Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Moving forward..

We want to say thank you to everyone who has poured out their love to our family in the past two weeks. There is such a peace in knowing Dan is free from his struggle with cancer, but we will of course miss him terribly. We do not want to move on, but just rather move forward. Rob left me a note this morning in our journal about an awesome word he received from the Lord and I want to share it with ya'll:

"This is something I came across in my devotion, and thought I would share with you all. I was reading and came across this verse:

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live." (Deu. 4:9)

I sat on that verse for a while. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that for me the greatest challenge that lies ahead is to "watch yourself closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen." In a sense, there are challenges that lay ahead (grieving the loss of dad, explaining to Zachary and Haley why they can't see PaPa anymore, taking care of mom, figuring out who to call when my car makes a weird noise, etc.)
But, God convicted me that my biggest challenge that lies ahead is to not forget how much the past two years have changed me. It would be very easy to retreat to routine and regularity, but to do so would negate so much of what God has taught me. I have changed so much in the past two years because of all that I have seen and God challenged me to allow those changes to take root in this new season. I don't want to go back to the way I was before, but I realized that I will have to be intentional to avoid retreating to routine and normalcy. I will have to "watch myself closely....as long as I live."

I thought it was something I would share because of how much it applies to all of us. Anyway, I hope you get what I am saying.
rob"


Dan's legacy will always be carried on through his four boys. We cherish the time we had with him and now we move forward to our new normal. We are certainly used to trying to find a "new normal" in our house. Thank you again for the messages, texts, emails, phone calls and outpouring of love and support.

*********

Zachary and Ansley are such wonderful therapy during difficult times. They give us so much perspective and bring so much JOY during this season.

Our "sweet sweet"


Zachary and I made some homemade playdoh yesterday and had a blast! We sat at his little table for the entire length of Ansley's nap!! So much fun!

Those of you who know me well will particularly enjoy this next one.. Zachary insisted we make this one..


Yes, that is an Eiffel Tower. I've already got Zachary asking Rob to go see it : ) Someday little buddy!!

And by the way mommas, this play-doh recipe was the best one I have ever tried. So easy, fast and perfect results!

Homemade Play-doh:

1 Cup flour

1/2 cup salt

1 cup water

1 tb. cooking oil

2 tsp. cream of tartar

Mix everything in a pot on Med-High heat. Once smooth, add a few drops of food coloring and stir constantly. It will turn to paste in about 2 minutes.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dan Going Home Celebration

All of you are welcome to join us in celebration of Dad's homecoming. The service will be Saturday @ 6:30pm @ Fellowship. This will be our "receiving of friends". We would love to have you there worshiping with us.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dan's Battle and VICTORY!

Well, if you have read our blog more than once, you probably know that Rob's dad, Dan has been battling cancer for the past two years. The time has come for him to be with his Savior. He entered hospice care yesterday.


You will notice in the video (at the bottom) that Dan has had many adventures and he always reaches the top of his conquest and snaps a picture with a victorious fist pump into the air and a "Yeah, buddy!" I can see him now, approaching GLORY and having his ultimate victory IN JESUS CHRIST! That is what the past two years have been for him, showing that no matter the affliction, the hope of Jesus Christ will be enough. He wanted to die in a manner that was worthy of glorifying the name of Jesus Christ, and through His power.. he has done so.

Rob and I have grown so close to Jan and Dan in the last year and have learned so much about walking through deep valleys with victory in Christ. They always said that God doesn't expect you to be happy all the time walking through deep tradegy.. He just wants you to run TO Him and NOT AWAY. Such freeing advice when going walking through painful circumstances!


I always take so much comfort in the life of David as well. God was so pleased with David in spite of David's vast shortcomings. David shook his fist, he wailed and poured his heart's cries out before the Lord. He was a man after God's own heart.. and the Lord was pleased. What pleases the Lord is giving Him our hearts.. no matter the emotion. He knows them anyway.. so why would we try to hide them?


Psalm 51:16-18 " You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."


In the past few days, seeing Dan's condition worsen, the HOPE OF GLORY has brought much comfort. We have grieved, and we certainly will grieve.. , BUT there is hope in Dan receiving the crown of LIFE in Heaven.


1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 "..We do not want you to.. mourn like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and ROSE AGAIN and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."


This passage has brought such great comfort to Rob. God certainly does not expect us to not be sad and feel deep sorrow for the loss of Dan. Jesus himself wept over Lazarus.. He knows how deep the sorrow is, He simply desires for us to know the HOPE of the glory Dan will receive so very soon. And to rest in knowing Dan will soon receive the crown of LIFE and the eternal treasures he has spent a lifetime storing up in Heaven.


Dan has left an amazing legacy. He is such a great man of faith, wonderful, loving husband and AMAZING father. One of my favorite aspects of Dan is his beautiful gift of loving children well. Especially his four boys.


