Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 30, 2014 - 10 Years

Today, December 30, 2014, it's been 10 years. Can you believe it? 10 years since our lives came to a screeching halt and our Heavenly Father reached down and set us on a new journey of faith - one in which we would know Him in a much more intimate and personal way because of the work He was about to do in our family. From that day on, we have witnessed God at work in our lives and He continues that work even to this day. That definitely doesn't mean that everything has turned out perfectly through these 10 years, but we are confident that He causes EVERYTHING- the good and the bad - to work together for our good. And for that promise, we give thanks on this day.

It's been 4 years since I posted here and as you can imagine, so much has happened during that time. Jonathan began high school in 2010 and very steadily and diligently worked his way through each year. In 2011, Jonathan went on his first Chapel Choir tour to Baltimore, MD. He sang in the choir this year and did a pretty good job of managing a busy week of early mornings, late nights, and being on his feel a lot. Choir tours are always important and very impactful events in our lives and we are so grateful for the opportunity to go on everyone one.

This year, we said good-bye to a very special lady who had been a part of my life since I was a teenager. Susan Woodward was not only an important part of my life, but she loved my children as though they were own. She faithfully spent the night with Jonathan each week while he was in the hospital so that we could go home to sleep. She was a constant source of love and encouragement to me during those months and I'm so grateful for her. There's a whole in my life without her here and we all miss her tremendously, but we know she is with our Savior and we look forward too the day we get to spend eternity together again.

The year 2012 held another opportunity to go on tour - Los Angeles, CA. This tour, Jonathan had the privilege of playing drums for the choir. This was a first for Jonathan and he did an awesome job! Uncle Tim worked practiced with him diligently every week on his music and he took this job very seriously. We were so proud of him! We saw God work in Jonathan's life in unique ways through this opportunity. It was a tremendous experience for him.

This same year, we had the blessing of graduating Sarah. That was two down and one to go! It was a beautiful day of celebrating her and and this huge accomplishment in her life. As we did with Elizabeth in 2010, we celebrated this special event with another cruise - our favorite way to celebrate special times in our family! This cruise too us to Routan, Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel on the brand new Carnival Magic. As always, we had a wonderful time together as a family on this trip going to the beach, cave tubing, shopping, and relaxing on the ship. As you can imagine, once this trip was over, Jonathan began to count down the days until the cruise we would take for his graduation!

In 2013, we traveled with the choir to San Francisco, CA for another tour. This tour was led by a group called NEXT Worldwide. The men who went with us are great spiritual leaders who have made a significant impact and investment in my children's lives through the years. It was great to be led by them again on this trip and to have the opportunity connect with them on a personal level as well. Jonathan has a great love for these men and they continue to be a great source of encouragement to him today. Jonathan had another great opportunity to play drums for the choir on this tour. He did an even better job this year than he did last year! You could definitely see growth and maturity in his playing, and the passion with which he played this year was significantly greater. I stand in awe of him each time I watch him play and thank God for this testimony of his grace and power in Jonathan's life. Again, Jonathan handled this week of music, ministry, and missions with such grace and we came away with another life changing week to thank God for.

Of the four years since I last posted, 2014 has been our greatest year yet - Jonathan's Senior year. It was exciting and scary all at the same time. This would be a year of change for all of us for sure. This would be the last opportunity to participate in student choir at church, which we did on spring break this year. Jonathan and I went to Seattle, WA where we did concerts, ministry work, and learned a great deal about this interesting city. This year, Jonathan did not get to play drums, but he sang with the choir and did it with such passion and love for the Savior he was singing about. It was a blessing to watch him and brought me to tears at every concert.

During the spring this year, we finally made a connection with the right people at the Division of Blind Services. After meeting with them, we went through a series of appointments with neuropsychologist, eye doctors, and technologists to help us determine where Jonathan was and what his visual needs were. This information helped us determine the best course of action for Jonathan once he was finished with high school. Through the Division of Blind Services, we were able to get several pieces of technology to help Jonathan with his vision. He's used them many times since then and we are grateful for the gift of these things as they are very expensive and we would never have been able to acquire them on our own.

In May of this year, the long awaited graduation celebration cruise finally arrived! We headed out again on the Carnival Magic to Key West, Freeport, and Nassau, Bahamas. We had an awesome week doing lots of great things together and making some wonderful memories as a family. We were actually on the ship on Jonathan's birthday which was super cool for him.


Once we returned home, we got to celebrate with family and friends at Jonathan's high school graduation. It was a wonderful day honoring Jonathan and thanking God for his love, mercy, and faithfulness in getting us to this special occasion.

