My, oh my, what a challenging week this last one proved to be! Malachi and I were solo as Jake was visiting with his father in Ohio. We went into “day by day” mode and made the best of it managing to tackle 10 doctor appointments/therapies…7 of those all fell on the same day!
To add to the fun, I decided to take Malachi to our church’s VBS program on Sunday evening for the kickoff. If you aren’t familiar with VBS, it stands for Vacation Bible School and usually runs several days for a few hours each day. They have a Bible lesson, sing songs, make crafts, play games, and eat snacks. It sounded like something Malachi might enjoy and I had the energy (at that point) so I figured we would try it out.
The problem was…that he LOVED it. He was wide eyed with excitement and beamed with joy from the moment we walked in. He loved being around his friends from church and listening to their silly voices. Every evening I would ask Malachi if he wanted to go to church with his friends and he would almost come up out of his seat (literally) with excitement as he flapped his arms (his sign for YES). As tired as I was I just didn’t feel right making him miss out on such a fun opportunity.
Before and after a water balloon fight! He thought it was hilarious that his hair and face got wet.
On Tuesday evening, a friend from church offered to sit with him at VBS for the evening so I could get some things done. It was a huge blessing as I was able to run to the grocery, start some laundry, do the dishes, and more!
Malachi was in great spirits all week, but when Wednesday hit he had another meltdown due to missing his daddy. We did lots of phone conversations and Facetime but he just doesn’t seem to fully understand the concept of going away. Poor little Malachi cried big tears and yelled for him, getting very frustrated when he didn’t show up. Their reunion on Friday was a special one and Malachi has not wanted to be out of his presence since.
Wednesday was our big interview day with Chick-Fil-A! If you are a new reader, here is a quick summary before I go on…
About a month ago I had a very positive encounter with another mom and her children at Chick-Fil-A. Several days after the incident I started thinking about how well the mom handled her children’s questions about Malachi and wrote a letter on my Facebook page “to the mom of three at Chick-Fil-A”. I never expected it to reach the mom but rather hoped that it would help my other momma friends know how to handle their little one’s questions about disabilities.
The letter went into internet land and grew wings! It has been shared all around the world and has been translated into over 25 languages. What was meant to be a small compliment to an anonymous mom has grown into a viral post!
The post continues to reach new audiences, and managed to find it’s way to Germany in the form of a video this week…it has over half a million views!
A few days after the original post I was contacted by someone from the corporate side of Chick-Fil-A. They explained that they had read the note and would like to do a piece on the encounter.
This past Wednesday was the official day, and the Chick-Fil-A mom and I were reunited for the first time since the original experience.
We met at a park in Chattanooga where we were each fitted with hidden microphones and the reunion was captured on film. Then we each sat down separately for on camera interviews, and they also got plenty of footage of the boys and Malachi playing.
After several hours of filming at the park, we headed to the Chick-Fil-A where we had originally met and they treated us to lunch. In my head that was going to be the easiest part, but in reality it is hard to comfortably eat with a camera pointed at your face. I found myself wondering “Is it appropriate to bite into a waffle fry?” haha! Not to mention the other 100 people in the restaurant, all watching our every move, trying to figure out why we were being filmed.
It was an awfully big adventure, and Malachi did so great throughout the whole thing. He passed out from exhaustion at the lunch table, but overall handled the ordeal like a champ.
Alright, so let me take a minute to talk about this sweet little family we have grown close to since the post went viral! And she has given me permission to use their names, so don’t fret- I am not “outing” her haha!
The Chick-Fil-A mom’s name is Emily and her three children are Crawford, Lawson, and Eve. When we first me on that special day, I knew there was something special about her. Within seconds, the word “grace” came to mind as I watched her interact with her children as they asked questions about Malachi.
When the boys came over that initial time, they both confidently went up to his face and looked him in the eye as they introduced themselves…that is so incredibly rare for children, especially ones that young! This was one of the first times I had witnessed a child interacting with Malachi like he was just a typical boy and that’s what brought tears to my eyes.
I knew then that there was something special about this family. And my time with them on Wednesday confirmed it!
Emily came on Wednesday with her three kids in tow, and they had brought gifts for Malachi as well as the new baby. She had embroidered him a very special shirt that said “Big Bro Malachi” and had a superman symbol with an “M” in the middle. The boys had picked out a construction music DVD that they loved and wanted him to have.
They helped Malachi open the presents, and hearing the wrapping paper crunch made him giggle. Again, they talked to Malachi like he was one of them and he was absolutely captivated by their presence.
