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Thanks, Chick-fil-A, Lancaster, PA

8 Dec

From our family to yours, thank-you, Chick-fil-A, Lancaster, PA

Yesterday was our big day at Chick-fil-A (CFA), Lancaster, PA.  If you read my last blog post or have been following us on Facebook you know that amazingly we were chosen by CFA as the recipients of their second birthday give-back celebration.  This meant that for every original, deluxe, or spicy chicken sandwich sold between the hours of 11am-7pm, CFA, Lancaster, PA would donate $1 to our Jody Needs Lungs transplant fund.  In addition they offered us their spinning wheel where people could donate $1 directly to Jody Needs Lungs for a chance to spin the wheel and win coupons for free food on their next visit to CFA.

After about two weeks of promoting the event, both CFA and us, the day finally arrived.  We had 23 volunteers lined up to cover eight hours of handing out thank-you flyers to all customers and also to man the spinning wheel (if you were on of those volunteers we owe you a BIG thanks!).  The morning started with radio station FM 90.3 WJTL on site with their infamous Kid’s Cookie Break program from 9am-12pm.  If you were tuned in you would have heard Jody and Jamie (our fundraising team leader) speaking on the radio a little after 11am.  It felt a little surreal to hear our story being told on the radio and handed out to every customer at CFA.

Jody and I were not present all day long but we were told that the dining room was packed much of the day.  We were touched by all the people who came out to support us, even people we didn’t know, but who knew about us.  At the end of the night, 1550 sandwiches were sold, and $927 were raised on the wheel.  We also received a few direct donations, bringing the combined total raised throughout the day to $2727!

Again we want to say thank-you to Chick-fil-A, Lancaster, PA for partnering with us, and for generously giving-back.  Thank you to all the employees who worked hard that day to keep the hungry mouths fed, and for doing it with a smile.  Thank you to our volunteers for giving up your precious time on our behalf, and especially to those who served outside in the cold.  Thanks to the many of you who shared this event, and to our friend Jamie for coordinating the day.  Lastly, thank you to everyone who came out, bought a sandwich, and took a spin on the wheel.  We felt the love and support yesterday and are one step closer to being financially ready when we get the call for Jody’s new lungs!

Below are some pictures of the day for you to enjoy (click each photo to see them enlarged & to make comments).  And don’t forget to show your appreciation to Chick-fil-A, Lancaster by “Liking” their Facebook page.

Words of Thanks

5 Nov

This post is about giving thanks (and not because Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but because a thanks is in order).  Two months ago we learned of the need to list Jody for a lung transplant.  It was during this time we were also told to begin fundraising, and to start soon.  Raising money during this time was the last thing we wanted to think about, and a task that seemed impossible to bring to fruition.  When some of our friends learned of this need, they promptly offered to take this responsibility from us by forming a group of people willing to take on this burden.  This team has since named themselves our CF (Care & Fundraising) Team.  We know this is a big undertaking and feel words are inadequate to describe how much this means to us (and the weight it lifts from our shoulders).  If you have interest in joining our CF Team please email

Upon learning of our need to start fundraising we were approached by the Breathe for Olivia organization, who offered to turn their yearly ham & cheese sandwich fundraiser into our first transplant fundraiser.  Breathe for Olivia is a local non-profit organization that raises money all year long, with 100% of the profits being given to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Last year this team raised a jaw-dropping $34,965 in hopes of finding a cure for CF!  Be sure to check them out on Facebook by clicking here.  There you can stay informed of future fundraisers which support finding a cure for CF.

By joining forces with team Breathe for Olivia our ham & cheese fundraiser was a huge success!  Wanna know how many sandwiches we sold?

It was a great start to our fundraising, and we are so thankful to team Breathe for Olivia for their generosity to us, and for making this happen.  We are also grateful to our friends and family who sold sandwiches, and to those of you who supported us by buying them.  You are all making a difference in our lives!

