Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 30, 2009

DECEMBER 30, 2009

Today we celebrate the 5 year anniversary of God's amazing grace in our family. On this day 5 years ago, as our lives began to change moment by moment, I truly could not see or imagine anything beyond the moment we were in, much less imagine 5 years from then. And yet, by the overwhelming grace of God that was all sufficient for each of those difficult moments then, and every moment since then, we are here 5 years later at this moment in our lives. It takes very little for me to recall the thousands of memories that surrounded that life changing event...the exact hour that certain things happened, the faces of the people in the hospital that I did not know that God ordained to care for us, the hugs and tears of family and friends who were there in those early, very dark hours, the waiting room full of people there praying and lifting us up before our Father who was listening and acting on our behalf, even when we could not see it. There are a million more memories that I imagine I will never ever forget, nor do I want to. I could go on and on and on sharing all those memories with you again. But you can read them all again right here on this blog. They are precious memories, though some of them very difficult, yet each one a precious part of God's will and plan for our lives. We are not the same family today that we were 5 years ago. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. Our lives have been forever changed and for that I praise God. As long as God gives us life and breath on this earth, we pledge to honor Him and share, with anyone who will listen, all the He has done for us.

This anniversary would not be so precious without each and every one of you who have loved us, cared for us, prayed for us, and supported us in so many ways over the last 5 years. You will never know the impact that your prayers and notes to us during those 3 1/2 months we were in the hospital had on our family. Each one was a deposit of God's sustaining grace in our lives. We could not have made it without you. As I sit here and write, tears stream down my face as I remember the presence of our parents, our brothers and sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, our pastors, friends young and old from both of our churches, friends near and far, friends we didn't even know that heard and just wanted to come and support us, and the hundreds of notes that were printed out and saved (to this day) from people all over the world who were praying for us. It overwhelms me and humbles me. And yet, it wasn't just then, during those 3 1/2 months, but day after day, month after month, year after year over these last 5 years you have stayed with us, encouraged us, loved us and supported us through all the ups and downs of our journey. Many of you didn't know us 5 years ago but have come into our lives since then and added your love and support as well. I'm so glad we are part of the family of God! Your presence and support in our family through these years has changed our lives forever.

While this special anniversary reminds of us God's work in our lives, His mighty power to heal and deliver, His faithfulness to hear and answer the prayers of His people, it is not a place to reside. Just like the Children of Israel, it is an event we will remember each year and one that we will talk of often. But God has so much more to do and accomplish in Jonathan's life and in the life of our family. We want to be faithful to honor Him with the life He has given us and allow Him to use us as He desires to make Him known. Thank you from the depths of our heart for sharing these years with us. You will never fully know, this side of heaven, the impact that each of you has made in our lives. I don't have words adequate to tell you. But God knows and He has been honored by your love. We pray His most incredible blessings on your lives for the overwhelming blessing you have been to us.

Each year we have celebrated together as a family on December 30. We just spend that day thanking God for our family and remembering how very precious the gift of life is. This year, thanks to the generosity of many of our amazing family and friends, we were given the gift of a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine. We had an awesome room and wore ourselves out at the water park inside. We had a wonderful time together as we always do. We ended our wonderful day having dinner with some of our family. As Jonathan said, it was the most special way to celebrate this 5 year anniversary. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

As we look forward to 2010 we know there are miracles yet to happen in Jonathan's life. Yes, there will be issues and struggles that we will face, just as there have been over the last 5 years. But faithful is He who has called us, who will also do it...whatever it is we will face (1 Thes. 5:24). God has done incredibly more than we could ever have imagined in our lives these past 5 years, and we look forward with great anticipation to see His will and purpose continue to unfold in Jonathan's life.

Thank you again for your faithful presence in the life of our family. Thank you most of all for your prayers for Jonathan. Thank you for your love and encouragement to him and being the hands and feet that have brought him to this place in this amazing journey. You are dearly loved by Jonathan and our entire family. May God's blessings in this new year be more than you could dream for. And may God be praised, both now and in the days ahead, for His great love and His amazing Grace.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas to all our precious family and friends! I pray that all of you have had a wonderful holiday season this year. Ours has been very busy but very good. Much has happened over the last 2 months so let me give you an update on what's been going on.

God has blessed us and kept us free from illness this entire fall. We are so thankful for that. School has progressed pretty well with a few hiccups here and there. But then what school year doesn't have hiccups, right? Jonathan has done very well so far this year in school. He is very good at staying on top of his work and getting it done. He is not a procrastinator when it comes to school. He is handling 8th grade work pretty well and I am praying that this year will be good preparation for what he will encounter next year in high school. Did I just say that Jonathan will be in high school next year??? Wow! That is almost too fantastic to believe! But what a miracle milestone it will be for him.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our families. Then the Christmas season flew into action! We were busy for most of December with rehearsals and Christmas programs for a good 3 weeks. The kid's Christmas program was first. Our entire family participated in The Wonder of Christmas program with all of the children and student choirs at First Baptist. Everyone did great and it was a wonderful program. Elizabeth had a solo, Sarah sang on the praise team on a couple of songs and Jonathan was The Little Drummer Boy for that song. He had the privilege of playing a snare drum with two other guys in a special version of that song. He had to keep the same rhythm throughout the entire song. In the program, he was called the "Drum Captain". He did an amazing job! He was so proud of the opportunity to get to play, and he was such a blessing to so many people who had the chance to see and hear him play. A friend of our video taped the song and put it on facebook. I will post the link and I hope you will be able to watch it. God continues to give us opportunities to honor Him with the life He has given to Jonathan and show His mighty works that He continues to do in his life.

