Friday, March 30, 2007

Elijah Update (Mar 29)

Dear Friends,

Thank you all for praying and sending e-mails to let us know you are praying. We love to hear from you. Judy has even heard from several of her Rift Valley Academy dorm girls. Your e-mails are a source of strength and companionship for us while we are in the hospital. We check for messages in the morning and in the evening before going to bed. Thanks so much.

This morning when we arrived at Elijah's bedside we were delighted to see him sleeping peacefully. He was sucking on his pacifier, the nasal canula had been removed and he was all curled up looking very sweet and comfortable. I believe this is the first restful and healing sleep that he has had since we arrived at Wesley. We are so thankful and praise God for his healing and comforting touch.

I am also very thankful for the doctor we have. He is a great encourager, always willing to talk with us and answer questions. Tonight he will rotate off duty and we will have another doctor for the next week. That is disappointing, but I know he needs his rest too.

Elijah continues to have fluid seeping out of his chest. I had no idea his little body could produce so much fluid especially since he hasn't had any food since Tuesday. It is good that the chest tubes are draining the fluid, but we want his body to stop producing the fluid or at least stop draining it into his chest cavity. Tests are being run on the fluid to see if it is something other than the chyme or chyle. The tubes can't come out until the fluid stops and he can't have food until the drainage stops.

Elijah is receiving some good nutrients - proteins, lipids, vitamins, etc through his IV. He isn't starving, but his stomach is empty and when he wakes up his isn't always happy.

God is good. He is answering prayers: giving Elijah comfort, healing him, giving Judy and I sleep, giving Judy and I peace about Elijah's treatment and level of comfort. God has given us so many prayer warriors all providing great support for us and sending petitions up to God.

I am excited about Elijah's prognosis. He isn't healing as fast as I would like, but I believe he is healing. When Elijah is awake and not feeling the effects of hunger he is alert, responsive, and acts just like a baby should.

Again, thanks for your prayers and don't be afraid to write we always have time to read your e-mails.

Joel, Judy, and Elijah

Thursday, March 29, 2007

You Say Tomato...

You know how, in America, if you rent DVDs on-line through Netflix, your movie selections are kept in your "Queue". Queue is a common British word that means to stand in a proper line. Very orderly, very British and a very appropriate word choice for keeping track of the lineup of movies you want to see, in the order you want to see them. Well, here in England there's no Netflix, but offers the same on-line DVD rental service. Except the part where you keep track of the movies you want to see is called "Your Rental List". How odd...

Elijah Update (Mar 28)

Dear Friends,

It is hard sometimes to be positive when you see such an uphill climb. We are grateful that we got Elijah some help at the right time. Truly the Lord had us come to Wichita... We both felt pulled in that direction. Today we started off the day with a lot of swelling and edema. The poor little guy cannot seem to catch up. He is losing fluids and then his blood pressure drops so they give him more fluids to get his blood pressure up and then he swells. So we are trying to find a balance of fluids.

This afternoon the doctor told me "You have to have a battle before you can have victory". So we are in the battle right now but looking for victory. Elijah got his breathing tube out this afternoon, and we are very excited. His eyes are now wide open, and he is much happier. He is breathing on his own with just a nasal canula to help keep his oxygen levels up. Right now he and his dad are sleeping. Joel is sitting on a tall chair by his bed with his hand on Elijah's head, and they are both asleep.

Pray with us for the following... Elijah is still draining alot of fluid from his chest cavity. Pray that this will stop so that the torn duct can heal. Pray that the Lord heals this duct. Pray for Elijah's hemophilia. He is receiving small doses of Factor 9 to help with small spots of bleeding and to be sure that things don't start up and cause alot of bleeding. The concern from Children's Mercy was that he was receiving the continuous dose that caused the excess clotting. So, they are trying to be very careful with his doses here. Pray that he does not bleed.

Joel and I read through the Bible together each year since being married. We read from a chronological Bible which is great because it puts the Bible into the order it occurred. Today we are reading about Elijah. Let me share with you something that we enjoyed from today. From 1 Kings 19:11- "The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper."
Three things: the wind, the earthquake and a fire. We feel like we are in a fire right now and we are looking forward to the gentle whisper. :)

Many people have asked for an address for us. We are at the Ronald McDonald House next door to the hospital:

Ronald McDonald House
Room 4
520 N. Rutan
Wichita, Kansas 67208

Thank you for your prayers!

