“You set a table in the middle of my war,
You knew the outcome of it all.
When what I faced looked like it would never end,
You said, watch the giants fall.“
®Prophecy Your Promise – Bryan and Katie Torwalt
Hope Remains was inspired by our little girl. For anyone who knows us personally, you know pieces of our sweet pea’s story, but for anyone who is new to our family, we want to take a few minutes to tell you about the living, breathing miracle that we call our daughter.
When she was just four weeks old, we started what felt like a normal day in our new life with two littles at home. We had just finished an epic weekend of celebrating our little guy’s third birthday, and we had found ourselves in a pretty decent routine adjusting to life with a newly three year old and a newborn. I noticed she was a little sleepier than usual, but growth spurts and lots of sleeping are normal at that age, and we had had quite the busy weekend of looking at Dinosaur bones, so I didn’t think much of it. She had just started napping in her crib a few days prior, but for some reason, I felt like I needed to let her take her afternoon nap in her rock n play. (Which apparently have been recalled since, so don’t buy one haha, but at the time it was a real lifesaver!) She had been asleep for about an hour, when our little guy started to panic. We believe whole heartedly that there is no junior holy spirit, and with everything in me, I know that still small voice told our son to try to wake that sweet baby up. He knew that he wasn’t allowed to touch her without us helping him, but he was shaking her rock n play, trying to get her to wake up. When I walked over to stop him, I looked down at her, and she was grey. She was moaning in her sleep and looked almost lifeless. I picked her up and her skin was so hot that the back of her neck burnt my arm. I took her temperature and she had a temperature of 104.3. Keep in mind that anything over 100.4 is considered dangerous in a newborn. I had no idea what to do as I began to panic, so I immediately called my mom, who said to get myself together because we needed to get her to ER, and we needed to do it quickly. We were living in Columbus, OH at the time, and as I scrambled to get some things together, Nic came flying home from work. My parents rushed over to watch our little man, and we went flying down the high way to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I have never driven that fast in my life. I was doing 90 down interstate 70 praying that she would keep breathing long enough to get there for help. In hindsight, we probably should have called 911, but again. Hindsight. By the time we got to the ER, she was completely grey from head to toe and her eyes were rolling back in her head. But she was breathing. We have never been more thankful for an ER staff as we were that night. They brought her back to triage immediately and started working on her. They got some tylenol in her to help with the fever, and started work on her vitals. They stuck a thermometer up her bottom in an attempt to wake her and her eyes popped open. I have never been so thankful to see those sweet eyes open up.
From there, it was test after test trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Her veins were so tiny that it took four tries by four different people to get an IV in her. They drew blood three times, and sent them out for labs. They did a straight cath urine sample. Her labs came back and they had found a mild infection in her blood stream. That infection had to originate somewhere so they decided that they needed to do a spinal tap to determine if there was any infection in her bones. They sent us out of the room as they told us to head out to the main waiting room, but I wasnt going farther than the doorway. I sat outside the door and listened to my baby scream as they put a four inch needle into her spine. As I sat on the floor of that ER hallway crying into my hands, I was silently screaming at God. That baby girl was a fulfillment to a promise that God had given us. We fasted and prayed for that baby. We sought the Lord for every part of who she was. Our hearts knew her before our hands ever held her and we had made it our purpose that she would be everything that God had designed her to be. She was not going to die like this. Not today.
When we were allowed back into the room, the doctor handed us our baby girl and said that her fluid was clear which meant it was not meningitis and that the infection had not made it to her bones. Thank the lord. But that also meant that we had no idea where this infection was coming from. She was admitted and they told us what we could possibly expect going into the next few days. They told us that her temperature being that high for that long was most likely going to result in some type of brain damage. They said to anticipate her never living a normal life. They said to expect a lot more testing over the next 24 hours and their would be intensive IV antibiotics running to clear her blood stream. We thanked the doctors who had worked so diligently on her that night and immediately began praying for a different outcome. We began praying for a source of infection to be found and that by tomorrow, she would be awake, alert and back to her normal snuggly, perfectly pink self.
A few hours after we had settled into her hospital room, a nurse came in and let us know that they had gotten the results of her straight cath urine sample back and they had found that her kidneys and her bladder were severely infected. They sent us for ultrasounds the next morning and her kidneys were extremely inflamed from the severity of the infection. The doctor that came in that afternoon told us that she would most likely have permanent kidney damage from the severity of the infection. They said that her kidneys would most likely shut down completely because she was so young, and her organs were still developing, resulting in dialysis awaiting transplant. They said to expect the worst and hope for the best, and we would see how the next few days went.
