Friday, August 31, 2012


Source: via Monica on Pinterest

It's Friday night.  It is Labor Day weekend and almost everyone I know is planning something fun to celebrate the last days of summer.  I am in bed.  I have a searing pain in my lower left abdomen that only dulls with strong pain medication but will not subside.  Since I wrote last week I have been to my doctor, the emergency room, a general surgeon and my gyn surgeon.  What was first diagnosed as a ventral hernia is now thought to be a large endometrioma grown into my abdominal wall.  I will have surgery Tuesday morning at Mercy to remove it.  Danica and I also had cultures come back positive for a nasty infection resistant to normal antibiotics.  This is all in a week for us. 

My frustration with this overwhelming pain and unexpected surgery is understandable.  I don't ask God "Why?" anymore, but I do cry, "How long?"  I don't doubt His provision.  I breathe it.  I move forward knowing I cannot keep doing this and still somehow finding the strength and Grace to make it through . . . again.

Thank you for praying for my heart.  I am discouraged.  I am sad.  I am weak.  I am broken.  I am all those things where God likes to do His best work and show His greatest glory.  Day by day and with each passing moment I will do the thing I think I cannot do . . . again.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Super duper crazy huge news . . . constellations and light

We find our way in the dark
using light from the lives of others.
Their sufferings and celebrations
are like constellations in the midnight sky,
orienting patterns above the horizon.
Tracing their paths through the night,
we connect our stories to one another;
circling together, we turn toward morning.  J. Lynn James

Last Saturday we had the privilege of stopping by for a few minutes at a very special celebration of life and love and peace for our new friends, the Murphys.  We first heard of them when their home was completely destroyed by a fire earlier this year.  Something about the loss of their house and all their belongings resonated deeply with our family.  Perhaps because in many ways we have felt "homeless" for some time too.  There was a toy drive for their twin boys and their daughter and Delaney and Danica became very interested in giving to these children.  Danica chose to give her entire Littlest Pet Shop collection and all their habitats to the little girl because the information we received said it was one of the favorite toys she lost.  Watching Danica's sacrifice and empathy and willingness to give reminded me how much our girls are learning from the kindness we have received for so long.  I later met TJ and Heather at a Betterment event.  I was so touched by their journey and also the spirit in which they were able to receive from so many but also instantly want to be involved in giving back.  We know about this too.  About a week later TJ and Heather came to our home and Dan and the girls were able to meet them.  It was emotional to hear more of their story.  We have been waiting and praying with them since then for a new home and new beginnings. 

Saturday was the day.  As we walked through the yard to the beautiful tent under their trees it was like a breath of heaven was blowing.  Their children proudly gave a tour of their new home.  We couldn't stay long, but we chatted for awhile before their other guests arrived in force.  TJ asked what they could do to help us.  I cried in the patch of sunshine and breeze and love.  We want this.  We need this.  A house.  A home.  A fresh start.  Beauty from ashes.  A celebration.  A healing.  A catalyst to move forward.  Many days we bury this deep inside but when we see it and feel it and taste it we know it has to come. 

Later that evening we toured a ranch for sale about a mile down the road from my parent's house.  It was exactly what we have been praying for.  A rare listing because it is not a new home but not super old either and nestled amidst mostly colonials, it offers completely one level living.  It has so many windows and light that moves across the home from east to west.  More than an actual place to call our own I have been begging God for light.  The laundry is right off the kitchen and the kitchen directly off the garage.  This would mean just steps for me and not a hike from parking on the street into the house and down stairs or down the yard and hill to our back door.  It would mean not having to wait for Dan to always carry the laundry upstairs and going back and forth to switch loads and fold and then waiting for someone to bring the clothes back down to me.  It would mean a refrigerator big enough to hold a week of groceries instead of a few days and one where I wouldn't have to bend over and rearrange each time I needed something.  It would mean a kitchen where I could finally prepare healthy meals for my family again on a regular basis and implement many of the dietary changes I need for my own recovery.  It would mean a bathtub for Danica again.  It would mean we could yell or sing and dance or laugh or cry without the feeling we are disturbing someone or someone is watching us.  It would mean we could fall asleep to the sound of the rain on our window and wake to the sound of birds and the glint of morning sun.  More than anything it would mean we are not stuck.  It would mean we have a sanctuary again . . . "somewhere more holy."