Encouraged with the little things,
Judy, Joel and Elijah

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Elijah Update (Mar 26)

Dear Praying Friends,

When Judy created this mailing list it was to announce the birth of Elijah. Little did we know that we would be sending out so many reports and adding others to our list a month later. Thank you to everyone who is forwarding our updates out to others so more can pray for our little man.

The chest X-rays showed that he had fluid around his lungs. What the fluid was the doctor didn't know. So he decided to draw off the fluid. Sometimes we are frustrated at doctors for taking so long to act. Why wasn't this done earlier? Why did they wait until late Sunday morning to do a CT scan? We don't know, but we trust that the Lord is watching over Elijah and giving special wisdom to his doctor.

We had to wait on the CT scan to make sure there was no hemorrhaging of the brain that would be causing a nervous/respiratory system disorder and to make sure that there wasn't any hemorrhaging in his lungs. Thank the Lord there was no hemorrhaging of any kind.

When the doctor finally drew the fluid out of the chest he was sure and the tests confirmed that the fluid is chyme, a substance that is transported in the lymphatic system to the circulatory system. The doctor believes there is a leak/tear/rupture in a lymphatic vessel, and the chyme is flowing into the area around the lungs making it very difficult to breathe.

After drawing off 215 ml of chyme, Elijah was breathing much easier. The difference was amazing. We breathed easier and the doctor was excited to have an answer for us. He also noted that this problem is very rare. (Judy and I shrugged: Of course it is rare, everything that has happened to Elijah has been rare). We are very thankful to God for providing answers and results.

During the night more set backs. Elijah struggled with low blood pressure and difficulty breathing in addition to all of the edema on his head, neck and chest.

Monday morning Elijah's blood pressure had normalized, but he was breathing hard again and the swelling in his head, neck and chest was still excessive. The doctor decided to put tubes in little Elijah's chest to draw the fluid out. Our little man has more tubes in him than he ever has before. It is very difficult to watch him and not be able to hold him. This is the first time since he was born that we have gone more than 12 hours without holding him. Our little guy loves to be held, this must be hard on him as well.

Elijah is fighting hard, and his doctor is excited to have a patient who is responding so quickly to treatment. I pray that Judy and I could be as excited about Elijah's health. Please pray that Satan not be allowed to influence our mental and emotional state.

On a positive note, the doctor wants to take the ventilator out soon. This could mean he will no longer need sedation and won't seem "unconscious" any more. Please pray that the ventilator tube doesn't damage Elijah's vocal cords, windpipe, or lungs.

Thank you so much for your prayers and your letters to us. Judy is so encouraged by the e-mail we receive telling her how you are praying and how God has spoken to you through Elijah's illnesses. We know he has touched so many people, and we love to hear about it.

Joel, Judy, and Elijah

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Elijah Update (5)

Dear Friends,
I don't even know what to say. We are numb right now. The rollercoaster of emotions has gotten to us and we are weary.

Elijah is now in PICU at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. He is on a ventilator and is stable while they figure out what is going on with him. When we left Children's Mercy in Kansas City we knew that his life may be very short. We witnessed him getting stronger and stronger every day until Friday. When he was having struggles with his breathing at home we were not sure what the problem was. Perhaps maybe we could help him get over this obstacle. We felt God leading us to get him back to Wesley. The moments at Children's Mercy were dark for us, now everything seems even darker for me. It is hard to make decisions for our little man. If this episode leaves us with nothing more to do, then we have to once again make a decision. We were just surprised on Friday with this sudden change. God is still in control and good. We just do not understand.

Please join us in prayer for Elijah's life right now, for God's will to be done. Maybe he is finished with him on this earth and wants him to be whole with him in heaven. Maybe he is not finished with him here. We just want God's will to be done.

Joel, Judy (Saca) and Elijah Fitzgerald

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Elijah Update (4)

We sent out an email this morning and as soon as I sent it, the following happened. We truly feel that we are under attack. Please pray that Satan will be defeated!

We do not understand how this fits into the whole realm of things with God but we come to you now requesting urgent prayer for Elijah. Today he began having struggles breathing, we took him to the hospital here in Ness City where we received oxygen. His heart rate dropped dramatically and we thought we were losing him. However once again he pulled through.

