The Young Angels of Sandy Hook Elementary School

Today, December 14, 2012, will be a date forever remembered. It will not be remembered as a day of eager anticipation for the holidays but as the day Newtown, Connecticut and the rest of the world lost 20 innocent young children in a senseless killing spree.

Policemen, teachers, students and parents alike are all devastated by the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. You can read details of this horrific event on ABCNews

These twenty children, all too young to have journeyed through the many experiences of life, will be more than missed…they will be mourned. Yet, we must remember that while they have been taken from this earth their lives should be celebrated for they have provided great joy to those who loved them.

There will be many people who are angry and they will call on revenge but what more revenge can be done that has not already occurred? Isn’t the need to react emotionally one of the reasons this heinous crime initiated in the first place? When will we realize that we, as a society, have fed this aggressive behavior. We are the first ones to seek vengeance yet after expressing confusion as to “what is wrong with people”. We are what’s wrong with people. We quote biblical texts of love and forgiveness only to be followed by words of bitterness and hate. We are willing to forgive the sin so long as we obliterate the sinner.

Actions of prevention, not of vengeance, are the necessary steps toward healing. There is nothing the families of these twenty innocent children and six adults can do to reclaim the lives of those lost. There is no man hunt and no acts of revenge…they must simply “move on”. They will be angry, they will deny, they will grieve and then they will accept. As difficult as it may be, and yes, there will always be a piece of them missing, they will get through this. So, rather than add fuel to an enraging fire, let us celebrate these beautiful children and the adults that lost their lives today because that’s what really matters.

And as a closing note, let us remember to never take those we love for granted. Let us kiss a little longer, hug a little longer, listen a little better but above all, love without limits. Be blessed my friends and shine brightly for all of the world to see!

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Baby Judah: Miracle baby brings an outpour of faith and inspiration!

“By the power of Jesus name, may Judah’s lungs be filled with complete health–Leaving behind a body of believers who  are filled with wonder and have no choice but to worship the Great Healer!”  ~ Scott Berry

Becoming a parent is one of the scariest but joyest occasions one could ever ask for. We dedicate our lives to protecting these miniature replicas of ourselves and we are willing to sacrifice all that is needed to do so. However, every once in a while arrives a situation where we are left feeling helpless…unable to protect them the way we want to. We know that bumps and bruises will happen and a little kiss will make it all better but sometimes…just sometimes we really can’t make it better and we must rely on the knowledge and wisdom of others to work on the healing process on our behalf. I guess as parents we like to have control over these situations as if somehow we have these amazing superpowers to make it all better. Half of the time you ask the child and they would agree with that statement. Still, what do you do when there is no control? When the outcome is no longer in your hands? How do you handle that? Well, I’ll tell you what Scott and Betsy Berry would say to that…they would say PRAY! I know to many people this may appear to be a very passive approach to a situation like this but to two people who are fiercely in love with Jesus Christ…it’s the only method they require.

You see, Scott and Betsy Berry were so thrilled to know that they would be parents soon. They shared the news with all their friends and family…taking the required belly pictures as Betsy began to show. What they didn’t expect were any complications and they especially did not predict that he would want to make an appearance at only 23 weeks. That’s right! At only 23 weeks old the world was introduced to the very precious Baby Judah. Now, they tried everything to keep Judah inside his mommy for a little longer…from Baby Buds to elevating her feet…nice try!! On March 7, 2012, Baby Judah was born!

While premature births have become much more common, a baby born at this very early stage in the pregnancy does not have a very high survival rate. Yet, this miracle baby has found a way to overcome those odds. If you ask the Berry’s how he did this I can imagine their only response would be “By the Grace of God“.

Still, the journey was not an easy one and has not yet been easy. Baby Judah has suffered everything from brain bleeds to a hole in his heart to underdeveloped lungs and weight loss. While the hole in his heart has been repaired and the brain bleeds have healed his lungs remain to be a concerning issue. He has progressively gained weight over the past few weeks (he’s now at around 2lbs…3lbs). However, he is continuously on and off the ventilator…at one point improving and then the next deteriorating. The longer Baby Judah stays on the ventilator the more proned to infection he becomes.

