DeLanee's Story

10 years ago, Becky and Tommy, were blessed to be pregnant with their second child. Shortly thereafter they learned that they were going to be parents to a little girl, but the probability of their daughter living for very long was extremely low. Their daughter was diagnosed with a condition called Dandy-Walker Cyst. The doctors believed that their baby girl would deteriorate and pass away during pregnancy, but much to their surprise DeLanee developed until 28 weeks gestation when she was delivered and lived for three hours. As you can imagine, these 3 hours was precious time that they spent as a family with their daughter taking pictures, bathing, dressing and holding her until she passed away in their arms. Upon DeLanee's passing, the nurses brought the family a box to put their daughter’s belongings in to take home with them. Because DeLanee was born in January the nurses were able to find a leftover Christmas box. That Christmas box became extremely special to them and they clung to it and the contents inside that held their daughter’s precious belongings as they left the hospital without their baby. It was because of this box that the inspiration for Lanee’s Legacy began. . .

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Ultimate Gift

I can't believe that Christmas is just 6 days away. This past year has certainly flown by for me. I have a lot of memories that accompany Christmas. And it's interesting to me how Christmas changes for me a little bit each year.

As a child, it was all about the presents and the magic of Santa Claus. I was taught about the Savior's birth and true meaning of Christmas, but as a child I was focused on the material part of Christmas. Years later, I remember feeling let down as I realized Santa wasn't real but then excited to be my mom's elf to my little brother and sister. It was still about the presents though. Later, as I got married, it was fun to have my own little Christmas tree with my husband and create our own traditions. 3 years later, our first son came along and then it became ALL about him! That was so wonderful to experience Christmas through his eyes. It's truly a blessing to be able to see the magic come alive through a child.

7 years ago I was experiencing a very difficult Christmas. DeLanee was diagnosed on December 2nd of 2003. As a new mom, I was so full of excitement for the following Spring and the little life that was going to enter our family. In fact, I was so excited that I had already sent out my Christmas cards, decorated the house and bought presents - all before December. My anticipation of this little sweet baby growing inside of me had me very motivated!! There's just something about the promise of new life. On December 2nd all of those feelings were washed away and replaced with many others. My heart was filled with sorrow, frustration and even anger. I can't even describe the intensity of these emotions that I was feeling. They were overwhelming and all-consuming and any "Christmas spirit" that I was previously feeling was gone. To me, I no longer felt in the celebrating mood. I had a 3 year old at the time, so of course I had to "fake" my way through the month, but inside I felt like crawling in a hole until it all passed.

There is one particular Sunday before Christmas that stands out in my mind. On this day that I went to church, a sweet lady from our church was singing a solo called "Mary's Lullaby". Rebecca Barney has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. I was already in such an emotionally fragile stage, but the beauty of the song along with her incredible talent melted my heart and I found myself sobbing. A friend of mine was sitting a little ways down and noticed that I was not doing such a good job of holding myself together and very subtly passed me a kleenex. I was so embarassed of my lack of composure and tried to do the best I could to hold it together, but the fact that she was passing me a kleenex made it apparent that I was NOT doing a very good job of it. I'm sure it wasn't pretty. If you haven't heard this song, it's such a sweet and tender song about Mary and how she felt about this most important little baby she had just given birth to. The part that always sticks out to me the most are the lyrics that say: ". . .for you are a king, but tonight you are mine".

When I hear this song, I think of Mary swaddling and holding her sweet baby, knowing how special he is and some of what is in store for him but not worrying about any of that for now, because. . . on that special night HE was HERS and that's all that mattered! I believe that she must have relished in that moment and the opportunity she had to love on him, sing lullabies and study every little feature on her sweet boy. Knowing what an important mission he had and that he would save the world must have compounded that love. I wish I had a download of the song I could share with you, but couldn't find a good version of it on the web. It's so beautiful. I love instrumental music and have been listening to a piano version of it on a CD by Marvin Goldstein called "The Greatest Gift". But Elise Adams also has a wonderful version of it on her CD and you can listen to a little snipit of it here.

Anyway, on that day, I couldn't help but think of my own baby and how I knew what was in store for her. I knew I wasn't going to keep her. I knew of her struggles and challenges that she was facing. . .but I too wanted her to be mine. . .if only for a short time. I wanted it sooooo badly and prayed that I would get to have some time with her. I feel so blessed to have gotten that opportunity. I know God must have known how important it was to me and I feel so blessed that I DID get a night with her. I will never forget how good it felt to hold her in my arms that night. I knew my time was going to be limited, but I was given the gift to hold her, love on her and have her be MINE for that night. It felt so good.

Today I went to church and again listened to this beautiful song. I was so glad that it was a part of the Christmas program because it has such a special place it my heart now and I love listening to it during Christmas. It was interesting though how today I sat in church and listened to this same song, but with a different ears.

