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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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Entries in thanksgiving (31)

Monday
Jan092012

Thankful to be going back to work

I am back at work today after a great vacation with my family.

I am thankful for the privilege of having work. It is a blessing to be able to meet my family's needs, to apply my abilities in service of the world, and to give expression to my passion in service of Christ.

I am thankful! Here is a prayer that you may wish to pray as you go to work.

 

O God, sovereign Lord over all creation, without whom all purposes are futile, grant me today the assistance of your Spirit. In all the surprises and changes of life, may I fix my heart upon you, so that your eternal purposes may be fixed in me.
In the name of Jesus, who came to make your eternal purpose clear. Amen

- A guide to prayer for all God's people (Upper Room Books, 1990)

 

 

Thursday
Oct062011

Giving thanks for the life of the Rev Dr Angela Shier-Jones

It was with great sadness that I learnt that Angie (Dr Angela Shier-Jones) passed away in September this year.  This is such sad news.  Angie had been struggling against cancer.

I remember a great conversation we shared last year when I was in the UK.  We were on the train after a meeting at LEAT and we were talking about dissease and faith.  The topic of our conversation centered around a special edition of the Epworth Review of which Angie was the editor for which I had written an article on being Christian in an HIV+ world.  As always her input was deeply challenging, a magnificent theological mind matched only by her pastoral heart!

Thanks for sharing the news of her passing with me Jenny.  I am deeply saddened by the news of her death.  However, I can only imagine what she is doing in heaven!  

Here are two wonderful memorial posts I would encourage you to take a look at.  Each of them gives a wonderful insight into one of the great (Methodist) theologians of our age.

Indeed, Lord, thank you for the gift of your daughter Angela.  Teach me to number my days correctly that I may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90.12).

Friday
Sep232011

Please join us in giving thanks! A year after Courtney's surgery

On the 23rd of September 2010 Courtney went into to surgery have a tumor removed from her brain.  She is 100% perfect today! We would like to invite you to join us in thanking God for His wonderful grace and mercy to us! Please could you also pray for the doctors and nursing staff that treated her?  Please ask the Lord to bless them and continue to use them and all other persons in caring professions who do so much to bring hope and healing?  

As I drove to work today I was overcome with a sense of gratitude for this year that has passed. Courtney is healthy and perfect in every way.  What an immeasurable joy for us as a family.

You can read about her diagnosis and the journey from there to healing on the following link (you'll have to click through to the first post - the posts are arranged in reverse order).

On Friday's Megan and I continue to fast and pray for parents and children who are facing challenging times - we have maintained this discipline for the last 5 years since the birth of our son Liam who faced some challenges of his own. Today is a very special Friday indeed!

Thank you for sharing in our joy!

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!

Tuesday
Oct262010

Overcome with gratitude and grace - Courtney returns to school!

This morning Megan, Courtney, Liam and I gathered for a little prayer of thanksgiving and praise.  

Today Courtney went back to school - and she is well!  She has recovered from her surgery, the cancer is gone, and she is a happy, healthy little 11 year old girl!  We are so thankful!  

Our whole lives have been changed by this series of events.  We have a renewed appreciation of God's gracious love and care, and such confidence in the love and grace of our friends, many family, and our local Church.  Truly, we are overcome with gratitude and grace today!

It was two months ago today that our journey began (you can read the whole story as it unfolded in a series of posts here.  It starts with the most recent post, so you will need go back to the first post to pick up at the start of the story) - Megan went into hospital for a surgical procedure, and on the same day Liam fell ill. It was a very stressful time for us as a family.  Little did we know what would happen in the weeks to follow.  

That weekend I was speaking at a conference in Johannesburg when Megan phoned me to say that Courtney's eye had swollen closed as a result of a bad cold and sinus infection.  Courtney was hospitalized for the first time on Sunday the 5th of September.  The next morning when they did a CAT scan to see where the swelling was, and in there was any damage to the eye, they discovered every person's worst nightmare - cancer.

