Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Life and Joy

Little One,

I remember the night you were born. You fought stubbornly with your mom for 36 hours and then finally made an entrance. I was so proud of your mom that the middle name we'd been searching for became obvious. Joy. Just like your momma's. Our prayer over you was that you would be a life (Chaia means life in Hebrew) of joy.

I remember getting home with you and you being stubborn (recurring theme?) with nursing and you and your mom screaming and crying together in frustration as the precarious dance of a tiny peanut and a new nursing mother began.

I remember Squeaky McGee...your first nickname as you made these tiny little squeak noises all the time.

I remember you snuggling on me while we both snoozed and it being one of the best feelings in the world.

I remember the moment everything fell apart. 10 weeks old, gasping for breath.

I remember them trying to get an IV as you were having a heart attack. They tried both arms, both feet and then your head. And you screamed in a way I'd never heard.

I remember you getting a helicopter ride to Akron Childrens. I drove. And I beat you there by 20 minutes. I remember seeing the last plays of the Browns game as I waited for you to arrive. They won. I knew then something was wrong with the world that day.

I remember the doctors imaging you and then the team of pediatric cardiologists looking baffled at the imaging and saying that your arteries just disappeared.

I remember the nurses who took the time amidst all the tubes and IVs and monitors to put a hair bow in your hair.

I remember them saying it wasn't good and that we had to go to Cleveland Clinic because ECMO which often served as a bridge to heart transplant was waiting for us there. I knew then that you were dying.

I remember the white walls...the sterile, lifeless, white walls...it was like an asylum.

I remember the teams of doctors, the barrage of questions, the repetition of our story, being asked if your mom and I were related.

I remember 5.

5 Days to live.

That's what they told us.

I remember the geneticist who happened to specialize in rare genetic diseases and happened to read an article about a rare disease and who happened to order an ultrasound of your belly and happened to find calcifications and who happened to come up with a diagnosis.

I remember them handing us an article about the disease and telling us once we had read that article, we would know as much as them.

I remember the doctor who said he understood we had faith but that we had to understand that your heart could not get better.

I remember your momma weeping because she couldn't hold you or snuggle you.

I remember us pleading for Ezekiel 36:26 to take place in you.

I remember the Church. Oh Chaia, if you only knew the beauty of the Church. The meals. The visits. The prayers. The way they saved us financially. The prayers. All around the globe...The prayers...The cards...you were single handedly violating the Clinic's sterile lifeless wall policy with the cards and decorations in your room.

I remember 100 days...the bird mask...Stanley the Sock Monkey...Finger Puppets...Fleas...Meeting Joe Haden...Meeting the Cavs players...Santa...Gungor...The nurses...Your mom and dad are still alive and still together because of the nurses. They may have woken you up to play with them in the middle of the night, but they saved our little family...my mom buying a GPS so she could brave coming up to Cleveland on her own...The Seahawks...meeting the sweetest photographer and her little family that captured your story through her lens...I remember 100 days feeling like 3 lifetimes.

I remember being discharged. The immense care...the round the clock tube feeds and round the clock meds...the constant vomiting...the loss of teeth...the brittle bones from the experimental treatment...the day you stopped wanting to be in your bouncer and us later finding out it was because you had fractures all over your tiny body. The constant medical/insurance stresses...the set backs...the progress...the pseudo tumor...the move to Columbus in the midst of a ton of uncertainty.

I remember birthday one at the Zoo. We finally made it to the zoo. I'd promised you daily in the Hospital.

I remember your scoot. I remember your gremlin voice when you said "Bible"...and only when you said Bible...and how inconvenient that was as a pastor, to have my kid do that.

I remember 2 years old at Grandma Thompson's house. Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Thompson wearing elmo party hats.

I remember you regaining strength and crawling again and pulling yourself up and taking your first steps.

I remember the word of the week.

I remember watching Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 743 times. I remember birthday 3 and the most epic minion cakes of all time.

I remember the day you raised your hands in worship and sang the words to the song mommy was singing in church.

I remember you hurling in church and it making an awful sound all over the gym floor.

I remember C3 loving you and raising you.

I remember the day you sat on your little potty as Papa and Nana came into the house and greeting them by saying "Hi Papa, I'm taking a freaking poop."

I remember you calling me Ben instead of Dad.

I remember you having the lightbulb turn on after Mr. Carl had been staying with us for a week or so and you asking "Mr. Carl, are you living here?"

I remember asking you if you wanted to get married some day and you telling me "No, I want to be a restaurant guy."

I remember that 25 percent of your heart doesn't work and they still expect you to decline at some point.

But I remember Who is authoring this story. And I trust the better author to tell a better story.

