Monday, October 25, 2010

Baby Grace

Friends...I'll do my best to put into words the events that took place surrounding my trip to Nashville last week for the surgery of my little Liberian friend...Baby Grace. I'm not goint to recount the story, but you can read my earlier posts for more information on what brought us to this week. But, before I type anything else...I just need to say...GOD IS GREAT, GOD IS COMPASSIONATE, GOD IS LOVE, GOD IS AMAZING!!!! Everything that has happened for Grace and her family is all because of Him! This was humanly impossible...please hear me say this...humanly impossible. Sometimes, He will use humans to accomplish His purposes, and He did this time as well, but ALL glory belongs to Him!!!! If I've heard "thank you" from Grace's family once, I've heard it a hundred times. And each time...I pointed upward and said give ALL praise to Him! They know that too...they're just overwhelmed with how good He has been!

Here's a brief synopsis of this week's journey:

1. Wednesday evening - arrived in Nashville around 9:30 CT. I traveled with my 13-year-old daughter who met Baby Grace for the first time and got to hold her first when we arrived! The first thing I noticed was that she had more hair than the first time I met her in Liberia only 4 months ago.

Baby Grace stayed at the house where we stayed that night (rather than staying with her parents), as her mother was afraid she would "cheat" and nurse her after the last time was she supposed to eat. Bless her heart. But, I was grateful for the extra time with Grace.

The speaking ministry I've just recently become part of, Speaking Thru Me Ministries (STMM), coordinated a 48 hour prayer marathon for Baby Grace beginning just a few hours after we arrived in Nashville. I had the midnight - 1:00am shift and was able to hold Grace as she slept during the entire hour I prayed for her. Melted my heart.

2. After sleeping for a brief 2.5 hours, we started the day at 4:30 in an effort to pick up Grace's parents at the Ronald McDonald house. This was another reunion for me. I met Grace's father for the first time and got to hug Grace's mother, Cecelia, as we were reunited since our first meeting in her home country. Precious, precious people. We all then traveled to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital where we would make our "home" for the day.

3. We were joined by Cecelia's sister (Marie) and her husband (Robert). I need to interject a quick aside here. Marie and her husband currently live in Chicago. Cecelia and Marie hadn't seen each other in 11 years until just a few days prior. Another precious reunion! Anyway, we were also joined by Beverly, Becky, Bob, and several other friends/members of Parkway Baptist Church. Additionally, Francis Nyepon traveled with the family from Liberia to help with the culture shock of traveling on a plane to a Western nation (all for the first time). Francis was one of our guides while I was in Liberia in June. He's a precious servant of the Lord!

4. The surgery lasted for several hours. During the course of the surgery, we were able to have prayer via conference call with other STMM sisters as well as with Baby Grace's parents - all from the hospital waiting room. One of the biggest prayer requests for the surgeon to not have to insert a plastic plate into Grace's abdomen. This was highly likely and would have meant *another* surgery down the road. But, God knows ALL and saw fit to allow that to NOT be needed. Praise Him! Once the phone call came through to the waiting room announcing completion of a SUCCESSFUL surgery - we all erupted into praise and thanksgiving for the amazing miracle that had just taken place. We literally circled up and had a "prayer meetin'" of sorts - right there in the waiting room! God was glorified indeed!

5. Grace did very well during the surgery and was such a doll baby afterwards. A couple of us were able to see her while in recovery and then the rest of the group joined us in her room upstairs later.

6. Last, but not least, Ginger and I were reunited again for the first time since we traveled to Liberia together! What a joyous and miraculous occasion to get to celebrate together!

We hope to host Baby Grace and her family in my hometown sometime next month when she's able to travel more (and before she returns to Africa). So, I know I'll have more to share then! There is still a great financial need for the support of the family while in the states. If you feel the Lord leading you to support the family, feel free to contact me, and I'll be happy to give you specifics about where to send donations, etc. (

Thanks for your prayers, support, love, and continued readership! More to come in the days ahead!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

God's Still in the Miracle Working Business!

I can't believe the time has come. You couldn't have convinced me 4 months ago that this would have even been possible. I guess that shows my faith level...shameful! Just a little over 4 months ago, I was attending a "sending" church service in the country of Liberia in West Africa on my last day in that country. I was finishing up a mission trip in which I traveled with 2 other women from the US to lead women's conferences and share the love of Jesus with Liberian women. It was an amazing trip!