We had every one we knew, and everyone they knew, praying for her and her brain and kidney function. There were people all over the world praying for our sweet girl. Miraculously, over the next 24 hours, her kidneys continued to function at full capacity. A second ultrasound showed the same amount of inflammation, but somehow she was a fully functioning baby. The antibiotics were working. Her color came back, she was alert and awake. She was eating well and her kidneys were processing everything exactly as they should. We went home three days later and with what floor C5B was calling the miracle baby. We chose to believe that this was going to be a one time thing, and that we would continue on with our lives knowing that we had truly seen a miracle in her life.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. Three weeks later, we found ourselves back in the ER with our second UTI and kidney infection inside of two months. She wasn’t critical this time, thankfully, but her little kidneys did not need the stress that this infection was causing. Nationwide was quick to have us referred to Urology and sweet pea went in for invasive testing as soon as the antibiotics for her current infection cleared her system. She did really well, despite what was happening to her. Girlfriend is the ultimate trooper. Later that day we got a phone call telling us they had been able to diagnose the issue. She was diagnosed with a condition called Vesicoureteral Reflux, or VUR for short. I won’t bore you with the details but essentially, her urinary tract was not long enough to support her body and because of that, when her bladder would fill, her urine would back up into her kidneys both before and after she peed causing bacteria to build up and infect her bladder and kidneys. She was a grade 3 on a 5 point scale of severity, which meant that they would be able to try medication before doing surgery to correct the problem. They told us to expect her to be medicated for a range of 5-7 years knowing that she would most likely need surgery at some point to correct the issue.
The condition is more common in older infants and toddlers, but it only affects 1% of kids under the age of 8 months old. With this being a fairly common condition in little girls, we were often asked what made her particular case so fragile. The thing that set her apart was how young she was when she contracted her first infection and the amount of stress it put on her kidneys. Because he kidneys were still developing, the infection that had settled into them was enough to leave what they were calling permanent scarring and long term inflammation. We started her on 2 different daily medications and worked hard to prevent any further infections. We went quarterly for renal scans and with each scan we were told that the inflammation hadn’t decreased at all, but somehow her kidneys were still functioning. The medication had been keeping the infections at bay and her brain was hitting every milestone just as it should, despite the projected outcome of brain damage. Miracle. She was a living breathing miracle.
When she was right around 18 months old, we had just moved across the country, and we were establishing care with her new urology team. Her new urologist is incredible. He reviewed her case and he agreed that the fact that she was a fully functioning, non transplant kid was, indeed, a miracle. He recommended another round of invasive testing to see where she stood on the severity scale before we determined how to move forward in her treatment. We had two weeks until testing after that appointment, and we began to pray for a completed miracle in her life harder than we ever had. It was time for this sweet girl to be done with mess.
About a week before her testing was scheduled, we had a guest speaker at our church. After his sermon he asked if there was anyone in the room with kidney issues. He said he felt in his spirit that God wanted to create a new set of kidneys in someone’s body. Little one had just fallen asleep on my lap, but I emphatically raised my hand. He called us forward as Nic came off the stage and that man laid his hands on our baby and prayed the fire of heaven down on her little life. That little girl fell into the deepest sleep I have ever seen and stayed that way for over an hour. We believed that the work had been done that night and that her kidneys were whole, she was made new and that every part of her urinary tract was functioning exactly as it should.
One week later, we walked into Children’s Hospital of Colorado believing for the miracle to be confirmed for us. Our sweet girl screamed that heart wrenching cry as they filled her bladder and flushed her out more times than I can count and got every picture they needed. After testing, the urologist walked in and said the words that will never leave my mind as long as I live… “Her scans are clean. Theres no remaining inflammation in her kidneys, and she is reflux free. We couldn’t find anything. Go enjoy having a normal kid for the first time in her life.”
A little girl that was supposed to be brain damaged, on Dialysis awaiting a kidney transplant and at the very least, medicated for upwards of 7 years. Here she was, sitting on our laps, 18 months old, reflux free, completely healthy, above average in intelligence and beautiful. Only Jesus.
We took our sweet girl to Target and bought her whatever her heart desired, which for her was a Fancy Nancy doll that was nearly as big as she was. And we celebrated life. A life that we didn’t know if she would ever get to live. All those dreams we had for her before she was born. Dance class and pig tails. Dolls and dress up. Finding out who her favorite princess would be (which is Jasmine, by the way). Watching her grow up to be whoever God created her to be. We didn’t know if we would ever see any of those things in her life. But God.
