Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Book Review: The Lord's Prayer

When the disciples asked, "Lord, teach us to pray," Jesus did not simply tell them. He showed them. He modeled for all of us how we can talk to God in words that are simple yet profound. This prayer, known as "The Lord's Prayer," has endured for two thousands years, and is now available in a new edition by Rick Warren and Richard Jesse Watson for a new generation to discover. I read this book last night to our 3-yr old daughter and 5-yr old son. We all enjoyed looking at the artwork and discussing the meaning of Jesus' precious words.

The Lord's Prayer introduces us to all the important elements of prayer: Adoration. Submission. Supplication. Confession. A longing for heaven. This kids' edition pairs the poetic beauty of the King James Version with the beautiful artwork of Richard Watson. Watson creatively depicts the wonder and almost whimsical nature of prayer through the trusting eyes of a child. At times, I would like to see a clearer connection between the illustrations and the content of Scripture. Some of the images are brilliant (a girl feeding sparrows to show how God supplies our daily bread), while others are just too abstract (two children walking hand-in-hand up a stairway to show God's eternal glory).

By depicting children from many countries, Watson gives the book a multicultural flavor and shows that God invites people of all ages and nationalities to talk to Him through His Son. The brief prayers and explanatory notes by Rick Warren at the back of the book are a great addition, and can provide great talking points for parents. All in all, The Lord's Prayer could be a good tool to help introduce children to the power and beauty of the Lord's prayer.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Update on Natalie

Natalie had a follow up appointment with her doctor this morning, but we really don’t have much  to report. The lab reports are not back yet. The doctor briefly checked Natalie, noticed a little bleeding, and said to come back in another week.

The doctor still seems optimistic that the uterine lining is just weak/thin, and that it will eventually heal on its own. The area he scraped six weeks ago is probably still very tender, and needs more time to heal. We envision it kind of like a scab, that needs to heal, and when picked, starts to bleed again. He says it’s possible the bleeding she had last weekend was even agitated by her menstrual cycle (this is only speculation).

The doctor who saw Natalie today is the one who delivered the baby and did the D&C six weeks ago. He is not the same one who was on call over the weekend and did Natalie's D&C last Saturday (that was his partner practitioner; they form a sort of tag-team and alternate shifts). Today, Natalie's doctor said there were two options of how last weekend could have been handled.
  1. The first option was to perform a D&C and scrape/clean out the uterus again. This solved the immediate bleeding problem, but may have opened that “scab” up again and delayed healing. This is obviously the route the on-call doctor took in the ER last Saturday. Today, the doctor said that if Natalie were not his normal patient, and without knowing her history, he would have done the same thing. 
  2. However, the second option would have been to try to control the bleeding in the hospital with more Methergen and Pitocin, helping the uterus push out remaining tissue, constricting the blood vessels, and permitting the “scab” to continue healing. The doctor said this is what he would have done if he was the one on call last weekend.

We’re thankful there is minimal bleeding at the moment, but the same thing occurred the first three weeks after Natalie’s first D&C. We realize that Natalie’s uterus might be slowly building up clots again and eventually gush, but there’s not much we can do right now but wait. We’re encouraged that there’s still a chance she will heal on her own, but it’s very hard to be in this constant state of limbo. We do appreciate that the doctor wants to see her in another week and is avoiding a surgery if at all possible.

Thanks for continuing to pray. When we pulled into the garage this afternoon, we immediately paused to pray and give this all to the Lord, asking for His strength and protection. "God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble, therefore we will not be afraid (Ps. 46:1-2). May that be true in our hearts every moment of the day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CMC Christian club

The Christian club at Copper Mountain College is now meeting on Wednesdays at noon. If you or someone you know is a student at CMC, please join us! We'll be meeting each week at the new amphitheater just outside Student Services.

This is a great way to learn more about Christianity in a friendly setting, to have your questions answered, and to be encouraged in your faith. Grab a lunch and come discover Jesus from the book of John (new visitors will receive a free copy).

I'm excited to be partnering with Pam Hoyt and the student leaders to get this group back up and running. For more information, please email phoyt[at]cmccd[dot]com, or just drop by this Wednesday at noon.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hilarious baby video

As some of you heard, Natalie bled a lot more Saturday evening, so we had to take her back down to ER. The doctor did a D&C around 11 pm to clean out her uterus and stop the bleeding. Amazingly, she was discharged about an hour later and we got a good night's sleep. Natalie is feeling much better today.

We'll be waiting and praying this week to see if this solves the problem for good. Natalie has an appointment scheduled for Friday. They think this should fix the problem, but if bleeding persists, she may need a hysterectomy. We certainly hope that won't be necessary, but continue to trust in God. For the moment, all is quiet. Natalie's mom drove down today to help out, which will be really nice the next few days.

