Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wow! Can you believe I’m here and it’s only been two weeks! I must be doing good! I knew if I didn’t update today that it would be another couple of weeks since we are going camping again next weekend. There is not a whole lot that has been happening except that we are living our lives and loving where God has us right now. We continue to see God’s hand of faithfulness in our lives each and every day. We are truly an incredibly blessed family. We are seeing some significant improvements in Jonathan’s life so far this school year. So let me share them with you so you can see how God is continuing to work in his life.
So far, school is going well. The first school year after Jonathan’s illness, things progressed so slowly. I was less than encouraged at the end of that year that we might ever be able to make it through high school. But at the end of last year, I saw so much improvement in Jonathan’s school work. I ended the year with hope that as he progresses through each school year, things will get better and better and we just might make it through high school. This year has begun with some great changes in Jonathan that are very encouraging. As you know, Jonathan is a very dependent person. It’s not that he has to be and can’t do things on his own, but he seems to choose that option more often than not. He relies on me heavily for most everything. I think that is a result of our relationship throughout his illness and hospital stay, and the months following that. Typically, we are together most of the time and it is just a natural thing for me to handle or help him with much of his life. I am aware of that and have been praying and working on helping him become more independent in his every day life. This year in our school schedule, we have worked in a 30 minute time period at the beginning where everyone has a quiet time. Jonathan is currently listening to the Psalms on CD. He will turn on his CD and listen to his Psalm every morning on his own. As you also know, Awana has begun and Jonathan is in a new Sunday School class. Both of those classes come with lots of Scripture memory work. He is very motivated to learn the memory work in both of those classes which is in itself a huge improvement. Right now, he is learning 3-4 verses a week in Awana and 5 verses a week in Sunday School. And he is doing it, for the most part, on his own. I type up the verses he is learning for the week and enlarge them so that they are easy for him to read, and during his quiet time, he spends some of that time reading and memorizing those Scriptures on his own. This has been a wonderful change that has brought me so much encouragement. I know it may seem like a little thing, but it is a huge thing in Jonathan’s life and something for which we praise God for. Jonathan also sits down each day and begins his schoolwork on his own. He is able to practice his spelling words, do his handwriting, read his grammar sentences and do the work on his own. He is doing pretty well in math as well. He is struggling a little with his 3 digit multiplication, but we continue to work on it each day, and I know that he will soon master that as well. God has been good to show us improvement in Jonathan’s life through his schooling. Jonathan has also begun taking drum lessons from Uncle Timmy. So far he has had two lessons with him, and I think they have stayed in there and worked for about 1 ½ hours each time. He is doing very well with it and I can already hear a change in his playing. This is such a blessing for Jonathan as he loves his Uncle Timmy greatly. I know that God is going to use this in a great way in Jonathan’s life, and I hope in Uncle Timmy’s life as well. Jonathan is also doing very well in horse therapy. He and Ella make such a great team. I can see so much added strength in his legs. It is exciting to see how much he has improved and how far he has come with this. We continue to work with him to help him become independent in his riding. As I have said before, he has a tendency to rely on Mrs. Julie to make the horse do what he is asking her to do, instead of working to get her to do it because he has asked. Horses are a lot like children. Sometimes they have a mind of their own and decide not to do what you have just commanded them to do. It is much easier for Jonathan to just do what he can do and wait for Mrs. Julie to step in a make it happen for him. This is the next big hurdle for Jonathan to tackle, but when he does succeed, it will be a huge turning point for him. I am praying and believing God for this in Jonathan’s life. We continue to remain faithful to our diet and exercise program. It is sometimes discouraging when you stay at the same spot for a period of time, but we try not to lose heart. The good thing is that we are not going up! We are maintaining. Jonathan is still at 113 pounds right now. However, even though his weight may not be changing much, his blood sugars have been great. When we