The next week was the Sanctuary Choir programs and they were wonderful as well. The third weekend, the kids went and shared their music at Operation Care. This is an event held in downtown Dallas to provide food, clothing, toys, and other services for the homeless in the metroplex. The kids did a great job and Jonathan got to play again at this performance.

We had a wonderful Christmas yesterday as a family and with all our extended family. And it was our first white Christmas at that! God remains faithful to bless and provide for us each and every year.

One of our special Christmas presents came early and has a story to go with it. Back in October, we walked through an experience that was new to our family. Our little Pug, Sophie, got very sick and we had to put her to sleep. I had no idea how difficult an experience that would be. I think we all cried for a week. She was 8 years old and she obviously left a hole in our family of pets. Well, in early December, we welcomed Samson Howard to our family. He is a sweet little mini Beagle and we are having a wonderful time having this little baby puppy in our home - minus all those little things about puppies that you can't wait to get beyond! I think he loves living here too.
Sweet Sophie Cooper
2001 - 2009

Samson "Sam" Howard Cooper

Can you believe that next week, we will celebrate 5 years since Jonathan's illness dramatically changed our lives? Wow! God is so good. As this time of the year approaches, memories of this life changing event are constantly on my mind, no matter what I am doing. Next week will be week of reflection for me and I will share more of those thoughts with you then.

Before I close, I want to share one more thing with you that I hope you will pray about for Jonathan. Right before Thanksgiving, Jonathan went for his regular endocrine checkup. At this appointment, the doctor voiced her concerns about Jonathan's slow growth. Up to this point, we have just dismissed it as him being a late bloomer since that's the way Dad was at this age. Lamar didn't have a growth spurt until end of 9th grade, which for Jonathan is a year and a half from now. She wanted to go ahead and do some blood work and a bone age x-ray and just see what showed up, instead of waiting until that much later. Blood work is not easy for Jonathan. His veins are very deep so it is not easy to find them. He always handles it so very well. I think it tortures me more than it does him. About 2 weeks later we got the results back. Everything came back within normal range, although some things were a low normal, with one exception. His growth factor was quite a bit lower - 114 instead of 152 which is the low normal. They are proposing that we continue testing by having him come in after a night of fasting and have two IV meds given and his blood checked every 30 minutes to see what they reveal. These meds would jump start the pituitary glands so they can check the growth hormone, since it actually releases the hormone at 2 am. This test would take about 4 hours. Potential side effects are nausia, dizziness, and faintness with both of them. The second one also has the potential of burning the skin if it leaks out of the blood stream into the tissue. That kind of concerns me. Beyond this extra test would be an MRI of the pituitary gland. Basically they want to see if the gland sustained any damage from the stroke. At this point, I have not committed to have this test done. The earliest appointment would have been early January. I want some time to do some research and pray about the necessity of this test. I am not afraid of doctors or their advice - even if it's something I don't want to deal with. However, I'm also not the type to do everything a doctor suggests, just because they suggested we do it. Because of all that Jonathan has gone through over these last 5 years, I am not interested in putting him through anything that is absolutely not a necessity. At the same time, I received all this information right in the middle of our busiest weeks of this season, therefore really leaving me no time to think it through like I need to. So I am asking you to join us as we pray about this further testing. Pray that God will give us all the information we need to process this and know what His will is about this particular issues. Pray that we will have wisdom, that we will trust Him and not rely on our own understanding. I know He has promised to guide our steps and I am claiming that for this issue. God has been so gracious to us in the past in that every test Jonathan has ever had run, the result has always been normal. Jonathan is willing to have the test run if that's what needs to happen. He is always asking me if I think he looks taller, so the desire to grow is in his heart. If the test results were to show a problem with the pituitary gland, he would have to begin taking growth hormone shots. My prayer is that the gland would be in perfect working order and that growth hormone shots would not be necessary for Jonathan. We will need to make a decision on this soon as his next endocrine visit is in February.

I can't tell you how much it means to me to know that you are praying for Jonathan and for our family. These past 5 years would have been so much harder and much more lonely without your constant love and prayers to carry us through. It is a gift that I never want to take for granted. So I thank you in advance for praying us through this particular issue that we are facing at this time with Jonathan. I know that God's plans for Jonathan are good and full of hope for his future - no matter what that might include. I also know that God promises that we will find Him when we come and pray and seek Him with our whole heart. Thank you for undergirding us with your prayers. We pray for God's richest blessings on you and your family during this precious Christmas season. I'll be back with more next week. I love you all so dearly.

Jeremiah 29:11-14a - 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,' declares the Lord.