I was reading Rhoda's blog for decorating tips yesterday, and followed a link to the blog of one of her commenters and I became curious about a badge I saw in her sidebar.....it said "Praying for Jonah". (See sidebar to the right) Funny how a little click can open up a whole new world unfolding nearby or far away of which you are completely unaware. I spent the next few hours reading the "Williams Family Blog", and weeping, and praying.
I'll summarize: Patrice and Matt are young twenty-somethings in NC, probably married a couple of years. Patrice started the blog (about a year ago) about a month before their first baby, a boy named Gabe, was due. And then almost immediately after the blog begins, Gabe died in utero, and had to be delivered stillborn. The doctors were unable to determine any specific cause of death. Patrice faithfully records her and Matt's grief, with pure and honest references to their faith. She shares their sorrow and their joy, and chronicles time with their families, including the handfuls of toddling nieces and nephews they enjoy at every event. In no time, (for the reader anyway), Patrice discovers she is again pregnant, and the long months of anxious waiting begin. All check-ups are reassuring of the new baby's health, but naturally Patrice experiences a great deal of anxiety - like any new mother, but amplified by the raw emotion of Gabe's all-too-recent demise. Finally, the waiting is over, and the doctors induce Patrice's labor at 37 weeks . All goes as planned, and Jonah finally makes his triumphant entrance into the world.....and into the lives of countless hundreds, even thousands in the blog world. Patrice and Matt are immediately faced with the nightmare of health problems for their little one, as it is obvious that Jonah has a serious skin condition, he has blisters, and in some areas, his skin has sloughed off. He was only just born this 2/27/09, and spent the first 5 weeks in NICU at a children's hospital. His diagnosis is EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa), which is a connective tissue disorder which causes the skin layers to be inadequately adhered to one another, rendering the skin impossibly delicate. It also affects the GI tract, creating blisters in the mouth and throat just by the normal sucking forces of natural breast or bottle feeding. The fragility of the skin and oral mucosa represents a breach in the body's natural barrier against infection, these babies are constantly at risk.....I'm not sure what Jonah's prognosis is, but it's clear that the degree of severity in these cases varies widely, and apparently Jonah's case is on the more severe end of the spectrum. Jonah has rallied like a champ, and Patrice and Matt have their hands full, learning how to bathe, feed, and handle him. He truly requires "kid" gloves, and cannot be firmly snuggled, swaddled, or even conventionally diapered.
Reading about their battle is wrenching and exhausting, but compelling. There are people all over the world on their knees, praying for this little guy and their young parents. How can I help it, I am now one of them.....but I am so aware of my own limitations, even as I pray for Jonah, I am aware of how much more motivated I am because of the blog, with pictures and detailed descriptions. If somebody had said to me, "Oh, by the way, pray for a baby with a serious disease", I would likely pray once and barely remember it the next day. But to have become invested emotionally in the life of a stranger, I have required Patrice's skillful blogging, plenty of baby pics, and the eloquent blog posts of others, and the community feeling of a "movement". In the back of my mind, I know there are thousands of babies in children's hospitals, NICUs, and even at home, facing similar challenges, some harder, some easier, all of whom merit our love and prayer...it makes me glad there is a God, because he does keep track of them all, cares about all of them, and is not limited by our human worries, fatigue, lack of imagination, selfishness. Which brings me to why I'm writing. Jonah may be just one baby in thousands who need our prayers, but he's the one I "know". I think it is good for me to weep and pray and wait. Isn't that what Jesus asked the disciples to do in the garden of Gethsemane? And aren't I just like any one of them, sleeping on the job? And aren't I like Peter, denying him three times, before the cock crew?
You see, I started this blog timidly, keeping it light and superficial....yes, domestic cares and considerations are important to me, but I have not share the reason why---I have kept my proverbial light under a proverbial bushel! I am a Christian, a child of the one true and living God, and my very existence should proclaim his Sovereignty, over my life, my family, my household, and that includes what I post in my blog. I belong to the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America), specifically Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Kennebunk, Maine. I intend to blog more about that in the future, and include more topics on service projects within the church. In the meantime, give up some knee-time for Patrice and Matt and Jonah, if you are a believing and praying person, and if you aren't, spend some time reflecting on why you aren't. If you have questions on what it means to be a Christian, and the power we wield with our prayers, leave me a comment, pick up a Bible, follow that spirit of inquiry. If I know about you, I'll pray for you. I pray to hear from you...........