Monday, December 20, 2004

I heard something disturbing on Sunday afternoon. A friend from Missouri called to see how we were doing. Laura was napping so I took the call. We chatted for some time and then the friend asked, "are you guys getting an abortion?" I responded with a strong "no" and then asked about the genesis of the question. She heard from someone I have never even met that we were seriously thinking of getting an abortion. Ugh, how sick of a rumor is that? So for those of you out there who have heard this too, it's not true.


Mark 9 is my story. You know, the Bible's Mark. And no, I'm not talking about the transfiguration. I've never known what it means to be transfigured or witness the conjuring of old prophets like Moses and Elijah. It's the dad who desperately wants his son to be healed that I resonate with in Mark 9. It seems to me that this dad will do just about anything, go anywhere and say just about anything to get his son to a normal state. When the dad and Jesus finally met the dad said, "if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." Jesus responded by saying, "everything is possible for him who believes."

The dad honestly exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief."

This is where I stand in my own faith. I believe in Jesus: his life, his death, his resurrection but if I'm real honest, there is a part of me that has a problem with believing. If I'm honest then I'll admit that I'm not sure if a miracle can be worked for baby Ira. So I stand betwixt and between: in a state of belief and unbelief. My prayer is the prayer of the father's in Mark 9: I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.

Friday, December 17, 2004

I felt baby Ira move this morning. Laura's been feeling Ira move for a couple of weeks now but this morning was the first time I felt him move. I can't quite explain it. It was wonderful and horrible all at the same time. To know that he is doing well in utero but that what awaits him in this world is terrifying.

Many have asked what we pray for when we pray about this. We pray first for a miracle. I want to show up at one of our doctor appointments and them say, "I'm not sure what happened but all the organs are in the right place now and the lungs look to be developing." We pray that Ira makes it through the pregnancy and then that he makes it through the surgery. We pray that we will hold on tight to our faith as it will be easy to lose it in a time like this. We pray for courage over the next few months of waiting along with patience. We pray for our role as parents of Sophia and that we will not overlook her during this time. We pray for our relationship and the communication in which we will need to partake now and in the future.

We have our first round of tests on January 6 at Columbia Presbyterian. (It's also known as New York-Presbyterian.) We will then have our first round of doctors visits on January 14. Our pediatric surgeon will be Charles Stolar. He is supposed to be the one of the best in the country. Thank God we live in NYC where all this expertise resides.

Again, you can find out more about Diaphragmatic Hernias here.

Thank you for your prayes and concerns.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Prayers Needed

We got some possible bad news this past week concerning our second pregnancy. Below are the details. This news might radically change our outlook. We will know more in January.

We just returned home (Thursday morning) from our mid-wife appointment and our first sonogram. The mid-wife appointment went good. Things looked good and sounded good. We went down the hall to a separate office for the sono. After waiting for some time, we were finally called in. The sonographer did all the usual measurements and then said, "I'm going to go call a doctor." The doctor came in and did some checking around. He finally told us what he was seeing: our baby's stomach is not where it should be. It's up in the chest cavity where the left lung should be developing. "Left" is important because it is not as severe as if this were occuring on the right side. The problem is called Congential Diaphragmatic Hernia. You can learn more about it here.

This is not good news. At best the baby will only need surgery after the baby is born. The long-term effects are all across the board. At worst, there is more associated with this Hernia such as Downs or other kind of retardation that could mean immediate loss of life upon birth.

Laura and I were pretty devestated. The doctor suggested that we get an Amnio right away. We didn't even have time to think before we were ushered into a
genetic counselor's office. We were given so much attention and everyone was incredibly nice and gentle. The genetic counselor and genetic OBGYN sat us down
and talked with us a good while about the Amnio and why we should do it. We were overwhelmed when they said that miscarriages are possible with the Amnio. We
asked for time to think about it. They were more than gracious about it and were glad that we made that decision.

