Sunday, December 24, 2006

We hope this Christmas Eve finds you and your family well and enjoying this wonderful season. We had a good, full, busy week and there is much to tell you. Monday was Grandma Smith’s birthday, so we spent most of our day in Ft. Worth. In the middle of the day we went to see the gait specialist at Cooks. We went, not really knowing what to expect. Jonathan was a little nervous but Uncle Timmy went with us and helped to distract him. There was about 5-6 people who came in to talk to us about Jonathan; one was Dr. Marks and several other PT and OT therapists. I began to recount the events of the past two years and we discussed many things about Jonathan. They watched him walk and run and moved his feet around to see how far up and down they could get his feet to go. They told us that the left foot could move to about 90 degrees and he likes to see it at 100 degrees. That should be achievable with some extra exercise on that foot. The right foot, however, will never work properly without surgery to lengthen the muscle or whatever it is in the back of the foot. The reason his foot turns out is because it can’t move forward or upward properly, therefore it pulls it outward in order to function. Although I didn’t know what to expect, I definitely didn’t expect to hear this. He said there was no reason to even consider dealing with that right now because he was much more concerned with his weight gain. Of all the doctors we have seen to date, this guy was more concerned with his weight gain than anyone else has been. He started throwing out all the possible diseases that he could have that would have caused this weight gain – thyroid problems, damaged pituitary glands, cushings disease, and some new disease that I have never heard of called prader willie (?). I told him that we had just had blood drawn to check the thyroid but I had not heard back from the doctors about the results (and I still haven’t heard back from anyone yet). I also told him that I would not be returning to Cook’s endocrinology either because I did not feel Jonathan was getting the individual care he needed to be getting regarding this weight issue. So this doctor wants to do an MRI and have blood work done to check the cushings and this prader willie thing, which means Jonathan will have to have blood drawn again. And then he wants to see us back again in January. I don’t have to tell you how this visit affected me. You all know me well enough from two years worth of journaling to know that I hate doctor visits that end up like this. So many things are thrown at you at one time and I am not able to process things that easily that quickly and it completely overwhelms me. Jonathan’s hopes of an easy solution to his walking issues were completely demolished as we walked out of the room. It was all I could do to keep him from crying. He was so discouraged and very disappointed. I managed not to cry in front of him because I didn’t want to upset him anymore. He has such a strong faith even in the midst of such discouragement. He knew I was upset and probably knew that when I disappeared, I was off crying somewhere. Whenever I returned, he would stop and hug me and tell me things were going to be okay. Oh if I could only believe like Jonathan believes. As I have gone throughout this week, I have been able to process all of this better and I’m not so discouraged by it as I was originally. The MRI is scheduled for Jan. 9 at 4:30. I was very firm with the doctor about our caution in doing anything that would require anesthesia, so he suggested we do it without. He will have to lie still for 20 minutes in order to have it done. We also have a lab sheet to have these other two blood tests done but were told to wait until they heard back about the thyroid. Our return visit to this doctor will be Jan. 17. We are in desperate need of your prayers regarding all of this. First of all, please pray that I will have time to do some research regarding all of this and that I will know whether to keep these appointments or not. Please pray that I will be able to find a new doctor that will be able to help us as we pursue the help that Jonathan needs regarding his weight. Pray that I will not be afraid to go through with all of this but that I will trust God to orchestrate these events just as He has so faithfully done throughout this entire experience. Also, begin to pray now for Jonathan as he has to have blood drawn again. Pray for whomever we will encounter that will do it as well as Jonathan’s peace about having it done. Begin now to pray for him that he will be able to handle this MRI without any problem and that he will be able to lie perfectly still without any trouble. I am asking God and Believing God that each of the diseases that they are testing him for will come back negative and that the MRI films will bear witness to God’s miraculous healing of Jonathan’s brain. And one last thing regarding all of this is to pray that we will trust God to provide for us financially throughout all of this. Remember the Scripture that I shared with you last time?
2 Corinthians 1:9-11- Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers.
This is another crisis of belief that God has brought our way to cause us to rely on Him to deliver us and to gain strength from your prayers for us. The promise is that: Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. I am looking forward to sharing with you how God is going to deliver us and show Himself strong on our behalf through this situation. Please pray and Believe with us!
Well, Tuesday we went caroling at the nursing home with our home school friends. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed ministering to the precious people there. Later on that night, Jonathan had his drum lesson and did very well. On Wednesday, we welcomed home Grandpa Cooper and Uncle Chris from Israel. It is great to have them home. The rest of the day Wednesday and all day Thursday was spent finishing up our Christmas shopping. Friday we wrapped all our presents and Saturday we did our baking. On Saturday evening we visited with all the extended family on the Smith side. This morning we had a wonderful service at church. It was awesome to see the entire church full of people. The rest of our day was spent just hanging out with our family and getting ready for Santa to come tonight. I just love Christmas! We are looking forward to a wonderful day tomorrow with all our family.
We want all of you to know how much we love you and how thankful we are for all of you who have loved us and carried us through these past two years. Without the “prayers of so many” we would not be where we are today. So we want to wish each of you a wonderful Christmas and God’s most wonderful blessings in this New Year. We also want to invite each of you to join us again this year on Saturday, December 30, to celebrate the wonderful things that God has done in our lives throughout 2006. Last year we did this on the anniversary of Jonathan’s illness and it was such a precious time for our family to have so many of you join us in celebrating God’s gift of healing in Jonathan’s life. While this year’s event will also be on the same anniversary, I want it to be a time when we all can look back over the year and share how God has worked miracles in our lives. Miracles are all around us and our God is great and greatly to be praised. So we want to invite you to come fellowship with us and come ready to honor our Lord with testimonies of His love, faithfulness, provision and miracles in your lives. May God bless each of you with a very Merry Christmas!

