Friday, October 4, 2013

Pirate and Princess 5k

Bethany Christian Services hosted a Pirate and Princess 5k and Fun Run on September 21st.  The morning was filled with kids and adults alike dressed up as pirates and princesses.  Face painting, inflatables, and cotton candy were fun activities for the kids as they waited for their parents to cross the finish line.  Students from Covenant volunteered at the race handing out water and attempting to face paint.  (Mustaches were extremely popular.)  Despite the rain, the morning was successful and enjoyable!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Alec almost ready to be released

Hello Friends:

Alec continues to make good recovery progress.  All of his chest tubes are out, and we have him up walking a bit each day, and playing in the playroom.  We think that we'll be released fairly soon -- probably in a day or two.  Medical teams make these decisions, and they're just waiting for a bit more progress to give their blessing for us to go home.  Alec continues to be up and down emotionally during the day.  He has lots of happy periods punctuated by sad period with tears.  He's become a bit afraid of medical procedures, so even something like removing a band-aid is met with great fear and feelings of betrayal.  He's pretty much a textbook case for this kind of surgery and recovery, and we're very thankful for how well he's doing.  We learned how to do CPR on a child today (it's not gentle either!), and we received instructions for how to care for him once we get home.  Once home, we have a 4-6 week period during which we can't take him places (school, church, out clubbing, etc.), and any family members who do venture beyond the home (to school or work) have to change clothes, and wash up immediately upon entering the house.  Staying home, not swimming, and so on will be hard for Alec.  They told us not to put any over-the-counter preparations on his incision line... that most of those actually inhibit healing.  Who knew!  But, despite all of these initial restrictions, this was a really successful surgery, and should drastically improve his quality of life and the length of his life.

Thanks for reading...

Matt & Joan Vos

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Alec's surgery, the morning after

Alec has come out of both surgeries quite beautifully.  Yesterday's surgery was open heart where they performed a fontan procedure which basically involves adding routes (using artificial materials) for blood to flow.  This should improve his oxygen levels significantly, and he should be able to do things (walking, running, etc.) more like other kids his age.  You wouldn't know it to see him, but his oxygen levels have been dangerously low for all of his life, and this operation should allow him to live a more normal lifespan.  The surgeon who performed his operation continues to tell us that he's getting a A+ rating for how well he's doing, and he's ahead of schedule in terms of recovery.  So, we're considerably more at ease about things.  Alec is talking and seems to be conscious of what is going on around him.  I've been reading him selections from an intro sociology text (just to keep his spirits up!).  During Tuesdays surgery (a catheter surgery) they found a big clump (not the correct technical term) of collateral blood vessels that they think may hold the key to understanding why he had been able to live with such subpar heart performance all these years.  They were able to deal with this during the cath surgery, and it set him up nicely for yesterday's surgery, which went beautifully.  We're staying in the Ronald McDonald house about a half mile away.  It is very nice (and almost free!), and they provide home cooked meals each evening.  The sociologist in me finds the incredibly eclectic mix of people from different social classes, religious affiliations, races, language groups, and so on, to be fascinating.  It's a sociologists playground here.  We saw an Amish family here with their son who has cystic fibrosis, and thought how strange it must be for them -- people who largely excise most modern technology from their lives coming to the Mecca of medical technology to treat their son.

Through all of this were very conscious of how significant and life changing all of this is for Alec.  Les than one year ago he was in very poor and humble circumstances, and not expected to live a long life.  Things are considerably more hopeful for him now, and we so clearly se the hand of God in all this.  Thanks, friends, for your interest and support as we walk through this with Alec.  We appreciate it and continue to covet your prayers.  Matt & Joan Vos

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

He's done!

Alec is all finished!  The surgeon told us that all had gone well with no surprises.  Well see him in a half hour or so.  Matt & Joan

Out of surgery

We just got a call that Alec's surgery is all finished except the final closing.  Apparently everything went well... We will find out in about 20minutes.
So, here we are.   Interesting night in that Alec began running a fever early in the night.   There was concern that the surgery would be cancelled or postponed until the fever came down.  The night nurse worked on bringing it down, and it did come down low enough for the surgeon to give the thumbs up.    Alec did OK last night and wanted to get up and move around the room a bit (slowly).  However, this morning he was a more upset and scared.  He cried quite a bit while in the holding room until we distracted him with watching TV on the iPad.   Finally, they sedated him because he was just becoming too upset.   

Currently, he is undergoing all of the pre-op stuff.  They will call us from OR when they're about to begin the incision.   And so the long wait begins.

