Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Memories and Milestones

Posted: June 20, 2017 in Family Life
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Memory is a funny thing.  Some of the things we hope to remember often elude us, while other more difficult or painful memories seem to continually resurface.  But then there is the practice of purposeful remembering.  Scripture continually points us to this practice, which was instituted by God for the people of God.  And the point of purposeful remembering throughout Scripture is for the people of God to focus on what God has done and continues to do.  His grace, mercy and provision continually abounds to His people.  So we are called to purposefully remember His forgiveness, faithfulness, promises and deliverance in spite of our (mankind’s) continual pattern of rebellion.

It was on this day, June 19, three years ago, that we are purposefully remembering.  It is colea day we have marked to remember as one of the many days where God showed His faithfulness to our family and to our son, Cole, specifically.  It was this day where after the initial diagnosis of Perthes disease, where I watched my son get rolled down a hallway to the operating suite at Children’s Hospital of Birmingham.

And while some of the initial feelings have either faded or been replaced the memories still remain… purposefully.  It would be easy to take these memories and put them in a storage container labeled “The Past” and just move on.  After all, Cole’s future looks promising and his daily functioning is beyond what we could have even processed sitting in that hospital waiting room three years ago.

So why remember?  Because God calls us to.

coleOur story, and more specifically Cole’s story, is wrapped up in a greater narrative that God is telling.  It’s a story of the amazing design of a Creator, the sin and brokenness (including Perthes disease) of a people and the beauty of redemption that comes through the hero of this story – Jesus Christ.  And the good news doesn’t even end with the hero… it ends with that same Creator God, making “all things new.”  What’s broken will be restored once and for all.

That’s why we remember.  Because when we do, we are telling THAT story through OUR story.  Cole’s story is one of a faithful God who has amazing plans and purposes for His children, even if they are plans we wouldn’t have chosen.  And they are good plans, even though some of the stories don’t seem to have happily ever after endings.

It’s been a whirlwind of a three-plus year journey for Cole.  But it’s been one most certainly marked by God’s faithfulness.  We’ve done a major surgery, a spica cast, a wheelchair, a walker, a cast removal, physical therapy, a second surgery, another wheelchair, another walker, many trips to the radiologist for x-rays, multiple consults and follow-up appointments in Alabama… just to name a few memories and milestones on the medical side.  Then of course there’s been milestones in life… birthdays to celebrate, the ability to play and compete on sports team and to run and simply enjoying being a kid.

 

All that to say… we purposefully remember.  We celebrate the memories and the milestones of a good God with a good plan for Cole.  The journey’s not over.  There’s more follow-up visits to come as we journey through the remainder of the disease and healing process.  But we’ll remember along the way.  And it’s with gratitude that we remember all of you that have walked this road with us through encouragement, prayers and your support.  We are thankful.  God is good.

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Hope Renewed

Posted: January 9, 2017 in Family Life
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Hope is really an amazing factor in life.  In fact, I couldn’t imagine life without hope.  Praise God, it is through a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ that we can truly understand and have hope.

It’s been awhile since we updated you on Cole’s journey with his Perthes Disease.  And I guess to a degree that is good thing, since there hasn’t been much to report since his surgery this past June.  He was back on his feet pretty quickly and seemingly back to life as “normal” which has been pretty amazing and we never want to take “normal” for granted.  Especially considering where we were a few years ago when we started this journey.

And while we can honestly say there has been a foundation of hope all through this journey… it has understandably been dim at times.  But praise God when our hope is renewed.

Cole traveled up to Birmingham for his 6-month post-surgery check up with Dr. Killian over the Christmas break.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there with him this time as I was with a team of college students from our church serving in Haiti.  It was hard being away, but I was so excited to get a good report even while in Haiti.

Dr. Killian looked at the x-rays and progress the disease is making and more importantly, Cole’s recovery.  Everything is looking good and on track but we still have some more time ahead of us on this journey.  His hip is healing nicely as the bone continues to grow back and solidify.  He does still present a leg length discrepancy, although it is smaller than last time.  Dr. Killian wasn’t too worried about this and we won’t make any decisions until after some growth spurts and an evaluation when he is around 13 years old.

So after some looks at his flexibility, walking and running… Cole was… off and running.  And that is how he has spent this fall anyways.  He was cleared to play flag football earlier this fall and he had a great time out there learning the sport and competing.  Right now we are in the middle of soccer season.  So needless to say, his leg is getting quite the workout – all the time.  And he was excited to hear that he won’t need another check-up for 18 months!

