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June 26, 2012 – A Prayer for a Decision on Caring for a Child Burn Survivor

June 26, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Please take a moment to pray.

My wife Sue and I have served as a “host family” for children from the third world needing medical treatment in the United States, which is unavailable to them in their homelands.  Because we live in Cincinnati, Ohio where Shriners Burns Hospital is located, the children that come to Cincinnati are predominantly burn survivors.  The goal of such programs is to bring the child here for treatment, and when they are healed, they return to their families in their home countries.

It was never our intention to adopt children at this point in our lives, having raised a family of six adopted children.  But Johnny came at age six months from Bolivia.  When it was time for him to return, his family had disappeared from La Paz.  He stayed while the contact persons in Bolivia continued to search for him.  When he turned three, we gave up hope that Johnny’s family would be found, and so proceeded to adopt him.  In 2006, we again served as a host family for another child.  Joy came to us from China at age four years with severe contractures from burns to her fingers, hands, arms, and legs.  Her circumstances were different in that she had been abandoned in her city, and been under the care of an orphanage.  We fell in love with her, and will finally be able to adopt her later this year.

We have been presented with the possibility of “hosting” another child with burns.  She is a Chinese toddler and has significant disfiguring burns to her face, head, and hands.  The pictures which I have seen of her have been emotionally disturbing.  I find it hard to look at them.  My wife wants to move ahead with this, and I am fearful.  I can come up with logical reasons why we should not do this.  “Her care will take time away from Johnny and Joy.”  “It is the wrong time, when we have the marriage of a good friend (a daughter of our hearts) this Fall.”  The list could go on.

The decision is turning me upside-down.  I am full of guilt for saying “No”, although we haven’t made a final decision.  I look at the decision and think that if her face had not been burned, I would have been more open to the idea of providing care to her.  This is troubling for so many reasons.  Would I deny care to some little one, because she had the misfortune of being burned?  How would I feel, if my medical treatment depended on someone caring for me?  What if physical appearance determined whether medical care would be received?  This would be morally wrong on so many levels, and yet, I am stuck in trying to move from my position of fear.

A Prayer for a Decision on Caring for a Child Burn Survivor

Mother-Father,

I try to walk
In the ways of Jesus.
True charity and compassion
Would respond to this invitation
With a vigorous “Yes”
To accept this child into our care.
Fear and revulsion strangle me.
Will I be able to look at her
Through the eyes of Christ?
Will I be able to see the child within
Beyond that place of scars, skin grafts,
Bandages and pain?
Will I forgive myself if I succumb to fear?
Will I let myself be free to say “No”
Without guilt,
If it is not the best decision for our family?

Is this struggle a gift,
A sin,
A detour along the journey to You?
Am I just one, screwed-up human being,
Who takes things way too seriously?

These are my heartfelt thoughts.
These are my fears laid open.
May Your wisdom and guidance
Fill my soul,
Leading me in all ways.
In Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Peace,

Tom

June 25, 2012 – A Prayer for a Grandson

June 25, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Please take a moment to join in prayer.

We babysat our grandson, Malachi, today.  Our son is a firefighter, and our daughter-in-law an emergency room nurse.  There schedules are nontraditional and at times will overlap.  That is when we get Malachi for a long, long day.  He arrives at 6:30 in the morning and stays until his mom picks him up at 7:30 in the evening.  He is so close to my wife Sue, his Nana.  Having Johnny and Joy is a bit awkward.  We have to enforce are rules at home, which gets in the way of the luxury of spoiling our grandson.  I guess it works out in the long run, so that each child knows that he/she is loved.

A Prayer for a Grandson

Mother-Father,

It was just a typical day,
No major event
To celebrate,
No major activity
To pursue,
Just the presence of our grandson,
Joining us for a day at Nana’s.

Eating cut-up hot dogs
With a toothpick,
And drinking juice
With reckless abandon,
These are the treats
During a visit.

Thank You
For the gift of our grandson.
Help him to grow up
In safety,
With Security
Surrounded by love
From all the members
Of his extended family.

Bless those children
Throughout the world
Who do not experience
A lazy day,
Who worry
Where their next meal will come from.
Whose sleep is interrupted
By the sound of gunfire.
Whose days are not spent idly
In adoration by their grandparents.
Bless these children,
Keep them safe
Free from harm.
Let them grow
With hope for the future.
In Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Peace,

Tom

June 24, 2012 – A Prayer on a Memory of a Cancer Diagnosis

June 24, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Please take a moment to pray.

