NPM16 - Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg: The great Chicago poet who looked carefully at his city and wrote everyman sort of poetry about them. Here one about the "Clark Street Bridge" which is near the famous corn cob buildings and a hundred other urban wonders. This bridge is only a few blocks from where we stay in Chicago during Elijah's crohn's treatments and was directly on our path back to the train station. Sandburg was the first to call Chicago the "City of Big Shoulders." 

DUST of the feet
And dust of the wheels,
Wagons and people going,
All day feet and wheels.

Now.    .    .  
.    .   Only stars and mist
A lonely policeman,
Two cabaret dancers,
Stars and mist again,
No more feet or wheels,      
No more dust and wagons.

    Voices of dollars
    And drops of blood
    .   .   .   .   .
    Voices of broken hearts,
    .  .  Voices singing, singing,       
    .  .  Silver voices, singing,
    Softer than the stars,
    Softer than the mist.

What poems do you write about your city, your streets, the people you meet and see along the way? Don't just go where you are going. Truly see the marvels around you as you go and then sit and write something beautiful about it.

Carl Sandburg's "Chicago"

Chicago has been on my mind and the mind of America with injustice and pain and protests. And so for me Carl Sandburg's poetry has been on my mind and his his famous poem "Chicago." A reminder of the stormy, husky, brawling, city. The city of the big shoulders.

Sandburg said of himself, "I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass." He wrote poetry that everyone could read and understand, he wrote poetry of understanding the common man, and yet scholars read and respected Sandburg. His collection, Chicago Poems, is still widely read today and available cheap. I read again through the first dozen or so poems last night I was moved near tears, both for what he said and the fact that he said such beautiful things so simply. We should aspire to do the same. 

CHICAGO by Carl Sandburg

     HOG Butcher for the World,
     Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
     Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
     Stormy, husky, brawling,
     City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
     have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
     luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
     is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
     kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
     faces of women and children I have seen the marks
     of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
     sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
     and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
     so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
     job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
     little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
     as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
          Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
     white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
     man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
     never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
     and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
     Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
     Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
     Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Elijah & Crohns Update 8.6.15

Our 14 year old, Elijah, has now gotten his 5th Remicade treatment for Crohn's Disease. Here are some previous updates, if you are interested in his story. Here's what we learned this week.

First we (me, Molly, Elijah, and Danny) met with Elijah's rheumatologist on Tuesday at Shriner's Hospital in Oak Park. E had received some physical therapy for arthritis at her request and he's done well with it. No need to continue, though he is still a little tight. E has morning soreness, but mostly can do whatever he likes, so we feel this area of his health is better. 

We went to the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago (RMHC) after for our overnight, but had most of the day to play around. So we grabbed some Shake Shack for lunch, which is Elijah's absolute favorite place to eat in the city. Then we headed to Millennium Park, which was a favorite place to visit when our kiddos were smaller. Haven't been there in years. It was a wonderful, relaxing time and the boys had a blast. 

Then back to the room to relax, then some dinner as provided at the RMHC...italian beef, chips, fruit, and root beer floats. After dark we decide to head back out and walk down to Navy Pier. Not to do anything, but just enjoying a gorgeous evening in Chicago. 

Wednesday Elijah had 9am Remicade infusion at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. He was upbeat and happy the whole time, which has not been his experience in previous treatments. He's not a fan of the way Benadryl makes him feel. But this was the best he's felt during treatment, which was a real blessing since we didn't go home right after like usual. 

At 3:10pm, and after lunch at Blaze Pizza, we had an appointment with Dr. Brown, E's gastroenterologist. This is the first time we have met with his doctor since his diagnosis. That was the plan from the beginning. They like at least 4 treatments before a follow-up. 

A little background: As of the 4th treatment, we were concerned that E wasn't growing enough, or fast enough. We felt there may be a significant growth spurt, so the worry was that the Remicade wasn't working, maybe that his body was developing antibodies for it. Two different tests in the last several weeks seemed to show that the Remicade was working well, but we wanted to hear the doc's explanation. 

Here's doc Brown's analysis.

1. Elijah is a healthy boy. There is no evidence of Crohn's sores in his body. Everything from previous tests as well as blood taken Wednesday showed every level of every area of possible concern shows nothing to be concerned about. Everything in his body and blood looks fantastic and the Remicade is doing the job.

2. Elijah is growing better than ever. His growth chart before diagnosis showed plateaued growth. Really bad. Really skinny. Really small. His growth chart since Remicade treatments have started is nearly straight up. It's not explosive growth, but it's solid and continual growth. 


We learned months ago that Elijah's bone age was that of a 10-11 year old though he's 14. The doc said that's a good indicator that all the growing that he hasn't done isn't a closed door to future growth. If his bone age was of a 14 year old, he may never get too big. But his body is still ready for explosive growth and we are very thankful for that. 

