Scott Kalitta was a Top Fuel and NHRA champion. Today, during a qualifying run, his car exploded and lost control, then exploded further when it struck the end of the drag strip. I was associated with that family (and their other business) a few years ago, and while I never met any of them, I heard from their employees and acquaintances that they were good people and good employers. ESPN has a limited report now; I’m sure they’ll have more information as soon as they can pull it together.
The above is paraphrased from 2 Corinthians 12:9. It’s also the title of a song written in 1988 by Steven Curtis Chapman, a young up-and-coming Christian music artist. Over the past twenty years, many Christians have been comforted and encouraged by this song. Now, it’s his turn to be comforted. Yesterday, Steven Curtis Chapman’s 5-year-old daughter was struck and killed by one of her teenage brothers, who was driving an SUV and didn’t see her. From the response posted on his site and his radio interview following it, it sounds like he is handling this very well. However, it’s got to be difficult to go through something like this. Let’s pray that the Lord will comfort he and his family.
His strength is perfect when our strength is gone;
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.
Raised in His power, the weak become strong;
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect.
This Sunday, April 27th, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will be featuring the Martinez family from Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the build that we saw happening, and the genesis for the idea of the Not So Extreme Makeover: Community Edition (NSX) that we took part in last month. Gerald Martinez is the pastor at Joshua’s Vineyard, an outreach church in one of the least-desired areas of Albuquerque. Through NSX, we became acquainted with him, and, while I can’t vouch for the other families that have received these, I can say that he is very deserving of the home he received. He has been working in that area for years, and when he wasn’t ministering to the people, he was trying to figure out how to get others in the community involved and engaged. This did it - it was truly an answer to prayer unfolding before our eyes.
On a personal note, our family was lining the street as Ty and Gerald walked around the corner to see another building they had built. They were talking, but who knows what will stay in or be left on the cutting room floor. We were standing just before the people in blue shirts - I can’t remember what I’m wearing, but I do know I was wearing Jameson on my head. Michelle was wearing a green shirt, and was right behind me. Our other two boys were standing in front of me. Who knows - you may see us if you watch closely!
Another exciting turn is that, according to popular local rumors, ABC has requested footage from NSX, so they may be showing some people who participated in that as well.
It will come on early this week - 6pm EDT/PDT, 7pm CDT/MDT - and it’ll run for two hours. Be sure to catch it!
I’ve received a final update from Charles and Judith regarding their baby girl. (Previous updates here)
Our baby Mary Florence was born around 5:35 A.M. August 28, 2007. She was alive when born, but sadly she died in my arms a very few minutes later. Even though we were expecting it, we were not prepared for the hard reality of it.
Physically Judith is doing well. She had a fever for a time but her temperature is now back to normal. Of course there is pain after childbirth, but Georgetown University Hospital has been great.
Once again our grateful thanks to all of you for all of your kind words, thoughts and prayers.
Although the outcome of this is not what any parent would hope when they here of their soon-to-arrive baby - but, we know that we can trust God, and that He knows why the outcome was the way it was. Continue to keep Charles and Judith in your prayers, as well as the rest of their family; their oldest son has just been deployed to Iraq.
I’ve received another update from Charles and Judith about their baby. (Previous updates here)
(July 21) The baby’s heart beat often skips a beat, kind of 3 beats and then a skip but it is not always that regular. Friday they did a fetal echo cardiogram and discovered that the baby’s heart has 2 small holes in it. The holes can easily be repaired later when the baby is stronger and they may even close on their own. However they are concerned because this can be associated with chromosomal disorders, especially Down syndrome (trisomy 21), trisomy 13, and trisomy 18. Babies with Down syndrome can live but few babies with trisomy 13 or trisomy 18 live more than a few months.
It is too late for amniocentesis (a test for these chromosomal abnormalities) as there is no fluid to speak of. They could get a genetic sample from the blood in the cord but the expert they had that does this got another job and they do not want to try it. It is hard to do especially since the baby is moving more and there is some risk of infection. They could use a needle to get a sample of the placenta.
A part of the amniotic fluid is urine from the baby. Whenever Judith urinates some fluid comes out. They collected some of this morning (Saturday) and will collect more, and send it for analysis. It will contain cells from both Judith and the baby and they hope to test the baby’s cells to see if it has a chromosomal anomaly and which one.
