God Did This

10 Comments 19 February 2009

The stress got to me today. It hasn’t happened very often and it usually doesn’t last long when it does, but when it comes, it comes like a flood – abrupt, painful, and pervasive to every aspect of my life. Today it was more like a tsunami. While these episodes have yet to be crippling, the suddenness with which they come and the relatively minor events that seem to trigger them always leaves me wondering if I’m falling back into some old habits, my old ways of “dealing” with stressful events in my life. It frightens me to think that maybe I’m not ready for all of this, that maybe I’ve tricked myself and others into believing that it’s all going to work out just fine. What if my faith isn’t strong enough to carry me through? What if the reason that we’ve been able to enjoy this adventure up to this point is simply that we haven’t yet been hit with the fatal wave of circumstances that is certain to wipe us out? What if we can’t possibly handle what’s coming our way? What if our marriage suffers? What if Eliot is overshadowed, over-stressed, and overwhelmed? What if my career, my company doesn’t succeed? What if, what if, what if…

Stress and, more specifically, recognizing the stress in my life has been an issue for me for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been pretty good about sucking it up, dealing with it, ignoring the pain…fill in whatever other cliché you can think of here. Problem is I never dealt with the stress; I just got really good at not allowing myself to feel it; essentially I was ignoring it. Sounds great, right? Never feel stress again…who wouldn’t want that? Unfortunately however, I learned the hard way that you cannot confine this talent to just the stress in your life. At least I wasn’t able to; maybe others can, but I couldn’t and didn’t. I also learned the hard way that ignoring the stress is not the same as dealing with it and just as the rubber on your tires only has so many miles it can handle so also does the tread on your soul. The miles add up, the tread breaks down, the soul falls apart…

While I was busy ignoring the stress in my life, I was also ignoring the wounds that were being inflicted by stressful events in my life. To make matters worse, my ignorance of my own stress level allowed these wounds to grow instead of heal. The hurt, anger, bitterness, and frustration from these events was building up inside of me and never found release. Possibly worse than that or at the very least equally unhealthy is the fact that I was also ignoring the needs of those around me – close friends, family, and strangers alike. Without even realizing it, I was shutting people out of my life, including those closest to me, and I slowly became aware that I was living alone, inside the very constricted, cold walls that I had built up over the years. Walls that were initially intended to protect me were now walls that confined me. My growth as a person, as a member of the community God created, had become like that of a fish, restricted to the size of the container that bound me.

Well, as you might imagine, you can’t go on living life this way until something eventually gives. And give it did…big time! I’ll spare you the details, but know that thanks only to the Lord above, the effects of a life lived this way, though certainly life altering was not life destroying. And the damage that was done, with help from good friends and good people in my life, was quickly undone and I was soon well down the path of reclamation and restoration of a soul that had lost its way.

I learned a few lessons along the way – I learned a little about life and I learned a little bit more about the God who made this life possible. Now that I look back on the course of events of my life, I know that I was never alone in all of this. Though I never asked for it, never would have admitted it, and oftentimes was never even aware of it, I had a lot of help in keeping it all together when it very easily could have all fallen apart. There was a hand at work, busy filling the cracks and holes in my life that had begun to accumulate as a result of my choices and the bumpy, dark, and dusty roads I decided to travel. Back then, I never stopped to reflect on my life, I just kept moving, onward and upward…or so I thought. I never stopped to give thanks and I never stopped to consider just how blessed I was.

These days I do look back – almost daily – and I do give thanks after carefully considering just how blessed I am. I consider how fortunate I am to have the wife that I have and I consider all of the ways that she was designed perfectly just for me. I also consider how amazing my daughter is and how her attitude and happy-go-lucky-ready-for-anything nature will be just right for the challenges that lie ahead. I consider how truly incredible my parents are as are many of the other folks they brought into my life who have all contributed to the person I am today. I consider how amazing it is that the people who have selflessly and tirelessly carried us, cared for us, and loved us from the day the Quint Invasion began entered our lives only 18 months prior.

When the tidal wave of emotion and stress comes over me and sends me reeling into a backwash of doubt and anguish, these are the things that I consider. And after careful consideration, there is only one conclusion that I believe any man who has his wits about him and has in place a rational view of his role in this world can come to: God did this. God chose to knit me together in my mother’s womb, to place me in my parents’ care, to bring me together with my amazing wife, to bring Eliot into our little world, to bring us to Riverbend Church and the Marriage Builders group. He chose to smooth out the rough patches of our lives, to challenge me, shape me, mold me, and to love me too much to leave me the way I was and am today. And he chose to breathe life into those five little babies that now breathe life into ours.

