Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tired

As we approach the end of this Saturday, we are tired. This long process of bringing Jake off of the drugs. He has actually come down like 70% from last week. His lungs are healthy and vitals remain strong. This is just a long process which is longer because he is young and strong. I look at Jake and try to hold his left hand as he thrashes back and forth. He is raising his legs up, bent at the knees and feet coming together. Right arm stretched out in a splint. I pray picturing laying there with Jacob in spirit - as he was on the cross. And I wonder as I have wondered from day one: what was it like for God to watch his son in excruciating pain. If I feel this pain, Jacob is in his pain, how much worse was the pain for God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Pain willingly engaged. Pain fully anticipated. Pain fully experienced.

Lord Jesus, Father God, you know our plea

Tom

Note from the Mom

Debbie already left for the hospital and left me this note:
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Sat 5:38am - To Blog People:

Showered and slowly getting ready to got to hospital and see how Jakey's doing -

Last night I did what I've been doing for the past 3 weeks now - left my son in God's hands - left him in the vigilant care of these burn unit nurses - left him to get some sleep so I wouldn't fall apart today - knowing Jake's gotta go through the hardest parts - knowing I'd rather it be me suffering.

Outside of E.R. last night on my way to the parking lot a woman was by herself sobbing...sobbing... no one seemed to be with her - I didn't want to freak her out more, but her tears spoke to me (no duh) and although there was a bit of a language barrier, she allowed me to hug her. I sobbed a bit myself - so much suffering day in and day out. We exchanged stories to a certain extent. I didn't know what I'd do if she was totally alone but her cousin was with her working on getting her help from the ER.

By the time I left, she was smiling through tears - we had some similar struggles ourselves and took comfort in that somehow. I told her not to give up on herself - tried to hear those words myself regarding me, my Jacob, my sons, Tom. I am once again forever changed inside after a "God thing" like that. The comfort I received in comforting another - just as the comfort I am receiving from so many on a daily basis. I can only hope and pray that my friends and family (and even strangers(are being cared for a hundred fold as you "give" to Jake and us.

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We are blessed to be a blessing. As we face this day we pray for Jacob and pray that we would continue to see the tidal wave of God's blessing in our midst. It is not that we need to ask God to show up and be a part of what we are doing; it is more that we pray that we would see the God who is already in the midst of all of this and that we would join what he is doing.

We are blessed to be a blessing.

Tom

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lower Meds and Wake Up

Jake continues to be up and down with pain - decreasing meds to test his responsiveness and then increasing meds to comfort. Basically it he is going through detox. Still healthy, still improving but oh such a slow process. My prayer when I am standing at his bedside is that Jesus would be laying down covering him. Jacob actually at times is in a position similar to Christ on the cross. This pain is not anywhere near what Christ went through and yet it is still so very painful for Jake. Oh what God went through watching his Son in such torment.

We have been at this hospital long enough to see so much. Two families that have been here with us have taken there sons home. Their pain is not over yet, lives forever affected, more rehab, more healing. One family also lost their home due to fire.

I was watching from a window down to a courtyard yesterday and their was a father and daughter being taught how to move their mom in a wheelchair up stairs. Lives forever changed, altered, not the way it is suppose to be. Who am I to think that my pain is worthy of any consideration? My heartache is not the only heartache. You see it so clearly in a hospital. I watch as one of the burn victims took a gingerly walk down the hall - painful, extremely burned, healing. None should diminish our own difficulties, challenges, pains. Cancer, financial, employment, relationships. It is not a matter of degree or comparison. It is more a matter of what we are becoming through the process. Through both the times of blessing and times of heartache are we increasing more in love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, love, etc or are we increasing in bitterness, anger, resentment, selfishness.

For those of us who claim we are Christians are we growing and taking on the character of Christ? In all that is going on with Jacob - so many people praying - that is my prayer that as a community we are unified in reflecting Christ and loving those around us. Loving God and loving people as Christ called us to.

It is so hard to do this. In the midst of this horrible situation, there are times of numbness, deep sadness, fear, remorse...yet there is hope, God is still very real and is drawing us in to himself - holding us - allowing us to see miracles, hope, His glory.

Robbie beat me to the Glorious Unseen song "All Around" and I highly recommend you check out their music - heartfelt, authentic prayers and cries. I want to repeat this song as a prayer for tonight. As you pray for Jacob to move off the meds and wake up...consider this prayer.

When my world is caving in
When my hopes are wearing thin
When I'm choking in my sin
Lord, you meet me here.