Do you remember the first time we had to move here?  It was a heart wrenching decision after we found out Danica would be in a wheelchair.  This was the post when we first decided to move home after staying here at my parent's awhile.  It was the words of Tony Woodlief that comforted me so. 

" . . . This is the story of how we reclaim the things that are lost. It's also a story about how a home can be become sacred, and how in the process it can sanctify us as well. I can tell you these things because I have been in dark places--which is the only way any of us learns to love the light. . . Home is more than a place where we eat and sleep; it is where we learn grace, where we glimpse heaven. It is where we find or lose God, or perhaps where He finds us if we will only be still long enough to listen for Him." 

One thing I know for sure about our God.  He is working behind the scenes preparing all the details long before He reveals the plan for deliverance.  Isn't this what the entire Old Testament teaches us?  It's always through a story we can best see how mighty to save He really is.  The weaving of tragedy and heartache along with blessings and kept promises keeps us looking for the glorious Hope.  We live in this Hope! 

Monday night, two days after seeing the home, and never in a million years thinking we could really move there, God provided someone to pay the down payment, sign the contract and agree to rent to us long term until we could perhaps buy the home from them.  The only real modification needed is the flooring because the carpets are very old and smelly and part of my healing and staying well is really being able to control my environment and my reactions to it.  We will need to install laminate flooring.  I only shared this news with a couple very faithful prayer warriors who have been particularly invested in this desire of our hearts and already God has provided some money for the materials for the floors.  We are still praying for installation or at least help for my dad (who really should not physically be doing any work like this).  If all goes well we should close and have possession early October and be able to move in before my surgery.  Can you believe it?  We can't quite wrap our heads around it either.  God is good!

Just knowing I will have a suitable place for my very long and painful recovery gives me courage I really was not finding as I looked toward ANOTHER fall and early winter recovering from ANOTHER surgery.  I've had moments of submission but mostly have been bending under the weight of knowing I could most likely just not do it here and could definitely not do it without my husband and children with me.  I wish I could infuse even a taste of the joy in Dan and Delaney and Danica's hearts as they anticipate this move into our own space.

Home sweet home.  Won't you please praise with us?  So many of you have specifically asked for this for us.  Make it loud.  Sing it.  Dance it.  As you have wept with us, won't you rejoice now?  And please pray for the many details left with the inspection and closing and getting the home ready for our family so quickly before we head into another storm.

As soon as we had this news our Danica became very sick with a serious infection.  We have spent this week a little topsy turvy dealing with pediatrician appointments and wrestling medicine and also trying to get her to eat.  Dan and I quickly embraced after a brutal night of stress which takes a particular toll on my body.  I asked him if he was happy.  He said in Dan candor, "If we had a million dollars our life would still be our life.  It is not our circumstances that make us happy.  This just makes it easier to do what we need to do."  Yes, easier.  We know we can do hard things through Him, but we are so ready for just one thing to make the load a little lighter, the walk a little shorter, the days and nights a little more tranquil as we endure. 

We prayed together Monday night before heading to the house to write the intitial offer.  Dan prayed simply the Lord's Prayer.  When there are no words I love he prays like Jesus.

You're Holy.
Your kingdom is real.
Do your will here while we wait for heaven.
Feed us.
Deliver us.
Forgive us.
Help us forgive.


Super duper crazy huge news, right?!?!

Monday, August 20, 2012

How a well known Chicago based artist is sharing with Betterment and our family

I feel very behind in writing about so many things.  I don't want to push out posts just to be informational, because it's important to me to share my heart in the midst of this long road, but I am finding it hard to do certain subjects justice.  Sometimes there are truly no words.  When it comes to the love we receive in big and small ways I am aware of how inadequate my attempts are.  Still, I stumble here because I know your philanthropy is one of the most life changing parts of our journey.