So this is how I make it through and this is how I know I’m not falling back into those old, dangerous habits. When the stress strikes, the world begins to tighten its noose, and the air suddenly gets really thin, this is the place I always return: God did this; there is no doubt in my mind. God did this and he will see us through. How he’ll do it, how he’ll answer the what if’s that seem to come up every day, no one can say. To be honest, I don’t know much of anything beyond how I’ll handle today. And, strangely, I’m comforted by that. It takes some getting used to, but yes, I’m comforted by the fact that I have little clue as to what road I’ll be traveling when I wake up tomorrow morning. I’m comforted because I believe that this is exactly where he wants me – living one day at a time, living a life completely dependent on him. God did this just as he has always done this, with or without my permission. God did this and he will continue to do this. God did this, and with his continued guidance and direction on my life, we’ll continue to be able to do this…somehow, some way…one baby step at a time…

God Bless,

How Can You Possibly Believe This All Happened By Chance??!


How Can You Possibly Believe This All Happened By Chance??!

4 Comments 27 January 2009

Quick update: Good news on Lila, but not great news…yet. The PDA is smaller than it was, but is definitely still there and is definitely still a problem. They are not continuing the meds for the time being, but also are not pushing to operate either. They are going to re-check her heart again tomorrow. We should know more about Ryan’s heart late today or tomorrow. Please continue to pray!!

One of the cool things about spending time in the hospital and talking with doctors on a daily basis about Casey or the babies is that you get to learn a lot of really fascinating things about the human body. For example, did you know that much of the amniotic fluid that developing fetuses spend their days in is actually from the baby’s urine? Kind of gross, but fascinating at the same time, right? Or this really interesting tidbit – babies learn to coordinate sucking, breathing, and swallowing around the 32nd week of pregnancy. They can suck, but they forget to swallow. Or they swallow, but forget to breathe. Kind of makes it difficult to take the new baby home which is mainly why ours have to stay in the NICU for so long.

Not only is it fascinating to me that our bodies are programmed to know these things and perform these functions without our needing to do anything about it, but it is also really cool to me that we know that our bodies do these things. How is it that we know that cerebral palsy is caused by a group of blood vessels in the brain that bleed in premature babies and from other trauma? I don’t know, but I am thankful for that knowledge and I am thankful for the tools we have to diagnose the problem early on. How do we know that giving the expectant mother two shots of steroids during the 28th week of pregnancy will help the baby’s brain, lungs, and intestines to mature faster if it is born in the next four weeks? Again, I have no idea how we know that, but I am forever grateful to the doctor who figured it out!

When I come across a nugget of wisdom about our amazing bodies, my belief in our design is emphatically reinforced. I am awe-inspired by the level of sophistication that went into the biological processes that we take for granted. Some of the simplest and sometimes most annoying aspects of our bodies often turn out to be vital to our survival. Ever thought much about ear wax? Try typing “ear wax” into Wikipedia then try ever taking ear wax for granted again. Annoying? Yes. Gross? Sometimes, yes. Vital? You betcha! It turns out that ear wax is one of those incredible little things that seems to be something so simple yet is something so incredible when you dig a little deeper! Some see a simple biological function, others see amazing design.

As I listened to Dr. Hodges, the Seton neonatologist, explain what is going on with two of my daughters’ hearts, I had one of these moments that I get from time to time when learning about our complex little world. These moments – they come and go at times expected and times unexpected – are times when I feel a warm and comforting sense of the power that surrounds us. I’ve had “moments” on the beach, I’ve had them on top of a mountain. I’ve had them at church, at work, and at school. I’ve had them in hospital rooms and now I’ve had one of these moments in a neonatal intensive care unit as I slowly rocked my barely two pound daughter and listened to her doctor speak.

You see, Dr. Hodges was explaining that there is a blood vessel in all of our hearts that is designed to be open during pregnancy and closed after pregnancy. He was explaining that our bodies know that our lungs need more blood while in utero than after we are born and that is why our bodies know to shut this vessel once we are born. He also explained that in premature babies, this vessel sometimes doesn’t close because our bodies were designed to last longer in the womb and as such didn’t know that it was time to close the vessel.