All our love – The Cooper Family

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts toward us; There is none to come with Thee; If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count. Psalm 40:5

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Well, this has been an interesting week for us. We finished up our schooling for the most part and are very much looking forward to Christmas break. The girls have a couple of tests to take on Monday/Tuesday but for the most part we are done. I am praying for and anticipating a better start after the first of the year. On Monday, Jonathan had his drum lesson. He continues to do very well and works hard to improve his skills and learn new things that Mr. Brian teaches him. On Tuesday, Jonathan had a follow up visit with the eye doctor. The doctor had just returned from a low vision conference which he attended with Jonathan in mind. He received a lot of information about new technology that is available for people with low vision issues. He seemed very excited about the available possibilities for Jonathan. He did not have time to process all the information and check it all out before our appointment, so he is in the process of doing that now and is suppose to get back with me in a couple of weeks with his recommendations. Right now Jonathan just uses a store bought magnifier to help him read. The doctor said he needs a particular magnification based on his vision and the corrective glasses that he is wearing. He is supposed to be figuring out what that is so that we will know what kind of magnifier he needs. Of course, all this wonderful new technology means that it costs quite a bit. But God made Jonathan’s eyes and He knows his needs better than any of us do, so I have no choice but to trust Him to heal Jonathan’s eyes or to provide the means for us to obtain whatever he needs. On Wednesday, we went to visit Santa in the afternoon. I told you last time that Jonathan and I had been talking about the gift he would wish for that money could not buy. That gift for him would be his healing. In talking about that, I told him that I didn’t think that Santa would be the one who would bring him that, but I also didn’t think that God would mind him telling Santa that this was his wish. Well, as we were approaching Santa, Jonathan asked me if he should tell Santa what we talked about and I told him yes if he wanted to. He had not said anything to his sisters or anyone else about this, so they had no idea what he was going to tell Santa. So after visiting with Santa and taking their pictures with him, I asked Jonathan what he said. He told Santa that he wanted some high top tennis shoes (which is a top item on his Christmas list) but most of all he wanted to be healed. Jonathan said he just looked at him, sat back and said, “Okay.” I’m not sure Santa knew what to say. Jonathan is not bashful when sharing with others about his needs and desires regarding his situation. Nor is he hesitant to share his faith and belief in the only One who can meet those needs and fulfill those desires. This precious boy blesses me, speaks to me, challenges me, and helps me with his love and trust in the Lord. That evening, Jonathan finished up Awanas by completing the third chapter in his book. He worked very hard and was able to pass the 8 sections of this chapter in about 3 weeks; that included about 6 individual verses, the 10 Commandments and saying all the books of the Bible in under 2 minutes. He is doing such a great job. On Thursday, he had his second basketball practice. This is no play time for Jonathan. Coach Ben works him hard. He expects the same hard work and effort from Jonathan as he does from the rest of the team. The boys are very encouraging to Jonathan and they have picked up right where they left off last year. Uncle Timmy and Aunt Keby came to watch some of his practice and that just urges Jonathan to work even harder when there are others there watching him. We spent the day today helping to decorate Grandpa Cooper’s house for Christmas while he is away in Israel. He and Uncle Chris will be returning this coming Wednesday so we are working to get everything finished before they get home. Tomorrow will be a busy day for us at church. If you are at home around 6 pm tomorrow evening you can hear the Sanctuary Choir and Orchestra present “Gloria, the Wonder of Christmas” on KCBI 90.9 fm. We will be presenting it at 3 pm as well but I’m not sure if it will be aired on the radio then or not. This will be my first concert with the choir since returning to First Baptist and I can hardly wait.