When all around is crashing down
I find myself alive in you
Holy One, renew

When all around is crashing down
I find my spirit crying out
Holy One, consume

When I listen to the fear
When I feel my end is near
When all hopes disappear
Lord you meet me here

Peace and love

Tom

Lord have mercy

Chillin' with my mom and Jake in the hospital room. I couldn't sleep last night. I slept at my grandparents, who are taking care of our dog Hope. Hope and I were both restless.
He apparently had a restful night. His temperature was a little low (part of the withdrawals from his medications will be temperature highs and lows) so when I got here this morning the room was baking hot.
The surface wound on his left hand is looking good. It is one of the less affected areas, but it is comforting to see it now without needing a bandage and just looking like cracked and dried skin. Every now and then we put some lotion on it so he won't get itchy, which I think is good for us too, to feel like we are doing something.
Still just waiting for the OK to pull his breathing tube out. I think that is the next step. They said they were postponing another surgery until today, but there has been no talk of it.


I have some thoughts written by my mom from yesterday morning 4 AM -

"Tommy: I love you – off to hospital – my thoughts for “blog church” :) -

We can make sure our children have their bike helmets on, sunscreen on, life jackets on, and my sister would always run after my 3 boys with socks to put on their cold feet..yet now I know what I have deep down always known. We are helpless to control all that comes their way – helpless to keep them from painless lives and if we don’t daily trust in the Lord God and who He says He is in His Word, it’s impossible to truly allow our kids to grow up fully in life and love - I Corinthians 13 is a description of love and God IS love. I totally fail daily at His kind of love, but it’s the desire for it that keeps me getting up & going to be with Jake in the Burn Unit. When I find myself hopeless and helpless is when I can choose to wallow in it or beg Him, the God of love to help me, to help Jakey, to help Tom, Robs, Jensen, etc. For today I choose love, tired & weary that I am, fearful of what the future holds for Jacob, for the rest of us, unsure if I can handle it all……and then I remember I don’t have to handle it….God holds my heart – He does love me – He watched His only Son suffer & die simply out of love for people such as us…"


Here are some lyrics from songs I've been listening to (by the Glorious Unseen; if you haven't heard of them, you should totally check out their music! It is amazing):


"All Around"

When my world is caving in
When my hopes are wearing thin
When I'm choking in my sin
Lord, you meet me here.

When all around is crashing down
I find myself alive in you
Holy One, renew

When all around is crashing down
I find my spirit crying out
Holy One, consume

When I listen to the fear
When I feel my end is near
When all hopes disappear
Lord you meet me here


"Tonight the Stars Speak"

Tonight the stars speak
Of your infinite love
And it serves to remind me
That what I have
Means nothing at all
Compared to your glory, O Lord

How long till your voice speaks clearly?
How long till your arms envelope me?
I cry, be my strength when I am weak
O Lord, have mercy on me please
Have mercy on me please...

I picture Jacob, with his face tilted toward the ceiling, mouth hanging open with the tube down his throat, bandaged, burnt, fighting the effects of medication.... I picture him in his sleep crying out to God "Have mercy on me please!"

-Rob

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Here & Now

Not a whole lot of news... big game of wait and see... still messing with his medications, hoping that he can wake up soon so they can take the tube out of his throat. He is calm right now, but will go through episodes, as they change up his medication, of moving BOTH his arms now, which are both incredibly strong, grimacing, twitching his lips, furrowing his brow, moving his legs, and trying to grab onto things with his left hand. He vaguely reacts to people when they say his name loudly in his face. Which is actually incredible considering how much medication he is on. Just ONE of the medications he is on is equivalent to 60 mg of morphine an hour (5 mg is enough to put somebody to sleep). His body has gotten used to some of the medications, so they have to up the dose. So, the sooner he is off medications, the better. But that means incredible pain for him, because he will be awake. I want him to be awake so he can see all that is going on for him, and so I can talk to him about me going down to school... but I have a feeling that even if he is awake, he won't care about these things due to the state of pain he will be in.

Again... live in the moment. Trust that God is holding him in the same manner now that he will be held even if I am not here.

