Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hope and Gratitude

I would not have written this story this way. It is too stressful and scary. It's too risky. I like quiet, predictable moments that possess spontaneous laughter. But that's not what we have here, and I am okay with that...sort of... on the backside. Because Erin and I also have along with this unlikeable tension a great opportunity for experiencing hope and gratitude.

We've been on a wild ride that we would not have chosen, yet has allowed us to experience profound hope and gratitude. And that has caused some serious worship in my heart. There are hundreds if not well over a thousand people out there praying for us. Many of you I have never met. You all have stirred hope and gratitude in my heart.

Today is day 6 and we had more good news from the nurses caring for Harrison. His last blood lab has shown his red blood cell count is a little above normal. This means two significant things at this point. His liver is working properly, and there is no bleeding or damage to his brain. He gained a little weight. Not sure how much, but he didn't lose any. He pooped again, literally a small thing, but in the scheme of things a very significant thing! And tonight, they pulled his CPAP off for about a minute to clean his face and he breathed on his own... the nurse made a comment saying, "99% of babies his size and have would not have tolerated that so well." We are really encouraged.

There have been little things alongside the significant things even in these last few days that have stirred my heart to be hopeful. I think it was the second day I walked down the hall to the NICU there was this gorgeous arrangement of flowers. I read the card attached and it said "We are celebrating the 1 year birthday of our daughter and we wanted to thank the staff here for saving her life and giving her the chance to live a wonderful life." 2 minutes later I walk into see Harrison and the nurse, Lauren from TX, is bouncing a beautiful baby with a full head of hair babbling away and she tells me this one is about to go home, and that he started off at 27 weeks like Harrison.

I'm really grateful too. My wife checked out of the hospital yesterday. She has had no complications with her surgery and feeling more normal with each passing day. And tonight, we walked into the dining room of the Ronald McDonald House and this wonderful meal of burgers and brats with sides of fruit and salads and desserts was thrown out to anyone who was hungry. Just about everyone had on the hospital bracelet and was beat down from long hours in the hospital caring for their loved one. No one was turned away. Some amazing people took the time and energy to feed those in need. I was one of them and I about started to cry as I took in what these 20 some volunteers were really doing with a few hours of their life. My whole perspective has been riveted by gratitude and hope.

I got to hold my son today for about an hour. There is this treatment of skin on skin with pre-mees that they have found increases circulation, oxygen saturation and overall development of the baby over time. For about an hour I held this one pound of Imago Dei against my bare chest, and did not let him go. I hummed to him hymns that reminded me who God really is and will be no matter what happens to this child... Be Thou My Vision, Amazing Grace, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and I worshipped God with my son. Then I prayed to Jesus with my wife over Harrison.

These have been very rich days. I would not have been able to experience the character of God in this type of fullness if he had not written into it the struggle and conflict we are experiencing. I know God loves me, not because my son is progressing, but because God gave His Son up to die for me to overcome the great conflict between me and Him, so that I could live. I see that love a little more clearly now. Harrison is His and I can trust God because He loves Harrison that way too. My heart is filled with hope and gratitude.

Six days ago I became a dad. My heart has been wrung with about every human emotion and I'm exhausted. I suppose the veterans out there would say welcome to parenthood.

Please keep praying because your prayers are working!


  1. Rest well tonight friends. Harrison is in Perfect Hands.

    Thanks for perspective Josh.

  2. great words, josh. i can tell you all are experiencing the presence of God. thanks for taking the time to update all us reading and praying for you! jeanette

  3. I am so so deeply encouraged by each of your updates. You guys are amazing parents already, and I'm so proud of you. That may sound patronizing, but it's true. Send my love to Erin, and take a helping of it yourself, too.
    Love, Megan
    (And also, apologies if this comment ends up showing up 87 times...I'm having technological difficulties...i.e. my own stupidity...) :)

  4. Oh man. Tears! Tears! We are so grateful that God is doing such a wonderful work in your lives and through your story!!

    Taken from the book “Be Still My Soul: Embracing God’s Purpose and Provision in Suffering” (edited by Nancy Guthrie)…this is from Joni Eareckson Tada’s chapter:

    “God Permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves.” I can smile knowing God is accomplishing what he loves in my life–Christ in me, the hope of glory. And this is no Plan B for my life, but his good and loving Plan A.”

    How great is that? Hope that is encouraging to you guys! We are praying!
    Kitty & Joel

  5. Beautifully expressed, Josh. Thanks for sharing pieces of your days. Love to all 3 Smiths!