Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Tale of Two Name Tags

     As most everyone knows, we had a medical scare with Maribette (ie a ruptured appendix) a month or so ago. It's been a roller coaster ride that has brought back so many emotions. As we got settled into the ER @archildrens, Miss finally arrived about thirty minutes after we had touched down. She had made the two and a half hour road trip with family from Fort Smith. 
     One of the first things that Miss handed me was a name tag. I was instantly taken back to that first time I had gotten an Arkansas Children's Hospital parent tag. Over the next few days I began to think about these two tags. 

Now, everyone knows that life can and does change in an instant. One minute life is going good and the next thing you know, life is throwing curves and is changed forever. There are things etched in my mind that will never change.

a different phone call:
   I remember that with both girls that we had been worried about them not feeling well. We prayed that God would help us to know what was wrong with them and that they would get better. On the morning of August 6th 2010, I was at work about 9:00 and my cousin had called saying that they couldn't get Lei to wake up. There is nothing that can prepare you for "the phone call". Life goes to 90 mph in seconds. 
Then on October 21, at about 1:30, I was at work and got a call from Miss saying, that in the middle of Mb's ultrasound, the tech went to get the Dr. Once again my stomach was in knots. Usually when a doctor is called in in the middle of a test, it's not good news. I was taken back to the drive home to be with Lei and how it took forever to drive ten minutes
     Now one things I must admit is that I am a worrier and tend to think the worst. I am so thankful that God doesn't operate on my little faith. The Jesus says that "if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." - Matthew 17:20. Now He was referring to His disciples being unable to heal a sick epileptic boy, but it applies to my life. We can't always control what happens, but we can control our outlook and Who we trust in the process. Faith ... it's all about trusting in Who holds our future, and knowing that He has a perfect plan. Its still so hard, I mean, I know that sun always shines, but there are clouds that get in the way and storms that come, but the sun always shines, God is always there.  
     So, on the way to meet Miss at the hospital I was already thinking cancer, tumor, and yes,  even what it would be like to plan another funeral.. I know that is horrible to think and I'm just being honest. Even when it seems like I have it all together and even when it seems that I have a strong faith, its always a work in progress for me. We never know when a call, or news, is going to rock our world, but in the midst of questions, worry, and fear, we can know Who holds our world.

a different diagnosis:
     When I pulled up to the driveway on the morning of August 6th, 2010, all I see is a fire truck and my little girl laying on the ground. I remember telling her "daddy's here". Once at the hospital we really didn't have to ask much, we could tell by the look on the doctors and nurses face that this was not good. Then we finally got the news that there was bleeding on the brain and our worst nightmare had started to slowly sink in. 
As I walked in to the ultrasound, the doctor was already there with Miss and Mb. Him and the tech were talking "medical stuff" as we waited for him to finish, still fearing the worst.  
     Now this is the hard part, where I try to put trusting God over satan getting me to face fear. A great scripture that comes to mind is Isaiah 41:10 "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."  Yes the scripture says to not fear, but satan screams that we have every reason to fear, the worst will happen, and God is not in control. 
      After the doctor finally finished the ultra sound on Mb, we were told that things were going to be ok, and I took my first deep breath and thought to myself "thank you God". We ended up doing a ct scan and figured that we would end up being admitted to get her all fixed up. Still we weren't sure what all was going on as we waited for the results Waiting is tough, waiting is down right hard, but if we aren't careful satan can start to creep in during our times of waiting.

a different trip:
     After they discovered that Lei had bleeding on the brain, Angel One was dispatched and she would be on her way to Arkansas Children's. We watched as they got her situated and loaded in the helicopter. There are no words to describe what it feels like to take in all the emotions as you hear the propellers, and feel the immense gushing wind that they put off, as we watched our little girl ascend in the sky. As Miss would later say " It was like the wings of angels carrying her home". The ride for us to Little Rock that day seemed to take forever, and as we traveled we begin to find comfort in scripture. 
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11 Its amazing to know that God thinks of us and has plans for us. Now we don't always understand His plans, be we can choose to trust in His plans. We can choose to take comfort in knowing that we are apart of His master plan. He is the author of peace, He is the author of hope.  
     As we prepared to admit Mb into the hospital, we overhear an employee on the phone saying that she was being admitted for a ruptured appendix. This was the first we were hearing of this, we hadn't heard form a doctor yet, and we both started to freak out a little. As another nurse assured us that she was "awfully young to have a ruptured appendix". Thanks for the morale booster",  I thought to myself, as Miss and I tried to reassure each other that she was going to be ok. About the same time, I mean within minutes we hear another employee on the phone say "don't admit her yet, Children's is coming to get her". Ok from a little freaked out to full freak out mode! Yep, so much for holding it all together. As I get a phone call from our pediatrician telling us that she is too young and the doctor there would not do the surgery since she was so little, I barely can hold down the tears long enough to tell him ok. So after a few, maybe many minutes, of calming down and trying to call family and inform them, we were both reassured by both our pediatricians that she would be ok. Miss headed off to Little Rock and I stayed behind, not know if I would be able to go with Mb on Angel One. So they landed and we loaded up for our fifty minute ride to @archildrens. Mb did awesome on the way there and I have to say that it was a calming flight. As we got to Little Rock I could see the sun setting behind us. God is truly amazing.