We were told that one of the leading Pediatric Surgeons for this condition operates at Columbia Presbyterian on 168th street in Manhattan. We will start seeing him soon along with a high-risk pregnancy doctor up there.

We went back and talked with our mid-wife who was gentle and sweet: just what we needed. We will see her once more at the end of December in which she will hand over our file so that we can now see the doctors at Columbia.

We are holding it together but there have been moments already and I'm sure that the flood gates will open sometime today. We are blessed to live here as the
doctor said that people all over the world fly here to have the particular surgery from this doctor. Please pray for this baby. Please pray for us.

We had another appointment today. This time it was with a Pediatric Cardiologist. He looked at the baby via sono and said the heart looked good. All four chambers are pumping correctly and it looks like the heart is developing normally. The doctor was nice but was a bit more honest in what he saw in the sono. Just like the left lung is being compromised due to the stomach being in the wrong place, the right lung is compromised as well because the heart has been pushed over into the right area. He said that having the hernia this early is not good because the lungs have had no chance to really develop. While he could see lung tissue on the right side just above the heart he noted that it was not developing. He was glad to hear that we would be at Columbia. He knows Dr. Stolar, the Pediatric Surgeon whom we will soon see, and says he is one of the best.

Nothing in this pregnancy is going as planned and Laura and I are attempting to wrap our minds around all the changes. We have made another change that has helped us in dealing with this. We have found out that the baby is a boy and we have named him Ira Lester Hays. Ira and Lester are the names of our grandfathers who exhibited incredible strength in times of adversity.

Pray for Baby Ira.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

No one is really able to nail down a definition of evangelicalism. No one is really able to describe it succinctly. There is confusion about what evangelicals think and who is in the evangelical camp and who is not. Mainline Protestants are quick to separate themselves from evangelicals but conservative Catholics are jumping on the evangelical bandwagon.

Not long ago someone called me an evangelical for holding the belief that Jesus was Christ and that Jesus lived, died and rose. Because of that fundamental belief, this person claimed I was an evangelical. I reacted negatively to the descriptive but why? Is it because I’m a democrat who senses that red state southerners have misused God in their quest of political domination? Or is it because what most people associate with evangelicalism stands in opposition to my theology? What is my understanding of evangelicalism and why am I so weary of it? Allow me to take a stab at what it means to be an evangelical and then let me state briefly why I hope our church plant will operate under a different theological umbrella.

Evangelicalism (and again, this is my understanding) believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, that Jesus is the only way to God, that abortion and homosexuality are indisputably evil, that there are no shades of grey but that God is very clear on what is right and what is wrong, that it is incumbent upon us to spread God’s Word and if we don’t, well... These are the first markers of evangelicalism that pop into my head.

There are some commonalities between this understanding of evangelicalism and me. For example, I hold the Bible up and look to it for the story of God’s work in the historical world, our current world and the world to come. I regard it highly. I do believe Jesus is the way to God. After all, Jesus is God. Issues such as abortion and homosexuality are important as are poverty, war, work and relationships. And fially, we are blessed to be conduits of God’s Word here on this earth.. In these ways, I am an evangelical.

But it gets difficult when you add that absolute, authoritative voice to those convictions. It’s the field of grey where I find myself dwelling more often then the “right or wrong” or “black and white” fields. I’m not so certain that I have it all figured out despite having Mastered the Divine as my degree implies (Master of Divinity). I preach with trepidation knowing that I could possibly regard that sermon as BS when God reveals more of God’s self in the week, month or year to follow.

So when it comes to the wording of how the Bible functions, moral values and coming to God, etc. I part ways with evangelicalism because I simply don’t speak the same way, the same language. The Brooklyn church plant will look differently than other recent church plants because I won’t be yelling from a megaphone that all must come to know Christ or else! I will be proclaiming truths revealed by God and hope that others will share their stories too all the while understanding that God continues to reveal God’s self in new, exciting and yes, even disturbing ways every day. Stay tuned for more on this topic.