Search
  • 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.

What is this? Scan it and see!

Pages
Social networking
myScoop

 

Join 100 Million Christians in taking a stand on Corruption and Poverty! Click here for more information.  Follow @EXPOSEDCAMPAIGN on twitter, like EXPOSED on Facebook - visit the EXPOSED website.

Entries in Laim (21)

Tuesday
Nov162010

Happy 4th birthday to Liam the Great!

Today we gave thanks to God for the life of our precious big boy, Liam. You can read the posts about him here.  He is 4 years old today.  He was born very early (quite eager to get going in life, so he decided to come into the world 3 months early.  He was born premature at 27 weeks).  Our little Forster children are eager beavers, what can we say?!

When he was about a week old we took a picture of him with his little teddy bear.  He was the same size as the bear at that stage. Each year we have taken another picture of him with the teddy bear to show how he is growing.  Just look at this year's picture - Liam is such a big boy with big strong muscles!!!

Liam, one day you may read this - if you do mom and I want you to know how precious you are to us.  You are perfect in every way.  Your life is a gift from God to the world.  Use it wisely!  You can do so much to make the world a better place.  We cannot stop thanking God for you and Courtney.  You're both so special and unique.  We love you!

Have a blessed day my boy!  Tonight we can ride our bikes in the front garden!

Friday
Oct012010

The journey is drawing to a close! An update on Courtney 1 October 2010

We cannot thank and praise God sufficiently for His unending mercy and grace to Courtney and our whole family!  

We love our girl so very, very much!  Her life is an immeasurable gift to us, and we know that God has such a special plan for our princess.  He has carried her through this last tough month, offering her courage and wisdom well beyond her tender age. We are so proud of Courtney - she has faced her fears, endured pain and uncertainty with courage, and through it all been a shining example of a young Christian woman whose faith is in our God!

Today, on the 1st of October, Courtney's journey with cancer has come to an end!!

This morning we took her back to Dr Wessels at the Somerset West Mediclinic for a final checkup and to have the 24 staples removed from her neck and head.  While she will bear the physical scar from this month on her body for some years, we are praying that God will completely remove any emotional scars there may be!  We know that she will soon return to her vibrant love of life!  The signs are already there!

Courtney is such a brave little girl. Her courage has blessed and inspired me. 

Sure, she cried a little today as they removed the staples, but in the end she managed a great smile!  We're hoping that she will return to school next week (for part of the day to start with, and then ease her way back in).

She received some medication to deal with the last of the blood and tissue that is in her brain and spinal fluid (this is a bit like a mild meningitis).  But this will clear and soon there will be no more headaches, vomiting or nausea.

All glory to God who not only creates in magnificence, but also re-creates, sustains and perfects His creation!

You can read about Courtney's journey through this illness to the miracle of healing by clicking here (or on the tag 'miraclegirl').

You may recall that our journey began about a month ago when Courtney fell ill with a cold.  This quickly spread into a sinus infection and later she was hospitalised with a swollen face and eye. Because there was some concern about the damage to her optical nerve (and to see where the infection was) she went for an MRI.  At that point it was discovered that she had a 3cm tumor in the 4th cerebral ventricle.  She was treated for the infection to her eye and her surgery was scheduled for two weeks later.  The operation was a great success and the neurosurgeon was overjoyed that he had completely removed the tumour. There was no damage to her brain at all.  

Whilst the worst was feared about the histology of the tumor, the best results returned a few days later!  Courtney's tumor was benign - she had a very rare form of brain cancer called a Choroid Plexus Papilloma (accounting for between 0.4-0.6% of tumors in that area of the brain). Even the doctor assured us that this was an answer to prayer since the Medulloblastoma (which is a much more agressive cancer) is the more likely growth in that region.  God in His grace had healed her!

All in all we have experienced anew the wonder of God's loving grace and power, it has been emphasized through the wonderful care and love of the body of Christ.  As family, friends and colleagues - and even people we don't know - have prayed for Courtney, sent notes, cooked meals, sent messages and loved us on behalf of Christ!

