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  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Thursday
Jan182007

What she looked like in her day... AND an update on Liam 18 January 2007


1968 vespa sprint 150
Originally uploaded by mennyj.

I found this incredible picture of a Vespa VLB Sprint on Flickr today. It shows you what my VLB would have looked like some 39 years ago when she was brand spanking new!

Today I was so pleased to have a Vespa! We only live about two blocks from Courtney's school, however traffic in Pretoria is so bad at the moment that it takes longer to drive there (about 25 minutes) than it would to walk that distance. However, we don't realy have time for either a 25 minute walk or a 25 minute drive! So, today we decided to go to school on my Vesparoogie! I managed to leave home at 7.05 and be back at the office by 7.15. Some of the other parents were still stuck in the traffic when I was already drinking my first cup of coffee and responding to emails!

Then, this afternoon I was called out to the hospital to pray with one of the parents of a baby in the ICU. The hospital is about 20km's away from my office, but it can take quite a while to get there. If I had taken my car, it may have taken even longer because there was a power outage and so none of the traffic lights were working. The cars were backed up for miles, I managed to get there in just around 20 minutes and be there in good time to pray with someone who truly needed to experience God's grace and care. It was not only great to be able to share God's love in that way, but it was fantastic to ride my Vespa; and a joy to save about an hour in the traffic on the journey there and back!

So, here's to my old girl! She is such a blessing! Tomorrow I will ride her to the studio in the morning to do a live broadcast with Prof van der Watt for the show 'Do you know what you're reading', a call-in program where folks can ask questions about the Bible and have them answered by a real Biblical scholar (Prof van der Watt) and an English guy with a Doctorate who is pretty much there because he can speak English (that's me!) Let's see if I need another push start ;-) I sure hope not! I may just park around the corner so that when we leave I won't be seen pushing my scoot down the road...

Now, onto the news that TRULY matters. Megie took Liam back to the doctor today for his checkup while I was at work. He has been home for two weeks now! He is doing very, very well indeed. The only little hickup is that he hasn't been picking up enough weight. He needs to pick up about 150 grams a week. This week he picked up somewhere between 80 grams and 100 grams, and only about 40 grams last week. So it is a bit of a worry for us. It would seem that he is still so close to that stage where feeding takes more energy than it gives him, that some feeds are actually causing him to loose weight, or simply balance out (Wow, if only I could eat and loose a bit of weight!!) Anyway, the doctor will keep monitoring his progress and we would ask for your prayers please.

Please could I also ask you to pray for the other babies that are still in the ICU, and for their parents? As I mention above, there are still some very real needs among the little kids who are there. Two of the parents who we got to know quite well have babies with serious struggles at the moment. How I wish we could waive a some magic wand and make them all better!

My father-in-law undertook to fast every Friday until Liam came home. I have undertaken to do the same until these kiddies go home with their parents. Sometimes we have to 'put our faith where our mouth is'.

God hears prayers and God answers them, but sometimes I need a little reminder that prayer is not always that easy, there is a cost associated with caring!

Sunday
Jan142007

About half way there... maybe, maybe not

Last week I quoted a few texts from the book of Psalms in my Sunday evening sermon at Bryanston Methodist Church.

Here they are:

"Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life." (Psalm 39:4)

"The length of our days is 70 years - or 80, if we have the strength … they quickly pass, and we fly away." (Psalm 90:10)

"Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12).


I have often thought that a reason why we waist our lives is because we live under the mistaken impression that we will live forever. As a result we don't make the most of every day, every encounter, and every experience. Time seams cheap... We think it will never run out, so why use it sparingly?

Well, if Psalm 90:10 above is right I'm about half way with my life now! Today I turned 35 years old. I seem to have arrived at this point rather quickly. I can't say I'm disappointed, or even frightened by that prospect. As I have mentioned before, I could just possibly be the most richly blessed person alive! I am married to a wonderful woman (on the 29th of January we will have been married for 13 years! Yup, you do the math, we got married very young!) and together we have two incredible children. And yes, one great dog, two vespas and quite a few computers! Moreover, I have also had some of the most incredible experiences anyone could ever hope for! I have traveled to all sorts of exciting, and even some exotic, places. I have spent the last 14 years of my life (just short of half of it) in full time ministry - there can be nothing as rewarding as dedicating your life to serving God, and as I've come to discover it is not really about what you do, it has a lot more to do with who you do it for. Nevertheless, I am blessed to be doing what I do. I teach at one of the most innovative and incredible institutions in the world, I preach at one of the most progressive (and more importantly truly Christian and caring) Churches in our nation, and I live in a truly beautiful country.

