Hope for Other Broken-Hearted Families

June 20, 2017

On a rainy day in early December, Scott and I walked down the labor and delivery floor hall, passing oversized photos of smiling babies on the walls. Our hearts and our overnight hospital bag weighed heavy. Our baby’s 13-week heartbeat was gone and we had come to be induced and deliver him.

Dani stood waiting for us at the end of the hallway. When we approached, I began crying. She hugged me with such tenderness, more like a treasured friend than a patient.

Today, almost seven months later, Dani (below, holding bear) again stood waiting for me at the end of the hallway. This time, I hefted a cardboard box filled with gifts. Scott carried two boxes behind me, with kids in tow. And just like before, tears filled my eyes when I neared Dani, and spilled over when we hugged.

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Joy and sorrow mixed, as our family presented the first of 36 weighted Comfort Cubs and “Quietly” instrumental CDs to Dani’s nursing team (some pictured below) to give to other bereaved mamas and their families who lose a baby, whether a few ounces or 10 pounds.

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I was given one of these bears the day Scott and I met our tiny Gabriel, then held and said goodbye to him. The weight of it caught me off guard as it felt more like a baby than mere a stuffed animal. I sobbed.

The letter, written by a mom who’d lost a full-term baby, ministered incredibly to my heart. She wrote about the weight of that moment and of the significance of my child. As I read about her hope in Jesus I almost immediately pictured a different scene—a mom who wasn’t yet a believer in Jesus, holding a bear and the letter. I knew God was stirring something.

My due date was to have been May 22nd, so Scott and I decided a way we’d honor the life God gave us in Gabriel would be to raise money to buy 24 bears and CDs (the CD is one that brought me great comfort these last months).

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We were stunned when God doubled that, moving 52 individuals and families to give enough to purchase 48 bears and CDs—enough that we’re giving 36 to my beloved Florida Hospital and 12 to St. Elizabeth’s in Lincoln, my hometown hospital.

Last night I stayed up late fluffing each bear and tying around its neck my letter of comfort and the hope of Jesus. As I did, I asked God for insight in how to pray for the mom who would hold that specific bear. Oh, the things that came to mind and the subsequent tears.

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We’d love for you to pray with us for the 48 moms and their families who will have had to say excruciating goodbyes to their baby(ies) the day they receive these bears.

And pray with us amidst the incredible loss and ache that many, many would place their trust in Jesus as a result of His work of comfort in their life? (P.S. If you’d like to know more about the cubs, the CDs or talk more, please comment below and we’ll connect.)

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A bead in the ear

You’d think that was an Aussie colloquialism for something. But…it’s not. Joshua really has a bead in his ear.

He and Lizzy were cleaning up the play area Saturday arvo (afternoon) when (she says) she put the small, plastic craft bead in his right ear. He took it out, then put it back in. And it stuck. Stuck far enough down we couldn’t get to it. Nor could the after-hours doctor nor the ER doctor at the children’s hospital. Even after 3 attempts, including a bit of gas (in hopes he’d calm down enough for her to have one more go), the bead is still there.

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Pray for him? In a few hours, at 11pm (Central time) Thursday, he sees an ear/nose/throat doctor to see if they can get it out. If not, he’ll have to go under general anesthesia and have surgery. 

Thankfully since Saturday, he hasn’t complained of any pain, nor had any temperature spike or hearing loss.

Saturday night’s plans changed with The Bead. We’d planned a date night to see a footy game  with a sweet girl from church to watch the kids. In some ways it worked well to have Caley here to watch Lizzy so both Scott and I could go to the ER with him, since we didn’t know how long we’d be there.

An unexpected gift was my good friend’s–near Aussie sister–offering for us to do a date re-do (sans footy) on Tuesday night. Thank you, Alyssa!

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I never thought I’d have to tell kids this age to not put things up their nose or ears, but…I think I may need to rethink my assumptions of my 3- and 5-year olds.

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The faces of Australia

We celebrated Australia Day with the masses in Dandenong, another suburb of Melbourne, about 15 minutes from us.

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I love that these are the faces that surround us. These are the faces of Australia.

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Are you like me and surprised that Australia’s fabric involves so many countries?

We’d love for you to pray with us for these beloved people, made in the image of God, for relationship with Him, but who–for the most part–haven’t responded to Jesus’ offer of abundant life.

Yet.

What a picture of what Heaven might look like with all of these tribes, tongues and nations represented!

 

From Wagga Wagga to Wollongong

I love the names in this country. Part British. Part Aboriginal. 

And pretty obvious which are which. 

We are headed to Wollongong, about 2 hours south of Sydney, for the conference for all our Cru missionaries in the country. (About 150 of us).

 

We drove 5 hours yesterday from home to Wagga Wagga. I think a new, needed phone app is one that would calculate how long it will take you–in reality–with small children. And where to stop for toilets and wiggles and dinner  when you are navigating a country you haven’t traveled before.  

 

Thank you, Euroa. Your tiny town provided a place for dinner when we thought our only option would be the local–and sad–little IGA. (Yes, just like at home.) 

The town hotel that making more of it’s money from Pokies (gambling) than from overnight guests offered a Thursday night special of Parma and chips (chicken Parmesan and fries, a staple here).

I’m still trying to figure out how Aussies do meals on the road because most cafés and takeaway (takeout) places that pepper towns all close about 3…or 5, at the latest. 