3. Elijah's way forward is patience and calories. With everything headed in the right direction for him, the goal now is getting him good calories. He's eating fairly well, though not eating everything in site like kids often do when growing rapidly. So we are going to start supplementing his diet more with something like Carnation Breakfast Essentials which isn't cheap but helps him add good calories in a simple way. The doctor said to think of how we can do things daily that add up over time to get him the stuff his body needs to grow. 

We don't know if he will take off quick with more growth or just keep going slow and steady. Either way, the doctor is convinced it's going very well and we can be happy he's a healthy, growing boy. While Remicade treatments will continue every 8 weeks, we won't see the doctor again until mid-winter since all is going so well. 

Thanks, as always, for the many who have been praying for Elijah and our family. Thanks for your expressions of love and concern. I get asked so often about his health, and just in the asking we feel well loved. We've even received some gifts from some of you to help and they have been a tremendous help to us. We love you and thank you so much.

Gospel Coalition | Day 1

Me band bloggers

I have absolutely no time to recap my days here at the Gospel Coalition 2011 in Chicago, but I figured I'd put up something. 

I'm really impressed with the new location, McCormick Place. Huge facility. The bookstore is outstanding, and now has Joe Thorn's new book, Note to Self.

What preaching I saw was great. Maybe better than that, Joe Thorn and I talked just before bed about how amazing our conversations have been. Gospel-focused, encouraging, God-glorifying. I've seen new friends and old ones. I told Michael Horton I'm one of those missional guys and got Rod Rosenbladt to laugh. I met Ray Ortlund, Jr. and Dane Ortlund for the first time and talked to Sam Storms yet again. I got coffee with Greg Thornbury and tried to convert Tim Ellsworth's 7 year old son to being a Cubs fan (FAIL, for good reason). I told Josh Harris he looks a bit like Russ Moore. Josh is always a joy to talk to. Matt Schmucker gave me a sticker. Al Mohler, as always, asked about my wife's health. Several guys actually did. I heard Tim Keller preach. Nuff said. I talked to a bunch of bloggers about, well, blogging. I saw my pastor from Kentucky, my old friend from a Methodist church in my hometown, and several local friends. I met Jared Wilson and his lovely wife, Becky, who is probably a better conversationalist than he is. And he's a great conversationist. I got to discuss and strategize about open-air preaching with guys from cities, suburbs, and small towns. I talked about "synagogue evangelism" with some Twitter friends I got to meet for the first time. It was one of the best days of conversations I've ever experienced, and it's just the first day. Because of all the above I'm even more optimistic about the Church, the mission, and our great God. 

It's been a very good but long day and I think I've dropped enough names, though the list goes on. These are real guys, serious guys, and it's a blessing to know them. More tomorrow. It's late and I'm punchy. Let me close with this: The Gospel Coalition is probably my favorite all-around conference for a superb mix of content & opportunity to make connections with Gospel-saturated guys. I wish even more friends were here. God has been good to me.

Millennium Park FREE Concerts


I attended with Sarah (14) the free Besnard Lakes concert at Millennium Park in Chicago last summer. It was a fun trip in on the train and we loved the concert. The free concert list is up for this summer and it's a great one. From the Trib...

...10 free concerts at 6:30 p.m. Mondays from May 23 through July 25. The lineup will include the following performers:

May 23: Bonnie “Prince” Billy featuring the Cairo Gang and special guest

May 30: Justin Townes Earle, Andre Williams and the Goldstars

June 6: Iron and Wine and special guest

June 13: Headliner to be announced and Campbell Brothers

June 20: Kings Go Forth, Ben L’Oncle Soul

June 27: Low and special guest

July 4:  Seefeel and special guest

July 11: Delicate Steve and Bombino

July 18:  Blonde Redhead and special guest

July 25:  Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Rachel Ries

Story Chicago 2010

Story_300_250 My friend, Ben Arment, has created another STORY Conference here in Chicago. The STORY website is the dreamiest ever. How can you see this and not want to go? STORY purposefully has limited seating for maximized experience, so you want to get your tickets now. 

Here's more info...


Sept 23-24
Chicago, IL

STORY is a conference for the creative class in ministry on September 23-24, 2010 at Park Community Church in downtown Chicago. The purpose is to fuel the church's artists, writers and producers in communicating the greatest story ever told. You’ll hear from some of the best creative practitioners in both ministry and the marketplace, from filmmakers and authors to actors and musicians. Presenters include:

# Dan Allender - best-selling author, professor at Mars Hill Graduate School
# Charlie Todd - creator of Improv Everywhere in New York City
# Princess Zulu - AIDS victim from infancy, advocate for the oppressed
# Jason Fried - founder of 37Signals, creator of Basecamp, author of Rework
# John Sowers - president of Donald Miller's The Mentoring Project
# Shauna Niequist - former creative director at Mars Hill, author of Bittersweet
# David Hodges - formerly of the band Evanescence, award-winning songwriter
# Leonard Sweet - futurist, author of 40 books, professor at Drew University
# David McFadzean - creator of Home Improvement, producer of Roseanne
# Richard Walter - accomplished screenwriter and professor of film at UCLA
# Sean Gladding - member of Communality, a new monastic community
# Andrew Klavan - author of True Crime (Clint Eastwood) and numerous novels
# Gary Dorsey - founder of Pixel Peach Studio in Austin, TX
# Music by Vicky Beeching, Kari Jobe and Carlos Whittaker

Seating is limited to just 500 attendees, and the event is scheduled on a Thursday and Friday so you can enjoy the weekend in the city. Following its inaugural event in 2009, STORY is now a two-day, main-stage event with no breakouts or workshops; just an intimate audience with the top creative minds. You’ll be able to ask questions during the event and continue the conversation after it's over. Visit

Destination: New Church in Chicago

N136644512481_1867One thing I get excited about is seeing new churches planted in Chicago. I'd like to introduce you my friend, Matt Sweetman, and the work he is doing in our city. Matt, his wife Heather and their two boys moved to Chicago in 2009. His vision that he shared with me a couple of years ago almost exactly matched some heart desires I've had for the north side of Chicago for the last 5 years or so. 

I talked to Matt a couple of weeks ago about what's currently happening. Here is what he told me about this new Chicago church, Destination, and what they are experiencing...

  • We've always dreamed of a community of Christians who would take the mission seriously. In a recent prayer time we crammed people into our apartment and everyone prayed passionately for a friend who is outside the community. There is real ownership of sharing the gospel with outsiders through authentic relationships covered in prayer and a risk to invite them into the community. We are starting to see a breakthrough with this. It's not just leaders. It's everyone working together to bring people. It's very exciting.
  • We had an excellent Easter Sunday service recently after distributing thousands of invitations both through personal invites and a public push at three major ‘L’ stations. Including kids we had 54 people. It was our one year birthday. Rather than connecting with people from other churches, we've found many disconnected and isolated Christians who are not being discipled. God seems to have joined them to us quickly. This was unexpected but very encouraging. 
  • We had 5 new members join Destination in the past month. 7 married couples completed the Love & Respect course this past month including one new couple who are considering joining Destination. 
  • We've settled in really well to our new venue at ComedySportz and we’ve continued to see first-time visitors every Sunday since we moved locations. The venue allows us to make church relaxing and remove many of the traps of religion. People are hearing the gospel more effectively because many of the things that our generation questions the church about are gone. They are left to ask deeper questions about the reality of Jesus.

Pray for Matt, his family and this new church. Learn more about Destination.

Catalyst One Day Chicago

One day I had the privilege of attending Catalyst One Day Chicago last Thursday at Willow Creek. I didn't know a lot about One Day before I went. I knew it was ONE day and had Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel as speakers. I knew it would probably be mostly leadership and organizational principles. That's about it.

One Day's are four main sessions (Andy, 2 Craig's, Andy), significant Q and A time, and Andy-Craig dialogues. You get to hear the nitty gritty aspects of ministry from these two guys who lead two giant churches and who have been through a lot.

Topic was momentum. An important topic for my ministry & church in particular, so I was very eager to hear them on it. Let me first describe 5 things that I really needed to hear.

First, I needed the reminder from Stanley that if people aren't following, they aren't convinced of the vision. I'm working on vision stuff at Doxa this week and heading into summer. It's an important thing for me to hear and hear again. I'm not nearly good enough at casting vision and keeping it in front of my people.

Second, I needed the word from Groeschel that "If you're not hurting, you're not leading." Pain is a part of leadership and ministry, I've experienced it a lot, and it's a part of it that I can't avoid. But I love to try to avoid it. If I do, I stop leading. Another quote: "The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be is the painful decision you need to make." 

Third, I needed everything from Groeschel's second talk. So good for me. We need to repent life as "Christian Atheists," as people who are full-time Pastors but only part-time Christians. This was another God moment for me, which are growing in number over the past few months. God is good.

Fourth, I needed the reminder to talk to my wife about when it's best for me to be home. I've just flat-out neglected this. I'm home a lot and I'm a real homebody, a family man. But often not at the times that serve her and my children best. I'm correcting this.

Fifth, I needed Stanley's encouraging closing talk as it pertained to my approach to ministry. He said programs are created to answer a question or meet a need and we must stop them when they no longer answer the question or meet the need. I've seen a need to work on this at my church, and I just needed to be encouraged again on how important this work is. 

Now, a few critical thoughts I have and I know some others have.

