Friday, May 11, 2018

The Glorious Reservation

Dear Prayer Warriors,

A couple of weeks ago I caught up with a dear brother that helped me out so much the day Anna was born and thereafter. We talked about how God’s love and presence must reach Anna in such a different way because of her silence, childlikeness, and disability. I told him that she gets attentive and lights up with joy when we sing to the Lord. This brother told me that he has no doubt that the famous hymn lyric applies to Anna: “In my heart there rings a melody of heaven’s harmony.” He suggested that God is pitch perfect with her because her soul is not seduced by worldly things, rather the gracious call of her Maker fills her days. It brought me such joy at imagining how unique that must be. Anna is no angel but certainly she’s angelic in attentiveness to the Almighty.  

How many families have a four-year-old in their house that has never spoken folly, no selfishness, no sin? No breaking things, no running off, no obsession over one movie? I just read James 3 to Anna and found a radical benefit to her witness to me. She has a tongue of purity saved for the day the Healer would loosen it for His praise. What a glorious reservation.

Anna was named after the prophet briefly mentioned in the birth narrative of Jesus (in Luke 2). Anna the prophet is remarked as worshipping night and day, being constantly in the temple praying and fasting. She was a widow for a very long time, spending her time undivided in praise of God. She saw Jesus as a baby and thanked God. My sweet daughter Anna echoes her namesake incidentally, perhaps she is constantly in the presence of God, undivided never once cursing His name. Anna’s tube feeds may not give her the pangs of hunger but she is cut off almost entirely of the joy of taste. Anna is daily in prayer with us.      

This perspective of Anna communing with God is so gracious to me, God is equipping my heart as I serve her. Sometimes I peer in and wonder what our God is making through Anna -I still ask for the miracle of full healing because God is able. One thing I tell most everybody about raising Anna is that “you always (and even daily sometimes) have to reconcile the hardships of your daughter with the goodness of God.”  

Praise the Lord for:
-the month of May marking one year since Anna has been hospitalized as an inpatient, we’re celebrating!
-after writing to our Governor regarding our Medicaid insurance request for a ramp van conversion, action has been taken, the conversion has been preapproved.
-Anna doing so great falling asleep with the CPAP mask and forced air. This coming Wednesday, we will have a sleep study to determine the strength of forced air needed.   

Pray for:
-Anna to hold up her head completely and consistently.  
-her to stop chewing her hands constantly and that her wrists sores would heal.
-increased ability to track objects with her eyes, that she would persist in engaging the world around her with whatever vision she has.
-physical therapy milestones to arrive like sitting independently, crawling, walking, and balancing.
-her hip joint to form well so “the ball doesn’t leave the socket”.
-guidance regarding a surgery to install a Jejunum tube (a feeding tube to the intestine) reducing exposure to radiation.
-greater success in communication through assistive devices.
-wisdom in selecting a van, the conversion company, and the dealer through whom this long process must continue through, that we would be patient.
-another year of no illness related hospitalization.
-Thanksgiving to God for our night nurses ensuring we all get rest.

We’re honored by your service of prayer,

Nic, Lindsey, Anna, and Simon    

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Connecting over Comparing

Dear Prayer Warriors, 

As I watch and interact with Anna it has become clear to me that she doesn’t compare herself to anyone else. If Anna spent her days comparing herself to her brother Simon, i think she would live discouraged by everything he does that she doesn’t. Instead she evidences sympathy. When Simon cries a brief, hasty tear about not getting yogurt for dessert, anna will join him with an immensely sad trembling lip, crying inconsolably for minutes.  No matter how frivolous Simon’s crying is she will join him with heartache. Anna longs to connect with others not compare herself to others. Another example is when we laugh out loud because silly is commonplace around here, Anna will join us with her slight delay. There is a desire for inclusion in her. 

Comparing can be helpful at times for parents, therapists, and doctors in medical decisions. My desire is for real connection with Anna before comparison. I have come to a point of distrust in the Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) because of the lack of connection and the excess of comparison. There is an IEP tension between what people think Anna should do and what we feel she loves and is curious about. 

The assistive communication devices are the flagship for the point I’m making. Week after week we go to a therapy center and get home bound services so that a professional can assess if Anna is bumping a button with the side of her head intentionally or not. To me it is completely not conclusive, and she is proving to be inconsistent at best. The therapist insists that we need to be identical in speech, tone, and timing when presenting choices to her so Anna’s mind can choose for herself. Anna cannot hold her head up intentionally and now we are asking her to carefully tap a button? She has cerebral palsy which means that her neurological system makes her body misfire (do movements that are uncontrolled) frequently. Anna is communicating, not through a button or a monitor. Maybe older forms of communication need to be explored. 

