Our miracle Malachi is 9 years old!
Malachi is simply amazing. We consider ourselves incredibly blessed to have such a smart and personable boy. He can communicate so much to us without saying a word, which speaks to his intelligence. His sense of humor is one of his best features and he gets tickled by the most random things. His memory for people and voices is mind blowing. We play a game when we turn on a movie and he has to sign yes as soon as he knows what movie it is. He will listen so intently and can get it in under 3 seconds after the first note of the intro song. Every time, without fail.
He has favorites. Favorite songs, favorite colors, favorite people. He loves chocolate anything and grape slushees. He loves secrets and does a great job keeping them, although he gloats when he knows one that Levi wants to know. This week we kept birthday secrets from him and the anticipation about did him in, giggling uncontrollably each time we mentioned surprises.
He is so incredibly forgiving and gives me more grace each day than I deserve. He is patient, but has his limits and will let you know when he feels overlooked. He is a jokester and plays pranks on people…like pretending to be sad to get sympathy but then breaking character and giggling uncontrollably. He acts out intense fight scenes in movies, which is one of my favorite things to watch. He has a superhero face he can make, blocking out his chin to look extra tough and flexing his muscles.
It is very easy to hurt Malachi’s feelings as he is extremely sensitive. He knows when he isn’t being included and yes, it does hurt his feelings so we try to not take him to environments and places that those opportunities to feel excluded can happen. He is the biblical definition of ”pure in heart” and his authentic nature is so refreshing.
Malachi is full of opinions. Lots and lots of opinions. And he likes getting to choose from a list. This year for his birthday he chose to go see a movie with mom and dad. Then he chose a chocolate milkshake as his dessert.
Malachi is a wonder. He truly is. And having such a unique son has turned out to be the greatest gift that God has ever given me.
We could have missed this. We could have lost him the night he was born. We could have not made it to the hospital in time. We could have had a doctor that didn’t attempt CPR on his 1 pound 12 ounce body. We could have told them to stop lifesaving measures in that meeting at 3 days old when doctors presented the option. Our story could have turned out so differently. But God had bigger plans for Malachi.
I remember the fear that night as we raced to the operating room. The verse that God put on my heart was from Job “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” In my heart I thought he was preparing me for losing my son. But now that I look back I can see that God was preparing to for the death of my plans and ambitions, knowing that the story He had written for our family was more beautiful than anything I could ever muster up.
When people look into our lives from the outside they look through eyes of pity. They say things like “I can’t even imagine…” But the truth is that we are the lucky ones. God gave us a child that has brought the Bible to life for us. He gave us a child that ignited our faith from a candle to a bonfire. He gave us a gift in Malachi, allowing us to see what is truly important to Him. It isn’t our achievements or our footprints on this earth that matter to God. Instead it is about reflecting Him into this world. And oh boy, how Malachi reflects the heart of our Creator.
Malachi was born at 12:19am. I am not quite sure if this is when his heart started officially beating, or when he came out of my womb on the operating table…there was a 15 minute difference between the two. But Friday morning we armed ourselves with noisemakers and when the clock struck 12:19am we celebrated the way the angels celebrated the night he was born.
I told the boys Malachi’s birth story and they each listened with such excitement. In true little brother fashion Levi then wanted me to tell about his birth so we did that too. Then he cried hysterically because he wanted to be 9 like Malachi, which made Malachi explode with big brother laughter. The jealousy game is so strong right now.
Buying Malachi presents is something I dread. Finding age appropriate toys that he can play with independently is getting more difficult as he gets older. He knows when something is a baby toy and is offended by it so we really have to brainstorm. This year he loved every single present and it was such a mom boost to me to be able to buy presents in his age range.
His favorite gift is a motion controlled drone that reacts to his movements and lights up. The added noise it makes was icing on the cake.
He also got a pair of LED gloves to wear and these have brought us all the most laughter. He has corticol visual impairment and is legally blind so he cannot see much at all unless it is right up by his eye. Watching him bring these close to his eye then karate chop has made us laugh until we cry and made him so so happy.
He got his very own shaved ice machine to make slushees at home, one of the only things he can take by mouth right now. And he got a bat mobile that fits over his home chair. We happened to find this by a register a few weeks ago at a sporting goods store and bought it hoping it would fit…it is perfect, like it was made for his chair.
