Nora – FOURTEEN WEEKS OLD

Another picture perfect day on Island No. 8. Nora spent much of the day dozing off and on under the pine and birch trees with Nana down by the lake. When she was awake she was whimsically entertained by the birch leaves blowing in the wind above her. The contrast of the white bark against the azure sky demanded a lingering gaze from me as well!

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One of the things I love about this area is that there is no hustle and bustle. No one is in a hurry, everything is laid back and you go about life at your own leisurely pace (aka “Yooper time”). Which would explain why I was just getting around to showering at almost 1:00 in the afternoon. Of course while I was in the shower, and Nora was napping we had a visitor!  When I got out, my Mom explained to me  with tears in her eyes that someone had stopped by to meet Nora. Someone we’d never met before who has been following the blog!! Imagine you are following a blog and you see a landmark relatively close to your home featured on the blog (Mackinac Bridge). From that point the blogger (me, in this case) could have been headed in any given direction. Imagine your surprise when you get to the next post and realize they are literally right down the street from your house!! How incredible and cool is that!!?? I’m sorry I was in the shower, Susan! Please, please stop back– we would love to meet you!  (I’m smiling as I type this!)

We were invited to dinner this evening at the cottage that my Great Grandmother purchased back in 1951. This is the place that we used to stay when I was a little girl. It is now occupied by my grandmother’s youngest sister, my Aunt Jane and her husband, my Uncle Jack and their extended family. It was so so nice to see everyone! Thank you so much for having us over!! I got a lump in my throat as we turned onto Fox Lane. The sound of the gravel crunching beneath the car tires evoked memories of wild, impetuous excitement. The same great pines that heralded the arrival of our mint green station wagon all those years ago stood firm and taller, having endured the divergence of weather through the ages. This set of geographic coordinates has absorbed a whole compilation of beautiful memories. In my mind it has always been my “happy place”. It unknowingly even served as my focal point during painful labor contractions on more than one occasion. This is a place that represents a much simpler time – my beautiful childhood neatly wrapped up with a bow on top. How could I have known then all that would unfold over the next 39 years… That someday I would be back, all grown up with a husband, two kids, and a miracle of a baby in tow. As I ambled down to the boathouse deck, walked the length of the dock and stared out at the expanse of familiar cool blue water I was reminded of all that I am thankful for and how truly short our time on this earth is.

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My Great Grandmother (taken from a photo on the wall)


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Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
(James 4:14 NIV)

Already the above pictures are but treasured memories!

Nora – 97 Days Old

In the very early morning hours of this day nineteen years ago I met another precious baby girl for the first time. Her birth, like Nora’s was extraordinary and unique, but in a different way. This was the birth of my first born, my birth daughter. As a mother, even at the young age of 20, I would do anything to protect my children, even if that meant protecting them from myself. I knew then that it was not in this little girl’s best interest to parent her as a single, barely-employed mother, also attempting to get through college and still living at home with my parents. If you are a parent, you are fully aware of that incredible, undeniable, powerful love that is compounded into that beautiful moment when you set eyes on your newborn baby for the first time. From that second on, it only blooms and flourishes. None of those emotions were absent then. As you might imagine, parting with her was gut wrenchingly painful, but I was somehow confident that I was making the right decision. Highlighted in a Beth Moore Bible study book it reads, “At times, to choose the will of God over our own is excruciating. We love our flesh and it hurts to have its desires crucified! Never misunderstand pain as permission to forego the will of God.” I didn’t realize it then, but looking back I can clearly see how I was being led by the Holy Spirit. Somehow, I had the good sense to listen! In April of 2011 I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the grown up version of the little baby girl I had parted with all those years ago. I’m blessed beyond measure to have a friendship with her. If she’s reading this: I hope you continued to have an amazing, wonderful, perfect birthday! I love you!!!!!!

It’s day 2 of our Michigan vacation–a very laid back day. Nothing exciting to share except beautiful photos!

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Enjoying a milkies with Nana & Papa under the pine trees.


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Gavin and his Dad

Various stages of the magnificent sunset:

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It was very windy today, thus the wispy clouds.


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A faint rainbow halo arched over the sunset. A beautiful God wink if I've ever seen one!


