We know this day all too well. We know sitting in that fluorscent doctor's office with tears in our eyes better than we'd like. Today was another one of those days. It was Ansley's first opthomology appointment and it was crushing. We went because it is common to have vision problems with microcephaly, but also because of Ansley's drifting gaze that we have mentioned before. The doctor confirmed that both of her eyes do drift on occassion (she categorizes this into three stages). The first third have drifting occassionally and can sometimes be helped with glasses or eye patching. The second third drift often and will most likely need surgery and the third group is already at the point of needing surgery. Ansley is between the first and second group. Her eyes are mostly stable, but she could potentially need a surgery to strengthen the muscles of her eyes. The problem, as explained to us, is rooted in her brain not correctly keeping her eyes "still". The news only got worse from there. Upon further examination, the lower region of her eyeballs did not form correctly in the womb. This has resulted in Ansley having periphral blind spots. From what she could tell, her direct line of vision is intact and functioning properly (Praise God!), but a few spots on her periphrary are "blind". Her estimate was that Ansley's blind spot is in the top part of her eyes. Similar to if you are shading your eyes from the sun. If she needs to see up, she would have to look up or tilt her head up. She will have a more thorough vision exam her next visit (in 2 months). In addition, these problems can also lead to retinal detachment which would cause severe vision impairment and need surgery. She will have to be monitored regularly to make sure this is not happening. We also found out she has astigmatism. As a result, Ansley will need to start wearing glasses and follow up with later tests. The news feels like more than we can bear.
We have been here before, but, in all honesty, it doesn't make it any easier. There are a lot of people who treat Ansley's story as a difficult season we went through when she was born, but now "everything is fine". Nothing could be further from the truth. Our fight for Ansley in prayer is a struggle day in and day out. God has done great, miraculous things, but is a daily struggle to fight overwhelming fear, paralyzing grief and sadness, anger... all of it. To have to continually, over and over and over lay our daughter down at the foot of the cross with hope and expectation of God's power, but with submission to His sovereignty. Every milestone and every miracle that you read about is trudged through by fierce prayer and deep places of desperation and pleas before the throne for mercy and power to be poured out. Oceans of pain and grief that only the Lord can bring us out of. It is daily that in my time with the Lord, He wraps Himself around me as I weep through this. I know that He weeps with us. I know that His presence if covering us and will pick us up, stand us up on our feet and push us forward with hope and the ability to keep moving. Keep walking in this dark, cold valley and keep clinging to His light that makes the dark places go away.
I drove away screaming, sobbing and shattered. We have been highly emotional this past week anyway--our first Christmas without Dan, and facing the reality that we can't have anymore (biological) children and our hearts have been crushed under the weight of this day. This news. If there is one thing I have learned walking through grief, it is that the Lord desires our hearts. A broken and contrite spirit. He doesn't desire us to stuff pain away because we are suppossed to be happy. Happiness does not mean JOY. We rejoice IN THE LORD, because He is faithful and good, but that does not mean we are not to grieve or have sorrow at times. Our hope comes from knowing the Lord's love will never fail us and that He is faithful and good because His word says so. The scripture that says all things work together for our good doesn't mean life is going to be "good" in the sense of happiness, it means He is working our lives out to make us more like Christ.
So, we ask that this Christmas you pray boldly for our daughter. We have found so much power in praying scripture over Ansley, that we looked up what we could for you all to pray in her name for God's glory.
PRAYERS FOR ANSLEY: Pray we would believe God is able: "As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored." (Matt. 9:27-30) Pray God would have compassion on us: "Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him." (Matt. 20:32-34) Pray that we would have faith to pray boldly: “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road." (Mark 10:51-52)
Pray Ansley's sight would be restored to full clarity: "Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly." (Mark 8:25) Pray that this mountain was placed here so that God might display His works to the world through healing our daughter: "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him...“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing." (John 9:1-7)
(Also pray that her language would move forward.) Thank you and please keep us in your prayers this difficult season. We have seen a curved bone that was "not necessarily" a sign Ansley wouldn't be able to walk straighten out as she grew. We have canceled a feeding tube appointment because our baby who "couldn't swallow" immediately began to eat. We have seen high tone that required several minutes of stretching to bend Ansleys knees completely disappear. These things give us courage, but still--the battle is so tough. Pray that Ansley's sight would be another one of God's miracles.
With God ALL THINGS are possible" Matthew 19:26