August 30, 2011

Clara's Dedication: Words and Images

Sunday, August 21, 2011
10:55 a.m.

“O Teacher Mine, Wisdom Sublime” .........Susan Borwick, Composer-in-Residence
The Chancel Choir; Mary Ann Davis, Soprano
Susan Borwick, piano; Susan Orgain, flute

O little one, in my arm,
O source of delight, simple charm,
O gift from above, wrapped in love,
O teacher mine, wisdom sublime.
Mystery and miracle:
I have learned to be content.
(Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above.*)
O little one, in my arm,
O source of delight, simple charm,
O gift from above, wrapped in love,
O teacher mine, wisdom sublime.
--Susan Borwick, June 2011

*Words (PD) by Robert Robinson, penned at age 22 in the year 1757,
to the traditional American melody NETTLETON (PD).

Clara Mae Hardy
Presented by Robert and Chrissy Hardy, parents

The Introduction and Welcome ..................................................... Adam Davis

[Adam: There are many of you who know and some who do not, but through God’s grace, our prayers, a family’s sleepless nights and 78 days in the NICU and countless surgeries, Clara Mae and her family have come a long way to make it to this dedication.

When talking with Chrissy, explaining the purpose of Child Dedication, Chrissy reassured me of this – she said, Adam, we have given this baby to the Lord more times than we can count. So this morning, we recognize publicly what God has already done in Chrissy and Robert as parents. We recognize the way God has used this church to support and intercede on behalf of Clara Mae and her family - for strength, resolve, faithfulness and yes, for healing.  And I think, we as a church recognize the best of what a family is during times of great joy and deep despair.

Chrissy and Robert have written words about their own commitments that they will now read.

Chrissy:  Clara is a gift from God.  She was knitted in my womb (Psalm 139:13) according to his purpose (Romans 8:28) and we believe that God has planned a bright future for her (Jeremiah 29:11).  Today we formally dedicate her life to the Lord, handing her over to His loving care as we have daily since she was born.  We have experienced the miracle of prayer and healing in her life and want to honor God’s faithfulness to us.  We recognize, perhaps more deeply now than ever before, our dependence on our Creator God for the wisdom, love and blessing we will need to guide and nurture Clara.  As she grows in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:42) we will seek to encourage and support her love and obedience to God.

Robert:  Clara is a gift from God.  We will show her how to love God with all of her heart, soul and strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5) We will teach her about the Lord, both at home and as we go, in the morning and in the evening. (Deuteronomy 6:7) We will train her up in the way of the Lord so that she will not depart as she grows older. (Proverbs 22:6) We thank God for our child. (Psalm 127:3)  Clara, we will love you as God has loved us. (1 John 4:11)  We will encourage you to love others and do good deeds in the name of Christ. (Hebrews 10:24)  We will rejoice with you in times of rejoicing. (Romans 12:15) We will help you through difficult times and carry your burdens. (Galatians 6:1-2) We will pray for you throughout your life. (I Thessalonians 5:17)  You are a blessing from the Lord. (Psalm 127:3)]

The Reading of Scripture: Mark 5:21-24, 35-42..............................Adam Davis

[When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet.  He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him. While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.  He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was.  He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).  Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around. At this they were completely astonished.]

The Litany of Dedication

Adam: In order that Clara may walk in the abundant life of openness and love that Christ offers, do you, Robert and Chrissy, vow by God’s help to provide Clara a Christian home of love and peace, and to raise her in accordance with our Lord’s instruction and discipline? Do you commit yourselves to teach Clara the truths of the Christian faith and through your prayers and lives lead her into a personal faith in God through Jesus Christ? Do you commit to be in partnership with the church to provide Clara a community of Christians that will help you raise her in accordance with our Lord’s instruction and discipline?

Parents: We do.

Ken: Knollwood, every one of us is responsible for Clara. Robert and Chrissy, look around you. You are not alone. These are brothers and sisters in Christ; this is your church. Will you commit to seek God as you live before Clara? Will you commit to continue to pray for Clara—that she will grow to love Jesus and trust in Him? Will you commit to teach her the gospel through both your words and your example? Will you commit to partner with these parents—holding them accountable and encouraging them as they face the joys and trials of parenting?

People: We will.

The Blessing ...................................................................... Kenneth J. Meyers

[including Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!]

The Prayer of Dedication ................................................................. Trey Davis

[Dear God,

We come to you this morning and give thanks for Clara Mae.  We give thanks for those who have provided great care for her thus far.  We give thanks for her tenacious spirit.  We look on her and are grateful not only for her life but also for our own.  She is a reminder of the many ways that you bless us: with children’s laughter, with loving and supportive community, and with the grace of life.

Clara reminds us that you fashioned humankind in your image, and although we may not fully understand that idea, we know that we catch a glimpse of you when we gaze at her.  We pray that we might witness and comprehend the best in Clara—the God in Clara—and that we might be changed for the better having encountered her.

