Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Fog of War...

"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror,
but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. 
All that I know now is partial and incomplete,
but then I will know everything completely,
just as God now knows me completely."
[1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT]

What do you when you are driving down the road at night and come upon an area of dense fog? 

Do you put the petal to the metal in hopes of getting through the valley as quickly as possible?  Do you stop, pull over, or abandon your vehicle because you are paralyzed by fear?  
No...you respond as you have been taught.  You slow down.  Reduce your headlights.  Engage your fog lights - if you are equipped.  Hold the wheel firmly with a loose grip.  Focus your perspective on the white line, which acts as your guide through the unknown, uncertain and uncomfortable circumstance. 

That is exactly what we have done the last 3 weeks.  In the fog of war...we had to throttle down.  Disengage our high beams.  Seek out our fog lights (aka "wise counsel").  And focus our perspective on the guide line of our journey - the Perfect, Timeless and Absolute Truth of God's Word. 
Y'all...we were out of gas.  Our marathon was not just the last month of Jackson's surgery and now recovery.  The last 3 years of our journey have taken a devastating toll on our family physically, mentally, financially and spiritually - but in an awesome way!  Our God has taught us so much with each step...each mile...and each race!  And it has only just begun...
The Holy Spirit has nourished us through this Valley in ways that we never could have imagined!  Not just because Jackson has miraculously come through his fetal and 3 open heart surgeries and recoveries, but God's nourishment to Kelly and I has also come in the quiet unknowns and stillness of the fog.  
His Presence is our Peace.  Not His Works. 
His Promise is our Joy.  Not His Gifts.
His Power is our continued Hope, because the journey is NOT over! 

Our "wait" continues.  The reality is...Jackson only has half a heart, with a right ventricle that may eventually fail.  The uncertainty remains.  Yet we Praise God because He is our Peace, Joy and Hope!  We worship God not because of what He has done, but because of who He is!  We don't just Love the Gift...we Love the Giver! 
The world teaches us to look for a light at the end of the tunnel.  God teaches us to let His light shine IN the tunnel!  We need to stop searching for a spot light, and find peace in the candle light.  We need to stop following the flood light, and draw close to the lamp light of God's Word that guides our feet and provides true light to our path.  [Psalm 119:105]

The only way that we can be the light "in the tunnel" is to allow the Holy Spirit to restore and replenish our soul.  And this has been the priority for Kelly and I over the last two weeks since we returned home to Charlotte.  And I must share that it has been an incredible time of "replenishment". 

Don't get me wrong...these first 3 weeks of 6 in Jackson's recovery period of no running, playing, wrestling, bike or pool in 95-105 degree heat have not been easy!  But it has been a time where God has met us again and again in our weakness, brokenness and exhaustion, while providing nourishment beyond our imagination. 

Nourishment through moments of stillness - even with 3 kids in perpetual motion, and the 4th arriving in November!
Nourishment through moments of silence - even with questions being fired continually.   
Nourishment through moments of solitude - even with the demands of an ever knocking world. 

If we are to slow down in the midst of fog, we must learn to take our foot off the accelerator...and that is not always easy, especially for this young man!  We must stop trying to dig in or spend our way out of the hole that we are in.   We (and again, I am included in the "we") must stop striving to cover our weakness with our strengths, talents and abilities.  We must remain focused on the truth that only God's Grace is sufficient! 
God's power works best in our weakness...doesn't it?  Today, give your soul some replenishment found in the timeless truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9..."that I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me." 

The world had first crack at us, teaching us to hide our weakness, cover our brokenness, and destroy our insecurities by boasting in our strengths.  God taught us to slow down, focus and follow His Truth. 

Our limited perspective is a "puzzling reflection"...but God's Grace is sufficient!  That is why it is "All Eyes on Jesus"...


 
Jackson Update:
Honestly - Jackson is doing great!  A little stir crazy with cabin fever, but he is doing extremely well in his physical recovery.  Kelly and I continue to stand amazed at how the Lord continues to show favor upon our young warrior - especially in his recovery speed!  You would look at him today, and never be able to pick him out of a crowd as the one who just had open-heart surgery a month ago.  Jackson has a follow up appointment with his cardiologist in a couple of weeks, and our hope is to get the "all clear" so we can embrace our "new normal"! 

