Guest post by Michelle
The very first fundraiser I remember being a part of was for March of Dimes when I was five years old. Little did I know then that the coins I collected from my Grandparents and parents would help fund the research that would save the lives of my very own preemie babies some 30 years later. Our boys are both miracles and gifts from God. Sometimes God instantaneously heals people with just a word or simple touch (think Lazarus, the bleeding woman or the man at the beautiful gate) and sometimes he uses physical things as a conduit of his healing touch (think of Naaman who had to dunk himself in the filthy Jordan river seven times or when Jesus spit in the mud and rubbed it on the blind man's eyes). We are so thankful for weekly progesterone shots that deterred spontaneous miscarriages, steroids to kick-start lung development in our little ones and IV fluids that stopped labor at 28 weeks gestation. We received outstanding prenatal care and we are forever thankful. Without these interventions, we likely would not be parents today.
Isaac was born at 32 weeks gestation. After a month of doctor ordered complete bedrest, my water spontaneously broke in the middle of the night. Ben and I jumped out of bed and went straight to the hospital. Little did we know that Isaac was the reason God had led us to purchase our ideally located house. We knew that we had experienced an overwhelming peace when we walked over the threshold. We live one block from the hospital. I remember praying the whole way to the hospital.
Fear was fighting hard to overwhelm me. God gave me a tangible gift in that moment. My husband pulled up to the hospital. Walking in the door at that very moment was a Christian Doctor friend whom I had traveled to Rwanda with just a few years prior. He held the door open for me and in that moment God spoke peace over my heart and said "I'm in the details. I've got you." When we arrived, I was already in hard, active labor and the doctor said our baby was turned the wrong way and was too little to deliver. I needed surgery and I needed it that very minute. I will never forget the doctor saying,
"I'm so glad you came when you did. If you had been even a few minutes later the outcome would not have been good." Isaac was delivered by C-section and he was crying...his lungs were fully functioning! He was born at 3 lbs 14 oz. Moments later, we learned he had a birth defect. He had a cleft palate. Only his soft palate was affected. All the ultrasounds showed a closed palate. We were completely taken off guard by this discovery.
The weeks that followed included failed hearing tests, detection of possible heart defects, genetic tests to determine what syndromes may be associated with the cleft, feeding tubes, incubators, bilirubin blankets and more... We spent 60 days total in the NICU. Isaac was born before the suck and swallow reflex was developed and the cleft made it impossible for him to nurse. He had to use specialty bottles and he went through 7 different kinds before we found the one that would work for him. Because we lived so close to the hospital, my husband and 4 year old were able to visit us almost daily after my husband got home from work. I slept at the hospital with Isaac 58 of the 60 nights. One of those nights I remembered being completely overwhelmed and crying out to God asking why He allowed this to take place. I was immediately struck with two Biblical truths and a still small voice communicated these words over my heart:
I am the potter. You are the clay. Who are you to question? I fearfully and wonderfully made this tiny child and I dearly love him.
But you are our father, LORD. We are like clay, and you are like the potter. You created us. Isaiah 64:8
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
Like a motion picture in my mind, the story of the blind man in court with his parents played out. I saw the others accusing his parents saying they had done something awful to cause the birth defect. And I heard Jesus' response. I saw Jesus heal him. I heard Him say to them, "I am in the details. I have big plans for this child. I am going to use this child to show the world My Glory. We have work to do- lots of good works to do."
According to the Gospel of John, 9:1–12 Jesus saw a man who had been blind since birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus replied: Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
Having said this, he spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means "Sent"). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" Some claimed that he was. Others said, "No, he only looks like him." But he himself insisted, "I am the man."
"How then were your eyes opened?" they asked. He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."
"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
God is in the details. Remember how I told you I went to Rwanda several years ago? We went there to help set up a basic clinic and tell the people there that Jesus sees them and loves them and that we love them too. Some of those people there have become like family. They've come to the US. They've stayed in our homes. We've spent holidays together.
