Saturday, December 31, 2005

What an incredible week, an incredible Christmas, and an incredible anniversary weekend this has been for our family. Our hearts are overflowing with such joy and thankfulness for all God has done for us this year. This has no doubt been the most difficult year our family has ever faced, and yet it is without a doubt the most incredible year we have ever experienced. Only God could cause that to happen. We had the most wonderful Christmas yet that I can remember. There was such a peace and joy in our home that we missed last year. We got up and opened gifts together and had a precious time watching the excitement on the faces of our kids at seeing all that they got. Jonathan got his desired drum set (yes, a real, big, loud, blue drum set!), Elizabeth got the guitar she wanted and Sarah got an electric drum pad that she is thrilled about. It was such a great time. After that, we read the Christmas story, sang Happy Birthday to Jesus, and then had birthday cake with Him for breakfast, a tradition that we enjoy in our family. We went to Jesus’ house to spend time with Him before spending the rest of the day with our families. We gave a special gift to our families this year. We gave scrapbooks to each of them of the journey that they so faithfully walked with us through this year. The books were based on the song, “Somebody’s Praying Me Through.” They turned out wonderful, thanks to my wonderful friend Brenda who gave up so much of her time to help me create this precious memory. Our Christmas was God’s gracious gift to our family and we thank Him for it. Monday, we cleaned up from Christmas and Tuesday we went to therapy. This was our last weekly therapy. We ended 8 months of weekly therapy which was an incredible gift to Jonathan. He has done so well and accomplished so much in these last 8 months. We are grateful for all the therapists who have played such a significant role in his recovery. Our plan is to stay in touch with them once a month to make sure he is still progressing and see new areas that we can work on until we achieve a complete recovery. Our work at home, however, does not stop. We will continue to work and exercise each day, Monday through Friday, to help him continue to improve. At therapy, he did some of the exercises on the exercise ball that he hadn’t done in a while with Mrs. Dana. She also had him sit on a stool with wheels, and pull himself down the hall using his heels, pick up some different colored clothes pins, pull himself back down the hall and clip them on the board that they belong on. Most of the time was spent doing this, but he did an awesome job using his legs to get himself up and down the hall. After that he finished with the balance board and we talked about how far he had come on this exercise. Before we left, Mrs. Dana gave me some information about hip therapy using horses. This is something she wants to look into for him, so we will try to gather more information about that in the coming days to see if that will be a possibility or not. On Wednesday and Thursday, we spent some of our time getting ready for our anniversary celebration and the rest of the time we spent visiting with Uncle Steve, Aunt Cheryl and Cousin Rachelle who came to visit from Kansas.
Yesterday, December 30, was the 1 year anniversary of the day Jonathan was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and taken to the hospital. Dad took a half day off of work and we met him for lunch. At lunch we gave the kids necklaces with a pendant with something specific to symbolize their experience this year. Elizabeth and Sarah received a pendant with a little girl holding hands with a little boy. This is an exact picture of them. They have given their life this year to love, encourage and help care for Jonathan in the most beautiful way. Jonathan’s pendant states his personal testimony – “Through His grace I shall be healed.” Each of these will be engraved with 2005 on them. It was a small gift for the gift of their lives that they have given this year. They are our heros. After lunch, we made a trip to Children’s Medical Center. Although we have not been there since April when we last visited, that familiar, uneasy feeling quickly returned as we drove to the hospital and parked in those familiar garages. The one distinct difference, however, was that Jonathan was not missing this time; he was with us. Praise the Lord! We walked through the hospital showing Jonathan the chair in the emergency room where we laid him when we first got there, showing him the trains downstairs where we would bring him while he was still in the coma and try to get him to communicate with us. We went to the 6 th floor, which is where he was when we left in February. We only saw one nurse who we remembered. Everyone else was either off or does not work there any more. That was a little disappointing, but it was good for us to show him everything about his stay there, since he remembers nothing about that part of his journey. We were not even able to get into the ICU because everything was securely closed. That didn’t keep the memories from flooding our minds as we walked the halls of that hospital. Hearing the alarms going off on the heart monitors on the 6 th floor, seeing the exact place in the cafeteria where we sat that very first night trying to force ourselves to eat, the little room where we sat and found out just how much that hospital stay cost, and the radiology area where we spent an entire day praying and anguishing over the feeding tube that was never put in. And yet, God was there in each of those places, in each of those moments and in control of every detail of our experience at Children’s Medical Center. Before we left, we had the chance to visit with our sweet friend, Mary that we met while we were in the ICU. Her little son, Elisha, has spent his entire life in and out of the hospital with a rare disease. We noticed Mary a year ago while she was praying in the waiting room when Elisha was in the ICU at the same time as Jonathan. It was not long before we talked and got to know each other. She is such a wonderful, strong, Christian young lady, even in the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances. She has been such a testimony and encouragement to our family. We had a chance to see Elisha right before we left. He has been in the hospital this time for almost 2 months and he is battling 3 very serious viruses that could keep him there another 2 months. Please remember to pray for Mary and Elisha when you pray for Jonathan.
We were humbled, overwhelmed, and moved to tears yet again by the presence of so many of you at our home as we celebrated this year anniversary last night. All of you have been there for us from the very beginning of this journey and you have stayed with us, even to this day. You have been the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus that have carried us through this incredible journey. There is no way we could have made it without you. We had a precious time of prayer, thanking God for His mighty power and grace in our lives, and a recommitment to the Lord for whatever He has planned for us to do for Him. We continue to live expectantly, day by day, waiting for God’s perfect healing in His perfect timing. There is much healing yet to be realized, many miracles yet to witness, and much work left to be done. But God who has promised is faithful, and He will bring it all to pass. It will not be late one single day. We continue to covet your prayers for Jonathan and for our family. We will continue to update regularly and let you know how God is working and what He is doing in our lives. As always, we so appreciate your faithfulness to pray for us.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my heart with you each time I update. It has been a good thing for me to journal this experience each week, and it causes me to specifically remember and acknowledge each thing that God has done for us. Each time I ask for prayer for something specific, I know that it will be prayed for and we wait to see God’s answered revealed. We pray that God will abundantly bless you in 2006. Always Believe and Expect a Miracle! We love you all. Happy New Year! Love the Cooper Family

Numbers 6:24-27 24 The LORD bless you, and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.' 27 "So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them."

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