After all the drama this weekend, we really appreciated this video. It provided some great comic relief. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another hospital adventure

Thanks for all who were praying for us yesterday. Natalie started having more heavy postpartum bleeding around 8 am yesterday. She continued to bleed throughout the morning, so she called the triage nurse at her doctor’s office and was advised to go to the hospital. By the time we got a babysitter, fed Abigail, drove down the hill, and arrived at ER, it was a little after 1 pm. By the time we got there, her bleeding had already slowed considerably.

It was a very busy day in the ER. The waiting room was packed, and the ER halls were lined with beds everywhere. One staff joked that beds were going to be all the way out to the front lobby! And at one point, we overheard that there were five trauma patients being treated, including a baby.

Natalie, Abigail, and I waited a few hours in the waiting room, then were moved into the ER hallway to wait a few more hours on a hospital bed. An early blood test showed her hemoglobin count was still OK. Around 6 pm, Natalie was taken back for an ultrasound. The radiologist said the results looked very similar to the pictures taken two weeks ago when we were at ER, though the mass in her uterus appeared even a little more engorged. Nurses seemed confident at first that she would need a D&C. The waiting game continued, and around 11 pm, the doctor finally came to visit and said there was nothing they would be doing that night.

The nurses and doctor seemed to lean toward the need for another D&C due to her enlarged uterus and this persistent mass of tissue, but the doctor also said it can sometimes resolve on its own over a period of weeks or months. Since her blood count was OK and bleeding had slowed down, there really wasn’t much they could do in ER. However, if she has another bleeding episode like yesterday, we are instructed to go back down to ER and start the whole process over again. Otherwise, we just need to call the doctor on Monday, set up an appointment, get examined, and possibly schedule a D&C. Not the resolution we had been hoping for. By the time we got our discharge papers and left the hospital, it was after 1 am. We walked out feeling like we had more questions than answers. The only thing we knew for sure is God is still sovereign!

Please pray for Natalie’s continued protection, and for Abigail’s immune system to be strong after being in ER for a whole day. In spite of all the setbacks and question marks, we still find many reasons to be thankful to the Lord: that Natalie’s bleeding subsided and blood count is OK; that Natalie was in very little pain other than some cramps that morning; that we were placed at the furthest hallway away from much of the ER commotion and germs; that Abigail did very well overall; that we had an excellent ultrasound technician with an attention to detail and a willingness to explain what was on the screen; that the mass in Natalie’s uterus has not grown significantly; that we had a little time to read and pray together throughout the day; that Lila came on short notice to watch Dylan and Heidi all day long; and that we had all of you praying!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When weak becomes strong

Two of the most common "adversative" or "negative" conjunctions in Greek are δέ (de), and ἀλλὰ (alla). δέ is the weaker of the two, and can be translated either "and" or "but" depending on the context. ἀλλὰ, on the other hand, is a stronger contrast. Of the 628 times it appears in the New Testament, only once is it translated "and," and in this instance, it still carries an adversative idea (Mt. 18:30). The vast majority of the time, it is translated "but" or "yet."

In the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus contrasts the external rules of the Jewish tradition with the internal laws of His Messianic kingdom, I naturally expected Jesus to choose the strong adversative ἀλλὰ. But this isn't the case! In all six instances, He actually chooses the weaker conjunction δέ:

Matthew 5:22 But I tell you,     ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν
Matthew 5:28 But I tell you,     ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν
Matthew 5:32 But I tell you,     ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν
Matthew 5:34 But I tell you,     ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν
Matthew 5:39 But I tell you,     ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν
Matthew 5:44 But I tell you,     ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν

Why didn’t Jesus use the stronger ἀλλὰ to show the sharp contrast between the Jewish traditions and His own teaching? Perhaps it's because contrast has already been supplied by the pronoun ἐγὼ, which is emphatic. Lit., He says, “But I Myself tell you.” Leon Morris writes,
“[Jesus] uses the emphatic ἐγώ. France comments, “This is not a new contribution to exegetical debate, but a definitive declaration of the will of God. It demands (and receives, 7:28–29) the response, ‘Who is this?’ Thus this passage contributes another aspect to the presentation of Jesus as the Messiah which is Matthew’s overriding purpose.”

I suspect that in this case, using the stronger adversative conjunction ἀλλὰ may have actually stolen emphasis away from the pronoun, where Jesus wanted all His shock and emphasis to land. So Jesus instead chose a weaker conjunction and put all the emphasis squarely on the pronoun ἐγὼ. He says, "It is I alone, and not the tradition of the elders, who will instruct you in God's Law."

A new authority had arrived in town. His name was Jesus, and He was singlehandedly overturning centuries of oral tradition with one sermon.

New Blog

Today I'm closing up shop and launching a new blog called Pinch of Clay. You can visit it by clicking here . Please stop by and...