So we need prayer. We want Anna’s days to be filled with communication so that she can connect with others not like her, with people who want to be with her rather than try the latest technology on her disabilities. That is why we love our night nurses, they are trying to be gentle and understanding of her. Whereas teachers, therapists are more of the mindset of what can I do to help her make her milestone, so they throw the books at her.

I dream of Anna also connecting daily in spiritually enriching activities. Where praise songs and Bible readings are in the air daily. A place God is encountered and depended on. Where healing isn’t the bottom line, rather the hunger is for the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit who points to Christ and the fullness of every spiritual blessing is found always. Healing is the manifest presence of God but so is His peace, and patience, kindness, gentleness, meekness, joy, love.

Where are the Special Education Christian Schools? Where is a lab of biblical faith for the disabled? Where full healing is imminent because the manifest presence of God is there. Is there a school where the tuition is paid for in prayer, fasting, and in believing God for things not seen of yet? Where Anna is educated by familiar, loving relationships with people are Christ’s ambassadors. Where research, and counsel for medical decisions are bathed in prayer and waiting on God?  

 Please pray for:

-Anna to grow close to children her age that show a desire of friendship with her
-us as we increase intentional interactions to “play to her strengths” of connecting and engaging
-Anna’s full healing through Jesus Christ because He is our life
-God’s grace to bestow growth and learning for Anna however traditional or unconventional it may be
-open doors to therapy centers/ therapists that believe God is using their gifts for His kingdom
-Anna to sleep through the night with the CPAP machine and mask, 
-the denial or approval needed to move forward on getting a ramp van
-an increase in date nights for Lindsey and I 
-the medical decisions we face about upcoming surgery possibilities regarding a separate j-tube port, and the reflux surgery
-clear direction about amending the communicative device therapies, what are other avenues of communication 
-Anna’s increased ability to engage her surroundings with her fine motor skills and vision
-a supernatural halt of Anna’s tendency to chew her wrists
-the Word of God  and the ministry of praise to be sweeter than honey to Anna’s heart, mind, body and soul

Very Thankful for your powerful prayers, 

Nic, Lindsey, Anna, and Simon

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Remembering what God did for us

Dear Fantastic Prayer Warriors,
Anna’s 4th birthday is today (yesterday) and what a unique vantage point the Lord has given us, “tomorrow isn’t a guarantee for anyone” I remember the first few days of her life when you helped us surrender Anna up to our Sovereign Father not knowing if she would make it another day, water on the brain, acid in the blood, unstable blood pressure, tubes, wires, heat lamp, and the enduring our hearts went through. Naively we knew that as believers in Christ, God wanted all of our tomorrows and todays, this trial made that surrender of the future actual. So we stopped making our plans and went with what was before us, God with us.  
I recall the prayers of faith we prayed and how some were filled with much repetition and begging. I recall the heaviness of amending the prayers as we got more and more news of Anna’s state, as the requests indicated more hardships  God was increasing. We prayed:
-for a healthy baby
-for no brain damage
-for the blood pressure to stabilize
-for the ventricles in her brain to start working
-for no seizures,
-for no surgery
-for a successful surgery
-for sucking
-for swallowing
-for vision
-for hearing…
I have learned that there is providence and grace in submitting to God’s answers to prayers rather than insisting bitterly on my way and losing faith. 
Everyday God spoke to us in His Word. I remember asking you all for Bible passages to give to us: Psalm 139 and Isaiah 40 were more than passages of Scripture they were a living shelter where a right understanding of God and our circumstance met. We lived there rent free, what a dwelling place. We were able to trust that God was bigger; having the foreknowledge of Anna’s days and ability. We were the ones totally surprised, not God. Certain Bible promises were posted on Anna’s hospital bed to be frequently before us.
During this hospitalization we found a verse that became something we committed to God for Anna’s life and our life with her its Isaiah 33:2. “LORD, be gracious to us! We wait for You. Be our strength every morning and our salvation in time of trouble.” We have prayed this verse back to God many times; it has always stood strong as a verse unto itself. However, I have learned a few contextual things that make it even more special. Here Isaiah talks of a destroyer (Assyria) coming and Judah has exhausted all their abilities. This verse is more of a prayer; Judah has come to realize (again) that God is the only one who can help them. Isaiah is pleading for God’s attributes of grace, strength, and salvation. Likewise, we have come to depend on God for those attributes regarding all things Anna. Like Judah, we feel we have exhausted all the tests, medicines, treatments, surgeries, and therapies. That is why we cry out to God so similarly. Only God will bring the healing that will encourage our hearts and will build us up in Him until that day. I find myself more interested about testimonies of God’s healing than keeping up with the Jones’ (the special needs parenting edition).  
One of the commentaries I read said that this verse reminded him to “never underestimate the power of a praying minority.” Thank you for being that minority for Anna. I sincerely have a humbling debt of great spiritual worth for all the prayers you have prayed in faith regarding Anna. We ask for more because we know that waiting on God is the only way we can be our very best for Anna.
Please Pray:
-for Anna to recover from her current illness that includes an ear infection  
-for increased ability to hold up her head,
-for the ability to swallow and keep her throat clear while she sleeps
-for approval of a van ramp conversion through insurance
-for God our Perfect Heavenly Father to be gracious to us, by opening doors and guiding our steps for Anna’s future
-for daily strength and renewal because we want to serve Anna and others in Jesus’ name
-for Salvation and its many promises to compel us onward with great joy
-for Anna to know the company and love of Jesus so deeply because of her perfect childlikeness 
Thanksgiving has been on my heart all day in regards to the blessing that beloved Anna is. Sharing with you is genuinely joy-filled, All glory and Praise to our God.  
Year 5 here we go!
Nic, Lindsey, Anna, and Simon

