Category Archives: Chapel Hill

A Surprising Switch

Time is a funny thing. At one moment, it flies past at breakneck speed. The next, it creeps along slower than a slug. And often, in a moment briefer than a blink, life flips the switch between the two.

Today held one such switch. A usual Monday around these parts, I woke earlier than I preferred to ready my household for a full day ahead. First get the kids to school then commute to my office for a long day’s workload before an evening of sports, meetings, and possibly – hopefully – sleep. A large mug of dark roast into the day, messages began appearing in my inbox, messages that stopped me in my tracks and brought tears to my eyes.

Congrats on your work anniversary.

You see, its been four years now since I began working for the American Board of Pediatrics. Four years comprised of long days and overflowing weeks and months quickly bleeding into nearly half a decade of employment for the stay-at-home pastor’s wife turned working single mama; far more than hours clocked and commuted, far richer than all the gallons of coffee consumed.

Four years ago my life was in wreckage. Camelot had crumbled and I could barely recognize myself amidst the rubble’s haze. Everything I’d sworn would never happen in my life now dictated the day-to-day. It was there, smack in the middle of the shadows of dead dreams, God began weaving pain allowed into provision and scars into a redeeming story still in the making. There, God began turning bereavement into a bestowed blessing, one that not only provided daily needs but in fact began planting seeds of new dreams.

It did not happen overnight. Indeed, it took weeks and months and years of healing and grieving, of working and learning, of rising early and staying up long past the sun’s setting, to arrive at this working mama’s fourth employment anniversary.

So, as I respond to congratulatory messages with gratitude, I’m found humbled to my core. Today’s familiar blessings would have seemed beyond far fetched four years ago. Now, they mark my day-to-day as new seasons have begun unfolding with sparks of fresh dreams lighting up the corners of this mending heart.

As my favorite quote by C.S. Lewis well states: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” 

Today’s switch finds me reflecting on the truth of these words, wondering what unseen gifts might lie in store in the days and years to come.  To say I’m grateful seems hardly adequate enough. 

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Filed under Chapel Hill, Generosity, God, Thoughts, UNC

Unique and Unified

Last night, the Family Advisory Board of NC Children’s Hospital kicked off a new year with a fantastic session!

Truth be told – my nerves were high as this would be my first meeting as Chair, the responsibility heavy on my mind.  But as our members filed in, ease filled the air.  Individuals with unique stories, varying experiences, different personalities and a variety of skills.  Parents, patients, care providers, and clinicians. What an eclectic bunch!

I began by recognizing journeys in healthcare often include pain.  Yet within those trials exists what I have come to call the “treasure trove of suffering”.  Unfathomable gifts wrapped in unexpected packaging.

Resilient strength of children.
Fearless love of parents.
Pity replaced by compassion.
Counting each day as a gift.
Recognizing the miraculous in the familiar.
Beauty in the broken.

As everyone shared their stories and acquired treasures, eyes filled with tears, heads nodding with empathy.  Stories of strength, stories of trial. Stories of love, loss, and hope.  Unique journeys walked by one-of-a-kind individuals.

Through acknowledging our unique experiences, we found ourselves remarkably unified!  Unified by the treasures gathered along the way and respect for the trials endured.

How easily comparison could sneak in:
“But my child is still alive; yours died!”
“My journey was short; you’re still on this difficult journey!”
“My kids are healthy; what could I possibly bring to the table?”
“I’m just a healthcare provider.  I’ve never had a sick child.  How could I contribute?”
“I only…  I just…  But I haven’t…”

In one accord we voiced that comparison would have no place on our Board.  We acknowledge our unique experiences, roles, etc.  We honor the treasures our troves have wrought.  And together – parents, patients, and providers alike – unite with the common goal of serving the healthcare community that served us well.

NC Children’s Hospital Family Advisory Board: Unique AND Unified!

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Filed under Chapel Hill, Family Advisory Board, UNC

Perils of a Pregnant Brain

A pregnant mind is a perilous thing.  At least it is in my case.  As previously mentioned, I have been beyond forgetful during this pregnancy.  Like embarrassingly forgetful!  Paying cash for a dinner while saying a generous, “Keep the change,” only to learn that I didn’t even leave the fellow enough to cover the bill.  Loosing my phone multiple times on a daily basis.  When asked what my age was, replying with a cheery, “19!  Nope…wait…I’m 29.”  Well, yesterday topped them all.

