Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tyler's Story

Since today is my Tyler's 11th birthday, I thought it appropriate to share his story. It is the story of faith, miracles, power of prayer, and most of all dependance on God Almighty! Some may be familiar with it and others may not. It is my prayer that in sharing his story, you will be encouraged that our God DOES still work miracles and He is able!

Tyler was born June 27, 2001. I went in for a regular doctor appointment. We were supposed to have a scheduled c-section July 6. While at the appointment, our Dr informed us that I was already having contractions - being as we lived in Pagosa Springs and our Dr was in Durango (approximately 60 miles away), she gave us two options: go ahead and be admitted to the hospital and they would do the c-section as soon as an OR opened up; or drive back to Pagosa and know that we most certainly would be turning around and coming back to Durango that evening. We chose to stay! Of course, didn't have the hospital bag, or anything with us so Joel would get all that later. :)

Tyler's c-section went off great without a hitch. He entered the world at 6lbs. 6oz and had a little mohawk of blonde down the middle of his head! Ha ha!! From the beginning, Tyler was an active little man - he just liked to move!!!

At two weeks is when things began to change fairly rapidly for Tyler. At his regular two week check-up Tyler had failed to get back to his birth weight. Having already had 3 kids, I knew this was not normal - our family doctor agreed and sent us to a pediatrician who specialized in low weight babies. Dr. McGrath was a God send to us! He was so thorough and complete in treating Tyler. The initial diagnosis for Tyler was "failure to thrive". Basically what this means is that the baby is not developing and growing at the appropriate rate for an unknown reason.

Tyler would eat but then he would spit up almost all of it. He just stayed little. All the "usual" milestones for Tyler came much later than an average baby. Dr. McGrath continued to be mystified and thus nick named him "Tricky Tyler". Of course, I did exactly what they tell you NOT to do - I googled and searched everything on the internet to figure out what could possibly be wrong with my baby - NOT A GOOD THING TO DO!

In November 2001 our family was on vacation at Glorietta New Mexico. I had left the number with Dr. McGrath should he find ANYTHING that would explain Tyler's failure to thrive. By this time, Tyler was 5 months old and not holding his head up, not sitting or anything really. While at Glorietta we got a call that stopped us cold.

Dr. McGrath had been in contact with a Dr at Children's Hospital in Denver. After hearing all of Tyler's symptoms he concluded that he was 95% sure Tyler had Cystic Fibrosis. At the time, we knew a girl with CF but didn't really understand what it was. Dr. McGrath informed us that we needed to make plans to head to Denver as soon as we returned from vacation. That we did! However, thanks to our parents and our mentors the prayer chain was already in full force before we ever got back from vacation! Warriors were on their knees in battle for little Tyler Bay!

I remember vividly the drive to Denver - it was cold and very snowy. We had to drive over two snow packed mountain passes the whole time fearful for what lie ahead. By this time I had done some research on CF. I knew the odds for a long life were slim, I knew that should Tyler really have this, his life would be anything but normal. They did test him for CF at birth but the Dr in Denver said there are a rare number of false negative tests (like less than 5%) and he believed that Tyler fell into that category. The whole drive there, Joel and I were fairly quiet other than to just PRAY!

We checked into a house similar to a Ronald McDonald place and I am not sure either one of us slept much that night.

The next day, we started the myraid of tests at Children's Hospital. There was blood drawn, weight, height, and a sweat test. Late that morning, we met with the Dr. I will NEVER forget the look of puzzlement on his face. He said, "I am not sure you brought the same baby I talked with Dr. McGrath about. That baby had all the classic signs of CF but the tests today show that Tyler is fine. He doesn't have Cystic Fibrosis." The Dr explained that it must just be late development - We explain it a little different!

After talking to our mentor, Bay Forrest, (yes this is where Tyler gets his middle name) we all agreed - God had worked a miracle in the life of our baby! It was and still is my firm belief that Tyler had Cystic Fibrosis when we began that drive to Denver. However because of the power of prayer of many faithful warriors - God chose to heal Tyler and show us his infinite power!