One more thanks I have to offer goes out to my cousin and her new husband.  They were married last month and we had the privilege of attending the wedding together (since Jody was finally out of the hospital and stable enough to attend).  We were quite surprised when after the wedding we were told by the bride and groom that instead of buying traditional wedding favors the money they would have spent on them was being given to us for our transplant fund.  We were quite touched, and there probably wasn’t a dry eye in the small room where they told us.  So J&A, thank you for the unexpected blessing!

I could go on and on with words of thanks and appreciation but I suspect you would tire of reading them (if you haven’t already done so).  Instead I’ll end here, with a heart full of gratitude for the many blessings we have received over the last few months, too many to list in this post.  We pray you are all blessed abundantly in return.

Israel – Part II

14 Oct

Three months ago Jody and I took our long anticipated trip to Israel.  A lot has changed in our family since then with Jody being admitted to the hospital the day after we got back, and his lungs having taken a hard hit by this infection.  We continue to adjust to a new norm for our family where we can’t just pick-up and go like we used to.  Jody continues to remain stable since my last post, and we’ve actually been able to enjoy some fun family time together (thanks to the help of oxygen).

Now that things are going fairly well, it feels like the right time to finally share some Israel pictures with you.  These pictures can be viewed by clicking on the video below (although you might not be able to view it on a mobile device).  I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you liked or what surprised you about the Holy Lands.  If you missed my Israel – Part I post about the work we did in Israel, check it out by clicking here.


Lastly, I want to leave you with a helpful travel tip for all of you international travelers.  This awesome tip came from Jody’s doctor (who frequently travels out of the country for work).  If you’re on Pinterest, prepare yourself, this is “Pin” worthy!  This tip is useful when traveling to a country that uses outlets that are different from ours here in the U.S. (or vise versa).   The tip is this:  Instead of buying multiple outlet converters, buy one and pack a surge strip to plug into that converter.  This tip was great for us because it allowed Jody to do his nebulizer treatments and at the same time we could charge our cell phones, iPod, laptop, etc..  I hope you find this tip equally as helpful during your next international trip.  Bon Voyage!

Israel – Part 1

13 Aug

Now that Jody is home from the hospital and things are slowly returning to “normal,” I’m ready to share our trip to Israel with you.  The trip started with the hardest, most intimating airport security we have ever experienced (apparently the Israeli airline is known for having some of the toughest security around).  Thankfully we didn’t have any issues with our suitcase full of medicine and other CF related supplies, and 11 hours later we found ourselves on holy ground (in the Holy Lands, that is).

The first three days of our trip we worked at a private school in Jerusalem.  Our church supports volunteers Zach & Shellie Maddox who work at the school.  Each day we began our time at the school with a devotional given by Zach and we were all incredibly blessed by this time.  Because it was summer break and the students were gone (except for a few taking summer school), we didn’t have as much interaction with the children as we had hoped.  Regardless, Zach had a to-do list of things needing done around the school so the tasks were divided up, and the work began.  The biggest project needing to be completed was creating the Peaceful Playground.  We also cleaned/swept, painted the cafeteria, painted lines for a soccer & volleyball court, inflated LOTS of balls (soccer, basketball, football, four-square, etc.), organized the PE closet, setup one of the classrooms, and hung curtains in the café.  Take a look at a few of the pictures to see for yourself (click photos to enlarge).

Morning Devotions

Morning Devotions

The soccer & volleyball courts before & after (lines painted & nets attached)

The soccer & volleyball courts before & after (lines painted & nets attached)

Giving the school cafeteria a fresh coat of paint

Organizing the PE Closet (before & after)

The new basketball area

Creating the Peaceful Playground

The finished playground. When the school year ended this area was rough, uneven land so the concreted area with the play activities we painted will be a fun surprise for the returning students.

The Crew

As you can see, we worked hard those first few days, but the end results made it all worth it.  We hope the kids will be incredibly blessed by our efforts, and wish we could be there to see their faces when they walk in on that first day of school.  As our time at the school came to a close we grew more and more excited about the Holy “Bible” Land tour that followed it.  Check back for Part 2 of our trip to hear about this awesome experience.