Some will criticize conferences like this for not emphasizing the Gospel more. I hear that, and agree to a point. I know we can't assume a lot of guys in ministry know and/or preach the Gospel all that well. I agree that the Gospel is THE filter and directive behind all that we do. And I do think the message of One Day would be impacted and improved should the Gospel take a more prominent place as the day begins. 

But I also like the format. I like having some assumptions so we can narrow the focus. We don't always have to say everything. You know coming in to this that it isn't really a theology/Gospel conference. There are other places for that. This is leadership and organization and best practices. And I found it of great value for what it is.

I disagree significantly with both Stanley and Groeschel on some organizational aspects of their churches. It's hard to talk best practices without the conference teaching a model, at least to a point. I was able to pass off the stuff I didn't find sound or compelling from my point of view, so it wasn't a big deal for me. Is it possible the Gospel/theology aspect is not only absent because of the narrow focus of the conference, but also because it's under-utilized in these models? Possibly. But that doesn't mean I can glean what I find valuable there, and I found a lot of value.

Another criticism could be that these pastors of large churches with lots of staff aren't speaking quite as helpful for smaller church guys. There's some validity to that and had that thought during One Day. But I also think there is enough there that anyone in any place of ministry will be blessed. Like I said, yu can't do everything at every conference. And the principles discussed are meant to be universal. I was happy enough, though I wasn't always fully tracking with where these two guys are in their leadership journey.

If you have a chance to attend a One Day or other Catalyst Conference, I think you will be blessed. I was.

Win 2 Tickets to Catalyst ONE DAY Chicago

Catalyst ONE DAY Chicago (March 25th) is a one day Christian leadership event with Andy Stanley & Craig Groeschel. The topic is Momentum: what is it? how do you get it? how do you keep it?

Andy & Craig will be sharing practical strategies and personal examples that have helped them gain momentum in their churches. Also, there will be several sessions of Q&A. This is a great opportunity for you and your team to gain some practical insight on creating and sustaining momentum in your organization, especially in light of the current economic crisis.

I will be there for sure.

Catalyst One Day from Catalyst on Vimeo.

My buddies at Catalyst are putting on this event. They gave me two extra tickets to giveaway to you guys, so here we go:


  1. TWEET THIS: “Giving away 2 tickets to Catalyst ONE DAY Chicago. Comment & RT to enter”
  2. COMMENT BELOW: with your twitter name (so I can verify you did step 1) and an impactful leadership book you've read (just for fun)
  3. At 4PM CST TODAY: I’ll randomly choose two entrants below to win 1 ticket each!

Lots-o-Links 12.30.09

Story .. Chicago

A couple of months ago Ben Arment of Catalyst asked me an about a dozen other folks to meet at The Orchard in Aurora for a creative meeting to discuss his plans for a conference in Chicago (Aurora's beautiful Paramount Theater) simply called Story.  You need to check out the Story website. Pretty cool.


I don't want to say any more than the website says, but I'm pretty pumped about this conference.  Not only are there some great speakers for a conference like this, but the plans for how the conference will be put together and experienced are something to look forward to.  Plus, guys like Chris Seay and Don Miller will be there. Here are the details...

STORY is a first-of-its-kind experience for communicators of the Gospel- the greatest story ever told. It will be held on Wednesday, October 28 at the Paramount Theater in Aurora, Illinois. Speakers include Donald Miller, Nancy Beach, Dave Gibbons, Ed Young, Stacy Spencer, Chris Seay and Mike Foster. A day of workshops will follow on October 29 at nearby Orchard Valley Community Church, featuring illustrators, designers, scholars, authors and communications experts. Register for the conference and enter to win 2 free trips to the Kilns - CS Lewis' home in Oxford, England - at

As a communicator of the gospel, I'm looking forward to Story.

Living in Woodstock, Illinois -- Relaunch

Living in Wdstk IL3I have relaunched my Living in Woodstock, Illinois blog (old one here). I was posting inconsistently and I just wanted to do better. So a fresh look gives me a little motivation to gett'r going again.  Unless you live in McHenry County with me, don't comment there. It's meant to be a local blog and most of you are not local. But I thought you might like to see it.

Living in Woodstock, Illinois is really about my experiences as a resident of Woodstock/McHenry County. I figured it would be a great way to interact with my culture. I post my photos, talk about restaurants and cafés, local sports and kid stuff, nearby places that a resident here is near enough to travel to (like downtown Chicago), and a lot more.  It's meant to be a positive expression of what life looks like here because I love where I live.

Lots-o-Links 11.5.08

DSC_0015Quick Molly Update: Molly is about to lose it.  She is averaging somewhere around 3 hours of sleep a day or less for the last 6 weeks.  No joke.  She has maybe had two nights where she slept at least 6 hours.  She has had several nights where she didn't even doze off.  We thought it was the steroids taken in the first few weeks.  It's clear that it's so much more than that.  This morning was a breaking point.  She has gone from acting sluggish and tired to wanting to punch me in the face.  That's not all that uncommon, but it's much more than normal.  Let me explain how bad things are...

