Living with a Warrior – Joshua’s Story

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I’ve been praying about this ever since someone directed me to the “Living with A Warrior” facebook page after Isaiah was born. I wanted to share Joshua’s story and share how encouraged we’ve been through our own personal journey with Isaiah by being a witness to how Joshua’s parents, Matthew and Jill, have stepped out in faith during the past 11 months with their precious baby. In addition to Joshua, they have two other beautiful children at home. What they have been through and how they’ve walked in faith during the journey is truly remarkable.  I ask that you join us in praying for sweet baby Joshua and the entire family.

I want to be clear… I have reached out to this family and asked permission to post this, but as you can imagine and as you will understand when you visit the page or read below, they’re incredibly busy. I am stepping out in faith, knowing how powerful our prayer warriors have been for Isaiah and asking you to do the same for this family. Given that their page is public, and they have indicated their desire to share Joshua’s story so they can share Jesus with the world, I am confident they’ll be ok with me sharing with you all here and I hope to connect with them personally in the future. And let’s be honest, I can’t wait to get a hug from that sweet little Joshua and take a picture of our two baby boys thriving when we get an opportunity to meet them in person!

Today’s post is going to be quite long. I encourage you to hang in there with me, as I hope you’ll be as encouraged as we have been by this family and their story. And these are just three or four clips from an 11 month journey! Hang in there…

A Warrior’s Story (from the facebook page):
Welcome to Living with a Warrior, created in honor of our son Joshua. The best way to give a description is to share one of my first posts on how we shared the news about our son having Down syndrome. I hope you are blessed by our story!

When Joshua was born (November 13, 2013), he had a major heart defect called Tetrology of Fallot. He was literally fighting for his life and had open heart surgery at 8 days old. He spent a majority of the first 6 weeks in an intensive care unit for pediatric heart patients. For me, I made the conscious decision that I was not going to bring up Joshua’s “special” circumstances (Down syndrome) when the issue at hand was so much more pressing. I didn’t want anyone to focus on anything other than prayers for Joshua’s healing and recovery. We shared the news with our immediate family and we shared with others when the time felt right. Sometimes it was close friends and other times it just came up in a conversation with an acquaintance; I let my heart lead me and if I wasn’t feeling that I needed to share that information, I didn’t. We posted pictures…lots of pictures. People may have recognized that Joshua had Down syndrome by his features. If so, nobody said a word; they waited for us to say something first. For that, I am truly thankful because it really does need to come from us.

Joshua has an amazing story, an amazing testimony, and has already reached a lot of people before Living with a Warrior was started. Many people came forward and told us that the story touched their lives and renewed their faith. They were inspired; they shared personal stories with us and encouraged us EVERY step of the way. We were blessed by prayers throughout the US and even in other countries. Joshua was a star; our warrior was touching more lives in his first 6 weeks of life than I have done in 38 years. Wow, what have I been doing?

During church this past Sunday, I felt a strong urge to start this page and share our story with more people. I don’t remember the entire message (sorry Pastor Gil Kinney!), but what I did get out of it is this:

1. It is NOT about me. Whatever issue I have with Joshua having Down syndrome needs to be put aside.

2. I’m not doing enough to share Christ with others. If you don’t see Him in our story, then you aren’t paying attention. It is my duty to share this story with others as it could bring people closer to God. I don’t want anyone to miss out on the Greatest Gift of All because I wasn’t doing my part.

3. I may think I am helping others by stepping out in Faith, but I am probably the one who needs the most help. I know I will be blessed.

These three statements were so inspiring as I read and re-read them, particularly #2. What are we doing to share Christ with others? I absolutely love the final sentence of #2: I DON’T WANT ANYONE TO MISS OUT ON THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL BECAUSE I WASN’T DOING MY PART.  I love how vulnerable this family is, how open they’ve been with sharing Joshua’s story, how faithful they’ve been throughout the journey so far.  So many of Matthew and Jill’s posts have really encouraged me to look at my faith, to challenge me in my walk with Jesus, to make Paul and me better parents and to bring us closer to our Lord. Here is one of those posts from October 8, yet another day to celebrate Joshua leaving the hospital and going back home:

I know I should be sleeping, but I’m awake and thinking about my son’s homecoming today. He’s been through more than I can write about. His heart surgery was a huge success as his heart has been greatly tested throughout the other huge trials that he has experienced. I think Joshua has been on every type of respirator that is in use. Joshua coded for 24 minutes but was revived. Joshua has had 3 surgeries on his airway. Joshua has had a teach, which is now gone, and a gtube. Joshua has has multiple access lines and 4 different pic lines. Joshua has been on numerous medications.

