Morning by Morning (1/31/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Another beautiful clear day.
  2. My bosses boss, Michelle Lawson, who has been a great supervisor, a great leader, and super helpful in helping me process everything.  She also hired me at Texas Children’s so I feel grateful to her for that too!
  3. My time at Pepperdine, which was so formative in building friendships, challenging myself, learning to write, having fun, and traveling and finding new cultures.
  4. My uncles and aunts in California.  Mike, Linda, Fred, Shelley, Jim…great people for whom I am always so grateful.

Morning by Morning (1/30/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Walking with a precious little girl around the unit today. Diagnosed with but not scared by leukemia, this little girl with autism took my hand and walked me around and even hugged me.  Sweet!
  2. Ryan laying his head on my shoulder in the morning.  I love when he snuggles.
  3. A great conversation with King and the great conversation with 3 teens during the last two Sundays at church. They have so much emotion and get few opportunities to share honestly.
  4. Prayer service on Saturday with other young couples who share concerns for the poor, hurting, and refugee among our country.  

Morning by Morning (1/27/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The family that came back to the hospital to say hi, show off their recovered healthy baby boy (he coded twice) and gave me a gift bag in gratitude.  That is so precious and makes my day!
  2. Good colleagues who are supportive, encouraging, and willing to share the load in any circumstance.
  3. Elana’s early arrival at home last night which meant she could help guide Aiden to finishing homework. He was doing well and then hit a wall that only mom could help with.

Morning by Morning (1/25/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. My ACU Grad School friends who I am still so grateful for: Jeremy Hegi, Jamey Walters, Jamey Gorman, David Shaw, Wilson McCoy, Chai Green, and many others.
  2. The opportunities for community spiritual grounding I’ve had over the years- church lectureships, camps to build houses for those in poverty, Bible Bowl, silent retreat, grad school discipleship group, worship services, and even daily prayer times I had with a friend in college every morning. These things gave me a place to wipe away the fog of life and see the God who called me further into his service.
  3. Elana’s patience with me.

Morning by Morning (1/24/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Ryan’s growing ability to use an adults spoon.  He’s getting quite coordinated with his hands and it’s just cute watching him do a decent job of getting yogurt and oatmeal to his mouth!
  2. The upcoming Dynamo season. I’m looking forward to attending most if not all of the games with Josh Day and inundating myself with soccer!
  3. The many women, men and children who marched this past weekend.  Everyone has different reasons, but all of them represent a message of standing up for those who are in the minority and unprotected like those of us who are white, male, and well off.  It is a needed message.
  4. All the people who work with and care for the poor, immigrant, sick, and vulnerable.  In a country that is pursuing out of our fear “America First” or making sure “we” don’t lose our money or jobs or status,  the people who spend their lives in deep service to these others are Gods hands and feet.  There is always complexity and nuance I know, but there are deep hearted people who still go into those places of deep need.

Morning by Morning (1/23/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Playing disc golf in the crazy fun wind yesterday.  Seriously, I don’t know what was happening with my disc and felt so out of control, which made for a fun afternoon.
  2. Ryan’s growing communication. It’s special to see him think through life and try to talk through it.
  3. A delicious date night with Elana at BB’s cafe in Pearland.  Boudin, pollo bullets, etoufee…Yum!
  4. A fresh week after two long ones this month.  I’m looking forward to a new set of days and hopefully a calm week.

Morning by Morning (1/19/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Brittany Veselka, an RN in the PICU who masterfully and compassionately cared for a dying child and his family yesterday.  She earned a ton of respect from the family and honored that boy so wonderfully.
  2. The precious way Belinda plays with her grandkids.  Ryan and Aiden love being silly with her! (Their grandmother by the way)
  3. A good presentation with fellow chaplains on Tuesday.  The chaplains were engaged and gave great feedback, and I was proud getting to represent pediatric ministry regarding validation and affirmation.
  4. Is it the weekend yet?!?

A Grief and Prayer for a Boy

Sometimes I have experiences in the children’s hospital that leave me with one clear emotion, whether it be grief or anger or sadness or hope or relief.  And sometimes, an experience leaves me so mixed and confused feeling everything.