Likewise, we pray that Clara will know the good in us.  We pray that we will help her to grow to love you; to develop a desire to serve others; to strive to improve in body, mind, and spirit.  We pray that we might have wisdom and courage to guide and direct Clara.  We pray that we might be both teachers and students, and that we might sense you in the midst of that learning.

Just as we ask this for Clara, we ask it for all the children in our lives.  We remember that your son loved children, that he drew them close to him and blessed them, even as others interfered.  May we take time to love the children in our lives.  We also remember that we are taught to have faith like a child’s.  May our faith be pure and strong, and may it grow because of all that we meet.

We ask this in the name of your son, who taught us these things through word and example, and whose love we aspire to emulate and reflect.


That's just a few of the stills, but there's a lovely (nine minute) slideshow of all the photos taken by Stephen Ball is on vimeo here:

August 26, 2011

Prayers for Pounds

I hate doing medical updates.  I want desperately to be "normal" and thriving and not still dealing with health concerns.  I think I need to accept that is not the child we've been given right now.

I just got off the phone with Dr. C, the developmental pediatrician who has been helping us with Clara's eating issues.  When I weighed Clara on Tuesday she was only 12 pounds, 12 ounces - a five ounce gain in 20 days (25% of what we would have liked to have seen).  She's been taking 1-2 bottles a day with rice cereal in them for extra calories.  Unfortunately, the rice cereal bottles fill her up so much that then she won't eat again for about five hours. So even though we're getting more calories in that feeding, she's dropped a couple of feedings in exchange.  Not so good.

Our new game plan is stop the rice cereal and instead give her bottles of breast milk fortified with formula so they're still 27 calories per ounce (regular breast milk is 20cal/oz), but hopefully will move through her system quickly so that she'll be willing to pick up a few more feedings a day.  We're also going to add a third bottle daily with this concoction, which means I will have to really pick up pumping again too.  *Sigh*... I thought those days were behind me. 

I think what has me the most scared and worried is that the first thing Dr. C said when she called was, "I really didn't want to put a G-Tube in this baby."  ME NEITHER!!!!!  I know it's not the end of the world and that we've been through worse already, but I really thought that we had turned a corner on the possibility of a g-tube.  It's another hospital admission, re-intubation, another surgery, a semi-permanent port in her belly..... I desperately don't want any of that. 

We've got two weeks on this new game plan.  I'm preparing myself to hunker down again and focus on feeding as much as possible.  It's frustrating because when Clara wants to eat, she eats great.  But if she's not interested, you cannot make a baby decide to suck and swallow.  We'll do another weight check in two weeks and re-evaluate at that point.

We ask humbly, once again, for your prayers.

- Please pray that Clara will tolerate the formula additive to her bottle (she didn't in the hospital) and have no trouble taking it and keeping it down.
- Pray that she will increase her feeds throughout the day and take in more ounces overall.
- Pray that she will gain a lot these next two weeks - a pound would be amazing.  Shoot, half a pound would be okay, probably.  But we need more than a quarter ounce a day for sure...
- Pray that I can pump enough to keep my milk supply going (who would ever have thought that would have been an issue after all the oversupply problems I had initially?)
- Pray that we will have the wisdom to know how to continue advocating for Clara.  I really don't think she needs a g-tube and I'm pretty ready to fight for that right now.  But I want to be careful about not sticking my head in the sand and doing whatever Clara really does need.  Even if it's a g-tube.
-Pray for peace for us.  Since Clara has been home from the hospital I have had some weeks of intense worry and fear and anxiety about her weight gain.  I have had other weeks where I was totally relaxed and hopeful and calm and peaceful.  I know that Clara and I both do better when it's the latter, but I feel myself tightening again into worry and fear.

We remain so grateful for this community (physical and online) who have prayed and are praying so faithfully for our sweet girl.  Thanks for continuing to pray us over every last hurdle.

If love was all it took to make her grow, she'd be gaining a pound a day.

August 25, 2011

On Being Baptist

I could probably write a lot about my feelings on being Baptist.  It has a storied history, full of the baggage that comes from being raised in a religious tradition with a lot of stereotypes and assumptions.  As I always tell people, "I'm not your average Baptist."  But I do identify myself very strongly with this particular denomination.  I've attended several different Baptist churches throughout my life with theologies all over the spectrum.  I went to college on a Baptist scholarship and served one summer in an inner-city Baptist church in New York City that is as progressive and liberal as it gets.  I grew up attending a camp that is owned by Lifeway.  So, I've seen and done it all.  Regardless of the different theologies, one of the things that I particularly resonate with about being Baptist is the idea of a "priesthood of believers." 

