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Strength to Care

Lessons from Matthew & Isaac – Our CHARGE Syndrome Journey

Heart Babies…Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Month

Matthew showing his talent of sleeping with a puzzle piece in his mouth even while in the pediatric intensive care unit

February is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Month so I thought we would revisit this post from 2011. Almost exactly 4 years ago when Matthew had a cleft repair done on a leaking mitral valve. I wrote the following post the night after this major surgery…a little more relieved after the restless night before.

This feels so long ago but still stirs emotions of wondering if Matthew would even survive the surgery.

Would you take some time this week to pray for all of those families who have or will face major heart surgeries. Ours, as many have happy endings…others face the pain everyday of a child that never made it to a life saving surgery or healing.

From March 4, 2011:

As I sit next to Matthew’s bed, experiencing the sounds of a pediatric cardiac intensive care unit while Saturday becomes Sunday, I am overwhelmed with the goodness and faithfulness of a God who keeps his word. I am humbled by the overwhelming response of family and friends who have spread our gift of Matthew around the globe through social media and email to create an incredible chain of prayer warriors. Theresa and I are witness to the fact that prayer is powerful. We both have had an undeniable trust and peace as we go through this, yet another, opportunity to show God’s abundant power.

As one can imagine, on the eve of Matthew’s surgery I was a little restless. Something about this night was different. I can count on one hand how many times I have been aroused from a sleep and felt the need to pray. I sat in bed and journaled the following thoughts that I believe God was using to show me that He is in control of this surgery…a surgery I believe the benefit is not just an improvement in Matthew’s health…the benefit extends to all who are praying for him.

Matthew is a gift, a gift who God will use to build and strengthen faith, prayer and character. Here is what I am learning…

M – Meek and humble of heart. I am learning that to be meek means knowing that I do not have all of the answers, knowing that I have limitations and that I need to rely first on God, then on those he has put around me to give support and encouragement when needed.

A – Ample supply of strength. I am learning that if I keep focused on God and continue to read and speak His truth, he will supply me with everything I need but not necessarily everything I want. He will give me ample strength and support either directly or through someone with and encouraging word or deed.

TT – Trials and Triumph. I put the two “T’s” together because you cannot have one without the other. One cannot taste the sweetness of triumph without first tasting the bitterness of trial. It is through trial that our characters are built, shaped and refined and we are able to appreciate fully the triumph in our lives.

H – Honest Transparency. It is critical when dealing with heavy situations to be honest. Answering the question of “How are you doing?” with the standard response of “I am fine” is not healthy. Many people really do want to know and it is okay to share weakness or needs. I am learning to ask for help. People really do want to, many just don’t know what to do for you so they do nothing.

E – Earnest Prayer. I am learning that prayer is not begging for the grocery list of things that I want or think I need. Prayer is a conversation between me and the One who knows me best and wants to bless me with everything…if only I learn His language. When I speak His language of praise, thankfulness, forgiveness, compassion, etc., he reciprocates peace, understanding, faithfulness and blessings.

W – Wonder. We have a saying about Matthew: the only predictable thing about Matthew is that he is unpredictable. God is unpredictable too when it comes to what we think He should do. He has routinely exceeded my expectations on what I thought was right or in good portion. I am always wondering what God is going to do next to show that he is God.

We still have a long time on this road of Matthew’s recovery from heart surgery both here at the hospital and continuing at home. I cannot help but see the irony that I too am having “heart” surgery through this experience as God continues to soften and shape my heart into one that is more like His.

Where is your “heart”? Are you due for a check-up too?

It has been an amazing journey since this last post. Matthew will be 14 this year!! Sarah Anne will be 6 and Isaac brought us a whole set of other prayer topics. I can’t stop thinking now as I write about how many times we have cried out for peace and healing…and how many times God has handed us both…in abundance over the years. I am still learning the lessons I wrote several years ago. Some of them have been bigger and broader than I ever thought possible.

Remember to pray for all the heart babies out there…including Matthew and Isaac.

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  • Laurie

    This tugs at my heart fit so many reasons. One, because we walked beside you during this time with our Paislyn, two, because I marvel at the goodness of God and three, because I am reminded that thru the trials in my life, I am refined and s new person! The trials in this life really are His mercies in disguise! Awesome post, Kevin!

    • KevinTroupe

      Laurie, it always amazes me how God prearranges meetings with other families for support and encouragement. It has happened to us over and over again and as our lives continue to mesh with families who are on similar journeys, we are all the more blessed.