Wednesday, January 11, 2012


2012: A Year of Thanksgiving and Praise
Day 11: Today I'm Thankful for Tina

Tina is my little sister. Today is her birthday. She's a little miracle. Everyone who knows her loves her -- that is somewhat of a miracle in itself.

Tina was born 48 years ago with Down Syndrome. Momma said that when Tina was born, the doctors said she probably wouldn't live to see her 1st birthday. I guess she showed them!

She had several surgeries when she was little to rearrange organs in her body that either didn't function properly, or weren't in the correct place, or both.

My earliest memory of Tina was at Children's Hospital in Oakland, California. Daddy took us kids to see Tina. We were down in the parking lot looking up at a window. Daddy was holding me. He pointed up to the window where either Mom or a nurse held Tina up so we could see her. I don't remember the exact details, it was a while ago!

Now, I will be the first to admit that Tina's birth was a rude awakening for me. After all, I was the baby of the family. Suddenly, not only was there a new baby, but a baby that required a lot of time and attention that was no longer being focused on me.

I had to grow up a bit faster than I would have liked. And, as silly as it sounds, it took me years to get over my resentment. Funny how early childhood events can impact you in ways you'd never believe possible.

I had a sort of love/hate relationship with Tina. I could be downright mean to her at times when I was left to watch her, and at other times we had great fun together. I used to dress her up. We've got pictures of her somewhere in one of Mom's white satiny slips with white lace draped over her head, holding a bouquet of flowers -- a picture perfect child bride. Tina always seemed to enjoy being dressed up and posing for pictures... in fact, she still does.

Tina has continued to be a miracle. In 2009 her Medicaid van had a head on collision with a cement mixer about a mile down the road after picking Tina up for work. Her intestines were severed in 3 places, her femur was fractured, and her hand was fractured. She spent 6 weeks in the hospital. A few short weeks after being released to home nursing care, she was out walking around the neighborhood again and soon returned back to work.

I was amazed when she was in the hospital how many of the nurses knew her from seeing her walking in our neighborhood!

In 2010, she was taken to the hospital for chest pains which turned out to be nothing more serious than heart burn, however, while she was in the hospital, they discovered that her heart rate was much slower than it should be.

That night as I sat by her bedside in ICU, I saw her heart drop all the way down to 17 beats per minute. The next day they told me that it actually stopped during the night, but then started again on its own. So, she has a pacemaker now. And, true to form, shortly after her release by the cardiologist, she was back to walking again to visit with all of our neighbors.

Tina is probably the sweetest-natured person you could ever hope to meet. She wears her heart on her sleeve and her feelings are easily hurt, but she loves everyone and makes friends with pretty much everyone she meets.

She's crazy about Hannah Montana and enjoys playing the Wii. She learned sign language going to special needs schools as a child, and still enjoys signing. She also loves God. She reads her Bible and goes not only to her own church, the Seventh Day Adventist church, but also goes to church with me on Sunday mornings at Russellville Christian Center.

Tina has taught me a lot over the years. She has taught me that doctors aren't always right, and that often God steps in and miraculous things happen that medical science can't explain.

Tina is also a lesson in unconditional love and forgiveness. Even though her feelings are easily hurt, she forgives just as easily -- and forgets. She doesn't hold grudges. She enjoys the simple things in life, and is easy to please.

Tina also likes to make other people happy. She genuinely cares about others. If you aren't feeling well, she'll make you a get well card. If it's your birthday, she'll make you a birthday card and some sort of craft item. Then she absolutely beams when she gives it to you. It truly makes her happy to make others happy.

She is truly a gift and I'm honored to be able to spend time with her and receive her love.

Today, I'm thankful for my sister, Tina.

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