I want to encourage you about the certainty of God's love in every situation (as Romans 8.28 says).  Moreover, God's mercy and compassion is a source of great power and strength in such trying times (please read Lamentations 3.21-26 and Psalm 33.18-22).  

If you come upon this post in the years after October 2010; and you find yourself struggling with the diagnosis of a loved one, perhaps a child or a spouse, then please be encouraged by what God has done in Courtney's life.  Feel free to drop us a line.  It would be our joy to pray with you and offer you encouragement and care.

This unfortunate event has renewed our faith in God's power.  It has also caused us to have to reconsider our priorities in life!  Our children truly are our most precious gifts from the Lord - nothing is more valuable.  Work, ambition, material advancement, personal fulfilment, all of these things must rightly take their place behind the priority of creating a loving home to safely nurture our children towards their great destiny.

As you know both Liam and Courtney have had their fair share of health challenges in life - we thank God for all He has done in them and for what God wants to do with Courtney and with Liam.

Courtney's whole life lies ahead of her - please pray for our princess and ask God to bless and protect her in the many years that lie ahead!  Please pray the same thing for little Liam! May he too come to grow into all that God has destined him to be!

With inexpressible gratitude for God's loving grace,

Dion, Megan, Courtney and Liam.

Sunday
Sep122010

Making memories

This weekend was a gift to our family! Since all travels have been halted until after Courtney's surgery we enjoyed a rare weekend at home without any commitments!

We slept in, went to the beach, rode our bikes in the back yard, went to Church and also drove through to beautiful Hermanus to see the whales.

Megie and I needed the 'space' and time to catch up with one another and chart the course ahead. We are both feeling bruised and a little weary. And of course our hearts are very tender for our little girl and what lies ahead for her (see this and this for details). However, we are encouraged and strengthened by God's unfailing love and mercy! We have experienced His love, mercy and grace through to kindness of so many friends and family.

Both Courts and Liam are getting healthy again. Liam may return to school after his bout of tonsillitis, pneumonia and ear infection (which all seem to be clearing). Courts won't return to school until after her surgery. However, she will participate in the school concert this week and also in the guitar concert on the 20th.

Thank you for all the love and support we've received!

This weekend was a chance to make memories. These are a few pictures from the weekend.

Friday
Sep102010

A quick update on Courts and Liam 10 September 2010

It's Friday! Megie, Courts, Liam and I were supposed to be in JHB this weekend for a family celebration - Megie's brother Craig and his fiance Kath are out from England as well.

Alas, that was not to be. But, at least we have the weekend together at home! Which is a rare event in itself! We're looking forward to some quality (and quantity) time together this weekend. I have taken a day's leave today to be at home with Liam and Courtney since Megie has to get back to her office to get some work done for the Lausanne Congress for which she works.

I have also cancelled my trip to Hong Kong next week. So, I look forward to being home with the family for the week ahead as well. I am truly grateful to my friend Graham Power who amended his INCREDIBLY busy schedule to fly to Hong Kong in place of me and spend two days there handling the speaking engagements that Michelle Harding and I were to do. Thanks Graham! Of course if the truth be told I know that our friends in Hong Kong would have loved to have Graham from the very start, but he is just so busy. I know that they will be incredibly blessed by him and our team on this visit.

OK, update time.

First, Megie, Courts, Liam and I want to say how grateful we are for all the messages of encouragement and support. We have been so blessed by your care. Friends have called, sent text messages and posted messages here on the blog and on facebook and twitter. We also had meals dropped off (yum, yum!) Thank you so very much!

The picture below was taken last year (some time towards the end of summer) at our local beach (Strand beach). Happy times, ice-cream, sunshine and sea! We're looking forward to getting back to these joy filled days soon!

Forster Family 2009.jpg

Yesterday one of Courtney's previous teachers (Mrs Bev Austen) dropped off two little books that her class of 3rd grade students made for Courtney. My goodness, these little kiddies have such a wonderful grasp of care and compassion.

Here are two pictures from the one book. Wonderful!

Courts get well book1.jpg

And here's another one with a little prayer.

