In the darkness of night

Between Judah and Malachi we never quite know what our nights will be like.  Two nights ago was Malachi’s turn to wake in the night.  And apparently last night was Judah’s turn.

For almost 4 years Judah was a perfect sleeper – often 11-12 hours each night. But when these seizures started in May they greatly affected his sleep. For awhile we had the seizures under control but a few weeks ago he began waking again in the night – agitated and having irregular brain activity, sometimes seizures.

Last night was no exception. By 1:00am Judah was awake…and continued to remain awake and quite unhappy til 5:45 this morning.

But in the middle of the night while holding Judah in my arms I had a sweet time with the Lord. Simply chatting with Him about the fact that a miracle is what I’m believing for…Picturing myself seeing Jesus face to face and setting Judah in His lap.  Sharing with Him that it seems the ONLY way we’ll see victory in this is from a supernatural touch. We’re doing all we can in the natural – he has a 24 hours EEG on Monday. Doctors are doing what they can to solve this. But even the smartest doctor cannot repair the damage in Judah’s brain.

But God can! I began to replay the miracles we’ve all read about. The man near the pool of Bethesda. He had dealt with his infirmity for THIRTY-EIGHT years! Much longer than Judah, but that wasn’t too hard for our God!

How about when Peter and John saw a man begging by the temple? He had been lame since birth! Much longer than our Judah! Yet he rose up and went walking and leaping and praising God!

How about the blind men? Their vision was far worse than Judah’s yet they received sight!

None of these things intimidated Jesus. None were too hard for Him. And neither is my Judah! Over and over these stories played in my mind. Over and over I replayed the many times He’s already done amazing works in Judah.  When the doctors told us he may not live – he lived.  When they told us he’ll be brain-dead, blind and deaf he exceeded their expectations.  When these seizures did begin to occur, the neurologist said he was more amazed that Judah hadn’t been having them all along.  Given the amount of damage in Judah’s brain any doctor would have assumed he had been having them for years.  The miracle of Judah’s speech – that his favorite words are Jesus, Hallelujah, Holy, Glory!  How alive his spirit is! That songs of praise and worship rise up out of his little spirit on a daily basis…

…And the confidence grew…and continues to grow….that truly, all it takes is one touch — Just one touch from my Jesus.

With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. ~Acts 3:8

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We Dance

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…..

Freedom.

Me.  Free.

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….

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…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:

“In the midst of the chaos, sickness, and challenges- know that I am with you. Know that My love exudes and penetrates out of every smile and twinkle in your children’s eyes. Don’t live for “when”, live for now, live in the moment.
Have you forgotten your first love? Your first cheer? The love and commitment that you held so dear? Have you pushed My hand away without looking to see that which I give? In the past, every moment and every encounter was an opportunity to share my kindness, warmth, joy, and peace. You didn’t hold back, you didn’t hesitate. But life can make things dim. Life has a way of stealing the joy and kindness that I once gave, that came so freely to you. Why wouldn’t he want to steal that? Why wouldn’t he corrupt and confuse the innocence that you thoroughly enjoyed with Me? Draw near to Me, I have never been far from you. I have never left you. I want to receive your pain but yet you hold onto it. You feel like it yours and yours to carry. I loose those chains now. I release freedom and peace into you. Yes, right now as you read these words it is possible to feel that peace, and anointing that will break the lies of the deceiver. Now come back, yes come running back. I will restore the years that the locusts have stolen from you and Me. Not just the health, money, homes and all of those things that your mind immediately gravitates towards. I am talking about something so much more precious and important to Me Krista, it’s your heart. Your passion. Your boldness. Your treasure. That is what I am restoring to you right now. That is what I am passionate about. The other things will be restored. Has it not been written? Did I not say that those were yours? Trust my child. Trust again. Let me mend your broken heart and heal your deepest wounds. 
There.. that’s it. Crawl back into my lap for there is protection there. 
I forgive you, yes of course I forgive you. I am sorry for what he has done to you. I am sorry for the pain. I hate to see it. 
Why? Why has this happened?
For you live in a broken world. For you live in constant attack. For there is constant pressure that you do not see waiting to take and steal your very life.
I restore, I redeem, I recover. I will unfold the path and the steps will be made clear. In this moment, in this now, enjoy Me. Enjoy Me Krista. Enjoy My love. Enjoy the warmth. Enjoy the restoration. Enjoy the protection. Enjoy the peace. Enjoy the freedom. 
To hell I send torment. To hell I send fear.  To hell I send sickness. To hell I send anxiety. To hell I send every broken and bruised thing that is not of Me. To hell is where all of this belongs. 
Now, do your part. Stand. Stand in agreement with Me. Yes I see it now, I see you twirling and dancing like a little girl. Cheer from ear to ear. Holding me tightly as if to squeeze out My very last breath. Don’t hesitate. Don’t be reluctant. Let it all go. Let it all go. This is real. This is you and Me. This is the conversation that you have desired for, for so long. Now you come. Now you come to Me and My throne for I have been waiting for you like a loving Father would for any child. Dance before Me. Dance before your King. 
I don’t just put things back together. I make things better. For all things now will be better. All will be stronger. All will be forgiven. All will be restored. For My love runs deep for you.”

