Thursday, December 18, 2008

Spreading Christmas Cheer!

On Saturday, we had a wonderful visit to the NICU at Baptist South with Santa! This is my absolute favorite event we do each year! It is such a humbling experience during such a hectic time of year. It's like you walk into another world literally. There's no traffic and crowds to fight, no one is concerned with whether they finished their Christmas shopping, no lines to stand in, no Christmas hustle, just special gifts in the NICU. Those special gifts are the precious babies these parents received this year! I wish there was a way for everyone to experience this visit. We brought the babies their "1st Christmas stocking" filled with goodies and took pictures for the parents with Santa. Normally these precious babies would miss their 1st Christmas picture with Santa and probably not have a stocking simply because their parents are spending countless hours at the hospital with them. We are so blessed to be able to provide this opportunity for these families!

The Lord definitely uses this opportunity to remind me what Christmas is all about. It's not about the gifts, Santa, and shopping. It's about the birth of our Savior! It's so, so easy to get wrapped up in all the other things during the Christmas season. I hope the pictures below will be a reminder to you of what is important this Christmas!

You may also click HERE for more pictures that were featured in the Montgomery Advertiser.

Also, I asked a sweet Elf, Jeff Branch, to share his experience of his first visit to the NICU. Please read below:
There are so many emotions and thoughts that run through my head after experiencing the NICU at Baptist South. We get so comfortable with normal life; it is hard to understand the pain and stress that parents and families feel in this trying time. Witnessing a mother stare at her new born child through clear plastic, longing to touch, hold, and show unconditional love does not scratch the surface of the emotions that fill her heart daily. Moving gradually from room to room, one through four, each one representing a step to the family’s departure together to normal life makes it is easy to see so much progress in such a short time. But reality is that time moves in slow motion during their stay at the NICU. Many of these babies have been there for weeks, and some several months. I remember viewing one child that was 1lb. 10oz. that was no more than a week old.

I still have warm images in my head of how hard the nurses at Baptist South work, and the appreciation that is shown by all. They are truly angels and it is very evident of the love and compassion that each one of them exerts. I remember seeing a nurse sitting in a corner feeding a baby boy a bottle, gently rocking back and forth and talking to the child as if it was her own. She had her arms cradled around his body and eagerly bragged of the progress that he had made. I witnessed the gentleness that all the nurses displayed when placing cute Santa hats on all the babies’ heads, holding them just right and telling them to smile hoping to get the perfect picture for their parents.

These children are fighting to survive from the time that they enter this world. I remember all the tubes, IV’s, and monitors that measure the many things important to their success. I feel sorry for their parents, many of whom do not live in Montgomery, who were unfortunately not present last Saturday to experience the gift that The Footprint’s Ministry brings to the NICU all year and especially this Christmas season. The look on the parents’ faces when Santa walked into the room was glowing with joy. One mother immediately started crying and was overtaken with happiness. Another father was so proud and eager to take a picture with his new child and Santa that he could hardly contain himself. Other parents and family members shared in the joy simply that people would take time to visit them and offer prayer. Kim and Glenn Wilson, and all the support staff of this great organization provide the light at the end of the tunnel for these families. It provides hope to hear the true testimonies of other parents who have been in their shoes and can relate to the hurdles being faced everyday. These are the true blessings that Kim and The Footprint’s Ministry brings to these families delivering blue stockings for the boys and pink for the girls, all filled with gift cards and other necessities during their stay at Baptist South. Most of all, they bring the true message of Christmas to these families. The act of giving, the support of prayer, and true hope that God’s plan will happen in their child’s life is the best Christmas gift these parents will ever receive. Jeff Branch

I also want to thank the following people for helping make this Santa visit a Huge success!
Glenn Wilson-Santa and my husband :-)
Jeff Branch-Elf
Chris Hagan-Elf
Amanda Hagan-Footprints Volunteer
Nicole Collier-Birmingham Chapter
Jeff Dickey-Heritage Baptist Church Discipleship Minister
Jennifer Foster-Heritage Baptist Church Childrens Minister
Sherry Melton-Footprints Volunteer

Dana Gallahair-NICU Case Manager and Footprints bag distributor
Melody Ragland-Baptist Hospital Public Relations

Our Stockings

Sweet Family and Santa!

A precious family that is on our prayer list!

One of Footprints' favorite nurses Brooke!

Melody Ragland, Baptist PR, with Santa

Chris-elf, Kim, Santa, and Jeff-elf

Dana Gallahair, NICU Case Manager and Santa

All of Santa's helpers!