God’s Promises // An Update on Josiah

It has been almost six and a half months since the day that our lives changed forever.

It feels like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time.

There are days that I feel victorious.  Days when I am so confident in the mighty future the Lord has in store for our son…for miracles…for healing…for a radical testimony to come out of this little life.

And then there are days that I feel absolutely defeated.  Days when the doubts and worries and fears come rushing into the sink hole that has found its way into my soul.

Yet, woven throughout the new normal of our days, between diaper changes, bath time, nursing, playing, crying, and giggling, are the whispered reminders of God’s promises to us over our son.

See, right after Josiah was born, the Lord gave us two promises.  The first one came in the story of the meaning of his name – “Jehovah has healed” – which I wrote about here.

The second promise came through my dad the day after Josiah was born at 29 weeks.  For decades, my father has built a habit of starting out his day reading a few chapters from the Bible, not necessarily following a plan but just reading from Genesis to Revelation.  Time and time again, the Lord has spoken to him in the face of many difficult situations through the exact chapters he was to read for that day.

The Lord did not disappoint as my dad woke up on November 21, 2016, with a heavy heart, asking the Lord what had gone wrong.  How had this happened?  Not only was his first grandchild born prematurely, this little boy was also born with a birth defect.  He opened up the Word to the chapter that was next for that morning – John 9.

“As he passed by, he [Jesus] saw a man blind from birth.  And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’  Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him…'” (John 9:1-3; ESV)

It wasn’t an answer that made sense to our human minds.  But we knew it was a promise from the Lord.  That none of this was in vain.  That somehow, the works of God would be revealed through our little son’s body and life.

A few months ago, I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw that a friend of mine was creating art out of Scripture for thirty days.

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And in that moment, the Divine Voice broke through and silenced the busy traffic of my soul.  This…this is the truth over Josiah.  My ways are not your ways.  This is going to be good and this is going to be glorious.

My friend was kind enough to mail the original artwork to us, and it’s currently in Josiah’s room as a constant reminder of God’s promise.

No matter what happens the next few months, His Words are what we are going to hold on to.

This coming Wednesday morning, on June 7th, Josiah will have his second surgery (he had his first one the day after he was born) of four total surgeries to correct his imperforate anus.  Below are the specific prayer requests we desire to lift up before the Lord as we walk into this next step of healing for our son…

  1. That God’s mighty works would be displayed through Josiah.  We are contending for creative miracles, for the Lord to finish His perfect work of wonderfully and fearfully creating our son.  We want to see the look of shock and awe on the faces of Josiah’s surgeons and medical staff as they examine his development and progress.
  2. That all necessary medical intervention will be 100% successful.  We are believing for everything that his surgery team has planned for Josiah’s body to go even better than planned.  We are asking for His angels to guide the hands of all of the medical staff who will be a part of Josiah’s case.
  3. That recovery and healing will be quick and as painless as possible.  And also grace and mercy over my husband and me as we tend to Josiah post-op and work through next steps at home (e.g. continuing to change his colostomy bag, eventual daily anal dilation, etc.) to prepare Josiah for his last two surgeries.

A couple of weeks after the surgery this Wednesday, Josiah will have one more procedure (that will still require general anesthesia).  The information his surgery team collects from that procedure will determine the final plans for Josiah’s major surgery in August.  After that, as long as the dilation process is going well at home, Josiah will have his final redirect surgery sometime in the fall (we are hoping everything is done by his first birthday/Thanksgiving).

To all of our prayer warriors who are fighting alongside us…thank you.  Truly.  I wish I could reach out and give you each a virtual hug.  Your declarations of truth before His throne of grace strengthen us in ways you cannot even imagine.

The road ahead looks long and it’s definitely not going to be easy.  But this I know.  It’s going to be good.  And it’s going to be glorious.

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An Opportunity

As typical first-time parents, whenever people would ask us whether we wanted a boy or a girl when I was pregnant, we would always respond with something like, “You know, it doesn’t really matter either way.  All we really want is for this baby to be healthy.”

Fast forward several months later and there we were in the NICU, staring down at our 29-week-old baby boy hooked up to machines and monitors that were literally keeping him alive.

I still remember the chaos that was storming inside of me as I walked up to his incubator for the first time.  As everything started to look like a rainy windshield, I vaguely realized there were doctors, nurses, and specialists going in and out of our room, murmuring strange things like, “absent left kidney…”, “a hole in his heart…”, “possible tethered spinal cord…”, “surgery first thing tomorrow morning…”

As the shock began to wear off and the reality of our son’s prognosis began to set in, I dared myself to ask the question that had been nagging at my weary soul – “God…why?”

