Archive for the ‘ Videos ’ Category

We began the memorial service with worship, and then we shared some of the things that Joel really loved.  If you watched the memorial live you probably weren’t able to see the videos very well, so here they are:

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Joel loved music and he loved to dance.  Even though he was moderately to severely deaf I would often find him dancing along to music I hadn’t even noticed was playing yet.

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Joel loved to eat.  After Joel’s first tumor resection surgery he couldn’t swallow solid food for ten months.  So he chewed things and spit them out, but once he could swallow again he would pack his mouth so full of food, and on more than one occasion his mouth was so full there was no room left to chew, so we had to fish out food with our fingers.  We’ve both been bitten more times than we can count.

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Joel loved dogs.  He loved dogs so much that even though he never bothered to learn how to say Caleb or Isaac, he would learn a new dogs name within five minutes and be calling out “mocha” or “tucker.”  Joel thought sitting in a dog kennell was one of the most entertaining ways to spend an afternoon, and he once fed Pastor Jeff’s dog 30 dog treats in about 15 minutes.

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Joel loved Elijah.  We never let Joel have a dog, but we did get him a baby.  From the moment Joel met Elijah he adored him.  He was as rough on Elijah as he was on puppies but only because he loved him so exuberantly, and I’m pretty sure nothing ever gave Joel more joy than a kiss from Elijah.

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As passionately as Joel loved Elijah, I’m pretty sure Joel’s older brothers loved him more. Caleb and Isaac loved Joel selflessly, they had endless reservoirs of patience and compassion.  They rejoiced over every new accomplishment Joel achieved and made sure to include him in everything.  They doted on him, often stopping whatever they were doing to give him a quick hug or a kiss.  I was always proudest of my family when I watched the way Caleb and Isaac cared for Joel.

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Joel loved water.  For the first year of Joel’s treatment he couldn’t even take a bath because his broviac couldn’t be submerged in water.  As soon as he had a port that could be de-accessed, we took him swimming and he loved it.

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Joel loved horses.  He loved to sign horse.  Whether it was a rocking horse or a real live horse Joel was always ready to ride.  At Chuck E. Cheese or Disneyland it did not matter how many amazing rides awaited, Joel only wanted to ride the carousel again and again.  Just before we left for San Francisco, we took Joel to Hearts and Horses in Loveland, and watching him ride around the arena he was filled with more joy and energy than I had seen in a long time.  We cried as we watched him ride with sheer excitement.  Our family was able to do a lot of amazing things in these last four years, but watching Joel ride that horse is very close to the top of the best experiences in my life.

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Joel melted into his daddy.  There is nowhere on earth Joel felt more content than in his daddy’s arms.  Anyone who knew them, knew that Joel and Ryan had a special relationship, one that I could almost be jealous of, except that how could I be anything but glad that Joel had someone who could comfort him at all times, someone he loved so entirely.  If Ryan left the room for five minutes, Joel’s excitement at his return rivaled any military homecoming I’ve ever seen.  In the last week of Joel’s life I was the most grateful I have ever been that Joel could find a peace in his daddy’s arms that eclipsed any pain or suffering he experienced.  When I saw the way Ryan loved Joel I understood why God calls Himself our Father.  There is not greater love than that.

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Joel loved to laugh.  Joel had an amazing sense of humor.  Since he couldn’t talk, I was always shocked at the way he understood humor.  We took him to a children’s play once and he laughed at every joke, before most of the audience began to laugh, sometimes even catching a joke other people missed.  He thought people falling down was the funniest thing in the world, and almost as soon as he could stand on his own, he learned to “fake fall” to earn the laughter of other people.  No sound I have ever heard compared to the sound of Joel’s laughter.

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Joel’s preschool teachers shared amazing accounts of their relationships with Joel.  (I may type them out or ask them for the files of what they said to copy over at some point.)