This year have I a whole lot to give thanks for. I realise just how undeserving I am of any of it, but isn't that just how God's grace works... We get so much of what we least deserve. In particular I got the wish of having little Liam home, safe and healthy on my birthday! We had him at the pediatrician on Thursday and she is very happy with his progress. He has not picked up as much weight as we had hoped, only about 45 grams this week (he should be picking up at least 150grams a week). However, at this stage any weight gain is positive. So, he still only weighs 1.895kg's. But hang in there.... It will come!

So, I thank God for the privilege of knowing and loving Him. I thank God for the joy of loving Megan, and for the years of friendship and joy we will continue to share. I thank God for Courtney - she is still my little girl. She has all of my heart! And then, I thank God for this little guy, Liam. He's given me a second heart... And that is all his! I never cried as much, and never rejoiced as much as I have since he was born. Even though he is so little, his little life has made my life bigger than I ever thought it could be.

Here's a picture of Liam lying on his little mattress in the lounge (lots of pictures today).


And one of Courts lying on Liam's mattress in the lounge (and no, Liam is not under her. We moved him first!)

So, as I count my days, I want to count my blessings. I've had 12775 days so far, and I may have another 12775 or so days ahead of me. With all that the future holds I can't afford to waste a single day. So, I do pray "teach me oh Lord to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom and learn how to truly live".

Here's a picture of me in my birthday shirt (thanks Gwennie, Rhys, Brian and Brenda) holding my BEST present! It also happens to be a picture of Liam giving his old dad a right beating on the chin. You go boy!


Thanks for all the prezies ! From Megie, Courts and Liam - I got a wireless keyboard for my mac, some cool new computer magazines, and a montblanc cover (excuse me) for my montblanc pen (which was last year's Christmas present)! John and Charlene thanks so much for the book vouchers - you know those will be well used! Gwen, Rhys, Brian and Brenda, thanks for the shirt and shorts, and for Bill Bryson's new book "The adventures of lightning boy"! And to my good friend Dr Kate (yup, always doing it for the kids! no myocardial infarction's here... spelling!? Keep being the GOOD kind of doctor that can actually help people!) thanks for the geeked out book! I can't wait to get into it and work out just how much of a geek I am!)

I have been inundated with calls, emails, cards, and text messages (I got over 100 text messages from you loving folks at Bryanston!) It sure is good to be loved, and it is great to be alive, even if I am getting old.....

Tuesday
Jan092007

Back in the saddle. Life is good!

Here's a photo of one of my favorite things, taken at one of my favorite places.

The old gray scooter is mine.

It is a 1968 VLB Sprint 150cc Vespa. Next to it is a brand spanking new Vespa Grandtourismo 200cc! I'm not sure who that belongs to. I wish it belonged to me! The photo was taken on the campus of the University of Pretoria (where I am a research associate in the Department of New Testament). I love going there. It is a beautiful campus, and it always reminds me of my care free undergraduate days at Rhodes University.

Just take a look at the curves on my old Vespa. Heck, I would LOVE a new one! But, my Vespa is a real classic and it runs like a dream (most of the time, or should I say, it runs like a dream it just has some trouble starting). When it doesn't start as it should, it can be quite embarrassing, like today. I came out of the studio at Radio Pulpit where I had just recorded two very serious shows for the program "The ministry and me" of which I am a co-host. With me were two senior Methodist colleagues, the Reverends Christopher Harrison and John Gillmer. They got into their Toyota Camry (a sensible car for respectable persons). I on the other hand went across to my 1968 Vespa, which by the way is SSSSOOOOO old that it doesn't even have a key to lock the ignition, so a thief could simply kick start it and drive it away (that is if it would kick start...), so here I am walking towards my battered old scooter which is chained with a bicycle lock and chain so as not to be stolen. I try, in the most dignified manner as possible, to kick start the bike (after unlocking the bicycle chain and lock).... It won't start! She does get a bit temperamental from time to time when I leave her alone! A few minutes later I am being pushed around the parking lot by a senior colleague trying to get my rickety old bike running! He got some good exercise, I had a good laugh!