Still thinking about this idea, living in the moment... and how it relates to God's promises for us. When, and why, and by who, did the message of Christ ever get distorted into "say a prayer in which you claim to believe all the correct things, and then one day you will get to go to 'heaven' and be perfect forever?" I don't think that a whole lot of people actually believe that this is Christ's message, but I think that this is what we tend to imply by the ways we operate and the things we put as priorities. How much do you think things would change if we recognized that faith in Christ is not at all about a post-mortem destination, but is about a love affair with the God of the universe through his Son, through his Spirit being actively, constantly poured out fresh on mankind, about the beauty and love and community and passion that we experience here in this life as we struggle through what it really means to love, serve and be children of the Almighty? This would drastically change the way we approach all facets of our faith. Rather than approaching people as "outsiders" who need to be taught the right answer, who need to agree ourselves, we would simply seek to introduce people to the eternal paradox, the Great Mystery, which is our God becoming human, identifying with us, for love of us. We would invite them into the constant journey that we are all on.
It is about our love in the Kingdom of God, in his Presence, here and now. After all, when we speak of the after-life, we have to admit that we don't know what happens. It is a mystery, far beyond our scope of understanding. Just because we say that heaven awaits does not diminish the fear and horror of death! Just look at how Christ died - in the agony of being forsaken by God. Whenever the Bible talks about the promises if God, it seems to be more focusing on this life, about JOY in the midst of HORRIBLE HEARTACHE which is so common in this life.
So it is about God's Kingdom come now, about his Presence in the midst. If you are familiar with it, just think of the passage starting in Matthew 25.31 about Christ separating the sheep from the goats. The message of this passage is not "believe in Jesus or you will go to hell like the goats." It is all about THIS LIFE - it is a command to love and serve people here and now.

All this to say, we tend to get the message of Christ backwards. Christ did not come to say "get it together so you can be with me." It is not about being fearful about not being good enough to get to heaven. That is missing the whole point of his coming! He CAME to be with us! He is already with us! He skipped all the nonsense about us trying to be better, and just came to us, as we are, denying himself in the process, dirtying himself in the filth of humanity! Christ came for the broken. To heal them. To restore them NOW. When we talk about living in the world but not "of the world," it is not referring to an escapism from earthly life. It is talking about delving into the heaven which has come and is now among us! It is talking about living this life in a way that is contrary to the ways that our world tends to operate. We tend to sugarcoat death by consoling ourselves with the fact that we get to be in heaven. I think we are depriving ourselves of necessary grief over the tragic loss of life and vitality - that death is the greatest form of brokenness... but even there, Christ is. Through that brokenness, something happens.
None of this is to say that there is no life after death. It is to say that God wants us in his presence NOW, where we are at. Just as we are.

"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there."

So, the weird part of all this... of understanding this idea of here and now.... of living in the moment... of God's Kingdom come: I am to be content with God in this moment. Watching Jacob lie in the hospital bed, knocked out from medication, with burnt skin, bandaged wounds, thrashing his limbs and grimacing occasionally. Because, I feel like the promises of God's restoration have more to do with his promises here, now, making things new, than saying "there will be a good ending." I is more about the process, which is good because God is here. Working in all things for good. Now.

Ok God... here we are in Sheol. In the depths of pain and sin, crying out that you would heal Jacob and restore him to us. We know that you are even here - you have descended to Sheol to be with us. You have passed through the tragedy of human suffering and come out in life... you have made the way through the wilderness for us. I recognize that brokenness is an integral part of this process. And I submit to you.


-Robbie

Prayer update for pain

Please pray for Jacob's body. He is moving around a lot, grimacing, biting down on his breathing tube, moving all four limbs, trying to open his eyelids ever so slightly. It is so hard for us to watch this. Please pray that whatever pain he is in would be soothed. Keep him calm. Allow him rest. At the same time, grant him energy to fight whatever battles he must. No one else can do it for him.
Not only for the pain... but also for the disorientation he must be experiencing after being under for weeks, not to mention the effects of the medication. He is basically stoned out of his mind from the drugs he is on, and will have to go through withdrawals once off of them.

This is just an update for prayer. Pray to whatever capacity you are able.

-Robbie

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Weds Evening

I am sitting alone right now in Jacob's room. Deb is hopefully sleeping. Days from now, when they determine that they can remove his breathing tube he will also begin to wake up. I long for that and dread that. My 17 year old baby boy will being to realize the pain, comprehend the injuries, take in where he is and a portion of what has happened. They will not be able to give him the same level of pain medication he has now because it affects the lungs. Necessary painful steps forward.

Two weeks ago in the midst of my anguish I cried out: "God this is more than I can handle. This is too much for me. Beyond what I can bear." I have heard a lot that God will not give you more than you can handle but I cannot seem to find that verse in the Bible. The closest is in 1 Corinthians where Paul is saying God will not tempt us beyond what we are able and will provide a way out so that we do not sin. The truth is that God does give us more than WE can bear but HE does not abandon us and will guide us through the pain toward maturity, growth, perseverance, shaping of our character and for his name to be glorified.

