I am so so thrilled to be launching this project today with the help of you ladies!! A few days ago, I asked for people in our community to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if they were in need or know a family in need that they’d like to nominate for us to help bless in this hard year and season! There were so many of you who wrote in, and I truly hope we are able to bless you all…but we are going to start with one family and continue on as long as we can!
I have prayed for so many years over this space, this community and you girls, and I KNOW without a doubt that God is using us to help others, bless others and spread his sweet love. If you have any other ways we can help during this season, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
I am so thankful for each and every one of you. I know that each of you is brought here for a reason and I pray that you are blessed in some way and see God working through your life daily. That’s my prayer for each of you!
Now how can you help bless a family in need? I am going to share our first family here! I will update this as their wishlist is complete and we can move on to the second family and so on! Let’s see how many families we can bless!!
Luke 12:48 says For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. If you are able to give or help at all, please help! I know these are tough times for everyone, but I truly believe we can change lives if we all come together to bless for the glory of God! Acts 20:35 says In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I truly believe these words and believe that we are going to bless some socks off!!! So…God, please use us!
Our 14th Family to Bless: The Burns Family
This sweet family was nominated by several people.
“For those of you who don’t know Matt and Emily Burns they are some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. Their smiles and personalities light up a room. Their Love for one another, their family, and the Lord is overwhelmingly evident in their lives. Their faith in God as they walked through medical trials the past few years has been a personal challenge to me and countless others. They have always been ready to give God the glory for everything in their lives both good and difficult.
Matt worked construction and worked maintainance at camp Kanesatake a Christian youth camp in Pennsylvania. Emily is a full-time mom for their three kids.
Matt, Emily and their three kids Tyler(5yo) Clara (3yo) Amelia (1yo) were involved in a car accident on their way to Emily’s parents house for Christmas on Sunday (12/20/20) Matt lost his life in the accident and the entire family was taken to the hospital for ct scans, mris and evaluation. There have been some follow up visits and medical bills are quickly piling up.
Emily is not only faced with the loss of her husband but also many bills and financial decisions to make. As you can imagine at this point Emily, her family, and both extended families are still just beginning to process the loss of Matt. I spoke briefly with Tom (Emily’s brother) to find out how we can help and he gave me a few areas of need that the family will be faced with in the coming days.
Some of these include:
– Medical Bills
– Funeral Expenses
– An Unknown Future Housing Situation (housing was tied to Matt’s job)
– Figuring out an Income Source for the Family
There are three ways specifically we can help Emily and the Kids.
1. Pray – pray first for comfort that can only come from God and second for wisdom both for Emily and the family as they work through next steps.
2. Donate! I cant even imagine the emotional burden of loosing a spouse let alone the financial pressure that goes along with it. Galatians 6:2 calls us to Bear one another’s burdens. This is one way we can do this.
3. Share this with as many people as you can. Not only share it on social media tell your friends about it and encourage them to give! Every little bit counts!
4. You can also give by sending the kids a gift to help them specifically feel love this Christmas. Gifts can be sent here: N9189 Old Hwy P Whitewater, WI 53190.
Thank you for your kindness and generosity! It is so greatly appreciated this Christmas season.”
Matt and Emily were traveling home for the holidays this past Sunday with their three precious children and an hour away from their home they were in a terrible accident and Matt was instantly killed. It is heart breaking. His funeral will be on Christmas Eve.
Here is their Go Fund Me link
Our 13th Family to Bless: Crystal & Kids – FULFILLED
Hi, my name is Crystal. These are my two happy babies: Tatum, who is 7 yrs old and Jaylynn who is 15 months old. We just moved here in October from Dallas Tx. It’s been a hard transition, but a necessary life choice. We don’t have a vehicle and we have to walk everywhere we need to go. I’m currently trying to start an at-home dog grooming business because I don’t have anyone to watch my daughter while I work. And grooming at home is the only way i can make money without a vehicle or babysitter. She went to work with Since birth she would go to work with me at the grooming facility i used to work. I thank God they allowed her to go with me.
I’ve always been a very independent, hard working person, but I lost my job of 7 yrs due to covid-19. When that happened we lost our home and our car. We decided to move to here to get away from some personal problems in Dallas. We didn’t have much but a few clothes in a couple of bags. I was able to find a trailer for us to live in. The community here has helped us get furniture and house-hold items so we can function like a normal family. It has been an amazing breath of fresh air for all of us.
We live off of unemployment which runs out at the end of December 2020. Im trying to get a client-base built so we can survive when the unemployment runs out. Thru God, and the great people of this community, we feel welcomed and blessed.
I’ve never been a person to ask for help or try to get anything for free. But I’ve realized I need help. Any help is greatly appreciated and more than I can explain in words.
My kids and I are so overwhelmed that there are still so many good people still in this world. To see them happy and smiling means so much to me. I just want to be a good mom, make sure they are raised with good morals and values, and treat everyone with respect and love. Thank you for taking the time to read our story.
