Monday, December 23, 2013

unexpected JOY...

I love this time a year. I love the excitement that Christmas brings out in people and I especially love the sound of kids singing Christmas carols proclaiming the birth of Jesus Christ.  This time of year brings back so many memories of programs, caroling, family, and presents.  

I have come to realize that many people go into the holidays dreading them.  I am not sure if it's the preparation for guests, the demands of perfection (placed on by others or themselves), the baking and cooking, the hustle and bustle, or the years of not being appreciated for their hard work...but I remind myself that Christmas is to be about God's Son, to share in the celebration of His birth, and to acknowledge the gift of His life and how it changed everything.

I started this Christmas season with a very special invite from a friend I had met this summer that happens to have an extra special chromosome in her family.  Her daughter, Molly, was also diagnosed at birth with Ds and we met through a mutual friend.  D sent me a message and invited me to come hear her speak about life with Molly at the Christmas women's event at her church.  The title of the women's program was Unexpected Joy.  

As I listened to D talk about her story I shed tears for many reasons.  Some were because my family also knows the pain of getting a diagnosis in a way that was not done with tact, professionalism, and tenderness.  (D's husband was asleep on the couch next to her when they talked to her).  Other tears were for thanksgiving in having a Godly woman express some of the same feelings I had when receiving the news, the news that was not expected.   I had tears of healing, hearing again that I am not alone in the thoughts I have when raising a child with Down syndrome.  I had tears of relief hearing that there was a time she had to finally ask her family and close friends for we are both the 'do it yourself...pull up your boot straps' kind of women.  Tears of gratefulness as I hear how much JOY that Molly's life has brought to her life and those around her.  Could she have imagined the amount of  JOY she would have when she heard the diagnosis 2 years ago and her world changed forever.  I also had tears of thankfulness as I think of my sweet Jack and how his life brings me so much JOY.  

Unexpected Joy.  

There was another woman that experienced Unexpected Joy a long time ago...her name was Mary.  This young virgin girl, engaged to be married to Joseph, told she would carry a baby, and she would name him Jesus.  What...what?  Talk about news of the unexpected.  Not what Mary had envisioned when she was dreaming of her future...and how would she tell her fiancĂ©, Joseph?  And does he respond to the unexpected news that his soon to be bride is pregnant.  How is he to believe such a story that an angel came and told her she would be pregnant with the Messiah?  Not exactly what he had planned for himself, I am sure.  But they both responded...obediently to what God had planned for them. 

What if they wouldn't have responded?  What if Joseph would have left Mary and decided that he was to marry another?  He would have missed out on the biggest event in his life.  What if Mary would have not been willing to carry the child and not been obedient to the God she loved?  She would have missed out on being the mother of the Savior of the world.  

I think of the Innkeeper.  The guy that told a man and his fiance, a woman that had just traveled on a donkey at 9 months pregnant, that he had no room for them.  How did he respond when he realized he just turned away the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Great I Am.  

Jason Gray writes a song from the perspective of the Innkeeper.  

Rest (The Song of the Innkeeper) 
I found them standing in my door
In the clumsy silence of the poor
I've got no time for precious things
But at least they won't be wandering
If they're sleeping on my stable floor

There were no rooms to rent tonight
The only empty bed is mine
‘Cause I’m overbooked and overrun
With so many things that must be done
Until I’m numb and running blind

I need rest, I need rest
Lost inside a forest of a million trees
Trying to find my way back to me
I need rest

As a boy I heard the old men sing
About a Kingdom and a coming King
But keeping books and changing beds
Put a different song inside my head
And the melody is deafening

I need rest, I need rest
Like a drowning man in the open sea
I need somebody to rescue me
I need rest

To Rome we’re only names and numbers

Not souls in search of signs and wonders
But we're waiting for the day of our salvation
The messiah who will be our liberation
We’re waiting, I’m waiting

I need rest, I need rest
Oh come oh come Emmanuel
With a sword deliver Israel
I need rest

Tonight I can’t get any sleep
With those shepherds shouting in the streets
A star is shining much too bright
Somewhere I hear a baby cry
And all I want is a little peace

How many of us will miss the greatest thing that could happen to us because we don't respond?  How many of us will not respond in faith to God's plan when we receive the news of the unexpected?  How many of us are going to miss out on the JOY...the Unexpected Joy?

Christmas Poem by Amena Brown
unlikely situations :God often interrupts our expectations and births His plans in the most unlikely situations.

Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

8 months...give thanks in ALL circumstances...get after it

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
 I Thes 5:18

Yesterday we captured Jack sitting up for at least 20 seconds all on his own.  It felt like a minute because I screamed to my sister to take a screen shot since we were on face time having a great conversation and she managed to capture this picture.  He did it!  The screeching excitement from Renee and I probably made him freeze in position before he toppled over! :) He has been working so hard on his core muscles at OT and PT and I am so proud of him.  I have signed up to be his biggest encourager and I can't help but to be beaming with excitement for him.