By the number of parks and rest stops and propane BBQs offered as we drive, I’m thinking they really do pack their cars on trips to picnic and cook in the parks way more than Americans. 

So, grateful for God’s grace as I’m still learning how life works here.  

After staying overnight at a Big4 campground in a tiny modular-home-type cabin (like a KOA) in Wagga Wagga, we were off again. 

After a play at the playground. 

 

4 hours more to Wollongong. Or wherever that non-invented app would tell me. 😃

The landscape still surprises me. It’s like I forget how unpopulated Australia is, with the majority of people living in two handfuls of coastal cities–mostly on the east coast.  

Lots of ranch land and sheep and horses. And open space. It’s beautiful.

  

 

We just stopped for a lunch break at Gundagai, a town that seems out of the gold rush days. (A huge part of Australia’s history.) 

A burger with the lot (everything, including fried egg and beet root–sliced beet) a very Aussie lunch.  

  

Pray for us?

  • For us to have receptive hearts to whatever God would say to Scott and me during the 5-day missionary training/refreshment time
  • For 4 college interns who are coming to serve at the conference. There is a great likelihood that some might join the ministry after graduation and our (Angie and 2 others) recruitment team is thrilled and looking forward to lots of face-to-face time with them.
  • For the kids to settle well into the kids’ camp provided. And for new buddies who love Jesus

Pray for Scott on Friday night?

I (Scott) recently heard a statistic that 70% of small to medium businesses don’t recover when a disaster wipes out most of their computer systems and data.  This could be from a lightning strike, power outage, flood, fire, etc.

Being in ministry makes us no different.

So, this Saturday afternoon (which is Friday late night in the U.S.), I’m coming into the office and working on a project to assure our systems can be recovered in case our building suddenly has a power surge or outage.

Our systems are at risk of this at least once a year.

I’ll also be doing some other work on Saturday to increase our network security (gotta keep the bad guys out, right?)

Can you please pray that God’s Hand will be in all of this and the system changes/upgrades go smoothly?

Thanks, friends! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Outreach using a short film :: God’s pursuit of college students

Lat night, Scott and I prepped our backpacks and downloaded the 6-minute film. This morning, the kids and I bought headphones at Big W (Aussie version of WalMart), swung by the office to pick up Scott, then drove the handful of minutes to Monash University*.

Our Cru friend and filmmaker, Chris, produced “The Parting Gift,” a few months ago and today we were hoping to show it to college students to launch into spiritual conversation. (Read about the film in a previous newsletter.)

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Bean bags and iPhones everywhere in the student union today on campus. Can I be a college student now instead?

Scott: I was feeling less anxious than I normally do when doing an outreach. The bubbly 4-year-old holding my hand probably helped.

The only student who allowed me to share the film with him was Bruce, who is already involved with Cru’s international student ministry. Everybody else politely declined saying something like, “It’s not for me” or “No thanks, mate.”

I talked with one of our other missionaries afterward and he seemed to indicate this is typical. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to engage with more students, but grateful for the sobering affirmation of how spiritually hard most hearts are in Australia.

Angie: The 6 of us prayed for our time and broke up into pairs to go talk with students. Scott took Lizzy, I took Joshua and two other Cru friends went together. I was excited but the nervousness kicked in as my 2-year-old buddy, our pram (stroller) and I navigated through the crowded student union.

Coffee for me and babychino (baby coffee…really milk) for Joshua, we sat down in a student-run cafe called WholeFoods (“For the people, not for profit”) that had a fun earthy/grunge feel that can only happen when you have students from all over the world, they way you do here.

A senior from Russia named Vlad sat caddy-corner from us. I’d overheard him talking to someone about a stock market game he was playing on the computer and asked him about that, and started a conversation. The international business/geo-sciences/philosophy major agreed to watch the film and rated his interest in Jesus before the film a 3 on a 10-point scale (10=very interested). When I asked his thoughts afterwards, he said it was good, artistically, but he was still a 3. A nice guy, easy to talk to. We talked a bit more, I thanked him and we left the table.

We headed to leave and join the other teams, but as we passed a table of 3 girls, Joshua must have caught one of the girl’s eyes and she started talking to him. (I tell you, small kids and dogs are great for conversation start ups!)

Good conversation with Sasha and Shaunti, even as they were both a 3 for their interest in Jesus. Their friend, Linda was a 10, though! Turns out Linda is a relatively new believer. I had to smile, thinking this is likely the first time she’s told her secondary-education friends that she is a Christian. She seemed glad to hear about a Christian group on her campus.

I think my favorite part of the film — and the brief discussion afterwards — is God’s never-ending pursuit of us and how evidence of that is the very conversation I was having with those 4 students. Even if their “number” didn’t change, it’s great to know God put Himself on Vlad, Sasha, and Shaunti’s radar today.

P.S. I see how God answered prayer, specifically that our kids would be a blessing and not a distraction to the students we talk to. That happened! A 2-year-old is a potential running-off rocket coupled with potential in the area of meltdown-at-unexpected-times. He sat patiently and I almost couldn’t believe it until I remembered I’d asked people to pray.

Want to try?

*Monash is an incredibly international university and enrolls approximately 45,000 undergraduate and 17,000 graduate students, making it the university with the largest student body in Australia.