Our 12th Family to Bless: Johnson Family – FULFILLED
2020 has been a very trying year for our family, just like it has been for many others. I started the year off loosing my job, which actually turned into a blessing in disguise because my new salon I’m at ended up being exactly where I needed to be. In February one of my best friends took his own life and I’m still not over it, I don’t think I ever will be. Then quarantine happened and I was off work for 7 weeks. Being self employed it took me quite some time to finally get unemployment. So financially this year has been tough on us. Being a self employed hairstylist during the pandemic has definitely had its ups and downs this year. September 1, my exhusband/kids father, took his own life. Now I’m left raising 3 kids completely own my own. My heart hurts so bad for my kids and I know it’s going to be a constant heartache for them. I didn’t think our year could get much worse until I woke up on the night of October 21st with our house being up in flames. My 12 year old was screaming that the house was on fire and as soon as I woke up I grabbed my youngest who was sleeping on the couch and made it out with all three of my kids just in time. Our house was a total loss and now my kids have literally lost everything this year. Thankfully I’m able to buy a house and we close on it on December 14. Most of the items on the wishlist is household essentials and a few things my kids would love to have again. Thank you so much for using your platform to help families in need this season, it’s really so amazing! God will bless you in more ways than you can imagine and I can’t wait until I can bless people the way I have been blessed during all of this mess!
Our 11th Family to Bless: Makailen (Kail) & Family – FULFILLED
Hi there, my name is Emalea Earle and I would like to nominate my sweet youngest daughter (and our family) for Ashlee’s Christmas help. My daughters name is Makailen, she goes by Kail. She is 5 years old. On 5/20/20 I made her a sick appointment at her pediatrician because she said her ear hurt and she had a fever and a couple weird bruises. So we went to that appointment at 2pm and during it just by chance her pediatrician said let’s run a CBC (complete blood count) with a finger prick and just make sure everything is good. When those results came back a few minutes later Makailens doc came and said the numbers were bad. Her platelets were 13 (they should be over 200) and her white blood cell count and red blood cell counts we’re extremely low. So she consulted with the head pediatrician in the office and he decided to consult with Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville about 2 hours from where we live. They called back and told us to come to their ER and that the hematologist and oncologist team would be waiting for us.So we left and drove there immediately. They were awaiting our arrival and they started running tests and prepared us that when ALL of those bloodwork counts together were low it was usually very bad. That most likely she had cancer of the blood. They let us know then to have my husband come pick up our son (he was with us too) and to pack a bag we would be admitted to the hospital.
Because of Covid19 only one parent could be there, except for 24 hours following diagnosis. They have a strict visitor policy during Covid19That night they sent off more bloodwork to be tested in-depth. They transferred us to the 6th floor (oncology floor) and we went to sleep.
The next morning (5/21/2020, also my dear husband’s birthday) they told us the results had came back and Makailen had B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.We geared up for the beginning phase of what they call induction to treat cancer.We prepared for her first surgery by doing three blood transfusions and getting a platelet transfusion.
Less than 18 hours after we went to her pediatrician Makailen was taken to surgery. During that surgery she had a port placed in her chest (for medicine to go in during the course of treatment), she had a bone marrow biopsy, she had chemotherapy injected into her cerebral spinal fluid and some of that fluid was taken to test further (lumbar puncture).
Right after surgery she had her first IV chemo treatment called Vincristine.
The next 9 days we stayed impatient while they did induction. She had many rounds of chemo and many transfusions.
On Friday (5/29/2020) she had another lumbar puncture with chemo injected into the spinal fluid. After that surgery went well, we were finally discharged from the hospital to go home!
Going forward we have spent the last six months traveling to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital on Tuesdays and on Fridays for chemotherapy and to check her bloodwork and all her counts. Although we have had a couple of ten day breaks to allow her blood counts to recover, for the most part we travel 200 miles a week to Nashville from where we live in Fayetteville, TN for her chemotherapy treatment.
Her treatment will last approximately 2 years (we hope for less) and we will go through many stages of chemotherapy. Hoping by the end of all of this she is in remission. Her end of treatment date as of right now is July 2022.
Our whole world had been turned upside down. Less than six months ago we had a normal life and now our lives will never be the same. I also have a 10yo son Mason and a 9yo step daughter Arielle. My husband Adam has been holding it down at home while I take Kail to her appointments and hospital stays for sickness ect. To date we’ve spent over 40 days in-patient for sickness and fevers.
Here is a little of our story so far.We desperately need assistance during this time. My family is blessed that Makailen had private insurance when she was diagnosed thru my husband’s employer. But our out-of-pocket deductable was $4,000 per year, which we were able to fundraise most of and drain our savings for the rest of this 2020 year.
Christmas has been tight this year! We have been able to get a couple things for the kids but unfortunately trying to save for the out of pocket expenses coming January 1st when insurance deductable roll over, we’ve been very limited in what we were able to get our children for Christmas.
I’ve included some gift cards to the food places in Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital cafeteria where Makailen is treated too. Those chemo days are super super long.
We also started a hashtag for Makailen when she was diagnosed. It is #fightwithkail and every update and post we do about her journey has that hashtag.