The isolation in this time of recovery has not been easy, and probably the most difficult restriction is not being able to go to church together as a family - as Jackson is not able to be in the nursery until August 1.  Our little worship leader is definitely wanting to go to "urch" and see his friends! 

{Sing me a song piano man...}


{Carter's preferred method of "replenishing"}


{When it's too hot to play outside...you gotta get creative!} 

To be honest...our TV blew up while we were in PA for Jack's surgery, so we had to purchase a new TV upon our return home.  No - the kids did not get their prayers answered for a 3-D TV!  Technically they did...but, "NO" was not the answer they were hoping for! 

{This is the only time our little man is ever "still"...}


{Jackson's favorite meal...a hot dog at 5 Guys!}


{Sporting our new "Heart Camp" T-shirts...thanks Nurse Jo-Jo!}


{Our little superheros!  Yes - Elmo is a superhero in this house...} 


{Even though Jackson can't go to the pool, you can't keep these 2 "fishes" away...}


Looking at these pictures reminds me of our good friend's (who is a dentist) perspective and "theory" that "there are those who heal well and those who don't, and Jackson is definitely one who heals well!" Though that may be true...we believe it has everything to do with the power of prayer! So to all of you who are continuing to cover Jack-Jack in prayer...Thank You!  God is hearing and answering our prayers! 

All Eyes on Jesus... 













Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dwell...

"Let the Peace of Christ rule your heart...
Let the Message of Christ dwell..."
[Colossians 3:15,16]

As sit in the studio and pray before speaking tonight on Cornerstone Television Network, the Old Rugged Cross is being played in the background by my brother and great friend, Rick Gallagher...I am overwhelmed with the Presence of our God!  "In Christ Alone" we stand...our feet set on solid ground...and we rejoice in the "blessings beyond belief" that Christ has poured out on our family and in Jackson's life! Our God is a Great and Awesome God...

I know many of your are wondering...Jackson is doing very well!  The last 3 days have been tremendous days of rest, sleep and "family time" - as Kelly, Jackson and I were especially missing our Bubba (Carter) and Princess Jordyn - in a great place of sanctuary at the farm!  

{Brotherly Love...}

Yesterday's appointment with Jackson's surgical team went very well!  His Chest X-ray was completely clear, and his oxygen saturations and heart pressures have never been better!  He is "almost" doing too well from the doctor's perspective...because appearances can be deceiving!  
{Stitches are out...}

{Nurse Joann - CT Surgical Team - and her "ducklings"}

{Jackson said "cheese" and then "Thank You" when it was over!} 

We have found that it is harder to keep a 2 year old contained than what we had anticipated, as Jackson is not able to climb stairs, ruff house, run, ride bike, swim or be in a nursery for 6 weeks!  Obviously...this is where we need you to focus your prayers!   This is a giving us a whole new definition to the word "recovery".
We will remain in PA for the rest of this week, and then travel home to Charlotte over the weekend - and we look forward to being home and embracing our church family and friends who have been so wonderful in their support, love and encouragement!  
Continue to keep all eyes on Jesus...and dwell in the Presence of our God!  

For those of you who were unable to watch tonight's show on Cornerstone Television, below is my teaching script and the show will be archived at www.ctvn.org next week...

Mr. and Mrs. Barrett - no matter what I find, what diagnosis I share, we will prepare for the worst, yet remain hopeful for the best!"

I never will forget those words or the moment that Dr Speer walked into the ultrasound room to share the news that our unborn son – Jackson Douglas – has hypo-plastic left heart syndrome.  My wife and I had a miscarriage between our first and second child, and we thought we were prepared to hear the worst…but how does one receive the news of a fatal diagnosis that you can hardly pronounce, yet medically understand?   How does one respond to a storm - that they did not choose - but has been thrusted upon them?  How does one dwell in the Presence of Almighty God - Our Creator and Our Sustainer - when our dreams are shattered by the voice of a stranger?
 
We live in a world that thrives on drama.  A culture that seeks happiness, comfort and possession through perpetual motion, spontaneous reaction and instant gratification…But how do we respond – not react - to earth shattering news?  How do we – as God’s chosen people, who are to clothe themselves in love, peace and joy - respond in our daily decisions, let alone the storms in life?

