Tuesday, July 28, 2009

16 and Surgery

God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, Karlene, and two great kids, Tara and Zac. All of them are precious gifts from God – and I’m sure, better than I deserve. The youngest is my son, Zac. He was born in 1993 -- with a myriad of issues. For starters with the following: Microdeletion-22, PPD-NOS (Autism), Cleft Palate, and missing part of his abdominal muscle. There is more, but you get the picture.

A few days ago, Zachary had his 7th surgery overall and 2nd this year. I must admit that I am amazed by his incredible courage. He is quite the trooper. He seems to be able to manage the difficult hand that he has been dealt with much fortitude – it’s admirable, really.

As he was being prepped for his surgery, something out-of-the-ordinary – for us, anyway -- happened as Zac had an allergic reaction to some meds that they put in his IV. He started itching and freaking-out, which, in turn, caused Karlene and I to freak-out. Fortunately, his Anesthesiologist was right there with his two nurses and they were able to give him something that counteracted the allergic reaction and calmed Zac down. Karlene asked if they had a little of that to spare, they could also give some to us!

Dr. Pianim, (Zac's surgeon), then came in and reassured Zachary and ourselves that everything was going to be fine. We said our “good-byes” to Zac and they wheeled him down the hall and through the doors into the Operating Room. We went out to the lobby where our support team (Karlene’s parents and my mother) was waiting and gathered them to go get lunch while we waited for it to be over.

The surgery went well -- even though it ended up being more extensive than the good doctor had expected – and we were able to bring Zachary back home late that afternoon to his makeshift recovery room in the back of the house.

The surgery has left Zachary with a surgical wound that is about 3” long, 1” wide and 1” deep. That wound has to be packed and dressed a couple of times each day. I have attempted to help my wife with the process, but am almost useless when it comes down to it. She does an incredible job of cleaning, dressing and packing the wound. Zac willingly endures the painful procedure dutifully and without much complaint. I tend to get nauseous and have to leave the room.

We are blessed with family, both naturally and spiritually. For the first several days after the surgery, Karlene’s mother, (a retired nurse), stayed with us to help out with whatever was needed. We also were blessed with the expert care of Kelly, another nurse who is a member of our church, who dropped-in to provide competent help and encouragement the first few days that Zac was home from the hospital. Then there have been the meals, the calls, the cards, the prayers and well wishes from our loving family at Cornerstone and even from friends all around the world!

So far, Zachary is doing well in his recovery. We are one week out from his surgery. We will see the surgeon, Dr. Pianim, on Monday, August 3rd, to officially see where he stands. There is not a whole lot that Zachary can physically do right now. He is mobile, though and they recommend that he can be somewhat active -- he just needs to be careful. Therefore, he has to take it easy for the next several weeks’ (the healing/recovery process is about 8 weeks). So he is doing pretty much what he really likes doing… playing video games.

Zac loves the thoughts, cards, balloons and the attention that is coming his way as a result of the surgery. He can’t wait to be able to get out of the house so that he can share the latest chapter of his story with whoever will be willing to hear it.

Thanks for the prayers.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Parable of the Pencil

I am presently sharing a series at Cornerstone entitled "Under Construction." The premise is that we are all works in progress. We are not perfect, but are being changed into the image of the Lord from glory to glory. The processes of life are in place to help us progress and become what God intends us to be.

I came across the following parable while researching for the series on the Internet and found it to be a wonderful illustration to share. Therefore, I used it do drive home the 2nd message of the series and, as a result, have had many requests for a copy of it – so I am posting it here.

I would love to credit the author of this piece, but as far as I can tell, its authorship is unknown. FYI: The theme of the message (to which this parable was the main and closing illustration) was “Why Am I Here?” Before I spoke, our Usher Team passed-out brand new, unsharpened pencils to everyone in the audience. The crowd was somewhat confused by this “gift,” but it all made sense at the end of the message and drove home the point quite dramatically.

The Parable...

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. There are 5 things you need to know, he told the pencil, before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and you will become the best pencil you can be.

1) You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone's hand.

2) You will experience painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to remain useful and become a better pencil.

3) You will be able to correct mistakes you will make.

4) The most important part of you will always be what's inside.

5) On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.

The Pencil is YOU. If you always remember the 5 Principles of the Pencil, you can – and will -- live a useful and fulfilled life.

1) You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God's hand.
The pencil can be used to make works of art and tell wonderful stories, but only when placed in the right hands. By itself, it can do nothing.

2) You will experience painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems, difficulties and trials, but the sharpening is necessary in order to become a stronger and more useful person.

3) You will be able to correct mistakes you might make or grow through them.
You have been divinely fitted with an eraser, called “grace.” The Bible claims that "none are perfect, no not one."

4) The most important part of you will always be what's on the inside.
“Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” Jesus on the inside -- working on the outside.

5) On every surface you walk, you must leave your mark. No matter where you are or what the situation may be, you are leaving a mark. What type of mark are you leaving with your life?

God designed each of us for a purpose. The reason that we are on this earth is to fulfill the purpose for which God made us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made – and when we allow ourselves to be placed in God’s hand to be used by him, great things are – and will be - the result.

I encourage you today to live the life that God created you to live. Be the gift that God created you to be. Put yourself in the Master's hand and bring glory to your Creator by making your unique mark upon this world.