In his recent Facebook post, Scott states the following:

My heart is so heavy as I write this update…trying not to ride the roller coaster of the NICU but that’s a lot easier said than done…
Judahs blood gas at 4am was horrible. One of the worst he has ever had. They have made some changes to the ventilator and gotten it under control but he is back on fairly high settings. It is heart breaking to watch him take big steps in the wrong direction, when just earlier this week he was almost ready to come off.
His nurse said he was agitated and fussy all night and dropping his oxygen levels significantly and frequently. They have given him morphine to try and soothe him. This is NOT like him at all. He hasn’t had to have any morphine in a long time.
I have been concerned something else is going on with him that we are just not picking up on. The bad blood gases, the big and frequent oxygen drops, the irritability…it’s just NOT him…and earlier this week he had been doing so well. All day yesterday nothing really out of the ordinary other than the bad blood gases and high oxygen requirements were showing up.
Well this morning his belly started swelling and he had a large amount of “dark brownish/black” stuff come up out of his feeding tube. They got an Xray of his stomach immediately and the loops of his bowels are very dilated 😦 Praise God he HAS pooped really good the past 2 days and his belly still feels soft but this is very scary.   The most deadly complication for him at any point in his NICU stay is an infection in the bowel called NEC. Any NICU parent knows the constant fear that lingers in your mind of this complication because it can kill them faster than anything else.
His lungs CAN NOT get better without good nutrition. His Dr’s have said that nutrition is the SINGLE MOST important intervention that they are doing for him right now. If his bowel does NOT immediately get better this could be devastating NOT ONLY for his entire body but especially his lungs.
Please storm the Throne of GRACE with us for God’s immediate intervention and HELP! This is a very very scary time for us and Judah. Please plead with us for IMMEDIATE healing and the grace for all 3 of us as we walk through the next few days.
It is SO comforting to know that God is STILL just as IN CONTROL as He was when Judah was doing so well. We are trusting Him for allowing these setbacks and praising Him that none of this is a surprise to Him. He knit Judah’s little body together and only HE knows the inner workings of it and EXACTLY what Judah needs right now when nobody else does. Trusting in HIS ability to be the GREAT physician.

As a parent, I could not imagine what Scott and Betsy must be going through. Yet, they have been pillars of light and hope for all those who have been sharing in their journey through Facebook and text messaging. Baby Judah subscribers have been awaiting each day some kind of news and updates regarding his health and the emotional state of mom and dad. The family has received numerous outpourings of love, hope and prayers from family, friends and even total strangers.

In the most recent outpouring of support and love, friends, family and distant admirers have taken to writing Judah’s name on their wrist and tagging the pictures on Scott’s wall.

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Acts 4:30 (NLT)

Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Keep the Berry Family…especially Baby Judah in  your prayers!

UPDATE!!!

**Baby Judah Update**
This is our update from yesterday. I’m really late posting it: Judah had an AWESOME day today!! He is now 32 weeks “gestational age”! Most of his issues are things he needs to “grow out of” so every week older is progress!! We’re thanking the Lord for a “gestational age” that we never thought we would see with him! … His lungs looked A LOT better on X-Ray this morning! He also has had very good blood gases and been able to wean some on the ventilator with each one! YAY! He was SIGNIFICANTLY more stable today (as far as steadiness in his vital signs) than he has been in weeks. He also went from requiring around 75%-90% oxygen the past week or so to only requiring 45%-50%! MASSIVE improvement!!
His tummy also looked a lot better on his X-ray this morning. They still have his feedings almost completely stopped for now and are giving him IV nutrition. This just gives his belly some time to rest and re-group and within the next day or so they will start increasing his feedings again. Please pray for his belly to tolerate feedings as they increase them again. Please continue to pray for his lungs. They need so so much development for him to be able to get off the ventilator. We are thanking God for the HUGE improvements in him today and praying that he will not have ANY more infections or bowel issues as those can be devastating setbacks!!!
Praying that Judah has turned a corner and that this progress will NOT go backwards (like it often does with preemies like him)! We know our God is ABLE! We are CHOOSING to focus on the bigness of our God and not the bigness of the obstacles ahead of us!
We KNOW that every single good thing comes from Him, our Healer, and we do not fail to recognize that! To HIM be the glory for all Judah’s progress. Thank you SO MUCH for praying with us!!! Psalm 145:18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth   from W Scott Berry

Inspire a Nation, Save a Child!

Virginia, January 2, 2012: In an effort to keep dental professionals educated, prepared and trained when dental medical emergencies arise, Nicole Cuhna, the Executive Director of the Raven Marie Blanco Foundation (a 501C non-profit organization), has filed a petition with the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Board of Dentistry. The foundation was started in response to death of Raven Maria Blanco during, what should had been, a routine dental procedure. The guidelines when filing a petition are as following,

The Code of Virginia (§ 2.2-4007) and the Public Participation Guidelines of this board require a person who wishes to petition the board to develop a new regulation or amend an existing regulation to provide certain information. Within 14 days of receiving a valid petition, the board will notify the petitioner and send a notice to the Register of Regulations identifying the petitioner, the nature of the request and the plan for responding to the petition. Following publication of the petition in the Register, a 21-day comment period will begin to allow written comment on the petition. Within 90 days after the comment period, the board will issue a written decision on the petition.

