Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I'll leave you with a funny picture. I spent some time relaxing upstairs for a little bit a few nights ago and came downstairs to this.....
I gave him a 'what in the world are you doing' look and he said,"What? She was fussing unless I held her." Whatever works for ya, babe!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
There were so many fun trees and Ansley absolutely LOVED all the fun lights!
I am so in love with this picture it makes my heart hurt! You cannot help but smile when you see Ansley smile. She has the absolute joy of the Lord shining through her face when she smiles. I know that I'm partial, but she is just so beautiful!
Zachary really enjoyed decorating his jingle bell ornanament. Still can't figure out if he is left or right handed. Its still 50/50. Which, of course, Rob just says he'll be a switch hitter : )
The next three pictures are just to show Zachary's drama. Notice his facial expression changes in a rapid photo shoot. People always asked us when we found out we were having a girl if we were ready for the drama. Oh, we know drama!
Haha! He never fails to entertain, thats for sure!
I have lots of good news to share, but I first want to send out a HUGE thank you. My sweet sister in law, Holly, (though she will deny this through and through) has orchestrated some sort of "Count it All Joy" scheme. We have been receiving "surprises" on our doorstep and in our mailbox for two weeks now. Each "blessing" has some sort of "Count it All Joy" label, and let me just say.. it is accomplishing the intended goal. We could never even begin to express how much it has blessed us. We have been keeping the front blinds closed so that we don't accidentally catch someone. I still don't know how we have not seen anyone! We actually did once, because my sweet little nephew accidentally banged on the door. I thought it was intentional, so we opened it, but never would have if we had known it was an accident. I wish I could give individual thank yous and hugs to everyone who has been a part of this, but if you have been and are reading this.. THANK YOU!!!!! Everyday when we receive our "blessing" I always think of Paul's letters and specifically Philippians 1:3-4 I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with JOY.." From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!!!!
Now to all the great news! Our early intervention specialist, Amy, comes every Monday to work with us. She continues to use the word "amaze" in some form when she works with Ansley. A couple of weeks ago, Ansley seemed to have strength in her abdomen overnight. She started bracing herself with her arm when she would fall to the side and can hold herself sitting up alone for sometimes 10 or so seconds now. Amy was in awe. We discussed Ansley's trouble on tummy time in that she continues to "sky dive" instead of use her arms to prop herself up and thats why she wasn't rolling tummy to back. (She started rolling back to tummy a couple of months ago) She gave me some techniques to try to help encourage her to brace herself on her arms. The next morning, I brought her downstairs to try them all out and the Lord, once again, just spoke strength into her arms overnight. It was like it was a different baby! I think I could make a flip book from all the pictures I took! She immediately pushed her entire chest off the floor with her hands and just started leaning to one side and the other, looking over her shoulder, and within a couple of minutes, just flipped right on over. I was crying, laughing and just saying "Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!" We had quite a funny moment when Zachary then started dancing around the room singing, "Thank you Jesus"! Haha! And again, Amy was in awe. She looked at me like I was speaking French when I told her that the Lord spoke strength into her arms overnight, but the glory will go nowhere else.
Another health issue of Ansley's that God has so mercifully delivered her from is aspiration. She had a barium swallow done a couple of months ago that showed one episode of aspiration (liquid getting into the airway while eating). The radiologist and GI weren't too concerned about it, just said to postpone solids. They wanted to wait and retest mid-January, but at her last appt, I really pushed to have her retested as soon as possible. So, she had the test and passed with flying colors!! 10 swallows of thin liquid, 10 of thick, and 10 spoon fed swallows all PERFECT! I was so excited to see her eat with a spoon bc she never had before. I was surprised at how thick the goop they gave her was. It had kind of a pudding consistency to it and the tech said she had a very "mature" swallow. I was absolutely elated! The tech turned to me and said, "Well, whatever problem she had is either better, or gone now." It was such a day of rejoicing. I remember praying that morning just that the Lord is sovereign and good, and at the end of the day, we would praise His name no matter what the results were, but that it would be a day for us to rejoice in His mercy and compassion. PRAY ANSWERED! There was no other word for the state of our hearts than rejoicing!
I am going through 'Morning and Evening' by Charles Spurgeon right now, and I want to share with you the morning of December 9th. Its a lengthy paragraph, but well worth the read.
Isaiah 30:18 "Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you.