Courts get well book2.jpg

So, our two little 'patients' are both doing better. Courtney will see her doctor today at 12.45 to check on the infection in her eye. I am pleased to say that the visible swelling is almost completely gone. She will still go for a CAT scan next week some time to be sure. But, she is in good spirits. As mentioned in a previous post she will not go back to school (probably until some time in early to mid October). However, since her surgery has been shifted to the 23rd she will get to participate in her school concert on the 13th and will still do her 'solo' in the guitar concert on the 20th. She is very excited!

As for little Liam - well, I think we just underestimated how vulnerable he still is to infection (even after all these years!) Having him at the hospital to visit Courts was obviously a little too much for his immune system. By Wednesday morning the doctor diagnosed him with tonsillitis, a double ear infection and pneumonia... But, I am pleased to say that he too is looking so much better. The fever has all but gone and we have him on a nebulizer and various medications. So, he too should be well by early next week.

My friend Cois sent me a very encouraging verse from scripture earlier in the week. It has been a source of great comfort.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. A Simple Guide for Behavior ~ Matt 6.34 (MSG).

Today is Friday, and that means that Megie and I will be fasting and praying again. This has been our spiritual discipline for the past four years (almost). As we pray and fast for children and parents. Today this journey takes us in another direction.

So, we appreciate all of the care, love and support! Indeed, we know that we are held within the loving and gracious hands of God; we hear His loving encouragement through your words, and feel his gracious power through your care.

God bless,

Dion

Wednesday
Sep082010

An update on Courtney 8 September 2010

A quick update on Courts.

We’ve just arrived back from the hospital – Courtney has been discharged!

Her eye is looking so much better. We saw the neurosurgeon. It was an emotional meeting. He was very calm and explained everything to Courtney and gave her a chance to ask questions etc. He showed her the ‘acorn’ in her brain and explained why it was giving her headaches and making her a little clumsy. He also showed her how he will remove it and told her that once we have it out we can see what the next step will be.

Of course she is a little scared and quite emotional, but we have assured her of God’s power and love. Also, we have great trust in the doctor’s expertise and skill. We know that the Lord will use every means at His disposal to restore her to full health before we know it!

The surgery has been scheduled for the 23rd of September – as we had thought the 15th is a little too soon. They need to be certain that the infection from the eye is completely clear before trying to remove the tumor. The risk of cross infection and meningitis is too high for an earlier surgery. The neurosurgeon feels comfortable with this new timeframe. We will see her other doctor on Friday and then go for a cat-scan before the surgery.

Courts will not return to school for the next while (perhaps mid October). We’ve met with her teacher and have their full support.

I’m afraid to say that the devil is still trying to break our resolve – last night Liam fell ill again! Can you believe it? We had him at his doctor this morning. The doctor has diagnosed him with tonsillitis, pneumonia and a double ear infection... He is on a bucketful of medicine! We would appreciate your prayers for his swift recovery as well.

Well, that is our news for now. Thank you so much for your prayers and care. We all appreciate it a great deal! Courts sends her love, as do Megie and LtG!

Friday
Aug202010

A long journey in the same direction

For me the journey began late one Thursday evening, on the 16th of November 2006 to be exact.

Megan had been in and out of hospital for about two weeks, at about 25 weeks of pregnancy with our second child, Liam. That evening, just as Courtney and I arrived home after visiting her in Hospital, the phone rang to say that she was giving birth... Liam was on his way, a full 13 weeks early.

I hurriedly took Courtney to our friend Madika Sibeko who lived down the road from us and rushed to the Pretoria East Hospital. By the time I got there Megan was already in the delivery ward, and with less than an hour little Liam was born - 1.16kg's at birth.

From there Megan went into theatre for surgery and Liam and I went into the neonatal ICU. He was very frail.

My father-in-law, Brian, started the journey for me the next day. On Friday the 17th of November 2006 he phoned me to say that he would fast each Friday until Liam came out of hospital. I joined him. Liam came out of hospital 3 months later and I continued the simple spiritual discipline of fasting each Friday.

At first I fasted to be constantly reminded to pray for my son, but over a period of 3 months spending most nights at the hospital I got to know the pain and struggle of many other parents whose babies faced some health challenge. Some survived. Others did not. So, I started using the hunger pangs of that one day - not a huge sacrifice - to remind me to pray for others.

