Friday, June 29, 2012

Excited to Crawl

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

Are you ever taken out of today?  One minute you are looking at your calendar, assessing your goals, planning the future for your children, getting caught up in both trivial and important matters, and the next thing you know you are no longer in today?   So often it takes writing a check and attempting to remember what month it is to snap me out of my “future/planning” or “past/what if” focus.  As I pen a “6” for June and follow with the day and year, my eyes grow wide as I wonder where the last three months went and how another month is a day away!  Maybe you’ve been there before.

When you are dealing with a “catch up” mentality, be it in finances, family, friendships, or any other matter, you can certainly find yourself stuck in yesterday’s ruminations or tomorrow’s hopes and fears.  As most of you know, Meade and I spend much time, effort and prayer in one of our own catch-up scenarios: John’s development.  (There are others, to be sure: feeling we need to reclaim parts of the last few years, feeling we need to catch up in terms of the number of children we have, feeling a sense of urgency about catching up as a mom… being a mom who has been at it for 3.5 years but “behind” where most moms of 3.5 years are in terms of disciplining, planning for school, enrolling in VBS, the list goes on.)

But back to the catch-up scenario of John’s development for this post…  I’ll never forget John’s advocate at the Institutes (the person in charge of coordinating his care and prescribed home program) insisting we must see crawling as worthy, it must be good enough, it must be an admirable accomplishment.  That we must know this in every fiber of our beings… keeping our eyes solely on that next step as we encourage John and love him exactly where he is and with exactly what he is presently working on.

I feel this week I have made some sort of transition…. crossing over from eyes fixed on walking and milestones potentially down the road to being excited about this current step John is working on: army crawling.  Maybe it is because I am freer than before, maybe it is because I see this skill emerging and that gives me some hope, or maybe it is because the Holy Spirit is shining His light into my heart and illuminating my perspective.

Regardless, today I agree with John’s advocate.  Crawling… that next step, today’s step… is worthy.  Physical crawling for John.  “Life crawling” for me.  And for today at least, that puts me right where I belong.  In today.

Due to God’s grace and love, I’m excited about what this day is bringing.  Glamorous or not, I am excited to crawl. 
(Pictures below)

I am reminded of the classic song by Rich Mullins, “Step by Step.”  I am grateful God leads us one step at a time, giving us the gift of today.  Email subscribers, click here to listen to the song.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Part 2: The Flowering of Truth

"Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth."
1 Corinthians 13:6, The Message

Earlier this week, I shared my delight in discovering truth as something that flowers.  It is the object of love's pleasure.  It grows, it unveils, it even surprises us with its beauty and joy.  

I am reminded of this powerful reality as I go outside and walk around our new home.  In purchasing this home, we inherited an English Garden of sorts.  I'll be honest -- I had NO clue what to do with it at first.  It is a little wild and unruly.  Additionally, I often feel I am destroying its beauty by my neglect.  However, I am coming to terms with simply exhaling... simply enjoying this unexpected gift that was left for me.

Unexpected, indeed. In the three and half months we have lived here, I am regularly surprised by the new things that pop up in the yard.  What I assumed was a weed becomes a gorgeous flower!  Shoots that were literally not there the day before now make their presence known with flowers at their tops.

This plant greeted me this morning with these delicate little flowers.  I had never noticed its flowers before, which only appear in the morning before closing back up. 

These shoots popped up within the last week, bearing these beautiful flowers.

These flowers are in the front.  I had no idea they were under the soil when we moved in, just waiting for the right time in the season to make their appearance.

Lastly, these stalks have recently shot up from the earth, and I think they may be sunflowers!  

It's amazing how you can think something is merely a pine straw bed, a bunch of weeds, or a neglected patch of yard, and then new life bursts forth!  Without any effort on my part!  In fact, they spring forth in spite of my neglect and lack of horticultural knowledge.

I am so grateful the Lord's Truth is similar.  It flowers, springs forth, and unleashes its beauty and power despite our shortcomings, despite our neglect, despite our inexperience.  His Truth endures.  And if we have the eyes to see, we will realize it is all around us, just waiting to surprise us and flower.

