)  I'm not complaining really, because I know it will only get worse.  Many hospitals are "teaching" hospitals and CC is one of those too, so I've already been warned about the volume of people that will be coming and going and being a part of Cayla's journey. It's all good if my baby girl survives and does well!   Well, this doctor, and I can't even remember his name, will be apparently around the morning of delivery to make sure I am ok and ready for surgery.  He was very nice and concerned about my sugar levels.  He did say that as I get closer to delivery, my insulin produced by the placenta which is causing the gestational diabetes, will slack off and I will need less insulin.  I do believe that is what is happening too. So that's good.  I was just getting nervous about this gestational diabetes turning into full-blown diabetes.  Not that it still couldn't, but we'll see.  I didn't realize the number of family members that have diabetes... it almost seems inevitable.

Ok, moving on.  I then was taken to another nurse so that Internal Medicine can get me into their system.  She took my insurance card, and checked me all in and set me all up with this whole department.  Nice Christian lady! I enjoyed chatting with her. 

Then my last appointment for the morning was with the anesthesiologist. I know it's not spelled right, but I'm tired and don't feel like looking it up.  :o)  I wasn't quite sure why I was having to talk to this department, but apparently they just want me know what all the options are, what I'm opposed to having done and what all the if's are.  The young doctor was very helpful, but then he had to get the more senor doctor to come see me too.  All she did was tell me about her daughter and tell me I'm in the best hands.  Interesting lady.  Pretty much said nothing.  Oh well, finishing up with her meant I was finished up with CC for the day.  Now with only 2 weeks to go, I can truly say, I'm done with visits to CC until delivery.  Did you catch that?  TWO weeks...  Woah Bessie, back that cart up.  I cannot believe it's that close.  Ahhhhhh!

Well, I'll move on, but am too tired to continue tonight.  I will have to finish this tomorrow.

Good morning!  We are getting the crib and some other things this morning!  Thanks Ann for bringing this over and letting us use it all!  We have been blessed!  Lowell is off today, so he'll be here to set up the crib and all.  Yay!  Elise is on her way over for babysitting this morning.  It's been a good morning so far!  I made a double batch of gluten free bread on Saturday morning, so I had a banana and brown sugar toasted sandwich this morning for breakfast!  Don't know when the last time was, but it's been a long while.  So, good, and it was even with the Splenda brown sugar.  :o)

Ok, back to last Thursday... We were told we'd be done around 11am, and I had my weekly OB appointment at 1pm at Hillcrest.  We were actually done at CC by 10:30 so we had some time to kill.  We drove through Little Italy in Cleveland.  Very quaint with lots of wrought iron and Ristorantes.  :o)  We stopped at McDonalds for lunch and spent as much time there as we possibly could.  We even had ice cream.  I know, I had a cup with just ice cream, no toppings, but it turned out to be a good thing because by the time we went to my appt., they took me right in for the ultrasound and Cayla was all wound up.  They did the same test on her that they did last week and she passed all of them in about 5 minutes and was racking up tons of extra-credit points!  :o)  Whereas last week she eeked her points in at the last minute.  So now I have an excuse to eat some icecream before my appointment! :o)  Isn't that what that means?  I think so.  :o) Anyways, Dr. Chappa came in and said everything is looking really good.  He looked over the insulin change recommendations from the doctor earlier that morning and agreed with him and lowered my insulin in the evening.  He's going on vacation this week, so this Thursday I see Dr. #3.  No problem, I would just prefer for little Miss Cayla to hold off until Dr. Rajabi's back from around the world.  I can't go anywhere, but he can... :o)  Oh well, not much else went on at that appt. and we were out of there early once again.  Very nice since we were all tired. 

