Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reach Out to Rowan! Focus #4, BYH Memorial Blitz, Day 22, May 10

Day 22 of Mission Boss Your Heart Memorial Blitz, Focus #4 (Final Focus):  Reach Out to Rowan!  View his mommy's blog HERE.  View his foundation HERE.

Day 22 of Chrissie's 31-day battle, May 10, 2010:  Post 1 (stitches removed), Post 2, Post 3, Post 4


I'm SUPER-DEE-DUPER excited about introducing you to the final focus of the Boss Your Heart Memorial Blitz!  This precious boy has totally stolen my heart, he is the most courageous 4-year-old you'll ever meet, and he has a God-connection to Chrissie like no other I've ever experienced.  Today, it is my pleasure to introduce you to our 4th and final focus, in memory of Chrissie:  Mr. Rowan Jameson Windham!

Rowan is a precious 4-year-old boy who lives with a rare genetic condition, Schwachmann-Diamond Syndrome.  Rowan occupied PICU Rm #1 at Methodist Children's Hospital just prior to Chrissie.  His mommy is the ultra talented one who made the oh-so-very-treasured-most-awesomest quilt in the whole wide world, the one she so generously gave us in memory of Chrissie.

Rowan's mommy keeps a blog about his life HERE.  And Rowan's family started the Rowan Jameson Windham Foundation in honor of the brave Mr. Rowan, to help other families who have children with chronic or terminal illness.

As any family with a medical crisis knows, the medical bills pile up fast and can completely consume one's finances.  Rowan has spent more than 600 days of his 4-year-old life in the hospital, so you can only imagine those medical bills.

Even with all of the medical expenses and challenges Rowan and his sweet family have endured (and will continue to endure), their entire family continues to abundantly bless our family.  They pour out, and pour out, and pour out, always reaching out to us, always blessing us in extravagant ways.  And I know they do the same for countless others.  That's just the way this amazing family is.

So, it is my prayer that we will be able to come together as one and bless Rowan and his family right back.  I set up a ChipIn donation button that will be located on our blog as well as at the top of each post (although it probably won't show up in RSS readers and via email), so if you'd like to bless the Windham family with a donation, just go find the blue "Reach Out to Rowan" button on our blog. 

Oh how I would love to bless this family with just a fraction of the blessings they've poured out for our family.  Carrie (Rowan's mommy) told me she prefers for donations to go to Rowan's foundation, where they will use the money to help other families.  That's just the way this family is.  Always thinking of others before themselves.  AWESOME role models of selflessness.  I would really like to see the Windhams put some of the donations into the foundation and use some of it toward their medical debt (but I don't know that they will), so if you have a preference for where your donation goes (directly to Rowan's family for medical expenses or to the foundation to help others), be sure to leave instructions in the paypal "add note to seller" section (listed directly underneath your shipping address) when you donate via the ChipIn.

If you prefer to mail a donation to the Windham family, please mail donations to me, and I'll give them to Carrie.  (Mail donations to "Reach Out to Rowan", c/o Lorraine Patterson, PO Box 1708, Kyle, TX 78640.) 

I know that above anything you could do to bless Rowan and his family, your prayers would be the  most appreciated.  Rowan battles for life and health daily.  Carrie is his primary medical caretaker and stay-at-home mom to 3 treasured kiddos.  Rowan's sweet siblings (his big sis and his big brother) courageously navigate life's challenges while their brother spends much of his life in the hospital.  Rowan's daddy fiercely loves his family, and he works hard to provide for all of them.  I simply cannot fathom all this family juggles on a daily basis, and I hate to see Rowan in and out of the hospital so regularly, many times battling for his life.  Please keep this incredible family in your prayers, and help us to bless them when you "Reach Out to Rowan"!

I asked Carrie, Rowan's mom, to write some posts about Rowan and his connection to Chrissie, which you will be able to read over the next few days.  I pray you'll be blessed by Rowan and the stories his mom will share with you.  Here's Carrie's message for today:

My son Rowan and I were blessed to learn about and have the opportunity to pray for Chrissie and the Patterson family while he was hospitalized at Methodist Children's Hospital the same time she was, a year ago in May.  He occupied PICU room 1 just before she did.  Rowan went in with a life threatening septic infection.  Once he started to improve though, he moved upstairs and Chrissie moved into that same room.  A few days later a friend told me about Lorraine's blog and suggested that I try to go down and meet her since she was going to be there for a while too.  The first night I looked up her blog from Rowan's hospital room, Rowan started getting worse.  He started fighting a fever of nearly 107 degrees.  He had cooling blankets on and I was trying to cool his forehead off with cold rags.  He suddenly woke up and looked at my laptop, on which I had been reading about Chrissie's battle, and he saw a picture of her in PICU room 1 fighting for her life.  He opened his eyes and said "Awww, that little girl is here too, we should pray for her Mom."  Then he closed his eyes, laid back down, and his fever broke completely, for the first time in days.  As tears streamed down my face, I did just that, prayed for both Rowan and for Chrissie...with all my heart!  If in the middle of his own crisis he could show concern for someone else, so could I.  A very scary moment was turned into a very precious, beautiful moment.
In the days that followed, even though he was still very sick himself, Rowan asked me how Chrissie was doing each time he woke up.  Every night before he went to sleep, he asked if we could pray for her again.  I kneeled by his bed, on the hospital floor, and we did just that- every night for a month.  When he started feeling better, Rowan started coloring pictures for me to take to Lorraine and Chrissie downstairs, which I did many days.  He and I looked at the pictures of Chrissie on Lorraine's blog throughout the day, our eyes peeled faithfully to her updates.  We rejoiced with each miracle and prayed harder with each setback.  Rowan was fighting battles of his own, but nothing compared to Chrissie at that time, so God really used her life to put things in perspective for us in those moments.  Instead of dwelling on our own problems or feel sorry for ourselves, we benefited by lifting them up and witnessing their strength and faith during such a difficult time. 

Rowan was in the hospital for 35 days that time and Chrissie fought for 31 of those days.  The day Rowan was finally discharged, I went down to say goodbye to Lorraine and to tell her that I would come visit and we would continue to pray.  That evening, a few hours after I got Rowan home, Chrissie went to be with Jesus.  I read about it on her blog, from home this time, and I lost it.  It didn't feel fair.  It wasn't fair that I left with my son, but Lorraine wouldn't be leaving with her daughter. Rowan and I were changed forever.  He saw me crying the next day and asked if I was ok.  I didn't have the heart to tell him yet, but he knew...he asked me if Chrissie went to heaven already.  I told him she did.  He simply asked me, "Then why are you sad Mommy?".  I had to smile.  I didn't want to, but I had to.  Rowan was right, and God gave him that peace and understanding.  Chrissie's life and death actually made his faith stronger..  He had that perfect childlike faith, the kind I couldn't muster myself at that time, let alone teach my son on my own.

Rowan and I went to Chrissie's Celebration of Life a few days later and on the way he said "Mommy wait! You have to go to the store on the way.  I need to get Chrissie a baby doll so she won't be scared." I tried to tell him that we just couldn't do that, but he was really upset about it.  When we got there and I went to the front to say goodbye to Chrissie, at her casket, he asked me to pick him up to see her.  I asked if he was sure, and he said yes.  I was battling with myself, wondering if he could handle seeing her body, but I knew he needed that closure too.  Well, when I picked him up, he peered into the casket and burst into tears...but happy tears!  I was shocked and amazed, truly taken aback. See, Chrissie's was dressed in one of her beautiful Princess costumes and he said, overjoyed, "Mommy, I knew it, she IS a princess, and look- she has her own baby doll already, so she's not scared! It's ok!"  God is so good, all the time.  I was worried about my 3 year old son, who had had many life threatening illnesses and over 40 surgeries, spending over 500 days in the hospital himself already.  I feared that he wouldn't be able to grasp the concept of death, or worse that he would fear his own mortality...but no, he understood better than I could at the time.  He was comforted, peaceful, glad she was in Heaven with Jesus already, happy that she was a whole, perfect, Princess, not fighting for her life anymore, not hurting any longer.  He even told me not to cry again during the service, telling me through a sweet smile "Mommy, I bet Harley is licking her face in heaven right now and she's laughing." (Harley was his dog who had died earlier that year.)  How could I cry or be sad when Rowan was right, Chrissie was no longer suffering.  Rowan left her Celebration of Life with a smile and a bright pink Chrissie memorial balloon, which he hugged tightly the whole way home.  Again, God used Chrissie to strengthen Rowan's faith and give me comfort through witnessing that.  It blew me away.

In the following days and weeks, God used Chrissie, Lorraine, Matt and their entire family to continually teach and bless Rowan and I.  To say it was a difficult time for them is an understatement, but God was using it for good, as He always does.  Their positive outlook, strong faith and loving family values were an inspiration to so many...especially to Rowan and I.  Despite the fact that Chrissie never knew us and we never saw her with her eyes open ourselves, we are better people for having prayed for this amazing little girl, for following her story, and for getting to know the rest of her family.  The miraculous connection that she continues to have with Rowan will blow you away...and is proof that God definitely continues to use her life for good...

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