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Friday, April 19, 2013

Boys Will Be Boys



Having two sons, I think I'm starting to understand a little more about what it means when someone says:

"Boys will be boys".

Even though my oldest is only two and the youngest is three months, it has been incredible to see how a two year old boy is wired by God to say, do and be "manly."

I wish I could show you my house.  Since Aiden's birth, our house has become nothing but a collection of toys, books, and games.  He has created his own "domain" in our living room, and it's amazing to see that he's naturally inclined to play with trucks, blocks, electronics, balls, and anything he can knock over or throw.  Matter of fact, anytime we go outside and he sees my truck he starts to say "TRRRRUUUCCCCK!!!!"  He's naturally attracted to it, as am I.

Any parent of a boy knows what I mean.  While girls are precious, there is just something to a boy that makes them different then girls.  Any parent of a little girl will tell you there's a lot to be said about how different a little girl is from a boy.

God is showing me more than ever, about how connected I must be to my sons as I try and raise them to be godly men who love Jesus, love their mom, and serve the Kingdom.   As a father, I must make strategic and purposeful connections with my boys that are relevant, purposeful, and specific to their needs.

I must be connected to their heart.

The book of 2 Kings describes a plethora of information about the kings who ruled Israel after David was king.  As I've been reading 1 & 2 Kings lately, I've noticed something I've never seen before.  As blood lines and tradition passed down from father to son, it's astounding to notice how many of the newly anointed kings followed in the direct footsteps of their fathers.

Here's a quick description of what I'm talking about:

"Jothan did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight.  He did EVERYTHING HIS FATHER, Uzziah, had done."  

It seems like a simple truth, but we fail at this on so many levels as men.  God is revealing to me in great ways that I am the leader of my son's hearts.  They will follow me.  They will try to be like me.  They will try and do everything that I do.

How do I know this?  Because I followed my father, and because I can already see how connected my precious two year old is to my heart.   Can I encourage you, Dad, to do whatever it takes to connect your heart to your son.  Connect your heart to your daughter.  This generation needs men to step up and lead their families and to connect their hearts in Godly unity.

While I am just getting started at this, I'm thankful God is revealing to me how so very important, and necessary, this is.  

Men, what do you think?  Will you join me?


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Ties That Bind Us

Last night I shared with the students in our student ministry about something that binds us all together.   We all share this in common, and we are struggle from it's consequences.

Hurt.

Everyone deals with hurt.  Life includes hurt and we all experience pain, suffering, and to a degree some level of hurt.  Think with me, when was the last time you were hurt.  It could have been today, yesterday, last week, last year or deep in our past.

Every hurt, leaves some sort of wound.  As we all know wounds require healing, however some wounds take longer to heal than others.  These wounds from hurt directly hinder "WHO" and "WHAT" we become.  There is a direct correlation.

I've learned over the years that there are generally two types of people as a result of these wounds:

-Those who hurt people.
-Those who allow themselves to be hurt.

Everything we do at some point is shaped out of our hurt.  Our "hurt" shapes our decisions, relationships, mindsets, and even our spirituality.  If we're hurting, we will do everything we can to protect ourselves from being hurt again.  If we "hurt" others, then we'll do everything we can to protect ourselves from letting others know that deep down inside, the insecurities we face are what cause us to continue hurting others.

Hurt people, hurt people.

But, healed people, heal people.

If the hurt is so great, then the struggle to let Jesus come in and deal with the pain will be a nearly insurmountable.  

Thankfully Jesus can overcome any pain, any struggle, any sorrow.  Thankfully He knows our hearts, and thankfully He even knows our hurt.  He can and will heal your hurt, and allow you help and serve others even through what may seem impossible to let go.

Where are you hurting?

Let it go and ask Jesus to heal you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Starting Up

It's easy to start something.

Anyone can start something.
The challenge is keeping it going.

For a while, I have had this website and blog because I simply "started it." I started it without a purpose or real reason as to why. It was a fad and trend to have a blog, and to be honest part of me just likes seeing my name as a URL address.

I thought it was very cool say: "Visit my website at www...".  And probably a little arrogant too.

When our first child was born, it served a great purpose in getting information out on his health issues and my wife's. It was a great place to post information and our story on having a premature child and our journey in faith. Once we established some security and a routine, it deflated.

For now, I think I'm going to write and focus on some things that I'm learning as a Jesus follower, husband, dad, and friend. Watching the news and listening to talk shows it is very clear that everyone has something to say these days and most think their opinion is the only one that matters.  People argue and argue about their positions, thoughts, and who is right and wrong.

My opinions are not superior or new or groundbreaking or revelatory in nature. They are simply from a guy who's trying to follow Jesus with all his heart and who wants to lead his family in the love of Christ.

May what I share over the next few days, weeks, months, and years stay the course and remain faithful to God's Word and purpose in our lives. To grow us, shape us, and challenge us to be more like Him.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Project

I profusely apologize for the lack of postings lately. I am in the midst of a big project that hopefully in the near future will be able to announce. Your prayers and thoughts are appreciated, and in the mean time, if you'd like to read our story, please continue through the entries below!