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Ye Blind Behold Your Saviours Come

Dear Praying Warriors,

I’m filled with faith at the joyful task of giving you e-mail updates. It makes me pause in thanks, think about Anna’s needs, and humbly ask the ever-able Perfect Father for more with your help. I admit these prayer updates are harder to write when things are continuing to flourish. We have been delighting in her good respiratory condition, her cheer is unmistakable. We are making the most of this good weather by being outside often. Praise the Lord for this extended time of ease in Anna’s caregiving. Nonetheless I would love to turn the Lord’s gracious ear with your help upon a few things.

Anna’s “tone” or spasticity is increasingly challenging to live with. Often when we hold her she will flex backwards aggressively with her head breaking out of our holds. We need the strength not only to carry her but to counter her stubborn tone extensions. She has been on muscles relaxers but we wonder if the medication needs to increase.  

Anna’s hands and arms have been increasingly tight, she doesn’t want them touched. She gives us a fussy protest anytime we dress her (it didn’t used to be that way). Her range of motion seems lessened because she spends 80% of her waking hours chewing her wrist and knuckles. Her wrists have skin tears that have become infected at times. No matter the ointment, they can’t restore those sores. So we reluctantly use arm straighteners to prohibit the chewing so that her skin has time to heal. Her face is constantly with a rash from this self-soothing rubbing.

There is an increasing spiritual hardship that comes upon us as parents from seeing the maturation of Cerebral Palsy. We know from research that Anna’s joints, bones and muscles will start hurting more and more, and be deformed; Thus needing greater medicinal interventions, difficult medical decisions, and surgeries. In our hearts we surrender, we rally around God’s plan for Anna. We focus on taking Anna “as is” but when “as is” becomes worse than what we previously accepted, it hard to be at peace with it.

Help us recommit to remembering the journey as God guided our steps, the miraculous answers to prayers. Intercede with us for full healing to our interventionist God. Most importantly because Christ lives in us, may we not ruin our witness to the host of people watching by taking matters in our own hands. I say this in humility, may God use our family the show “Christ in us the hope of glory” amid our circumstances. In truth we are overcoming the suffering and trials only by Jesus’s peace. Aren’t parents at their best to be a channel of God’s grace to their kids?  

Please Pray:
-For Anna to adjust to the C-PAP machine and mask (it’s going really well), that it would be graciously accepted as a new nightly routine. We rejoice in the benefits it would bring.  
-For Anna to stop using repeated motions or tone to move her limbs (AKA bad neurological connections).
-May God grant His healing over Anna’s fingers and wrists from the flesh wounds and compel them to ability. Anna’s fine motor skills are hard to watch (she is inconsistent at grasping and holding anything in her hands as desired).
-For our heart brokenness as parents to be transformed into faith by Jesus Christ when we see Anna’s physical struggles turning into more hardship. She is on loan for sure and God has purposed Anna for His glory and her good.
-For Anna to see, for her to speak, for her to sit unassisted, to walk

Praise God for her eyes working even better, for no sicknesses. Bless the Lord for the extensive support we get from our government, insurances, and medical professionals. Thank you Lord for her continued good sleeping.

We sang Oh for a Thousand Tongues to Sing at church last weekend. Although we didn't sing stanza 12 its the one that make me think of Anna, I wanted to share it with you, sing it if you know the tune:)

"Hear him, ye deaf; his praise, ye dumb,
Your loosen'd tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Saviour come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy."

