Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ben's Cath Lab

Dear Friends and Family,
We wanted to update you a bit on Benjamin's progress and a procedure that will take place today. We are continually amazed by God's faithfulness to our family and His healing power continuing to be at work in Ben's life. We have a wild and crazy toddler man who is constantly making us laugh, pray over our parenting, and bringing joy and smiles wherever he goes! We have been living such normal days that days like today hold lots of weight and emotions for us- but we know our God is faithful and holds every bit of this and every bit of us in His Sovereign hands.
Ben has continued to thrive after two open heart surgeries in the first few months of his life, and this past year has shown exponential growth developmentally with the help of dedicated therapists and a wonderful rehabilitation center where so far he has tested out of feeding therapy/ food school, and speech therapy! He continues with physical therapy once a week and we are amazed by his steady progress. We praise God for the therapists He has placed in our lives to further Ben's healing.
After an aggressive G tube hunger wean this past fall, Ben began eating which is an extremely complex process with unbelievable struggles, and he handled it like a champ! We knew he could eat and he has been eating- all by mouth and tube free now- for more than 7 months!
Today Ben has a cath lab where one of the excellent cardiologists on the team will coil some new blood vessels (collaterals)  that have grown out from his heart. These are normal after heart surgeries but affect Ben's blood flow and the oxygenation of the blood in his body. We are praying that this procedure will increase his saturations! Will you pray with us?
If his saturations increase to a more normal range for him, we will be able to wait until next summer for his next open heart surgery, and his g tube will be able to be removed. If for some reason this procedure does not increase his saturations, surgery will be scheduled for this summer, sometime between now and October, which is the end of scheduled heart surgeries as it is the beginning of cold and flu season (and my due date with Boone).  This would mean his G tube will stay through surgery and his recovery as weight loss is common after this third surgery and our tiny Ben weighs in currently at a whopping 22 lbs. We are really hoping his tube can come out and he can continue growing and developing and gaining weight over the next year, and that his next surgery can wait until next summer!
Would you join us in asking for precision with the procedure? For Jesus' presence to be felt? For the  peace of Jesus to wash over Ben's body as he prepares, is under anesthesia, and during his recovery? For our hearts to be abiding and trusting God's plans no matter what is decided? 
We again are so humbled by the tribe of support the Lord has surrounded us with and praise Him for each of you standing with us in prayer.
We love you in Jesus!
The Kelleys

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Abilene and Immanuel

Hello precious friends,
In the middle of so much happening in our lives in such a short amount of time I am just now realizing we never updated our blog on all that Benjamin's Glenn surgery entailed and I have not written since before his surgery. Blog updates might be easier to keep up with than Facebook posts for some of you around the world! We appreciate your love and continued prayers more than you know.

October 15 Benjamin had his second open heart surgery and was such a champ...as he always has been. Some moments that stand out to me are of course the night before surgery getting to give him his last bath for awhile and preparing his body for all he would go through, meeting with our excellent surgeon the morning of the surgery and hearing that he was definitely going to attempt Benjamin's Glenn off bypass, and another moment was carrying him in my arms up to the operating floor and the look that the nurse and I exchanged as I literally put Benjamin into her hands and crumpled into tears as we walked away trusting our Father with all the details we will never even know.


The surgery went very well, and pretty quickly. Jake and I both spent that time in the Throne Room praising our Creator who had made Benjamin with such perfect attention to detail and had allowed this path for his healing. When we got to go back and see him, his heart was as mended as it has ever been! Our surgeon was able to do the surgery off bypass (never stopping his heart during the procedure like it was for his Norwood surgery) which is only attempted in a few centers for this surgery. Ben was also able to be extubated (have his breathing tube removed) in the Operating Room. Both of these specifics we know were direct answers to prayer from so many of you. 