I have to be honest and tell you that while Jonathan's graduation was a wonderful celebration, it brought with it an element of anxiety and uncertainty of what this next chapter in his life would look like. I knew that God had not brought us this far to leave us on our own now, but the unknown still caused me to worry. For the past 10 years, I have been the one to order and control pretty much every detail of Jonathan's everyday life. I began to realize that this would no longer need to be my job - it would not be good for either of us for me to continue this way. I'm okay with that. But that also means I can't be the one to assist him in his job to see that he succeeds at it and gains the approval of his boss, or to be there to make sure that no one will be unkind to him. This means that I have to find a new level of trust and faith in God to take care of him in ways that I can't. Imagine that - me learning again that God is really the one who is in control of Jonathan's life, not me! God has a plan for Jonathan's life and its a good plan. I just need to trust Him completely with this life He has so graciously given to my son.

Over the summer, Jonathan worked with me at the home school resource store that I work at part time. I taught him how to inventory the books that we sell in the store. He did this all summer long without pay. He was a huge asset to me at the store, but the time he spent doing this proved to be a huge asset to him in his first job that he started in October. He is working part time for an online company, doing much of the same type of inventory work he had done for us over the summer. He is pretty proud of his job and has done well so far. We are thankful for God's continued faithfulness to him. Jonathan ultimately feels called to work in pastoral care ministry and will eventually take courses to pursue that, but that will come later on. We are taking one small step at a time as we navigate this new chapter of his life.
Each of these past 10 years, we have spent December 30 together as a family and with those we love the most. It's one of the most important lessons we learned from this is precious. Cherish every moment with those you love. This December 30 was no different. We spent this day making more memories that we will treasure forever. There are no words to express how much our families mean to us - how important they were to us then and how much more important they are to us now.


As I think back to those dark days 10 years ago, and then read through this post, I see how truly blessed we are to have been chosen to know God through all that we have experienced these 10 years. Believe me, there are still many difficulties and challenges left to face that will forever be tied to this event, but we stand firm on the truth that we were reminded of just last Sunday -

If God is for us, who can be against us? But in all things, we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:28-31, 37)

May God bless each of you for your faithful love and support for our family through the years. Only God truly knows how much we love each of you and the eternal impact you have had in our lives. I hope that this post has given you the chance to remember with us where we were 10 years ago and to celebrate and praise God for where we are today. We are looking forward with great anticipation to all that God has in store for Jonathan and to watch His good, acceptable, and perfect will for him unfold in the years to come.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30, 2010 - 6 Years of God's Faithfulness

It's truly amazing to think that it's been 6 years ago today that the Lord changed and redefined the life of our family. Can you believe it? Another thing that's hard to imagine is that is has been an entire year since I have come to this place to share with you about our family. From the time we began this blog, 6 years ago, I never thought I would see the day come that I didn't update for a year. And now, here I am. That, in and of itself is another miracle blessing in this story. To be able to live life for a year without major issues or needs in Jonathan's life is awesome! Oh, that's not to say that we haven't had moments of difficulty and things to deal with this last year, but overall, we have had a great year. God continues to bless and show Himself faithful in our family day after day, and today, I want to share this year of blessing with you and bring you up-to-date on where we are today.

We started out the year pretty well until early March when my Mom (Grandma Smith) suffered a mild stroke. God was very gracious and she only spent a little over a month in the hospital/rehab. She had some weakness in her right side and her biggest struggle was with swallowing. She had some wonderful therapists and we were able to walk through a time with her that was very similar to Jonathan. I don't have to tell you who her biggest supporter and cheerleader was. Jonathan, in all his compassion and understanding, was right there to encourage her every step of the way.  We had several opportunities to share Jonathan's miracle story with the therapist there. God continues to use us and Jonathan's story to share about His love and power. We also had a great opportunity to give back to my family who gave so much for us during Jonathan's illness and recovery. Three days after Mom's stroke, the Lord gave me a Scripture to claim for her. I believe it was His Word to me regarding her recovery

Ps. 103:1-5 - Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit, who crown you with lovingkindness and compassion; who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Today, each time I see her walk, watch her do every day things, or hear her speak, I and reminded of that Scripture and praise God for his power and mercy in her life.

Our next big event was Elizabeth's high school graduation. Wow! I have been keenly aware these past 5 years that this time was soon approaching, but I couldn't believe it was finally here.  It was a busy, stressful time in our family, but it was a beautiful, emotional, and awesome event that I will never forget. She sang a song called What Faith Can Do while we honored our Heavenly Father, who is the author of our faith, through pictures of our beloved Grandma Cooper, the miracle in Grandma Smith's life, and God's amazing grace in the life of our family.  Tears are streaming down my face as I write about this special moment and as I hear Elizabeth singing a testimony of a life of faith in God. What a beautiful treasure Elizabeth is to our family. We have been truly blessed. After the graduation ceremony, we had dinner together with all of our family and were able to share with the kids that part of this special celebration would include a cruise at the end of the summer. They, of course, were extatic! So our summer was filled with lots of fun!

