Friday, April 28, 2006

Wow! It is already Friday afternoon and this is the first chance I have had to sit down and update on our life. This has been a very busy week for us. Thanks so much for all you prayers for us over the weekend. We had a good road trip despite the fact that I was sick with a stomach bug all weekend! It wasn’t bad enough to keep me in bed at the hotel the whole time, but it was bad enough to make me feel awful the entire time. But we did have a nice visit with almost all of the extended family that was in town for the special birthday celebration. The last time we were all together was on Labor Day weekend 2004, in New Orleans, LA at the lake house, 3 months before Jonathan’s illness. Only one of these families has seen Jonathan since that time, so this was a wonderful time for everyone to see the miracle that they have prayed for over the last year. As a matter of fact, that beautiful picture of Jonathan that you click on to open this website was taken on that Labor Day weekend while Jonathan was fishing at the lake house. When he saw Uncle James and Aunt Carol, the very first thing he talked about with them was how he remembered fishing at their place that weekend. It was funny that he shared that with them, because they had brought a new fishing rod and tackle box to give him when they saw him. He was completely excited about it and could hardly wait until Mamaw’s party was over so they could go fishing in the pond that she has on her property. And that’s exactly what they did. Dad went with him and I watched from the house since I was not feeling well. Jonathan was thrilled to catch a fish right off the bat! He caught 2 fish while he was fishing and had a wonderful time. We had a great time celebrating Mamaw’s 80 th birthday, loving on her, visiting with her and catching up on everyone’s lives. It was a short visit because we had to head back home on Sunday. Jonathan had his therapy with Mrs. Lori and his horse therapy on Tuesday. Mrs. Lori worked on his chest, down his mid-section and his tailbone. She also worked some more on his walking. He responds very well to verbal ques when he needs to make a change. After a while, he was making the changes without our having to say anything at all. I am trying to continue to work with him on the things she suggests and we are seeing improvement a little at a time. We also got to ride Skip in the afternoon. Only in Texas can therapy get canceled one week because it’s over 100 degrees, and the next week you’re wearing a jacket, hat and gloves to ride your horse! But we were glad to get back and see Skip. We all really missed going to ride him last week. Jonathan is doing very well in his riding. He knows exactly what to do to get Skip ready for riding, and he takes care of everything that he is able to do on his own. After riding around the trail, we went into the fenced area to work on his exercises. He is able to stand up in the saddle much easier each week. This week Jonathan had to stand up in the saddle using only one hand to support him. He did that well. I’m hoping that as time goes on, he will be flexible enough to stand up straight in the saddle. Right now he is still bent over at the waist when he stands up. This week, Jonathan asked Mrs. Tammy if he could make the horse run. So, I was on guard on the right side, a new girl named Bethany was on guard on the left side, and Mrs. Tammy led Skip as he took Jonathan on his first trot. Jonathan loved it! He thought it was totally cool! He never seemed scared, nor did he ever lose his balance. Of course, he wanted to do it over and over again, but after having to run around the ring three times, I told him we had to stop. Before we quit for the day, Mrs. Tammy had Jonathan walk Skip around, leading him and turning him all on his own. He did a great job of controlling Skip on his own. She is working on helping him get to where he can ride independently. Mrs. Tammy always comments on how straight he sits up on the horse, and she said he seemed much more confident this week in his riding. Jonathan is getting better at lifting his leg to get on the horse, but I still have to help him get it completely over the saddle. But this week, he wanted to try and get off without any help. I did not help him at all, and he was able to pull his leg back over the saddle on his own. Now he just needs to learn to control the landing! Anyway, we had a great time at horse therapy, and I think Skip was just as happy to see Jonathan as Jonathan was to see him. We are trying to stay focused on school as our year will officially be over in 3 weeks. Jonathan will continue to work some through the summer in order to get through as much of his 4 th grade work as we can so that he is prepared to take on a normal 5 th grade work load when the new school year starts in August. As far as sleeping goes, Jonathan is doing pretty well. He is still waking up off and on during the night, but we have not had a night where he wakes up every 15 minutes in several weeks. We are grateful for the improvement. There have been several nights in the last week where he has woken up two or three times and then I realize that it is almost 6 am which means he has slept most of the night. So I am hoping the worst is behind us and that we will continue to improve until this completely goes away.
