March 12, 2009

Prayers for Bianca

When I first met Bianca, she was a high school kid who loved to play basketball. She was one of the 10 students who attended the first Deeper Life week of camp at Michiana Christian Service Camp. She was a good kid. Over the next few years, it was cool to watch her grow up and become a young lady and return to camp to serve as a faculty member. Then she got married and we lost touch.

A month or so ago, as I was continuing/feeding my addiction to facebook, I decided to look up some old students and see (i.e. spy through the Internet) how they were doing. Unfortunately, being as good as I am with remembering people's names, I couldn't remember Bianca's last name. This is not unusual for me. In fact, you should be impressed that I remembered her first name. (I know, I'm gifted) I tried scanning friends of others who have been connected to Deeper Life and so on, but had no luck and gave up, grumbling to myself that I need to do better with remembering important things like names.

Now, before I go any farther, my friend Dean continually talks about this thing called divine appointments. These are times when he thinks God has put specific people in his path so he can help and pray for them. In turn, he asks for prayer requests from anyone he comes in contact with--resturaunt servers, people he sits by on airplanes, and so on. He commits to pray for their request for one month. Not surprisingly, he has some great stories about what God has done through these connections.

Back to Bianca . . . even though I couldn't connect with Bianca, she was still in my mind and on my heart. In the process, I would periodically pray for her. It wasn't anything specific, since it had been years since I connected with her. Then, a few weeks ago, I get this email from her:


Hey! I was trying to find some contact information you, and I guess I did. I'm pretty sure you're the Wally Lowman I know. I also saw a picture of your family. I remember Stephanie, too, but although late, congratulations on your child. It's been a long time. I don't think I even knew you had a child. She's beautiful. I hope all is well with you.

Do you remember me? I used to go to Michiana Christian Service Camp as a camper and faculty. I attended one the first Deeper Life Camp and helped work at least one with you and Eric Christian. Unmarried, I was Bianca Baker, but now and am Bianca Ash. It's been 9 1/2 years since I got married, and probably at least 7 years since I've seen or talked with you. You were a great inspiration in my life as a high school students, and I still remember my times at camp. Your worship services were the best. I'm trying to get back to my "roots" right now. I have thought about trying to get in contact with you for awhile now, but now I need your prayers. I am teaching special education at Culver Community Schools in Culver, IN, and this is my 6th year but 7th year teaching. I work with students that have mild and emotional disabilities. I have three children now. Kennedy is 7 1/2, Collin is almost 6, and Riley is 4, and I am still married to Jim.

Collin began having seizures in November of 2007. He was diagnosed with epilepsy in January 2008 and was called severely epileptic in August of 2008. We have seen three different neurologists and have tried seven different anti-epileptic medications. The medications have not worked. This past summer, we found a local neurologist who thought that Collin should undergo a surgical evaluation for his epilepsy. He sent us to see Dr. Mary Zupanc at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Collin began the surgical evaluation in October of 2008. We were told he was an excellent surgical candidate because of the location of the seizures, his age, and short amount of time he has had seizures. Collin went through numerous tests including, multiple MRI's, a PET scan, a neuropsychological evaluation, and an 8 day stay in the hospital to monitor his seizures. On February 11th, we met with the neurologist and neurosurgeon. We went in thinking that Collin would be having one maybe two of the lobes from the right side of his brain removed. We were told that he was definitely having three lobes removed (temporal, parietal, and occipital). They then went on to tell us that they believe he has Rasmussen's syndrome which is a rare neurological condition. Once they remove the initial three lobes, pathology will be done on the brain. If the pathology confirms the diagnosis of Rasmussen's syndrome, he will go back to surgery, and they will remove the remainder of the right side of the brain (frontal lobe and motor strip). This will leave Collin with a limp on the left side (should be able to walk and run), and he will lose fine finger movements in the left hand (he is left-handed). This was an extremely difficult day for Jim and I. Surgery is set for March 26th. He will be in the hospital for about a week, and we will probably be home before they get the pathology back on the brain. But, I would have to say that the doctors sounded 99% certain that he has Rasmussen's.

I am asking for your prayers for Collin, especially, but for my whole family. This has been a long struggle or Jim and I as a married couple, and we are trying our best to get through it.


You can imagine the rush of emotion--excitement that this girl I was wanting to connect with was connecting with me at the start instantly changing to pain and sorrow for her and her family as I read about what they are enduring right now. Even now, a few weeks after the email, her story stuns and pains me.

I believe God was prompting me to connect with Bianca because she is in need. And, you and I can help with that need. I'm asking you to daily pray for Bianca and her family. Pray that God would remove the epilepsy from Collin and that there would not have to be any surgery. Pray that Bianca and Jim continue to have peace and hope, even in this painful, uncertain time. Pray that God will be the God he calls himself to be to them.

If you would like to email Bianca and encourage her, you can do so by clicking here. Thank you for joining with me.

March 4, 2009

For the last few years, I've been a fan of the comic strip Boondocks. Maybe its the author's fearlessness to use his ethnicity to make something funny, while at the same time questioning why things are the way they are. For example, a few weeks ago, following the Oscars, the Huey and Riley in the strip were lamenting about how most African American movies are not considered for the Oscars and how they mostly are horrible movies (these are the words of the characters, mind you). To make up for it, they were taking movies like Kate and Leopold and turning them in to African American movies. So, the new title was something like Jamal and Shaniqua.

This morning's Boondocks is of the religious nature.

The cartoon illustrates some of the ideas my friend Steve talked about at the Michigan Statewide Teen Convention this past weekend. Our theme was Exposed--the idea that as God's light shines on us, he exposes all of the ugliness inside. The three topics we kicked around were Legalism, Hypocrisy, and Sin. (I know, lightweight topics for a youth convention). The take home of those three sessions were that we need to be a people of love, a people of integrity, and a people who deal with their sins by confessing them and doing everything we can to sin no more.

One way of boiling down last weekend is the question, "how are we living out our faith?" This is a question that I have been chewing on for years now. It started to infect (in a good way) me in seminary and has not stopped since. How are we, God's people, living out our faith in physical/tangible to show we are living under God's reign? How are we being His kingdom here on earth? Are we showing things like love, joy, peace, patience, and so on in our lives? Are we bringing those things about in the lives of other regardless of where they are with God? Are we living "salvation worthy" lives (see John the Baptist's words to the Pharisees and teachers of the law)? Are we living cross worthy lives?

I know I need to raise my living. How about you?

I want to rewrite the last slide of the cartoon above. I want Huey continue on with his commenting about the "religious". I want him to say something like, "Rather, I choose to actually think about my faith every day and allow it to shape my every breath, every footstep, every word."

As a response, then, the little brother Riley would respond with, "cool!"