That blanket that changed me.
One year and a handful of months ago, I jumped out of bed in a wardrobe crisis. Yep, that's right. What does one wear to a.....birth. I was headed to photograph this sweet girl's entrance into our world. I was comfortable, excited and mostly afraid that my dear friend, Elizabeth, would throw up in the process. Fun fact: I'm stupidly, psychotically afraid of vomit. It's dumb, embarrassing debilitating...but it is. So on we go. Elizabeth's husband, Kyle, kept me in the know about the sickness status. I shot. My lil body shook as I cried a bit as I saw Elizabeth and Kyle turn from a family of two to three. It was easy for me to remember their long journey to pregnancy and so, so easy for me to rejoice with them finally having a little gal to call their own. So easy to see that as the biggest mountain they would face, then.
I was privileged to stand close for more than nursery design. I got vomited on in Reese's early days of battling reflux, I listened to Elizabeth share fears about her baby's health and I stood by, praying, when Elizabeth and Kyle learned that Reese's troubles eating and growing were deeper than a bit of reflux and a battle with pneumonia I've seen that little baby turn blue, I've seen that sweet man love his wife well and I've watched my friend who is so in love with the straight and orderly, adjust and be changed by the Lord through a life of scary medical trials and triumphs.
My piece to this puzzle has been small, small potatoes. It's certainly been my joy to love my friends, to encourage the quieting of fears and the further trusting of God, our Father, and his sovereignty over all things. Especially the baby Reese. I get to make lame jokes, and people are actually thankful I'm there to wisecrack like a second grader. There were lots and lots and lots of times that listening and jokes were all I had to offer. There were countless more times when I couldn't be near my friends to do that, just waiting to hear what was revealed about Reese's health next, and where the next procedure or test would point them. Thus, the blanket.
The blanket. In my crafty-craftness and my love for a good piece of decor, paired with a failed crocheted afghan attempt, I started stitching yo-yos. I spent hours cutting circles while talking with dear friends, stitching along their edges, pulling them taut and closing them up. Put them together for about a year to make a little blanket for covering Reese up at night while she endures breathing treatments, gets rocked to sleep and sits heavy and too-warm on her mother's lap. I prayed for that little gal and I prayed for her Momma and Daddy. That blanket and I prayed and thought of and prayed and encouraged for nearly 400 hours of cutting hand stitching ..a little bit because I'm slow, a lot of bit because I spent much of the time with friends who also love the Nichols.
And the Lord certainly worked in me. So, so good it was to plead on behalf of friends. Not out of selfishness per my usual prayers, but out of a sincere desire to see the Lord work and for us to all see His hand clearly in Reese's healing. So, so good to plead with the Lord for unbelief in this equation to be gone. So fortunate to stand closely as I saw the Lord working through the lives of people Kyle and Elizabeth didn't even know. Notes of encouragement flooded Elizabeth's mailbox, food filled their kitchen night after night, but more importantly prayer filled all of our lives in Reese's toughest times of sickness. For a year of sweet friends loving them well, I kept stitching that blanket and praying for Reese and her parents. And my goodness, little Reese kept growing stronger and stronger and my faith kept growing and growing.
The end of August, I walked into Kosair, a place I'm fortunately familiar with from photographing, and saw that little girl laying on her back, fast asleep with tubes and every sort of everything coming out of and covering up her chest after open heart surgery. I saw Kyle's face, I heard about family who had to head home because it was too much to watch. And goodness, it really was. I came back a couple nights later and watched my friends learn to care for their little lady over pizza. I watched that fragile baby head home from the hospital faster than most healthy babies do. That little girl fought right through an intense surgery to close holes in her heart and our amazing God keeps healing her. The journey certainly isn't over when it comes to Reese's genetic mutation and physical problems that accompany that, but it has been my absolute joy to see God working so clearly in her joyous little heart.
Ever met this little girl? Smiles all day long. Ever met her Momma? One of the strongest and bravest ladies I know - but only because God carried her in that way. Ever met her Daddy? Challenges that Momma to trust in the Lord who is Reese's ultimate healer. Every. Single. Day.
The blanket's been stitched up and ready to go for a few weeks now and it'll hang out in Reese's room. The place where the little lady lives that has made much of the Lord and his power in my own life. And surely yours, too.