As Kelly and I have walked this broken hearted journey over the last 3 years, many have asked – including ourselves – how do you still believe in a perfect loving God when your son is in this condition?  Where do you find the strength, the joy and the peace to deal with unknown and the uncertainty in Jackson’s life as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death?  We dwell in the Presence of God, by fixing our EYES ON JESUS!

Jesus told us that in this world we will have trouble.  That is His Promise in John chapter 16, not mine.  But we – who know Jesus - are to take heart, because He overcame this world.  Not He will overcome or is overcoming…no He overcame the very trouble, trial, and decision that you are now facing…have faced…or soon will face!  And it is this message of Christ that we are to dwell upon! 
I want to pause - just for a second - and look at two verses found in Colossians chapter 3. 
In Colossians 3 verse 16 we are taught to
"Let the message of Christ dwell among us..."
but do not overlook verse 15...
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts."

Why would we dwell on the message of Christ – if we first don’t know the peace found in Him? If we do not have a personal relationship with Christ – peace will not rule our hearts.  And if it is peace that we desire – we must first come to Jesus.  If we want to find rest in the current circumstance…or make the wise decision… or overcome the obstacle…we must first let the Peace of Christ rule our heart, so can dwell in His Message!  

We must wait upon Him!  But not just wait upon him for the next step, we must wait upon Him without an agenda!  We must Dwell in His Presence!  For it is in His Presence that we find His Promise, Power and Peace.

In the midst of the storm that you currently face, the journey you traveling, I encourage you to respond to the invitation of Almighty God to come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  Allow the Peace of Christ to rule your heart today, so you can dwell in the Presence of God that is found only in relationship with His Son. 

Jesus is not a temporary retreat.  He is our Rock, our Refuge, and our Redeemer!  In this very moment, allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to a place where Christ becomes your home…not your hotel!   Let the Peace of Christ rule your heart, and dwell in His Message.





Saturday, June 16, 2012

Final Strides...

...since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith...
let us run with endurance
the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our Eyes on Jesus,
The champion who initiates and perfects our faith!
[Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT]

For 3 years we have been preparing for this moment!  When our toes are blistered.  Legs numb.  Body cramping.  Chests heavy as we gasp for breath!  And as we near the finish line of "this marathon"...our minds are in disbelief that we have just traveled the 26 miles!  

Last night, for the first time in a week Kelly and I had the opportunity to sleep in the same room.  Now of course - she was on the couch, and I was on the pull-out, trundle below, which I believe had less than 2 inches of mattress.  "Pillow talk" is an incredible blessing in the marriage relationship, but this week we have not had one word - so last night we stayed up until 1am talking, crying, laughing and reflecting over the strides taken over the last 26 miles.  And with only .2 miles to finish in Jackson's surgical marathon, we began dreaming of what our "new normal" will look like after recovery.  What are we going to do with the miracles experienced, lessons learned, and the Truth entrusted to us.

The lack of communication is often a stumbling block for families and couples in the midst of storms, trials and marathons - especially when the adversity and activity of the journey increases dramatically.  Many storms we choose by the lack of wisdom in our decision making, but then there are those thrusted upon us.  But in either event - our sin nature seeks comfort, ease, and the quick fix - rather than endurance and perseverance.  So we tend to react in emotion, rather than respond in wisdom.  But both lead to action...the difference is the consequence.  The difference is how well we run!  How well we finish!  And what we hear as we cross the finish line...  

Warriors, Ambassadors and Servants of Christ -
  • What is the race?  Our faith journey...
  • Where is the race?  The course that God has set before us...
  • How do we run?  With our Eyes on Jesus...
  • When do we run?  When God initiates...
  • Why do we run?  So the surrounding crowd of witnesses glorifies The Champion - Christ Jesus!
In a world that deceives us into glorifying ourselves...we must never lose sight that Christ "is perfecting" our faith!  Our faith is a work in progress!  But there will be a day, when we stand face to face with our Creator and Savior...and my prayer for you and for me is that we hear, "Way to go man!  Way to go, My Good and Faithful Warrior, Ambassador and Servant!"

As we near the end of "this" marathon, we are absolutely exhausted!  And in need of a good stretch, electrolytes and a banana for recovery!  We hear the roar building towards the finish line.  The yellow tape is now in sight - but to this marathoner (who is a natural born, sin-natured sprinter) the focus becomes space to cool down, grab some nutrition and rest as we prepare to begin training for the next marathon in response to the initiative of God!

