Matthew’s Story

If you have read many of my blog posts, you may already know my husband and I have three children, two being twins. Two weeks ago I wrote on a dream involving the pregnancy of my twins before I knew I was pregnant. You can read that here.

By the time my twins were a year old, I found out I was pregnant again (can you say surprised!). Because of the problems I had with the twins, I spent most of the first trimester in fear of losing this baby.

One day around week ten or eleven, I felt the calming voice of the Holy Spirit say, “You will not lose your baby and it will be a boy.”

Surprised, I was like, “I won’t lose him? And he’s a boy?” Nothing like having the God of the Universe speak the fear right out of you. Fear had no place in me now… I thought.

Later the doctor confirmed he was a boy. But it wasn’t long before fear crept back into my mind.

Another day, the Lord dropped a question into my mind: “Will you still love this baby if he is not perfect?

After catching my breath, I thought, Yes. I will still want and love this baby even if he has a birth defect, illness, or genetic issue.  The Lord was preparing me for something, what, I didn’tt know. But, I had peace.

I told my husband. We waited and prayed for this little boy, yet to be born.

Michael was born early at six pounds. He was completely healthy. Mike and I thanked the Lord for him.

About the time Michael was four months old, my twins were twenty months. Their development was behind because of their prematurity, and Alexandria had just started walking.

It scared Matthew to try the slightest step and he didn’t crawl well either. We noticed he moved his little legs awkwardly as he tried to take a few steps with our help.

We made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon soon after.

Mike and I thought he may need surgery on his hips since he wasn’t walking. But we were not at all prepared for what the doctor told us. Matthew had Cerebral Palsy (CP). Now, this is not at all a death sentence, but we never suspected our little boy would have long term problems.

Cerebral palsy results from damage to part of the brain controlling muscle tone. Matthew’s legs and other muscles were stiff (from the nerves over firing) making his muscles stay in a state of contraction. We noticed Matthew didn’t smile as quickly as Alexandria did, or roll over, or scoot on the floor. He was behind her in every way.

Matthew would not get worse but could get better with therapy.

By his second birthday we began physical and occupational therapy. Matthew got some braces for his legs and a cool little walker. He got good with the walker, too. Children use a walker differently than you see older adults use them. His went around his back and was open in front of him.

He would take off down a slight decline and raise his feet off the ground like he was on a ride.

Matthew had to have some painful surgeries, too. He had surgeries which stretched his muscles to lengthen them. See, his bones grew long, like they were supposed to, but his muscles remained contracted. That surgery took place when he was four. It was hard to see him in such pain.

It was hard to see kids ignore him, when he couldn’t keep up. Sometimes walking past families in McDonald’s, I’d hear children asking their parents, “What’s wrong with that boy”, as they pointed to Matthew. I’d see the mother mouth, “I’m sorry” when she knew I overheard. It didn’t bother me. Children are children, mine did the same thing.

It’s important to teach our children about things like these. For children to ask questions about what they don’t understand, is normal.

It’s our job as parents to teach our children compassion and understanding for those different from them.

Although, Matthew’s twin, Alexandria became very sensitive to children with any kind of special need. She sought to become friends with the rejected and different kids in school. As a college student coming home from a trip to communist country, she was heart-broken how the government treated their deformed, and special needs children and adults. She couldn’t imagine Matthew treated that way.

From the difficult beginnings of his life Matthew always had good self-esteem. We never held him back from trying something. I remember as a toddler, he wanted to get on a small rocking horse which sat on the floor. He would try again and again to pull his little leg over the “saddle” of the horse… until one day he got it. He sat on that horse so proud and rocked it!

That’s how our son is.

Matthew is twenty-four years old and he is very high functioning. He has been to Israel three times, graduated from college with a degree in International Relations, he speaks Arabic, and works as a financial analyst.

Nothing has held him back.

My husband had a hard time with Matthew’s diagnosis as first. He prayed and prayed the Lord would supernaturally heal him. Mike took him to a local faith-healer when Matthew was just four. I stayed home. Not that I didn’t want Matthew healed, it was just that the Lord had been so faithful to him!

My Father’s hand was on this little boy!

Our pastor asked us once if we would want Matthew healed if it meant Matthew might change from the compassionate, tender-hearted, God-loving boy he was. We both answered NO. We loved the little boy God had made him, disabilities and all.

God has a plan and purpose for every man, woman, and child born on this planet. Every child has value and is loved by the Father.

For You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well. Psalm 139:13-14.

14 thoughts on “Matthew’s Story

  1. This is an encouraging post, Stephanie. What an amazing young man. I admire parents of special-needs kids for how y’all deal w/the extra challenges (as if parenting alone isn’t challenge enough).
    PS: Viewed your interview on Awesome!

  2. Stephanie, this is so moving and heart-stirring. Love your story of pregnancies, God’s confirming voice, and Matthew’s sweet story. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy, but both him and Alexandria seem like such compassionate adults. They are helping to change perspectives and people’s lives.

    I’m a twin. I have a twin sister. She’s a pastor’s wife too. And our younger half sister is also married to a pastor. Although we had a very difficult childhood and dysfunctional family, what amazing grace the Lord called us into ministry and uses us for His glory. Love that He redeems us and our story.

    1. I remember reading you are a twin. I think there is a special bond between twins. I’m sure it has been the same for you and your sister. I am thankful we serve a God who uses the broken and the weak.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. There was a battle for those two, and as they grow up, I understand why. I have been blessed.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this personal and heartwarming story. My little brother Paul was also considered “disabled” as he was blind and epileptic. What he taught me was that the disability was in the mind of those who viewed him as such. In his mind, God had made him this way to inspire others. My heart goes out to your Ms. Alexandria and Mr. Matthew, and your entire family ma’am. I know for a fact that what made my brother’s life such a success of our family’s refusal to treat Paul as disabled. Because it takes some of us a little longer to do something, doesn’t mean we can’t do it. And if there’s something we can’t, we make up for it with other talents and gifts. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. That’s so true, JD. Treating people with special needs as “normally” as possible is better for all. We expected Matthew to do certain chores and behave just as well as his siblings. We never treated him as disabled. We did it too well at times–Matthew sometimes thought he could do anything.
      Thank you!

  4. Brita Alaburda

    The compassion shared and given by the members in your family are an inspiration to all. I would like to meet this strong young man someday!

  5. Such a story of encouragement, strength, and faith. Matthew has become accomplished in so many areas, and I know you are very proud of him. He sounds like a wonderfully blessed young man! Love that he is a twin, too. Love you, sister xoxo

    1. Thank you, again, Karen! Matthew told me he was going to start charging me when I wrote about him. There are just so many stories to tell about me children and the awesome ways of God. I do have another son, but he does not like me to write about him.

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