One more day

Painful night with our boy. He’s made so much progress in so many ways. He’s been working his arms so much that some of the skin in his armpits has now reopened. I so wish I could take it all away. So many miracles still.
Miracles of today:
• Remembering that we need not carry our burdens only turn them over to our Savior
• Coaching Max to breathe & turn it over
• The relief that sleep brings!
• Loving friends to comfort & support us Marc & Jenn Garrett & Adheesh & Santoshi & Dallin
• Justin Lee that took Max & our crew to the theater yesterday
• Max’s peace amidst the storm

Thank you for your prayers for his armpits to heal & neck to extend!

Unite

Ring them bells Saint Martha for the poor man’s son
Ring them bells so the world will know that God is one
For the shepherd is asleep where the willows weep
And the mountains are filled with little lost sheep
Ring them bells for the blind and the deaf
Ring them bells for all of us who are left

- Bob Dylan

A sister in the ward stopped us after church on Sunday. Her uncle had 3rd degree burns on 50% of his body 40 years ago, and died months after his accident. She wept as she heard Max’s story.

While we were in the hospital, I met a man named Feike Van Dijk who had been burned on his right arm and face. He said that a fire had started in his house. He and his wife tried to put it out, but it quickly grew out of control. They started running through the house to vacate their 5 children. They got 2 out, then he got the baby out with serious burns. By then, the fire department had arrived. The fire was so advanced that house was collapsing. The fire chief wouldn’t let the parents back in the house, so the parents and 3 children stood outside and listened to their 2 young children cough their last breath inside.

fire

I wept openly as I sat with Feike and put myself in the his shoes. Words were meaningless.

Maybe one of the purposes of suffering is to unite us.

If our experience with Max has taught us one thing, it is that we are all one great family.

I’m so thankful to a loving Father who honors us by letting us suffer.

I’m so grateful to a loving Brother who opens doors so that families can be together forever.

Please join me in loving the Van Dijks

Sam and Abi

Miracles of this week:

• Max made it through his first week of school – part time but full on!
• His range of motion continues to increase. His right arm can get to 160 degrees, which is “full range”!! Three hrs/day is our target for therapy – we’re grateful for great supports (Mindy & Mark).
• Today was Sam’s birthday. Max gave some of his own gifts, and told him how grateful he was for Sam’s help during this time (babysitting during wound care, helping with meals, cleaning, etc.). They have grown so much closer!
• When Max first came home from the hospital, Abi wouldn’t come near him. We would hold her up to him for a hug, and she would push away. Max didn’t seem to mind. He would talk to her, rub her curls, and snuggle with her. Today in church, Abi sat on his lap all through sacrament meeting. Now, when he comes home from school, she runs up to him, shouts, “Macky!” and gives him a big hug. It’s so sweet to see them reconnect!

abi

Thank you for joining us as we continue to pray for his wounds to close, scarring to decrease, and for him to be able to turn his head.

Perspective

Today Max started to get tired of what feels like a long day at school & then going straight to hours of physical therapy.

We talked about ways of coping. Then he showed me a video a boy that has many more health challenges than Max will experience long term. Max was given us new perspective. Somehow he finished up his homework, ate, helped Abi with dinner & stayed happy during wound care. Somehow we are each given reserves of needed power.

Life is precious.

Thank You

Max & Andy did wound care on their own last night while I escaped on a get away.
I returned today and found Max beaming from school & physical therapy.
He taught me lessons from his physical therapy session- he then went on to teach me EFT (that I had tried to teach him countless times) and then said, “I used to think that was just fluffy but there’s actual research to support what you’ve taught me.” Win! Then I heard him singing through his wound care. Amazing boy! Amazing grace!

Thank you Heavenly Father!
Thank each of you! you know who you are.
Thank you for every prayer.
Thank you for your love.
Thank you for your cards & gifts.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
We are very aware that Max reaching this goal is a massive miracle! Thank you for being a part of it. #miracleshappen #everyprayer

We are the richest people in the world to be given the gift of so much love & healing! All our love, Natalie, Andy & Max

Back to School!

Yesterday was the first day of school, and Max is back!!! We are so proud of him and how hard he has worked for this day.

1st-day-at-school

Max joined the rest of his class at a welcome back assembly. Nat and I went to his classroom to set up his chair with cushions. We left a note for his teacher with our phone numbers. We went home and fretted that he would need to come home from exhaustion, itching, discomfort, etc. But we never got a call. So he finished his classes, we picked him up from school, and he was beaming. His countenance was brilliant. He reported on the assembly (where he received a standing ovation), on the new kids in school he met, on the AP Chemistry class that he is VERY excited about, and his great new seminary teacher.

Nat and I did a happy dance, hugged, and cried.

I told Nat, “It’s going to be ok.”

For the Child Who Cries

When we do wound care at the hospital, the doctor puts silver nitrate on the open wounds that are elevated. This chemically burns it down so it’s level with the rest of his skin. I try to imagine what it’s like to put a caustic chemical in an open wound with the intention of burning it down. I’ve never seen a human suffer as much as when they do this to Max. But there is nothing I can do to take it away.

I try to imagine what it was like for our Perfect Father to watch His Perfect Son suffer. I’ve been given a small glimpse into the view of a God who weeps. I’ve had a lot of time to think about suffering.

Thank you, Dad, for sending this message:

[To quote C.S. Lewis,] “The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach trivial meaning to the word ‘love.” Too often we confuse God’s love with human kindness. We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of the day, ‘a good time was had by all.’”

But that is not God’s plan for us. He wants us to become like Him. He wants us to experience the fullness of joy He enjoys—eternal joy, not merely temporary contentedness. And He loves us enough that He will do whatever it takes for us to reach that goal, including allowing us to experience things that are difficult and soul-stretching. And He does it not because He doesn’t love us, but precisely because He does.

But even when we have to learn things from our extremities in order to fulfill God’s plan for us, His love will be there to sustain us… especially when we need His love the most. …So let us not sell God’s love short by confusing it with mere human kindness. His love is much deeper than that. (Kevin J. Worthen, “It Was as If a Blanket of Love Was Flowing Over Me”, May 2, 2013, BYU Women’s Conference)

Rhythm

Today we took the children to their school to meet their new teachers.This evening, we sat in the living room and ate fresh Utah peaches while we checked all the children’s school supplies. Grateful for the miracle of finding our family rhythm again.

We went to the hospital for wound care today, and they don’t need to see him again for a month! It feels like we’ve graduated to a new phase. It’s so empowering to know that God is our Physician, and He’s directing Max’s healing. He knows our every need.

More Patience

How sweet it is when it’s finally time to lay my head on the pillow. Sometimes getting max to bed is a two hour process. I really am being given more patience with each passing day. What used to drive me crazy to wait for, now only somewhat drives me crazy. Finding the miracles…

- Nat

Outing

We did our first outing together as a family today! Some people might see us as slower, flawed, imperfect family. The crazy thing was that I felt more whole than I remember feeling in a long time. I think Max’s faith is rubbing off on me. The family reunion lasted 4 hours from departure to arrival and there were moments that I didn’t know what we were going to do to calm or comfort Max, but each time I just trusted and the answer appeared. Just grateful tonight for so many prayers that went up on Max’s behalf and the impact of them, even now. Can’t imagine life without prayer.