I've heard it said that having a child exposes your selfishness. Consider how much selfishness is exposed when you have five children. Some of my daily battles include: "I need some down time. I'll let the kids watch videos for a couple of hours, so I can sleep, eat without interruption, or watch a show I want;" "The kids are finally asleep. Now I can relax, eat a yummy late night snack, and do what I want;" "Why are the kids not listening? It's easiest to yell, so I'll give into my anger and scream at them;" "Caring for a newborn is exhausting. I need to sleep in. The dishes can wait. I'd rather drink my coffee and relax than enforce discipline, routine, and structure in my family"...
"Honey, I have the name!" my husband announced boldly coming in the door as I stood 6 months pregnant. He wanted to name our fifth child "Valor Emmanuel," meaning "courage" and "God is with us." I wasn't a fan. "It would definitely be the most unique name of all our children," I said with a forced grin. For the next several weeks, I offered alternative names hoping one would stick. They all fell flat, not just with Elijah but also with me.
When I filled out Valor's birth certificate paperwork weeks before his birth, I slowly began to accept the name. Early on the morning of September 26, 2019, with this newly born 7 lb 14 oz baby boy screaming on my chest, Elijah pronounced his name again: "Valor Emmanuel," and it just fit. We had no idea then how well it fit...
Christmas carols have been a welcome comfort during Valor's nearly two-week hospital stay. Meditating through song on Jesus' humble, innocent, endangered and hopeful birth has resonated deeply with Valor's current situation. One night as Brandi and I sang "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" around Valor's hospital crib, a particular line resonated. "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."
"Hopes and fears." Infection is an ongoing danger for Valor due to his low white blood cell count. Several days into Valor's stay at Duke Children's Hospital, as I changed his diaper, I noticed a lumpy white object attached to the side of Valor's penis. I cleaned him off with a baby wipe as he cried, but the white object remained attached. On the next diaper change, the white object was still attached and now his penis was swollen and red in the area around the white object.
I began to panic. "Valor was developing an infection. He would go downhill quickly. This could be the beginning of the end." We notified a nurse that he was at risk of infection, which seemed to be developing. The nurse notified a doctor. The doctor came to examine Valor...
Most cultures of the ancient world contain a catastrophic flood story of some kind. The stories often involve a boat, a lone person or family who was saved and a stated reason for judgment by God or the gods. (Visit this website for examples: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flood-myths.html )
As Valor's emerging diagnosis and the seriousness of his condition has sunk in, I've felt a growing sympathy with Noah and the Biblical flood story. Not only have my tears come rolling down like waves, but test results and ominous sounding medical words like "failure to thrive," "multiple blood lines down" and "possible leukemia" crashed into my ears with growing alarm. Like the panic of a drowning person, I gasped under an avalanche of dread as Valor gleefully smiled, bobbing around his waving hands and feet...
Meet the Authors: Elijah & Brandi Lovejoy
On March 15, 2019 nine days before his 6 month birthday, our son, Valor Emmanuel Lovejoy, entered Duke Children's Hospital for the second time with a recent fever, low white and red blood cell counts and a below 1% weight chart gain. Doctors suspect Valor has Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, a disease that effects bone marrow health, pancreatic function and sometimes skeletal structure, among other symptoms. You can learn more about SDS here: www.shwachman-diamond.org. I (Elijah) am a pastor, and I (Brandi) am a volunteer Children's Ministry Director and home school mom to our five children.
These Chronicles are written from a Christian perspective in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." We believe the Lord does his best and deepest work through profound patterns of death and resurrection, particularly as pioneered and embodied in Jesus Christ's own death and resurrection. Through faith and ongoing participation in Jesus' death and resurrection, we offer these Valor Chronicles in hope that others will find comfort, hope, peace and resurrection life with us in Jesus.