We spent 8 days in recovery which is pretty much record time for an open heart surgery in a 6 month old! We will never forget our first conversation with Ben's cardiologist when she shared with us that after six long months full of so much uncertainty, Ben had made it! We had made it! She was the one that shared the crushing news with us about Benjamin's heart the day we arrived to the NICU at Methodist Children's Hospital after following the helicopter that had airlifted Ben with a million questions running through our minds. It was such a blessing to hear such encouraging words from her as well. We felt like we could finally breathe again with his heart in a more mended condition. On the day we were discharged, our surgeon said the surgery had gone so well and his body seemed to be adjusting quickly to the new direction of blood flow in his body. There are many differing opinions in the medical community about when the third and (hopefully) final surgery should take place in HLHS babies. Our surgeon feels like it will be about 3 years from now which is so hard to imagine! All we had known for the first 6 months of Ben's life was hospitals and surgeries and now for around 2 1/2 years from now all we will know is HOME and less and less frequent pediatrician appointments and cardiology check ups. We were thrilled and so very thankful to hear this news. We made it home in time for Jackson and Benjamin to both be Mickey Mouse for Halloween!

About a week and a half after Benjamin's discharge, our family moved to Abilene, Texas to join the Acts 29 church planting network through a church in Abilene called The Well. Jake began serving as the Family and Connections Pastor at The Well back in October and was traveling back and forth. We were so very thankful to all be able to move together and begin to get settled in our first home. We can see through all we learned in Chad about church planting and discipleship how God clearly threw open these doors for us to walk through and serve Him here in Abilene. We have been here a little over a month now and are excited about all the opportunities we are surrounded with. 

I (Mandi) will be staying home with the boys as we still have to be so careful with Benjamin through his first two cold and flu seasons. He could be back in the hospital again so quickly as any minor complication with his lungs or congestion could turn into difficulty for his heart, so we feel it is most important at this time to focus on his development and keep our environment as germ free as possible as I care for him at home. We fill our days with g tube gravity feeds, working on eating solids which he hates at this point, and working on developmental skills as we play catch up a bit for the long months that his movement was limited and his sternum had to be protected for healing. Jackson entertains us all day long and is the BEST big brother to Benjamin. He is so gentle with him and loves to sing to him (jingle bells is the current favorite) and make him smile. I love the guys I work for! 
 
We appreciate the continued love, support, and prayers from so many of you during this crazy, unexpected life transition. We have such an ache in our hearts for our team members still in Chad, for our friends and neighbors we left thinking we would be returning, but such an overwhelming thankfulness to have experienced God working among us through Benjamin. We know He has a purpose in all of this and He is molding us through it.

Through my Advent study this season, I read a devotional written by Angie Smith a few days ago that called attention to the story of Zechariah. He was a righteous man and faithful to God as Scripture tells us. As it was his duty to appear in the temple, God knew he would follow through because he was a righteous, faithful man. God chose at that time to send an angel to appear to him and tell him news that he and his wife Elizabeth had longed to hear; they would have a son! What follows can be confusing as we wonder what God is up to in making a righteous man mute for asking questions and having a bit of disbelief at what the angel has said is going to happen. Isn't that us sometimes? Don't we have questions and disbelief?  

Angie answers this by saying, "God silenced Zechariah until he could speak from a place that could actually testify to His power from a personal experience." You see, it's not about duty, it's about true belief. I can honestly say I think most of my life I have strived to fulfill my duty in the Kingdom, tried to say the right things, do the right things, set an example above reproach, but God wants us to EXPERIENCE Him dwelling among us and live a life changed as a result of that. That is Immanuel, that is God with us, because He is always with us, surrounding us, even living within us because of Jesus coming to earth to be God with us, our Immanuel. So my "righteous duty" and constant striving hasn't been enough, and never will be. 

Benjamin is proof of Immanuel to us. I don't know if it would be possible to see Jesus' hands more clearly at work still as Healer each time I watch his chest rise and fall with a breath. I don't know if I could experience a deeper peace than we have felt from the Prince of Peace among us each step of the way to a mended heart for Ben. Born with half a heart 8 months ago, and now we are celebrating Christmas together and showing him Christmas lights on our tree and singing to him about another precious baby born so many years ago in a stable. It's truly a miracle and evidence of Jesus among us and working in our story.

Heading to Chad in a way I felt I was fulfilling a righteous duty, but instead God has re directed our paths in a way that has said, "I want you to EXPERIENCE Me! I want you to know I am Immanuel, dwelling among you. I am Intricate Creator, I am Initiator, I am Healer, I am Redeemer, I am Reconciler, I am Loving Father." Isn't He good? So faithful and true. 