The point of this story is that life is meant for living and enjoying! A long time ago, while still a minister in heaven (a.k.a Somerset West, which was one of the happiest times of my life), I decided that I would enjoy whatever I did so that my ministry would be filled with joyful service. Even then I would park my car and drive my Vespa (a slightly newer model, 1972 VBB) to pastoral visits and preaching engagements. Sure, some would call it 'altruistic hedonism' (the more serious ethicists among you are welcome to google this term, as well as 'utilitarianism' 'consequentialist ethics'). But, somehow whenever I get onto this scooter and drive it around I feel alive! My mood is better, my spirit is filled with praise and thanksgiving, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that that I am keeping a relic on the road...

I had not ridden my scooter since Megan first went into labour on the 7th of November last year. My routine of light hearted joy had been interrupted by the necessary seriousness of the events that unfolded after that day. Needless to say that last two and a bit months have been more stressful than any other time I can remember. We were pretty much in survival mode.

One thing I am convinced of is that God does not want us to have to live that way. God wants us to do more than just survive! God wants us to truly live, to find life and joy in our living, and through that to bring life and joy to others. So, since Liam has come home (and he is doing so well by the way. I will post an update on his development on Thursday after he has been to the Doctor for his checkup), I have been trying to return to completing my tasks with joy. I drive my old Vespa to work in the mornings, I drive it around Pretoria to my meetings and appointments.... And occasionally I get senior colleagues to push start me in the car park. Now that's truly living. In some ways, I guess my Vespa makes me more Christian!

Ephesians 4:15-16, TLB. "Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times--speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly--and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of His body, the church."

Thursday
Jan042007

Update on Liam - 4 January 2007

Here's an updated picture of our little lad! It was taken this morning (4 January 2006). You can see that he's growing, yet he is still SO SMALL!!! However, he has his dad's second chin already! Praise God, it is so great to see him looking like a 'normal' little baby.


Today Liam is 7 weeks old! In the last 7 weeks Megan and I have become part of the furniture at the Pretoria East Hospital (even the porters and cleaning staff know us by name). In fact, it is 9 weeks since Megie was first admitted to the hospital, and we have been there every day since (with the exception of one Saturday and Sunday between Megie's first and second admissions early in November last year).

However, this story ends with great joy! Liam has steadily grown. Your prayers have been palpable, we have seen him overcome obstacle upon obstacle. We have watched him move ahead, even when Doctors said he may not. In truth, he is nothing less than one of God's amazing miracles! As individuals, and as a family, we have grown and deepened our faith, and rediscovered elements that we had long since forgotten about. It has been an amazing experience of God's providence and grace.

This morning he weighed in at a whopping 1.855kg's. That is a whole 700 grams heavier than he was on the 16th of November. The astute reader may notice that his weight is slightly down today. This is as a result of good news, not bad news. The good news is that Megie started breast feeding him on Saturday lasts week (just one feed a day when he got to just over 1.7kg's). That first day he was so tired after his first feed that he didn't wake up for almost a whole day! However, the next day she moved onto two feeds. It didn't go too well and we thought that we might have jumped the gun a little. However, he was just getting into his stride! Liam was topped up with tube feeds after the breast feeds, and was also tube fed for the other 6 feeds of the day. On Monday he was wide awake and crying for his milk before each 3 hourly meal! That was so great to see, so the Doctor told Megie to up his feeds by two a day, she was now up to 4 breast feeds a day. He was handling the exertion well, and was getting enough milk to keep him hydrated and his little tummy full! We knew we were half way there. On Wednesday the Doctor said Megie should increase the feeds by one more (to 5) when one of the nurses asked if Megie shouldn't just board at the hospital and try the full 8 feeds. The doctor agree, and so, that's what happened.