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 –

WE DANCE!!

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…

My prayer for 2014.  Last year, my heart's cry was, "GOD, HEAL MY HEART!"  He used many things over the course of the year...it wasn't overnight, but He answered my cry. :)

My prayer for 2014. Last year, my heart’s cry was, “GOD, HEAL MY HEART!” He used many things over the course of the year…it wasn’t overnight, but He answered my cry. 🙂

Psalm 30:11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

Love

“Lord, I LOVE him!  I absolutely LOVE him!!  I recognize that others may see an imperfect shell and see ‘disabilities’ but I don’t care about any of it.  I just love him.  I don’t need him to be perfect in order for me to feel love towards him.  I really really love him…so much!”

…and in the quietness of my heart the Lord whispered back…

“And I LOVE YOU!  I don’t need you to be perfect.  I don’t see your disabilities.  There’s nothing you can change to affect how much I love you.  I just really really love you!”

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“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are.”  I John 3:1

Thank YOU!

Our hearts are so overwhelmed with thankfulness for all of you who made Judah’s BBQ FUNdraiser possible!

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Friday night was so special to our entire family!

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 We feel honored by the number of people that arrived to support our little Judah.   What a wonderful treat to spend an evening chatting and playing with so many friends.

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Planning a fundraiser for my own child is something that 10 years ago I never would have pictured would be in my future.  It’s completely out of my comfort zone and a very humbling experience.  Robin, Tracy, and Judy there is no way I could have planned this fundraiser alone.  I’m in awe of the way you took my small idea of a family bbq picnic and created something big and exciting.  All-Stars 4-H – YOU ARE AWESOME!  They helped prepare ahead of time, helped set-up, helped serve, and helped clean-up.  One of the families sold and delivered “to-go” meals to their neighbors – if I remember correctly it was close to 30 meals they delivered!  

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 And to all of you who volunteered your time, donated raffle items, and donated food and other necessities – THANK YOU!  This was not possible without you!

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Because of the donations that came in we are able to continue needed therapies for Judah.  The money from Judah’s account covers many things for Judah.  Here are a few examples.

* Anat Baniel Method – we are so thankful we found Josie Davenport in Gainesville, FL.  It wasn’t until we began visits with her that Judah began showing much interest in movement.  When we are consistent in our monthly visits we see the most results.  The difficulty has come in being consistent.  The cost is simply too high for us to pay out of pocket.  Our goal is 5 days each month.  That cost is therapy is $600 plus gas, hotel and food.

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* Ophthalmology – The best way to monitor whether Judah’s shunt is working is to check his optic nerves on a yearly basis.  We were referred to a great doctor, but he is not covered by our insurance.

* Optometry – Judah’s vision is checked every 6 months at a wonderful clinic in Tampa.  Their practice is not covered by insurance.  Nor the cost of glasses and replacement lenses.

* Pediatrician – Our favorite pediatrician is also in Tampa and not covered by insurance.  He’s been a tremendous encouragement to us.  First, he explored deeper into what may have caused the brain bleed instead of focusing his attention only on what may have prevented it.  Through genetic testing he did find Judah has a double chromosome linked to bleeds.  He also started Judah on nutritional supplements, b12 shots, and BIGGEST OF ALL -the hyperbaric chamber!!  We LOVE our hyperbaric chamber!

