This Sunday we are dedicating Jack at church. Child dedication at our church is an opportunity for Chris and I to publicly commit our desire to raise and submit Jack to God's will and raise him according to God's Word. We have been talking about what verse we would like to choose for him and Chris shared Joshua 1:9. After reading it again and again, I couldn't help but reflect on who Jack and Luke's Daddy is, and why he chose this verse for Jack.
I have mentioned a few times just how strong Chris has been with everything that has gone on with Jack. There are numerous times I find strength from my conversations with Chris. There have been a few particular conversations that stick out to me. One being the second day of Jack's life. I could tell that Chris just needed to go for a run. After almost 7 years of marriage, I know when the guy needs to run. A few of my friends were going to be coming to the hospital and I actually told him that it was time for him to run. (He runs 5-6 miles a day...and it's not just a jog...it's a hard run) Later that night when the visitors had left, he told me that on his run he realized that he GETS to raise Jack. He says to this day he knows the exact spot and house he was in front of, the point in the run where he just got this overwhelming feeling of peace and affirmation that he is so proud to have Jack as his son.
Another conversation that I was so encouraged by was when a few coworkers willingly came over to babysit Luke and Jack so we could go on a date. We headed out to a resteraunt and had such a great conversation. It amazed me that through the 4 weeks of Jack's life, I had had so many conversations with others that I found myself finally checking in with him and how he was feeling. I asked him what he envisions Jack to be like when he is older. As thoughts of difficulties flooded my mind, my sweet husband had this comical senario in his. He told me that he is so excited to see what Jack's personality is going to be like. He said, "You know he is going to have a little bit of both of us in his personality and sense of humor. I am imagining him entering the CDC (the daycare Luke goes to) and seeing the preschool teacher, Mr. F, and watching Jack extending his fist out so Mr. F could pound it." Oh my goodness. Are you serious? Here I am thinking of all the help I will have to provide to Jack and my husband is across the table imagining our little guy giving fist pumps to his preschool teacher. I love this man.
I received an email from Chris (from work) on April 24 (one month after Jack was born) and it was regarding journal articles that Chris had been reading about research done on children with Down syndrome. For those of you that don't know, Chris loves learning. He just recently finished his Ph.D in Applied Kinesiology from the University of MN. So reading journal articles excites him, and especially if it is in his area of interest. These articles were written on Treadmill training on children with Down syndrome and their gait for walking. Not only did he read the articles, he email Dr. Ulrich at the University of Michigan to talk about his findings and what he can do with Jack. This email went out during the heart of the semester for both of them, finals, presentations, etc...and Dr. Ulrich called him back. The two of them talked in their Ph.D language ;) and after 20 minutes, Chris hung up the phone with excitement of what exercises he can do with Jack. They talked about Dr. Ulrich's latest research, on an infant's walking reflex, and how to maximize muscle contraction in Jack right now. As a Mom, I can't tell you how much those first initial emails meant to me. The stress lifted off of me. To know that I am not alone in trying to help Jack be as successful as possible, to have a spouse that is just as determined (actually he is MUCH more) to defy the odds and to celebrate the accomplishments is the best gift. I am challenged and encouraged by Chris.
(Chris and Jack working hard...sorry it's sideways...didn't know how to turn it)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Chris coaches hockey at the college level and the head coach and Chris meet with players frequently and talk with them about things much more important than hockey. They talk about adversity, integrity, being men of character, their relationship with God, and so much more. Chris said that he told Charlie that all of those meetings that they have had with players was God preparing him for a time when we received Jack's diagnosis. Lean into it, choose joy, and praise God.
This verse is suppose to be for Jack. His life verse. In a world that doesn't always accept those with disabilities, I often get discouraged thinking about how people will treat my sweet Jack. I have to admit that the more and more I read it, I think it is a verse that I need to cling to in MY life. It's a verse that my husband lives. He breathes discipline and determination, in everything he does. Through all of this, the most thing I am thankful for is my husband's love for God. I am realizing that the reason he doesn't get terrified or discouraged is because he knows that God will be with us wherever we may go.
With Father's day this weekend, I can't thank God enough for my husband, who is strong and courageous. And pray that my boys grow to be just like their Daddy.