What is going on with Jacob is totally beyond what I can bear. I hate this. I am so distraught as to what has happened and what his body is like right now; it breaks my heart. And it should. This is my son. Sure, pain in this life is inevitable and though we want to protect our children, things happen. But this is so off the chart it wrenches at every fiber of my being. It is more than I can handle; beyond what I can bear. And yet...

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever
God does not change
God is all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present, eternal
God is hope, love, mercy, grace
God is good
God is so much more

My circumstances will and do change
both painful and glorious
But God, who is the same is right here with me
God, may you be glorified, celebrated and honored
even in the midst of this moment, this horrible, unbearable moment
God is here holding my hand - and I am holding his quite hard
I will not stop praising his name

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The prayers continue and the journey moves forward.

Love, peace, joy

In Christ,

Tom

Breathing Tube - pray it is removed soon.

It has been a long draining day. Watching Jake in pain or discomfort is difficult. Debbie was here all day and just went to take a break and be with Jensen. I picked him up from a friend this morning - where he had a blast. Good to hang together and laugh, cry, tease each other. It is Debbie's turn to get a little Jensen.

Jake is restful now. I got kicked out of the room as they are giving him another x-ray. Maybe he is less restful because of the x-ray. The big thing that is going on now is the timing of removing his breathing tube. He does not need it but they need to have him off certain meds before that can happen so that his lungs do not relax to much. You know I glanced right over that praise didn't I - he is breathing on his own. Big, big sigh!

So let's join together and focus our pray on a big goodbye to the breathing tube, Jacob's comfort, and continued healing - especially on his right arm and thumb.

One of the things I keep meaning to do is celebrate Jacob's amazing friends. We have been so thankful for this growing, caring, loving group of friends. Many were there with him on the night of the accident and are faithfully praying, caring, and doing a lot to support Jacob at this time. Sometime shortly after the accident (it is a blur to me when) they got together and made a rain stick for him - putting their hand prints on it. It is really the first decoration we had in Jake's room. It has been difficult for them not to be able to come in and see Jacob. Last week some of them came down hung out with Deb and Robbie. We are so thankful and Jacob is so blessed by them and we are looking forward to celebrating with them when Jacob gets out of here.

Check out this picture. Another picture of our community of believers drawing us all to the feet of Christ.


I

Teacher, Friend, Believers

Prayers continue to be the same...I woke early overwhelmed and felt the urge to write. Good therapy for me...

Love and Peace

Tom

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There once existed a community of believers. This is their story.

At the same time we do not know much about them; we know them well. We have seen them throughout history; showing up at significant and insignificant times. Significance really being a matter of perspective - viewpoint - opinion. Most recently for me the community of believers has gathered in mass - grown strong - provided strength - in a most significant time. Their story is too big to fully tell but is worth catching a glimpse of. Their story goes something, sometimes like this...

There was a day - just any day - insignificant to some, life-changing to others. The Teacher was in a home doing what a teacher should do - teach. There where people gathered in this home. Some were those that followed his teaching - that he specifically chose to be in his inner circle. There were others that were following because they saw something in his teaching that radically changed their point of view on life - they longed to get more - could not get enough. Some there on this day listened with a different motive. Some wanted to find a flaw in his teaching, a way to catch him and discredit him. These saw his teaching as horribly wrong and dangerous and were concerned, angry, fearful. Then there were those that simply happened to be there - apathetic - curious - following the crowd.

There were so many at this home that they were hanging out the windows, cramming into every nook and cranny. Furniture was on the street outside so they could fit more people in the house. What turned into a simple gathering in a simple home, turned into a sell out event. In the midst of this thick crowd there existed this community of believers and they had a friend. Friend was destitute. He had nothing left to give to anyone. He could not work, could not contribute, could not walk. Really the only thing he could do was find someone to put him on a street corner so he could beg. He was stripped of everything: family, home, job. There were days he prayed in earnest for God to strike him dead - remove from history the day that he was born. Depression devoured him like quicksand pulling him down, down, down. Failure, worthless, hopeless.

Friend was, however, surrounded by a cloud - a great cloud of witnesses - this community of believers. And on this day they put their belief into action to get Friend to the feet of the Teacher. The Teacher had a reputation and following for not only words of wisdom but for the miraculous. He had healed blind, deaf, crippled. At the feet of the Teacher, there is healing, there is hope, there is clarity.

Finding a stretcher, four of them took a corner and went to the house. "Excuse me, pardon me, can we get through?" The crowd was so thick and perhaps so self-absorbed that they would not let Believers bring Friend in. So much could be said of the crowd but that is not really the focus of the story. Let's just say that there is a lesson in making sure we do not get so caught up in our story that we miss the story of those around us. Other's stories cross over and can greatly impact our lives.