I reflect back to my hiatus from writing this blog.  I know that I was hurting from the death of my friend and colleague.  I also knew that my wife had just been diagnosed with a reoccurrence of her breast cancer.  It was a troubling time.  After her experience of pain in her chest led her to make an appointment with the oncologist, diagnostic procedures indicated the presence of cancer in two lymph nodes.  The words “Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer” sounded so final and threatening.  It wasn’t what we expected to hear.  The layers of those words must be peeled away, so that an understanding can be reached in as calm a manner as possible.  The words were used because the cancer was a reoccurrence from a previous incidence and had traveled from its original location.  Sue has been treated for over a year and the treatment has been successful.  Her most recent PET-Scan showed no traces of cancer.  Her oncologist has described the cancer as a chronic illness and compared it to diabetes.  It is a condition from which she will never be cured, but she can live with it.  Sue receives two shots  a month which prevent the production of estrogen which feeds the cancer.   We are grateful for her life.

A Prayer on a Memory of a Cancer Diagnosis

Mother-Father,

Memories of the critical events
Of our lives,
Reoccur
And take us back to the climax
Of our individual stories.
We live the story
While the script is being written.
Often, we want to jump ahead,
To find out how this chapter turns out.
Will the hero/heroine survive?
What about the remaining cast of characters?
The stoic husband, the nine- and ten-year old children?
The adult children who still rely on the comfort of their mother?
How will these story lines be written and resolved?
Yet, we must wait
For this tome is written in installments.
Patience is not only demanded,
But enforced.
Is this chapter resolved?
A status quo achieved?
Is it time to turn the page,
And let this vignette
Fade for a time,
Allowing other aspects of life
To emerge.

Peace,

Tom

June 23, 2012 – A Prayer on the Return of Our Daughter

June 23, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Please join in prayer.

Our daughter Joy returned from vacationing with our eldest son and daughter-in-law.  They had been gone a week, but it was one of the few times that she had been separated from us since she arrived from China six years ago.  It was strange not having her with us.  While there was the positive aspect of her brother Johnny not having anyone to engage in sibling rivalry, her gentle nature was missed.

It is amazing that this ten-year old child has become so entwined within our hearts.  We have been trying for five years to get her immigration status resolved since her medical visa expired without being renewed by the agency who brought her to the US for medical treatment of her burns.  The process became unduly complicated because she had been abandoned on the streets of Nanning, and thus had no legal paperwork or identity.  After five years of attorneys working on her case, she was granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status by the US Immigration Department, which enabled her to obtain her permanent residency card.  When we are finally able to adopt her later this year, she will be awarded US citizenship.  This will be a relief.

We have witnessed the heartless treatment of undocumented persons, Dreamers, the children of families who came to the US without a legal status.  Some have been here since infancy and know no other home but America.  They have become a political football to be kicked around to make points for one extremist group or another, without thinking of the consequences for the families and individuals involved.  We are grateful that we have ended that possibilty for Joy, but feel for those who share her situation and haven’t had the resources to obtain a fair alternative to deportation.

A Prayer on the Return of Our Daughter

Mother-Father,

We are grateful
For the return of our daughter
From a brief separation from us.
It has helped us appreciate
How important she is in our lives,
A precious gift,
Unplanned and unanticipated,
Yet so deeply felt within our souls.
Thank you for bringing us to the verge
Of having Joy become a permanent, legal member
Of our family.

We pray that the issue of immigration in America
Comes to a satisfactory resolution
That provides justice for the many
Who dream
Who wait
For the flag
To fly for them, too.
May they have hope
That they will be welcomed
In their new home.
In Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Peace,

Tom

June 22, 2012 – A Prayer as I Return to My Spiritual Journey

June 22, 2012

June 22, 2012

Mother God,

Father God,

It has been so long since I sat at this computer, my prayer space.  I put this down following the death of a friend from cancer.  Then, I got out of the habit of praying in this format.  I made excuses that I wanted the freedom of privacy in my prayer life, as a reason to discontinue the blog.  The ironic thing was that the availability of privacy didn’t increase my prayer life, nor did it increase the subjects about which I prayed.