Jonathan and I made our way to Denver, CO with the Clarion Choir in June. He did great and we had a wonderful time ministering and singing to the people there. We got to sing at the Children's Hospital as well as Denver Rescue Mission. We got to visit Pike's Peak, the Olympic Training Center, and Focus on the Family. The trip was wonderful and we were blessed by all we were able to do there. The girls went to New York City and Washington DC with the Chapel Choir. I was blessed to get to spend the first 2 days in NYC with them. We got to experience a worship service with the Brooklyn Tabernacle, which was incredible. We did some local ministry work, rode the subway together, and ended my short stay with seeing Wicked on Broadway. I lived a lifetime of dreams in those 2 days and I got to do it with my girls. What a blessing! Then we finished off the summer with a 7 day cruise to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel aboard the Carnival Conquest. We had a wonderful time together as a family. We climbed a huge waterfall, rode a chair lift above the rainforest and rode a bobsled in Jamaica. We visited a turtle farm and swam with stingrays in Grand Cayman. And we went snuba diving in Cozumel. We made so many wonderful memories together and we are humbled and blessed to have had the chance to experience this together.

Jonathan is doing very well in many things and still experiencing some struggles in other things. Can you believe that he is in high school now? Another miracle in this precious boy's life! This first semester
of high school has been a great challenge. It has not been easy, but Jonathan is such a hard worker and he gets stronger and better each week. He is in the high school choir at church and actually went to the youth disciple now weekend by himself, without Dad or Mom. Jonathan has been blessed to have a couple of guys whom he calls his "best friends".  Eliott and John are not just a great blessing to Jonathan, but they bless me as well, and I'm so thankful for their presence in his life. Jonathan got his first cell phone for Christmas. To say he is proud of that is a complete understatement!

We continue to struggle with weight issues, but we were able to see some success in a plan we worked on throughout the year and are planning to begin working on it again in the new year. The biggest
concern right now is Jonathan' growth. A year ago, they did some growth testing (blood work) and advised us to do more testing to see if he is deficient in growth hormone. Right now he is in the 4% on the growth chart. He is growing, but just at a very slow rate. I am sure the doctor feels he is deficient after watching/charting him over the past few years. If he shows to be deficient, he would most likely begin to take growth hormone shots. We have not agreed to do the extra testing yet. We have struggled with knowing what is the right thing to do, trying to determine the necessity of it. We will continue to pray and research and try to decide what we should do. I know God will guide...He always has and always will.

So here we are today. God continues to bless and work in our lives 6 years later. Many of you remain faithful to pray for us and we are humbled by your love and care. If you are one who has come looking for a post throughout the year, I thank you for your intereest in our precious son. I am Believing God for a wonderful 2011 for our family. I feel as though I have come to a place where these post will be as this one - a once a year summary of how God has blessed and worked in our family. Of course, if anything major were to happen, I would be here in a heartbeat. If you would like to know when a post is made instead of checking every so often to see if there is one, please contact me with your email address and I will notify you when I post. There is a time for everything. Six years ago I needed this blog every day. It was vitally important to me, my family, and my precious son. It gave me hope knowing I could share our issues, needs and struggles, and you would be there to lift us up in prayer. I don't know what we would have done without you. While today, that need is no as great, I would still love to stay in touch with you and have the chance, if only once a year, to give a testimony of God's work and faithfulness in our family. All that we have, all that we are, and all that we enjoy are because of our gracious Lord and Saviour and we are honored to always speak of Him and honor Him with our story. So I pray that you will let us know how we can keep in touch with you, that when you think of us and you will continue to offer up a prayer for God's continued healing and work in Jonathan's life.

I want to leave you with a Scripture I found recently as I was praying for a very precious person in my life who is going through their own journey of suffering. Our goal in whatever we go through, the good and the bad, should be to become more like our Saviour. Unfortunately, that happens more during the bad times than the good. But praise God for those tough times that draw us near to Him and transform us into the likeness of His perfect Son! Isaiah 53 is a description of Jesus. My Bible titles it "The Suffering and Glory of the Servant." If you are going through your own time of suffering, know that your Saviour did too and be encouraged by this Word of God. We love each of you so much and we are so thankful to have had you walking beside us these past 6 years. Your continued prayers are always appreciated. We pray that God will bless you with His most incredible blessings in this New Year. Until the next time we meet...All Our Love and Blessings - The Cooper Family
Isaiah 53:10-11a - Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.