We had a big appointment this past Wednesday at Children's as Jack had his EEG.  We were concerned about him shaking his head back and forth for a few seconds.  It would happen occasionally throughout the day.  I was able to catch him doing this once on a video and we sent it to the doctor.  She ordered an EEG and to be completely honest I have been so worried about it for the past couple of weeks.  I wouldn't openly come out and explain my feelings, or I should say fears, but it was coming out in a variety of ways, take for example, snapping at those around me.  I was on edge.  Fear will make you act in ways you are not proud of.  Fear, I could personally define as my decision to have a lack of trust.  I was again putting trust in myself and not asking God to take my fears and give me peace about the results of the test.  Its a trend of mine, to try and control things or think of possible outcomes, so that I don't allow it/them to hurt me, or better yet surprise me...because I was already prepared for it in my head.

"Lord, I realize you gave me a huge surprise 8 months ago, but how quickly I forget that lesson."  

Trust and let go of the control.   

Thankfully the EEG was around the time of his morning nap so he slept like a champ considering he had 15-20 electrodes stuck to his head.  I thought he looked pretty cute with his new dreadlocks! :)  The test took less than 45 minutes and we were down to get his blood drawn for the thyroid test after that.  We are still anticipating those results.  

 *ps...I hate it when they have to take his blood*

On Wednesday afternoon I went for a run and I was on the home stretch when the message I was listening to was over.  I decided to listen to some music and as I posted before, one of my favorite songs is Lord, I need You by Matt Maher.  A couple minutes into the song I received a phone call pausing the song.  Just as I was confessing that I was in need of the good Lord, I was hearing the nurse say that Jack's results from his EEG came back normal.  I had to pull my ear buds out, put my cheek up to the phone, and ask her if I heard her correctly.  His results for the EEG were normal?  The EEG and not the thyroid?  She explained that the doctor got the results back and she was at home and wanted the nurse to call us and tell us the news.  I was in tears as I made it back to our house!  I was so excited to share with Chris that the results were normal.  We weren't thinking we would know for at least a week and I was so grateful she called with the results...just in time for Thanksgiving!

So...give thanks in ALL circumstances...

I have read this verse many times before, but my heart understands more of what it means when it says ALL circumstances.  When things don't go as planned, do I still give thanks?  I asked this question Wednesday when I received the news that Jack wasn't having seizures, would I still thank Him if he did?  Or is this something I only give thanks for when receiving the things I want?  This leads me to think about adversity and can I truly say that I thank God for it?  I am thankful to say that when reflecting on the adversity that I have experienced so far in my life I can say I am very thankful for it for it as it's prepared me for this season of my life.


So speaking of adversity...Chris came home a month ago and said he talked to his players about adversity.  He told me that he felt it was important to speak to them about how we experienced the news of Jack having Down syndrome.  He was starting to notice that after the first two weeks of practice some of the guys were showing frustration about their roles on the team and their playing time.  He was seeing how that was effecting the dynamics of the team and decided that he could challenge them with an example of facing things that don't go as one might initially expect.  He explained that everyone has a choice and it comes down to the heart.  Are you going to GET AFTER IT and lean into it?  He expressed to them that one day in life they will face things that are much harder than playing time and chemistry class.  What they are faced with today will prepare them for the difficult things that come their way, IF they choose to GET AFTER IT.  When Chris was asked, "Are you familiar with Trisomy 21?" there was initial fear, confusion, and grief of what we thought...but we had a choice.  If you know Chris at all, he doesn't just do things...he GETS AFTER IT.  I expressed this in this blog post in June, but in summary he remembers the exact place where he was when he realized that he GETS to raise Jack and from then on has fully accepted him for the person God created him to be.

So in this season of thanksgiving...I give thanks in ALL circumstances...for the adversity that prepares us for something far greater...and for a husband that encourages me to GET AFTER IT.

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About Me

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The name of this blog was inspired by Kristin Armstrong's devotional book, Strength for the Climb. I am a midwest girl married to a handsome, hardworking, God-fearing man and the mother of two boys. My eldest son, a social butterfly that has enough energy and excitement to make anyone tired and a personality that will make you giggle with laughter. My youngest son, can cuddle like no other, and his eyes will speak right to your soul. Both of my sons have taught me more about God's grace and goodness. We are blessed to have an extra chromosome in our family as our sweet Jack was diagnosed at birth with Down syndrome. With that, I am reminded daily to trust and rely on God's perfect plan on this journey called life. I am a child of God and grateful to my Heavenly Father for His continued blessings, guidance, wisdom, and most importantly for saving my soul.