Allie had two operations this month. The first one was oral. She had four teeth pulled and and all of her molars ground down and crowned in silver. She also had a follow up operation from last years hip operation leaving her in a swash brace.
Pastor Jeff continue to plow through the rich narrative provided in the book of Acts. In this study, we discover God's blueprint for founding the church.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I expected to have a dreadful weekend.
This past Tuesday Allie had a follow up operation on her hips. Last year she had corrective surgery on her hips that involved breaking and repositioning her right and left femurs. Hardware was installed to reinforce the new position of her bones. This week, that hardware was removed.
Allie also had her muscles lengthened as part of the hip surgery last year. Her adductors, hamstrings, and Achilles were all lengthened which involves slicing the muscles and then setting the legs in a cast in a position where the muscles would heal stretched. It's pretty radical surgery. Allie was in a cast shaped like an "A" frame for six weeks. She incurred two serious infections. Her scheduled 3 day hospital stay stretched into 8 days. And she was in more pain when the cast was cut off than she was in six weeks of wearing it. It was a brutal three month ordeal.
So we looked forward to this week with dread for quite some time. Allie's adductors (the muscles used to open her legs) once again needed to be lengthened. Once again Allie has incisions in her hips and groin. And today is her fourth birthday. We didn't schedule any festivities because we didn't think she'd be ready for it.
But we were wrong. Allie is recovering amazingly well. She is a phenomenal little kid. She has stitches where she was sliced and had screws and clamps removed. But if you were to ask her, she'd tell you it was no big deal. Three weeks ago she had outpatient oral surgery that was much more traumatic for her.
We should have scheduled a birthday party. But hospital stays always bring such a cloud of gloom into our lives that we never consider hopeful possibilities. Thankfully, Allie doesn't think that way. She's inclined to be happy regardless. I get so caught up in feeling sorry for her (and for me) that I forget to expect God to do the unexpected. But maybe Allie remembers and maybe I need to learn a lesson from her.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010
Among all of the surreal moments that come with serving on the mission field in a sub-third world context, one that stands out the most is sight of a Sudanese national, a tribal Acholi, wearing a Safety-Kleen t-shirt.
"What the heck is Safety-Kleen?" you ask. Exactly. That was the question I asked when an employment agency sent me to them for an interview when I was job hunting several years ago. Safety-Kleen is a hazardous waste management company that employed me for two years when I was between full-time vocational ministry gigs. My point is, in case you're wondering, is that this t-shirt bearing the company's logo was worn proudly and was a prized possession. Living here in the Land of Plenty, this is hard to fathom. We pay obscene mall prices for "vintage" t-shirts to add to our wardrobe of clothes we loved in the store but hate in our closets. What we give away to the third world is worn until it is so threadbare it falls apart.
It really doesn't matter what the message on the donated t-shirt is. In many cases, they become "Sunday, go to meetin', best." I sat one Sunday in a church in the bush behind a Sudanese sporting a t-shirt displaying a cartoon-condom-character, the mascot of an HIV/AIDS outreach. I was totally distracted by it during the entire worship service.
Once we distributed a container load of Pepsi driver uniforms to the practically naked soldiers in the Sudanese Peoples' Liberation Army during Sudan's civil war with the Muslim government in the north. I privately thought it would be funny if the north wore Coke uniforms as they faced off on the battle field with the SPLA. That would make a great commercial. I digress.
This is a wandering sort of introduction to my main thought about an outreach opportunity promoted at church this past weekend. Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale is holding an event on Saturday where volunteers will bring and then design t-shirts with a gospel message for distribution in Haiti. This is an incredible gospel-spreading opportunity. These t-shirts will be distributed and worn and traded and worn again until they are no longer recognizable as an item of clothing. In the meantime, the messages on the shirts will make their way from one end of Haiti to the other in a place where the gospel of hope and peace is so desperately needed.
There are so many things you can do with a t-shirt as your canvass and you as the artist. Here are a few examples.
There are tons of good ideas on the internet and on YouTube. So do a little research and make a cool plan for your gospel expression of love for distribution in Haiti.
Saturday July 26, 9am – 12
Calvary Chapel Ft Lauderdale Banquet Hall
(children are welcome!)
Daniel Fusco is the newest addition to the Shepherd’s Staff board of directors. We’re excited about the energy and ideas he’ll bring to the organization and we’re excited about the new direction in the Bay Area. God is good all the time.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Like this view. My landlord just put our apartment on the market to rent. We need out of our lease early so he’s signed it with his realtor today. This place is huge! Gym, pool, garage, waterfront, 1800 plus sq feet. Two huge bedrooms and a den. Three full baths. And this place rents for below average prices. There’s no other way we could have rented it if it wasn’t priced below the market.
Included in the rent is phone, cable, internet, water, plus, plus, plus. We pay $1500 but the landlord may try to bump it up a little. No matter what, it’s a deal! Leave me a comment if you want me to put you in touch with a realtor.
I hate the hospital. Being here with Allie and the charming and beautiful Susan leaves me emotionally depleted. I hate to confess it. I'd rather say my courageous faith carries the day. But I wrestle with emotions, faith, attitude, you name it. It's difficult to think of anything to be grateful for here.
Maybe it's a little silly, but since Allie is having treatment done because her hips were out of socket, I've been thinking quite a bit about Jacob's wrestling match and hip injury.
I read through the story in Genesis 32, and discovered that every bit of what he was going through up to the night he spent in celestial smackdown had to do with keeping his family safe while coming to grips with his lack of character God (Gen 32:10) contrasted against God's goodness.
