Here's a link to a report from Justine Kaminski, a CCJ team co-leader.
Here's a link to pictures taken by team members.
I received this email from my friend Luann today:
Bryon and Susan:
According to my co-worker Didi, some days are just plain old SUCKTACULAR.
All of us at The Good News remember you regularly in our prayers. We hope today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow is better than today and that the sucktackular days will be less and less. :)
Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
I just received this great email from a wonderful lady I work with. You guys don't know how much your notes and emails touch my life. Everyday I get a note like this and it makes me emotional. My wife looks at my face while I'm reading it and knows something's up.
"What are you reading?" the charming and beautiful Susan asks.
"I'll forward it to you," I answer. I don't dare read it or my face will turn into Niagara Falls.
Wow what a year. A year ago today God brought a sweet miracle baby girl into your family to forever change your hearts. What a journey He has had you on! We love you guys and pray that today will be a celebration of what God has done. I know the road ahead looks long and probably many days looks impossible, but I'm remembering a pregnancy that was hard and a sweet baby girl that captured your hearts when many times during that pregnancy we didn't know if she would make it to term and be healthy. Then I remember when the call came early one Sunday that this sweet baby girl might not make it. What a Sovereign God we have. He continues to touch her body and your lives and today is a celebration that He has much in store for little Miss Ali Rae. I'm praying Jody's prayer with you guys. This little girl is going to do many things with her life because God is writing a story for her that will mold and shape her and every life that she touches along the way & I know she's already been a part of my heart change.
Be strong Bryon and Susan; an army is praying on your behalf around the clock!!
Have a great day - sing happy birthday to Ali for me.
Love, Nancy (and Ray)
We sent a gift ups on Sat. but it won't make it there until next week. I guess ups is using pony express...
Ali is one year old today. Her mom, Grandma Yolanda, and Aunt Camille will all arrive on Friday to spend the weekend with us and have a little birthday party.
We snapped these pictures this morning, and right now, Ali is sleeping in the bouncing lap of the charming and beautiful Susan.
Right now, Ali is up and the beautiful and charming Susan is trying to get her to sleep. Ali's about an hour overdue for night-night. Today has been the best day yet for Ali. She's been agitated very little today. Your prayers are definitely at work.
The best time to work with Ali or do therapy with her is when she is not agitated. When agitated, she has too much adrenaline pumping and she's not able to learn. Her brain needs the down time to rejuvenate and reprogram. So this is how you can pray.
My baby girl is twenty today. This picture to the left is her at about one year old, maybe less. Being a dad has been a challenge from day one. I don't think there's a dad in the world that doesn't work harder for the affection of his little girl above every other relationship.
Happy birthday Charity. I hope this next year is your best year yet. You're due.
Fatherhood is a life-picture that demonstrates truth about God. God loves us unconditionally the way we love our kids. No matter how our kids screw up, we can't un-love them or quench the instinct to want to protect and bless them. I need to remember how baffled I am that my kids won't learn from my experience or when they spurn my good-will toward them. Often I do the very same to my own Heavenly Father when I fix my heart on willing disobedience when He has loved me infinitely more than I love my own flesh and blood.
Read about the amazing experience Calvary Students had at Student Life Camp here.
Pastor Dan shares new details and vision as we begin the construction process of the building. Click here to read more.
Good job, putting this together, Lynz...
Ali was hostess to a visit from her Grandpa Jim and Aunt Camille from Florida. It's been a few weeks since Grandpa Jim has been able to visit. He notices incredible improvement in Ali since the last time he was here in San Francisco. Aunt Camille arrived with an armload of gifts from Ecuador for little Ali. She fell asleep comfortably in Aunt Camille's arms while she rocked and hummed to little Ali.
Little Ali has brought together two families that would probably never have crossed paths. No one ever knows what lies just around the next turn. All the planning in the world can never adequately prepare anyone for the plot-twists in our life's story.
So how do we get through it? How do we set ourselves up to properly face the future?
"He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood rose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock."
Matthew 6:33, 34
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..."
"...do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
After living in South Florida for the better part of twenty years, I can identify with southern boy Mark Twain when he said, "The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." It's been sweater and jacket weather every single day. Even in the middle of the afternoon, the temperature rarely rises much higher than the sixty degree mark. A cold winter day in Florida is rarely as cold as an average San Francisco summer day.
Monday is still our big day; Ali will be discharged.
