A Family That Grows Together~

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Goals for our Children

Goals for our childrenShare.. Today at 9:39am | Edit Note | Delete
I have listened to experts, read research, and talked with all sorts of parents. As we try to raise our kids, I see a few things that stays the same in advice. Be specific, be intentional, and be proactive. Don't go into parenting just flying by the seat of your pants. (Although many days will be). My kids are my chance to change the world. Here are a few things we will live by.

Goals for our Children:

1. We will have no other gods, just God.
* No one will get our loyalties and thoughts like God.

2. We will have no idols.
*Nothing will be more important than God.

3. We will only use God’s name when talking about or to Him.
*Swearing of any kind is not allowed.

4. We will keep our Sabbath day.
*attend church every week, and enjoy specific family time together.

5. We will honor our Father and Mother
* no backtalk, sass, or disrespect in words or silent disobedience; whether they are around or not.

6. We will not murder.
* In words or action. No talk of hateful things happening to others or secretly being happy when bad things happen to anyone.

7. We will hold our family together.
* we will be there for each other no matter what, and will be there for others who don’t have family to help.

8. We will not steal.
* or borrow without asking. We will share our things with others.

9. We will not lie.
* or keep secrets we know we should tell.

10. We will be grateful for what we have.
* be happy for others, not sad/complain when someone else gets something we wanted.

What happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much like the fruit on an orchard- things like,
Affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
But the Thoughts in our Hearts should be,
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. – Galations 5:22-23.

Yep, all 8

Dawson's 2 year letter; the things I've learned

.Dawson's 2 year letterShare.. Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 8:47pm | Edit Note | Delete

March 26, 2010

Where do I start? My sweet baby boy just turned 2. And after re-reading the “diary” of stories I had for him during his first year of life, I am again blessed to be a parent, I am honored that God let me keep my son, and I am amazed that God continues to let me see, and be part of, the miracles and blessings God needed my son for.

Dawson, you don’t realize the story your life has played out yet. You don’t know how grateful I am that God spared your life, but I want to remind you, that you are special. You are a gift, and from the beginning of your life, God continues to show me how He is at work in your life. Already, before this, we have seen God’s work:

1. That after showing NO signs of Hydrocephalus, our pediatrician wanted to just make sure, and sent us to PCH, thus discovering the life-threatening diagnosis of HC.

2. We were told you may not walk, you may not talk. That you wouldn’t be kept from playing like other 5 year old boys on the playground, but you probably wouldn’t have the mental capabilities. We have a son, who has met all physical and developmental milestones from the beginning. J

3. God worked through Carole and how she prays for you. I still don’t know why she has a “special prayer language” for just you, but she did the day of your surgery, and her influence changed what I know about how the Holy Spirit works, if He chooses to. Carole believed, as do I, that God rescued you for a special purpose. There is a missionary calling, or something great that God saved you for. I think it was partly to teach me. I have learned things from your life, Dawson, that I would have never learned had you, specifically, not been my son. Particularly, that if we are not careful, Fear can paralyze us, and we can “protect” ourselves (or our children) right out of our callings. I never want to hinder God using our family, simply because I am afraid of what He may need you or I to do.

4. Last year, your pediatrician and her husband joined our church and were baptized. Our relationship with them changed.

Then, this week, 3 days before your birthday, you had a terrible fall. I was sitting at the kitchen table, and you were upset that I wasn’t giving you another snack of frosted graham cracker. J You do love to eat, but it was 4:30, close to dinner time, I was on the phone talking to dad, who had been at the hospital all day. I was filling in report cards. Out of my perifirial vision, you were walking over to me, and looked as though you were going to put your head on my lap, but instead, you simply mis-judged or something. You fell directly to the floor, your head taking the brunt on the fall, precisely on your shunt.

“Dawson?” I said. No answer. I jumped from my chair, waiting to hear the gasp of pain when a child has hurt themselves, and it didn’t come. “Dawson?” I rolled you over and you had curled into a “C” shape with your body, your face had pinched up, like you were desperately trying to cry or figure out how to talk, but your brain wouldn’t let you. Your lips were blue. I picked you up and saw your eyes rolling in the back of your head. “Dawson’s not breathing….I need you home now!” I yelled to your dad on the phone as I ran across the street to our neighbors the Garrisons.