We praise Him as Immanuel this season and we praise Him for the miracle it is to be celebrating Christmas together as a family of four in a new place God has led us to. We pray your family has a meaningful advent season and you can worship Jesus as Immanuel from personal experience with His power! 



For His Name and Renown and in His Love,
Jake, Mandi, Jackson, and Benjamin Kelley

Friday, October 10, 2014

Prayer Wall for Benjamin's Glenn

After two months of waiting and delaying surgery on OUR time frame, but just in God's perfect timing, Benjamin will be having his second open heart surgery this upcoming Wednesday, October 15 at 7:30 AM.

We have hearts overflowing with thankfulness that we know his diagnosis, that there is a way for him to be mended, and that he is physically ready (finally!) for this surgery. We are also thankful for each and every one of your prayers for Benjamin, and are praising God for answering our prayer that this interstage period between his Norwood surgery and his Glenn would be un eventful. He is so faithful! He is so Sovereign! He has provided time and time again, and still, like He has been since before the foundation of the world, He is holding Benjamin in His loving hands.

We wanted to include some information about Ben's congenital heart disease called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) for those of you who are interested. The following videos explain his diagnosis and repair through a series of heart surgeries.

HLHS
http://youtu.be/DcbiHP6zvus

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/hlhs.html

This time at home has been precious. Jackson is in love with his little brother and Benjamin adores his big brother. It has been such a strange season of isolation after learning so much about the benefits of living in community in Chad, but has been a necessary precaution for Benjamin's health. We are so thankful for each day the Lord has allowed our family to fall more in love with each other and get used to what being Benjamin's family looks like! What a treasure he is to us!

For his first open heart surgery (the Norwood), many of you were a part of our 48 hour prayer wall that included the 24 hours before and 24 hours after surgery. Your prayers were such a blessing to us during such a difficult time and we would appreciate so much having your specific prayers for Benjamin again at specific times. Knowing that from ALL over the world, you all were speaking Benjamin's name in the Throne Room of our Father was such an humbling thought and we could never thank you enough for partnering with us through your prayers during that time. We saw miracles happen in those hours!

If you are able, we would appreciate your prayers again for his next heart surgery. I have included again several scripture verses that will be guiding our prayers for Benjamin during this time if you want to use them to guide your prayers as well. We would also appreciate prayers for these things:

-For nothing to be able to keep Benjamin from having surgery next Wednesday and for strength and protection from illness for all of us until then.

-For God to receive so much glory during this hospital stay with those Benjamin, Jake and I come into contact with.

-For everyone who touches Benjamin's little body to feel the healing power of Jesus physically at work in him, and for Benjamin to know and feel the peace that passes all understanding guarding his HEART and his mind in Christ Jesus.

-For the surgical team to work in perfect synchronization to perform another technically perfect surgery for Benjamin.

-For Benjamin to go into surgery strong enough, and for the procedure to go well enough that he would be able to be extubated in the Operating Room.

-For the aching in our hearts and the pain in Benjamin's body on the days we can't hold him.

-For us to be able to read him and know how to encourage nurses and doctors with decisions and help in the healing process.

-For his recovery to go smoothly and pray against infection so that it can go quickly as well.

-For Jackson as he misses his brother for many long days and as he understands so much more now than he did six months ago. Please pray our time with him would be intentional and that he would feel our love even when we are away from him.

-For endurance for all of us in the weeks that follow as we know now that surgery is just the sprint before the marathon of recovery.

The verses are listed below. We feel so blessed by our family in Christ and don't know what we would do without you standing alongside us through this difficult time. God is so good to minister to us through His Body...all of you! It is a precious thought to think of all the prayers flooding Heaven during these eventful hours in our lives, and so amazing that our Intricate Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, Father, High Priest, Savior, Healer bends His ear to listen and opens the Heavens to send down His power and His love and His peace when His people pray.

1 Timothy 1:17
"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen!"

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

2 Corinthians 1:9-11
"Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted to us in answer to the prayers of many."

2 Thessalonians 3:16
"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you."

Hebrews 3:1
"Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest."