The doctor called us aside and told us that they had found a 3cm growth (unrelated to the eye infection), located in the 4th cerebral ventricle.  We were devastated!  But the love of family and friends, the support of our Church, and the care of our doctors gave us great hope and encouragement.  Our little girl spent a few days in hospital recovering from the infection and we waited for her brain surgery which eventually took place on the 23rd of September.  She spent more than 3 hours in surgery.  The doctor was very pleased with the procedure, but the following day he told us that what he had seen was not good news.  He felt confident that Courtney's cancer was malignant and that she would need some further treatment from a pediatric oncologist.  We braced ourselves for that.  However, the next day he called me (while I was still in the ICU with Courtney) overjoyed to tell me that the histology had shown that Courtney had an extremely rare form of brain cancer which is completely benign!  The surgery was a cure - she was free of cancer!

I cannot tell you the sense of relief and gratitude that we experienced on that day, and many times after that in the days that followed!

Well, after a few days in ICU, a couple more in the general ward, Courtney came home to recover.  She had a massive surgical procedure that cut into her brain - we knew that her recovery would be slow.  At first she simply slept (sometimes up to 22 hours a day), and when she was awake she was constantly vomiting.  Her mood was very low.  However, we prayed for her every day, encouraged her and did our best to be patient, supportive and loving.  With each day that passed the pain grew less, the nausea settled and her lovely little personality returned!

This morning as we prayed together she was just like the little girl who turned 11 in August - full of fun, excited about the opportunities of the day, a wonderful daughter who loves the Lord and has a zest for life.  She had a hair cut last week (just to be sure that the bit where her head was shaved was well covered for her return to school).  Megan had prepared to take her to school and help her to get her bag to class and get her settled.  But, when she arrived at the gate a number of Courtney's friends were waiting there to help her and welcome her in!

That makes my heart so glad!

So, first, let me say how grateful we are to all of you that prayed for us and have helped us through these trying times.  We are thankful that God's love has brought us through stronger and with more faith! Second, please continue to pray for our family - we certainly need it!  Please also remember Courtney in your prayers from time to time.  She has some catching up to do for school work that she has missed.  But more than that our heart's desire is that she will know just how precious she is to God and to us, and that her life is an immeasurable gift!

Monday
Sep272010

Thank you for your prayer and support! Update on Courtney 27 September 2010

Dear friends,

We wanted to send out a brief update about Courtney today and express our thanks to everyone who has so faithfuly prayed and lovingly supported us!

Megan, Courtney, Liam and I want to thank you so much for your love, prayers and support over the last few weeks.  

We rejoice to tell you that Courtney’s surgery went extremely well, the tumor was removed entirely, and that the biopsy showed that the tumor is benign!  

There is no cancer and no further treatment is needed!  All praise to our wonderful Lord for His Grace and Power!

The surgeon said to us that this truly is an answer to prayer!

While he had anticipated something worse the histology came back with wonderful results.  If you’re interested you can see the following link which describes the kind of tumor they found:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choroid_plexus_papilloma

Courtney came out of ICU on Saturday afternoon and is currently recovering in the children’s ward.  She has been struggling with nausea and is still a little sore.  This morning the doctor came to see her and has said he will do a lumbar puncture to remove some pressure from her brain.  However, she is on a great recover path and will be home in the next day or two!

Praise God!  Thank you so much for sharing in our joy and bearing us up through the tough times (it seems like a distant memory!!)  God’s grace is truly so magnificent!

Our friend Greg Long has arranged a time of prayer and thanksgiving on Wednesday evening at 18.30 at the Coronation Ave Methodist Church. If you’re able to join us that would be great, if not please do offer God all praise and thanks from wherever you are.

May the Lord bless you and your families even more richly than He has blessed us – truly God is able to do so much more than we can think, hope or imagine (Eph 3.20).

With much love and blessing,

Dion, Megan, Courtney and Liam


So please spread the word! God bless you.

Saturday
Sep252010

Update on Courtney 25 September 2010 - Praise God! Histology results are back.

Our neurosurgeon phoned me a little while ago with great excitement! The histology results for Courtney's tumor came back and the tumor is benign! The operation removed the tumor and there is no evidence of further cancer! He was very pleased to share the news! And of course we are overjoyed to share it with you!

