Wednesday, June 22, 2011

There is a Plan

I was so amazingly blessed to listen to John Piper's sermon Why Was This Child Born Blind today. Piper has a wonderful way of challenging my faith, and encouraging me to dig deeper than ever before into the word of God.

This sermon is based on the words of God found in John 9:1-23. My mother has shared with me numerous times the story of the blind man in these verses. Basically, Jesus' disciples are questioning the cause for a man's blindness. They ask if it is because of the sin of him or of his parents. Jesus responds:

As he passed by, he 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. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

I can't begin to tell you how many times I wrestled and questioned God, in fear that my baby suffers because of sin in my life. Praise God, that although suffering exists because of sin, Owen's suffering is designed by God, to glorify Him.

There were times in this sermon that I was brought to tears, being so moved by not only Piper's explanation, but by the word of God.

Piper clearly states:

If you try to deny God’s sovereign, wise, purposeful control over conception and birth you have a head on collision with Exodus 4:11 and psalm 139:13.
Exodus 4:11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Praise God that Owen was not just "looked over" or forgotten upon conception. But that the God of all, who made the stars and created this Earth, knit Owen together in my womb. He carefully crafted every cell in his beautiful body, to be perfect and to bring Him glory.

Please, friends, I ask you to take the time to listen to John Piper's thoughts on John 9:1-23. I promise it will challenge you, touch you, both convict and bless you. God is sovereign, and Owen is perfect, and so blessed by His hand. One day, in perfect timing, the hand of God will relieve Owen of his suffering. Until then, his body will be used to glorify The King who carefully thought out and planned his suffering, to become my ultimate blessing.


Owen's suffering is an expression of God's love and one day every tear we have shed over this suffering will be wiped clean. I pray that we will see this suffering as God's love and be blessed by his works in our life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What a Weekend!

Owen had a very busy weekend celebrating Daddy's Birthday, Father's Day and entertaining lots of company!

Daddy turned the big 26 on Friday and Owen was hoping to do something special for him.
Since Daddy had to work night shift on Thursday night, Owen worked hard on his gift and had it waiting on the table when Daddy got home early Friday morning....
 Then he helped Mommy make a yummy chocolate cake for Dad!

 Daddy was nice and shared some cake with the boy. :)

Owen actually did pretty well eating the cake! The cake part, was a little much for him, but he dipped his Z Vibe in the icing and thought it was pretty tasty!

Marlee, Pops and Uncle Will came up on Friday to celebrate Michael's birthday. Pops fired up the grill and treated Michael to some delicious Rib Eyes and grilled shrimp! Owen was busy in the entertaining mode, but we did snap a few quick pictures!

 I absolutely cannot believe how much Owen looks like my Dad. Many people have thought he favors Pops for a while now, and I somewhat agreed, but I totally see it in this picture!

Uncle Will had to get in a few squeezes with his little nephew, too!

After my family left on Saturday we greeted Michael's Mom (Nona) and his nephew, David Michael.

 Owen made his first trip to Gattitown! We thought his might like the carousal, but I think it was a bit overwhelming. He didn't cry, but you could tell the lights, movement and noise was all a little too over stimulating for him!

We made it to church on Sunday to celebrate Michael's first Father's Day. :)

Owen gave Daddy his special gift, a poem painted by one of Marlee's dear friends! (He would have done it himself, but we are still working on fine motor skills! :) )
We ended our weekend and Father's Day with a wonderful walk down to the park in our neighborhood. The weather was wonderful and Owen and Daddy thoroughly enjoyed themselves. :)

 After a nice dinner outside, Daddy and Owen worked on filling out their special book. :) I think Owen will treasure it when he is older. It was fun to sit back and reminisce about the night Owen was born and all the milestones we've checked off as Daddy filled out each section. :)
Owen is recuperating today, entertaining is a big job! We are working hard at planning his big party, coming up soon!

Monday, June 13, 2011

More than I can handle....

Owen had a wonderful check up on Friday in Cincy. Most of his labs are looking good. (Good, that is for kidney failure!) One of his labs, PTH (it's a hormone level) is still quite high. He has been on a medication for 2 months now to bring it down. This level must be lower before we can start daily growth hormone injections. Unfortunately, this can only be given by mouth, and Owen is not guaranteed to swallow! The medicine adheres to the tube if not given by mouth. We are taking a chance this month and putting it into his entire bottle with hopes it will be diluted enough to not sick, and start bringing that big number down!

We will be returning in July for our "big" urology appointment. We will be doing more bladder testing and hopefully find out if a bladder surgery will be needed in the future before transplant. Please continue to be in prayer that the increased dose of medication for his bladder has been letting it relax enough that an extra surgery will not be needed.

Thank you for your prayers for Owen. As so many of you are constantly interceding on behalf of him. I can honestly say that as his first year of life approaches, I can look back and say that we would not have survived this without the help of so many prayers from family, friends, and even strangers. I've noticed that in times of suffering and crisis you often hear people say "God will never give you more than you can handle." I have come to the conclusion that is a lie. God has absolutely, positively given me more than I can bear or handle- without Him. Walking in this valley of suffering has forced me to turn to Him. To daily lay Owen at the feet of Jesus and pray that the Blood of the Lamb wash over him. To constantly die to myself and bear this cross in a spirit of grace and thankfulness for the gift I so do not deserve.

