Damariscotta Baptist Church
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

Isabelle's Story


Psalm 139: 13 – “For Thou didst form my inward parts, Thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.”


Before she ever came into this world, Isabelle’s parents knew that she had some very serious physical problems. At around the 6-month mark, they were told that she had a serious heart defect and would need to have surgery as soon as she was born. They were advised of their options – which included ending the pregnancy prematurely. From the moment they heard the options, they knew that they would accept God’s will concerning her and would love her unconditionally for as long as she was with them. They were also told that she was not expected to live more than a few weeks at best. 


I heard about Isabelle quite by accident. Her Uncle Jim, was delivering a donation to the food pantry where I work and before we knew it we were talking about Isabelle and how hard it was for her mother knowing that the child she was carrying might not even survive the delivery. The Shawls of Hope Ministry at Damariscotta Baptist Church distributes prayer shawls to people who are struggling with life situations and this seemed to be a situation that could really use one of the shawls. Uncle Jim agreed that Isabelle’s mother would probably really appreciate a shawl, so one was made for Isabelle, one for her mother and one for a teddy bear that was included in the gift box.


Isabelle was born on Valentine’s Day 2012 with an extreme case of Hypoplastic Heart Syndrome. In layman’s terms, this means that this beautiful little girl was trying to survive with a heart that only had two operational chambers. Just two days after she was born, she endured open heart surgery where they inserted a stent and did some repair work to increase blood flow. Even with this surgery, the doctors only gave her one to two weeks to live. Most children with a case as severe as Isabelle’s don’t go home from the hospital, but Izzy was a fighter from the start. While she was in the hospital, her parents, not knowing how long she was going to be with them, had a dedication service done – with their precious daughter wrapped in her prayer shawl!


After two weeks in the hospital, she went home to spend whatever time was allowed her being loved by her mother, father and sister and brother – plus the rest of her extended family! She charmed them all! Taking her home was not without numerous challenges and many expenses, though, but this was another case of her parents making a decision based on what would be best for Izzy. They wanted her to see life and feel the love of family and friends. The family had to purchase or rent the equipment necessary to help her breathe and eat – and then they had to learn how to use all this equipment. Not a small task!


Although she needed a feeding tube to get sufficient nourishment, the doctors had said that she would probably not be able to nurse at all, but she again proved them wrong! 


At about two months of age, she went back to the hospital for another surgery. This time it was not open heart surgery – the doctors were able to access her heart through a vein in her leg and they put in a larger stent.


Back home again, the family did their best to show her the world around her and tried to keep life as normal as possible for all family members. They took her to Story Land in New Hampshire and Bar Harbor, among other places and she smiled her way into the hearts of all who met her.


On July 6th, her damaged heart could do no more. She got her angel wings and went to meet Jesus face to face. At the celebration service numerous family members spoke of what she had meant to them and what her life will continue to mean – leaving no dry eyes in the room. At the end of the service everyone released a balloon, and Isabelle’s cousin remarked, “Izzy is riding on my balloon!” She was buried, wrapped in the shawl that was made for her, while her mother’s shawl has been hung on her bedroom wall.


So what sort of impact could a child have in four and one half months? Here’s what I heard…she was a gift…she brought out the best in people…she never gave up under the worst of circumstances which makes the rest of life’s problems seem like pretty small potatoes…she was really special…she changed people…no matter what trials we face, don’t back down…she is unforgettable…I may have gotten mad at God, but I never lost faith.


Matthew 10:29-31 – “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”


I expect that the influence of this child’s life will grow and grow.