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Blessings Beyond Our Expectations

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There is a prevalent assumption in our culture that we all have the right to have healthy, happy, perfect babies.  Often expectations are the greatest enemy of gratitude.

dsc_8199When Melody was born and we found out she had Trisomy 18, it necessitated a painful surrender of all expectations regarding the future of our baby.  We had to surrender the little girl we thought she was.  We had to surrender whether our sweet baby would ever eat, walk, talk, etc.  In fact, we had to surrender her very life as we did not know how long she would live.

It was excruciatingly painful to surrender the future of our precious daughter.  I listened to the song “I Surrender All” innumerable times, shedding countless tears.

That was a heartbreaking experience.  Yet the beautiful fruit of surrender is often the freedom to have a heart of gratitude for every blessing that follows.  Nothing is a given.  We genuinely rejoice in everything Melody does no matter how insignificant it may appear to others.  In fact, we count every day of life with her a blessing.

dsc_8316We pray for wisdom, and the Lord keeps giving it in abundance.  Our gratitude runs deep for the people who have benefited Melody’s life thus far.  We are especially grateful for Sandra Coulson who helped transform Melody’s breathing in a substantial and life changing way. (Details here)

Six weeks ago God directed our steps once again in an extraordinary fashion.  We found a remarkable chiropractor, Dr. J.  In the short amount of time we have taken Melody there, Dr. J has had a significant impact on her life.

melodys-back-curve-1At one time Melody had pronounced scoliosis. Her spine was shaped like an “S”, as you can see from the x-ray taken of Melody prior to going to Dr. J.

Six weeks into Melody’s adjustments her spine is almost straight.  This has not been without significant positive effects in other areas of her life.  The spine has profound ramifications for the whole body.

When Melody was first able to sit up, we certainly rejoiced.  Yet, due to the structure of her spine, her version of sitting up was only for seconds.  Then she would topple.

About five weeks before Melody saw Dr. J, she was still only able to sustain sitting for about a minute or less.  We did not push the issue as we did not want to unnecessarily strain her already compromised spine.

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Melody’s remarkable posture after about four weeks of going to see Dr. J

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When we give Melody a little support she can take some impressive steps.

Within about two weeks of going to Dr. J, Melody was able to sit up for ten minutes.  She continues to be able to sit for sustained periods of time, and she is stronger on every front.  Her sitting, standing with support, and even her efforts at walking (with our help) have all improved.

Ever since going to Dr. J, Melody is making connections in her brain that were not there before.  For example, Melody’s eating abilities have improved.  She eats only pureed food.  Within a couple of weeks of going to Dr. J she instinctively started chewing her pureed food.  That is significant step towards her being able to chew food with texture.

dsc_8312Melody is making new sounds.  She does not speak in words yet, but articulating new sounds is a noteworthy development towards forming words.  One day she was sitting in her adaptive stroller watching her oldest sister play piano.  She burst forth with “la la la”.  Up to this point the only consonant she has been able to speak is the “g” sound.  Given the history behind her name, we think “la” is a magnificent new sound for her to make. (See Two Melodies) Perhaps she will bypass talking and go straight to singing. 😀

We have hope that amazing things could be on the horizon for Melody.  Perhaps Melody will walk someday, and I can assure you that if that happens there will be an abundance of rejoicing in our home.  However, we can honestly declare that even if Melody does not walk any time soon, every one of us in our family would certainly be honored to carry our little love wherever she needs to go.

I can imagine that it is inconceivable to some, how a little girl who does not walk or talk could be such a source of joy and delight to a family.  It is inexplicable.  We certainly could not have fully appreciated this concept prior to experiencing it.  We all genuinely deem Melody a gift of immeasurable value.dsc_8324-2

As Thanksgiving approaches we pause to reflect on the joy and freedom that ensues when we walk surrendered with regards to expectations.  God can bring beauty for ashes, and only He can take our brokenness and transform it into blessing beyond measure.  We are thankful that God has chosen us to be the ones blessed with this invaluable little treasure of a daughter.

We are thankful beyond words for all that God has done in Melody’s life over the past year.  He truly is the source of all wisdom! (Colossians 2:3)

We pray that you have a blessed Thanksgiving that is overflowing with gratitude to the amazing God of the universe who loves and cares for us as a shepherd does his sheep.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

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We are seeing Melody’s sweet smile quite often these days. She has been exceptionally happy!  We are immensely thankful for Dr. J’s contribution to this.  Melody’s sweet little personality is quite endearing to say the least.

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Melody used to have trouble sitting in her rocker for very long without sliding off. Those days are certainly over.

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Now she can not only sit in her rocker, she can stand behind it!

