Brandon and Chelsea

Hal-Le-Lu-Jah

(Please listen to Brandon and Chelsea’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)

As a father, I mean, whenever, whenever we’re walking through difficult times, we’re asking the same questions, “God, why, why? Why? Why are we walking through this? Now? Why is this so hard now?” And it wasn’t because of my inability to speak. I can tell Landon, right? But he was so young that he literally was incapable of understanding. That part of it made me really stop, for the rest of my life I’ve stopped asking God, “God, why are we in this situation? Why are we in this moment?” You know, as if I’m even capable of understanding what He’s doing? You know, and sometimes He tells us, when we’re older and we can see what He’s doing. And it’s not because God isn’t or can’t speak sometimes. He can speak. But sometimes we are just incapable of understanding. And, but I told Landon, I said, “Buddy, you know, one day, this is, this was to save your life.”

And, and I knew that one day he would, he would grow up, and he would be really grateful for that. And he would actually see it as as being good. But as a dad, all I can ask in that moment is just, “Trust me. Just trust me; this was for your good. It was to save your life.”

When Landon was born, we knew that, when he was born, he was born sick. He was born really, really small, and had difficulty breathing. And so he stayed in the hospital for about a month before we ever even got to bring him home. And once we finally got him home, he was thriving and eating and breathing fine and had a totally normal infancy. Yeah. Um, and then around nine months, we started realizing that he was losing weight. And pretty drastically. Like, almost, I would say, half a pound a week, and got to the point where he looked almost like he was malnourished. His head was very large, his body was very small. He had no energy, no energy. We had to carry him everywhere. He couldn’t crawl, he couldn’t sit up, he couldn’t really do anything. At that point, we took him to Children’s Hospital in Dallas. That would have been in 2013. We took him to Children’s in Dallas and to multiple specialists in the hospital. They actually admitted us, so we lived there for a few months while they did testing and they gave him a tube to feed him and he still was losing weight.

They had a lot of doctors trying to figure out what was going on. And it took a couple months. Yeah. So but it turned out that he had obstructive sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea–there’s two kinds. There’s obstructive and there’s central. Obstructive is the most common to where there’s literally something obstructing his breathing. So once we found that out, you know, the diagnosis level was five episodes and hour. Most people will be diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, even adults, with five episodes of not breathing per hour. And Landon had 164 episodes per hour. So what they found out, they calculated, through an algorithm, that he was actually losing–he was burning 1800 calories every night trying to breathe. And so his body was never replenishing. He couldn’t replenish, his cells could not replenish, he couldn’t grow. He couldn’t–everything he was eating was literally being burned while he was trying to sleep. And so yeah, he couldn’t, he couldn’t grow. So all the symptoms that he had of being lethargic, and you know, having no energy. And they tell you that he’s failure to thrive, which is just the worst sounding diagnosis. Yeah, we heard some really, scary words. But we just needed, we needed answers. And we needed a solution. Because I mean, obviously it was, it was going downhill really quickly.

So he’s had nine surgeries, total. But the first couple of surgeries were very basic, like take out his tonsils, take out his adenoids, try and repair the airway, or trying to clean up the area so that he could breathe, and it did improve, somewhat. It would go down to, I think the next sleep study was 50 something per hour. Which, is still off the charts crazy. So we decided at that point, they sent us home on oxygen. And on a little tiny c-pap for a little baby. This is at home now. He’s about 21 months at this point. And he had been on oxygen from the time he was maybe 11 months, 12 months outside of the hospital. So around a year. I walked in his room. He was standing up in his crib, and he was saying, “Mama, Mama Mama.” And it looked as though he had marker or like an ink pad that maybe was smeared on his face and hands, everywhere. I thought oh my goodness, did his brother put a marker in the bed or, you know, all these things running through my mind. So I picked him up, I laid him on the changing table and I started wiping it with baby wipes. And immediately it went away. And I thought that was weird. I wonder if something’s wrong with my eyes. No, I know, it was there. So I called the doctor and at that point, he said, “Keep him awake.” He said, “That’s an episode of cyanosis to where like, literally, your extremities turn blue, because all the oxygen is trying to get to your vitals–he was basically almost dead. That is the stage right before death.

So Landon had his surgery. I remember walking back there and seeing him in the ICU for the first time. Landon’s on the bed there and, you know, he’s got this blue tube coming out and he’s in recovery. And he’s crying and screaming, you know? But nothing came out. Like, no sounds were coming out. I wasn’t, I wasn’t prepared for that. You know, I mean, I had no idea what that was going to be like. We had no idea that it would take away his voice. Most children with a trach don’t speak. They can learn to make sound with a valve, but they don’t speak. They don’t learn to speak. So it’s a two-way… You can have things…I mean, so I was like what can we do here? You know? In recovery? Like, what are his options? I mean, how does, does he just not speak? And they’re like, “Well, he can try a two-way valve and all this stuff but he’s right, in his development time.

