Glimmer of relief

We have struggled a little more lately with the amount of service required to raise little Anne. Sometimes we have just felt tired. We pray that Anne continues to grow and learn and sharpen because we want what is best for her. But selfishly we also ask God for some relief.

Then a tiny glimmer of relief comes in an unusual way to
me. The scene in our Honda van traveling around town: everyone singing loudly to Christian radio, with Kathryn teaching us to insert a few lyrics of our own to some well known songs. . . . Anne grinning ear to ear:

Brandon Heath’s “Wait and See”

There is hope for Anne yet
Because God won’t forget
All the plans He has for “me”
I have to wait and see …He’s not finished with Anne yet

Chris Tomlin’s “God of this city”

For greater things are yet to come,
And greater things are still to be done in our Annie-B
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in our Annie-B

I get a giant lump in my throat when I sing that Chris
Tomlin song with Annie-B inserted. God is so personal and close to give us these songs, to give us Kathryn who can ‘see’
to change these songs for Anne, to give little Anne back to us, and to give us the chance to wrestle with him as a family through this difficulty which molds our character a little more to His likeness.

-eric

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Merry Christmas!

Well, Almost. . . . . . Kate(4) has enthusaistically asked me every day this week – “is tomorrow Christmas?” Little Anne, catching wind of these discussions has started asking me – “is today Christmas?” i suppose the theory being, if i keep asking maybe mom and dad will eventually give in and say that today IS Christmas :-)

Little Anne had a really good day yesterday. . . she just seemed a little more lucid and ‘with it’. After a strenuous OT session, she asked Kathryn on the drive home – “i’m tired, i worked so hard today, can we go to Wendy’s?” Her conversation just seemed a bit more normal and the tone in her voice seemed more herself. She seemed to switch topics less frequently and kept on-track.

Over breakfast, as Canon(8) and i were discussing our new family dynamics and how God still has a good plan for Anne and for us amidst the difficulty, Canon reminded me: “Daddy, its like the story of Joseph!” How so, i asked. Canon suggested that just like Joseph’s trip down the dark well of hopelessness, God made it all for blessing and for good – and for His purposes!

Kathryn and i have been a bit more anxious (and even sad) these past 2 weeks as we consider little Anne’s challenges and how she loved Christmas last year. Canon’s Jospeh account that God is writing a story that will glorify Him through the weakness of a child (Anne) is amazing wisdom. What a great thing for me to remember as we focus not on ourselves, but on the Christ-child. . . . . through the weakness of a baby, God chose to save us!

-eric

Good conversation

Little Anne’s conversation seems, ever so slightly, more appropriate…

Every night little Anne and I pray together. We pray for lots of things including her relationship with God, her healing mentally, and her progress physically. She always asks me in the middle of my prayer: “Dada, can I pray?” After an immediate ‘Yes’, she always prays the same thing: “Thank you for Dada, Amen”. I never really thought much about her prayer, until a few nights ago – and I realized, on so many levels, what a wonderful blessing that tiny prayer is to me. Tonight, something wonderful happened, Little Anne made her expected request, then prayed: “I pray that I would be able to run, and dance and sing, even though I already know how to sing. And thank you for the trees, Amen”. Wow, something new and different from her prayer!

Kate (our 4 yr old) normally complains about going to her weekly speech therapy appointment. Last week Kate announced how excited she was about going to speech. Upon hearing Kate’s change of heart, Anne said: “but Kate, I thought you didn’t like going to speech therapy”.

When Kathryn was reading books to Anne while sitting on the floor, Anne blurted out: “Mommy I am having so much fun!”

Individually, these items seem tiny at the point of each event, but they add up to tell a significant story of God’s healing. Only a couple of months ago, little Anne would not have been capable of such suitable and fitting comments, but God continues to do His good work in Anne!

We are thankful for:

  1. Our family who walks with us each step of the way
  2. Our friends and church who truly care and constantly reach out to us
  3. The amazing small group of therapists God has called to work with Anne

We would cherish your prayers with us for:

  1. God to grip Anne’s heart for all of her days, and for Anne to know God in the most profound way
  2. Anne’s attention to improve and her impulsivity to decrease
  3. To make great strides in her walking

-eric

Effort & Laughter

Little Anne squeezed my index finger with her left hand (affectionately known as lefty) ever so slightly today! i have asked her to do this repeatedly since May and she has never been able to muster even so much as a wiggle. But today, something in Anne’s brain connected. God is slowly bringing back function!