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Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Nora – 96 Days Old

It’s hard to believe that once it was a major feat to have gone on a walk with Nora up to the mailbox. Gradually as the weeks passed we ventured further and further away from the comfort of the family room. We made it to Nana & Papa’s, then all the way to Aunt Sarah & Uncle Dan’s house almost an hour away. Today we embarked on the unimaginable…

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After an almost 10 hour drive Nora is on her very first vacation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Island No. 8 in the Les Cheneaux Islands on Lake Huron. This little remote corner of the world is my most favorite place to be. I first visited here when I was just 3 months old – same age as Nora, and just about every year of my life thereafter. Although we no longer stay at the quaint little cottage in the woods that once belonged to my Great Grandmother, it is still just as special. I am over the moon happy that we’ve actually brought Nora up here. My parents are here, as are my sisters and their families, all of us together on our vacation we so greatly enjoy every year. William and I weren’t sure we would be able to come along this year — but HERE WE ARE!!! Gavin and Greta came up a day earlier with everyone else and it was sweet to be reunited with them. Thank you so much, Schmidts for lending us your cottage this year! It’s perfect!

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Nora got to dip her bare little toes in Lake Huron, which was considerably warmer than I’ve ever known it to be. That mattered not to her. It was NOT the warm bath water that she is accustomed to and she was very angry with me. I was given a strict warning never to do that again!!

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That deserved a rest after that whole ordeal!!

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Around 9:00 we made our way back down the pine-lined path to the dock and watched the sun set over the water.

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I was thrilled, but unsurprised to see the 3 geese floating past,”I am with you… I am with you… I am with you…” It was beyond perfect.

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As I stood there by myself at the end of the dock, mesmerized by the 3 geese – I couldn’t help but think of this song:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 NIV)

Nora – 95 Days Old

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Hmmm... Sleepies? Or milkies... Hmmm...

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(Snora)

I will extol the Lord  at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
(Psalm 34:1 NIV)

(even when we’re sleeping!!)

We have a very long, but very exciting day ahead of us tomorrow! Please keep us in your prayers for safe travels! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Nora – 94 Days Old

I’d meant to do a followup on yesterday’s post, but now it’s so late in the day that I may as well just go on to Day 94!

It was the strangest thing waking up this morning. I laid there in my semi-awake state bracing myself for the lead boulder that usually comes crashing down onto my chest. It wasn’t there today! I waited and waited — nothing. Aaaah!

As I stated yesterday, I was at peace with the decision we were given regarding Nora’s ineligibility for heart surgery. I will try to give a summary of the hows and whys as best as I can in my very limited medical intellect.

We sat there waiting for probably only a few minutes, but what seemed like lengthy hours for Dr. Hirsch to come in. As he finally entered the room, I was intent on studying his body language trying to ascertain what the answer was. He seemed confident and he was smiling. There was no indication that he was about do deliver us any bad news. I was nervously hopeful, hanging on to his every word, his every movement, barely able to breathe. He went through his list of questions for us, wanting to know if anything had changed since last week with Nora. Other than her cold, there was nothing new to report. She was still not showing any symptoms of congestive heart failure. By the way her heart is operating, theoretically she should be experiencing at least some symptoms — but she’s not. After a productive debate with the surgeons, it was concluded that to perform surgery on Nora right now may end up causing more harm than good. It could potentially open up a Pandora’s box of trouble. This decision is the same decision that would have been given to a child without trisomy 18. I do not believe that Nora was discriminated against in any way. Our next step would be to administer sildenafil (while in the hospital under close supervision) which would relax the blood vessels in her lungs. They need to see if by doing this she would then show symptoms of congestive heart failure. This would indicate whether or not the VSD is causing her pulmonary issues.  If the VSD is NOT causing her pulmonary issues, the surgery would be pointless.  Her heart is otherwise doing its job. The VSD by itself is not a fatal condition.

I hope I explained this correctly? Kinda wish I would have gone to med school. (If anyone needs any critical answers or emergency explanations in regard to art history, I might be able to help you out.)

I can’t tell you how much I appreciated Dr. Hirsch’s genuine concern and his compassion for us and especially for Nora. My heart swells with gratitude. He is not only an exceptional doctor, he is also an exceptional man. The prayers that the right people would be there at the right time for us continue to be answered.

