Monday, May 14, 2007

Well, it’s been about 2 ½ weeks since I’ve updated. We have been busy with life here at our house. What a blessing that is! There have been many things happening here and there is much to share. Let’s back up a couple of weeks to Thursday, April 26. We left in the morning that day to travel to Missouri for a family wedding. This is the first time we have been out of town for about 7 months, so it was kind of nice to get away for a couple of days. It was a quick trip with not a lot of free time, but we made the most of it and had a good time. We got to visit with all of the Cooper side of the family and made many other new acquaintances as well. We had a little time on Friday during the day to ourselves, so we visited the Precious Moments Chapel that was nearby. This was the first time any of us had ever been there. It was beautiful. All of the paintings we saw were wonderful, but the most touching ones were the large pictures of heaven at the front of the chapel. We listened to a lady share very specific details about the pictures. I guess heaven has come to mean so much to us since our Grandma Cooper resides there now. Isn’t it wonderful to have the promise and hope of heaven? These paintings were incredibly detailed with little stories of people tucked away in them. There were parents being reunited with their children, a husband seeing his wife again, friends meeting again and individuals that represent specific stories that this man has painted into these pictures. It was almost as if these pictures of heaven could come alive at any moment and you would find yourself talking to these very people you were hearing about. It was incredibly moving. When we first arrived, we entered the gift shop building. To see the paintings, you had to leave that building and walk down a beautifully landscaped path that lead to the chapel where they were displayed. On our way down the path to the chapel we stopped to look at a small rock garden around a little pond. There was a Precious Moment’s angel holding a sign that said, “Grandma and Grandpa Cooper’s Rock Garden.” They have no idea how much that meant to our family. There was a cave in the side of a hill with a Precious Moment’s angel sanding outside of it and a sign close by saying “He is not here, He has risen as He said”- The reason for our hope of heaven. We got to see the home where this painter has lived and raised his children and the little playhouse castle he built for his children. There are so many wonderful and moving things on these grounds that it is a must see if you are ever in that part of Missouri. We were blessed to have been able to visit there. We had to leave and head home on Saturday because we had some special things happening on Sunday that we had to be at church for. Before we left, we got to tour the tiny house that President Harry Truman was born and lived in for a couple of years. That’s about all there was to see in the little town we were in. We traveled back home on Saturday and Jonathan spent most of the day on Sunday getting ready for the Children’s Choir musical that they presented that evening. Although I had taken him to rehearsal several times, I had never stayed to watch him practice. So none of us had any idea what his part was going to be like. All we knew is that he was the Big Bad Wolf. This musical, Once Upon a Time, was a spiritual journey of several nursery rhyme characters to find Jesus while traveling through the difficulties of their lives. It was one of the best programs I have seen in a while. Most of what Jonathan did was in the overture of the program. He walked out in a black suit with hairy hands, a hairy face, and a hat with ears on it. He looked hysterical! The first thing he did was he walked out and scared the three little pigs with his roar and the whole church erupted in laughter and applause. He walked around roaring at several other people and every time he did, the church responded with laughter and applause. It was so much fun. He had another part later in a song where he roared at someone else and it was just as funny. He was so very proud of his part and he did it with all his might. He knew his songs very well and sang during the remainder of the program with the rest of the choir. We are so thankful for the opportunity he was given to participate in this play. It was a blessing to see him in an acting role again…something he has not done since he got sick. Sunday was also Aunt Sherri’s birthday, so before beginning school again on Monday, we spent the day with the Smith side of the family celebrating Aunt Sherri’s birthday. We have been diligently working over the last couple of weeks to finish up school. Jonathan and Sarah will both finish this week and Elizabeth will finish next week (hopefully!). I have been so encouraged by Jonathan’s progress this year in school. We have really had to take is slowly since his illness, but this year he has come so far. He finished all his spelling lessons this year, he will also finish his entire grammar book, and he has finished at least two-thirds of his math book, grasping and understanding the concepts so much better this year. God has been so very good. I know that each year is going to get better and better. Even though this has been an extremely difficult school year for us, I am so pleased with where Jonathan is at the end of it. I can hardly wait for everyone to be finished and summer to be officially here! At the beginning of May, we all joined the gym and began working out together as a family. Jonathan and I have still been getting out each morning and walking or riding bikes and scooters, but we are also going in the afternoon or the evening to the gym as well. Jonathan rides the bike and walks on the treadmill, and he also does a number of weight machines to work