Israel Bound

6 Jul

In keeping with our life philosophy to live to the fullest, Jody and I are preparing for a two-week trip to Israel.  We have always shared a dream of visiting The Holy Lands, but honestly never thought it would happen, at least not until our kids were grown.  That all changed last year when our church (Victory Church) announced a trip to Israel this summer.  This trip is part missions and part tourism.  Here are a few of the things we’ll be doing:

  • Working with local missionaries supported by our church
  • Ministering to the Israeli children
  • Visit Jericho, Galilee, & Jerusalem (just to name a few)
  • Float in the Dead Sea
  • Visit the cave in Bethlehem where Jesus was born
  • Stop at Jacob’s well, and the town of Nazareth, Jesus’ boyhood home
  • Get baptized in the Jordan River
  • Renew our marriage vowels in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Stand in the Upper Room (revered as the place of the Last Supper)
  • Visit the Western Wall
  • And so much more

We are super excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and are so grateful to all the people who so generously gave to support us and this trip.  We pray God’s blessing on you in return.  As we watch the Bible come alive in front of us, we also pray that God would use this trip to grow & deepen our faith.  Finally, we would appreciate your prayers for safety and health both for us and our children as we are apart.

As you can imagine, I’ll be returning home with lots of pictures.  Is there anything in particular you’d like to see photos of?  Let me know, and I’ll try to include it in a post-Israel blog post.

Our "Israel" team (minus one)

Our “Israel” team (minus one)

Reasons to Celebrate

15 Jun

It’s celebration time in our house!  Not only are we celebrating Father’s Day on Sunday, but we’re also celebrating our eighth wedding anniversary on Monday.  That’s reason enough to celebrate, right?

Most of you know the story of how our children came to be so I won’t bore you with the details, but would like to make a few highlights.  Cystic Fibrosis is known for being a lung disease, but it’s effects run deep, and it impacts all body systems (as I am learning more and more).  Being diagnosed in 1972, Jody was told nearly all his life that he could never have biological children (as was believed back then).  After a nonchalant inquiry about this, on our one year anniversary to be exact, we were dumbfounded to learn of the option for biological children through the process of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).  After much thought and prayer we proceeded with this step a year later, and became first-time parents in 2008.  In 2010 we were blessed again, when our one and only remaining embryo, frozen on ice for two years, resulted in the birth of our second daughter.  Now you can fully appreciate why this and every Father’s Day is a celebration.  And Jody, when you read this, I just want to say you’re doing a great job!  I can’t imagine a more involved, hands-on, dedicated, down-to-earth, kind and loving father.  Keep up the good work; you’re making a difference in the lives of our girls!

Daddy’s Girls

As I said in the beginning we are also celebrating our wedding anniversary.  It’s been an eight year journey of mostly ups, and a few inevitable downs, but one that I would take again in a heartbeat.  One thing I have learned from Cystic Fibrosis is to appreciate the here and now, so I am.  I treasure the memories we have made through the years, and I delight in those yet to be made.  I thank God for blessing me with a Godly, loving, fun, and hard-working husband.  Happy anniversary Jody, how happy I am to celebrate with a “healthy” (unhospitalized) you!

(Click photos to enlarge)

If you joined us for our special day, help us reminisce.  What you remember most about our wedding day?

Practical Ways to Support Someone in the Hospital

13 Apr

Illness is hard!  Hospitalizations are stressful!  Whether a hospitalization is the result of a one-time episode of sickness, or frequently as the result of a chronic illness, they are always difficult.  Having experienced this in our family, I have learned some things along the way; things I wish I had known before now, things I wish I would have done differently to help others battling illness.  Almost all of us will either experience time in a hospital or know someone who is or does at some point in our lives.  The intent of this blog post is to give you ideas of practical ways you can support the people in your life who are walking through sickness.

