Casting Down Imaginations

I am happy to report that it seems like we have made it through the worst of our battle with Covid unscathed. I will break it down for each family member to give you an idea of what this week has looked like.

Levi- by far he sailed through it the best, which truly shocked us. We have been told with his airway issues to expect ICU stays with a common cold, so Covid had us very worried. He never ran a fever, and his oxygen saturations were not affected. There were times his saturations were BETTER than his normal, which is bizarre. He dealt with congestion, coughing, and lethargy with his naps lasting up to 3 hours each day. He is on day 11 and aside from sounding a bit nasally he is back to his normal, wild self.

Malachi- he struggled quite a bit mid week with his oxygen saturations but never dipped below 90. The entire week he hung around 92-93. He lost his color for several days and looked very pale and sickly. He never ran a fever, but dealt with a lot of congestion although none of it appeared on the outside…no runny nose, etc. He threw up a lot of mucus and coughed pretty intensely for several days mainly at night. Sleep was rough and one night he didn’t fall asleep until after 5am. His little body struggled for those days, and he was feeling so puny he drooled nonstop. But he has been slowly improving and is on day 9.

Here is a picture from this weekend and you can see how much he has perked back up.

I did end up taking the boys to the pediatrician on Monday morning and had them tested. The pediatrician listened to their lungs to get a baseline should things change and did a covid test. The test came back negative but the pediatrician was confident it was a false negative based on their symptoms and the timeline with Jake also testing positive. They offered for us to bring them back later in the week for another test (they sound around day 5-8 would be most accurate) but we decided it wasn’t necessary. My mother who spent one hour with the boys on Thursday evening tested positive a week later, and she had not been anywhere since she left our house that night. She had not spent time around Jake so we felt confident she had gotten it from the boys.

Levi was pretending to give Malachi meds in his armpit. The hidden side of any sickness in our house in the medications. Without any sickness I administer 12 medications a day between the two boys. With covid we added lots of pain meds which increased the boys meds to 20 and at least 5 more syringes for water flushes. Lots and lots of syringe washing took place this week!

Jake- Covid knocked him down! He said it felt like a very bad flu, but it was like no other sickness he had encountered. Jake never ran a fever but it took over his chest and lungs for the first few days and moved upward from there into his head. He had a nasty cough that sounded very similar to croup. He “bark” coughed at night and had to sleep on his stomach to keep his lungs from burning. He dealt with achiness and headaches all week, and still has a lingering headache that won’t go away. He slept 10-11 hours a night and napped a few hours throughout the day. We started some major vitamins the day after he tested positive which we are assuming helped a bit. He is also on day 9 and through the worst of it. He will be able to return to work on Wednesday, and by the grace of God he had several snow days this week so he will only have to take 4 days off total for all of it.

Mom- I spent the week getting coughed on, sneezed on, and covered in covid cooties. We took zero precautions since the boys were all sick and just assumed we would all get it. Levi and I have even shared drinks this week. But I am still negative y’all! It is baffling to us. I did a PCR test the day Jake tested positive and it was negative. I tested again on Thursday which would have been a full week since Levi’s first symptom and that test also came back negative. I have had zero symptoms, although all week I have been reading into anything new and different in my body. One evening I thought I was getting a sore throat but by the morning I was fine. I also had major fatigue but it was the day I was up with Malachi all night and was running on two hours of sleep. A little bit of rest took that fatigue away.

I feel like God has most definitely put a hedge of protection around me knowing that I would need to care for three sick boys. It definitely defies logic. I have read that type O blood handles the virus better than others but I am not type O. I have some weird blood, and maybe that has something to do with it? When I had Malachi I lost a significant amount of blood (1.5 liters) and required 5 blood transfusions. One of those introduced a kell antigen into my system and my body has created antibodies for it. If I should ever need a blood transfusion again I have to tell them this information because more kell positive blood could make me very sick. I donated blood a few months ago and they sent me a kind letter thanking me for my donation but telling me that they can’t use my blood for anyone other than me so donating again wasn’t encouraged haha. Maybe my weird blood protected me from Covid???