Jordan and I have a great routine with Eliana after dinnertime.  One of us does her bath and gets her ready for bed while the other cleans the kitchen/family room.  We swap out day-to-day and it has really worked well for us.  By 8 pm each night, we have a happy sleeping girl and a clean apartment to relax in.  Fabulous!  Tuesday night found me on bath duty with Jordan recovering the kitchen from dinner.  Eliana was adorable as always, splashing and giggling to her heart’s content while singing a random song during her bath.  Once she was scrubbed and near pruned, I got her ready for bed: lotion, jammies, clean teeth, brushed and dried hair.  The result – a happy, sparkly little lady!  After hugs, kisses and snuggles, Jordan prayed over her in her room and laid her down to sleep.  A lovely end to an enjoyable evening.

Then Wednesday morning came.  I left the apartment early to get to Chapel Hill for a full day of Six Sigma training, leaving Jordan on child duty for the day.  Class was just beginning as I received the following text from Jordan:

“Um…that was disgusting.  Just imagine picking up a newly wakened child who is bawling, to find her entire nighty soaked and smelling like poop.  So I go to change her and…there’s no diaper!  Just poop and pee everywhere!  Let’s just say she just had a bath.”

I could not contain my laughter!  Poor Jordan…what a way to start the day!  Hysterical child who wakes to find herself covered in nastiness.  I chuckled as I thought that he had forgotten to put her diaper on the night before.  No wait…I got her dressed last night.  She must have taken it off.  No wait…he said there was no diaper.  There was NO diaper.  I FORGOT TO DIAPER MY OWN CHILD!!!  This fiasco was completely MY fault!!  I know I’ve been forgetful lately but really?!?!  What parent forgets to diaper their un-pottytrained child before bed?!  Or ever?!?!!!  REALLY?!?!!!!

The next hour consisted of random spurts of laughter blanketed heavily by mortification and many apology texts to Jordan.  Thankfully he had a great sense of humor about it.  Of course, I will be trying to live this down for the next decade or lifetime or so.  *sigh*  I’ve had pregnant brain before but this is ridiculous!  It is beyond humiliating but way too hilarious to keep to myself.  So if you’re ever having a forgetful day or find yourself having a pregnant moment, just smile and say, “At least I didn’t pull a Patience!”

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Filed under Chapel Hill, Patience, Pregnancy

Green Belts & Cookies

I’m in Chapel Hill for most of this week for Six Sigma Green Belt training.  Full days of learning statistical analysis and other such lovely things, I’m training with my 6 teammates from UNC’s PICU in a project for improving daily communication between families and PICU clinicians.  Its a LOT of work but work that we hope will have a big payoff.

To be honest, this busyness has taken most of my creative energies at the moment.  So I leave you with this – a recipe that I can take absolutely no credit for but one that want to eat RIGHT NOW!  (Call it a preggo craving, but these cookies look friggin’ delicious!)  So pull out your mixers, crank up your ovens, whip out your best apron!

Courtesy of the amazing Tasty Kitchen website, I give you Oreo Cheesecake Cookies.  Let the drooling begin….

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Filed under Chapel Hill, Food, Fun, Random, Recipes

Comfort (Part One)

Lately, I find myself at a loss for words.  Even now in typing this, my thoughts seem to collect for a moment and flit away the next.  They’ve been churning in my mind for a week now.  Hopefully they will all come out clearly…that or you’ll at least be amused at my scatterbrainedness. (is that a word?)  Buckle up.  Its a longer one.  Here’s the first part of “Comfort”.

It all goes back to one week ago when I was preparing to speak on a parent panel at UNC.  They were hosting at two-day conference by the Institute for Family-Centered Care (IFCC).  As part of this panel, I was privileged to speak to medical staff and case workers at UNC about my experiences as the parent of a critically ill child, reflect on what was positive in our experiences on the PICU, and what could have been improved upon.  I’ve shared our journey many times before and at much greater length in different situations, but for some reason this time struck me differently.  Perhaps it was sharing it with actual PICU staff.  Perhaps it was speaking those words within the same hospital that cared for our son.  Perhaps it was hormones.  Whatever the reason, there was something about that morning that brought so much more detail back to memory of our time with Isaac at UNC.  It left the memory fresh in my mind and strong on my heart.  (Thank You, Lord, for that precious little boy!)

Then Thursday came.  Around 10 o’clock that night, I was out to dinner with some great girlfriends in Myrtle Beach, SC.  We were laughing, sharing stories, and applauding Ailene who had preached a strong word on Joshua earlier in the evening at Barefoot Church’s Ladies Night Out. (seriously…if you haven’t gotten a copy of her study yet – get to it!)  Just as we ordered our late-night dinner, my phone rang.  It was my friend, Josh Baer.  “Hey Josh!  How’s it going?”
His words caught me by surprise and knocked the air from my lungs with the force of a semi.

“Um…Charlie didn’t make it.”