Our 10th Family to Bless: The Drake Family – FULFILLED
I have truly wrestled with whether or not to write this for over a week. Sitting unexpectedly in the hospital yesterday with my son and praying, I felt the Lord nudge me to share and give me the courage to do so. We have always trusted Him and His provision, and I know that He is faithful.Our family has been brought to our knees this year more than ever before, and while the struggles have been difficult, I am thankful for the Lord’s nearness to us. My name is Heather and my husband Dan and I will celebrate our 10th anniversary this year. We have 3 children (ages 5, 4, and 1.5) and are expecting our 4th baby in just two weeks. God has been so gracious to us in giving us a loving family and we are thrilled to welcome our son this month! My husband works hard to provide for us and I stay home raising our children.We are accustomed to living very “lean” being a single income family with several children; you won’t find us eating out or indulging in extras. However, this Covid pandemic has slammed us in the worst way and it’s become impossible to cover for even basic needs like household items, replacing holy socks, snacks that aren’t in our main 3 meals, etc. We have truly been humbled by scraping by more than ever before. Thinking through how to make every single bit of food stretch for all of us, and sacrificing our own needs to cover for the kids, is just that – humbling. Our washer and dryer have both gone out recently and thankfully through a gift we were able to replace the washer. We also need to move all of our kids into the same room and hope to do so with bunk beds so there will be enough room. My husband’s job is solely commission which unfortunately means that we have seen more negative months than we can stomach this year. We have been praying for this to turn around or for guidance on what we need to do next.Before this year, our finances had already been strained by several medical situations. Starting really during my first pregnancy, I had an unexpected late-term surgery that was very costly. Then in 2016, Dan was seriously injured by an accidental misfire of a gun that cost him one finger and very nearly his left leg. This truly is where the medical issues began to eat any savings we had. Our oldest son was born shortly after that and needed a bone marrow biopsy done in 2017 with oncology at Texas Children’s. We praise God that he did not have cancer; it was then that he was diagnosed with a rare disorder (mastocytosis) that plays into this week’s hospital stay. The giant cost of this ordeal led us to canceling our health insurance, which was wildly expensive but hardly covering for any needs and leaving us to make payments on the bone marrow procedure for an extremely long time. We have since been blessed by joining Christian Healthcare Ministries. (Truly, this has been a gift from God! I highly recommend it to any one who is a believer.)Our son has respiratory issues related to his mastocytosis, and this week he had a severe asthma episode that was triggered by a virus. This landed him in the pediatric wing of our hospital with me being 37 weeks pregnant. Dan and I have cried out to the Lord, begging for his provision for quite literally our daily bread. Awake and praying in the middle of the night last night is when God gave me the courage to share this. Anxiety has kept me up at night as I approach my due date. All of the little needs that are upcoming feel daunting. Here we are, mere days away really from welcoming our third son, and we still need an infant car seat. The one we used with our older three children has since expired. I would say this is our biggest need at this moment – a car seat and prayer for a healthy baby and safe delivery. I am quite literally praying from the pediatric hospital room next door to labor & delivery in the very hospital where I will be in just days. I have sought the Lord and found peace in knowing that He cares for each of us.Our hearts ache to give gifts to our children during this Christmas season, but the truth is that we have been struggling to even cover for our basic needs, let alone anything extra. We are thankful for those who love us and our children and will give them Christmas gifts this year. We know the grace of the Lord in giving us His Son and we celebrate that ultimate gift and in it find our full satisfaction. I trust that He will provide for our needs. We long to be generous financially with others and pray that we will be in a better position to do that more often. Thank you for taking the time to read through our family’s situation. It feels selfish to ask for help when I know there are so many families struggling right now. Our own extended family has real needs and hurts, and we ache for them as well and lift them up in prayer daily. We covet your prayers more than anything and count that and anything beyond as truly a blessing. Please pray for a safe and healthy delivery as I prepare to give birth during this pandemic. Our children would be so thrilled with even the smallest gifts (their real dreams are to have a swing set someday, and to live in the country!), and I know that we could show them in a tangible way the hands and feet of Jesus in providing for our family. Even new socks and shoes or snacks would be so exciting for them on Christmas morning. Merry Christmas, and the peace of Christ be with each of you!
Our 9th Family to Bless: The Snider Family – FULFILLED
Nominated by SIL Rachel — I would like to nominate my sister in law. She is a young mother (20) of two babies, she is in school full time and will graduate in May. She works part time as a waitress and her hours were cut back when covid hit in March and she was pregnant with her 2nd child. Her kiddos are 2 years old (Bentley) and 3 months old (Annsley). She is working very hard to provide a nice Christmas for her little family but it has been stressful just for her keeping up with two little ones in diapers and very little assistance because she is in school she could not qualify for unemployment when covid hit. She has just started back part time at her waitressing job but it’s still a struggle with child care for two kids, being in college full time, and working part time. She has quite a bit on her plate and this would help her SO MUCH!
AMAZON WISH LIST: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/36TJ46OSL3S5X?ref_=wl_share
Our 8th Family to Bless: Gambino Family – FULFILLED
Nominated by Roxanne:My sweet friend Chelse is going through the fire. She lost her husband last night (12/06/2020) to Covid complications. He was a healthy 35 year old with two bonus kiddos and a precious 18month old little boy. He loved BIG and would do anything for anyone in need. He was a devoted husband, dad, bonus dad, friend, coach and he loved the Lord. My sweet friend has 6 little eyes on her wondering what’s next?? Christmas is right around the corner and I can’t imagine the loss she feels during what’s suppose to be a joyful time of year. Her and the kids will have such a missing part this Christmas. I pray a wishlist can help lift some of the heaviness.