I grew up in one of the most beautiful parts of the United States, in an idyllic town nestled in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  My childhood was hemmed in by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the sense of place and space, shaped who I am.  Others I know who had this same privilege have gone on to various walks of life away from Staunton and the surrounding areas, but the awe for where we were blessed to learn and grow and explore has never diminished.  One of these people is Dolan Geiman.  His mother, Lisa Geiman, was a talented and prolific local watercolor artist.  My parents still have a large piece of her work over their bed.  I came to know him through his brother.  We were all attending James Madison University at the same time.  Dolan was an amazing artist in his own right, but he also had the rare "it" thing it takes to combine your own life experience and passions with your abilities.  Over the years I have followed his career and bought a few small pieces of his art on Etsy.  The genius of his business partner and now wife, Alie Marie, has grown Dolan's business without ever compromising the quality or integrity of his craft.  Most importantly they are incredibly kind and authentic individuals. 

I mentioned before in a recent post about the nomination from The Canton Chapter of The Foundation for Community Betterment for their annual fundraiser Rocktoberfest.  They are the same dear ones who "adopted" our family in 2010 by chosing Danica as a recipient.  When they interviewed me for the blurb they would use for "marketing" we were focusing on heading to Boston and getting some help for my mast cell reactions and anxiously waiting to see Dr. Grubbs in Toledo for my POTS.  Since then our world has been turned upside down with my pectus excavatum diagnosis and increasing pulmonary and cardiac issues.  I am now facing a very painful thoracic surgery sometimes in October with a three month recovery. 

I have not been able to participate in the planning meetings for the event or volunteer like I want to.  The one thing Dan and I can do is humbly ask for others to donate to the live and silent auctions that help raise money not just for us but also other local recipients in need, and ask for you to attend.  I wrote a note to Dolan and Alie asking if Dolan would perhaps donate a piece of art to the auction.  I follow plenty of artists personally but none who's work is so near and dear to my heart.  Dolan had just introduced some beautiful originals for sale at Anthropologie (which most of you know is my favorite "window shopping" place ever).  Of course his Etsy shop is full of goodies for every budget.  One of the enduring qualities that shines through his work is his love of nature and the indelible mark of where we grew up.  When I saw the piece he donated for Rocktoberfest I was blown away at his thoughtfulness.  When I received a personal donation with a note just days after to help with our week long Cincinnati trip expenses I cried. 

Promise me you will read about Dolan's unique work here and browse even if you can't buy because art is good for the soul!  If you are local or even not so local I hope and pray I will see many of you at the September 29th event at the Cultural Center for the Arts in Canton.  Just like the event two years ago this evening will be right before we head to Cincinnati for a major operation.  The emotion of being supported and loved by so many in our community is a gift beyond measure.  Dan and I would so love to share this with you.  Please BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW, mark your calendar and get a sitter if you have kids.  I promise you it's the perfect date night and you'll meet some amazing people too. If you can't attend but would still like to make a TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation you can do it here.  (This is something some of you have asked about when making personal donations to our family.  The Snyders are not a non-profit organization although some would argue, I'm sure.  This is a great way to help AND get credit with the IRS.)

This is lots of links I know and not enough mushy stuff about how all this really makes me feel, but I hope you know your kindness HAS made a difference.  It DOES make a difference.  God is doing some work behind the scenes for our family we hope to share soon.  It could bring new promise, more hope and healing and restoration to what has been hurting and broken for so long now.  Thank you for not giving up.  The ending is going to get good.  I believe this.  We believe this.  Our Hope remains!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Faith or fear?

Source: via Lori on Pinterest

Dan and I are settled into our bed in the hotel.  My heart is beating like crazy, and my mind is racing.  My insurance authorized the surgery.  We met much of the team that would care for me before, during and after.  Dr. Garcia would like to meet with Dan and I to go over the results of all the testing I had two weeks ago.  The pain management doctor wants me to have a consult prior to surgery because of my extensive medication list, history with pain and the difficulty adults have with this surgery in general.  I also need a special bacteria test.  At 8:30 am tomorrow I am going to take a shot at trying to get a few appointments tomorrow.  The reality is we will probably have to take yet another trip here between now and my surgery date.  We are thinking the third week in October for scheduling the actual operation.