Happy New Year,

The Currats

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Glad Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Dear Prayer Warriors,

I realize this may not be news to you but be affirmed in your faith because our gracious God has plans for Anna. She is the recipient of answered prayer, the receiver of miracles, and so loved by our Perfect Heavenly Father. God has granted us many days of Anna flourishing, she has been healthy for nearly 2 months. Anna hasn’t needed to utilize her strength or personality to fight off afflictions. She is able to concentrate on things that promote growth and ability. Even her surgery a month ago was swiftly recovered from reaping benefits instantly, praise God. Anna has been sleeping through the night for nearly 10 days.

In Physical Therapy, Anna’s been propelling herself in her crawling device several times each week. She hasn’t even fussed about getting in it. Anna has been taking independent steps in her walking device too. She spent all of Christmas eve dinner in her stander pleasantly occupied. How awesome is all of this?

Anna shows so much promise with her assistive communication device. Honestly it’s a struggle to get everything set up so we don’t do it enough, but Lord willing we will grow a language of communication that flourishes Anna’s personality and choices more. I can’t wait.  

I was holding Anna during nap time a couple of days ago praising God with her and realizing just how well things have been going. What a fresh, clearing mindset this was. It made the “eyes of my heart” fixate once again on Jesus. I wasn’t caught up praying specifically for Anna’s situation like an open airway, or the removal of a virus, or anything other specific affliction. I was praying with broad brush strokes based on the Characteristics of God, on what Jesus did. As I held Anna’s stubborn left arm attempting to straighten it, the Spirit reminded me of that man with the shriveled hand in the synagogue on the Sabbath. “Stretch out your hand!” is all Jesus said to that man.

In this day and age talk is cheap, but God’s talk is the opposite. Stuff happens as He speaks, that man’s hand was healed at His word. I asked the Lord to give Anna that same command, “Stretch out your hand Anna!” What wonder and awe filled me as I placed the possibility of this at God’s feet in prayer. I didn’t stop there, I prayed for Jesus to command her legs to walk, her eyes to see, her lips to speak, and her mind to have no damage. It was a joy to be able to ask for these things again.

May Anna continue to draw people to the Lord by her quiet witness and through her intercessional needs. What a gracious blessing it is to be the father of a girl who causes me to direct my thoughts to the Lord when I am with her. There is wholeness and healing for all the burdened, the afflicted, and the heavy hearted in the tender hands of Jesus.    
Christ came for you!

Merry Christmas,
The Currats

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Calm and Collected

Dear Prayer Warriors,
After communicating the 6 pages of discharge directions to our overnight nurse, Lindsey looks at me with a bit of fatigue showing and says "its been a blessed day." I certainly agreed. From the plans coming to fruition to the tortilla soup in the cafeteria, all of it was one peaceful step in front of another. Everything was completed an hour ahead of schedule and Anna woke up without needing any extra oxygen. Lindsey thought to bring the blankets from home for added comfort and by 6:30 we were home. Simon greeted us with an outstanding welcome, he had a blast with Aunt Christina.
With these full days the Spirit has been showing me what it means to press onward. In difficult situations when emotions can run high, I'm reminded of my access to Jesus' peace and how unique it is. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid" John 14:27. We can only walk and deal with the things before us. Faith for today is not enough faith when our trials come quicker. We need that peace moment by moment. Jesus' peace is always available, alleluia. It is anchored deeper on something deeper than emotions and its not circumstantial like this shifting world, its been sturdy since eternity past. Its the kind of peace that is often accompanied by a biblical promise, a blessed dream or a verse that is perfect through our storms.
Praise God:
-For the replies of encouragement we received from you and daring faith you place in Christ. Your intercessions edify our steps. 
-For a great Bronchoscopy that showed a normal amount of saliva and no aspiration. Her condition of Tracheomalacia was improved to a less than 50% collapse when coughing. God is strengthening her lungs. Pray for healing because we suspect she has chronic partial Atelectasis.
-The endoscopy showed damage to the esophagus, he shared the images with us and we could clearly see how at the bottom the lively pink color was a dull matte pink. Pray for wisdom to treat this problem. We are waiting to change thing until the biopsy come through.
-The dental stuff went well, the tooth came out easily and clotted. they cleaned and found no other dental issues.
-The botox injections will take effect in the salivary glands in the next two days. Botox who knew.
The journey continues but we are grateful we have your prayers interceding to a limitless God.
Nic, Lindsey, Anna, Simon