Our 7th family to bless: Kleckner Family – FULFILLED
I’m in tears as I write this, and I’ve hesitated to even send an email. I’ve prayed on it. I know that you have a wonderful platform and the most amazing community surrounding you, so God put it in my heart to share my story.
Life hasn’t been easy since 2010. Before March 2010, I was living a perfectly normal life, pursuing my dream job, had my dream car, a wonderful boyfriend and excelling through college on the dean’s list. All at age 19. Then one day I couldn’t walk down my apartment stairs. I was dizzy, short of breath, had intense heart palpitations, and extreme fatigue. I immediately knew something was wrong. After dozens of ER visits, hospital admissions, dozens of tests, and specialists, I was left bed ridden with little answers. My car was repossessed, I lost friendships because I couldn’t keep in touch, and my dreams started fading. I quickly fell into depression. Everything I knew I was changed. I was terrified of not knowing what was wrong with me and so confused why so many doctors couldn’t figure it out either. So two long years passed while I was in bed. I finally found the strength to get into Mayo Clinic which was a couple hours away from where I lived at the time. I saw one of the best electrophysiologists and was finally given a diagnosis. I have a chronic illness known as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). It affects my heart rate and lowers my blood pressure. As a result, I have crippling anxiety since this affects my nervous system. Unfortunately, there is no cure, and no magic pills that will help. There are only lifestyle changes that they recommend to help with symptoms. Most days I’m lucky if I get out of the house for an errand or the energy to take a shower. I have had to be in a wheelchair to get around, and carefully manage myself over the years to know what I can tolerate and what I can’t. It’s a super fine line. I miss many family functions. I can’t work. The last time I tried, I ended up in the hospital. I don’t know how I would have made it this far without my faith or my incredible husband who has been by my side through all of this. He has never once complained and always puts my needs first.
Fast forward to 2017, we had our miracle boy, Luke. I was high risk and my pregnancy was incredibly scary. He is now 3 years old and the light of our lives. But as you can imagine, keeping up with a toddler is extremely challenging. My mom guilt is through the roof. My husband continues to work full time and we are barely making it. I am drowning in medical debt, and our regular bills continue to overwhelm us.
With me being so sick, I can’t watch Luke all day every day on my own. Ben was calling out of work a lot to help me at home, which almost led to him losing his job. We can’t afford to have that happen. So we did the only thing we could, which was put Luke into daycare full time. That expense is a huge burden. Ben’s income isn’t enough and every month we wonder how we are still making it.
Another huge and important detail in our story that I don’t want to leave out, is that our sweet Luke has eating issues. He struggled with severe reflux as a baby that would lead to acidic burn on his butt. That was one of many signs something was wrong internally. Medications failed him. No formula worked. We prayed he would outgrow it like most kids, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case for him. We got him into a specialist and they did an endoscopy procedure on him that showed he had a ton of inflammation and two stomach ulcers. We were shocked. Even the doctor. Ulcers are highly uncommon in children. From all the discomfort, Luke doesn’t ever want to eat. Especially not solids. It makes the days very long and hard. We are constantly worried about him. I looked into a feeding therapist, but insurance won’t cover it and the sessions are expensive. My heart just breaks because I really think it would be beneficial if he could get some therapy. I continue to pray that God will work in our lives and heal Luke.
On top of everything else, COVID has affected my husband’s work production. So paychecks continue to get smaller. It’s so scary for us. So many nights I lay in bed awake until morning, just praying to God for help.
I can’t remember the last time Ben and I got each other gifts for Christmas. Or any holiday for that matter. If anyone could get anything off our amazon wishlist it would mean the world to us. I’m so thankful that Luke finds pleasure in the simple things in life, like being outdoors and playing with bugs. He LOVES bugs. Ha. Typical boy! So material things really aren’t paramount and I’m so thankful for the love in our home that has taught him that. We’ve learned through my journey that having good health is the greatest wealth ever. God is good and he will continue to work small miracles in our life and get us by, but I had to reach out. It was pulling on my heart. I know so many other people need help, so I’m praying that I’m not taking away from anyone else’s important needs.
If you read this far- thank you!! I appreciate you so much. God bless!!