Samuel came home tired and filthy with holes in his jeans, but very happy.  He loved working up there on the roof with Chris.  He just might be more interested in hands-on work than anything else.  It'll be interesting to see how his life unfolds in the next couple of years.  Lowell came home happy too since it was the beginning of his first 4 day weekend since working at Ken Forging.  :o) 

Friday was a really nice day.  Starting off with Elise coming for a couple of hours in the morning.  Oh, and Lowell realized that our tax return had been deposited that morning too!  Yay!  Then we took off and spent a good portion of the day in Erie, PA.  Had lunch at Golden Corral, then went to the mall still looking for a new pair of tennis shoes for Lowell and still didn't find what he wanted for the price he wanted. Samuel got a new purple shirt, tie and tan pants (long overdue and needed).  He looked really nice yesterday for Easter. Stopped at some other places outside of the mall and then headed home.  I have to say here that a friend blessed us with $ for a new mattress!  What an amazing thing!  We stopped in Griffiths in Ashtabula on the way home from Erie to check out what they had.  They had a double-sided, pillow-topped mattress that was so very, very comfortable to lie on.  It was about the same price that Sears had there's for, BUT these prices were marked at 50% off and then he gave us an additional $150 off!  So we couldn't refuse, and he said they would do free next-day delivery.  So thank the Lord and friends for wonderful gifts!  We slept so well that night and keep wanting to go lie down and lake naps on it!  God is so good. 

Saturday I slept in until 9am and only got up then because I needed to get something to eat or I'd have kept sleeping.  Felt wonderful.  I looked at Lowell and asked him if he realized how long it will be before we have a nice quiet Saturday morning sleeping in like this again?  It will probably be a while.  That's all good though.  At least I think I can say that.  I'll look back at these last pregnant days and wonder why I thought I was busy... I'm sure I'll be longing for these quiet days ahead. Our mattress was delivered.  :o)  After they moved all the beds around, with Samuel getting our old one, we went over to Lakeshore Park and played 18 holes of Frisbee golf.  Ok, I didn't play, I walked around and sat at times watching them from a distance and then walked over to somewhat keep up with them.  I really don't want to do anything that will cause little Miss Cayla to come early.  Nice being outside on a beautiful day.

Easter was a beautiful day too.  We had a great service in the morning and evening!  After church, we went over to the in-laws and spent the afternoon with Lowell's family.  Everyone was there.  Very nice and I had my camera and got pictures of everyone.  Love my family!  :o)

Lowell's off today, Monday and yes, we have a crib in our room now... weird, in a good way.  Enjoyed Elise.  Lowell and Samuel went out for a couple of hours while I fell asleep on the couch.  I woke up feeling drugged or something.  So there's the run-down of the last couple of not much happening days...  I really can't picture how drastically my life is about to change.  Maybe that's a good thing. :o)

I have been following the birth of Cael.  A little HPLHS baby born last week.  I don't know that I could even go through all that he's been through the first week of his life, but the first surgery, the Norwood, was a struggle for him and is for every little one that has to go through it.  They were just today able to close his chest back up after having to leave it open for monitoring as it is still adjusting to it's new anatomy and reconstruction.  He has struggled, but so far he's getting through one moment at a time.  I am still amazed that God might actually spare Cayla from this first surgery.  I know I've said this before, but it's overwhelming that He would do that!  We are ready for whatever may come, I guess I should say as ready as I think we can be.  We really have no idea what all Cayla will be facing.  She's in God's hands and He will get us through it all! 

Thanks for the prayers, love and support!  We look forward in 2 more weeks meeting our precious Cayla Joy.  :o)  Can't wait!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Resurrection Day!

Hope everyone's been blessed this Easter Sunday!  I have certainty about where I'll spend eternity because Jesus is alive today and not buried in some tomb like all the other religious leaders.  I can be glad, no matter what.  I can be glad because my husband and son have that certainty too!  If you read this and don't have that 100% certainty about where you'll spend your eternity, you can change that now.  God loves the whole world.  He died on the cross for the whole world.  That's you and me and everyone in between.  I'll sum it up the way I tell my Sunday school class. 

There is no sin in heaven.  It's where God is.  We are born sinners... no one had to teach us to sin, it is part of our nature at birth.  The verse in Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" So, if we have sin, and everyone does, there's no way we can go to heaven when we die. The Bible says there are only 2 options when we die, heaven or hell.  It's our choice. We can say we don't need God to get to heaven, and depend on our good works to get us there, but remember, we've sinned.  All it takes is one sin and heaven's out for us.  It has nothing to do with all our good, just the fact that we have sin in us and there's none in heaven.  Since the only options are heaven or hell, I know that anyone who puts some thought into it will of course choose the wonderful heaven over a place of constant death in hell, the lake of fire. 