God often delays in answering prayer..Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of the day-he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophenicia received no answer for a long while. Paul asked the Lord three times for "a thorn..in the flesh" to be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it would be removed, but instead a promise that God's grace would be sufficient for him. If you have been knocking at the gate of mercy and have received no answer, shall I tell you why the mighty Maker has not opened the door and let you in? Our Father has personal reasons for keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show His power and His sovereignty, so that we may learn that God has a right to give or to withhold. More often the delay is for our benefit. You are perhaps kept waiting in order that your desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if He keeps you waiting, you will see your need more clearly and will seek more diligently, and that you will treasure the mercy all the more on account of the wait. There may also be something wrong in you that needs to be removed before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps your views of the gospel plan are confused, or you may be relying upon yourself instead of trusting simply and entirely in the Lord Jesus. Or God makes you wait for a while so that He may display the riches of His grace more abundantly in the end. You prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while they will fulfilled to your delight and satisfaction. Do not allow despair to make you silent, but continue to present your requests to God.
I often find myself struggling because we sometimes "see" things that maybe don't seem quite right. The Holy Spirit spoke so strongly to me one evening in a moment like this and just said,"What have I not done? You have prayed that one milestone at a time I heal her. What has happened to make you think I'm not doing it?" I had no answer, because He has continued, by his mercy and compassion, to deliver her through milestone after milestone. He very overwhelmingly gave me the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:7 "walk by faith, not by sight.." It becomes so easy to fight the enemys attacks when the Lord writes His words on your heart. It is impossible to argue with TRUTH!
I had a sweet moment yesterday when we received a beautiful ornament with "Count it all JOY" written on the side. I (shockingly) started crying at all the thoughts the Lord simultaneously spoke into my heart. I thought about James 1:2 that speaks of 'counting it all joy' and that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. The Lord made it so clear that this valley is not just about the struggle, but about His favor on us because He is choosing to make us more like Himself because of this. Making that our primary focus when going through difficult circumstances makes the pill much easier to swallow. I honestly (and Rob as well) can say with all of my heart that I rejoice in these sufferings, because we are seeing the fruit that it is bringing. We could have never imagined the horror of these trials, but also could never have imagined how intensely God would forever change and transform our hearts. Rob was sharing with me the verse Hebrews 12:11 that spoke to him. It says.. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." I cannot imagine walking through this, or any trial for that matter, without knowing the Lord is sovereign. Without knowing that every moment has been planned and ordained by our Maker and no situation, however out of control it may seem, is ever outside of what He allows. It makes me so thankful for the mercy of His choosing! That He has chosen us as His people, and He is incapable of breaking His word, so we have the full assurance that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8) Amen!!!!!
Speaking of my child's nutty facial expressions. Do any 3 1/2 year old take normal pictures?
I won't tell you which one of us taught him the difference between 'comfortable clothes' and 'church clothes'. Nor will I tell you which one of us now has the responsibility of always dressing Zachary for church since said person taught him the distinction. Should I mention Zachary is not fond of the difference between the two? Nah, didn't think so.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
"Love.. covers all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things."
There are days when I can feel the pain of Ansley's circumstances building and I know I have come to a place of finding my hope in Ansley's deliverance rather than solely on Jesus. I find reassurance in times of grieving that Jesus mourned with Mary and Martha for Lazarus.(John 11:35) I know that the Lord is always weeping with me when I cry out for her. But, when the grief lingers, I know my heart is no longer focused on the glory of the Lord, but on my desires. It is every parent's worst nightmare to hear doctors say the things we have heard said to us. I would be lieing if I said I don't often just want to sit in the hope that there will be a miracle in her life so that life will be easier and what I always imagined it to be. I have to constantly be aware of the motives when I am praying for her healing and deliverance. James 4:3 says, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." I am so guilty in my moments of weakness to just want Ansley to be normal for selfish reasons. To not have to deal with the pain of what her life could be like or to just make things easier for her and for ourselves. I have to force myself to be aware of when my motives and focus are shifting from the glory and honor of the name of Jesus Christ, to my own earlthy pleasures. Rob is always speaking the verse over me that .."The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy..(John 10:10) Satan wants to make me think our lives are over, that life will never be happy or carefree again, and to steal the joy out of every moment with the shadow of our circumstances. But thankfully the verse does not end there!! It goes on to say.. "I HAVE COME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE, AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL." This is just a moment to fall to our knees and thank God for saving us. The tears spring to my eyes in thankfulness that I do not have to fight this battle. That the Lord has given us this journey so that we may then just give it back to Him as His glory. He has come so that Ansley may have LIFE and LIFE TO THE FULLEST!!! This is a promise of scripture that I claim over her daily. What a glorious promise to know that no matter what the Lord throws our way, He came to give abundant life. That He will never take us to a place His grace cannot cover. How much easier could the life of believers be if we would simply rest in knowing these battles belong to the Lord? When we first found out about Dan's cancer, Rob started carrying 2 Chronicles 20:12, 15 on a notecard in his pocket. It says:
2 Chronicles 20: 12, 15
..For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on Thee.. thus says the Lord to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's.