Thank you so much for continuing to check on Jonathan and his progress. Thank you, most of all, for your faithful prayers for him. We depend on your constant prayers and we are forever grateful to God for the blessing of each of you. Please continue to pray for Jonathan. Pray for continued strength and good tone in his hips, legs and ankles. Pray that we will be able to continue to help him make progress in his walking, and that his balance will continue to improve. Continue to pray for his sleeping, that it will continue to improve and that soon he will be able to sleep through the night without waking or crying. Also pray for his blood sugar as we have had some difficulty over this last week keeping it within normal range. Pray that he will not be insulin resistant and that his body will utilize the insulin effectively to keep his blood sugar within normal range. Pray that we will have wisdom to know how to handle his diabetes management effectively and responsibly, until the Lord brings His healing. Join us in thanking God for His wonderful blessings and the improvements that we are blessed to see in Jonathan each week. We love you all. Have a wonderful week!

Psalm 28:6-7 Blessed be the LORD, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. 7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

We hope you all had a wonderful Resurrection weekend. We had a very nice Easter weekend at our house. On Saturday, we finished up the last of our shopping that we needed to do, and then spent the rest of the day at home together coloring Easter eggs and getting ready for Easter Sunday. The Easter Bunny made a stop at our house and brought baskets full of neat things and lots of candy! The kids all had on their new Easter clothes and they all looked awesome! Jonathan got to wear his brand new suit, with his new shirt and tie, and his new boots. He looked especially handsome! Elizabeth and Sarah helped lead the kids in worship during the Sunday School hour and Elizabeth sang a solo and did a beautiful job. We enjoyed watching the resurrection together during church. On our way home from church, we passed McDonalds and started discussing whether it was open on Easter Sunday or not. Lamar said, “Why would anyone go to McDonalds for Easter lunch?” Our memories kicked in and we remembered having Easter lunch at that very same McDonalds just one year ago. It was one of the most special Sunday lunches we ever ate together. However, we are so thankful that we didn’t have to return to the hospital after lunch. God is so good! This year, we had lunch with all the Cooper family and spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying our family. It was a great weekend. On Monday, I finally got a phone call from the doctor’s office about the results of the Cushing’s test. This was after I had to call them twice to get an answer. The nurse said that it had improved, but the doctor wanted to go ahead and do one more test. He wanted him to take a pill before bed one night and go have blood drawn first thing the next morning. I asked what the level was this time and it was 23.8. Remember that the first level was 34.5 and the normal range is 1-30. I told her that I was pleased with this result and that since it was within normal range I was not interested in having another test done. I was irritated that they wanted to continue to pursue testing with this, even though the results came back within normal range. However, I had to smile and just praise the Lord for His goodness and answered prayer again. After asking for your prayers, and praying for over a month that the results would come back within normal range, God answered that prayer. God continues to reveal His healing in Jonathan’s life and we are so grateful for His healing and for your faithful prayers. Later on that day, we went to some friend’s house and got to swim for the afternoon. Can you believe it was hot enough to swim in the middle of April? It’s amazing, but it was. The kids had a great time swimming with several of their friends from church. It was so hot this week that horse therapy got canceled on Tuesday. We did go see Mrs. Lori on Tuesday. Jonathan continues to improve and she is still working on many emotional issues as well as physical things with him. She worked some more with him on his walking and tried to show me some things that I could work on with him. We are trying to get out and walk in the evenings before it gets dark to keep up on our exercise. Since Sarah is playing in another basketball league, and her games are on Thursday evenings, we have had to move drum lessons to another night of the week. This week Jonathan had