Yesterday (Friday) morning, started off with a very real and difficult reminder of how delicate the journey of hypo-plastic left heart syndrome can be.  After a restless, night in the CICU waiting room...morning broke with a hysterical mother running into the CICU, after learning the news that her baby girl - a 19 day old twin, diagnosed with HLHS a month before birth, was not breathing.  The CICU was shut down for more than an 1hr and half, for an emergency by-pass/life support procedure to save this little princess' life!  After having the chance to talk with this family just a day before, and share encouragement of Jackson's journey with HLHS...my heart again was ripped to pieces, and my knees hit the floor! Needless to say - this was not the way I envisioned my morning preparation for speaking at Westminster College on "Overcoming Obstacles" - but it certainly got me focused.

The highlight of yesterday, was the news that a room on the 8th Floor in the Cardiac Recovery Unit finally opened up.  And after moving up...we moved outside for dinner on the patio!



Jackson was full of energy last night, and never fell asleep until after 11pm (typically our little warrior is in bed between 6pm and 7pm)...and when we woke up around 7pm the day kicked off with complete blood work up to check Jackson's platelet count -as it was a little suppressed yesterday.  Then it was off to a chest X-ray to ensure his lungs continue to be clear of any fluids after pulling the chest tubes out.  


And then before we could finish our breakfast of champions...


Cardiology knocked on the door to complete Jackson's post-op, echo-cardiogram to evaluate the overall function of his repaired tricuspid valve and completed Fontan Surgery.


And then after a few miles thru the hospital with his new, best friends...





(And before I could even finish this blog entry) The "surprise" of the week came... 
  • Chest X-ray was clear!
  • Platelet Level improved overnight and returned to a "normal" range!
  • Tricuspid Valve looks "great" with an improved minimal/mild leak!
  • Fontan circulation and function looks "wonderful"!  
  • Pack your bags...your being DISCHARGED!!!!

 "Wait...what did you just say?  Pack your bags.  You are going home"!


And as we headed down the same road in the opposite direction...Jackson continued to lead Worship!


And as we returned back to the quiet, sanctuary of the farm...Jackson was greeted by what looks to be a new resting buddy, Indy!  


The plan is to rest here at the farm and build Jackson's strength for the next week before returning to CLT!  Jackson has a final chest X-ray and appointment with Dr. Morrel scheduled for Wed afternoon...and if everything is "good"...we are headed South!  

We do have one request tonight though...GIVE GOD THE GLORY!!!!!!  He alone is Worthy of our Praise!  

Thank you for standing with us in these waters...we still have a few final strides, but the yellow tape is within an arms length!  It is time to FINISH WELL!

We love you...and continue to keep all eyes on Jesus!





Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sweet Sleep...

...they (common sense and discernment) keep you safe on your way,
and your feet will not stumble...
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet!
Do not be afraid..."
[Proverbs 3: 23,24,25]


Common sense and discernment provide insight...and last night was a time again to "Be Still", "Silent" and to "Dwell" in the Love of Christ and the Word of God!  Thus the reason for no update here on the blog until now...we were exhausted and just needed a night to focus on "sweet sleep"!



Yesterday was an awesome day!  Jackson woke up very grumpy after a better, ok night's rest Tuesday night.  But the smiles were back when the reinforcements - our "A Team" of prayer warriors - arrived!  




This was the first time that Carter and Jordyn saw Jackson since his surgery on Monday...and it was so "sweet" to have our kiddos together again!  A huge answer to this mommy and daddy's prayers!  

But the moment of the morning, was definitely Jackson's smile when Jordyn gave him a Chocolate Chip Cookie!   Priceless...  


Smiles continued with a little music therapy...(Jackson's love of music is ridiculous at age 2!  We can't wait to see the way in which he will lead God's people into Worship during War!)


However - our "afternoon adventure" was the real miracle of the day!  Right before lunch, Nurse Kathryn encouraged Jackson to take a little "Field Trip" to the outside Healing Garden on the 6th Floor of Children's Hospital!  What an incredible moment for little Jackson!  To walk the hallways and take a new adventure with his brother!  I can only imagine what he was thinking about as he overlooked the City of Pittsburgh...