"See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making  a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:19

As always we greatly appreciate your prayers.  Specific prayer requests include:
-For John to sleep through the night.
-For John's program as we ease back into it.  He already loves the pieces we have gradually added back in this past week.
-For John's development: specifically army crawling, fine motor skills, independent sitting, full head control, and speech.  I know this sounds random, but pray for strength in his glutes! This is key in so many of these requests.
-For rest, sleep, and energy for all of us!
-We pray for the eyes to see God's Truth flowering in our lives as He guides us down His path for our family.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Flowering of Truth

"I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass.  
I have purposed it;  I will also do it." 
Isaiah 46:11  

As you know, we recently took a trip.  John had the great honor (and therefore, we certainly did too!) of being the ring bearer in the wedding of “Miss Jess” and “Mr. Dan.”  We were blessed with two incredible aids for John during our time in Virginia, and Miss Jess was with us up until our move and was a true Godsend.  In fact, she accompanied us on our move, and we couldn’t have done it without her!  We were able to get to know Dan right at the beginning of their relationship and shared in the joy of their Christmas-time engagement as they came over and shared the news with us just a couple of hours after Dan proposed!

Sweet reunion with Miss Jess at the wedding rehearsal

We were extremely excited to return to Virginia to be a part of this amazing couple’s special day.  It was a dream come true for us as parents.  We pray John will be able to experience “normal” things as he grows and continues to follow God’s unique path for his life.  Moms pray seemingly odd prayers at times, and even starting a couple of years ago, I had been specifically praying that John would be a ring bearer at some point!  I had no idea this answer to prayer and true honor would come so soon through this precious couple.

John looking quite dapper in his wedding attire.  He wore the REAL rings around his neck. 

Walking down the aisle with our new friend, Ben

As God often does, He spoke to me through this wedding.  Jess and Dan chose the famous “Love Chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, as one of their Bible readings at the ceremony.   I have heard it many times (although I always need its reminders!), but I don’t think I had ever heard it from The Message.  Verse 6 and its powerful wording captured my mind and heart:
“[Love] takes pleasure in the flowering of truth.”

What a beautiful and profound image.  What does love take pleasure in?  Truth.  And what does truth do?  It flowers.  Is truth a dead, dull noun?  No.  This passage illuminates its active nature as something that unfolds.  That truth is living, active, created—not contrived or manipulated.  That as something created and flowering, truth has a source: God, the Creator.  That truth is a responsibility.  We can steward and nurture it, aiding or impeding its growth.  Truth sees no middle way.  Thus, it holds promise and warning. Guidance and admonition.  And it is the very object of love’s pleasure.

Once again, God reminded me that He is actively at work unfolding truth in our family’s life.  We turn to fears and lies, and He gently points us back to His Word.  We can doubt and even shake our fists at Him, yet He is faithful, knowing that only the flowering of His truth in our lives will set us free.  Giving us the freedom we desperately long for…the truth that makes us feel known…the truth that once embraced, makes us feel at home.

I look forward to seeing how truth will flower in Jess and Dan’s marriage, just as I look forward to the continual flowering of truth in my sons’ lives.  God has spoken, purposed, and promised this for each one of us.  Of greater import, He is able to do it.  I claim this for John’s life as God continues to heal him.  Fears, lies, poor prognoses, the unknown, grief, depression, and ruin do not have the final say.  Truth wins out, always ready to spring up and flower. 

With the happy couple just minutes after they became Mr. and Mrs. Yoon!

Electric Slide!  John adores music and dancing!

Fun with Maddie and Poppy celebrating Daniel's 1st Birthday:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Daily Dose of Laughter

"A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
Proverbs 17:22

Yes, the Lord is making all things new...

Check out this video below (Email subscribers, click here) and this awesome shirt the sweet new girl who helps us with the boys and therapies just gave me!  And it happens to be from RUF Summer Conference which is the amazing ministry that blessed me so greatly in college.

Hopefully John was able to get you laughing too!  Meade and I walked out to get the mail last night and, when we returned, John was doing this!  Cracking up and jumping better than ever before!  See how he stamps his feet and even alternates them in stepping movements??  A true miracle!  And his posture is so good!  It's as though something "clicked," and he was simply overjoyed at what he was able to do.  

Thank you for continuing to pray for John's full healing!  We are still seeing it every day!

Horseback riding also went well this week, and we are praying for the right swim therapist as well.
Each week we are so blessed to have a team of three volunteers working with John in addition to his wonderful instructor, Miss Pam!

John adores this cheetah.

John is holding the reigns and steering for the first time!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lifted Up

Do you ever feel you just need a boost?  You’d like someone to let you sleep in?  Or better yet, let you sleep in and then bring you coffee in bed?  Or do you simply feel stuck in a pit with your head hung low with no ability to see a few inches in front of your face much less the light at the top?  If so, then this post is for you!

As many of you know, we have been praying for John’s head control for years… ever since his birth almost 3.5 years ago.  We knew it was lacking when he came home from the hospital at 3 months old.  But I remember thinking forward to his first birthday and comforting myself with the idea that, surely, he would have full head control by then as he blew out his birthday candles.  Well, over 3 years later, John’s head control is still not 100%, however it has slowly but surely improved throughout his life. 