I wish I could say that was the end of Tyler's story and that he has flourished and prospered since then - it isn't. Tyler did begin to make a turn at 6 months, he began gaining weight and in time sat up, crawled, walked, etc albeit at a later time than most babies.

However, at 2 years old, Tyler still didn't talk much and when he did you really couldn't understand him. Although overall his health was better, he still suffered from frequent ear infections (something he had since birth), he had random fevers, he would wake up and suddenly lose use of his legs, etc. This continued for several years. At age 4, he was in a preschool for children with disabilities. He would not interact well with other kids and really had a TEMPER! He would get frustrated and would literally tear apart his preschool room. Of course, the initial thought was "he is ADD" "he needs medication" "what's going on in your home to cause this" - you name it, we heard it. All along, I knew that medication was NOT the answer and I was determined that he would NOT be on medication.

When Tyler was 4, we FINALLY had some insight. At this time, we lived in Arkansas and were referred to Children's Hospital in Little Rock for testing. There, an audiologist finally diagnosed Tyler with moderate to severe hearing loss. She explained that his behavior was classic for children with hearing loss - he couldn't hear so why would he interact and obey. His hearing loss is best explained as hearing things as though you are underwater. After getting hearing aides, some therapy and lots of love - Tyler began to "mellow" out somewhat.

He has had tubes in his ears twice, has had tonsils taken out, has had numerous testing done on his ears and throat and through it all - he is a smiling laid back boy! There has never been an explanation for his random fevers which he occasionally still gets or for the random loss of the use of his legs which he has not had issues with in years. It is still my belief that God has and is working miracles in Tyler's life.

Tyler is still in the midst of his story. He has now been diagnosed with "pronounced learning disability". He has an IQ of 72 which is border line for Mental Retardation, he reads at a first grade level and struggles academically. He has dealt with numerous medical trials as well as social ones. He is often the target for bullying at school. Yet HE teaches ME so much! He smiles no matter the circumstances, he refers to the bullies as HIS FRIENDS. He loves with no limits and knows not an enemy! He inspires me to obey when Jesus says "pray for those who persecute you" "love your enemies" Tyler does this with the faith and innocence of a child!!

I don't know where those reading this are at but I pray that through Tyler, you like me, will see the hand of an all powerful, almighty, loving and healing God! I look forward to seeing what lies ahead for my Tyler Bay! I know that God has something BIG in store for Him because he has brought him through SO much!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A matter of priorities...

Should my daughter play softball with this travel team, or should she play with the local team? Should my son be in baseball all summer or should he not? Should Sally be on the dance team or maybe ballet? Should we enroll in this camp or that one? What about the extra batting lessons or the fielding lessons? Volleyball camp or Church Camp?

Do any of these questions sound familiar? Do they resonate just a tad bit with you? I know they do with me! If your family is anything like ours then you and your kids are faced with a myraid of decisions as to where to invest their time and your money! I hear it and see it all the time.

We live in a community that is SPORTS focused. We really do! If you aren't 100% involved in at least one sport or more, you are guaranteed to be made fun of, feel left out, and pretty much not be "successful" in the eyes of your peers. Further more, if you don't go to camps, lessons, extra practices, or if you miss a game - you are pretty much guaranteed to "sit the bench" or be cut from the team. It is what it is and I wish I was exagerrating but I'm not.

As Joel and I have seen these questions and choices come up not only in our family but in the families that we minister to and serve alongside - an uncanny trend has come to light for us....we have had to evaluate our priorities and decide what it is we really want our kids to be successful at and where we want to invest our money - and yes, it is an investment!

I recently heard of one family that has spent upwards of $9,000 dollars in the past year on lessons, equipment, camps for their daughter's softball training. Another family I know has spent around $10,000 in dresses, fees, traveling, etc for the pagents that their daughter is in. These are just a few examples I could go on and on and tell you more but I think you get the idea.