Google only proved to exponentially multiply the fear, worry, and dismay.  As words like, birth defect…” ,”exact cause unknown…”, “1 in 5,000…”, “1 in 400,000…” floated across the screen, it only caused the question to echo louder and louder in the recesses of my soul – “God…WHY?  Why our son?”

I was (and sometimes still am) stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I know that He is the Good Father, the Almighty God, the Great Physician, the Giver of Life.  I know that He fearfully and wonderfully made my son.  I know that He works miracles, heals the sick, and raises the dead to life.  I know that He loves His children and desires to give them the very best.

And sometimes the gravity of this Truth in the face of the impossible leaves me awestruck.  It compels me to rise up from the despair and declare that once again, my son will be fully healed.

But sometimes the disparity of this Truth in the face of the impossible leaves me conflicted.  I’ve asked this so many times I’ve lost count – God, You don’t do birth defects.  That’s not in Your nature.  That’s not what you do as the Almighty Father God.  So why does Josiah have this ‘birth defect?’  How does this make sense?”

I wish I could say that I’ve heard an answer.  That I’ve heard His audible voice or seen the presence of an angel.

But then I wonder…if Josiah’s birth hadn’t happened this way, if he hadn’t had any of these medical conditions…would I have prayed as fervently as I have in the last several months?  Would I have been stretched to believe in the impossible, not because I’m some superwoman of faith, but because there IS NO OTHER OPTION but for my son to be healed?

Would I have witnessed miracle after miracle, seeing him grow from a 2 lb. 6 oz. tiny baby only just a bit bigger than a dollar bill to the almost 15 pound happy chunker that he is today?  Would I have experienced the awe in hearing the incredible news that the two holes in his heart have closed up with no intervention only five months after his early birth?  And I’m only just getting started!

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m human and I’m a mom.  If I had to choose between my son having medical conditions or my son being a healthy, normal boy, I would choose the latter in a heartbeat.

But here in the tension of what is and what truly is, we’ve been given an opportunity.

An opportunity to testify that God is alive and at work through the prayers of His people.  An opportunity to actually witness creative miracles come to pass.  An opportunity for our faith to be strengthened in the refiner’s fire.  An opportunity to find treasures in the heart of the Almighty Father.

I still don’t know the answer to  “God…why?”  And maybe we will never fully know the answer.  But I do know this.  We’ve been given a precious opportunity.  One that maybe only 1 in 400,000 families gets to experience.  And I trust that on the other side of this, we will taste of His goodness in ways that we cannot yet fathom.

 

Reflecting on Immanuel

The last couple of days, it’s been harder to answer the question, “How are you really doing?”  The truth is, I’m okay, I really am.  And I know one day, this will all be part of the story.

But at the same time, I’m wrestling.  I’m struggling to contain the whirlwind of emotions and I’m not sure what to do when I find an unexpected leak here and there.

When we started calling and texting all of our family to tell them that Josiah had come early, my aunt shared with me something I didn’t know I needed to hear until I had heard it…and it’s been echoing in the recesses of my soul ever since…

It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to ask God, “Why??”  It’s okay to face the wave of emotions that will continue to come.  Your tears and your questions are not coming out of a place of unbelief.  You need to ask.  You need to wrestle.  You need to process.  Because when you do all of that before the God who is full of grace and mercy, you will begin to hear His voice.  

I have declared the truth and I will continue to declare it all the days of my life – the promise of God is that He will heal Josiah.  And something immeasurably glorious is going to come out of all of this.

But some days it’s still hard.

The day before Christmas Eve, the NICU organized a toy shoppe event at the hospital where parents could come and receive toys and gifts for their child.  We browsed through the vast selection of donated items, imagining the day when Josiah will one day play with mega blocks and toy trucks.

We got back to his room to find the monitors beeping and Josiah crying in his incubator.

My heart broke.

How many other times has our little boy been crying in his incubator because his diaper is wet or his tummy is hungry and there is no mommy or daddy to meet his basic needs?

On Christmas day, we were making the hour long drive after church to the NICU when I started to replay that scene in my head again, asking myself that same question once more.

God…why?  I asked.  He’s alone right now in his incubator.  What if he’s hungry?  What if he knows that mommy and daddy aren’t there?  How is it okay that my child is 34 weeks gestation, should have been in my womb for 6 more weeks, yet he already knows what it is like to be lonely?

And that’s when I heard Him.  It was a whisper, but it was clear.

I AM with him, child.

The tears started to flow.

Immanuel.  God with us.  It was the word that I had chosen for my One Word for 2016.  It was the word that I had claimed for this year, not fully realizing just how perfectly it would come to pass.

