"Our Little Trooper"

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Pregnant? Twins?...Only God!

We have some friends.  Friends that God brought us together with through a set of very tragic circumstances...the loss of their infant daughter, Avery.  We have become very close since then.  Rowan dreams of their baby girl, I made them a memory quilt from her pictures and baby clothes, Rowan draws them pictures, has given me messages to help them heal,etc.  They are so grateful for his connection, and in turn they constantly pray for him, encourage me, and love and support us greatly.  Since Avery's passing, they have been blessed with a handsome, healthy son, Carter, and have recently been trying to expand their family further.  We have prayed for God to bless them...and our prayers have been answered.

Rowan did a painting for this family recently that has ended up being one of the most powerful pieces of art that I think he has ever done, or will do.  It revealed a message from God, that neither myself, nor their family,  expected or could have predicted.  A beautiful message of hope, life after tragedy, and joy beyond measure.

Rowan awoke from a dream about 2 months ago, and immediately start describing the dream to me.  He told me, "Mom, I had the most beautiful dream.  I was on a beach and I saw Avery, and she was holding her brother Carter, and Carter was holding another baby...but I couldn't tell if it was a boy or a girl...God didn't show me all the way."  Then he said that Avery wanted her Mom and Dad to know that she was happy they were trying to have more kids, because she thought they were such great parents.  She wanted them to be happy, and she wanted them to have more children.  Then he told me that he saw other tiny angels up in the sky above the beach, and that they were watching over the ones down on the beach.  The way he described it sounded amazing!  He was beaming from ear to ear as he told me about it in great detail.  Then he said that he wanted to paint a picture of the dream and have me send it to them, so they would get Avery's message.

Rowan painted that picture, and it was gorgeous!  He used his thumb prints to make the large pink heart on the bottom (Avery), then he made a smaller blue heart above that (Carter, Avery's brother), then he used his pinky, first dipped in pink paint, for one side of the heart, then dipped in blue for the other side of the heart.  He also used his pinky to make 5 more tiny hearts up in the sky above the sunny beach.

I mailed this painting, along with a letter explaining his dream, to Avery's Mom and Dad in November, just before Rowan and I left for Seattle Children's Hospital for 2 weeks.  That's when things started getting crazy.  First, Avery's Mom messaged me in Seattle when she received it.  She thanked Rowan profusely for the artwork, and told me "you have no idea how much this means to our family".  Now I know that is something that people say when they are trying to be nice, or want to really emphasize their gratitude.  However, Laura meant it, she really meant it...I just didn't know how much, yet.

A week or so later, while Rowan and I were still in Seattle, I received a second text message from Laura.  This time it was just a picture, but talk about a picture being worth a thousand words!

When I first saw the picture I burst into tears.  I called Rowan over immediately and showed him too.  He fell to the ground, grabbing his head, nearly hypervenilating with excitement.

The family that we were staying with were dumbfounded, thinking "What is going on?", "Is everything ok?", etc.  It took me a few minutes before I could compose myself enough to even speak, to be able to explain to them the miracle that I was witnessing.

See. Rowan's painting had a lot of symbolism.  Not just things that he wanted to symbolize, but things that God was actually revealing to him, and in turn, to Mike and Laura.  After Laura and I had time to discuss all the details of the painting, I was floored, absolutely floored.  There were more revelations in that dream and in that painting than I had ever imagined.

First of all, Avery telling them that she wanted them to have more children was a blessing, her telling them that she was happy and that they deserved it, was an answered prayer.  Then, Avery holding Carter, holding another half pink / half blue heart, was actually a family portrait of sorts.  See, the sonogram was of the twins that Laura was currently carrying... a boy, and a girl... half pink...half blue.  And as if that weren't amazing enough?!?!  The five tiny hearts made from Rowan's pinkies, that were in the sky watching over the others...well, that had significance too.  Mike and Laura had 5 miscarriages.  They had additional 5 tiny angels up in heaven, looking over their family on Earth.

Think about all of this.  Let it all sink in.  