on his legs, his stomach and his arms. We are trying to settle into a routine there and hoping to see this increase the progress of his weight loss, strengthening his legs, and his endurance. He loves to go to the gym. There is something about being there that really motivates him to work hard at this fitness thing. Right now, he is hovering around 115 pounds which is so great! I don’t know if we will make it to 110 by next Thursday (May 24 – his birthday), but we will hopefully be pretty close. Jonathan has been doing a great job at horse therapy. We have had to pray really hard these last couple of weeks for God to hold off the rain until he got to have his lesson. Mrs. Julie is really challenging him in his lessons. He is working really hard with Lollypop. The biggest thing he is working on is commanding the horse by himself. Sometimes Lolly has a mind of his own and would rather just stand there or follow Mrs. Julie instead of listen to Jonathan. Jonathan’s tendency is to just wait for someone else to help him if he can’t make Lolly do what he is asking him to do. So she is working on helping him handle the horse on his own. He is making great strides in his balance and stamina on the horse. He is getting on and off the horse on his own almost all of the time now. Needless to say, by the time he is done with his lesson, he is hot, sweaty, and pretty tired. But he is doing so well. On Thursday of last week, (May 10), we made our annual trip to Home School Family Day at Six Flags. God has been so gracious to answer our prayers for no rain on Tuesdays, so we asked Him for no rain on Thursday last week, at least between 11 am and 6 pm. He did answer that prayer, but because there was lighting around the area, they shut down most of the rides around 3:30. So after waiting around about an hour to see if anything would open up, we left and got a rain check for another day at Six Flags! Yippee! Two days for the price of one! For this family, that’s a real treat! We did get to ride several things in the morning and early afternoon. We had a great time as usual. I am constantly amazed at the significant change in Jonathan and how he fearless he is now about roller coasters. I’m sure I say this every year, but he is so different now than he was before his illness. Before he got sick, he was afraid of everything, especially roller coasters. Now he seems to be afraid of very little. He will get on just about any roller coaster at Six Flags with me and love it. It is so much fun to watch him really enjoy himself. There were a couple of rides he really wanted to go on that he has never been on yet, but they were closed because of the weather. We will most definitely go on them when we go back. It is usually our tradition to go out to eat with all the other home school families we have met up with after our day at Six Flags each year. This year we went to the Trail Dust Steak House. The best part of this restaurant is the huge slide that they have to play on. All the kids enjoyed spending a great deal of time going up and down the slide…Jonathan included. I went with him and helped him up each time he slid down before our food came. He, of course, wanted to go again after he ate. This time all the kids went and one of the teenage boys helped Jonathan up every time he came down the slide, while I got to sit and visit with the adults. He was very attentive to Jonathan and I was so blessed by his kindness toward him. Jonathan must have gone up and down that slide 50 times and he did it with such ease. It was so fun to watch the kids enjoying themselves so much and it was such a blessing to see Jonathan in the middle of it. The most exciting thing about this year’s trip to Six Flags is that it was the first time we have gone, since Jonathan got out of the hospital, without taking the wheel chair! He walked the entire time and did it without any trouble. I asked him before we left if we needed to take it this year and he said, “No way! I can walk without any problem!” This is such an obvious outward manifestation of how much stronger he is getting as time goes on. It is yet another miraculous work of God in Jonathan’s life. I had a wonderful Mother’s Day yesterday. My parents, sisters and brother and their families were all over for lunch and we had a great time sitting around visiting. I am truly the most blessed Mom in all the world. My husband and children are my treasured possessions and I am so very thankful for each of them.
Well, as always, we are blessed by your continued prayers and attention to the wonderful things God is doing in Jonathan’s life and in the life of our family. Thank you for taking the time to keep up with us and for waiting on me when I take so long to update. Please continue to pray for Jonathan’s progress in his weight loss, diet and exercise. He is doing so well and he is looking so good. I hope we will be able to get some pictures posted for you soon so you can see how much God is blessing this precious boy. Keep praying that we will be able to continue to see results in our diligent efforts to lose weight. Pray that he will gain new strength from his time at the gym. We still have not heard bay from Scottish Rite, so I have no word on that. Continue to pray that I will find the right endocrinologist for Jonathan. I thought that Children’s was where we needed to be, but as things keep changing, I’m not so sure of that anymore. Praise God for these phenomenal milestones in Jonathan’s life and the wonderful progress he has made so far this year. We love each of you and are so very thankful for your friendship, support and love for our family. You are a tremendous blessing to us. Have a blessed week!

Psalm 18:1-3 I love you, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

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