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.