The Rhen Nest

the place to check in on the Rhen family of Redwood City, CA.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Levi's Prayer Circle - Sept. 2007

Birthdate: Mar. 31, 2007

Characteristics: Hungry, Joyful,

Prayer Requests
1. Health

2. Sleep through night

3. Protection from evil

4. Safety from physical harm

Noah's Prayer Circle - Sept. 2007

Birthdate: Nov. 12, 2003
Grade: Preschool

Characteristics: Outgoing, High Energy

Prayer Requests
1. Believe and follow Jesus
2. Self-control in voice
3. Generosity
4. Protection of body
5. Be used by God

Elise's Prayer Circle - Sept. 2007

Birthdate: March 1, 2001
Grade: 1st

Characteristics: Creative, Social

Prayer Requests
1. Desire to follow God
2. Honesty
3. First-time obedience
4. Kindness
5. Protection from evil

Sadie's Prayer Circle - Sept. 2007

Birthdate: Dec. 22, 1997
Grade: 4th
Characteristics: Dedicated, Honest
Prayer Requests
1. Make faith her own
2. Grace & compassion
3. Safety at gymnastics
4. Godly friendships
5. Humilty

Friday, September 07, 2007

Remembering What God Has Done - Emma Rhen

An excerpt from A Short Walk with Emma

a beautiful death

I have heard it said that beauty and death are the greatest catalysts for us to grow in our understanding of God. I found this to be true as I reentered Emma’s hospital room for the last time just after 7:45AM on September 8th, 2001.

Sadie, Elise & Emma -- Sept. 4, 2001

The final breathing test was about to begin. We had told the doctors that if Emma failed the test, we would release her from the respirator immediately. In the room were several doctors, our parents and two close friends. Missy, because of how God had spoken to us so directly regarding whether or not we could release Emma, asked for Lamentations 3:22 (NIV) to be read prior to our starting the test. One of our friends read aloud

“Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. "The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him…

After it was read, we prayed for God’s will to be done. We both assumed she would not breathe. Over the past 12 hours, the movements of God seemed to make it obvious that we would be releasing her in minutes. The questions in our heads were very practical. How long will she last once off the respirator? Who should be in the room as she is dying? The doctors answered the first question. They told us it could be up to 5 to 10 minutes. We never discussed the second question. For the moment, the right people seemed to be in the room. Everyone that was still at the hospital, had at least gotten to say their good-byes around midnight.

The test lasted about 15 minutes. Emma did not breathe. The breath of life was gone from her. The doctors asked us if Missy would like to hold her once she was disconnected from the respirator. Emma would be able to die in the arms of her mother. We agreed and everyone in the room began to maneuver to make this happen.

Death and beauty collided over the next hour. After taking out Emma’s breathing tube, she was laid into Missy's arms. I sat down next to them. Emma with her typical bluish coloring, looked like she was sleeping. All eyes were on mother and child. As a backdrop, the sun had risen creating a hazy gray blue sky. It was a few minutes after 8AM. Missy broke the silence and asked, “How will we know when her heart has stopped?” as the doctor came close checking Emma’s pulse. He replied somberly, “It has. Her heart has stopped, I am sorry.” I lifted and turned my head and announced to all in a deadpan tone of voice, “She is dead, her heart has stopped.” It had taken less than a minute. It was 8:04AM on Saturday morning, September 8th, 2001 and our daughter, Emma Grace Rhen, had just died and her spirit had gone to heaven at the age of two years and just shy of four months.

Yet amidst it all, there was something remarkably beautiful unfolding. As I gazed through my sorrow, I witnessed raw, uncontrollable brokenness. Grown men were shaking with emotion like I had never seen before. People were sobbing and holding one another. Kleenex, handkerchiefs, bare hands and shirtsleeves were being used to combat the endless flow of tears. Few memorable words were spoken. Only gasps for air could be heard between the cries of anquish. Then, without command each one in the room came and knelt in front of the three of us. Some touch Emma, some hugged us, some did nothing, but all said their final good-bye. It was a repeat of the scene from the evening past.

In time, all those waiting in the atrium lounge began to trickle in for their turn at a final farewell. Soon the room was bursting with fresh tears of those who had weathered the night or come back for the morning. They had been a part of the journey and desired a chance to see it through to completion. It was a needed ending to a tragic time spent together. Faces of friends who had not visited nor been with us through the night surprised us. My tears became fueled with gratefulness for their concern and efforts to join us. I attempted to greet each person with eye contact and a nod, after they had all taken their initial look at Emma and Missy. Within moments of entering the room, all joined the lament of tears. I can honestly say, without guilt, that I enjoyed the depth and richness of the moment. I was in the presence of God and among those who loved us. I only yearned for my sister and the rest of my brother and sister in-laws to have been there to share in the moment. Geography has always hindered us.

Prior to filling out paper work, they placed Emma back on her bed and gave Missy the opportunity to clean her. Her color was changing to blue, but she otherwise looked asleep. Her short, blonde, wavy hair was matted to her head and had a yellow tint to it instead of the usual white sheen. As we stood there not knowing how to leave, our friend and Emma’s surgeon, Dr. Black, entered the room. We gladly received him. He apologized again with tears in his eyes. The conversation bounced from encouraging him, to discussing his daughter of similar age, to acknowledging how politically crazy things were at Stanford, though he had built a great pediatric heart unit and had a good reputation. He spoke of potential options, but expressed the desire of not having to move his family. Death had us speaking directly from the heart with one another more than ever before.

Around 10AM, we walked out the ICU doors into the atrium hallway where we were greeted by teary-eyed faces of a few more friends who had just arrived to support us. I was disappointed that they did not get to see Emma and fully experience the beauty of what God had done.