Saturday, May 19, 2012

Two Years

{Today is the last day to order your limited edition Boss Your Heart shirts and enter the giveaway.  Click HERE for more info.}

Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

On this day two years ago, the unimaginable happened.  Our beloved daughter, Chrissie, went to dance with Jesus, and she never returned to earth.  We know just how Jesus feels to have the privilege of dancing with such a special princess, we just wish we could have had more dances on earth with our precious angel.  Oh how deeply we miss our Serbian Sensation.

Chrissie dancing

Today, on this second Heaven-Day anniversary, we will practice what Chrissie taught us and boss our hearts to beat in sync with His.  Instead of burying ourselves under the covers for the day, we’re bossing our hearts and doing what we know Chrissie and Jesus would want us to do.  We’re heading to the San Antonio zoo to celebrate the life and memory of Christyn “Jewelry” Patterson.

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We took Chrissie to the San Antonio zoo in November, 2010, just a few weeks after we brought her home from Serbia.

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On this day two years ago, I recall feeling carried by Jesus  here on earth while He carried our daughter in heaven.  Because of your prayers, amidst the deepest of valleys, we still felt the love of Jesus.  No, we weren’t ready for Chrissie to leave us, and, yes, the entire day (and countless days following) were completely filled with tears, BUT we still felt Jesus.  I seriously don’t know how anyone walks through life after losing a child without Jesus.  He has truly carried us, held us in His strong and able hands, and always catches our tears.  I have never felt so grateful for prayers as I did during Chrissie’s 31-day hospital battle, and during the days, weeks, and months following Chrissie’s Homegoing.  Thank you is not enough, but it’s all I have to offer.  Thank you.


With regards to prayer, my friend Kate (Joshua’s mom) wrote about prayer a few weeks ago, answering with much wisdom some difficult questions about prayer.  I felt many of you would be blessed by what Kate wrote, as I know many of us have struggled with the outcome God chose for Chrissie, especially when so many people were praying fervently for God to heal Chrissie on earth.  Please take a moment to read Kate’s message below (posted here with Kate’s permission…HERE is the original post):


Written May 4, 2012 9:25pm {by Kate, Joshua’s mom}

I had an interesting conversation with an acquaintance that brought up a topic I think is worth discussing here. The question came up of why bother praying when it doesn't seem to make a difference, anyway, and when God doesn't answer our prayers?


I completely understand feeling as though prayers don't matter. I have actually gone circles in my own mind with that one, but have come to an understanding that makes sense to me. God is omniscient & omnipresent. He knows everything. Nothing surprises him because he knows what we're going to choose to do before we ever do it. So, using Joshua as an example, before Joshua was even conceived, God knew he would be born & He knew every single thing that would happen in Joshua's life. He knew, for example, that on April 14, 2011, Joshua would experience respiratory failure. He knew, too, that many, many, MANY people would stop what they were doing & pray for Joshua's life to be spared. For all we know, God's original plan had been for Joshua to die on April 14, 2011, but because of the prayers of others, He changed His mind, way back before Joshua had even been conceived, and decided that He would grant Joshua more days on Earth rather than end his life on that day. That happened in Biblical times, you know ~ God had plans to destroy something or someone & interceding prayer by others altered the outcome (Exodus 32, Jonah 3:1-10, Genesis 18:16-33, Isaiah 38 are some examples) ~ so why would it not be something that happens nowadays, as well? I am convinced that prayer CAN and DOES make a difference in the outcome of things, so it is worthwhile to pray, especially on behalf of others who are in need. I know that sometimes, you pray & pray for someone or something, & the situation does not turn out the way you were praying for. When that happens, I understand how it could feel as though your prayers did no good (I have felt that way when praying for others). Ultimately, though, we don't know what impact our prayers have on another person's life, and even if our prayers don't alter the outcome of a situation, they aren't wasted. The reason we pray is not to get results, but to further our relationship with God. He wants us to interact with him, to know Him, trust Him & remember Him in everything we do. He wants us to play an active role in His plan for the universe, but He doesn't promise to be our genie, fulfilling our every wish.


That leads me to the other part of the question ~ does God answer prayer? The answer to that is an unequivocal YES. The caveat, however, is that prayers are not always answered in the manner we want them to be. When we ask God for something, or to do something, the answer can be "yes", "no" or "wait/not yet". We don't like hearing anything but what we want to hear, so when we ask for something like our spouse to get that big promotion or for a child to be healed and it doesn't happen, it would be easy to throw our hands up in defeat & say, "Prayer doesn't matter; God never listens to me, anyway!" The truth is, though, that God DID answer your prayer. He said, "No." As human beings, we don't like being told no when we really want something, so we get frustrated & upset at having our desires thwarted. The thing to remember is that God is always working things out in our lives for our good. That does not mean things in our life will always BE good. It means that God is constantly using circumstances to result in things that will be good FOR us. To accomplish that, He sometimes has to refuse us the things we want.


When your small child comes to you & asks if they can have ice cream 20 minutes before you are going to serve them dinner, you tell them no ~ they'll have to wait. You aren't being a jerk by not giving them ice cream (though they might think differently). You aren't being deliberately unkind. You just know that dinner is coming & it would benefit your child (ie: be for his good) to wait. I believe God works in a similar way when it comes to prayer. God does answer our prayers and, just like a good father on Earth does, He knows whether to grant us what we ask for or to make us wait or to tell us, "No." It's up to us to trust that when God doesn't give us what we want, it is because what we were asking for was not in our best interest. It's up to us to have faith that God has a good plan He is working out on our behalf & that even if His plan makes absolutely zero sense to us at the present time, He loves us more than we could ever imagine & He sees the future clearly & therefore, what He is doing is what is best for us.