But that just affirms and renews our hope. Our God is such a faithful God.  We resonate with the words of the Psalmist, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15).  And we also echo Psalm 147:11 as we have learned that “the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”  

Thanks, as always, for following us and praying for us in this journey of hope!

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It’s really hard to define normal in a household with four boys.  Seems like everything is always changing.  And Cole’s “normal” has most certainly changed over these last two years.  But we’ve learned to roll with the punches and embrace each change that leads to a new normal.

Recovery here at Brooke’s parents has been far better than recovery in the hospital room, but this was true last time as well.  Cole is learning to adjust to his very limited mobility, although he has his moments of non-compliance.  Like when Brooke turned her back yesterday and then returned to find Cole had moved himself from the couch to his wheelchair.  He’s not fully understanding why he just can’t get up and go.

But the new normal has him sleeping fairly well through the night.  Each night has been better.  He’s limited in sleeping positions, but we’ve managed to sleep without his leg immobilizer on, which I know has been a welcomed breather (for him and for his leg)!

During the day, we are thankful for conversation, brothers, grandparents and technology.  We move from movies, to games, to the iPad, to card games, to books and then wheel around the house from time to time.  Cole is getting pretty adept at maneuvering by himself in the wheelchair.

Praise God that his pain has been very minimal.  In fact, we aren’t using much of his prescription pain medicine.  This has been a huge answer to prayer.  As has been the progress of his recovery since we have been discharged from the hospital.  So again, thanks for following our journey, supporting us and praying with us.  We are believing God for continued health and healing for Cole because of His grace and goodness.  “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

There was a familiar face standing at our door.  Dr. Killian, who has guided us, counseled us and been a phenomenal pediatric orthopedic surgeon for Cole had finished the surgery and stood ready to give us the report.  All in all, the surgery was fairly quick and successful.  In one hand, he held and x-ray and in the other a baggie with Cole’s hardware.

As he proceeded to share with us the medical details of the procedure, our hearts breathed a sigh of relief just in hearing the words, “Cole did great and he’s waking up in recovery. He’ll be back in here in about 45 minutes.”

But the big takeaway from the surgery is that the healing of the hip is continuing while the disease enters the final stage.  There is about 20% of his femoral head that hasn’t fully grown back yet.  That hip as it has grown back is nearly double the size of his healthy hip.  There isn’t really an explanation or solution… just something to watch as he continues to grow.  But the size may cause problems in the future and lead to an hip replacement at a later age.  There was still some inflammation in the hip surrounding some of his tendons.  But praise God, everything was successful and Cole’s prognosis is good.

After a while, the next sight we saw was a hospital bed with an alert Cole, complete with popsicle in hand heading our way.  We were overjoyed to see him and to see him doing well.  As he transitioned into the room, his vitals looked good and we were given the go ahead for discharge.  But that is when a wave of pain set in and we decided to stick around a bit to let him rest and get another dosage of pain medicine in.

So for the foreseeable future we’ve got stitches (for about 2 weeks) and stillness (for about 4 weeks).  Honestly, he isn’t excited about either.  But since he has a void in his bones where the screws were, he is at a high risk for the bone breaking with any impact or fall.  He’s fitted with a leg immobilizer, walker and wheelchair.  So stillness here we come.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  It’s a prayer I pray over my own life as slowing down and finding rest in God is often hard for me to do.  And while this verse speaks of a spiritual stillness, my prayer for Cole is that in this period of ‘forced’ physical stillness, He will find a God who is with him, loving him, healing him and sitting with him over the next month.

Thank you for your prayers today.  The calls, texts, FB messages and simply following us on this journey mean the world to Brooke and I and also to Cole.

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.

We woke up and knew today was going to be a bittersweet day. The realization has set in that we are nearly done with our mission here in Nicaragua.

Our day started in usual fashion and then we were loaded up and headed to Sister Ruby’s house. We have experienced so much at Ruby’s house of prayer through the years and it is honestly a highlight of our mission. Ruby was an amazing woman of God and mighty prayer warrior. Her legacy lives on through the Buzbees and others who continue on the prayer ministry. Most were a bit apprehensive at what to expect, but as we walked up the stairs to the upper roam and felt the wind blowing through and we began to worship together, there was a real sense of expectation and peace.

