Let Us Continually Offer Praise

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name. Hebrews 13: 15

“Precious Memories, how they linger. How they ever flood my soul!” Remember those words from the beautiful old hymn?

Last night, I was reminded of some of those precious memories. Scott had called on his way home from the eye doctor. He had been for one of his weekly treatments to help train his eyes and improve his eyesight. Those memories of years ago came rushing back – a time when deep sadness turned to gratitude and joy.

I thought about all the happiness that surrounded his birth, and then all the other different emotions that soon followed. It has been quite awhile since I have actually taken the time to stop and remember those days and to give God all my heartfelt praise once again for the gift of His love and grace. It is a personal story, but one I think is worthy of sharing.

Bob and I were so excited to have a son, Robert Scott Frans, to add to our family. He was born to us and our 5 year old daughter, Kelly, on September 8, 1981. He was such a healthy, beautiful, blonde-headed, little boy and he stole our hearts from the very beginning.

But in the weeks that followed, there was this gradual uneasiness that something was not as it should be. I remember how he would never look directly at us and it especially concerned me that he never smiled or noticed objects when we placed them before him.

I think I had known that something was wrong, but I just didn’t want to accept it until one night, when he was about 2 and a half months old, I read in his baby book that he should be smiling at us by 2 months of age. I tried desperately not to panic, but I was so scared.

I didn’t sleep much that night, and we were at the pediatrician’s office early the next morning. The doctor, too, was concerned and immediately sent us to see an eye surgeon. I can still see his face. His name was Dr. White, and I remember the moments after he examined him, and he looked me right in the eyes and said, “He’s blind, there is just no connection there, no light going through. Surgery will not help, and there is nothing we can do. You are just going to have to accept it.” I will never forget how insensitive and cruel I thought that was. 

Our lives turned upside down that night as our minds and hearts tried to deal with this devastating news. Here we thought everything was perfect – an adorable little girl, a sweet baby boy, a nice home, and a loving marriage. And it was – but still there was shock and pain that I can remember to this day.

We cried out to God in such despair, and I knew it was going to take all the strength He could give us and His grace to be able to accept this news and move on. I mourned the loss of the normal life I wanted for this child, and I grieved for our family. How could I even begin to explain to Kelly at her young age that this little baby brother she adored and had wanted for so long would not be able to see.

And Scott, this little innocent child, how could I protect him from the unknown challenges that lay ahead. I remember thinking of all the things he would never see, and I was devastated that he would never see my face smiling at him, or the love I had in my eyes for him. I thought of the silliest things like he would never get to see the sparkling lights on a Christmas tree or the ocean waves at the beach. I thought of him never getting to drive a car, or throw a ball with his dad, or read a book with his big sister.

That night was one of the longest and most difficult of our lives. We knew blindness occurs in many babies, teenagers, and adults, and they are able to live happy, normal lives with their families. And we knew there were many, many things that people go through that are so much worse than this. But we couldn’t escape the sadness that we felt. Like every mother does when faced with even the smallest problem with her newborn, I questioned everything I had done before and after he was conceived, trying to discover if there was something I might have done to cause harm to this precious child. My heart was broken and I was so frightened for what lay ahead for him – and for us.

In the days that followed, news traveled fast. So many people called to say that they were praying for us, and our church and many others put Scott and our family on their prayer list. We felt their love and prayers, and they gave us strength.

I even had a teacher in our school system, who had a blind daughter, knock on our door one day and ask if she could talk to me. She told me about sending her daughter to the School for the Blind in Raleigh at a very young age, and how she had flourished and done so well under their care during the years that followed.

I sat and listened to her in disbelief. I appreciated her concerns and I understood she came to give me comfort and hope, but to me, this was even more heartbreaking. I had just brought this child into our lives and the thought of sending him away was more than I could bear. I remember thinking that maybe her visit was a blessing in disguise for it was during those moments that I tried to accept the devastating news for the first time, dried my tears, and resolved to do whatever I needed to do. I was his mother, the one who would love him, protect him, and take care of him and make sure he had what he needed. I would help him live as normal a life as possible. I would learn what I needed to know to teach him – in our home, with our family.  I would teach him “to see” the world through my eyes.