first began this program at the beginning of the year, it seemed like when he was losing weight, his insulin levels would remain the same. But when we were not losing weight, we would be dropping his insulin. We got down to 25 units of lantis and kind of stopped for several months. Honestly, I guess I thought that was so good that I quit praying for God to continue to work there. I just realized that recently and have begun praying about that again. After spending the last week and a half checking his blood sugars at 3 am, we have dropped his lantus again by 3 points. He is now taking only 22 units of lantus each night! What a praise! He is growing so much in caring for his diabetes on his own. He knows when he is low and he knows how to check his blood sugar on his own. The only thing he still does not do on his own is draw up his insulin. We still continue to pray and believe God for healing of his diabetes. It will be awesome when it happens! While we are seeing more strength in Jonathan’s legs because of his faithful exercising this year, there is still a great deal of weakness in his right leg. It is amazing to watch him walk so well when he really thinks about keeping his foot straight. We encourage him to make a conscious effort to keep his foot straight, knowing that one day it will be a natural thing instead of something he has to concentrate on doing. We continue to pray for strength and healing for his right leg. The Scripture I claim for Jonathan regarding this is Hebrews 12:11-13. I will share it with you at the end. Elizabeth and Sarah are both doing great as well. They are such tremendous blessings to me that I can’t even describe how incredibly thankful I am that God has given them to our family. They love and care for Jonathan in such a beautiful way. One night while I was taking a shower, Jonathan slipped and fell in the bathroom. He did not significantly hurt himself, but it did hurt and upset him. Lamar helped him up and got him to sit on his bed. By the time I got there, Elizabeth and Sarah had surrounded him and were talking to him and making his laugh so that he had already forgotten all about the fall. The unconditional love and constant care they both give to Jonathan truly blesses my heart each time I see it. They are such precious treasures.
I want to share one last thing with you that has been on my heart lately that I have been praying about for Jonathan and would like to ask you to join me in praying for him. One of the things that I have always been amazed at and so grateful for is the kindness of the children that we encounter towards Jonathan. I know that children can be unkind and make fun of other kids who are different or kids who have obvious issues. I can only think of one incident in these past almost 3 years where a child has been less than kind to Jonathan. They are all very kind and caring toward Jonathan and that has truly been a gift from God. It has come to my attention in recent weeks that while the children he is around are always kind and considerate of him, Jonathan really does not have a close friend that hangs out with him like the other kids do. Jonathan has never been an extremely social child. He would always ask to have someone over to play, but then half way through the visit, we would find him playing on his own while his friend was playing with the girls or doing something else. Those social skills are even less now. We always encourage him to go hang out with the other kids, talk with them and see what they are doing. While he may go and do that, it usually doesn’t last long, because he doesn’t interact much and he is easily overlooked. It breaks my heart. He doesn’t seem to notice or be bothered by it because he is just content with our presence in his life. But we watch it happen and it bothers us. It makes me cry. While we continue to work toward helping Jonathan become less dependent of us as his parents, to branch out on his own in some things, and develop his social skills, I have begun to pray that God would bring a “David” friend into Jonathan’s life. I am praying that God will bring someone special into Jonathan’s life to be his special, close, kindred spirit friend. I’m not sure what God has in store for Jonathan in this area, but I know that it will be for his good. I hope you will join me in praying for Jonathan about this specific thing in his life. God has begun an incredibly good work in Jonathan’s life and I know that He will be faithful to bring it to completion and the results will be amazing.
Thank you so much for your incredible love and care and your constant prayers for Jonathan and our family. I can’t imagine what this journey would have been like if we had had to walk it without you. Knowing that you are praying encourages us more than we could ever express. We hope you will join us in thanking God for His work in Jonathan’s life and pray with us for His continued work and blessing in these areas. May God richly bless each of you this week. We love you all.

