Friday, January 3, 2014

Wendy Pederson's Story

This story (or snippet of a story, rather) was written by Wendy Pederson, whose son Brendan was diagnosed with brain cancer on February 19, 2013 and died 5 weeks after his diagnosis on March 26. She included this picture of Brendan making a 
gingerbread house in December 2012.

“Every year since I can remember the kids have built gingerbread houses for Christmas. I had no idea that this would be the last gingerbread house Brendan would make. I had no idea that this past Christmas would be his last Christmas. I had no idea that I would not have taken enough pictures. I had no idea that I would not get another chance to experience Christmas as a family of 4 ever again here on this earth. I had no idea that a huge tragedy was about to happen and it was heading straight for our family. I had no idea that each and every experience that we had last Christmas would be our last - the Christmas lights, the opening of gifts, the baking of Christmas cookies and goodies, all of it. I had no idea that God would allow such suffering into our lives.

“I had no idea that He would give us enough strength and grace for each day. I had no idea that I could draw so close to God, much closer than I ever thought I could. I had no idea that I could cry so many tears. I had no idea that I would meet so many people who are suffering from this same kind of loss - so many! I had no idea that God would meet me where I am, even when I've not been so faith-filled. I had no idea that I could love God even more than I already did. I had no idea that God had planned any of this for my life. I had no idea that Brendan would express his desire to "go home" only 2 days before he actually did go home to heaven. I had no idea that he would die in just 5 short weeks after he was diagnosed. I had no idea that so many people loved him and us. I had no idea that I would start writing my experience with grief on this page. I had no idea that we would start a foundation in Brendan's name that would allow us to start giving away Bibles to children who are fighting cancer. I had no idea that I could LOVE so deeply. I had no idea that I could be so grateful and truly thankful. I had no idea that I could be so humbled.

“Lord, Jesus, thank you for opening my eyes to so many things. I don't understand all of your ways but I trust you. I will continue to seek you every day with all of my heart, soul, and strength.

“Mitch, Shelby and I thank you for your continued prayers as we move through our first Christmas without our boy, we miss him so very much!”

Kristy Hicks Herron's Story

Kristy Hicks Herron's Story

My husband Brett and I have 2 biological kids. Jeremy is 13 and Jenna is 11. In 2011, we realized that we wanted another baby and we decided that fostering to adopt would be the way to make that happen. We started the process to become foster parents through Koinonia in April of 2011. We took lots of classes and learned lots. We prayed constantly during this time. We knew that we might be placed with a baby and fall in love with it, only to have it placed back with its biological family. We knew though, that it was more about the baby being safe and loved. If we had a baby for a few months, we would be the best parents for that baby for that time. God would eventually bring us the baby we were meant to have forever. We became certified foster parents in September.

On October 21, Brett, Jeremy, Jenna and I were at the pumpkin patch. Every year we go and let the kids run around. As we were leaving the parking lot I got a call from Sarah at Koinonia. She said there was a 4 year old boy and his 4 day old sister that had just been removed and they needed a home. She told us to think about if we could take them but they really needed an answer within the hour. My husband and I were shocked and scared at the idea of taking in a newborn AND her 4 year old brother. 2 more kids?! Yikes! We really were only prepared to take a baby. But the more Brett and I talked about it (as our son is yelling from the backseat, "I want a brother!" the more we felt God saying, "this little boy needs a mom and dad." We called Sarah back and told her yes.

One week later we stood in our living room looking out our front door as a social worker in a white county van pulled up. Mason got out and stood there looking scared as he held onto a gift bag. He looked so small. She walked them up, we signed a few papers and she was gone.

When we filled out paperwork a month or so before, we checked boxes saying what types of kids we would be willing to take into our home. Sex, race, age, disabilities, etc. When we got the call about these siblings we were told their ages, names and that they were white, which is what we requested. We live in a predominately white neighborhood and we are a white family. We thought it would be easier for everyone if the child "fit in". After the social worker left my husband and I took the baby out of her carrier. She maybe weighed 6 pounds. The foster family that had them for the week before they came to our house was having trouble getting her to eat. As we looked at her it became obvious that she was not white. She was definitely half black. I am embarrassed to admit it but I was a little disappointed. She was not what I expected her to be. This tiny little 11 day old girl was not the color I was hoping for. As I look back now, I am so unbelievably thankful that I didn't know that she was half black. I might have said no. She won't "fit in". How ridiculous! Thank you GOD that I didn't say no! This little girl has taught my entire family that color means NOTHING! So sad to say that it took this beautiful little girl to teach ADULTS about color but that is exactly what happened!

We began the process of weekly biological mom visits. That was tough. Luckily, we had the most AMAZING social workers. They would pick the kids up, drive an hour to the visit, supervise the visit and drive them back home. I was always uneasy about it but I knew our social workers were keeping the kids safe which helped tremendously! This went on for a year while the biological mom was given EVERY opportunity to get these kids back. On November 1, 2012 Brett and I were in the courtroom as the judge terminated bio mom's parental rights. I will never forget that day. She needed her rights to be terminated. She deserved what she got. But…to see a mother's rights be terminated forever…I will never forget it. That was hard to watch. 11 months later on October 4, 2013 we adopted Mason and Brooklyn. What a relief!

A little bit of info from before they lived with us: Mason lived with his maternal grandma. I think his mom would come and go as she pleased. She was more like a big sister. On Christmas Day 2010 there was an apartment fire and Mason and his grandma lost everything. They were homeless from that point on and moved around from friend to friend. When Brooklyn was born the mom did not want her. I was told she was trying to give her away to everyone she saw. So, the grandma told the nurses she would take her. When the social worker went to her house to see if it would be suitable for a baby she found Mason there and grandma was passed out. She was high on something and they couldn't wake her up. So, they went there in hopes of placing the baby with her and instead they left with the baby and Mason.

Mason suffered from PTSD and learning disabilities but he has made amazing progress. He is the most loving sweet kid. He is very active and he loves school and playing baseball. He wants to be just like his big brother.
Brooklyn tested positive for meth and painkillers when she was born but I am happy to say that she is 26 months clean and sober! Ha ha! She is super smart and adorable!

(Kristy also posted pictures with her story, and her pride in her children (biological and not) was evident. She is a loving momma and though there were difficult times in her journey, she learned much and grew from them.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

First Everydayy Champions Story - by Jennifer Majors

This is a link to our very first Everydayy Champions story, shared by Jennifer Majors. Her daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year, but she tells the story better than I ever could.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Welcome to Everydayy Champions!

If you love reading inspiring stories that remind you of what is truly important in life, you will love this blog! I will be focusing on Everydayy Champions from the Redlands/Yucaipa/Beaumont/Banning, CA area, but I'm truly open to any champions. If you know a champion, please nominate them: I would love to feature their story on my blog! Thanks for reading and participating!