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Rhyan's Story

Our baby girl was only 11 months old when she was sedated for an ABR to test her hearing levels. The test took quite a while and when it was over she remained asleep in my arms. Our loved ones came in and sat with me, as I held Rhyan a little closer. She looked so peaceful. I remember so clearly the exact moment my heart shattered. The audiologist said quite simply, 'there was no response'. Nothing.

The months that followed were filled with fervrent prayer and a desire to follow God on His path. At 18 months, with the love and direction of Shelley Ash and Dr. Peter Orobello from All Children’s Hospital, Rhyan received her first implant. Four weeks later she heard for the very first time. The following day, she said ‘mama’. My dreams were redesigned the day we were told she was deaf. The day she said ‘mama’, the first of those dreams came true.

With the help of Florida’s Early Start program, Rhyan progessed very quickly. However, we knew we wanted her to have two ears, and began fighting for just that. Two years later, we were continuing our fight. It started with one insurance company and ended with another. We were denied and turned to the Let Them Hear Foundation for assistance. Our lawyer, Sheri Byrne, fought alongside us, and when there was nothing else I could do as a parent, Sheri took over and won our case. Not only did she win our case, but Rhyan’s case helped to completely change policy to ensure every child was given the right for two ears. It was during our struggle that I realized how desperate I was for Rhyan to have both ears. For her protection, for her safety, and because I believe every child deserves two ears if that’s what the family chooses.

The surgery for her second implant this past May went perfectly, but because of her age and the time elapsed between her first and second implants, our lives were in turmoil for two months. We had to take her right ‘ear’ off to ensure that her left ‘ear’ learned to hear. We went through an entire month of barely being able to communicate with our baby. It was probably more painful than original diagosis. And my heart shattered again.

Today, Rhyan is a beautiful example of a miracle. She is excelling as a main-streamed first grader and has made amazing progress with her second implant. God chose her, and with that, has given me purpose. He took her hearing so that others would hear her story and grow closer to Him. I am grateful for her deafness, and I wouldh’t change anything about her. It is so evident to me that God loves me. He chose me to be Rhyan’s mommy.

It's an amazing thing about shattered hearts. If we let Him, God can take the pieces and rebuild them to better resemble His heart. All the while we were going through our fiery trials, He was burning away parts of my heart that didn't belong in a life of someone following after Christ. Unbelief, resentment, anger. They were burned away in what was the most painful time of my life. There were lessons learned that sometimes only come from a season in the valley. With all that I've learned over the course of my daughter's life, the greatest thing is that God is love in every single moment. It can be much easier to feel His love when things are going well and we're surrounded with blessings. But the more and more fiery trials we come through, the easier it's becoming to see His footprints in the ashes.

His precious, beautiful footprints have led us here. Walk with us and watch as new tiny little footprints begin to follow.