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On a more personal level this doctor’s son also had a brain bleed as an infant.  Because of that he’s able to relate to us differently and is understanding of my emotional moments. 🙂  We’ve only been able to visit him a few times as the cost is over $300 a visit.  But we are excited to see him again soon, hopefully before little Malachi arrives. 🙂

Because of your generosity $2,472 was given Friday evening at the event.  More donations came during the weekend bringing the grand total to $2822!!!  Wow!  We are in awe!!

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Thank you!  From the bottom of our hearts!  THANK YOU!

“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

Today is the Day!

What started as a small idea for a family BBQ picnic fundraiser  has turned into so much more, thanks to precious friends who have given or their time and energy to make this event a success!

Addie woke up this morning and asked in excitement, “Is it tomorrow??” YES!!!! Which means TODAY IS THE DAY!

Come join us at 9434 Tom Moore Road, Lakeland, FL 33810!! We’ll be there from 4:00-8:00 (The time has been extended!!!)

LOTS of awesome raffles! Cakes and desserts! Kids bicycles! Family Pass to Skate World! $25 to J. Burn’s Pizza! Thirty-one bags! Photography sessions! Mary Kay! And lots more!

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3 big bounce houses for the big kids plus a smaller one for the “littles.” Hay ride, train ride, face painting, photo booth and fun games.

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oh!! And LOTS of YUMMY FOOD!!!!

All proceeds go to Judah’s therapy fund which covers what can add up to $1000/month in costs for therapies and specialists. If you are unable to attend but desire donating towards Judah’s Journey click “Make a Donation” on the right hand side.  We love you all!  We have been absolutely blown away by your generosity and kindness!!

See you tonight!  

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Finding Balance

Exciting news!! Judah’s story is being used to help inform other parents on the importance of vitamin K!  It’s now on the CDC’s website. Check it out!

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/vitamink/judah-stories.html

….Whoa!!  Wait a minute!!!  Did I just share a CDC website??!

If you know me at all you know I love a good ol’ fashion natural remedy.  I love herbs.  I love vitamins.  I love essential oils.  I love chiropractic care and massage therapists and holistic doctors and midwives and home birthing.

I think it’s so cool that I can give arnica (a homeopathic remedy) to my kids after they fall down or bonk themselves and they don’t experience much bruising or swelling.  I love applying RC (a Young Living essential oil) to my kids and seeing them breathe better and stop coughing.  I love that I can increase calcium and magnesium and drink some coconut water for potassium and the charley horses I experience at night during pregnancy go away!  I mean, really!  How cool is God that He made all of this available to us?!

But guess what else I now love?!  Balance!  It’s true, this once hard-core, all natural, home birthing mama is finding balance.

Two and a half years ago, in a matter of minutes, I was launched from an all natural world to a world swarming with medical doctors, hospitals, therapists, specialists and medicine.   Whoa!  What a complete shock!  There was no time to resist the change.  I jumped in.  I was determined to no longer question the doctors or their advice.  Just obey.

One of Judah's many precious nurses!  They were such angels to us!

One of Judah’s many precious nurses! They were such angels to us!

But I later realized that I, personally, could not jump from one extreme to the other extreme.  I could not jump from all natural home births to fully medicated hospital births (unless under the leading of the Lord or found medically necessary).  I could not abandon natural remedies to restock my medicine cabinet with only over-the-counter medicine.  There had to be a balance.  I could not put 100% blind faith into doctors alone.

Why?  Because the medical field is made up of imperfect humans just like myself.  Doctors make mistakes too.  There isn’t one perfect route to health.  There must be balance.  For example, after Judah was released from his initial stay in the hospital I noticed that his head circumference was growing rapidly.  I began reading about hydrocephalus, measuring Judah’s head, and looking at pictures of other children who had hydrocephalus.  I approached four of Judah’s doctors and pointed out how fast Judah’s head had grown.  They dismissed my concerns.  We called our pediatric neurosurgeon directly and told her how large Judah’s head was.  She insisted we not measure his head again since we had not been taught the proper way to do so.  She told us we were overly concerned and that we needed to relax and just wait to see her at our next visit.  That appointment was not until Judah was three months old.

The moment the surgeon walked into our room at that three-month check-up she instantly knew we had a problem.  She sent us downstairs for an MRI, and quickly began the process of figuring out how to schedule Judah for an emergency shunt surgery the very next morning.

Our sweet boy the day after his shunt surgery.

Our sweet boy the day after his shunt surgery.