a different outcome:
      As we got to the hospital, we were told that Lei was already down in MRI. Once again we waited to hear the crushing news. She had an inoperable tumor at the base of her brain. There are no words to describe the helplessness, the questions, the what ifs, the how do we do this? The next few hours we held on to hope, we knew that we served a God who heals, but I also struggled with reality, and in reality things didn't look that promising. I remember sitting in the cafeteria trying to choke down food, and ended up leaving. Me and Miss stopped at the chapel and poured our hearts out to God. Praying, begging, asking for Him to save our little girl, but most of all to give us strength and peace to face what laid ahead. One of the toughest things we have ever had to do is walk out of the hospital without our little girl. Of course the next few days, weeks and months were a struggle. Even though people continued to praise us for our strength, it was not our strength at all, it was nothing but the hand of God on us, and His strength, and His mercy and His grace that covered us and still does to this day.
     As much as it was a shock to us, It did NOT shock God. A great verse is Deuteronomy 31:8,
"And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”  You see, God knew that Leightyn would only be here for five short years, He knew that we would face the darkest, hardest storm of our lives. He was not only with us every step of the way, but He was already there waiting for us. To comfort us, to hold us up, to use us and Leightyn's Lifesong for His glory. Just as He was/is and as we are on our current journey with Mb. I have heard it said that "He never gives us more than we can handle", but I would have to disagree and say that He does allow more than we can handle. There are times when I cant do it on my own, and hove to turn to Him to help me persevere. It is in those times that we have a choice. We can run to Him and choose to allow Him to use us, or we run from Him.
     We anxiously waited to hear from the doctors @archildrens, to see what the next step would be with Maribette. Much to our surprise the told us that its better to leave the appendix in and just try and get the infection out. So the next day we waited to get squeezed in to surgery. It was shorter than we were expecting and the IV Radiologist doctor told us that everything went well. It was a rough couple of days afterwards, especially for Miss since she stayed with Mb. Then by the time I had showed up to stay the weekend with them, she was being released. It was a different emotion, as we got to experience what it is like to leave with a child in hand. We still have an appendectomy to face in the next coming months, but we are thankful that she is already better.

the SAME God:
     God is a loving God! He is a caring God! He is the same God that walks with us through the storms,  the same God that is there waiting for us as the storm approaches, the same God is there as we face the days filled with sunshine. He is the same God that allowed Leightyn to die and the same God who allowed Maribette to get better. Malachi 3:6a says “For I am the Lord, I do not change". For some reason its easy to say that God is a God Who blesses, but harder to say that a loving God allows bad things to happen. Don't get me wrong, I would be lying if I said that I haven't questioned God's ways or reasoning, but it is different than saying that I have questioned who God is. I mean I would have never in eternity have chosen to loose a daughter, but in the end we have to believe, we must have faith that our lives are part of a bigger, grander, more perfect plan than we could ever imagine. This life is full of heartache and this life is full of great joy and God  is with us in both. Its crazy to think how two simple name tags can bring back some of the toughest emotions that we have ever faced, and remind us of some of the greatest victories that we have had through overcoming death and the blessings of healing.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Immeasurably More Than I Could Ask

Oh my goodness.... I can't believe it has been over a year since I last posted. I always seem to have a thought or urge to post an update or to share more of our journey and somehow I always get side tracked with a diaper change or a "urgent" need from someone.

Several years back I spent a weekend with my church gals at a "Going Deeper" event. The speakers included Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, and Priscilla Shirer.  To this day, I can not read Ephesians 3:20 ("Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us")  without a reminder of how Priscilla Shirer encouraged us to proclaim this verse in our lives. You see, as she said the verse, she took a giant step with each phrase. As she said each phrase, she proclaimed it with more emotion. Something like this.....(think about the capital letters and font size as her emotions)
      "now to HIM       who is ABLE      to DO     IMMEASURABLY MORE     than all we ask"

Man, I wish I could verberally say this to you to help get the idea. Anyways, this has stuck with me and I truly believe our journey these past 4 years is a real life example of how God can do more than we could ever imagine.

