Saturday, December 27, 2008

December 27, 2008

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We did here at our house. It was a little different this year for us. This was the first year we had Christmas at our house, just with our family. We usually make it to at least one, if not both sides of the family on Christmas. On my side, it all depends on when my brother Tim is on shift (he's a Ft. Worth Firefighter). This year he was working on Christmas day, so we had Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve. We always have a great time together and this year was no different. Lamar's family was in various places for Christmas day, so we are celebrating with this a little later on today. So that left us at home with just our family. I was a little hesitant about it because this is the first time in 20 years that we have not been with some kind of extended family for Christmas. But we had a great time together. We cooked a big Christmas lunch, played games, watched movies, and just enjoyed a great time at home together. Our time together as a family means more to me than anything else. It is a great gift that I do not take for granted anymore. I am so thankful God gave us the opportunity to have this Christmas together.

Well, I'm going to back up a little and share with you the events of the last couple of months. Just a week or so after I last posted, we were headed to Ft. Worth on Saturday Oct. 25 when I got a call from my Mom saying that my Nanny had been taken to the hospital. She was 93 and had been sick with a cold the week before. We went to the hospital and stayed with her for a little while. After reviewing all the test, they determined that she had had a heart attack and had congestive heart failure. She made it through the weekend and I was able to make it to the hospital about 30 minutes before she passed away on Monday morning, October 27. We were so blessed to be able to spend a lot of time with her over the last 6 months or so. Each time we would go to Ft. Worth for a drum lesson, we would stop by and see her. I am so thankful that we had that time with her and so glad, again, for the gift of heaven given to us by our precious Savior. It is weird to think that I will not be going anymore to the only house I ever knew as my grandparent's house, and that I won't see her sitting in her chair before I ever get through the door. I will miss her terribly...we all will. I don't have many recent pictures of her, but I do have some special ones of her when Jonathan was in the hospital. She had just turned 90 years old a few weeks before he got sick. She came one day bringing gifts that her Sunday School class had sent for Jonathan. It is one of my precious memories of her.

Here she is reading Jonathan one of the books she brought. It was about Jesus healing a crippled boy. How appropriate!

Here is Nanny and all the special gifts she brought from her Sunday School class.

At the end of that week, we celebrated Halloween. We had two 80's girls and a drummer at our house. We had a great time trick or treating and we went and visited our friends at Lakeland's Fall Festival.

The remainder of that weekend, Lamar and I celebrated our 19th anniversary. We had the chance to go camping and spend a couple of days by ourselves while Aunt Keby took care of the kids. One of the things they did together was a Starlight event at the Dallas Aquarium. They had a great time there and they made some special new friends - a couple of other kids with special needs. I have amazing children. They are drawn to children with special needs and I am convinced it is because of what they have been through with Jonathan. God has used that event in their lives to shape a ministry that I believe He intends to grow in their lives. They bless me to see their love, care, kindness, and tenderness toward these special children. We picked the kids up on Sunday night and spent the last evening camping together. It was just what we needed after a difficult week.

For Thanksgiving, we took a little trip to Lake Cherokee which is between Tyler and Longview. Lamar's Uncle has a lake house there and all of the family from Lamar's Mom's side were there, including Lamar's Mamaw. We didn't want to pass up an opportunity to see her, knowing how important that is after just losing my Nanny. The weather was wonderful on Thanksgiving Day and we spent the entire day jet skiing all over Lake Cherokee! It was not what I expected we would be doing, but it was a blast! We had a wonderful time visiting with the family and we loved every minute of it.

We spent the month of December singing in several Christmas programs, doing mission work at Operation Care, and going to several Christmas parties. We also got to go to Holiday in the Park with the Starlight Foundation which was a lot of fun. Again, we got to see some of the new friends the kids have made and we met some more new friends. December has been busy, but wonderful. Everyone is doing pretty well in school and we are looking forward to the new year.

In just 3 days, it will have been 4 years since Jonathan's illness. Can you believe it has already been 4 years? Even though it has been 4 years, this time of year always causes me to remember more vividly the events of those days. There is a feeling of dread that fills my heart and tears fill my eyes as I remember the sadness and great emotions of those first days. And yet there is great thanksgiving and praise for all that God has done in Jonathan's life and in the life of our family. It's a mixed bag of emotions and will be for the next few days. We will spend the day together again this year, just enjoying our family and redeeming the time, as we have pledged to do every December 30 as long as we have that chance. I will post more about that later.

Thank you for letting me update you on our lives. We are thankful for each and ever day and for all that God is doing in our lives. Thank you for walking this journey with us and for keeping us lifted up before the Lord. We love each of you dearly and praise God for you. May your holidays be precious as you remember God's faithfulness over this past year.

Lamentations 3:21-26 - This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him." The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

December 24, 2008


I hope this post finds you all having a wonderful Christmas season with your family. I know it has been a while since I have posted and I apologize for that. Much has happened in our family over the last 2 months. We have been busy, mostly just trying to keep up on school work. That alone is a full time job for all of us! I think we finished well and will be ready to start the second semester in January. We are all thankful for the time off, however. Hopefully, over the next few days, I will have some time to sit down and catch you up on our lives these last couple of months.
For today, I pray that you and your family have the most wonderful Christmas ever. God is so good and He remains faithful to our family day after day. One of God's most amazing gifts to our family is all of you who have loved us, cared for us, prayed for us, and continue to support us in such a faithful way. We would not be where we are today without you. So this Christmas Eve, as we thank God for the gift of His precious Son, we thank God for the precious gift of friends like you. We pray that God will bless you in a wonderous way this Christmas. All our love to you - Lamar, Kristi, Elizabeth, Sarah and Jonathan.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

October 18, 2008

We have had a busy couple of weeks here, but I think things are finally settling down and I’m trying to keep the outside commitments to a minimum for the rest of the year…or at least until Christmas gets here! Jonathan is on schedule in school and doing very well. He seems to be understanding the concepts he is studying very well. He is such a diligent worker. He never puts off his schoolwork. He is always ready to get started before I am. He is also doing very well on the drums. He is practicing a lot and he sounds really good when he plays.

At the beginning of the month, we took our annual trip to the State Fair of Texas. This is one event that we look forward to every year. As always, we had a fabulous time. We spent the day walking around the Fair together, just enjoying our time together. We’ve been doing this for so many years and we are so blessed to have so many precious memories at this place.