his lesson on Tuesday evening. He continues to get better and better each week. We appreciate Mr. Brian and his willingness to teach Jonathan to play. After drum lessons, we went by the church to pick up Dad because he was there doing some work. While we waited for him to get finished, we took our evening walk around the church building. Jonathan really concentrated on keeping his feet straight and keeping his pace up while he walked. He worked really hard and walked incredibly well. I was so proud of him. We are on the last few weeks of Awana. Jonathan is just 3 sections away from finishing his book. The very last thing he has to do is recite again, 16 of the verses that he has learned throughout his book. All I have to do is give him the first word of the verse and he will recite it completely. After Awana tonight, we joined the cast party for 8 Days. Before we left, we had a chance to say good-bye to Randy Sterrett, the one we affectionately refer to as “Jesus”. This man is such an incredible blessing to know. He is so kind, caring and gentle. Each time Jonathan approaches him, he gets down on his knee, eye level with Jonathan, puts his arm around him and just takes all the time needed to talk to Jonathan. He is the perfect picture of the Lord Jesus with my little child. I have never met anyone that portrayed Jesus in a play whose life mirrored the Lord’s life as much as this man. He does not become someone else to play Jesus. His character is the same whether he is Jesus or Randy. Before we left, he hugged Jonathan and told him he loved him. We are so blessed that God chose Randy to play such a significant part in Jonathan’s life story. Jonathan is still doing okay with his sleeping. We have not had a night of being up every 15 minutes for a couple of weeks, so that is a praise. At least we are not utterly exhausted all the time. Although he is sill getting up several times a night, he will sleep for longer periods of time between waking up. He does have a few hours usually in the middle of the night where he is up more frequently. He is much more mobile now, so when he wakes up, he usually stands right up and sometimes he will walk back and forth from our room to his room before he will settle down again. It is a struggle sometimes to get him to lay back down when he gets up. Once again, he is still asleep and doesn’t remember a thing. Nevertheless, we will take any improvement we can get!
We are cutting our week a little short this week as we are making our first major road trip since Jonathan got out of the hospital. We are traveling to Mississippi to wish our Mamaw Agent a happy 80 th birthday. We are very excited about the trip. It’s been a long time since we have been able to go on a trip, plus, the kids always love to go to Mamaw’s house. It will be a quick trip and we will return on Sunday. Please pray for our safety and that Jonathan will be comfortable, at ease and that he will be able to sleep well while we are gone.
As always, thank you so much for your faithful prayers on our behalf. We are so grateful for all of you. Join us as we praise God for His continued healing in Jonathan’s life and for answering our prayers for the Cushing’s test results. Continue to pray for healing of his sleeping and that it would continue to improve soon. Pray that we will be able to work with Jonathan on his walking and help him improve and walk more correctly. Pray that God will continue to provide for our needs and will give us direction regarding his continuing therapy. Pray that God will continue to reveal His complete healing of Jonathan’s brain, vision and diabetes. And pray for our trip this weekend. We love you all!

2 Thessalonians 2:16 - 3:1 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Friday, April 14, 2006

This week has been a week full of precious memories. On Sunday, we watched the first act of 8 Days that Changed the World, the Easter production that our church has presented for a number of years. The last 8 Days that our family participated in was Easter 2004. This was Jonathan’s first acting role. He played the part of Micah, a little crippled boy. As he hobbled around on his crutch, he tried to convince his father that this Jesus could heal him if he would just take him to go see Jesus. Afraid to get his hopes up, Micah’s father just blew him off and hoped he would forget about it. The next scene showed Micah sitting on the rooftop of his house singing Micah’s Prayer :

“Baruch Atah, Adonai, (Blessed are You, Oh Lord)
Elohenu (Oh Lord our God)
God, hear my prayer,
I know your there,
Can you hear me, oh Lord?
God, I long to walk again,
Let me walk again hear my prayer.”

