Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Welcome to the World - Lydia Ruth Engelhardt

Lydia Ruth Engelhardt was born June 22nd, 2010, at 1:48 PM. She was not expected until July 23rd, 2010.

Last Friday, Jamie's doctor informed her that she was testing with high blood pressure and high protein in her urine. We were directed to go to Sherman Hospital for blood work and a 24-hour urine sample. The urine sample was turned in Monday morning, and Monday afternoon, at around 4:30 PM, we received a call from Jamie's doctor. She informed us that the urine sample came back with abnormally high levels of protein, and that we needed to go to labor and delivery as soon as possible. Neither one of us were fearful at this point, as we were both thinking that we were being directed to the unit in order to have more tests run.

When we arrived at Sherman, the nurses had obviously been expecting us with a little "too zealous" angst; it appeared that the entire nursing staff on third floor new our names already. We were directed to the room, and without explanation, Jamie was instructed to put the infamous hospital gown on and leave her other clothes "until it was time to leave" (still having no idea that this was "it").

We met our first nurse, Jennifer, shortly thereafter, and she informed us that they would probably be inducing tonight…WHAT?! It was exciting at this point. We had known that the high blood pressure and protein in urine were markers of pre-eclampsia or toxemia, and that the cure for this was to give birth to the baby. So for the next three hours we enjoyed the thought of being with our daughter sometime this week.

At 8:00 PM we finally met with the doctor. This is when it became troubling. She informed us that, typically, doctors get nervous about a patients level of protein in urine when it is at 300. Jamie, however, tested at 6,800 (I made no mistake by adding an extra zero). The doctor said that she had a consult with the high-risk doctor on the unit, and neither had seen protein this high before. The next move was to start Jamie on cervidil in order to prepare mommy for giving birth.

Neither one of us slept well during the night.

At 8:30 in the morning, we met with another doctor. She said that there had been no improvements in any of the labs. The cervidil had not worked, and every minute/hour that we waited meant a greater danger to both Jamie and the baby because of the life-threatening possibilities of eclampsia. We were informed that a cesarean section would be necessary, and necessary very soon.

BTW – Jamie, at this point, had been on high doses of Magnesium for nearly 16 hours (Mg is given to ward off the seizures that come with eclampsia), which meant that she was very foggy.

When the doctor informed us that a C-section was needed, Jamie and I instantly knew that there was not much of a question. Sure, if her levels had been questionable, or even if there was "risk" of pre-eclampsia, we would have had to think long and hard about the benefits and risks of the operation (not to mention the disappointment of this pregnancy not being "what we had expected"). However, Jamie's was an exceptional case with record breaking and terrifying markers.

Jamie was wheeled into surgery around 1:25, and Lydia Ruth Engelhardt was born at 1:48 PM. She weighed 5 pounds 2 ounces, was 19.25 in. in length, and more beautiful than we could have imagined. Lydia appears to be doing very well, although she is still in the Special Care Unit, due to being so early. However, her organs appear to be strong, her respiratory response is good, and she shows no infections. Jamie is also doing very well. She will be on Magnesium until 1:30 PM today, and then will hopefully get to see her daughter soon.

There were so many things that could have gone horribly wrong. I wrote a post a few days ago, where I expressed "how few" miracles I have prayed for in my life. We prayed for many miracles in the last 48 hours, and it appears that many of them were answered. She is a beautiful and healthy girl, made strong by her mommy, who gave her the greatest care imaginable for eight months. I am so proud of my wife. I love this little girl. And I am so thankful for all of the blessings over the last 48 hours.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Praying for a Miracle of Adoption

Bean Trellis Bright Light Sky  I have prayed for few miracles in my life.  This may be the result of some rationalist tendencies of my faith ("God just does not operate like that in the world anymore!"), or it may just be due to a pessimistic skepticism that "it just doesn't work."  It may also be due to the fact that, most of the churches and communities of which I have been a part of, fear any discussion of the Holy Spirit because it might lead to "too pentecostal" of a movement.

As I have been reading through the Gospel of Matthew, however, we see Jesus giving authority to his disciples (Matthew 10) to perform miraculous works of healing: healing not only of bodies and spirits, but healings of destructive social systems that forced those who are outcasts, orphaned, widowed, and despised to remain outcasts, orphans, widows, and despised.  Despite my desire to rush past the "moving mountains" passages, they cannot be ignored.

