Month: September 2017

The Lord is My Shepherd….Even When I Have Not Idea What He is Doing

written by Louis Sacran (Abigail’s Husband; Sunshine and Lily’s Father)

After, David’s Down Syndrome diagnosis, I remember my wife, Abigail, researching the internet and coming up with a detailed list of things we needed to research and understand. After looking at my designated section of the list, I quickly realized that I was going to need to take Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2, to even understand what I was supposed to be researching.

If you have just received the news that your child has a “special needs” diagnosis, perhaps you are wrestling with many questions. All you have to do is look at a few Facebook pages or blogs, to become completely deflated or intimidated by the parents who have made it their life mission to know every medical nuance about a particular disease, as well as every mainline and alternative therapy that treats it.

Perhaps the bigger battle is wrestling with the guilt and shame that accompany some of the questions you’re asking. You love your child unconditionally. You would do anything in the world for your child. You are thankful God has chosen you to be their mother or father, yet, at the same time, you are horrified at the thought that this child’s well-being primarily depends on you. So often, we struggle to answer this overwhelming question::“What am I going to do with a special needs child?”

I want to encourage you that the core answer to that question must be this: You are going to love them. God has given you a child to be loved, not primarily a project to improve. While we want to see our children thrive, much of the stress and frustration comes from our expectations, rather than our actual circumstances. You have been entrusted with a blessing from God.

And while the question we’ve posed is legitimate, I think the more important question is “What is God doing in my life with this special needs child?”

Soon after David was born, I received an email from my friend and co-worker, Peggy. Peggy has a special needs son, who is in his twenties. She said “Louis, many people say that God gives special needs children to special parents. However, I don’t believe that. God uses our children to make us something that we could not have been without them.” This has traces of Romans 8:28 and 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 all over it.

The encouragement I have for you today, is that God knows what He is doing. He is your Psalm 23 shepherd, and He will give you what you need as you need it. You can trust Him, even when you can’t understand Him.

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A Beautiful Gift Wrapped in Heartbreak – (Part 2 of 2)

(In case you missed Part One, A Beautiful Gift Wrapped in Heartbreak – Part One)

written by Abigail Sacran, Founder of Spreading Sunshine 

Time in the Hospital Opened My Eyes and My Heart

Sunshine’s Down syndrome diagnosis faded into the background when we learned that David had a serious colon issue and would require surgery. At 9 days old, he had his colon repaired. Due to surgery, David lost the natural reflex to eat, so we remained in the NICU at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for six weeks. Meanwhile, we waited and prayed that David would learn how to eat. At six weeks of age, the Lord answered our prayers, and we were able to return home.

Our time at Le Bonheur opened my eyes to a community of hurting individuals. We were among hundreds of parents who found themselves in a place you never want to be – in a hospital with a sick child.

Yet, there we were. There they were. The days within the walls of a hospital are long and monotonous. We learned the hospital schedule and the hours of the cafeteria and gift shop. We walked the halls and the sidewalks. We watched helicopter after helicopter bring more sick children and more hurting parents.

We had tremendous support during our hospital stay. People brought us snacks and meals, gave us money, and took care of Lily. We lacked for nothing, but this was not the reality for the majority of hospital families. Many of these families were facing difficult and life altering circumstances with little or no support.

The Birth of Spreading Sunshine 

I wanted to help these hurting individuals. I wanted to give back and show them the same love and kindness that had been abundantly given to my family.

After David’s open-heart surgery, I began to look for a way to serve hospital families. What could I do? I felt so limited in my abilities. I was a stay at home mom with two little ones, and I lived almost two hours away from our children’s hospital. Then, late one night, while feeding the baby and scrolling through Pinterest, I saw the perfect idea: a Sunshine Box!  These amazing boxes were filled with yellow and orange items to encourage and bring joy to another.

This was something I could do! The idea was perfect – a box of sunshine given in honor of my Sunshine.

The next day, the kids and I went shopping for all things yellow and orange. We filled a box and shipped it to a little girl in Massachusetts who was having her third open-heart surgery.

