Preparing for Life’s Harder Moments

With the help of my wife, Leah, we have told a little of our daughter Joy’s story involving birth defects, multiple surgeries, and God’s means of working and encouraging us during heavy times.

On Tuesday, Joy will be having another surgery. This one will be on her jaw and requires a bone graft from her hip. Recovery shouldn’t be much fun as she must be on a strict liquid diet and have very little activity.

joy and daddy 2

One aspect of my spiritual growth is an awareness of when I need help. When sticking to the status quo just won’t cut it and I need to be intentional and be willing to prepare, from a spiritual standpoint, for a difficult event. Here are some ways that I plan on preparing myself spiritually and emotionally for next week:

  1. Fasting – I have talked about fasting in this space before. The biblical use of fasting was largely to mark solemn occasions or times of repentance and returning to the Lord. Joy’s surgery, though routine for the doctor’s performing it, still will have deep impact on my daughter’s daily life for the next month and our family’s as well. This occasion requires me, as her father, to be at my best, and to be constantly in a state of prayer. In my recent practice of fasting, I have found deep moments with God and opportunities for spiritual reflection that has been life giving and a needed reset in my spiritual life. I don’t want to go into this time running on spiritual fumes, so I need something drastic to set the spiritual tone.
  2. Asking for prayer – Even though I have a blog and share some of my business, I am normally a pretty guarded person. I don’t like to talk about my own problems for fear that people would think I am fishing for sympathy or think my situation is more serious than someone else. But, in several of my church and work settings, I have specifically asked for prayer for Joy and that the surgery will go smoothly and that recovery will be light and free of pain. I have seen the power of intercessory prayer, and need that power in my family’s life this week.
  3. Surrender – I remember when Joy was just a few month’s old and had her first surgery on her lip. The dust had settled on the surgery and time in the recovery room. I made my way to the small chapel in the hospital where she was staying. I can’t remember too many times that I felt more reliant on God and aware of my lack of ability to control much of anything. I had come to a place of surrender of my child over to God. This is a terrifying yet comforting place to be as a parent. So, I find myself back in that spot again. I have to be willing to let things be for Joy and our family during Christmas. I have to daily pray for God’s will to be done for the surgery and for the aftermath. I have no control over how she will respond and what will cause her the most discomfort and irritation. I have to simply trust that God knows our deepest needs and will provide for those in a way that is best for all of us.

The Story of Joy, Part 3

One part of my spiritual and personal story that I haven’t discussed much is the pregnancy, birth, and early life stages of our daughter, Joy. My wife recently wrote about this and I thought I would share it on the blog with a series of posts. God has moved in profound ways concerning Joy and her life has taught me many things:

Enter my wife, Leah.

After Joy’s amazing cleft lip repair, we continued to walk daily in faith that she would improve and heal. It was a whirlwind of doctor visits from her Craniofacial surgeon, to GI specialist, a nephrologist, a urologist, a geneticist, a pulmonologist, an opthalmologist, ENT specialist, cardiologist, and later an orthopedic specialist. I had to carry around a little notebook to keep everything up to date for the appointments.

In the mean time, we still needed her cleft palate repaired and would wait until she was around 9 months old to get that done. During that time, she had pneumonia and so many ear infections due to the cleft. I even surprised one of her doctors when I told him baby food was coming out of her ear when she ate!! That sounds crazy, but all of that was connected and open before her first surgery. So many things were causing issues that seemed overwhelming at the time.

joy3

Along with doctor visits, we had awesome ECI therapists (PT, OT, Speech/feeding) come into our home to help with Joy’s progress. They made a huge difference and listened to my concerns. Her PT was an integral part of helping us discover Joy’s scoliosis at such a young age. This was another God moment!

Joy has had 4 cleft palate repairs. Several had to happen because she did not heal properly after surgery. So many times we were sent to the geneticist because her doctors just knew she had a syndrome that would explain all of the things going wrong. Nothing was pinpointed, but we still had to move forward with her care.

Her first cleft surgery was extremely hard. It makes me sick thinking about it. The recovery room for Joy has always been the hardest. She does not respond well to anesthesia and has an extremely hard time waking up and calming down. After each surgery comes weeks of liquid diets, restrictions, and sometimes slow healing.

People prayed each time for her surgeries and God provided His strength and peace during those tough times. I cannot imagine walking this journey without my brothers and sisters in Christ. The body of Christ has held us and walked with us every step of the way. We are continually grateful for this blessing.