Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Blessings

About one year ago, our 3rd child was born. I've had a few people who read this blog ask for an update. His name is Gideon and he was born with spina bifida. The short version is that he's doing better than we ever could have hoped. We've been truly blessed.

He underwent surgery shortly after he was born to close up his back. Spina bifida literally means open spine. There was a little bubble on his back, just above his bum, where a bit of his spinal cord had poked out of the protective surrounding of the spine. The expert doctors closed up his back and put the spinal cord back in place.

As you might imagine, having your spinal cord outside your body isn't the safest place. Lots of kids with spina bifida have trouble related to a damaged spinal cord. Gideon is no exception. He can't move his feet, though he does have some degree of feeling in them. He can move his knees and hips and that is a remarkable blessing.

Gideon had to have a shunt placed in his head. The shunt is a small tube (spaghetti-sized) that runs from the center of his brain, out the top of his head, and then under the skin down his body and then back into his abdomen. This relieves the pressure of fluid buildup that is also common in kids with spina bifida. He can expect to have that tube, or a similar one for the rest of his life. Once he finally gets some hair, you shouldn't be able to notice that it is there.

He has physical therapists that come to our home once a week to work with him on basic baby mobility skills. In the past week he's actually been able to crawl! It is a little later than most kids crawl, but for Gideon it represents a significant achievement.

He has little feet and ankle braces that he can wear that will help him as he learns to stand. It looks like he'll probably be able to walk, at least while he is young. As kids with spinal cord injuries grow, it is hard to know what the future will hold since it isn't uncommon for the spinal cord to snag on scar tissue as they grow and become further damaged.

We continue to pray for his well being and future success. However, the most common comment we hear from people is about what a good natured baby he is. We can't argue. He is a little gem. His older brother (4) and sister (2) are wonderful to him and are growing up far faster than I ever could have imagined.

At Christmastime, especially as we celebrate the first birthday of our own son, we are so grateful for the many blessings that the Lord has so generously bestowed on us, the greatest of which is the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Church shootings

I'm sure everyone has heard about the shootings at the Youth with a Mission missionary training center in Arvada, CO, and the New Life Church shootings in Colorado Springs, CO, just 12 hours later. I'm relieved that the shooter (for it seems to have been the same person in both events) was stopped, and kudos to Jeanne Assam, the volunteer security guard who stopped him.

My sister's ward building is very close to the New Life Church, and halfway through church on Sunday she noticed men from the ward standing "guard" in the halls and at the doors. She didn't understand until the trickle of information got to her during the third hour. As we were talking, and discussing how Jeanne Assam was a volunteer security guard--not unlike the brethren at her church, I said. She responded, "But they didn't have guns--or did they?"

I don't know the answer to that. I do know that if I had a concealed carry permit, and was asked to keep an eye on the building after an incident like yesterday's, I would have dashed home or to the car to get my (hypothetical) gun. But would that have been "okay"? What are the rules about guns, concealed or otherwise, in the ward buildings? Does it change depending on city/state rules? Or is there a rule in the Handbook? Anyone know?

NPR's "Talk of the Nation" on Mormon Beliefs

Since Mitt Romney has demurred on providing details about the beliefs and practices of the Mormon church, NPR's Talk of the Nation program stepped up to the plate. Reporter Howard Berkes (a non-Mormon based in Salt Lake City) did a pretty good job answering questions from callers about the church and its doctrines.

Questions included garments, having our own planets, the status of America in the faith, non-Mormon exclusion from temple weddings, the status of blacks, and more.

Berkes pointed people directly to the official church website for clarification on doctrinal matters and mentioned the "Mormon blogs" in addressing host Neal Conan's question about whether Mormon's welcomed this sort of scrutiny of their faith. The piece was about 16.5 minutes long.

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