How could Rowan have known that they were pregnant?  
How could he know they were going to have twins?  
How could he know it was a boy and a girl? 

They live in another city.  At first (when Rowan had the dream), they didn't even know they were pregnant or what they were having.  Then, (when they received the painting from Rowan and the explanation of the dream), they knew the amazing news, but they had not told anyone yet!  

There is just no denying God, or Rowan's connection to Him, when you hear this dream, see this painting, and read this story.

Rowan and I could not be happier for their family.  We are honored to call them friends, and blessed beyond measure to witness the miracle that is their growing family, both their earthly family and their precious angels in heaven.

I pray this post blesses you, gives you hope, and fuels your faith.  

Dreams do come true.  

God does perform miracles.  

Life does go on after tragedy. 

Joy can be restored.  

And we, like Mike and Laura, have angels in Heaven watching over us.

Avery Lynn Canahuati

Please add the Canahuati family to your prayers.  Pray for an easy pregnancy for Mom, an unexplainable peace for both Mom and Dad, a smooth adjustment for big brother Carter, and perfect health for the twins.  Thank you!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

"What I can't do..." by Rowan Windham

Rowan had the honor of meeting a very special lady this past year, State Representative Susan King.  The first time they met was at Camp Mabry in Austin, on the day that Rowan was honorarily inducted into the Texas National Guard.   She presented Rowan with a Texas flag that had flown over the Capitol Building.

A month or two later, she invited him back to Austin to the Capitol Building, where she honorarily had him sit on the Committee for Defense and Veterans Affairs with her.  He opened them with the Pledge of Allegiance that day, and even got to hit the gavel to open session, on the floor of both the Senate and House of Representatives (monumental!).  During that visit, Rowan left Representative King a note on her desk in her office, that said "Rep. King, Make good choices. Love, Rowan"  She loved it so much that she read it on the floor of the House.  They became true friends that day.

The two have remained friends and pen pals since that day.  She sends him get well cards when he is in the hospital.  He paints her pictures or sends her art that reminds him of her.  She loves red (as you can tell from the photos:), and every time he sees a piece of art that is predominantly red, he says "Oh, Susan King would love this!"

Two weeks ago, Representative King came all the way from Abilene to see Rowan in one of his performances in Peter Pan at Woodlawn Theater in San Antonio.  She was involved in theater as well, and is a big advocate for the arts.  We were blown away that she came all that way, and Rowan was so proud to perform for her.  She brought him a very sweet military bear, that was holding both the Texas and the American flags, and wrote him the nicest note.

As we left the theater that night, we walked and talked with her on the sidewalk, and Representative King told Rowan, "I want you to write me a letter someday soon, and tell me what you can't do."  We all chuckled, but Rowan said "Okay, I will."

In the car on the way home that evening, we asked Rowan, "So, what can't you do?"  At first he didn't know what to say.  Then he came up with the following list, which we mailed to Representative King this past weekend.  It probably isn't the list she was expecting...but it is undeniably "Rowan", and if you ask me, it's perfect!

I think everyone should make a list of the things they can't do.  But I also think it should look something like Rowan's list... (with a positive spin:) Thank you Susan King for giving Rowan the assignment.  Thank you God for giving Rowan his amazing outlook and appreciation for life!

What can't you do?  
Think about it...
but think positively!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Keeping her memory alive...

While walking through the fabric store recently Rowan and I caught site of a beautifully carved little wooden bird ornament.  He and I both stopped to look at it, and I could tell we were thinking the same thing.  It looked just like a bird that he had drawn and painted in God's hands earlier this year.  It was to comfort friends who had just tragically lost their full-term little girl, on the day she was born.  Rowan had dreamt of God holding the precious baby girl in his hands, and woke up telling me that I should tell her Mom and Dad a special message: "God doesn't have all of us in His hands, he has each of us in His hands."  It was such a simple, yet profound thought.  He wanted them to know that God knew her, knew her name, and was holding her personally, in His own two hands.  Here is the picture that he painted for them last Spring, to depict his dream and the special message he had for them.

