Mother’s Day 2019

JonathanDavid

This past Mother’s Day was a different experience for me.  I had the pleasure and challenge of preaching at my parish, Church of the Holy Nativity.  It’s only the second time I’ve ever preached.  It’s humbling.  It’s challenging.  It leaves me filled with the reminders of God’s love and grace.

When my priest initially asked how I’d feel about preaching on Mother’s Day, I hadn’t looked at the lectionary and our conversation was more about what it might mean to be a mother preaching on Mother’s Day.  I didn’t have any reservations within that context and so, agreed.

The week after peaching the first time, late January, I finally got a look at the readings and my breath caught.  I would be preaching on Mother’s Day.  The scripture readings included the 23rd Psalm.  The same words written on my brother’s tombstone, the same brother, whom we named our own miracle after.  The one who has made me a mother.  I share this backstory with you because it’s important for me to share how God works our healing in mysterious, but deliberate ways.  Sometimes we don’t even know these are parts of us that are in need God’s guidance, grace, love and healing…but they are given whether we know the need or not.  I am humbled.  I am challenged.  I am filled with reminders of God’s love and grace.

THE READINGS

Acts 9:36-43
Psalm 23
Revelation 7:9-19
John 10:22-30 (The Gospel)

THE SERMON

The Lord is our strength and shield.  Holy Spirit, come.  Make your presence known to us through word and meditation.  Amen.

Happy Mother’s Day.

I don’t know if anyone here feels the same, but Mother’s Day is actually kind of tricky for me.  How do we celebrate a day that on one hand brings our cups to overflowing and on the other, rips the scar tissue or maybe even a fresh scab off of a deep wound?

You see, though many are mothers in the traditional sense,  blessed to be able to witness first hand, God’s miracle of creation, there are many other mothers out there.

*The woman who has been trying to conceive for years – Yes.  She’s a mother too.

*The man who’s both mother and father, because he’s it – Yeah, he’s a mother too.

*The adoptive and honorary role models who take children under their wings – Yep, they’re moms too.

*The bereaved mother, who no longer has a child to hold in her arms – Let me tell you, she’s still very much a mother.

…and these are just a few examples of the other.

Added to that, where does this leave children like AJ Freund?  I don’t know how many of you have seen the recent DCFS audit in Illinois, but from 2015-2017, 102 children had prior contact with the system, but were left vulnerable and died.

In a time when so many of us feel powerless, isn’t it wonderful to be reminded of…to rediscover to beauty and power of the resurrection?

Are any of you familiar with the story of Horatio Spafford?  There’s a Chicago connection.  He was a successful lawyer who had invested significantly in property that was extensively damaged in the Great Chicago Fire.  In the hopes of finding a new life, the family planned to move to Europe.  Consequently, Mr. Spafford was delayed on business, so he sent his family on ahead of him.  While crossing the Atlantic, the ship his family was on sank after a collision with another vessel.  All 4 of his daughters died.  This added to a son the family had already lost previously, when he was 2 years old.  It was this man, who after significant personal trauma, wrote the lyrics to the well-known hymn, It is well with my soul.

Bear with me, for I very much think in song and lyric…but I’d like to invite you to close your eyes and hear the words (the original lyrics), which I believe are the essence of our readings this morning.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet,
Though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal,
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!

As  I read and re-read our scriptures for this morning over and over – my own practice of meditation and reflection, I couldn’t help but be lifted by the Spirit and season of Easter.  We are a resurrection people.

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

First we have God working a miracle through Peter – raising Tabitha from the dead.

Then we are given peace in the knowing our Shepherd always guides us towards life, in the Psalm.

He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways
for his name’s sake.
Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the
days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the
Lord forever.

Followed by a beautiful picture of what the resurrection might look like –

God will shelter them.
They will hunger and thirst no more.
For the Lamb will be their Shepherd.
He will guide them to springs of the water of life.
God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

A world Unified – every nation, tribe, people and language –
made pure through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And finally in our Gospel, absolute assurance –

“My sheep hear my voice.
I know them.
They follow me.
I give them eternal Life.
They will never perish.”

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In his great mercy, we have been given a new birth into a living HOPE through the resurrection.  (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Where, O death, is your sting?  Where, O grave, is your victory?
(1 Corinthians 15:55)

Or as Rachel Held Evans (1981-2019) put it:
“Death is something empires worry about, not something gardeners worry about. It’s certainly not something resurrection people worry about.”

…which reminds me of a saying that goes something like this:
When you’re in a dark place, you tend to think you’ve been buried. But perhaps, like a seed or a bulb, you’ve been planted.  BLOOM!

…and so I say with Faith and Joy and Hope, Happy Mother’s Day!
To all moms: step-moms, honorary moms, adopted moms, foster moms, yearning moms, angel moms, grieving moms, grieving children, pet moms, expecting moms, new moms, mother-in-laws, Dad moms, anyone who has a mom or mother figure…Happy Mother’s Day!

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

JonathanJames

Me and my miracle boy, Jonathan on Mother’s Day.

Why we walk…

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Right now, babies need all the help they can get. Premature birth affects approximately 380,000 in the United States.  Many of you know, my own life has been affected by the birth of our son, Jonathan, at 27 weeks.  He is a survivor and a miracle.  He is our Jonathan; our “Gift from God.”

Unfortunately, there are also many others who don’t survive.  Also, many who survive, are in need of constant care and support as their babies grow and hopefully, thrive.

