Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My John the Baptist

Time for an update on Alexander and the eye saga...and more!

At an annual eye exam a couple of years ago, our eye doctor (who happens to be Tom's cousin's wife, who is more precious than I can say) found scarring on Alex's eye.  She suspected this was from histoplasmosis which is a fungal infection acquired from bird droppings in the soil.  She sent us to a specialist who agreed with her diagnosis.  He guessed that at some point, Alex had contracted this and it healed on its own but left scars.  He instructed us to come back for rechecks and when those showed no change, he instructed us to just go back to our eye doctor for regular eye exams.

We thought all was fine, but at the exam this year, Dr. Jen noticed that the scars appeared larger, so back to the specialist we went.  There seemed to be no tearing of the scars or leaking of blood so he waited and scheduled another recheck.  Again, the scars were larger.  This time, we spent a few hours in the office with many rounds of dilation drops and a dye injected into Alex's vein to see if there was any blood leaking.  Thankfully there was not, but the doctor was very concerned.

The doctor spent days consulting with colleagues over the pictures and researching and came back with the possibility that this may be multifocal choroiditis.  This was a much more concerning condition that could leave my son partially blind, etc...

He sent us to another larger city about an hour and half away for a second opinion.  That specialist's bio is pretty impressive...a graduate of Harvard Medical School with multiple famous hospitals on his resume.  We felt very good that we were being led in the right direction.

I am a researcher.  I like to get to the root of things.  However, God specifically spoke to my heart not to research this condition much.  I could get a base for what it was so I could understand the doctors, but I was not to allow my mind to dwell on what ifs.

This is where the story gets very cool.  I received a phone call from someone who knew little about what was going on but felt God had told them some things for our situation.  I spoke with Alex and spent that evening and the next morning in earnest, focused prayer. This part may deeply challenge what you believe.  :)

If you have never felt the tangible, physical presence of the Holy Spirit, it is hard to articulate that into words.  As best as I can describe, it feels like a heaviness on my body and it makes me just want to weep.  This happened as I was praying that morning and pictures of words began to flash in my mind.  I grabbed my phone beside me and typed as quickly as I could:

alex july 31 2013  This isn't about his eye.  It is about the very call of God on his life.  His tongue will be loosed and with great authority will he speak.  He will believe.  He will see.  He will perceive.  He will honor.  He will not boast.  A great maturity is coming upon him.  This is a pivotal year in his life. He will calm hearts and he will stir up.  He will not be afraid.  He will be bold.  He has not been overlooked.  He was never made to fit in.  He will have the eyes of many upon him.

I was physically week for some  hours after this encounter...like I had a great adrenaline surge and was left exhausted.  I also had peace that passed my human understanding.  I was not at all concerned about his eye anymore.

Fast forward to the second opinion eye specialist visit.  That doctor (you know, the one with all the experience), doesn't think it is multifocal choroiditis, but more likely the histoplasmosis scarring as originally suspected.  He does want to rule out toxoplasmosis, but doesn't think that is truly likely.

I would have spent time researching and worrying over nothing if I had not listened to the Holy Spirit's direction.  I would have allowed this to distract me from the most important things and made me fearful for my son's future.  Instead, God, who indeed is alive and still speaks today, wanted to get my attention for something far greater.

Two weeks ago, Alex came to me on Saturday and told me he asked his youth pastor if he could share a message for the family service on Sunday.  Alex is very helpful and great about volunteering to do things.  He has read Scripture passages before and spoken, so I didn't think much of what he was saying.

On Sunday, I watched my twelve-year-old son stand up and literally preach a message to the church.  I mean he preached...like a man. Please just let that sink into your mind for a moment.

My twelve-year-old prankster son, who doesn't really care for school, has always found himself in the thick of messes, and I thought may not have a serious bone in his body, stood up in front of a room full of people and preached about Jesus Christ!

He has dealt with a bit of a speech problem all his life and went to speech classes to overcome it.  He still can get all tangled up when trying to get something out, but on this day, on that stage, he was anointed and his tongue was indeed loosed!  He had points.  He spoke without notes.  He read Scripture pertaining to what he was speaking about.  He even had an illustration where he called up a friend who put on a backpack and ran around the church.  He likened the backpack to the burdens of sin, shame, and guilt we carry and how Jesus died to take that all away.

When I say I sat there stunned in awe, I am not exaggerating in the least.  I mean, come on!  Alex is our boy who has never seemed to fit in and for whom we have always been concerned. We have a hard time knowing what is really sinking into him and what he is thinking.  And here he was...glorifying God and spouting out all these things that had been put into him for years!

When Alex was in my belly, the Lord told me he would be like John the Baptist preparing the way of the Lord.  A few months later, we moved to South Carolina and a pastor from our new church came to visit our home.  He asked if he could pray for us before he left, and as he prayed, he said, "This baby you carry will be like John the Baptist."  Years later, another person told me they looked at Alex and the Lord spoke to them that he would be like John the Baptist.  Just the Friday before last, Alex went to a service for youth and the speaker told him he was like Joshua and John the Baptist and would prepare the way for the Lord.  Clearly God wants us to understand that Alex has a call to speak forth for Him. 

His name, Alexander means "defender of mankind," and Stephen means "crowned one."  Many people don't believe that meanings of names mean anything anymore, but God sure shows differently in His Word.  When I was pregnant with him, God kept speaking "Zane" to me.  I looked it up and found that it means "the Lord is gracious."  Alexander was the baby God gave me after an unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage.  Yes, He is so gracious. 