So Jake, Levi, and Malachi will all be done with isolation on Wednesday, but because I never tested positive I am still in quarantine until March 5th. I find myself stuck between being grateful I didn’t get it and being disappointed we will be locked in the house even longer. I don’t mind being home, but the boys miss our errand running and grocery pickups. I have been taking them on lots of drives around town to give them different scenery but they are definitely reaching their max of home life. It has been too cold to enjoy the playground so the cabin fever is setting in.

This is a photo of Levi being told he couldn’t go out to the playground in 20 degree weather. He put his jeans on and everything thinking it would give him more negotiating power if he was already dressed for the outside world. Poor buddy. I feel semi-bad for taking the picture but he was just so darn cute. And showing him pictures of him crying weirdly makes him stop crying and start laughing.

We have been playing lots of games as a family and also making up lots of games, Jake and Leah style. Like how long can we keep the balloon in the air without it touching the ground, with one of us using Malachi’s arms instead of our own. 81 is the record by the way. Lots of silliness, lots of laughter, and lots of movies. If we have to be sick, at least we are home and with each other. We have also been tackling the things we try to avoid, like steam cleaning carpets and draining/cleaning the therapy pool.

We have been so blessed this week by lots of friends dropping off goodies and meals. Lasagna, soups, salmon, fresh eggs, banana bread, pizza, and so many other yummy things. We have definitely not lost weight through this sickness haha.

While there were several moments of worry for me this week I tried desperately to take every thought captive and just focus on the next hour. The days blurred together with this mindset but did keep me from spiraling down the rabbit hole with worry. I believe with all of my heart that God protected our family in a miraculous way. With both of the boys having major lung and airway issues things could have been much much worse.

When it comes to Bible translations I am a NASB or an NIV gal but I really love studying different translations when it comes to specific verses. It intrigues me how the slightest change in words can paint a whole thought in my mind. For tonight’s devotional I want to pull the verse from the King James Version.

1 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

I myself am guilty of tossing around Biblical phrases like “take every thought captive” but not fully understanding the whole verse. And when I looked at the verse in it’s entirety it blew me away as it pinpointed two of my biggest hurdles…my imagination and my pride.

Imaginations can be such beautiful things as they allow you to picture the impossible. Imaginations allow for belief in miracles, and they teach your brain to entertain the unseen. But like anything else in our lives, they can also lead us down sinful paths and lead us to darkness.

I have always had a vivid and big imagination. It is a detailed one that can construct whole books if I allow it. But in my life right now my imagination can direct me towards all the worst case scenarios with each of my children. Unfortunately I have so many mental backdrops where bad things have happened, that replacing the timeframe and ages of each of us in those scenes isn’t difficult to do. As this verse reminds me, there are moments when we are called to cast down our imaginations.

We are also called to cast down “every high things that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God”. This one hits a littler deeper with me than the imagination one, as it touches my pride. I fully believe that God holds my family in the palm of His hand. I also believe that His plan for my children is so much greater than my own. So why do I challenge Him when I *think* that His plan isn’t panning out? Why do I hand situations over to Him only to grab them back in prideful fear, thinking that I can do it better than He can. Fear is the main motivator but either way it is in these panic moments that we miss opportunities to show our undefiled love to the Father. We miss a big chance to honor His lordship in our lives.

Finally, the “take every thought captive” part isn’s just a self control challenge. It has a bi-line we often overlook. The verse tells us to bring those thoughts to the obedience of Christ. I have been rolling those words around in my mind. It reminds me that, as children of God, our actions AND our thoughts must be obedient to Christ and the scriptures. This does not come easy to me. My inner thoughts most definitely do not always fall under the obedience of Christ. But what a good challenge to focus on, and what a necessary weapon to sharpen while my family is in a safe place with their health.

I encourage you this week to look that scripture up in the many different translations and see what piece of it God wants you to cling to and focus on. I love how living and breathing the Word of God can be.

Please continue to pray that we progress toward good health and that there are no lasting effects of this virus. And please pray that God grants my children patience and sanity as we stay home for another few weeks.

