Counting Our Blessings

Counting Our Blessings

Monday, December 31, 2012


 My wife has been encouraging me to say a few words soI am sitting here trying to think of words or a word to describe this year for our family.  The word that comes to mind so clearly for me is “Thankful”.  I do want to be honest there have been some days over the past few months that I might have chosen some different words.  But let me take a second to share why I have chosen the word "thankful".  I was asked a question by my son Noah the other night that made me think for a second.  He asked…how has God existed forever?  I thought for a moment and then asked Noah, how has God not existed forever?  You see the way you answer these two questions changes the significance of the word “Thankful”.  If God does not exist and our families health issues are nothing more than bad luck, then the words I would use to describe this year would be more like…”anger” or unfair”.  It definitely would not be thankful.  But if there is a God who has created all things and what it says in Romans 8:28 is true that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”, then I have reason to be thankful. If this is true then heart conditions and muscular diseases are not bad luck, its God working out His souverign plan for good.  

With everything going on in our lives it has caused me to think more deeply about these things than ever before.  I recently read a portion of a book put out by John Piper called Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.  The book is a collection of thoughts and reflections on the topic of suffering written by people who have experienced some really suffering.  One section written by Stephen F. Saint caught my attention.  He was the son of a missionary whose father served in the Amazon jungle alongside Jim Elliot (there was a movie called End of the Spear that was in theaters a few years ago that tells there story).  When Stephen was 5 years old his father was killed by the very people they were trying to reach with the gospel, but through that Stephen and his family saw many of those people come to trust in Christ.  But in this section much of his reflection is about losing his daughter who I believe was around 19 years old do to a head injury.  I wanted to share a quote that I pulled from Stephen’s reflections that deeply impacted me.  It’s not the easiest words to digest, but I would encourage you to ask yourself, like I have…why would the alternative be better?  If God does not exist or is not all powerful (Sovereign) and loving, and does not intentionally allow things like heart conditions, why is that better or even more believable? 

Why is it that we want every chapter to be good when God promises only that in the last chapter he will make all the other chapters make sense, and he doesn’t promise we’ll see that last chapter here? When Stephenie was dying, the doctor said, “There’s no hope for recovery from an injury like this.” I realized that this was either the time to lose my faith or an opportunity to show the God who gave his only Son to die for my sin that I love and trust him. And then I watched. I watched my sweet wife accept this as God’s will and God’s plan. And you know what God has done through this? He changed my heart. He broke it.  He shredded it. And in the process he helped me see what he sees. I thought the worst thing that could happen in life was that people would go into a Christ-less eternity. There’s something worse than that. It is that our loving heavenly Father, the God and Creator of the universe, is being separated every day from those he desperately loves[…]”

I am not thankful for heart conditions, muscular diseases or just fill in the blank, but I am thankful that these things are not bad luck but that in God’s sovereign plan He has a purpose.  And that purpose is to reconcile Himself to us through His Son.  This is what should give us great cause for thankfulness and it does me as we begin another year.   

We continue to be grateful for the many ways you all have shown your love and support for our family.  2012 was certainly a challenging year for us but we have truly been blessed beyond measure by all of you.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Transplant Holiday Hoe Down

Today we went to a celebration at UCLA for all the kids who have had a heart transplant or who are waiting to receive a heart.  It was an honor to be there, a lot of fun and a lot to take in.  I sat in my seat looking over each table wondering what each persons special story was.  There was a part of the day that brought me to tears.  They had a basket in the middle of the stage.  One of the doctors put a bouquet of white roses in the basket for the lives that have been lost of those who never made it to transplant or whose bodies rejected the hearts.  Then they had the kids line up who have received a heart and drop a red rose in the basket in honor of there donor.  It was very hard to fight back the tears as I watched these beautiful children and thought of the ones that had lost there lives and the families that had given the most precious gift.  Then to picture Noah standing in that same line was overwhelming.  Sometimes this just doesn't seem real to me until moments like these.  The whole UCLA transplant team was there and they were all so excited to be putting on this special event for all the kids.  They served a nice lunch and there was even a surprise visit from Santa who passed out gifts to all the kids.  I'm so thankful to be at UCLA.  The staff is so great and care so much for the kids.