I hope you will be in prayer for us on Monday afternoon as Jonathan goes to see the gait specialist at Cooks. I’m not sure what to expect. I just know that it is like a clinic where all the therapists get together and evaluate him at one time. Please pray for wisdom for them and that they will be able to offer the specific help that Jonathan needs to help him improve his walking. Please pray that Jonathan will not be nervous. He seems excited about going because he is expecting them to help him with his walking. He seems ready to do whatever is necessary to improve his walking. Please pray for me that I will have wisdom and discernment as I consider their suggestions and the options available for him. Please continue to pray for his diet and exercise. His blood sugars were better this week so his body must have adjusted to not taking the glucaphauge. Also pray for me as I try to spend some time over the Christmas break researching and seeking the direction that God has for us to take regarding his diabetes. Pray that God will lead me very specifically to the right people/person that we need to help us with his diabetes and his weight loss.
I said at the beginning that this has been an interesting week for us. While things have gone well and have been positive on one hand, we have found ourselves in the midst of another crisis of belief in our family. This time last year we found ourselves praying for God’s financial provision for our family. We watched as He faithfully provided all that we needed to meet our financial commitments for the year. It has been another wonderful stone of remembrance for me throughout this year as I have reflected on God’s faithfulness to us in that particular situation. This year we are back in the same situation, although at a much more sever degree that we have ever been in our family. Worry has been close at hand as I have been praying and crying out to God for His provision and deliverance for us again. I am almost finished with my Believing God Bible Study and this week, God has spoken to me on several occasions regarding this very issue. I don’t know why I’m always so amazed when God does that. I know I have shared these verses with you before; I even have Jonathan’s name written out beside them in my Bible. But this time they spoke to me about this particular situation in our family. I want to share them with you.

2 Corinthians 1:9-11- Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

We have felt this “sentence of death” in our family a number of times over these last couple of years. Death has come to mean many different things to me. Right now, our sentence of death is our desperate financial situation. But the verse says that “this happened so that we would not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” I can’t tell you the number of times I have prayed for God’s provision this week while at the very same time there were thoughts running through my mind of how I can handle this if God happens to not come through. Am I a dork or what? I’ve been there, I’ve done that and God drastically showed me who was in control 2 years ago when Jonathan became ill. We can’t do this on our own; it is God who raises the dead. Verse 10 says that it is God who has delivered us in the past and he will continue to deliver us, therefore our hope is set on Him. And not just that, but we are being helped because there are so many of you praying for us and yet again we will all give thanks for the gracious favor that He will grant us in answer to our prayers. Because of your prayers, you share a significant part of the miracles that God performs in our lives. I have quoted this Scripture over and over again and it gives me courage and strength to stand in faith and Believe God yet again for what we need. You may be at a crisis of belief in your life with a sentence of death in your heart. Take heart – it is God who raises the dead! Set your hope on Him. May God give you a blessed week.

