November 29, 2009

What A Difference A Year Makes

Our little Mattie just turned one November 20th. My wife and I have said frequently to each other these last few weeks how grateful we are to be in "this" year versus "last" year. Last year at this time was full of tough news, unknown's and lots of medical terminology. This year, with 12 months of perspective to enjoy, we feel like we're the lucky ones and everyone who doesn't have a Down Syndrome child is missing out. She and I often share a smile with each other when we're around him and I always know the message we're telegraphing, "We've got a gift few others get, aren't we the lucky one's". Having Mattie in our lives makes us feel special, trusted, like God has deposited a very large sum in our accounts and we better not brag. You can call it misguided or delusional...but we just smile.

Since it was so meaningful and for our family records, I cut and pasted the email string from last year beginning with Mattie's birth (down at bottom), the Down Syndrome news and his subsequent week in the hospital with RSV (at top). Grace & Peace

-----Original Message-----From: R
Sent: Fri, 5 Dec 2008 6:31 pm
Subject: Final Matthew Update
Dear Friends,

Thanks for your prayers! Matthew has been moved out of ICU to the pediatric floor, being treated with a minor amount of oxygen. We anticipate that he’ll be weaned off of this soon and, Lord willing, be brought home tomorrow. Rebecca is nursing him regularly and we’ve received great care. Though this will be the final update I send to you, we can’t begin to describe to you how grateful we are for your prayers, calls and emails of encouragement. In my ride to the hospital this morning, I was summarizing in my mind all the great lessons I believe we’ve learned from this week and have taken the liberty of elaborating below, however, feel free to stop reading here. I do this for my benefit due to that fact that I display a short memory when I receive good lessons, in no way am I attempting to preach to anyone.

With warmest regards,

R & R

The importance of spiritual family ~ while most of us appreciate that we can count on your biological family (and we do quite abit), God offers us another important family institution. As I remind my kids, “life is a team sport”, we’re just the devil’s bait without the support of spiritual family who over time become your close friends, allies and life team members. We’re so blessed with an abundance of close, key friends who I know, without hesitation would “take-a-bullet” for us and us for them – you can’t get much better than this! As I heard one friend share with me last night “Ron, we're in this with you guys…for life”. Wow, can anyone put the price tag on that sentence? Years of counseling, psychology books and pills, can’t cure a “loneliness wound” like high-worth words of this caliber from friends you’ve invested your life with.

Unfortunately, most people don’t invest in spiritual family because it seems too precarious and fraught with emotional danger – all true! I see it like car insurance – you hate paying those useless monthly premiums…until life throws you a curveball and you actually NEED all the benefits you gain from the policy, then you’re supremely thankful that the policy pays-out. Yet you risk much without spiritual family just like you do if you go without car insurance. Unfortunately most of us don’t realize the benefits because we terminate the process of connecting early on due to misunderstanding, hurt, etc. We forget about all the benefits that will accrue to us when we really need them later on in life.

Feelings are real, but can’t often be trusted. When life throws us a curveball whether it be a car accident, a Down Syndrome child or Monday morning traffic, our feelings can often surge out of control. While we need to acknowledge our feelings, we don’t need to embrace them like a 40 year mortgage. The only thing eternal is God’s word (Isaiah 40:8), everything else is temporary, especially our feelings. However, we’ve all been conditioned to listen and embrace them when we really need to be discipled and grounded in God’s word, viewing our feelings through His word.

Prayer changes things. Though it can appear to be a passive activity, we’re told that prayer generates energy (2 Chronicles 7:14) from the equation (humilit y + prayer – evil stuff = healing). Through praying with God’s word as our aid we acknowledge God’s ability over ours, releasing our fears and anxiety over to the maker of the universe.

Now for the weird stuff. About two weeks before Rebecca gave birth I was lying on my bed, I can’t remember what I was doing, but I think I was reading a John Grisham novel (an extremely rare activity). Just as naturally as having a conversation with friends, I heard the words “Down syndrome”. My response was a slight inward cringe, until I heard the following words “…but it will be okay”. Though I don’t hear the voice of God like this often, I instinctively knew it was Him, because I know other voices never encourage me. Down syndrome had never crossed my mind as it relates to our family, even after having eight children. Amazingly I forgot about this event, until Matthew was born and then I remembered it the moment I saw him. The next 30 minutes were very lonely as I waited for the medical staff to discover and inform Rebecca and only then sharing the above story with her. Yesterday Rebecca was at the hospital alone when the doctor came in with the official blood test results confirming Down syndrome, he then looked at her with caring eye’s and said “…but it will be okay”.

So what’s my lesson from this ~ like all of us, (especially business people), I often rely on my intellect only to inform me; Troubleshooting this, fixing that, living out of a Greek-styled logic and learned intuition to navigate life’s issues. However, an all-knowing God, who sees the beginning and the end, wants to inspire us with His thoughts, purposes and plans ( Luke 4:4). I realize again something very simple – I want more of his thoughts and less of mine. One word from Him changes everything.

Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 12:23 AM
Subject: RE: Matthew update


Thanks for your prayers! Matthew is improving; however he is still in the ICU. His primary need now is to be weaned off of the level of oxygen that he requires to breathe by about 20%. Rebecca and I both got to hold him today and feed him a bottle of milk.

He’s receiving exceptional care and Rebecca and I are grateful to all of you for the time you spend praying for Matthew.

Strength & Honor,


Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 2:52 PM

Matthew is stable, but still receiving treatment in pediatric ICU for a respiratory ailment called RSV (we brought him to the ER yesterday afternoon after a half-a-day of labored breathing). They are treating him with antibiotics and respiratory treatments, but think that he may be here another couple of nights. While they’ve been treating him medically, all of you have been given him prayer treatments – and we can’t thank you enough! Please continue to pray that his lungs clear, breathing regulates and that all viruses are removed.

Thanks for your love and care,

R & R

Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 9:02 AM
Subject: Mattie

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your love and prayers for Rebecca and Matthew. Soon after he was born last night the doctor informed us that he showed signs of Downs Syndrome. Looking back, we see that God had specifically prepared us for this news (more on this later).

We embrace Matthew (his name means gift of God), as God's gift to us. No doubt, now and in the future there are and will be emotions that are troubling and real issues to be dealt with, those we face in humble faith in Matthews loving God. However, our hope is high and we feel blessed, knowing that special moments, like hidden gems, await in each new day.

We love you and so appreciate you as our friends and family.

Strength & Honor,


1 comment:

  1. I had an eerily similar thing happen two days before having my Lily(the thought came to my mind that she had Down syndrome) ...I blogged about it today! Thanks so much for sharing your heart- if you lived closer to us, I know you and my husband would get along great:)


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