The incredibly efficient Nurse Kathleen has rescued us from being drowned
under a deluge of state and local government bureaucracy. The cogs of the inter-office machinery has threatened to slowed our departure. But Nurse Kathleen and Hospital Social Worker Stephanie have greased the wheels. They've trained, prepped, informed, and provided us with services and resources for the next phase of Ali's recovery that commences when we leave Monday afternoon.
Hospital Social Worker Stephanie spearheaded a meeting that included experts on Ali's recovery from head to toe. Literally. Neurologist, speech therapist, gastro-intestinal specialist, nutritionist, physical therapist, social services and general medicine were all represented. Head to toe. Hospital staff are treating us like heroes that have rescued Ali. They want us to know that we have their full support.
I apologize for the amount of time that passes between posts. Internet availability at the hospital has been dismal over the past several days. This post and pictures come to you from a little coffee shop a short walk away from the hospital where, with coffee, you get free cream, sugar, and wireless Internet access.
We've settled into a routine here. Aaron went home Wednesday and I moved into the hospital room with the charming and beautiful Susan. And Ali. We take turns holding and loving on her, I run five or six miles through Presidio Park every other day (there's a cool trail that winds down the hill toward a beach on the mouth of the San Francisco Bay, just west of the Golden Gate bridge), walk to Starbucks, do laundry at a coin operated laundromat, and eat food from the hospital cafeteria.
Things went unbelievably smoothly in court. Even though I/we've been praying for this, I really expected the rug to pulled out from underneath us at any time. I didn't admit this, but for the past week I've been expecting an ambush. But the ambush never came. Everyone in court had the same goal: to make sure Ali is released into the care of the charming and beautiful Susan. Ali will be discharged from the hospital Monday into our custody. Susan and Ali will stay with my sister in Humboldt County, California, while Ali continues to receive medical care.
This is a huge answer to prayer. Thanks for praying with us.
It was rough seeing Paul. He was brought into court in orange coveralls. He never looked up until it was all over. I watched him hold Charity's gaze through red, tear-filled eyes and mouth the words, "I'm so sorry." I felt electricity shoot through me when this took place. He's broken. Charity is drained. Susan felt and extreme sadness. I just feel sorry for what his life is going to be like. Really, really sad.
And I'm elated because Ali is going home Monday.
Today we go to court. Charity, the charming and beautiful Susan, my sister Jennifer, and I will all make an appearance. Ali's father will be there as well, I'm told. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
I'm amazed at how much grace I seemed to have when I first got the news about Ali being rushed to the hospital. I wanted good things for everybody. I honestly thought that I'd be bringing Ali home to Floria just a couple of days after arriving in San Francisco at the end of April. I even threw Ali's car seat in my car for the ride home from the airport. One helping of good things and healing for everybody. I just want everything to be okay. God will make this all okay in just a day or two. It will be a much needed wake-up call for Charity and Paul. Ali will come home with us until Charity gets her act together. Ali will be in the loving home of grandma and grandpa in Florida.
The first two days in San Francisco were a wake-up call for me. The state took custody of Ali, Charity's parental rights were suspended, I read hospital and police reports, the doctors were extremely grim about Ali's future, and child protective services told me I couldn't have custody of Ali because "she might go from the frying pan into the fire."
Reality was no longer reality. Grace has left the building.
Am I allowed to feel this way? As a Christian? As a Pastor?
I used to be able to look at somebody else's tragedy and just say, "Trust Jesus. No trial will come upon you that is too big for you to handle." Shut my mouth.
I don't know how I'll feel today in court. God has been faithful to provide everything I need to daily live in grace and obedience (not that I've always been graceful or obedient). But I seem to only get enough for the day. When I think about what I'm going to need for the future as I process outcomes and relationships, I honestly don't feel Christian or Pastoral. If first impulses are any indication, vengeful and vindictive most describe the attitude I'll have. I'll need wisdom and grace every single day for the next few years. More than I've ever exercised up to this point.
"Hey, check it out: they ha--"
"Hey, check it out," Susan cut in. "Ali's kicking both her legs now."
Up until today, Ali had only been kicking one leg. But today, when the nurse cam in to weigh her, Ali flipped out because someone dared to disturb her rest and started kicking both her legs like she was riding a bicycle a hundred miles and hour while laying on her back on the scale. I witnessed this, but the beautiful and charming Susan did not. So this was a first for her.
"I have something really important to say," I said. "Why did you interrupt?"
"What?" asked Susan.
"There's Nilla Wafers in the kitchen."
To which Aaron said, "That's something Homer Simpson would say."
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You