Our 6th Family to Bless is fulfilled Kayla, Jacob and Jane Bulkley – FULFILLED
This year has been very humbling to say the least. I hate asking for help but I’ve learned to accept it in 2020.In January my husband lost his job of 9 years due to company wide layoffs. I was in the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy. I was COMPLETELY terrified because we didn’t have a stable income to welcome our long awaited baby. We tried for 8 years to get pregnant and it was finally happening…without an income.Thankfully my husband found a job after a couple of months and was able to acquire new insurance for us.Fast forward to June 16th. We welcomed our sweet baby girl Jane. Unfortunately she was sent to the NICU because she wasn’t keeping her oxygen levels up high enough. She thankfully only had to stay for 4 nights and we all got to go home together on day 5, which an oxygen can in tow.I suffered from very severe Postpartum Depression. So severe I almost took my life… 2 times. One of my best friends drove 10 hours to help me with Jane…and take care of me. I was so sick. I couldn’t eat or drink and I didn’t want to even hold my baby. My husband didn’t qualify for FMLA so he told his boss he needed to be home with me while I recovered. They said he could come back in a month and they’d rehire him. Instead they eliminated his position.Now here’s the kicker…11 days after having Jane I was suffering from a fever of 103 and kidney pain. It was a Saturday so my OB told me to head to the ER because it was probably some sort or uterine infection or a bad UTI. When I arrived at the ER they said I was septic. They sent me for an ultrasound because they suspected I had a bad gallbladder.I’m sitting in my room hospital texting my husband about how I’ll probably have to have surgery to remove my gallbladder. The doctor comes into the room and says, “Your gallbladder is perfect but you have a 10cm mass on your right kidney.”The room is spinning. What? No… What?They then informed me that it was most likely kidney cancer or renal cell carcinoma. They said they didn’t want to operate right then and there and that they wanted me to heal up before the operation. They kept me overnight because of the sepsis.I stayed that night alone (thanks covid). Digesting a cancer diagnosis as a new momma. I remember just laying in bed sobbing and the sweet nurse coming to my beside… Offering me a hug and some meds to calm me. It was so hard to be alone and without my baby that night.Fast forward a couple weeks. They did an MRI and said, “wow! It looks benign. Let’s do a biopsy to confirm!”So I left the urologist on top of the world. Thinking wow. I don’t have cancer after all.My biopsy unfortunately said otherwise. I was diagnosed with Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma in early August. Surgery would be set for 3 weeks later.My sister in law so kindly came in from Oklahoma to take care of the baby while I recovered. I had my surgery to remove my right kidney on August 31. It was staged as stage 3a. Thankfully it seems to have been all taken in surgery but I am on continuous surveillance for 5 years before I am declared cured.What a ride 2020 has been but we have our sweet beautiful baby girl. She’s been the light of this year. A wonderful distraction. I am so utterly in love with her and the joy of being a momma. She is my angel. We’ve had some many blessings in this valley.Our biggest need really is just a convertible car seat for Jane. I hesitate to share my Amazon wishlist. Most of it is just simple needs for our house or new clothes because nothing fits since surgery.
Our 5th Family to Bless is fulfilled, Katie & Aimee – FULFILLED
My name is Katie & I’m from California, I have been struggling for awhile now. Last year 7 days after my 26th I got news that my little sister had a baby girl( she’s an addict and suffers from schizophrenia) I was faced with the decision of a lifetime. So single me couldn’t bare the thought of seeing this sweet girl end up in the system feeling alone or unloved. She was brought to me at 3 weeks old, I now have legal custody of my niece and hope to adopt her when I am more financially stable. It’s hard being a parent but a single parent 😳, boy am I tired! We got hit pretty hard when Covid struck as I had left my sales job for one with better house for childcare but it was a lot less pay, then we lost our place when our roommate had to move back home when they lost their job due to Covid-19 lockdown. We have had to move twice sense then renting rooms because I haven’t been able to find a better job yet. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, the joy and laughter it bring and families getting together has always made me feel like there is something good in the world. This year I told our family we couldn’t do Christmas and I that I was barely able to pay bills, we have fallen behind a bit. All I am asking for this to make my daughter Aimee’s Christmas just a little brighter even if that’s just getting a tree up in our bedroom. I am sure there are lots of families in need and I completely understand if there is a family in more need. It can be hard asking for help, My daughter is only one and the only thing making me feel better about not celebrating these holidays or being able to give her things she deserves is that she won’t remember right now. I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful holiday.
Thank you for listening to my short version of our story❤️
Katie & Aimee’s wishlist was fulfilled!!
Our Fourth Family to Bless: Melanie & Family, fulfilled
Read her story here!
“I hesitate to even write this email because I feel that there are so many needy people that I could manage. God has always been faithful but at the same time I think of my children and the strain they’ve felt over the past 15 months. They are and have been amazing and resilient but I know there are things they desire that they would never ask for right now. So here is a little background on our current circumstances.
On July 2, 2019 I went to the emergency room because I was feeling severe pain in my back and abdomen. I was being treated for what my doctor thought was a bladder infection but on this particular day I could barely stand up and walk because the pain was so severe. My best friend is a ICU Charge nurse and had stopped by. She told me I needed to go in and one of our mutual friends was oddly covering for short staffing at my hospital (which she doesn’t even work at). She messaged her and told her I was headed into the ER. I got there and she was with another patient so they ended up giving me to another staff member. They gave me some pain meds while they waited for blood test results and basically were talking about sending me home with stronger meds for the “kidney infection.” Then my friend popped in and asked what was going on. After I explained she said, “Do you mind if I take a look too.” Well of course not lol… She felt around my abdomen and immediately said something was very wrong and was going to tell them they needed to do a CT Scan immediately. I believe that her being at my hospital was orchestrated by God that day.