Megie stayed at the hospital last night and Liam fed well (but did loose a bit of weight... It's all that exercise!) So, even though he was not supposed to be home for another month and a half (his due date was to be in the middle of February), and he only weighs 1.855kg's, the Doctor was happy to send him home!! How incredible is that!? We could hardly believe it. We knew that it was not that long to go, but we didn't expect it to be so soon.

The picture below was taken in the lounge outside of the ICU. This is the first time in his life that Liam had been outside of the maternity section of the hospital. As you can see, I was quite pleased to have him out!


He will still be under 'lock and key' for another two weeks or so at home. Since his immune system is not yet fully developed we have to slowly introduce him to all the wiles and ways of the world. That means that we will restrict visitors (please be patient!) and not take him out of the house unless necessary. Megan, Courtney, and I, still go through the ritual of disinfecting our hands with soaps and sprays before touching him or picking him up. We will also not take him to Church for a few weeks. However, as his weight picks up, and his immunity builds, the threat of infection becomes less and less important. So, he will soon be out and about. Watch out world!

Courtney is LOVING having her brother home! She has held him for hours on end today and as been a real help to Megan and I. She had only seen him three times in the 7 weeks and couldn't believe how much he had grown since she saw him at Christmas (2 weeks ago).


The care and love that we received from the nursing staff, and our doctors, was such an inspiration and a blessing. They truly ministered a gift of healing, not only to our little boy, but also to our sore and anxious hearts. They were kind, patient, supportive, wise, and supportive. We will pop in and see them all again next week when Liam goes for his check up, and stop in from time to time to show how much he has grown. Of course they may also get the occasional call when we are not sure what to do! He still receives some medication and we're not the cleverest when it comes to working out dosages and such.

There is nothing quite as nice as having Megie, Courts, and Liam, all at home! At least the estrogen is being balanced by a bit more testosterone.

The great blessing is that he will be at home for my birthday on the 14th of January. At one stage we thought that he may still be in hospital, but here he is! So, I will celebrate my 35th year with everything that any person could want, the love of God, the love of my wife, daughter, and a healthy son. I'm quite pleased! Can you tell? And, NO KEV, I'm NOT getting fat! It is an optical illusion.....


Other than missing the kind and knowledgeable staff of ICU, we will however, appreciate not having to drive to the hospital and back a few times a day (even though the trip was only about 30km's, I managed to do over 4000km's in my new car just between his birth and now!)

So, a new chapter in our lives, and Liam's, begins today! Of course we are well aware (as many have told us) that premature babies often go back into hospital. However, we are grateful to have him home, and if he must go back at any stage we know that he will have the best care. AND, thank God, each re-admission is a new event for our medical aid (they have been phoning us since before Christmas to tell us to start looking out for a good government hospital to transfer him to since we were reaching our limit for his care). Thank God we have not had to do that and have been able to cover all the costs between the Medical Aid and ourselves thus far.

Thank you so much for everyone who has prayed for us, phoned, sent messages, and supported us with love (and great food!) We are so grateful for all your care!

Monday
Jan012007

Sermon for a new book

Happy New Year everyone! May 2007 be filled with joy and blessing.

Here is a copy of a sermon that I was asked to write at the World Methodist council in Korea last year. Rev Dr Angela Shier-Jones initiated a project to get Methodist scholars from across the world to each choose, and rewrite, one of John Wesley's 44 sermons. I chose sermon 28, which is on discourse 8 of the sermon on the mount (Matthew 6:19-23). You can read John Wesley's original sermon here. The brief was not to simply rewrite, critique, or modernise Wesley's sermon, but rather to take the central message of the sermon and adapt it to the writers context. The outcome was to be a sermon that could actually be preached today.

It is a great honour to have been asked to participate since persons such as Randy Maddox, Richard Heitzenrater, and Geoffrey Wainwright have also been asked to write sermons.

Here is a copy of the sermon. I would appreciate feedback, comments, corrections and insights.
UPON THE LORD'S SERMON ON THE MOUNT.doc

Sunday
Dec312006

Identity theft on the internet... A woman using pictures of my son - for those who follow this link from elsewhere

If you've followed this link from elsewhere having heard about a woman stealing images of our son Liam, then please read the post below.

Thanks!

Dion (December 2009).