If we believe the Word to be alive and true, why must there be such wrestling with our circumstances? I have had many moments crying out to the Lord asking Him where He is in all of this. Moments of anger and fear I have to continually confess. There was one particular Sunday morning when I was talking things out with Rob and the Holy Spirit just spoke into me as I was talking. The previous night had been a particularly difficult time and I had been so broken before the Lord asking where He was.. just to please show Himself. He just spoke into my lips that He was new grace every morning. That He would never fail to show up and provide endless grace in my moments that needed forgiveness. I have to force myself to remember that when I fall at the foot of the cross, I bring nothing, I have nothing and I am nothing - apart from the goodness of His grace and mercy. But I can rejoice in knowing that if I humble myself before Him, He will raise me up!!! (James 4:10) We have no other choice than relying solely on the Lord and His power to be our sustenance.
As with any trial, its important to be aware of where your heart truly is, because the enemy can deceive you into thinking you are focused and seeking the Lord when you actually may be making your circumstance an idol. It's so much easier to say than to do, especially when your circumstances are life altering, intense suffering. I know I have been guilty numerous time of making Ansley's circumstances an idol. The Bible makes it so simple and clear for us. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. (Deut. 6:5) It's putting this into action that is the challenge. The life of Paul should show us the truth that anything is possible through Jesus. Andrew Murray refers to the faith of Paul in his book "Receiving Power From God". He says.. "Paul dares any reader to say that what he asks for out of the riches of God's glory is too high and beyond what we dare think or ask. He knew what the greatness of God's power had done in his own life. He knew God was ready to do a miracle in anyone who would give himself up with his whole heart and life to trust God." It is God's love for us that COVERS us with grace walking through each moment of this journey. It is because of our love for Ansley that we will BELIEVE all things are possible. It is because of our love for Ansley the will always HOPE for absolute abundant life for her. It is because, of our great love for our precious Ansley, that will ENDURE this race.
As far as Ansley's health.. we had a wonderfully uneventful doctors appointment this morning! Praise God! Praise God! Praise God! She had four stool studies (sorry if you are gagging) come back completely normal. Thank you Jesus, thank you! To hear that some lab or test came back normal is such a refreshing change and such a gift of mercy. So we now have to grab the latex gloves and "gather" another sample. Think I can talk Rob into "gathering" this one?? We will know December 29th at her next GI appointment if the inflammation is gone. This will indicate that it is, in fact, a dairy allergy. I had a funny moment this afternoon with the allergy stuff. I had filled a cup with a straw up with water for Zachary at my mom and dad's house. My mom let me run an errand and when I got back, I was so thirsty, so I grabbed Z's cup and took a big gulp.... OF MILK!!!! I ran to the sink to spit it out, but already swallowed some. Luckily, the doctor said that small of an amount wouldn't hurt her or affect the test results. Phew! Too close!
Pictures from the Fantasy of Trees coming soon..
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
We have tried to put Ansley's story into one entry to explain her situation. We pieced together all previous emails, etc, to try to create a "short" version of the journey we have been on for the past few months. [If you haven't read it, click here to read it.] Reading over all our previous emails caused us to rejoice in how many prayers have been answered:
1. Ansley has NEVER had a seizure.
2. Ansley HAS YET TO MISS A DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONE! After meeting with specialist after specialists, to date Ansley still tests as "age appriopriate." THIS IS THE POWER OF PRAYER OFFERED IN FAITH!
3. After a couple months of not feeding well, Ansley has eaten very well the last couple months.
4. Zachary has adjusted very well to having a baby sister around. He is very caring, nuturing, and protective of her. It is sweet to watch.