As you can see from this above pictures, God is again creating a new definition and picture of "recovery" thru Jackson's life!  He is off of oxygen at this point.  His pace maker was turned off and his rythmn's returned to his normal - after not seeing a "p wave" for more than 36 hours.  He is eating a regular diet, and seems to continue to defy all odds...

He was cleared to move up to the Cardiac Recovery floor yesterday morning, but we are first on the waiting list as all the beds are full due to an overflow of NICU babies!  But IT IS ALL GOOD...because the extra day in the ICU, allowed us to engage, encourage and equip several families with new born, hypo-plastic left heart babies - which is a miracle in itself, because it is about every 1 in 10,000 born that has this rare defect. 

This is why we must "stay in today"...because the Lord's desire is to work in an through us in each relationship, each conversation, each moment!  Nothing happens without purpose...nothing!  God is at work in and through ALL things...again, His Promise not mine!  (Romans 8:28-29)

The plan is as follows:
  • Today - the hope is to move up the Cardiac Recovery Floor and settle in for the weekend!
  • Friday - the hope is to remove Jackson's chest tubes, if the draining continues to be minimal
  • Saturday - the hope is to just observe for 24 hours, complete a post-op echo-cardiogram 
  • Sunday - the hope is to POSSIBLY discharge!  
We can't wait to see what God is going to do!  Continue to keep all eyes on Jesus...


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stay in Today...

"Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest!  All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I AM gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for yourselves."
[Matthew 11:28-29]

Where do we turn when we are weary and loaded with circumstance?  What harness and attitude do we embrace when facing adversity?  Who is the wise counsel that we seek and learn from in the moments of hardship? 

We see it all around us each...those trying to initiate, accomplish and conquer in their own strength.  And if we are really honest with ourselves, we too try to do things.  We may not recoginize it in our day to day activities and routines, but when crisis hits, tradegdy calls, hardship wakes or we are face to face with an obstacle to great overcome...we learn fast in that Crucible where we turn when we are weary, burdened and/or afraid.

We tend to seek comfort - we do...but God is not limited or restricted by our fears!  And for those of us who know Jesus as Lord and Savior, when we raise our white flag, turn and "come to Him"... then we will find the Promise of Peace in His Presence.  Do we find ourselves anxious about the future, or are we content to walk with Jesus one day at a time?

One of the greatest lessons that Kelly and I have learned in our journey the last 3 years with Jackson - the last 3 days for that matter - is that when we place one foot in tomorrow, and one foot in yesterday, we miss today altogether and the heart of walking each step with the Great I AM!   Everything in our culture teaches us to "plan for tomorrow", but we must fight to stay in today!  Because when we stay in today and walk with God in each moment...we will find rest!

And man did God ever deliver on His Promise of rest today...



Last night at 11pm - we "felt" unsure if we were going to make to today!  Jackson put in a very difficult night, waking every 5 to 10 minutes delirious, agitated and screaming in pain!  He was in and out of sedation, very confused and extremely angry...and mommy and daddy learned a whole new definition of "endurance"! 

After and hour and half of sleep...5am activity increased dramatically on the ICU floor, especially in Jackson's room, as they decided it was time to wean him off all sedation meds/narcotics and to try and manage pain with Toradol and Tylenol.  The next 3 hours, were the most difficult hours of the last 3 weeks!  The process of "waking up" was INTENSE!  But finally at 8am...our little warrior fell asleep...we believe in thanks to the prayers of those standing in the waters with us! 

And at 10am - a brand new man woke!   The smile of our little warrior was back!  He woke pleasant and gentle and spent the majority of the day - if  not 90% - sleeping off "a heartache".  The day proved to be a day full of rest...even Kelly and I got in on the "napping"!  His vitals, pressures and saturations have been great all day, and the doctor's could not be more pleased with his progress over the last 30 hours!  Jackson even got out of bed and walked around the CICU...

 
This evening we are asking our Heavenly Father to provide a night of "quiet and stillness" as His Holy Spirit atmospheres Jackson's room and the ICU with His Peace and Rest - found only in His Presence!

Tonight...we are going to "curl up" in the lap of our Heavenly Father, and ask Him to "guide our dreams"!

All Eyes on Jesus!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Unspeakable Joy...