Jonathan is also about a month into his fall session of horse therapy. It has been another season of change for Jonathan. We found out that our beloved instructor, Mrs. Julie, was not going to be able to come back this session, so we started out the session with a new instructor. One of the most amazing things about Jonathan is his flexibility with change. Me? Not so flexible. It’s amazing to watch him take change with such stride. He seems un-phased by it and embraces whatever comes next without hesitation. I, on the other hand, am always quick to tell people that God has always, faithfully handpicked each person that was part of Jonathan’s life, and this time would be no different. I truly believe that and know that to be true. However, sometimes what I know in my head and believe to be true doesn’t make it to my heart. So needless to say, I was skeptical when we went for the first lesson. Our new instructor is Mrs. Julie…not the old Mrs. Julie, but a new Mrs. Julie. She was very sweet and Jonathan was perfectly fine with her from the beginning. He ended up riding one of his old faithful friends, Gracie, because his horse, Ella, had just had some surgery and was recovering. So we were told she couldn’t be ridden for about a month. Jonathan began showing the new Mrs. Julie what he could do and in a couple of weeks, she had him moving right along in his therapy. She taught him how to turn his horse with just the movement of his wrists instead of using his whole arms. Jonathan was amazed by that and instantly took to it. She was amazed by his ability to catch on to that, as she had not had any other students able to do that. He was very proud of that! I can already see improvement in his ability to control the horse on his own. The more he works at that, the more independent he gets and the less he relies on others to help him finish what he should be doing himself. After the first couple of weeks on Gracie, it was determined that Jonathan had outgrown this horse and so they were going to give him a new horse, Houston. He is a much bigger horse, but he is beautiful. Jonathan commented to me that week that he wondered when he would be able to ride Ella again. I reminded him that it would be about a month and that she was still recovering. We actually saw Ella that day, talked to her and pet her for a few minutes before he rode. By the time we returned the following week, we found out that Ella had take and turn for the worse and died. Jonathan has watched several of his horses pass away and it was sad to know that another was gone. We were so glad that we had gotten the chance to love on her for a few minutes the week before. So, here’s another change to deal with. But Jonathan has fully embraced his new horse Houston, and has done a great job of riding him as well. Again, another change handled well.

Overall, Jonathan is doing really well. Thank you for your continued prayers for him. Please continue to pray for his progress physically, mentally and emotionally. He is doing well at church in this new area of youth. He is embracing all that comes with that and enjoying everything about it. Please continue to pray that God will send him a close friend to hang with and to grow up in the youth with. Continue to pray that he will grow in his independence and ability to do things without us with him. Continue to pray for his physical activity to increase and for his body to handle the diabetes appropriately and all the effects of that, and that his blood sugars will remain in a good place. He has another endocrine appointment on November 5, so you can begin now to pray for that. I believe there are still more changes that Jonathan may be facing in the near future, so pray for him and for me as well, that we will trust God for all that comes his way, knowing that He is truly in charge and we can trust Him with every detail, standing on the promise that He will work it all for good in Jonathan’s life. Your love for Jonathan and our family is overwhelming and we thank God for you all today.

Isaiah 45:5-7- I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

September 25, 2008

Thanks so much to all of you who have checked out the new blog and sent sweet messages to Jonathan and our family. Your faithfulness to check on us and pray for us means more to me than mere words could ever express.

With that said, I wanted to come and ask you to pray for a couple of things for Jonathan. First of all, tomorrow, he and his Dad will be leaving for an overnight retreat with the Junior High at church. It is called Break Away Weekend. They leave on Friday evening and spend the night and most of the day Saturday at a camp studying the Bible and having some fun before returning Saturday evening. This is his first official event with the Junior High and I think he is pretty excited. Please pray that he will have a great time and be comfortable being part of this new part of his life. Pray for Lamar as well. I know he is already tired and not getting a weekend will be tough on him. Pray that God will give him grace and strength to make this event and that he and Jonathan will have a great time together.

I would also like to ask you to pray about something very specific for Jonathan. I would like for you to join me in praying that God will bring a boy or two into Jonathan's life to be his good friends. As I have observed him over the past few weeks, I realize that he has no friends to hang out with. Don't get me wrong, all the guys in his grade are very nice to him. They always speak to him and they are never mean in any way. All of the kids are like that and I have always been so very grateful for the kindness of the kids around him. But that is pretty much as far as it goes. After speaking and saying hello to him, Jonathan either hangs out with us or he hangs out by himself. I don't think he really notices it, at least not as much as I do. Jonathan has never been as social as his sisters, at least not with other kids. He has always played by himself and even when he would have friends over, he would eventually end up on his own. However, since his illness, he is much less social and much more on his own most of the time. He doesn't initiate interaction on his own very well, at least not with other kids. He is great with adults! After talking with the girls about it some, they seem to think the kids think he needs to be taken care of and are afraid that something will happen that they can't handle. I'm not sure what it is, but I have been burndened by it and have commited to pray specifically for God to send someone who can be the "David" to my Jonathan. Pray that we can continue to guide him and help him grow in his social skills and become more independent and less dependent on us as his parents. Pray that I will be willing to give up my expectations and let God do what He desires and what only He can do with this in Jonathan's life. Sometimes I forget that he is still only 12 years old. I probably needs as much prayer in this as I think Jonathan does! Anyway, I hope you will join me in praying about this specific request for him. It strengthens my faith and helps me to trust God knowing that you are praying for my son.

I read through some Scriptures again this morning that I have Jonathan's name written by. I was reminded of my need to follow the example of Abraham, not waver in my faith, and continue to Believe God that He is able to do what He has promised. So I will begin today to Believe God for this and trust His faithfulness in Jonathan's life. Thank you for praying with me.

Romans 4:18-21 - In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

September 20, 2008

Well, we haven't disappeared off the face of the year, although I'm sure it seems as though we have! I can't believe it has been almost 3 months since I last posted! We were busier this summer than we have been in several years. It could be that I have 2 high schoolers and a junior higher now! We went through 2 camps, 2 choir tours, and a host of other things. Once we stopped, at the beginning of August, we spent one month working like crazy to accomplish some things at home that needed to be done before we started school. I'll share some of the highlights with you and hopefully not make this too long. By the way, I hope you like the new blog. We are trying to get up to date with this and make it easier for me to update and you to get them without having to wait so long in between. Thanks so much for waiting for me.

Well, one of the highlights of our summer was to be able to go on vacation for the first time in 5 years. We get to take long weekend trips when we go camping, but it has been since before Jonathan's illness that we have been able to take a real vacation. So the last week of August, we hooked up our camper and went to Galvaston Island State Park and camped on the beach for about 9 days. We had an awesome time together! We spent time on the beach and in the ocean almost every day, we walked the beach each night and found a bag full of beautiful shells, including 2 whole sand dollars, we spent a day at Moody Gardens and a day at the Johnson Space Center and Kema Boardwalk, we slept late every morning and stayed up late watching movies every night. We had a great time together and we were sad to leave and come home. We are so thankful for God's provision to us and allowing us to be able to share this week together.

