SISTERING…It’s Something We All Can Do
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body” (1 Cor 12:12).
This truth is a foundation for what The Joy of It does as a non-profit here in the Northwest. One of the things we get to do is come alongside and support the existing activity of Christ that’s happening in our communities.
The Joy of It gets to do this thing called “sistering” where we support living out what it is to be the body of Christ with many different functions.
What is “sistering?” As defined by architects and the construction industry, it happens in the building process. A structure is built with a series of beams called joists. A joist is basically a strong, heavy board that supports a floor or ceiling. Sometimes a load is too heavy for the joist and it begins to sag, crack or weaken under the pressure. “Sistering” is where extra boards are added to the right and/or left of the joist to strengthen it.
We need each other. God designed us
and created us for community.
As real women, in real relationships, in real life, we can all be part of the “sistering” process. We get to come along side and support each other when we are cracking under the pressure or sagging under the weight of life. We get to actively be giving and receiving “sistering.” We are so much stronger together!
We as the Joy of It team are super excited to embrace this construction term called “sistering.” This word captures the essence of what we believe we all get to do in the places, spaces, neighborhoods, churches and communities where God has uniquely positioned each of us. We’re actually doing a month long radio series on SISTERING in April.
Our friend, and sister-in-Christ, Liz Dooley, is modeling what it is to be “sistered” and then go out and “sister” others. We invite you to read about her journey. It is a beautiful picture of how Jesus uses us in each others lives….
A Sistering Story…by Liz Dooley
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Six years ago on March 31, 2010 my world changed.
It was the day of my 20-week ultrasound and we were thrilled to find out the gender of our baby. Moments after hearing we were having another girl we were told that she had a life threatening birth defect. A Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, or CDH. There was a hole in her diaphragm which allowed her stomach, intestines, and spleen to migrate into her chest cavity. Her left lung was being compressed, they would not know what condition her lung was in until her birth, and her heart was displaced, potentially putting her at risk for heart defects. Soul crushing fear and sadness descended upon me. We were told our baby had a 40% chance of survival and if she had any additional defects, her chance of survival would be less than 1%. (I would later learn these statistics were not accurate.) Some additional tests were ordered, and our waiting began. My husband and I parted in the parking lot since we had driven separately and I broke down in tears.
Those first few days were some of the hardest of my life. I cried more tears than I have ever cried before. I prayed more than I had ever prayed before and begged God for there to be nothing else wrong with her. For her to have a chance. For Him to work miracles and to draw close to us.
It was really difficult for me to open up and share our news at first. I was so raw, so scared. But God was leading me somewhere. To a place where I would walk the journey publicly. To start a blog and ask people to pray boldly and specifically for my unborn daughter. A woman who was once very quiet about her faith, began being bolder and braver each day.
It is in the waiting that He changed me. He changed my faith. He increased my faith. I had to draw close to him, to fill myself with truth, to push out the lies and fear that the enemy wanted to drown me in.
After many weeks of wrestling with God, a friend spoke some truth into me that shifted how I thought and this is an anchor for me still. I could and would walk by faith, praying boldly for my heart’s desire, trusting God in the outcome.
He met us in the waiting. I felt the prayers prayed for us. Friends fervently praying, and praying for us when we were only able to groan. We saw Him in the thoughtful gifts that were dropped off. We saw Him in leading us to a premier pediatric surgeon in the NW just 20 minutes from our home that was a complete answer to prayer. I felt Him in peaceful slumber in the face of the storm of anxiety. Each day, as Finley grew, so did my relationship with God.
Finley came into the world on August 12, 2010 and I believe the gates of heaven were shaking with the number of people praying life for her.
The first 21 days were the most critical, and every night I would leave to get a few hours of sleep, I would fear a phone call from the NICU in the middle of the night telling me she was crashing. But it never came. God showed up in so many ways during those seven weeks in the NICU. In the meals, my abundant milk supply, gifts for both our girls, in the prayers and verses and messages of hope, in people that came to pray over our baby girl as she fought so hard, but mostly He met me, in those moments where I fought against the fear of the “What if she doesn’t make it?” And, “How do I make it through this hour?” I had many women that sistered me during this time. My dear friends that showered us with love and prayers. The CDH mamas who had come before me that could offer support and comfort was sustaining. They had been where I was. They “Got it.” Sometimes you just really need someone who gets it. One mama of a survivor sent me the perfect children’s book, Ruby in her own Time, and a gift card for meals in the hospital.
After 49 days in the NICU, Finley got to come home with us. I cannot not look at my baby girl and not see countless answered prayers. She is a reminder that we serve a God that does provide abundantly more than we could ever think to ask for. Not only did she survive, but has defied expectations and has no additional health complications. Many CDH children have longer term feeding issues, pulmonary hypertension, require oxygen support, and a long list of other potential complications. Finley is a very healthy, happy 5 year old.
People showered us with love in extravagant ways while we were walking one of the most difficult journeys of our lives. I have felt called to do the same for others facing a similar diagnosis. The Ladybug CDH Foundation was born. We raise money for research, but our heartbeat is walking with families when they get this oh-so scary diagnosis. To show them hope and joy. To cry with with them. To sit with them in the hospital, pray, and bring food and financial support. To sister.
The Ladybug Run for CDH Awareness was birthed in the NICU watching my baby girl fight for breath that I had taken for granted my entire life.
This non-profit is in its fifth year and to date, we have raised over $70,000. I knew absolutely nothing about running a non-profit organization or how to direct a race when God put this on my heart. He truly provides when you answer His call. He continues to provide the money and the people to help make this happen. Each year I am blown away by what is possible with God. We get to honor and remember the babies that parents did not get to take home, and celebrate the ones that did –and we run this race together, because we can, for the joy of it. Join us on April 23, 2016.
Thank you Liz for sharing your story!
The Joy of It is excited to be one of the sponsors for the Ladybug Run for CDH Awareness. We are excited to come alongside and support you as you support other women and families who are running the race of life with the weight of their child having CDH.