Every once in a while I notice a massive spike in the number of visitors to my blog.  When I start checking the referring site I normally find the same thing - since December 2006 a woman has been using pictures of my son Liam on various websites (I believe she mostly seeks sympathy, but I have also been told that she uses the pictures to try and get money from people).

So, when I noticed a spike in visits to my web page this week I checked the refering link (this time you can see it here) and saw exactly the same thing.  The investigation is still ongoing into the allaged perpetrator and some time ago it was suspected that another woman was attempting to frame someone.  That case is also under investigation.

Regardless, Megan and I are grateful for the many persons who have asked about Liam.  Here is a recent post from his 3rd birthday (16 November 2009).  We praise and thank God that he is well!

If you're interested in the story about the woman who stole his pictures you can scroll to the bottom of this post and read about it there.

Just to say that Megan and I are long past getting upset about this sad situation.  We pray for the person who is doing this, and we hope that she finds healing and peace before she gets into trouble or that she seeks help before she is caught.  Also just to mention that the woman who is doing this often visits my blog (we have a trace on the range of IP addresses that she uses).  When she does there will often be a string of comments.  I delete them, so if you see deleted comments on this post in the next few days you'll know why

Post on Liam's Birthday 16 November 2009.

 

It was three years ago today that Liam entered this world!  How wonderful it is to celebrate his 3rd birthday!!!!

 

The 15th of November was one of the most difficult days of our lives as Megan went into labour for the third and final time, then just 27 weeks into her pregnancy.  She had been in hospital for about two weeks since she first went into labour after falling ill in her 26th week of pregnancy.

On the that evening I had just arrived home with Courtney after visiting Megan in hospital when the phone rang and the doctor asked me to come back as quickly as I could.  I took Courtney to our friend Madika's home and raced back to the hospital where Megan was already in the delivery room.  An hour or so later little Liam entered the world at barely 1kg.

Naturally we were overjoyed at his birth, but we knew that we had a journey ahead of us.  As Megan was wheeled into surgery after the birth I stood by as the doctor and nurses prepared Liam to go into the intensive care unit at Pretoria East hospital (the neonatal ICU).  He was so tiny and fragile.

Well, you can follow some of the story here, and some other bits here.

 

About a week or so after Liam's birth we took this picture of him with this tiny little teddy-bear.  Look how small he was!

 

We prayed through the day and night, and had many wonderful friends and family praying with us!  Liam remained under the wonderful care of the ICU unit for almost three months.  They were truly wonderful, not only caring for him medically and for us emotionally, but they even worked out a way to help us when our medical aid funds ran out two days before Christmas!  The hospital and doctors negotiated a reduced rate so that we could keep him in the ICU.  It was truly a magnificent Christmas gift!

Of course there were the many friends, like Wessel Bentley and his wonderful congregation who helped us to cover the almost quarter of a million rand shortfall that we had for his medical expenses.  Between our friends, and an extension to our home loan we were able to cover the costs entirely and soon Liam was at home growing at a rate of knots!!!

There have been a few little moments inbetween, he has been in hospital a few times (as you'll see from the links above), and we still have to pay some attention to his physical and cognitive development.

But, these little hiccups are not even worth considering in comparison to the joy of his life!!  He is growing up to be such an incredible little guy!  He has a wonderful sense of humour, he roughs it with the best of them (climbing, running and jumping), and like his dad, he loves his bicycle!

We were cautioned to expect the worst, and we are thankful that we have only been blessed with the very best!

 

Here's an updated photograph of our little miracle boy taken this morning... Just look how much he has grown in relation to that same little blue teddy-bear!!

 

Today Liam turned 3 years old, and we give thanks to God for the gift of his life!

Courtney and Liam are the most precious gifts we have ever received!  Please take a few moments to give thanks to God with us for Liam, and perhaps also to thank God for your children.

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Here is the original post about the identity theft (from here).
Update 26 March 2008: Thank you for stopping in to check out this post. The woman in these pictures, who stole pictures of our son and many others from what the police have told us, is clearly not well. Please do offer a prayer for her. But also please do be very careful of her (particularly if you encounter her in real life). Her real name is Sammie Banks. See her myspace profile here. You can also see her teenscene profile here.