Sitting on the floor of that emergency room hallway that night, I begged God to spare her life. I was so angry in my prayers. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. She was our promise. We waited for her. That was not how her life was supposed to end. And God, in all of his goodness, seemed to reach down and hold me close. I instantly heard in my spirit, “What does her name mean?” (We don’t put our kids real names out there on this platform, but her name is a hybrid of two names.) I responded audibly, “Her name means valiant healer.” Then God responded with a question that humbles me to this very day. “How can she fulfill her calling and see people radically healed in my name if she has never been healed herself?” From that moment on, I was ignited inside. It was no longer a cry of self pity but a desire to see this healing come to pass because God promised it to me. Through every test, every heart wrenching cry, every fear of doctors and strangers because of the pain she endured, I thanked God as I comforted my daughter. For every late night she was awake despite my best efforts to keep her sleeping. For every temper tantrum in the middle of the aisle in Target. For every scream for her mama as we desperately tried to get her to stay in the church nursery. I thank my God for those sleepless nights, those tantrums and those “she just wants her mom” moments. Because she’s here, when she so easily could have been taken from us. She is more alive than anyone I have ever known, and for that there is no end to my thankfulness. There will never be a day that I shy away from telling someone of his goodness. How could I? I cannot unsee what I have seen or unknow what I know. He is faithful, and I will echo that truth every day that I have breath in my lungs.
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” Psalms 27:13
Standing here today, looking at my beautiful, spunky, hilarious, sassy little girl, I am certain of one thing. I have truly seen the goodness of my God in the land of the living. He is a God of miracles. And while I may never understand why he chooses to heal some on this side of eternity and not others, I cannot doubt that my God heals. I have seen it with my own eyes. That little girl’s life is living proof. And for that we celebrate her. We celebrate him too. Every milestone. Every holiday. Her first day of dance class. His first soccer game. Everything we do that seems small to most, is something so incredibly big to us. In our family we celebrate every milestone, because those milestones are miracles and we will never take them for granted.
I hope that our story encourages you. That in your weakest moments you can look back on our story and know that God is there. Even in your weakest moments, when it feels like you aren’t strong enough to handle what is in front of you, the creator of the world holds you in the palm of his hand wanting to walk you through those things that feel too heavy to carry.
For us, when it felt like the battle would never end, that we would never truly see our miracle, we clung to the fact that God sees the outcome of it all. When we felt too weak to handle this enormous thing we had been asked to carry, we found the strength to stand back up, and carry her forward. Because He knows that every giant we face will bow to his voice and he will finish what he starts. We just have to trust him in the process. Hope. There is always hope.
So for anyone out there walking through something that feels impossible, know that you aren’t alone. Not a single moment of your battle is not seen or known by a God that thought enough of you that he sent his son to die for you. If he did it for our daughter, he can do it for you too. No matter your circumstances today, know that you are seen. You are known. You are wanted. And more than anything we hope that our sweet girl’s story can show you that when all else fails, Hope Remains. Hope Always Remains.
We are so excited to release “The Eva Collection” today. When we shared Lindsey’s story last week, we could have never imagined the response we would see from it! There is such a beautiful community forming around this story, and we were so inspired by the love that you all showed the Clark family! Because of that love and support, we have worked with Lindsey to create a collection honoring that sweet girl and the beautiful story she carries.
Every item you find in this collection was inspired by Lindsey’s words and her heart for her family as they have worked through this season in their lives. This collection has a variety of colors available in every design and we worked hard to make sure that there is something for every member of your family!
Our heart in creating this brand was that Grace & Kai would be able to give to others, in whatever way God gave us the opportunity. As a way of continuing sweet Eva’s legacy, a portion of every purchase made from The Eva Collection will be donated to the Clark Family’s Ministry. The way that their family has walked so gracefully through this tragedy in their life is so incredibly beautiful. Their love for their daughter and their desire to share her story in hopes of helping others who are walking through the same thing they walked through is so inspiring. Sweet Eva did not leave this earth without leaving a such a mark that none who hear her story will ever be the same. We consider it to an honor to help carry her legacy.
We hope you fall in love with this story and the pieces in this collection the same way we have. It is such a beautiful cause, and its one worth investing in. Our hope is that we can bless the Clark’s in way that they so deserve to be!
To shop The Eva Collection click here!
We are so excited to feature Wendi’s story with you all. This story is one of grief. One of hope. And one of redemption. Wendi and Josh are two of the greatest people we have ever known and we were honored to be able to walk this journey with them. Both the hard moments, and the moments of rejoicing at redeeming God we serve.
We hope that this story brings you comfort if you find yourself in a similar place. That it might just show you that hope always remains, even when it seems that the situation is just too impossible. And that you will know that you are not alone in this journey.
To get your own “Made for Miracles” shirt for the miracles in your life, click here.