4 years ago my life was just sailing along with no clue of a major ship wreck coming. All was great and I almost felt untouchable when it came to the thought of anything bad happening. Suddenly on August 6, 2010, my ship wreck came and my life came crashing down.

But I survived!
Landen and I survived!
Mylea survived!
Our families survived!

God showed that He was able to do more than we could ask. No, we didn't get the healing that we wanted for Leightyn. Yes, we questioned why God didn't hear our prayers. But He did hear them!! Leightyn got her eternal healing without the pain and suffering here on earth. Many came to Christ, turned their lives around, and trusted Jesus as their one true Savior.
God heard our prayers and answered them in a way we never could have imagined.

I will never ever forget the way God proved Himself during my hardest moments as a mom. The overwhelming response of people at Leightyn's viewing. People that we had never met before and still they heard our story and came to share with us how it effected and changed them. The next day, Landen and I led our family into our church sanctuary for our final good-byes and instantly the tears came as I entered the doors. Not from sadness (I was still in shock and not everything had sunk in from the past few days) but from sheer joy and disbelief that our entire sanctuary was packed from front to back and all around with people who joined us to say good-bye and to support us on our new journey. And I get that that's what funerals are for but it's amazing the peace that came from seeing how God answered my many cries for this day.

But the biggest out pouring of God's "ableness to do immeasurably more than we ask" came towards the end of the funeral. Landen and I knew ahead of time that Bro. Mike would offer the plan of salvation and I had prayed and prayed that five people would choose Jesus that day. Five people for the five years we had Leightyn. I will absolutly never forget when Bro. Mike asked those who had accepted Christ to raise their hand. Slowly he begins to count the hands going up. He says "1". I'm thinking "yeah". He countinues to count to 4, I'm thinking "one more, just one more". He says "5". I begin to get teary. My prayer was answered. I got my 5. But oh me of little faith. Bro Mike continues to count and the numbers are coming quicker. 7, 8, 9, 10. Ten?? Really ten people. Now I'm getting ansy in my seat. I look at Landen and we just smile with tears in our eyes. But it's not over yet. Bro. Mike continues to count and now he's crying while saying "18, 19, 20, 21". Did you get that? 21 people willingly raised their hands and said they got saved at a funeral. Yes, my "God is ABLE to DO IMMEASURABLY MORE than we ask".

So none of this is what I had in mind to write about but once again, God has let my heart feelings roll off the keyboard for all of yall to see how Mighty He is.

So, how are the Holmes family? We are great! Life is great! Crazy, hetic, LOUD, busy and a great big beautiful mess. I just finished working through the Bible study "Beautiful Mess: Motherhood for Every Moment" and it's true the Holmes family is just a beautiful mess. For us, and probably you too, life has thrown us hurddles and challenges that seem to make a mess in our plans. My life is a mess. But it's a mess that God can make beautiful things out of. A mess that once again God has shown that He can do more than we could ever imagine.

Mylea is about to turn 7 in about a month. She was a month shy of 3 when Leightyn died and I cannot belive she is almost 7!!! How can that be?? Mylea sure is an awesome young lady. She loves God with everything. Her humor and imagination keep us laughing. Landry is 2 1/2 and has the personality of well Landry. She is her own unique 100% stinker and sweetie. Landry is the child that I prayed for. The little one I begged God for and He provided. My littlest Maribette is 1 1/2. Oh my sweet Maribette. She was a suprise and a great one at that. We also are an open foster home. During the past year and half we have had 5 children come in and out for short or long stay, Currently, we have a 2 year old boy that has been with us for about 6 months.
So why do I share how great things are going? As a reminder, for you and myself, that God can do more than you could imagine. So many times you hear of people and families that don't get over the loss of a loved one. And I get it. There were many of days that I could have stayed in bed but my sweet Mylea Jo taught me that I still had more life to live and memories to make. God taught me that He would never leave me. God knew my pain. After all, He sent His only Son to die for me. And you.
Do I want to paint a perfect little family picture for you? Not at all. I am no where near perfect. I yell at my kids. I have attitude. My house isn't always clean. My kids yell....and scream.....and hit....and bite. And we have two in the potty training stage (need I say more) but life is GREAT!

I have a God that loves me. A God that forgives me. A God that saved me. A God that has changed me. A God that will never leave me. And I have a God that has given me the promise of Heaven. A promise to one day see my Leightyn again.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

3rd Annual Lei Lei's5k Run and Memory Walk

We did it!!!!