1.  Encouragement – Acknowledge the tough time they are experiencing, and let them know you care.  This can be done through cards, emails, phone calls, texts, and visits.  This really does make a difference, so don’t hesitate to send repeated words of encouragement.

2.  Prayer – An illness/hospitalization affects the whole family, so pray for everyone involved, and let them know you’re doing so.  Instead of simply saying, “I’m praying for you,” let them know how you are praying specifically.  Here is an example from an email I received the last time my husband was in the hospital, “I’ve been praying for you a lot, hoping that you can find God’s peace in the midst of the storm.”  It’s easier to believe you are being lifted up in prayer when people tell you specifically how they are praying.

3.  Provide Meals – Meal planning can be a daunting task when things are well, so as you can imagine, it becomes a real burden when a loved one is sick and/or hospitalized.  Providing meals allows the family to focus their energy on more important tasks.  Please note that it is unnecessary to bring a fancy three course meal; a simple main dish is blessing enough.

4.  Acts of Service – Think of practical things you can do that will lighten their load.  We have had friends shovel the snow off our driveway in the winter, and mow our lawn in the summer.  This may have seemed a small task for them, but it was a huge blessing for us.  Once, while my husband was in the hospital, we even had a friend call to say she wanted to drop off a “few” things from the grocery store.  When I got home this is what I found (and this picture doesn’t even show the food in the fridge and freezer).

5.  Be the Initiator – Forgo the natural tendency to say, “If you need anything, let me know.”  While well intended, this statement is not overly helpful.  It is very hard to call someone and say, “Will you bring me a meal?  Will you mow my grass?  Will you watch my children?  Etc…”  Instead, offer a way you are able to help.  Examples include specific dates you would like to drop off a meal, or days you are free to help with childcare.

6.  Practical Gifts – Aside from the obvious cost of medical expenses, a hospitalization is not cheap.  Typically it involves a lot of driving back and forth (and therefore multiple tanks of gas, particularly when a distance is involved).  There are the costs of parking for days on end, meals for the non-hospitalized visiting family member(s), and in my husband’s hospital, there is a daily fee for the use of the room phone and TV.  If you are in a position to do so, consider giving a practical gift such as snacks for the bedside, a card for the caregiver with $5 that says, “You’re next (hospital) meal is on me,” a gas gift card, and/or any other creative idea you can think up.  Gifts do not need to be extravagant to say that you care.

7.  Fun Gifts – Lying in bed (or sitting at the bedside) day after day can get quite boring.  I was once really excited to receive a Taste of Home magazine and my husband has been given woodworking and home renovation magazines as well.  Crossword puzzles are another example of fun gifts.  One friend of ours often gives us crafts for our kids to do at home.  This gives them something fun to do while their Daddy is hospitalized, and keeps them occupied for whoever is watching them.  Consider this gift for your friends with children, and especially for children you know who are in the hospital.

8.  Don’t forget – A hospitalization places a lot of stress on a family.  At times it can feel like ones world is being turned upside down while everyone else keeps on living their normal “happy” life.  While life cannot (and should not) stop because you have a friend who is sick, don’t forget about the hard time they are experiencing.  Continue to encourage them, even when you don’t get a response.  Remember, they have a lot on their plate, and are probably being inundated with phone calls and messages.  Responding to each of those can be time consuming, but I can assure you from personal experience, your messages will be listened to, read, and appreciated.

I hope this post has been helpful in giving you tips on how to support people you know going through a hospitalization.  My husband and I are so thankful for the friends and family in our lives that have, and continue to, stand beside us, support us, and encourage us during periods of illness.  The support of people who care makes all the difference in the world.

Disclaimer: The opinions in this post are mine and may not be the same as those of others experiencing illness and/or hospitalizations.