Wikipedia defines the priesthood of all believers in part by saying it is, "[one's] doctrinal responsibility or right to preach and expound the Christian faith, and this is appointed to every member of the church."  I have always understood it to have two parts: 1) We all have the individual autonomy, right, and responsibility to interpret scripture for ourselves independent of any other person or organization and 2) Our church can decide how it wants to govern and worship apart from any higher authority or hierarchy.

That may not sound like what you thought Baptists were all about, but it truly is at the core of what it means to be Baptist.  That and a good old fashioned "believer's baptism," meaning that we do not  baptize infants, but wait until a person is old enough and mature enough to understand what it means to accept Christ as Savior and has made a personal decision to follow Him.  Then we do it the way John the Baptist did - immersion (none of this sprinkle stuff for us).

I say all of these not to proselytize or pass any judgment on different traditions or denominations.  I'm kind of one who is inclined to believe there may be many paths to the same end, but this is what works for me and makes sense for me.  The reason I share all of this is that it pertains particularly to the ritual and custom surrounding Clara's dedication on Sunday.  It was not a baptism; no water involved this time.  Instead, it was time for us as a family to commit to raising Clara in the church, pray for her, and try our best to teach her about God and Jesus.  It was also a time for our church to commit to continue praying for her and supporting her and us as she grows up.  Since Baptists aren't a part of a larger organized denominational group, there was no particular script to follow for this service.  And since our local congregation has autonomy, the ministers were gracious enough to allow me to write this portion of the service on Sunday.

When Robert and I got married three years ago, we wrote our own vows and spent a lot of time designing that worship service.  I was more interested in that than I was the flowers or cake.  In the end, it took on great meaning for us and I believe felt like a worship experience for everyone there.  I wanted the same for Clara's dedication and spent a lot of time in scripture (and some consulting with Reverend Google, as well) as I thought and prayed about how to sum up this journey that she's been on.  I was pleased with what we ended up with.

The next post will be Clara's Dedication: Words and Images.  I will include what we spoke with all of you who have loved her so well, with hopes that you will feel a part of the community who committed on Sunday to guide and encourage Clara.  It was truly a blessed day.  Clara stayed awake through the whole thing, just taking it all in.  I think she somehow knew it was something special.  Our "composer-in-residence," Susan Borwick composed a special anthem just for Clara and my mother sang the solo for it.  The congregation also sang the hymns Breathe On Me, Breath of God and Good Shepherd Take This Little Child.  The choir sang For The Fruit of All Creation as the introit and benediction and an organist played Simple Gifts during the offertory.  So, the whole service felt like it was celebrating the goodness of this sweet child. 

Clara, on her dedication day (Photo credit: Stephen Ball)

I belted out the doxology: Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye heavenly host, Praise Father, Son, and Holy GhostAmen. 

Coming soon, Clara's Dedication: Words and Images

78 Days There, 78 Days Here

Today marks the 78th day that Clara has been at home with us.  From here on out, she will have spent more time with us in our home than she did at Brenner Children's Hospital.  And that ratio is just going to keep getting smaller and smaller.  It's incredible to me how far she's come since those early days...

Clara on ECMO, day three of life

Clara, today.  Active, happy, and growing (slowly)...

We will be forever indebted to the incredible staff and facilities of the NICU and PICU at Brenner Children's hospital and are beyond thankful for all they did to ensure that we are here today.  But we're so very grateful that it's becoming a further and more distant memory, day by day.  Praise God for this incredible blessing. 

August 23, 2011

Five Months Old!