I banged on their door, about 10 seconds had gone by probably. I didn’t wait at home, as I knew Jack was home today, and he is a fireman. He would know more about how to save you than I would. Laurie answered the door, and Jack came running down the stairs, skipping 3 or 4 at a time. “He’s not breathing. I need your help.” At this time, I handed you over to Jack and saw your eyes had come back to me. You were shocked, quiet, but breathing. I called Dad to tell him.

During the last few minutes, our neighbor, Thanou was home. Dad called him and said, “run to my house, Dawson’s not breathing.” Megan Garrison had run over to watch TV with your sisters and both Thanou and his wife Allison, had arrived on the scene at the Garrrisons. After Jack examined you a bit, he said, “I’m going to call 911, which hospital would you like to go to?” I knew Phx. Children’s would have to examine your shunt and brain, so we called.

A few minutes later, 911 arrived. The paramedics started asking questions, and examining you. The whole time, you sat on Jack’s lap, staring. I had your blankie, “Nee-nee” and was right next to you, but you didn’t move. It was though you had just been awakened in the middle of the night, wondering what was going on. Vanessa, began asking us more questions, before we loaded up into the ambulance for the non-siren ride to PCH. Thanou and Allison took your sisters to their house. Megan stayed home from her brothers baseball game in case they needed you too.

As we rode, it began to dawn on me, I had learned head trauma, in our far-away area, is typically flown by helicopter. My friend from school told me PCH was the closest child head trauma hospital, and it’s too far to drive, you must fly, to the bill of $18,000. However, I think because God allowed you to regain consciousness, we were able to take the truck. Vanessa and I began to talk as she hooked a line up to you and you fell asleep.

As I began to talk with Vanessa, I said, “The people were there, because we have made a point to know our neighbors”. She said, “Well, you aren’t from here. Where’d you grow up?” This conversation led into neighborhood ministry, why all the people were at the Garrison’s house, feeling included in a church of thousands, and did I know the Frank and Haley families. Since I did, we immediately began sharing how we knew each of them. Vanessa shared how she was looking for a church home, wanted to belong, and by the time we pulled into PCH, she said, “Would it be terrible unprofessional of me to give you my name and number and have someone call me? I love the idea of knowing my neighbors and having a small group to attend to.” As she wrote her information on the back of a bandage package.

We headed into the hospital, and your neurosurgeon, Dr. Manwaring, was the doctor on call. He looked over your CT scan, we had an X-ray on your shunt, and finally between 6:30 and 7:30 you began to talk and act silly again. We were able to take you home around 9:00, with everything looking physically fine.

The amazing part in all of this, is that there are so many branches to your story, so many ways God continues to work through you. The crazy part is, He continues to let us see so many of these workings:

1. At 4:30, the time you fell, Carole prayed for you, because God put you in her mind. She wrote the time in her journal for “some reason”. At 6:30, when she received a text from Aunt Erika, she knew why God had put you in her mind, but Erika had told her you fell at 4:00. Carole excused herself from dinner at 6:30, and began praying in her special prayer language for your safety. She wondered why “God had been late though, in bringing you to her mind”, until Erika was able to tell her, “no, Dawson fell at 4:30, the ambulance was there by 5.” God is never late.

2. Vanessa was searching for a church. She was on duty that day. If you hadn’t stopped breathing or had a seizure, we wouldn’t have called 911. If anyone else had read your papers, they would have flown you, not driven you to PCH. Even Vanessa was second guessing herself, but God needed her and I to talk.

3. The Garrisons. We’ve been praying for them for 3 years. Our relationship with them has changed now, and we continue to pray that God will bring them into a relationship with Him.

4. As I am retelling the weeks events and your life to our small group, Brent, who Thanou met 4 days ago, was at our small group. He is agnostic, and that night stayed 4 hours longer to ask about his salvation and Jesus.

5. 3 Days later, our neighbor, Sergio, who is your age, also fell. He cut open his head, requiring stitches, and called 911. We already knew the EMT team, I was able to see Vanessa again, and give peace to a neighbor who needed it.

Dawson, Carole said it this week, but I believe it to be true. God has a special calling on your life. I found that to be true early on in your first year. But it is clear to me, that God is not waiting for you to be older. He is using you now, and Dad and I better be ready, as God is using you, in your small, active, loud, snuggly, pigeon-toed mop headed body.