The emotions of attending this class for both Dan and I were palpable.  There was another family there with their son who is facing the same surgery and an additional surgery with our "own" Dr. Crawford once he recovers from this first surgery.  They too were from four hours away.  The familiar fatigue and fear and logisitcs of back and forth and scheduling were in the parent's eyes.  The son was brave and hopeful.  He plays golf and wanted to know how soon he could play again.  He used to be a swimmer and had to stop because of symptoms.  He wondered if perhaps he might get back to the pool.  At dinner we discussed at length how "experienced" we feel on once hand.  We are too familiar with the hospital scene and especially the entirety of Cincinnati Children's and are as comfortable as one can be there.  The physical therapist who came to the class was Danica's therapist almost two years ago.  She put Danica in her wheelchair for the first time in her Minerva.  Remember the "famous" picture of her smiling?  Of course she remembered our girl.  Everyone who meets her does.  Dan and I also talked about why children do so much better with the amount of pain and the recovery process than adults do.  Aside from the obvious physical reasons, it is because they have a resilience lost with age.  We both sensed the medical team's collective confidence in the procedure, but their caution when approaching a complicated adult case like mine.  This is not new territory for us.  Pain that begins at a ten on a scale from one to ten is not new either. 

There is certainly fear on many levels, perhaps more than I've ever had before.  Dan feels this same way.  Still, as we drove today singing songs from K-Love, discussing God's sovereignty, our journey and this enduring hope that anchors our souls we knew heading into the class our faith is greater.  The most beautiful thing about this faith is it's been given to us and tied up with Grace.  With so much on our minds and hearts tonight it is the simple sound of rain on our hotel window that calms me most.  I close my eyes and hear the voices of both my girls in unison singing Laura Story's "Blessings in Disguise" in the car this morning as we drove to the post office.  He's doing something we can't quite see clearly, but we trust Him.  We do. 

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."  Ephesians 2:8

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What we believe and what we hope

Source: via Ian on Pinterest

"Our desire for healing holds a special tension: If we believe that God is powerful, if we believe in his ability to heal, what do we do with the uncertainty of whether or not he will? And if he does not heal when healing is desired, should we construe that as a reflection of his diminished love or power, an indication that something is not right with us, or simply a reality to be dealt with--nothing more? It's that "Will you?" gap that gets us--the aching, vacant space between what we believe God CAN do for anyone and what we hope he WILL do for us."  Leigh McLeroy

I had an incredibly hard week.  I knew my body would implode after Cincinnati, but I had no idea how bad it would be.  My EDS pain has been off the charts.  My reactions are back up, and my chest pain is worse.  My POTS symptoms, especially my blood pressure dropping when I change positions and a whooshing head crushing pressure when I stand, are frightening.  Most of all my heart hurts and any activity at all incapacitates me.  I cannot be a mom.  I cannot be a wife.  I can barely be at all. 

I have had a tension this week like never before.  After my appointments with the therapists I realized for the first time how much I really need to make accomodations in my life for the reality of my disabilities.  As the occupational therapist flipped through a catalog with all kinds of aides I felt terrified.  I visualize getting well and being well.  I simply cannot wrap my head around a progressive illness that may leave me crippled and dependent.  It's an exahusting pull between fighting and surrender.  It really is believing God can heal me and hoping He will but also realizing this pain may be my greater purpose and the calling for my life.  As I head into another brutal surgery I am grieving deeply. 

In the midst of suffering and disappointment we have seen some beautiful answers to our prayers and experienced continued love and support from so many of you.  I have never been so aware of how the Holy Spirit moves others to reach out at specific times to help our hearts.  Thank you for being obedient when you feel called to write a note or call to check in or meet a tangible need.  Know there are moments when I have literally felt like I could not move forward and a facebook message will come or a card or a gift, and it reminds me I am not alone in all this, and He is alive and working miracles in bigger and higher ways than I could imagine. 

These are some specific requests for this week and the coming days.  Would you please pray?

Dan and I have to travel to Cincinnati on Thursday for a required pectus surgery class at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.  The drive there is very difficult for me.  It will be a quick up and back trip.  Our class is at 4 pm on Thursday.  We will stay the night and drive back early Friday morning so Dan can work half days both Thursday and Friday.  Please pray for safety and strength.