Today, Clara is five months old!  I can hardly believe it.  Time is flying by.  We fall more deeply in love with this little girl every day.  Here are some things she's into right now:
  • Toys.  She's so interested in her little animals that vibrate and rattle and especially ones with crinkle paper.  She love to play on her playmat or in her bouncy seat or even in her crib.  She's great about entertaining herself; I guess all that time in the NICU helped make her independent.  She will easily play alone for 30 minutes or more.  (Nice, if Mama wants to eat breakfast or fold a load of laundry.)
  • Mirrors.  This baby really thinks quite a lot of herself.  She will smile at herself in the mirror endlessly.  We agree; she's one cute baby.
  • Her lovies.  I was (*cough*am*cough*) a blankie girl myself, so I love to watch her hold on to her lovies and rub them against her face.  I really hope she'll continue her attachment.  I think lovies rock.
  • Rolling over, tummy to back.  She's mastered that milestone and is delighted she's figured out how to get out of tummy time.
  • Her hands and feet.  Clara has been pretty interested in her hands for quite some time now, but just in the past week has figured out how to hold on to her feet, too.  Next step: feet into mouth.
  • Bathtime.  This girl loves her some time in the water.
  • Naps!  At last!!  She's finally figured out how to nap for more than thirty minutes and this mama is so glad to have a couple of hours in the afternoon to get things done.
  • Her people.  I love love love watching her face light up when she sees people she knows and loves.  When she's woken up in the morning or from a nap and I peer over her crib, her whole face just explodes in joy.  She may not be able to talk yet, but she's saying loud and clear, "HI MOMMY!! I LOVE YOU!!  I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE HERE TO PLAY WITH ME!"  I love you too, Clara.  I get great joy to watch her react that same way to her daddy or Sweet Mama or Big Daddy.  She loves her people.
  • Books.  I've always preached that you should read to children often and early, but it's amazing to watch how at five months old Clara already loves storytime.  We read lots (not surprised, are you?) and she just loves looking at books and hearing my voice.  As both a mother and a literacy educator, I cannot tell you what joy this brings.
  • Music.  We sing a lot.  Thankfully, Sweet Mama is around a lot too and can sing to Clara too, 'cause her voice is much better than mine.  But Clara loves to hear anyone sing and sometimes starts cooing  like she's trying to join in.  Our repertoire?  Jesus Loves Me, Praise Him Praise Him All Ye Little Children, Jesus Loves the Little Children, Breathe on Me Breath of God, Amazing Grace, Kumbaya, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, This Little Light of Mine.  She also loves songs and chants with hand motions: Itsy Bitsy Spider, Pat-A-Cake, etc.  We're a regular preschool around here.
  •  Bearing weight.  She's a long way from standing on her own (thank goodness), but she loves to be on her feet and she will push to be held in that position.  She's so little still that it doesn't look right for her to be able to stand, even with help.  But she's five months old and getting strong!
  • Laughing out loud.  Oh, those giggles.  They. Melt. My. Heart. 
  •  Outside.  I'm so thankful for our screen porch and a good stroller.  Clara loves some outside time.  Must take after her daddy....
  • Being naked.  I know the day is coming when diaper changes will be a pain.  But right now Clara loves her changing table.  Especially if she's just in her birthday suit.
  • Being "thrown" into the air.  Her daddy is loving that she's big enough to start roughhousing.  Again: face lighting up.
What is she not so much into?
- Long car rides ("That car seat makes me hot, Mom!")
- Vitamin D squirts
- Spoon feeding
- The ridiculous hairbows Mom insists on putting on, especially when they fall over her eyes.
-Staying up past bedtime (approximately 7PM).  Hello, meltdown.

We love you, baby girl.  Happy Five Month Birthday!  You are truly a gift from above.

Clara, Five Months Old

Oh, just a little toe-grabbin'

August 21, 2011

Clara's First Rice Cereal

Although Clara has shown none of the "traditional" signs of being ready for solid foods (not satisfied with breast milk alone, doubled birth weight - ha!, opening mouth for spoon, showing interest in grown ups eating, etc.) we were encouraged to go ahead and try to start her off a little early with rice cereal, then veggies and fruits.  The hope is that she'll catch on sooner rather than later and we'll be able to get even more calories in her that way.  The good news is that she's taking some rice cereal mixed with breast milk in a bottle every day.  So she's getting some of it that way.  I can't say we've made much progress towards Open-Close-Swallow with the spoon feeding yet.  Every meal still looks pretty much like this first one....

Fortunately, not every meal ends like this...

August 20, 2011

Clara Goes to the Beach

One of the arbitrary deadlines that I kept thinking about for getting out of the hospital was our beach trip in August.  It was like this carrot dangling ahead of us that I could almost taste and was afraid we might not ever get.  Well, it was all we'd imagined and more.  Clara loves the beach as  much as her mama and Sweet Mama.  Here are some images of our week together. 

The beach is for sleeping...

Passed out on Aunt Trina's shoulder is allllllllll right.

And swimming...

Clara's first steps in the ocean

She loved the water!

Crystal, one of our PICU nurses, came and hung out with us one morning.  So fun!

And reading trashy novels...

Or playing in the sand...

Cousin Caroline and Aunt Jennifer like to play in the sand, too!
Caroline is a serious beach kid
 All while rockin' out some beach hair:

Is there hope?

Might she have curls?!
It's time for family...
With Uncle Trey and Cousin Caroline.  Love the matching outfits this week!

These cousins aren't too sure about each other...

(Pretty hard to get a decent photo with two babies.  And that big one is a moving target!)

So sweet...

Lovin' on Sweet Mama and Big Daddy

And digging the rice cereal bottle from Daddy

And good friends...

Our friends, the Jacksons, were at the beach with us this year.  We used to always go to the beach with them when we were growing up and it was so fun to be back together again in the sun and sand.  Our families are growing and we're thankful to still be in each others lives.

Sarah gets a little snuggle time

And next year there will be one more in this crowd!  Congrats to Kathryn and Mike on Baby Maltarich, coming in February!  We can't wait!!

And time to just relax...

checking out my awesome flip flops!

All good things worth remembering so fondly...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...