The fact that we know all of this about our bodies is amazing enough. The fact that we know what to do about it is even more amazing. Dr. Hodges went on to explain that there is a medication that we can give the babies that can close this vessel. “Well how does the medication know to close this vessel without closing other vessels?,” I asked. He said he didn’t know. Is there something unique about this vessel that causes it to react to this medication without affecting the others? “Yes,” he replied, “there is. It was designed to close after birth and it is the only vessel that we carry that is pre-programmed to do this.”

And that’s when the moment happened…the comforting warmth that enveloped my body and put a smile on my face. In moments like this, I know there is a creator with a plan for our lives. In moments like this, I know there is design and purpose to our lives and I am reminded of the complexity of it all. And I am awe-inspired by the rhythm and beauty of the design. Some see simple biological processes, others see design.

I don’t get it, personally. I don’t know how you can say this all happened by some evolutionary accident. Believe in evolution if you will, and I’m not getting into that debate here, but don’t tell me that this all happened by chance. Don’t tell me that because we have science we need no God. I can’t make my mind work that way. I simply can not accept that the complex beauty of life – the beautiful struggle – just happened and we are all the lucky holders of a winning evolutionary lottery ticket. If you want to believe that we are products of evolution, that’s fine. On some levels I can accept that explanation for the way nature has worked itself out. But I can not accept that explanation if you remove God from the equation.

See, those who see what is happening with my daughters’ hearts as a simple biological process have a little issue they have to deal with. Though they claim to have the answers for how it all works, what they will never be able to explain with any level of credibility is how it all began. How did the first domino fall? How did something all of a sudden explode out of nothing? With all of our scientific knowledge, that question now and always will go unanswered. I don’t see simple biological processes, I see design. I see the hand of God at work in complex issues like what is happening in my daughters’ hearts and I see it in the most mundane of biological processes…and yes, that even includes ear wax!

God Bless,


Advice You Don’t Normally Get From a Doctor

5 Comments 18 January 2009

We got some prayer advice from an unexpected source yesterday afternoon…the neonatologist, Dr. Hodges, who was in the operating room and was responsible for the babies’ care for their first two days. What a blessing to have a Christian man making decisions for our babies when their lives were in such critical need! He gave us a few things that we should be specifically praying for and so we invite you to join us in lifting up the following:

– Development of the babies’ ability to eat well and process foods on their own. The sooner they can do this, the sooner they can pull out the IV’s.
– Protection from infection. This is one of the greatest dangers to the babies’ health. The more IV’s they have and the longer they have them, the higher the risk of infection.
– Clarity in decision making and general well-being of the NICU doctors and nurses…please don’t forget about these amazing people who have provided their love and expertise to keeping our babies healthy and growing!

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers, and support throughout this journey! The babies are all doing very well!!