Be blessed, be elevated.

JP

Friday, May 20, 2011

Shannon's Story: The NICU

The NICU

Time went on and we continued to visit Aiden often throughout the day. Eventually I was discharged Tuesday morning, and we made our way home without our little boy. Even though it was a struggle, we came to the hospital several times a day to visit him.

Aiden began doing so well that they gradually started him on bottle feedings. Our times with him were precious as we held him for long periods of time. In the beginning, we could only hold him for ten minutes each. Because he was progressing so well, we were able to hold him as long as we wanted. We eventually experienced giving him baths and bottle feeding him, which was both nerve wrecking and a blessing. What joy to be able to care for our child!

We continued to visit him for the three and a half weeks of his stay in the NICU. During our time with him we met incredible people and encountered divine appointments. Aiden had several nurses care for him that we weren’t familiar with, but had heard of our situation through mutual acquaintances. They were already praying for our family and didn’t even know who we were! Not only were they praying, but God miraculously placed our son in their care. How awesome is that?

We not only had amazing nurses praying and caring for our child, but we encountered other couples in the NICU that we had the opportunity to encourage and minister to. One in particular we met from Georgia. The dad was on business travel and his wife decided to visit him. The night she arrived, she went into labor and had her first child in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. They were stuck away from home with their child in the NICU, living out of a hotel with no clue as to what was to happen next. Talk about challenging.

We spent several minutes talking with this couple and the wife’s parents, sharing our experience and encouraging them. They looked exhausted and emotionally drained, something we understood. We ended up finding out they were Christians and singing God’s praise in the midst of their situation - amazing! We exchanged numbers in case they needed anything and parted ways.

We felt the calling from the entire experience to begin a program that supports parents with children in the NICU. There were so many fears and unanswered questions that we and most parents seemed to face through the process. Fortunately, we had the advantage of John’s dad being a physician. He was able to answer those questions and calm our fears, but most parents didn’t have that luxury. So we felt the burden to create a support system for parents who go through this experience. Who knows where God will take this, but we have had continued confirmation and support to pursue it.

Now we are home with our little boy loving on him as much as we can, and soaking up the blessing it is to be a parent and steward of God’s creation. This whole experience has been nothing but a blessing and eye opener as to how much our God loves us and has a plan for each of us.

Aiden was born 3 lbs. 2 oz. and is now 7 lbs. after almost three months of being brought into this world. He is incredibly healthy and making phenomenal progress. While his progress has been great, our doctors have instructed us to keep him separated from people for a period of time because his immune system is still developing. A small price to pay considering all he has gone through!

As for John, he is adjusting well to being a daddy and his responsibilities at Church of the Redeemer’s Frederick Campus. He is still being a huge support by helping around the house and waking up at wee hours in the morning to change Aiden and keep me awake so I can feed him. My health is significantly better and have spent the last few months at home with Aiden learning the ropes of being a mommy. We are so thankful to the Lord for all he has done and is still doing in us. With Him ALL things are made possible!

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, as I hope you see the results in this story. There truly is power in prayer, and we couldn’t be any more blessed to have such amazing people - even ones we don’t know - covering our family in it.

Thank you to those that have showered us with gifts. We were under the impression that we still had two months to go, and had nothing prepared for Aiden. No clothes, diapers, crib, etc. Because of you, we have more than we need and we can’t thank you enough for rallying together to help us.

Thank you to those that have supported us these last few months with food. Your willingness to take the time and effort to make us a meal has been such a blessing. Your support has been incredibly helpful, since we have been exhausted and trying to adjust to being parents!

Know how much we love each of you reading this and pray that this story encouraged you to keep the faith and continue running the race! The Lord isn’t done yet and has so much in store for us all! May His glory continue to be revealed!

JP, SP and AP

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shannon's Story: After the Storm

Sunday and Monday, Feb. 13/14

The Magnesium Solfate took about 24 to 48 hours to wear off completely, and once it did I was finally able to go see Aiden Sunday morning. John proceeded to help me out of bed and into a wheel chair and we headed towards the NICU.

Once we got buzzed into the NICU we washed our hands before making our way to his bedside. Around the corner there was a long corridor and at the end of it was my baby’s incubator with a Denver Broncos towel draped over it. This scene felt so dramatic, almost as if it belonged in a movie. I immediate felt a rush of emotions and began weeping. It had been two whole days since I had last seen my baby in the operating room. I was so nervous and overjoyed about seeing him! When we got to his little corner, I couldn’t believe how small he actually was - our beautiful little bean.

Once the nurse checked his vitals, we were able to change his diaper and hold him while he was fed through his feeding tube. We couldn’t have been more blessed or privileged to touch and hold our child. As some of you know, John’s father is a neonatologist. He had spent years working in the the Army’s NICU caring for children like our own. He had shared with us that when he was practicing, parents weren’t even allowed to touch their children. I can’t even imagine giving birth to my child and not being able to touch him. Two days was torture enough!

