Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

image4Cole is in surgery right now as I type.  We just walked down the long hallway as a family (Cole got to ride down in his bed) and then we stopped at the bubble wall.  And then it happened… I had to let go.

Leaning in for one last hug, prayer and “Daddy loves you” is a moment any parent would want to hold on to forever.  Literally and physically.  But then the moment was over and I had to let go.  We had reached the limitations of how far we could go with Cole.  We stopped, let go and watched.  He continued on.  Rounding the next corner, he looked back with his sheepish smirk that I’ve grown to love.

Letting go isn’t easy, yet life is full of letting go moments.  So now as I sit here in his pre-op room… in the silence I’m left with my thoughts, emotions and my faith.  Writing is helpful for me in these moments.  One, because I don’t want to forget them.  But two, because it’s through the words of my heart that I gain a better perspective of the world around me.

Next to the letting go of a loved one at a funeral… watching a casket lowered into the earth, for a parent, the letting go of watching your child as they are wheeled back to an operating room is probably the next most difficult letting go moment in life.  Because its in the moments that follow that you realize just how powerless you really are.

But thankfully, as a believer, that’s where we realize that whatever or whomever we are letting go of is really an eye-opening reality to what we then can hold on to.  So as I sit here praying, I may have let go of my son’s hand, but I’m powerfully reminded that I’m holding on to the hand of God.  Or better said, He is holding on to me.  Isaiah 41:13 remind me, “For I hold you by your right hand–I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”  Words of life.  Words my soul can rest in right now.  Even when I’m called to let go, God never lets go.

What security we have in our relationship with God.  Through His amazing grace and awesome power we are reminded in John 10:28, “…and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  I am loved.  I am secure.

And that’s why I can let go… in all areas, but even with my son right now.  Because He has a loving Heavenly Father that is still holding on.  And despite my love for him, there isn’t anyone else I would want holding on to Him in this moment.

So right now I have let go.  But I’ve let go to a God who never lets go.  And I can cry out in prayer right now knowing that He hears and He answers according to His good will and pleasure.

And thank you, again, for praying with us right now.  We anticipate the surgery will last about and hour and then recovery another hour after that.  And then I’ll hold Cole’s hand again.  And then we’ll update you as we know more later.  In the mean time, I’m thankful that in the letting go… I am held.  And in the letting go… I learn and experience more of the strong, love of God for me… the One who never lets go.

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Photo on 6-16-16 at 10.46 AMIn some ways it is hard to believe that it has been two years since we first stepped into Children’s Hospital here in Birmingham and in other ways it seems like just yesterday.  I’ll never forget the emotions surrounding our early morning arrival in June 2014 to prepare for the first surgery that would start Cole with a necessary and hopeful intervention for his Perthes disease.  We were anxious and apprehensive not only with the surgery but with his future.  Yet God has been amazingly faithful to Cole and our family in this journey.  I’ll save all the details in this post, since you can look back into the “Family Life” category here and catch up on our story.

So today we are here facing another surgery.  This time around should be far less intense and invasive then the last go round.  But surgery is surgery… especially when you’re a parent.  But Cole is in good spirits, hungry, but overall his normal calm demeanor.  He’s asked a few questions along the way this morning, but generally understands this is a part of the path that God has for him.

Dr. Killian will open his hip back up to take out his plate and six screws.  No more setting off metal detectors for Cole… he’ll be hardware free!  Barring no complications, we may actually be able to go home and not even have to spend the night in the hospital.  That’s good news all the way around.

So we covet your prayers today.  We are so grateful to have such a community of family and friends that have stood with us in prayer on this journey.  Cole is third in line today and we are anticipating surgery around 11a CST.

Pre-surgery: June 2014 and June 2016

 

IMG_1991We as a family were blessed to be able to get over to Panama City Beach at the start of summer for a bit of family time before the travel season in student ministry gets going for me.  So I cherish these opportunities to have family time in summer and the boys were also incredibly excited.  And of all the things we got to do and experience, who would have guessed that fishing from the shore would have been the favorite activity.

I’m very glad to pass on the Veleber fishing gene to my boys.  Fishing (mainly saltwater) marked my years growing up and I reflect on that time primarily with my dad and brother with great fondness.  And I still love to wet a line myself.  Unfortunately between ministry and family activities, there is not much margin for any personal fishing, so most of it becomes taking the boys fishing to a lake when we can get some time free.