Hebrews 12:11-13 - All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Well, it looks like it’s been another month again since I posted. Where does the time go? It’s just an amazing thing to be living life and doing all those ordinary things we do that make up our lives. There are so many times that I just stop and thank God for allowing us to be at home, living this everyday life instead of being in the hospital. God used those 3 ½ months of Jonathan’s illness to change my life in many ways. Being aware of and being thankful for the little things that are so easy to take for granted is one of the ways my life has been changed. I pray that I never again take my daily life for granted. It can change in a heartbeat. I am constantly aware of what I am doing and find myself regularly asking the questions, “Is what I’m doing a part of what God has called me to be doing? It is so easy to let other “good” things get in the way of the “Best” things that God really wants us to be doing. I learned that lesson the hard way, but I’m so thankful He taught it to me. I never want to Him to have to teach me that lesson again. I have become increasingly aware of how precious our family time is. Jonathan’s illness changed our family. I realized during that time, when my family was temporarily separated, what a gift God had given me in them, and how I had easily let other good things rob me of my precious family time. God graciously restored my family and has been redeeming that time for me over these last almost 3 years. Yes, can you believe it will be 3 years this December since Jonathan began this journey? A truly amazing journey it has been! God has been good to us and continues to show Himself faithful in our lives each and every day. What a blessing it is to be alive and living in His will.
Well, let me see if I can think back a month and update you on all the things we have been doing. We were able to start school as planned on Aug. 27. No, I was not nearly as ready as I wanted to be then, but we started anyway. So far, so good. We have made it 3 weeks and we are still on schedule! I call that a successful start to the school year! That first week was a short week because we left on Fri. to go camping for Labor Day weekend. It has been almost a year, for various reasons, since we have had the chance to go camping. Labor Day weekend couldn’t get here fast enough for us. We went to Lake Tawokani with 4 other families from Lakeland and we had a very nice weekend. We had such a great time visiting with friends and we had an awesome time just being together as a family. God has blessed us with many special family memories by allowing us to camp. We are looking forward to many more. So, basically, our first two weeks of school were 4 day weeks. On the very first day of school, Jonathan and I spent the afternoon attending an intensive insulin class at Children’s in the hopes of finding out more about the pump. It was basically another 3 hours of the same stuff we heard in the first class we went to. We did get about 30 minutes worth of insulin pump information, but we have to go to at least 2 or 3 more classes before we actually will get the ball rolling with the pump. I was a little frustrated with that. So really we are no further along with that issue than we were when we went to that class. I have not made any other appointments regarding that yet. So he is still doing the same thing he has always done for now. On the day after we returned from camping, Jonathan started horse therapy again. It was so good to be out there again. We are blessed to have Mrs. Julie again, our most favorite teacher. She was thrilled to see Jonathan and told him how good he looked. She did tell us that Jonathan was getting a new horse because someone who has always ridden Lolly was coming at the same time so Jonathan would need a new horse. Seems like we have heard that story before! But that’s okay. Mrs. Julie has such great confidence in Jonathan’s ability to be flexible with change. And he made this change, as he has the other changes, with no problem whatsoever. Jonathan’s new horse is Ella, who is a new horse at SpiritHorse. She is a beautiful horse and a perfect size for Jonathan. They look perfect together. Jonathan remembered everything he was suppose to do and got Ella ready to ride. Oh how I wish you could have seen Jonathan ride that day! I think the biggest change I saw in him was his increased strength. He stood up so tall and strong in the saddle for his two point exercises. It was amazing! He got on and off the horse with much greater ease and strength. He has really come a long way since his first session out there. As a matter of fact, this past week when we went, Mrs. Tammy, Jonathan’s very first teacher, was out there and walked around with us while he had his lesson. She and I talked a great deal about how much better he was now than when she first had him. The improvement is significant and the change in him is great. God has used this therapy for so much good in Jonathan’s life. We have been so blessed and are so thankful for this incredible opportunity to utilize this therapy. We are looking forward to a great session of horse therapy. On Wed. Sept. 5, Awana started up again. This is Jonathan’s last year to do Awana. He has really been looking forward to starting Awana. He has new teachers this year, Mr. and Mrs. St. John. Our