Once we got home, there was much to do in getting school started. That always brings with it some challenges that take us about 3 weeks to overcome and get beyond. I think we are there now. I have struggled these past two weeks with the death of a dear friend of mine, waiting to get some test results back and knowing how to deal with them, and trying to keep things going with school. In the midst of all of that, we were working on putting together 3 worship sets of music for the Lakeland Women's Retreat. This was the biggest event that our family has ever done together. Lamar played guitar, Jonathan played drums, and Elizabeth, Sarah and I sang. It was somewhat stressful pulling it all together, getting everything practiced, and feeling prepared, not just musically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually in the midst of all we were dealing with. But God in His faithfulness, used that weekend to bring healing to my hurting heart, renew my strength, and help me find my faith again. Music is awesome. Getting to use this gift of music together as a family is such a precious thing to me. Jonathan did a fabulous job! He and I sat down during the week and just worked on what he wanted to do on each song. I gave him some ideas, but overall, he did it all on his own. I was so proud of him! He had a great time with it as well. This was his biggest "gig" yet. What a testimony to the grace of God, and the amazing power He has to heal and deliver that Jonathan portrays when he plays for the Lord. So many of those ladies at the retreat prayed for Jonathan and we were so honored to worship with them as a testimony of answered prayer.

Jonathan is doing well. We had a year follow up appointment last week at Scottish Rite. If you remember, last year we went about his walking. They told us then he didn't need surgery on his foot and that the reason he was walking the way he was, was because his upper leg strength was weak. We have worked on that a lot this past year, but he is still dealing with the same issue a year later. They took an x-ray of his hips and told me that they looked perfect. They said that he does not need any orthopedic intervention and to keep doing what we were doing. They thought he looked great. That was a praise! We are thankful that no surgery is needed, and we will continue to on strengthening his legs and praying for God to make it right. So far he is doing well in school. He is a diligent worker and I'm proud of him. We are really trying to work on his writing and reading and handling some things that normal junior high kids will need to handle. He has promoted to the Junior High department at church, to Solid Rock on Wednesday nights and to Clarion Choir on Sunday afternoons. He is so proud to be there. Next weekend, he will be attending the junior high retreat at a camp in Waxahachie. These will be more learning years for Jonathan and we are praying that he will excel and that God will bless him in amazing ways.
I hope you haven't given up on my updating. As I have said before, when it takes me a while to post, it is because we are living the blessing of life. In the midst of my sadness and hurt last week, I remember thanking God for all the difficulties I was facing because I was remembering the time when our lives stood still and we spent day after day in the hospital longing for the chance to be home. I try not to ever take life for granted. It can change in a moment and never be the same again. Life is precious and an incredible gift from our Father. Please continue to pray for Jonathan. He is struggling again with his weight and high blood sugars more often than we would like. It is tough to see the discouragement and the tears come when he struggles with his weight or tries to understand why his blood sugar is always high. Pray that we can adjust his food intake, do what we can to lead a healthy lifestyle, and that his body would process his insulin appropriately to keep his blood sugars in normal range and not store any as fat. Pray for him as he transitions into junior high life. Pray that God would bring good friends into his life so that he can enjoy these years and make some great memories with friends. Pray that he will continue to grow more independent and be able to do things without Lamar and I always being with him. We love all of you and are so thankful for the love, care and prayers you give to us. You are a precious blessing to us. We hope you enjoy the new blog and I'll be back soon to update again...I promise! God bless you all!

Isaiah 40:28-31 - Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Jonathan Cooper Blog

We are in the process of creating a new blog for Jonathan's updates. We feel like this will help everyone stay more connected and have better interaction. We will be updating more soon. Let us know what you think.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Well, this has been such a busy month for our family. One thing after another has happened since I last posted. Let me back up to Jonathan’s week at Junior Camp. Thank you so much for your prayers for him during that week. It was one of the hardest weeks we have gone through, but I am so thankful that we took the challenge and went. We left for Junior Camp on Sunday, June the 8th, right after church. Since I was an advisor and both of the girls were helpers on the rec crew, we needed to be out there Sunday evening to be prepared for everyone’s arrival on Monday morning. I hesitated to do that because I figured one more night at home would be better for Jonathan instead of one more night away. But it was just going to be easier for us to already be out there instead of having to get there by 8 am on Monday morning. We got Jonathan all set up in his cabin with his counselors, Mr. Buford, and two teen guys, Ryan and David. All three of them were wonderful to Jonathan all week long. They were very patient and encouraging and made sure he was well taken care of at all times. I had a great time eating meals and getting to know both the teen guys better each day. Jonathan slept fine with them on Sunday night and we met for breakfast on Monday morning. There were nine other guys in his cabin. As the week went on, I watched all the kids in his cabin talk with him, encourage him, and help him anytime they could. They were always kind and never mean. God has blessed us so much by the other children we have encountered over these 3 1/2 years since Jonathan’s illness. I know that kids can be brutal with other kids, but I will tell you that we have seen the good side of kids as they have encountered Jonathan…the side that doesn’t get talked about much. We have been blessed to see that kind, good side of kids over and over again and for that we are so thankful.
Junior Camp is a very intense week of non-stop activity - something Jonathan is really not used to. Going to bed late and getting up early everyday cause some distress for Jonathan each day. He did pretty good on Monday, but he ended up falling a couple of times and scraping his elbow pretty bad. He cried a lot and it took quite a bit for me to get him back into action with the rest of his cabin, but he finally did. I thought he would be better on Tuesday at breakfast, but I was wrong. The instant he saw me he started crying. I had to send him on his way with his counselors crying, telling him I knew he could handle the morning and when I would see him next. By the time lunch got there, he seemed to have turned a corner and was doing much better. I decided that day that I would break up my responsibilities during recreation time and spend an hour or so with him during things I knew he would not be able to do. That seemed to help. On Wednesday, Jonathan and I both took a turn on the zip line. We both loved it and he, of course, did it without screaming, unlike his mother! I’m so glad we attempted it because he had the chance to do something many of the other kids did as well. Thursday was the longest day of the week. There is so much to do on Thursday because it is the last full day of camp. The most important thing for Joanthan was the talent show that evening. Uncle Timmy put together a drum solo for him to play and he was really looking forward to it all week long. During rec time, I sent Jonathan to the nurses office to take a nap for a couple of hours so he would be up and ready for the talent show. That helped quite a bit. He played great and all the kids really enjoyed his playing. They were awesome in their encouragement and applause. Unfortunately, the talent show lasted until almost midnight and Jonathan was completely worn out. But Friday morning, we were met by Dad and made our way home, accomplishing what we set out to do. God was faithful and Jonathan was brave. I am very proud of him.
The most important thing that happened was on Tuesday night after worship time. Jonathan spent some time talking to the camp pastor and our good friend Mr. Scott. Jonathan loves Mr. Scott and thinks so much of him. Jonathan had been feeling the tugging of the Holy Spirit in his heart, but didn’t know exactly what it was about. I was trying to figure out if it really was the Holy Spirit or just the emotions of the week there. We talked with Mr. Scott and he helped Jonathan understand what was going on in his heart. I’m so thankful he was there, because I knew I could not appropriately deal with this important issue for Jonathan at that time. Jonathan rededicated his life to the Lord on Tuesday evening. He was so proud, that everyone he talked to for the next 24 hours knew of his rededication. I saw the peace of God pass over him, I saw understanding and truth touch his ears and his mind each time he listened to Mr. Scott’s messages. It was such a precious thing to see.
We were not home from Junior Camp for 36 hours before Sarah left to go on Choir Tour to Memphis, TN for a week. We spent a week without her and now Elizabeth is on her Choir Tour to Hawaii for the next 10 days. Jonathan loves his sisters and he misses them when they are gone. He had an endocrine appointment while Sarah was gone. He had to have blood drawn as well and he handled it with such bravery and grace. We are struggling with higher blood sugars right now for some reason and I’m not sure why. He has gained back his weight over this year which is a little discouraging, but he has grown an inch since the last visit.
I have found myself stuggling some with Jonathan’s situation over these last few weeks. I’m not sure if it is just the emotion of being at junior camp and then missing my girls one at a time as they go off on their tours, or what it is exactly. But there are times when my focus turns to the reality of Jonathan and the limitations or differences that I see in him, instead of the God who created him, recreated him and has a perfect plan for his life. I cry as I watch him struggle with things that seem so normal for every other kid. I think I cried as much at Junior Camp as he did. There are times when I ache for him to be the kid he was before because there are many things that used to be part of him that are no longer part of him. And then I stop and remember all the miraculous things God has done in Jonathan’s life and that deep down what I really want is for him to be what God wants him to be. It’s so hard to remember that. I fail miserably so many times. So I know that just as God is working in Jonathan’s life and making him what he wants him to be, he is also working in my heart and recreating this mom to trust in Him with my whole heart, not relying on my own understanding of Jonathan’s life, but believing that He will complete the incredible work that He has begun to the praise and glory of our Heavenly Father.
I hope you will continue to pray for Jonathan. Pray for us as we continue to work with him to help him live his life to the fullest. There is so much that needs to be done during these summer months…so much that I am easily overwhelmed and find myself getting nothing done. Pray that I will focus on what is important and not worry about the rest. Pray for Jonathan’s blood sugars to be within normal range. Pray that God will give us wisdom as we help Jonathan develope important disciplines in his life that will make him a good steward of the life that God has given back to him. Thank you for checking on us and for your continued prayers for our family. I am encouraged to press on and not give up on this journey each time I sit down to write because I know many of you will read and will hold us up before the Lord with your intercession on our behalf. We love you all so very much.