So here I found myself on the beach in PCB setting up the poles for a little shore fishing.  My big boy was hopeful to reel in something huge, but was blanked all week.  However the little boys were crushing it inside the shallows in front of the sandbar.  Pinfish after pinfish and fingerling whiting after whiting occupied them for hours… and by default, me as well.

I actually lost track of how many shrimp I tore into little pieces to attach to that tiny hook. Bait after bait and fish after fish.  Oh the joys of fishing, I mean baiting.  But for someone who loves fishing so much, I never knew how much joy could be had in just, well… not fishing.  My hands stunk of shrimp and we caught and released more little fish than we could count.  And it brought me great joy.  Not the dream fishing vacation any of us guys would craft… but it was one that filled my heart.

Parenting changes things.  I guess that is the understatement of the century.  But for whatever “losses” there may be to personal preferences and hobbies, there are innumerable returns through your children.

I can only imagine how this earthly and most certainly flawed (by my own struggles and failures as a dad) analogy gives us as parents a glimpse into what it must be like for our perfect Heavenly Father. It’s the imagery and word I find myself using most when I talk to the Creator God of the Universe.  I mean, how unbelievably stunning, as Ephesians reminds us that we are adopted into the family of God.  And how the Psalmist captures God’s heart when he writes, “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Psalm 139:17).  That we are the apple of His eye and His prized possession.  That we can be sons and daughters of God.  How awesome and amazing is our Heavenly Father!  One who never tires of putting on another piece of shrimp… because He delights in His children.

Oh how I desire to be more like my Father.  Well, my earthly father is a great example and I would do well to be more like him, but most certainly, my Heavenly Father.  As I reflect on this coming Father’s Day, I see my many blessings.  The gift of my earthly father given to me.  The relationship that I can have with my Heavenly Father, through Jesus.  And that my Father has entrusted me these four boys to be a father to.  A blessing I don’t deserve and a duty I am most certainly deficient in, but am resting in His grace.

And now as I sit here behind a computer… I’d most certainly trade it for some shrimp stained fingers, sand between my toes, a bit of sunburn and the joyous squeals ringing out… “Dad, I caught another one!”

Growing Pains

Posted: May 25, 2016 in Family Life
Tags: , ,

It’s hard to believe it was time to load up and make the trek to Alabama again.  But it was time for Cole’s scheduled check up for the year, which also served as his pre-op appointment.  So we hit the road for Montgomery – grateful to see Dr. Killian at his office there and at least save a little extra time and mileage on the road.  And it was beneficial for me as well to do a site visit for our Mission Montgomery team that will launch out later this summer.

image2So for yet another time, Cole climbed up onto the x-ray table to give the doctor a look at what is taking place on the inside.  We are amazed each time at God’s faithful hand of healing on his hip.  The x-rays continued to show progress and some concern.  Progress in that the hip bone is continuing to grow back and there is only a small section of the old bone that is dying and being pushed out for the remainder of the new growth.  The area of concern was the size of the injured hip which as it is growing back is considerably larger than his other hip.  However, Dr. Killian reassured us that this was ok and no need to worry.

Cole has been experiencing pain in his legs most days, especially as he lays down to sleep at night.  We haven’t known if this has been his usual activity level (recess, PE, playing with friends and baseball) or maybe a problem with his new shoes that don’t have a lift.  But again, we were reassured that this is likely just a part of the process.

As for surgery preparations, everything is looking good and on schedule for his next surgery which will take place this summer in Birmingham.  Even though we knew this day was coming, surgery still isn’t a word that we like to hear or speak.  But it is time to open his hip back up and take out the hardware.  No more setting off metal detectors for this guy.  Cole will have his plate and six screws removed.

It’s hard to believe that it has almost been two years from his initial surgery.  He has come such a long way and we are incredibly grateful to God for His healing hand on Cole’s life and guidance of our family on this journey.  And even with the next surgery, we know we still do have a long way to go.  But His past faithfulness serves as a strong foundation that we will continue to stand on.

Thanks again for following us, praying for us and supporting us on this journey.  It has been marked by pain, but Cole has found, and so has our family, that growth through pain truly does lead to gain.  I’m reminded of these words from the book of James, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4).  God in His lovingkindness sends His children trials in order, ultimately, to make us perfect and complete.  We see this pattern throughout Scripture and can attest to it in our own lives.  So we press on, knowing Jesus it at work growing us through the pain.

