ARDEN UPDATE #4: Seattle Countdown

Arden, Avery, and Alli have been keeping busy doing fun things while the days tick off. In Anchorage, they took a trip to the library to check out lots of books to read when they return, followed by an afternoon in the park. Then a little bit of shopping, so Arden could pick out a nightie that will be “Spica cast friendly.” Somewhere in there, hamburgers—Arden’s fav!

Yesterday the three of them arrived in Seattle. The Seattle Children’s Hospital shuttle picked them up at the airport and drove them to the hotel, where they are settling in.

Pre-op was today (Wednesday) at 4:10pm/PT. Surgery tomorrow at 6:30am/PT.

We’ll have around 7hrs of waiting while Arden is in surgery and recovery.

We all have mixed feelings as the surgery approaches. The same old wishing we would wake up and find out this was all a bad dream and at the same time overwhelming gratitude for Dr. Blumberg, Seattle Children’s Hospital, an army of family and friends who are praying, and so many who have contributed generously to Arden’s GoFundMe.

I am reminded of what my grandfather used to say, “The Lord has his arms around us.” That is the story of our lives, and we are hopeful.

Reminder: Don’t forget Arden’s GoFundMe! She’s begun the long road to recovery from severe hip dysplasia. From what we’ve seen so far, we’re convinced she’ll go the distance.

Help us go the distance to our GoFundMe goal!

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ARDEN UPDATE #3: Anchorage Send-off!

Before traveling to Seattle, Arden wanted to take pizza to her class on her last day at school. Good thing her mom is a manager at Papa John’s. Little sister Avery got to take pizza to her class too. 

Arden is wonderfully oblivious to the seriousness of her impending surgery. She knows the doctor is going to fix her leg and that she will wear a cast. She doesn’t have categories for what that all means. Which is just as well. Frank and I FaceTimed with them today. Arden and Avery were chatting, singing, and flitting around the room with butterfly wings on their arms. 

Oh the innocence of childhood! 

Arden, her mom, and Avery leave Anchorage for Seattle on Tuesday. They’re planning a last minute outing to the Seattle aquarium. Pre-op is Wednesday when both Tata (Hilda Rodriguez their other grandmother) and I will join them. Their Daddy, Tony, will be right there for his girls. Surgery is Thursday. 

We’re grateful that our GoFundMe campaign has reached the half-way mark and then some. Notes from donors have been so encouraging. This is the big week, and we are standin’ in the need of prayer. 

Reminder: Don’t forget Arden’s GoFundMe! She’s begun the long road to recovery from severe hip dysplasia. From what we’ve seen so far, we’re convinced she’ll go the distance.

Help us go the distance to our GoFundMe goal!

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ARDEN UPDATE #2: Under the Mercy

Five years ago today, I was wheeled into the operating room at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. The pulmonologist who diagnosed me with Stage 1 lung cancer said it was a mercy they caught it so early—doubly so since I never had any symptoms.

Like happened to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose Stage 1 lung cancer was discovered during X-rays for a fractured rib, my cancer was “accidentally” discovered when doctors were checking for something else.

Every day I am profoundly mindful of God’s mercy to me.

Next Thursday, April 18, the little girl who turned Frank and me into grandparents will be wheeled into the operating room at Seattle Children’s Hospital. I must admit I dread that moment. But Arden is under God’s mercy too. A severe problem that remained hidden inside her little body for her first four years (still could be hidden) was mercifully caught in time for surgeons to do something to correct it.

Reconstructive surgery will take place at Seattle Children’s Hospital, one of the world’s most advanced children’s hospitals. Her surgeon, Dr. Todd Blumberg, was trained at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (CHOP), by Wudbhav N. Sankar, MD, CHOP’s specialist in orthopedic surgery for hip dysplasia.

The road ahead won’t be easy for our little one. Anyone who has ever loved a child will know this is exactly the kind of journey you’d do anything to prevent. Thankfully Arden’s journey is already bathed in mercy. We keep reminding ourselves of that. Only think of children with hip dysplasia who don’t have access this kind of help.

When we were first blindsided by Arden’s diagnosis and her medical crisis lurched into full gear, a close friend sent us this timely reminder—by Anglican Bishop Steven Charleston of the Choctaw Nation from his book, Hope as Old as Fire:

In heaven on high, a hand unseen turns a page, and your life changes. How much of life is spent changing? Waiting for a change, surprised by change, riding change like white water through an uncertain canyon. . . . In all things know change for what it is: your teacher. Do not be afraid for the Changeless One never turns a page without a purpose.

Friends and family who are praying us through this ordeal are part of the mercy. As one friend said, “You have a whole army of people praying for Arden.” Mercy is also showing up in those who are contributing to Arden’s GoFundMe which is almost at the half-way mark.

Reminder: Don’t forget Arden’s GoFundMe! She’s begun the long road to recovery from severe hip dysplasia. From what we’ve seen so far, we’re convinced she’ll go the distance.

Help us go the distance to our GoFundMe goal!

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ARDEN UPDATE #1: The Mother of all “Time Outs”

The mother of all “time outs” is only a week away.