I was really hoping to be able to talk with another family that was Noah's age that had his same heart defect.  The Lord made that possible near the end of the event.  This sweet little boy Aiden came up to noah and started talking with him.  I asked him if he had his heart transplant and he told me yes when he was four.  His Aunt then came over and we began to talk.  It turns out that Aiden who is eight has the exact condition as Noah.  We both acknowledged it was very rare to find children with Restrictive Cardiomyopathy.  Most of the kids have the other two more common Myopathies.  It was great to talk symptoms and wait times and medications and so on.  I was so pleased to get there information for future questions.  Talking with them made me feel so comforted but at the same time so much more anxious for "the call".  Aiden waited two years for his heart and in between was in and out of the hospital and at one point had a mild stroke.  I do not want to see Noah get weaker or sick.  It did warm my heart to see Aiden running around with his big smile and showing off his superman scar on his chest.  His Aunt sais they have a hard time keeping up with him now.  Praise God for his life and his spunky attitude.  I know he inspired Noah today.  He told me tonight it was so cool meeting Aiden and seeing his chest.

We have a long road ahead and we are taking it step by step laying it all at Jesus feet.  These children are precious gifts and are on loan to us from the Lord. He is in control and already knows the outcome.   I know he has Noah in the palm of his hand and I trust his will.  His good and perfect will.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Transplant Clinic

Well today we made the long trek out to UCLA for transplant clinic.  We enjoy going and spending time with the team.  It is a good time to ask all of our questions.  Noah had a list of his own this time.  He was so funny.  He asked "How many medications will I be on?" to which the doctor responded probably 10-15.  "Wow that's a lot and what are the side effects?" this kid cracks me up.  He wanted to know how long he will be on medications and when he gets his new heart.  Overall the visit was uneventful.  They will do an Echo with Dr. Chang next week.  He has been on the List for almost three months now and it really is just in God's hands as to when he will get that amazing gift of a new heart.

I really feel like God is preparing my heart more and more for what lies ahead.  I got to get away this last Friday to an all day silent retreat.  Wow was that good for this mommas soul.  A whole day to be still before the Lord.  I  spent time looking back at my life and how God has always been faithful to meet me in the darkest moments, I was able to recognize the sweetest ways he has used people, and events to show himself and unfold his beautiful plan in my life.  I'm so thankful I don't have to walk this journey with out him.  So thankful that he gives me the strength I need to endure each hard phase and the desire to persevere.  Thankful that he allows me to see that the hard stuff is for my good and necessary and that its not about me but what he is doing through me and through are difficult circumstances.  Oh how he is good.  We truly deserve nothing but hell and he is such a gracious father who lavishes his love  and grace on us.  So I choose Joy, I choose to wait on him as he reveals the next steps for Noah and the rest of our family.

Continue to pray as the Lord directs our steps and we wait for the "call".

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Saying Goodbye

This weekend we gathered with family and friends and said goodbye to a wonderful man. Jason's grandfather went to be with the Lord Friday November 23.  I had the privilege of knowing Harold for sixteen years. He was a great man.   He had such a sweet bond with my kids and they loved there "Grandpa Great".  Noah first started calling him that when he learned how to talk and it just kind of stuck with all the grandkids.

When you go to funerals it really makes you assess your life.  You wonder what kinds of things people will say about you, you wonder how many more funerals you will attend until Jesus comes or calls you home, and you wonder how the person you are grieving is enjoying being in the arms of there savior(if they are saved of coarse) It causes you to pray for those in the room that aren't believers and for the rest of the people in your life that need the Lord.  Funerals are opportunities to celebrate if you know the person is with Jesus after all that is our main goal to be with Jesus for eternity.  We grieve the loss for ourselves but celebrate the victory for our loved one.

It made me think of Noah and how horrible it is that in order for my son to live a little child must be taken. I think about this all the time.  It is one of the worst parts of this process.   I say horrible because I can only imagine the grief and the sadness that will take place.  I also think about what a heroic act the family must make in the midst of such grief.  I'm so thankful that my God has it all planned out and that he assures me all the time that it's for good.  I don't need to try and understand all I need to do is trust.

I long for the day where this is no more pain and no more sorrow.  I long for the day when there are no more funerals, no more tests and no more doctor appointments.  I long to sit at Jesus feet.  I long to be with him for eternity.