Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Refining Fire of a Trial

"Do you ever feel like we don't ever go through difficult trials?" These words came from my lips as my wife and I drove to work one day recently. Well, in Suzie's premature birth God in His infinite wisdom has decided to put us through the refining fire of a trial. The following are a few lessons from Scripture that have been learned or reinforced in walking through this trial with our Lord.

  • God does not promise a comfortable and smooth life on earth. He does however promise eternal life with Him for those who are willing to forsake their sin and turn to Christ in faith. John 11:25, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies..."
  • Our faith is not based on life's circumstances, but on God's character. This includes:
    • His Wisdom - Psalm 139:4, "Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, you know it all.
    • His Love - Psalm 139:8, "The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness."
    • His Sovereignty - Eph 1:11,"...who works all things after the counsel of His will..."
  • Our assurance of salvation has increased. God has presented us with a test, a trial. How authentic is our faith in Him? Are we willing to deny ourselves and follow Him no matter what happens? Many people stopped following Jesus when they realized the sacrifice it was to be a true believer. He then turned to His 12 disciples and asked, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" Peter responded by saying, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life." We echo the statement made by Peter. God is our rock, our refuge, our strength. He is our heavenly Father. God has mercifully forgiven us of our sins by the blood of His precious Son. We will escape the peril of God's judgment in hell. How could we ever turn aside? What about you? Have you committed your life to Christ? Are your sins forgiven?
  • Joy and courage are expressed in spite of sorrow and fear, not instead of. We are human and have normal expressions of emotion towards our beloved Suzie. But because of our eternal hope in Christ, the Spirit gives us joy and courage in God.
  • God is able to answer our prayers either "yes" or "no." How many parents out there have ever said no to a request made by their child? Of course you have. Many people mistakenly believe that if someone isn't healed after prayer, then God didn't listen to that prayer. On the contrary, He heard the prayer but simply in His wisdom said no.
  • God works in His providence. Providence can be described as God's special working in the lives of believers. There is no such thing as a mere circumstance. We have seen God's "invisible hand" at work numerous times with this situation. For instance, before Suzie was born, Steph noticed that the baby wasn't moving much. The day before Suzie's birth, Steph decided to not call the doctor, thinking that we were concerned about nothing. Well, the doctor's office actually called her to let her know that a previous test had come in, and when Steph mentioned the baby not moving, they had her come in to monitor Suzie. Rom 8:28, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
  • We are loved. We are so grateful for all of the family and friends who have been comforting and encouraging us during this time. There have been many visits, phone calls, words of encouragement, exhortation of Scripture, financial gifts, food and meals, and more graciously given to us. Thank you so much!
Stay tuned, and keep praying!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday, July 30

Thank you for not only enduring the many emails that we send out each week, but also for taking the time to encourage us in so many ways and ask how our little girl is doing so frequently. It is such an encouragement to know how many of you are not only praying for us but sharing our requests with your loved ones who then begin to pray for us even though they do not know us! What an amazing entity the body of Christ is. All glory to Him! Who would not want to be a part of such a loving community of believers?

Little Suzie is doing better respiratory wise. Her oxygen level has gone down close to normal, but this can go up and down regularly. Because her PDA was so small they were able to start feeding her a tiny bit of breast milk, which she has been able to tolerate so far. Our prayer is that she will continue to process the milk so that they can continue to increase the amount that they can give her. Our main concern for the time being has come back to the issues in her brain. While the bleeding in the brain tissue has not changed, they noticed that there is some slight swelling in the ventricles of her brain. They will continue to monitor her with weekly sonograms and if the swelling continues they will need to find some way to drain the fluid from the ventricles.

Please join us in asking our gracious Father to heal Suzie's brain if it would bring Him glory to do so and to continue to sustain us both in whatever path He leads us down. Pray for us to grow in trusting Him and desire His will above any other earthly desires we may have. We know that God loves Suzie infinitely more than we do, because she was "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps 139:14) by Him. We know that He loves us infinitely, because "He did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over" (Rom 8:32) to die for our sins.

Thank you for also praying for our friends Patrick and Holly Briscoe as their baby was delivered at 28 weeks as well. Their baby Addison is doing remarkably well! We rejoice with them that little Addison is stable and pray for her continued progress and that Patrick and Holly would trust in Him as they experience some of the ups and downs that we are currently seeing with our baby girl.