For us, spending that much money really isn't an option - we don't have it! However, we have had to make choices as far as how we do spend the money we have and even more so how we spend time! I grew up, and perhaps you did to, when Sundays and Wednesdays were church days and there were no sporting events on those days - period. 9 times out of 10 if your school was on a sports trip you came in LATE Saturday night to allow for church - just the way it was. However, that is no longer the case...Now there are not only GAMES on these nights and days but there are practices scheduled during regular church times...the reasoning "playing sports has its costs."

Really? At what cost am I willing to sacrifice my child's spiritual growth, our family time, our service to others? These are the things that get "sacrificed" when we give into the world's belief that being successful in athletics or clubs is what will make our children successful in life. Not to mention the thousands of dollars of debt that so many families are in simply by "doing whatever we have to" in order for their child to be successful.

While browsing some of the regular blogs I read, I came across this quote, "I am convinced that I can pour nothing greater into the lives of my kids than an intimate knowledge of the Grace of God that flows from His loving heart." THIS is what I want to invest in - I want my children to know and share the grace of God Almighty! Can they do that and play sports or dance or do pagents? ABSOLUTELY! However, I do not at any point in time want the priority to shift from God to activities - it MUST remain in balance.

Our family faced this firsthand during softball season this year - Kestra's team had a tournament that would be all day Saturday and all day Sunday. To play just one day was not an option - the coach made it clear "You must play all games both days to be a part." Now, I am not going to lie - I LOVE Kestra being in softball and frankly she's pretty darn good given the limited experience she has had in it. I also wanted her to "fit in" just telling you how it is. Yet, I knew that I couldn't say yes without talking to Joel. His first instinct was "No, we don't compromise Sundays and worship." yet we really struggled - it was a one time deal right? Not like she was doing it EVERY week. What would missing one Sunday hurt? In the end, Joel explained to Kestra (and to me) that giving in "one time" will make it harder and harder. We have to take a stand for what we know is right. Kestra was fine and just bounced off down the hall - me, well I knew it was right but I was bummed. Finally, after some prayer I did get over my "pity party" and trusted the Lord AND my husband to do the right thing. The end result - there were no teams with enough players to enter the tournament, it got cancelled! The lesson - when we keep our priorities right, God blesses!

In ministry we are seeing this priority battle more vividly than ever before. Families are feeling the pressure to chose between church on Sunday in the summer and baseball tournaments, pagents, etc. Even when the games aren't on Sunday - many go LATE on Saturday nights to where families are dragging in their doors at midnight or later and then simply "too worn out" to go worship on Sunday morning. The same is happening when it comes to church camps - due to time and money restraints choices have to be made between sports camps and church camps and all to often - sports are winning.

Don't misunderstand me - I am NOT saying that a church camp is the solution to all your child's spiritual needs, nor am I saying that just going to a church service is all you need either. What I AM saying is this - IF we are compromising our children's spirtitual development for ANY OTHER thing - we are letting them down and leading them astray. It's as plain and simple as that. IF WE AS PARENTS AREN'T showing them that our relationship to God and obedience to HIS WORD comes before ANYTHING else - then WE are responsible for their lack of relationship with God.

The writer of Hebrews must have seen a similar trend when he penned these words, "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near" You see, so many Christians are neglecting the meeting together in order to meet societies expectations! We are making our excuses Sunday after Sunday after Sunday and before long, it's no longer a question of if we will get up and go to church - we don't! If we don't have some event scheduled then we are so tired from going going going all week and weekend that we decide Sunday is our down day, a day we can "just stay home as a family"

WAKE UP CHRISTIANS! Really? You want to teach your children that staying home is more important than obedience to the Word of God which tells us to NOT forsake the worshipping or gathering together as a family of believers? It doesn't say "stay home and worship as a family" it doesn't say "come worship as long as you aren't too worn out"! If I am stepping on toes, then know this - mine have been crushed a lot recently about this issue. You may say, "yeah right, your husband is a minister you are expected to be there" and right you are BUT how many times do I not reach out to someone in need because it's "our only night at home" or how many times have I debated to give to missions because it's "just not in the budget" or how many times have I wanted to send Joel on Sunday night because we are all worn out, and on and on.

