He turns 4 tomorrow….. FOUR years old??! Seems like I made this 1st birthday slide show yesterday… 😦
These birthdays are bittersweet. We have so much to celebrate, yet they also are a reminder of skills that are lacking.
Happy Birthday, my sweet miracle boy ~ Judah Forrest James Dearey
Every so often I would catch a glimpse. It was only a brief moment. Sometimes during worship. Other times during prayer. Often, however, it came right in the midst of chaos as I’d frantically sprint through my daily duties of wiping bottoms, comforting tears, feeding babies, schooling big kids, cooking, cleaning, brushing, bathing…..
Dancing. Smiling. Arms wide open twirling and laughing and singing as I worshiped my Heavenly Father.
He was right there with me.
Smiling. Laughing. Loving….
…Last Fall, I was home alone with Judah and Malachi on a Wednesday evening while the rest of my family was at church. It wasn’t an easy night by any stretch of the imagination. Judah was crying in pain from gas in his tummy. Malachi was crying, wanting to be fed and held. I was crying throwing my own pity party wishing I was at church like everyone else. Wishing I could interact with people. Wishing I could serve in the church alongside my husband like I once did. Wishing we could be a “normal” family that could all attend church together without such a struggle. More than anything, wishing I could be in the presence of the Lord at the 7:30 prayer meeting…my favorite service.
I stepped away for a brief moment to grab a tissue and I cried out, “Lord!! When will I be free?!! This is too hard!! I can’t do this anymore!”
In my heart He gently whispered these words, “You don’t have to depend on seeing Judah’s complete healing to experience that kind of freedom.”
I stood motionless and processed those words, suddenly realizing I had inadvertently assumed that the joy and freedom I so desperately desired would only come if my circumstances were perfect. But that’s not how it works! The beauty of the victory we have in Christ is that we can experience joy and freedom despite our circumstances. When circumstances pound on us like a thunderstorm we can dance in the rain!
The Lord continued to work, using many things to bring me to that place of freedom. He led me to supplements my body desperately needed to restore balance to my hormones, thyroid, and adrenals.
And He spoke His word over my life and confirmed the vision I had seen by using my husband and a dear friend.
In December, while Chad was praying for me, the Lord gave him these words for me:
A few days passed before I heard from a friend, who knew nothing of my dream, who knew nothing of the word God spoke through Chad. She sent me this song that she had been singing over me: We Dance.
I look back to who I was just a short time ago and I hardly recognize myself. I had been bound by anxiety. Bound by flashbacks to Judah’s injury. Bound by fear. Bound with questions. I was constantly hurting inside over what happened to our life, to Judah’s life…
BUT GOD!!!!! Today, it is with thankfulness, grateful tears, and a heart full of joy and freedom that I can proclaim to you now –
My Father and I dance…
I twirl. He smiles.
Are my circumstances perfect? No. 🙂 But He healed my heart. Sealed it with His love.
There are still some storms in our lives, but now I dance in the rain…
Psalm 30:11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
What a weekend!!!
Two weekends ago, our runner through I Run 4 Siblings flew in from Rhode Island to surprise my children.
I remember driving to the airport that Friday afternoon thinking that this was either the most amazing thing I’ve ever done, or the craziest! After all, who invites a complete stranger into their home to spend the weekend with their children? The Deareys! That’s who!
Brooke didn’t feel like a stranger. For months we’ve been in contact through Facebook. We immediately had a connection and it’s been an easy adventure. She’s posted pictures and videos for my children to see. She’s honored them for the sacrifice they’ve made for their brother, Judah. And my children have enjoyed writing back to her as well. But to have her here in person felt completely surreal. Days later, it’s still soaking in.
Our weekend was precious. The kids seemed to do a million things with “Ms. Brooke” – they played games, bounced on the trampoline, read stories, played basketball, went swimming. It was non-stop action here at our home. 🙂
That Saturday she ran the half marathon at Holloway Park here in town. Before crossing the finish line she grabbed my children by the hand so they could cross with her. It’s a moment I will NEVER forget!!
Brooke may have arrived as a stranger, but she left as family. We love you, Mrs. Brooke! Thank you for impacting our family in such a profound way!
Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Dearey children, you are the most precious gifts ever given to me. When I was a girl, a teenager, a young adult dreaming about my future I never could have dreamt I’d have children as amazing as you….and certainly didn’t know I’d be blessed with so many. 😉 You are more than I ever desired or hoped for! I know that God didn’t go out of His way to bring your mom and dad together from Minnesota and Washington just to give us a great marriage, but because he had seven children in mind that were destined to be born for such a time as this. The callings on your lives are great! His plans far exceed your expectations!
2.5 years ago our lives sure changed, didn’t they? Our family dynamics changed. Our relationships changed. Our faith was tested. Our priorities shifted. Today I want you to know that no matter how busy I may be or how crazy life may get, I see you…
I saw you when Judah was in the hospital. I saw your confusion. I heard your questions. And I appreciated your patience to let Mommy and Daddy wait until the right time to give you details.
I see you lay hands on Judah and speak healing over his body. I see you lay hands on his blanket, turning it into a prayer cloth. My heart swells with pride.
I see you coming out of your room at night asking to share your heart. We need that one-on-one time, sometimes, don’t we? It’s important you continue to share and ask questions.
I see your tears when you see other children Judah’s age and realize how much Judah needs to learn to “catch up.”