My husband and I were married for a little over year before we decided it was time to start trying for a baby. During our first year of marriage we watched as so many friends became pregnant and went starry eyed over the new additions to their families. I think we thought you get married and after a little time you just get pregnant, but that wasn’t our story.
It was about a year after trying that we visited a doctor to see if anything was wrong. Part of our story is when I was two I was healed from Cystic Fibrosis, a healing I’m walking out but fully know has taken place. Somewhere between my faith and the reality that I saw in that season, I felt the heaviness of doubt begin to creep in to my mind. I have known my whole life that God is a healer. See you can’t walk in to a room full of people with beautiful amounts of knowledge, knowledge I’m so thankful for and believe is a very important part of Kingdom, with perfect lung function when the reality is you were born with a genetic disease that was supposed to accomplish the opposite and not know God heals. But thats what I’ve done my entire life, isn’t the Father so wonderful. This pregnancy thing was contrary to everything I knew, everything I was created for, I knew I was made for miracles, so why this, why now?
Two years later. Two years of the valley. Two years of trudging up mountains. Thats when I got tired. I’ll never forget the people who walked with us in that season, because it was in those moments that they carried me. Their prayers sustained my hope. Their belief spoke a better word over my unbelief. I was tired. I had watched with joy, and honestly some degree of sorrow, as my friends had not just one baby, but two babies, all the while trying to settle in to some kind of place of rest in my own longing heart. I remember telling the Lord, “I trust you, help my unbelief, sustain may heart, give me a word.” I leaned in so hard to hear truth when my reality didn’t match up with what I knew was true.
“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the LORD. ~Isaiah 54:1
Three years. Three years later. Three years of praying. Three years waiting. Three years of taking test after test believing for that plus sign. It was Christmas Day. I woke early, with an expectant joy I knew could only be from the Lord. I asked my husband to read the test because in my heart I wanted him to see the miracle first, and it was positive. We cried, we worshiped, we finally took a deep breath. God is always faithful. We went to the doctor for an ultrasound not long after and I will never forget him saying, “You have three sacs.” “What does that mean,” I responded with my absolute lack of knowledge. “It means you are going to have three babies”, the nurse said as she began to cry. I had shared our story with her, our beliefs, the words spoken, our faith, so she knew the impact of this moment.
The Lord had given us a baby for every year of longing, every year of fighting, every year of praying, every year of believing. One baby for every year the enemy meant for sorrow that had now been restored to joy. Beauty from ashes.
We continue to live in complete awe of God’s love for us. So often we look at them and can’t believe we’ve been trusted with them. While we often times feel unworthy, we hear God always speaking a better word over our lives. We were truly made for miracles.
We are so excited to be promoting the FARE® Teal Pumpkin Project® this year!! As a food allergy family, especially with a late onset kiddo, (To read our little guys allergy story, click here!) we are so grateful for the research and resources that FARE® has provided our family.
The Teal Pumpkin Project® is such an amazing thing for allergy families. The purpose of the project is to promote families providing non food treat options for kiddos during Trick or Treat events. Because food allergies effect 1 in every 13 kids, it is almost guaranteed that you will have multiple food allergy kiddos that visit your home for Trick or Treat. Teal is the national food allergy awareness color, so anyone participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project® is encouraged to put a Teal Pumpkin at the end of their driveway so that families like us know that its safe to stop by!
So today the kiddos and I made a trip to our favorite place to show you some examples of what Allergy kiddos love to see when they stop at your door! There are so many options available! If you visit the seasonal section of Target, most stores have an end cap solely devoted to The Teal Pumpkin Project®. Lots of pumpkins that already come painted teal, tons of non food treat options! The Dollar Spot and the Party Section is also a great place to stop by! $1 Ten pack pencils, $1 activity packs, party favor multi packs of playdough (make sure to have other options available as well! Playdough contains gluten which can be harmful to celiac and wheat allergy kiddos!) and bubbles. We have so many options that all the kiddos will enjoy, not just the allergy kids!
Here’s a list of our favorites and some pictures of the goodies we found at Target today!
- Dollar activity packs
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Pencils, pens or crayons
- Erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini Slinkies
- Bouncy balls
- Spider rings
- Mini notepads
- Beaded Necklaces
- Mini Playdoughs (make sure to have other options available as well! Playdough contains gluten which can be harmful to celiac and wheat allergy kiddos!)
Walmart, The Dollar Tree and any major grocery store will carry similar non food treats for the season!! We are grateful that you took the time to read about a project that is so dear to our hearts! And we hope that you will consider a second basket of treats at your door this year for those kiddos who desperately want to be included. Every family out there like ours would be forever grateful.
If you are an allergy family like us, we have an entire collection of shirts just for you! Visit our Allergy Life Collection here!!