This year has been a bit more emotional for me for some reason. It has been 7 years since DeLanee has passed away. Of course that first Christmas was extremely difficult, but each year has slowly gotten better. I'm not exactly sure why this one has been harder. I love everything about Christmas (except how hectic it can get). But what I love most is the opportunity to focus on the Savior and what His birth and life means to me. Actually, I think over these past 7 years I have developed a stronger appreciation and love for my brother, Jesus Christ, and what he has done for me and ALL of us. He paid the greatest price to give us the ultimate gift. . .eternal life. Eternal life and the opportunity to be with our loved ones again. Words cannot express how grateful I am to Him for this. So, now when I think of Christmas, I not only think of the Savior's birth, but his life and more importantly his atonement for the world which means that I can be with my daughter again. . .and not just for a night - but forever, and that is the ULTIMATE GIFT!

This is the knowledge that I find rest in. This is the truth that comforts me. I know the burden of grief and how it can bring us to our knees. It's my prayer that if you are feeling the heartache and loneliness that comes from losing a loved one that you may be able to to feel the gift that our Savior gave us and that is the assurance that life is everlasting. In that we can find peace and comfort.

John 14: 7: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Opportunity to Serve

We wanted to make you aware of an upcoming box assembly that will be taking place on this Thursday, December 16th, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.

Rebecca Smith, a fellow recipient of a box, has organized this project and has invited her friends and family but has also opened up the night to EVERYONE that would like to come and particpate. We would love to have you come and help us in this evening of service if you are able.

The project will take place at: 3580 E Houston Ave, Gilbert, AZ 85234. It is on Houston between Higley and Recker.

We will have everything we need to complete 40 boxes (20 boy/20 girl) on this night and it is not required that you bring anything to participate. However, if you would like to donate any items that are included in our boxes, we will have a donation bucket available and would love to have any support you are able to contribute to future boxes. If you would like to see a list of these items, you can find it to the right of our blog.

If you have any questions, just let us know. Hope to see you all there!

Monday, December 6, 2010

2nd Annual Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser

I can't believe it has taken us a month to get the pictures up of our breakfast! I'm so sorry it's been so long. Not only was our 2nd annual pancake breakfast a success, but the 2nd annual sickness in the Norris household was too. UGH! Last year after the breakfast I got REALLY sick and this year was no different. . .except the rest of my family got it as well. Anyway, between that and Thanksgiving and being out of town, this last month has just flown by.

Our breakfast was wonderful and the day was filled with fun, remembrance, celebration and reflection. There are so many people that made this day possible, from our sponsors, volunteers, business owners that donated items, caterer, emcee and many, many others. It takes so many people to make something like this happen and we appreciate each and every one of you that came and supported us in whatever capacity you did.

Here's some of the highlights from the day:
One of our super cute helpers, Brock Sherwood:
We displayed this poster at the ticket line. It shows which hospitals we currently serve - 18 total. It also says that as of the date of the breakfast we had donated 421 boxes totaling $10,525.00. Those numbers are already outdated and we continue to climb.

Here's our breakfast set up before everyone arrived:

Part of the breakfast crew:

We displayed some of our boxes that we have donated this past year:

Here's a few of the girls who helped us sell tickets and raffles: Summer Shiflet, Bekki Webb and Charlee Haueter. Thanks so much girls!!

Here's some pictures of our silent auction. WOW! We ended up with over 20 different silent auction packages. This was a huge success and help for our fundraising! Thanks to our business owners for donating such great items and for everyone who bid on them!

Our raffle was great as well with approximately 55 raffle prizes. Here's a few of them:
Thank you to the Mesa Fire Department for bringing their fire truck and contributing to our event! Love you guys!!

We were so honored to have Kevin Burdick as our emcee and performer this year. What a great person he is! He has a HUGE heart and such a spirit of giving. We were certainly blessed to have him with us that day. Not only that, but he is SUPER funny! We were cracking up at him all day!

Here he is performing his song in honor of his daughter, Dempsey Burdick, called "Too Good For This World". Beautiful!

We heard from both a bereaved mom and a bereavement coordinator at our breakfast. We appreciated their words and support.

This is Jamilyn Craig. We just love her. She does so much within the baby loss community to support and give back. She so beautifully shared the story of her sweet boys (2 losses - 9 years apart) and her experience. We appreciate her so much and her willingness to open her life and let us be a part of her story.

Karen Lee represented the Banner Hospitals and spoke about her experience in giving the boxes to families. We appreciated her words of encouragement and support to us.

Have we mentioned how much we LOVE the Mesa Host Lions Club?? Oh my gosh. . .we love these guys! They have a been a huge support to us and we look forward to when we get to spend some time with them. Wonderful, wonderful people!

The rest of these pictures are fun pictures throughout the day. Jump and Shout Play Center provided our bounce houses. Arizona Game and Fish was there with animals including, snakes, birds, owls, lizards, etc. We had awesome balloon twisters and face painters that the kids absolutely loved! Here's just some random shots:

I love how this sweet boy is eating his pancakes and sausage sandwich style. Awesome!
A fellow mom that has also experienced a heart breaking loss. She drove a very long way to come support us this day. It means a lot! Kelly Hatch and her cute daughter, Jerzie.

Dr. Gandhi from Phoenix Perinatal Associates:

Last, but not least, we were both suprised and honored to have this young man, Nathan Helbig, arrive at our breakfast with BOXES of donations and $500.00 in cash!!! He did an amazing job in doing this project for his Eagle Scout. We were so impressed with everything he accomplished and thank him for everything he donated for our boxes!!