A few weeks later, we created another Sunshine Box. This time, I shared our  project on social media, and soon people from all over the world began  asking how they could send Sunshine Boxes.

The first Sunshine Box was shipped three years ago. It is amazing to see how far the Lord has brought us and how much Spreading Sunshine has grown. We are now a registered non-profit that continues to send Sunshine Boxes and minister to families within our community. We serve floor meals at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital, and we provide care bags for the FedEx House of Memphis. Spreading Sunshine desires to walk alongside those families who need love, support, and encouragement. We want to be the meal, the drink, the service that Christ refers to in Matthew, “if you have served the least of these, ye have served me.”

Every Sunshine Box sent, every meal served offers a chance to touch lives.  Would you like to join our mission and help give joy to families?

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A Beautiful Gift Wrapped in Heartbreak (Part 1 of 2)

written by Abigail Sacran, Founder of Spreading Sunshine 

The Birth of Sunshine

I didn’t know it at the time, but the birth of Spreading Sunshine began when I was expecting our second child. Our daughter, Lily, who was three at the time decided the baby’s name would be Sunshine.

How adorable, right? So, the baby’s nickname became Sunshine. We found out that Sunshine would be a boy and named him David. But for the rest of my pregnancy, we called our baby boy Sunshine. Sunshine was born, and Louis and I realized something was wrong. After a grueling twenty-hour labor, the blissful experience of the baby being delivered into my arms and laid upon my chest didn’t happen.

There are no happy birth pictures of baby, mama and daddy; instead, there are memories of a nurse grabbing Sunshine. Other nurses were called. There was an oxygen mask and suctioning, cautioned looks in our direction, and whispers. Lots of whispers.

I now know the cause of those anxious glances and low whispers. They knew. They knew our baby boy, the one for whom we had prayed, the one I dreamed of, our Sunshine, had Down syndrome. I’m not sure why the nurses or the on-call pediatrician kept this from us, maybe they could sense my complete exhaustion, or my increasing anxiety over his low oxygen. He was turning blue around his mouth when he cried.

I think they whispered because they didn’t know, they didn’t realize they were holding a beautiful gift – a gift I didn’t ask for, a gift I never would have thought I wanted.

Transferred to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital 

Early the next morning, a pediatrician took my hand and told me and my husband, Louis, that they suspected David had a congenital heart disease and a cardiologist from Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital had been called. My face burned and my ears began to hum as she told me that my baby would need open-heart surgery. The tears began to fall. I prayed! Oh, how I prayed that the doctor was wrong, but the cardiologist confirmed the pediatrician’s suspicion. David was diagnosed with AV Canal Complete Heart Defect, and we knew we were facing open-heart surgery within the first three months of his life.

Louis went with David as he was transferred to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital for further testing and observation. I contacted my OB and begged to be discharged early so that I could be with David. My mom drove me to the hospital entrance, and Louis was waiting for me with a hard, plastic wheelchair (obviously not intended for a mama who had just delivered a baby).

I was sobbing as Louis wheeled me through the NICU halls, and we passed tiny hospital crib after crib. Finally, we came to Sunshine’s room, and there he was in his own tiny crib. The tears continued to roll as I settled into our room’s green recliner. I asked our nurse if I could hold Sunshine and she encouraged me to not only hold him, but to offer skin to skin. She put up a privacy wall, and helped me become comfortable holding my new baby boy. There were sensors and wires and IVs and tubes, so much for such a tiny baby. I sat in that recliner for hours, singing to David, loving him, and fearing what the future might hold.

The next morning…sitting in that same green recliner, Louis and I were greeted by a geneticist. I will never forget her words. They caused my world to come crashing down and left me completely broken. “Let me eyeball this baby,” she said as she took off David’s knitted hat. “Yes, I agree with the doctors. This baby has Down syndrome.” I blindly reached for Louis’ hand and the tears began to roll again. So many tears.

The Joys and The Blessings

Sunshine is four now. Sometimes, I wish I could go back and tell the whispering nurses that they don’t need to whisper or keep their suspicions a secret. I want to tell them to be excited about this baby boy with the almond eyes and the large gap between his toes.I want to tell them to bundle him up, deliver him to his mama, and tell his parents that their baby is going to be one of their greatest joys and blessings.