John 15:7-9 7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

This has been a busy week but a good week for us here. There has been something to do every day or night this week, so it’s been “one of those weeks.” This is a busy time of year, and even though it’s busy, there are many times that I find myself reliving the events in my mind of that Christmas two years ago and I can’t help but stop and realize how blessed we are to be here today, enjoying this season, even with all it’s busyness. God has been so good to us. After the wonderful snow and ice we enjoyed last week, Jonathan had his first Sunday School Christmas party to go to. On Friday night we went to the church and had his Christmas party in the skating rink. After eating hot dogs, most of the kids got out there and just had a great time skating or running around and hanging out with each other. Jonathan wanted to try to skate, so we strapped on some skates and gave it a try. It took us forever to get around the rink just one time! But he never gave up. He kept working at it until he made it all the way around. The kids were all very sweet and I can’t even count the number of kids that skated around him and said hi to him and encouraged him in this. It completely wore me out! He held on to the side and I held on to him. But I’m so glad he made it around the rink. That was all we could handle for the evening, so we just hung out on the side for the rest of the evening. It amazes me how many people know who Jonathan is and always speak to him. The usual conversation goes something like this…Someone will walk by and say, “Hey Jonathan,” and I’ll say to him, “Who was that?” And he says, “I don’t know.” When people see him, adults and children alike, they are just drawn to speak to him. It is such an encouragement to him and makes him feel so special. I have always marveled at that, but I feel so blessed that so many people take the time to love him and speak to him. One of the highlights of the evening was when Santa came by to visit and pass out toys to everyone who was there. Jonathan wasted no time in getting close to him to hug him and tell him what he wanted to for Christmas. Santa came by and talked to him several other times before he left and assured him that those high top tennis shoes he is asking for will be under his tree for Christmas! It was a fun night and a special night for him as this was the first time we went to a party for him instead of for one of our social girls. We slept in on Saturday and hung out together for most of the day until we had to take Sarah to her Sunday School Christmas party. After that, we spent the evening at Grandpa Cooper’s house with the rest of the family. We had dinner together and spent a couple of hours going through Grandma’s jewelry and some other things that were divided up among us. While it was something we never wanted to have to do, it was a pleasant evening looking at all her special things and hearing the stories behind each one. On Monday we started another busy week of school and then spent some time at Grandma and Grandpa Smith’s house celebrating our Cousin Mariah’s 6 th birthday. On Tuesday, we were back in Ft. Worth early in the morning for Jonathan’s regular endocrine appointment. There was some good news and some not so good news. The good news is that his weight gain has slowed significantly compared to the last several visits. Instead of gaining 6-7 pounds each three months, he only gained about 2 this time. So even though it was not a loss, we were still encouraged by that. We saw a new doctor this time. He was very nice but I have decided that we will not return to Cooks again. I left as discouraged and frustrated as I do every time I leave there. We continue to have problems just getting his A1C (average blood sugar) test done and this time we had to go and have blood drawn again. This was to check his thyroid (since he has gained so much weight) and some metabolic profile (I’m not sure what that is). He informed us that we would have to have that checked every three months because he takes glucaphauge which causes liver damage and renal failure. This was the first time I had been informed of that and he has been taking that for almost a year now. That really bothered me. My sweet little boy goes through so much every day that I refuse to put him through any unnecessary stress, and having blood drawn has not been an easy thing for him in the past. We haven’t had it done in a year, but our last experience was not a pleasant one. After we got back to my parent’s house, I sat in my car, fighting back the tears, asking God if we had to do this. I felt like this was something we needed to go ahead and do, so I talked to Jonathan and told him I had prayed about it and felt like God wanted us to go do this. He said okay, although he was very nervous about it. The first time they stuck him, they got nothing. The girl was good enough not to try a second time, but got someone else to try. The second girl worked for quite a while before sticking him and got it on the first try. Jonathan never cried or got upset. He was very calm the whole time. We told both of the girls that since he had such a bad experience the last time, we were praying for them that they would be able to get it quickly. Jonathan’s veins are very hard to find. He told the second girl where his vein was and she agreed with him. But it was very deep and she didn’t want to go that deep so she found another place and did it perfectly. He never even bruised in either place that they stuck him. Tuesday was a difficult day for me. There was a battle between my faith and belief in my God who has done