We attached another picture of little Suzie with her mask off and eyes open. Thank you again for your love and support!

In Christ,

Kyle and Steph

Psalm 31:24, "Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday, July 28

Hello Friends and Family,

Well, as warned by everyone, this certainly has been one emotional roller coaster! Suzie was doing very well when they gave her the first dose to treat her PDA, but then she began to have trouble with her urine output. They were unable to give her the second dose of medication 12 hours later and instead gave her some medicine to help treat her urine output. After another 12 hours, they administered the second dose of medication for her PDA and were able to give her the third dose after another 12 hours. We found out this evening that the medicine did help as her PDA is now very tiny. Praise God! The nurse thinks that they probably will not treat it any further at this time, but rather will watch to see if the small hole closes on it's own. She said we could find out for sure what the next course of action is from the doctor tomorrow.

The past few days, they have had to increase the percent of oxygen that they administer to our little girl. She had been on 21% for several days, which is the same percent that you and I breathe in normal room air. We had been so encouraged by her ability to remain on 21% for several days. But three days ago they increased her to 27%, and yesterday to 36%, and today to 45%. The doctor told us that this is very common to see in preemies because their lungs are so underdeveloped. But it is still so disheartening for us as parents to see. The good thing is that her jaundice has gotten much better and she is now able to have the mask and lights off of her. So we get to see her face a lot more.

It has been a difficult few days for us as Kyle has had a cold and has been unable to go into see Suzie at all. I really miss having him go in to see her with me, but I'm so thankful for his caution and wisdom in protecting our baby girl. I think that with each day that goes by, it gets harder and harder for me to be separated from my precious daughter. I want so much to hold her and have her close to me at all times, and yet I know that she is getting the best care right now from the wonderful doctors and nurses at Huntington Hospital. This is a huge time for me to learn to lean on the Lord and trust Him in the midst of raging emotions that tempt me to be discouraged. God's character is both infinitely wise and loving, and so He can be trusted.

We attached a little video of our girl for you to see! She had a very sleepy day today so we didn’t get one with her eyes open or with her moving around too much. We will try to get a better one later. My sister and brother-in-law gave us this really neat Flip Video that we can use to record her! We are still trying to figure it out, so if you can’t view this video, we are going to try to post one up on You Tube when we figure it out.

Please continue to pray for us. Pray for Suzie, that the Lord would continue to work in her little body and heal her and that she wouldn’t have any effects of brain damage if it be His will. Pray for me, that I would trust in God during this most difficult time, that I would cling to Him and see His kindness and that I would know how to please the Lord as a wife and mom in this unexpected stage. Pray for Kyle, that He would have opportunities to share the gospel and that the Lord would give him wisdom in leading his family.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for praying and caring for us! We are so blessed!!

In Christ,
Kyle and Steph

Psalm 31:24, "Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Suzie Updates

For those of you who have not received our emails, I wanted to post the past several emails here so you can be updated. I will continue to update the blog from now on every time I send an email. Thank you for your prayers!! We appreciate them so much!!

Monday, July 21

Hello Everyone,

The last 24 hours have been very crazy for us. I was discharged from the hospital last night and we headed out to the Ronald MacDonald House. It's a very small room with only one twin bed, so Kyle had to sleep on a mattress on the floor, but it is very clean and a huge blessing to be so close to Suzie during this time. We were able to visit Suzie last night and this morning and she is stable for the moment. Her lungs are doing okay right now, but we know that they are watching her very carefully. They are going to do another sonogram on her brain tomorrow to see how the bleeding is doing so we will give you an update at that time.

It's an emotional roller coaster for us here! The next few days and weeks are very critical and we find ourselves pleading to God on a momentary basis to save our little girl. However, we have seen God work in so many ways and our faith has been strengthened so much in this trial. We have a bigger view of God than we have ever had, but we know that we are going to be tested in so many ways over these next few weeks with all the ups and downs that await us. The thought of losing our little girl is very real to us and yet we are hoping in God's grace and mercy and His control over every detail. We know that we are far too weak to handle this situation and have been reassured of our salvation through all of this because there is no way we could worship Him in the midst of all of this unless He was the One who was providing the grace for us to do so.

