Loves Others Well: Jaime Blanton
September 4, 2019
When God first put this series on my heart while out on a run one day (to share the stories of 19 Super Women over the 19 weeks of my marathon training to encourage me as I worked through every week and inspire others too), I came home and began to brainstorm about all of the amazing women God had placed in my life whose stories I wanted to share with others.
Some of these women are friends who I have done life with for years and watched overcome real challenges. Others were women who I maybe didn’t know as well but knew a sliver of their story and wanted to go deeper in getting to know them. There was also a category of people who I thought “I don’t know this person well or really know anything about their story, but I want to get to know them better and I sense their story needs to be shared.” As I have stated week after week, it’s my contention that everyone has a story, and “If you knew their story you would love them.” Jaime Blanton immediately jumped to mind.
Jaime is a woman who I’ve seen at school over the past year and we’ve always smiled and said hello. It wasn’t until I read online and heard from others that her son was facing a very serious cardiac diagnosis that I reached out to her to let her know I was praying for her. We connected at a heart level and we have been cheering for each other ever since. I wanted to know more about her and I told her about my blog and asked her if she’d share just a little bit about herself here.
In Jaime’s words:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)
I love Romans 12:2 because I believe it calls us to the best kind of risk taking. It challenges us to live as nonconformists, focused more on God’s desire for our lives than worldly definitions.
As a lifelong wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, I thought I had the concept in hand. I’ve spent a lifetime navigating and in many cases dismissing worldly expectations, labels and physical and attitudinal barriers. I’ve endured surgeries, harassment, and discrimination. I even survived a death threat I received when I sued a business that refused to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
As a parent, I thought I had it figured out too. I’ve done my best to train my children to seek courage and strength from their faith. I’ve challenged them to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. I’ve encouraged them to stand up and stand out when they feel compelled to fit in.
But, in April 2019, I discovered I wasn’t entirely prepared or willing to discern God’s will if it didn’t entirely align with what I wanted.
On April 2, my son Jackson, 12, nearly fainted at school. Jackson, who had never so much as had the flu was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Overnight our lives changed forever. Within a few hours pediatric cardiologists had diagnosed Jackson with Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, a one-in-a-million diagnosis for children. [From Web MD: Restrictive cardiomyopathy is when the walls of the lower chambers of your heart (called the ventricles) are too rigid to expand as they fill with blood. The pumping ability of the ventricles may be normal, but it’s harder for the ventricles to get enough blood. With time, the heart can’t pump properly. This leads to heart failure.]
The only real treatment is a heart transplant. Days after the initial diagnosis doctors implanted a pace maker into his heart to improve its function.
All of sudden, I longed for a “worldly life” where my children were healthy and “normal,” an irony not lost on me, a woman who had always bucked conventions of normal.
God has worked so many miracles since April 2. He has kept Jackson alive and thriving in spite of his dying heart. God even used Jackson himself to breathe life into our situation. Jackson assures us regularly that “God’s plan is the best plan, even if it means I go to Heaven.”
Through it all the Lord has pursued the hearts of our family. And, He has surrounded us with a community that loves us, shows us grace, prays fervently and lifts us up. God has offered us many heroes—Erin Kvistad among them, who despite only really knowing me as a fellow Liberty mom, activated her network on my behalf, connecting me with other women and even a cardiologist who could help us.
I’m so grateful for Erin and for all the moms who have rallied around the Blantons. I appreciate being surrounded by women who motivate me to lean into Romans 12. Imagine how much Light we could bring to the world if we all did.
I hope I’m not overstepping by sharing Jaime’s email to me when sending me the above.
Jaime wrote, “I struggled with this blog post so much more than I thought I would. I don’t see myself as a Superwoman or Supermom, but as a mediocre human, who has learned to rely on God and others to lift me up…The reality of my life, put simply, is that I have been through many trials, but I have been richly blessed, in great measure by relationships, including your friendship.”
This gives you a glimpse into her humility. And whereas I understand not wanting to blow our own horn, I am certainly not bound by any such constraints when I speak of her and I want to shout about Jaime’s beautiful heart and sweet spirit. And I am not alone. I reached out to a few people and asked them to share a few words about Jaime.
“Jamie is one of the most generous and kind people I know. She always responds quickly when volunteers are needed, giving of her time freely. Everything she does she does with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. She laughs because she cries easily, but it’s simply reflective of how deeply she feels and how compassionate she truly is: she LOVES others well.” Courtney Spitler
“Jaime – a woman I am blessed to call a friend. She is someone who loves large, gives her whole heart to her family, her friends, and even those she does not know yet. Jaime walks in the path that God has planned for her. She is strong-willed, not ashamed to stand tall for herself and those who may need a voice. Jaime is someone who encourages and lifts others up freely and sincerely. She always has a smile and a hug, which some days was needed more than she knew. I will always cherish her, her humility and her big heart that she wears on her sleeve every day.” Hesper Matzo
“As a wife, mother, and friend, Jaime inspires us all to trust in and lean on the Lord in all things.” Vivian Nichols
“I do not know Jaime, but at the game she was in front of us and so many people stopped and hugged her and spoke to her. She is well loved by the Liberty family for sure!” Melanie Kiser
“Jaime is precious and loves the Lord. I got to spend science fair weekend with her and loved every minute.” Carrie Baller
“Jaime is one of the most ‘able’ people I know. She’s always willing to help out or volunteer in any capacity.”
Finally, let me share this video with you about the impact Jaime has had on others:
This list could go on and on because everyone who knows her is happy to share about her. But more than her actions, necessarily, Jaime truly epitomizes the often-cited quote my Maya Angelou:
Jaime, you are a Super Woman in my eyes and in the eyes of your family and the eyes of your Liberty community. Keep trusting in the Lord. Keep pointing others to Him. I have no doubt that someday you will hear the words “Well done good and faithful servant.”