Please pray our insurance company will come through with a pre-certification for the needed surgery this week.  My symptoms are worsening and my heart scan showed a progression of the compression of my heart and lungs.  For some unknown reason my instability all over my body has been much worse.

Please continue to pray about our housing needs.  My pulmonary function is so bad.  I know the basement is not a good environment for me to return to after surgery.  The stairs we climb to cook or do laundry or leave the house are steep and between my hip, knee, ankle, heart, lungs and blood pressure it is becoming a huge problem.  We need a house on one level, and we need to be considering my long term needs when we move.  In addition our family really needs to be on our own again.  Delaney needs a window and fresh air.  Dan and I need a window and fresh air.  We need to be able to just be ourselves as we learn to live this new kind of life instead of sitting here keeping our fingers crossed it might end. 

Please pray for my pain.  I am planning to explore adding a pain management team to my roster as well as trying to learn new ways to "think" about my all consuming hurt.  I have failed miserably this week at being kind and patient and loving.  The pain edges out everything good around me and feels like it is swallowing me.  In addition I have a large lump on my lower left abdomen.  I have had a stabbing knife there for over two weeks, but I have been trying to wish it away.  I had my sister touch it, and she confirmed it's pretty big and hard.  I am overwhelmed.  I have said this before, but I can only handle one crisis at a time.  I am terrified it is more endo or a hernia caused by all the inside incisions I have from other surgeries.  I know from experience a CT may not show anything and a surgery may be necessary to investigate.  I am afraid of going under any more.  I am more afraid of hurting like this long term with no solutions. 

I hope for healing.  I have to hang on to this even when it seems so impossible.  I have to fall asleep tonight imagining the cool night air blowing in my window.  I have to picture my husband snuggled beside me instead of sleeping on the couch so he can catch a tiny breeze.  I have to visualize cooking a healthy meal in my own kitchen and sitting around the table as a family with evening sun streaming in.  I have to believe I will be able to walk around the neighborhood without fainting or falling.  I even dare to hope I might run again and push my body to be strong like I once was.  I have to expect great things and allow for the possibilities.  Without this I would give up.  In Him I will never give up.  I believe. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

When I can't move

"I said to my soul, be still, and wait . . .
So the darkness shall be the light,
and the stillness the dancing."  T.S. Eliot

In this noon hour on an ordinary Tuesday in August I am in bed.  I have daughters who, in spite of their normal sister spats and childish nonsense, band together and make peace for my sake.  Delaney makes lunch for them both.  They see in my eyes the extraordinary hurt, and I hear Delaney say, "Let's pray."  She leads them in saying grace.  After the "Amen" it's my Danica who chimes in with a P.S. to God, "And please help our mommy to feel better."  She prays this every single day.  When others forget she does not.  Now they are snuggled in Delaney's room watching a DVD and sketching.  Twixie is in the mix.  I know I can safely take some pills for my pain and tremors and rest awhile.  I literally feel like the atmosphere is crushing my body.  Every cell is screaming.  It's impossible to move but even harder to be still. 

So many of you are asking about my appointments last week and the decisions about surgery.  I am finding it hard to post the entries I have written with facts.  I guess I'm still in the surrendering phase.  My heart is broken like my body.  God has made it clear what He is asking me to do.  I am just finding it hard to believe. 

Today I spoke with Dr. Garcia's PA.  My Haller is measuring much worse in the cardiac MRI than what was measured in the ER CT.  My pulmonary function is really scary.  It's no wonder I feel so badly all of the time.  Dan and I are scheduled to return to Cincinnati next Thursday for a pectus surgery class.  The PA is beginning to work on the difficult insurance process for this procedure.  When they give an approval we will set the actual date.  I have been wanting to wait until October.  The Foundation for Community Betterment's Rocktoberfest in the last Saturday of September.  My brother, Mirel, is getting married the first weekend in October.  Delaney is turning ten.  Danica is turning five.  I am just not ready.  My family is not ready. 