We are now at home with oxygen and he is still struggling to breathe. Please pray with us that God's will be done. Pray that Elijah will eat and be able to breathe once again without oxygen. We have cried more today as we have thought several times that it was the last moment we had with him. God is still good and knows His plans better than we do. Thanks for standing with us before the throne of God and pray that Satan will leave the battle for this little boy.

Surrounded in His love,
Joel, Judy (Saca) and Elijah Fitzgerald

Elijah Update (3)

Dear Friends

"Don't let people look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." I Timothy 4:12

"Wow". That is all our doctor could say when she called to check up on Elijah. No one really knows what to say. He is doing so well. He is eating well, sleeping well, playing well and just plain doing well. I don't think people believe us when we tell them how sick he was. How we had to print out photos to hang on his bed so the nurses would remember what he looked like before his head turned blue and swelled with fluid. When people came to see him we would point to the pictures and say, "This is Elijah" and then point to him and say "This is Elijah now". We did not want people to forget. Now, he is doing so well. He still has some edema in the head area and yesterday his eye swelled shut but once I laid him on the other side the fluid moved around and out of his eye area.

My family came to comfort us and help us with a funeral. Instead God turned that into a celebration. They were witnesses to the daily changes in our little man. My sisters, sister-in-law and niece stayed up all night with him to be sure he was eating and doing ok. This allowed Joel and I to sleep for the first time in a long while. Of course, they did not mind holding him all night at all. Everyone was concerned that something may happen during the night. After my family left Elijah settled into his crib just fine. He is a very well behaved little guy and after a month in NICU he seems to know what is worth crying over. We love the cry we hear now for it is not a cry of pain but just talking. He wants someone to hear him and chat with him.

We would like to share some things that we learned during the darkest moments with Elijah. Joel and I were praying that the Lord would take him quickly. We kept telling him that heaven was such a great place and much better then being here with his parents. Joel told him at one point "Don't stay here for us, run to Jesus if He is calling you!" Elijah never ran!

One night we were praying with all our hearts as we cried over our baby. Our hearts were broken when we tried to put an outfit on him and his head and chest were so swollen that it fit tightly and uncomfortably. We both wept and said "Lord, why are you letting him suffer like this? Are you not finished with him yet? Are you going to heal him? Do we need to change our prayers?" Joel's dad would come into the room every day and say "Has a miracle happened yet?" Joel and I would look at him and his childlike faith and say "No". We started to look at that childlike faith and pray that we would have that faith. There was and is a battle going on over this little boy and we pray that the Lord will win. We are glad that we finally got it! We now pray for the Lord's will and that He will reveal to us in his time what that is.

Elijah has touched so many lives. We continue to be overwhelmed by the people who contact us saying that they heard about him from someone else. We thought about getting a world map and to begin putting pins on it to show Elijah who is praying for him. We figured this would be impossible since we keep hearing about groups of over 50 praying and those 50 will tell more people and so on. The prayer chain of believers is incredible. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Remind the young how they can influence people by telling them Elijah's story. He is 44 days old and has influenced people on every continent. :) God is good.

We are still not sure what the future holds for Elijah. We pray daily that he will be with us for quite some time.

Please pray with us concerning the fluid in Elijah's head. It appears to be draining properly but the edema is still a problem. Pray for wisdom concerning Elijah's reservoir in his head. We would like to get this out if he no longer needs it due to the risk of infection. We will also have many things to face with this little guy. We are praying for complete healing of his factor IX deficiency but if God chooses not to, we will need to get the supplies needed to treat him. Before the doctors sent us home without hope they told us that Elijah would be a risk for another brain hemorrhage, just because he already had one... Please pray that the Lord protects him from this.

Pray for healing of any injury to Elijah's brain and protection from future harm. We were given options to give up on him due to his brain damage and we told our doctors that we would deal with the brain damage if that is what God wanted. At this time Elijah appears to have no damage. Praise the Lord! His eyes follow us well, they move together, there is no more "twitching"... My sisters have decided that they are now responsible for his developmental growth and we are all trying to find tools to help him developmentally. If you have any ideas or web sites let us know.

