Monday, December 24, 2012

Emmanuel! God with Us

It's been a great year with Sara, here are some pics of how life has been for her and us over this past year. Hope you enjoy!

At her sister's birthday party. This would be the quintessential definition of the "Sara Smile" Anyone who knows her, knows this well. She is one happy kid.... err...uhh.... as long as life goes her way. She is also very much a 3 year old!

Playing outside with one of her favorite people in the world - Emma Grace. She now calls her two sisters - "my girls" as in "Where are my girls at?" or "I can't wait to tell my girls" and I would have to say they are awesome big sisters.

Morning quiet time with mom - Bible, coffee, Jesus, what else do you need? Sara is an early riser and usually at high volume from the word go. So quiet is not always possible.

It's spring, it's a hammock, it's Abigail, what more could a girl want?

Jennifer caught Sara standing in church one day like this while we sang. She was mimicking another lady in our church a few rows up. She is a very good mimicker, if that's a word.

It's getting warmer and getting time to play in water, yeah!

Sara is a world class traveler. Driving 1800 miles for vacation - she honestly did better than all of us.

One of the many special people who have helped Sara live and thrive from day one. Ms. Shelly was Sara's speech therapist. She was a blessing to us and Sara as were her other therapists. One day Shelly was trying to get Sara to do a skill and Sara simply told her - "That's just to hard for this tiny baby girl" I kid you not - she says stuff like that every day. She has us laughing all the time. Pray for Shelly and her organization as they press our state to continue funding this vital service for families with special needs children.

 Again, her sisters are fabulous about spending time with Sara.

 I was so hungry, I ate the whole thing! We remember being told early in Sara's life she may never eat or have severe food allergies, etc.. Well, she loves to eat and has no allergies so far. She prefers rice dishes and meat. But she was asked recently what she wanted for Christmas more than anything else and her answer was -  CANDY! 

She wanted a braid like her sisters so her hair stylin' mom (amateur only) made it happen and notice the results - braid sticking straight out. But for the kid who had her head shaved 3 times in her first 9 months of life she has rebounded well. More curls than we know what to do with and one of her favorite things to do with the curls is pull them straight down and let them "Boing" back up.

We do have some teeth issues to deal with, but we have a highly specialized dentist on the ball advising us on treatments.

Far and away Sara's favorite food is french fries. She loves them. This would be the week Mom and Abigail went to summer camp and left Dad with these two rascals. She could not come home fast enough for me, but we made it.

More summer fun!

Yes I am about to ride this ride with mom and oh how happy I look now. But that won't be the case soon. We discovered at the fair and later at Disney World Sara hates rides. Talking with her therapists we are discovering her sensory issues. Anything that moves her, is loud, chaotic rooms filled with noise, loud music, rides, etc. she wants out. Now! 

Hanging out with mom and dad at a pumpkin patch place. Fun Fun! Notice her face on ride with mom, not very happy. We were just beginning to learn this.

Carving my first pumpkin

 More summer fun with my girls!

 And don't forget about Buddy! He's a great dog, very smart. He knows exactly how to act around each person and with Sara he is very cautious and gentle around her. 

This fall Sara discovered the joy of puddle jumping. Always been one of her sisters favorite things to do after a rainstorm. Jennifer put her boots on and Sara walked up to her first puddle and started to walk around it. Jennifer said, no, you can walk right through it. Hmm, Sara must be thinking, she always tells me to walk around, now I can walk through.... Hmmm. So she sticks her toe in the puddle, then her foot, real slow and cautious. Then Jennifer says, go ahead and stomp. And she did. And she squealed and giggled. And then she went to a real mud puddle and repeated the process. The end result was the video below.

 Hanging out with my cousins and Aunt Jayme!

Disney World Vacation with Jennifer's Family
 Making silly faces with the cousins

 Keeping this cousin in line!

 One of Sara's favorite things to do in DW - push Jessie around in the stroller while "her girls" rode rides. She genuinely loved doing this.

 Notice my favorite french fries and sitting like a lady while I eat. Remember I said she is a great mocker. 

 Resting and loving on Paw Paw

 Waiting for food in DW with my cousins and Uncle Jon. I think I was off getting a loan to buy lunch.