But, even with this renewed determination and acceptance, these were really difficult days as we tried to come to grips with the reality of what lay ahead. Bob, however, was not as accepting and ready to give up. He was determined that we should see other doctors, and we saw two the following week. The last one gave us hopeful news we didn’t expect. He thought perhaps there was a really small chance that Scott’s eyes had not developed fully and when they did, maybe, just maybe, he might be able to see. That was the only glimmer of hope we had until . . .

One Saturday morning, a few weeks afterwards, Bob was upstairs with Scott in his room, and I was downstairs cleaning.  (How can I remember all these insignificant details over 30 years later!) I remember I heard him call out for me in almost a cry, and I went running. Scott was lying on his back in his crib and Bob was holding Cookie Monster and bringing him back and forth in front of him. Scott was smiling. He was looking directly at the bear and smiling the sweetest smile you could ever imagine! He would look at us and then at the bear!

The tears were flowing down Bob’s face and we cried together, and we laughed with Scott, and we called everybody we knew to give them the news. It was one of the happiest days of our lives. I  had never been so thankful in my life nor have I ever been since. Our child could see!

To me, it will always be God’s answer to all the prayers that were being said for him. To me, it will always be a miracle He gave to Scott, and to us. Perhaps it was because his eyes weren’t developed yet and it took time – even though he wasn’t premature, and I had never heard of this occurring in a child before or since – but I will always know that however it evolved, God gave our little one his sight.

Yes, problems remained. He has had problems with his vision all his life, and it took years for me to understand, and possibly he too, that he was seeing out of one eye only, and then, sometimes the other one. We were told from an early age that he did not see normally with both eyes working together to form an image that can be clearly seen. It caused his eye muscles to pull, creating a sort of lazy eye that got progressively worse over time as he got older. When he was in high school, we saw a specialist from Duke who offered to do surgery, but warned us of how difficult it would be as an adult. We left the decision with Scott and he decided to forgo the procedure.

It hasn’t been easy for him. Even now, he is working with a doctor to train his eyes to work together to send the brain one image both eyes can see, and he is wearing prism glasses that hopefully will help him learn to do so. It has been painful for him to deal with and something he has felt self-conscious of his entire life.

It was always heartbreaking when he would come home from school and be in tears because kids had been making fun of him. I tried to reassure him, as I fought back my own tears, that it wasn’t that big of a deal, and it was the person he was that mattered, but I knew those words meant little to a 12 year old boy whose perception of himself and the world was seen through the eyes of his friends.

But he had his sight, as difficult as it was for him to see normally; and I held on to that and was so grateful for it. It is just one of those things we will never understand, but Scott learned to handle it with such maturity and acceptance, and we have always been so proud of him.  

As I write this, I realize once again how grateful I am for the gift of God’s presence with us during this time. I sometimes forget the faith it took us to get through that difficult time and the strength and love He gave us to do so. I know this experience changed me. It was the beginning of my true trust and faith in Him. I knew from that moment on that I would never be the same. God opened my heart to Him in a way I could never have imagined, and I knew I could never doubt His love and assurance ever again.

I don’t think we appreciate enough what a miracle this experience was in so many ways. How different life could have been for Scott and for us. I have no doubt God would have gotten us through it, and that life would have been just as joyous and happy as it has been, even if it had not turned out as it did. But with the most grateful heart, I am so thankful we didn’t have to face those challenges he would have had.

What a reminder to give God the praise and the glory for this blessing and all the many others He has given us. As difficult as it has been for Scott to deal with all these years, he realizes what could have been and he is so grateful for his gift of sight. May we honor and praise His name always.Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.” 

 Prayer

Our most gracious and loving God, we thank you for the gift of Scott’s eyesight and for all the wonderful things he has been able to do because of it. We thank you for his life and what he means to us and to so many others. May we never forget from where these blessings come. But most of all, dear God, we thank you for the reminder that we don’t have to go through life’s painful circumstances  alone. How grateful we were and are for your presence with us and for the strength and comfort you give us. We give you all honor, praise and glory. Amen 

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