Here's what hit me this week - I want to raise children that:
1. Know and have an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ
2. That long to serve Him in any means He calls them to
3. That see other's needs as more important than their own
4. That see the value and importance of missions whether at home or abroad.
5. That DO ALL things as unto the Lord
6. That know that being an active member of the family of God through a local church is more than a passing though - it is a direct command of God.

That's it people - if they are good in academics then thank you Lord, if they are successful at a sport then Lord please use it for your glory but MY priority, MY job, MY goal in raising them is to instill in them these 6 truths so that when they are old they will not depart from it.

As I talked with Joel about this issue I made the comment to him "Do you realize that $9,000 would easily pay for half of our family to go on a short term missions trip?" You see, I would rather spend the money I have allowing my children the opportunity and blessing of experiencing a mission trip or growing from church camp than any lesson or sports camp out there! That is what will make an eternal difference!


Monday, June 4, 2012

A long overdue post!

Where does the time go? How in the world does life just seem to fly by without me noticing it?

So, I have been absent from the blog simply due to the fact that I have been EXHAUSTED! Most of you may know, that I took a substitute job that was originally supposed to last about 8 weeks and ended up lasting an entire SEMESTER! Can you believe that? I have discovered the reason that TEACHERS look forward to summer! Ha ha ha! After spending my days with 44 preschoolers, what little energy I had left was spent on my own kids and home...thus the lack of blogging!

Alas, school is out and so although still busy, I hope to become more regular and intentional in blog posts over the summer.

This week is VBS and is significant in that after VBS we will have officially been a part of all the "big" children's events here at FBC Borger. There is still camp but other than that at the end of the week we will have been here through a whole ministry year. Joel is really excited to be at this point because now he can begin to truly evaluate from what he has observed and then move forward from there...We truly have come to love the people of Borger and know that the Lord called us here "for such a time as this".

We have also FINALLY made it through our first full school year here in Borger. Both Joel and I agree that the past school year has by far been the most difficult for our family. Understand, that by NO MEANS have we questioned our call here - there have been times of questioning, discouragement, and brokeness but God has reassured us both in seperate ways and at seperate times that Borger is where He called us. That being said, when God calls you to a place, He doesn't EVER promise it will be easy. He doesn't promise a smooth road, He doesn't promise that it will all be roses - He DOES promise that He will be there, that He will hold us up. We have had to claim these promises over and over throughout the past school year. All four of our children have struggled in some form or fasion this year - some with peer pressure, some with bad influences, some with bullying, some with grades, some with academics, some with lack of friends, etc. As I look back on it all - one thing stands strong and bold above everything else - A LOVING AND FAITHFUL GOD! He has held this broken momma many nights as I cried in hurt for my children, He has had a close friend call or text at JUST the right moment when I didn't think we could go through any more, He has shown comfort from His Word...He has BEEN!

Our experience with school this year has really opened our eyes our heart and our mind to where our Nation as a whole truly is headed. I can't place the blame anywhere other than where it belongs - a Nation that has turned it's heart away from the Lord. We have gone our own way, seeking our own selfish desires, given in to immorality, impurity, etc. and as a result: OUR KIDS ARE SUFFERING! It is time that we humble ourselves turn from our wicked ways, and cry out in repentance to God...

As an update to where we are headed in regards to our kids and education; here is the plan for the 2012-2013 school year. Hannah and Malachi will be enrolled at Texas Virtual Academy which is an on-line K-12 public school. Kestra will continue for now at Borger Middle School - although we are open to her enrolling in Texas Virtual in the future. Tyler will be going to Borger Intermediate School at least for now. This is probably the biggest surprise to us as much as everyone else. However, we have met some with the principal there and feel like they have a good handle on some of the issues that we faced at the primary school. We are going into this with the mindset that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain - we will be monitoring it CLOSELY and if we feel like it isn't working out - we are prepared to pull him and homeschool him. I know it is crazy to think of kids going so many different directions but after much prayer and conversation, we feel like for now this is where God is leading....

Well, I guess I have rambled enough for this post, with that I will go but hope to blog again later this week (and NOT address education!)