The birth of my son was a miracle for both of us. His premature arrival at 23 weeks gestation and 1lb 4 ozs ushered us into the uncertainty regarding his life, my life, and even my husband's life. For the first 6 months, we watched him fight for his life as, and I am convinced, thousands of our friends and family and those we did not know, fought for him and us in prayer. Added to that, one month before my son came home from the NICU my thirty-three year old husband had a stroke and they subsequently found a tumor on his brain.
I felt as if I was living in some weird alternate universe, a time warp where the outside world was a distant memory and my new reality was listening to my baby's' heart rate drop, watching nurses rush in to bring it back up, rushing from one hospital to see my husband and another hospital to sit and hold my son. Praying every night that I would wake up to still having a living child and a healthy husband. The NICU changes you, trauma changes you. Seeing one and three pound newborns struggle to breathe is haunting. Walking those dark days of the hospitals and waiting rooms during major surgeries is life changing. What a humbling picture of James 4:15: "If the Lord wills, we will live . . ." and living in this surrendered state every day did not feel good, and yet was so necessary.
My Higher Power, God, had been faithful to sustain me. Nothing prepared me for the journey of having a micro preemie and a sick husband at the same time. I was horrified, Zach wasn’t home, I was alone. I felt the panic coming on. There was no one to call who could help me, no family member, no doctor who could guarantee me the outcome I so desperately wanted. I fell on my face and cried out to God. Then I heard as clear as day: “Surrender them to me”.
I burst into tears. The awareness as God continued to speak to me that He loved Caleb, loved him more than I did and that I had never been in control, I was still not in control, and ultimately I did not want to be in control—because Creator was the One who knew what needed to happen. And His assurance to help me every step of the way.
This lesson saw me through the longest hours and the darkest nights: relinquishing my false sense of control into the loving presence of the One Who I knew could not fail nor forsake His creation. My little family was safe. Along the way our Church family, Tampa General Hospital NICU staff, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), my job, ADP, my husband’s job, DR Horton and many others stepped in to carry us through those dark days and months. They made us meals, fed our dog Abby, sweetly gave us gas money, prayed for us and all these love actions allowed us to drive back and forth to the hospital every day. I was made aware of how we can be the hands and feet of Jesus, the true meaning of the body of Christ, that when one part is broken the other parts rush in to help and support.
The Ronald McDonald House allowed me to stay close to my son on the days of many surgeries when we could not leave my son. Friends and angels and funny skits the universe put on made us laugh. There was some serious comedy along the way and I mean SNL-worthy. God showed up to carry us through. And so I learned to live in surrender.
Fast forward four years and my husband is healthy and my son needed so much more support through the years with Speech, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA and then a diagnosis of Autism. I felt tremendous guilt going to work and leaving my son when he needed me the most. Out of this place, I started to write my software, Missio - latin for Mission. My heart to pay it forward, having been a benefactor of the good work these nonprofit organizations did in the world.
The average nonprofit uses three - five tools to manage their donors, volunteers and outreach activities. Our Missio platform is a comprehensive suite of products that allows nonprofits to manage their donors, events & ticketing, fundraising and donations, volunteers, supporters and communications from one single platform enabling better reporting and decision-making with a Done For You support option. Missio was born out of my desire to give back to all of the organizations that make a difference in our lives every day.
My family and I remain so grateful for the love and support we have received over the years.