Pray for the salvation of those whom Elijah has touched. That they will know the hope and peace that comes from a relationship with Christ.

Pray for our Indian couple friends... Their daughter died on Friday, and we want to be there for them. Pray that one day they will know this peace and be able to see their little girl in heaven.

Sunday morning at church, with his grandparents Fitzgerald and grandparents Davis and Judy's sister-in-law and a niece present, Elijah was dedicated to the Lord. It was a wonderful ceremony with many tears of joy being shed in the congregation and Elijah's family.

Joel, Judy (Saca) and Elijah Fitzgerald

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Too Cute to Keep to Myself

"Mommy, what are dogs made out of?"

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Modern Day Slavery

A week from today marks 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade here in England. Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if slavery were a thing of the past? We often think of it that way, and yet the trafficking (buying and selling) of people all around the world is much worse now than it was then. Here is a website with some clearly alarming statistics. To cite just a few:

~At least 12.3 million people are victims of forced labor worldwide. Of these, 2.4 million are as a result of human trafficking.
~600,000-800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Approximately 80% are women and girls. Up to 50% are minors.
~An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.
~Trafficking is the fastest growing means by which people are caught in the trap of slavery.
~Human trafficking is the third largest source of income for organized crime, exceeded only by arms and drugs trafficking.
~It is the fastest growing form of international crime, already generating 7 billion dollars per year in criminal proceeds. There are even reports that some trafficking groups are switching their cargo from drugs to human beings, in a search of high profits at lower risk.

Our daily lives may seem far removed from the reality of human trafficking, but if Keith Green was right and “this generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of souls,” we need to ask ourselves what we can and should be doing, right where we are, to stand against it.

Two hundred years ago in the British empire, slave labor was primarily used to work sugar plantations. In order to stand against slavery in their time, some English women refused to buy sugar produced by slaves. Not a convenient choice -- after all, sugar is a staple in the kitchen -- but it was something within their power to do, and in the end it made a difference.

Back then, it was sugar. Today, among other things, it’s chocolate. No, I’m not kidding. Is there any food product more dear to the modern woman’s heart than chocolate? But did you know that nearly half the world’s chocolate is made from cocoa grown in the Ivory Coast, West Africa, and that cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast rely on the slave labor of children who have been kidnapped and forced to work there? Click here to learn more.

So what can we do? Besides educating ourselves and praying diligently, I mean. Surely I’m not suggesting a boycott on all chocolate? (May it never be!) But how can we be sure that we’re not inadvertently contributing to the problem, that the chocolate we’re eating has been made without victimizing anyone in the process?

It’s called fair trade. Look for the fair trade stamp when you buy cocoa powder or a chocolate bar. If the stamp isn’t there, there’s no guarantee that your chocolate is traffick-free. I realize this may not be the most welcome news as we gear up for the chocolate-fest that Easter has become in the West, but now may be as good a time as any to make the switch. Fair trade products are becoming increasingly available in stores in the US as well as here in the UK.

I’ve been impressed by the ordinary English believers I’ve met here who make fair trade choices as part of their everyday lives. Like Mary who gave our kids fair trade advent calendars at Christmas, and Nicola who brought a bar of Marks & Spencer organic fair trade chocolate to share with me last night while we watched The Queen on DVD (honestly, it was the most amazing chocolate I’ve ever put in my mouth).

There isn’t much I can do (besides pray!) for the women and girls who are forced to work as sex slaves in Europe and Asia or for the children who are captured, drugged, brainwashed and trained to become merciless soldiers in conflicted parts of Africa. But choose to buy one kind of chocolate over another? That I can do.

In Matthew 5:13,14 Jesus said that His followers are to be salt and light, living purposefully and righteously as His ambassadors in the world. My friend and former RVA student Michelle Collins raised some provocative points about social responsibility in her blog entry of March 13th called reflections on a thought. From her I borrow this quote by Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel:

There is an evil which most of us condone and are even guilty of -- indifference to evil. We remain neutral, impartial and not easily moved by the wrongs done unto other people. Indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself; it is more universal, more contagious, more dangerous. Man's sense of injustice is a poor analogy to God's sense of injustice. The exploitation of the poor is to us a misdemeanor; to God, it is a disaster.