the impossible in Jonathan’s life and the reality that he must struggle with these issues every day of his life. That joy in believing (Rom. 15:13) was overshadowed by the doubt and discouragement of Jonathan’s situation. My eyes of faith were dimmed once again by what my eyes can only see. It is a dangerous place to be. I can’t tell you how many times I turned my face away from Jonathan, swallowed that lump in my throat and blinked back the tears as I asked God, “Why this precious little boy? Why not me?” God was faithful to carry me through that day and to show Himself strong on Jonathan’s behalf as he dealt with all that the day brought, including having his blood taken. Jonathan is such a testimony to me of unwavering faith. Yes, there are time when he comments on how he has prayed for God to heal him but He hasn’t done it yet. Just last night he was talking about believing God for his healing and that he seems to be on a journey to find this moment of healing in his life. When we are in the car sometimes we hear people calling in on KLTY to share the gift they would like to give or receive this Christmas that money cannot buy. Jonathan has commented several times that the gift that he would like to receive that would be the greatest gift ever for him would be his healing. I pray that God will help me Believe Him as much as this 10 year old little boy Believes God. This week Jonathan started Upward basketball practice on Thursday nights. He has been counting down the days for weeks now waiting for this to come. He has the same coaches this year as he did last year and many of the same boys are on his team again this year. He had a great time. His coaches were so encouraging from the very beginning, telling him how much better he was running, how he looked like he had lost some weight, and they got right down to the business of working on their basketball skills. This is such a good thing for Jonathan to be part of. His coaches are very aware of his limitations, and yet they push him to move beyond those limitations and they help him build confidence in himself as he works to be a vital part of their team. We are looking forward to seeing him grow significantly during this basketball season. On Saturday, the kids had rehearsal all morning long for their Christmas program last night. Aunt Keby picked them all up and kept them during the day so that Lamar and I could get some Christmas shopping done. Jonathan did fine and Lamar and I enjoyed some time together. We enjoyed the Sounds of Christmas that all the children’s choirs presented last night at church. It was such a neat thing to watch. All of the choirs from the preschool to the high school filled the stage and the entire choir loft and sang the opening song together. Sarah had a little solo in that song and did a beautiful job. We are so proud of her. Jonathan did a great job of remembering all the words to all his songs. And Elizabeth looked and sounded beautiful with her choir as well. After the music was done, we moved to the plaza and heard the Christmas story read as we watched it unfold in the nativity windows of one of the buildings. Sarah was one of the heavenly hosts of angels in the very top window. It was a beautiful sight and very effective. Afterward, we had some pictures taken in the Sanctuary of our family that hopefully will be on our Christmas card soon and then we had dinner together with our family and some of our friends.
Well, thanks so much for checking on us and for continuing to faithfully pray for our family. There are several things you can pray for Jonathan this week. Pray that we will continue to be diligent on our diet and exercise program. We are thankful for the progress we are seeing, but pray that God will allow us to see some weight loss soon as we continue to work hard toward this goal. Pray for Jonathan’s blood sugars as well. I quit giving him the glucaphauge after learning that it causes liver damage and renal failure. This has caused his blood sugar to run higher than usual. Pray that God will adjust this in his system and that his body will process the insulin effectively as it needs to. Also pray that God will give us wisdom and direction as we seek another doctor for him and that if there is something natural that we can give him that will help his body process the insulin more effectively but will not potentially damage his body, that this information will be made known to us. Pray that we will all continue to walk by faith, believing and trusting God for Jonathan’s life and future instead of focusing on what our eyes can see. Also please pray for our family that we will trust God to provide for the significant needs that we have as we near the end of the year again. God provided so incredibly for us last year and we are looking to Him for His provision again this year. Jonathan also has an eye doctor appointment on Tuesday. Please pray for that as I’m not sure what to expect from this appointment. Thank you for the blessing of your friendship and your prayers throughout this year. You are wonderful and we thank God for each of you.

Hebrews 6:17-20 17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Friday, December 1, 2006

You are warmly invited to join our family again, at the close of this year, as we celebrated the goodness and faithfulness of God in our lives throughout 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
6 pm – 8 pm
The Cooper’s House
1665 Niagara Blvd.
Lewisville , TX 75077
Bring your family and join us for food, fellowship and a special time to share and praise God for His miraculous works in our lives during this past year.
We hope you will come and join us!