When there is paralyzing pain and fear and exhaustion what can we do?  The answer for me today is made clear.  Be still.  Yield my body and mind and spirit again.  He is doing something important here.  Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 is not wasted. 

Nothing is wasted in the hands of our Redeemer. 
(This song by Jason Gray has been on my "healing" playlist for some time now.  Sing with me today.  Beauty will rise.  Glory will shine.  Our hope remains!)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Roots of love and the shade of kindness

"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves."  Amelia Earhart

Over two years ago I wrote the first post about Dan and I's marriage and how desperately we needed prayer to withstand the pressures we were facing.  Our photographer and friend, Christina Adam, was the first one to comment on that post.  Through this entire journey she has planted and grown love to our family in big and small ways.  Her fundraiser last fall gave even more depth to these roots and more kindness and prayer grew from her willingness to sacrifice and share. 

I've said this before I'm sure, but it bears mentioning again.  If you are moved to do something kind for someone, but your resources are limited, and you don't know where to start to make any kind of real difference, just share your heart with one or two like minded people.  Pray about how a few loaves and fishes could be multiplied.  Ask the person what they are specifically needing.  It's a beautiful thing when a seed can be planted and watered and blossom into a blessing beyond measure. 

Christina did this for Dan and I last weekend.  She wrote me several months ago asking what we needed most but sharing her heart for our marriage and the desire to give Dan and I a romantic night away.  She knew if we were given money we would use it for bills and never splurge on something like a really nice dinner or a nice hotel just because.  She had shared with some of her Bible study girls and a few other friends our story many times.  She told them her idea and collectively they pitched in what they could to plan a special retreat.  What one or two of them could not have done alone they were able to do together. 

With our Cincinnati trip coming up last Sunday Dan and I were very stressed.  It has been harder and harder of late to scrape together any dream for healing and restoration.  We have been in this place so long.  Our marriage has slipped to one of the last things on the list most days.  My body is so broken and by the time we crawl into bed there is the rumblings of my parents overhead and so much fatigue and pain, and where we might have turned to one another in the past we turn away now.  There is a strong foundation of love and respect but any energy it would take to go through the motions and niceties that result in intimacy is just gone. 

Last Friday my mom left for West Virginia with Laney to visit my sister, Rochelle, and her family.  We took Danica for her first sleepover EVER with anyone except my parents.  We felt complete peace having her stay with my grandma and grandpa Roberts.  My dad watched Twixie, an act of love in and of itself.  As we pulled up to the Sheraton in Cuyahoga Falls, it felt like we were lighter already.  I went in to check in and get our room keys.  They had upgraded our room to a suite overlooking the falls.  She handed me a gift wrapped box from Christina and the girls, one Christina had delivered personally.  We felt special and cared for instantly.  Our beautiful room had a separate living room with a TV and sliding doors that opened into the bedroom.  The king bed was piled high with the most amazing linens and pillows.  It had another TV and connected to the huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi soaking tub.  Sunshine streamed in the huge windows and the sound of the falls was so relaxing.  Inside our gift was money and a gift certificate for dinner at the very nice hotel restaurant.  There was a special bar of sea salt chocolate and a Starbucks gift card.  Any guesses what we did first?  That's right.  We slipped into the cool thread count, pulled the shades and took a nap!

The evening was wonderful.  Our table at dinner overlooked the falls, and we watched kayakers while we ate an amazing meal.  There was cologne and perfume a plenty, and I did get a horrible headache, but I didn't let it stop me from lingering over great conversation with Dan.  It comes easily when we take time to be together alone.  This love thing is organic with us.  We fan the flames of our enduring hope.  We dream of someday.  We remind one another it's going to be okay.  It has to be.  After dinner we snuggled up in bed and watched a movie.  We held one another.  In the morning we woke up, had breakfast delivered to us and then experienced the ultimate luxury of parents anywhere and everywhere.  We went BACK to bed. 

I honestly don't know how we would have made it through Cincinnati without the gift of recharging our batteries in this very special way.  As always, God's planning behind the scenes and perfect timing brought us to a sweet time of refreshment and enjoyment before sending us back into the trenches to fight this battle He's chosen us for. 