There is something special about these boys. They were so genuinely happy to see Malachi again and squealed with joy when they found out that they were going to sit at the same table as him in Chick-Fil-A! To see such genuine love for my son warmed my heart in ways I can’t even put into words.
But the most special thing about these boys is their love for God. Crawford is 5 years old and Lawson is just 3, but their love for the Lord was so evident. At one point during lunch, little Lawson leaned forward and whispered “Excuse me.” When he had my attention he said “I have to tell you something…did you know that God and Jesus are SOOOOO powerful?” What a profound and amazing statement for a 3 year old child to come up with.
That day I was able to see firsthand the byproduct of raising your children to love the Lord from a young age. Their hearts were so genuine, and their love for others was so evident. I know this sounds super cheesy, but meeting this family has inspired me to raise my children in the same way.
Too often I think we assume that children are too young to grasp big spiritual concepts, but that shouldn’t stop us from teaching them who God is and the BIG things that he can do! This three year old boy was explaining to me that “Jesus and God are stronger than any superhero!”
Being around Emily and her family was such a refreshing experience. I wasn’t able to fully relax and enjoy the time as we were filmed and voice recorded but we are definitely going to try to meet up again in a non-media setting. She lives about an hour and a half away, so that could be tricky to coordinate but hopefully we can make it happen soon.
When the post first started to take off, I received hundreds of messages from strangers. I read each and every one, and the kindness that saturated them was so uplifting for me. One message stuck out in particular…I tried to find it again, but can’t seem to track it down amidst the thousands of others.
But this woman wrote to me and said “In my home, we talk a lot about the “ripple makers. And you, are most definitely one.” She referenced a poem and said that if I had time, to look it up. Here is a chunk of that poem (Drop A Pebble In The Water by James Foley):
Drop a pebble in the water:
just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples
Circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center,
flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling
where the end is going to be.
Drop a pebble in the water:
in a minute you forget,
But there’s little waves a-flowing,
and there’s ripples circling yet,
And those little waves a-flowing
to a great big wave have grown;
You’ve disturbed a mighty river
just by dropping in a stone.
This whole concept has been weighing on my mind so much lately. I have thought about the impact that our tiny stone has had on the way the thousands in the world view children with disabilities.
But then I started thinking about this whole “ripple maker” concept and realized that it wasn’t me who threw the pebble…it was Emily! And I am sure if you ask her, she would be able to cite someone that she considered the ripple maker to be…someone who influenced her to act the way she did on that special day.
The point isn’t about who throws the pebble, but instead about realizing the impact our very tiny acts of kindness have on others….and how they continue to ripple through our world long after we cannot see it effects.
I started thinking about this in relation to my faith. The Bible places a lot of emphasis on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). I have been a Christian since I was a very young girl, but I can only count one time that I have sat with someone and personally led them to Christ…and I am a youth pastor! So many times I find myself discouraged.
But I think this whole ripple maker mindset comes into play in regards to sharing Christ. My prayer is that as I continue through this life that God will give me opportunities to cast pebbles, and that these small and insignificant pebbles would go on to do mighty things….that the waves and ripples they create will move others closer to Christ. I pray that God is able to use my cast pebbles to impact His kingdom.
Maybe you too needed to hear that word of encouragement today.
Some final updates:
Baby Carroll is doing well! I was able to see Baby C in an ultrasound this week and everything looks great. I am still extremely nauseous and sleepy, but God has been so good. My lack of sleep was my biggest fear last week with Jake gone, and Malachi slept 6-7 hours straight EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Literally the night Jake returned home he went back to his habit of waking up around 3:30-4am. God was definitely intervening!
Here are some of the other Big Bro photos that we took:
This week we will be making a trip to Vanderbilt to meet with Malachi’s orthopedic doctor. We will be checking his hips, knees, feet, and spine and we are hoping for a good report.
We will also be getting some test results back this week regarding Baby C, and we would love it if you would join us in praying for a good report. Faith over fear!
Thank you for continuing to be prayer warriors with us. Malachi is truly a gift from God. Just this morning Facebook reminded me that it was on this day three years ago that Malachi first let out a laugh. Jake was doing the dishes as singing a silly song from “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers” and Malachi made a squeaking sound. Back then, Malachi would have seizures and stop breathing for several seconds and we both panicked when we heard this odd sound. I ran over there and he was just looking back at me like nothing had happened. But then a few seconds later he made that odd noise again, and we realized that he was laughing! And he hasn’t stopped since.
Miracles are real.
God bless you all,
Jake, Leah, and Malachi