We are so excited to welcome you to our first Feature Story. These stories are the life blood of G+K – In Real Life. They are meant to inspire you. To bring you hope. And to show you that someone else has been there too.
We are so excited to share Elsie’s story with you all. Julie is such an incredible mama to three beautiful children. Their youngest kiddo, Elsie, has had quite the start to her little life. What should have been a disaster for their family, has become a story of hope, triumph and miracles. We asked Julie if she would share what it was like learning that their baby had a life threatening condition in utero, and what life after her arrival looked like. For any mama out there who is walking this same path, we want you to know that hope can remain in the midst of the chaos. And more than anything, we want you to know that you aren’t alone.
To get your own Miracle. shirt for the Miracle kid in your life, click here!
“I always dreamed of being a mom. I dreamed of curly pigtails adorned with bows and baseball hats smudged with dirt. Never in those dreams were hospital stays, dreaded insurance battles and a child with a condition of 1 in 800,000.
My husband just returned from a trip to Israel and we couldn’t wait to find out baby three’s gender. The ultrasound took longer than normal, deep down I knew something was wrong. A doctor came in and with zero tact and compassion delivered words no parents should ever hear. Our daughter Elsie had been diagnosed with an omphalocele, a condition where organs are stuck in the umbilical cord. For the next 16 weeks as we visited every extra doctor and ultrasound, I refused to be anything but joyful and positive and hopeful.
My husband and I have been in full time ministry since 2005. I have seen the goodness of God in many situations. I have seen people healed in the name of Jesus. I have clung to faith and trust in the dark moments of my own personal life. I have never doubted that Jesus isn’t who he says he is. I have always positioned my heart in hope and joy. I just knew that God was going to heal Elsie. I knew that we were going to have documented proof that something was wrong with our baby, and then the Lord healed her. I had even met someone whose baby was healed of Elsie’s diagnosis in the womb. I had zero doubts of what the Lord could do and what he was going to do.
On a Saturday afternoon in January Miss Elsie Margaret was born. She was four weeks early and weighed 7lbs 12oz. She had the prettiest pink skin and I fell in love with her right away. The extra team of doctors that were on standby for her arrival immediately went to work. I remember looking at Adam, waiting for an answer. Was she healed? Was she ok? What was the status? It was honestly like the room froze, time stopped and all I could do was wait. All I could do was trust. The sweetest older doctor came over. He handed me Elsie and I got to hold her for the first time. As he passed her off wrapped tightly in a blanket he cleared his throat. I knew what was coming and nothing could have prepared me for it. “In my 45 years of delivering babies I have never seen this condition” he said softly. I broke eye contact and stared at Elsie. How could someone so innocent and sweet and perfect have to deal with this. Within minutes life flight was called, she was being transferred immediately. I held her tightly, not wanting to let go. This was not a part of the dream.
Elsie was born with an abdominal wall defect; her organs were outside of her body. She had a spinal defect and her hips had not formed fully forward. The next 48 hours were torture, I legit would not wish them on my worst enemy. Adam was at Childrens hospital with Elsie, listening to doctor report after doctor report, all by himself. I was at a different hospital trying to recover and rest, so I didn’t have to get a blood transfusion. My other two kids were home with my mom and in laws wondering why they couldn’t come hold their baby sister. I remember waking up Sunday Morning and telling the Lord I didn’t have enough energy to pray. So, I asked for one simple request, that his grace and peace would cover and guide us in this season.
For the next three weeks Adam and I navigated one of the craziest seasons of our lives. Our oldest daughter Nora was in kindergarten and our son Warren had just potty trained. We alternated nights of who would go home and stay with them and who would stay at the hospital. I quickly realized our normal was gone and shot and we would adjust to our new normal.”
Hello friends!! We wanted to take a few minutes today to share the heart behind our Allergy Life Collection.
Shortly after our little guy turned three, my husband decided to make a batch of peanut butter cookies after dinner one night. They were a staple in house hold at the time because they were delicious, but also because they only required three ingredients and money was tight haha. Malachi grabbed a cookie off the plate just as he always did and ran to the living room to enjoy it. Within minutes he came running over asking why we put pinchers in the cookies this time. We were confused by his question so we asked what he meant. He told us that the cookie was pinching his tongue and poking his throat. Within seconds I noticed bright red hives appearing around his mouth. He was scratching like crazy. We had never experienced food allergies before so I put in a call to the after hours pediatrician and Facetimed my parents. My mom instantly said, “He’s having an allergic reaction. Go give him some Benadryl and get ahold of your doctor.” The doctor called back and by this time, the Benadryl was helping the hives and he had settled. The Pediatrician recommended finding an allergist and having him tested, but said to let him sleep and he should be fine by the morning. Now knowing what we know now, we should have called 911 and had epinephrin administered since two of his systems were reacting, but again, hindsight.