There have been many good days followed by utterly horrendous days. I have seen my son seemingly knocked out. He looked rough after his heart operation. There was just so much attached and opened. I think I posted a picture. Seeing my son just lay there after he coded was a site no parent should ever see. Seeing my son fighting hard for every single breath was also hard. I felt so helpless. I am supposed to protect my family, and I wanted to… but I did not know how. I did not have the skills and training to help in the slightest. I prayed and prayed. God kept His Word and heard my cries. God answered through people.

Matthew goes on to thank all of the people at each of the two hospitals Joshua has been admitted to on several occasions. And I think how hard it was to be away from Isaiah for a mere 7 days while he was in NICU. And I’m so thankful it was ONLY 7 days. And I’m especially thankful that God’s plan for Isaiah brought him home to us so quickly.

As I read, I prayed for Joshua and his family, and I thanked God for bringing Joshua back home again to his parents. Then was saddened to read just a few days later, on October 13,  Joshua was rushed back to the ER where they reported an initial temp of 106.4 and a heart rate of 200. As he raced Joshua to the hospital, Matthew sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” to his sweet baby. On October 15, Matt  posts the following (the top part is paraphrasing the apostle Paul’s experiences as shared in the Bible):

… I am a prisoner. I haven’t done anything wrong, yet I sit here in chains. I sit next to thieves, murderers, and others who have actually committed crimes. But I have not disobeyed the law. I have followed it. These shackles are heavy. I am in bondage because of my beliefs. I believe in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

I am being forced to travel to another city where I will be judged by a man I do not know, a ruler of a people to whom I was not born. Unfair does not begin to describe my situation.

We are in a boat and I am not feeling confident about our outcome. I’ve had dreams where the boat is shipwrecked, which would not be a problem except that the boat is sailing into a storm and the waves are starting to get stronger.

We continue on, though I had warned the soldiers not to… they just wouldn’t listen. I bet they are wishing they had listened. The waves grow more and more fierce. The hardened criminals are getting scared. You can see it all over their faces. The soldiers are also scrambling to hold on. Someone yells ‘There’s an island!’ and the captain steers the boat towards land. The storm is so fierce. We are being pushed along, gaining more speed as we get closer to the island. Suddenly everything is turned upside down. We are being catapulted through the air, flipping end over end, and splashing into the unforgiving sea. Our instinct is to begin to swim, so we all swim to the island.

Exhausted, we slowly pull our tired soaked bodies up onto the sandy shore. The temperament of the storm begins to calm as the clouds continue moving away from us. The soldiers quickly gather the prisoners together. We are all tired and cold. The island natives have all run down to the beach and begin to build fires. I may be a prisoner, but with God in my heart I still have a desire to help others. I get up and begin to gather firewood.

I have carried a few arm loads of wood. I reach down to gather more. Ouch!! Pain shoots up my arm! I pull my hand back and see a snake dangling from it. I shake my arm wildly and the snake falls off, into the fire, and burns to a crisp. I continue to gather wood. I can’t believe I am a prisoner, shipwrecked, and now bitten by a snake! What’s next?

As I am working I grow uncomfortable. I begin to notice the islanders are starring at me. I guess my little snake jig was the topic of conversation. But they continued to watch me. Finally, they started to approach me. When they reached me, some of the men bowed and began saying I was a God. I had survived the poisonous venom that no one ever survived. I yelled at them and made them stop. When the commotion quieted, I was able to tell them about God, and His Son Jesus. Many believed and became followers of Jesus that day.

Why was I a prisoner? Why were we shipwrecked? And why did a deadly snake decide to bite me? Was it all bad luck? Was it because of past sins? Was it because God was mad at me?

This all took place so that I could humbly proclaim Jesus to a people who were the walking dead. They did not truly know what they were missing until that moment. Because of what happened to me, God was able to speak to others. I learned something as well. God takes bad things and turns them into good…
Joshua’s high fever was hard on him, but through it I saw my son breathe very well in spite of the sickness. In going back to the hospital, others saw how well he was breathing and told their peers. Joshua is God’s messenger. God is speaking through an 11 month old baby boy. God is simply amazing! I was reminded of something today. God works bad things out to be good things. The plan is for Joshua to come home in the morning.

God is faithful. God is compassionate.

And just like that, Joshua is back home. After spiking a fever at the 106* mark, he is HOME! God IS amazing. God IS faithful. He works ALL THINGS for the good of those called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). And this family is extraordinary!

I’d like to ask that you take a few moments to pray for Joshua, his parents Matthew and Jill, and his brother and sister, Logan and Averi. Pray for healing for Joshua. Pray for continued faith for their family. Pray for a miracle for that sweet little boy. As you pray, keep these images of sweet Joshua on your heart.

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