I see your servant hearts when you help us with Judah’s therapy, hyperbaric dives, feeding Judah, and filling his diaper bag for outings. I’m so thankful for your help!
I see you in church asking others for agreement in prayer for Judah’s complete healing.
I see your concern that something may happen to Malachi. He’ll be healthy and strong. No need to fear – trust the Lord! Malachi is a restoration gift from heaven.
I see you worship. I see you studying the Word. I see you praying. I know God is strengthening you.
I see you enjoying your brother…laughing when he’s silly, teaching him new words, snuggling him when he’s sleepy.
I see your tears when daddy or I leave for a weekend away in Gainesville. Our home isn’t the same when any of us are away.
I see you run Judah’s stinky diapers out for me with a happy attitude. You’ve never complained. 🙂
I see your sadness and frustration when it’s harder for us to plan outings, or field trips, or play dates because of Judah’s needs. I miss how easy it used to be to go out for lunch after church, or spend an afternoon at a park. We’ll be able to do all these things again soon. It’ll get easier.
I see you stay calm when mom and dad feel frazzled. You’ve forgiven us each of the many times we’ve asked for forgiveness for losing our patience and peace.
I see you out of the corner of my eye, listening and observing as Mommy shares her heart and sometimes tears with close friends and mentors…thank you for not interrupting. Mommy is getting stronger. I promise. 🙂
And kids, not only does Mommy see you and Daddy see you; but your heavenly Father sure sees you. He reminded me of this at our recent fundraiser. Each of you asked if you could participate in the raffle. I was hesitant at first, but then felt that it was important for you to feel a part of the special night. I was absolutely astonished when I saw each of you win the exact item you had your heart set on. All evening I pondered the fact that not only did God remind your Daddy and I that He sees us, He sees Judah, He sees our needs…but He definitely sees each of you as well and He blessed you with the desires of your heart that evening. I know He is so proud of each of you. You have already stored many treasures in heaven. 🙂
Josiah, Isaac, Ellianna, Rhema, Adonai, Judah and little Malachi in my tummy… I love you! It’s an honor to be your Mom!
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
I’ve heard this quote many times and it’s often caused me to pause for a moment of self-reflection. But this quote has taken on new meaning in the past 20 months. Comparing my child who’s had a brain injury to a child the same age who has not had a brain injury will most definitely steal my joy.
I think we’ve all had moments we’ve compared our children to others, especially when trying to determine if they’re hitting their developmental milestones on time. However, I’ve found in this season, more than any other, that I cannot allow myself to do this. Nehemiah 8:10 tells me that the joy of the Lord is my strength. It’s no coincidence the enemy would target my joy, is it? He wants to strip me of my strength. I cannot look at development charts that tell me the many things Judah should be able to do by now. I cannot compare him to other children his age who are walking, feeding themselves, and talking. I have to keep my eyes focused on the victories and not the defeats. I need to keep my eyes fixed on God’s Word, His promises, and what He declares about my son. He sees my son healed and whole. He sees my son perfect, complete, lacking nothing. And as I keep my eyes on Him, His love for me, and His love for Judah I find my joy, my peace, and the endurance I need to continue this good fight of faith.
“for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b
“Mom, you can read this if you won’t cry.”
I spun around from my lunch preparations in the kitchen to find Josiah handing me a paper he wrote for an English assignment.
He had been asked to write a “description” and he chose to write about little Judah.
Here’s what he had to say:
“The baby this description is about is my baby brother, Judah. Judah is more of a toddler. He’s almost two.
Judah had a brain injury when he was five weeks old. He was rushed to the hospital and the doctors didn’t give much hope to his survival. But he lived!! It would probably be easier to call him a toddler if it wasn’t for his brain injury.
Many people have helped our family over the last year (like the therapists) and sometimes people we don’t even know! We got a hyperbaric chamber through a fundraiser that we got more than enough help with and we have vision therapy every two weeks.
Judah has been getting better every day thanks to God and everyone that helped.”
There are moments like these that I get a little glimpse into how my children are processing this journey. For instance, while reading Josiah’s paper I realized for the first time that he was aware of the fact that had Judah not had a brain injury he’d be a toddler by now. I kept my composure and held back tears, but inside my heart was breaking. I don’t like that my children have had to walk through this. It’s one thing to experience pain as an adult. But my goodness! They’re so young; yet they’re walking through a season that requires such strength, faith, perseverance, selflessness, and a lot of patience.
I cannot express fully how proud I am of my children and the strength they’ve shown these past 20 months. I’ve watched them treat Judah with such love and acceptance, as if nothing ever happened. I’ve proudly observed them around the home as they’ve stepped up to the plate and helped Mommy and Daddy out more than ever before. I’ve snuggled when they have needed a little extra one-on-one time and an opportunity to share their hearts. I’ve listened as they’ve asked questions…and I’ve paused at times at a loss for words, admitting I was seeking answers to those very same questions. I’ve cried with them as they’ve revisited the memories and admit they miss the way our lives used to be. And I’ve smiled…as I’ve observed compassion in their hearts grow for other children that have special needs.
There’s a desire burning strong in our hearts to reach out and minister to other “special needs families.” More and more we are realizing that the need is so much greater than merely reaching the child with special needs. And it’s more than encouraging their parents. It’s about reaching the entire family! Where there is a child with special needs, there is most likely some very special siblings as well.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:40