Some have asked and some already know who I am, where I come from and how I came to founding and "raising" Gracie's Gowns. So this is for those who have asked, those who only know a few pieces and those who, like me, have an incredible curiosity.
First about me, I am a work at home mother to three children, the wife of an electrician/electronics technician, and above all else a repenting sinner and Christian. I teach infant CPR to expecting parents and family who attend classes at the hospital my husband works at and I sing in our church's choir and lead the lakeside service during the summer. Music has always been my expression and testimony of faith, and now I have found the perfect home to help me grow spiritually. Our children are my world and even though they test my patience (as every child does), they are were my inspiration comes from. And they daily give me the reality check of gratefulness.
We have more recently also fostered 12 chickens, hoping to have our own eggs in time...though it appears out of those 12 we may have 5 roosters (YIKES!). Anyway, other than our little chirpies as I call them, we have no pets due to allergies.
As for me, since high school, I have spent the majority of my "professional" life working in the medical field. I volunteered for 10 years as a Firefighter and Medic a county over from where we live. I worked in three different hospitals (Medical College of Virginia/VCU Health Systems, Culpeper Hospital and Martha Jefferson Hospital) as a telemetry technician (the people who read the heart monitors) and whatever other duties were assigned to me in each facility. It was great work, but I needed to use my emergency services skills...I just felt like I wasn't working to my full potential.
So I started working for a medical transport company taking patients of all ages with just about every illness/condition you can think of across the state of Virginia and even into Maryland to John Hopkins University. The patients that always touched my heart the most were the children. Didn't matter how old or what was wrong...just being able to care for them in their time of need gave me the greatest sense of joy.
Due to my own medical concerns, job stresses and family stresses with my work shifts, three small children (Aubrey turned 3yo 8 days after Madeline was born) and just general fatigue day in and day out, I had to resign from there and emergency services all together. I regretted this decision for a while, but have come to realize that this was the BEST decision we could have made for our family, and especially for the kiddos.
I had been sewing as a hobby, making a little money here and there with orders, local craft shows and the Farmer's Market, but after recovering from surgeries and needing to do something, it turned into a business making all kinds of items for infants, children and adults alike. I enjoy it, I have self-worth watching items be created (most of the time from scratch) from pieces of fabric. But with business comes stress and once again I found myself with a "empty space," I was being called to do something greater...and after three years I found it.
So the cutting, sewing and altering began and I had my community service project for the year. I made a couple more and then decided that this was my calling, this is what God was telling me I needed to be doing, this would be my greatest adventure (beyond our family) and would not only be a blessing in my life and the lives of those it touches, but would honor and glorify His name.
With the backing and blessings of The Grace Oughton Cancer Foundation (will have another blog about them and the connection and meaning), Gracie's Gowns was founded in honor and memory of their daughter Grace who passed away October 2007 after battling against Neuroblastoma.
Since being founded in March of this year...the changes it has made in my own life have been AMAZING at the very least in describing it. It has allowed more time with my family, less stress and almost every day I am encountering a family with a child that I can help. By all means, our gowns won't be the greatest gift these children can receive (as the greatest gift would be remission and a cure), but my prayer is that is would give them a smile, some comfort and even hope to make it through one more day, one more treatment, one more hospital stay.
In closing of this posting, I will share one more picture with you...my biggest helper, my fabric shopping companion and the one that has the biggest smile to share with each of you...our little Madeline.