Two things I noted when reading through this familiar story:
1. Jacob saw God face-to-face, and
2. God's touch forced Jacob to slow down.
We've seen the goodness and wisdom of God in our lives. He's made himself visible in ways that only he could. Others may look on and not see it, but I have that sense of God's intimate involvement; seeing him face to face.
As I rewind and rewatch the video tape that runs through my brain, I see the wisdom and preparation of God in every significant life event. He is so wise and good all the time.
My life was a whirlwind of decisions and events and travels, but now, we've been suddenly slowed down. Allie embodies blessing, but her handicap has caused us to slow to a limp. We pause, we evaluate, we do what's most important. Jacob didn't choose to be injured; God did it to fashion him into a most useable vessle. This was his reward for surrendering to God.
This scares me when I think about the future. But the lesson I've learned is that up to this point, God has been good and wise. The future will be the mirror image of the past. I just need to have faith for the future.
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Pastor Tullian is the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Tullian is also the author of several books including his latest, Surprised by Grace; God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels.
Monday, June 07, 2010
Shepherd's Staff assists churches as they send missionaries into the field. We provide administrative services, that is, we process donations for your missionaries, provide receipts to donors, make sure your missionaries receive a salary and keep them compliant with US tax law. We offer missionaries health insurance and give them the opportunity to contribute to a retirement account.
We offer pre-field training and church consultation in the following areas:
- setting up a missions ministry
- writing missions policy
- short-term team training
- missionary budgeting
- setting up a sending team
- writing newsletters and communication with the home church
Friday, June 04, 2010
This is the last picture of Allie with teeth. We spent the day at the hospital today while Allie had oral surgery. A few weeks ago we took Allie in to see the dentist. Her teeth were getting bad despite regular brushing and very, very few sweets. Or so we thought. We shared a Starbucks brownie with Allie once every two months. That's it. But she takes medicines several times daily mixed in sweet syrup. We were also giving her rice milk.
It turns out that the real culprit is her diet of puried foods. Due to brain damage sustained from shaken baby syndrome, she does not have the motor capability to chew food. The result is soft, weak and decaying teeth.
The dentist we visited a couple of weeks ago examined and cleaned her teeth. Allie needed a ton of work done. But he said that her teeth were not as bad as he expected.
Since Allie has cerebral palsey, it's not practical to do the work the conventional way a section at a time. It's better to do all the work at once. For that, we were referred to a dentist that operates on kids while under anesthesia. He gets all the work done at once in under an hour while the kid is knocked out. Today was the day Allie had the work done.
Since our examining dentist said her teeth weren't as bad as he expected, you can imagine our shock when the nurse came out of the operating room to inform us that four of Allie's top front teeth had to be pulled and eight of her teeth had to he crowned. That leaves her with a tiny row of six of her own teeth in the front on the bottom and two canines on the top. The back of her mouth is filled with silver. The front top is all gums until her permanent teeth come in.
It was heartbreaking to see her when they allowed me back into the recovery room. Her mouth and nose were bloody and she was wailing. But she stopped almost instantly when I scooped her up and held her closely to my chest.
God designed our bodies wonderfully. In our mothers' wombs he knit us together the psalmist David wrote. Using what God gives us makes us stronger, fit and correctly formed. When what we have is not used or is rendered nonfunctional, we are in danger of losing it. This is something we learned a year ago when Allie had to have hip surgery. Hip sockets are formed while the child learns to waddle then walk then run. If legs are not used, their growth is stunted; deformed.
Use it or lose it. That used to be cliche. Now it's sad reality.
Or is God using this to strengthen other things in us; areas of our minds and bodies that would be neglected if life were "normal" or easy. I can see areas of Allie's life being strong where the same areas in my life are neglected and atrophied.
Use it or lose it.
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Thursday, June 03, 2010
Tim Burton's interpretation of the Lewis Carrol adventure is big fun. There's been a version of this story for every stage of my life it seems from Disney to Jefferson Starship to the Matrix. Now that Johnny Depp and I have reached mid-life together, we have this new spin on the classic tale.
Alice, nineteen now and set up by her mom to marry a proper dud of a rich socialite, falls the down the same rabbit hole from her childhood. Only she thought it was a dream. She meets the same characters and lives basically the same story, but reworked by Burton. The themes in movie make for great discussion. The villian is the big headed ego centric psycho queen of hearts (played by Helena Bonham Carter) surrounded by sycophants with various fake exaggerated body parts. Poetic justice awaits, honey.
Other themes include the David and Goliath concept of the little dude willing to do the impossible and face terror incarnate because it's the right thing to do but no one will do it, believing you can do the impossible, a satirical look of good empire against bad empire and boths' lack of genuine virtuous heroes, and how necessary it is for normal, everyday people to go against the flow and do the right thing even if everyone says you can't.
Whacky? Weird? Yes to both. But visually fun and satisfying. If you're in Costo or WalMart, pick up the DVD like the Charming and Beautiful Susan and I did yesterday.
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Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Find out who is NOT the hero in the story of Jonah. This is the fourth part of my interview with Tullian Tchividjian. Read the entire interview here.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
This is a link to a terrific list of books compiled by Shepherd’s Staff founder, Pastor Jeff Jackson. I’ve posted this list in the past, but I think it should be re-posted as more people become aware of Shepherd’s Staff and as we more applications come in.
Here's this month's free Audio book. I'm pretty excited about it. Francis Chan is a young, thoughtful author bringing fresh insights to the church.
Instructions: Add the download to your cart and use the coupon code JUN2010 when prompted to receive this month's free download! You must use the code to receive the download for free.
christianaudio.com - christianaudio.com: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"