The Raven Marie Blanco Foundation contends that Part II of the Regulations Governing Dental Practice sets forth conditions for dentists seeking to renew a dental license. Included in this part are requirements for the payment of fees and requirements for continuing education. Although requirements elsewhere in the regulations govern the use of certain anesthetic agents, no requirements exist mandating that all dentists maintain an ability to respond appropriately to an unexpected medical emergency either resulting directly from treatment (dental and/or anesthesia) or as a random event (e.g. myocardial infarction, stroke ,hypoglycemia, seizure). This petition asks the Virginia Board of Dentistry to establish standards in this area through the addition of a new section.

At least twelve deaths have occurred during or immediately subsequent to dental treatment during the calendar years 2010-11. Precise numbers may be higher because the dental profession has no mechanism to quantify medical emergencies (fatal or non-fatal) occurring during treatment.

In the last ten years, Virginia has suffered two deaths in dental care facilities, Raven Maria Blanco (private office, Virginia Beach) and Jacobi Hill (Virginia Commonwealth University Dental School, Richmond). As such, Virginia has the highest per capita death rate during dental treatment of any state in the nation. How many non-lethal medical emergencies have occurred during dental care in Virginia has never been measured or studied.

Currently, the only medical emergency preparation required for all Virginia dentists is maintaining basic CPR. Given an aging population, with increasingly complex medical histories and receiving increasingly complex treatment, the current standard is insufficient. The Six Links of Survival™ was developed to provide dentists with a practical method to assure that dental offices are comprehensively prepared to manage a medical event. The six areas of preparation are:
1.Dentist’s training
2.Staff training
3.Mock drills
4.Maintaining a written emergency plan
5.Stocking appropriate medications
6.Maintaining appropriate equipment (e.g. oxygen).

The Raven Maria Blanco Foundation and its advocates believe implementation of the Six Links of Survival™ in every dental office will provide a necessary stepping stone in saving the lives of dental patients.

The petition was accepted on January 6, 2012 will be published in the Register of Regulations on January 30, 2012 and has also been posted on the Virginia Regulatory Townhall at http://www.townhall.virginia.gov to receive public comment ending February 19, 2012. The request to amend regulations and any comments for or against the petition will be considered by the Board at its meeting scheduled for March 9, 2012. Sign the Petition Here!

For more information about the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation, go to www.rmbfinc.org

See all those involved in the making of this video here.

Dr. William R. Harvey: Visionary Educational Leader

When we send our children off to college we always hope that those who are in charge of their education will not only meet our expectations but exceed them. Let’s face it…college is too expensive to take chances. Yet, taking risks is exactly what makes a great leader a “great leader”. We cannot possibly expect to get anywhere if we sit down and watch the world pass us by. It takes vision and action to make the impossible…possible. One of my favorite quotes is “Vision without action is dreaming but action without vision is drudgery”.  So when there is a leader that does in fact encompass the qualities it takes to succeed and you realize that this person is part of the community of which you live…it’s hard not to take notice.

Dr. William R. Harvey is a native of Brewton, Alabama and current President of Hampton University. A graduate of Southern Normal High School and Talladega College, Harvey is sole owner of the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Houghton, Michigan. Dr. Harvey served three years on active duty with the United States Army and is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve. Dr. Harvey earned his doctorate in College Administration from Harvard University in 1972. He served as Assistant for Governmental Affairs to the Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University; Administrative Assistant to the President at Fisk University; and as Administrative Vice President at Tuskegee University. In 1978, Harvey assumed his role as President of Hampton University. He has served nearly thirty years in this position—an uncommon event in this country. Some of his great accomplishments at University President include:

Enrollment more than doubled

Average SAT score increased by 300 points

Established Undergraduate Programs in:

  • Computer Science
  • Marine Science
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Chemical, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Airway Science
  • Emergency Medical Assistance Management

Graduate programs in:

  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Applied Mathematics

Doctoral degrees in:

  • Physics
  • Pharmacy
  • Atmospheric and Planetary Science
  • Nursing
  • Physical Therapy

Encourages faculty research

Building the first proton therapy cancer treatment center in the Commonwealth of Virginia (see video at the bottom of the blog)

Watch the Tribute to Dr. Harvey from Hampton University

2010 Daily Press Citizen Award: Dr. Harvey discusses the Protom Therapy Cancer Treatment Center

Laura Contreras-Rowe Inspires Hispanic and Latina Women to “Aim High”

Laura Contreras-Rowe is an award winning author of Aim High: Extraordinary Stories of Hispanic and Latina Women. She has traveled around the world speaking and inspiring women of all ages but her passion lies in helping underpriviledged women realize their value and worth.

