"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy Birthday in Heaven Avery..."He chooses it all, not us."

Once again, I saw God at work through Rowan today, in an unpredictable, beautiful way.  I hope this story blesses you...I know it brought me to tears.

First, a little background...

Rowan and I have the honor of knowing the Canahuati Family.  Some of you may have read their daughter's story online or seen them on the news a couple years ago.  Their precious daughter Avery, was born on November 11, 2011. 

As you can see, she was a bright eyed beautiful child, a gift from God.  Soon after she was born they were given the devastating news that she was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or SMA, and would likely not make it to her 2nd birthday.  They started "Avery's Bucket List" and began creating memories, giving her every wonderful experience they could think of.  People from all over the world wrote in, offering suggestions of where they should take her and what they should make sure she got to do.  Her amazingly strong Mom and Dad photographed and journaled all of these milestones, and shared with the world on their blog http://averycan.blogspot.com. I encourage you to check it out.  You will find an amazing story of a family who made the absolute most of the time they were given with their daughter here on Earth.  Their strength through adversity was unmatchable.  Avery passed away suddenly on April 30th, 2012 at just 5 1/2 months old.  Heartbreaking, I know, but her story doesn't end there.  In Avery's name and honor, her family has done more for SMA gene research than thousands put together.  Their sincere hope is that a cure be found, and the awareness and money they have raised has no doubt brought that day closer.  Until then, her memory, and contagious smile lives on in the hearts of many.
I was so touched by their strength and Avery's story that I  made a memory quilt for their family a little over a year ago.  I was able to incorporate some of Avery's clothes and family photographs into the quilt.  I tried not to waste a single scrap of the treasured outfits her mother gave me.  I incorporated every snap, ruffle, piece of trim, ribbon or bow onto the blanket, and sewed on each applique from her tiny onesies.  I prayed for her parents with each stitch, cried over each photograph, and did my best to honor her memory.  It took about a year to finish, because I took the work so seriously, and felt so blessed and honored to do so.  I think the quilt turned out beautifully, and not because of me, but because of the beautiful memories they gave her in those few short months.  The quilt doesn't represent someone who has died, to me it represents the priceless, important, beautiful life she had.

Fast forward to today...
  Avery's birthday is this coming week, she would be three years old.  I wanted to do something to show her Mother that I was still thinking of her and praying for her, so I woke up this morning and pulled out a few more of the tiny scraps that I had left from Avery's clothes, and decided to make her Mom a little keepsake bookmark.  I made it while Rowan slept in, in the same room I was sewing in. Here is a picture of the finished product.

I made it from some of her outfits, a piece of a gown, and some of her nursing cover-up.  The snap tab came off of one of her onesies.  It turned out really nice and I couldn't wait to mail it to her Mom this week. I started to put it into a "Thinking of you" card, so I could mail it, and Rowan woke up.  I showed him what I made.  He smiled from ear to ear and said "Aww, a bookmark for Avery's Mommy.  She's gonna love it! It's for her birthday right?" Then he grabbed a book from the bottom of my bedside table and said "Let's see how it works."  He flipped to a random page, in the first book he grabbed, and here is his little hand holding it in place. 
I took the picture because I love photos with little kid hands...who doesn't:)  As soon as I looked at the photograph though, I noticed something.  The book he had grabbed was "The Power of a Praying Parent". 
That alone could have been crazy coincidental enough (especially because, and I am a little ashamed to say this...but I haven't opened that book in years, and it was covered with dust) , second, I had not mentioned that it was her birthday this week, and third, look at the words on the page he randomly opened the book to!
The page starts with ..."peace only God can give...I was almost certain I heard the mountains and hills singing"
Then it goes on to say..."I know I still have many more times ahead when I will have to release my children into God's hands"
And next it talks about the story of Hannah who prayed to God for a child and she did give birth to a son.  Afterwards she said,  "For this child I have prayed, and the Lord granted me my petition which I asked of Him.  Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord" (1 Samuel 1:27-29)
The crazy part is that I had just written in her Mom's card that I hoped she would have an unexplainable peace this week ("a peace only God can give"), and told her that I was sure Avery could hear her when she sings lullabies to Avery's little brother, Carter too.  The first few words of the page Rowan opened the book to, echoed what I had just written!
The next thing I had written was something I had just seen on a necklace in a magazine the day before, which I thought was such a sweet sentiment...I told her Mom that I hope it encouraged her to know that ..."Heaven has in store what thou has lost", that God was with Avery until she could be with Avery again one day in Heaven.  The next paragraph of the page Rowan opened talked about that exact same thing...about "releasing children into God's hands" and "lending them to the Lord".  I was blown away!
Ian had come in the room at that point too, and I asked Ian and Rowan "What are the odds that Rowan chose THAT book and randomly turned it to THAT page?"
Ian's answer was simple,
"It's Rowan Mom." 
Rowan's answer was a little different...
"I didn't open the book by myself Mom.  God chose the book, and the page.  He chooses it all, not us.  It's all part of His plan, not ours. Why are you so surprised by that? It's God!"
Once again, Rowan is right.  It is much simpler than we tend to make it.  However, I am still in total awe of the way God works, especially through this little boy, and through little Avery's life.  I am so thankful for the Canahuati's friendship and for the gift of their inspiring story.
The lesson here, try not to be so surprised this week.  It's God, and God's plan, not ours.
Thanks for the reminder Rowan.
& Happy Birthday Sweet Angel Avery!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Who wouldn't love their life?!

Rowan had the amazing opportunity today of playing a role in a short film. He has done multiple stage plays, but this was his first ever film shoot.  He was so excited.  He had to dye his hair and eyebrows brown, wear nerdy glasses, and was cast to depict one of the leads a young boy.  The shoot went great, the crew was so wonderful with him, and he had a blast.  He told everyone he saw today all about it.  Tonight, in a conversation with me, he blew me away again with his faith, wisdom and unbelievable sense of appreciation. 
"Mom, I love my life.  I'm so glad God gave it to me.  I know I say that a lot, but, I really, REALLY love my life."
"So you had a lot of fun today?""
"Yes! You know how sometimes I feel kinda bad that I don't get to do things that normal kids get to do.  Well, today was awesome, and I actually got to do something that even some normal kids never get to do...I was in a short film!  A movie, Mom!"
"You sure were hon' . What was the best part?"
"All of it, and I don't even know why people always ask that...'what was your favorite part?' Because, it's your LIFE!  I mean, who wouldn't love their life?  God gave it to you, so it's ALL my favorite...ALWAYS!"
Wow, just wow.  Once again, Rowan puts things in perspective.  Don't get me wrong. We were both thrilled about today's opportunity for him to be normal, and even more.  We were both so grateful to Nadine Mansour, Mark Aaron, Sylvia Lawrence, and the rest of the crew, for their casting him, working with him, and encouraging him during this shoot.  But, Rowan really humbles me, and teaches me to be better.  I love how he expresses his appreciation, not just for the folks involved with the project, but for the life God has given him. 
May you all appreciate your life too...and voice it.  As Rowan said "Who wouldn't love their life?"  God gave it to you:)