We have noticed that little Anne seems to be learning a new skill – effort! We see now when she really tries hard to move her legs in her walker, she holds her mouth wide open and cocks her head a little sideways. You can see the effort on her face. When she applies herself she really moves forward – literally :-) She exerted this same great effort when i was asking her to squeeze my finger. GO ANNE!

Anne continues to make us laugh. We were putting her to bed, and pretending to make Anne into a pizza. This is a silly family ritual that involves lots of tickling and squeals as we ‘stretch the dough, apply the sauce and toppings, and put the pizza in the oven (couch) to bake.’ When we finished and Anne was exhausted from laughing, it was time to eat the pizza! As we were pretending to gobble her up, she said very sweetly, “But, I’m a person.” We just laughed and laughed!

-eric and kathryn

A different Anne

This evening Canon and Kate built a little train in the driveway made of a bicycle and two tricycles. They connected all three with bungie cords. Kate and Canon rode on the first two with the third empty. Canon then stated enthusiastically: “when Anne is well, she can ride with us!” Kate and Canon had so much fun with great laughter as they rode in big wide circles while the funky train weaved back and forth with only moderate control. I so wanted little Anne to be a part of the joy that kids experience in this kind of play. . . . .maybe one day God will bring Canon’s wish to our minds as we see Anne playing with her brother and sister. . . . .

Since Anne has been home all day these past couple of weeks, Anne’s deficits are more apparent. Canon has been more sad and moody. Noticing the change, Kathryn asked Canon why he was feeling down. Canon said: “Anne just seems so different. I can’t play with her like I used to, and when I try to talk to her, she starts talking about something else.” …meaning that Anne has a difficult time staying on topic.

We’re all very sad that Anne is so different. She’s not only different because of her physical and attention deficits, but her personality has shifted as well. Simply put, all the intricate connections in her brain were changed by the injury.

On the flip side, we get to watch God build Anne into what He wants her to be. He cares for her more than we can imagine. He has already called an OT, PT and Speech Therapist to work with Anne while she is home. These women individually felt God calling them to use their skills to help Anne – and stepping out in faith, God is using them to richly bless our family!!

-kathryn and eric

Smart Girl!

We have a little game of riddles that we play as a family. I read the following riddle and ANNE guessed the answer before Canon or Kate had any idea. See the bottom of the post for the answer: “After a shower you may see someone who is wet holding me. Like wind in your hair you feel me, but much more controlled you will be.”

Canon and Kate were trying to remember the verse 2 Peter 1:21. While they were struggling, Anne spoke up and said it perfectly! We all just looked at each other and all hugged Anne!!

We have noticed that little Anne seems to have all of her smarts and intellectual ability, but her capacity for appropriate responses can at times be hidden behind her inattention and impulsivity.

Our little Anne now has the distinguished crown as the LOUDEST person in our family! It is really quite amazing considering that for so long Anne was so flat, monotone, and quiet. Now, she is so the opposite. So much joy and emotion. She really loves to yell and scream for joy with laughter and smile. She really gets excited when we play music!

We are praying for:

  1. Anne’s oral fixation, impulsivity, and inattention to decrease
  2. Standing and walking
  3. Anne’s heart to be filled with God

answer: hair dryer

eric

Good Scans & Good Plans

CAT Scan today – the doc said Anne is fine – doesn’t want to see her again in 6 months!! Praise God. The fluid on her brain seems stable, no extra pressure.

i continue to be humbled and amazed at the wonderful outpouring of love for little Anne and our family. So many of you reach out to us even though you have your own difficulties to endure. This continues to impact me and change me.

The current rehab program is not seeing Anne make enough progress to want to extend her – they suugest she just needs time, and a different type of therapy where she can have more dedicated one-on-one sessions. We feel a real peace about this; that little Anne needs a change.

In so many ways Little Anne’s progress has slowed. She continues her oral fixation, and regressed in her eating, and doesn’t seem to be improving in her focus/attention. This is new ground for us. We have given some lip service to the possibility that Anne’s journey may plateau, but had not faced it until now. We cling to God’s promises and seek to stay in present rejoicing in His goodness.