Psalm 138:8 - the Lord will accomplish (perfect, bring to completion) what concerns me; Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Thy hands.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Well, it seems I have done it again…it’s been two months since I have updated. I hope that you are still out there and that you haven’t given up on me. When Lamar asked me one day, “Have you updated the website recently?” and I realized that it had been almost two months again, I started to think about it and wonder, why is it that I had not updated again for so long. To be honest, I don’t have any reason other than we are just living life. I know that may sound kind of dumb and way too simple for an excuse, but it is true. Since we spent 3 ½ months in the hospital with Jonathan, I have never thought of my life the same way. Those 3 ½ months were the longest days of my entire life. In reality, I check on many kids each day whose families have spent a hundred times more than just 3 ½ months in the hospital and the possibility of more time in the hospital is always looming over their heads. The Lord taught me a valuable lesson during those months that I had forgotten and that I pray I never forget again. Life is precious. Time is precious. Family is precious. And all of it is a gift from God. When things get turned around, and work, activities, money, and possessions get in the wrong priority, we miss out on the incredible blessing of living life. Life can change in a moment. It did change for us, dramatically, on December 30, 2004. Many times I find myself thanking God that we are at home and not in a hospital, that we are well and not sick, that we are together living our lives and not apart from each other. I thank God for teaching me this valuable lesson. My goal is to live my life in such a way that first of all, I please my God, who has given me this life, in everything; and second, that when I come to the end of my life, I don’t have to look back and say, “I wish I had done things differently.” No regrets. So, with all that said, know that when several weeks go by and there is nothing new on the updates, it is probably because we are busy enjoying God’s precious blessing of living life. Let me look back through my calendar and see what has happened over the last couple of months that I can share with you.
First of all, we are officially finished with school! Yippee! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I look forward to summers. Oh, I love homeschooling my children and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. But I will say that it is a full-time job during those 9 months and little else gets done in my life or home except for the everyday necessities and school work. So I always look forward to summer break. I am praying for a supernatural strength and organization to get as much done as I can this summer, all the while enjoying time with my kids when they are home. I’m already enjoying my children, but I’m having a little bit of trouble with getting stuff done! There is so much that needs to be done and that I would like to do, that I really don’t know where to start. But I will get there. As far as school goes, all the kids did very well this year. Jonathan did incredibly well on his school work this year. He has come such a long way since his illness. I am so thankful for his progress. He has memorized so much Scripture this year between Awana and Sunday School. It is amazing how well he has done. He officially finished his life of Awana. Last week he received a trophy for finishing four books in this section of Awana. Since his illness, he went from my teaching him every verse, to learning every verse in this book this year all on his own. He progressed from my going with him to verse time each week, to going for the entire Awana time each week all on his own. God has been so good, and we are so proud of Jonathan. He was the only one who got this trophy and all the kids were so quick to applaud and praise him for his accomplishment. It was a very special time for us to share together.
At the end of April, Jonathan finished his last year of Children’s Choir. This has really been a year of endings and looking forward to new beginnings for Jonathan. One of those things is choir. This year’s spring musical had something new in it that Jonathan got to be part of. They did a musical called Rock Solid and there was a stomp band in it. This was a group of guys who got to play special drum parts on most of the songs. Jonathan, of course, jumped on that opportunity! It was even more special because his very own drum teacher, Uncle Timmy, was the leader of the stomp band. I’m not sure how much Tim enjoyed it, but these guys had a great time learning to beat on stuff with drum sticks. Jonathan was so proud and because of his experience with playing drums, Tim gave him some special parts to do on his own. It was such a fun thing to watch. Jonathan continues to improve in his drumming every day. He sounds so good when he plays. I pray that one day God will use Jonathan like He uses my brother to play for His glory. I am so proud of Jonathan each time I hear him play.
We made our annual trip to Home School Day at Six Flags again this year. Because we do not frequent Six Flags as a family, we always look forward to this special day each year. We had good weather, with no threat of rain this year, so Jonathan was able to ride two new rides – the Batman and Mr. Freeze. I am in complete amazement each time he gets on a roller coaster with me and loves it, knowing how fearful of everything he used to be. What a change! But what a blessing to have him riding beside me and hearing him laugh and enjoying himself so much.
I think I may have failed to tell you in the last update about one of our most wonderful blessing of this year. After the beginning of the year, we began looking to upgrade our camper. After looking for a few weeks, we found one that we really liked that met all our requirements. We just kept looking to see if there was anything else out there that caught our eye, we waited for the right time and prayed about purchasing it. In March, we were able to buy this new camper and we have been able to go camping at least one weekend each month since then. It is absolutely beautiful! We love it and have enjoyed camping in it so much. In April, we went to Eisenhower State Park and we loved it there. We had a wonderful weekend just hanging out together. A couple of weekends ago, we went to Cedar Hill State Park and camped on Memorial Day weekend. The Saturday of that weekend was Jonathan’s 12th birthday. It was miserably hot that weekend, but we had a great time camping as always. On Saturday and Sunday, we had some members of our family come out and spend some time celebrating Jonathan’s birthday and we had a great time. Can you believe he is 12??? It is truly amazing. His favorite present was his new mountain bike. He loves riding it and tells me all the time how much he loves it. He wanted to go camping for his birthday, so we were happy to make that happen for him. Needless to say, we are making some precious memories together as family each time we go camping and we are so thankful for God’s provision and His special blessing in this camper that we get to enjoy.
