Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ryan's Birthday Through Emily's Eyes....grab a tissue!!

My beautiful Emily with her prized vintage find.  Emily has been busy writing essays for college and scholarship applications.  I am more and more amazed with each new essay.  I'm working on her about sharing some of the others but she agreed to let me share this one.  For her college English course, she has a creative writing assignment where they were challenged to be very descriptive.  She chose to tell about Ryan's birthday from her perspective as a 10 year old.  Sometimes I forget just how young she was.

Because Ryan's heartrate would come to a complete stop with each contraction, I was rushed into an emergency surgery.  Unfortunately, Emily was left with the hospital staff until Wes could arrive.  Here is what she experienced.

I thought this was supposed to be a fun day. I thought the excitment alone from this moment was supposed to start a chain reaction ending in fuzzy home videos, tears of joy, and a sloppy wet kisses from my grandparents.

I sit alone in this desolate waiting room over powered by the smell of sterilized needles and lit up with flickering exit signs that seem to be screaming at me to take the hint, “exit!” I wipe my sweaty palms across the rough texture of my jeans and try to make sense of the 10,000 thoughts bouncing around my head like a pin-ball machine. Attempting to calm myself I tap my feet to the rapid beat of the heart monitors, but unfortunately I am not successful at ignoring the Brady Bunch that is so happily interrogating me and offering me sugery red peppermints. When I make a run for it I see him, my little brother.

He seems to be slipping through the nurses’ hands and my ears are pierced by the deafening silence. He isn’t moving. He isn’t crying. His life in this world has come to a stand still after just seconds. His chest is caving in deeper and deeper with each breath, like a marathon winner trying to stabalize his heart rate after running 20 miles by breathing through a straw. I look through the finger-print stained glass at this tiny body that is supposed to be my brother. Finally, I see his chest raise and he lets out the most beautiful cry.

They have been inseparable since that day.   She is his biggest fan and he is hers, next to Mom of course.  The year is off on the picture; they were taken in 2005, almost a year and a half after he rocked our world.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

James, Our Early Christmas Gift

We absolutely love the Christmas season. No matter how tough things seem to be, the season of hope stirs our faith. In fact, when I feel a sudden surge of faith, hope, and joy I tend to start humming Christmas songs, even if it happens to be July.  So, this year on election-day we elected to start the Christmas season early, after voting of course. While my husband was at work and the kids were home from school, we pulled all of the decorations down from the attic.  Just seeing our decorations reminds me of a wonderful angel of a guy we met one year while decorating. Here is his story.

James, Our Early Christmas Gift

With Christmas coming I decided (actually my husband decided for me) that today was the day I needed to weed through some toys. No big deal, or so I thought. As I began to sort out the ones that he had technically outgrown without ever using, it began to tug at my heart. I love my little guy and he is absolutely perfect in my eyes but it breaks my heart to think he is missing out on his childhood. I thought I was fine until Wesley asked me what I was doing. Then came the tears; I felt foolish and quickly snapped to.

Several hours later we met this wonderful, precious, angel of a guy. His name is James. He knocked on our door at about 7:40pm. I opened the door expecting to see my brother who is six feet tall. Instead, I found James - a little tiny man, maybe 17 years old, 4’ 5”, big blue eyes, slightly crooked posture, and the most sincere face I’d ever seen. He stood there in the cold wearing tennis shoes, jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and ball cap.

He hoped that he wasn’t bothering me; typically sales people absolutely bother me but for some reason he didn’t at all. He was working towards earning points for a contest for people with disabilities where they would be given the opportunity to obtain a $5,000.00 prize to start their own business. In a low voice he whispered, “Ask me how.” I did and he loudly proclaimed, “I’m glad you asked!” I know it sounds very much like a typical sales pitch but it just didn’t feel like it at all. I laughed and invited him in, which I never do.