We had him allergy tested the following week, and low and behold, he had developed a severe peanut allergy seemingly overnight. The day before he ate the cookies we were at Texas Roadhouse and he was literally playing with peanuts and eating them by the handful. He just happened to fall into this specific class of kids that develop severe allergies between the ages of 3 and 5. So, we added epipens to our diaper bag and medicine cabinet, bought a big old bottle of Benadryl, took a trip to Build A Bear to help with the tears of allergy testing and removed every peanut product from our house. We could have never imagined how our life would change after that day.
A simple trip to the grocery store was now a much longer process full of label reading, and then reading again. Every holiday menu had to be changed. Every party we were invited to became a terrifying experience not knowing what he could touch and what he couldn’t. Before having allergies directly effect our house, I could have never imagined the effect they had on a family and their daily life. Everything about our life changed that day.
We went through allergy testing again a year later, and his allergy had almost tripled in severity. We had moved across the country so seeing this new allergist we gained so much more information on just how bad his allergy really is. If our sweet boy comes into contact with peanuts either by touch or by ingestion, we have no more than 3 minutes to get the epinephrin into his system. If his system doesn’t respond after 5 minutes and a dose of antihistamine, a second epi must be given.
It is weighty to think about the fact that something we have no control over could kill my son. That simply eating a cupcake at a birthday party could be fatal for him. We have to be so vigilant every single day to ensure his safety, and that is not something we take lightly. There have been numerous times where he has felt so left out because he can’t have the cupcake or he can’t attend an event because of what will be served there. Its so hard to watch the disappointment in his little eyes, despite every step we take to make sure he is included.
And it is because of that fact, that we created our Allergy Life Collection. Our hope is that this line will give your allergy family clothing that they can wear proudly. That it will give your kids confidence. That you as an allergy mom will feel a little less alone. It’s why we are so passionate about things like The Teal Pumpkin Project®. Exclude the food not the child. Always.
We are so grateful for organizations such as FARE® that provide resources for families like ours. We could have never made it this far without them so As a way of saying thank you for all the help, resources and encouragement FARE® has provided our family since diagnosis, we will be donating a portion of every sale from our Allergy Life Line to FARE® and the research that they do for Food Allergy families on an ongoing basis.
Thanks for reading our story!! We hope that gives you a little insight into why we are so passionate about Allergy Life! You can be sure that you’ll see much more from us about this topic!
And welcome to Grace & Kai! We are so excited that you are here!! We wanted to take a minute to give you an idea of who we are, where we came from and why we are doing what we are doing!
When we had the idea for our clothing line, we knew that we wanted to put family life at the center of it. There are so many motherhood clothing lines out there, and we know that, but for us, we felt that by taking all the positive parts of parenthood, all the moments to be cherished in their beautiful truths, we might just stumble upon something special. So we sat down and put pen to paper. We wrote out everything that we say on a regular basis to our kids. We thought through everything that makes parenthood so incredible. We tossed around ideas until the early morning hours and when we stepped back and looked and what we had created, it occurred to us, just how beautiful this life is. Not just in the good times when life is easy and things are going our way. But also in the incredibly messy times when we feel like we are going crazy and if someone asks me for a snack one more time I might just lose my mind. In moments when it feels lonely and isolated, and sometimes a little bit ugly. Every single part of it is beautiful.
And then it occurred to me. What if this was more than a clothing line? What if Grace & Kai became an online home for other moms like me? What if we put our life out there, and created a community that so many other moms could desperately use in their day to day? What if maybe, just maybe, the magic went beyond our clothes (which are pretty awesome by the way) and in putting our life out there, we made moms feel a little less alone.
And so, Grace & Kai ~ In Real Life was born. Here you will find our family in the flesh. Real, and raw and unapologetic for it. We will feature posts on every topic in motherhood including guest bloggers and the things that they are passionate about in motherhood. Every Friday you can expect a post from out family featuring something fun we did with our kids that week. Whether we went exploring somewhere, did a crazy at home activity or just stayed in and watched a movie, we will show you what we did and why it was special to us. Sprinkled throughout the weeks you will find pop up blogs that coincide with something happening in life that we are passionate about. Things like Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness day, The Teal Pumpkin Project, Thanksgiving and Christmas Traditions, C-Section Awareness month. Things that are real and happening in our lives. Because when we are real, you might just be able to be real too.