We also sent them this picture and little ceramic bird, back in April, to remind them that God had her in His hands.

When we saw this bird ornament last week, Rowan and I both knew that we needed to buy it for them.  Rowan painted it with such care, and then wanted to put her initials on the bird.  He wrote it himself and then we wood burned the initials into the ornament.  I thought it was the perfect personal touch.

I mailed the ornament  to her parents and they received it today.  The mother sent me such a sweet text when she opened it, with pictures of the ornament...and a Christmas tree that they had set up, just for their sweet angel!  We did not know that they had a memory tree for her this Christmas! We had just thought they could put it on their own Christmas tree, to remember her.  But, God had other plans. Their neighbors had set up a special tree all for Kollyns and brought them personalized ornaments over a period of a couple weeks.  So, it was just perfect that they could add Rowan's painted bird to the tree too.  That truly warmed my heart.

One thing that the mother said to me today really struck me, and I feel like it's important to share.  She was so touched by Rowan remembering their sweet Kollyns.  She said: "Keeping her memory alive is so very important to us."  I thought long and hard about that statement, and my whole perspective changed.

Many of us don't know what to say to someone who has lost a child, or we may be afraid to "bring them up", for fear that we will stir up too many sad emotions.  But not talking about them can make the parents feel like we don't care, or don't remember.  Put yourself in their shoes for a moment.  Can you imagine anything worse than someone not acknowledging or remembering your child?!  It must be beyond devastating.  I can't even imagine that happening to me.  I can't imagine someone never again mentioning one of my children's names.  Let that sink in for a minute.  I don't mean to be rude or shocking, I am just trying to put things in perspective.  I want to be real and honest.  I want to help us all help our friends who are suffering losses.  

The lesson here is to talk to your friends who have lost children, bring them up, mention their names, send them keepsakes, honor the fact that they existed...keep their memory alive!  

In loving memory of:
Kollyns Grace Hyder

To read the original blog post about Rowan's painting for Kollyns go to: http://rowansstory.blogspot.com/2015/04/each-of-us.html

Thursday, December 17, 2015

"...but can you imagine what Heaven is like on Christmas!"

Rowan and I delivered some goodies to the nurses and staff at Methodist Children's Hospital this week.  They can always use some chocolate, right?  

Well, when we came off of the elevator on the 3rd floor, Rowan's eyes immediately turned to the left.  He knew right where we were, by the hospital's Memory Tree.  He asked me to push him over to the tree, and as always, his eyes sought out Chrissie's memory leaf. 

 He smiled sweetly, blew it a kiss and reached out to touch it...as he has done for the past 6 years, every time he passes by this wall.

As we started to walk away though he said "Stop Mom.  I want to say a prayer."  And he did, right there in the middle of the hallway.  

He prayed for Chrissie's family and for the families of everyone who had lost children, asking God to please heal their hearts and let them have good memories on Christmas, not sadness.  Then he told me: "I wish everybody had their whole families here still for Christmas...but can you imagine what Heaven is like on Christmas!"  Then his eyes just sparkled as he smiled and said, "Christmas with Jesus...".  You could almost see the thought bubble above his head as he imagined it.

Praying for each of you who have lost loved ones, especially now during the holidays.  May your thoughts be filled with precious joyful memories, and may you try to imagine what a beautiful time they will be having in Heaven on Christmas...spending Christmas with Jesus:)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Mommy..when I pass away, promise me you'll only think happy thoughts."

Rowan and I went to the cemetery today, to visit Julian's grave.  His family had placed a Christmas tree at the site a week or two ago, and Rowan had me ask Julian's Mom if he could go hang an ornament on the tree.  Of course Rowan wanted it to be a Captain America ornament, to honor Julian and his love of Captain America.

 It was a very rainy day, and I debated driving in to SA, but Rowan really wanted to go, so we did.  Of course, Rowan noticed that once we arrived at the cemetery, the rained stopped, and it held off the entire time we were there.