We learned from talking with the surgeon (who by reputation and our opinion, after meeting her, is exceptional at what she does) that Alec had a MASSIVE collateral (essentially a large clump of vessels that pools and redirects blood flow in the lungs) close to the aorta.    The doctor who assisted yesterday's surgeon assisting said she'd never seen such a large collateral.   
Dr. Christian, today's surgeon, came by yesterday to meet us and was surprised to find out that Dr. Ammon (yesterday's surgeon) was still in with Alec.  So, she was able to go in and see up close what Alec's heart looks like (through the heart cath) and was able to see the collateral and then later described it as "God's little miracle" as to how his body compensated and provided a natural shunt where it was needed when he was an infant.   This huge collateral, although not an overly efficient way to get blood to pulmonary artery, preserved his life at a time when he needed surgery but likely didn't have access to the medical care he needed.  She confirmed what I knew all along and that is he never did have the first surgery that our cardiologist in Chattanooga kept telling us he HAD to have had to have survived. .. . .    So, in the end, it had saved him but it did need to be fixed and so we are thankful for God's provision that the collateral was discovered before the open heart today.   

Another teachable moment for me (Joan) in God's provision for Alec and for us. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More on Alec

We are currently in a regular hospital room, as Alec continues to recover as well as prep for the big surgery tomorrow.  We were able to secure a Ronald McDonald room for a few days while Alec will be in ICU.  We will take turns staying there each night, giving us a break for a brief time.

The open heart surgery begins at 8 am tomorrow and will last until about 2 pm.  We talked with the surgeon for some time this evening.  She feels good about the surgery tomorrow and feels it will have a very favorable outcome for him.  The surgeons found a very large blood vessel collateral near his aorta.  It was one of the largest they had seen.  They were able to plug this and keep blood from flowing in directions it shouldn't go, but they explained that because of how it was rerouting blood, it may have kept him alive all these years.  As we've gotten further into this, we've really gained insight into just how serious his condition is.  It's quite amazing that he's done as well as he has.  The procedure tomorrow is really just one step shy of a heart transplant.  We continue to be impressed by Alec's surgeons who seem to be able to do the sort of things that are so far beyond our experience, and which keep kids like Alec alive.  We're grateful for how well Alec's doing, and we feel Gods hand on him.  As always, thanks for your prayers and kindnesses to us through this.  Matt & Joan

Out of surgery

Alec is out of surgery and doing well.  He's in recovery and still asleep, but we're able to be with him. Things went well today, and the surgeons were able to fix several things that set him up well for tomorrow's more invasive surgery.  More later.

Alec surgery update

We've gotten word from the surgical staff that things are going well for Alec.  They were going to put  some kind of coils into some collateral blood vessels to block them.  When they got in, they found that the vessels were somewhat bigger than anticipated, so they're putting in a device of some sort. What does all this mean.  We have no idea, but apparently everything is going well.  More later.  Matt & Joan

Alec's first surgery

Hello friends:

We're here at Vanderbilt for Alec's heart catheterization procedure.  Thus far everything has gone quite well. Our hotel was only a mile away from the medical center, and it was fairly easy to fi d the place.  Alec was fairly calm for the preop stuff... But we did have to sedate his mother!  Right now he's in surgery and we just got word that he went to sleep easily and that they've had no problems.  They'll start the actual procedure soon, and will call us in a hour.

Thanks for all your prayers and well wishes.  We do appreciate them.  Matt & Joan

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Alec Vos' Upcoming Surgery

Alec Vos' Upcoming Surgery

Hello Friends:

On July 30, our son Alec will undergo a left lung reconstruction at Vanderbilt that will allow for greater and freer blood flow through his left lung.  
If all goes well on the 30th, Alec will undergo an open heart surgery the very next day, on July 31st.  (If the outcome of the July 30th procedure is not what doctors were hoping for and expecting, then the open heart surgery will be cancelled and re-scheduled for a later date.)   
One of our greatest concerns is that the doctors indicate that this particular surgery (Fontan procedure) is very physiologically challenging in terms of the recovery/adjustment and return to normal activity after surgery can be lengthy and difficult.   
It is imperative that Alec be strong and completely healthy at the time of the surgery. Also, during his recovery of 5-7 weeks, he is to be isolated from other children to avoid contact with any virus or bacteria.  
This all feels very overwhelming and yet we remember God's provision thus far, and how He so clearly grafted Alec into our family.  When we reflect on the past year and all that has transpired in regard to Alec, we realize that God is in the details as well as in the process and the outcome.
We ask for your prayers for the following over the coming weeks:
·  Good health for all of us, but especially for Alec.
·  Alec's quick recovery and eventual transition into kindergarten at CCS.
·  Skillful hands for the surgeons.
·  Rose and Kate as they may have to begin their school year with one or both parents still living in Nashville.
·  More peace and less anxiety, and calm in the midst of the many details in both the pre and post-surgery stages.
·  We can plan carefully and prepare thoroughly and yet there are many unknowns in this situation.  Pray that we (Joan and Matt) will have calm and clarity as we proceed through the many and varied facets of this experience. 
We thank you for your prayers and the many kindnesses you have shown to our family  We are grateful for you and humbled by the care you have shown to us.   
Joan and Matt Vos, Rose, Kate and Alec