Let’s not remain indifferent, ladies. Instead, let’s make intentional choices (and teach our children to make intentional choices) that will speak loudly on behalf of the voiceless ones in our generation. Let’s do what we can to put an end to slavery once and for all.

* * * * * * *
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter... and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear. (Isaiah 58:6-8 NIV)

With God's power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20 NCV)

Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the way that offers the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak. -- from the Quakers in Britain website

Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. -- Preamble, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Such A TIme As This

I'm amazed at the ways God works in the details of our lives, weaving together experiences, circumstances and relationships so intricately, according to His perfect plan and somehow, simultaneously, all in His perfect timing. He really does have a purpose for each and every one of us, opportunities for us to be used by Him to bless others in BIG ways (Esther 4:14). I'm really thankful for the chance to use this blog to help generate prayer and encouragement for Saca, Joel and Baby Elijah at this time. And isn't modern technology a blessing?!? Thank you to each pray-er out there. If you would like to contact Saca and Joel, their e-mail address is:

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Elijah Update (2)

Dear Praying Friends,

Thank you so much for your prayers for Elijah. We ask for your continued prayers for our little man. He is doing so well, but he isn't out of the woods yet. Please pray specifically that the cerebral spinal fluid in his head will drain properly. There is still continued swelling. Not as much as before, but his little head still isn't relieving the pressure like it needs.

Please pray that Elijah's veins will open up and move the blood properly. Elijah's neck is swelling. We believe this is because the veins are not moving the blood as fast as the arteries deliver it. This is what was happening last Saturday and Sunday due to clots forming in some major veins.

Please pray that all the swelling, blood clots, and blood flow problems did not and do not adversely affect Elijah's brain.

Our doctors believe their drugs will just keep Elijah alive for just a little bit longer. We believe our God will heal Elijah permanently. We can't wait to take Elijah back to "visit" the doctors in three months and show them what God can do.

Friday we took Elijah's feeding tube out. He has been feeding from a bottle ever since. His aunts have had a great time preparing his bottles and feeding him. While we were in the hospital Elijah was struggling with pain, however his last dose of morphine was Wednesday morning before we left the hospital. He hasn't been in pain and he hasn't needed any morphine. We are so excited about these developments and praise God for delivering Elijah from these two obstacles.

Again, thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for Elijah's complete healing.

Joel, Judy, and Elijah

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Elijah Update

For those of you who know Saca and Joel and have been praying for Baby Elijah, some news! This is from Saca’s update today:

God is doing amazing things. He is not finished with Elijah yet. We prayed and prayed and wept that God would take him home quickly. God let us know that it was not time. He must have others to reach through this little guy. We do not know if it is days, months, or years. But ELIJAH IS STILL WITH US! He has some serious problems up in his little head due to the blockage of his veins to his head but we are grateful to have him for whatever time the Lord allows.

We are home now. The hospital told us that there is nothing they can do for us anymore. They gave us the option of staying or going home. We decided that we would like to have our little man at home. Joel told the doctor, if he is healed only God can receive the credit not the doctors and medicines. We learned how to feed him through a feeding tube and received morphine to help him with pain. We shed tears as we said good-bye to so many in the hospital. Strange, isnt it? Most people do not get to know the people in hospitals, just go in and heal and get out. Elijah has touched many lives and many people were sad to say good-bye to him. The doctors wish there had been a different outcome and are just sad. On the way home he seemed to perk up a bit. My sisters, sister-in-law, niece and mom and dad have arrived and they have been able to meet Elijah and hold him and take care of him. They are being a great help.

We have been overwhelmed with the love and concern expressed throughout the world. We have wept while reading emails and met amazing people. Many of you have shared your personal pain and experiences with us and that has encouraged us as we prepare for what God may have for us. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Jesus Loves the Little Children

I’ve spent much of this morning in tears, weeping for a friend I worked with at RVA who is rocking her five-week-old son for what may be the last time. Little Elijah was born with Hemophilia B, and after a month in the NICU the doctors have finally figured out that his tiny body reacts negatively to the very medication that would otherwise help him cope with this disease. Instead of helping, it’s making everything worse. The sad news is, Elijah won’t get better. Fed up with watching him suffer, Saca and Joel have decided to take him off the meds. So they wait. They hold him close. And pray. And cry. And wait. I can’t imagine the agony they’re going through.