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;  
I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done!  
I will be filled with joy - unspeakable joy - because of You.
I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.
[Psalm 9:1-2, NLT, emphasis mine]

Miracle (semeion) ... Strong's Dictionary defines it as a sign, mark, or token:

    • that by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others and is known
    • an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature
      • by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God's! 
Did you catch that..."by which men prove that the cause they (Prayer Warriors) are pleading is God's!  

Prayer Warriors - today, God proved that the cause you are/have been pleading of "Crossing this Jordan" in Jackson's life is God's! 

The morning started early, with an incredible, "still" moment of prayer as we began our journey to the front lines of the battle...

[Be still my child, and know that Our God is a God of Miracles]

 
Our focus going down the road was "Worship" in preparation for War...

[in the rearview...Jackson often raises his hands when listening to worship music in the car]

And as we entered the registration/waiting area of same-day surgery at Pittsburgh Children's Hospital, there was a "peace that surpassed all understanding", which provided smiles all around...





And as our "wait" prolonged, and the Versed (anesthesia med) began to kick in ... the giggles took over!  

video

The moment captured in the video was an absolute blessing!  Talk about God's hand of Grace on this mommy and daddy moments away from again placing their baby boy on an "altar".  After a time of prayer and a brief, calm, and confident conversation with Dr. Morell...peace enveloped Kelly and I as we handed Jackson over to our anesthesiologist at 8:40am and placed him in the care of our Heavenly Father and His surgical team!

The first surprise blessing of the morning took place just minutes after getting situated in the Cardiac ICU Waiting Room...as Dr. Speer, who diagnosed Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome during Jackson's 18 week ultrasound at Magee-Women's Hospital here in Pittsburgh, walked in to "wait" with us!  Dr. Speer is also the man of God who redefined "laying on of hands" for us - as he was the doctor who held Jackson in Kelly's uterus during the unprecedented, Fetal Aortic Balloon Surgery during Kelly's 21st week of pregnancy on July 24, 2009.  Jackson's fetal surgery was the first successful surgery of its kind in the history of Pittsburgh Children's Hospital...and needless to say, it was only fitting that Dr. Speer "stood in the waters" with us this morning!  

At 10:30am - we received the first update.  The surgery was going according to plan, and Jackson was about to go on to the heart-lung by-pass machine/ECMO in preparation of addressing the tricuspid valve and completing the Fontan re-construction. The nurse shared with us that she would return at 11:30am with another update, and not to look for Jackson to be out of surgery before 2pm, which was anticipated as the surgery was scheduled for 4-6 hours.  

At 11:30am...there was no sign of our nurse, and no update shared - but the reinforcements arrived, as our "spiritual mentors" - Bruce and Kathy joined us in the waters!  Our God's timing turned out to be "perfect" again...because at 11:40am - the air left the room, as Dr. Morrel and Dr. Munoz walked into the CICU waiting room.

At first, we did not know how to respond.  Before us stood Jackson's lead surgeon...only an hour after going on by-pass.  We anticipated 2-4 hours on by-pass...and now all of us sudden Dr. Morell is in the waiting room with his poker face on.  And why was Dr. Munoz with him?  Did something go terribly wrong?  Come on...we have witnessed this scene before on Grey's Anatomy - haven't we?  We braced our self...

Then Dr. Morrel's smile broke the silence! And he shared with us, "It is finished.  It is done.  Everything went according to plan.  We repaired the tricuspid valve, and it is now leaking minimally.  We completed the Fontan, and it could not have gone better.  Everything went 'wonderfully'!"  

We were stunned!  Amazed!  Blown away at what our Great and Awesome God just accomplished in 78 minutes!  You know that I am never short on words...but today at 11:45am, I had nothin'!  The room was silent in "unspeakable joy"!   And our tears said it all...

And then we raised Christ's Banner high...as Kelly, Kathy, Bruce and I gathered in the middle of the waiting room to pray and praise the Work of the Great Physician - Christ Jesus, our Lord!  I will never forget that moment...I will never forget that prayer!  

But God was not done with the "surprises"...for as we said Amen, the CICU waiting room door opened, and in walked Ed Isley, my Managing Director at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association who lives in Columbia, SC (with 12 stones in hand ) and Ron Coder, a great brother in the Lord and our Regional Manager in Pittsburgh!  And all I could say was..."You missed it!"  What an awesome God we serve...