After her April 18 hip dysplasia surgery, four-year-old Arden faces 11 weeks in a body cast. That’s a long time for a very active four-year-old to be sidelined.

But Arden isn’t the only one who will feel the slow passage of time.

Those 11 weeks will feel interminable to three-year-old Avery. Her little world will tilt off its axis when her bestie won’t be able to play with her.

They have their moments, but the two of them are inseparable.

This won’t be a “time out” for their mommy. Instead it will be a time for Allison to ramp up in new ways to love her little ones through this tough time. She is working on all the numerous details, booking flights, and packing bags.

Many thanks to friends and family who are tracking with us, praying, and contributing to this campaign. We’re a third of the way to our goal and encouraged by the response.

Help us spread the word so others will help too.

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Better Questions—Re Women in Ministry

It has been happening for a while now. Invitations to speak at churches, conferences, colleges, seminaries, and on podcasts aren’t just coming from women who are interested in engaging a more expansive discussion about God’s calling on his daughters. Invitations are increasingly coming from men—mostly (but not always) younger men—who are uncomfortable with the expectation that women and girls will hold back. They want to talk about it.

They are pastors, professors, and podcasters who have enormous respect for their female colleagues, husbands who recognize and value the gifts, experience, and potential of their wives, and dads who can’t bear the thought of restraining their daughters when they see the strengths, treasure, and promise emerging that God has placed inside them.

These men are asking bigger and better questions.

They’re fearlessly venturing into uncharted territory for the sake of the gospel and for the women and girls in their lives and (no less important) for their own sakes. In colleges, seminaries, and churches men are asking for a better conversation about women and about relationships between men and women. This better conversation is happening.

The Better Questions Podcast (above) that I did with pastors Chris Nelson, Dan Drake, and author/podcaster Andrew Drake is a perfect example. It was refreshing and hopeful to interact with these men.

I hope you’ll enjoy the conversation as much as I did!

Reminder: Don’t forget Arden’s GoFundMe campaign. My 4-yr-old grand-ezer is scheduled for major surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital on April 18 to correct severe hip dysplasia. We’re already 1/3 of the way to our goal!

Help us finish the job!

Correction: Arden’s surgery is April 18. The original version of this post said March.

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Our Little Ezer’s Big Battle

In late March, our Arden (Allison’s 4 1/2 year old) was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia. She only complained recently that her leg was hurting, so you can only imagine the shock this diagnosis was for us.

X-rays revealed her femur is completely out of her hip socket. “How she has managed to be so energetic and active all this time?” is the question we’re all asking. The pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Anchorage who diagnosed her remarked with amazement, “Arden is one tough little kid!”

He referred Arden’s case to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Todd Blumberg at Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH). After that, things began moving quickly. Arden has already had a consultation with Dr. Blumberg that underscored the seriousness of her case.

Surgery to reconstruct and restore the normal functioning of her hip and leg is scheduled for Thursday, April 18. She’ll be in a Spica (body) cast for 11 weeks and then rehab to learn to walk again.

I’ll be going to Seattle via Grand Rapids, where I’m speaking at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary’s final Talking Points Conference. So I’ll be there to support and help out during and after Arden’s surgery and later in Anchorage.

Obviously, Arden’s diagnosis has been devastating to our family. It is impossible for us to think of anything else but her. We are concerned for our little ezer and the battle she faces and want to do whatever we can to help Arden and her family get through this.

We’ve launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover airfare for multiple trips between Anchorage and Seattle and for household expenses when Allison takes an unpaid leave from work to care for Arden. I’ve written more about Arden’s situation on our GoFundMe page: “Arden is one tough little kid.”

In the meantime, thankfully Arden is not in pain. She’s carrying on and doing all the normal fun things little girls her age do. The grown-ups in her family are the ones who are feeling anxious (and that is an understatement).

Our comfort and hope are in knowing Arden is in the Lord’s hands and always has been. But we’re under no illusion that this battle will be easy. Already we’ve been blessed by extended family and lots of friends who are praying and under the burden with us. And we hope others will join them.

I’ll be posting updates here and at GoFundMe as the battle progresses. Please pray for Arden, support her GoFundMe if you can, and help me spread the word to others!

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Raising Little Ezers

The podcast entitled “Upending the Patriarchy“—a subject I take up in Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World—turned into a discussion about dads and daughters. For Seth Price, host of the Can I say this at church? podcast, questions about patriarchy aren’t academic. He’s raising little ezers and wants to be the best dad he can be.

That’s what we ended up discussing.

I loved his honesty, his questions, and his heart. How do we cultivate and steward the treasure God has invested in his daughters from day 1 of their stories? Is a man’s power diminished if he empowers his wife, his daughters, and the other women in his life? Do men and boys have something to lose when women and girls thrive? Are we teetering perilously on the delicate brink of what many believe is a God-ordained social system where men are the leaders and women the followers or are we on the threshold of something better?

You can listen to the podcast here.

NOTE: The books for little ezers (ages 4-7) that Seth references at the end is the beautifully illustrated Called and Courageous book series for girls that focuses on stories of women in the Bible.

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