Instantly he had the undivided attention of the whole Howell family. He had his little list of magazines. Unfortunately, you had to buy at least 36 issues and that was more than we could afford. But that was ok with James because he was just enjoying getting to know us. He pretended to be proud that he could instantly spot a biker, my husband, and then grinned and said the black and orange Harley Davidson jacket also helped, quickly adding that he was adoptable. He stayed about 15 minutes since it was cold outside and the company would be sending someone for him at 8:00.

He asked if there was anything fun to do in the area and we made a few suggestions. He asked about bowling alleys and my husband explained there was one about two miles from our house. I was even more impressed - you see his bones appeared to be slightly twisted and he walked with a limp. I wondered if I would have even tried to bowl.

Still feeling badly that I couldn’t buy a magazine, I asked if we could pay for a couple of games of bowling. He said, “Ow, thank you but I can’t. You see that’s called panhandling and you can go to jail for that. I’m way too cute to go to jail.” That he was!

He asked my husband if he had an extra toboggan and, as God would have it, he and our daughter had found one in the attic just that afternoon when pulling down the Christmas decorations. James put the toboggan on and said that if he ever won a million dollars that we would be the first ones he thought of. He said, “I’d probably just give it all away. Who needs it anyway as long as you have love? God bless you!” and out the door he went.

After he left we were all speechless and just smiled at each other, knowing we had been blessed by meeting this very special person….and I don’t mean special needs person - just Special. As I sit here and type, I wonder how often his mother must have prayed for her baby boy’s body to stand tall, straight, and strong. Often enough I suppose since his character is definitely standing tall, straight, and strong. But then I can just hear James saying, “Who needs straight bones as long as you have love? God bless you!”

Maybe God sent this angel to show me that if Ryan could he might tell me, “Who needs to play with these toys as long as you have love?” God made Hebrews 13:2 very personal in my life that night.


I wish James knew what an impact he had on me. His faith and hope were contagious and I hope ours is as well. Maybe so since one week after starting our early Christmas season my brother sent me a text saying, “Look what you started.” Love ya Little Brother!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Do I Have Enough Faith?

Many times I’ve wondered if I just didn’t have enough faith for Ryan’s complete healing to arrive in a great suddenly. Others have wondered as well asking, “Are you fasting? Are you tithing?” But in our defense, His word does tell us that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed then nothing is impossible. It also tells us that He is no respecter of persons; He doesn’t play favorites. And He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So why is it that this mountain seemingly can’t be moved? Much like any other lesson, He answered it with another question – an enlightening, ahhhhh question.

What takes more faith, an immediate healing or a healing that comes in His perfect timing - even if that perfect timing is months or years down the road? His Word tells us that Jesus healed them all regularly, though they were of varying ages. Some, like the woman with the issue of blood, waited years and were healed as adults while others, like Jairus’ daughter, were healed as children.

As time has gone on, I think that it isn’t so much about having enough faith to make something move immediately. It is more about having enough faith to wait, enough faith to believe through the waiting period, enough faith to ask and keep asking, knock and keep knocking, seek and keep seeking.

I must confess that I dropped the ball many times on praying for healing. I felt like God was going to do what He was going to do. Maybe even worse, I stopped looking for that healing. It was too devastating to continue going up for prayer and feeling a sense of rejection on the way back to my seat. But as I was listening to a song last week one line has continued to ring out. “Could you not keep watch with me?”

I kept picturing my Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane in anguish about the debt He was about to pay for our salvation and healing, Ryan’s healing. I was ashamed that I had lacked the faith to continue watching.

Going forward, I will continue to watch, pray, ask, seek, knock, and thank Him for the healing that IS coming in His perfect timing.  I am confident that as I watch, and wait, I will see Ryan's little body continue to go from glory to glory just as I will continue to see my faith go from glory to glory.

Thank you, Lord, for paying the price for doubtful and sometimes bitter children!!  I love you!

Thank you all for continuing watch and pray with us. I pray that God will revive your heart’s desire and give you strength to watch with Him and walk it out........