Along with camping for Jonathan’s birthday, we planned a special surprise birthday party for Jonathan last weekend. Last year he wanted to have a birthday party with his basketball team and I was not able to make that happen. I thought it would be fun this year to surprise him with a party with his teammates. Coach Ben and his wife Leah graciously offered to let us have it at their house last Saturday. It’s not hard to keep a secret from Jonathan. He was completely unaware of what was going on. It was such a great surprise! Almost all of the guys on his team were there and many of the parents were there as well. We spent 3 hours eating and swimming and jumping on the trampoline and playing basketball and other games together. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it as long as we have the privilege of knowing these guys and their families…these guys are awesome! They are so gracious and kind and such wonderful friends to Jonathan. We have all been blessed by them and their families. It was a very special day for Jonathan and such a blessing for us to enjoy as well.
Well, as you can see, the blessing of living life over these past two months has been full of many more blessings from the hand of our great God. Thank you for coming back to check on us and for not giving up on me. Thank you for praying for us and for remembering to lift us up before the Lord. Our summer is full with many opportunities for each one of us. It all begins next week. I hope you will remember to pray for us this next week, especially Jonathan. This is the first time in Jonathan’s life that he will be attending camp. He is going to Jr. Camp with our church this next week at Mt. Lebanon in Cedar Hill. Elizabeth and Sarah will be there as part of the Rec Crew and I will be there as an Advisor/Assistant. Jonathan is very excited about going. It is going to be a wild, busy week, and I really don’t think he has a clue what he is about to get in to. While I will be out there during the week, I will not be with him for a majority of the week. He will be living this week mostly on his own and under the supervision of someone else. He will even be sleeping in a cabin with other people than his family. This will be a huge week for Jonathan. Please pray for him this week. I want this to be a week of great fun and blessing for him. I want this to be a week that he grows and progress in his ability to handle life on his own. I want to see him accomplish much in his life this week. Pray for his ability to handle things without me. Pray for his physical protection this week. Pray that he will be able to sleep okay on his own. Pray that God will use this week to speak to Jonathan if He desires to, and to accomplish much in his life. Pray that I will not worry about him and that I will let God do what He wants to do in Jonathan’s life this week. We will be leaving Lamar at home by himself for the week. Pray that I will not miss him too much and that God will protect him while he is here alone. You can also pray for the girls as well. As soon as we return from camp, Sarah leaves for her choir tour to Memphis for a week (June 15-22) and then Elizabeth leaves for her choir tour to Hawaii June 27-July 8. Pray for wonderful trips for them, for their safety and protection, and that God will use them in a mighty way to touch the people they will come in contact with. Thank you for your faithfulness to support us in prayer. We love you all dearly and are so blessed to have you in our lives. Until the next update, may God bless you with the incredible blessing of living life.
Psalm 100 - Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Well, my dear friends, I have set the record this year…it’s been almost 2 months since I have updated! That’s the longest I have ever gone without updating. Oh believe me, I think about needing to do it every day, but these past couple of months have been pretty crazy around here. We have been incredibly busy, trying to accomplish many things on top of the usual load of schooling that always keeps us busy during the school year. More than being incredibly busy, these past couple of months have been incredibly emotional for me in many different ways that I will share with you. So between all of that, if I actually had time to sit down and update, I was just too exhausted that I went to bed. Not a great excuse, but it’s reality for me right now. So I hope you haven’t given up on me and I thank you for coming back to check on Jonathan and see how he is doing. God has been good, even in the midst of all the busyness and changes that we have been through and are experiencing. When I feel like I’m getting overwhelmed with life as I have so many times over the last couple of months, I just remember where we have been and I thank God that we are where we are…not in a hospital somewhere, but at home, living this overwhelming life that He has allowed us the opportunity to live. So with all that said, let me fill you in on what has been going on in Jonathan’s life and in the life of our family. It may take me so long to share everything with you that it might take you two hours to read it!
Well, first of all, Jonathan had an endocrine appointment back at the end of February. He is, and has been doing pretty well with his diabetes. We were a little disappointed with his weight results this time. He seems to have gain back quite a bit of his weight, according to their scales. However, his doctor did not seem bothered by that. We have not done nearly as well with our diet and exercise this year as we did last year at this time. We need a new plan. We are tired and our bodies have grown accustomed to what we have been doing for the last year, and it is not have any effect on any of us at the present time. I have a possible plan in mind, but I have to have the time to sit down and research it and put it into practice. That is proving to be very difficult for me right now. It is interesting, however, that even though Jonathan has gained some of his weight back, he seems to be wearing smaller clothes than he was at the beginning of last year. Someone suggested to me that he might have gained muscle as opposed to fat, which I had not thought of. Anyway, overall, he had a good doctor visit in February. Since then, we have had some difficulty keep his blood sugars within normal range. He started being high on a regular basis instead of the normal that we had been experiencing. I changed his insulin/carb ratio which means that he is getting more insulin at his meals than he was before. I hate giving him more insulin, because I don’t want his body to get accustomed to it, not absorb it effectively, causing him to store it, it turns to fat, meaning he gains more weight, etc. It’s also very difficult to figure out why his blood sugar does what it does. I can get very frustrated with this disease. But we just keep working at it, keep trying things and keep praying that God will take care of Jonathan’s body like it needs to be taken care of. Over the last couple of weeks, I have finally been able to take to the time to pursue getting insurance information and visits from three of the pump companies that we are most interested in. The excitement and anticipation of using the pump almost came to a screeching halt once I heard back from the first company about our out of pocket costs to use the pump. Because the pump and all of the supplies (it seems) are covered under the durable medical equipment (dme), no matter who we decide to go with, in order to just get the unit and start using it, it will cost us over $1000. Since it is so late in the year, this year, we would not meet the max covered by the insurance, but next year, we would start out the year with another $1000 payment and end it with a $750, making us pay somewhere around $3000 just for the pump supplies. That doesn’t even include his insulin, or test strips that we have to buy as well. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed and a little discouraged by all of that news. But again, because of some of the things I have recently experienced, I was able to quickly remember that the God who takes care of Jonathan and has always taken care of Jonathan is sovereign. His plan is perfect. It is my job to do the work to try and discern His will and when I figure it out, to accept it and do it, knowing that His plan is the one we want to follow. I talked with Jonathan about this as well. I told him that I was not giving up on the idea just yet, and that I would continue to inquire and gather facts about the pump, and then based on what we find out, we will make a decision about whether or not we will use it. I told him that when he prayed about it, to pray that if it was God’s will for us that he get the pump, that He would work out all the details and provide the money that we will need to purchase it. I told him to pray that if it was not God’s will for us to use the pump right now, that God would help him accept that will and that He would show us what we need to pursue in being a good steward of taking care of his diabetes to the best of our ability. So for now, I will continue to gather facts and talk to as many people as I can to find out how they do it, talk to the insurance and verify our benefits, etc. Please pray that we will know exactly what God’s will is regarding Jonathan using the pump. For those of you who have the pump, if you can share anything with me that would help me in this process, I would greatly appreciate your input. I have heard from many of you on occasion regarding your experiences with diabetes, and I always welcome your insight. Thank you for taking the time to share with me.
Well, the beginning of this year has been one of the most emotional times of my life, since we have been on this journey with Jonathan. Most of my emotional times have been because of some difficulty we were going through, but this one has been different. This year, we have had to turn the page on one of the most blessed chapters of Jonathan’s life. Jonathan officially completed Upward Basketball this year. Each game of this season was awesome! Jonathan’s team finished this season undefeated! Every practice, every game was so precious to us. Upward Basketball has been one of God’s most precious blessings in our lives. It has brought so much healing, so much hope, so much joy to Jonathan and to those of us who have watched him grow over these last three years. From the moment I told Doug Jackson three years ago that we wanted Jonathan to play, until the moment we said good-bye to his team, to this wonderful blessing on March 3, 2008, we have seen God’s divine hand choose and orchestrate every person and every experience for Jonathan’s good. It has been one of the most phenomenal things I have ever witnessed. This year, I saw so much growth, not just in Jonathan, but in every guy on his entire team. I have shared with many people that even though these guys are only 11-12 years old, they are my heroes. Tell me how many 6th grade guys you can say that about! These guys are different. They were always kind, not just to Jonathan, but to each other. They never hesitated to help Jonathan remember where he was supposed to be so he could play his best in each game. They always encouraged him giving him high-fives, pats on the back, and “Way to go!” every time he did something good. There was never any selfishness on their part. They truly set into action the Scripture that says to think of others as more important than yourselves. This team was amazing. I had a chance to put together a power point presentation of the journey of this team over the last three years. It was my desire to honor these guys and to thank them for their important role in Jonathan’s life. Elizabeth, Sarah and I had the chance to sing a song that night for them that I think expressed just what they meant to Jonathan and to us as his family. Hopefully, we will be able to put it out here for you to watch, one of these days. As much as I tried to make it about this team, as soon as I was done, they turned it around and honored Jonathan once again. Coach Doug and Coach Ben presented Jonathan with the Iron Man Trophy for the Most Courageous Player. Jonathan is incredibly proud of this trophy. He got to thank his coaches, his teammates and all those who have prayed for him and helped him get to where he is today. It was such a beautiful moment. So you see why this has been such a hard thing for me turn the page on. I just don’t want to let go of this precious blessing. I probably cried off and on for a month as I worked on the power point for the team, but I had to force myself to keep it together as much as possible. I managed to do that until the day after awards night. I think I cried the entire day. I am going to miss this team of guys, these coaches, and the joy of watching Jonathan play basketball in such a wonderful organization as Upward Basketball. But I know that this is just a small piece of all that God has planned for Jonathan’s life.
In the middle of all of this emotion, God brought another blessing to our family. Elizabeth and Sarah attended Disciple Now with our church back in February. Over that weekend, in answer to so many of my prayers, Sarah came to know the Lord as her personal Savior. She had made a decision when she was 7 years old and was baptized at that time, but this time, she really settled that matter once and for all with the Lord. She was baptized the day before awards night, so you can see why this has been such an emotional time for me. Not only did she start her spiritual journey this year, but Elizabeth celebrated her 7th spiritual birthday on March 24, and Jonathan celebrated his 4th spiritual birthday on March 28. What a blessing to know that your children have committed their lives to follow the Lord Jesus.
Well, there are other things I could share with you, but those are the most important. Thank you for waiting on me to update. I apologize for taking so long to share with you. Thank you for your continued prayers for Jonathan and for our family. I know that you are faithful to pray and I am so thankful for each of you. Please keep praying about Jonathan’s weight loss, exercise, his blood sugars, and the decision about the pump. He is doing incredibly well in school and Awana. I see growth and improvement every day. He continues to play the drums and loves every minute of that. He is back at horse therapy for the spring session and in just three weeks, I have seen much growth and improvement since the fall. God is so good and continues to do great things in Jonathan’s life.
I want to leave you with one last experience I have had, just in the last two weeks. On March 26, my dear friend and choir partner lost her daughter who was 32 years old and her beautiful granddaughter who was 6 weeks from being born. It is very rare these days to lose a mother and a baby in childbirth, but in a matter of a couple of hours, both mother and baby were in the presence of Jesus. My dear friend, her husband, this daughter and her husband are all members of the choir, so needless to say, our choir was devastated that night with this incredible loss. Last Saturday, we sang for the funeral of this dear girl. We sang about heaven and pictured her walking on those golden streets, running with the angels, resting with her sweet little girl in the place that God has prepared for those who love Him. At church on Sunday, we heard about and studied the sovereignty of God. Over these last three years, I have learned about the sovereignty of God. I no longer just talk about it. It is a vital part of my faith. In the days that followed Jennifer’s death, I tried to think of some profound thing that I could say to my friend that would bring comfort to her in this difficult time. Before I had a chance to speak to her, she was the one who brought comfort and perspective to me. This is what was printed on the back of the funeral program:

There is nothing – no circumstance, no trouble, no testing that can ever touch me until first of all it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, I lift up my eyes to Him; and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart. No sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, and no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is…That is the “rest” of Victory. “The will of God will not lead you, where the grace of God cannot keep you.”

Our pastor said the next day that when a believer fails, changes, dies, or the unexpected happens, nothing of God fails, changes, dies, or is unexpected. Nothing happens by chance. God will accomplish His purpose and His will in the lives of His creation. I don’t know about you, but that brings me great comfort and peace. Thank you for loving us. May God grant you His incredible peace as you rest in His unchanging sovereignty. We dearly love you all.

I Peter 1: 3-9 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Well, I have started this update several times and I’m finally going to sit down and finish it this morning. We have had a great start to our year. We have stayed busy and everyone is doing well. A lot has happened this month so let me see if I can highlight the major things and share them with you.
As I told you the last post, we attended a pump class right at the beginning of January. We knew once we completed that class that we would have to spend an entire week on a very regimented meal plan. We would have to select a specific carb amount for each meal and eat that amount of carbs at that meal for the entire week. Our meals had to be at the same time each day for the week. We would also have to check Jonathan’s blood sugar at each meal, 2 hours after each meal, at bedtime, midnight and 3 am for the entire week. Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed at the thought, but knew that we would be able to do it. There would be a couple of days that it would really inconvenience us because of our schedule, but overall, we should be able to handle one week. My biggest concern was that I would forget to do something or miscalculate something and we would fail and have to do it again. But thanks to those of you who wrote to encourage me and share your experiences with me, and lots of prayer from all of you, we were able to successfully pass our week of blood sugar logs and meal logs. I only forgot to check Jonathan’s blood sugar one time throughout the entire week. Ironically, I remembered it while I was leading a prayer group at my house with a couple of my Mom’s In Touch friends and I was thanking God for helping me not forget to check his blood sugar this week when I suddenly remembered I should have checked it an hour ago! Well, so much for that prayer time! But God was gracious and when I called and explained what I did, they told me they would not fail me for one miss. I got to share Jonathan’s story with the dietician who called about his log as I explained why we did what we did. We got a positive response from her and from the educator as well. So we are now on to finding the right pump for Jonathan. Once that happens, we have been told that we will be on that same regimented meal plan for 4-6 weeks, so this one week we did was just a shadow of weeks to come! Really, it was not a bad experience and I learned some things during that week that I think will help us in the long run. Thank you for your prayers for us and for your words of encouragement. We are praising God for helping us succeed in this process thus far. At the end of our week of pump logging, we went camping. It was the coldest camping trip we have ever taken! But we had a great time anyway. I needed that weekend to rest, relax and recuperate from getting up 2-3 times a night checking Jonathan’s blood sugar throughout the week. I was pretty pooped to say the least. We had a lot of fun, as we always do, and enjoyed visiting with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. The kids and I had the privilege of singing for our Senior Adult friends at Lakeland Baptist Church early in the month of January. They are a wonderful group of people who love us and pray for us regularly. Mr. Al, in particular, reminds us every time he sees us that he continues to pray for Jonathan every day, right after he prays for his children. I can’t tell you how that encourages my heart! To know that people are praying for us brings us such hope and peace as we continue to walk this road God has called us to walk. That has been the single most amazing part of this journey. I can remember getting emails and having people tell me of those they knew all over the world who were praying for Jonathan when he was in the hospital. I was awe struck to say the least! God used that to bring peace and hope during those dark days and long term, to change my perspective on what it really means to pray for someone who is in need of God’s work in their life. I will never view prayer the same way ever again. Well, we had a great time singing for our friends there at Lakeland and look forward to sharing some time with them again soon. We have spent the last 5 Saturdays at the gym watching Jonathan and his 76ers team play their final season of Upward Basketball games. This has been the most exciting year of Upward Basketball that we have ever played! Jonathan has improved physically so much this year! He is running so much better now. He is getting better at remembering who his man is and where he is suppose to be on the court. He is making plays and helping make plays without the “J play” this year. It has been an exciting year. It breaks my heart that this is our last year to participate in Upward. God has used Upward to bring such healing and growth to our lives. This is the third year that Jonathan, his teammates and coaches have played together. They are the most incredible group of men/boys I have ever been around. The boys on Jonathan’s team are so kind and helpful with him. They never hesitate to help him remember his place, point him in the right direction, and encourage and praise him when he does well. I have never been so impressed with a group of 11-12 year old boys as I am with these guys. They have truly been placed in our lives by the very hand of God. So I will try to concentrate on enjoying these last 3 games instead of thinking about the end of this wonderful season of basketball. We had a great day on Thursday as we celebrated Valentine’s Day. We took the day of school and played together the whole day. We made cookies for a special friend, went to the mall and shopped, met Dad for dinner and ended the day with Jonathan’s basketball practice. I spent the entire day enjoying my children, constantly aware of the overwhelming blessings God has given me. It was one of my favorite Valentine’s Days.
God has been so good to us and we are so blessed. We have received so much from His gracious hand. I am overwhelmed by His blessings. You, dear friends, are part of our incredible blessings and we thank God for each of you. We are grateful for your continued prayers for Jonathan and for our family. I hope you will continue to pray for him and for us as we continue the process of selecting a pump and getting him started on it. Please pray that God will guide us and give us wisdom to know which one we need to get, that He will provide the finances that we will need to get it, and that the timing will be right to get started using it. Pray specifically that Jonathan will not gain any extra weight once he begins using the pump. We are still working on our diet and exercise, but seem to have hit a stopping point on our weight loss. As many of you know, that can be quite frustrating. So pray that God will reward our efforts by allowing us to see more weight loss and that Jonathan will be able to maintain his weight and not gain, once he begins using the pump. Jonathan is doing so well in school and he continues to make great progress in his schoolwork. He is still memorizing lots Scripture for Awana and Sunday School. He continues to sleep well also. Overall, he is in a very good place right now and we are so thankful for that. Thank you for your faithful prayers and for the love, support and encouragement that you faithfully give to us. You are a precious treasure that we never want to take for granted. Thank you for waiting on me to post again and for continuing to check on Jonathan’s progress. Until next time, may God bless you with His most wonderful blessings.