A year later, one of Judah’s doctors showed me the MRI’s and pointed out the difference in brain damage from Judah’s initial bleed and from the hydrocephalus.  In those 2.5 months of being dismissed by doctors as an overly concerned parent the pressure of built-up fluid on Judah’s brain caused further damage.  I was devastated to see the difference and know it could have been avoided.

So now what?  Clearly neither side of the fence is perfect, so where do I take it from here?  My first step: Forgive and forget the past, and keep my eyes fixed forward.  I can’t afford to look back at my mistake or the mistakes of the doctors.  Would you know that since sharing publicly of the guilt I struggled with over not administering the vitamin K shot that I have not had one struggle with that guilt ever since???  Praise God! 🙂  And just as my mistake was unintentional I know the doctors’ mistakes were also unintentional.  God’s bigger than all of it!

Second step: Pray and find balance.  As I move forward I see my need for more wisdom and more prayer surrounding every decision made about the health of my family.  I can’t put God in a box.  He is not limited to only one way of bringing healing.  I have experienced supernatural healing in my body that came instantly in a prayer service.  I have witnessed God using a team of medical doctors to save my son’s life.   And I have used natural remedies successfully for a number of years……Balance…I am finding that balance…I’m so very appreciative of the doctors and therapists and midwives who have patiently walked with me as I ask questions, seek understanding, and, at times, take some extended time to seek the Lord before jumping in.  They’ve recognized that this is a new season for me and I’m thankful for their grace.

And I’m thankful for your grace as well.  The way you all have responded to me as I share this journey with you has been a tremendous blessing and encouragement to me.  Thank you! 🙂

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Mistakes, Regrets, and Finding Forgiveness

I don’t like making mistakes…at all!  As a girl I’d often fall asleep at night praying God would help me the next morning to have a perfect day with no mistakes.  I’d plan to make my bed, put my clothes away, obey everything I was asked to do (with a smile, I might add), perform well in school and in music and simply be perfect for one whole day.  Inevitably within minutes of my feet hitting the floor the next morning I had made some sort of mistake and I’d spend the rest of the day beating myself up over it.  The day seemed ruined.

It seems funny, but I lived that way for so long – a frustrated perfectionist.  Having children exemplified it.  Now, not only can I make mistakes that hurt myself, but mistakes that hurt my children.  Lord, have mercy!!  Like the time I was in the back room of our house lost in a phone conversation with a girl friend not realizing my two little boys were crying and searching for me, sure their mommy had left them.  Or the time our family walked into church only to realize we had left a toddler strapped in her car seat still sitting inside the minivan.   Sure, it was only a minute, but my heart broke to think she was sitting there so patiently watching us all walk away.  Good golly!

Chad has been so patient with me, often saying, “Krista, repeat after me, ‘I FORGIVE KRISTA.'”  I’d smile and repeat, “I forgive myself, I forgive myself, I forgive myself…”  But often in my heart I knew I hadn’t.  I replayed my mistakes over and over.  I think one of the hardest things for me to do is simply forgive myself.

My struggle grew out of proportion two and half years ago when I made a decision that some doctors would later tell me they believed could have prevented Judah’s brain injury.   This is something I have not shared with many, yet it’s been the darkest part of my journey with Judah.  So why do I share it now?  Because I’m determined to expose the enemy, the thief, the accuser of the brethren.  Because I know that freedom comes in revealing truth, not hiding pain in the dark.  Because I’m determined that 2014 is the year the Lord heals my heart, and this is an action step.  And I pray that my story will be a blessing to at least one person who may struggle with the same kind of regret.

Judah was born July 15, 2011.  We had called him our “praise baby” for months and his labor lived up to that nickname.  We praised God for a quick, smooth, beautiful water birth.  The children woke up soon after he arrived.  They all loved on him for a while then a precious friend stopped by to pick them up for a day of fun so mommy and daddy could rest and bond with Judah.  Chad helped pack everything up for the kids while my sweet midwife helped me fill out paperwork and get everything in order.  As you know, there are decisions to be made after your baby is born: when to clamp the cord, eye ointment, hepatitis B vaccine and the vitamin K shot, to name a few.

My midwife asked if I’d like to have the vitamin K shot.  I said, “no.”