Much love,


COVID Carrolls

The Carroll crew officially has COVID. I feel like I just heard each of you gasp all the way in Tennessee haha. If you have been following our journey for long you will recognize what a big deal this could potentially be for our crew. I will summarize a bit of the journey so far, but everyone is at home right now and managing it well.

Early this week the boys had several specialist appointments at the hospital outpatient center. We were there multiple days for multiple appointments, and keeping Levi contained in the rooms while holding Malachi was quite the struggle. At one point he laid on the floor in a fit and all that was running through my mind was “Well, here come the germs!”

By late Thursday night he had a hint of a runny nose, and by Friday he was snotty and coughing. We suspected it was just a cold based on past sicknesses with him but stayed away from others just in case. We started hourly temperature checks and oxygen level checks for all of us and crossed our fingers. Saturday morning Jake woke up and had a slightly sore throat. We figured he had picked up whatever Levi had since he often sneaks sips of daddy’s drink so we scheduled a test to get Jake tested.

As we drove over Jake said “I will be shocked if it comes back positive, because I really don’t feel bad.” Sure enough, he got a positive result and sure enough we were shocked. I immediately called a local place that was doing PCR COVID testing (the send off ones) to schedule a test for me, and that came back negative. So far, I am still feeling fine and don’t have any signs of sickness.

Levi continued with his coughing and congestion and sounds sick when he talks. He is breathing great, praise the Lord, and his oxygen saturations have been impressive, even for normal Levi, hanging around 97. Malachi started with some diarrhea on Saturday night and began coughing. He is the one I am most concerned about so far as his breathing has been shallow and faster than normal. His oxygen level is usually around 95 and has dropped down to 93 so we are watching him extremely closely. His seizures have not been worsened at all. And neither boy has had a fever.

Jake went from shocked from the positive result to totally agreeing with it as the day progressed. It is in his chest and lungs and he says it is different than any sickness he has dealt with before. When he was trying to sleep last night he said his lungs burned like he had been running. Today he started lots of new supplements and vitamins as recommended by the doctor. His oxygen saturations have also been normal and he is not running a fever.

We are in completely new territory with this sickness so we are praying each day and believing in God’s protection over our family. My mind keeps mentally planning for having to take one or both kids to the hospital at any moment, which is a weird spot to be in. Each meal, each shower, each night in my own bed I find myself wondering if tomorrow will be a different setting or circumstance. I will be taking them to the pediatrician tomorrow to get a game plan in place should things change. We aren’t paralyzed by fear, like I assumed I would be. We are just taking it hour by hour and praying to be showered with God’s peace and good rest for all.

Everyone is in good spirits and during the daytime hours there are lots of giggles and smiles. They crash hard and fast for naps. Night time is proving to be difficult with lots of coughing and subsequent pain.

Now for some pre-COVID updates…

The boys met with their neurologist and the appointment went great. Malachi sees an epileptologist for seizures, a neurosurgeon for his shunt, and a neurologist for the other things his brain does to his body (cerebral palsy mainly). He also goes to Vanderbilt for the orthopedic and spinal surgeons so mainly we use the neurologist to talk about his tone.

When the brain is damaged in certain spots it can cause hypertonic muscles (super tight) or hypotonic muscles (super loose). Malachi has extensive brain damage and therefore has “mixed” cerebral palsy. Some parts of Malachi are tight, like his hips, ankles, and knees. Some parts are loose like his abdomen, neck, arms, etc. There isn’t a way to “fix” either, but there are ways to manage them. For tight muscles one of the common treatments is injecting botox to relax them a bit. Or some surgeons will do tendon lengthening to help relieve some of the tight areas. Malachi doesn’t really need any of those corrections right now, but the neurologist wants to see if starting him on a small dose of a muscle relaxant called Baclofen will help Malachi at all. It could have the opposite effect and make his loose muscles even more loose, and in rare cases it can increase seizures so we are proceeding with lots of wariness and caution.

Once we are back to 100% health I will start Malachi on the oral medication and we will see what happens.

Levi also sees the same neurologist, and for him the conversations go a little bit differently. When Levi walks with his braces in his shoes you would not likely recognize there are any issues. But when the shoes come off you see how much his ankles are affected by his cerebral palsy. He has hypotonic (loose) CP and it seems to be getting worse in his feet, but slightly better in his core.