Everything stopped.  In an instant, grief washed over me for my friend as all the emotions of Isaac’s homecoming flooded back.  They were so fresh from speaking on the panel just the day before.  No!  NO!  Charlie was supposed to make it!  He was supposed to have the better outcome with HLHS.  The cocktail of emotions was choking.  Grief, sorrow, confusion, anger.  Even though I knew this was a chance for Charlie simply because of his diagnosis, I had hoped and prayed dearly that it would not be his fate.  Certainly not so soon.

In moments, another emotion swept in to join the mix: guilt.  Why did we get so much more time with our son than our friends?  Why were we able to take our baby home but they weren’t?  In a moment, I was reminded of the frailty of life and how fortunate we were for every day Isaac was with us.  I still don’t understand the why, but rest in knowing:

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139.13-16)

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Filed under Blogging, Chapel Hill, Friends, HLHS, Struggles, Thoughts

Speaking Engagements

Most of you following our blog know that Patience writes most of the posts here.  The reason is obvious, she has a gift for writing and a way with words that is God-given.  God has spoken through her writings and has impacted many lives as a result.

It seems lately that God has been opening up doors for her to not only write, but also to speak.  A couple months ago she was asked to be an advisor to the Improving Pediatric Critical Care Program at UNC Children’s Hospital.  It’s a board of doctors, nurses, administrators, and a couple advisors (Patience being one of them) that speak into the process of improving communication, education, and overall care of the patients and their families while in their stay at the hospital.  It has been so awesome to have the opportunity to support and be a part of the place that took such great care of our son Isaac in 2007, and we look forward to seeing what opportunities come out of this ongoing relationship.

Last Friday (February 19) she spoke at the UNC Dance Marathon to over 1,700 college students who were there helping raise money towards grants that would help patients and families in intensive care at the UNC Children’s Hospital.  The event raised over $421,000 for the hospital!  I was proud of not only the way she shared our story and the mission of that department (the one I mentioned above), but the way she captivated the audience.  I love watching God use her so powerfully.


(click on the images to enlarge)

Tomorrow morning (Sunday, February 28) at 11:00am, Patience will be giving the sermon at Plymouth Church in Raleigh.  She will be sharing a little bit of our story, but will be mostly sharing a message that’s on her heart, based out of the scripture Isaiah 61:1-3.  Good stuff!

It’s so fun to watch God open up doors for her and use her so powerfully. I’m an extremely proud husband and look forward to what God has for her and for us in the future.  God is good!

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Filed under Chapel Hill, Patience, Updates

UNC Recap

To those who prayed for us as we returned to UNC last week, thank you!  It was an incredible day.  From the moment I walked into the Children’s Hospital, a total peace washed over me.  Strange as it may sound, I felt like I had returned to my home away from home.  Walking in to the conference room, I saw familiar faces – doctors and nurses who had cared for Isaac.  In many ways, it didn’t feel like two and a half years has passed since last seeing them, but rather just a few weeks.  We caught up on our lives, shared stories, and reminisced on the 5 months we spent on the PICU.

All levels of staff involving PICU care were represented – from attendings (docs who run the unit) and nursing staff to patient relations and infectious disease docs.  As I sat among these caregivers, I quickly remembered something I always enjoyed about UNC’s PICU staff – their commitment for excellence in their treatment of critically ill children and their constant desire for growth.  I witnessed a true team effort.  Not once did I ever see anyone pull rank in discussion or demean anyone in the conversation.  UNC’s PICU team truly works together for the good of their patients.  Their passion for these kids came through in everything they discussed.

Through the course of the meeting, I was able to interject thoughts about family care and getting parents more involved in the medical care process, particularly participating in morning rounds.  Their genuine interest in my thoughts simply blessed me.  To think that our experiences in ’07 could benefit other families with critically ill children overwhelmed me at times.

After the meeting, Heather (one of Isaac’s nurses who was at the conference and recently got engaged!!  Congratulations!!) watched Eliana in the lobby so that Jordan & I could go up to visit the PICU.  It was wonderfully strange to be back in the unit again.  They have added 4 new rooms but it still felt just the same.  Seeing the children and parents on the unit reminded us what life was like and how grateful we are to now have a healthy child.

Overall, it was an incredible experience.  The conference itself was both fascinating and invigorating.  I just love the medical environment!  We enjoyed seeing familiar faces and catching up with some of the staff.  In the months ahead, Patient Relations hopes to develop a focus group and eventually an advisory board to continue improving parent involvement and family care on the PICU.  I’m deeply grateful to have been part of Wednesday’s meeting and look forward to contributing more in the future.

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Filed under Chapel Hill, Updates