We thought we would call him Xane, but when he was born, I kept hearing "Alex."  After his last eye appointment, I kept hearing "Xane" again.  Then his youth pastor was talking with me and he said, "There is a definite transformation going on in him.  I feel like he needs a new name!"  I just cried as I explained.

My Alexander Stephen is definitely courageous like Joshua.  My Crowned Defender of Mankind will go out on a limb to protect others and defeat an enemy.  He certainly has the boldness of John the Baptist, often not caring what is thought of him and willing to stand alone just like Stephen.

I wish I could adequately express the things I have treasured up in my heart about my boy.  I know I watched him step forward into his calling as a man on that Sunday.  I wish you could have seen him too.  I wish I could sit and talk with Mary and Elizabeth.  I bet they would understand what my heart feels and my intellect cannot articulate.

God is good.  He is faithful forever, and He knows our end before our beginning.  God has a plan for each of us.  How great is our reward when we seek Him to follow it.  Never put God in a box that makes you feel comfortable.  Never doubt how He works or wants to do things.  He is a God of surprises and over and over in His Word we see how His ways confounded the wise who thought they knew otherwise and how He did things that didn't make logical sense.  

He is still doing those things today.  If you choose to not believe that, you lower Him to being no different than a carved wooden idol on a shelf.  He is alive.  He speaks.  He moves.  Move with Him.

Still Growing :)

I am sitting at a coffee shop with adults!!!

Well, sure...that isn't a huge deal for many of you out there, but for me this is new and so fun and relaxing!

It is Tuesday and on Tuesdays I now get some time to just be. (Do I hear all the mommas applauding?)

This year marked our tenth year of homeschooling.  That means Garrison is 15 now and in the 10th grade.  He is taking some classes at a local cottage school one day per week. From 9 until 12, he has integrated world history and geography, worldview, music, art, literature, and composition.  He breaks for lunch at noon and has a study hall until his chemistry class from 2-3:30.

Meanwhile, Alex and Trey hang out all day with my parents.  My mom is a great teacher and loves spending time with her grandsons, so I asked if she would teach them on Tuesdays.  She was more than happy about this, which frees me up to get other things done and have some chill time.  The boys have their math, vocab, and language arts work to do on their own, and with my mom, they are studying Shakespeare stories, poetry, geography, history of the Middle Ages, and anything else Didi feels like tackling.  Last week they even had some fishing and boating lessons with Poppa!

After what was probably our bumpiest first week of school ever, we have now settled into a routine.  Garrison is getting used to a much heftier workload that will have him well prepared for college.  Time management was his biggest obstacle over the last two years, and the lessons he is learning now will be invaluable for the rest of his life.  Challenging and interesting, the material his classes are covering is proving to be just what he was missing.  He is able to participate in peer discussions and present papers and opinions, while getting feedback from someone other than mom.

I am still (and hope I always will be) amazed at how God directs our steps.  There were some things the Lord laid on my heart going into the homeschool convention last spring, and through a series of events, several things intertwined.  One day later in Garrison's future I will be able to share these things and show the glory of God in how He directed us for Garrison's specific path.  I will say that I have had to fight through much anxiety and concern over some of these steps and trust God with the process, but now I am seeing the "why."

God has stretched me through my sons so many times over as they have grown.  I am so thankful that He always knows what is best even when we do not.  I know one day I will look back and see all the puzzle pieces fit together into a beautiful picture.  Maybe then I can share our story with others and comfort them in the journey because sometimes it sure is hard to trust what you cannot see.

Besides all these classes Garrison takes at his cottage school, he also has geometry and Spanish at home, while continuing in mixed martial arts classes, playing bass guitar at church, and learning how to drive.  He is doing very well, but he is definitely one tired teen!

I will end this post with Garrison's first paper of this year.  Ignore the underlining and numbers; those are just markings for his teacher.

Answers to Existence
[1]Every non-Christian man possesses unique presumptions about the existence of himself and the universe. [3]Unfortunately, because he is terribly erratic, man can never arrive at a legitimate understanding of whether or not his beliefs fit reality. [4]Wavering back and forth between his ideas and the actuality of the world, man becomes tired. [1]Therefore, he finds an in-between point of balance where he can rest. [2]On this point he can protect and conserve his beliefs from blows by the truth of the world.  [1]Despite this sense of balance, a non-Christian still holds many questions which he desperately needs answered.  [3]Sadly, man’s flawed and incomplete beliefs cannot be used to produce results that fully explain the reality of existence.

[1]Although man has no answers to his questions on existence, there is one source which provides perfect and satisfying solutions to his problems. [1]This source is the God of Christianity, and He has provided clear revelation to us in His book, the Bible. [3]Surprisingly, man usually denies these answers, because he would rather rule himself than be ruled by an all-powerful God. [1]Nevertheless, the person is not un-savable. [2]By carefully nudging him toward the sensible deduction for his presumptions, a Christian can help him notice that his beliefs stand completely against the actuality of the world, and that he has a huge need for God in his life.  [1]However, Christians must ensure that their true motive for using this technique is to rescue a person from enduring and suffering through eternity in hell, because if the person still rejects God, he will be left with more unanswered questions about reality than he held initially.