The neurologist was legitimately shocked by how well Levi is functioning in spite of his CP. He truly couldn’t believe how much his braces change his abilities. He is very pleased with how well he is doing with a little bit of support.

That is the really cool thing about Levi- he hasn’t ever known any different and has taught his body to cooperate with whatever he wants to do. Seeing his resilience makes me so proud of him.

We also met with Malachi’s neurosurgeon this week to check his shunt function. He did a quick test by pushing on the machine and felt confident it was still functioning as it should. He agreed we could wait to do any further imaging for a bit.

As you probably remember, Malachi was an angry little elf at me for not taking him to the zoo on his birthday. Our car had some mechanical issues the night before and we couldn’t go. As promised, I took him after our early morning appointment on Tuesday and we got there shortly after they opened. I had to google the place to make sure they were even open as we were the only car in the lot! We had the zoo to ourselves which was great for my germ conscious mind (oh the irony).

But unfortunately going so early meant that many of the animals weren’t awake. Malachi looks forward to a few things each zoo trip:

  1. The jaguars are hands down his favorite. Right before we got to the enclosure, which was obviously our first stop, they gave the monkeys next to the jaguars Valentine’s day bags with popcorn inside. The monkeys were super excited, thereby distracting Malachi’s jaguar friends and they wouldn’t come down within his vision range. He was devastated, but I promised him we would try again before we left.
  2. Feeding the giraffes. But on that day there weren’t offering that option. Boo.
  3. Riding the zoo train. But that wasn’t running that day either.
  4. Talking to the parrots. But they were in their inside house enclosed fully by glass and not interactive.
  5. Petting the goat’s horns. THAT we were able to do, and one of them even rubbed his horns on Malachi which made his giggle.
  6. The crow. Yes, that sounds weird. But he talks! Only that day he was as cranky as Malachi and didn’t say a word.

As we continued winding through the zoo Malachi was getting more and more disappointed. It was almost comical how things just weren’t working out over and over and over again.

But then we had a saving grace moment that they boys still talk about 12 times a day. The chimps.

As we visited the chimps several came over to the glass to see Malachi and Levi. Then it happened…one of them pooped right in front of the boys, stuck his finger in it, and ate it. I was disgusted, as I am assuming you are now after that mental picture I just painted. But as I narrated the scene to Malachi he was overcome with joy and laughed until he couldn’t laugh any more.

Who knew that chimp poop would be the birthday memory we truly needed. Malachi also thoroughly enjoyed the pressure washer that one of the employees was using. I told him we could pretend it was elephant trunks spraying the other animals and he loved that storyline.

We spent lots of hours on the playground this week and Levi is getting braver by the day. Malachi has been trying all the different swings, trying to find a favorite.

We are entering a week of unknowns. This week is annually a really hard one for me mentally as it marks lots and lots of big surgeries and ICU stays for the boys. Malachi’s stomach perforated in the NICU and he had to have an emergency surgery we were told he might not survive. A year later he contracted the flu and the situation became very dire with a PICU stay. And this was the week for three surgeries for Levi on his complicated journey. I keep flashing back to doctors telling me that when Levi gets a cold he will end up in the ICU, and now here we are with COVID. I can’t predict what the next several weeks hold for my warriors and the lack of control is very hard for me.

I read a quote this week that has been on my heart all week, and with the new updates it seems fitting.

“When you are hanging on by a thread, make sure it’s the hem of His garment.”

There is a beautiful story in Mark 5 that talks about a woman who had been dealing with a bleeding issue for 12 years. The Bible tells us that she had been to several doctors and spent all of her money chasing treatments but only grew worse.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

When I read this story I can’t help but relate to the desperation of this woman. There are times that we exhaust ourselves chasing after all the earthly solutions we can think of. We research and do all of the rational things we can find. But it still just isn’t enough.

But it takes those fruitless pursuits to build a strong faith in us. It takes those moments of repeated failures to remind us that sometimes the answer lies simply in believing that God’s power is enough.