Last year I extended my fast - as I was working on a series of articles on suffering and HIV/AIDS for books and scholarly journals I came to realise that that the majority of South Africans subsist on only one meal a day. So, in order to identify with the struggle of those who cannot choose what to eat, and when to eat, I decided to live on only 1 meal a day from Pentecost for the next 9 months. I used the time and money that I would have spent on my own food to pray for, and practically bless, others. It was a remarkable spiritual journey that has given me a completely new insight into what it means to have to go through the tasks of the day with an empty stomach.

I deliberately chose only to eat in the evening - this meant that I would awake hungry and go into the day, going to work, going into meetings, sitting among people who were eating, and I would do it with an empty stomach. I cannot adequately explain how my prayer life and practical outreach was enriched through this simple discipline. The insights gained prompted me to generosity on numerous occasions - giving away money, food and possessions (in my case mostly 'gadgets' of which I have far too many!).

And so, today I am fasting once again as I have done for the past 4 years. I'm sorry to say that my son Liam is not well at the moment - so please do join me in praying for him. However, I am also aware that today there are many parents who sit next to incubators and hospital beds worried to death about their children. There are even more people who awoke this morning having gone to bed without food.

There is work to be done! It is our work to do! Let's transform the world and start by making a difference where we are.

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness [a] will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. Is 58.6-10

Please consider joining me in this 'long journey in the same direction'. Let's walk together to loose the chains of injustice in the world. This is part of the core of the Gospel of Christ.

Friday
Mar052010

Liam the great and the mystery of undeserved grace

I have often wondered about the nature of God's grace.  I realise that by its very nature grace is something that is a blessing which is not earned or deserved.  This is what makes it grace!

However, it becomes particularly puzzling when it moves from the theoretical to experiential.

Yesterday Megan and I took our little miracle boy, Liam, for his session with the occupational therapist.  It is always an emotional time for me, and I don't mind admitting that I shed a tear.  I did so with a mixture of joy, thankfulness, and also with a little guilt.

You see, when Liam was born he was very ill.  He spent three months in the neonatal ICU.  We prayed for him day and night.  There were many other parents with their children praying in the same ward.  Sadly, some of those children died.  I often struggled to understand why my son lived and their children did not.  Every now and then that nagging feeling returns.

I am so thankful for all that God has blessed us with!  I am thankful for knowing Christ and being known by Him.  I am thankful for the privelage of loving my family and the immeasurable joy of being loved by them.  I am thankful for the challenge and opportunity of my ministry.  I am thankful for the city in which I live - Cape Town is surely one of the most beautiful places on earth!  I am thankful for my health, for the opportunities I have had to travel, for my formal and informal studies... I have so much to be thankful for!

When I am honest I have to admit that none of these things is deserved!  They are all elements of grace.

I found the following quote extremely helpful.  It sums up some of understanding of the mystery of God's grace.

 

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace -- only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
- Anne Lamott, from her book, Traveling Mercies
So, let me ask you, why am I so blessed when many others are not?  What is it that makes some people's lives better than others?  I would truly appreciate any insights, wether profound or simple, on this matter.  Perhaps you have discovered something on life's journey that can help.  Maybe there is a passage in scripture, or some other aid that can help me as I grapple with grace.
What is certain is that I live in unmerited grace.  It is a mystery to me.  I am thankful to God for all of God's grace.  It has changed me profoundly and continues to do so.  But, I would love to understand it a bit more! 
Monday
Nov162009

Priase be to God! Liam (the great) turns 3!!

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.

Saturday
Dec152007

Scary (and sad) a woman in England (possibly Australia) has stolen my Son's identity and is posting pictures of him online!

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!

Technorati tags: , , ,

Friday
Nov162007

All praise and thanks to God! Our miracle son turns 1!


Liam and Courtney (still asleep) opening his Birthday presents.

Friends, please join us in praising and thanking God for the miracle and blessing of Liam's first birthday!

