Whitney means “Fair Island” and Ann means “Favored Grace”…but we chose her first name just because we liked it and her middle name because of a very special woman in our lives. She’s been my mom’s best friend since I was a kid, and someone who makes everyone feel special. She has touched the lives of everyone in my family, and I wanted my daughter to have her name.
Our first day in the hospital was only the beginning of some difficult moments. Just minutes after she was born they realized she had a dislocated hip. This meant at least 6 months in a brace that held her legs in a very awkward position, and frustrating moments for a little girl that didn't know what it meant to kick her legs for a very long time.
At four weeks old, we experienced other problems. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was nursing her on our front porch, while watching her brother and daddy play in the front yard, and she began to vomit. I knew something was wrong so we went inside and called the doctor. That evening was her first trip to the hospital, and one of many to come.
It took quite a while for them to discover what the problem was, but in the meantime it meant a lot of tests (the scariest one being for cystic fibrosis), a lot of IVs due to dehydration, a lot of time in and out of the hospital, bouts of pneumonia, a lot of sleepless nights having to sit up with her to allow her to sleep upright...a lot of praying! One particular time in the hospital she was so sick, and we were very scared. The doctors weren't sure what was wrong, but something definitely was. It was the first time in my life I actually feared for her life.
It was a Sunday morning when the doctor came in to tell me he wasn't sure what was wrong but that they were concerned. She had been really sick all week and there was something new they found in her blood work that morning. I kept her close as she laid there on the bed that they had put in her room for me to sleep on. She didn't move or fuss much, she just laid there; even the color of her skin was off. Late that afternoon my mother-in-law came to sit with her while I went to church to ask for prayer. While there, the pastor stopped his sermon and asked that people pray for her. I still remember some of the men in the church getting emotional and praying for her as if she were their own child.
Several people went back with me to the hospital to see her, where we found her sitting up in her Nana's lap smiling. It was a miracle! The next morning her doctor came in and said we could go home and that he didn't know what had happened but everything looked normal with that morning's blood work. (We did! ...God had healed her!) Praise the Lord!
They finally discovered it was a reflux problem - unable to really be treated and something she would have to outgrow. Yes, that meant, every meal came up...it was awful! But, we knew it could be worse. Years later she developed a heart problem. Although every time her heart acted up it was very scary, it wasn't anything too serious - it, too, could have been a lot worse - but, after years of going undiagnosed and having to just deal with the rapid, intense heartbeat that came on suddenly and without cause, one doctor found the problem and, again, we had to trust God to take care of her as they performed a cardiac ablation. This was just a few years ago, and all has been fine since!
You would think this would make for a feeble little girl. But, that's definitely never been the case. She's strong and active and today I sit here so thankful for all God taught us through those hard times. She, too, learned at a young age to trust the Lord and that nothing is impossible with God. She, too, knows the healing touch that He can bring, and that He is worthy of all praise. She, too, knows what it means to trust Him when nothing makes sense. And, all along the way, He's been molding and shaping her into the woman he wants her to be.
I know some of her greatest times in life thus far have been on mission trips to Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda where she shared the love of Jesus with widows and orphans, and the young and old. She's got a heart for Jesus and we know that the Lord has done, and will continue to do, great things with her life, for His glory.
This year is a special year. This is the year we will give her away to be wed. She's found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with, and we're having to let go. It's not easy...even though we've grown to love him, too. She's very special to us. We've been through a lot together, and we are very close. As I watched her try on wedding dresses, filled with excitement and emotion, I knew she was no longer my little girl, but my grown child and becoming her own woman. That can be difficult to accept. She's our one and only daughter, our baby girl! ...but we're trying, and learning to trust the Lord, just as we did with her when she was a baby.
Today, we celebrate her life and very precious gift that she is to our family. God's blessings have overflowed and we thank Him for entrusting her into our care. As she will soon leave our home to start a home of her own, we pray God's richest blessings on her as a wife, and, one day down the road we pray, as a mother.
From the moment you entered our lives, we loved you and wanted to hold you close. We learned very quickly to lean on God to keep you safe as you struggled with staying well your first year of life, and now we’re learning it all over again as we try to let go of that little girl God entrusted to us, and watch you grow into the woman He created you to be.
As your life continues to unfold let me just say that I love you more and more every day. I didn’t think it would be possible to love you any more than the first moment I held you in my arms, but it is! You are a beautiful (inside and out), caring and compassionate woman, and we’re very, very proud of you!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!
We love you,
Mom and Dad