Our hope is that we will build a community that is unshakable. That in doing life together we will all learn that we are never truly alone. That in standing with one another instead of tearing each other down, we will make a difference in this world. We are real people, living a real life, and we are inviting you to join us on this journey. Because life is better when we are living it together.
So welcome. We are so excited that you are here and we hope that you will come back again soon. There is so much adventure just waiting to happen….
We are so honored to feature Lindsey’s story in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. This story is one of strength, grace and so much hope. Eva’s life breaks down the walls of a subject that isn’t openly addressed or talked about near enough in our society and that is one of the stigmas that we are aiming to break here at Grace+Kai. You will see these stories of loss, hope and healing surface on the blog often. And its done completely on purpose. Its for the same reasons that we tell every story you see here – we want these stories known, so that when another mom walks the same road, she knows she is not alone. I’ve been there. Lindsey has been there. Julie has been there. All of these stories are real moms who have been through the fire and lived to tell the story. Stories are what make us real. Raw and unapologetic in nature, we are here to break Stigmas. Because life is too short to walk it alone.
This is Lindsey’s story. Learn from her. See her strength and know that you can move whatever mountain is in front of you, too.
To get your own “Hope Remains” shirt to remind you of the journey you have made it through, click here.
These words still echo in my soul even six years later. As fresh as the morning dew is on the ground outside my window as I write this, are these words on the ground of my very being. You see, these words were my anthem… they are my anthem.
My name is Lindsey Clark. I’m a thirty-six-year-old wife and mother of five. I’m a “boss babe,” coffee addict, makeup lover/dealer, pastor’s wife, optimist, CrossFit obsessed and I’m also part of the club no one wants to belong to… no one should have to belong to. Not only have I had a miscarriage, I have buried a child. My beautiful, loved, cherished, fourth child, Eva Ajahnae Clark.
On Easter Sunday, 2013, I took yet another pregnancy test and it was confirmed! Number four was on the way. With much excitement and anticipation, I carried that baby the same way I had carried the other three. I had already had an early miscarriage so once I hit thirteen weeks I thought I was “in the clear.” We were so excited to get an early peek at the gender around seventeen weeks and to see that it was a girl! Presley would have a sister, we would have two boys and two girls, and all would be right in our little world… our family would be complete.
At twenty weeks we went in for our official gender scan. The boys were in school and we had Presley, two at the time, with us. Oh, the excitement of walking into that ultrasound room knowing your eyes are going to see that little peanut that feels like an elephant kicking and doing cartwheels in your belly! I laid on the table and began pointing out to Presley, “Look! There’s your sister! See her feet? See her hands?” “It’s definitely a girl,” confirmed the technician. “I’m looking at her heart now.” That’s the moment. Right there. That mama instinct, intuition, that “feeling.” See I knew what I was looking at. This was round four and by now, I knew what the heart should look like. Four chambers, almost appearing like a four leaf clover. Four little sections very similar in size. That’s not what I saw. I saw one large section and two tiny ones. “Where is the fourth one?” I thought. I began to deny what I knew in my gut. “It’s there. You aren’t a professional. She’s about to finish and tell you all is well.” Nope. She didn’t tell me that. She got very quiet. VERY quiet. She escorted me to a room where just moments later a doctor came to console me and tell me something was very wrong and that I had to see a specialist in the coming days.
Nothing prepares you for this. I cried and then, being the faith-filled people we are, Eric and I chose to be optimistic until we heard from a specialist. About a week later, we drove to MUSC in Charleston, SC, where our worst nightmare was confirmed. Not only was something wrong, it was VERY wrong. Our baby’s condition didn’t even have an official name because it was so rare. Similar to hypoplastic left heart syndrome, but reversed and worse. We were told she likely only had days before she passed in my womb, that she would never make it to birth, and we were strongly encouraged to abort so as to “not put ourselves through any unnecessary trauma.” Life was the ONLY option for us. As we took what felt like an eternal walk through the parking garage to get to our car, it felt like the darkness of the entire universe was looming around us. Like everything in life stopped to watch us collapse into each other’s arms and sob until we were nearly sick. The thought of basically going home to attempt to live life waiting on our daughter to die was the deepest darkness I have ever felt. As we were pulling out of that parking garage, I called my parents to relay the news. They spoke life to me and reminded me that God had the final say; that it was our responsibility to have faith and give God the opportunity to perform a miracle. I can’t explain it, but that conversation brought up a fight in me… a determination to give our daughter every fighting chance and to believe for a miracle!
That night we named her. I had a list of names I had chosen prior to her diagnosis, but now she needed a name that had power, a meaningful name that spoke life over her. So, we chose Eva (life) Ajahnae (she who wins the battle, she who fights for what is hers.)
