As I mentioned in the previous post, last week was spring break and it didn’t disappoint! The extra family time together was very much needed. The week was a busy one with several appointments to work around and family adventures in between.
With some surprise appointments added in we were not able to go to Medieval Times with Malachi but plan to find one when we go on his wish trip in a few weeks. To curtail any disappointment we gave Malachi a list of other activities to choose from and he settled on a day at the arcade. You are now looking at the Hungry Hippo champion at our local Dave & Busters! Malachi shot past the record on the game, winning 500 tickets which he subsequently turned in at the prize counter for a 65” bat. Not surprisingly, the bat has added a lot of humor to our home this week.
We worked hard to get the pool open for the season and throughly cleaned out. We drain the water a few times each year and it definitely needed it. The boys swam a few nights and both of them were so thrilled to be back in the water.
We tried new recipes and made some homemade pizzas, although my cheese guy was definitely sneaking some bites when he thought I wasn’t looking.
Right now our favorite evening activity is going to the soccer games! We are mid season with the high school boys so we are at the field 2-3 times per week. Levi loves the social side of watching the game and Malachi LOVES hearing his daddy yell while he coaches. Malachi will shout out too just to be like his dad but gets the giggles each time he does it.
This morning we attempted to get some Easter photos, but as always that was a difficult task.
Take a moment to look at that last photo and you will see how big Malachi is getting. He has gotten so tall lately and is up to 47 pounds. He cannot help at all with transitions or lifting and safely moving him is getting harder and harder to do. It has started the “next step” train of thought for creating a safe way to move him around at home using a lift system. I am not sure how much longer my body can tolerate the lifting without putting up an argument.
But oh, how I love this boy so much.
Malachi gets medications at 11:30 each morning and that happens to fall right in the middle of Sunday morning service each week. So after praise and worship he and I go to a room off the sanctuary where we can hear the sermon but I can administer meds and milk without being a distraction.
As we sat back in the room this morning the worship leader ended the service with the song “Because He Lives” and I immediately flashed back to the first Easter after Malachi was born. Jake and I left the Ronald McDonald House and went to our hometown for the first time since his birth two months prior. We wanted to attend church on Easter and I remember that I greatly underestimated how hard that trip away from the NICU would be. We were one hour away and I felt so frantic inside. Malachi was stable at the time but my mind kept going to the potential phone calls I could get at any minute from NICU staff.
That morning this same song was played for worship and I held back tears as I listened to the words. But the floodgates opened when we started this verse:
How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He lives!
I actually teared up just now typing that verse!
Hearing those words again this morning made my heart swell with such gratitude to the Lord for the many things He has brought our family through. Ten years ago I would have never dreamed of the life we now live. But what a blessed journey it has been.
As you already know, we aren’t big on “traditional” anything for holidays. I am still trying to decide what I want each holiday to look like for our family, and I am particularly focused on not allowing myself to blindly accept the traditions of the world. Levi is a sponge this year and he has had so many questions about Christ’s death, like why people didn’t like Jesus and why He had to die. Early this morning I asked him some questions about Easter and hearing him reason through everything was such a joy to hear.
We did hide a few eggs around the playground for the boys to find and Malachi particularly enjoyed the hunt. His puppy Shiloh would retrieve the egg he got close to and drop it on Malachi’s wheelchair, much to Malachi’s delight.
If you look at that photo of Levi you can see some really big holes in the mulch around the playground. We had a bear visit on Friday night and he explored the playground for a good 5 minutes, leaving foot marks all over and mulch on the slide where he was exploring. I was pretty awestruck at the paw marks in the mulch!
We had left a cooler on the porch with some drinks after the soccer game and his curiosity was just too great. Here is a video for anyone that wants to see him:
Levi still continues to make us laugh with his antics. Two quick stories to give you a chuckle…
Story 1: This morning Levi kept raising his hand during the sermon. Jake leaned over and told him to put his hand down and asked him what he wanted to ask. Levi replied: “I wanted to tell him he is talking too long.”
Story 2: Levi was at a soccer game where a high school boy wearing an unbuttoned shirt tried to give him a fist bump. Levi was very uncomfortable and leaned over to our friend and told her that “that boy was showing his private parts”. The poor boy was mortified and we had to explain to Levi that boys showing their chest isn’t the same as girls.
Levi started school occupational therapy last week and I am excited to see what types of gains he can make between now and the end of the school year. We are still praying about the next step for him, whether it be another year in Preschool or moving him up to Kindergarten and potentially doing two years there if needed. I change my mind by the hour, so I am praying for clarity and guidance from God on this one!
In my quiet time this week I started reading Philippians again, one of my favorite books of the Bible. As I dug back into chapter 1 a verse popped out to me that I hadn’t given much thought to before.
Verse 12 “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,”
He was referencing his imprisonment for preaching the Word of God, so I can’t compare our trials on this specific thread. But I thought about the Carroll journey and the opportunity it has provided to share the gospel with so many others.
When we are in circumstances it is easy to spot all of the things we are being deprived of or missing out on. It is easy to make a list of all the hard side effects we are encountering due to our circumstances.
But what if instead of looking for the negatives to validate our sorrow we, like Paul, start to look for the opportunities that the trial can provide?
This verse has been on my heart for about a week and a half, playing in my mind as I look through the lens of opportunity. Then early this morning my phone dinged with a new message from one of Malachi’s former NICU nurses and the God timing of that message on the tail of me processing this verse was a beautiful validation from the Lord.
I have hesitated sharing this with you as I never want to betray confidence, but I don’t think this person would mind me sharing a brief except of the text:
“I couldn’t help but smile this morning when I thought of Malachi. Through God, that precious boy changed my life. I was so lost for so long….your faith was so foreign to me and then slowly things started to change. I began to see the beauty and purpose in all lives. I began to see His unfailing love for us….”
As I read this message I was overcome with emotion, recognizing that this life I have been BLESSED to be called into serves such beautiful purpose. Through our pain and our trials someone was introduced to God and they have become a new creation in Christ, sharing their faith with others. Like verse 12 says “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,”
This mentality comes at a cost. It requires putting aside our comfort, our ideals, our selfish desires and embracing the path that God places on. It requires turning out focus from inward to outward as we hunt for the opportunities in the moments of darkness and embrace them with a heart of obedience and humility.
I have to admit that I have not always handled circumstances as opportunity. And I have so many regrets for times when I allowed my focus to shift and excused it with justifications. But I am challenged this week to stay close enough to the Spirit that I simply cannot miss an opportunity to share the good news of God with others.
1 Peter 1:6-9 “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”
One thought on “Greater Progress of the Gospel”
Absolutely beautiful friend. Love you guys so very much! The goodness of God and his timing continues to blow my mind. He is GOOD and PERFECT all the time and I’m so thankful for him and his forgiveness.