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Ryan and I each shared what Joel taught us during his life.  Here is what I said:

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How do I sum up what five years with my beautiful son meant to me?  Raising Joel was a delight.  He was so full of joy.  Every time Ryan and I got heartbreaking news we would tell each other that, you know, if all of this we had gone through was just so three people would be saved and spend eternity in heaven, we would live it all over again.  The truth is, now I’d live it all over again now, just to have him back.  I am not the same person I was when I first sat in the intensive care unit with Joel.

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Joel has taught me to live deeply.  I was used to investing the minimum amount necessary, always afraid of failing, knowing that if at least I hadn’t tried very hard it wouldn’t be much of a loss, if it didn’t work out, but Joel required all of me.  I remember the weeks after we were first told Joel was terminal.  Watching him do something new or unexpected and feeling love well up in me, but only so far.  Suddenly my love for him was a liability.  The  more I loved Joel the more I stood to lose.  For the first time I understood what sacrificial love meant.  Love was not safe.  Love made me vulnerable.  Everything within me urged me to hold back, to protect myself from being even more hurt than I already could be.  After many heart-wrenching months Joel taught me that he was worth loving, he was worth all the pain that my love for him could bring.  I was risking my whole heart, and he was worth the risk.  Eventually loving Joel fully didn’t make my heart ache with the fear of promised pain.

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Loving deeply helped me learn to believe deeply.  I had grown up believing God’s promises were true.  I knew that God meant for us to live powerful lives that displayed His glory, but I had never sacrificed anything to live that life.  Over and over again, Joel’s fight with cancer forced me to decide if I could expect great things from God in the middle of tragic circumstances.  Once again, I knew that my expectation opened me up to the possibility of disappointment.  If I expected very little at least I wouldn’t be let down.

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I’m not sure when I made an active choice to risk my whole heart to trust God, to believe that He had the most glorious outcome possible for Joel.  I think as soon as I stopped protecting myself from loving too deeply, I didn’t want to protect myself from believing too deeply either.  My life became forfeit to God’s plan for Joel.  I wasn’t sure a month ago that I could really walk Joel to eternity, believing the entire time with all of my heart that he would be healed, raised from the dead if necessary.  I wanted to be able to do that, but I wasn’t sure I could face the pain and hold on to hope at the same time.  Then Joel’s eye turned in, and his face drooped, he stopped swallowing, stopped walking, stopped standing, until eventually he stopped smiling, stopped talking, stopped laughing, stopped having facial expressions at all.  All the things I feared were happening before my eyes.  I knew that Joel was dying, and by the time he needed oxygen and pain medicine, it was clear that the moment I had expected for three long terminal years had come.  Joel would have his mighty miracle or be lost to us on earth.  I held nothing back, I fully believed that Joel would be healed, not only healed but fully restored, and grow into a man who lived a powerful life that displayed God’s glory.  The fact that Joel was dying before my eyes only meant we were closer to seeing a miracle than we have ever been, and I know now that I had held nothing back in my belief for that miracle.  I know that I did not protect myself in my pursuit of God and His glory.  I invested everything I have.  I know it because when Joel died I was shocked.  After three years of his being terminal and watching him die before my eyes I was still surprised that he was dead.  We had never made plans for his death, because he really wasn’t going to die.  I had invested my whole heart and God would be faithful.