How do we say "thank you" for this kind of love?  We can't really.  We literally suffer our gratitude for the massive amount of kindness we have received.  Firm roots and sweet shade are our refuge because of all of you.  What can we do?  Humbly remind you if the Spirit is moving you to care for someone and you don't know how, ask them.  If you can't do it alone, ask someone to help you make it possible.  Trees still bloom in the desert.  Miracles are born of faith, hope and great love.

When a Fairfield Inn becomes the Ritz.

I just filtered through "Marriott" as the keyword in my Outlook.  It turns out in the past year we have stayed an entire month of our lives in various Marriott properties with a few stragler hotel brands thrown in.  These stays were not business related and eventually picked up in an expense report and reimbursed.  These were in no way pleasure trips.  They were all for medical travel.  Some are under a hospital rate and most are under a "friends and family rate" made possible by my sister-in-law who works for Marriott Corporate.  If these two rates are not available then we end up staying at a lower "tier" hotel to fit our fly by the seat of our pants budget.  The trip we are on this week was originally supposed to be a two night stay.  After the surprise visit to see Dr. Garcia just two weeks ago we were so thankful the hospital concierge at Cincinnati Children's was able to work in all the extra testing needed for me during this planned trip for Danica's appointment and my therapy.  This added three additional nights.  When Cincinnati became our home away from home in the spring of 2010 we tried a few hotels close to the hospital and settled on a Springhill Suites just on the outskirts of the university and hospital scene and across the bridge from the Kentucky riverfront.  Like most major cities the rates are high and during certain events or seasons they go up higher, and there is limited availability.  Here's the thing.  It takes me about a month of stays to be able to sleep anywhere.  My OCD is on hyperdrive in these "someone else slept in this bed last night" places.  The smells of cleaners and toiletries and bleached sheets make my head spin.  I can't get the temperature right.  The pillows are all wrong.  The weight of the comforter is either too light or too heavy.  I pretty much feel sicker than ever when I'm travelling.  The Springhill Suites on Eden Park Drive was an exception.  It was like home.  If you know me well, you know my space is a critical part of my well being  . . . or not being well.  This Fairfield Inn was a necessary choice at $69.00 a night for last night and tonight, but I feel awful here. 

This morning we headed to the hospital for Danica's urology appointment.  We found out some good information about her urodynamics testing in June as well as making a plan to move forward with her bowel issues including a new referral to see a colorectal doctor.  By the time we got back to the Fairfield I needed to rest and Danica was crazy excited to go to the pool with Dan.  They even got a big floaty raft to play with at Target.  Picture little Danica in her suit with an inner tube around her waist bopping down the elevator and through the lobby to the pool area.  Within minutes a teary eyed and competely crushed little girl reappeared in the lobby.  The pool was closed!  They were doing a shock treatment because their chlorine levels were off.  Dan and Danica show back up in the room.  She was heartbroken, and Dan and I were at a loss as to what we would do to keep her occupied all afternoon. 

Within minutes the front desk clerk, Marcus, rang us in our room.  "Mrs. Snyder, we are so very sorry about the pool.  We were wondering if we could send your family to the movies this afternoon to help pass the time?"  I was dumbfounded.  In the next half an hour he had put together a print out of the movies playing, a $40.00 gift card for the theater and a little bag of drinks and snacks and hand delivered it to our room.  Above and beyond customer service is a beautiful thing in a world of over promise and under deliver.  Marcus is my hero!

In a once upon a time life I can barely remember anymore I was blessed to stay in beautiful resort properties and the Ritz Carlton for pleasure and for work.  Right up there with Nordstrom, the Ritz Carlton brand is an impeccable example of a "God is in the details" way of doing business.  Today, this Fairfield Inn, a wrong side of the tracks property so far from luxury still managed to offer the same kind of care and service to our family.  It changed our day.  It made a difference.

When Dan and Danica got back from the movies the pool still wasn't ready.  In perfect Danica fashion she made lemons into lemondade and turned the tub into a pool and played for almost an hour.  Circumstances are so often out of our control.  Today, Danica and the Fairfield front desk guy reminded me of something I've believed for so long now.  The space in our head and hearts is luxury property when kindness is the core brand and love is our value proposition.