And now little one, my bean, my Princess Plop-a-lot, my warrior princess---I want you to know that your mom and dad are so incredibly proud to be your parents. And your name is exactly who you are:

Life--pulse...heartbeat....breath...movement...not dead.

Joy--satisfaction in God...despite circumstances...contentment...laughter.

And on your fourth birthday our prayer remains the same: Whether it's one more breath or one more century of breaths, may your life be leveraged to the glory of God and your heart captivated by the grace of God all the days of your life. And may we get out of your way.

Love ya kid. Let's go change the world.

Happy Birthday! Ben (feel free to start calling me dad again!)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Be Careful Little Eyes

I remember the first time we had communion as a church. There were about 20 of us in our living room, which at that time was our entire church. And as people came to the center of the room to take the bread and dip it into the cup and remember what Jesus had done for us, they had to side step a little girl who had found her way to the foot of the table. She had a tube in her nose, couldn't walk or crawl because she had fractures all over her tiny body. But she could scoot. And she scooted right next to the table and literally watched every person come take communion.

I remember Shaina and I reflecting on that and saying "That is what we want our kid to experience about church." Not the meetings that stole her dad from her too many nights of the week...not the frustrating conversations of a disheartened/burnt out pastor and his annoyed and lonely wife...But of a bunch of people trying to figure out the Jesus way together. Less drama. Less committees. More community. More service to the people of our city.

And in many ways, C3 has raised that little girl into a sweet young lady.

And she is still watching.

She sees C3 support a group of first graders where we meet by helping them with their First Grade Factory pencil company (over 600 pencils bought last Sunday!)
She sees (and sort've helped!) our community move in a family and welcome them to Columbus last Thursday.
She sees our community partner last Friday with Graham Primary School to pull off a Food Truck Event for a fundraiser to help the school continue to invest in kids.
She sees Mr. Carl, a student at Otterbein move in to our house this past weekend for the summer to do a pastoral intern with C3 to see if church planting is in his future.

She's watching. As are many other kids.

Our job is to make sure they love what they see.

This past week, City Campus Church was recognized at the Stadia Church Planting banquet at Exponential Conference for their work in investing in kids in our community and in Ecuador and Mexico. Shaina and I accepted the Wess Stafford award on behalf of C3. We received money to continue investing in children at C3 and Shaina and I got a crazy gift to travel back to Ecuador to visit our Compassion sponsor kiddo, Yelixa!

What are the kids around you seeing when they observe your life?

I pray it is really really Good News.

150409 Thompson Video from Stadia Church Planting on Vimeo.

Thanks for all of you who are investing in our story through prayer or financial support. It is changing the world quite literally.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

5 Things...Cleveland Sports Edition

1. The Cavs are the real deal. It's fun to watch. The road to the finals isn't easy...through a re-energized Bulls team and likely through a younger, less star-studded version of the Spurs (The Atlanta Hawks). It's great to see some guys know and own their roles. JR Smith is at times deadly from the perimeter, Mozgov seems to be consistently good for 8 points and 8 boards. Thompson has the uncanny ability to impact the game without having to touch the ball offensively, a la Dennis Rodman. He gets the biggest rebounds on the offensive glass to give second chances night in and night out. Shumpert defends. Delevedova, while at times painful to watch, does a good job spelling Irving. I think the X factor against the Bulls could be Perkins. He's had very few minutes to this point, but that is going to be a very physical series and an enforcer could send a needed message. Cavs Spurs would be a great finals (and the worst matchup the Cavs could face.)

2. It looked like Kevin Love was having fun in game three against Boston. I'm not sure how well liked he is by his teammates or by fan base, but bottom line is, if he hits shots and grabs boards when it matters, they'll all come around.

3. Trevor Bauer looks like the real deal. If he could just get the k's without all the walks, you might see something special this year. Between him, Carrasco and Kluber, if they stay healthy, the Indians might be ok. (It doesn't hurt when they put up 13 runs like they did in game one against Detroit.

4. The Browns draft has less hype than usual...that's what happens when you win more than 4 games and don't have a high draft pick. Maybe Cleveland could get used to that a little more and make December and January the most meaningful months of the year rather than April. I don't like the situation at quarterback, but if they get a run stopper, another linebacker and sign Gipson and Mack to contracts, I think they will be improved everywhere from a year ago at this point (with the exception of QB). I don't know if you sell the farm for Mariota like some are speculating.

5. Here's my take:
Cavs Playoffs: I think they get to the finals and I think they beat anyone except the Spurs there.
Indians Season: If they have a winning record against Detroit, they will make the playoffs. But, that is a huge huge if.
Browns Draft: Stay put at 12 and 19 and get a run stopper/wideout/linebacker and then get a guy in the 3rd or 4th round that could take the helm if Manziel and McCown are as bad as they potentially could be.