It was suggested in a comment yesterday that sometimes the not knowing is the worst part, and yes, I would have to agree with that in this instance!!! A comfortable awakening with the unmistakeable presence of peace was upon me this morning. Then the confirmation that we were headed down the right path came about in the form of the THREE woodpeckers tapping on our roof this morning. One? Okay. Two? Sure. But no. There were THREE. Too uncanny to be coincidence!!?? God couldn’t be more obvious in our lives than if He were sitting here at our kitchen table.

We have a great week planned ahead of us without any hospital visits – a much needed respite!

Here are some sweet pictures from today!

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Women of the Tiny Hat Society

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Muthr cuddles

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Compatible with love…

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… and with milkies!!

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Winding down the day with an evening walkies.

Goodnight and thank you for your love and prayers!!

Nora – 93 Days Old

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While we didn’t get the answer we were hoping for this morning, we do believe that we got the answer we were praying for, which is God’s will. Surgery is not recommended at this time, nor would it be for a chromosomally normal baby. It might be something we revisit in the future, but for right now we are regarding every day with Nora as a gift. We completely trust our amazing cardiologist, Dr. Hirsch and of course our incredible God! Thank you so very much for your continuous, ongoing prayers. I never would have imagined being THIS at PEACE after receiving news I thought I never wanted to hear. Thank you, and all praise be to God!

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I will give more details in a Part 2 during daylight hours… Mentally and physically drained, but resting easy in God’s loving arms, fully encompassed in peace!

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Goodnight!

Nora – 92 Days Old

I’m sitting here propped up against the wall in our basement listening to the radio after just having assembled an IKEA shelf in a record time of 1 hour! Today was certainly a better day than yesterday. I’ve concluded two things:

1) It’s not a good idea for me to be completely alone. It’s too easy to let my dark thoughts fester into an all out catastrophe. This is a whole new reality for a self-proclaimed recluse, such as myself, to adjust to. Now, more than ever, do I need my family and community of friends, even if it’s just on the other end of the phone. I need to be the one to pick up the phone when I feel things spiraling out of control. Often times I’m too stubborn, prideful,embarrassed, or just don’t want to bother anyone or bring anyone down with me. I like to pretend I can handle it all on my own – and the next thing I know I’m hyperventilating in a lake of tears. Not working out for me to be alone, especially when Gavin and Greta are away.

2) Maybe God doesn’t come rushing down and fix all my problems right away in the way I’d like Him to because He wants me to learn to trust Him and to figure it out on my own that He is right here with me. He wants me to learn about Him by staying active in His Word, “Pick up the Bible! Read about Me and who I am! I am ‘I AM’!”

{God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14 NLT)}

In the same way I’ve let my own children cry themselves to sleep on occasion when they were babies and toddlers. It pained me terribly to hear them crying. I wanted to rush in and bring them in bed with me. But I also knew that they needed to learn how to fall asleep on their own – and no, they couldn’t sleep in bed with me! It was never because I didn’t love them! They eventually figured it out that I was always just in the next room and that I would be back in to get them when they woke up. Their little tantrums grew shorter and shorter and now at 6 and 8 years old they certainly know how to fall asleep on their own. It’s getting them IN TO bed that has become the big issue in recent years!!

I’m still the spiritual infant in all of this. God is sometimes right in the next room with His head in His hands listening to me. It pains Him to hear me crying, but He’ll be in to get me after I’ve learned to rest in Him. He’s waiting for me to trust Him and to know that He’s got my very best interest in mind.

Today I felt God standing next to my “crib”, patting me on the back and whispering that it’s all going to be okay, “Stop worrying and REST your mind! I’ve got this!” He hasn’t reached in to take me out yet, but at least I know He’s there and I am soothed.

God probably wants to clear up any misconceptions that may or may not be out there as well. I am no saint, I have real human emotions, I don’t have it all together. I am in fact an ordinary person allowing God to do extraordinary things with and through me.

Here’s Nora:

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Oh, hi! It's me - Nora!


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Rumor has it that I was a little fussy yesterday...


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I had lots of boogies and my little cheek got all red and chapped.


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I was NOT happy about any of this.


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And my tear duct is all jacked up too. My poor eye!


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Things were a little bit better today though.


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I have my doctor's appointment tomorrow morning. Please pray for my Mom and Dad. While they might be scared for me, God already had a plan for me before He even created the universe!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Nora always tells it like it is:

Nora’s appointment is at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Please pray for us!!