Romans 5:1-5 - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Happy 2008! We hope your Christmas and New Years holiday was wonderful. Ours was. We had a beautiful time at Christmas here with our family and with our extended families as well. Our holiday was very busy, but this year, that didn’t seem to bother me. I can get easily overwhelmed with all that I have to do at Christmas and then I turn into a grouchy Mom instead of enjoying the season like I should be. But God was so gracious to me this year and allowed me to enjoy the busyness and still look forward to and anticipate a wonderful Christmas. Our first week out of school, we had something that had to be done every day. The first thing we got to do was to sing for the Worship Ministries Christmas banquet at Lakeland. This was a special event for us because the three songs we prepared featured Jonathan playing the drums for the first time. This was his public debut on his drums and he was beyond excited. We had a great time practicing and putting it all together. Uncle Timmy helped Jonathan learn a part that would be easy for him and allow him to play along with us. He sat next to Jonathan so he could help him play while he was playing the base. We also had our wonderfully gifted friend Daniel Rister play the keyboard for us and Lamar played guitar while the girls and I sang. It was the first time that our family sang together that Jonathan played and did not sing. We have been looking forward to this time since he began to play drums 2 years ago. He did a wonderful job and it was such a great thing for all of us. What a perfect place for him to play drums in public for the first time. Worship Ministries at Lakeland Baptist Church is a very special place for us and holds many precious memories. These people have prayed for us and supported us to this point in our lives in such a significant way, just like so many of you. We are humbled and blessed by this group of people and we are grateful for the chance to get to show the ongoing miracle in our family’s life. It was one of the highlights of our year; one that we will not soon forget. Our friend Stephen Burnett was gracious to video tape it for us, so hopefully one of these days, we will be able to put it up here so you can enjoy it as well. We spent the rest of that week trying to get our shopping finished between all the other scheduled events that happened that week. But it all got done and were able to relax a little and enjoy Christmas once it arrived. We had Christmas with the Smith family on Christmas Eve here at our house. We enjoyed having everyone over for the evening. After that we ended up watching the very first home video we have, which was when Elizabeth was a newborn. It was so much fun to go back and see her as a baby, since she is now 15 years old. So we spent some time together, just our little family, remembering many special memories before we went to bed. Our family is so very special. I think there were many years that I took that for granted. God had done so much work in my heart and mind regarding my family since Jonathan became ill. Oh what I would have missed if He had not taken us down this road! Where once I let so many other things get in the way of cherishing the time I spend with my family, now I seem to be constantly aware of those precious moments. There are so many to enjoy and treasure. But this special time of years causes me to reflect so much on the blessings God has given me in our family. I’m not sure I can even frame the right words to express it. I’m glad God knows exactly how I feel. Our Christmas Day was beautiful as always. Jonathan was up early with excitement and we had a beautiful time together opening presents. Everyone was thrilled with their gifts. We have a special tradition in our family. After we open presents, we gather around the kitchen table, Dad reads the Christmas story, we light the candles on Jesus’ birthday cake that we have made for Him, sing Happy Birthday to Him, and then have cake for breakfast. We have done this every year since our kids were little and we love to do it. It is a very special time for us and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes each time we sing. We spent most of the rest of the day with the Cooper side of the family and enjoyed our time with them. Thankfully not much happened the rest of that week. We did have the opportunity to go to the Ice exhibit at the Gaylord Texan with the Starlight Foundation a couple of days after Christmas. We had a great time there, even though most of our time was spent standing in line with a million other people! One of the projects we have been planning on doing for a while is to take our home videos and record them on to DVDs. We actually started that process at Christmas the year that Jonathan got sick. We got one done (the one we watched on Christmas Eve) and that was it. After watching that one on Christmas Eve, Lamar began working on it again. We have spent the last couple of weeks watching many of our home videos of the last 15 years. Sometimes we find ourselves sitting for hours just watching them as they play through. We have laughed a lot as we have watched our precious children grow up. I have walked away from some of them with tears streaming down my face as I remember my precious little boy and see him as he was before he got sick. It is interesting that we chose this particular time of year to work on this project as it has been 3 years since we began this journey with Jonathan. One of the hardest thing that I have had to deal with in this whole process is being willing to let go of the past and to set my eyes on what lies ahead. There are times when I look back at pictures or videos of Jonathan and I miss who he was then. I have had to work through those thoughts and feelings over the last three years and the Lord has been there to walk me through it. It is not as painful now to see him as he was, although it never fails to make me cry. But I love who Jonathan is now and I know that God is remaking him to be the vessel that He desires him to be and I would never want him to be anything but that. This year, on December 30, we spent the day together as a family. Because our family was separated on that day and for the next 100 days that followed, we have chosen to spend it together as a family to honor and remember God’s blessing on us. It is a tradition that I hope will last a long time in our family. After going to church in the morning, we spent the rest of the day at Holiday in the Park with Uncle Timmy and Aunt Keby. We had a wonderful time together and spent much time laughing and enjoying being with each other. At dinner, we sat and talked through many memories of this experience. I think we talked more detailed about it that day than we have in a long time. Jonathan was very quiet during our remembering. I’m not sure he knows exactly how to handle or process everything that he hears. Even though he doesn’t remember much about it, it causes him to become very thoughtful and that’s how he was the rest of the evening. It’s hard to express what we go through when we remember those difficult days. Even watching the videos we took of his rehab, I often wonder how we made it through those days. And yet, there is no questions about it…it was God’s faithful, loving grace that carried us through to this day. It’s been an amazing time of reflection on the past and as we begin this new year, there is much joy and anticipation as we continue to believe God for what lies ahead.
Well, I know this post is long. Thank you for letting me share my heart with you. Thank you for continuing to read and pray for Jonathan and for our family. As we begin this new year, I want to ask you to pray especially for Jonathan and his progress in a couple of areas. We went to a pump class this week and got much information about him starting to use a pump. There were 4 different companies with their pumps that we talked to and there is so much information to consider. Pray that God will guide our decision and that He will give us the wisdom we need to make the best decision for Jonathan. Thank you to those of you who have written me with your experiences and your encouragement. If you can share any information about the pump you use that you think would be helpful to us, we would be so grateful for your input. Pray that God will provide the insurance and the funds that we will need to get this going. We will have to adjust our lives some in order to get it started. It seems a little overwhelming, but nothing that we cannot handle if this is what God has in mind for us. One of the things I am a little concerned about is that they told us to expect Jonathan to gain some weight at the beginning, until we get settle on the pump. Needless to say, that was not good news to hear. We managed to maintain our weight pretty well over the holidays. Each of gain about 5 pounds back which is not too bad. Pray that we will be disciplined to return to our diet and exercise program and that Jonathan will be able to maintain his weight and not gain it back once he goes on the pump. Pray for me that I will not set my focus on that but that I can trust the Lord to handle all those details. Pray that Jonathan will continue to gain strength in his legs and that his stability and strength will increase even more this year. His blood sugars have been up and down (mostly up) and we seem to be having a hard time keeping them under control. God was so gracious to show Himself strong in Jonathan’s body last year and caused his sugars to be very good for most of the year. Pray that we will continue to seek His guidance and trust Him to care for Jonathan’s body, since He made it and knows it better than we do. Thank you for your love, your care, and your prayers for us this year. We are looking forward to what God has in store for our family this year. We love each of you and pray that God will bring his richest blessing into your lives in this 2008 year. Happy 2008!

Phil. 3: 7-14 - But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.