Deuteronomy 33:12
"About Benjamin he said: 'Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders."

Ephesians 3:20-21
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen!"

Hebrews 4:14-16
"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way,  just as we are- yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Psalm 68:19-20
"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death."

Philippians 4:4-7
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

If you are interested in signing up for a time, please comment here on the blog or on Facebook to let us know the hour you would like to spend praying for Benjamin. The prayer wall will begin at 7:00 AM on Tuesday, October 14, and finish at 7:00 AM on Thursday, October 16. Thanks again for joining us for this time and standing with us in this way!

We love you so dearly in Jesus,
Jake, Mandi, Jackson, and Benjamin Kelley











Friday, October 3, 2014

Moving Forward

Ben had a cardiology check up yesterday and we are again praising God for miracles. We know each day we have with him is a gift that we don't deserve and our loving Father is holding Ben's heart and healing him so we can enjoy more days together. 

Our original plan was for Ben to have his next open heart surgery in August, but due to catching the Rhino virus again, everything was postponed until September. On September 15, exactly two months after we got to bring Benjamin home, we took him back for a short hospital stay to have a heart catheterization done and were planning on surgery ASAP. After the procedure, a respiratory panel showed he still had the Rhino virus in his system, so although his lungs looked ready for surgery, the date was postponed again until he was well. We began to let worry and fear creep in. Would his shunt last that long? Would he catch something worse while we waited like RSV or the flu? Some HLHS kids have their Glenn as early as 3 months and Ben is getting close to being 6 months old. We continued praying and trusting God's timing with hearts full of gratitude for each day with Benjamin.
God continued to remind us that he doesn't belong to us.

Yesterday his echocardiogram showed great function of his right ventricle and the shunt that was placed in his first surgery still wide open. His lung pressures are much lower than necessary for surgery even with the virus! We were given a new surgery date of October 15. God in His goodness, even through a virus, gave us exactly an extra month at home with Ben. We will have had almost as many days at home as we had in the NICU by the time he goes back for surgery and recovery. 

He will be scanned again for Rhino virus a few days before surgery, and of course, his surgery date will depend on a negative panel. Would you pray with us for a negative panel? 

We wonder if this surgery date being scheduled instead of another respiratory panel being done as planned yesterday wasn't God's protection to help Ben have surgery as soon as possible if he does still have Rhino in his system now but will hopefully be totally over it in another week and a half when the pre surgery panel is done again. We feel your prayers and know God has turned His ear to hear prayers lifted for Benjamin. He is Sovereign and on His throne through it all.

Other exciting news of God's movement among us is that our family is moving to Abilene! Jake will be on staff at an Acts 29 church plant called The Well as their Family and Connections Pastor. This has been many months in the making and praying through God's timing and Ben's health. We will move once Ben has been discharged from the hospital and has healed from surgery, hopefully the beginning of November, but Jake has already started traveling back and forth to get started. We see so much of God's hand and provision in leading us to church planting ministry here for awhile so Ben's heart can be mended while we are close to excellent cardiology care in San Antonio and are excited to apply so much of what we learned about church planting on the mission field and learn so much as we go. God is moving in Abilene through The Well, and we feel so humbled and blessed that He has led us to be part of it! As the church is planted, we will be raising our own financial support for the first two years. If you would be interested in financially or prayerfully supporting our family at The Well, would you email us? We would love to send you information! 
Mandikelley3@gmail.com
Jakekelley3@gmail.com

We would be so honored to have you partner with us as co laborers in what God is doing through this church planting movement. We know we serve the God who provides for our every need and He has used so many of you to bless us, encourage us, and support us financially in such a difficult time. As always, thank you for your prayers for our family and for sweet Ben! 


We love you in Jesus,
The Kelleys

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Hospital Time Again

Hard to believe but here we are heading into another season of hospital life with Ben. We actually had an extra month longer with him home than we thought before his heart catheterization and second open heart surgery due to a virus that pushed everything back about a month. We enjoyed every extra day!

He has continued to grow and develop and we praise The Lord for His mighty hand at work in Benjamin! Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers for us in this season.