As Olivia woke Tuesday morning, the first thing she asked was, “Is Dawson ok? Is he at home?” Your sisters love our “D-man”, and we are so glad to live life with you,

Never under-estimate how God is going to use you. I am changed because of the influence you have had on my life. I see God working. I am more aware of the Spirit. I am convinced that more people will come to know Jesus because God allowed your life to be spared 2 years ago. We serve a great God, and we are blessed to be your parents.
Love you baby,

Carole's Story - The simple acts in a day

.Carole's StoryShare.. Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 8:46pm | Edit Note | Delete
Most of you don’t know Carole; many of you never will. But she believes Jesus’ story as truth, she is a Christian claiming she is no different than the next when she approaches God. She prays coming and going throughout her days and sometimes feels God placing ideas on her heart on purpose. Some may call it her conscious, but I know it as the Holy Spirit. And on the afternoon of April 9th, she answered God’s directions. She answered them on my behalf.

Carole was on her way home from work. She has a type of work that can be both emotionally exhausting and rewarding all in the same few minutes, as she works in the realm of adoptions. This day was really no different than any others, as she drove on her way home from visiting a family. She was praying for this family as she drove the highway home through the busy Phoenix traffic, when she felt the Lord telling her to pray for another family. No details, just pray…..she did. As she did, she began hearing her voice speak. However, it was speaking in a language that she did not know. A language she had never heard. A language she didn’t even understand what she was praying for. But she had this over-whelming sense to pray, as there was a battle going on. A spiritual battle pressing on her, and her voice needed to be heard against the enemy.

As she finished praying, she, like many of us, thought, “Whoa. What just happened? Lord, what was that all about?” God simply said, “You’ll know before you get home”. Five minutes later, Carole received a text from my sister Erika stating, “Please pray for my nephew. He is in the hospital.” Once receiving the message, she simply knew, “OK, that’s why you had me praying God. But why in this language? I don’t even know what I was saying.” God replied, “You don’t know this family. You don’t need to know the details, but there is a battle going on for this little boy. I have already won the war, the enemy won’t get him, but you simply need to pray.” Carole again took that answer, but continued to pray through the night for this little boy. Each time he came to her mind, the same scenerio played out. She would begin praying in English, the only language she knew, and end up praying in this foreign language, the tired muscles in her jaw reminding her that she didn’t need to know the details, just the big picture of praying for this baby.

This baby, as you know, is our Dawson. At the time God told her to begin praying, he was 2 weeks old, 7 pounds and had a large amount of fluid building pressure against the brain tissue which leads to significant brain damage or death when left undetected. At the time Carole was praying, we were sitting in an emergency room, listening to a neurologist explain how and why we were rushed into the emergency room. Listening to a stranger tell us why he would be performing brain surgery on our son in the morning. Our bodies were listening, but our heads were spinning and our hearts were broken. The world as we knew it was changed. The world that we hoped for our son was broken. Only as I tearfully cried to God’s listening ear that night, did He know He’d already heard from many His children. He’d heard from Carole and many, many others on Dawson’s behalf.

All through the night, Dawson was brought to peoples minds and they prayed for him. All through the night I sat by Dawson’s bed praying that God would please, please spare his life.

God was there. God was listening. God was merciful.

Later in the week, Carole shared her story with my sister. She shared that every time since that day, when Dawson is brought to her mind, she prays in another language. She shared that God has placed it on her heart that God has incredible plans for our little boy. That there was such a spiritual burden placed on her heart that day that she couldn’t ignore it. God has plans for Dawson. He is going to make a difference with his life. That there is a reason she has been praying, and will continue to pray for our son. Maybe he’ll be a missionary. Maybe he’ll serve the hurting. Maybe he’ll change the world. Whatever the case, he has a story.

I was saving this story just for Dawson. A cool unique story just for him. I know we all have stories, so one shouldn’t be highlighted as more important or significant than another. But I also know by sharing our stories, we encourage one another. And by encouraging each other, our lives can be fuller. And although I don’t expect to be called home anytime soon, if I were, I wouldn’t want this story to stay hidden. This month, our Senior Pastor is challenging us with what if you only had one month left to live. What would you do in preparation to leave? There’s a ton of things that come to mind. There’s the selfish part, there’s the spiritual part, then there’s somewhere way more personal, somewhere where I want my kids to know my life was about Jesus’ work and theirs is too. I want to pass down the knowledge that Jesus takes the everyday, ordinary days of your life and weaves them through with others lives. Some days you’ll know the difference you make, some days you don’t. I’d want them to know that you’ll have those days when you sit alone in a room crying that God would hear you; that God would be merciful. Then you’ll have those days, like Carole, when on a simple, normal drive home from work, you’ll make a difference with a simple prayer. The difference someone is crying out for. The difference that God sees and hears. The difference that doesn’t really matter if you live a day, a month or 100 years. It’s a difference that is eternal. Whether you believe Jesus’ story as truth or not.