In the following days I created a Facebook page for her and the amount of followers, support, and love that came from that blew our minds, reminding us what the Body of Christ truly is. This was such a time of self-discovery for me. This battle showed me things about myself that I didn’t know… good and bad. One of the positive things I learned about myself, really the God in me, was how strong I could be when needed. I went on a war-path. A war-path for hope. I began researching options and possibilities for medical help. I wasted no time and personally contacted the best children’s cardiac surgeon in the country. He was in Boston and I read how he was successfully performing in utero surgeries, saving babies’ lives. Initially, they deemed Eva a candidate for this surgery and we were elated. We made plans, scheduled surgery, miraculously raised $10,000 for the deductible, and precious friends purchased our plane tickets. We were set to go and received a devastating phone call from the surgeon himself, relaying that based on Eva’s latest heart scans her condition had worsened and was beyond repair.
Hopeless. Have you ever felt hopeless? Darkness, heartache, failure, anger, and fear are just a few of the emotions that gripped my very soul. The days and weeks ahead were filled with ultra sounds, (These were no longer fun. They had quickly become one of the scariest things in my life.) prayers, scary medical procedures, more prayers, battles for our faith, and believing for a miracle. The body of Christ undergirded us in a march toward faith. We believed. We knew He was able. We stood. We fought. My prayer was that if God chose not to heal Eva entirely, that He would allow her to make it to birth and allow me to hold my baby alive. Remember, the specialists told us she would NOT. Every single day that I felt her kicking was a miracle. Every time I heard her heartbeat at the doctor’s office was a miracle. Every time they measured her growth was a miracle. I began to celebrate EVERY miracle. Every single day was a miracle and we were so blessed.
The weeks kept passing and on a Monday morning around 11 AM, when I was thirty-two weeks pregnant (WOW!), I went into labor. I was rushed by ambulance to MUSC where they unsuccessfully attempted to stop labor. I chose to have a c-section as this was the least stressful option on Eva’s heart. As my precious husband stood beside me, Eva was born and rushed to an adjoining room where specialists intubated her and gave her every possible chance within their human ability. She was taken to the NICU and I was taken to a recovery room. When doctors came and told us that she wasn’t doing well and it wouldn’t be long, Eric went and stayed with her, praying and sobbing over her, until I was released to join him. They put me in a wheel-chair and began the trek to the NICU. That feeling I had months before in the parking lot outside the hospital… there it was again. It felt like they were creeping and I would never get there.
Knowing that you are going to be with your child as they die is surreal. I can’t even come up with adjectives to type here. We finally got to the NICU and I saw my broken husband crying, praying, and STILL believing for a miracle. I was numb. I almost felt lifeless. The nurse removed her tube and disconnected her from all of the equipment, placing her in my arms. Right here. This moment. This is what my heart longed for. This was a MIRACLE. Eva was in my arms… ALIVE. She hadn’t passed in my womb. She fought, overcame, and made it to thirty-two weeks… she made it to her mommy’s arms! In that moment as my heart was shattering, I felt peace. I felt the presence of my God who had carried me the whole way.
Beauty in the ashes. There is so much beauty that could easily be overlooked in the midst of the sadness here. All things are NOT good, but God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. This loss, this grief, this story has brought about so much good for our family. It created such a bond between my husband and I.
He is my rock and watching him walk through that season with such faith and honor made it impossible for me to crumble and give up hope. His love gently walked me through. My babies have such a love for their sister! We go by her grave often, talk about her daily, etc. Eva is very much a part of our family. Her story is still impacting so many. I have been blessed so many times with the opportunity to share her story and help others through their own storm. Really, there are too many blessings that have come out of our pain to share here; but perhaps the biggest blessing in all of this is our Jace!
Remember I told you that we found out we were pregnant with Eva on Easter morning? Do you believe God gives us the desires of our heart and that he cares about every detail of our lives? On Easter morning, 2015, I had this weird inclination to take a pregnancy test. Guess what! It was positive! I don’t know that I have ever worshipped so passionately as I did that day at church. I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God. God is a god who restores! Jace means healer, and we named him that because that’s exactly what God did through Jace. He sent him, our rainbow baby, to heal our hearts!
You never get over losing a child. I can feel the pain just as clearly today as I did six years ago when I lost her. The difference is that the pain gets less consuming. When you bury a child, it feels like the sun will never come out again and that life is frozen in that spot for you, while the world is carrying on with life all around you. You feel broken. I promise the sun does come back out! Your story has a purpose. It gives you character. It is a platform for you to help others. You are NOT broken. The scars from your pain are beautiful reminders of God’s healing power, of what makes you special.
Don’t be silent. Allow your story to have purpose. Someone needs your story. Someone needs your strength.