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Patheos Party

While perusing Facebook, which I've been timidly doing lately in an attempt to reintegrate myself into the social network that the vast majority of my relations use the vast majority of the time, I stumbled upon a post by a friend linking to Patheos article listing 10 reasons we should kill Christian music. While I doubt his seriousness or the degree to which he wants to "kill" Christian music (since he didn't recommend using fire), it nonetheless peaked my interest.

Two hours later, I found myself on the same site, reading article after article. While I didn't find a few of the articles as riveting or well thought out as the first, they were nonetheless well written by obviously informed people. Something that I have appreciated about the posts that I have read is their successful attempts to relate current events and patterns into larger movements of culture and religion (something that I've also admired about Peter Berger's blog, which can be found here).

With hints of philosophy, sociology, theology, and anecdotology (it will be a thing), these articles are both informative and entertaining to read, and you may even feel more educated when you come out the other side.

So without further ado, click here and begin. The blogs section is probably the best.

If you go to Covenant, you should look for the "J.G. & the Turabians" poster circulating around campus, if you haven't seen it already. It gets funnier the more you look at it. Like magic. Funny, funny magic. On a more serious note, send article ideas to Muchas gracias.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Vos Strikes Back

Dear readers,

Our own Dr. Vos recently wrote an article about the Super Bowl. Yes I know it's over now, and you've probably forgotten most everything about it except for a few of the commercials. But the article isn't about the Super Bowl, per se. Rather, it is more a critique about women and sports, and what the Super Bowl can tell us about the consumerism and our theology of women.

You can find the article here in its original form. If you're in South Africa, the Saturday Dispatch newspaper is supposedly running an edited version of the article this coming Saturday.


If you have a suggestion for an article, please feel free to send them to In the meantime I'll consume myself with Angry Birds: Star Wars.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Key, Peele, and Humorous Social Commentary

Because I am currently experiencing a lapse in interesting things to write about, I will instead make this post a plug for something probably worth your time to check out.

If you watch television at all, you may have come across a comedy duo that goes by the name of Key & Peele. This duo, composed of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, produce a sketch comedy show that airs on Comedy Central. One of their most famous skits, incredibly relevant in today's political climate, is President Barack Obama's "anger translator" Luther.
I'll let you guess who's who.

As Obama is famous for his seeming inability to show strong emotion in most situations, he hires Luther to explain to the American public what he would really like to say to his opponents.

While the primary purpose of these skits is of course to be humorous, it is interesting to note the social commentary undertones of many of their skits. For example, this video (if swearing affects you at all, be warned):

Provides a scenario in which a substitute teacher is frustrated by how children say their names "incorrectly," according to him. However, the situation is reversed in that the teacher is pronouncing their names "incorrectly" according to most, and the students "correctly." This kind of dilemma has surely affected many, though perhaps not in this way.

So that's about it. If you're interested in the show, you can Youtube the majority of their skits, or go to their website.

If you have a suggestion for an article, please feel free to send them to In the meantime, I'll be listening to "I Just Want To" by Reggie Watts on repeat.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Is Atheism a Religion?

Just this morning, I stumbled upon an article in the New York Times. Actually, it is less of an article and more of an ongoing discussion, that will at one time be ongoing. At the moment, it's really just a bunch of short opinion pieces by eight or nine different authors from a variety of backgrounds.

While that may sound confusing at best, the topic of discussion is rather interesting: atheism. That's right, they're talking about atheism. Not atheists attacking one religion or another or trying to debunk religion, but rather talking about atheism itself. Specifically, the overarching question being posed on the discussion is "Is Atheism a religion?"
The logic and higher reasoning displayed here
is sure to convert the masses to your cause.

This is interesting, because for all the news headlines that atheists get, usually it is in reference to what they say about other religions, or about conflict between theists and atheists. But these authors, several of whom are atheists themselves, attempt to explain their lack of faith and flesh out their reasons for denying theism. A few criticisms have even been offered, by both theists and atheists themselves, about their religion (or lack thereof).

If anything, this article does show you the sometimes fractured nature of the atheist community, and that they are not all the militant God-haters theists sometimes portray them as.

So anyways, you should check the article/debate out.

If you have a suggestion for an article, please feel free to send them to But please, no more pictures of puppies in cups. We're not getting anything done.