He is perfect and healthy in every way - we cannot begin to express how thankful we are for the miracle of his life! Please will you join us in thanking God for his health and development? He has come so far in the last year, from 1kg at birth to a healthy 10kg's. He still has some way to go, but there is nothing that love, care and a bit of occupational therapy can't sort out!

Here's the story of his birth and here are some moments from this first year of his life. And here are a few posts specifically about Liam the Great!

As you will know Megan and I fast and pray each Friday for children and premature babies, and their families of course, so it is wonderfully fitting that Liam's first birthday falls on Friday the 16th of November 2007. Today we will remember friends that we have made on this journey - some who have experienced the joy of a frail child growing strong, and those who have had to endure the sorrow and pain of loosing their precious little one.

Once again, we are so grateful to all our family and friends we have been so caring, patient, and supportive over the last year. It is a great blessing to be loved!

So, if you would like to leave little Liam a message please do so in the comments, or email it to me directly (as some have done already! Thank you!) We'll print and keep them for him to read in years to come.

A very happy dad!

Wednesday
Nov142007

Some great news about Liam, but his dad is blind as a bat...

Yesterday little Liam the great went for all his 1 year checkups (eyes, ears, muscle tone, development, but also for his injections and immunizations)...

The great news is that he is perfectly healthy! In fact, not only is he healthy, he is doing so much better than we ever anticipated! He is reaching all of his milestones, and even surpassing some. The effects of the damage to his brain are minimal, and we hope they will become even less of an issue as he grows and mature. Naturally, our doctor (responsibly) warned us that with such a premature child the first 2 years or so are always dicey, so he is not out of the woods yet. However, you wouldn't say that there is any problem if you were to see him!!!

How different things were last year this time. I know some of the photos below have been posted before, but they never seem to stop amazing me and filling me with gratitude for all that has passed.

Last year this time Megan was in hospital (for the second time) trying VERY hard not to have our baby! I remember when the pediatrician and neonatal ICU manager came to see us, we knew something was amiss. They arrived together and gave us the rundown (worse case scenario) of what could happen:

  • If Liam was born during that week he would be very frail and prone to infection.
  • There was a high chance that his lungs were not developed, so we needed to prepare ourselves for him to spend months on a respirator, and then further time an ventilator once he had learned to breath.
  • It was likely that he would suffer some brain hemorrhages as a result of his brain being so fragile and not yet capable of coping with the stimulation and trauma of being out of the womb three months early.
  • There was a high likelihood that he would need numerous bouts of surgery to help sort out any digestive problems (which are common to neonatal premature babies).
  • It was likely that he would either suffer damage to his eyes, or be entirely blind, as a result of the respiration and ventilation (oxygen damages the eyes).
After they had shown us some pictures, explained all of the risks, and allowed us to ask questions they took me into the neonatal ICU (my first of MANY visits over the next few months). I scrubbed my hands and arms, put a mask over my face, and was instructed not to touch anything or anyone. Then they showed me a little boy who was born at more or less the same stage as Liam was due to be born - he was on an open resuscitation table (with heathers), pipes, probes, and a myriad of bells and whistles attached.

It was so traumatic - when I left the ICU and had to return to the ward to tell Megie about the experience I remember sitting in the parents lounge for a few minutes just weeping... I couldn't believe that we were actually going through this! After I had composed myself I went in to Megie's room and did my best to paint everything in a positive light - but in my heart I feared that we were going to loose our little miracle boy. It was a feeling that I would feel many, many, times after his birth.

Megie and I cried our eyes out! Heck, when I think back on November, December, and January last year all I can recall is an aching hole in the pit of my stomach, and seeing the world through teary eyes.

I remember that we prayed and pleaded with God to help us, and to keep Liam from being born. We begged God to keep him and Megie safe, and then we sat in a stunned silence...

Those were dark times! But, I will confess they were made bearable by the loving support and prayers of so many friends and family - we were receiving literally hundreds of emails and text messages from concerned people (some whom we had never even met)! It was an image of the body of Christ loving itself to wholeness.

Each afternoon of that week I would leave the hospital, fetch Courtney from aftercare and do my best to be composed and strong. We kept her bag packed, so that if I got a call from the ICU Courtney could go to her aunty Madika (and have clothes for school etc.). Then we would go to the hospital and watch a bit of TV with Megie - Courtney would cry all the way home.