God most certainly met us in that place and His Spirit ministered powerfully to our hearts. There were messages of encouragement, conviction and visions for the future. God was so good to encourage us and fill us with His peace. We all walked away feeling that “greater is He who is in us, than He who is in the world.” My hope and prayer is the the fire God placed in our hearts will continue to grow and be fanned in to flame. We claim the promise that “He who began a good work in us will be faithful to bring it to completion.”

We were a bit pressed for time which mean eating our lunch on the bus on our way out to the beach. But we needed the time on the bus to talk together and to continue to process what the Lord had spoken to us.

Then we arrived at the beach and many had their first experience with some black, volcanic beach sand and were able to jump right in to the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t have much time before the kids arrived and we came running to meet the bus. The look on the kids faces as they excited the bus said it all. Not only were they excited to see us (and us them) but also to see the beach. Many of these kids have never left their community or been to the beach. They were so excited and we had a blast playing with them. After our beach time was over and we shared some snacks, I got to challenge them and pray over them. We gave our hugs and in Nica fashion chased the bus down the road saying our goodbyes. It was tough to say goodbye as our hearts have most certainly grown attached. But we believe God will be faithful to love and grow these kids and that we will certainly see each other again.

We did get some team time to swim, surf and have some fun together at the beach after we said goodbye. But then reality set in for us after dinner and team time as we had to head up to the rooms and pack. We will squeeze in a few more ministry opportunities and fun in the morning before we have to head out. Thanks for continuing to pray for us – that we will finish strong and have more opportunities to share the Gospel.

You know that feeling when you pray to God actually believing He is powerful and capable to do what He has promised? I know that doesn’t typically characterize the prayer life of many followers of Christ, but we are learning to grow in our dependance on God and our communication with Him through prayer.

So, honestly I wasn’t too surprised to see all our team at breakfast this morning. I mean, after all, we have been crying out to Him for healing as I know many of our supporters have been. So after my morning rounds (I have to assume the role of Dr. Todd here), we were all praising God that everyone was on the mend and ready to go out together today… as a full team. That was pretty miraculous considering Nica stomach doesn’t want you to be anywhere further than a few feet from your bed or the bathroom. So we started our day rejoicing and thanking God for His powerful healing.

We did all load up the bus to head to our last full day of construction at Ruby Ranch. Even though a few were less than 100%, everyone did their best to pitch in and help. Before we started on the work, many headed back up to the school to catch the kids for recess. Just like driving up the dirt road on the bus through a few other towns, we are so warmly greeted by smiling faces and children running toward us. We took the time to invest in their lives and speak God’s love through the language of play.

Back at the Ranch, we had to take down a few trees that were in the way of the steps and sidewalk project. So with some help from Henry (the Nicaraguan Chuck Norris) we were on our way to moving them. The stone guys were already hard at work laying out the front steps of the Rancho. We finished up our volleyball court – yes, by moving even more dirt to get it leveled out. Then we also moved some more dirt… this time to the playground to level out some of the ground underneath all the equipment.

But our day was punctuated by some play time as I rounded the corner with a wheelbarrow to see a bunch of wide eyes looking at me through the gate just waiting for the green light to come in. We welcomed them in to play some more after they had completed school for the day. We continue to be taught how to love fully through these kids.

Shade and water breaks were a necessity, but the teamwork displayed and the encouraging words shared today were awesome. God continues to bring unity to this team.

We had hoped to see the completion of the stone project, but seeing as we purchased over 1,000 – we were pretty confident we wouldn’t be able to finish that project with our time left here. But thankfully our support raised will cover the funds for the project to be completed. And before leaving, we all gathered to say goodbye to Henry and to pray for him and his family and for the continued ministry of Ruby Ranch. It wasn’t a tearful goodbye (yet) because we will get to see the kids tomorrow, but we’ll tell you all about that tomorrow.

Much to the team’s delight, we returned a bit early for some time to cool off in the pool. Then after dinner we sorted all of the donated clothes, complete with our annual Nica fashion show… let’s just say those pictures usually don’t surface online to protect the innocent (or not so innocent in this case)!

Our team time continues to be powerful as we look at living from a fully alive heart. We’ve certainly faced the spiritual warfare that we’ve were talking about tonight, but so appreciate your prayer support. It is needed and felt.

We’re in the home stretch… also pray that we finish strong!