Dawson's 1st Annual Check up

Monday, May 4, 2009 at 9:29pm | Edit Note | Delete
Well, 13 months after Dawson was relased from Phx. Children's hospital for fluid on his brain and having a medical shunt put into his brain, Dawson was released again; this time: the Physcial Therapist. This was something we were expecting, but not counting on completely, just in case. The Therapist watched him play, walk, color with a pen, stack blocks, etc. She was really glad that all of his "milestones" were within 3 to 4 weeks of his actual age, not his "premature" age. She gave alot of credit to his having 2 big sisters, as he is real observant and skilled in his "modeling" of fine motor skills and his "fearlessness" in climbing on top of things.
Last time we visited her, she had said he would probably be checked out of her program, so I was assuming that meant we were on our own. (With regular pediatrician visits and annual neurosurgeon visits). However, that is not completely the case. Now that his physical growth is on the chart, on progress, we move onto the next step in the program, where he will begin seeing another therapist in 6 months. She will watch how his physical movement coincides with his speech. Naturally, since he is just now learning to walk, speech is partly on hold for him, cause they are 2 different types of learning. However, in another 6-8 months, his walking should become more natural so that his speech becomes more in the forefront in learning. So, that is where we are, in the medical sense.

In the God sense, we continue to thank God for each day we have with our children. Lately, I have been taking the Beth Moore study on Esther. One of the weeks talked about breaking free from your fears, and imagining how much God can use you if you don't live just in the perameters of those fears. Don't live so that the Devil can continuously bring up the "what if's" of your fears, paralyzing you into a life instead of growing in one. One of the things that stuck in my mind was the quote, "Some of us protect ourselves right out of our calling. We are so concerned with self preservation that we miss some of the greatest things God may have in store for us." Before this past year with Dawson, I had never come face to face with the fact that one of my children could die. This was a thought the day Olivia was born, but never so "in my face" as it was with Dawson and his diagnosis. Even though each month goes by with praises from Doctors and medical books, I still remember the words, "you son may not talk, he may not walk. He'll be allowed to play with other boys, but we aren't sure he'll have the mental capabilities. " Once you have a few minutes with our son, you'll know that God has done an amazing thing in him. But that doesn't erase the fact that I let this whole past year be a year of strengthening me and trying not to be afraid about "the next time" , being afraid of when and what if we do hit a wall. This past year has been alot of that. Battling the devil in knowing that if something goes wrong with him, than God will take care of him. Battling the thought that I have enough "knowledge" about Dawson's condition that we'd get him to the right people in the right amount of time, and revisiting some of those same places of the hospital where he was first diagnosed and I was all alone. Questioning ourselves at 2 a.m. wondering if this is just a cold or teeth fever or a "fever" that needs help. I just could not wrap my brain around the fact that I'll never stop being fearful that something could happen to any of my 3 babies.

But something else has come out of this past year too. On the other side, I know compassion for a mother's fears like I have never known before. I understand how you feel when the medical world tells you the worst, but God can do more. My heart sickens for people who spend hours in the hospital with their loved one and the unknown....let alone months. And I think this has all been part of God's plan for me. Oh, I still hope I never come face to face with my biggest fear, but I know the life of my children won't be paralyzed because I am too afiraid of what God has in store for them to let them try. Or myself. Each of my children is so special and unique. They have such quirky personalities and their own heart for our family and for God, that I can't wait to see where God takes them. But where God takes them is also part of my fears. However, this past year, I have learned that whatever God has in store for us, I can't refuse it simply because of my own self-preservation. My fear of the unknown for them or me. For if I shelter myself into my corner of safety and don't give God the chance to grow or change me....than how can I help others who may be facing my same fears, and how can I teach my children that our God is a God who can always be trusted....even when you are most afraid that you won't like what He's training you for?
As always, we know that this year was achieved by God's work through several people in the medical world, but many many more crucial people who were prayer warriors for him and for our family. Thank you, thank you for checking on us, for asking about us, and for your prayers on behalf of all of us.