 

I would suggest that you keep your children as far as possible from her, and immediately alert your local police if you see her! She lives in the United Kingdom. We have naturally alerted the UK police (Cybercrimes and identity theft) who have an ongoing investigation into the matter, as well as interpol who have also opened an investigation. Naturally I cannot comment on the content of these investigations. It is, however, just a matter of time before she is apprehended. The link to the baby announcement below is no longer operative. The kind administrator removed all photos of Liam. However, if you wish to find more details on this woman (Samie Banks) you can follow link removed upon the request of the form since there is an investigation pending. Thanks!.

To see a collection of photos that she has 'stolen' from us and other parents you can follow this link (the password to log in is bailey).

The woman in question has tried to make contact with us using various aliases and different email addresses. In each case we simply forward all correspondence to the relevant authorities who assure us that she is being closely monitored.

Original post of December 2007 below:
This is truly bizarre! An unwell woman is using pictures of my son (and the details of my son and daughter) on various parenting websites! See the picture of her on the right, and compare that to two of the original pictures I posted back in November 2006 when I announced Liam's birth

This morning I received an email from the moderator of a website in Australia - the website has a forum for mothers to discuss birthing and parenting issues, and support one another. The moderator informed me that a woman from (who I believe is from England) had signed up to the forums announcing that she had given birth to a premature baby at 29 weeks...

She had posted numerous photos, various descriptions of her experience in giving birth to a premature son named 'Kabe', and had received a great deal of support and encouragement from members of the forum. However, the moderator of the forum noticed a few strange things in the posts and photographs and so decided to check it out...

When she investigated she discovered that this woman (see the picture above) was claiming to have had mine and Megan's children (Liam and Courtney), and one other child! She photoshopped her face over Megan's picture in the birth announcement!

Then, you'll see in the picture below (click on it to enlarge it) that she simply lifted, and reposted, two pictures of Liam, renaming him 'Kabe' (you can see our original pictures of Liam here and here).


I am not posting the link to the forums on which she posted the information about Liam etc. - she has been banned from there and various other forums. However, if you want to see the site that she set up with the birth announcement you can click here DON'T type in your email address (just to be safe)! Simply use the password kabe to gain access.

What does one do? I am at a bit of a loss... It is scary to think that someone has targeted one's children in this manner! Is there anyone out there who has any idea how we can trace who this is and put a stop to it? Off site email will be the best means to contact me (see the link on the right of this page).

Thanks for any help or advice!

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Friday
Dec292006

Update on Liam 29 December 2006 - So much to give thanks for!

I came across some photos this morning that I took with my cell phone camera (so please forgive the quality). They were taken over the last 7 weeks.

In these photographs you can see just how far Liam has come!


This photo was taken about a week after his birth. Here Liam weighed around 1.2kg's. He was so fragile and small (as you can see his whole body was the size of my hand, he still had oxygen, a feeding tube, respiration sensors, temperature sensors, blood oxygen probes, and heart rater sensors).


This is a similar photo, look how small he was! When he was first born, at 27 weeks, he was still very foetal. He seldom dropped his legs. Megie and I used to joke and say he looks like a cornish hen!

I have posted this photograph before. It gives a real perspective on just how small and thin little Liam WAS. Notice the emphasis on WAS! We praise God that he is not like this at all now. He now weighs 1.755kg's (that's about 600 grams more than his birth weight). That is almost a 50% weight gain, and it is amazing how much that growth has filled him out. Look at Liam's little premature nappy in the photos above. The nappies almost covered his whole torso at that stage. Now, however, they fit like regular nappies.


Compare Liam's size in relation to his teddy in this photo and the one below.


In the first 'teddy photo' (taken in week 1) Liam was almost exactly the same size as his little teddy, however, in this second photo (taken in week 5/6) his little teddy is not even half of Liam's size. How incredible is that for 5 weeks!? Also, see how his cheeks have filled out! He is turning into a chubby little lad. He is still tiny (about the size of a 3/4 loaf of bread).


