Sunday, July 31, 2011
Our Story, Our Calling
Isaac’s birth was only the beginning of our journey into the center of an issue that has captured the heart of my family ever since. Almost at once, God poured out His comfort and blessings on us in so many ways that led us quickly to a point of dreaming of ways we could repay all the people who helped us. Out of this dream grew what we believe to be a vision from God found in the book of 2nd Corinthians Chapter 1 verses 3&4. It reads: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our Merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” This simple principle of comforting others in the way that God has used others to comfort us has become, for us a practice that we are actively seeking to live out in our daily lives. We have been blessed to have several other families join us in this effort who all have different stories, but have one thing in common. Their families have been touched by prematurity. With them, we have formed a support network, Northeastern Oklahoma Parents of Preemies (NEOPOP). Our group is still in its infancy, but we are hoping to impact the lives of many premature families in our area by seeking to provide for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs and living out this vision of giving comfort wherever it is needed. Our group has discussed many ways to do this and one of the easiest ways we have found to have an immediate impact is to partner with the March of Dimes. Our group participated in the March for Babies for two years now, and our son, Isaac was the Ambassador for our area march in 2010. We know that this is only scratching the surface though. We want to grow our group and gain independent funding to do much more for preemie families in our area and we want to make connections with other groups like ours around the country. Those connections are growing. We are already strongly connected to a group out of Austin, TX. Their model for helping preemie families is something we look to as an example, and their leadership in the person of Kelli Kelley has been a great encouragement to my family and to our group to follow the vision that God has given us. You can find Kelli's group at http://www.handtohold.org/
There is no rhyme or reason to whose family prematurity touches. It affects rich and poor, black and white, healthy and unhealthy and everyone in between. You won’t have to look very far among your family or friends to find a preemie or maybe several, in the group. It can happen over a period of weeks where expectant mothers are on bedrest and possibly medication or it can happen in a flash when a mother goes into labor at 24 weeks or when a mother’s blood pressure skyrockets to lethal levels over a matter of a couple days (that is what happened to my wife). Having a preemie is a scary thing and it happens too often.
You see, Isaac’s story is just one of the many stories that our premature family support group has, and one of the millions across the country and the world. One in eight babies are born prematurely every year in the United States and that number seems to be climbing. My family got a crash course in prematurity with almost no warning and no education about the ordeal we would face. Isaac is now 3 years old and will be turning 4 this spring. He is an amazing miracle of God’s grace and power, and we are thankful every day that he is here with us and able to enjoy everything that this life has to offer. Isaac loves life. He loves being outside, swimming, fishing, and playing with everything from his dog to bubbles. He is already showing interest and acuity in many things that little boys do and he keeps us very busy with new discoveries every day. We do not take this for granted. We are truly blessed to have Isaac and my wife Ashley, happy, healthy and whole. This blessing is why I am writing. The reason we believe Isaac is healthy and whole is because of the hand and power of God. We will always give him all the glory for our little miracle. We believe that God is working in many ways to help Isaac and children born early like he was. We want to be at least a small part of this work. We do not know where this journey will take us but we want you to come along and see.