Arthur

Last September my wife and I decided to get pregnant. This will be our second child, but our first time deciding to get pregnant. So this time is different. Not like the first time at 21, and 19 years old, scared to death to tell our parents and wondering how in the world we would support and raise a family.

This time was better, but still, we needed a miracle.

We’ve come along since three years ago when we found out our daughter, Penelope, would be joining us shortly. We got married, and I graduated school. Our families welcomed her with open and loving arms. I’m working full time as the “video guy” at Grace, while Heidi is working full time as a teaching assistant in a special ed classroom and attending school online. Penelope is a two-year-old ball of fire and energy blazing her way through everything she touches (except for vegetables.) Heidi sang on the main stage for the first time last sunday giving me, and I assume everyone else, goosebumps; while I have started playing guitar with Walker in the youth group. God has become a big part of our lives, and the main reason for that was having Penelope!

So last September we decided, after careful thought and prayer, that we should add the next member to our family. We are young but who cares! We’ll be rich when we’re dead and Penelope needs a friend. Plus, we wanted to feel what it’s like to be excited to be pregnant and not terrified! Alas came Arthur. Currently 26 weeks old and growing quietly in my wife’s ever-widening belly. Heidi’s eyes glow when she feels him move.

At our 20 week ultrasound the technician noticed something odd. Arthur’s cephalic index was on the edge of alarmingly low. This means that the width of his head wasn’t growing at the correct proportion to the length of his head. It was still early in the pregnancy but this was not a good sign. It can develop into a condition called dolichocephaly which can lead to other birth and brain defects. Our midwife said that she was very concerned but it was too early to tell. We had to wait. We had to wait to let Arthur grow. We had to wait to see whether he would normalize or get worse.

Waiting is the last thing you want to do when you find out something is wrong with your child.

Waiting was hard. Especially for Heidi. We prayed everyday and told everyone we knew to pray for us. I reached out to friends who don’t know God and asked if they would pray for us. We asked God for a miracle. That our boy would normalize and be completely healthy. We prayed that if it were God’s will for Arthur to be born with defects that God would grant us the wisdom and strength required to raise a son that would have such special needs.

Weeks went by and though we still asked God for a miracle we felt like our lives would change drastically at the next ultrasound. In some ways it was easier to prepare ourselves for the worst. So that when the waiting was over it wasn’t so much of a shock. So much of a letdown.

Our midwife got us an emergency specialist appointment with a renowned prenatal neurologist in Sacramento. The morning of the appointment we read through Psalm 91 which says, from the perspective of God,

“When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

God said that if we called out to him he would answer. In the name of Jesus we called to God knowing completely that he would answer. Whether he would bless with a miracle or grant us to strength to love and accept our son no matter what his problems were, we knew God would be faithful. Knowing this we still drove to Sacramento last Tuesday ready for the worst.

We were sitting in the doctor’s office looking at a widescreen television of the ultrasound while the technician worked at her usual square screen. She rotated around to look at the top of Arthur’s head and the ratio from width to length is much more extreme. Our worst fears confirmed. He has not normalized but instead gotten worse. I grip Heidi’s hand tighter as the nurse continues to take other measurements of Arthur’s brain and head. She then says, “He’s looking really good but I’m just going to check with the doctor.” She must have seen the scared and confused looks on our faces because she then said, glancing at the screen we were looking at, “Oh that screen isn’t accurate; it stretches the image. Look at this one.” So I look over at her screen and I see a nearly perfectly round top of a baby’s head. My baby’s head.

The nurse heads out to double check with the doctor as I look at my wife feeling hope for the first time in weeks. It sounded like she said he looked normal right? We smile at each other but try to not get too hopeful without first hearing a sure diagnosis. But I can’t help it! I feel renewed energy in my bones and I get up to pace the room.

The nurse then pokes her head into the room and says so casually, “Your son looks completely normal so you can go home.”

It was surreal.

God performed a miracle right before our very eyes.
God performed a miracle on our son!

So we shuffle out of the office still in shock at what we had seen and heard. Our son was healed! Our son will be born completely normal and healthy. I still wasn’t sure if it was true with how nonchalantly the nurse told us that we didn’t have to see the doctor because Arthur looked so normal. I had asked her what was wrong with him before? Why was his initial ultrasound so alarming and this one not at all? She just kind of shrugged and said, “Who knows? Probably just an issue with the previous technician.”