Well, you ask, then how DO I go to heaven when I'm a sinner?  Great question.  Thanks for asking.  There's a verse in the Bible in I John 1:7 that says, "...the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin."  This is where Easter comes in.  This whole week of Easter has been about the blood of Jesus and His resurrection.  First, there is sin in each person which needs to be taken care of.  There has to be a penalty for sin... someone has to pay for it since it can't go unpunished.  Well, as we said, because of our sin, our punishment is eternal death, or eternal separation from God which means hell and no access to heaven.  But there's this great verse in Romans 6:23 that says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.."  There's a way out through Jesus Christ!  We've just celebrated Easter which talks about Jesus dying on the cross.  He didn't just die like the rest of us. When he was on that cross, for 3 hours the earth went black as night.  God in heaven, Jesus' Father, had to turn His back on His only Son, because Jesus had done the unthinkable.  He stepped in and took our punishment of hell for us.  He, who had never sinned, took all of the world's sin, including yours and mine and pretty much went to hell for us.  He's the only one that could do it since He's the only one that's not guilty.  When the Bible says that the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from sin, it's that blood that He shed that day on the cross when He took our place and died that says, the debt for sin has been paid in full.  He was willing to go to hell in our place, to take our punishment for us, to step in when He didn't have to, all because He loves us that much and was WILLING to do this so the debt could be paid and we could go to heaven.  What a gift!  Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 

So, Jesus died, shed His blood, took our punishment, and that's it?  No, because the best part of the whole thing is that He rose again!  He's not dead in any tomb, He's alive and rose again 3 days after He died!  That's what Easter is really a celebration of!  His death is unlike ANY other in the world, because He's alive and living today! 

So, then how ARE we saved from an eternity in hell? Well, it says in Romans 10:9, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."  Doesn't say anything about our good we've done, just about all that Jesus has done instead.  It's that shed blood that cleans away the sin when we truly believe what Jesus has done in dying for us and rising again!  Confess it with your mouth... Tell it to God... Tell Him you believe and trust that HIS work on the cross that's been done is what will take away your sins.  Don't forget to admit that you really do have sin, and that you want to get rid of it and are willing to repent of what you've done.  I love a few verses down in Romans 10:13 that says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."  We're not talking about being saved from drowning in a pool or saved from being in a car crash, we talking about being saved from an eternity in hell!!!  You know, one of the best loved verses says this, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  There!  Did you see it?  Heaven not hell! 

So, you ask lastly, how can I be 100% sure of something that will happen after I die?  Well, there's a verse in I John 5 :13 that says, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life..."  It doesn't say, "hope" or "wish" you'll have eternal life.  It says "KNOW"!  I can sit here typing this with 100 % confidence that when I die, I WILL go to heaven and not because of me or anything I've done, but 100% because of Jesus Christ and what He's done on the cross and in the grave!  His blood has washed away every sin of mine, and some day when I die and stand before God, He will see the blood of Jesus, and not my sin, and I will be in heaven with Him for eternity.

If you don't have the 100% certainty that you'll go to heaven when you die, please take a minute and talk to God.  Tell Him you know you've sinned. You don't deserve to go to heaven.  That you believe that He died on the cross and shed His blood to pay for your sins. Tell Him you want to change and follow Him.  Tell Him what's on your heart!  Ask Him to save you now.  He will.  Immediately.  He will fill you with His Holy Spirit and will never leave you or forsake you.  He promised.  He wouldn't be God if He broke a promise.  Pray and cry out to God with a believing and trusting heart that His blood CAN cleanse you from all your sin!  It's all about your true desire to believe and follow Jesus Christ.  If you talk to God about all this from your heart, guess what?  You will KNOW that you WILL go to heaven when you die.  No questions, no doubts!  It's that wonderful.  You become God's child and nothing can change that!   If you've made this decision, would you write me and let me know so I can rejoice with you and pray for you and help you in any way?  My email is  

I planned to write about what's been going on these last couple of days, but this is what came out.  I guess I'll start another blog for that and this is what God wanted me to write for tonight. :o)  I love celebrating Easter because of everything I've written here tonight.  I hope you now have that peace of God and love for Him and thankfulness for all He's done for you too!  Here's a great verse for what's happened in your heart!  God bless you all!  Happy Resurrection Day!!!

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old thngs are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17