goal this year is for Jonathan to go to Awana by himself, from beginning to end. Last year, since we were at a new church, I would go and stay with him through verse time and help him study to say his verses. This year, Jonathan is going all by himself, studying on his own or with Mrs. St. John who said she would take my place and help him study. I have also started typing out the verses he is saying and enlarging the print so that he can study on his own. I know he can do this on his own, but he has to learn that he can do this on his own. He did just fine last week on his own and I know he will do just fine the rest of the year. After Awana is over, he used to go to the skating rink and hang out with the other kids whose parents are in choir or other places until 9 pm. Over the summer when he would come with me to choir, he would go hang out with Uncle Timmy in orchestra rehearsal. So instead of going to child care in the skating rink this year, Jonathan is going to the orchestra room to hang out and watch (and hopefully get to play a little!) during rehearsal. He is really looking forward to that. He loves to hang out with Uncle Timmy anytime he is playing. Which brings me to tell you that he had his first drum practice with Uncle Timmy this week. I think they spent an hour and a half working together and Jonathan loved every minute of it. I know that this will be a good thing for Jonathan and that he will grow in his ability to play the drums. Jonathan loves Tim and thinks the world of him. We are so thankful that Tim is willing to give up his time and teach Jonathan. I can’t wait to see how God is going to bless this in Jonathan’s life. Last Saturday, we were invited by the Starlight Foundation to go see Beauty and the Beast at a community theater in Ft. Worth. It was a small theater with probably about 150 seats and the play was done in all four corners of the room as well as in the middle. Because the theater was so small, it was almost like you were in the middle of the play with people singing, dancing and talking right next to you or right in front of you. We had a great time there! After the play was over, the cast came out and talked with the Starlight families and signed autographs. We got pictures with Belle and the Beast (once he turned into a prince!), Lumiere (the candlestick), Mrs. Potts, Gaston, LaFou, Cogsworth (the clock), and some others. The young man who played Cogsworth was named Jonathan Cooper. We saw that at the beginning of the play and thought that was wild. He was the first person we approached when the play was over. We introduced Jonathan Cooper to our Jonathan Cooper and got their picture together. It was such a fun afternoon for us. Sunday was a busy day for us. After going to church in the morning, we left and went to Six Flags for Essilor’s family picnic. We got there and had lunch with many of the people that Lamar works with. We got to meet them and their families. As soon as lunch was finished it began to rain. And it rained off and on the rest of the time we were there. So we really only got to ride one ride because everything else was closed because of the weather. We were not able to stay long anyway because everyone started choir on Sunday afternoon and we had to be back at church by 4 pm. So it was not a huge loss that we were unable to ride much or stay long at Six Flags. We will get to go back at Christmas and go to Holiday in the Park. All the kids were thrilled to begin choir again. They missed it a lot during the summer. There are many things to look forward to this year in all the choirs.
Well, I think that catches us up on our life for the past month. Thank you for continuing to check on us and for waiting for my updates. I hope you will continue to pray for Jonathan and for our family. Your prayers mean a great deal to us. Please pray that Jonathan will continue to do well in school and that he will grasp and understand the concepts he will be learning in the 6th grade. Pray that he will be able to handle Awana on his own, that that he will continue to progress in his drum lessons and with his horse therapy. Jonathan is still sleeping well without any medication which we are so thankful for. We are still on the same diet/exercise program. Jonathan is still at 113 pounds. Please pray that he will be able to drop those last13 pounds soon. We would love to see it by the end of the year. Jonathan ended up getting a cold when we returned from camping which set him back just a little on his workout. He has had a little more difficulty this past week trying to build his stamina back up during his workout. Hopefully he will be back in full swing soon. These past few days he has had wonderful blood sugars…all within normal range! Pray that we can continue to see that happen and that we will know when and what to do with the pump. We hope you have seen the new photo album that we put up for you and that you enjoyed the pictures. Thank you again for your love, care and prayers for our family. We pray that God will abundantly bless you because you have been such a tremendous blessing to us. We love you all.

Psalm 28:6-9 - Blessed be the LORD, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. 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. The LORD is their strength, And He is a saving defense to His anointed. Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.