Friday, September 8, 2017

Ezra Update

"Thank you so much for helping my brother. He is my best friend," Sophie wrote on thank you cards to Ezra's doctors. Ezra added, "I have not had a seizure since my surgery," and "If God says so, I am going to be a scientist when I grow up." 
Today, we had our follow up appointment at Riley Children's Hospital. I burst into tears upon seeing Ezra's doctors. God used them to change the course of our lives. Not only has Ezra been seizure free since his surgery, his mind has been awakened. He has a light in his eyes that we have never seen before. He thinks and speaks with clarity. He talked so much during church on Sunday that we had to tell him to quiet down. He uses sarcasm in a way that makes Nathan and I laugh out loud and look at one another stunned. Surgery allowed us to meet a boy that had been in hiding for 9 years. We praise God. What a miracle! 

Three months from now, Ezra's brain will be fully healed and we will have a final appointment with his doctors. Four months from now, our family be on a plane to our home in Uganda with our "awakened" Ugandan son. To God be the glory! Thank you for your prayers and faithful support! 
Get ready Uganda, the Metzes will see you January 2018! 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

MissionLife podcast: Ep. 3 - Empathy

Hey!  A new episode of the MissionLife podcast just came out this morning!  In this episode on empathy, Nathan says, "Strangely, even though there are enormous volumes of research to support the value of empathy and personal connection, it can’t be counted or tracked or recorded. So what do we do? We find other things to count and track and record. Of course, I’m talking about the counseling world but do we see this in the church? Do we see a priority of countable, trackable, recorded movements and actions as greater and more celebrated than merely a personal connection? In missional living, there are few greater accomplishments than connection. Empathy is the road we must travel."  Give it a listen and share your thoughts in the comments!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ezra Surgery Update: Textbook Perfect

Among our children we’ve witnessed optimism and hope that builds such powerful encouragement and strength within us.  Prior to the surgery they said things like, “Today is the day Ezra will be healed!” and “Ezra just had the final seizure of his life”.  It does Jade and I a lot of good to hear such positive, faith-filled perspective from our children.  Jade and I have handled the process in our own ways with ups and downs, highs and lows.  This morning I testify.
            God’s promises are full and final.  He does not struggle to remain faithful to us.  His love is complete.  Less than 48 hours after his surgery, Ezra has no bandage on his head, walks around his room with ease, plays games with us, speaks, eats and exceeds nearly every expectation we had for him at this stage.  The doctors agree. And so in a few hours, we are going home.  Is he fully healed?  We won’t be able to make that kind of statement for quite a while. Following the surgery, the doctor said she has every reason to believe that this surgery has cured his epilepsy.  Is God faithful?  I testify today: God is faithful.  God is good.  I am a father full of joy and thankfulness.  We are parents full of praise and relief.  We are a family covered in love, hope, and peace.
            Medically speaking: Ezra’s left hippocampus was removed in a “textbook perfect” surgery called a Left Temporal Lobectomy.  He now has a circular scar above his left ear about the size of a baseball with a small line in front of his 
ear.  The incision is not stitched.  Instead, they use a special “super glue” with antiseptic in it that will hold the skin in place and fall off on its own once the wound is healed.  He will have about two weeks of “taking it easy” at home before returning to school and moderate routine activities.  It will be about a month before he is riding his bike or jumping on the trampoline. Three months from now, his brain will be fully healed.
            Jade and I have been so incredibly encouraged by our family,
 friends, and community.  We spent the day of surgery with 15-20 who came to sit with us in the waiting room.  As other families came and went we sat in waiting for one of the longest surgeries of the day.  I can’t imagine going through such a scenario on our own.  Community changes everything.  As Ezra moved from his post-op bed to the ICU to his recovery room we enjoyed a steady stream of visiting friends with balloons, Legos, cards and meaningful time. Behind the scenes, there were hundreds and hundreds of you praying from all over the world. We are thankful for those who came, those who prayed and all who stood in support of Ezra and our family. Please join us today and praise our Father for what the doctors are calling a 'textbook perfect surgery', a 'perfect CT scan' and a 'perfect recovery'. What an awesome, powerful experience this has been.

We love you.

Nathan Metz

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ezra Surgery: Our Family's Reconstructing