I found myself hesitating for a brief moment.  Chad was busy outside of our room so I didn’t have time to confirm with him whether this was still our decision.  I dismissed my hesitation and stuck with the answer we had chosen for our past five children.  None of my children had received the shot and they had all been fine. . . why was I hesitating?  Until Judah, my children had been SO, so healthy.  I praise God for their health and see how easily I had taken it for granted.  We had never needed an antibiotic in those 10 years prior to Judah.  We never experienced an ear infection or anything more than a common cold or seasonal flu.  We might have used Tylenol a total of five times in ten years.  I truly took for granted how healthy we had been.  And my justification continued….I knew I didn’t have the typical risk factors…  My labor had been smooth without complications… And did God make every baby deficient in vitamin k?  In that moment I didn’t even remember all the reasons we had chosen not to do the shot.  I knew that way back when I first had Josiah there was speculation that the vitamin K shot was linked to childhood leukemia (that since has been proven false).  I did not do a good job researching the pros and cons of this shot, let alone praying about the decision.  And I did not think there was even the slightest possibility of anything wrong happening because of that choice.  Certainly a brain hemorrhage was nowhere on the radar.

Fast forward to our 911 call, our 10 days in the NICU, and doctors questioning us.  We are thankful they found answers and determined the cause of Judah’s brain hemorrhage to be Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding or VKDB also known as Late Onset Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn; but that news came with a sting.  “Had you given your baby the shot, this probably would have never happened….”  Those words would replay in my mind hundreds and hundreds of times.

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Some days are good….others are hard… Some days I feel such grace to see the positives in Judah – the joy and laughter he brings – and to celebrate what he CAN do instead of what he CANNOT do.  But then there are days that are so dark I feel paralyzed by the pain of regret.  It’s as if the enemy is on my shoulder saying, “Your life would be normal and easy if you would have just given him that one shot.  This is all your fault.  None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for you.”  When I’m not regretting skipping the newborn vitamin K shot, my head fills with other regrets.  Why didn’t I catch on sooner that something was wrong?   Why didn’t I call 911 sooner?  If only we had sought intervention sooner the injury would not have been so devastating.  Maybe he’d be fine!  Our life would be normal!

While two doctors have blamed Judah’s injury on not administering the vitamin K shot, I’ve had other doctors say that it cannot be proven.  They’ve looked me in the eyes and said, “Krista, you cannot live this way.  You cannot live with that regret.  We don’t know what caused it.  And we don’t know for sure if the shot would have prevented it.”  Chad has held me in his arms countless times reminding me I cannot live like this.  I appreciate all of their words; but I know that freedom from the regret has to be supernatural and from the Lord.  It is too big of a hurt for mere words to heal.

Coming into 2014 my one prayer was, “Lord, heal my heart.”

And He’s been working….I sense it….each week becomes easier… I’ve been able to open up and share with others of my struggle and recently able to go forward and ask my pastor for prayer as well.  The only words I could get out through my tears was that I was living in regret that I had opened a door to the enemy to so strongly attack my son.  He laid hands on me with compassion in his eyes and allowed the Lord to work.  As I soaked in the presence of the Lord my heavenly Father started speaking to my heart.  “Daughter, every decision you have made for your children has been made out of love.  You did not make that decision to harm Judah.  You made your decision out of love for him and out of what you thought was best in that moment.  You love your children.  You love your children.  You love your children.”

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It was such an epiphany for me.  Simple, yet profound and true.  In that moment after Judah was born I made the decision out of love.  I didn’t wish these circumstances on my son or our family.  If I could go back in time and change my decision, would I?  Absolutely.  But I can’t.  I need to move forward.

I have to remind myself that Judah’s injury was not a surprise to God.  It’s not like He and His angels were up in heaven wringing their hands in despair when Judah was born saying to each other, “OH NO!  What will we do?!  They didn’t give Judah the shot!”  No, instead, they sent in re-reinforcements.  Countless people who were praying and have been praying and standing in the gap for our son, for his complete healing, and for our family.  Instead He sees Judah healed, whole and complete, lacking nothing.  And He sees Judah’s little spirit that is SO alive unto God.  He sees that Judah’s future surpasses his time on earth and this temporal body he’s in to an eternity in heaven with eternal purpose.

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God’s working.  Not only is He at work in Judah, He’s at work in my heart.  And He’s at work in your heart as well.  He sees you.  He knows you.  He is absolutely head over heels in love with you.  Every sin, every mistake, whether intentional or not, is completely forgiven and washed in His blood.  You are free as well!!!!!

I love you!  Thank you for being a part of Judah’s journey….and my own.

“…being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6