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Love is not safe.  Believing God is not safe.  I risked everything, and my reward is pain.  Deep pain and anger, more anger than I have ever let myself feel in my life, and this is Joel’s last lesson to me.  Joel, in his delightfulness taught me to love deeply, in Joel’s great need he taught me to believe deeply, and in the emptiness he left behind he is teaching me now to feel deeply, to cry openly, to let myself stay mad, not even trying to explain it away or understand it.  I risked everything and now, I am broken.  As angry as I am, that cancer won when I know that Jesus defeated it at the cross, angry that the victory I was promised never came through, as justified as my anger feels I trust God to heal me. I know God is good, and I know that He loves me and right now I feel like that’s all I know, except for this one other thing, I know that even though Joel has died I don’t regret investing everything I had into this little boy and this big God, because I wouldn’t want to sit in this moment now, composed and not surprised.  I earned this pain it is mine.  I feel it so deeply because I believed God so fully.  I didn’t believe I could be disappointed and I was, but I would rather own my disappointment and confusion than know that I held anything back, protected any part of myself from living as deeply as these last four years invited me to live. I would rather have my heart ripped from chest than to have a heart that didn’t believe that resurrection life was ours for the taking, that it is still our promise and inheritance.  I would rather have my victory unjustly stolen from me, than to think it was never really mine to start with.

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Along the way I discovered that God had strategically placed around us people who were just as fully invested.  It took a dying son for me to learn to live so fully, but somehow all of these people in our church and community were all-in from day one.  More people than I can count have prayed impossible things with us.  We have been given special experiences again and again by people and organizations who never got tired of encouraging us.  Somehow, four years in, no one was done loving us.  Even today when I stand before you unsure of so many things, I have seen God’s faithfulness poured out to overflowing, meeting every need we have, financial, emotional, physical, through people who love deeply, believe deeply and feel deeply.  You have held nothing back in your support of us, and if it weren’t for Joel I would never have known how deeply we could be loved, how faithful God could be, even when I’m angry.

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Here is what Ryan shared:

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Loving Joel has taught me that love isn’t safe.

But love is good.

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Losing Joel is shown me that trusting God isn’t safe.

But trust is good.

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Being Joel’s Daddy has revealed to me that though I could not keep him safe.

My love for him.

My trust in Him.

Was good.

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I want to share with you what it means to me to be an earthly father, with a broken child.

I want to shout at you how much I loved Joel, though he was not able to work for my love.

And I want to show you why Joel’s trust in me, his willingness to abide with me, to melt into my side as we sat for hours and days and weeks with him in my arms, was the greatest joy of my life.

I want to reveal the love of a father to you.

Because it is good.

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I’ve said before that Joel’s brokeness did not cause me to love him less.  It compelled me to love him more.  His inability to talk to me made me want to connect with him in any way that I could find. His inability to walk made want to carry him where ever we went.  His inability to eat caused me to feed him at every meal.  His brokeness did not cause me to reject him.  It stirred up in me a longing to love him, and comfort him; to connect with him and know him.

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I loved Joel, and Joel could do nothing for me.  He could not obey me, or work for me, he could not talk to me, or learn from me, and so all I desired is that he could be with me; In my arms or on my lap.  All I desired was that he would desire to rest beside me so that I could be the one to comfort him, and feed him, and scratch his little arms because he like it, and watch Barney the Dinosaur for the 8th time in so many hours because he wanted it.

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I longed to heal Joel and to see him restored physically and mentally.

I longed to know him, to know his thoughts, fears, and favorite things.

I longed to protect him and have him run to me in times of danger.

I longed to have him imitate me and trade a loud joke and a quiet I love you.

I longed to be his rest.

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I learned from Joel what a good father is.

I learned from Joel the significance of the words

“Our Father who art in heaven”

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Our Father who feeds us our daily bread and living water that we may not hunger or thirst

Our Father who longs to gather us to himself as a hen gathers her chicks.

Our Father who rides in on the clouds with fire in his nostrils to rescue us from those bent on destruction.

Our Father who is our rest.

Who would not spare even his own son, so that He might show us what it means to love and forgive and heal and show grace to our messy broken lives.

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“Our Father who art in heaven”

Abba

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Who prepared a place and an eternity to spend with his son Joel, my son Joel; so that Joel might find rest for his soul, healing for his body, and life eternal, so that Joel’s earthly father, his son Ryan might hold Joel again.

