Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Sunday, March 6th 2006 I was packed and ready to leave Chicago and fly home. I got a phone call from Debbie. "We are fine." That means something happened. In this case a candle had burned too low during the night and caught our room on fire. Jensen our youngest had fortunately fallen asleep on our bed. He told the reporter later that "God had woken him up." He woke up mom and then his brothers and grabbing both dogs and mom grabbed a sleeping bag that was by the door escaped the flames to the other side of the street. The house we were renting was pretty badly burned - we lost pretty much all of the contents.

The fireman arriving on scene said that they were amazed to see the family sitting on the curb with a fire of this magnitude. Dear friends took us in - it was a long flight home to say the least. I will have to see if I can find my journal - because I remember writing the whole flight.

Jensen received a plaque from the Watsonville fire department for bravery. We all thanked God for not even a scratch of harm coming to our family. It is a moment that you loose everything but you loose nothing because what is most valuable has been rescued. I am having that same feeling - same thoughts right now. As we sit in recovery mode with Jake, he has lost so much: right hand function, 5 x 5 inch piece of skull, lat muscle, skin grafts on his heel, hind side, arm, underarm...and yet he has not lost so much: life, limbs, mental capacity, he is walking, talking, laughing.

In our home in Watsonville, Jacob had a daily word calendar. Effulgence was the word on the day of the fire. In the midst of ashes, God's radiant splendor shines through. This is not just in answered prayers. God's radiant splendor shines through in the midst of tragedy - gut-wrenching heartache.

The Bible recounts two occasions where Jesus performs miracles of feeding thousands of people with meager rations. The food multiplies so much that there are baskets of leftovers. So often I focus on the fact that God feeds those that are hungry and is the God of abundant blessing. The food is great and is blessing but there is a greater blessing. Christ, God's son was present there - guiding, teaching, modeling for the disciples. He was present there with the people and they did not want to leave - even though they were hungry they did not want to miss what God had for them - they did not want to miss His effulgence. The food was an added bonus - not the glory - pointed to the glory. Miracles point to the glory - point to the Christ - evidence of his power.

Healing, health, provision, material stuff is not THE blessing - it is bonus - God's presence is the blessing. In the midst of turmoil - it is so hard to get a handle on this - in the midst of loss, gut-wrenching heartache, it is hard to feel the touch of the savior. And yet his heart is for us, he even wants to give us some food - the bonus. I guess right now I feel like I am living in the bonus - and the blessing of God is surrounding that - he is present. Something else may happen tomorrow that is another hardship - yet I can still live in the blessing - the presence of God.

Heavy on my heart is Jessica Huse. She was brought into Valley Med while Jacob was still there - a car accident - she is still critical - still at Valley Med. I have a hard time reading too much for it hurts my heart - that is not where she should be (just as it is not where Jacob should be). And yet I know, God is still present - I am praying for his effulgence to shine bright in these moments - piercing darkness. But I am also praying for a bonus. The blessing of restoration. Heal her Lord - give her back to her parents. Lord we your servants humbly plea from the depths of our heart. We trust in your power, let your glory flow.

In prayer,

Tom (Dad)


Debbie said...

Tom--as always, your words are comforting and inspiring. I find myself also in a place of longing for God's effulgence...waiting and knowing He will indeed pierce the darkness I find myself in. I am so grateful for your family. Grateful that despite facing the darkest hours of your own life, you are so vulnerable and willing to put out there the LIGHT God is shinning in your family's darkness and in that...offering that light to everyone else. I am one of many that marvel in the mercies and glimpses of the heart of God SO present in your family.

Here for the long haul...

Anonymous said...

thank gosh for god that woke up jensen. all of the things going on my life seem so small, compared to your daily life.Love and prayers forever your way.

Anonymous said...

Tom, this is beautiful.
It seems like you are writing a great book. Maybe one day these thoughts will be in one...?
You keep on shining forth God's messages to us in spite of all the darkness and pain and hardship you see and live within.
Thank you, thank you.
Love and continued prayers,

Heidi said...

Thanks for the reminder that it is God's presense that is the ultimate blessing and everything He gives us beyond that is added bonus. Have a wonderful weekend! :) Heidi M.