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.

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