5. God has challenged and refined me and Jordan's faith through this process.
Many have wanted to have an update on Ansley's situation. We are going to begin using the blog to keep everyone posted (our email list was getting so long!--which is a huge blessing--) So check the blog (or subscribe to it) to keep informed. But, please don't neglect to email us your encouraging words and prayers, or add encouraging comments to the site.
“We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (James 5:11) Right now, Ansley is holding her head up much better, rolled over a few times, standing on her legs relatively well(with us holding her hands/hips), eating well, smiling, giggling, babbling, reaching for items, putting items in her mouth, and many other things. She is looking great and we are so thankful that God has shown show much mercy to her and us. What we need prayer for currently:
1. God would continue to keep Ansley from having any seizures.
2. God would astound amaze the world by the way Ansley develops- showing His kindness and faithfulness with each milestone reached by His good grace.
3. A test showed Ansley might have milk allergies. Jordan has had to go off of dairy and we have been restricted from introducing solid food. The new test results come back soon and, as weird as it sounds, we pray that Ansley is allergic to dairy. The reason we pray for this is because her symptoms could be a sign of something much more serious. We just pray it is nothing more than allergies. (The doctors have said is looks like "textbook" milk allergy, but we have lived in the world of hard to swallow diagnosises for the past five months.)
4. Ansley's legs and arms are a little stiff. Her range of motion is a little restricted (more on her legs than arms) without stretching first. We pray that God would loosen her stiffness and free her legs to run, jump, skip, and play.
5. Pray for protection, peace, and patience for me and Jordan. This has become such a journey of persistence and endurance. It has changed our hearts and lives forever. We need encouragement and support from God's people. Pray that our hope would not waiver, our faith would remain strong, and our mouths bold to speak of "Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us." (Eph. 3:20)
Rob, Jordan, Zachary, and Ansley
"When your faith endures many conflicts and your spirit sinks low, do not condemn yourself. There is a reason for your season of heaviness. Great soldiers are not made without war. Skillful sailors are not trained on the shore. It appears that if you are to become a great believer you will be greatly tested. If you are to be a great helper to others, you must pass through their trials. The uncut diamond has little brilliance, the unthreshed corn feeds no one, and the untried believer is of little use or beauty.”- Charles Spurgeon.
Monday, November 23, 2009
We told him we had been in a Bible Study with the radiologists daughter and her husband, and the tech told us to hang out in the waiting room for a minute. Our friends dad was kind enough to stop what he was doing to look at Ansley's scan for us. I knew when he came out into the waiting room that something wasn't right. He led us back to a dark room and started explaining these x-ray-like pictures of Ansley's brain. He immediately showed us that the sutre lines were open, but I could tell by the look on his face that there was something wrong. He proceeded to inform us that the sulci lines and gyrial patterns of Ansley's brain were underdeveloped. (Basically that the surface of her brain was smoother than it should have been) He couldn't give us any answers at that point and told us we needed to see a pediatric neurologist. We called our wonderful pediatrician on the way home and she informed us we had to be on the lookout for seizures. It was indescribable. Everything just stopped. The pain was so overwhelming and the fear of the unknown was just unbearable. Immediately upon arriving home, there was such an overwhelming numbness and feeling that this could not possibly be happening. I sat down to feed Ansley and the Lord immediately and as clear as day, spoke Job 1:21.. "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." He gave me a gentle, but firm command to rise up and praise His name. To call him Blessed and praise His name in spite of the pain. Well, neurology appointments don't come quickly, so our doctor scheduled one for us for four months down the road. Over the next few days, a specific pediatric neurologists name kept coming up from everyone we talked to, but our pediatrician told us his waiting list was five+ months. Three days later Rob was working on an Ansley update email about the passage in Luke 18 about the Lord not delaying long to answer the cries of His people, my phone rang. It was the neurologist everyone had recommendeds nurse informing us we had an appointment with him the next morning at nine o clock.
