A Bruised Reed

A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench

Autumn is Here! September 23, 2008

Filed under: Faith,Hannah,Josiah — Jennifer @ 6:24 pm

While many are lamenting the passing of summer, I am rejoicing in the coming of fall. I love the deep colours and aromas… pumpkins and apples… Thanksgiving and corn candy… this is my favourite time of year!

We have had such a busy summer – I’m not sure where the last three months have gone. We started off with a visit to Casey’s parents in North Carolina, and continued traveling with many short trips within Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan to visit family and for Casey to fill pulpit in various churches.

Casey accepted a position working in the warehouse at InterVarsity Press. It is close to our house, and he enjoys many aspects of this job. The flexibility of clock-in/clock-out times will give him opportunity to prepare for his final seminary exams this winter.

Hannah is really starting to become a little person – it is both amazing and fun to see her grow and develop. We have spent a lot of time out walking around our neighborhood. On our walks, she enjoys our regular break to sit on some large rocks at one driveway entry, and she searches for cats, dogs and airplanes… and sticks. One neighborhood man calls her “the stick girl.” When we’re not out for a walk or visiting the zoo (we are about five minutes from the wonderful Brookfield zoo – if anyone cares to visit us!) she enjoys reading, doing puzzles and playing with Josiah.

Josiah is also growing so quickly. I can’t believe that he is eight months! He is catching up to his sister in weight, as well as height. He has recently developed a love for balls, and baby biscuits… thankfully, he is beginning to sit up on his own, so he is able to manage some of this play time on his own (or with the help of his sister! lol)

Josiah had several major tests done about two weeks ago, and at the evaluation meetings, the specialists expressed concerns over what they see to be deterioration in his condition. The previous set of tests showed that he had fluid building up in his spinal column… putting pressure on nerves that are tied in to his feet and bowel/bladder system. This is obviously of concern because of the deterioration that they are seeing. Two doctors were very forward in telling me that Josiah is one of the top kids on their worry list right now.

The fluid that is building up in his spine is the same fluid building up in his head – this is showing that his body is not properly circulating this fluid. In many cases, the surgeon would choose to place a shunt in the brain to drain this fluid. But Josiah’s surgeon is searching for any excuse she can find not to put in a shunt, partially because of the fact that he is showing none of the “classic” signs of hydrocephalus problems, and also because his recent MRI showed to her that his brain is very alive and, in her words “looks beautiful.”

Placing a shunt in Josiah’s brain would be opening the door for so many future surgeries and health issues – the surgeon is trying to find signs of hope that he may not need one. One thing that has been considered is the fact that Josiah’s physical therapist has been away for over ten weeks. That may be the explanation for the deterioration that they see in his lower body.

On Thursday, I will be taking him in to Children’s Memorial for two more tests – a vision test and a quick head MRI. If the surgeon feels that he can be considered in stable condition, she will give him three months to improve, with follow-up tests in December. If those tests come back with further deterioration, he will be going in for surgery.

On the other hand, if the tests on Thursday come back showing his condition as unstable, he will require surgery soon. But, again, the surgeon does not want to give him a shunt just yet. If he needs surgery now, she will be releasing his spinal cord from scar tissue, draining the pocket of fluid in his spine, and draining some of the fluid from his brain… giving his body a second chance to learn how to process this excess fluid on its own.

We would like to ask for prayers as we are near having to make a very serious decision regarding his situation… I am quite nervous about the upcoming tests, and can’t help but worry over how things will work out if he has to go in for surgery again. I know that he will be in good hands at Children’s, I have little worry over where we will stay or what we will eat (we love the Ronald McDonald house!) – but I do worry about things like care for Hannah, how long he will be in the hospital, what “unexpected” situations may pop up as a result of surgery, how much Casey will be able to be with us…

I need to remind myself that the Lord cared for us in unexpected ways in January… that he has and will continue to do so… but in my struggle with the sin of unbelief, it can be so hard to remember this! I have been very encouraged by sermons and Sunday school lessons recently. They seem to be so appropriate for the struggles I have been facing. I am so thankful to be part of such a wonderful church, where the Word of the Lord is proclaimed, and the fellowship of the saints has been sweet!


Hannah…Meet Coffeetable April 9, 2008

Filed under: Faith,Hannah — Jennifer @ 6:48 pm

Yesterday I learned that I cannot protect my child at all times – no matter how hard I try. Sometimes she just has to learn things the hard (and even painful!) way.

Hannah was ready for bed. And while I was tending to her brother and talking on the phone, I looked up just in time to see her trip and land with the corner of the coffee table right between her eyebrows. Of course, I wondered what permanent damage this would do to my child’s brain and (oh the vanity of this concern) her physical appearance.

She is fine – I kept her up for a while to be sure that there were no signs of a concussion, and this morning she woke up with just a small lump and light bruise.

But this incident caused me to reflect on the subject of beauty, vanity, and our culture’s influence on what we see as our “self-esteem/image.” And how twisted this subject has become thanks to American media, marketing… and our own sinful natures.

Not a day goes by that we aren’t bombarded by what has become pornography labeled “free speech.” Turn to any department store ad, walk through any shopping mall, turn on a soap opera or sitcom. Why does our culture shun illegal pornography, and accept – even applaud – all of these other things?

Perhaps it has become what defines us, giving us some goal to strive toward in our search for beauty or perfection. Either way, we have come to accept our bodies as what we are, as the essence of our being. It is no wonder we spend so much time and money attempting to perfect our physical appearance – the part of us that will return to dust. It’s, sadly, quite ironic.

Or, perhaps, our shunning of illegal pornography and acceptance of this “free speech” is the attempt of fallen man to follow the letter of some law that does not require a searching of the heart. We all want to be able to say that we are good, without having to search our hearts. The Law of the Lord requires that we not only follow the letter of the Law, but also the spirit.

Applied in this situation, being legal by American, man-made law doesn’t make something right. Following the spirit of the Laws “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt not covet,” etc… would require that we carefully consider our views on these things.

When faced with this reality, its no wonder that fallen man hates the Law of the Lord. Its easier to follow the laws of men.

I don’t typically listen to Focus on the Family, but I did hear a snippet of a broadcast this week where Dr. Dobson mentioned how “unfair” it seemed when, after an incident with his daughter similar to that of ours last night, people no longer turned to notice and comment on his daughter’s appearance. He mentioned how we often hear “what a pretty baby,” or warnings to a father about having to fend off the boys when his daughter gets a little bit older. We say these things without even thinking. Beauty, and our obsession with it, becomes ingrained in our children’s minds from the moment they enter this world.

It seems as though little Hannah receives more than her fair share of beauty-focused comments every time we leave home. When I hear them, my initial reaction is pride (a topic for discussion in and of itself.) After pride, I feel some embarrassment over all of the attention. And then, as a mother and a Believer, I become afraid. Afraid of how this unhealthy level of attention to her physical appearance will affect her. Even, at times, wishing that my child were not so “cute.” Will she become proud? Vain? Could these traits, encouraged by the comments of strangers who mean well, actually do spiritual harm?

I don’t know. But after considering my fears, I must accept the fact that I have no control over these things, just as I had no control over the coffee table incident. I must trust that the Lord will protect my child not only in every-day life, but also in matters of pride… only the Lord can humble a heart that is, by its very nature, full of pride.

So, as the Mommy in me releases a sigh of relief, the Believer in me does as well.