Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas last year - reflections on advent & prematurity

Last Christmas my son had come home. Most pictures of him showed off unsightly tape and his NG tube -- the plastic tube that went down his nose into his stomach. The way we gave him food. We kept practicing with a bottle and were fairly sure that he'd be able to be off the NG tube all together (and probably breast feeding exclusively) by March. We were sure of it.

We were wrong.

But that's beside the point. After six surgeries and countless prayers, we had our July baby home with us in time for the holidays.

Steve's sister flew into town with her husband. We reserved a spot at a near by hotel in case they had sniffles. We told them that if they had even slight sniffles, they'd not be allowed in our house. Doctor's orders. We'd gotten them a room with a suite so that the girls and one of us parents could go see them and play games throughout the holidays.  Thankfully, sniffles they did not have, so we canceled that reservation and they lived in our basement for a few days.

Jonathan celebrated Christmas by giving me his third "real" smile in his lifetime. Precious.

And as we reflected on the birth of Christ, I penned this note to family and friends:
A final advent note

Thank you for following our story.  Thank you for walking with us.
Jonathan's first name means "gift from God."  It's a name that was placed on my heart before he was born.  I didn't particularly like the name before all this (no offense to all the Jon, John, and Jonathans out there) but I couldn't shake the name from my head when we were trying to come up with one for him.  The name "Amos" was one Steve suggested, it means "borne/carried by God."  "Amos" has been his story this far, and "Jonathan" the promise that carried us through.  God gives good gifts, and even when we did not know if we would be ever able to take Jonathan home with us, we clung to the truth that God is a good and gracious God that was with us and that knew our child. 

It's Christmas season, so I can't help but think more about gifts and gift giving.  "Emmanuel" (God with us) was the greatest gift we were given.  We've felt the greatness of that gift so much more in the last several months.  His presence assured us that we were not alone.  His Spirit reminded us that He knew our child, that no matter what happened, He was with us.  THAT, my friends, more than the miracle of Jonathan's life, is what carries us now.  We have a good God, who is with us and knows us, and gives good gifts.  May that peaceful inward assurance carry you this Christmas season.  May this be the gift that you are daily given.

We were grateful for each day that we had Jonathan in our lives, as there was a time we thought we wouldn't get to know him. It is by God's grace, not any action of our own, that Jonathan now sleeps under our tree.

Our child eats, breaths, sees, and grows.  He is with us still and now is in our home.  Слава Богу.

We are amazed at how great God's gifts are to us this year.


The gifts God gives often are on hard-to-walk paths. Jonathan's life taught us that. But he's not the only one. It was taught to us by Joseph when betrayed by his brothers, by the Israelites as they left slavery only to walk the desert, and (fast forward a ways) by Christ's example in life and in death.

But God's gifts are also good. I don't understand it, I cannot solve the problem of pain, it seems so much like a contradiction, but there it is. Over and over again in the fabric of time, the same theme. Asked to do the impossible. Pain. Healing and redemption.

Knowing this does not stop me from mourning or weeping or crying out to God in anger and pain at the many many injustices that are never explained. But I do push forward, hoping to see more, hoping my hands will have some part in it all. I don't understand the story, not fully. Maybe some day I will.

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