Last night we gathered with a dozen others to pray for some of our close friends who are attempting to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia.  The obstacles to completing the process seem insurmountable.  And now with the rainy season quickly approaching, any hope to complete the process in a short time is the product of faith; not a product of "what is seen."

But we are praying for a miracle.  We are praying, in faith, that these seemingly insurmountable hurdles will be movable mountains.  And we pray this not out of blind hope, or empty desires, but out of the proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord of all the world.  That his cosmic reign is a reign over the small processes of signing documents, and Lord over the comings and goings of government workers.  That his reign is over the nutritional intake of a four month old boy in an impoverished country.  That his reign is over the orphanage workers, to shower love and care on these children.  

So we continue to pray for all those who are orphaned in this world.  For those who are seemingly "without" - without even the basic needs of survival.  We proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord over all.  We give thanks that, even though we are separated from this boy by thousands of miles, that God is the present God of mission, pursuing the redemption of all things.  

And we pray, in faith, for a miracle.  That all of the administrative requirements would be filed quickly, and that this little boy would miraculously be showered with love and with good nutrition.  

Lord, in your mercy.  Amen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Non-profit Panera cafe: Take what you need, pay what you can -

That's what Panera Bread is trying to find out this week in an outside-the-box experiment in St. Louis. It's a concept that has never been tested by a restaurant chain — and that marks a new career for Ron Shaich, who stepped down as Panera's CEO last week.


Panera Bread has been one of my favorite restaurants for a long time, and I am very pleased to see that they are attempting something like this!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Inside China factory hit by suicides -

STORY HIGHLIGHTS10 people have committed suicide this year at China's Foxconn factoryProducts assembled at factory include iPhones, Dell computers, Sony devicesFoxconn has brought in counselors, launched help line, opened stress roomWages of around $300 a month compare favorably with other factories



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Monuments and Markers of a Graduating Seminary Student

Ebenezer Graduation is only five days away.  Five. 

I vividly remember the exuberant celebration over a phone call that I had received a little over three years ago.  I was at work at my dad's pharmacy, and at around noon, received a call from the admissions counselor at Northern Theological Seminary: I had been selected as one of six who would receive a full ride scholarship for a seminary education.  As I celebrated with my family that night, I remember saying that I considered this award to be the most exciting achievement that I had received up until that point in my life.  

Well, a few other monumental markers have arisen in the wake of that great gift.  First, I became married to my wonderful wife Jamie.  It is not an achievement in the typical sense of "attaining," but in the sense of "committing" and "covenanting" (even if these 'vows' had to be done at a dance later in the night, rather that at the actual service).  Second, Jamie and I received news that we were to become parents.  We are expecting the birth of our daughter in July, and with great joy, anticipate the beautiful moment of welcoming her into this world.  

Over the last three years, there have been an additional number of "monumental markers."  There was the completion of C.P.E. (Clinical Pastoral Education).  It is the monster that every seminary student had feared (I have blogged about it elsewhere).  The "achievement" of chaplaincy was not in completing a requirement, but in beginning a journey of understanding how to care for the hurt, the broken, and the despised.  It was the beginning of being able to ask the question, "Why God?" without having to give a pat answer.  

There was the "paradigm shift" of my faith.  Up until seminary, my faith in Christ was a collection of beliefs about absolutes.  "Authority" on these matters was achieved by proper academic study and logical reasoning.  Through the mentoring and guidance of wonderful friends and faculty, I came to realize that the Christian faith is not about believing the right things, but that, because we do believe certain things, we are re-membered and transformed as people to live as people who hope for the renewal of all things.

Then there is a passion for the church.  Of this passion, I need to ask forgiveness from those who have walked with me over the years, and have heard me complain time and time again about the present state of the church, especially in the western world.  My opinionated rants about the failures of the church have truly come from a passion for Her, even when it did not appear so.  I became elitist and ideological: esteeming a perfect Church that could never exist, while in the mean-time knocking out the bricks of the imperfect.  The "monumental marker" here is not a "discovery of the true/untainted church," but a discovery that, wherever the faithful are gathered for the sake of God's mission in the world, there also is the true Church.  She will always be but a window into the glory of God, but she certainly will be that.

All this to say - echoing cliches and all-too-familiar sentiments - that graduation will not be the completion of my learning, but a beginning.  There have been many life-transforming markers: scholarship, marriage, baby, care, faith, understanding of the Church - just to name a few.  I look forward to encountering more of these altars on the journey, and doing so in the community of believers and unbelievers.