This morning we sat down to talk and she started to tear up.  I said what I always say when Molly cries, "You know, Jesus didn't cry" (my "Away in a Manger" reference).  Most of the time that makes her laugh and then we figure things out.  Not this time.  This time she barked back at me right away, "MAYBE JESUS DIDN'T CRY, BUT JESUS SLEPT!"  Touche. 


Lessons from a failed church plant (HT)

5 cool church tools

I know it's last minute, but if you are near Columbia, Missouri you need to check out Karis Church's Theology Weekend.  It's this weekend and the speaker is Bruce Ware.

Jonathan Dodson: Deacon Training I, Deacon Training II, Increase the community in missional communities, Wisdom for planters, especially bivocational

Speaking of missional communities, consider Alan Hirsch's four points: INCH

The art of thank you note writing

Election Night stuff...

I enjoyed Obama's speech last night. It gave me goosebumps. It was like a Disney moment. I watched a sea of people who had the Obama-shaped hole in their hearts filled and wondered what the next four years will look like.

I just hope that Obama doesn't continue in the direction of his voting record. It's remarkable to me and deeply ironic that our first African-American President will be our country's strongest defender of treating unborn babies as less than fully human.

And I'm sorry, but Michelle Obama's dress was awful

Did you see the CNN election night hologram? Pretty cool...

Anyone miss Dan Rather? Me too...

Operation Restoring Hope

Blogging Molly's Chiari I Malformation brain surgery. Most recent updates top of each section.

Section one: Updates on Molly, surgery, hospital stay, & recovery. 
Section two: Updates on me, my experiences, reflections, & photos.

Essential Links

  • Twitter -- Immediate brief updates. Links to camera phone photos.
  • Centro Photos -- See what we see through camera phone photos.
  • Artistic Photographs -- Best quality photos, but updated only occasionally.

Molly Chiari Header 2 blur 2


2:35pm <> A couple of brief updates.  First, we must add because I don't think I've said it so far that the Hilton Our towels at home are exfoliating scrubs compared to them.  We almost took one to give to a pregnant mom as her baby's snuggle blanket.

Oh, how's Molly?  Good question.  Molly is exactly where her doc said she should be.  She is coming down off of the steriods and looking and feeling exhausted.  She's in bed a lot, resting, healing.  Me?  I'm doing dishes, cleaning, buying & making food, and searching for a little time to be a pastor. :)  God is taking care of my wife and the rest of us.  We are very blessed.


8:21pm <> Molly is fast asleep, the kids are still up messing around.  I'm still keeping them home tomorrow.  There's just too much to be done and everything is too hectic to get them there in the morning.  We all need a break.

I picked up Molly's meds, including a steroid (strong anti-inflammatory).  It's the steroid that is probably to blame for Molly's pep.  It really helps.  Plus, it will really help her to beat Lance in next summer's Tour de France.  She beat me at arm wrestling earlier. 

Just so glad to be home with our kids, and even with our cat.  I'm strangely more affectionate toward Calvin post-surgery.

We are getting the feeling that Molly will have to wait a couple of weeks before really knowing how she will do with relief of chiari symptoms.  She has started having the "jolts" a little today, but nothing major.  But the doctor said even prior to today that she may regain some symptoms after the steroids taper off.  She will likely have some confusing days ahead for a couple of weeks because of the inflammation the foreign substance will cause.  At least that's how we understood the doc. 

So if we start talking about some symptoms, I guess the call is to not panic until a bit of time passes.  The jolt is the only thing we've seen so far, and it was there after the last surgery when all other symptoms were gone.  So no worries yet.

Now, as for things we forgot.  I failed to mention that when Dr. Frim put in the stent (tube) he attached it to the brain via what he called a "micro-stitch."  He said he's one of the few doctors who do that.  So let the stitch/sewing nicknames begin!  I like "Steve'o and Stitch." :) 

Molly also saw and talked to several nurses from last year.  Pretty cool.  We even talked to the one who so famously ran Molly into a private room when we needed one so much.  It's neat to see people who we remember and who remember us, but we told them we hope to NEVER see them again. 

I just want to add that au bon pain has a killer onion dill bagel.  Delicious. As we remember other stuff I'll add them here.

6:48pm <> We are home and I'm about to head out and get Molly's stuff from the Pharmacy.  Quick trip home and the kids are great (all but the part about going back to school a day early!).  I caught Molly organizing clothes in the boys' room!  Shameful.  I made her rest instead.  What a woman.  Too bad for you that there is only one of her...and she's mine!

Thanks everyone for praying.  We were talking on the way home about a note on the little things I missed mentioning along the way.  I'll try to get to that tonight or tomorrow.  I also want to update you on Molly's symptoms and what the next few days hold for her.  And then tomorrow my Music Monday post will be going up and the blog will go somewhat back to normal. 