My marriage would not have survived this had the Lord not intervened. Of course, Michael and I are closer than I believe we ever would have been had we not suffered together, in the name of Jesus. We aren't weathering this storm as a couple, but as a team, with our eyes focused on pleasing the Lord. God gave us more than our marriage could handle. And sadly, it is through times of suffering that many marriages often crumble. This has made us stronger. It is by the grace of God that He blessed us with faith and perseverance to stand firm in our faith in Him, but to constantly be strengthening each other as well. Michael has risen to become not only the leader and provider for our family, but a strong fortress of protection for those many weary nights I've had. Praise God that He chose us to bear this load, for my marriage has deepened its roots in His truth and love and grown to be a relationship not just of love, but honest, true friendship and complete understanding of each other.

The book of James is easily one of my favorite books of the Bible. And what encouragement I can find within the first verses of the first chapter:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1:2-8

I should admit, I've read this passage many, many times. And it didn't hit me until recently: He's not finished. Or more accurately: I'm not finished. It clearly states that through my suffering, perseverance will be developed. I've shared before that I had full confidence that upon Owen's birth he would be miraculously healed. When he wasn't, it was very difficult not to question God, and to become impatient when things didn't go as I had planned. Little did I know, the great work that God was doing and is still doing in my heart. God has challenged me and strengthened me, but hes not finished yet. One day, I'll know,and I'll understand. But it likely won't be during my time on this earth. His word even says that I am not capable of comprehending or understanding His ways. And you know what? That's okay, because if I was in charge I'm quite certain things would fall apart.

In fact, Jesus is quoted in John saying, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." John 13:7. Praise God that one day, I'll see this plan. This wonderful plan that was developed long before I took a breath of air. This plan that, will bring glory to God and further His kingdom. This plan, that should I choose to follow the will of the Lord will prepare my heart for eternity with Him.

I don't know why this was chosen for Owen, or for us. But I will rejoice in this suffering and choose to let God work in me. It's a daily struggle, and I would switch places with Owen in the blink of an eye. But in the end, it's not about Owen, or me, or my marriage. It's about glorifying the One who has knit every cell in Owen's body and who loves him more than I could ever, ever love him. The One who shall be praised for His good works when both walking through valleys and soaring on mountain tops.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Double Digits

Yes, that's right, Owen has officially entered the "double digits" age group! More on that later, I must update you on some "firsts" Owen has been able to experience in the last few days. :)

First on the list.....A Mini Vacay! Daddy finally had the weekend off so we decided to make the trek up to Cincy for some baseball, rest and, of course....shopping!

We stayed in Newport, on the river, in a hotel that we thought would be a fast walk to the stadium. We didn't think they would allow strollers into the ballpark, so we decided to use our carrier for our short walk.

Daddy took the trip over, and I carried him (almost) the whole way back. I should say, that I could feel every bit of the extra 21 pounds I was packing!

We had a great time at the game, and made it back to the room before Owen had a complete meltdown. :) (The kid HATES being hot...we need to move to Alaska for the summer!) He passed out and we had to wake him up the next morning in order to make check out on time! We then headed up to Monroe, to the outlets....yay! Owen did great. He strolled, laughed, slept, ate...you know, the good things in life. :) We found lots of good deals. (This was for Daddy's Father's Day and birthday) And of course adding to the ever growing wardrobe for Owen!

Our trip was short and sweet, but we soaked in every second of family time we had. I've realized that it's the small things in life that make us the happiest. When you have a baby that you were never guaranteed to see make it to 10 months old, it's those tiny milestones that you celebrate....everyday.

Hammin it up in the toy store!

All that shopping really wears a boy out!

Owen also made his first trip to the park this week! He loved watching the ducks, swinging and sliding, but his favorite was watching his silly Daddy! He had the belly laughs going watching him swing super fast!

He preferred to swing a bit faster than what Mommy was comfortable with!

At least Dad was having fun on the slide!

Getting in a quick snuggle with Mommy :)
Now on to our 10 month post....

At 10 months Owen:

* weighs 21 lbs

*is about 29 or so inches (Will know more accurately after our doctor visit Friday)

*Can *almost* sit up for a long period of time on his own

*Is an amazing miracle!

He is still getting therapy 4 times a week and doing wonderfully. To think, 6 months go he could not even lift his arm up while laying down, to what he is doing now is amazing! We are still working to improve his low muscle tone, which is what is causing the majority of his delays. He is, however moving at a rapid pace intelligently. :) (And know, I'm not just saying that because I'm his Mom- our therapists are constantly challenging his mind because he is catching on so quickly!)

Speech Therapy has really taken off recently. I blogged a few days ago about Owen's Food Play Time.  This is when I sit him in his seat, dump some baby food out and he.....plays! This is reinforcing positive association with things going in his mouth. And I'm happy to report that Owen took  3 bites of carrots off the spoon yesterday! This is HUGE for him! He also enjoyed 2 bites of Mommy's Orange Leaf Ice Cream. (We frequent Orange Leaf so often he recognizes the spoon, so we always get him his own!)