Whenever one of our friends has a baby, Jack gets really excited. He loves to look at the pictures sent over e-mail, and we always say a prayer to thank Jesus for the baby’s safe arrival. We’ve been praying for Baby Elijah every day since he was born. When we found out he was so sick, Jack drew a picture to send to Elijah -- a funny little stick-figured self-portrait and a train, traced from stencils. Jack doesn’t have a long attention span when it comes to drawing, but he really worked hard on this picture. I had to tape two pieces of paper together, the train was so long. Every night at bedtime, Jack has been reminding me that we need to pray for Baby Elijah, for his Mommy and Daddy and for the doctors and nurses who are taking care of him. When this morning’s e-mail came, I told Jack that the doctors had done everything they could but that Baby Elijah is going to be with Jesus soon. We continue to pray, but now we’re asking that he’ll go swiftly, without much pain. His parents are going to need our prayers for a long time to come.

I’m constantly amazed at how much Truth is packed into the Bible stories and songs handed down to Matt and me by our parents that we’re now sharing with Jack and Sophie. Consider this one:

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Every nation, every race
They are covered by His grace
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

At times like this, it’s comforting to be reminded that Jesus is especially concerned for children. The God of the Universe has a special soft spot in His heart for the littlest ones among us. Although I don’t always understand the way He works, I do know that He is a loving Father. So I thank Him for covering Baby Elijah by His grace, and I pray for Saca and Joel to rely on that same grace to get through this excruciating time.

I’ve been mulling over some other things and I’ll try to post again soon, but right now I need to go hug my kids.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Baby Steps

First of all, let me just say it looks like I might join a daytime small group for Mums in our neighborhood after all. With Matt away for meetings in Thailand this past week, the kiddos and I spent several hours on Saturday at Kat’s house. Kat’s husband was working on Saturday as well, and their two daughters are each about 10 months older than Jack and Sophie respectively, so it was a good opportunity for all of us. (Diversions help to fill the weekend hours that are normally spent Doing Something Fun With Daddy.)

The more I’m around Kat, the more I like her. On the surface we don’t seem to have much in common beyond our children, but each time I have a chance to talk with her, I’m really drawn to her heart. One of the things we talked about is the group she goes to on Thursday mornings. The Mums meet at a friend’s house for Bible study while their kids play in the next room. They’re losing their leader in September, and due to things like new babies over the summer for a few of the women, they don’t have anyone within the group who’s able to take on the responsibility. Kat has only been a Christian for about four years. I got to hear her story on Saturday, and one of the things she shared was her desire to learn more about the Bible. “I feel like I’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” she said.

Then on Sunday we had a marvelous sermon (as usual! I love our church so much!) about using our gifts to serve the Body, and the pastor read the verses from 1 Peter below. So now I’m considering joining this Thursday morning group, seeing what they’re about and how they do things and offering to lead the discussions come September. The older/wiser folks may have to carry on talking about current events without me for the time being. We’ll see.

But today’s big news: I did a Brave New Thing! Yes, it's true. After taking Jack to school this afternoon, I went shopping and left Sophie at home (and awake) with someone outside our family. (I know that probably sounds crazy, considering that we live 4,000 miles from either set of grandparents, but Matt and I usually take turns running errands -- it helps that supermarkets are open in England until 11pm -- and only go out together when the kids are already asleep, usually when a family member is visiting. Part of this is because we are new to the area and are still getting to know people -- and yes, okay, part of this is because we are just over-the-top-super-duper-overly-protective parents.)

Normally, Sophie would’ve taken a nap during the time in question, but she’s in the middle of transitioning from two naps a day to one (I think) and had just woken up when Alison arrived. So she wasn’t going to go back down right away. Yet. Still. I. Did It! I gave Alison my mobile number, showed her where I keep the Arnica, made sure she knew where the diapers are and how warm Sophie likes her milk, got Jack’s shoes and coat on and waved good-bye. My baby girl just smiled and waved back! Such an independent little lass already.

