Paradox

I love the contradictions found in Scripture. Once they frustrated me, but now I find them fascinating; freeing.

The virgin birth. A King born in a trough. Die so you might live. Light in darkness. Jesus as fully God and fully man. Freedom with restraint. Re-birth. The Holy One suffers a criminal’s death. Love your enemy. Give to receive. First is last. Last is first. Empty yourself to be filled. Alpha and Omega.

One such paradoxical passage is found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” Matthew 5:4.

“Blessed” in this verse can also be translated from the Hebrew word, “esher,” to mean “happy.” Hmmm…so when I’m at my lowest point, my most vulnerable state of despair, that’s when I’m truly happy? Seems cruel. Maybe it’s the contrast that creates the fulfillment of these emotions. Maybe I cannot fully experience happiness or blessing until I have tasted sorrow. Maybe my smile is brighter because I’ve mourned. Perhaps the one emotion heightens the other.

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We were just babies.

My parents bought me a cooking class at Central Market (gotta love Texas grocery stores-shout out to H.E.B.!) for my birthday several years ago. Joey and I chose a spot in the back of the classroom. We were the youngest students by about twenty years. IMG_1189We tasted some yummy dishes that day–seared scallops, gazpacho, tuna steak and escarole, lemon soup–but the culinary tip I remember most was that the best recipes have a beautiful balance of acidity and brine. Lemon and salt.IMG_1195They need each other. The one ingredient accentuates the other–they play off each other to create harmony in a dish.

I need happiness to appropriately mourn, and I need sadness to fully rejoice.  I think mourning matures our faith; it tempers the levity in our lives. Like capers and orange zest. Parmesan and lemon.

Though exhausting, unnerving, and oftentimes crippling, the sorrow I’ve experienced in the past two years has created in me a deeper, more authentic sense of blessing, happiness and gratitude.

Finn is my best teacher. He sure knows how to be happy. Hope this short video of his laughter brings you joy.

Finn in Swing from Joey Armstrong on Vimeo.

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He’s Back

We left the hospital late Friday morning. Finn was more irritable post-op this time around. It worried me a lot. Joey and I are working through those feelings of confusion, sadness and frustration as we face the reality that our son is not “healthy” and that his life will undoubtedly be riddled with medical trials. We are confronted with a new fear that multiple shunt revisions will cause permanent damage to his brain and alter his otherwise normal mental development.  Questions about the purpose of prayer and God’s sovereignty loom in our hearts as we navigate our own version of faith in the midst of trouble.

Thanks for praying for us when we’re not sure how.

On Saturday morning, our joyful baby Finn was back. Video to prove it:

Changing Table from Joey Armstrong on Vimeo.

Sit.

Our Sooner Start therapist separated the yellow carbon copy from the white and handed me the former. It was Finn’s report card. “Finn still struggles to roll over and sit without assistance.”

Still struggles. Big sigh.

I was in a funk all day. It was true. And it’s okay; not all six month olds can sit or roll over even with the help of legs to provide a strong base. But I just got the sense that this will be one of many, many reports that Finn is behind; failing.

I can’t allow the world’s evaluation of me or my child to have much clout. It can’t define us. Just because I was a better bench-cheerer than second base-woman doesn’t mean I’m not an athlete. And just because Finn can’t sit alone just yet doesn’t mean he’s a failure.

Enjoy his precious attempt in this video. (Turn volume up now.)

Finn sits and falls from Joey Armstrong on Vimeo.

Nice Legs

This week we began to see small movements in Finn’s legs and hips. He is always in a prone (froggy) position, however, so it’s difficult to notice. The last couple of days, these movements have become stronger and more pronounced. He certainly has movement in his lower extremities. This is a huge answer to prayer!

A sweet physical therapist with a very soft voice stopped by today to examine his mobility and teach Joey and I how to stretch and strengthen his legs. She was encouraged by the suppleness of Finn’s joints and his full range of motion in most every position. He should just need some help along the way. Too bad they don’t offer infant yoga. He’ll need therapy. Possibly a walker or ankle braces. Perhaps a sporty little wheelchair for long distances. I would be lying if I said I haven’t pictured him strapped to Jersey’s back to cruise around the house and backyard. Wearing a cowboy hat. Of course, we won’t know what he needs for sure until he attempts walking and standing. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s strengthen a quad muscle. This kid’s legs are going to rock.

Check out the clip of one of several kicks Finn performed for us…we caught the end of it, as it always goes when recording something important.

Continue praying:

  • Neurological development–a strong, clear mind and the ability to interact socially
  • Smooth transition out of the hospital, hopefully soon
  • Continued de-swelling of the brain (it’s currently stable)
  • Perseverance and rest (if only mental) for Joey and I

Leg Kick NICU from Joey Armstrong on Vimeo.

Hiccups

Finn in NICU from Joey Armstrong on Vimeo.

Finn’s progress had a bit of a hiccup today. His head circumference stayed the same, he was really fussy, and he didn’t really want to finish all of his feedings. I fought the urge to prod him to drink the remaining 5 ml’s of his bottle, just so we can get out of here sooner. But then I realized that if anyone deserves to have a rough day, it’s him. He’s endured and conquered a lot these past twelve days. Let him be grouchy.

So I decided to divert your attention instead to one of our favorite happenings post-feeding: his hiccups. (Be sure to turn up the volume on your computer/phone). Enjoy!