Inspired.

It hasn’t been the best week I’ve ever experienced. Max has a cold. He’s not coping so well. We’re talking repeated meltdowns all week.

So by Friday night I certainly wasn’t in the mood to go out… but I’d made a commitment and I felt obligated.

It was the YWAM Youth Teams annual dessert night. It was important that I was there and deep down I didn’t want to miss it, but as El throw up on me just as I was about to leave, I wasn’t feeling very glamorous. A baby wipe bath and squirt of perfume later, I found myself walking into our YWAM centre alone and amazed.

I walk into this building most days but today it had been transformed into a skate park with video display of the crew… I kept walking and saw an art gallery with thoughtful items produced by teenagers… and then I was entertained by members of the sports team telling me all about their fishing escapades.

our good mate fiona leads the hip hop crew as they show off some of the skills they've been working on.

But that was just the beginning. As the night went on, I was genuinely inspired by heaps of 12-17 year olds. I know what we do with Youth Street. Heck, they’re in my backyard every Saturday. I write grant applications for them. I even helped give a few tips on the event they threw last night.

But sometimes, I forget. I forget what it means to those kids. I forget that it totally changes their lives. I forget that its a lifeline, a defining relationship, sometimes one that shapes them for the future in a way that they look back and say, “I am who I am because of _<insert the name of one of our amazing staff>__.”

And last night I remembered. I remembered and I was proud and privileged and grateful. Proud of the team who makes it happen every week. Privileged that I get to play a part. And grateful that I got to hear about these amazing young lives that have been radically impacted.

As I listened to a mother stand next to her teenage son and share about the change she’s seen him, my eyes welled up with tears as I remembered that my sleeping toddler may have some challenging days, but even weeks like this are only preparing him for his future… for the impact he’s going to make in life.

Motherhood…ministry…it can be tough… but today, amidst the challenges, I feel re-inspired.

Waiting for Our Christmas Miracle

On the way to the hospital last week, I asked Jared, “What’s your guess? Surgery or no surgery?”

My guess was no surgery because last time the doctor said that if there’s no improvement, he was indeed going to do a surgery; however, he also seems to change his mind a lot based on the treatments and second opinions we’ve been getting. I always seem to get the guess wrong so even though my natural inclination was to go for “surgery,” I decided to go with the opposite and guess “no surgery.”

I was wrong… again.

Max is booked in for surgery on January 25. Unless there is marked improvement between now and then, he will be having surgery on two sites on his face and neck.

My favourite nurse knowingly looked at me and said, “Don’t worry – we have lots of treatments to minimise scarring.” (Shallow thoughts, I know, especially in light of the fact that this surgery could leave him paralysed in his face, but how did she know they were swimming through my mind? I love her. She has been my grace from the first day I turned up in the office throwing up.)

In some ways, I feel moments of fear or discouragement. In other ways, I know that we still have nearly two months for a Christmas miracle.

So as my belly grows and we await our little girl miracle in just 10 short weeks, we also continue to pray for a miracle for our happy little boy and the smile the puts a spring in our steps every day.

PS – thanks to our friend Tiffany from Red Owl Photography for the photos she took while she was visiting. If you’re in the Bend, OR area (or not… she travels a lot and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind some extra cash if she’s in your area!!), chat to her. She is a natural with kids. I’ve known her for a long time now and never known a kid who didn’t adore her. These just happened to come from a few moments hanging out in our living room.

We Have A Diagnosis.

We have a diagnosis for Max. What an answer to prayer.

We noticed the new lump on his jaw line growing consistently after our last appointment and happened to be at the hospital so we stopped in to the paediatric clinics. The nurses noticed significant growth as well and booked him in to see the surgeon asap.

On our way into see him last week, Max pointed to his neck and asked, “Ne!? Ne!?” Yes, Max, we’re here to look at your neck… again.

This time, however, instead of pokes, prods, a kind smile and out the door, we got our answer; and while it was one of the scary words we were sort of dreading… hearing them wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.

Atypical tuberculosis.

No one suited up in infectious disease rocket suits this time because Atypical TB is not contagious from person to person like the “standard” sort of TB you hear about in prisons or developing nations. Its found in many places and comes from dirt, contaminated water, and certain bird poo… mmm… yummy.

You know how some moms freak out if their kid accidentally eats a bit of dirt? Apparently I should’ve been that mom because that’s probably what happened. Max just happens to be one of the 1 in xxxx number of kids who got the raw end of that deal.

You’re welcome to all our mom and dad friends out there for taking the statistical bullet! 😉 I’m well aware the next time we see your child drop an apple slice on the ground we have lost all authority to say, “Just let him eat it.”

During our long morning at the hospital, we learned that surgery is the best way to get rid of this TB because it is notoriously resistant to drugs.

We also learned that the infection has spread through several glands already (its normally in just 1 or 2) and as we all know, is continuing to grow. The problem is, they seem to be all lined up perfectly right along this long, u-shaped nerve that happens to control the right side of his mouth and the lower right side of his face. The surgeon told us in no uncertain terms that we need to get rid of the infection but that he is not confident he will be able to do it without damaging that nerve, leaving our son paralyzed forever.