There’s only been a handful of times where I’ve truly wept. In that moment, I mean, I lost it, like, really, really lost it. You know, you want to be strong for your kids and you want to just try to help them get through and encourage them and [tell them] that it will be okay. You know? But I just kind of leaned over, behind his bed, and it was for a couple hours. Like, I could not get it together. And it was, it was all the why questions, you know? Why? Why? Why Landon, why? Why us? Why? Why now? I mean, I just didn’t understand. Like, why is this so hard? I don’t understand why this is so hard. He (God) said, “It’s because you can’t explain to him why he woke up like that.” And, I wanted to as a dad, you know–he’s in this situation, it’s like a really trying, difficult, he just woke up without a voice. But I couldn’t explain to him why.

The joy that it brings to your ears, to even hear a sound that’s not a scream, from the first part, and then let alone that it’s the word “hallelujah.” That he’s praising the Lord with his first word.

As I was really asking all these questions, “Why?” The focus was always on me up until that point, really kind of in my life. And I only had this lens of like, how does this impact me? How does this impact my family? And The Lord just spoke and said, “Your life is not your own. Your life is to be lived for others.” And and so He said, “If you can understand the moment, like the situation that you’re in, I can use you.” From that moment forward, it’s like, now he’s in recovery for months, like months, and all the training…it’s a complete life change.

So fast forward a little while, and Landon’s about three now. He’s had his trach for about a year. And he’s making little sounds with a speaking valve. But it’s very much like a yell. Like a, “ahhh, ahhh,” and he would get so frustrated. He’d go off to a corner just for hours and roll around and scream. And I mean, from the point where you [as a parent] just are, you’re helpless, really. And our prayer was always that Landon would speak. From the very beginning, our whole family had decided, you know what, we’re not going to pray that he will speak. We’re going to pray that he’s completely healed.

His grandparents have a global ministry, and had people from all over the world come to their home for counsel. And there was a Brazilian woman who had a testimony of her own. And part of her testimony was that she had a trach. She saw Landon’s picture on the mantel at his grandparents’ house. She had asked permission to pray for him. Landon was four years old. And she cancelled–she was hosting a conference almost like a Pink Impact or huge women’s conference in Brazil and she canceled. She said, “I’m going to stay here because the Lord has something for me here.” And through translation, she started telling us, “Landon’s going to speak. He’s going to speak at night, when he’s sleeping. And then he’s going to start speaking every day, new words every day. And God is going to use his voice to reach the multitudes, the world. He’s going to use his voice to reach the world.” Yeah. And we were all just sitting in the living room together kind of all over the living room. And we started out just by playing a couple worship songs. And she just opened her Bible, we can see she was reading and praying. And then she approached Landon. [She] set him in her lap and just touched his hair and kissed on him and made him feel really loved and really safe. And she just started praying in Portuguese.

In the meantime, we are all worshipping and praying that he would speak a word, just to give us that evidence of God’s healing, like right then. And so that’s when his grandmother started singing the Hallelujah chorus. We were all singing together. And that’s whenever he…he was standing sort of in the middle of the room, but we were all kind of just around him. And so then Landon just starts like repeating after us.

Yeah. I mean, chanting it over, like he didn’t know how to sing. And we’re just all sobbing and screaming and cheering and praising God! Like, what is going on? Like, this is, this is happening. And it was just that, just the joy that it brings to your ears to even hear a sound that’s not a scream, from the first part and then let alone that it’s the word “hallelujah.” And he’s praising the Lord with his first word. It was just unbelievable. Overwhelming. Like, overwhelming.

Ha le lu jah. Ha le lu jah. Ha le lu jah.

That night, my mother in law, Brandon’s mom spent the night in his room and prayed over him all night. She stayed awake and prayed over him all night. And she said, “Chelsea, he was saying words. He was saying home. He was saying love. He was saying all these words, all positive one syllable words.” And the next morning he woke up and he pointed to … well, his demeanor completely changed. It was like he was just the most joyful, happy. It was like all of that [anger and frustration], like all of it was gone. Immediately. Like the Lord completely changed his spirit, his countenance, everything. He was a completely different child. We were at the grocery store about a month after he started speaking. And he was reading labels on all of the things at the store. The Lord had literally downloaded in his little brain, how to read, how to… He taught himself how to read. [It was] crazy, all these things before he ever spoke. And so once he can speak, we were able to understand what God had actually done in his brain and his spirit. It was like, Who is this kid? I mean, seriously.

He would sit down with little block letters and spell out words like “dodecahedron.” Yeah, and like “parallelogram,” things spelled exactly correct. The way they should be spelled. It was so crazy. So we start experiencing daily miracles, daily miracles. He is loving on his baby sister. He’s running on the playground. He’s, and all this time, he’s in therapy to speak and he didn’t say a word. But right when God gives him his voice, the speech therapist is like, “Wait, so what have you been doing with him? What?” And I’m like, “No, God healed him. That is the answer. God healed him.” And she’s like, “Well, I know you’re, I know you’re a woman of faith. But what have you been working with him at home?” And I’m like, “No, no.” You don’t get it. “It’s a miracle. I’m not doing anything. It was nothing that we did. God healed him.”

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