Thanks to all my readers.  You have made the last couple of days more full for us through your prayers, comments, and encouragement.  And together we have seen God build a network of pray-ers around the world, who He has responded to with His favor. 

2:31pm <> Molly is in the process of finishing up here, then changing into her clothes, then I'll be bringing the van around and picking her up.  Could be home at 5-5:30pm-ish, depending on how fast the nurse gets stuff moving, Sunday traffic, and how long it takes to get the kids.  Can't wait to get home.

12:54pm <> GUESS WHO'S GOING HOME!!!  WOOHOO!!!  Dr. Frim and Dr. Ricky Wong just stopped in and they are sending Molly home.  Who's pumped?  We are, that's who!  Now I'm headed to the International House to see if I can get my money back for tonight.  Or maybe I'll postpone it and we can stay the night for our post-op appointment in a week and a half.  Or maybe they won't refund me and I'll just go home.  Whatever.  We are just so excited to be going home.  Should be a couple of hours or so before the orders go through. If possible I'll update right before we go. 

11:28am <> Molly finished a walk up and down the hallway, first with the nurse, then with me, then without holding on to anything.  Outstanding! Seriously, she's doing EXTREMELY well.  These signs are awesome.  And she hasn't had a single "jolt" (a chiari symptom that she had).  Really great news so far.

11:20am <> Just a bit ago Dr. Dey and Dr. Yassari came in to see Molly.  Dr. Dey doesn't read my blog, so I have lost all respect for her. :)  Ah, just kidding Dr. Dey!  You've been a real encouragement to us and have always provided info we've needed at the right time.

Dr. Yassari then talked briefly with Molly and was very impressed with her recovery.  He said her neck range-of-motion is outstanding for this soon after surgery.  I think his words were "better than good" movement.  Awesome.  Then Dr. Yassari said that she may go home TODAY!  Yes, you heard that right.  Maybe home 48 hours post-brain surgery!  We never even thought that was possible, but honestly Molly is way better now than at any point in the hospital from last year.  She's better now than after leaving on Monday and spending two days at home.  That's hard for us to believe, but it's true.  Thanks for praying!  Woohoo!

Now, it still may end up being tomorrow.  And if so that's just fine.  I've already paid for another night for me at the International House, so we're good.  I doubt I can get that prepaid $70 back. :(  Bottom line: we want everyone to be confident in doing what's best.  But we would obviously love to be home and be with our kids.


2.10pm <> Mo lly is looking at a menu.  Good signs of another step in recovery. She has also said she feels much better after this surgery than the previous one.

12:12pm <> Molly is sleeping a ton.  Very happy about that.  Gonna get out, get some lunch, take some photos, check on housing for tonight, and who knows what else!

10:55am <> Dr. Frim and neurosurgery resident Dr. Yassari (I think he's in his 6th of 7 years of residency) just stopped by ICU.  Dr. Frim encouraged Molly to watch college football, which makes me think he said that for my sake.  Thanks Dr. Frim!  He said Molly will stay in ICU until tomorrow, which is longer than expected.  But it seems clear the reasoning is that very few surgeries are done on the weekend, so they probably won't need the room, and it's much more quiet and comfortable in ICU.  After a long night in the noisy Recovery unit, this is a nice way for Molly to get a lot of rest.

Dr. Yassari was talking about how he remembered Molly from last time and how he read my blog about the surgery.  I didn't know he even knew this existed, so that's pretty cool.  I just googled "Dr. Yassari" and my blog is the 3rd hit!  Awesome.  Honestly, we've really liked all the doctors Molly has seen at the University of Chicago: Frim, Yassari, Yamini (haven't seen him this time, yet), and some of the younger residents like Dr. Dey and a few others I whose names escape me.    

10:31am <> I love it! Molly won't shut up.  Geez girl, get some rest!  Love to see her awake and acting normal-ish.

She is still experiencing some numbness in her hands and feet.  It can take some time for symptoms to see much relief, especially since there will be significant swelling from the surgery.  But we'd love to say we haven't seen any old symptoms.  Pray that they will be banished!

9:45am <> Molly is in ICU now.  Going to see her.

9:15am <> I tried to give Molly as much chance to rest last night as possible while still being around regularly.  She still has the typical post-surgery exhaustion, but has some increasing pep.  I really think she is doing well compared to last time around.  I just talked to her on the phone an hour ago and she was sitting in a chair.  Very cool.