Yesterday was our 3rd Annual Lei Lei's 5k Run and Memory walk. The weather was cold and wet but a great crowd showed up. I didn't get a chance to estimate yesterdays attendance but many people showed up....more that I would have ever imagined in the nasty weather.

The race began with Landen saying a few "thank you's" to our many sponsors. We held a m,moment of silence for those who have and still are fighting cancer. Bro. Mike led in prayer before the starting bullet was shot.

This year, was our biggest race to date. Every year it keeps growing! We had around 220 registered in the 5k and 180 signed up for the mile walk. With the help of all of these registrants, and our wonderful sponsors, we were able to raise over $14,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Now to take a few weeks off before we start thinking about next years race.

Click HERE to see a few photos from yesterday.

I must make time to get back to this blog. I have so many wonderful things to share. In fact, since I last wrote, we have added to our family again. Yep, you read that correct, we have been blessed with another baby!!! More updates and detail coming soon.....I promise!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thankful Is My Choice

Today marks two years since our world came crashing down. It's hard not to look at the clock and relive every moment. Instead of sadness, today I choose to be happy. To be thankful for God's grace and His faithfulness. Instead of thinking about the sadness and heartbreak, I am going to live this day thinking of all the God moments.

I thank God that we had Leightyn for 5 years. I am thankful for all the memories. How she lived life to the fullest and lived in the moment. To hear her talk about God and to sing praises to Him. To hear her sweet little prayers. To see the world through her eyes. To look past the bad and see the good in the homeless man at Walmart. To see her face light up at Disney and to experience the magic with her. To see her as a great big sister. The eagerness to teach Mylea so many things. The laughter between them and the secrets they shared.

I am thankful for God's goodness at Children's. To know that Leightyn didn't have to suffer with cancer. To know that we didn't have to go through many treatments and surgeries and still have the same outcome. To know that we didn't have to make the decision about taking her off life support. To know that we did all that could have to done. To know the drs did all they could in our circumstance.

To have "church" while our daughter was on life support. To hear the many prayers going up. To hear family members singing "amazing grace" after Landen and I told them that we felt it was time to let her body go. To hear people talking about how the two days at Children's changed them.

I am thankful that our marriage is stronger that it ever has been. To know that we could have become a statistic and yet we survived. To know that Mylea and now Landry will see how a marriage given to God, even in the darkest times, will continue to thrive. Thankful that Landen and I have never had an emotional day at the same time. His down days are my up days and vice versa.

Thankful that our families have grown and opened up to each other. To see ones that were distant now close as can be. To see cousins bond. To see families members stepping up when we needed help.

Thankful for visitation and her funeral . Both events were something that we wanted nothing to do with. And still God showed up (and showed out). Just thinking of the many that came to support us and to tell our sweet girl goodbye. Remembering the never ending long line out the door during visitation. Remembering the prayers, hugs, and support that was offered to us. To see the huge crowd at the funeral. Never did we expect so many people. Thankful that many waited an hour and a half to get through the receiving line. Remembering Bro Mike crying as he counted the 21 hands that were raised for salvation..... Not knowing that many would come forward or email us later telling about their decisions that they didn't make public. Knowing that our Lei Lei made a difference in lives and in eternity.

Thankful that two years later we are still going strong. Thankful for opportunities to go share our story. Thankful that God continues to pour out His blessings on us... Even when we least expect them. Thankful that God has never given up on us. Thankful that one day we will all be reunited. Until then, this song sums it all up....

Bless the lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship you holy name

The sun comes up
Its a new day dawning
Its time to sing your song again
What ever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worshhip your holy name

You're rich in love and you're slow to anger
Your name is great and your heart is kind
For all your goodness i will keep on singing
10,000 reasons for my heart to find

Bless the lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Soon my soul sing your praise un-ending
10,000 years and there forever more

Bless the lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship your holy name

Bless the lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship your holy name

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Should Have Been You

My Little Angel,

     There has been a lot going on since I have posted anything. First let me just say, we miss you more than ever. As the days past we get closer to seeing you again, but also I get caught up in the many should have's. Its tough not to set around and wander about what might have been. Not that it does any good I guess, but as life goes on so does all the many things we miss.

     Should have been celebrating your 7th birthday.
Its hard to believe that you have been in heaven almost two years, but its also hard to believe how fast you would have grown up. On July 4th 2005, your mommy and me sold fireworks till midnight, then went home loaded our bags and headed to St Edwards for mommy to be induced. The next day July 5th, you became that greatest gift that two parents could have asked for. After everyone had gone, it was just you, me and mommy at the hospital. I had the video camera recording and you let out the biggest grin / smirk. We both melted right then and there. Just as you were apart of so many first in our lives being our first child, you are still apart of many first "while we're waiting" to see you again. 