As we enter a COVID week I am going to do my best to stay close to the hem of Christ. It is easy to let worry and my imagination distract me, but it takes great discipline to continue to remain in Christ during the scary parts of life.

Please pray with us this week that God’s power is seen yet again in the life of my boys. Pray that we get through these next few weeks unscathed and free from hospital stays and major issues. And pray that God’s peace continues to cover all four of us, reminding us that He has numbered our days we won’t be called home before He’s ready.

Much love,



Our sweet baby Malachi turned 8 this week!

It is hard to believe that 8 years have gone by, but as I reflect on those years I can’t help but realize how blessed we are. More on that in a bit.

We have a strong willed, opinionated, resilient, and kind hearted warrior. He communicates so much to us in his own way, whether it be his sign language cues or his eyes rolling when he is annoyed with me. You never have to wonder what Malachi is thinking…ask and he will guide you to his answer.

In fact, Malachi stayed very very angry with me for most of his birthday, which I felt terrible about. I had told him that we would make the trip down to the Chattanooga zoo to see his jaguar friend for his birthday. Unfortunately the day before the check engine light came on in the van and instead of going to the zoo I had to take it to the car shop to make sure it was road worthy. I explained to Malachi that we would go to the zoo next week, but the disappointment proved to be too great for him to let it go. He stayed angry most of the day, lightening up a bit when dad came home.

We spent his special day unveiling little surprises throughout the day…punch balloons, silly string, decorations, presents, and even a chocolate milkshake. We had some friends come by and bring a very special and thoughtful present for him when he is in his chair. They also brought their dog, which perked up his spirits.

And we spent lots and lots of time on the PLAYGROUND! Yes, it is fully assembled and it has been such a big blessing already in our lives. We weren’t able to leave the house much this week but having the playground right outside gave them an adventure to look forward to every day.

Special needs motherhood is tricky. So many times I have mentally envisioned something that will be “perfect” for Malachi only to have the idea totally flop. Then I have to deal with disappointment and regret, which makes me a bit shy about pursuing other “great” ideas that my mind comes up with. You can’t predict what will work or not work with Malachi until you try it. I was worried that my excitement over the playground idea might prove to not be as amazing as my mind imagined.

But I have been so pleasantly surprised that this playground is proving to be even more amazing for the kids than I ever imagined it would be. Malachi is in his happy place when he is swinging, and seeing the two of them do something together so easily makes my heart swell.

As I watched them on the swing this week I flashed back to a specific meeting with Levi’s doctors where I was talking to them about the visions and goals I have for my children. They were pushing very hard for me to sign off on a trach for Levi, something that would bring a whole new level of complication to our world. I remember explaining through tears that there weren’t many things that they would be able to do independently together, and I wanted to preserve those things as much as possible. I will never forget the blank and cold eyes of the doctors staring back at me when I shared my dreams of them being able to swim together and play together device free.

I couldn’t help but think about how far they have each come in their medical journeys. We aren’t exactly device-free but they can play together free from machines, wires, and cords. I don’t know how many years this machine freedom will last, but I am so thankful that these early years for them are as normal as we can make them. As they were swinging this week together I walked close to push them and Levi held his hand up and said “No, good”, clearly not wanting me to interrupt their special brother time.

We are so thankful to the work crew that helped make the playground come to life. They have spent countless hours preparing the space and assembling it all, and the gift of time is so impactful to our crew. Jake is capable of doing these things, but time with projects takes away respite time for mom and time with the boys. Malachi’s seizures ramped up again this week and many nights I was getting 3 hours of sleep. Jake being able to take them for an hour after work to let me nap is vital to me being able to be caregiver.

After Malachi’s angry birthday day I promised him we would let his birthday extend into next week. We are getting a burst of warm weather and plan to have some friends over to play on the playground. He will also get to go to the zoo on Monday after horse therapy.

We have a busy week ahead with lots of appointments in 2 days between the two of them, but thankfully many of those are scheduled back to back. Each boy will see the neurologist, the cerebral palsy clinic, horse therapy, and virtual feeding therapy. And then we will head back to the hospital again bright and early Tuesday morning to see Malachi’s neurosurgeon to check on his shunt. This is an annual appointment, and I think he is due for some imaging on the shunt (CT or MRI) but I don’t think they will allow Levi in those areas with COVID so we may have to plan those for another day.