God Bless,

You’ll Never Know Whose Life You’ll Impact


You’ll Never Know Whose Life You’ll Impact

10 Comments 08 January 2009

There is a twist to our story that I’ve mentioned briefly before, but which hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. For some reason preparing for the quintuplet invasion has overshadowed a few other parts of our lives. Well, it’s time this twist had its day in the sun.
It’s crazy to say, but we’ve actually seen much less of my parents since finding out about the quints than what we are accustomed. This has been hard for me because my parents have always been the involved type. From baseball games to basketball games to soccer games to football games – ok, all I did growing up was play sports – but they were always there to support me…always. My dad was my coach on several baseball teams, my mom used to run me to the batting cages whenever I asked, and both of them were there at almost every game I ever played. In college, they were there for parents’ days, they were there to help me move in and out of dorms and rentals, and they were there to help me build a wall for a new room at the fraternity house. They even used to drive down from Denton to take me to lunch on my birthday then hop in the car and drive straight back. Eight hours of driving to buy lunch for an ungrateful, arrogant, frat-daddy who at the time did not properly appreciate just how good I had it…now that’s love!
So the fact that they haven’t been around much lately is a hard pill to swallow…for them and for me. Thankfully, their absence isn’t the result of a falling out or any drama like that. No, thankfully there are a couple of qualified excuses. There’s the logistic reason – we haven’t been able to travel since September; and then there’s the real reason – my parents are in the process of adopting two little girls who were rescued from Child Protective Services.
Before the news of the quints hit us, the big news in the Jones family was these two little girls who came to live with my parents in late July. Mom and Dad got a stir in their heart five months prior while watching a segment on a Dallas news program called “Wednesday ‘s Child” which highlights a different story each week of a child (or sibling children) in foster care. They decided that their life had become too much about their own lives and not enough about others’ lives and that God was calling them to do better. So they answered the call and went to work. They filed the paperwork, took the classes, conducted the interviews with CPS, made the necessary changes to the house, and talked with close friends about this life change they were contemplating. Basically, they jumped in head first saying all along that they would pull back when God told them to pull back. Well, guess what? He never did so neither did they and quicker than they expected, the process was complete, the girls were brought to their home, and their once quiet life was suddenly anything but quiet.
So two little girls now live with my nearing-age-60-faster-than-they-would-like parents. Two little girls, ages 6 and 7, who were rescued from their horrible living conditions by Child Protective Services. Two little girls named Summer and Angel who last saw their biological mother as she was being handcuffed and driven away to a cage she won’t see the outside of for 18 years. Two little girls, half sisters whose fathers couldn’t be found and who went unclaimed by other family members over the course of seven months in foster care. Yes, thankfully, my parents haven’t been around as much as we’d like, not because that’s the way we want it or the way it’s become in a broken family, but rather because they’ve got their own call to tend to.
Amidst all of the excitement of the incredible changes taking place in our family, there has also been a bit of confusion and frustration. Selfishly, Casey and I want them here and we want them more involved in our lives. Just as selfishly, we want to be able to be more involved in the lives of these two little girls. Selfishly, we want things to be like they used to be. Selfishly, they want the same thing as we do. They, like us, question the timing of all of this. They, like us, do not understand why God chose to drive our lives in opposite directions at a time when we want nothing more than to be closer than ever. But unselfishly, they tend to the call that God placed on their hearts with every ounce of heart that they have…even if that means being involved from afar in the incredible events surrounding their son’s life. Involvement from afar is not what the Jones family is accustomed to and it hasn’t been easy. And though we’ve questioned the timing of it all, we’ve never questioned whether it was right.
I am heartened by the fact that many of my closest relationships and many of the most profound, life-perspective-changing lessons that I have learned have been forged through adversity and struggle. And maybe that’s the point in God’s timing of all this. Maybe he saw a man who needed to mature beyond the shelter and comfort of his parents’ love. Maybe he saw a mature couple who had gotten too comfortable in life and decided to give them more, knowing they had so much more to give. Maybe he saw a family that could be so much closer, so much better at living the life he designed. And maybe he decided that the best way to help them reach that potential was to allow a little adversity and struggle into their lives. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
So now two little girls have a chance at life where before they had none. Two little girls who most likely would have ended up on drugs, living with abusive men, and eventually waking each new day in a prison just like their mom’s, now have a better chance at life than most because of two incredible people I call mom and dad. And now two people who had been around the block a time or two and were oh so close to sailing off into retirement instead find themselves reliving a life they thought they’d left behind. Two lives changing two lives moment by moment, day by day.
No, this isn’t the script we would have written for our family, and this certainly isn’t the way we would have timed it, but that’s life, right? But through it all, somehow I think there will be more than just our family’s lives impacted by all of this. That’s our hope anyway. That’s how it’s always been in my family, that’s how we were taught to live life. My dad once told me that you’ll never know whose life you’ll impact by your actions and my parents have lived their lives with that truth as one of their driving forces. Sure, there is some struggle and adversity that comes into your life when you live it that way. It probably means that your heart will sometimes get pulled in opposite directions. It sometimes means that you’ll have to put your own dreams aside, no matter how noble they may be, to help another achieve their own. But then again, isn’t that the point?
*CPS rules prevents me from posting a picture of the girls, but rest assured, they are cute as can be!
God Bless,


Ready or Not

3 Comments 13 December 2008

Lately, the only time I’ve felt overwhelmed by what is happening in our lives is when I go up to the gameroom. This used to be where Casey and I would work out every morning (something she and I used to do before news of the quints arrived and before school began). Now, it is where all of the baby stuff that we have begun to accumulate has been placed temporarily until everything can be organized and some sort of system can be figured out to handle all “Quint Care Operations.”