But don't miss the 12 stones reference...in Joshua chapter 4 - after Crossing the Jordan River, Joshua called together 12 men/leaders together and told them to go back "in the middle of the middle of the Jordan...and pick up one stone, carry it on your shoulder...we will use these stones to build a memorial" - a place of worship that will stand among the people of God forever!  

This journey is no where near over...there are fortified cities (healing) and battles (recovery) to be fought and won!  But we must remain focused - with our eyes on Jesus - because the slightest distraction (especially difficult for all of us with ADD) will cause us to stumble!  Remember..."let us run with endurance the journey God has set before us!  We do this by fixing our eyes on Jesus!"  [Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT]

The Journey into this promised land continues.  Healing and Recovery are God's specialties...and He is already powerfully at work this afternoon and evening.  Jackson rested well his afternoon - but tonight Jackson is waking up with moments of intense pain, expressed by deep cries and screams.  It looks like we are in for a very long night as we search for the delicate balance in the right recipe of pain meds, pacing of his heart and sedation.  Tomorrow morning they plan to wake him up, and hope to move from the ICU to the Cardiac Recovery floor!  

We are exhausted - I am not going to lie...and your prayers are currently providing "breath" for us!  Please continue to hold Jackson's recovery, healing, comfort and strength in your prayers - as well as Kelly and my rest!  The preparation/anticipation and recovery are the hardest parts of the journey...no doubt!  

Prayer Warriors...thank you again for "standing in the waters" with us today!  Your phone calls, FB messages, emails and txts of encouragement were incredible shots in the arm - and our prayer is that you know how much Kelly and I love you! 

Tonight...we will "rest" with "peace in our hearts" in this new land - as we keep All Eyes on Jesus!  



[Below are some pictures of Jackson recovering in the CICU, after God's Miracle Monday Morning]







[One of the most incredible moments revelations today is how Jackson responds to our singing!  Every time he gets worked up, he will immediate calm when Kelly or I begin to sing - typically it is his favorite "Oh, No! You Never Let Go!  Lord You Never Let Go of ME!"  that seems to restore peace in his heart!  Our God is an Awesome God...Worship in War!]












Sunday, June 10, 2012

Breathe...

Then Joshua told the people, 
Purify yourselves, for tomorrow, the Lord will do great wonders among you!"
[Joshua 3:5, NLT]

Well...we are here!

Once again standing on the banks of the "promise land", and the only thing separating us is an impossible, river crossing!  But God...

It has been a day a very "interesting" emotions.  Kelly and I started our day with an incredible devotional this morning in Jesus Calling - which encouraged us to "quiet our minds" and stop the planning for the Lord is near and our "thinking" can often times distract us from the presence of God at work!  So we did...we stopped today! We rested, were very quiet and drew close to God and our family.  

God provided some very special moments with Carter, Jordyn and Jackson today on the farm - memories that will launch us into and through the storm!  But the greatest moment, was our time of prayer together the 5 of us as we tucked Jackson into bed earlier this evening.  I will never forget Jordyn praying for her "cutest ever baby brother" and asking God to protect "tomorrow and forever".  And then Carter praying laying hands on Jackson and praying for him to be "healed and have a hot dog!"  What makes it even funnier is that Children's Hospital does not allow toddlers to eat hot dogs during their admittance...so it will be interesting to see how God answers that prayer! 

And then Kel began to pray...and only after 2 words - "Lord Jesus" - we were blessed by hearing her tears.    I don't know how many pieces my heart is in at this point, but instantly it broke again...

What does a daddy and a husband do in that moment?  What are the words to provide comfort, care, support, love, encouragement, truth and hope for these uncharted waters.  "Breathe"...that's the word!  Exhale...and then inhale the Holy Spirit and let Him fill in every crack of your very being.  For you and I are not capable of finding the right words, but the overflow of the Holy Spirit in our life comforts!  And honestly...we don't need to say anything!  

Today - we purify ourselves by "breathing".  And tomorrow, we trust the Promise of Almighty God that the Lord will do great wonders among you!  

Are you ready?  Because we are...and Jackson is!  We do not need to worry about tomorrow, because God is already there! Can I get an Amen...and an Amen! 

Yall - it is time to once again put our foot in the land that the Lord has already given.  We love you, and thank you again for walking with us!  

I look forward to writing from the other side of the storm!  

All Eyes on Jesus...because we don't want to miss a thing!