It felt a bit like the nurse, or the world, or Satan himself, however you want to look at it, was trying to minimize our miracle. Was trying to shrug it off like it was just a mistake or a misunderstanding. For a second I believed it too. For a second I was almost convinced that there was never anything wrong with Arthur and that all of our prayers and worrying had been for nothing because he was fine all along.

But this didn’t make any sense!

God had performed a miracle!

We had fears and feelings that something was wrong with him but now there was evidence that there wasn’t anything wrong at all! God answered our call; God healed our son!

It makes me wonder how many miracles we miss in our everyday lives because the world just shrugs it off as happenstance. How many miracles have we missed because the world convinced us it was just an accident or coincidence? Probably a lot.

God is performing miracles all the time and all around. Arthur is just one.

Five Things You May Not Know About Celebrate Recovery

Passionate people come hungry to learn. Passionate people are contagious. Their faith can’t help but overflow as they pour out what God is pouring into them. They are purpose driven. Passionate people thrive on seeing other people thrive. Passionate people are absolutely magnetic.

I visited Celebrate Recovery (CR) for the first time last week and I can tell you that you can’t help but be drawn to the people and the movement that is happening there. Though I was familiar with many aspects of the program, there were parts that honestly surprised me. The parts that you can only see for yourself.. firsthand.. rather than hearing about them. Here’s a quick bird’s eye view:

1) Honesty in struggle connects people quickly.

It is often the case that people think that if others knew what they had done or what they’re currently doing, they wouldn’t be able to handle it. Maybe they’d be judged? Maybe they’d be told they’re not welcome in a “Christ-centered” program?! This is a place created specifically so that those who take the first step to come are met with an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. We can’t fix you, but we know who can. Scoot on in next to me and let’s do this together. The connection is tangible and the sense of belonging is instant.

2) It is both Christ-centered and a safe place to come as you are spiritually.

I did not get the impression whatsoever that anyone was going to take a holier-than-though stance with anyone else. Everybody is rowing in the same boat of admitting their struggles and also admitting they are works in progress. This is a biblically-centered program so Jesus will be present in the conversation, the teaching, the testimonies and the steps. However, Jesus will also be present in the people who love you where you are, instead of casting stones to condemn you if you’re still figuring out where you are spiritually.

3) It is just as much for the family member’s support, as it is for the ones struggling with hurts, habits or hang-ups.

Many of you may be familiar with AA and Al-Anon. One is for the one struggling and the latter for the people affected. I am encouraged to see that CR is for everyone. I think someone whose spouse is in a dark place would be helped by going even if their mate wasn’t open to it yet or ever. What you find when you walk through the doors is that we could all benefit from CR as we all have our issues. We all struggle with being defined by things done to us or choices we made along the way. Knowing that we cannot save or fix our loved ones, sometimes getting in a place of healing ourselves and taking the first step could be what eventually leads them to walk through the door alongside us.

4) Recovering physically (such as quitting drinking) is a goal, but not the ultimate goal.

Though there is a great mood of celebration as chips are given out for everything from 24 hours to decades of having recovered physically, it is clear that everyone’s recovery is without definitive end. Spiritually and emotionally there are phases of recovery that continue for years after the last drop of alcohol is drunk or the last day of depression is felt. We can’t forget that people are coming to find hope for so much more than addiction. Anger, sexual integrity, depression etc. No matter what it is, we are not suddenly “out of the woods” because a behavior is no longer present.

5) While the thought you enter with at first may be, “I’m not sure I’m ready for anyone to know about this.” The thought you leave with is often, “I’m not sure why I didn’t do this sooner!”

There is a great verse in Romans that says: “that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12). When you enter a space where people are being set free from bondage, where people are opening up their hearts and their lives to each other, where they can begin to see God’s power and promises overtake the lies they’ve been believing…you just can’t help but want to go back for seconds. Load my life up with some of that!

In conclusion, I just want to say that I’m glad I visited. It was time well spent. Whether it be Celebrate Recovery or the HopeFirst initiative that is raising money to purchase recovery homes throughout Washoe County to help people with addictions find hope and healing, I am excited that our church has looked at our community and decided to punch addiction in the throat.