Dream Vacation

16 Feb

Incredible!  That is the one word I would use to describe our “us” (no kids) vacation to Riviera Maya, Mexico.  From the time we pulled out of our drive way until we arrived home seven days later, everything was smooth sailing.  We flew through all the airport check-points and customs without them batting an eye at Jody’s medical supplies.  Thankfully, everything arrived with us safely intact (unlike our honeymoon when his nebulizer broke from rough handling by the airport).  The majority of our time this week was spent as lazy beach bums.  I thought I’d share a little of our vacation with you through a few pictures (click on the photo to enlarge it).

Our room

Our awesome roof top balcony, complete with jacuzzi tub.  We enjoyed sitting in this at night while gazing at the stars.

Below is one of my favorite pictures from the week (I love the lighting and the reflection).  This is a restaurant on the resort overlooking one of the pools.

So happy to be doing what I love with the love of my life.

Dining at the Mexican restaurant (our favorite of all the ones we tried).

Playing Skip-Bo while Jody did his nebulizer treatments.

We attempted pictures on the beach with our tripod, but clearly the wind had another idea.

Flying home

Those are a few of the 500+ photos from our trip.  What a great week we had!  While the rest, relaxation, and quality time were incredibly fantastic, I think my favorite part of the trip was that for one week we were able to forget about Cystic Fibrosis.  We forgot about the stress and sickness of this past year, and that which may come in our future, and we lived in the present.  It was good great for the soul!  Sickness or not, I highly recommend a trip like this, away from the craziness of life, to relax, refresh, rekindle and recharge; it’s an investment you’ll never regret.

Life Philosophy

5 Feb

In 2012, Jody spent a total of 26 days in the hospital, and completed roughly eight weeks of IV antibiotics (spread throughout the year).  Since then, he and I have developed a new-found appreciation for life. We want to make the most of our “healthy” time together.  Understanding the nature of Cystic Fibrosis, we know that one day Jody will need oxygen to help him breathe, and even the slightest physical activity will become a challenge for him.  Until that day comes, we want to live to the fullest!

This philosophy is what prompted us to book a trip for just us (no kids) to an all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, and we leave tomorrow! We will be staying at the Grand Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an, and Lord willing, we will enjoy seven days of sun & sand, rest & relaxation, sleeping in, no schedules, no responsibilities, and most importantly, quality time (so often neglected in the craziness of life).  How wonderful does that sound?!

Since Jody can’t take a vacation from Cystic Fibrosis, we’ll be packing our suitcase with his nebulizer and the medications that go along with it (on ice), digestive enzymes, vitamins and oral antibiotics, weight gaining shakes, and a letter from his doctor explaining the need for all of this equipment/medication.  Could something go wrong in Mexico?  Of course… but it’s worth the risk!  Staying home and living a life of fear is not really living at all.  So off we go, spending time together and creating new memories which CF will never be able to take from us.  Praying God would surround us with His protective arms, bless our time together, and watch over our little girls while we are apart.  Stay tuned for a post vacation update with pictures.

Happy Birthday

31 Jan

All birthdays are special, however, birthdays for those with Cystic Fibrosis warrant an extra special celebration!  Why you ask?  Despite the incredibly advanced world we live in, the average life expectancy for a person living with CF in the U.S. is a lousy 38 years.  Although far too low (in my personal opinion), this number has risen significantly through the years.  In 1955 children diagnosed with CF were not expected to live long enough to attend grade school*.  Diagnosed in 1972, my husband’s family was told he would probably never live to graduate high school, but he did!  And he keeps on living, fighting, and defying those ugly odds.

Today Jody turns 41 which means a celebration is in order!  Last year I threw a big 40th birthday “Minute to Win It” game show themed party (see picture).  This year won’t be quite so extravagant, but we’ll celebrate nonetheless.

Happy Birthday Jody!  You are a fighter, and I appreciate everything you do each and every day to keep yourself healthy; the countless pills, nebulizer treatments, chest percussion (when I remind you), weight gaining shakes, and sometimes even the cumbersome IV’s.  I hope your efforts are rewarded with many more birthday’s to come!

* Life Expectancy in CF 

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