In the early days, it was hard to see past the developmental charts listing each milestone to be checked off throughout the first year of life and onward.  Although it remains a daily challenge not to compare, we have grown to appreciate John’s unique timeline and how God is blessing him (and us) through it.   

We are very aware and grateful for John’s overall upward trend in development, yet it can be difficult for us to perceive the incremental changes since we are with John every day.  Oftentimes, it takes a friend who hasn’t seen John in awhile to point out the obvious progress.

God truly does desire to give us the eyes to see.  We were blessed to receive a special gift from Him while on a recent flight (more to come on our trip in the next post).  Ever since John’s 2nd birthday, it was one of those “salt in the wound” sort of things to have to purchase John a plane ticket when he couldn’t even sit in the seat.

Each ticketed passenger is supposed to be in his or her seat for takeoff.  For this flight, we strapped John into his seat and to our surprise he was able to sit by himself as we propped one of his elbows on the armrest.  Meade and I looked at each other with wide eyes, taking in the weighty miracle before us!  John was sitting in his own seat for the first time on an airplane!  A huge step!  We were and are ecstatic!  Not only that, but he also used his hands to play with a new toy on his lap.

Through John and this big achievement in our lives, the Lord reminded me of the verse we have prayed for John over the years:
But you are a shield around me, O Lord;
 You bestow glory on me and lift up my head” (Psalm 3:3).

 Meanwhile, you can see how Daniel kept himself entertained on the plane:

Many of my friends have considered me a germaphobe, especially when it came to John… but here Daniel is rolling around on the floor an airplane, probably one of the dirtiest places in the civilized world.  How things change when you simply want a happy child and happy travelers in the nearby seats! 

This verse continues to be our prayer for John.  While it is true for him, God showed me it is also true for me.  The Lord protects and uplifts me.  He takes my cast down head, cups my face, and tips my eyes up to His light.

God is the lifter of our heads.  He scoops us up out of the pit.  He sets our feet upon His rock.  He has given us His rich promises.  Even when we cannot see clearly and we feel stuck at a standstill, we can count on these promises...  That a new song waits to be sung.  

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
 he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
 Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”
Psalm 40:1-3

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Blessing of Brothers

Happy 1st Birthday Daniel!!  Can’t believe my baby boy is 1 today!  After three days of labor that didn’t even start until after my due date, little Daniel was well worth the wait!  Thank you Lord for blessing our lives and our family with this precious child!  (more pictures at the end)

On Daniel’s birthday and in keeping with last week’s post, “A New Question,” I am reflecting on the blessing of brothers, biological or otherwise.

It is the sweetest thing… just in the past week or two, Daniel has taken breaks from his crazy adventures of running around the kitchen to see what else he can find, bang against the wall, and stick in his mouth in order to play with John.  If John is lying on the floor playing with a toy, Daniel will position himself right next to him and start playing beside or with him.  It has completely melted my heart.  Daniel now understands in his newfound 1-year-old maturity (haha) that he needs to go to John in order to play with him and engage in his world.

Instead of only seeing John and Daniel as my children, I am really taking them in for the first time and experiencing them as brothers.  There is life beyond their identities as our children.  Who knew?  (Smile).  They are brothers. They are there for each other.  They delight in each other. 

The dream I had for Warren and John continues to be redeemed.  No, Daniel doesn’t replace Warren but he has provided a brother in the flesh for John and John for Daniel.  And as we celebrate one child, we celebrate the others as well.  

John and Daniel will be eating side by side in their high chairs, and John will reach over and touch Daniel’s hand.  They will try to imitate each other as one throws his head into the back of his high chair to enjoy the loud noise he can produce.  They connect with each other and make eye contact.  And John still mostly thinks it is funny when Daniel cries and fusses, looking at me with a knowing smile.

Daniel plays hide and seek with John...
Daniel sits on John...

Daniel performs for John!
And John sure loves Daniel and adds SO very much to his life too!

What a gift to have a brother.  What a greater gift to have access to the One who sticks closer than a brother… Who pursues us… Who gets down on the floor with us to engage us… Who comes into our space and loves us right where we are.

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
1 John 3:16

We had a family get together for Daniel’s birthday this weekend, and the celebrations aren’t over yet!  I am all in favor of birthday weeks or months; we all need more than one day!

The much anticipated moment

Really?  All this for me?
 (I promised I wouldn't speak in first person for my children, but alas I guess I was wrong!)

With Uncle Cole

Very serious...
Pure delight!