We do love having visitors! Beginning Tuesday, I will be spending most of my time either at the hospital or the Ronald MacDonald house and anyone is welcome to visit. Again, we are overwhelmed with the outpouring of love we are receiving from the saints and have never seen God's blessings more clearly than in this most difficult time. Please continue to pray for us! Pray that we would glorify Him no matter what His plan is and pray for our precious little one.

In case you haven't seen pictures of little Suzie, check her out on our blog:

We thank God for you all!

Kyle and Steph

Psalm 31:24, "Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD."

Tuesday, July 22

Hello Dear Friends,

Today has been another full day of joys and trials. The biggest trial we faced today was talking to the neurosurgeon this evening about the condition of the hemorrhage in Suzie's brain. He informed us that there is no fluid in her brain that needs to be drained and no surgery that needs to be done. However, the bleeding is rather extensive in in her brain and he let us know that this has most likely caused a moderate to severe amount of brain damage. The consequences could be both a mental and/or physical handicap, but at this point there is no way to tell exactly what her disabilities may be. They will continue to do weekly sonograms on her brain to see if the bleeding gets any worse and in time will do an MRI to see if they can get more details about the extent of the damage. As grievous as it is to think of our precious little girl having any sort of brain damage, the joy that came from this was that the hemorrhage does not affect her survival in any way. This whole time we had been under the impression that this bleeding was endangering her life, but in fact it is not. This was a joy in the midst of this great sorrow. Kyle and I spent a lot of time in prayer immediately after speaking with the doctor and were encouraged by the fact that God can certainly surprise the doctors by defying their suspicions. But even if little Suzie has a severe disability, she is truly a gift from God and we are so grateful to be entrusted with her little life for as long as the Lord allows us to care for her. We love her so much and no disability will lessen that love in any way!

Some joys were once again having many visitors come to encourage us! Also, Suzie is doing much better with her breathing. The duct in her lungs still has a small hole, but it doesn't seem to be affecting her in any way. They will continue to monitor her and hope that the hole will close up. She was able to be taken off of the medicine that paralyzes her and has a less severe sedation at this point. She started moving around a little and even opening her eyes. They really don't see any manifestations of the brain damage at this point as she is moving very normally for a preemie, is breathing very well, and is not experiencing any seizures, so this is also encouraging. One of the greatest joys for me was to be able to "comfort" her by putting one hand on her legs and the other on her head. The nurse said that she finds a lot of comfort in that and it made me feel like a mom for once!

My husband has been tremendous through all of this! Everyday I witness him tell the doctors how much he appreciates them and yet how no matter what happens we will trust in the Lord Jesus Christ because He is in control of everything. Everyday he cries with me, prays with me, reads Scripture with me, and takes such tender care of me. Everyday he challenges me to put my faith in our good God and yet tells me it's okay for me to be scared. I have come to love and appreciate Kyle more in these past few days and I am so thankful the Lord has given him to me!

We thank you so much for caring for us. We thank you for praying for Suzie. We praise God for what He is doing through this huge trial in our lives and pray that He would continue to refine us and keep us focused on His glory.

Much love,

Kyle and Steph

Psalm 31:24, "Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD."

Thursday, July 24

Hi Friends,

Last night we received a wonderful piece of news from the doctor. If you remember, a few days ago they had told told us that our little girl had a 40% chance of surviving. As of last night, the doctors are giving her a 90% chance! She is doing very well on the new ventilator and her lungs are so much stronger. The greatest risk to her life at this present time is the possibility of different kinds of infection. What a joy to our hearts to hear that our little Suzie is progressing so well and that the doctors are anticipating she will fight through this time. Of course, no matter what percentage of survival the doctors tell us, we trust in our Lord who has planned every moment of her life from before time. We do praise God for the progress she is making and do not take for granted how much we need to pray and depend on Him still.

Suzie has gained a tiny bit of weight at this point, but any weight gain is milestone for her! She continues to have her little eyes covered by a mask so that they can shine these very bright lights on her to help her with her jaundice. She is currently being fed intravenously, but they will soon try to give her very small amounts of breast milk to see how she does. Her intestines do not know what they should be doing, so the doctor has told us it could take a while for her body to start digesting the food. They hope to move her off of this new ventilator in a few days. This will be a great day for us, for our hearts hurt every time we go to see her and have to see the tube that she is intubated with. Her new ventilator will only go in her nose and she will most likely be on that ventilator for several weeks. She is kept on a constant drip of pain medication that keeps her from feeling any sort of discomfort.

