I am about to overload you with photos from our fun week! We have been trying our very best to hide out from the covid swirling in our community right now, so aside from a quick horse therapy session we have not really left the house.
Both of the boys were exceptionally excited that Jake was able to come watch them at therapy. They both had great sessions with no tears. Levi also got to open one of his Christmas presents early after mommy accidentally ran over his old bike helmet last week. Ooops!! And for anyone wondering, Malachi has microcephaly and an odd head shape; he also has a brain shunt that sits behind his left ear area under the scalp and helmets hit directly on the device so he is unable to wear one.
We had a few decent weather days and spent hours on the trampoline.
And on Christmas Eve and Christmas day we ended up with some snow! Levi was fascinated with the big flakes falling from the sky- something that is rare in Tennessee.
On Christmas day we bundled the kids up in the wagon and went outside for a walk in our winter wonderland. It was incredibly bright with all the snow and sunshine so we tried Jake’s ski goggles on Malachi to see if that would keep him more comfortable visually. He was intrigued for about 4 minutes then signed for us to take them off.
As far as Christmas goes, this year was a lot of fun for both of the kids. We baked a giant sugar cookie cake for the kids to decorate and both of them got to help mix the ingredients and pour them into the bowls.
On Christmas Eve I put the presents under the tree and Levi immediately gravitated towards them with curiosity. Malachi’s ears perked right up at the sound of the crinkling paper and we talked about how they had to sleep until the sun came up and then they would be able to open them. They were both wild with excitement that night, staying up until well after 2am and first thing in the morning Levi ran to the tree and grabbed a gift to tear open!
We held true to our four gift tradition (one thing you want, one thing you need, one thing you wear, and one thing you read) and all of the gifts were a big hit! Malachi’s “need” gift didn’t make it in time so we wrapped up a switch adapted gift a local organization sent him so he wouldn’t feel like he got less than Levi.
Levi’s big presents were a new tool bench and a balance bike.
Malachi’s big present was his dinosaur, something we searched long and hard for and tracked down on a resale site a few months ago. We were so excited about this one, and had been “teasing” Malachi about his giant gift in the basement for several weeks. He was giddy when it was time to open it and he shut his eyes really hard. I could tell he was getting a little overwhelmed as he unwrapped the dino, clearly getting some sensory overload with all the noises and actions in addition to the anticipation.
When the dinosaur started roaring at him it was just too much for his littler brain and set him into a seizure. It was a pretty big one so we had to clean him up and calm him down for several hours as he tried to get back to baseline. Later that afternoon we re-introduced him to his new dino friend and now they are best buds. Here is a video for you:
From about 3:00 on Malachi was a giggling mess, clearly very excited about it being Christmas day. We tried to call family and Facetime but with the Nashville explosion just a few hours from us, our cell phones were not really working. In fact, here we are three days later and we still don’t have our service back. We can send a text every now and then, and sometimes make a quick call but for the most part we are unplugged.
Each year Jake and I find ourselves re-evaluating what Christmas will look like for our family. We want so desperately to keep it about Jesus so we have been doing “secret missions” all week with the boys, finding ways to help others secretly in our community as Christ would have done. Levi in particular has been very excited about these missions and will sit in the back seat making a “Shhhhhh” sound when we pull up to someone’s house to leave a surprise.
We have been talking a whole lot about Jesus and how much He loves others. And of course, we have been telling the Christmas story and why Jesus’ birth is such a big deal to us. I videoed Malachi and Levi helping tell the Christmas story to share with you:
He still gets a little muddy on the details, sometimes telling me that the name of the baby was “Grandma” but we are getting there. I also asked him what noise the shepherd’s sheep made and he made a giant tooting noise with his mouth so I guess we need to work on our animal sounds too.
Malachi woke up with his front teeth about to pop through, which he has been very excited about. He has been listening to the Alvin and the Chipmunks song about getting his two front teeth for Christmas. We suspect that is the culprit for the seizure increases we have seen this week so we are hoping they will break through the gum soon. Since he had to have the baby teeth surgically removed it takes a bit longer for them to make it to the surface since they don’t have a “channel” already established for them to pass through.
Each morning we give him a status report of how much he grew overnight while he was sleeping and how much his teeth have progressed.
This week I have been reading the different accounts of the Christmas story in the Bible and noting all of the similarities and differences. Yes, it is basically the same story, but each author has their own flare or added minute details that makes it slightly different than the others.
As I read through Matthew this week I started focusing on the parts of the story I don’t know well. And as I looked closer at those scriptures God clearly had a word tucked in there for my heart.
Over and over again I watched the providence of God shine through in the early life of Jesus.
When the wise men brought gifts to Jesus it says in Matthew 2:12 “And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
Then the very next verse says “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ “
Again a few verse later another angel visits Joseph in Egypt and tells him that it is safe to go to Israel, and after another warning in a dream he ends up in Galilee.
Time and time again the devil tries to attack the plan of God through Jesus and each time God’s providence succeeds. I wonder about the impact these moments had on the faith of Mary and Joseph.
But the biggest thing that has distracted me this week is the timeline of God’s plan in the life of Jesus. I have been calling it the dot dot dot (think of it as a …)
God clearly had a huge plan and purpose when He sent Christ to earth. And we get a glimpse at the birth, a glimpse at his childhood, and then there is a dot dot dot. There is a gap until Jesus turns 30 years old and his ministry actually begins.
Think about that. Even the Son of God waited nearly 30 years for the climax of God’s plan for his life to unfold.
Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apartl I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
As I read the accounts of God’s providence in the early life of Jesus, and reflect on these verses my heart is overwhelmed with the peace of God. There is absolutely nothing that we can do to interrupt the plan that God has on our lives. And while this sounds like an inspirational quote for a religious calendar, when you have a child like Malachi those words mean so much more.
As many of you know I am a dweller. I spend way too much time overthinking things and processing what our awful and wonderful things our future will hold with Malachi. I had a big emotional break on Christmas Eve and sobbed most of the night. I had driven through a McDonalds drive through for some drinks earlier in the day and glanced down at the donation box bolted into the wall. As I looked at that picture I had a moment of recollection of doing the same thing when we were driving through a McDonalds in Cincinnati on Christmas Eve a few years ago with Levi in the NICU.
When I closed my eyes that night the photo from the box struck my heart and filled me with so many flashbacks and emotions. I cried out to God in my tears and verbalized to Him that I don’t think my family can take much more right now. My heart is so bruised, and my boys have been through so much. The thought that there may be harder things to come overwhelms me. I can picture our worst, scariest days, yet one day there will likely be one that tops it all. I am already bracing for that impact, as I am not emotionally strong enough to handle any surprises right now.
But just as God protected Christ and made certain that His plans in Jesus’ life would be fulfilled, I can find comfort in knowing that He will do the same for my Malachi.
Malachi’s timeline rests in the hands of God. And he won’t be called heavenward until God has fulfilled all of the things He chooses to do through my sweet boy. And the same is true for each of us. There is nothing that man can do to interrupt the will of God.
When I process those thoughts it allows me to breathe a big, deep breath and rest in God’s peace. I hope that whatever you may be overthinking and dwelling on tonight will be challenged by those verses too!
The providence of God is such a beautiful gift.