Sunday, 26 February 2012

Tom's thougths

After discovering that it's now more than 2 years since I last had a post on our blog, I was encouraged by my lovely wife to share my thoughts. Also in light of all that is going on at the moment with a new church, the coming baby and the issues regarding the heart problems, you might be interested in hearing my side of things.

Generally I think life is challenging at the moment. I will not say that life is hard, though it sometimes feel that way, but challenging is a better description because I can see that God again and again gives the strength to continue and at times it's even encouraging and fun.

Some of you may know that in my earlier posts (approximately 3- 4 years ago) I always had three projects for the coming year, which was to write a book, built a new church and make a movie.

However, the project to built a new church has actually become a real project as we last autumn started up a new church in Esbjerg. When I say we it is my two brothers (Jan and Ole), Ole’s brother in law (Lars) and myself together with ours families. The goal of the church so far has primarily been for us to learn to take responsibility for what takes place in the church and to teach the word of God. I feel that we are progressing in this area and we are now starting to see how we each fit into the different ministries and can move to start developing the church in the direction where we hope to see more people join and especially see non-christians be converted. Personally I see my main role as teacher, but I also know that even though this is what I like to do, I need to get a better understanding of the other ministries in the church and develop some of my people skills.

It is very exciting and hard work but also joyful to see how we each slowly grow in the roles we have.

On the family side it has been great to see how Joshua is growing up and becoming an intelligent little boy. It sometimes amazed me how quick he is to copy, and figure out things, i.e. I got an Ipad for Christmas and within minutes (literally) he has found out how to turn the thing on, unlock it and start a game of angry birds. If he keep up like this, I won't be looking forward to helping him with his homework, "Daddy, how do you solve this differential equation", I of course assume he'll want to be an engineer like his dad.

As Ally has told we are expecting a litte one in June which has been diagnosed with "hypoplastic left heart syndrome", I like saying that because people don't understand what it means and I guess to some extent I don't either. Though after the initial shock and having read about it on different sites, the hope that it will be possible to recover the main functions of the heart, has started to dawn. It is a very serious condition but, we are thankful for the fact that we live in a civilization where it now is possible to operate on the heart, and even though there is still a 60% risk of something going wrong there still is a 40% hope that he/she will make it. Had we live 20 years ago the operation was unknown and 95% of all children with this condition died. I still don't understand how the last 5% survive, because if the heart doesn't pump the blood around the body there is no-way of surviving for very long, but I guess miracles do happen.

Sometimes I too hope for a miracle to happen, especially after having gone through the first part of Matthew in our teaching at church, where we see Jesus performing one miracle after another, couldn’t God just heal this problem and make my life easier. Yes, I believe that God can heal it if he chooses to, but do I have any right to claim this just to make my life easier? Sometimes we think that life is all about me and that Gods only purpose in my life is to make everything go smooth. Yes, he can give me a hard time now and again but it should only be for a short time. Is this right? No, I don’t believe so. In Matthew 10:24-25 it says “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters.” Did Jesus have an easy life? Was everything joy and peace when Jesus walked with his disciples?  If you stop and really think about it I think you will come to the conclusion that it couldn’t have been easy for Jesus. For God, not just a god but God the almighty, to give up the glory of heaven and to walk around sinful people on earth, not just any people but the Israelites, the people he had chosen and loved, and see their rebellion against him again and again, until they finally crucified him on a cross…it that an easy life? I don’t think I could have done that. So do I have any rights to claim anything better than that? Can I complain when things doesn’t go my way? Can I get mad at God when he want me to look after a baby with only half a heart, which may have difficulties in school, which may need special attention? I’m ashamed to say, that maybe I did get mad, but it has taught me to see life in a different perspective. Life is not about me. Why was Jesus willing to live on earth? Hebrew 12:1-4 says it perfectly “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

What is the joy that Jesus was looking forward to? I think it is the day when he will see us in heaven and we will fall in front of his thrown and PRAISE him as God.

May our life be driven by the same hope: the joy of seeing our families, our friends, our neighbors, there next to us praising God.

Sorry, I got a bit carried away there.

As I started with I think life is challenging, but God is a great God and he continues to give us strength for each day.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Peace & encouragement

The last week God has given me a real peace about our baby. It actually came at Bible Study last Friday as I sat with Joshua on my lap, singing praises to God. A wave of peace & joy came over me & it's stayed. He has also given me many passages from His word that have encouraged me, as have the stories of how God is already using this situation to work in others lives.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

I'm thankful for...

Today I'm totally exhausted. Everything is an effort. Emotionally though I'm having a better day, & despite our circumstance there are many things I am thankful to the Lord for. I am thankful for:

* Joshua, & the blessing & delight he is
* A loving husband
* Family & friends that are loving & supporting
* That apart from the heart condition our baby is growing health & normal
* That it is possible to do something for the condition so our baby can have the chance to live.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday, but I don't feel like celebrating. In fact every time I think about it I burst into tears. I've been crying all day. My heart is breaking & the one thing I wish for no one can give me. You can't buy it in a store, or wrap it up in pretty paper & ribbon.

If you have no idea what I'm on about read this first.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Storm Hits

Sunday I told the story of Jesus calming the storm, little knowing that in just a couple of days I would be in the midst of my own storm...

Today has been one of those days that you never want to go through again. I woke with a headache, & it was a slightly earlier & more rushed morning so that we could get to the hospital for my appointment at 8am to have my 20wk scan. An hour & a half later we left having been told that there was a problem with the heart, & an appointment to have further scans with a cardiologist in Århus (2hr drive away) that afternoon.

The wind was starting to pick up & the waves began to swell.

By the time we left to drive to Århus my headache was reaching migraine status. It was a quiet drive there with both of a lost in our own thoughts. Then 2km from where we thought we had to go & 20min til our appointment, our car decided it didn't want to go any further & stopped right in the middle of the road. After pushing it to the side & consulting the GPS we decided to walk the rest of the way, which happened to be all up hill. Puffing & panting we arrived at the building we thought we needed to go to with 1min to spare, only to be told we were at the wrong hospital & that where we needed to go was another 4km up the road. Fortunately we were able to catch a bus there, but not knowing exactly where we had to go, we ended up hopping off approx. 1km from where we should have. Nevertheless we made it there ½hr late, red-faced & puffing.

After having the further scans, we were ushered into another room where we sat down with the head cardiologist, the head gynocologist & the head pediatric doctor & were informed that our baby had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a very serious & rare heart condition. Basically the left side of the heart had not developed & therefore couldn't function. This is the side that pumps oxygenated blood around the body. While in the womb, all is ok & there is no problem, development will continue as normal. However once born, without intervention, he/she will only survive a very short time (hours - days).

This means once born our little baby will require immediate medical attention & then have to undergo 3 operations. The first of these is the most major & will occur at approx. 4 days old, with a 50% survival rate. The second will be performed at around 3mths & the last at around 4 years of age. These surgeries are a life-prolonging intervention, not a cure, & there is a big possibility of problems further down the track & eventually perhap the need for a transplant.

The storm had reached hurricane proportions.

Devastated & in shock, we left the hospital & headed back to where we had left the car to work out how we were going to get home again.  Surprisingly when we got to the car & turned the key it roared to life & we were able to drive home. The drive home was full of tears & talking, praying, silent thinking & more tears. Exhausted we fell into bed, but there was little sleep to be had as the storm still raged.