I’ve had the privilege for many years to participate in many of the National Day of Prayer gatherings that take place each May. They are especially unique here in Tallahassee as they take place on the 22nd (top) floor of the Capitol which has amazing views in all directions of our city.

But this year, I had the opportunity to pray from an even higher elevation.  I was invited to pray as a part of prayer flight which is a nationwide ministry dedicated to prayer from the air.

We took off from our airport in a Piper Meridian and made our way to downtown where we began to circle the Capitol complex.  Despite being a bit windy and bumpy, it was a beautiful day to be up in the air.  So as many pastors and leaders were praying in our Capitol, I was circling our Capitol praying as well.

From there we were able to head north and take a look at our current and future church property.  And probably most fun for my little guy was a few passes over our home.  From there I had the opportunity to take the controls and fly us back to the airport, line us up for landing and drop to 500 feet before Jeff wisely took back over control for the landing.

Needless to say, I’m incredibly grateful to Jeff of Flightline here in Tallahassee for giving me this amazing opportunity not only to pray for our city, but to do so in a pretty amazing way!

One of the high values for Brooke and I is instilling the value to our boys that our lives don’t belong to us.  If we truly believe that we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19) then we must give our lives to be used by the One who purchased us.  And then when ownership is properly established, the mission of God – to glorify Him by making disciples to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20) comes into focus much more clearly.

So whether it is using our home for ministry, intentionally building relationships with our friends and neighbors, being invitational or going specifically – we are trying to help them see that we are called to live on mission.  And that may be across the street or around the world.  Opportunities exist daily here and of course there are urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world.

We had the opportunity to travel as a family on mission to Nicaragua about three years ago.  We didn’t go with a team, but we were able to link up with a few teams that were there.  We got to visit Nelson David, our sponsored child and you can read about that here.  It was a great first step in exposing our boys to the world and needs that exists outside their bubble.

Well, this time the family joined the college team I was taking.  Most summers, I’m saying “goodbye” and am off serving and leading a team and I have to leave them behind.  But this time, we were not only able to serve together as a family, but a family on a larger team.  I can’t tell you how much this meant to me personally.  It was awesome to have my family with me and to see how they integrated on to the team.  I’m so grateful to our college students for how they embraced my family and were especially patient and inclusive to my little boys.

So there we were in Nicaragua… on mission as a family.  What a joy to see my wife and boys jump right in and find their place of service.  Seeing them catch a vision for why Dad has to leave each summer and getting to experience first hand why I do what I do.  I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity we were given.  And I’m especially grateful to each of you who prayed for us and supported this mission financially.

I’d love for you to read a review (click the links to open a PDF) of our mission.  I’ve attached our family thanks and also one that I wrote as a recap of our mission: nica thanks.  We appreciate your support and if you are local, hope to see you at our Missions Highlight Lunch on January 31!

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All throughout this journey, days have had major significance.  There have been monumental days – diagnosis day, surgery day, cast removal day as well as seemingly more mundane days.

But I’m always reminded of what Scripture teaches us in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  Days are important and they aren’t guaranteed, but they are a gift.  We are admonished to number our days – to remember, cherish, celebrate and use them to the fullest.

It’s hard for us to believe that a good part of this journey is in the rear view mirror.  Some days it seems like the surgery was only yesterday and other days it seems like forever ago.  Time and this journey marches on – punctuated by check ups every six months.

Last week was one of those check ups.  We travelled to Birmingham to see Dr. Killian and have Cole’s most recent x-rays reviewed and to check on the progress of the healing of his hip.  We were encouraged to hear that Cole’s healing is progressing nicely.  The hip is continuing to grow back and there is only a little bit of old bone left that the new will push out and grow in its place.  That hip joint is growing back larger than his other joint, but this wasn’t a big concern at the moment.

Dr. Killian checked Cole’s flexibility (which is limited by the plate) and also checked him walking and running. We were glad to know that he won’t require a lift on his shoe anymore (and Cole was especially glad to hear that)!

As far as the future goes, we are on track for Cole’s next surgery being this summer.  This will be a procedure to remove the plate and six screws from his hip/leg.  The x-rays showed no indication that it would need to be removed before that time which is good news.

So, we have another countdown.  There are more days to number.  Even though we don’t have the exact date yet, we know there is a day in the future where we will be another step closer to the healing of his hip.  So until then, we’ll number our days… making the most of them by being incredibly grateful to God who has guided us on this journey.