Time moves on, endlessly, and I find myself one and one-half years removed from my last public prayer.  It has been a time of great transition.  I have retired from my work as a school psychologist after thirty-five years.  I have concluded my first year of being absent from schools, and have found that I have missed the colleagues with whom I worked, and the children that we collectively served.  I haven’t found that “next thing” to enter into as yet.  While I have looked at other jobs, they have not worked out, and I wait on You.

I have witnessed any transitions in these last two years, the death of Sue’s cousin Rosie after a lengthy battle with cancer, the death of my godmother, and the return of my wife’s cancer for a third time.

Spiritually, I have become more introspective about Your place in my life, and Your life within me.  I have valued this last year to inquire, reflect, and make sense of my faith and beliefs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer as I Return to My Spiritual Journey

Father-Mother,
I have returned
From my wandering,
My self-imposed exile,
From Your side.
I want to take on the mind of Jesus,
To have His spirit move within me.
I open my heart to Your will,
To guide me in all of my actions.
Let the new day
Open my eyes
To the wonder of Your creation,
The world family,
And the never ending search for peace.

Peace,

Tom

A Prayer on the Death of a Friend from Cancer – December 18, 2010

December 20, 2010
Dear Family and Friends,
 
Please take a moment to pray with us.
 
Father-Mother,
 
It has been a long time since I have sat down at this computer and tried to write down my thoughts in a prayer to You.  There are a variety of reasons which blocked my way, but the main reason is the breaking of a routine, and the effort it takes to re-establish the habit. That being said, let me begin agin my conversation with You.
 
My friend and colleague, Julie, has died.  She had battled pancreatic cancer for 16 months.  On November 10th, she and her family received the results from a scan which had shown that tumors had spread to her abdomen.  Julie’s family told her that it was OK to stop the chemotherapy treatments which had made her so sick, and to live out with them whatever time she had left in life.  The disease progressed quickly, and Julie passed away on December 3rd. 
 
She lived what many would think was an “ordinary” life.  She married, had two children, taught special education students in a local school district.  It wasn’t a life that garners much attention from the world.  She remained unknown to the masses of people.  Her name would never be mentioned in a newspaper or on the television.  But to say that she was unknown would be incorrect.  To live with her, share a workplace with her, worship with her, were all ways in which she became know, admired, and above all cherished. 
 
Julie was a person who never let a day go by without a smile corossing her face, or laughter leaving her mouth.  She possessed that magic that is often seen in special people signified by a special twinkle in their eyes.  She connected with people and left them feeling respected and loved.
 
I will miss her dearly.
 
A Prayer on the Death of a Friend from Cancer
 
Father-Mother,
I thank You
for the gift of Julie
In our lives.
We have surrendered her
back to You.
Welcome her warmly
With as much tenderness
As she showed
All who met her.
Bless her family
Left behind.
Wife, mother, friend,
Now forever absent
Leaving an unfillable hole
Beyond human capacity.
Yet, may Your Divinity
Surround each with
Your perfect Love,
To heal, comfort, sustain
And embrace.
In Jesus’ name. 
 
Peace,
 
Tom
 
 
 

A Prayer on a Visit to a Monastery – November 18, 2010

November 18, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

Please take a moment to pray with us.

Father-Mother,

I spent the weekend on a retreat at a monastery in Kentucky.  It was in a rural area, and after leaving the outskirts of Lexington, Kentucky, the rolling hills and disappearance of subdivisions made me feel the separation from the urban area of my home.  It began the process of “retreat”. 

It is good to take time to “stop” and see where you are in life, instead of continuing to repeat the same unsatisfying actions day after day.  It allows one to examine the curent state of things, and decide how to change and what to change to promote a fuller, happier, and more spiritual life.

I was grateful for Sue and the children, for giving me this chance to look, review, and refocus my life.

A Prayer on a Visit to a Monastery

Father-Mother,
I have been filled
with a desire to change,
With hope
That I can make a change,
And gratitude
For the potential of Becoming
A better husband and father.
The hills of Gethsemani,
Crowned by statues,
stood as they have
for a hundred years,
sentinels of all that
passed in front of them
on a lonely country road.
They also afforded
the restless soul a place
from which to view
The tree-filled horizon,
and listen for the Divine whisper
In the wind that blew.
The rhythm of the “Hours”
began to sink into my soul,
the chants of monks
echo in my memory.
The sound of silence
Surrounded most,
Offering quiet
within which one could listen.
Bless this treasured time,
The dreams that emerged from it,
And the monks that provided
the oasis
in which lives are turned.
In Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Peace,

Tom

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