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Plans We all have them. As life goes along we all make our plans. And that's a good thing, but life doesn't always go as planned. In fact, most of the time it's quite a bit different that what we thought it would be. My life verses are James 1:2-7, 12. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Little did I know how many times I would go back to the promise of those verses throughout my life. Thirty years ago this fall we were expecting our third child. It was a busy time. Jack was working, I was babysitting, Erin was in school and David was 4. The expectations when one is pregnant is that you will have a baby. And that everything will be alright. You don't go into it thinking something will go wrong. You hear the statistics of something happening that wasn't planned. You just don't put yourself in that percentage. Our third child was born 5 weeks early while we were on vacation out of state. An emergency c section. It was not an easy delivery and I won't bore you with the details. Her head was the size of a 45 week gestation baby and her abdomen was the size of a 30 week gestation baby. She was born with severe hydrocephalus (an abnormal accumulation of cerebral spinal fluid in the cranial vault with no free passage into the spinal canal), a diaphragmatic hernia (a hole in the diaphragm that allows part of the organs to move into the chest cavity) and three heart murmurs. Respirator, draining tubes, IV, heart monitor, all of these helped keep her alive. She was given a 2 week life span. A shunt was placed to drain fluid from her head. They over drained causing 4 to 5 hemorrhages and what little brain she did have collapsed in. The doctor closed off the shunt tubing and after a month she was stable enough to be flown to a hospital at home. Once here Jaclyn was extremely jaundice and her liver wasn't functioning properly. She was sent to another hospital across state for a liver scan. She had a liver infection. The condition would either clear itself or poison her causing death. The doctor at that hospital told us she would never know us and would never walk or talk. We let this doctor know that she was in pain. (Her shunt had been closed off and to relieve building pressure in her head the doctor at our own hospital would syringe off the built up fluid). She said she couldn't feel pain. Her head can get as large as a basketball and she can't feel it. Oh, and she wasn't viable life. We should institutionalize her. Nice. We discharged her immediately. Do you want an ambulance they asked? No. Do you have a car seat? We brought her back to the hospital here where upon arrival they relieved the pressure on her head. Within a week they put in a permanent shunt. We learned cpr, how to tube feed and brought her home. Her first five years were spent monitoring 45 minute long seizures, trips down to the emergency room, doctor visits, therapy, and numerous surgeries. As she grew older the emergency situations died down. We were able to live a somewhat normal life. I've been reflecting the past few days after reading an article on parents going through empty nest. It was about those parents that will never be empty nest. We are one of those. In 2002 the older two moved out. One married and the other joined the Marine Corps. We understand the hole that is felt when our kids grow up and move out. But that hole is filled with their lives continuing and growing into the adults that they become. We are blessed so much by them, their spouses and our 5 grandchildren. There is one left here with us. As a lot of you already know, she walks and talks, knows us and a lot of other people! She loves life. She loves being with others, Circle of Friends, playing games, and many other things. Sure, she is dependent on us. She can't live alone. There are many aspects of her life that I have to help her with. As her parents we are grateful for life. But there was still a grieving. There were the times while she was growing up that we went through, I wonder what she will be at "whatever age". And we don't let our mind go to "if only" because "if only" doesn't happen. The cards have been dealt. And it's okay. But we are still human and you still wish it could have been different. It isn't. We had hoped that it could be different. We are beyond blessed by the life that we have. All three of our children are wonderful people. We are all dealt cards that aren't expected or hoped for. And it's okay. It just means our hopes and expectations change.