Sara and her girls meeting Mary Poppins and Ariel

Now this was her favorite and what I would give to go back and have a video camera going. While Sara hated all rides at DW including trams, buses and trains, she loved meeting these characters. She had done great with the characters who were obviously real people, but had been nervous around the costume characters. Until she saw Jesse. Right before it was our turn Sara asked Jennifer (more like told) to put her down and then literally pushed Jennifer back so she could go meet Jesse by herself. She walked out had this long conversation with Jesse and of course the person playing Jesse was just cool and kind and patient. Very very neat. Now the funny thing is, Sara has never watched or desired to watch any Toy Story movie. She only loves Jesse because her girls love Jesse and have dolls and share them with Sara.

More Various Snippets

Proud of her Christmas ornament she made!

Playing a duet with her cousin

The kid loves sweets

She also loves dressing up - serious

and silly

We had a summer membership at a local athletic club and Sara loved to swim in their pool as well as in our kitchen. She would put this on and then shimmy on the floor to pick up diving rings like her girls do in the real pool.

I C U!

Hanging out at church with one of her buddies.
One of our girls favorite games, let's see if we can make dad code blue. I'm not complaining.

Going out to check the mail with dad.

A blessed Dad and Mom. Above is me just returning from a week doing mission work and sharing the gospel in Nicaragua. Below is my vote for wife and mom of the millennium. Ok, I'm biased. And she will kill me when she reads this. I call it blogger's privilege.

So, how is Sara doing other than all these happy pics. She is doing great. Don't know how she could be doing better. In the last year every aspect of her physical, cognitive, speech, sensory, everything has improved by leaps and bounds. She still is behind what would be called normal for a 3 year old, but she is able to communicate effectively, especially to those who know her and are patient to wait for her to speak. She has total understanding of any and everything we give her and her memory continues to amaze us. She won't need a shunt extension at least for a few more years. She is hardly ever sick, sleeps great, eats well, is tons and tons of fun and a great joy to all her know her. Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to pray for her continued development. 

I originally started the blog when tragedy struck our family with Sara's early and difficult arrival and the difficulties she went through in her first year. If you don't remember, and sometimes we so quickly forget how far God has brought us, click here here and here. It was intended to get the word out with out having to handle numerous phone calls when we were spending so much time at the hospital. The blog became an opportunity to give glory to God for His sustaining grace and provision through this trial and it continues to be a place to praise Him for His many numerous works and wonders in our life. I don't know what form it will take in the future, but when I go a year with no update I know it troubles some who want to keep up with Sara. Maybe I will try shorter more frequent updates. 

Anyway, being with Sara as her dad all the time I forget the impact her life has made on some and how her story has helped encourage the body of Christ. Case in point, this story below from my older sister and her family last week. She said I could share this with you. This is as she shared it to us by email:
We (family) have been doing a little unit about the Names of Jesus this Christmas...We have these ornaments that I printed out and a little guide where we look up scripture and talk about the name and what it means and we made a Christmas tree and we put them on has been really fun and we have learned a lot.  So we were wrapping it up and I had purposefully saved Immanuel for last.   My desire is to so make this amazing Jesus real to them.... so we are talking about how Isaiah prophesied that name in a time where the  people were really kept separate from God by the law and the priests etc.... but Jesus  came and changed all that and he is here WITH us. And the Spirit just moved in my heart and I said guys I want to tell you a story about someone who this name of Jesus means a LOT to.  And I began to tell the story of a momma who had a very sick baby that the doctor's at times wanted her to give up on and told her things like she would never walk or talk or love or understand who anyone was.  And day after day she went to the hospital to see her sick baby and  day after day she carried thoughts and ideas...will she be okay?  will she grow up?  will she be healthy?  And when she was too tired to pray and too scared to think and too depleted to do anything else she would hold her baby and whisper Immanuel.  She would drive to the hospital and think Immanuel.  she would lay in her bed at night and she would say Immanuel.  Because she knew that if she didn't know anything else....she knew Immanuel...God is here with us. I said that baby was Sara Rose and that momma was your Aunt Jenny.  and God is real and Immanuel is the most important part of Christmas....if you never get anything else about Christmas you need to remember God is HERE with you no matter what.

Could not have said it better myself. I hope and pray you are celebrating God coming from heaven to earth at Christmas so he could live, die and, rise and bring us from earth to heaven with Him. He is worthy to be praised!!


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