A few months ago I read a blog of an acquaintance of mine whose son was born with a congenital heart defect. I read about a non-profit organization called Help-a-Heart that had brought them a meal on the day her son was going into surgery. Curiosities, or maybe the Holy Spirit, lead me to their website. (www.Help-A -Heart.org) Their mission is sharing Love by providing financial assistance and emotional support to Iowa families affected by congenital heart disease. I was instantly intrigued and read all I could about Help-a-Heart. This was the first time I learned that every one in one hundred children is born with a congenital heart defect. Help-a-heart has a monthly support group and I made up my mind to go to the next one. The support group is mostly parents of CHD kids who are trying to deal with their child’s illness.
I asked my mom to go with me to the first HAH support meeting. Neither one of us knew what to expect. At the meeting, everyone introduces themselves and gives a short explanation of what brought them there. The group was amazed to learn that I was an adult living with CHD. I told them about my forthcoming book, and that I was trying to find a place to help families like mine. I was asked some questions and then the night went on with a speaker and a short discussion time. My mom and I left feeling very overwhelmed. It was a lot of information to take in. The parents in this group are dealing with so much. A few had lost a child to CHD. My heart broke for them and reminded me of how blessed I am to be doing this well. I wasn’t sure I wanted to return but my mom encouraged me to try it two more times just to get a really good picture of the group.
I took her advice and I have been to four now, and it’s been such a learning experience for me each time I go. There are so many different types of congenital heart defects. This past month I felt I had a “break-through” of sorts. After the speaker was done we were all sitting around talking. This particular night we hadn’t had time to introduce ourselves. One of the ladies looked across the circle at me and said, “I’m sorry but who are you? I haven’t been here for a while, but I’ve never seen you here.” I kinda had to giggle to myself because that night I had struggled with wanting to go. I gave myself all the reasons not to but felt I should anyways. As I sat in the group I had prayed “God I don’t think this night is for me. Maybe I should’ve stayed home in my bad mood.” So, now here I sat with the spotlight on me and quickly thinking of my answer.
I said, “Hello my name is Tiffany Corey and I AM the CHD kid.”
A small gasp came from the group and one of the ladies said, “She’s an adult!”
I went on to explain my story, my book, and my hope to find people like me to help. I got such a positive reaction. Everyone was asking questions and so excited to see an adult who was living with CHD. I didn’t really think about it until then that seeing me might just be the encouragement families of CHD kids would need. God reminded me yet again that I am here on purpose for a purpose.
As I got ready to leave that night Wendy, the leader of the support group, stopped me. She hugged me and thanked me for coming. She told me that having me there was a great source of encouragement to her and the other parents. She said that just seeing me as a thriving CHD adult gave her hope for her own CHD kid. It warmed my heart and made me feel like I was already making a difference.
I had prayed as I started this book journey that (1) my book would end up in the hands of people who need it and (2) I would find a place that I could minister to people with heart problems and encourage them in their health journey. I left that night with one big truth on my mind: I have found my people.
I hope to be able to meet more people, both young and old, on this journey as God leads me to minister to other heart people. I look forward to volunteering with Help-a-Heart more in the future with their fundraisers and other events. They are doing a great work and I am excited to be a part of it!