Day 56-4 – Today he smiled and laughed!

It has now been 8 weeks since this ordeal began. Some of you have been praying the entire 8 weeks. Thank you #TeamJustus! His rehab work continued today. We got a good report from everyone at Randall about his progress. It’s so encouraging. For our part, Kelli and I began day 1 yesterday of getting back on track. We went and worked out for the first time since before all of this started. Today we’re sore and thinking about what it must feel like for Justus who hasn’t moved a muscle for weeks, and now is suddenly expected to push and work those muscles. Like I’ve said before and have heard from many of you – God uses Justus to encourage me as I try to get back on track.

The big news out of Randall today is Justus smiled and laughed. And that made his mother cry… of course… and no it didn’t make me cry when I heard about it… it didn’t… honest… ok maybe a little… but that’s not the point. The point is, progress. And the point is, laughter. Proverbs 15:13 says, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” I know many of you are like me, and worry because Justus’ face doesn’t look happy most of the time. But we’ve learned from the therapists that there is so much going on for the little guy. I can’t imagine what he’s going through as he tries to relearn EVERYTHING. Think about it from his brains point of view… hold my head up, turn my head back to the middle, get my eyes back over to the middle, cough, swallow, ok they want me to lift my hand… oh man, I forgot to turn my head… and there go my eyes again. All the things that we think of as… oh wait… all the things we don’t have to think of, he has to relearn and it’s hard work to do it. So it actually isn’t a surprise that thinking about smiling isn’t high on the priority list.

What I love about Proverbs 15 is the reminder that when you do smile, it’s the result of a glad heart. So the fact that today he did smile, is confirmation that he does have a glad heart… whether he’s able to express it or not. And speaking of progress, can we talk about this video for a minute. Last time I showed you him on a tricycle he was harnessed in, every part of his body was strapped to the bike and his head was supported on both sides. In this video, you will notice, his feet are on blocks with a strap over them. He’s ace wrapped to the seat. He’s holding his head up and holding onto the handlebars!!! So yes he’s riding a tricycle again, just like last week, but this time it’s different.

Sorry, I can’t help myself. His journey today makes me think of two really important principles in life. The first is how much we take for granted. Specifically the importance of what we call around our house, “auto-pilot” living. In other words, making certain things part of a routine. In Justus’ situation, we’re talking about managing and thinking about basic body movements. But in life, we teach parents, the more of life you can help your kids put on auto-pilot, the more energy and capacity they have remaining for those visionary things in life. If all my energy is spent figuring out when I’m going to eat, and what I’m going to do today, and where am I going, then there is less left to dream about what God has gifted you to do. Like Justus you don’t have the energy left to smile, because you have to think about turning your head to the right. That’s why routines and traditions are so important. My kids know we read Psalms and Proverbs in the morning, Monday’s we eat waffles for breakfast, Tuesday is trash day, Friday is spoil you rotten day… there is a routine and rhythm to life. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t legalistic, but we are characterized by rhythm. By the way, this is one of the areas my wife Kelli had to help me grow in. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m getting better!

The other life principle I have to mention is repetition. I loved the idea that they had Justus ride a tricycle again, but not the same tricycle and not in exactly the same way. I think of discipling my kids or other men. I will need to keep teaching them the same thing over and over again. My hope is that each time, it’s with a different tricycle and using a different method. My prayer is that each time they get stronger and more self-controlled. I can eliminate one more strap. The lesson is the same, but the depth of the message increases. I know as Justus is able to handle more, he will be challenged with more. Isn’t that a formula for us growing in our journey with the Lord?

OK – enough with the philosophy lesson. I’m just so excited about the progress he’s made. So much so that I thought I’d let you watch the video that made Justus laugh twice today. Here is the Youtube link to the video. Just try not to smile… I dare you! And when you are done laughing, please keep praying for Justus. He’s still having a little trouble with handling his feeds and coughing. He has a hyper gag reflex and throws up often. Please pray that gets better so he gets the nutrition he needs to keep getting stronger. As he gets stronger I hope the whole #TeamJustus thing continues to encourage you and challenge you to make progress towards the person God uniquely designed you to become.

Finally, I have had several of you ask me about the t-shirts. Thanks to our friend Rosalyn, they’ve reopened the t-shirts for a few days. It will close on October 1st. Here is the link if you’d like to purchase: Even thought there were over 300 shirts in the initial order, there will need to be at least 8 t-shirts ordered for them to fulfill the order.