Nathan's been having nightmares for weeks. When he’s not busy his mind is consumed with “what if’s”. Ezra’s seizures have increased to nearly every day now. He is worried about what his scar is going to look like. This week Ezra came home with a stack of paper’s with 100%’s on them. Our son is getting 100%’s in school and he is using the wrong side of his brain to do the work. He is brilliant. I wonder what Ezra is going to be like after surgery? His surgeon said she is hoping he ‘skyrockets’. She said this surgery is his “chance at a cure”. 90% chance in fact. Maddix is spectacular. She appreciates order and cleanliness. Every time Ezra has a seizure, he pukes. Over the last year Maddix, my germophobe, has taken it upon herself to clean up her brother’s puke. Is this what Paul meant when he said that suffering perfects our character? On a day when Ezra had 5 seizures in a row, Sophie asked us, “If God can heal Ezra, why won’t He?” She asks the most gut wrenching questions. Ruby adores Ezra. She loves that he has brown skin like her, that he accompanies her on the trampoline and that she can boss him around. At home, they are inseparable.
Tomorrow God will use Dr. Smith’s skilled hands to heal our son’s brain. For months and months, He’s been reconstructing my own. In the past, I have used food and entertainment to numb my feelings. Emotions ruled my behavior. Tomorrow my son is having brain surgery and my faith is rock solid. I have a peace that is supernatural, otherworldly. This season of pain is my spiritual growth spurt. Is God using suffering to reconstruct me? To reconstruct my family? Has the miracle already begun? My strong husband, showing us his weakness. Maddix, on her hands and knees scrubbing soiled carpet. Sophie wrestling with God, not having answers but still believing in God anyway. Ezra, who started off life neglected, now seeing scores of people rushing to his aid. Ruby, watching this all play out, shaping her into a fierce godly woman. Have the miracles already begun? Is pain bringing holiness in all of us?
Thank you for praying for Ezra’s surgery tomorrow, August 24th at 9am. His surgery will last for 4-9 hours. He will be in intensive care for 24 hours and will be in the hospital for 2-4 days. Please pray for us all. May the miracles continue. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Development in the Metz Ministry!

Have you heard the big news!?!  Nathan started a podcast called MissionLife.  The first episode is already up.  Give it a listen and share your thoughts in the comments!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Our Mountain

It's amazing how frequently this missionary life leaves me speechless! I'm a writer and a preacher. Words are my thing. Yet, time after time, I fall silent, speechless, awed by the story we live.
Our family has been on a challenging journey over the last year. Jade and I have struggled to find answers for our children and any sort of a plan in the midst of Ezra's medical needs. As the pressure increased, so did the generous support of our friends and family. The incredible core team at Resonance Church shocked us with a trip to Colorado to spend time with a group of Uganda missionaries that we served with. For five sunny days we hiked, swam, played, ate, laughed and cried with 55 friends and peers. Our group travelled from all across the States, Australia, Uganda and Iraq. We prayed and worshiped and we were filled. Speechless.

On our last day, Ezra and I decided to climb a nearby mountain (actually, it was a hill, but to a 9 year old it's a mountain). When we reached the top we took a picture together with the beautiful view in the background. Moments later, Ezra had a seizure. As I held my son, shaking and disoriented, I wondered what kind of mountain this was. Once he regained is awareness and balance we turned and began our descent. As I followed him down, he said, "thanks dad" and I cried quietly behind him. After a week of filling, prayer and time in the word I felt I had the freedom to call this place in our life a mountain. God does things with pain that can only be done with pain. He wastes nothing. Everything works together for good. In that way, this is a good mountain, even if painful. I trust my Lord.

Thank you so much to those who sent us to Colorado and left us speechless! We may never fully know the depth of the impact of this time away to refill and connect with missionary peers as we brace ourselves for Ezra's surgery. We love you all!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Ezra Surgery, We Wait With Hope

Many of you have heard Jade and I discussing the health of our son Ezra over the past couple of years related to his epilepsy.  During our time here in the States we have been consulting with Riley Children’s Hospital to assess the problem and identify a plan.  We have been working with a neurologist at Riley to find a medication that would reduce Ezra's seizures as much as possible.  We’ve recently been told that after trying four medications, our chance of success in this route is below 5%.  As a result, Riley has recommended brain surgery.  The word “brain surgery” has been a difficult concept for our family to deal with.  Although we don’t have all the answers, Jade and I felt the time has come to share what we know so far.

Ezra’s left temporal lobe is the area causing his seizures.  This week we have been at Riley for a 3-day EEG to help them further identify the area causing his seizures. We found out that Ezra is constantly having seizures that we cannot see. He has them all day long and even in his sleep. We only see the outward manifestation of his seizures 1-2 times a week. The results of that EEG show that Ezra will have a 85% chance of being seizure free with brain surgery. On August 2nd, after a few more tests, Ezra will undergo a procedure called a ‘temporal lobectomy’.  During this procedure Dr. Smith will remove about 5cm of his temporal lobe. Ezra will be in the hospital for a couple days after the surgery but should then be allowed to return home.  Following the surgery, Ezra will need 4-6 weeks to completely heal before the neurosurgeon will clear him to travel. Both Ezra’s neurologists and his surgeon are incredibly supportive of us moving back to Uganda. We are thankful for such a quality experience with these doctors so far.

As you may have noticed, the scheduling of these procedures and recovery time will impact our previous schedule in returning to Uganda.  We were planning to leave July 19th but the plan must change.  We are moving our departure date to the end of September.

Right now our lives feel chaotic but even in the shifting and fluctuating we recognize that there are important truths that remain.  First, God isn’t nervous about any of this.  Please pray that our family will lean in together to the faithful love of God as He cares for us in this time. Second, we’re still called to Uganda.  When the plan gets changed our whole family, including Ezra, felt that nothing had changed in our call to Uganda.  The calendar might look different but the call does not.  Third, we aren’t alone.  So many have expressed love and support in ways that we truly appreciate.  Your friendships and prayer are a huge boost to us all. Thank you for your encouragement and support!