In May of this year, a new chapter of Mended Little Hearts was formed in the Puget Sound area. Mended Little Hearts' mission is to "inspire hope in those who care for the littlest heart patients of all" and includes group meetings, social events, hospital visits, educational and emotional resources.
This past Tuesday was the first official meeting and I would guess there were 12 families represented, so a good turnout! The hour and a half was broken up into three sections led by specialists in that particular area: Feeding issues, athletic limitations, and life after surgery.
In September the plan is for us parents to tour the cath lab and also have an echo tech talk to us about what exactly they do with that magic wand.
Next month, we'll have a MLH picnic with no agenda other than having fun and connecting with each other. Because as much as I love learning the ins and outs of my little boy's disease and how I can best advocate for him, there is something even better: being known. There is a depth of comfort found when sitting in a room with people on your right and on your left who have traversed the same valleys and peaks you have. Not the same same, of course, but the same.
I believe there is purpose in our suffering. Our suffering "produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Romans 5:3). Although it may not always feel like it, our suffering never has to be futile. We have seen God do so many good things through Luke's story. We have learned perseverance and pray daily that our character would be more and more transformed so that we would be lights of hope.
Suffering purposes to change us, to draw us closer to our Lord and to see Him in a new light, as our ultimate comforter. How good God is to use our trials instead of letting them go to waste! As I sat in the Mended Little Hearts meeting, I was reminded of another purpose of suffering:
"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." —2 Corinthians 1:4
Whether we are giving or receiving comfort, these acts please God. I sat in the cramped room with moms and dads, all affected somehow by CHD, and received comfort from the fact that I am not alone. I hope I was also able to give comfort. A woman shared with me that she had found our blog and in reading through our story, took great comfort in seeing Luke so active and happy. Her heart baby had yet to arrive.
When I look at all God has done for us, how He's changed us, these past 3 years since Luke's diagnosis, how could I ever wish us on a different road? That's not to say I gladly accept trials. More accurately, I enter them kicking and screaming. I would have given anything for our ultrasound to have shown a four-chambered healthy baby boy's heart, but it didn't. So now what? Do I choose, in faith, to see the beauty God is producing through Luke's heart story; or do I dwell on the question, "why me?" Oh, there are moments, believe me, but God is faithful to not let me stay there.