Levi had some homework this week from his feeding therapist to try to eat a McDonalds happy meal. We have never had a child that eats typical food so it was the first time I ordered one as a parent. We tried the chicken nuggets and while he enjoyed the taste and taking a bite out of each he wasn’t able to swallow it. But he was very excited about the box of goodies.

Malachi had another fun surprise last night when the neighbor friends brought a guinea pig over to meet him. Malachi can’t control his body very well, but we watched as he focused so hard on opening his fingers and being as gentle as he could be with the animal. It took so much effort for him, but it was truly amazing to see. He was so happy!

Levi has been a very typical three year old this week, swinging the pendulum of toddler emotions. Now that he has playground time in his day, he also has to deal with playground time ending each day when momma says it is time to go inside.

But he is also quick to move on.

This week I have been thinking so much about perspective. We live in an area tucked in the mountains. At the base of the mountain where our house is we may get a dusting of snow, but a 15 minute drive upwards will take you to several inches of it.

As I stared at that snowy mountaintop this week while I basked in the sunshine at the base I thought about perspective and how much it can change with just a few miles. I could call up a friend that lives just a few miles away that could be completely snowed in.

C.S. Lewis has a quote that I love: “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”

That mountaintop covered in snow it such a good representation to me about the day Malachi was born. From where I was standing that day I saw tragedy. I was overwhelmed by the circumstances around me and terrified of what I was seeing. I was the “sort of person” that could only see the darkness of the situation and clung to the statistics and facts the doctors were speaking over my son.

But today I am at the base of that mountain and I see what a blessing Malachi has been in our lives. He has changed my faith and challenged my preconceived notions of what a blessing in life truly is. I am the “sort of person” that sees the handiwork of God in even the most destitute situations. Through Malachi I have been given new eyes.

The mountain that we face with Malachi is the same giant mountain. But our journey has taken us to a place where we can look at it from a different perspective and admire it’s beauty instead of focus on it’s daunting presence in our lives. The mountain hasn’t changed, but we sure have.

I have faced an incredible amount of mountains in my life, most of them before Malachi was born. The Bible always talks about our faith having the ability to move mountains and portrays them almost as a negative thing. But God has been showing me over the last 8 years that some mountains are not meant to be moved. Some mountains are part of God’s landscape for our lives and their presence in our lives is meant to be embraced instead of feared, as they remind us of our need for a guide.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

I know many of you reading this are facing mountains in your life that you have grown to hate. But maybe it is possible that you are seeing that mountain from the wrong perspective. Continue to pray over that mountain, declare it to be moved. But also continue to pray that, should God choose to not move your mountain, that He gives you a fresh view of it as He plants your feet in a new spot on it.

Today I am thankful for Malachi’s mountains. I am thankful that through this winding, unpredictable journey that we are on we have come to know God on a deeper level…all thanks to a 1 pound 12 ounce baby born without a heartbeat who has never spoken a coherent word.

Happy 8th birthday to our warrior Malachi. And thank you Lord for choosing to share him with the world another year. What a gift you are to the world.

Much love,



Hallelujah, Malachi’s seizures have slowed down! He is down to having 2-3 a day and hasn’t been having any at night while he sleeps. The more consistent sleep has done wonders for him, and definitely made a positive impact on mommy.

This week the local group helping prep for Malachi and Levi’s playground was hard at work, which gave the kids some great entertainment. Levi is scared of loud noises and Malachi is fascinated by them. This photo is a pretty good example.

As you can see, the project has changed a bit from the original plan haha! Originally we were going to put the playground tucked into the woods in the side yard. After looking at the site the group suggested they build up an area closer to the house and fashioned this amazing side nook built just for the playset.

After the nook was fashioned they noticed a tree that looked like it might die soon close by and offered to uproot it with the gear they already had onsite, and Jake and I happily agreed. After the tree came up it left a giant 6 foot hole so after lots of dirt moving and graveling we widened the driveway significantly to add parking for our Bible studies. What a hidden blessing we have received!!