The histology showed that she had a 'Choroid plexus papiloma' - you can check this link for details. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choroid_plexus_papilloma

At first they feared it was a Medulloblastoma - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medulloblastoma - but praise God that it is not!

God is so good to us! We cannot thank you all enough for your prayers, care and love!

Please join us in thanking the Lord for His mercy and grace!

Courtney is out of ICU and in the pediatric ward. She is resting well and should be home within a few days!

Praise be to God!

Saturday
Sep252010

An update on Courtney 25 September 2010 - we're getting there!

Courtney is still sleeping most of the time. But, when she does wake up she is much more responsive and alert. She is certainly on the mend - we can see a marked improvement each day. She is still a little nauseous, particularly after any movement, but that will pass.

This morning the Doctor allowed her to walk to the bathroom (naturally the nurse and I had to help her), but she walked just perfectly! A real milestone along the journey.

If she manages to eat something today and keep it down she'll be transferred to the children's ward.

We still don't have the results of the histology. But, that will come in due course.

In my quiet time this morning I read Psalm 33.18-22 which was a great encouragement and comfort. I am dreading the end of the weekend. But the normal rhythms of life are a necessary part of not being 'consumed' by a series of events such as this.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers, care and love. Courtney, Megan, Liam and I appreciate it a great deal!

The photo above shows her feeling much better! Not quite a beaming smile, but she's getting there!!

Thursday
Sep232010

Update on Courtney 23 September 2010 - after surgery

We are so thankful!  Courtney's surgery went very well!  We saw the neurosurgeon a little while ago - he was confident that he had removed the tumor effectively!  The surgery took 3 hours to perform.

We have just been with Courts in the ICU where she will stay for a day or two.  She woke up and was able to move all her limbs etc.  She is quite nauseous (both from the anaesthesia and from the trauma to the cerebellum).  But, they have her well medicated.  They will keep her a little sedated to reduce the swelling to the brain.  She is also in a bit of pain, but I think that is quite understandable and normal.  We are so blessed that we know a number of the doctors who are treating her personally (some belong to our Church, others are friends with whom I cycle on Lourensford).  This has been quite comforting because they are able to 'interpret' the news of the surgery for us and offer us some good practical and reassuring advice.

We will only get the results from histology of the tumor in a few days.  As soon as we have news on that we will let you know.  But, we are trusting for a perfect bill of health.

They had to shave a fair amount of the back of her head to do the surgery - she's not going to be too happy about that when she wakes up!  But, that is the least of our worries!

Thanks once again to everyone who has called, sent text messages, facebook messages, tweets and helped with food etc.  We are truly grateful.  It is likely that either Megie or I will spend the night at the hospital again.  Courts will be in ICU for the next 2 days and then into the general ward.

Unfortunately our phones have to be kept off while were in the ICU so we may not see, or respond, to messages as quickly as we would like.

For regular updates please either follow my twitter feed (see the twitter feed on the right hand side of this page, or go to @digitaldion on twitter.com.

God bless,

Dion, Megan, Courtney and Liam

Thursday
Mar132008

Mertyl the great (aka my Orange 1967 Vespa VLB 150cc) is back!!

 

Wohoo! My beautiful orange Mertyl is back in action!! I was called by Uncle Regie of KR and Sons in Zasm Street, Waltloo, Pretoria to say that they had finished the painting, bending, and bashing to get Mertyl back in shape!! She looks great!

In this picture you'll see Mertyl (with her left legshield repaired after the accident), a friend Rev Paul Oosthuizen (with the helmet - he is bringing her home for me), my friend and colleague Prof Neville Richardson (who drove us to collect Mertyl), and Uncle Regie the 'doctor of Vespa' who has her looking as good as new!

I am so pleased that she is back!! However, I won't be riding her for a few months yet - tomorrow is week 4 since my accident, which means I still have 8-14 weeks before I am off my crutches and back up to speed!

Thanks for the help Uncle Regie, Neville, and Paul!! It feels GREAT to have Mertyl where she belongs, safely in my garage at home!

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!