(Aug 1) The results of the chromosome tests are back. It is definitely not trisomy 13, trisomy 18, or trisomy 21. There are some other possible chromosome defects but they are very rare and they usually do not test for them. Also babies with those defects usually result in a miscarriage. The baby is a girl. The baby’s heart rate has dropped down twice now probably due to compression of the umbilical cord. The amniotic fluid usually protects the cord but of course we have no fluid. When the cord is compressed the baby is not getting enough oxygen and if the heart rate stays down too long they will deliver the baby via c-section. Judith and the baby are now being monitored for the baby’s heart rate and for contractions 24 hours a day. They also do sonograms and for the baby’s heart they do echocardiograms. The main problem is the development of the lungs and the birth defect.
I’ve received another update from Charles and Judith about their baby (previous updates here).
The baby was 24 weeks old on July 18, 2007. It has been seven weeks since the water broke. Only one baby in approximately 128 with PPROM will live this far. Because it has reached this age Judith and the baby went into the hospital on July 18. She has received two steroid shots that they hope will help the baby’s lung tissue develop.
Today, July 19th we got another sonogram. The gestational age was 22 weeks and three days so as expected it is undersized. However there were some positive things. Since July 2nd the baby’s weight has increased from 300 grams to 516 grams (1 lb. 20 oz.). There was some confusion in the initial report of the birth defect as to whether it was an omphalocele or whether it was gastroschisis. Gastroschisis is a bigger problem but fortunately they think it is omphalocele and also they think that the liver in not involved and in its normal position. That is still serious and life threatening.
The main threat now is the possible lack of lung development due to no amniotic fluid. No matter what the weight or other factors this one is the key. Unfortunately the lung tissue cannot be seen on the sonogram. There is only one way to tell if the baby has enough lung tissue to survive and that will be to test them out in the real world when the baby is delivered. Each day that there is a delay in the delivery of the baby increases its chances. So there is increased hope, increased chance of survival but make no mistake, at this point the percentages are not great. The baby is on the cusp or edge of being or becoming viable. This is more than could have been reasonably expected at the beginning, so all praise to God for His love and mercy toward us and thanks to all of you for your prayers and support.
I received another update from Charles about their baby (original request here, first update here).
Sorry about all the medical jargon in this email, but I can only pass on what we have been told and what we have researched. It is hard to translate all this to regular English and if some of you want to do your own research the technical terms can aid in searching although at times they can also hinder getting understandable articles.
Prior to today the best web information I have found is at:
From that we knew that “Midtrimester (13-26 wk) PPROM has a dismal prognosis”. (PPROM is an acronym for pre-term premature rupture of membranes.) Most women (93.75%) with this condition go into labor prior to four weeks, but a very few continue on for longer periods. In this case we are among the fortunate few who beat the odds. However as you we see below there are other even longer odds stacked up against us and our baby.
The sonogram result from today is that the baby is underdeveloped for its gestational age and there is very little amniotic fluid. No movement of the baby was observed although from time to time Judith has felt movement. The heartbeat is still normal.
Both our ob-gyn and the specialist we saw today have never seen a case like ours where the baby has survived. We did not talk much about the birth defect (omphaocele) or the operation for it except that she did mention that the chances of other birth defects such as downs syndrome etc. is high. We mostly talked about the fact that without the amniotic fluid the baby’s lungs will not develop properly. This would result in pulmonary hypoplasia which means the baby would not be able to breath and probably would not survive even if that was the only problem. If the baby survives another two weeks (until after July 15) we could transfer the prenatal care to this specialist. The only treatment would be bed rest and to administer steroids to hopefully aid or accelerate the development of the baby’s lungs. Judith would have to stay in the hospital all the time until the baby is delivered. Nobody knows when this might be. Potentially it could be up to 16 weeks or so. Even with all of that the chances of the baby surviving are “one percent or less”. This just the risk from the pulmonary hypoplasia alone without taking into consideration the operation required for the birth defect. That defect alone is also life threatening i.e. without the operation the baby will not survive. That operation must be done under general anesthesia and so of course the baby must be able to breathe in order to survive that. There could possibly be some slight delay between the birth of the baby and the operation to allow for more lung development, but if that is possible it would have to be “very carefully managed”.
I am sorry the news is not more encouraging. Obviously most of our hopes have not yet come to pass. We are grateful to God for the extra time that he given us with out baby, time that others are not so lucky to have. (While PPROM happens in only 3% of pregnancies that is still 150,000 pregnancies a year. My heart goes out to all those people who have suffered as much or even more than we have.) We always hope and pray for the result that we desire but we end our prayers asking for God to help us in accepting His will for both us and our baby. In this life we usually do not see or understand why we must suffer, but I believe this life is just part of a deeper, more encompassing reality where somehow all of this has meaning and makes sense.
Thank you again for all of your prayers and support.
The baby’s not out of the woods yet. The prognosis is dim, but it was dim when we first started praying. Keep Charles and Judith in your prayers.