Very soon after that, Micah could no longer stand it; he made his way to Jesus with the help of his friend. After tugging on His sleeve, Jesus reaches down and picks Micah up. Jesus takes Micah’s crutch away – He throws his crutch away. After a healing moment in the arms of the Lord Jesus, Micah runs to meet his father who falls down and worships the Lord. That alone was enough to move our family to tears just remembering this special scene from 2 years ago. At the end of that scene, the entire stage full of people erupted into dancing, clapping and singing Hosanna to the King. As this began to happen, Jesus picked Jonathan up one more time. At that moment, Jonathan hugged Jesus chose to share with him that he had accepted Christ as his Savior just one week ago. As I watched this interaction with Jonathan and Jesus, I remember thinking how awesome it was that God not only healed him as the crippled boy, Micah, in the play, but that Jonathan received his spiritual healing at this very same time. This was 8 months before Jonathan’s illness. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think that God was preparing us for the real life miracle of healing that Jonathan would experience just a year later. Just as the Lord Jesus healed Micah in that play, we believe that He has healed Jonathan in real life. We too are able to stand with our hands lifted high, singing Hallelujah to our Lord Jesus Christ. We thought you might enjoy hearing Jonathan sing this song and watching this particular scene, so we have put it in the Video Gallery for you to see it and listen to it. It brought tears to our eyes as we watched it again. I hope it will touch you too.
Each day at lunch this week, we have joined others from our church at a lunch enjoying the music of the incredibly talented Luke Garrett. Luke has been a friend of ours since Lamar and I were teenagers, more than 20 years ago. We have enjoyed reminiscing about those days so long ago. It has been a long time since we have had the privilege of hearing Luke in person, plus it has been our privilege to introduce him to our wonderful children. God has truly gifted this man with a phenomenal voice and we have been so blessed to be ministered by him this week. Earlier this week I received a call back from the therapy office in Corinth ready to schedule us for our days of therapy each week. After checking the benefits on our insurance, it appears that we would only have 16 visits covered. With two visits each week and after the deductible and copays, we would end up paying around $1,000 for 8 weeks worth of therapy. Unfortunately, this is not something we will be able to afford to do. So we are praying and believing that if this is, in fact, where God wants us, He will provide the funds for us to do it. Please pray that we will know God’s will and direction regarding Jonathan’s on-going therapy. Jonathan got to show Grandma Smith all about horse therapy this week. Jonathan continues to do very well with his horse riding. Along with riding the trail and leading Skip through everything, Jonathan worked in one of the gated areas again this week. Mrs. Tammy had him work on standing up in the saddle again, which he seemed to be able to do better this week. She also had him ride Skip around the circle with different hands doing different things like holding them in the air, on his hips, and flying like an airplane. Then she had him stand up and sit down several times while Skip was walking around. That was a little difficult, but Jonathan managed to do it pretty well. Jonathan was proud to show off and try out his brand new boots that he got. They worked great while riding Skip. I think he felt like a real cowboy. Jonathan still struggles with sleeping. This past week has not been real bad. He seems to have had more okay nights than bad nights. Right now, he seems to be doing better when he sleeps in our room than when he is in his own room. We just continue to try different things and pray that God will bring the healing that he needs for this particular issue.
Thank you for continuing to pray for Jonathan. There are many times that we witness little things that remind us of God’s continued healing in Jonathan’s life – things like Jonathan putting on his shoes and socks all by himself, watching him get up off the floor quickly, watching him play soccer with Sarah, and listening to him sing along with Elizabeth as they listen to some of their favorite music. God is so good to allow us to see little miracles all along the way. We try not to ever miss those special moments and we praise God for each of them. Please continue to pray for the complete healing of his brain, vision and diabetes to be revealed. Pray that God will lead us to know exactly what we need to do, if anything, regarding his on-going therapy. Pray that he will continue to gain strength in his hips, legs and ankles. Continue to pray for healing of his sleeping. Pray that we will continue to trust the Lord with all our hearts to provide for the financial needs that we face in regards to Jonathan’s healthcare. Pray that we will wait for God’s perfect will and timing for each of the needs that Jonathan has.