. . . . . then He let’s us see glimers of great hope and reminds us that we are on His timetable, not ours . . . . Anne’s emotions have really begun to change – higher highs and lower lows, gone are the distant, flat expressions – given way to squeals of delight or sobs of sadness or passionate yells at her sister. Sweet Anne also stood (with braces) at the bedside with only her right hand helping to balance her for almost 10 seconds!!

So maybe the changes are still occuring, on the inside, maybe a foundation of neurons are being laid for upcoming new growth. Regardless of whether there is advancement or retreat in little Anne, i was reminded this week of Ecc 12:13 – i may not know or understand His ways, but He is good and He asks me to revere Him in all i do.

keep praying!

-eric

Happy Birthday Anne!

Little Anne’s birthday was yesterday – she just turned 6!! Her favorite gifts are the magnadoodle and the purse with bracelets. She keeps asking me: “Daddy, help me write my name!” i help hold her hand, and she makes it through the letter “A” . . . then gets distracted. Pray that she will soon be able to make it through her whole name on her own.

We have been reminded at how much Anne loves music. Every other thing she says seems to be the words of a song that Kathryn sings to her or that she has heard on 104.7 (local Christian station). For some reason she remembers these words and is able to concentrate or focus on music longer than on other everyday or academic activities.

-eric

Feet, tricycles and blessings

To continue from our last update. . . . if we work and stretch Anne’s ankles and feet, little Anne is able to place her bare feet on the floor (without her braces!) perfectly flat and stand while we hold and balance her! She yelps the whole time in mild protest, but that just fits with who little Anne is.

At rehab, Anne’s therapists ace bandage her hands to the handlebars of a little tricycle, then strap her feet to the pedals. She has been able to only go around 350 degrees – she always stops in the same place. . . until recently . . . . now she is able to keep pedaling! This shows she can contract and relax her leg muscles in an alternating fashion, like what is required with walking.

We visited Grandad and Grandmom (Papa and Nana). Little Anne so loves her Nana and Papa. It was good to see them dote on her and for her to soak it up. During church, while Nana was speaking from the pulpit, little Anne yelled out multiple times – NANA! NANA! Afterward, Nana, said that she loved Anne cheering her on :-) . We cringed during this worrying that she was disturbing the quiet; others saw it as a blessing.

Kathryn and i work hard at staying in the present. It is so easy for us to worry about a future where Anne may not make it back mentally. She has come so far – it hasn’t even been 5 months. i must admit that it seems like years. We see God’s good hand at EVERY turn. This morning Anne was surrounded by the Bratcher and McKinney girls – they all loved on her and cuddled with her and talked to her. God had a good plan before the foundations of the earth and in that plan included a morning such as this – all for little Anne – just to bless her and show me that HE cares about even the little things, and especially Anne.

Please keep praying:

  1. That her walking will continue to improve
  2. That her focus and attention will improve so that she can particpate in group activities
  3. That God will give her a clear and crisp mind, and
  4. That she would be aware of God’s presence and care for her.

-eric

Anne’s family

Anne woke up from her nap yesterday and saw Canon, Kate, and Grandmom, but not mommy – her little lip quivered, she made a sad face, and asked “where’s mommy?” The emotions of a 5 year old are returning! How wonderful!

This morning Kate (just turned 4) loudly announced that she was performing “bending therapy” on Anne. The procedure was apparently to take Anne’s arms and bend them back and forth quickly at her elbow! Anne had a look of both concern and joy while Kate was ensuring that Anne’s therapy continues ’round the clock :-)

After swimming, Kate told me that she would only allow Anne to use her Dora kickboard up until Anne was all better. As I was considering directing Kate on being unselfish, Kate seemed to read my thoughts and explained, “Daddy, Anne doesn’t really like Dora” . . . . so our little Kate was looking out for her sister!

We are seeing this more and more – Canon and Kate really watching out for Anne, being protective of her, wanting to help her get better and always wanting to spend time with her. At night, when we pray, we pray for lots and lots of things, but Kate and Canon’s words are primarily prayers for Anne.

Please pray with us:

  1. Anne’ mind would be clear and focused
  2. Anne’s memory would return
  3. Anne’s left arm would begin to function
  4. Anne’s legs would work so she could “walk and run and dance”

-eric