Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Perfect Imperfections

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

I am always amazed at how God can speak to us through the smallest things. Today, we went outside to play before it got too hot (which doesn’t take long here in South Carolina). The kids and I were in our PJ’s since we weren’t planning to leave the house! As soon as we reached the back door, Elyse took off her shoes and headed for the small inflatable pool. She stuck one foot in before I said, “No, Elyse, we’re not getting in the pool.” After telling her three times, I thought, well, I guess it doesn’t really matter if we get a little wet. She jumped in and within minutes Kieran had gone back into the house and returned with his swim trunks (PJ’s would not work for him)!

Next, Kieran found the water balloons and asked if we could play with them. I filled up a few, he threw them, and they exploded! We were having a great time. I started filling up a yellow balloon when I noticed a small hole in the bottom, so I put that one to the side and picked up another one. It also had a small hole at the bottom. I said to Kieran, “Sorry, Buddy, these all have holes in them.” He looked at the small stream of water coming out the bottom and said, “That’s great! Let me have that one!” I finished filling it with water and tied the top. For the next 10 minutes or so Kieran ran around the yard squirting things with the small stream of water flowing out of that little balloon. He loved it! While the other water balloons were fun, they only lasted a few seconds. This “broken” balloon lasted much longer and gave Kieran the opportunity to get us all quite wet.

Suddenly, I thought, “What a perfect imperfection!”

The thing that I thought made the balloon useless actually gave it a new, more entertaining purpose! Wow! Isn’t that just how God designed us in many ways? We all have things that to us seem like imperfections, mistakes maybe. God, however, doesn’t make mistakes. It is possible that we just haven’t figured out the real, more “entertaining” purpose of that imperfection. The balloon situation reminded me of a blog that I read last night. This blog is written by a sweet lady who I met at Bible study recently. She has a precious 1-year-old son named Derrick who was born with several heart defects. I spent a good part of last night reading through a detailed description of his heart, but there was one part of this description that stood out to me. This sweet baby boy was born without a left ventricle and he has a hole in between the right and left atria. According to his mom, normally this hole would be a bad thing, but because Derrick doesn’t have a left ventricle, this hole is necessary to allow blood to flow from one part of the heart to the other.

Again, I thought, “Wow, what a perfect imperfection!”

I was amazed to see the drawings of this heart and to see how different it was from a “normal” heart, yet with the help of an amazing God and a team of great doctors this little boy is walking (even running now) with this “perfectly imperfect” heart. Sure, God could have given him a heart like most people without problems, but, for some reason, in God’s perfect plan, He decided to give him a heart that would amaze doctors, require miracles, and build faith.

This story, of course, made me reflect on Kris’ heart issues. He, too, was born with CHD (congenital heart disease). We joke now that he is so loving because he has an extra big heart. He does have a big heart, bigger than most because his heart had to work so hard for the first five years of his life before his open heart surgery. A couple of years ago, Kris had to go through a series of heart test and during one test we found out that a blood vessel on the left side of his body which carries blood to the brain was much smaller than normal. However, the corresponding vein on the other side of his body was much larger than normal. The vein on his right side compensated for the one on the left side. This allows his brain to get the perfect amount of blood flow. Here is yet another example of a perfect imperfection.

For most of us, our “imperfections” are not life threatening or even life changing (i.e. birthmarks, bad hair, stretch marks). I look at our precious Elyse and can’t help but see the two scars on her neck. I could look at them as imperfections, but when I look at them I am reminded of how blessed we are that those lymph nodes were not cancerous. I am reminded of the amazing strength of a 1-year-old, the generosity of friends, and the comfort that only God can give us. Most of us have scars of one kind or another (physically, emotionally, or spiritually). Without God, these imperfections are imperfect and can control our lives. However, if we allow Him, He can make them “perfect imperfections”. While we often pray for Him to take away these imperfections, God may have bigger, better, and more “entertaining” purposes for them. Paul reflects on this in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

You can read more about Derrick and his miracle heart by visiting his
blog http://carolinacarters.blogspot.com/!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bedtime Conversations

Tonight, Kieran and I had a precious conversation that I wanted to write down. As he was getting into bed he asked me, "Mommy, what were you before I was born?" I said, "Well, buddy, I was just Susan." He looked at me for a little while and said, "You weren't anybody's mommy? And daddy wasn't a daddy?"