Pastor Simone and Karitas are pastors of the Rwandan church in Kegali. Many, many months before Isaac was born, we made plans to have Karitas (Pastor Simone's wife) spend Easter with us. On Easter Sunday she came with me to the NICU and prayed over Isaac. She prayed for his healing and that he would learn to eat. She blessed him. Isaac was released from the hospital days after... The part that gives me goose bumps is that Pastor Simone and Karitas had gotten word from the Rwandan government that they needed to add the equipment to their clinic to care for NICU babies. Karitas was able to see first hand what medical equipment they would need and why each mattered to the baby's well being. We went around the room and she asked about each piece of equipment. We talked about premie care and hand-washing and Kangaroo care. Pastor Simone and Karitas are working hard on their end to bring state of the art equipment to their clinic. They have partnered with Project Cure. This organization will supply hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to the clinic if we will cover the cost of shipping. The same kind of equipment that saved Isaac's life.
How is Isaac doing today? With the help of ear tubes, he can hear perfectly. His heart murmur has shrunk and is no longer considered dangerous. He had his cleft surgery and is learning to eat solids. He graduated from physical therapy and his head is rounding out. He has one tooth and says "Mama". He is thriving. He is our miracle baby and we stand in awe of the God who gave him to us and the people who have come alongside us to give him the best start possible. Please help us celebrate this special boy and what God has done by giving to Project Cure so that precious Rwandan babies can thrive and know that they too are so very loved.
HOW TO DONATE
Check out The Ndengera Clinic HERE. You can learn about Project Cure Cargo project HERE.
To make a donation to Project Cure to help the Rwanda clinic where our fiends serve please use THIS LINK.
Make sure to put the donation in tribute to Isaac Kastine for the Ndengera Foundation Clinic so we can make sure the funds go to this project.
If you have questions send an email HERE and we'll get back to you with more information.
If you don't understand the title of this blog post let me quickly explain. BTK stands for Bow The Knee which is an annual musical my church (and a whole pile of partners) puts on which portrays the life of Jesus. I've lost count but I believe this is the 15th or 16th year we've participated. Bow The Knee is a gorgeous, exhausting, joyful and painful experience. If you've ever been in Bow The Knee you know what I mean.
So this post is a tool kit for those of you ready to launch into our annual marathon. I believe Bow The Knee is worth the effort. I believe we can do it in a way that shows the grace of Jesus behind the scenes and on the stage. So here are a few things I'm doing this year to get ready and I invite you to join in.
Charles Martin is my favorite fiction author. He writes emotion and relationships and grace better than anyone. He just put out a new book which is not fiction and which is preparing my heart for Bow The Knee by seeing the gospel stories in a fresh way. Its asking me to match what I believe about these stories with action in my life. Read it. What if it's true - A storyteller's Journey with Jesus by Charles Martin.
Sometimes the best way to get ready to do hard things well is to have a good deep laugh at yourself. My family watched The Resurrection of Gavin Stone this last week and we all grinned, smiled, laughed and snorted. This is a sweet and accurate portrayal of what a church production looks like in action. You'll see yourself in this movie and it will remind you that taking ourselves too seriously is the best way to wreck Bow The Knee. It'll also remind you that grace and forgiveness are what its all about. Seriously rent and watch this movie.
Last year I wrote a blog post about Bow The Knee and why I think it's worth the crazy commitment. I'm posting this again HERE in case you need the reminder. Why I Pour It All Out At Bow The Knee.
Bow The Knee tickets are available starting February 17th at www.bowtheknee.com. Start inviting now.
Most important tool of them all. Bow The Knee is only important because its not really ours. So here is a calendar with a list of things to pray through each as we all get ready for Bow The Knee. You can print this out and post it on your mirror as a daily reminder to pray. What an honor it is to work alongside all of you.
I have read a LOT of books about decluttering, organizing, sorting and getting rid of junk. I've gone through the White House Black Shutters 40 days 40 boxes challenge a couple of times. I read The Magic Art of Tiding Up before the author had a hit TV show. One of my favorites was Swedish Death Cleaning which is full of hope contrary to the sound of the title. When I was invited to be on the launch team for Joshua Becker's Minimalist Home I quickly said yes.
Joshua Becker has a very successful blog and has purportedly helped millions learn how to clean out and free their best lives by letting go of all their stuff. I loved his quotes and memes. The book was well researched and had lots of helpful information. I was floored by the fact that there is enough self storage square footage in the United States to house every man, woman and child in the USA. Crazy town.
My one complaint is I felt like the structure and layout of the book was cluttered and packed. The dissonance between the message of minimalism and the packed book I found distracting. A tightened structure, streamlined message and less busy typeset would have been more consistent with Mr. Becker's message.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
Sign up to receive Mindy's Quirk-E-Mails