That said, she is STILL in Recovery.  Much of last night she was the only patient in Recovery.  Through the grapevine I heard that it wasn't because all the ICU beds were taken, but because there weren't enough ICU nurses to go around.  Well, there were enough to go around for every patient but one...Molly.  Which means Molly is tougher than all the sissies who need 24 hours of ICU.  They can have their TLC and Molly will just sit up in a chair 18 hours after surgery and act like nothing happened.  When the nurses ask Molly how much pain she's in, Molly says, "My feet are sore from jogging through the hallways?"  When the nurses ask if Molly needs more pain meds, Molly replies, "I've saved all the pills you gave me and built a full size replica of Wrigley Field with my eyes closed."  When the nurse asks Molly is she needs to lay down, Molly insists, "The brain surgery itself was so restful that I can't possibly sleep again already."  Yeah, you heard me.  Molly is tough. :)

I'll let you know when something changes.  Should be any time now.


5:24pm <> No news.  Molly is still listed at "Post-Op" and waiting for an ICU bed.  Haven't seen her since 4pm.

4:02pm <> I just left Recovery (post-op) where Molly was very groggy. She must have hounded the nurse until they let me in!  When I found out earlier that I probably wouldn't see her for a while, I decided to grab some food.  I got in only only three bites when I got paged back and sent to Recovery.  So lunch/dinner had to wait.

Molly is in a lot of pain, more than last time I think.  She has thrown up a couple of times, which was a big issue last time.  I think they've figured it out, though, through a different nausea medication.  Despite all this Molly is still full of life.  For example, the dude in the bed next to her had a post-surgery urge to take a dump.  Oh my, I've located the bog of eternal stench in the colon of U of Chicago surgical patient.  After the loud grunts and the first hints of fog Molly looked at me wide eyed and said, "Run!"  Even after brain surgery Molly is looking out for me.

Pray that an ICU bed would open up soon.

2:18pm <> Word is that Molly may be in recovery (post-op) for some time, just like last year.  There is even the possibility of staying the night there.  Reason?  ICU is completely full for the moment.  I'm not sure when I'll get to see her.

2:00pm <> Just got off the family waiting room phone with Dr. Frim.  Molly is waking up and all went well.  He said there was some scar tissue around the patch he put on last surgery as well as scar tissue that fused together the cerebellar tonsils of her brain.  He pulled apart the tonsils and cauterized them a bit so they wouldn't fuse together and close up the space again.  He also put in the stent, as mentioned before, in the 4th ventricle to aid spinal fluid flow.  Then he tried to make sure the space he created in the last surgery remain as open as possible as he closed things up.

We learned this morning that when brain surgery is done scar tissue is a very common problem.  The brain doesn't get exposed to air so when surgery happens a person's brain will start to scar as a defense.  Different people react with different levels of scarring.  Molly obviously had enough scarring to create new problems, and we hope this will be a significant remedy.  We also learned this morning that scarring can happen around a stent and cause it t o get clogged at some point.  We hope that would be a long time from now.

As best I can tell the signs are good for this surgery to have a very good effect.  The incision is going to be slightly longer, as Dr. Frim needed a little more space to explore a bit and make sure there wasn't something else he could do to help.  Thank you so much for praying!  We are very thankful for all of you.

12:57pm <> Wow!  I was just told by the receptionist in the family waiting room that the surgery nurse called and said the surgery is nearly over!  How do you finish a surgery that much faster than expected?  Maybe Dr. Frim just knew something that the other pre-op folks didn't know.  More as soon as I know more.

12:50pm <> Sorry for a later-than-expected first update.  Twitter has been a perfect place for most of my updates, so make sure you follow there.  There are lots of pics there already.

We stayed last night at the Chicago Hilton, 18th floor.  Beautiful place with a view of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, Soldier Field, and the museums (Field, Science & Industry, Adler Planetarium).  I'll see if I had any photos turn out later on.  We watched a movie and tried to relax.  Difficult to do. 

We both woke up too early this morning, a bit restless.  Showers, some news on TV, no food or drink of course.  Checked out and paid cash thanks to some very faithful and loving church members.  Drove out and made it to the hospital in 15 minutes.  So easy and convenient!  Very thankful we stayed downtown. 

Showed up at the University of Chicago Hospital on time, to the family waiting room.  A little paperwork and then to pre-op.  Molly got into her gown, more paperwork, 3 tries at an IV thanks to Molly's veins, still more paperwork, a hit of something to relax Molly, a kiss and she was wheeled off.  If you haven't seen Molly choosing the stent for herself, it's funny.  It was all her idea too.

The surgery didn't officially start until 11:49am, a lot later than expected.  I heard the surgeon was unwilling to start until he beat his fastest time at Minesweeper.  Tall order.  Now, just waiting.  Should be about 3 hours, so 3pm or so.  I'm supposed to hear something at about 2 hours.

Steve Header 2


2:25pm <> I paid for 2 nights in advance at the International House (not "Of Pancakes," but the place I slept last night).  I went and got the stuff out of my room and asked if they could give me money back for tonight.  I wasn't all that optimistic. Barbara, the nice lady behind the desk there, was so excited that my brain surgery wife is going home early that she didn't even make me pay the $30 for late check out.  Very cool. We'll get a check in the mail for reimbursement in a couple of weeks.