(In a 'macho men' shot from Kevin's graduation a few years ago)


He showed his boys what was most important in this world.. family. His legacy lives so strongly in Rob with Zachary & Ansley. Rob is so so much like his father, which I am so thankful for. He lives so sacrificially for Zachary & Ansley and is the most loving, doting father. Nothing matters to him more than loving those children (and me of course) well. And let me tell you.. HE DOES!!!! He learned it all from Dan.


I could go on and on about this wonderful man, but I will let the video do the rest of the talking. One of Rob's brothers, Kevin, made it awhile back as a tribute to Dan's life. It's set to a upbeat song and shows the full and abundant life in Christ Dan has had.. Enjoy!


"Dan the Man" (scroll down and hit pause on the playlist to the right before you play the video below)










Thursday, July 8, 2010

How BIG is Our God??

SOOO BIG!!!


This is a game we play with Ansley (started way back when Zachary was little). We ask "How big is Ansley?" and she holds her hands up high -- "So Big!" We thought it would be a cute title for today's post.



"The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it. Brethren, pray for us."
1 Thes. 5:24-25
*****

Ansley's Neurology appointment went really well today. We walked out of his office with a feeling of peace and calm. It seems each trip to neuro has us walking out of his office with a completely different emotion! But anyway, here is how the day went.

1. Ansley took her first "step" this morning! It's hard to fully claim it, but this morning, after praying fervently that Ansley would take her first step before this appointment...she did!! Five minutes before walking out the door! She stepped forward one step towards Jordan while standing fully on her own. The only thing that makes it a little tricky is that Jordan's hands were touching Ansleys (not holding her up, just fingertips lightly touching.) So, a little iffy, but what the heck. We will count it! Praise the Lord.

2. The neurologist was so complimentary of Ansley's progress. He said she was doing "amazing" and continued to roll right along. He said he was very pleased with her progress and "couldn't have asked for her to be doing anything more than she is currently doing." We shared our faith and how we have called on the power of Jesus' name and found scriptures to pray over her. He responded, "Well, if it's the power of the Lord, her specialists, her own development, or a combination of all three, whatever it is...It's working!" We know who is pulling all the strings!

3. Another fear we had was the fact that Ansley is barely growing. She is barely taller and heavier than she was 6 months ago. He got a growth chart and plotted all the data he had on her growth and felt comfortable that she was progressing forward on a normal growth chart (albeit, her curve is significantly smaller than the average kid). Failure to thrive is not uncommon with microcephaly and our fear has been that her body is showing signs of it. But, he felt that right now he was not concerned with her growth at all! This was very comforting.

4. Secondly, we continue to pray against the possibility of Ansley having her first seizure. By God's grace she has not. We asked what caused them and he explained that there are approximately 40 billion neurological cells all functioning through electronic impulses and when something gets off track (somewhere in between cell #1 and cell #40,000,000,000!) a seizure can occur. How big is our God?! How amazing is it that as you sit and read this, you have 40 billion cells in your brain that maintain equilibrium and allow higher order thinking...and no seizures to boot? And we are all here because some dust particles collided billions of years ago? Because a cell emerged from spinning dust, turned into fish that crawled up on land, turned into a monkey and now here we are? Seriously? Some people think we are crazy for trusting in Christ's work on calvary and believing the Bible is God's word....but isn't the alternative option complete insanity? Sorry, for the tangent. Anyway, Ansley is prone to seizures because of the malformity in her brain. Statisically that means she will be much more prone to seizures. BUT, statisically, these times of seizures (rooted in brain malformity) tend to occur earlier in life. So, he told us that with each day we move forward and Ansley does not have a seizure, it decreases the likelihood she will ever have a seizure! Praise God! Pray that God will continue to balance and maintain equilibrium in her brain.

5. One cool thing our Dr. said was that: "If I handed Ansley off to another neurologist and told him or her to examine Ansley and did not pass over the CT Scans and the MRI results, they would be unable to find anything wrong with her aside from having an undersized head."

6. Perhaps some of the best news was hearing that social awareness is one of the biggest indicators of cognitive development at Ansley's age and she is right on! He was extremely pleased to see her social development thriving. He wanted to see her crawl across the room (on the nasty floor, oh my word) and said he was so happy to see her "age-appropriate and then some." Thank you, Jesus! He also mentioned that at her age the receptive language is much more important than the expressive language. Even though she is right on track with words (which is amazing and the power of the Lord touching her lips), the fact that she understands and responds to what we say to her is huge!!!!!

All in all, we have a very peaceful and hopeful feeling for her future. Praise God. Hooray!

"Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away." (Is. 35:10)



Ansley's latest pleasure is clapping and she LOVES to clap after every bite!

PRAYER REQUESTS

1. Ansley has been in a feeding rut and continues to struggle feeding herself. Pray God would breakJustify Fullthrough this wall and increase her appetite and her desire to self-feed.