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She still loves reading books.

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Melody is having quality time with her duck.

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Melody can stand now for a longer duration than she ever could before.

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In this picture Melody is attempting to master the art of standing while bending over to kiss her duck at the same time. Apparently she likes a challenge.

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Team Work: We are deeply grateful for Melody’s precious older siblings. They have all invested in Melody’s life, serving her so gracefully, fluidly, and cheerfully. They care for her with such tender and loving hearts. We are thankful for the ways God has worked in their lives through Melody to produce remarkable depth of character. They will never be the same since Melody came into their lives, and I mean that in every positive respect.

 

With Thanksgiving upon us, our children wanted to share some of the countless reasons they are grateful for little Melody.  See the sweet video below created by Nathan Johnson:

 

We have come across several resources that have encouraged us immensely since Melody has been born.  The brief video below is one of our favorites.  It is powerful indeed.  It illustrates beautifully the principle of gratitude.  It is our understanding that Rafael, the baby in the video, had Trisomy 18.

Comments 16

  1. Sandra Coulson

    What a lovely way to start my Thanksgiving! I am thankful for all of you. Your sharing is so very special. To see the progress she has made is just amazing. Your loving and caring family is such an inspiration. Thank you for including me in your ‘Grand Adventure’.

  2. Colleen

    Thank you for sharing Jen! My great niece was born in September and had to have surgery to disconnect her airway and tracheae and she continues to aspirate. We are so grateful she is home after so many days in the hospital yet uncertain of many things. Your words of wisdom are so appreciated as we pray and count each day a gift. Bless you friend. May our Lord Jesus continue to be your strength!

  3. Julie Cunningham

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! What a wonderful, inspirational thing to read and to look at all of the pictures on this special day of giving thanks!
    You are all an inspiration! May God continue to bless your lives. You are such a blessing to others.

  4. Jean & John

    Happy Thanksgiving to our dear Son, Daughter-in-law, Granddaughters and Grandson. What a beautiful testimony to the Greatness of our God. Jenn, I truly identify and agree with your sentence: “We are thankful that God has chosen us to be the ones blessed with this invaluable little treasure of a daughter” and I would add Granddaughter to the end of it. I am continually in awe that God has chosen us to share in the blessings He is lavishing on your family and by blessing you He is blessing us as well. We are so proud of you ALL!!!
    All our Love, Mom & Dad

  5. Gloria Bosma

    Thank you for sharing your precious Melody with the world. Her life is giving hope to families around the globe. I rejoice with you on Melody’s recent accomplishments. The sky is the limit and all glory is given to the Lord. Happy Thanksgiving to a family who truly understands the meaning of gratitude. You are so loved!

  6. Cyndi Dionigi-Huffman

    I am so pleased that you found Dr. J. Such an amazing difference a straightened spine has made! Your gratitude family has grown in such an amazing way.

    The videos are both beautiful and most inspiring. Melody has the perfect family members to love, encourage and share their lives with her. And she is the perfect gift!

    La-la is just the beginning. Can’t wait to hear what she says next.

    Blessings to all,

    Cyndi

  7. Peggy Primiano

    I’m proud to say Dr J is my son in law.
    I know that he is an extra special doctor !!!!
    He has the talent and caring to do a lot of very special things !!!!!!!!!!

  8. Ron and Patty Schmitz

    What a blessing to share in the good news of Melody’s progression!! You all are truly the best family she could have! May the Lord continue to care for you with His immeasurable love.

  9. jan mcnellis-king

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful video and update. What a blessing your whole family has been to us. Prayers for God’s continued work in your lives. We love you.

  10. Linda Dorough

    Hi All. Thank you for the blessings of Thanksgiving and being able to see your family friendly pictures. I love seeing her improve and know she will get better as time goes on
    God bless you all as we approach Christmas
    Linda Dorough Berendt

  11. Nancy Kuenn

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love your family and am blessed to know each of you. God shines through you in beautiful ways!

  12. Dan and Nadina Scarlett

    Thank you for sharing the story of God’s mighty hand through the life of Melody and His handy work
    day by day. She is so blessed to have a family like you. It truly is beyond expectations, as that is the
    way the Lord always works, beyond expectations. To God be all the glory.
    May the Lord continue blessing each of you and continue working beyond expectations through Melody’s life.
    We love you

  13. Beth & Bud Stoudenmire

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful video of Melody and her awesome, loving family! It brings tears to my eyes to see her great progress. Her back straightening out so much is just wonderful.

    You have such a wonderful family, and I know our Lord is watching over all of you.

    Blessings to you all, and; Merry Christmas Bud and Beth

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