After our surprise birthday celebration from the hospital today, we came home, and Joel got to go and ride a horse, at an amazing local charity called “hearts and horses,” on just one day’s notice they set up an incredible experience for Joel with so many helpers and an occupational therapist to walk beside him on the horse. Joel came to life on the horse. Even at his best on steroids Joel is not quite himself. It takes more to make him smile or laugh, but as soon as Joel got on the horse he was giggly and chatty and just so happy. I cried a little at the beginning because it was so amazing to see, and Ryan cried a lot at the end. It was just wonderful in so many ways.
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Joel got to go say goodbye to a lot of his preschool teachers today, and I was glad they got to give him hugs before we left. We also did a really cool clay project at home that a friend of ours brought by. She is an art therapist at the local hospice, so we put thumb prints in clay with Joel and it was just a really special time to share together and I know we’ll cherish the end result!
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My sister and brother-in-law had us over for dinner tonight and that was such a fun time for everyone. It was a good and very busy day. We’re still up packing, but we know we need to get to sleep so we can get an early start tomorrow finishing up all the lingering tasks.
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Here are a few photos of Joel on the horse, and a short video.

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Joel Rides A Horse from Ryan Green on Vimeo.

We just got back from a two week road trip to Washington DC.  We went back and forth for several weeks about whether we could afford to go, and if we could afford to go whether it was wise to go, knowing that money would be even tighter when we got home.  (We have been living on our savings while Ryan works on a video game that shares Joel’s life.  There are so many amazing stories of the way God has supported us, and I will save most of them for a post in August, but I will say that 5 months of savings has lasted us over 9 months, the game now has a development team of four amazing men, and we are not going to have to live on our savings anymore, which is super good since there isn’t anymore left.)

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We are so glad we chose to go on the trip.  Our family always feels closer after two weeks of sharing air in a van and sleeping all in the same hotel rooms.  Ryan always tells me that taking great family trips while Joel is healthy is a huge priority for him, and I love him for that!  Just before we left on the trip we were feeling a little uneasy. We had been gradually noticing that Joel wasn’t walking much, and when he was he fell over within a few steps.  Something was definitely off enough that I asked Ryan if he had noticed and he said he had.  We wondered aloud if perhaps Joel was just really tired from chemo, or if it was something worse, something neurological.  We agreed to keep watching it, which is what we always do, the serious things always get worse, and cancer parent have a way of assigning every fleeting oddity to cancer.  At church on Sunday, the youth group was giving testimonies about the conference they had returned from.  I have helped with the youth group but was not able to attend the conference.  I was not surprised when they told about praying for a girl with back pain and watching her leg grow before their eyes so that it matched the length of her other leg and the pain stopped, and praying for a man with a limp from a snowboarding accident two years before, and his tears as he told them the pain was gone for the first time since then, and so many other testimonies.  I was not surprised because I have watched them grow in faith and love, but I was so very proud of them.  During ministry time, the youth stood in the front of the church and people went up to them for prayer.  I felt very strongly in my spirit that I should go get Joel and let them pray for him.  (I don’t bring Joel up for many alter calls for healing anymore, mostly because I believe God is doing something in His timing, but I really felt lead to go and get Joel.)  So, I pulled Joel out of the nursery at church and brought him up for prayer.  I told them about his walking, and then said that of course, they could always pray for his turned in eye or his deafness or even his tumors.  When we walked away from prayer it felt important, Joel kept looking back and signing “more,” but he can’t tell me if anything felt better or different.  Still, I noticed, he was quick to climb up on the couches, and “jump” off, and climb up again.  I couldn’t say for sure yet, but something seemed different.  Later that day, at home, Joel took off walking, around the neighborhood.  He walked farther than I’ve ever seen him walk and he didn’t slow down or fall.  Eventually I was the one who turned him back to home.  Later that evening he did the same thing, and we took this video of it.  The boy who the day before was falling every few steps, and crying a little when we would set him down to walk on his own.