We have attended each act of 8 Days this week. There are many parts of this Easter holiday celebration that have taken on new meaning for us. All of our children were saved and baptized on or around Easter Sunday. We can personally relate to the stories when Jesus healed the lame, caused the blind to see, the dumb to speak, and brought a child back to life again. Tonight we watched as Jesus cried out to His Father in the garden, acknowledging that all things were possible with God, begging God to take this cup away from Him, and yet submitting to His Father’s will by stating, “Not my will but Thine be done.” In my mind, I was taken back to a hotel room, our Garden of Gethsemane, where we cried out to God, acknowledging His power, begging for His mercy and submitting to His will, not ours. We watched as Jesus died on the cross and was buried. In just two days, we will watch as Jesus rises from that death. And we will once again be reminded not only of our spiritual death and resurrection, but of our own death and resurrection that we have witnessed in Jonathan’s life. This has become a very personal holiday for our family. Philippians 3:10-11- That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

It is our prayer that if you don’t know our Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, that this will be the day that you give your life to Him and accept this incredible gift of salvation that He so sacrificially laid down His life for you to have. To those of you who are our brothers and sisters in Christ, we pray that you will know Jesus in a more intimate and personal way and we pray that you will experience God’s resurrection power in an incredible way in your life this Easter holiday. Praise to the Risen Savior!

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

It has taken me 4 days to get this update written. So I apologize and appreciate your patience and faithfulness to check on us. I hope this update finds each of you doing well. We have had our ups and downs this week, but overall, it has been a pretty good week. Jonathan did well with his drum lessons last Thursday, and he actually slept better that night than he had in a while. It was a wonderful blessing. Our mission over the weekend was to shop for Easter clothes. We worked hard to get our school work done early in the day on Friday and set out during the afternoon to go looking. We spent the rest of the day shopping and then stopped off by Grandma and Grandpa Cooper’s house to wish Aunt Ruth a happy birthday and have some cake and ice cream. On Saturday, we spent a good portion of the day trying to finish our Easter shopping. I will tell you that this was the most difficult shopping experience for us. We went a lot of different places and found very little to choose from. Grandma and Grandpa Cooper went with us to help. We went to a store to try to find Jonathan a suit. Jonathan has always loved suits and since he has outgrown his old one, he was hoping to get a new one for Easter. Bless his heart, he has gained so much weight, most of it in his belly, and it was very difficult to find something that fit him. We tried lots of different coats at a few different places, and it completely wore me out. At one point, I had to go to the bathroom and cry because it was so hard for me to see him have to deal with this already in his young life. But fortunately, because of my recent journey in prayer, I was able to take my focus off of the issue and just thank God for the gift of my sweet son. We were able to find clothes for everyone and we are looking forward to Easter Sunday. Sunday was another positive church experience for us. One of us usually goes by and picks Jonathan up from Sunday School, helping him go to the bathroom before going to church. We got out of Sunday School late, so we just went to the Sanctuary, expecting Elizabeth or Sarah to have picked him up. We saw Jonathan walking down the center isle and found his stuff lying in the pew that we usually sit in. When he walked up, I told him I was glad Sarah picked him up since we were late. He told me that she didn’t pick him up, but that he came by himself and even went to the bathroom by himself! That was exciting! On Sunday afternoon, while Lamar and I were in a class, Jonathan stayed downstairs to watch the practice for our church’s Easter program. When he was tired of being down there or had to tell us something, he walked all the way up to the 3 rd floor to our class, all by himself. He went back and forth from our class to the practice a couple of times on his own, then he went to class by himself again. He seems to be getting better at getting back to doing things on his own. We did not do school on Monday because our good friend Brooke was in from out of town staying with us. On Tuesday, Jonathan had his cranial therapy and his horse therapy again. Right after we got to Mrs. Lori’s, Jonathan seemed to get nervous and fearful. He said when he laid down he felt like he couldn’t breath. This has never happened at her house before, so I’m not sure what caused it this time. So instead of doing the usual cranial work, she talked to him and worked on dealing with some of this emotional stuff he seemed to be experiencing. He did fine and then we ate lunch on our way to horse therapy. Jonathan did another great job in horse therapy. Each week he gets better and better at handling the responsibilities of riding Skip. Mrs. Tammy taught Jonathan how to back the horse up so he could get him going in a different direction. Jonathan did really well at riding and turning Skip. At one point, Skip got a little spooked because a cat was coming through the bushes, so we learned how to handle the horse in that situation. After riding Skip around the trail, we went into one of the fenced areas to work on some things. Mrs. Tammy had Jonathan stand up in the stirrups as long as he could. That is pretty difficult for Jonathan because he doesn’t have much flexibility in his legs. Then she had him practice riding Skip through a figure 8 around some cones. He did this pretty well also. Jonathan gave Skip a special treat – he brought him an apple. He enjoyed it very much too! Mrs. Tammy is always very good at giving us extra interesting information about horses. She makes it very enjoyable for all of us.