We were absolutely floored. This was just the beginning in the Lord showing His faithfulness . Her first appointment went well and was very encouraging. The doctor scheduled and MRI for Ansley when she was three months old to better determine the state of her brain. We prayed fervently for a divine healing and for peace during this waiting period. The spiritual battle was constant and the struggle to allow the Lord to fight the battle for us was difficult. The day finally came to get the results from her MRI and it wasn't exactly what we were hoping for. The doctor informed us that the neuropathways in Ansley's brain had gone to the wrong spots at some point during her development in the womb and they were irreversible. He told us normal was "impossible" for Ansley and that she would indeed be mentally and maybe even physically handicapped. .We had so many questions that he just couldn't give us answers to. The spectrum he gave us was anywhere from a walking, talking, highly functioning handicap, to basically a wheelchair and inability to speak or do anything for herself. We had prayed for months that the day would be a day we always remembered as a day of celebration for our family. There was some time of deep grief and sadness, but slowly over the course of the day, the Lord again put it strongly on my heart to rise up and PRAISE! That the day was made for celebrating Ansley, for celebrating the joy and the precious gift that she is, and for celebrating and praising the name of the Lord. The next few days, as we sought the Lord for peace He led us to one scripture after another of His promises.
"My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay your hands on her, so that she may get well and live.. Jesus, overheard what was being spoken and said, "Do not be afraid any longer, only believe"..And they began laughing at him..and taking the child by the hand, he said to her, "Talitha kum! (which translated means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!") And immediately the girl rose and began to walk. And immediately they were completely astounded.
"Truly I say to you, whoever says to his mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea', and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him.
Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe you have received them, and they shall be granted you."
We ask you to join us in boldly praying with faith that our daughter will shock, amaze, astound, and confound her Doctors-leaving them speechless, that we have opportunity to testify of the power of prayers offered up in faith. After all, she is already able to do things that she shouldn’t be able to do yet, because of her condition! We believe this is because of the prayers offered up for her.
We have a vision of her growing up and marching through milestone after developmental milestone. We have a vision of dropping Ansley off at kindergarten 5 years from now to the amazement of all who have prayed so fervently for her. At this point, I just lost half of you (that is, if the percentages of my last 10 or so conversations hold true.) We have been disheartened and discouraged by several (though certainly not all) conversations we have had with mature, Bible-believing Christians. In a sense, some people have looked at us like we are crazy or at least in some form of denial. We share our vision and dreams and get a response something like, “That is awesome. I will pray for that, and if that is not God’s plan for her…” “Yeah, but if she doesn’t develop normally I know her parents will love her just the same...” Such conversations always set us back a bit and make us wonder if we really are crazy. But the more time we spend in the Word, and the more time we spend in prayer, the more we realize that the “And ifs” and the “Yeah buts” never got healed. It was always those who were willing to take a chance on Christ’s power. The more time I take to think through all the reasons we should be more “realistic” the more we see that, 9 times out of 10, doubt and fear are the motivation behind being realistic. It is either a doubt that God is still in the business of working miracles or a fear of being disappointed.. This is surely not the life of faith the scripture commands. After all, it’s GOD we are talking about! The only scriptural justification for such “realism” is an acceptance of God’s will. In this regard, even Christ Himself prayed for the cup to pass: “And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, ‘Abba Father! All things are possible for Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but Thou wilt.” (Mark 14:35-36) We submit to the Father’s will for Ansley’s life wholeheartedly, but does that mean that we should stop falling to the ground and pleading with our Abba Father –Him in whom All things are possible—that He work a miracle in Ansley’s life?
So, our “official” stance is this: We believe that God’s word is true. We believe the miracles of faith belong only to those willing to take a “risk” on God’s power. We refuse to hide behind being “realistic” in order to prevent ourselves from being hurt or disappointed. We long for believers to surround us who are willing to “wear God out” with prayer after prayer for our daughter as Jesus Himself taught: “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart…[parable]…now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
Many people have sent us such encouraging and life-giving emails telling us how Ansley’s story has challenging, inspired, encouraged, and changed their lives. We will continue to tell her story. We are not motivated by fear of a special needs child (we have accepted this possibility months ago). Instead, we are motivated to show the world that God’s Word is true and His power is real.
If you desire to join with us, here is how you can pray:
- Pray that we will learn how to “pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)
- Pray that we will believe and pray against our unbelief: “All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father cried out and began saying, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-24)
- We are publicly risking our hearts and putting our daughter on a stage to show God’s power and glory. This is not well received by our enemy. We have had awful thoughts, nightmares, etc. Pray for our spiritual protection.
- Right now, specifically pray for Ansley: to continue to not have seizures and to continue to amaze every doctor, specialist and therapist the she comes in contact with at her abilities and normal development
- Pray for Zachary to get the love and attention he needs.
To date, the work of the Lord is undeniable in Ansley. Everything she does is because the Lord spoke it to be. She has already amazed every specialist and doctor that are on "her team". We pray that will be the story of the rest of her life.