After the movies we went to dinner at Cracker Barrel. He can’t eat the food but he likes the noise there and really enjoys listening to all the people.
Overall it really was a great day, and I would venture to say it was his best birthday yet. He was very much into the day, anticipating it all week and squealing with joy when he woke up on the official day.
Each year when his birthday rolls around my mind visits those memories from that night that have tucked their way into the recesses of my brain. It was the hardest day of my life yet yielded a blessing I could have never imagined. Every year I remember a few more little details from the night he was born and it has been so encouraging to see all the ways God worked that night. He most definitely goes before us as the Bible says.
Malachi’s life has taught me so many invaluable lessons I could share with you tonight. But I feel led a very specific direction so we will go with that one and hope it speaks to you and any difficult situations you may find yourself in as you read this.
In Exodus 14 the Bible starts the story of Moses and the Red Sea. The Pharoh has finally agreed to allow Moses to lead the Israelites, God’s chosen people, out of captivity in Egypt. The first chunk I want to talk about comes from verse 4: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”
This verse has always caused so much curiosity for me, but as I read it tonight I can’t help but feel affirmation that sometimes God allows the unplanned things to come after us. The diagnoses, the unexpected, the disappointments. He allows these things to happen in our life for one sole purpose…because he sees so much potential within these hard things for it to be an opportunity for us to honor Him. Sometimes we need the drama and the chaos in order for us to activate and sharpen our faith. And faith in the face of adversity brings such honor to God.
If you aren’t familiar with the story, the Pharoh and his army go out after the Israelites and as they hear them approaching they begin to complain to Moses, specifically saying things like (verse 12) ”For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness!”
Have you ever looked at the hard things chasing you in your life and said words similar to these? Your imagination starts to envision what is about to happen and regret sets in, replacing your faith with resentment for what you believe is about to happen. You look to blame, often pointing that finger at God when you can’t find anyone else for it to rest towards. You desire to go back and undo the moment to avoid the discomfort you now face. But following God often leads to moments of discomfort…why do we continue to be surprised by them?
But Moses’ response is so powerful (verse 13-14) ”Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
So often we forget that the Lord is for us. And when He calls us to these hard paths in life He is fully aware of our inadequacies in them. He knows we can’t do them on our own, and He fights for us. We need to remember that the hard things in life are meant to bring HIM honor, not us. If we could do them well on our own, who would that glorify? Sometimes we just need to be still and let the Lord display his power through our testimonies.
Back on February 4th, 2013 God led our family to the shore of the Red Sea. As we looked at the turbulent waters that were in front of us we felt anxious and helpless. We felt the pressure of the army of death racing at us, trying to steal our son. When we envisioned this journey we pictured beautiful meadows and easy paths. But here we were, facing raging waters and God telling us to step into it, trusting Him that we would be stepping on dry land.
We are very much still that water tunnel, crossing on dry land by the grace of God. It is easy to grow anxious as I see the potential for destruction to the left and right of me, but it is also easy for my faith to grow as I recognize that God continues to hold the waters back for my family.
9 years. We have been in the water tunnel long enough now that it feels known. It feels normal. When others look in they panic, but from where we are standing life is pretty amazing. Every day is a reminder that God is present and working. And life in this river has become so normal that I can no longer envision life safe on a river bank. We have accepted that we weren’t made for an ordinary journey in life.
The army of death continues to follow us in this tunnel, but my nerves have calmed as I realize Malachi’s timeline rests comfortably in the hands of a God that is able to part the waters and lead us on dry land. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Malachi will be on this earth until he has completed all of the things God has prepared for him to do. And our job as his parents is to be still and allow God to work through our son. And in doing so we find ourselves becoming new creations in Christ as our faith is refined.
So here is to another year in the middle of the Red Sea. May God continue to use this journey of ours to bring Him glory. And may God continue to cultivate our hearts and our faith as we learn to accept the good and the challenging moments.
Job 2:10 “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
P.S. It feels so odd to have an entry that doesn’t include a lot about Levi as well. So to squash my mom guilt I am including some cute photos of him in his new soccer jerseys. His season starts this week and he is so excited!