With God ALL things are possible.
Well, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I put Ansley in Zachary's 'first christmas' sleepers this year (even though they didn't have a trace of pink on them) because I thought it was sweet and sentimental. This is Ansley the morning of Christmas Eve Eve (which is actually just as celebrated in my family!).
I didn't move my leg in time because she smiled, so I snapped.. but, she is sitting up so well now, and right on time. When I am struggling (which I have been and will get to that in a minute) the Lord always takes me to Psalm 103 to "forgot not His benefits". Zachary wasn't even sitting up as good as she is by this time.
We enjoyed our first Christmas as a family of four. It is so unbelievably special to share Christmas with your child for the first time. It was neat to explain the Christmas story again this year to Zachary because he understands the 'baby in the belly' stuff a lot better now since Ansleys been born. Though, he did refer to Ansley as baby Jesus a few times so...he'll get it eventually, what matters is that he knows why we celebrate Christmas. Ansley enjoyed all of the Christmas stories as well, if you count trying to rip and chew the pages as enjoying. One amazing blessing was sharing Christmas with Dan (Rob's dad). As most of you know, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last fall. When he got his diagnosis they told him the average life expectancy with his prognosis was 100 days. A few weeks ago Dan hit day 400. 400! What a gracious gift from the Lord. Dan has spoken of conquering the 'last enemy' (1 Cor. 15:26 - death) and has done so with an unwaivering faithfulness to the Lord. He will be the first to boast in the the Lord and tell you it all the strength of Christ. It has been humbling and downright awe inspiring to watch him and Jan walk this road. Never complaining, yet showing they are human and being open with the grief.. clinging so faithfully to the Lord and still encouraging and uplifting others..speaking of Christ and His strength to be their sustenance.. the list goes on and on. I will never forget the day after we got Ansley's MRI results coming home from errands to a bouquet of flowers on our front porch trying to "brighten our day". They were trying to make us feel better and bring us joy even through their own circumstances. The following week was Rob's fall break. We had originally planned a beach trip, but didn't feel up for it, so Dan and Jan offered for us to get a cabin in the mountains to have some time away as a family. I remember Rob and I laying in lawn chairs on the back deck looking at the stars and realizing how BIG the God we serve is. Matthew 19:26 doesn't have any exceptions. There isn't any.."All things are possible, except the things doctors say are impossible.. " It is simply "With God ALL things are possible."
More on that in a minute, but for now I'll get back to a few more Christmas pictures. Zachary was a little more into the opening of presents than he was into what was inside, so it was nice when he took a moment to savor the contents : )
He was so thrilled to get a few Bob the Builder toys. Thanks to my sis-in-law, Holly, since I found out they don't sell Bob the Builder toys anymore because he isn't culturally diverse enough. I mean.. really? Moving right along.. I tried to get a picture of the kids sitting together, looking at the camera, and smiling, but I mean.. that is a LOFTY goal with a 6 month old and 3 and 1/2 year old. Never the less, this was my best shot.
We always have to get our traditional Christmas morning standing in front of the tree picture.
And no, your eyes do not deceive you. Rob is wearing short sleeved shirt. Hes not wearing a t-shirt, so I was happy! In my moms group last year, an older and much more seasoned mom and pastors wife at our church told us to get over harping all over our husbands about what they wear. She said we were willing to date and marry them based on what they wore before we told them what to wear, so let them be grown men and pick out their own clothes. So.. Rob chose short sleeves. Hmm.
I finally got a good picture of me and my girl smiling at the camera. Woo hoo!
We only got a couple of pictures of Zachary is his full on Christmas garb before the Christmas pj's got put back on. Oh well, not really a battle worth fighting there. Here is a sweet picture my Aunt got of Ansley in her Christmas dress.
Ansley loves having Rob's beard grown out because she loves the way it feels. You can find them doing this often.
We love to play on the bed when the sheets are in the washing machine. This particular day the bed was the water and I was the raft. I was stuck like this for quite some time because if I moved, according to Zachary - the inventor/orchestrator of all our games, he and Ansley would fall in the water.