Speaking of food play, what does a boy get to eat on his 10 month birthday????

Cool Whip!!

Owen had a blast playing with cool whip today! He was a sticky mess, but he so didn't care! He took a few bites off my finger, and then licked his spoon and z vibe teether. :) I'm so proud of the progress he is making!

Thank you, thank you for all your prayers for Owen. We are headed up to Cincy this week for our monthly check up. We will also be saying good bye to one of Owen's favorite doctors. He has landed a job in Philadelphia and this will be our last appointment with him. Spending so much time in the hospital, and going to the doctor so often, we have become very close to our "hospital family" Although we wish him the best, we will miss him terribly!

Continue to lift Owen up in prayer. We still boldly pray for a miraculous healing. But we also know that God has a mighty plan for Owen, that can only be revealed in His timing. So we pray for guidance as we continue on our journey to transplant. Many of you know that the surgeons decided it be best to search for other kidneys, rather than use Michael's. My mom has been tested, and so far she is matching! There is a bit of a concern with her age though so Michael's sister has graciously offered to be tested after her sweet baby arrives in July! Pray that the Lord's hand is guiding every step and decision made during this process and we will walk in the will of the Lord as we wait for Owen's healing.

Happy 10 Months, Owen! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine life would be so wonderful with you in it! :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy Boy!

Owen has become quite the busy boy in the past month or so. I last blogged about our surprise trip home for Mother's Day. Well, not long after we made another trip home-this time just Mommy and Owen. Owen was an angel in the car! I was so very nervous about driving with him in the back. He has never, ever, ever enjoyed riding in his car seat. He is very hot natured and he just gets so hot and sticky! So we invested in a portable DVD player to strap to the back headrest for him to watch as we cruise around town. (Yes, I know...TV isn't recommended for kids until they're like 2....these people clearly do not have children.)

Owen enjoying his DVD player in his car seat...I think he approves!

Owen visited Uncle Will at school on our trip home. :)

Our main reason for travelling home was for Marlee's (my mom) 50th birthday! My Dad wanted to do something special for her and with the help of some dear friends, we pulled it off! She had NO idea. :)

The "new" 50!

Owen was pretty worn out by the time Marlee's party started. We had been busy visiting with Michael's family and he was all off schedule for napping. Those of you that know Owen well, you know that he must have his long afternoon nap! When I say long, I mean 2-3 hours! The boy loves to sleep! And you know what? I'm going to enjoy the time while I can! I know all too soon he's going to be bouncing off the walls with energy and I'm going to be longing for a nice, quite afternoon!

This was Owen during Marlee's party. Please excuse the unbuttoned outfit. It was a "bad mommy" moment. The poor kid had never worn the outfit and he was stuffed in it so tight he finally busted out!

We have recently started a new "technique" in our approach to speech therapy. Food Play. This is possibly one of Owen's most favorite times of day! Owen is still not taking anything by mouth. It's nothing surprising, as most kidney babies do not eat by mouth. They have a lack of appetite, mixed with food tasting differently because of the toxins in their body and also coupled with severe reflux. Poor Owen's reflux tends to slow down and then spike back up. He is such a trooper. There are many days in which he spits up after every meal, but once he's finished, he flashes that sweet little grin! BUT unfortunately, he does not associate putting things in his mouth with positive feelings.

We have introduced food play to allow Owen to choose when food is going in his mouth. We set him in his highchair or his big boy chair ( a toddler booster seat that he loves) and just dump food out on the tray! We give him spoons to play with as well as his Z Vibe (vibrating teether recommended by his therapist) and let him have at it! I'll let the pictures fill you in on how it's going....

We are so happy to see Owen enjoy putting things in his mouth and learning to explore with his hands! He is growing up SO fast...I think I've shed some tears at least a few times the past couple of weeks just watching him grow before my eyes! His development is really coming along and he is progressing much faster than his therapists thought he would upon first meeting him 6 months ago. :)

For those that don't follow on Facebook we had another little bout of sickness that landed us in the hospital over Memorial Day Weekend. (We were last there over Easter weekend with RSV-for some reason Owen picks holiday weekends to be sick!)

Owen's immune system is not quite as hearty as other babies his age and unfortunately being around a lot of new people means being around a lot of new germs. :( After our trip home for my Mom's birthday Owen got pneumonia. Praise God, it wasn't super severe, but enough that he needed oxygen support and a few days in the hospital. We were there from Friday to Tuesday.

Waiting in the ER...obviously pneumonia can't slow this boy down!

What Owen did our first couple of days...get some well deserved R&R!
By Tuesday Owen was back to feeling great and we made it home to enjoy some of the wonderful weather! ( Well, Mommy does while Owen's napping....he is truly his Father's son and would much rather enjoy some air conditioning than hot sunshine!)

Thanks for all your love and support. We appreciate each prayer that has been said for our little miracle. As we are nearing celebrating his first year of life we understand more and more the grace of our wonderful God. Praise Him for His faithfulness to our family and for the blessing of this sweet baby boy!