I’m not sure what it is about the gameroom that kickstarts my heart into panic mode, but it does it every single time I walk up there. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy and being a guy means that I respond to visuals more than anything. The gameroom, more so than Casey’s expanding belly (remember, to this point, I’ve seen her this big before with Eliot’s pregnancy), has become a visual reminder of just how crazy our life is going to be. There are piles and piles of clothes, eight or nine bouncy seats, diapers, diapers, and more diapers, blankets, bedding, bibs, burp rags, more blankets, three pack’n’plays – 90% of all of this stuff has been donated or gifted – and other stuff absolutely necessary (at least that’s what I’m told) to surviving life with five newborns.

It could also be the fact that I’m a “everything has its place and everything should be in its place” kind of guy and these randomly placed piles of stuff simply freaks me out! Actually, I know that’s part of the problem!

The other thing it could be is that the piles of stuff are a clear reminder of just how much life is going to change, and more to the point, how much of our old life Casey and I are going to have to give up in order to embrace this new life. Seeing all of this stuff piled all over my weights, crowding out my space is just too much for me to handle at the moment without having to talk myself down for a few moments.

We never planned on having a big family and we never would have written this script for ourselves so seeing the baby making operation begin to exert its will on our home is a not so subtle reminder of the force it will exert on every aspect of our lives. To be sure, there is a lot to be excited about and we are thankful for this amazing time in our lives, but also to be sure, we have had our share of “why?, how?, and are you kidding me?” moments as this journey has progressed.

Thursday night we had our Bible study group over for dinner and after dinner was over, they helped us rearrange some furniture in preparation for the babies. What I wasn’t prepared to do was clear my weights out of the gameroom, but they just started grabbing everything and moving it to the garage. To say the least, I was a bit pouty while this was happening and I’m not so sure I’m not still pouty.

It’s so strange how little things like that can hit so hard sometimes, but it did. I guess my reaction to all of this is a strong indication that I’m not quite ready for what’s coming, but can you ever truly be ready for five babies at one time?? No, I don’t think you can, but that’s life, right? The lessons learned the best are sometimes the lessons that force themselves on you when you least expect it.

But here’s the deal, we have a lot coming our way and there will certainly be some heartache that accompanies this change, but how can we be anything but grateful and humbled by it all? How many have lost loved ones in the blink of an eye or had to stand helplessly as their house burns to the ground in the middle of night or found out that their baby has a disability that will be with them throughout life? The list could go on forever of all of the calamities and heartaches that strike in an instant, without warning, without mercy and turn people’s lives upside down forever. How on earth do you deal with something like that? I won’t even attempt to get into the “why?, how?, and are you kidding me?” of that…

Not only are we not dealing with calamity or heartache, we have five precious little lives coming into our world, but we’ve had a chance to prepare (as best we can at least). We’ve had a chance to say a prayer (actually, lots of prayers) to ask for guidance, to seek acceptance, and to get the help we need in coming to grips with everything – something a lot of people don’t have the luxury of doing when their life is rapidly unraveling. We’ve had the incredible experience of watching family, friends, and strangers rally around us in support, prayer, and love not only for us, but also for five lives unborn. And amidst all of the preparation and the worry and the how of it all, we’ve had the joy of dreaming of what amazing gifts are being prepared for us by our Father in Heaven.

So, yeah, I get overwhelmed and we worry and sometimes we complain a little bit. But at the end of the day, it all comes back around and we remember just how good we’ve got it…and just how good it’s going to be. As for my weight room, it’s a thing of the past as are many other parts of what I used to call normal life. But as for today, excited anticipation (and the occasional hyperventlation) is here to stay. And our future, well, ready or not here it comes!!
God bless,


Uplifting? Check!

1 Comment 06 December 2008

Casey just told me this little tidbit from a friend today and I had to share. This is the cool kind of thing we get to experience several times a week…

One of Casey’s mom’s good friends came from Denton today to our baby shower. She drove four hours to get here, stayed for an hour or so, then drove four hours home…totally awesome, but not the reason for this blog.

This is why I write tonight – she told Casey that she prays for the babies every day and that one time while she was praying, she felt an overwhelming sense that she should “pick one.” So she did – she picked Lila Addison as her “one”. And from that day forward, she has said her prayer for the babies and then she says a prayer specifically for Lila. How cool is that? Little girl isn’t even born yet and she already has a prayer warrior assigned to her…VERY COOL!!

This is exactly what I mean when I say the response and the love that we have gotten from everyone has been so uplifting! It gives us such an incredible sense of the power at work in these babies’ lives when we have these encounters! Thank you, Jan, for the love that you’ve shown our family, the quints, and especially little Lila Addison!!

God Bless,

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