Easter - 2018

Monday, January 31, 2011

By Faith . . . getting through the sorrow of life.

"Faith is . . . what the ancients were commended for." Hebrews 11:12 (NIV)

Nicholas' passing has forced me to even lean more on Jesus and my faith. The limited vision of the future is a challenge for me. Yet, it is through faith that any Christ-follower takes each and every step. In grief that faith becomes even more precious. So, Karen and I have made a conscience effort that in these times of great sorrow, we will live "by faith."

Steve Wilcox wrote:

YEARS ago, a friend made a small wooden sign for my college dormitory door. Stained dark brown with white letters, it read, "Have Faith in God." Those words have been both a challenge and a hope to me ever since.

They challenge me because -- despite countless trips past that sign -- I have not always adhered to its timeless admonition. Sometimes when job uncertainties have arisen, I have been slow to trust God. When family losses have mounted, my confidence in Christ's companionship has sometimes waned. Even happy times have been a challenge, as they have sometimes subtly robbed me of the vigilance I need to cultivate faith.

But these words inspire hope as well. Hebrews 11 reminds me that by faith some of the Bible's most humble characters rose above their circumstances and their failings to please our Creator. As we see from the Gospels, Jesus delivered folks who had "great faith" (Luke 7:9), "little faith" (Matt. 6:30), and had even lost faith (Luke 8:25). From all these encounters I gain new hope and encouragement. What a comfort to know that Christ lovingly welcomes all of our "signs" of faith!

Therefore, I am taking one step at a time. That is progress from last week in that I was living one breath at a time. I miss Nicholas every moment and I do not believe that will ever change. The wound is healing in that we are learning to live with the pain. In fact, it is making us stronger by increasing our faith in the One that is providing the strength to face the day. It is by faith, we survive.

You Know I love ya and appreciate all your support in our time of loss.

Friday, January 28, 2011

His Rod and Staff

Thank You, Faith Jackson for sharing this with us. I thought it good to share it with all our blog friends.

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Psalm 23:4-4

Thy Rod and Thy Staff

"Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Ps. 23:4).

At my father's house in the country there is a little closet in the chimney corner where are kept the canes and walking-sticks of several generations of our family. In my visits to the old house, when my father and I are going out for a walk, we often go to the cane closet, and pick out our sticks to suit the fancy of the occasion. In this I have frequently been reminded that the Word of God is a staff.

During the war, when the season of discouragement and impending danger was upon us, the verse, "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord," was a staff to walk with many dark days.

When death took away our child and left us almost heartbroken, I found another staff in the promise that "weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning."

When in impaired health, I was exiled for a year, not knowing whether I should be permitted to return to my home and work again, I took with me this staff which never failed, "He knoweth the thoughts that he thinketh toward me, thoughts of peace and not of evil."

In times of special danger or doubt, when human judgment has seemed to be set at naught, I have found it easy to go forward with this staff, "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." And in emergencies, when there has seemed to be no adequate time for deliberation or for action, I have never found that this staff has failed me, "He that believeth shall not make haste." --Benjamin Vaughan Abbott, in The Outlook

"I had never known," said Martin Luther's wife, "what such and such things meant, in such and such psalms, such complaints and workings of spirit; I had never understood the practice of Christian duties, had not God brought me under some affliction." It is very true that God's rod is as the schoolmaster's pointer to the child, pointing out the letter, that he may the better take notice of it; thus He pointeth out to us many good lessons which we should never otherwise have learned. --Selected

"God always sends His staff with His rod."

"Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be" (Deut.33:25).

Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well. --Maclaren

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

He will always be our son and part of our family!

Thank you for thoughts and prayers. We are doing better. God is so good to us. This is extremely hard, yet He is with us and sustaining us in ways we could never imagine. We had Nicholas for 9 weeks and he changed our lives forever. For five of those weeks he was home and doing great. The last three were up and down with surgery and blood pressure issues.

We had no idea the end of this life would put us where we are today, but we look for a day when we will bow before Jesus and thank Him for saving us and bringing us to a beautiful place. It will be at that point, Jesus will reach over and return to our arms a baby named Nicholas and all things will be made new. This maybe a linear view of things, but it does help cope with the sorrow and grief. It is also a joy to know the Jesus promised to those who grieve, they will be comforted. Nicholas will always be our son and will always be in our thoughts. We are just discovering how to live with the pain everyday.

We love our Little Guy and cling to Jesus' words in Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." You know we love you, Don

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sorrow upon Sorrow...

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. - Philippians 2:25-28

I have always treasured this verses. I enjoy the friendship and the joy these wonderful people shared with each other. Their love for each other and for the God they serve is a model experience for me. That Paul's friend, Epaphroditus was ill and they prayed for him. Then expressed the sorrow they would have felt in his death has always demonstrated to me what true friendship is about.

TODAY, I see new insight. I miss Nicholas beyond words. I long to hold him, cuddle him, and tell him how wonderful he is. He was a perfect fit in our family and brought us great joy. Now as I read this passage, I see Paul's words for His friend in a different light.