11:54am <> As I've been praying today for my church I've been thinking about how thankful I am for the folks I pastor.  They have been praying, supporting us, and doing what needs to be done while we are out of pocket.  I'm very thankful this morning for Jeff Temple who is preaching.  He's a good teacher and a good friend.  His family is also keeping our kids.  Jeff's wife Saralyn has been so sacrificial as she has had 7 kids (her 3 and our 4) to care for.  What a great family.  I'm also very thankful for good friends from Joe Thorn's church, Rob and Shannon, who are leading worship as our worship guy is away.  Thanks to all.


12:06pm <> Put some new photos up on Flickr.

11:22am <> Just added some blue text highlights so you can more easily follow what's happening at a glance.

11:11am <> I forgot to mention something that happened at the Chicago Hilton on the morning of Molly's surgery.  It's not important, but it's funny and indelible. Our room had a beautiful view including a view across the courtyard of more of the Hilton building.  On Friday morning a lady in a room across the courtyard, curtains wide open, decided to parade around in her room in full view with nothing on.  Trust me when I say that I wish, I SOOOO wish, she was fully clothed or that the curtain was pulled.  Not good.  But it made for a moment of humor for Molly and me on a very stressful morning. Strangely, the event is worth recording for all to read. :) 

9:45am <> I know some of you will kick me in the teeth for this, but yeah, I slept in the van last night.  Well, not much.  I took 3-4 short naps during the night and it was very helpful.  I'm not that tired and I think can get through the day.  I'm hoping to get a room at the International House on campus tonight and tomorrow night, but they are supposed to be very busy as there are many events going on.  Pray I can get a room! 


5:30pm <> For some reason I can't get Twitterfox to work right now.  It's been useful only occasionally.  Mostly using the phone to post to Twitter, and my phone is charging at the moment.  But there isn't all that much to Twitter right now anyway.

5:24pm <> Ate a Greek pasta salad for lunch/dinner.  Really good with rotini, tomatoes, black olives, feta cheese.

Otherwise I'm beat.  Mental, physical, emotional exhaustion.  But the chocolate dipped shortbread cookie helped. :)

2:18pm <> Feeling relief after hearing that Molly is out of surgery. Hungry and looking for food after this update goes up. 

12:50pm <> After Molly went into surgery I returned to the family waiting room with Molly's stuff.  The receptionist said my brother came to see me.  Wasn't expecting that.  For those who remember last year, I have no desire to sit with someone during the surgery.  I like to be alone, praying, blogging, etc.  But, if he's here he's here.

Since he wasn't in the waiting room I had to look for him.  I needed to eat anyway so I headed for au bon pain.  He was sitting just outside.  He said that Dad warned him NOT to come and sit with me, but he chose to risk it since it was only for a few minutes.  Come to find out Scott was already in Chicago for the Illinois Municipal League convention...which is held at the Hilton!  How awesome is that?  He was staying 10 floors below us last night and none of us knew it.  I also found out Scott was probably eating and we walked right by him.  Pretty cool.

He and his wife will also be at the Hilton tonight and said I could crash there if need be.  Also pretty cool.  Good of Scott to stop by.  Nice to see a familiar face just as I was pulled away from my wife.  Thankful for my brother.

Molly Update 8.29.08

Mri_1Just got word from Molly's doctor that they have moved her appointment from September 18th to this coming Thursday (4th).  Since her neurosurgeon only has Thursday appointments, that basically means they got her in right away.  Very happy about that.  But that also means she needs her battery of MRI's done asap. 

So we are driving to the University of Chicago this afternoon for a 4pm MRI appointment.  Last 2 trips took 2 1/2 hours to get there (most of that is traffic delay).  Then Molly will undergo 2 hours worth of tests while the kids say "When is Mommy going to be done?"  She really suffers laying down for the MRI's and it usually has lingering effects for a day or two. 

Just trying to keep you all in the loop.  Thanks to all who have been praying.

Phriday is for Photos 8.22.08

I know it's late for some Phriday Photos, but it's been a long day and I haven't gotten around to it.  Here are some pictures from our Chicago trip on Monday.

Hallway to Hancock

City Lights & Captured Clouds

Bicycle Photography

Treading Water

The first is a view up Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile. The building in the distance with the two spires is the Hancock Tower. The second is the Cloud Gate (or "the Bean") which I've shot before here and here, for example. I've never shot it at night until now. Beautiful. The third is the "Great Lawn" concert area, with a guy who stood right in front of me taking a photo. Turned out pretty cool. The last photo is Elijah looking up into the sun and therefore making a pretty odd face. He was laying in the water near these things. It was a great trip on Monday.