Once things started to calm down Monday evening, we spent some time thanking the Lord and listening to one of Jesus Cultures songs “Show Me Your Glory.” I began to listen to the lyrics intently and broke down crying. The week before this event, I had been blasting this song over and over again in the car, not realizing how God was using it to minister and prepare me for the steps ahead. I was so blessed and overwhelmed by how God knew and was working way in advance. Thank you Lord for your continued faithfulness to our family!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shannon's Story: Day 4

Thursday, Feb. 10

Thursday morning came, and we came to find that my blood pressure continued to creep back up during the night. We weren’t sure what this meant exactly, but we knew it wasn’t good. We knew the Lord was guiding our steps, and continued to pray and trust that His plan was good.

My mom and sisters came to visit us that morning with food and spa treatments. To their disappointment their lunch order was wrong and they went back across the street to fix it. While they were gone, I was munching on a snack and the nurse bursted into my room saying,” What are you doing eating?! Stop!” I asked her why and she said that I was having a c-section in a few hours. I immediately begin panicking. Why was no one communicating these things to us? In theory she probably wasn’t supposed to tell me, but she did. I sat there in shock, and began to pray. I had no words, but simply to ask the Lord for protection over us and peace to get through the surgery.

Then there was a rush of nurses and doctors to monitor and prepare Aiden and I for surgery. The doctors confirmed that the amniotic fluid and blood flow in the placenta was decreasing, which was not good for the Aiden. So they continued with pursuing an emergency c-section that was to occur at 3 p.m.

After everyone had finished prepping me and left, I broke down in my husbands arms and cried. I was so hopeful that we would be going home and everything would be fine. Now we were about to approach the unknown. Even though this wasn’t the ideal situation, I was thankful that I called the doctor and that the Lord was preparing the way ahead of us.

While I was being prepared for surgery, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew the Lord was with us as we were about to walk through this. (It’s so hard not to weep just remembering it!) John walked back into the room with scrubs on, prepared for the surgery. It was amusing to see, because he looked like he was going to assist the surgeon. At 2:30 pm, the nurses rolled me out of my room and towards the operation room. Unfortunately, they had to separate John and I for a short period so they could get me situated in the OR.

Once I got settled and the doctors explained the process of the surgery, I had to hunch over for them to administer the spinal tap. Thank goodness for the PA, she had me hug her while they put it in. Another silly comfort that God knew I needed. Immediately, my body became numb from the upper part of my waist down to my toes. I had never felt this sensation before, so it was incredibly strange.

They slowly laid me down on the operating table, and of course what do I do? Throw up. Now, when the Bible talks about peace that surpasses all understanding, it is being straight forward. Being an individual who had zero to minimal experience with health problems, needles, surgery or hospitals, this situation was my worst nightmare. Even so, God gave me a sense of peace that I could not explain nor understand. It just was.

John came in after they were done prepping and began to coach me through what was about to happen. This was one of the many demonstrations of how he is truly amazing. Then the surgery began. I felt like my belly was being pushed around really hard. That’s really the only way I can explain it since I couldn’t feel anything due to the spinal tap. After some time, we eventually heard a soft, but distinct cry of our son, Aiden Micah. I can’t explain the feelings I felt when after hearing him. A rush of tears overcame John and I because our son was finally here at 3 lbs. 2 oz. and 18 inches. The waiting, pain and anxiety all seemed so worth it now.

The neonatologist came over to let us know that he was fine and looked great. They spent some time looking over him and cleaning him up, then brought him over. I couldn’t help but weep. He was so beautiful and tiny. What an amazing testimony of God’s love and creativity! We spent a few seconds gazing at and touching him, then they needed to take him to the NICU for further care.

After our precious moment with our son, the doctors finished sowing me up and completing the surgical process. Once they were done, they wheeled in my bed and transported me from the operating table to the bed. This was really strange because I couldn’t feel anything! The doctors explained that I would feel like I am falling when they picked me up and placed me in the bed. That was most definitely what it felt like. Then they proceeded to pick up and move my legs. I watched them lift my legs, and laughed internally because I could see and not feel them move.

They eventually wheeled me into the temporary ICU, where they monitored me before taking me back to my room. Eventually, I regained feeling in the lower half of my body and could move my legs. Once I rested and recovered after an hour, they took me back to my room. It was amusing, because once they removed Aiden and the placenta my blood pressure immediately went back to normal. It was as if my body went from one extreme to another within one hour. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel so great. Forget going home, getting some sleep was looking really good at that point.

Among all the other medications that were administered, they gave me one drug that rocked my world - Magnesium Solfate. This drug was to prevent me from seizing during surgery because my BP was so high. The after effects of this drug is nasty. I could barely get up and walk to the bathroom. When I was finally able to make it to the bathroom, I had around five nurses, my husband and mom help me. I felt incredibly sick and faint, and couldn’t manage to walk on my own. They ended up putting me in a wheel chair after making sure I was okay and wheeling me a whole five feet back to my bed.

John and I attempted to sleep, but it was difficult with nurses coming in and out all night to administer medication and check my blood pressure. The next two days I spent majority of my time in bed trying to rest. As you can imagine, this was difficult because I wanted to see Aiden, but couldn’t since I was so sick. Thankfully enough, John was able to spend time with him often.