So I walked Jack to school and then, in search of paneer, papadums and some fresh cilantro, to the next village over from ours where there are lots of Gujarati and Pakistani shops -- yum! And only once did I mentally run down the list of Alison’s qualifications: she’s been a believer for years and years, serves on the worship team at church and does a million other things for people behind the scenes, works part-time as a teacher for children with special needs (two points there -- not only does she love kids, but she’s already been checked out by the police) and she’s a happy new grandmother. Alison also came for tea a few weeks ago so we could get to know her a bit (and so I could watch her interact with both kids, of course). No red flags, not one.

I'm happy to report that, when Jack and I arrived home three hours later, everything was fine. Jack enjoyed school, Sophie enjoyed Alison (and vice versa) and I enjoyed the fresh air and being on my own. But still, leaving Sophie today was a step of faith for me. Trusting God for the outcome of my actions used to be a lot easier when I was single. My decision to live in Kenya may have seemed risky to my loved ones, for example, but it was pure delight for me, and I felt perfectly safe every minute of those six sacred years. But leaving my daughter in the care of someone else in a place where calling the equivalent of 911 dispatches only a vehicle but no medical professionals trained in emergency procedures? Forget about it.

The world is a much scarier place now that I’m a parent. Fortunately, God is the same today as He’s always been, and He’s been building up an excellent track record (more than faithful!) over the years. He’s still extremely patient with me, and I’m still learning to trust Him more than my situation, more than my feelings, more than anything. One baby step at a time.

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The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:7-10 NIV)

He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. (2 Corithians 1:4 The Message)

I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by aking Him to do His work through me. -- James Hudson Taylor

Friday, March 2, 2007

No Greater Joy

(This is a post I've been meaning to write for a while, but it got waylaid somewhere between the tasks of daily life with two small sweeties and one traveling man. Thinking through these things has given me strength, hope and courage lately, so I pass them along in hopes of offering you some of the same.)

I freely admit I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box (especially by the end of the day), but frankly, my attention span during Jack and Sophie’s waking hours ain’t what it used to be, either. So instead of joining a daytime group like the other Mums, I’ve been thinking about one of the evening small groups at church. The one I'm interested in is called New & Views, and they meet in someone’s home once a fortnight (translation for the Americans: every two weeks) to discuss current events from a Biblical perspective.

Here are the top three things I’m looking forward to about this group:

1. Being around people my parents’ age and hearing their take on things in the world today. (Most of the people we’ve gotten to know here have young kids like we do, and I really miss the input of older/wiser believers.)

2. Being part of a discussion with people who express themselves more rationally (a typically English trait) than emotionally (my default mode). (I’d really like to grow in this area.)

3. Being challenged to think outside my cultural bias and look at what the Bible says. (This is one of my favorite things about getting to know Christians from other countries.)

While I don’t have much spare time on my hands, when I do get a chance to sit down at the computer, one of the websites I check is a blogspot by Nigel Barham. Nigel is Canadian, grew up in Zambia and was part of the class I sponsored at Rift Valley Academy. My contribution to his life is a really, really small one, but still I'm incredibly proud of who he is and how he's allowing God to use him.

Anyway, this is Nigel’s prayer blog. He’s working for a year with OM founder George Verwer and is funnily enough based on the opposite side of London. We have yet to see one another -- he’s on the road even more than Matt is -- but it’s been great to follow his blog. I’ve been especially inspired by his “mega-excerpts”, quotes from books that George has asked him to read and evaluate.

This is how Nigel introduced his “mega-exerpts”:

Raise your hand if you are *very* busy. How about too busy to read? Trick question... The busier you are, the more you need to read good books. Otherwise you are liable to spin your wheels (faster) and waste your life (more). And how will your in-need-of-transformation mind be able to compete with the mind-conforming media you are already sucking in (ie, billboards, chats, newspapers, TV, movies, magazines, etc) otherwise? Romans 12:1-2. So I hope these "mega excerpts" serve, in some small way, to edify you; and keep you thinking.

As one of the sponsors of the Class of ’99, I’m really proud of all the kids I knew at RVA who are out there making a difference for Jesus in their various corners of the world. And as a not-much-time-to-read-serious-stuff-these-days-mother-of-two, I’ve really appreciated Nigel's “mega-excerpt” posts.

During this season of wiping bottoms and kissing boo-boos, singing songs and reading bedtime stories, I keep praying that Jack and Sophie will grow to love and follow Jesus with all their hearts so that they'll impact their generation with the gospel, too.

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"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." (3 John 1:4 NIV)