Born in Dallas, Texas but raised in Laredo, Laura offers students, adults, and business persons of all industries the hope and advice they need to raise themselves to their highest potential. Her training and expertise has brought her all over the country as well as abroad. Recently, she has had the opportunity to conduct seminars for Keller Williams Realty in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Remax Argentina National Convention.

Laura recieved her BS in Broadcast Design and Telecommunications from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a franchise owner of Keller Williams Realty located in California and Virgnia Beach, Virginia. When asked what inspired her to write the book Laura speaks of her own experience and how she was curious as to how many other latina women went through a similar journey such as hers.

Laura mentions that in her research she discovered latina women have the highest suicide rates for 8th through 12th graders, the highest percentage for drop out rates, and the highest percentage of teenaged pregnancies. Scary statistics…for a latina woman who has seen these statistics in real life…absolutely!

Yet, Laura, like many women in her book, is proof that positive outcomes can come from otherwise very gloomy circumstances and she has devoted her life to making a positive impact on all those in similar circumstances. This is precisely the reason why she founded “Got Sole”… an organization dedicated to donating new or lightly used shoes to the underpriviledged population of the Eastern Shore and Hampton Roads, Virginia.

As a latina woman I am proud to highlight the wonderful light that Laura has demonstrated in her actions, her attitude but especially in her journey. A special thank you for being a positive role model for writers such as myself as well as an extraordinary business-woman. Que Dios Te Bendiga!

If you would like contact Laura to speak at your organization contact, click here.

Watch the latest video at <a href=”http://video.foxbusiness.com”>video.foxbusiness.com</a&gt;

Foundation Works to Build Bridges Between Christians and LGBT Community

If you’ve seen this picture before it’s probably because it has been circulating around the social media world of Facebook and several others like it and there’s a good reason why. For as long as I can remember the GLBT community has expressed their bitter resentment at Christian Institutions and what the church’s stance is on same sex relationships. While everyone is entitled to their opinion the church’s stance on these relationships has given some Christians the idea that based on Biblical principle it is reasonable to exile those who choose to live their lives as such. Such thought processes have instigated protests, rejections, and abusive behaviors by those who have called themselves Christians. While many Christians have not agreed with this sort of behavior…very few have taken a stand against it or have taken action to create harmony. That is, until recently.

The Marin Foundation in an attempt to promote healing, forgiveness, and unity wanted to show those within the GLBT community, during Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade, that many Christians are indeed regretful for all the hurt and pain our brothers, our sisters, and we have caused. Theirs message was simply, “I’m sorry” that was displayed brightly in white lettering on a black t-shirt. A message that was recieved with much tears.

Andrew Marin, founder and president, of the Marin Foundation discusses the mission of the organization quite simply on his blog as a:

“[n]on-profit organization that works to build bridges between the LGBT community and the Church through biblical and social education, scientific research and diverse community gatherings. Their unique approach strategically partners with both religious and LGBT organizations to make a sustainable difference in today’s religious and secular cultures. The Marin Foundation is also conducting the largest national scientific research study ever done in the LGBT community regarding spirituality and religion. Andrew has appeared on various national radio and TV programs, and his sermon Homophobia and Bridging from within the Evangelical Church—given on Capitol Hill the night before the Inauguration of President Barack Obama in January 2009—is archived in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. Andrew blogs daily at www.loveisanorientation.com and is the author of the award winning book, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Communtiy (InterVarsity Press, 2009), which has has won more awards than any other individual book in the long-standing history of InterVarsity Press. He and his wife, Brenda, live in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago.” (www.loveisnaorientation.com)

Andrew’s Facebook Page                 The Marin Foundation Facebook Page

I offer a high Kudos to Andrew and his foundation for taking some significant steps to change and healing. For far too long we have concentrated on the variations of skin color, political stance, religious beliefs and the like with disregard for the fact that in this all we are all still human. Living and breathing human beings who crave love and acceptance. For those of us who are Christians and those of other beliefs…even those with no religious affiliations….the message of Jesus Christ is universal “…Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

http://seg.sharethis.com/getSegment.php?purl=http%3A%2F%2Fringsoflight.wordpress.com%2Fwp-admin%2Fpost.php%3Fpost%3D53%26action%3Dedit&jsref=&rnd=1327895888080Andrew Marin explains the mission of the Marin Foundation below:

Tyler Lynne Fago: Spoke to Many Hearts Without Ever Saying A Word

On January 19, 2012, the earth lost one of its little angels. On January 23rd his family had a viewing for those who wanted to say their last good-byes to Tyler. There were so many people that it literally took almost three hours to get through the line to his casket. The following morning at 11:00am. there was a funeral service celebrating the life of this sweet boy. I walked in with my son and since we were a few minutes late we decided to take a seat in the very back where churches usually have their “overflow” benches. After we sat down…we listened. We listened to Tyler’s children’s ministry leader speak about how much Tyler and the Fagos had taught him…about unconditional love, patience, and understanding. He said that he was happy to know that Tyler was no longer broken and walking with Jesus. You see Tyler Fago had Cerebral Palsey. He did not have just a mild case either….Tyler’s case was probably as severe as it can get. He could not speak, he could not walk, he could not eat on his own, and as far as I know…his ability to think was limited or not at all.  Then his father Dale took the podium. He told everyone that when Tyler was born he struggled with the fact that his son had this disability. He also told us that once he decided to release his struggles over to God that everything just naturally took its course. However, his main message was not one of despair or pain but of rejoicement. He celebrated his son and the lives that he touched and the people that were a part of it.

How does a child that has no way of communicating with others carry the ability to touch so many lives? I think the pastor described it best when he said (paraphrasing)…”Tyler’s purpose was to touch the lives of others…to teach them about selflessness, unconditional love, and the value of life…especially his parents: Dale and Melissa…and his siblings: Corey and Halle”. God used Tyler to mold them into the people they were meant to be and in doing so fulfilled his purpose without ever saying a word. However, as he spoke I realize that Tyler was about to touch the lives of others now…in his death as much as he did in his life. See, the Fagos and my family share a love for sports arriving at the eventual fact that Corey and my son were able to play on a baseball team together. I had watched Corey and Halle for years in their carefree playful spirit and how extremely opposite it was to how I grew up….in a much more conservative home. At that very moment while I was in the church I suddenly realized why…its because Melissa and Dale learned to appreciate life so much more than I did. They understood that life is precious and all the horseplaying and monkeying around was a celebration of that life….a life that their son Tyler would never be able to enjoy in the same manner as his siblings had. So as the tears rolled down my face I realized how little I really knew Tyler yet the message of his silence and broken body touched me to the depths of my soul. I realized that suddenly I was changed and everything I thought I knew…I really knew nothing at all. And so, today I dedicate this post, not just to Tyler, but to the entire Fago Family….it is your faith in the Lord that has carried your loving light through to the hearts of your family, your friends, and your community.

January 24, 2012

To my dearest family, some things I’d like to say…
but first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I’m writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.

Here, there’s no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I’m out of sight.
Remember that I’m with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, “I welcome you.”

It’s good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, they’ll be here later on.
I need you here badly; you’re part of my plan.
There’s so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man.

God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night, the day’s chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to you….in the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years
because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn’t understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o’er.
I’m closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I’d like it for you too…
that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who’s in sorrow and pain,
then you can say to God at night……”My day was not in vain.”
And now I am contented….that my life has been worthwhile,
knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low,
just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.
When you’re walking down the street, and you’ve got me on your mind;
I’m walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it’s time for you to go…. from that body to be free,
remember you’re not going…..you’re coming here to me.

Ruth Ann Mahaffey (author)
©Copyright 1998
http://www.ruthann1.com

A Message from the Friends of the Fago Family

A message from Melisa Loftis Pouleris:
The Tyler Fago Memorial Fund The “Friends of the Fago Family” are pleased to announce the establishment of a memorial fund honoring the life and legacy of Tyler Lynn Fago. This fund has been established to assist Dale Fago and Melissa McClenney Fago with any medical/final expenses related to the care of their son Tyler. “Friends of the Fago Family” have founded the fund, however, Nansemond River …Baptist Church is the “account holder”. Therefore, checks must be made payable to NRBC, with “The Tyler Fago Memorial Fund” noted in the memo section. Checks may be mailed to, or dropped off at, NRBC located at 2896 Bridge Road, Suffolk, Virginia 23435. This is our opportunity to give back to a family that has so graciously and selflessly given of their time serving others in the community. Thank you for your generous support of the Fago family. I encourage each of you to share this with your friends and family. God Bless♥