Tuesday, December 21, 2010
"One of the burdens of a minister’s heart is to bring his people to a place of thinking about the theology of what they are singing, and to sing them with a mind and heart, filled with grace, to the Lord. In 2004, Derek Thomas and Ligon Duncan gave several lectures on various, well-known Christmas hymns, at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS. These lectures are quite unique, in that they give the cultural, historical and theological backgrounds of both the hymn, hymn writer and composer of the tune to which the lyrics were set. These should be required in seminary for men preparing for the ministry."
Friday, December 17, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The following is an e-mail that was sent out to family and friends by my dear friend, Amy, and her husband. I wanted to share their story (with their permission) because their experience has reaffirmed to me the hope, joy and peace that believers can experience in the midst of tragedy. It has also encouraged me to so steep my daily life in the means of grace - reading Scripture, prayer, communing with other believers, etc. - that when trials come, I'll be upheld by the truths that I already know.
The Dunlap family have conducted themselves with tremendous grace and trust through the loss of their daughter, Kathryn, and while their trust in the Lord has inspired me to an extent far greater than they will ever know, their example does not surprise me. Their pain and suffering are very real, but they maintain hope in the promises of God that "all things work for good" (Rom. 8:28) and they can confidently say of their Lord, "Because you are my help, I can sing in the shadow of your wing" Psalm 63:7.
I know most of you have heard our story from various people by now, but I wanted to fill in some of the details and give you some of my perspective on the whole thing. Let me start by saying that the Lord is good! Though He allows us to go through very hard things, He does it so gently and shows us His grace along the way (thank you, Gail Schoellkopf, for that reminder).
I found out at 15 weeks that we had a twin pregnancy, where one twin developed into a perfectly healthy baby and one developed into a molar pregnancy. This “mole” is essentially a mass of abnormal placental tissue. Molar pregnancies are fairly common, but the chance of a young couple having one with a coexisting twin is literally one in one million. The doctor who did the sonogram (Dr. Rinehart) sent me home and warned me that it could cause major hemorrhage or brought on by . At this point, there was still a chance that the growth of the mole could slow down and preeclampsia could not set in, allowing us to make it to the healthy baby’s viability.
Within the next week, my ankles grew to the size they might have looked had I been 9 months pregnant, so I started monitoring my blood pressure. When it got up to 152/102 last Saturday night, the doctor on call sent me to the emergency room. I drove myself with a toothbrush and a pair of pajamas thinking I would maybe stay one night and everything would be fine. Blood work the next morning revealed that my liver function was abnormal and my body was not keeping up with my blood loss. I saw two doctors on call who both recommended that I terminate the because there was no way I could get better and would continue to get more sick.
Craig and I just could not do this. We valued our baby’s life and could not think of ending it based on the assumption that the mole would keep growing and I would get more sick. We believed the Lord could still perform a miracle and reverse what seemed to be happening. , we finally got to see my doctor (Dr. Ann Lutich). We learned that she was Catholic and very pro-life and valued our baby’s life as much as we did. She sent us for an and sonogram (where we found out that we had a perfectly healthy little girl) and thought we should wait a little longer to see how things unfolded. I cannot tell you what relief the Lord brought to us in showing that we could trust my doctor because her beliefs were in line with ours. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday my blood work looked better! We thought things were turning around and began preparing to get comfy in the hospital for at least 7 weeks until she could survive if we delivered.
After reviewing my blood work , my doctor came in to say that things had dramatically changed. Those three extra days when things seemed to be getting better gave Craig and me some time to feel a real peace, even joy, in trusting what the Lord would do. We felt ready for the news when it came Thursday morning. It was now clear that severe preeclampsia had set in and we were putting my life at risk (my death, of course, would mean that our baby would not survive either). My liver function was even more elevated and I was having pains that could have indicated I was on my way to liver rupture. My hormone levels had increased so much that my doctor knew the mole was growing very rapidly. We found out later that my kidneys were starting to be affected and there was fluid on my lungs. I still the chance of hemorrhage, seizure, or stroke. She said that we were not going to terminate the pregnancy, but we had to do a C-Section to remove the mole that was taking over my body. We knew that a baby had never survived this type of surgery before but also knew that the Lord could do anything!
I have to say that I was very scared as I headed in for surgery that morning. There was a great chance of hemorrhage and hysterectomy and Craig and I have always dreamed of a big family. The surgery went very well in that they were able to completely remove the mole and not do a hysterectomy but our little girl did not survive. I had trouble breathing after the surgery, so they put me back on the ventilator and kept me in ICU until .
, we got to spend some time seeing and holding our daughter, Kathryn Diane Dunlap. She was only 7 inches and 4 ounces but looked so fully and perfectly formed. Our pastor was there to pray during this wonderful time. I thought that 20 weeks was the mark when you got to see, name, and bury your child and I plead with the Lord to let me make it to that point. Though I was only 17 weeks and 3 days, we got to do all of this. The hospital even gave us a box with the blanket she was wrapped in, her wristband, footprints, and a picture of her. She is named after Kathryn Livesay Bruce, whom the Lord used to draw me into a relationship with Him in my college Bible Study. Diane is my mom’s name, Kady’s middle name, and the name of Craig’s aunt who passed away and whose diamonds I wear in my wedding rings. We have every reason to believe that Kathryn went to be with the Lord and that we will see her again in glory (Psalm 139:13-16, Luke 1:44, 2 Samuel , 1 Corinthians ).
I am home from the hospital but my blood pressure has still not come down so I’ve been trying to take it as easy as possible. This is just fine with me as I try to recover from a C-Section! Everyone with a molar pregnancy has a long road ahead of them, as there is a 50% chance of cancer. We are waiting for the biopsy and will monitor my hormone levels very closely to decide if we need to do a low dose of oral chemotherapy. We cannot try to get pregnant again for at least a year.
This has been a long sad week for our family, but we have felt inexplicable joy and peace as well. God revealed His presence to us clearly along the way. We are so thankful for the visits, calls, texts, and emails. Each one has taken a little of our burden and made our load lighter. Thank you for the physical ways you have served us and will serve us over the next few weeks- food, time with the boys, and work around our house. We were not completely settled from our move just three weeks ago, so all that everyone did to help us get settled and decorate for Christmas made me really look forward to returning home. This could have been a very sad time, as it made things feel so final. Craig and I are glad to talk about what happened so please do not hesitate to bring it up. We are also fine with you forwarding this to others who have asked about us.
Thank you again,