Well, we certainly have SO MUCH to be thankful for (here's little Liam joining us for a prayer)! Liam has been infection free, peaceful, and grown consistently over the last 7 weeks. We cannot thank God enough for God's faithfulness, mercy, healing, and care! Liam now weighs 1.755kg's. He started with one breast feed a day two days ago. Now it is just a matter of getting him up to 8 feeds on the breast per day, making sure that he get enough food from that to both stay hydrated and grow, and then if he keeps that up for a few days he may be allowed home early! He will be on one breast feed a day for a few days (as he gets used to feeding, slowly picks up his weight over 1.8kg's, and gets used to the 'exercise' of having to suck for his food. His lungs will grow and mature through all of this). If he keeps his weight and manages one feed for a few days, then he will have two feeds for a few days, then three, four, five, all the way up to a full eight feeds in 24 hours. This could take a few weeks. However, at his current pace he should be home at least two or three weeks earlier than expected (perhaps some time in the second or third week of January). So, please keep praying for him, and all of us. We give thanks to God, and ask you to join with us in thanking God, for Liam's healthy growth.

A blessed and joyous year ahead. May the miracles of this year be found in and surpassed by the ordinary events of 2007.

Tuesday
Dec262006

The greatest Christmas ever!

Three posts in one day!? It's little wonder that it has been raining here over Christmas! However, we have so much to share and give thanks for.

Here's a picture of little Liam and I on Christmas eve (can you tell from the decorations in the background?) Here you can see how Liam has grown. He is still a little thin, but at least he looks like a baby (and not like an old man!) He is growing up so quickly! He now weighs 1.68kg's and is saturating naturally. In fact if he continues to grow so well we may have him home in the next two or three weeks!


Megie, Courtney and I spent Christmas with our little lad Liam in the neonatal ICU. He is the greatest gift ever!! We are so grateful for the nurses and doctors who spent Christmas day at the hospital. Their dedication is inspiritational. Courtney got to visit with us since it is Christmas. We scrubbed her down, and then she got to hold her little brother Liam for almost an hour. It was bliss for her! This is only the third time that she has seen him in 6 weeks, and the very first time that she has been allowed to touch him. We are so thankful to God for the care and mercy that God has shown us in Liam's growth and good health.


Hey Pete, notice that I'm wearing my favourite T Shirt! Thanks for the gift friend! I could hardly believe it when the package arrived and there was a Vespa T Shirt from Pete in there. I have been looking for one for years now!!!!

A blessed Christmas to all our friends and family. Thank you so much for your prayers, good wishes, and kind support. We pray that your experience of the gifts of being in Christ will be as rich and deep as ours has been over the last two months. It is wonderful to be in Christ, and a member of Christ's body.

Tuesday
Dec262006

The Pope get's it right!

I am not a huge fan of Pope Benedict the XVI. In his previous position, as the Cardinal in charge of the 'Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith', he silenced many of the most progressive and sensible theologians of our time (these in include Hans Kung and Leonardo Boff).

However, there is no doubt that he is one of the most astute theologians of our time. He is well read, extremely intelligent, and has the power and authority to change trends in global theological discourse, and of course political and economic policy.

As a result I always try to read the Pope's Christmas address. I loved the central message of his address this year. I quote:

Pope Benedict said in his Christmas message on Monday that mankind [sic] [should read humankind], which has reached other planets and worships technology, cannot live without God or turn its back on the hungry.

I would encourage all my students, friends, and fellow Christians to read the superb summary on the CNN website. You can find a synopsis of Pope Benedict's message
here:

Tuesday
Dec262006

Geekier than thou!

Today I realised just what a Geek I am. I overheard my daughter trying to explain to her friends that her Daddy is a Doctor, but not a Doctor who operates on people, no, her daddy reads books, looks at people's brains, teaches people, and loves computers....

Yup, even my daughter thinks I am Doctor Geek. Well, in 2007 there is nothing cooler than being a Geek! The world is changing! Girls used to love football players, now they love the guy who can operate their Personal Video Recorder, hack the local municipality computer to squash their traffic fines, and who is geeky enough to work for Apple, Google or Microsoft (in that order) and get the BIG MONEY!

You may remember this wonderful cartoon that I blogged about a year and half ago (June 2005)? It illustrates that Geeks rule in the new world!