The older me, the me who can look back upon our diagnoses and the six-week NICU stay, wants to tell that mama in the green recliner to stop crying; don’t waste those tears on sadness or the fears of the unknown. This day, the one when your heart broke into a thousand pieces and your world forever changed, is one of the best days of your life.

Next week, Abigail will share a little more about their time in the children’s hospital and how the non-profit Spreading Sunshine was born.

 

4 Ways To Rest in The Lord

written by Diane Smith, Executive Director of Spreading Sunshine

The past few days I’ve been glued to the TV watching the coverage of hurricane Irma.  If you are like me you have friends and family who live in Florida or Georgia and will be impacted by this storm. I’ve found myself growing anxious and worried.  I’ve been praying like crazy, but still feel unsettled in my soul.

There are many storms and struggles in life that cause me to FEEL worried, anxious and fearful; there are many days FEAR holds my heart and soul captive.  The battle inside my heart and my mind is fierce. Maybe you struggle too. Whether you are facing a literal hurricane or facing the loss of a job, the sickness or a child, frustrations at work or home, or maybe you are just tired today.

This morning I read Psalm 9:1-4 and found 4 ways to draw near to the Lord and to rest in Him.

1) Give Thanks to the Lord

2) Recount All The Things God Has Done for You

3) Be Glad and Exult in the Lord

4) Sing Praise to His Name 

What does that look like for me today? Rather than focusing on all of the difficulties and struggles in my life, rather than worrying (which for me is an art form), rather than talking about my fears; I CHOOSE to be thankful to the Lord, to remember all of the ways He has worked in my life, to be joyful in Him.  I’m going to get on Pandora and crank up some of my favorite worship music.  I’m going to head to my church and worship.

What does this look like for your today? How will you REST in the Lord?

Our team would like to invite you to join our prayer team.  We share weekly prayer requests from our Sunshine community via email.

REGISTER HERE to join our prayer team.

 

 

 

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Blown Away by Kindness at Cornerstone Bible Church!

A few weeks ago, some of the members of the Spreading Sunshine Team traveled to Georgia to visit the Cornerstone Bible Church. Vacation Bible School was underway, and the team was able to join in for some of the fun and festivities. Their VBS raised $1700 to support the mission and ministry of Spreading Sunshine to give joy to the families we serve.
Thank you to everyone at Cornerstone Bible Church who made these gifts possible.  We are thankful for your kindness!
sunshine speaking

Sunshine is saying a big “thank you” to the kids.

cornerstone VBS
Ready for VBS.
cornerstone vbs 2
Sunshine enjoying the event taking place at VBS.

 

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God’s Goodness in the Midst of the Storm

We hope you enjoy this post written by Connie, a mom in our community who shares her story of God’s goodness in the midst of the storm. 

Connie and her daughter Alyssa
365 days…12 months…Seems like an eternity ago that our baby girl was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It still hurts my heart to say out loud. 1 year ago we heard some of the worse news a parent can hear. Your baby has a brain tumor. 1 year ago we cried out to God like we never had before. We begged for strength and guidance. The burden almost seemed too big to bear.
The strangest thing was the peace. God gave us a peace that made no sense in the storm we were in. It defied reason. Wayne (my husband) looked at me, he said, “This has already been decided. It is our job to learn from it and live it out in a way that others might see our faith in God.”
Peace. Peace came to us.
We didn’t know what was ahead, but we knew the Father did. We didn’t know how it was going to work out, but we knew He’d see us through. We have been able to see God is such amazing ways. Our faith is stronger.
Does it mean we are always strong? Of course not! Does it mean we are perfect or holier due to this? Far from it. We still get scared, we still worry, we are still sinners saved by grace! I’ve found if I look behind at how far God has carried us, the fears are smaller. If I stay focused on His promises the future seems sure.
GOD IS STILL SO GOOD.
We still have a long journey ahead and many trials left to come, but for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 2:8-9; Psalm 138:14; Matthew 6:25-34
Alyssa with friends from Spreading Sunshine’s Links of Luv

 

 

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