Tonight you get to hear from another one of Justus’ great-aunt’s, my sister-in-law Kathi Katina (pictured before Justus had his bone flap surgery). I wish I could tell you all about her and share some of my history with her. Let me summarize it by saying when I was trying to marry her sister, I wasn’t her favorite human being. Since then, we’ve developed an amazing relationship and she truly is just my sister. As Justus’ Papa, I’m so grateful for Kathi and her husband, Ieti (my first cousin… but that’s a whole other post for another day J). They have gone above and beyond to support our little warrior. You will be blessed by her words. Can I also continue to encourage you to keep lifting up all the prayer needs that are being shared on #TeamJustus. God is blessed by the prayers of His people. God’s people are blessed when the community rallies and prays for them. We have been blessed… continue to be a blessing! Enjoy Kathi’s words…
Our family welcomed Justus and his parents to Nashville when he was only 6 weeks old. We immediately fell in love and watched him grow up until they moved to Oregon, just shy of his fourth birthday. How fun to watch him reach his different milestones along the way! He naturally captured our hearts with his charismatic personality, magnetic charm, and the passion and intensity he had toward every adventure and relationship. What a blessing it was to watch him sing and love Jesus at such an early age! Whether it’s family gatherings, birthday parties, athletic events, trips to the park, or attending his uncles’ concerts, Justus has always brought joy into our lives and forever left his imprint on our hearts. Justus is a special gift from God!
Since Justus’ hospitalization, I’ve had the privilege of visiting him several times. Several of those visits were heartbreaking and surreal, especially when there was nothing else the doctors could do. Thank God we serve the Great Physician, whose sovereignty has been all over this journey as we’ve watched Justus’ miracle unfold. What an honor it was to be at the hospital and to be a part of #teamjustus. This journey has impacted my life in so many ways! This month, our daughter, Kortney, will be traveling to be with Justus and his family! She is super excited to spend Thanksgiving together with them and to be a part of his discharge from the hospital. She will experience her own inspiration from Justus!
Early on in Justus’ journey, the buzzword quickly became #teamjustus. I was blown away by the commitment and community that was growing for a little boy in need of a miracle. #Teamjustus was a clear picture of family, friends, and perfect strangers coming together from all walks of life to pray, serve, and gladly join the team sacrificially. These dedicated people came from all walks of life and wore many hats throughout Justus’ recovery: prayer warriors, counselors, administrators, attorneys, comedians, musicians, pastors, babysitters, taxi drivers, coffee-runners, meal provides, computer programmers, photographers, and the list exponentially grew! Justus’ Papa and Grammy, Kelli and David, were vital team members! They spent endless days at the hospital cultivating relationships and pointing everyone to the source of strength, comfort, and hope. I, along with many others, are so grateful for their unconditional love and humble leadership as this community continued to grow. Most of you reading this have no doubt been impacted by the daily Facebook updates. Those have been such a lifeline and source of encouragement. Yes, I would start and end my day reading the posts! The outpouring of love and prayers for Justus from people all over the world has been overwhelming. Only God could orchestrate the impact and witness that #teamjustus has become! I believe #teamjustus will continue to flourish and touch the hearts of many. We certainly are advocating for a monthly update after Thanksgiving!! I know someday Justus will thank #teamjustus himself. Philippians 1:6 says:
I am confident that God will complete the good work he has started in Justus!
My love and respect continues to grow for Justus’ parents, Jason and Alyse. Jason is like a gentle giant, rock of their family, and a has an inviting personality that others gravitate toward. Alyse is focused and fun loving, can multitask like no other, and is passionate about her faith and family. Justus is crazy about his parents to say the least!! In the midst of this storm, I have admired their relentless faith, their courage to face adversity and vulnerability, and their unwavering love for each other and their children. They are exceptional parents who have instilled a strong faith in their children at a young age and taught them the power of prayer. I remember having a painting done for Justus’ nursery which read, To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8. As Justus has grown up, I have already seen him live out this verse.There are two images that I’ll always hold close to my heart. The first one was the night I saw Jason kneeling next to Justus’ bed, petitioning for his life and healing. I saw the amazing heart of a father. The second was Alyse crawling up in bed next to Justus as he was coming out of a coma. She was whispering words of love and life into his spirit. This was a glimpse of the tenderness and depth of a mother’s heart. They have stood on this promise:
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. ~ Exodus 14:14
I’ve saved my favorite for last! Justus, the four year old boy who has captured the hearts of so many. He’s made me a great- aunty for the first time!! Even as I type, I can feel his hand on my cheek, looking into my eyes, telling me he is alright and gonna talk, pray, sing, run, and play again! He’s been a mighty, strong warrior. He has displayed bravery at its core and the inner strength to never give up. From the moment he started coming out of the medically- induced coma, I could see the fighting spirit, his will to live, and his love for others. He’s made improvements that have shocked his doctors. I believe he will continue to regain all that was affected by the virus. Early on in his journey, a friend slipped me a note that I often find myself reading. It said:
This sickness is not unto death but for my glory. ~ John 11:4
Justus’ situation has brought me to my knees many times these past four months. It has reminded me to keep my priorities in the right order. I’ve laughed more, tried not to take life so seriously, and made sure I have not taken people for granted. I think and pray for Justus every time I see a sunrise, sunset, or the moon, which we all know, is round! He will always hold a very special place in my heart. I will continue to believe for complete healing and restoration for him. He is definitely one special little boy that I believe has and will continue to use his miracle to touch others. Thank you for praying and loving Justus the way you have. May you and your family be blessed beyond measure.
Now join me… 10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2…