First, Paul could experience sorrow beyond sorrow. They didn't just go around healing people and living in a utopia setting. They experienced loss and the torture of the Roman Empire. These early Christians also had sorrow over those who rejected Christ and turned from the Gospel. In other words, we are not alone in our sorrow.

Second, Paul loved his friend and his friend still became sick. Paul also mentions anxiety for his and the Philippians friend. Again, we are not alone and we share in the reality of the power and comfort of God's word.

I miss Nicholas and have sorrow upon sorrow for him. I know I will see him again. Today I am finding comfort in knowing that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Also, when I pray and worship, I am also in the presence of the Lord...so in my quiet time, my worship, and in my love for the Lord I have an opportunity to be in the presence with the One who is also in the presence of my little guy.

Thank you for your support, love and continued prayers. He is the sustaining us. You know I love ya...now more than ever, Don

Monday, January 17, 2011

He's got the little bitty baby in His hands,
He's got the little bitty baby in His hands,
He's got the little bitty baby in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands!

Nicholas will be in surgery tomorrow, Tuesday around 10 AM EST. Please pray!


Amy Treece in North Carolina wrote this devotion in 2003. I found great comfort in it today and thought it good to share with you all.

I served for two weeks in Haiti with a medical-relief team. During this period, I talked with some of the Haitian people about the state of their country. They were frustrated with the political unrest that forces many of their people to live in poverty, sickness, and hunger. Yet the Haitians I met were a faithful, honest, and generous people, even amid the despair around them. They clung to hope for the future and to their faith in God.

The Haitian proverb, "Lespwa fe viv" ("Hope makes us live"), came to mind when one of the Haitian men stated that the immediate hope of the country lies in the Christian missions. While international governments often address Haiti with their own agenda in mind, mission groups demonstrate a real interest in the good of the people and are reviving villages and communities one step at a time.

Such work is appropriate for us who are Christians. We have been given a never-ending hope in Jesus Christ. It is fitting that we give hope to others out of the same grace that we have received.

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." - Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSV)

Thank You for your prayers for our little guy and thank you for demonstrating hope in so many ways. As we read in Romans 5, may we never forget and always remember hope endures all things! You know I love ya, Don

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Funny - "Ironic"

This is a joke that was passed along to me. It is funny, but also has a teaching point too.
Two men waiting at the pearly gates strike up a conversation. "How'd you die?" the first man asks the second.

"I froze to death," says the second.

"That's awful, how does it feel to freeze to death?" says the first.

"It's very uncomfortable at first, you get the shakes, and you get pains in all your fingers and toes. But eventually, it's a very calm way to go. You get numb and you kind of drift off, as if you're sleeping. How did you die?" says the second.

"I had a heart attack", says the first guy. "You see, I knew my wife was cheating on me, so one day I showed up at home unexpectedly. I ran up to the bedroom, and found her alone, knitting. I ran down to the basement, bot no one was hiding there. I ran up to the second floor, but no one was hiding there either. I ran as fast as I could to the attic, and just as I got there, I had a massive heart attack and died."

The second man shakes his head. "that's so ironic" he says.

"What do you mean?" asks the first man.

"If you had only stopped to look in the freezer, we'd both still be alive."
Keep laughing and it is funny. The truth of the matter is that both men needed for trust, ethics and morals...the crazy things we do usually lead to crazy trouble and it will always make life harder.

So, keep laughing and we will continue to strive to please the One we love. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Life Verse - Psalm 31

I am clinging to these words today!
1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.

You know I love ya and thank you for all the prayers for our little guy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stitches on the tapestry of life...one at a time.

Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb. -Genesis 12:9 (NRSV)

I am sitting in Nicholas' hospital room and he is doing better each day. It is day five after heart surgery and he is making slow and steady progress. I recalled this verse in Genesis and was reflecting how God often moves in stages. He takes us step by step through a difficult journey and never leaves us along the way. He is a God that provides and then take the steps with us.

Lenela Godwinn writes:

ONE of my favorite plaques in my home shows a little girl sewing on a piece of cloth while a small black kitten sits quietly and patiently by her side. The picture is one of peace and contentment. The words accompanying the image proclaim, "Life's pattern is stitched a little at a time."

How I love that statement, and yet how often I forget its meaning! As a busy mother of three sons, I often find myself wanting everything to be done right now. I am impatient to know God's will for my life. For people like me, Abraham is an example of faith and patience. Abram, soon to be Abraham, was 75 years old when God called him to leave Haran; but with faith and perseverance, Abraham traveled toward the Negeb.

The Bible doesn't say that Abraham made it in one day. Scripture says that he "journeyed on by stages towards the Negeb." In my life, I want to heed the example of Abraham and remember the words on my plaque. The pattern of my life will unfold gradually as I journey by stages through the years, answering God's call day by day.

Karen and I are taking this healing journey with Nicholas one step, one stage at a time. It is another stitch in God's great tapestry of life. Nicholas is getting better and it will also come to completion in his and God's time. Thus, we walk along side this great and mighty God and He will carry us through.