Jonathan continues to struggle with sleeping. Last week, he slept from about 4-10 each morning without waking up much. Even though it meant we started school late every day and nothing else got done, at least we were getting some kind of uninterrupted sleep time. This week, there has been very little, if any, uninterrupted sleep time. These last few days, I think he has been up every 10-20 minutes all night long. He even wakes up crying. I spent some time every day last week and have continued this week to pray earnestly about this issue. I am trying to learn what God desires to teach me through this. I truly feel that He is not leading me to call a neurologist yet. I have gotten no confirmation about this each time I have prayed. However, it is difficult to stand by that when the only change I see in this situation is that it is getting worse. I hope you will continue to intercede for us about this. Pray that we will know exactly what the will of God is for this specific situation. Also pray that we will continue to stand on the promise of healing that God has given us and that we will allow Him to reveal that healing in His time. Over the weekend, Sarah shared something with us that really touched my heart. She said she had been having trouble going to sleep for a couple of nights. She told me she thought that God spoke to her, but she was afraid to say anything because she didn’t want anyone to think she was crazy. I asked her to tell me what He said to her. She said she was sitting in her bed staring at the wall when a face popped out at her. It scared her and she immediately hid her face in her pillow. She heard Him tell her not to be afraid. He told her she needed to trust Him for everything, that Jonathan was going to stop crying soon, and that Mom was going to get more sleep. I have been asking the Lord to speak to me about this sleeping issue, but I had no idea that He would use my sweet daughter to speak to me. I have thought a lot about her experience this week and pray that God will be faithful to speak to us and show us His will for Jonathan and our family as we continue on this journey.
I just want to tell you all what an incredible blessing you are to us. I know that many of you pray faithfully for Jonathan and our family. Knowing that brings us so much comfort, especially when we are dealing with difficult issues. Many of you share with us that you continue to follow Jonathan’s progress and read the updates faithfully. It means a great deal to us to know that you care enough about our precious miracle to check on him so regularly. Each week we receive wonderful emails from many of you. I can’t tell you the joy I get each time I open my mail and see a “Letter to the family” or a “Letter to Jonathan.” Thank you for taking the time to write and encourage us. We read every one of them to Jonathan. I hope you will continue to pray for Jonathan. Pray for his continued healing of his brain, vision and diabetes. Pray that he will continue to gain strength in his legs, ankles and feet. Pray for his continued independence and an increased initiative to do things on his own. Pray for any emotional healing that he may need and that the Lord would show us what needs to be dealt with and how to deal with it effectively. Please continue to pray earnestly that his sleeping would improve and God will answer our prayer for deliverance from this very soon. Pray that we will continue to trust the Lord until He brings that healing and deliverance and that we would not grow weary in waiting for His perfect will and timing.
It is amazing to think that one year ago today, April 8, we brought Jonathan home from the hospital for the first time in 3 ½ months. I remember every detail of that day as though it happened yesterday. God has been faithful to carry us through each day of this journey that He called us to take. Some days have been easier than others, some have brought tears and discouragement and others have brought great joy and happiness. Though our situation may change daily, our God is great and He never changes. We praise His name forever. God bless you all.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.