Kyle and I make our way in to see our little daughter several times throughout the day. We tell her constantly how much we love and miss her, how much we are praying for her, and how our Creator is with her and loves her even more than we do! My new favorite thing to do is to "hold her hand," or rather, she holds my finger, for her hand is not any bigger than my thumb! I love to watch her kick out her little arms and legs and I think I could just sit by her side and look at her all day long.

Today they will look at her heart again to see if the PDA is fully closed. Tomorrow they will take another look at her brain to make sure the bleeding is not getting worse. We will send another update tomorrow! Thank you once again for your prayers and for bearing this burden with us. We never have known the love of the body of Christ like we do in this most trying time.

In Christ,
Kyle and Steph

Psalm 31:24, "Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD."

Friday, July 25

Hello Family and Friends,

As our nurse told us today, it seems like little preemies take two steps forward and one step back. Suzie had three very good days, but we encountered a few small set backs today. Suzie has another PDA in her lungs. This time, the hole was big enough for the doctor to hear a murmur. After the cardiologist assessed her, he determined that she was strong enough to put on the medicine that clears up PDAs for 70-80% of preemies. The two common side effects from the medication are high blood pressure and trouble urinating. When we left Suzie this evening, she didn't appear to have either of those problems so we are very thankful. They will give her a second and third dose of the medicine every 12 hours assuming she continues to do well. There were a couple of other minor things that happened today with our little girl, but everything seems to be under control now and she is stable again.

We attached some more pictures of our precious little Suzie! She looks like a little old man in some of them with all the tape on her lip and chin, but we think she is the cutest thing we have ever seen. Last night, I got to "hold" her for the first time, which was very touching. The nurse had me reach my hands in the incubator and he put her head in one of my hands and her body in the other. It melted my heart to be able to hold my sweet daughter even if only for a little while.

As you pray for sweet Suzie, please keep some dear friends of ours in your prayers as well. Kyle's good friend Patrick and his wife Holly have been going through pregnancy with us as Holly was just a week behind me. Today we found out that she went into the doctor because she hadn't felt her baby move for a little while and they determined that her baby was two weeks behind developmentally and her amniotic fluid was very low. They had just moved to Texas and were flown by helicopter to a hospital in Louisiana to perform an emergency C-section. This occurred just this evening and their little daughter, Addison, was born weighing 1lb 11 oz. We are waiting to hear a status on how she is doing, but we hurt so much for them and know that the prayers of believers everywhere was and is the biggest encouragement to us. So please pray for Patrick and Holly Briscoe and their precious little daughter Addison.

We love each one of you and praise God for your ministry to us!

In Christ,
Kyle and Steph

Psalm 31:24, "Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Please Pray for Suzie!

Suzie Lorraine Sanderson
Born Friday, July 18, 2008 at 5:44am
Weighing 1lb 14 oz. and measuring at 13 1/4 inches

Please pray for our precious baby girl. She is in critical condition and is being transfered to the Huntington Hospital in Pasadena this evening. Here are a few pictures of our little one. We will post an update when we have one.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

99 Days and Counting!

Well, on my handy-dandy little pregnancy ticker I see that we have flown right through the 100s and landed in the double digits with only 99 days until little Suzie makes her entrance into the world. Of course, if she's anything like my niece and nephew, she might get pretty cozy in there and decide to stick it out in there for another week or two. But it's pretty exciting to see that the due date is just around the corner!

We also have great news to praise God for! Yesterday, Kyle and I were able to go see the heart specialist. The doctor said Suzie's heart looks great and there does not appear to be any sort of defect! If there was a little hole there, it is all closed up now and we are so thankful to God for that. He said everything else looks great too and we have a healthy, normal little girl who is developing right on schedule! Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement. We are so grateful to God for this great news, but pray that we would trust Him no matter what the circumstances are.

According to the baby center, Suzie is as long as an English cucumber now and weighs just about two pounds. The picture below shows the cucumber compared to a quarter...she's long! Only 14 weeks to go!