2. FIRST STEPS! Ansley is sooooooo close to walking. Pray God would give her steps.

3. Language. Ansley has about 5 words right now. Our neurologist said the biggest thing we are looking for in the next 6 months is a language "explosion". She will go from having 6, 7, 9 words to 50. If you have had kids you know what I mean. Pray that Ansley will break through that barrier. "Then the Lord reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, 'Now, I have put My words in your mouth." (Jer. 1:9)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lettie

Would you please, take a moment, and pray for this angel girl? I've never really done this before on our blog.. but my heart is so heavy for this family. Anytime I hear about a sweet child's brain.. my heart tears in two. Lettie had the entire right side of her brain removed at Vanderbilt on the 29th due to intense, daily seizures that were not stopping with treatment. We need little Lettie to RISE in the name of Jesus from her slumber. Please, would you take just a moment to pray for this sweet child of God to WAKE UP and for her brain to RISE in the mighty name of Christ?!

Romans 13:11 "..The hour has come for (Lettie) to wake up from (her) slumber.."

http://thebrittonslife.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 1, 2010

ONE WEEK!!! Mountains are moving..

Warning: This post is long and has a lot of pictures, so you might need to grab a snack or caffeinated beverage to make it through.

The last Habitat work day for the house in honor of Dan was this past Saturday. Zachary wanted to make sure he had all of his work gear on so he could help put the finishing touches on everything. I didn't tell him he's only allowed there at lunchtime when all of the tools are turned off : ) He told me to call him 'Builder Zachary'.




It gives you insight into the kind of man Rob's dad, Dan, is when after having so many people ask him what they could do to help.. he wanted everyone to help someone else.. in his honor. This house was intended to built as a memorial to Dan, but he was here to see it built and personally dedicate it to the glory of the Lord!



*************
Zachary's birthday was on the 29th, so here are some pictures from his party and the big day!






Daddy taught Zachary how to sneak some icing off the back of the cake when no one was looking.




He was a fan of the idea..



The boy was seriously so excited about the presents. What four year old isn't??


BUUUUUUZZ!!!




Our Minnie slept through the party and only made her appearance after everyone left.



**********
One of Ansley's birthday gifts was this little cow that plays music and such when you squeeze it's belly. She is obsessed with it and her "baby". I kid you not.. she drags them around with her all day long.




Birthday Morning - His new bike!!!


Tearin up the cul-de-sac!



We went to Dan & Jan's to share Zachary's birthday with them and had a great time. Ansley had the most beautiful laughing fit while sitting in the high chair. All I was doing was breathing loud. It was amazing music. We have always said she has the joy of the Lord exploding out of her and you can see it here. I'll try to upload the video later. Last time I tried to do that, it took seven hours and still didn't work, so we'll save it for another time!



Documentary of a Birthday Smore:
First, you lay out your crackers..



Then, you pile on the chooocolate..



You MUST first taste the marshmallows to ensure their quality is just right..



Then make a big ole' pile on top..


Heat - then cheers...AND..




DIVE IN!



Uncle Kevin & Z-man


Zachary will now demonstrate how to immensely enjoy your smore..







It might just make you feel like a kid again...


************
Ansley has a new scrunchy face that she loves to make all the time. (Notice the cow)


She's got the joy, joy, joy, joy..


down in her heart..

*****

GRAND FINALE.......
Little Miss has been standing up from the floor without holding onto anything!!!!!! She did it for the first time a few days ago, and thankfully Rob and I were both sitting there to see it. She did it again this morning and was SO proud of herself! Mommy and Daddy clapped for her forever. The Lord is moving in her everyday. Her feet are finding themselves flat and strong so much more often. They are on the floor and we are rarely seeing her going up on her toes like she used to. She is getting more and more solid by the day.

Isaiah 35: 3,6, 10
"..steady the knees that give way..Then will the lame leap forward like a deer..water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.. gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."

We can see God moving so clearly in her to make her feet and ankles strong in the mighty name of Jesus!!! Thank you so much for your prayers and support!!!! ONE WEEK FROM TODAY we meet with her neurologist!
It has been SO exciting since we made the post for everyone to specifically pray for our sweet little girl to take her first steps. For a few weeks prior it seemed she was making no significant progress towards walking...BUT since we made the post to pray for her to walk.. in the past week and half she is taking HUGE "strides" each day.
1. She started crusing down the couch and coffee table.
2. Then, she started letting go to stand on her own.
3. Then, she started standing up on her own without pulling up on anything.
4. Then, she started letting us walk her, by holding onto her hands (previously, she would just sink to the floor whenever we tried it.)
5. All the while, the stability of her feet and ankles is becoming more consistent.
GOD IS MOVING MOUNTAINS...KEEP PRAYING!

I'll leave you with the activity of the day. Ansley kept putting her stacking block in her mouth and shaking all around, dancing and crawling. So, Zachary immitated her and they were crawling and dancing all over the room like this. It was so cute.