In a week, we will be joining the March for Babies here in the Chicago suburbs and walking alongside those who cared for our precious son, The AMITA NICU Warriors.

I walk for my own son, but I also walk for those who don’t survive prematurity and/or the birth defects they are born with.  We need more research to help babies survive and thrive.  Already, more babies are surviving and thriving that wouldn’t have 10 years ago.  Jonathan is the perfect example of this, and yet, there is much more to learn.  If you’d like to help, please make a secure donation or walk with us!  Together, we can help March of Dimes, so more babies can get the strongest start possible.

We honor Jonathan with this walk.  Look at this guy and his NICU team!  IMG_2564

We walk in memory of Jesse Amandus, who fought an amazing fight after his birth at 24 weeks, but could only be with us for 13 days.  IMG_6413

We walk in thanks for the care received in the NICU at AMITA Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, and all of the hands that have helped and continue to help us walk through this journey.  IMG_7561
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Please click here if you’d like to make a DONATION.  Thank You for all of your support, love and prayers!

A not so fun First…Hospitalization

Well, after having upper respiratory symptoms for about a week and fevers for 4 days, we thought it might be time for Jonathan’s pediatrician to have a look as well, specially as it had gotten to the point where I had to start giving nebs at home, which I’ve never had to do.

We were only 2 hours away from his pediatrician appointment and things got a little too uncomfortable to stay at home.  Jonathan would hold his breath to cough and his lips started turning blue.  I also went to change a diaper and he became ruddy in complexion and starting flailing in panic because he couldn’t breathe.  Off to the ER we went.

Thankfully, we were taken back fairly quickly.  In triage, we were doing pretty well with all of our numbers.  Unfortunately, it took over an hour for a nurse to come and assess him in our room and when they did as I suspected with his ruddy lips, his oxygen levels were a little lower than the desired level, 87%.  Oops.  Quickly though, Jonathan at that point was placed on oxygen.

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Our next step was for a Chest X-Ray.  I know no one ever likes to give a child radiation, but when trying to determine if you are dealing with pneumonia or not, it’s pretty much the only conclusive way to go.  Thankfully he did not have pneumonia, unfortunately though we were pretty sure we were dealing with a viral illness, he needed oxygen for hypoxia.  This was not something we were going to be able to manage at home at this point.  We don’t have oxygen or the monitoring capability at home.  So, we had our first overnight in the hospital since our discharge from the NICU.

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Much more comfortable in his room and with an efficient, sweet nurse who helped me, we were able to suction Jonathan to help him breathe better and then this happened! img_2965
Oxygen levels of 97% on Room Air (without oxygen)!  The bulb suction I have at home just wasn’t going deep enough or strong enough to clear out these super thick secretions to help him breathe better.  What a relief!  We kept the oxygen tubing on overnight just in case we needed to hook him back up, but for the first time in days, he got some good sleep.  img_2968
His numbers stayed up and he slept with a minimal incline on the bed.

Fast forward to morning, we found out he tested positive for RSV, which was not a surprise.  Thankfully, as he was able to keep his levels normal and did not require oxygen throughout the night, we were all comfortable going home yesterday.img_2976
The next morning.

View from his room.  Lurie Children’s Hospital.


When you start cleaning the cabinets with your Boogie Wipes, it’s definitely time to go!

and…He’s 2!!!

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Yes, you read it right! Jonathan is 2!  I can hardly believe it myself!  It seems like he was just born and we’re on the 2nd Birthday already.  My micropreemie is no longer a little baby…official Toddlerhood is upon us!

Currently, Jonathan’s favorite things are TRAINS and CLEANING!  Vacuums, dust pans, swiffers, mops…you name it, he’s in to it!  His activities include swimming, gymnastics, sing-a-long, and Mom Pop Tot interaction.  He also really enjoys going to church and singing and listening to the organ.  Here are some pictures from his Birthday Party…

Yes, his girlfriends are feeding him cake! Ha Ha Ha.

Jonathan with his Godfather, Uncle Mike

Playing with his friends.

His current stats are:

Height 32.28″
Weight 11.57KG/25lbs, 8oz
Head Circumference 19.65″

We are feeling so blessed and proud to be his parents!

I’m still here!

Hi Friends!

I’m still here, with nary a moment to write most days, but I try to read late at night before I pass out from chasing my growing beautiful boy.

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Jonathan is becoming a little boy.  He is in Swim on Mondays, Gymnastics on Thursdays and a Mom Pop Tot Class (learning through play) on Fridays!  I can barely keep up!  We are still getting some nice weather here in Chicago.

Certainly enough that Jonathan got to work on digging some dirt the other day and had so much fun with cousin Charlie!

Most recently, we had a visit from Lola (grandma in Tagalog-a Philippine dialect), and J really just loves her!  We’re wishing they still lived here in Chicago and they’re wishing we’d hurry up and move to Florida!

Can I get a “Go Cubs Go!” out of it?!?!  YES!!!! We’re going to the World Series!!!!!

Of note, J had to graduate to a Toddler Bed. He’s learned to swing his leg over a bar and spin in Gymnastics and decided to try that out on his crib!  Oh, the joys of toddler-hood!!!  I was hoping to keep the crib until he was 2, but what can I say?  My micropreemie is catching up to his actual age in gross motor skills and has other ideas!

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Good thing once he’s out, he’s OUT!  Blessings to you and yours!  I’ll try to do better at updating!