Within minutes after having the CT Scan a surgeon was in my room telling me I needed to have emergency surgery or I could die within minutes or days… They just wouldn’t know until they opened my up. Somehow my intestines had twisted around and were about to burst. In less than 30 minutes I was being rushed into prep for surgery. My best friend, who had taken my daughter to have a play date with her daughters, ran to my house to pick up my son and bring them both to the hospital so they could see me before I went into surgery. Later I would find out that she and our other friend were certain I wouldn’t make it through that procedure. She was so certain of that she started making a mental list of how to help my children (since I am a single mother). That day rolling down the halls taking off my jewelry and placing it on my 9 year old daughter, asking her to keep it safe for me with a smile, knowing full well that would be our last exchange, was one of the hardest things I would face as a parent.
Well, thank God, I made it through and was back home for recovery within 4 days. At the time I was an assistant to a VP in a large corporation here in Las Vegas. It was our busiest season so I offered to work from home until I was released to return to my office. Two weeks later I was back in action. They never knew what happened and how my intestines did what they did but it seemed I was healing well and the operation was done in a way that I wouldn’t have issues in the future. The doctor had said that the twisting was so severe that it had lodged my appendix up and under my heart. So he did me a favor and removed that as well to avoid future problems with my appendix. The recovery process would take months to regain normal “gut function” so I would have to be careful eating and lifting.
About 6 weeks into recovery I began to feel a little discomfort again. Enough that I would call the nurse several times asking if I was supposed to feel that way. She assured me it was normal for this type of surgery where they removed a good portion of my intestines and appendix. She did say that if the pain ever got unbearable to go to the ER again but reassured me it was all normal. Well, sure enough the pain returned and my abdomen was so distended I looked 6 months pregnant. I woke up my son early on September 6th and told him I would need to go to the ER again. My mom happened to be visiting from California at the time. She had planned this trip for a few weeks after my initial surgery so I had time to heal a bit and be able to enjoy her visit. Again, another God appointed timing. Although my son had graduated high school at this time, he was in no way prepared for what was ahead and parenting his little sister.
My son accompanied me to the ER and they rushed me into another CT Scan. Just like before the surgeon was in my room within minutes telling us they would need to do another surgery immediately. I sent my son home in an Uber to wait for the doctors call and to help my mom find her way to the hospital later that day with the kids. A few hours later I awakened in my room with everyone there. This time though I had a tube down my nose and throat and was on a breathing machine. Later I would find out they had found two other areas that were twisted and the majority of my intestines were removed. I was told the tube would be removed within a few days and I should be doing well again. I was tired but thankful God had brought me through once again. Over the next 48 hours my body seemed to be taking a turn for the worst. The tube wasn’t draining properly and my body was doing the opposite of restarting itself.
For 2 weeks I struggled with my body not functioning on it’s own. The tube that was meant to drain wouldn’t even work properly. Because of this I had to have a friend or family member stay with me to call the nurse for help… I wasn’t able to speak with the tube down my throat and lack of strength. The fluids would fill up inside me and start to choke me because they wouldn’t drain as they should. I would end up having 3 blood transfusions, several crash cart calls into my room and mandatory oxygen breathing treatments a day. I could feel my body slipping away. It took everything I had to keep hanging in there but I would pray every day because my kids needed me. It took even more strength to look at my kids in the eyes and portray hope when they would come to visit. My daughter was in 3rd grade at the time and struggled with having any focus for academics. I am so proud of her for her efforts even though her grades dipped so low. She would come to the hospital and ask before she had to go home, “Mommy, are you going to die tonight?” I cry now even as I type this. What a load to bear for such a small child. The only way I could communicate was to type a message in the notes section of my phone… and follow that up with a pat on her head and the best smile I could manage with all the tubes.
Following several exploratory procedures the team of surgeons ( I now had a whole team that would come by to check in with me daily and have their meetings to discuss what to do with me) I was informed they would have to do another surgery to open me up and look around. They were baffled. So at the end of September I was heading back into another surgery. This time they would have to open me up completely so they could see everything. They couldn’t tell me what they would be doing because they didn’t know.
Following the third surgery I was placed in ICU. My body was too overwhelmed with all that had happened and I was barely hanging on. I had also gone sceptic. It felt different. It felt like death was looming and I knew I had to leave the blessing of “life” in God’s hands. For the next few days I would see shoes under the curtain on the other side of the glass door, which they kept shut. Doctors would come in and briefly tell me there were groups of students and other medical professionals that were standing outside “observing me” while they discussed my condition. I was to weak to care. I knew I had to let go of everything that concerned me so my body could focus all it’s energy to the healing process. Let me tell you this is so hard for someone who is a control freak lol. I learned to lean solely on God and to willingly let everything else get stripped away. After 3 days I finally started to feel like I wasn’t going to die. A couple days later I was upgraded to a room “just outside of ICU” where I would stay for another month.