During the course of the trip, I had the privilege of meeting a precious Liberian family with a beautiful daughter, Dolly Grace. Grace is absolutely precious and looks perfectly "normal" from all external aspects. However, Grace was born in November, 2009 with an omphalocele, which is basically a birth defect in which some of her abdominal organs were born on the outside of her body. In America, this is a pretty major surgery, but it's not completely uncommon, and children overcome this condition all the time. However, in Liberia, it's an entirely different situation.

Grace wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for a Chinese surgeon that "happened to be" in Monrovia last spring and had the skills to be able to perform an initial surgery. However, this surgeon informed Grace's family then that he had to return to China, but they would need to search for someone else to perform a second surgery for her by her 1st birthday, or she wouldn't live. Receiving that type of news in America would certainly prompt any of us into immediate action...especially those of us privileged to be parents. We would do whatever it takes to get help for our children.

Well, Liberians love just as hard, but "help" is just not as readily at their disposal. Poverty is a way of life, and simply trying to figure out where they are going to get their one meal for the day is about all they can muster most of the time. Finding medical care for a child with a rare condition seems like an impossibility. But, again, Dolly's parents know the same God that I know, and their faith brought them to our conferences and brought them to that Sunday morning service. They knew the 3 American ladies could help their baby. Ouch! Looking back...their faith was so much larger than ours, and they put feet to it! forward a few months...through the work of several, Grace and her parents are in Nashville, TN awaiting her life-saving surgery set to happen tomorrow morning at 7:30 CT. This entire process has been nothing short of a miracle. Some of you have followed this story as I've blogged about it previously. Thank you for praying for Grace! Don't stop now! Please pray tomorrow for calm parents, skilled surgeons and staff, and a successful operation. I have the opportunity to travel to Nashville to be with the family and baby for the surgery, so I'll update you again later. Thanks for yoru prayers blog friends!

I KNOW God is still in the miracle working business!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Out of the pit!

It feels so good to breathe oxygen again. While in the pit, I often felt like I was suffocating. In a sense, I was. In case you didn't read my last post, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. last post didn't reveal much. So, in short, I was in a pretty deep pit that I actually dug myself. It was incredibly dark at times. While it's really not important what got me there to begin with, it's very important that you know how I got out. Your prayers...a little faith...a merciful God!

I find that I'm always quick to request prayer when I'm desperate for help, but I often forget to say "thank you" and to follow up when the prayers have been answered. So, please know how much I thank you! Your prayers were felt and were needed immensely! God has been most merciful, abundantly gracious, and divinely loving. He let me sulk, but not for long. He has too much work for me to do to be down for long. So, I just say thank you! You are very precious and most loved!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's been a long time...

Well blog friends...what can I say? It's been a LONG time since my last blog post. I truly don't even know where to begin. So, let's start where I last left off...Darlene "Dolly" Grace!

I shared in my last post that things were rolling along in trying to get the Liberian infant I met in June to the United States for life-saving surgery. While things weren't finished, we knew God didn't allow things to progress as they had without having a plan for completion. Guess what? Yesterday morning, baby "Dolly" arrived in Nashville, TN! She and her parents and a translator traveling with them are HERE!!!! God has been so good to this little girl, and it's only just begun. And, I'm so grateful that He's allowed me to "travel this journey" with them, in part. And to think...I questioned how this could even happen to begin with. Never question the Sovereign Lord!

That said, I am struggling to heed my own advice. Never question the Sovereign Lord...hmmm...what a novel idea. These days I'm finding that's very easy to do on behalf of others, but when it comes to me - it's simply a foreign concept. You see - it all boils down to the fact that what I thought were God's plans for me seem to be unraveling and simply disintegrating. I simply don't understand it! I have gone from one disappointment to another over the past month and a half, and it seems to be mounting with intensity. While I don't understand what's happening...while I'm an emotional wreck these days...while I'm struggling to discern God's plan for me...I STILL KNOW HE'S GOD! I still believe He loves me completely. I still know that His plans for me are the only ones I truly want. I still know that He will NEVER leave or forsake me. I still trust Him with all that I am. While I know these things to be true, I still hurt...I'm still void of words at times (a lot these days, actually)...I still need forgiveness...I still need to feel loved...I still your prayers!