Admittedly, it's difficult to accept that Joshua dying is in his best interest or for our good. I struggled for a long time with comprehending how the death of my child could, in any way, be a good thing for him or the rest of our family. What I have concluded is that Joshua dying will NOT be a good thing for us. Losing him will be a terrible thing for our family ~ the worst thing that has ever happened to us ~ but Joshua getting to leave his broken body to live in heaven with Jesus & God is the best thing that could ever happen to him. We will hurt because we won't have him in our midst to hug, kiss, tickle & interact with, but God is going to use Joshua's death, when it happens, to work out something good for those of us who must go on living without him. He is already using Joshua's story to change attitudes, to strengthen faith, to reach others & to soften hearts. Among the members of my family, we have so much more compassion toward others who are hurting because we are experiencing the pain of watching Joshua decline. God is using this journey to stretch & grow every single member of my family, myself included, to teach us things like patience, perseverance, thankfulness & to increase our faith & trust in Him. We spend more time with Him because we are forced to lean on Him when we lack the strength to take one more step on our own, & because of our circumstances & the challenges we are going through, He will be able to use us more, as time goes on, to help others. God doesn't want Joshua to suffer, but He allows it for a greater purpose, and though this is not anything I would have ever chosen to endure, nor would I have ever wanted my child to be forced to walk the path he's on, I still trust that God has His reasons for allowing it & I still hold onto the knowledge that God will bring blessings out of this pain and that one day, I will understand why.


I want everyone who is praying for Joshua to be healed to know that their prayers will be answered. God could choose to make a way for Joshua to live a long life on Earth, or He may choose to transition Joshua from living here with my family to living with Him in heaven. Either way, Joshie will be healed. I want people to recognize that truth because if Joshua's healing takes place when his broken body dies & his spirit ascends to heaven, I desperately do not want the people who have been praying for him to feel as though their time was wasted because they didn't get the outcome they were praying for. I want people to know that their prayers matter... so many times, I have felt an indescribable peace surrounding me when there was nothing peaceful going on & I should have been falling apart. I know that it was because of prayer that I felt that peace. When a crisis occurs, I post something here & on Facebook asking for prayer because I KNOW that people are faithful to respond & I can FEEL the difference in my own spirit when people are praying. Maybe that sounds hokey to someone who has not accepted Jesus into their own life, but it's completely true. I have felt such concern lately that there might be some who lose faith when Joshua dies & I don't want that to happen. Every prayer offered on Joshua's behalf has mattered. It has made a difference. He's still HERE even though there have been several times when there were medical professionals telling me they did not think he would survive "this" hospitalization. I am convinced that God's original plan was changed at least twice in Joshua's life (thus far) ~ the first time being on November 12, 2008, when Joshua had a tethered cord surgery that we had gone into KNOWING he would come out of it with a paralyzed right leg.  Instead, his neurosurgeon was given the ability to do things she had never done before (literally) & Joshua came out of that surgery not only moving both legs, but fully detethered for the first time in his life. The second time was when he went into respiratory failure April 14, 2011. There is no explanation for why his brain stem suddenly began working perfectly again, but if it hadn't, he would have died that day. There really is nothing that will convince me that the prayers of everyone interceding for my son did not make a difference. And because of that, it would make me incredibly sad if anyone became disheartened if God does not see fit to let Joshua stay here. Please know, no matter what happens, God is good. He loves us all. He has marvelous plans for each of us & He'll make beautiful things come out of even the most ugly, painful, awful situations if we give Him time to work things out. It doesn't mean we won't still hurt & be sad when our world falls apart ~ believe me, the day I have to begin living without my Joshiebear by my side will be the worst day of my life ~ but it does mean that we do not have to live without hope despite the bleak circumstances we're facing, and that can be what enables us to keep going, and because we all belong to the family of God & can pray for each other, we never have to go through the hard stuff alone. I have said it many times before & I am sure I will say it many times in the future, but the sentiment remains sincere ~ thank you for praying for my little boy & for my family. Thank you for caring about us & thank you, especially, for helping us to bear the load that God has us carrying. It is a comfort for me to share Joshua's unfolding story with you.



Now I’d like to add, in closing, that back when I wrote about Joshua originally in 2011 (HERE and HERE), I was writing what I had been told by another family.  And that family had shared with me what they thought to be true based upon what they’d read and heard about Joshua.  And what Joshua’s mom, Kate, wrote and shared (and still writes and shares) about Joshua was based upon what she’d been told by Joshua’s many specialists.  However, Joshua is still here!!!  Praise God!  So, things I wrote might not have been accurate (such as stating that Joshua’s earthly daddy would be able to take off work until his son was ushered into heaven), but we’ll never know this side of heaven if God altered the date of when Joshua would enter heaven or if He never intended to take him Home in 2011, but we rejoice that God has blessed Joshua and his family with much more time together than what anyone ever would have predicted.  And we praise God and give him all the glory for extending Joshua’s life past what the specialists ever guessed possible.  Hallelujah!  Now, keep praying for Joshua to be healed on earth, to have pain-free days, to live life to its fullest, and for Joshua to grow old here on earth with his family, for God’s glory!  Thank you!


Here are a few videos of Chrissie (two of these were created by Joshua’s brother, Adam):

Photo montage by Adam, Joshua’s brother


Photo montage by Adam, Joshua’s brother


Photo montage by Anastasia


We love you and miss you, Princess Chrissie.  We all look forward to the day we’ll be together forever in Paradise with no more tears, no more sadness, no more separation.  We’re bossing our hearts the way you’d want us to, sweet girl.  Thank you for loving us so abundantly while you were on earth, thank you for blessing our lives more than words can express, and thank you for leaving such an awesome legacy and teaching us all how to boss our hearts.  See you later, precious angel.

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