Well, E’s death has done that.  This little boy is precious, cute, and way more full of energy than kids his age and size normally are. But his death will always be tie to the complexity of what it means to be family, what it means to be present, and what the responsibilities are for both a staff and a parent.  This child’s life and death connects joy and pain, anger and understanding, consolation and frustration, hope and despair, being surrounded and being alone, presence and the lack thereof, love and hurt.  

His family cared and loved him I truly believe.  But that is the complexity and the gray area I can’t quite fully know, and that I don’t need to.

What I do know is that I miss this boy for whom I shared some of Ryan’s toddler books to read and play with.  

What I do know is that this boy was loved and cared for by those who cared for him every day.  Our staff. They showered him with love indeed.

I grieve for E because he shared the age of my son. I grieved for him because I sang to him like I do my son- Jesus Loves Me and Twinke Twinkle. I grieved because I couldn’t see anything other than a boy who I treasured as a gift that wasn’t mine, but his families. But a gift I am thankful to have played with. So, to name my thoughts, a litany/prayer for him:

Litany for a Boy

What did you want from this life? Did you get it dear child?

You wanted to move…move with eccentricity and energy and all over the place with typical toddler abandon…

                And you did, and for that we were stressed but we celebrated.

You wanted to touch…touch, err, well grab at every cord, tube, trach, blanket and towel at your side…

                And you did, and for that we found new gray hairs but we were encouraged.

You wanted to watch…watch Elmo and Sesame Street and be mesmerized by their joy and strangeness…

                And you did, with so much focus that you even calmed at times, and we were grateful.

You wanted to chew…chew on washcloths, towels, toys, and even cords too…

                And you did, even playing fetch with us, and we smiled with joy.

You wanted to talk and walk…talk and walk as best you could, learning every step with staff who willed you farther and farther…

                And you did, with noises and playful movements on play mats that were beautiful, and we were overflowed with hope and relief.

You wanted to grow…grow from a little baby to very young boy with all the child like ness you could muster,

                And you did, with units at the ready to fulfill your needs and watch with excitement and commitment, and we watched with wonder and amazement.

You wanted to breathe…breathe with lungs that seemed to not ever fully do their job but a body that wanted more…

                And you did, as best you could, and we watched with smiles and baited breath and anxiety,and we were anxious, fearful, but breathing with you in every moment.

You wanted to be a child…born to people who you could call your own and who knew you were theirs…

                And you were, held at birth and held at your dying moments, with all sorts of mixed emotions. And we were humbled, knowing that you were always a son despite our impressions.

You wanted to be loved…loved for all you wanted to be and could be, loved for what you are and what you want…

                And you were, by every staff member who dared to smile, play with you, read to you, change a diaper, adjust a trach, administer medications, call your parents, wave to you, laugh with you, hold you, silence alarms, sit you in chairs, help you exercise, sing to you, pray over you, and cry over you,

                And we were grateful to be those people to love you.

You wanted to live…live in every moment and know life to the fullest you could,

                And you did, even to the last day, and we are grateful, because you are a gift.

What did you want from life, sweet boy? Did you get it?

By the hands of this staff and others, their gentle hands and overflowing hearts, I hope you did.

May God hold you little one. Amen. 

Morning by Morning (1/17/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The title I bear these days with my kids: dad.  It’s a powerful title and one that I love carrying.
  2. Free office coffee…even if I don’t drink coffee at all.  But it’s a nice thing for our hospital to do for us.
  3. The two nurses and RT who let me debrief and express my grief after the loss of a precious boy at the hospital.  I appreciate their desire to trade places for 5 minutes.

Morning by Morning (1/16/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Playing disc golf twice this weekend. Thanks to Elana for watching Ryan and my friends for playing with me!
  2. MLK Day.  It’s always a needed prophetic call to justice within Gods people (as are Advent and Easter for parts of Christ’s life).  
  3. The chance to present to the TMC chaplains about the important and needed skill of validation and affirmation in our ministry.  I get more passionate about this gift of a skill than any other for the way it directly speaks to someone’s sacred love for another.