At this point my body was very weak and frail. I had not eaten food since August and it was October. Unlike other patients that could be on nutrients I couldn’t be given this mixture because of food allergies I have. They are referred to as Lipids but I could only receive the saline with a few minerals added in. Enough to keep me alive basically. Since I was unable to receive the lipids I would have nutrients crashes several times a day. They would have to give me these minerals in additional IV’s. The worst was the potassium. It burns your veins upon entry and takes about 4 hours each day depending on the amount I needed. The third surgery was a “this is our last resort” type of procedure because they really didn’t know what was causing all of these sudden issues. I was healthy and never experienced any medical problems prior to this. They opted to do a complete bypass which basically doesn’t have any food go through my intestines any longer, mainly because my body doesn’t allow food to move past my stomach. So they created a new exit from my stomach. It’s very similar to a gastric bypass but I didn’t need it for weight loss and don’t require the sleeve others have besides others still have functioning intestines. Following this final surgery I now had to learn to eat but first I would have to stop producing fluids. I wouldn’t be able to attempt food until the fluids stopped and they could remove the tube. I also had additional tubes because this time around they decided they needed to leave part of the opening in my abdomen open. It was very disheartening at this time because I couldn’t walk, talk, eat, roll myself over, breath enough air, use a restroom and many of the basic abilities we take for granted. But I continued to pray. Several weeks later mu body finally started to slow the excess fluid production down. They allowed me to take sips of water. I would manage 3 a day without throwing up. Eventually they pulled the tubes one by one. Wow, the freedom. I could talk again! I could hug my kids and ask about school and friends. I could see hope returning to their faces. My mom also looked happier and less worried. All these poor people and the fear they had during this time and all along trying to stay strong for me.
At this time I still wasn’t able to eat. My body wouldn’t budge on this last hurdle. I was so close yet so far. I was also sent an email that my job had to let me go. They would have my belongings waiting for me whenever I or someone else could gather them. They also send a list of company property they needed back from me and wished me luck. Now not only was I faced with continued recovery, I had no way to financially support my children. Medical insurance would only last till the end of November and I had an endless road in front of me. I didn’t mention any of this to anyone. They had enough stress. Another 2 weeks went by and I still wasn’t able to eat. The only thing keeping me in the hospital. I finally couldn’t take it any longer and begged my doctor to send me home with the IV. I knew home healthcare could be sent to change the IV but more importantly I knew I would have a better chance of getting past that last hurdle at home with my kids. He agreed, but reluctantly. I was finally able to gp home!
It would be another month before I would be able to eat enough to have the pic line removed and the IV. I worked very hard at getting my intake to a cup and a half of food. Enough calories to get the approval to have the pic line removed. This happened thanksgiving week of last year. The road ahead was still long. I had to relearn how to eat and what I could eat.
To this day I am still learning. The road has been long and hard but I’m glad to be alive. In March I was barely able to drive a couple blocks to drop off my daughter at school and pick her up. Something I missed so much. It was painful and difficult since I had no core strength at all. All the muscles had been cut open and now I was having to try to strengthen them enough to walk through a grocery store or even sit up in a chair longer than 20 minutes.
At this time I was receiving unemployment from my job since they let me go during a medical emergency. I was thankful for the minimal funds I had. Then COVID hit. At first I didn’t mind because it was honestly easier for me to have my daughters school at home while I was recovering. I wasn’t having to spend money on babysitting or commuting so the unemployment was enough. I figured by the time Covid ended I would be healthy enough to at least resume my side business I have had for 6 years as a spray tanner. After all my goal the whole time was to transition to full time as I am very good at what I do. I also had plans to open a training center for other single mothers to start their own business. I began completing additional training and current schooling for my field. O thought if I finished during quarantine then I could hit the ground running after it was lifted. Well, here we are and shutting down once again.
Unemployment ran out for me in October. I managed to put several months aside for bills but that is ending this month. I had hoped by this time we would be up and running again and could have gotten through the past year and a half fairly smoothly considering lol…. Here I am a few weeks away from using the last few dollars in my account and no answer ahead. And now I am faced with obstacles and residual affects from my health issues… I massive hair loss, which thanks to you I found Modere which has helped tremendously. Although I cannot afford to continue. Because I don’t digest food I have to find liquid supplements… also thanks to you I have been able to order the protein powder that I desperately need. Although again, I ordered 3 and will not be able to get more for the foreseeable future. My eyesight has taken a beating from the lack of nutrition and extended time of medication… my optometrist said I have scars and abrasions on both of my eyes which is normal for the medical issues I had. She said she is surprised I don’t see shadows or dark spots. She gave me photos of the marks on my eyes. She is not sure if it will heal itself in time because I’m over 40. Although the collagen has helped. A few weeks ago I had to go into the dentist because something felt wrong. My teeth have also suffered from this whole scenario and today I am going in for an extraction to start the process of an implant. No insurance so this is purely by faith one step at a time. An expense I didn’t expect or need. They actually said it was only a small fracture so they had me do a root canal so they could do a crown. I didn’t have the money so a family member paid the $1400. Yesterday I went for the crown and she said it fractured more and was unsaveable. I would have to do an implant and extraction right away. So basically just paid out $1400 for no reason. Money I can’t pay back even though they didn’t expect it back. I still feel like I owe them especially now. The implant will cost around $4000 when it’s all said and done. Just walking by faith. I’m sure there will be more residual issues I will encounter as I am still recovering daily. It’s an up and down road but with God’s help I am managing.