As we approached the grounds, I got a little emotional.  The Children's Garden was simply beautiful and so very peaceful, but you just can't prepare yourself enough to visit the resting place of young children.  We found Julian's marker right away, and knelt down to read it.

Rowan read it aloud, all by himself, and then looked up at me and wiped a tear from my cheek.  He looked around and noticed a few other grave sites that had been damaged by the rain and wind, and asked me if he could go fix them up (he did the same thing the last time we visited Jalene's site).

There was another family visiting their family member's grave as well, and they smiled at us through their own tears.  Rowan looked up at me again and said "It's hard for everyone isn't it, even you?"  I nodded quietly.

Rowan glanced over at the beautiful statue in the middle of the Children's Garden and said "It's Jesus!"  I said yes, and we walked closer.  It was just gorgeous.  Rowan sat next to Jesus, looking up at his face, as if he was memorizing it.

He told me that when he saw Jesus at Jalene's funeral, Jesus was so bright that he was almost fuzzy, so he was trying to get a better look now.  I asked if he wanted to say a little prayer there, and he said yes.  He stood up, held Jesus' hand and prayed the sweetest prayer.  A prayer of thanks.

He thanked Jesus for taking such good care of Julian (and Rowan's other friends in Heaven), and told him that he knew they were happy and having a great time.  He thanked Jesus for letting him visit them in his dreams.  Then, he asked him to please help their families during the holidays, to let them be happy not sad.

We walked back over to Julian's resting place so Rowan could hang the ornament he brought, which he lovingly did.

Then he just stared and stared at Julian's picture, silently.

He never got to meet Julian when he was alive, but knows his Mom and Dad now, has dreamed of Julian on multiple occasions and has given messages to his parents.  Then, he talked to Julian...just talked to him, like they were old friends.

Rowan brought his Captain America shield with him (the one that Rowan had first), and he showed it to him.  He told Julian that he wanted him to see it, because Julian's parents had also given Rowan the one that used to be Julian's.  He wanted to show him that they both had one.  He thanked Julian for letting him have his shield too, and told him he would take good care of it.  Then Rowan looked up at me and said, "He really does see this, because he's looking down on us right now."  More tears...

Rowan blew Julian a kiss,

....touched his picture on the stone marker,

...straightened up the Captain America ornament,

...and walked back over to the Jesus statue, pausing for a moment.

When we got back in the car, Rowan reached up and wiped my tears again, sat down and buckled himself in.  Then he said, "Mommy, promise me one thing...When I pass away, promise me you'll only think happy thoughts."  Total silence.  I didn't know what to say.

Finally, I told him, that I hoped I went way before him, that I hoped I would be up in Heaven waiting for him with open arms.  To which he replied, "Okay, but if you don't, just promise me...happy thoughts."

I'm sure you can imagine the emotions that welled up within my soul.  All I could do was whisper, "okay".  

I hope I never have to keep that promise.  I hope I go first.  But if I don't..."okay"...I will try to only think happy thoughts.  Rowan certainly has brought us many happy times.  God surely has given us many happy moments.  So, there will be plenty to choose from, that much I am sure of.

This holiday season, and throughout the year, I hope we can all promise Rowan this:  I hope we can all try to "think only happy thoughts".  I also wish that we all had the peace and strength that Rowan does.  He does not fear death.  And to Julian's family, Jalene's family, Chrissie's family, Avery's family, Erik's family, Natalie's family, Jordan's, and all those who have lost young loved ones, Rowan says that your kids would want the same for you... for you to "think happy thoughts".

Thank you Joe and Valerie for allowing Rowan to place this ornament on Julian's tree today, for giving Rowan Julian's shield, and for the gift of your friendship.  Your sweet Julian is still affecting others, for the best.  I know Rowan and I were blessed today, and I believe this post will touch many others as well.

I know, as difficult as it was, that I will always cherish these photos of Rowan today, studying Jesus' face...

and holding his hand...

  This is what Heaven must look like.

I hope that brings you comfort, as you imagine Julian doing the same.