Tough times.... I get quite emotional even thinking about it!

Yup, so he was born very early. I got a phone call on the Thursday evening, 15 November, to say get here quickly since Megie's water had broken and there was no way to keep Liam from being born. The nurse who phoned me warned me that it was serious and that we need to be prepared for the worst. I rushed to the hospital as fast as I could (my Polo Tdi has never been quite so fast since! I was doing close to 200km/h on the highway to the hospital). When I got there Megie was in the delivery room and our gynecologist, the pediatrician, the neonatal ICU staff, and the theater sisters were all ready. There wasn't enough time for a C-section, so.... Well, you can imagine. (The photo above shows how small he was with the little blue teddy bear. The one below shows how large he is in relation to that same bear today!)

Our lives changed that instance... Suddenly so many things that were not really important just fell out of our sphere of concern. For the next three months our lives were simply focussed on spending as much time as we could in the ICU with him, and making sure that Courtney (who was not allowed into the ICU) has as normal a life as possible.

Well, it's a year later, and Liam is healthy, strong, intelligent, agile, in fact he is just perfect, perfect in every possible way!

I just don't know how we could ever thank God for such an incredible and undeserved gift! If you read this post today, or find it in a year, or two, or three, please could you offer just a short little prayer to thank God for the gift that he has bestowed upon us? We cannot do it by ourselves, we need your help to fully than God for His mercy and grace!

Well, I also had my eyes tested yesterday... it turns out I am blind as a bat.... I do have glasses, but like most people who THINK they can see without them I don't often wear them. Well from now on you'll see me 'be-specticled' much more frequently... It's a bugger getting old!

Monday
Oct012007

An update on Liam the Great!

In just over a month Liam will be 1 year old (well on the 16th of November he will be one year form birth! He will in fact only be 9 months old from his actual gestation date). Megan and I took Liam for a checkup recently. Of particular joy was our meeting with his occupational therapist. But just a few thoughts before I get to that news!

We took him to say 'hi' to the wonderful staff of Pretoria East hospital neonatal unit. It felt strange going back there... At this point Liam has spent almost one third of his life in that unit! Can you imagine having spent one third of your life in ICU!?

However, as this photo shows we have everything in the world to rejoice about! Our little miracle is just that, truly a miracle! He now weighs almost 10 times his birth weight (having grown from 1 kg to 10 kg's!) Sure, we only feed him creatine and USN supliments (that one's for you John! They are the BEST supliments in the world!), but it is paying off!

Well, the great news is that Liam is perfectly healthy. He had his first bout of tonsillitis while I was in Malaysia. However, this proved to us that his immune system is functioning as it should. In terms of his development his is on track for a premature baby - most of his milestones are being met somewhere between his birth date, and his original gestation date. There are some minor visible indicators of the trauma and damage he suffered because of the brain haemorrhage's. He has struggled a little with his left arm and leg. However, the OT assures us that there is nothing so serious that we cannot deal with it through exercise and stimulation.

Friends, we cannot thank God enough for the incredible miracle of his grace!

Strangely enough I my gratitude was enriched while I preparing my log book for my tax return... Liam was born on the 16th of November, on the 20th and 21st of November I was moderating exams as an external examiner for TEE College. It was on the 2oth of November that Megan phoned me with that dreaded call to say that Liam had a grade 4 bleed in the parietal lobe, and that I needed to get to the unit as quickly as I could - they did not think that he would survive the day... In my log book it simply says 'Turfontein to Pretoria - hospital visit'.

It was possibly one of the most painful hours of my life as I drove from Johannesburg to Pretoria to meet my distraught wife and baptise my 1kg, 1 week old son, before he died...

Well, here he is! Perfect in every possible way! A testimony to God's grace and creative power!

Megie and I still continue to fast and pray every Friday. We do it to give thanks to God for all that God has done, but also to remember that many others have not had the same experience of joy and blessing that we have. We don't understand why that is. But, we do pray. We pray in the hope that God's grace would reach and bless others who are going through what we went going through.