I want to be able to share this publicly to help others faced with these situations. Right now it’s still very fresh. I honestly just want to give security and confidence to my kids. They don’t ask for anything. They are sweet and giving. I try my best to not let them feel lack but it has been hard. I would just like them to experience a stress free, knock your socks off kind of Christmas to end a very stressful year and a half. My son has dreams of starting a photography business and etsy shop. He attempted medical school after my hospital stay but he had to quit due to covid. My 10 year old wants to write a book about kids going through family emergencies to help other kids with their feelings. She still struggles when I am not feeling well and having a rough day. Every now and then she will still ask if I will have to return to the hospital and if I’m going to die. It still breaks my heart that she has to think those things at her age and especially during such a crazy unpredictable year.
This is our story …. This time. I look forward to paying it forward in the future. I know God is faithful no matter what comes. He is not surprised. I thank you for taking the time to read our story. We don’t really even have a wish list made but I will work on it just in case. I pray God bless you abundantly and keep you and your loved ones. If anything, I am just grateful to share our story and the keeping hand of God and hope it blesses someone out there with courage to carry on!”
MELANIE’S WISH LIST IS FULFILLED
Our Third Family to Bless is fulfilled!!! The Job Family, nominated by SIL Aubrey
I would like to nominate my brother-in-law, Nick Job & his wife, Tiffany. They have twin 6 year old boys, Pierce & Knox.
A few months ago Tiffany was diagnosed with lung cancer. The cancer rapidly spread to her spine, pelvis & one of her femurs. She is 38, healthy, works out, & never has smoked. It’s heartbreaking. They are leaning on their faith and it’s so enlightening.
Tiffany is a nurturing, giving & compassionate person. She’s the most caring mother too. Oh. She’s a labor & delivery nurse! She brings babies into this world for a living! She is so beautiful!
I can’t imagine what it’s like going through this let alone during a pandemic. Nick isn’t allowed to enter MD Anderson. All of Tiffany’s appointments, meetings with the oncologist, everything, Nick has to stay in the car and hear everything via FaceTime. Its got to be so overwhelming walking in those doors by yourself.
While at home, they are trying to keep to keep everything as normal as possible for their boys. She has an oxygen tank to assist her with breathing. Her mom moved in temporarily while she underwent tests and procedures so the doctors could understand more about what kind of cancer she has. Praise Jesus the doctors found out where the cancer originated so they can treat it accordingly. They stay home as much as possible, and now have a tutor that comes over a few days a week for the boy’s schooling to decrease the chance of Covid exposure. It’s uncharted territory. There is no handbook for cancer in a pandemic.
You can keep up with Tiffany’s journey here on her Instagram.
Our Second Family is fulfilled!! Trista Hamsmith & Family
This sweet family was nominated by a friend!
Reese, Trista’s daughter, had a tragic accident on or around October 30, 2020. She swallowed a button battery unknown to the family. Through a series of events and several days and Dr’s appointments they finally determined a button battery was the cause of her “croup”. Reese underwent surgery November 1st to remove the battery. Unfortunately, the battery had already burned a significant hole through her trachea and esophagus. She was released from the hospital but took a turn for the worse and Reese had a g-tube placed for feedings, intubated and subsequently flown from UMC in Lubbock to Houston Children’s Hospital. Yesterday, 12/1/20, she had an 8 hour reconstructive and reparative surgery to close the fistula, which included a handful of surgeons to pull off. She will be sedated at least 7 more days for a total of 4.5-5 weeks of intubation/sedation and ICU stay. Reese has a big sister, Blake at home and dad, Chris. Due to COVID and a new business trying to get off the ground, Dad and Blake have been at home while mom and Reese have been in Houston. The needs of Reese and the family for Christmas and beyond have been great. Reese has a very extensive recovery ahead which will continue to financially impact the family this year, especially with Christmas.
The family has asked to share their story for the dangers of button batteries to help build awareness so this tragic event doesn’t happen to any other children as well as continued Prayers for Reese’s healing.
Read more about their story and pray for Reese with this Facebook Group: Pray for Reese Hamsmith
I’ve also included their Go Fund Me (Medical bills and expenses) if you feel led to donate to that!
Our first and second families are fulfilled! Thanks yall!
Taylor & Family
“This year has been a hard one, for everyone. But it hit my family hard. I was a full time caretaker to my nana who had dementia. I took care of her for 3 years, 9 hours a day, 6 days a week. It was my full time job. Along with that, I have two young boys. Mason is 3, and Jackson is going to be 2 in February. They were with me everyday while I cared for their great nana. I was so thankful that during the pandemic I still had a job. And then, the worst happened. I got a call after I dropped my nana off at her home, into the care of my dad, that she had fallen and was screaming in pain. I rushed over their and called an ambulance. But I knew nothing good was going to come of this. Unfortunately her hip was broken, and she had surgery to repair it. But with any serious trauma, it sped up her dementia progression. By the time I got to see her again she had no idea who I was. She went to rehab, and fell yet again, breaking her other hip. She died a month later.