Tomorrow morning around 10 AM Ben will have his cath lab procedure that will let us know if his lungs are ready to carry some of the work load of his heart, which is how the second open heart surgery will mend him a little more and allow his heart not to work so hard as the single ventricle that will have to last his lifetime. 

Would you pray for us in these ways?

For our family to trust the Lord for strength, provision, protection, and healing for all of us?

For Benjamin's numbers in the cath lab to show he is ready for surgery and for a date to be scheduled quickly? Ben's first open heart involved placing a shunt that might help his blood flow for about two more months, but since surgery has already been postponed due to a virus, it is important for him to have surgery as soon as his numbers show he is ready. We are hoping to be out of the hospital before flu season as babies can't have a flu shot until they are six months old, and for us to not be close to the danger zone of his shunt wearing out. His first surgery was such a miracle, but there is a time limit for the repair that was made.

For Jackson to feel our love as Ben requires much of our attention over the next week or so with his procedure, healing, and hopefully preparation for surgery?

For all who touch Benjamin's little body tomorrow to feel Jesus' healing power at work within him?

For us again to make the most of every opportunity with those we encounter to share about God's goodness, Christ's power, and His mighty healing hand?

For God to receive as much glory in Benjamin's health as He has in his sickness?

We love you so dearly in Jesus and appreciate your thoughts, encouraging words, and prayers for us!

The Kelleys

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hearts of Thanks

The past two and a half weeks have been even more of a blessing than we thought possible. We have hundreds of sweet moments in our minds now as a family of four. Moments that- no matter what the future holds- we will always be grateful for. To be able to walk through our house at nap time or in the middle of the night and give my sleeping boys as many kisses as I want to makes this mama so full of joy. Watching Jackson fall in love with Ben as much as we have fallen in love with him, and be the sweetest big brother reminds me that God gave Benjamin to Jackson as much as He gave him to Jake and I. He is just the big brother that Ben needs!















 Not only are we enjoying happy days at home, Benjamin has had wonderful check ups with his pediatrician, his cardiologist, and his pediatric developmental specialist. We are planning to have three more weeks with him at home before his next operation and praying for more great check ups in between now and then. We are praising God that he is gaining weight and thriving during this time at home.










Every night I sing a song over Ben that became one of our favorites in Chad. It's from Isaiah 43 which says, "But now, this is what the Lord says- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you: I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.' " I sing, "Do not fear" over and over again, telling Ben not to fear and that he belongs to God and can rest securely in Him, and I tell myself not to fear as I sing and pray for God's peace to sweep over me as I lay down my son thanking God with all my heart for another day with him, and begging for millions more. I think there are times in our journeys with the Lord that we all walk through fire. Sometimes, we come out like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:27 when Scripture says, "...and there was no smell of fire on them." We don't wear on our bodies the experience that we have been through. Then I think, there are other times that although God brings us through the fire without the flames setting us ablaze, we definitely smell like smoke. This experience with Ben has been one of miracle after miracle, but we are still coughing from the smoke and flames and we are wearing on our bodies the experiences we have been through. But through the flames and the smoke, He is refining us. We are experiencing Jesus in our midst bringing peace that can only come from Him.  I still hear Jesus asking me, "Do you trust Me?" just as He did while I watched Ben gasping for breath before he was care flighted, and He reminds me with that question that my boys belong to Him- they always have, since before the foundation of the world. With that thought, His sweet peace washes over me.





We have hearts of thanks to God for these precious days at home and hearts full of thanks to those of you still praying for us and for Benjamin. We love you so dearly in Jesus!





For His Name and Renown,
The Kelleys 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Home

There were many dark minutes and hours that I thought this day wouldn't come. Not like Christmas or your birthday where you feel like, "I thought this day would NEVER come!" Like, literally I thought many times that the day we would take home our Ben wouldn't come. But here it is!

Today I'm wearing the dress I wore on that day. That day where we were minutes away from taking our baby home but he ended up having some trouble breathing and all the sudden was being care flighted on a helicopter with people I didn't know to some hospital in San Antonio and we were hoping we could get there in time. That day that our whole world turned upside down and we were drowning. 

