I see God in the way that Larissa has stayed with Ian through this. I don't know the future; I don't know what the Lord has for her. I wouldn't be at all bitter if she decided it was time to move on. I wouldn't at all begrudge her that course of action. But, right now, I see the Savior in her devotion. I know she's a sinful person created by God like me, and I know she's limited in her capacity for devotion...unlike God. Yet God allows her to reflect himself through her care and devotion for Ian.
God is limitless in his capacity to remain devoted to me though I don't deserve his care. I sin against him time and time again day after day, but the Bible says that his mercy never comes to an end. Even if I had never sinned against him, compared to God's infinite nature we're nothing that he should consider a treasure. Yet, that's exactly what the Bible says about those who have offered their feeble, limited devotion to him. "What is man that you are mindful of him or the son of man that you care for him?"
Larissa's devotion directs my attention to the Savior. It is a glimpse of Christ. If in saying this, I've caused your mind to dwell on her devotion, I've messed up. If in any of our posts we have directed attention to ourselves, we have messed up. When we see Larissa and Ian together, we should not be amazed by her devotion and love. Instead we should be pointed to Christ, amazed by His love for us and the miracle it is that we can reflect even a portion of that. Please don't insert comments in response to this post with high praises for her because this is not about her or myself or my family. It is a pirture of Christ's devotion to me. Christ's devotion to me as I reflect on it from the vantage point of heaven will no doubt take my breath away. I don't deserve it, but I'm amazed by it.
Larissa, Caleb, Devon, and I will be at our church's annual youth camp this week. The week includes lots of worship, sermons, and talking about God. There are also lots of sports during the day. Larissa and I are counselors, and Devon and Caleb are campers.
Ian was a camper at this camp for eight years and a counselor for two years. Youth camp is where God began to show the truth of Himself to Ian. In his teenage years, Ian really benefited from youth camp.
Let's pray that this will be the last year that Ian won't be there as a counselor.
(Pictured is Ian and some friends at youth camp several years ago)
Ian has had an incredible week at therapy and at home. His sessions at the hospital on Thursday and Friday were really, really good. He was doing literally everything the therapists were asking him to do, from raising his arm to lifting his leg, to saying yes and no with nods or shakes. On Friday when I was with him his therapist was most impressed when he kicked a ball as it was rolling to him- three times. He saw the ball coming and knew when to kick. That's a pretty high function cognitively.
Ian has been reaching out for things and people quite often. He's just communicating a lot better. He is consistently clearly shaking or nodding his head instead of blinking. Tonight I was thinking of how we've been praying that he would start eat more and show facial expression, because progress in those areas naturally leads itself to talking. Over the past few days, he has eaten something for every meal and has shown a lot of new facial expressions- including a lot of smiling (if you couldn't tell from the last pictures I posted.)
Something's changing in Ian. I hope he breaks through the surface of this soon. I have to guard my heart though, because everything could be different tomorrow.
We've been realizing lately how hard it must be for people to understand Ian's condition now. We get questions from many of you that have brought us to that realization. I'd like to try to summarize his condition for you, so that you can pray more intelligently.
"Coma" was the word we used to use to describe his condition, and, although I think he would still be classified that way, because people tend to associate the word with a kind of sleep, it isn't a helpful description anymore. He's awake most of the day; he wasn't months ago. He is somewhat responsive to us now (mostly to Larissa, to Mary and to Bill) through a long blink for 'yes' and some facial expressions; he wasn't doing any of that before. He is eating some by mouth (maybe 5-10 bites at a meal) supplementing the feeding tube in his stomach; he wasn't before. He is able to look at things and people and to respond to some requests. He doesn't speak at all.
He is still in a wheelchair, though physically the only thing that limits his capacity to walk is his fused knee. Apart from the knee, there isn't anything physically that limits him (e.g. his eyes, voice, joints, muscles, etc., all are physically functional). His face looks the same as it did before. But, we have to care for all of his physical needs, because he can't care for himself.
His brain, the thing that controls every movement and the thing that was most affected by the car wreck, is what limits him today. It must be very challenging for him to deal with the fact that he can process things in his surroundings, but he can't respond to them. That's the focus of his therapy sessions: helping him respond to people and to his surroundings. He is continually working on strengthening his arms and legs. Last night, he was able to reach both arms into the air at the same time. He is working on standing and walking with the help of therapists and machines. He is working on holding his head up. In speech therapy, he continues to work on his eating along with developing a consistent form of communication. They tell us that if he can consistently eat by mouth it will strengthen the muscles that will help him talk again.
It's hard to believe when I put all this in writing. Some of you only know Ian the way he is now, but that's not the Ian we remember. We miss him.
After posting this, I decided that I should add a disclaimer. Ian doesn't exactly love Sullivan County (where I grew up). He can appreciate its beauty (when I force him to) but after a few hours there he's pretty bored. If it weren't for my family being there, I don't think he'd ever visit. My mom bought him this shirt for Easter- I'm assuming partly as a joke and partly serious. If only they still sold those really nice Sullivan County t-shirts with deer and bears on them at Jennings....those would be more appropriate for Ian. Because he loves hunting and fishing...?
Ian has been doing well lately. He's had good work-outs with Bill this week and has been participating in therapy at the hospital. He's been eating much more often too. It's so good to see him motivated to do things.
I recently had a revelation on a very obvious truth, but God often reveals those truths to us when I most need them. When I look to future situations and circumstances and environments that I know will be really hard and full of temptation, I've thought "God will give me grace to get through it." And he will. But that doesn't mean that it will be easy. God's grace meeting us doesn't mean that things won't be really sorrowful or full of grief or even enjoyable. It's such a simple truth but I'm not sure how well I've grasped it in the past and I still struggle with it now. It's a hard truth to swallow- I want things to be easy. I still don't understand why everything has to be hard now.