"No, Kieran, we were just Susan and Kris, sitting around this house, without much to do."

"Then what happened?" Kieran said. "Did you decided you wanted to be a mommy and daddy?"

"Yes, then we decided that we wanted a baby. So, we prayed to God and He helped us have a baby. He helped Mommy and Daddy put you in my tummy so that you could grow."

Kieran said, "I remember when I was in your tummy. There was a sign telling me where I was. First I saw the sign that went to your nose, so I went there. Then I followed the sign to your toe. Then I saw the sign that went to someplace that looked like a big long slide and so I slide down the slide to your tummy. Then I saw a train and I rode the train. Then I rode a boat around in your blood" (**Now I understand why there seemed to be so much movement in my tummy when I was pregnant with Kieran!!! Also, note that is very similar to an episode of Danger Mouse that he enjoys watching!)

I said, "Wow, you remember all that?"

"Yes, then what? Did you want a boy and a girl and God gave you me and Elyse?"

"Well, we didn't know what we were having, but God gave us you and Elyse. When you were in my tummy, we went to the hospital and the doctor took you out. She held you up and Daddy said, 'It's a boy!!' We were very excited?"

"And then what did you name me?"

"We named you Kieran Kristofer Toler."

"I knew that! I knew that when I was in your tummy. I knew that my name should be Kieran Kristofer Toler. I should be Kieran, K-I-E-R-A-N."

"Kieran, did you know that mommy and daddy talked to you when you were in my tummy?"

"You did? I knew when I came out I would have a mommy and a daddy. And I knew that I would love them very much."


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Collecting Memories

We have almost reached the half way point of 2010 and what a year it has been! Even though we don't have any school age kids, the Toler household has felt the change of seasons, too! It is SUMMERTIME! The days are longer, the nights shorter, and the steam was literally coming out of the ground this evening after the rain shower! We decided to kick off the summer season this past weekend with a quick trip to Charlotte. We couldn't leave for the whole weekend with t-ball and church, but I wanted to give Kris a change of scenary (life between the recliner and the couch has not been too exciting for him)! I made hotel reservations for Sunday night. I spent a few nights searching the web trying to find "Things to Do" in Charlotte, but then I realized that we really didn't need "Things to Do". Why couldn't we just go and take it easy? What a novel concept.

So, Sunday after church, I loaded the van, and we hit the road. It was less than a 2hour drive, the kids slept all the way there, and the weather was great. Once we checked into the hotel, the kids and I changed into our swim gear and we hit the pool. Kris kicked back and found some baseball on TV! I was so relaxed (I guess) that I even forgot my camera, so I have to describe Kieran's swimming setup. He had on Spiderman swim trunks, Spiderman flippers (on hands and feet), Spiderman goggles, and Spiderman floaties (water wings). The only thing missing was his ability to climb walls and shoot webs! Once Elyse (and mommy) got use to the cold water, we all had a great time swimming around and watching the airplanes fly over from the nearby airport. After our swim, we went to dinner at our favorite P.F. Chang's China Bistro. The kids ate and ate after their fun swim. On our way back, we stopped at Walmart to get a kid's golf set since there was a small putting green at the hotel. We came back, put Elyse to bed, and then Kieran and I played 5 holes of "golf" at 10:00 pm! That's what summer is all about, right?

Monday morning, we woke up, ate breakfast at Kieran's favorite "breakfast buffet", and then changed back into our swim suits to hit the pool one more time. We had a good swim and stepped out of the pool just as the rain started to pour! After we checked out, we ate lunch at a very authentic Irish Pub that Kris and I discovered a year or so ago. The food was great and everyone who worked there could pronounce Kieran's name correcty! It poured the rest of the afternoon, but that was okay because we had nothing planned and decided to head back to Columbia.

Tuesday, Kieran turned to me and said, "Mommy, do you remember when we went to the hotel, went swimming in the pool, and played golf?" "Yes," I said. "Can we do that again? It was fun."

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28