This journey has only just begun.  Our first steps into parenthood have brought us into uncharted territory.  I know there will be more days that break my heart, but also more moments that will take my breath away and cause me to wonder how I ever could have lived any other way.  There is a whole future unfolding before us that we are only beginning to grasp.

But this I know.  Immanuel.  He is with us.  Today, tomorrow, and the next.  He will never leave us.  Through our treasured days and our dark nights of the soul, we are never alone.

A Month of Miracles // An Update on Josiah

They all said that becoming a parent will change you forever, and you can never go back to not being a mom or dad.  They were right.

Tomorrow it will be a month (four weeks to be exact) since Josiah entered our world in the most terrifying and miraculous way.  And our world will never be the same.

I have never experienced such a wide range of emotions in such a short amount of time.  I have never felt so helpless and heartbroken than when I watched my son’s silent tears roll down his tiny, tiny face as a breathing tube was put down his throat in preparation for surgery…just 30 hours after his early birth.  I have never felt such an overwhelming sense of love than when countless family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers sent words of encouragement, prayers, meals, gifts, checks in the mail, and the list just goes on.

And through out each day, gratitude has become my ever present companion.  It brings sparkle to our hospital room and shines upon every interaction I have with my sweet son.

Many of you have read my last post with an update on Josiah’s physical condition and what the doctors have told us thus far.  We are still pressing in for creative miracles and for complete healing over our son.

But today, as I reflect upon the first four weeks of his young life, I’m astounded at his progress.  And as a testimony to your prayers and to the goodness of our Father, I want to celebrate the ways our miracle son has…well, become a living miracle before our very eyes.

So, below are a couple of pictures from each of the last four weeks to visually mark his amazing progress. Read more…

Our Little, Mighty Warrior // An Update & Prayer Requests

Josiah’s birth and his first two weeks of life have taught us more about faith, trust, and surrender than we have ever learned in all of our days combined.  Whenever somebody has asked how we’re doing lately, my common response has been, “I feel like I’ve lived a year in two weeks!

As I mentioned in my last post regarding the promise God has given us over him and his name – that Jehovah has healed – this has become the foundation upon which we say every prayer, declare every word over our son, and the filter through which we listen to what the doctors have been telling us.

I have never been more thankful for medical professionals.  Every surgeon, doctor, nurse practitioner, and nurse who has been with our son…my heart overflows with such gratitude for their dedication to their field.  To all of my friends out there who are training to enter or who are in the medical field – thank you.  Thank you for all your countless hours of studying, taking out too many loans, spending years and years in school, and sacrificing your own lives and families in order to help someone have a fighting chance at a beautiful life.

Yet as much as I have appreciated all of the medical professionals who have been with Josiah, we are constantly reminding ourselves of the truth – God is the Great Physician, He has the final word, and as the Creator God, He is not done with Josiah yet.

So with that truth anchoring our souls, I will give an update as to what the doctors have told us so far.  As you pray, please do so with the same truth anchoring you that is anchoring us…God is still in the process of fearfully and wonderfully making our son.  We are contending to see some miracles that will astound our doctors and give glory to our Sovereign God.

Read more…

Josiah

People always ask the same two questions to a pregnant woman – (1) Is your baby a boy or a girl? and (2) What is his/her name?

The first one was easy for us to answer because a little boy ultrasound is hard to get wrong.  But the second one, we were stuck on for quite a while.  I think we were both waiting for some giant neon sign from God telling us our son’s name.

A name holds so much meaning for a little one.  It’s the start of his identity.  It’s what he will be called for the rest of his days, and in some ways, it’s the beginning of his destiny.

Months before I got pregnant, I was driving down a really beautiful scenic road near our neighborhood when I just suddenly, out of nowhere, got this thought into my head, “I think our first child is going to be a boy.”  Yeah, I know…random.  But I knew that I knew that I knew that this was not just a passing thought.

Fast forward six months later and as I’m staring at the positive pregnancy test, I remembered.  “This baby is a boy…” was the first thing that came to mind.  And lo and behold, 15 weeks later, we found out that we were having a son.

One of the earliest names that popped into my mind was Josiah.  So I looked it up on my Baby Center app and saw that Josiah meant “fire of the Lord.”  “That’s pretty cool,” I thought, “A good, strong name for a son.

We took some time to mull on it, pray about it, and wait on whether or not Josiah was the name.  We tossed around some other ideas, but nothing really stuck.  “Oh well…we have plenty of time until next year when the baby comes,” we kept saying to one another.

The week before I gave birth, the name Josiah kept coming to mind.  Finally, I told my husband that we should really pray about the name.

The night before I went into early labor, I couldn’t sleep.  I Googled the meaning of Josiah and to my surprise, I realized that the original Hebrew meaning of the name was different.  Josiah means “Jehovah (God) has healed.” Read more…