So, to remind you of that, I thought I would use this fallow time between Christmas and New year to share a few Geek quotes... Learn these and you'll be off to a good Geek start for 2007. They come from here.

Top 10 Geek Quotes:
1. There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't. - Unknown

2. If at first you don't succeed; call it version 1.0 - T-Shirt

3. Microsoft: "You've got questions. We've got dancing paperclips." - Unknown

4. My pokemon bring all the nerds to the yard, and they're like you wanna trade cards? Darn right, I wanna trade cards, I'll trade this but not my charizard. - Unknown

5. 1f u c4n r34d th1s u r34lly n33d t0 g37 a l1f3 - tee shirt

6. I'm not anti-social; I'm just not user friendly - T-Shirt

7. Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning. - Unknown

8. A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila. - Unknown

9. This one's my favourite! I would love to change the world, but they won't give me the source code
- Unknown

10. My software never has bugs. It just develops random features. - Unknown

There you have it... If you understand more than 5 of these you're a Geek. If you understand number 1, you're rated an UBER Geek (with ubermicro.... See www.purpwnage.com for more on ubermicro). However, based on my daughter, I am Geekier than thou!

Any other UberGeeks out there!? Any better quotes? I'd love to hear from you! The comments button is just a mouse click away.

PS. The title for this post, and the cartoon, come from a great website called geek culture... I bought a few pins and T-Shirts from them. They also have a fantastic daily cartoon!

Saturday
Dec232006

A blessed Christmas!

As we celebrate the birth of a very special boy, the boy child Christ, saviour of the world, Megan, Courtney and I give thanks for the birth of our own little miracle - Liam Angus Forster (a.k.a BJ... Search the blog if this doesn't make any sense).

We thank God for his birth, for his strength, and for the gift that he is to us. His life has allowed us to experience the grace, love and provision of God in new and unimaginable ways. His life has allowed us to experience your love and care. His life has reminded us what really counts. There can be no greater gift than this.

Take a look at his little hands below, they are so small that he can barely get them around my finger.

However, these hands are powerful, powerful enough to bring me to tears. They are filled with life and potential. Dwight D. Eisenhower once commented, “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog". We thank God for making Liam so much stronger than his weak little body. We give thanks to God for the gift of life, the life of His son Jesus who strengthens and renews us, and the gift of the life of our little son Liam who has reminded us again of the gift of life.

Wednesday
Dec202006

Update on Liam - 20 December 2006.

Hello everybody!

Liam the great is doing just great! He now weighs 1.565kg's. He picked up a bit of a fever last night, we pray that it is not the onset of an infection. However, his temperature has gone up before, they simply strip him down to his nappy and open the little hand vents on his incubator and his temperature usually drops. So! Let's hope. He has had a few baths in the last two weeks. He hates being stripped down, but, he LOVES being in the water (I guess it reminds him of the womb - if he was still in the womb at this point he would be at about 33 weeks of pregnancy with another 7 or so to go before birth).


He has been getting stronger and stronger each day. We hope that Megie will be able to start breastfeeding him some time in the next week or so. Apparently once that happens his growth will be accelerated a little more, since the effort it takes to feed matures the lungs a bit, and also helps to metabolise his feeds. Look at these little eyes! I can't tell you how awesome it is to hold him for a bit each day!!!!


Megan is now on leave (her offices closed last week Friday). This means that she has a bit less stress, a bit more time to be at the hospital, and when she is not waking up to express milk, she can catch a little catnap (although those who know Megie know that she hasn't done any resting.... She has been busy, busy, busy - sorting out Christmas presents, fixing up Liam's room, taking care of Courtney). Courtney has been enjoying her school holidays. She has spent some time with Megie's mom, my mom, some of her friends, and her favourite, Megie's sister Gwen!! So, Courts is very happy at the moment. Although. I am sure you can imagine she is quite excited about the prospect of seeing her brother for a few minutes again on Christmas. I am doing fine.

Thanks again to everyone for your prayers, emails, and messages. Janet Cope (my colleague from Bryanston Methodist Church prepared a whole lot of pre-cooked curries (my favourite meal) for me to eat! Megie and Courts have been eating meals prepared by Julia, so we are very well taken care of! Thanks everyone.