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Update on Norman

My father-in-law had a brain hemorrhage 11 days ago. Here is the update I sent to friends and family today. We would appreciate your prayers.

(picture taken at Spanish Banks when grandma and grandpa flew out to meet Noah)

Friends,

I wanted to send an update on where things are with Norman. Please know we are deeply grateful for your prayers and encouragement.

He’s now out of ICU and his blood pressure is remaining stable. Thank you for your prayers for that specific need. We’re now eleven days out from the event  – which turned out to be a more serious brain hemorrhage rather than a stroke. Based on where the hemorrhage occurred in his brain his speech, cognitive ability, and motor skills have been impacted. He has some movement in his left arm and hand. He can follow some simple commands. He still cannot talk. He seems to be able to track with some conversations and to recognize people. But we don’t know for sure at this point if that’s accurate or just wishful thinking.

The short answer to the question, “What’s next?” is we don’t know. If there is one thing we’ve been consistently  told is that we need to brace for a long, tough road ahead. Not an inviting prospect in any situation. While not ignoring the words of those qualified to offer such sobering counsel, nor forgetting the inescapable reality that our physical bodies are precipitously frail, we nevertheless are praying that by God’s grace Norman will dramatically recover to live a meaningful life and regain his ability to speak. We would love for you to join with us in also praying specifically that:

  • His blood pressure would remain regulated.
  • He would show increasing progress with the army of therapists (speech, physical, and occupational) who meet with him daily.
  • The transition to a rehab facility would be smooth and that he would show improvement.

We particularly appreciate your prayers for Gwen. This is obviously toughest for her as life has suddenly and dramatically taken an unexpected turn. She is scrambling to make changes, so that she can be available to help Norm. Please pray for her as she is dealing with (tectonic) shifts in her expectations, dreams, and plans.

I’ve been struck this week by how easy it is to say, “Glory to God!” when suffering is relieved, questions are neatly answered, pathology reports come back negative, budgets are in the black, the candidate we like is in office. But what happens when our desires for the “good life” aren’t met? Where is God’s glory then?

As we are fast approaching Ash Wednesday this week and the beginning of Lent, I am reminded again that God’s glory is not only beheld in those things – healing, success, power, and victory. He is often most with us during the storms, impending doom, darkest of nights. And he says to us, “Do not be afraid.” He could say these words to a people gripped by fear because he knew that he would take the things we’re most afraid of and make of them nothing. What’s more is he took suffering and death, flipped them over and used them for something that could never have been imagined: redemption.  Glory to God!

Thank you for your love and prayers.

Because of Him,

David and Martha

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So much to be thankful for!

Let us praise and thank God for all great and simple joys;
For the gift of wonder and the joy of discovery;
For the everlasting freshness of experience;
For all that comes to us through sympathy and through sorrow,
and for the joy of work attempted and achieved;
For musicians, poets and craftsmen, and for all
who work in form and color to increase the beauty of life;
For the likeness of Christ in ordinary people,
their forbearance, courage and kindness, and
for all obscure and humble lives of service;
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the
Holy Spirit ever world without end. Amen.

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Reflections on Todd, NC

We’ve just returned from two weeks in Todd, NC. It was by every measure a wonderful vacation – second only to my honeymoon. I have never taken a two week break before, so this was a first for me. I heartily recommend it. Below are just a few reflections from my time there:

  • “…the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord,” read the words from Psalm 33:5 one morning in the Daily Office. As I meditated on the Psalmist’s declaration, I was sitting on  the back porch of a mountain cabin on a cool summer morning, looking out onto mountains scattered with dairy cows and barns, lush forests, and the ancient New River. The New River is considered one of the oldest rivers in the world. For all these years, those waters have descended from NW North Carolina into Virginia creating beauty, bringing life, reflecting the steadfast love of God. As rivers shape their landscape and carve into it over time, so too does the love of God, over time, change us and mold us. It is God’s love that carves out the contours of a life of trust and faith.
  • “It’s not about me,” was a phrase that echoed through my thoughts and prayers as I was away from church at a time of need. In God’s faithfulness, the Body of Christ responded and incredible ministry happened. Praise be to God, this ministry is not mine at all, it is the ministry of Jesus Christ. According to his riches and great mercy, I get to participate with him. There were two important take-aways: 1) the ministry of Christ is not contingent on me 2) nor is my participation in it the core of my identity. The deepest and truest discovery a man can make is when he realizes he is not what he does. Rather, identity emerges from relationship – relationship with the God who made him, who knows him, and who loves him. I am first and foremost Abba’s child. I am beloved by God. How beautiful! Why would I want to be anything else?
  • Families are like fine wines – they need time to mature and develop. My family needed time and this vacation was a Godsend. We have been excruciatingly busy these past five years. Since leaving graduate school in 2005, I entered full-time ministry in the church planting context and Martha started her own business. These past few years have been about starting and building. We’ve grown in some incredible ways. But it was high time that we pull the plug for a couple of weeks of rest. It was appropriate that our vacation was a pilgrimage of sorts back to the NC mountains where we first met. It was good to get back and to bring our kids with us. There was such a sweetness in our time together. The grace that was made available to us made this vacation seem truly sacramental. Glory to God!
Around the camp fire in Todd

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Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving. Well, it’s 10:15 on Thanksgiving night. We spent the day with my mom and step dad at their house. It was a good day. Everyone enjoyed one another – the conversation, the laughter, the play. It was a good day with people I have known for a very long time. The thing about lengthy relationships is that familiarity breeds contempt. The more and the longer you know someone the more you are aware of their faults, foibles, and shortcomings. So it was indeed a blessing to have such a good day.

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My sons Noah and Caleb were outside having a water fight a few minutes ago. It’s amazing how terrified with joy little kids can be about cold water and a garden hose! They were having so much fun I had to get into the mix, so I emerged, to their delight, out the back door with about six cups of water. I doused them by surprise. Once my cover was blown, however, they staked out the back door waiting for me to peek out. When I did I got blasted along with the kitchen table. What a mess we made. Now they’re upstairs getting showers. Good times.

I think I’ll go grill some hotdogs.

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