We opted to have a go with some really aggressive antibiotics. We were warned they could take quite a toll on his little body, but now several days in, he has only had some sluggishness, fever and diarrhoea – all within the “normal” range of his body growing accustomed to the drugs and closely monitored by our favourite paediatric nurses. Another answer to prayer.

Our hope is obviously that the infection recedes quickly. Our surgeon has warned us that he will most likely recommend surgery if there is not marked improvement in three weeks, as the risk of it spreading and causing more damage is too high.

I won’t lie. Even though we know other parents face much more difficult circumstances, the thought of surgery and potential paralysis was very, very confronting for us. At the same time, as we deal with those emotions before the Lord, He has been so gracious and kind to us, reminding us that it does not matter what Max looks like or what physical abilities or disabilities he may have – his destiny and purpose and value in life remains the same.

He has also reminded us that His heart is that none of us have sickness or suffering. I wonder if sometimes we see it so much junk in this world that we forget its not His ultimate plan or our ultimate future.

All along, God has spoken to us not to worry. As others have begun to pray for us and with us, this seems to be main theme.

And you know what?

We feel wise, aware, sad, grateful, disappointed, compassionate, and so many other things… but we are genuinely not worried. That whole peace that passes all understanding thing really is amazing.

Will you join us in praying for our boy? That his body would continue to accept the drugs well, that the infectious lumps would dissipate completely and that he would be healed and well? Would you pray that we continue to have peace and also the wisdom to know how to care for Max under these unusual circumstances?

And will you thank Jesus with us? For bringing this issue to light? For a surgeon who has speculated this is what it was all along and has made Max a priority as a result? For the kind community that surrounds us and reminds us of truth?

We have a LOT to be grateful for and one sweet little man to care for.

Sweet boy fighting off his fever and just couldn't keep those eyes open...

No One Likes to Sit Next to a Crying Baby

My travel buddy

I was expecting dread, dirty looks, the evil eye, and not-so-subtle sighing.

So imagine my surprise when after 13 hours in the air in a small and confined space, I was greeted instead by… reliefdelightsmiles… and statements of overwhelming gratitude for my awesome parenting (which I refer to as “luck” and “the grace of God”)?

Evidently, no one likes sitting next to a crying baby. But when the baby doesn’t cry (at all!), people are very very happy. I mean, SERIOUSLY happy. Its like their dread gives way to a waterfall of gratitude and joy.

My little Max is an exceptional traveller.

Overall our trip, was amazing. Profitable. Insightful. Worth it.

We met some amazing people – like these guys, who run a garment factory in Cambodia where people who have been trafficked can have a paying job and rehabilitation services. And  these guys – who ship medical supplies all around the world… and maybe even to Papua New Guinea?!

And we launched the very first Not For Sale DTS. Anyone know someone with 6 months to change the world? Send ’em our way!

We were reminded of the 27 million people around the world who live in slavery. The ones who are making products that you and I get at bottom bucket bargain prices…

Maybe that whole underground railroad, abolition thing isn’t quite over yet.

We don’t want to be radical. We want to be smart.
We don’t want to be condemning. We want to be responsible.
We don’t want to be naive. We want to seek truth.

We’re not hopping on the bandwagon… we’re asking questions… learning… and remembering that the whole “set the captives free” thing is a bit more literal that we realised… but way too important to ignore.

A Daggy But Oh So Special Dedication.

I’ll be honest. We’re not your typical family. We might look typical on the outside. But we tend to do things a little bit differently than everyone else.

Which is why, when you see this picture posted below, you just might think, “Man, couldn’t they dress up for their first born son’s dedication*?!” And that would be an understatement. Because we actually look as daggy as daggy can be.

A Holy Memory

But there’s a reason.

This week when we went camping, there we were under the stars, singing songs to God, and I was absolutely struck with awe in my heart at how privileged we are to do what we do. Here we are, halfway around the world, working with an organisation where we are helping to shape a nation – by helping people one person at a time. Not only that, but we get to do it with about 150 amazing people. And what really struck me is that – even with the sacrifice of spending his days away from his adoring aunties, uncles, grandmas, grandpas and cousins – our little boy is so, so loved. Other than next door to his Nani and Papa or Grandma and Grandpa, I can’t think of a better place I’d want my son to live, learn, and  be loved.

So it was, with tears glistening under those twinkling stars, camping at a place that has come to be a special home to us with so many memories, that we decided to dedicate Max  around the campfire in front of 150 of our closest friends and coworkers.

That night will become one of my most special memories, as we counted the cost of parenthood – the sacrifice it takes (and oh, is there sacrifice!) to raise our precious boy, and also the sacrifice it will be to one day release him to do whatever it is God asks him to – and committed before God and our friends to do our very best to love our sweet Max.

It was one of my most proud moments of Jared, as with tears in his eyes he so eloquently committed these things in words so sweet I can’t even begin to do them justice with my memory. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate in this journey.

We make mistakes often. And we’ve only been parents for 4 1/2 months. But our hope and prayer is that even our shortcomings and failures would point Max to find comfort and hope and identity and truth in His Creator… and to bring life to many.

* Wondering what we mean by dedication? Its a bit of a “Christianese” term, if you will, but in reality its similar to a marriage ceremony in that we wanted to make a special statement to help seal in our memory our commitment to love and raise our little boy.