We appreciate everyone's prayers. Keep it up. God is uniting all of us in the praise and the petition. You know I love ya, Don

Friday, January 7, 2011

Prayers for Nicholas - Heart as strong as a wild bull!

A good friend, devoted Christ-follower, and strong prayer warrior wrote the following prayer for Nicholas. I thought the whole world should see the power of her words:

Thank you Lord for keeping Nicholas in the night watches and bringing a "huge turn around." Your promises are new each day God and so today I join with others in praying that Nicholas blood pressure will stabilize and also his heart rhythm.... Make his little heart as strong as a wild bull. There is a lot of praying going on and yet Father by your power at work within us, you are able to carry out your purposes and do super abundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think (infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams) Eph 3:20 So thank you God, you are our only God and we trust you. And while you are at it Lord, bring times of blessed refreshment to Karen, Don, Alice and Matthew.

Thank You Barbara Price and thank you to all of you that are praying for us. So many are praying for us and it truly is humbling to know God is listening. We are not out of the woods, but making slow and steady progress. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Psalm 3 - Prayers for Nicholas

Psalm 3

1 LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”

3 But you, LORD, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the LORD,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.

5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.

7 Arise, LORD!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.

8 From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.

We need to pray for Nicholas Mark. His surgery went well, but the recoup has been very difficult. His blood pressure has been up and down...as expected the first 48 hours are a rocky ride! Prayers are needed!

You know I love ya, the Dad of Matthew, Alice and Nicholas!

Monday, January 3, 2011

AV Canal Repair - Nicholas Mark on Tuesday Jan.4th.

AV Canal repair is also known as atrioventricular canal defects or endocardial cushion defects, they account for about 5 percent of all congenital heart disease, and are most common in infants with Down syndrome. (About 15 percent to 20 percent of newborns with Down syndrome have an atrioventricular septal defects).

The primary defect is the failure of formation of the part of the heart that arises from an embryonic structure called the endocardial cushions. The endocardial cushions are responsible for separating the central parts of the heart near the tricuspid and mitral valves (AV valves), which separate the atria from the ventricles.

The structures that develop from the endocardial cushions include the lower part of the atrial septum (wall that divides the right atrium from the left atrium) and the ventricular septum (wall that divides the right ventricle from the left ventricle) just below the tricuspid and mitral valves.

The endocardial cushions also complete the separation of the mitral and tricuspid valves by dividing the single valve between the embryonic atria and ventricles. An atrioventricular septal defect may involve failure of formation of any or all of these structures.

Problems With AVSD

The specific type of defect strongly influences the symptoms that may develop and the timing and details of surgical repair.

A complete atrioventricular septal defect allows oxygenated blood that has returned from the lungs to the left atrium and ventricle to cross either the atrial or ventricular septum and go back out the pulmonary artery to the lungs.

This re-circulation of blood to the lungs, called a left-to-right shunt, is inefficient because the left ventricle must pump a volume of already oxygenated blood back to the lungs while trying to meet the body's usual demand for its own oxygenated blood.

The amount of extra blood pumped by the left ventricle is often an additional 2-3 times that required of a left ventricle in an anatomically normal heart.

Because there is a large hole in the ventricular septum, the high pressure normally generated by the left ventricle to propel blood throughout the body is also transmitted to the lungs. Under normal circumstances, the lungs have a blood pressure much lower than that in the rest of the body.

The presence of a large left-to-right shunt and the associated increased workload on the left ventricle and high pulmonary artery pressure cause the lungs to become engorged with blood, and causes fluid to leak from the bloodstream into the air spaces of the lungs.

This condition is called pulmonary edema and makes it harder for a baby with this condition to move his or her lungs and breathe comfortably. The combination of increased heart and lung work uses large amounts of calories and results in the constellation of symptoms referred to as congestive heart failure (CHF).

Repair of the atrioventricular septal defect lowers the pressure in the pulmonary artery and allows these muscles to relax before they become permanently constricted.

Treatment for AVSD

Symptomatic infants with atrioventricular septal defects may improve with medicine, but in all cases corrective heart surgery will be necessary.

Medicines commonly used to treat congestive heart failure from left-to-right shunts in infants include diuretics such as lasix (furosimide), angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as captopril, and digoxin.

These type of defects will never close on their own and will always require corrective surgery for treatment.

Medical treatment of infants with atrioventricular septal defects is usually used to relieve symptoms and allow the baby to get big enough to undergo surgical repair with lower risks.

This usually occurs at 3-6 months for infants with a complete atrioventricular septal defect and 6-18 months for infants with a partial atrioventricular septal defect.

Atrioventricular Septal Sefects Treatment Outcomes

The usual recovery period following repair of a partial atrioventricular septal defect is relatively brief. Most patients are out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in 1-2 days and home in 4-5 days following surgery.

Reported surgical survival is greater than 97 percent but is probably close to 100 percent in the current era.

If you would like to read more click: AV Canal

Nicholas Mark's surgery is schedule for Tuesday January 4th first thing in the morning. Your prayers are appreciated. You know we love ya, Don