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So, we began our trip with Joel feeling great.   A little miracle is a great way to begin a vacation.  A few days into our vacation, Joel started to look pretty sick. Ryan kept asking me if he was ok, and I said he was probably just sleepy. He refused all food and drink and basically looked miserable. We got to a restaurant and got him out of the van. He had a giant seizure and his head was getting warmer. When we sat in the booth at the restaurant he even refused to cuddle up against Ryan’s chest, he just laid down on the booth bench and moaned, still refusing all food and drink. It was hard for me to insist he was just tired now. I told Ryan maybe if he wasn’t better by tomorrow we needed to call our doctors, perhaps he was experiencing radiation necrosis and needed steroids. Ryan just looked at miserable Joel and said, we have to at least get to Chicago if he’s not ok. (We were just outside of Des Moines on our second day of driving.) Then we stopped and prayed for him. We thanked God that he healed Joel from whatever made him not want to walk on Sunday and acknowledged that He is the same God today as He was on Sunday. Within two minutes Joel got up and began eating ribs and cornbread and sausage. He started giggling and drinking water, it was really amazing!  We had tried everything we could think of to get Joel to eat or even drink anything, because we knew that if Joel really was sick, that was the one thing that could cancel the whole vacation. Here are the photos of Joel before and after we prayed for him.

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From there on our we pretty much just had a great vacation.  Lots of fun and new memories!  Here are some of the best photos from our trip, but you can see all of them on his facebook page that a friend of ours runs for Joel  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Im-Praying-Believing-for-baby-Joels-Miracle/289971121072

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We are so glad to be home, and really glad we went, even if it’s mac and cheese and beans and rice for dinner a few times in the next couple weeks while we let our income catch up!

I think most of you have seen Joel’s youtube video. In fact, a lot of the new visitors to Joel’s site are here now because of the youtube video. Today Joel’s video reached 100,000 views. (It is also on Godvine where it received around 90,000 views before the counts were combined, plus another 10,000 on Godtube, so we suspect this video has had around 200,000 views.
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A film crew from soul pancake came out and spent two days with us in November. It was a wonderful experience for our whole family, and I am so grateful that they gave us a platform to share our story and our faith. We got bad news the day they were filming, but even in the middle of receiving the terrible news, I couldn’t help but think, “Now when God turns everything around again the number of people who witness His faithfulness will be even greater.” Joel’s next MRI is on Monday morning (just five days away.) We’ll be sure to post results on Monday.
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If you have not seen the video yet, here it is!
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So…this happened tonight:
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I threw a hershey’s kiss Joel wanted pretty far away and set him on the ground and he walked to get it, quickly, with a lot of stability and no pain. We did it three times, and finally filmed it the third time.

Yesterday, after I wrote here that Joel had begun walking with his walker again, and that I felt almost certain he was ready to just take off.  We were out in the backyard, and this happened.

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I have talked a lot about Joel walking with his walker, and we are working on editing a nice video of it, but until then, here’s a quick video of Joel with his walker on his birthday in Target, so you can see how he gets around.  Pretty cute stuff.

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Also, today we met with Joel’s preschool teacher.  He starts preschool on Tuesday, there will be 7 kids in his class.  We are really excited and we think he’ll get lots of focused attention and help!

Joel went in for his MRI about 50 minutes ago, so it should be wrapping up within half an hour and we should be able to post results within a couple hours. In the meantime, if you want to read my thoughts going into the MRI this morning, read the post below this one. If you want to watch a video of Joel laughing a lot playing with Elijah, then click play!

As I wrote earlier, Joel took some pretty big steps today. We were very excited. As I was waiting for these new videos to upload I looked at videos from last year and I was just amazed by everything God has done for us! I am the mom of a very healthy big boy who has come so far from the sick little baby he was. Praise God who has been so faithful! These two videos from this afternoon are even more evidence of how big God has been in our lives!
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