It seemed forever as we walked through the labyrinth of sterile hallways–although attempts had been made to make it kid-friendly, it still had an intense clinical feel and smell about it. Taking multiple elevators, constantly looking for signs that would direct us the right way to go, finally we reached our destination. ThrillCam and I spoke in hushed voices, wondering what we would say when we saw them.
Opening the door, the first thing we noticed was how bright and friendly the room was. It was filled with comfortable sofas and chairs. Homey. Nothing like the hallways. We had obviously entered a new area, it was warmer, friendlier…the never-empty pot of coffee brewing in the corner.
The Ronald McDonald House. You know if you are visiting someone there, it’s pretty serious business.
We hugged, spoke the usual hellos and how-are-yous, then settled into chairs surrounding a table and just looked at one another. They looked tired, but good. Lana offered us, I believe, a muffin or cookie, something sweet, as I recall. Thank you, but no thank you.
Even exhausted and worried, Lana was the consummate hostess. She thought of our needs, not her own.
Ryan and Lana brought their very sick, brand new, precious baby to the doctors and nurses at Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital for treatment.
I don’t think, at the time, I had an inkling the fear, the worry, the pain, the stress, the sleep deprivation that surrounded that sweet couple. All I knew was, they were friends, we missed them, we cared about them, their baby was super sick, and we wanted to hug and pray with them.
We needed them to know we loved them, even if it had been a long time since we had seen one another.
ThrillCam and I were working in student ministry outside of Austin, Texas, when we met Ryan. He was this tall, good-looking singer, who was trying to make it in the music industry. He had the voice, that’s for sure. And the heart, the drive. We just knew he was going to be famous one day. There, by his side, was his beautiful wife, Lana, with a smile that would light up the room.
We all hit it off immediately. Ryan and ThrillCam had a love for music that made an immediate connection for them. And Lana had a keen sense of humor and an easy way about her that made it impossible not to like her.
Over the years, ThrillCam and I have watched, from a distance, as God moved Ryan on to many different areas of ministry, including leading worship, publishing books, doing a radio talk show, and presently, as a Senior Pastor of a large church in Austin. Lana has been alongside Ryan, supporting him and loving him and their kids through each job/life change.
They are good, good people. As good as it gets.
Over the years we’ve tried to get our families together to visit–those visits being further and further apart as the years marched on, both of us raising our two kids, each. Ryan and Lana had their two daughters and we, our two boys. Both the boys and the girls growing up quickly…becoming teenagers with their own busy lives.
Then, about four years ago, Lana and Ryan were given an unexpected bit of news.
They discovered Lana was pregnant with their third child, another daughter.
Lily. Or Lily Bird, as they call her.
Lily was the precious baby we visited at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Thank the Lord, she made it.
Thank the Lord, they all made it.
And they’re all that much better for it.
I recently found Lana’s blog, Along Came the Bird. She started it a little over a year ago, I believe, but I didn’t know until just a few weeks ago. As you can imagine, I’ve been playing catch-up.
It’s been great fun to rediscover an old friend and her family! I’m so excited!
Oh, you need to know: Lana’s blog is not silly and meaningless, like mine. Hers has a purpose, laced with humor and kindness and real-life daily struggles and achievements that come with having a special needs child.
Even though I do not have a special needs child, I have close friends and family members who do. Her blog has great insight and information. I can assure you, her sharp wit is sprinkled throughout. (Oh! And, she’s been known to throw in a recipe or two!)
I invite you to pop over to her blog. Scroll back a couple of posts and read her short series on What You Should Know About Special Needs Kids. Each post is short, but chock full of helpful tips and advice. Even if you don’t have a special needs child, it will be of great value to you.
(photos courtesy of http://www.ellabellaphotos.com)
I want you to get to know them. Lana and her entire family are super great folks. I think you’ll like ’em!
So, grab a cup of coffee and head over to Along Came a Bird. You won’t be disappointed.