Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It's Much More Than A Dress.......

This came in the mail today, and I was excited just to see the pretty package!  
But then I opened it....
...and this was inside!  
One of my BFF's made this for me.  
I had asked her if she would make me a cute dress out of vintage linens.  
She chose the fabric (a vintage sheet),
 and I sent her my measurements; and this lovely arrived.

 The dress is adorable, and I love it; but it's so much more than a dress to me.  It's part of the testimony of this person I love so much.  You see my friend, Leslie, is one of the biggest inspirations in my life.  Her story and testimony have impacted my life more than she probably even realizes.  The fact that she made me a dress is indeed a beautiful thing, but the fact that SHE CAN make me a dress is that much more beautiful.  Let me fill you in.  In August 2005, Leslie and Jeff were expecting their 2nd child.  We were all so excited and couldn't wait for the arrival of their baby.  Chet Harris Power, a beautiful full term baby boy, was born August 16th.  He also died on August 16th, 2005, never breathing a breath on earth.  The heartbreak that followed the loss of this precious baby was devastating.  I had never known grief like that.  Leslie and Jeff struggled....with their grief, the unbelievable sadness, the huge hole in their hearts.  They struggled.  We all struggled.  There were days when I honestly didn't know if she would survive the loss of her baby boy, but thankfully she did.  Over the next few years, I and many others, saw a transformation in Leslie and Jeff.  They were always christians and believers, but they began sharing the story of Chet and how God transformed their lives through the birth and death of their son. I can never put into words the light that shines from them when they share their testimony.  There is heartbreak, but their faith is strong; and they lean heavily on Our Jesus.  They miss their son, and the pain is still there; but the remarkable things that God has done, through them, because of Chet has transformed many people's lives....including mine.  Then a few short years later, some exciting news....another baby on the way.  Leslie and Jeff were a little nervous, okay maybe a lot nervous, but a baby was coming; and I was beyond excited.  I remember thinking how wonderful it was, and it never entered my mind that something could happen to this baby.  When I got the news that things weren't going well, and Leslie was in the hospital; I was confused.  How could something be wrong?  I mean how could anything go wrong after what had happened with Chet?  God would never allow that to happen, but.....I was wrong.  Shiloh Ross Power was born on January 5th, 2009.  He was very premature, and his little body was not able to survive.  He breathed a few breaths on earth before he joined his brother in Our Savior's arms.  Not only had they lost another baby, but during his birth Leslie suffered a stroke. She nearly died.  It was one of the most frightening times of my life and all of us who love her.   She suffered trauma to her brain and was temporarily paralyzed on one side of her body.  I thought she would be in the hospital for many many months recovering, but I was so grateful she survived.  It took a lot of hard work, determination and answered prayer for her to come home about 6 weeks later....I know it didn't seem like a few short weeks to Leslie....but for what her body endured, her recovery seemed remarkably fast to me.  She continued intensive therapy for a while once she was released from the rehabilitation hospital, and it took a bit for her to be able to drive again; but she was alive.  She still has some physical and cognitive challenges, but she is as silly as ever and still quick with her wit. She is still the goofball that I am quite attached to, and I am so thankful to have her to laugh with me.  One day in particular stands out in my mind,  it was a day I vividly remember spending the day with her shortly after she came home.  We sat outside looking at the lake and sharing deep thoughts.  Through tears, hers and mine, she told me how thankful she was to God that she survived.  When she lost Chet, there were days when she didn't know if she could survive from the grief alone.  Maybe even wondering if life were worth living while enduring such pain.  When she survived the stroke, she realized how vital her life is to so many people and how she is being used by God to tell people that He is pick you up and hold you when you can't pick yourself up.   I know there were days when she could barely get out of bed after Chet died, because the grief was so overwhelming.  I'm sure there are still days like that, but I also know that Leslie is grateful to be able to get up each and every day.    She and Jeff and their daughter Beau had lost two baby boys at birth and had nearly lost Leslie, and she told me over and over how grateful she was.  Her faith is some of the strongest I've witnessed, and I thank God for her daily.
As you can see, Leslie is an amazing seamstress.  Since the stroke, she has some limited use of one of her hands; and honestly I wondered if she would be able to sew like she once did.  I have been to her house many many times over the last 5 years, and I have seen her sewing machine out with fabric around it.  I have seen a few things she has made, but I wasn't sure if she was really ready to tackle a dress; but something told me to ask her.  When we went to visit a few months ago, she showed me this cute vintage sheet she bought and asked me if I knew what it was for.  With a big grin, she told me it was for my dress.  I was excited, but knowing Leslie as well as I do; I thought I might see the dress sometime next year....not because of  effects from the stroke, but because Leslie is well....ahem...easily sidetracked and not very good with time management!  ;)  Then a few weeks later, I received a message asking for my waist measurement.  I sent it to her, but I still thought it would be quite a while before I saw a dress.  But then today, I was greeted by this lovely mailer.  When I saw the return address, I knew exactly what it was; and I found myself getting a lump in my throat.  When I opened it and put it on, I was so proud of her...literally beaming.  Yes the dress is a perfect fit and beautiful, but I was proud because of all she has overcome; and there it was staring at me in the mirror.  I was overcome with joy  because of what she has brought to my life, and how she has chosen to see the good God has brought from her circumstances.  And once again I was honored to see His light shining through her.
In honor of my wonderful friends!!