And then those days... Those long, never ending days of waking up early to drive in to visit. Days of constant beeping and a constant sea of faces and new names to know and remember- of doctors, nurses, and body parts that I had never paid enough attention to in school but now needed so desperately to know to be an advocate for my baby born with half a heart. Days of trying to be at the hospital long enough to change more diapers than his nurse that day and trying to somehow get enough rest to make enough milk for Ben because I knew how much his healing little body would need it. 

And then those nights... Those long, never ending nights of tucking Benjamin in, praying when we left the room that Jesus would stay and His angel armies would surround our baby, and being assured by the night shift nurse that he would be well cared for, and LEAVING him in a very public place with tears streaming down my face as we walked to the car for the long drive home. Nights of getting home and seeing Ben's crib at our house empty, crying myself to sleep, getting up in the wee hours to pump and longing to hold Ben in my arms to pray over him again and kiss his sweet face like nursing mamas get to do. So the dress. The dress I wore on that day that I thought we were taking Ben home... That same dress... I have it on today because we are taking Ben home. 

There is a part of me that wants to go back to that day that I had this dress on and just pretend like it never happened. The 88 days in the NICU. The first three months of Ben's life. The major open heart surgery, and the feeding complications, and the Rhino Virus, and the G tube surgery, and the Nissen fundoplication.

 But I can't.

Partly because we have more dark minutes and days ahead. Partly because we have more surgeries and complications to come. But mostly... Mostly because of His never ending faithfulness. If I skip the past 88 days, I skip His faithfulness. I skip His constant peace in such a storm. I skip His Sovereign Hand that was a still small voice almost 12 months ago urging us to have our baby in the States so he could receive the special care he would need for so long to survive. I would skip His encouragement through His Body by so many of you sending gifts, financial resources, words of love, and most importantly prayer. Romans 15:13 offers this blessing, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." 

As much as I want to pretend like it never happened, I won't. I'll remember as our God fills us to overflowing with his hope, joy and peace for the days ahead.

I'll remember precious nurses who acted like the 1/2 oz of breastmilk I spent 30 minutes pumping was wonderful. Remember the nights before Ben's surgeries, staying at the hospital with him telling him all the things mamas tell their babies, and reading to him from his story Bible praying God would bring him through. Remember the way our precious friends and family covered us in prayer. Remember our families all stepping up to this challenge and helping in every imaginable way. Remember the surges of so much pride in what a superhero we have for a son as we have watched him show so much strength. But most of all? I'll remember God's faithfulness so I can tell Benjamin about it when I tell him his special story...and then hopefully one day to his children too. Deuteronomy 4:9 says this, "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach then to your children and to their children after them."

In Ezekiel 36 God assures Israel's restoration, but he tells the people it will be a painful process. Ezekiel 36: 26 says,"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." As God has piece by piece been giving Benjamin a new physical heart, he has also been giving us piece by piece a new spiritual heart, ridding us of our hearts of stone. It's been a painful process as so much weakness, ugliness, selfishness, doubt, and comparison have risen to the surface in this trying time. He is making all of us a new creation for His glory! Romans 4:17 tells us He is, "...our God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not."

Thanks again for praying for us in this season. We are so ready to be the only faces Benjamin sees leaning over him as doctors will not allow visitors to our home during this time before his next surgery. He won't have to worry about all the different faces he has seen for so long now who had to poke and prod and prick for his repair and recovery. He will only see our loving faces and ready arms that have waited so long for this time to bond with him. We are thrilled for him to know the peace and comfort of our home, and the sweet and fun big brother (who is also a superhero!!) that has been waiting oh so long to know him. And we are so thankful that God in His faithfulness has brought us through this far. We have learned what God's will for us is through this time. It is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." We are rejoicing and giving thanks to the One to whom all praise is due, and we will be staying on our knees. Thanks for rejoicing and praising with us and for continuing to pray. 

Would you pray for an uneventful interstage period?

Pray for many sweet bonding moments as a family. 

Pray Benjamin would continue healing and that God would be preparing his little body for another major open heart surgery in just about a month.

Pray he would continue to feel the peace of Jesus at work in him.

Pray for us as a family as we start looking to the future God has for us and praying about what obedience looks like for us.

Pictures from home coming very soon! Thanks for sharing in our struggles and in our joy.
We love you all so dearly in Jesus!