This next week will be super busy. Ansley has her first real physical therapy appt on Wednesday. I am contemplating taking things back to just once a month, because at this point, she just doesn't need it every week. She will also be starting her speech therapy on Friday. It's just the evaluation and Im super excited about the way things worked out. Our pediatrician and Ansley's development specialist both mentioned making it a point to get a therapist trained in swallowing and feeding. She obviously isn't going for literal speech stuff. That might be jumping the gun just a tad : ) When the office called to get her scheduled, she said that the head of the speech department cleared a few appts in her schedule and Ansley got one of them! It's nice to know we will be in very capable and knowledgeable hands. I am so anxious to get this girl on solids! Her weight has been dropping because at this point, she just needs more. My pediatrician recommended starting a supplement of 2 ounces of formula after each feeding just to try to up her calorie intake. I wouldn't expect most of you to know my views on nursing, but I was definately less than excited about giving Ansley formula. A better fitting word might actually be loathe. She has yet to actually swallow any of it, not that I blame her, so not too much happening there. One good thing is that she is still mainting her length growth, which the pediatrician said is more important than weight. She said if she wasn't getting proper nutrition, she wouldn't be growing lengthwise, so the fact that she continues on the same growth curve was great. Not to mention, she is very active when she's awake, so there were no concerns there. Another awesome piece of news to praise God for is that Ansley's head has maintained the same growth curve. Even though its still significantly smaller (to have microcephaly, you are not even registered on the growth chart bc its below the zero percentile. Even a 2%, where it starts, is not considered microcephaly.) her head is growing at a normal pace. She has had the same amount of growth as any other infant, just a smaller head. Even just typing that it is such a struggle to fight off the flaming arrows! I tell you, it is constant! The thoughts that the enemy penetrates my/our minds with are always there. I can choose to take up the 'shield of faith' (Eph 6:16) or chose to believe the lies. I don't remember who said it, or where I heard this, but I remember someone once saying that every opprotunity is a moment to grow closer to God or move further away from him. Satan often tries to convince me when I feel sad or weak in this battle that I should feel guilty. That I have no faith because of sadness over Ansley's diagnosis and potential future, and it is such a lie. There are often people who seem shocked or confused as to how we ever be sad knowing that God is in control. Dan and Jan again have been such a source of comfort in this area and always provide affirmation that it's okay to be sad. They are going through devastating circumstances as well and are always the first to tell us to never let Satan make you feel guilty for sadness. I will be honest with you and just tell you my heart has been so fighting the sadness a lot lately. I know some people can't understand why we could be sad when Ansley is doing so well so let me just explain a little bit. Both Rob and I lay our desires out before the Lord everyday for Ansley, boldly claiming God's word for her and asking for a miracle only His power is capable of, but we must always pray according to His will. I had an incredibly sweet moment on a drive the other day listening to worship music. I was dwelling on who God is, His power, and His greatness and was just so overcome with emotions. It wasn't a new thought by any means, but just thinking about the fact that He just has to speak and her brain will be made new. That's it. His power is so great and so beyond anything we can conceive, that all He has to do is speak and her brain can be made perfect. It wasn't a moment of pleading that He would do so, but simply worshipping Him because He is able to do so. We are not praying for a sickness to go away, an injury to heal, or a daunting surgery to go well. We are praying for something that is earthly impossible to be reversed. It's the knowing that it might not be a part of His sovereign will to do so that is so painful. You just can't know what having all of your dreams shattered in an instant possibly feels like unless you've been there. There is a Casting Crowns song called "At Your Feet" that has just become my anthem. It is so simple and to the point about dwelling at the feet of Jesus. One of the lines in the song says..
"Here at your feet - I lay my future down - All of my dreams - I give to You now - And my soul sings.. You're all I need.."
I think I have yet to make it through the song without tears. There are times when I feel like all of the dreams I have had for our lives have been shattered and taken away. I have dreamed of having a daughter to share a relationship like I have had with my mother my whole life. My heart aches more than I could ever explain to know it is possible that those dreams will not come true. I know that Ansley is one of the greatest joys of my life, but it hurts so bad to think of what her life could be like. We know that whatever the Lord wills is for ours, Zacharys and Ansleys good, but that doesn't mean it won't be difficult. It's so challenging to be around other moms sometimes and hear their complaints about they day/day out stuff of life with young kids in light of our situation. I have joked several times that we need a VIP parking pass at Children's Hospital for how often we are there, but there is often deep pain hiding under the joking. We/she have endured so much in her precious little six months of life, but the glorious part of all of it, and the only thing that matters, is that Ansley's entire life has been about Jesus Christ. Every clear breath, every day that passes and still no seizures, every smile, every laugh, every coo, every milestone reached and each and every precious moment of her life has been about Jesus Christ. I hear Him calling in the moments of crushing sadness that He has chosen her to show His glory through. Seriously, how amazing is that??!! He has chosen my sweet Ansley girl to show His amazing glory in. To show that He is faithful to deliver, to be an ever present help in times of trouble, to be a healer, to be an answerer or prayer...and we pray, to show that He is a God of miracles beyond what our minds can comprehend. The down times are always followed by a strength to never stop fighting for her, never stop boldly praying and laying our requests before the Lord and never stop praying with a faith that can "move mountains"!
-PRAISE that Ansley has hit every milestone, praise that her pneumonia literally disappeared
-Praise that the stiffness that was once present in Ansley's limbs that made physical therapy neccessary in the first place has DISAPPEARED!!!!
-Praise that she has never had a seizure and pray that by the power of the Holy blood of Christ she NEVER does!
-Pray that Ansley continues to hit every milestone and that the Lord calls her brain to life by the power of Christ more and more everyday
- Pray that she will begin to show more focus and attention in her interaction with us and her surroundings. This is a big mental development that we are praying for currently.
Thank you so much for your love and support walking with us through this journey.