I think they are planning on starting the construction of the playground this week, and my boys are so excited. Quality of life is so important to us for our Malachi. Knowing that he can get a few years on a playground built with him in mind before he gets too large to maneuver makes my heart happy. We hold tightly to “typical” recognizing that in a few years it will be harder to attain anything that resembles typical.

We are also very excited about inviting some other local special friends over to use the set! There is a huge difference between handicap accessible and caregiver friendly.

Totally changing gears, during one of our nightly games of baseball Malachi (with daddy’s help) accidentally hit Levi in the eye with the ball.

It swelled shut immediately and we expected a black eye, but it never came. Malachi laughed hysterically, just like a big brother would. And after the initial shock of getting hit, he joined Malachi in the laughter- truly overjoyed to see Malachi so happy.

This sweet photo popped up this week from when Malachi was 2 years old so we recreated it this week at therapy. It is so wild to think that he will be turning 8 this week. What an adventure we have been on! I will save the sappy post for next week’s entry.

We have been working through some red tape with his homeschooling plan for the year. To recap just a bit, we pulled him out of the public school system and enrolled in program that takes the money he is typically given for his public school education and puts it on a debit card to be used for very specific educational expenses. They are extremely strict, and all purchases and services have to be pre-approved. We finally got some green lights this week and are able to get some resources to help with learning! I will share some of those things in the near future with you all, but in summary this was a BIG win for us this week.

And a very special thank you to whomever left an anonymous meal on our porch this week. It was very unexpected and so kind! And kudos in disguising yourself well enough that we couldn’t identify you on the cameras haha!

We are cautious about sharing things with you that will generate negativity, but we have re-opened the basement to start back with our weekly Bible studies. This is a God driven move on our part, and whenever God calls us to do something we do so in boldness and without fear.

The boys stay upstairs with one of us while the other leads the basement Bible study. Jake has a group of men that come on Saturday evenings and we rotate small groups with our youth each Sunday night (middle school, high school, girls, and boys). I am back to cooking for the crew, but instead of cooking for 40 the groups are more like 15-20 teens each week.

In our area things are pretty much business as usual. The kids are back in school (completely maskless). Sports are running without limitations. We are keeping the kids locked down still, and not taking them into public settings. We alternate who goes to church on Sundays and Wednesdays and do our best to socially distance ourselves and mask up. And yes, Jake and I will both be getting the vaccine when it becomes available in our area.

I have started the devotional three times now, each time deleting the section after about 45 minutes of staring at it. They have all felt “Leah driven”, something that I try very hard to stay away from.

So I am going to start typing and we will just see what He wants to write…

This week Malachi and I have been having some good late night talks. With his birthday coming up he likes to hear stories about him as a baby. Unfortunately those stories are hard to tell, and bring up some buried emotions each time I talk to him about it.

One late night this week I was talking to Malachi about miracles, and explaining how God has done so many miracles in his life. The conversation stemmed from an old video we had watched of Levi when he was a baby squeaking with each breath. I told both of the boys that God had given Levi a miracle; He had done something only God can do. When I said that I watched Malachi’s face drop a bit in jealousy. So later that evening we started talking about his miracles.

Each time I told him something that God had done in his life he beamed with pure joy. I loved seeing him so happy, so I kept the miracle list going. We talked about all the things doctors said he would never do, and how God has helped Malachi do so many things that shock the doctors. By the end of our list Malachi was smiling from ear to ear and my heart was feeling warm and full.

I so easily get bogged down by the miracles we still lack. But spending time reflecting on the miracles we have already so graciously been given drew me into the arms of God that night.

We are so blessed. And I am ashamed that some days I don’t see life through that lens.

Let me encourage you to start a list this week. What are things that have happened in your life that only God could do. What are your miracles? I bet your list is larger than you think.

When you take a realistic look at your successes in life you will find God’s fingerprints all over them. Oh, how many times our pride can allow us to miss those fingerprints.

This week we will be celebrating one of God’s masterpieces…Malachi Carroll.

Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

Fearfully and wonderfully made. I hope this week that those words meet your soul where they are needed the most.

Much love,