     Should have been you singing
One of the best things about being your dad, was listening to you sing. A few months ago in youth worship they played My Savior Loves. I had heard that song so many times since your homegoing, but that night it just touched my heart. I told the kids how you use to belt the song from the top of your lungs when we would ride in the car. It was annoying at times back then, but now i would give anything to ear your sweet voice again. There are kids your age that sing at church, and when mommy and me do children's church, its hard for me to not look at them and think "that should have been you". Especially to see how big the other kids are getting.

     Should have been finishing first grade
There are many "tough times" throughout the year. One of them being the first and last days of school. Its not anyones fault. Its not other parents vault when they talk about their kids in sports, activities, school behavior, and their kids accomplishments.  To be honest, its only normal, (I think) to think that should have been you. Im so thankful that Mylea got to play softball this year. She had a blast and it brought back so many memories of getting to coach your tball team two years ago. 

   What better place to celebrate your birthday than in Heaven. Just know that we continue to miss you, continue to love you, and continue to think about you every day. There have been so many other things that we have missed and we will miss, but as we wander about all of the should have beens, we look forward to what WILL BE. As much as I want to see what God has in store for the rest of our time here on earth, We anxiously await for the day when we are all together again and for good. Happy brithday, love you Lei. CUWIGT

Untill That Day



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Race Day Pictures

In my last post, I mentioned that I couldn't find several pictures that I took on race day. Well, I found them!!!! On my mom's camera. Apparently I grabbed the wrong camera in the mist of registration. So, below is a picture overload but I just had to share them!

 Must say that this picture was a perfect shot of reality that morning. Mylea was tired and wanted to play with her friends. She was not at all interested in a family shot. Landen was on the phone trying to give directions to the location. Landry was trying to fall asleep. Oh well....maybe next year we can get a good picture!
 Uncle Bill and Ms. Debbie......adopted grandparents to the girls
The church girls getting some time with Landry Lei.
 A group shot of the cousins. I tried to get them all together but they were more interested in playing.
 The greatest Bible study leader and listening ear ever!!
 Neighbors and friends
I am so thankful to have this next picture! In this picture we have Janice and Larry, then Landen, and finally Jill and Brad. These amazing people have helped us so much in our journey.

 Brad and Jill lost their daughter Hannah in 2009 after a battle with brain cancer. Hannah had prayed and asked God to bring a storm in to her life so that her testimony would bring glory to God. Click here to read about Hannah. Brad and Jill started the faith-based ministry While We're Waiting to help parents  through the process of knowing that it is ok to continue to live life to the fullest until we are reunited with our children one glorious day. I love the following sentences from the While We're Waiting site. "None of us know how many more years we have on this earth before we are reunited with our children in Heaven.  So, our main focus at these events will be discussing how we’re going to live while we’re waiting for that glorious reunion.  We believe that we honor our children and our Lord the most through our healing, and we will be seeking to begin or continue that healing process through these weekend." I would highly recommend the retreat, moms day, or dads weekend to any parent who has lost a child.

Janice and Larry lost their son Adam in 2010. Adam has an incredible story! Adam was a member of the elite SEAL Team Six (the counter terrorism unit that took down Osama bin Laden). Adam was a true testament to the verse "greater love has no man than this, to lay down his life for his friends". Adam gave up his life so that his team could escape a deadly attack. WOW!! In fact, there is a book that will be released in a few weeks that tells all about Adam's life. Check out Fearless. Landen and I can't wait to read it. Better yet, check out this video

 Sweet Steph from the moms group

College Buddies....all grown up!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

2nd Annual Lei Lei's 5K Run and Memory Walk

Saturday was race day! Seems like the day was never going to get here and now it is over. What a beautiful day it was! The weather was perfect. Everything went smooth and dandy. We had over 325 in attendance. It was a sea of lime green and pink. We are very thankful for each and every person who took time of their busy lives and joined us early Saturday morning. We had around twenty sponsors who helped us raise an amazing amount of money for the Hannah House. Through the generous donations of our sponsors and the overwhelming turn-out, we raised.............$13, 000!!!!!!! I still can't believe how much money will be handing over to The Hannah House!!

Thank You for supporting us. Thank you for walking or running in memory of our Lei Lei. Thank for helping a great cause!

We are already working on dates and details for the 3rd Annual race in 2013. More information coming soon! 

Enjoy the picture overload below....

We took several pictures with family members, friends from "While We're Waiting", and college buddies. My camera decided not to work correctly and we don't have all the pictures we thought we were taking. This makes me sad. But I am very happy that they all made the long drives to come for the race.