For most people not being able to get into the house would be the end of the road. Maybe they could find the Teacher later tomorrow down by the lake when their is more room. The Believers though were determined and focused. Stepping back they analyzed, strategized, and changed their course of action. They knew the goal and were determined an "out-of-the-box" solution. Four of them went up on the roof and cutting a hole lowered him to the feet of the Teacher. Just imagine the crowd around him - who had maneuvered, dug their heals in, guarded their positions around the teacher. Just imagine the shock of the homeowner. Those who knew the heart of the teacher were smiling - giddy - excited. Others were angry, bothered, embittered.

As the Believers looked down, waiting in eager expectation, Jesus looked up and said to the them, "because of YOUR faith Friend's sins are forgiven." The crowd grumbled at this - the guy can't walk and the Teacher is forgiving sins? How dare he. He has no right. See he is a fraud."

The Teacher, Jesus, as the Son of God looked around the room looked up a that the believers and with a knowing nod healed the crippled legs of Friend. Jesus said "get up, take your mat and go home." He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

Never underestimate the faith of a Community of Believers. Never underestimate the power of God to act and move not just on the faith of one but on the faith of those around. In the midst of our own toil, heartache, trial those who stand around us make up for our incomplete belief; they carry us when we cannot move - so weighed down and feeling insignificant.

Never underestimate the faith it takes to simply get up. Friend did not have to get up. He could of looked at Jesus and said no. All eyes were on him. What if he failed again - why stand now. "Guys come down and carry me out. I will try to stand later when no one is around. Thanks Jesus, see ya later." It takes great risk and faith to simply get up. Whether it be physical ailment, emotional shackles such as depression, chains of addiction, or spiritual conflict getting up takes courage to do what seems impossible.

See: Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:18-26; Matthew 9:1-8

There is a tremendous cloud of witnesses around us to carry this stretcher - rather these stretchers. A Community of Believers placing Friend at the feet of the Teacher. Amazed and praising God: "We have never seen anything like this."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quick midnight post

For those that get up in the middle of the night and pray...

1. Jake's pain and medication balance
2. continued healing for lungs and wounds
3. body temp (currently 101-102)
4. continued protection: heart rate is good, oxygen intake is good, infections
5. continued healing for his body to be able to surgery. Right now the earliest is Friday...let's pray that he gets healthy enough to do it sooner and can get his breathing tube out.
6. pray for family - weariness, heartache, so difficult to see him in pain

and of course whatever God lays on your heart - others you know that are in their own trials

pray that those of who claim to be followers of Jesus would reflect His character in increasing measure today.

Love and peace

Tom

p.s. spread the word, increase the prayer circle, join the journey

journeythroughfire.blogspot.com

Pain up and down

A bit more up and down as far as pain goes. Hard to watch him in a sedated state wriggling in pain. Pray for peace and calm for his body, so badly injured.

I sent the above from Jake's room at about 10 in the midst of Jacob in pretty bad pain. It tears me up to watch - my pain is not even close to his - praying over and over for God to ease his pain, heal his wounds, touch his heart. As I know so many are praying, there is a community behind gives strength. I have got messages that simply say, "we are still with you".

There is much more pain to come - more anguish.

There are so many others in the hospital on their own travels. I feel so selfish that I am so focused on my pain. We have had some conversations with other families in the burn unit. One not only dealing with a son's burn injuries but their house burning down.

I wrote this in the hospital cafe earlier this morning from 1 Thess 3:7-9,12-13...

In the midst of my distress - the pain, the ache - in this time of attacks on my faith, we are so greatly encouraged by the faith of those surrounding me, holding me up - gently pushing me forward. Though I should be dead - numb - hopeless - I am alive - prospering - healing - so many are standing firm where I cannot. My inconsistency is made up for by those who carry this pain, this burden, this persecution with me.

How can I thank God enough - thank my community enough. It is puny in what I can do compared to what has been done for me. What can I ever do to repay? My heart is dwelling in joy because of them - because I am able to stand in God's presence.

Lord, God I pray for those I know now and will know later; I pray for those you already have known and are now discovering as they discover you: increase their love. Love that they already show - let it flow - let it grow - for each other and everyone else. Lord, strengthen their hearts - that they may be blamelessly dwelling with you.

Come Lord Jesus. Hear our plea. Give us blessing. Please rescue me.

Small steps

So, no surgery today. Possible surgery tomorrow. The doctors want to let him rest.
As far as his medication, he is now fully off of the paralytic medication, and still on several other sedatives that do different things. We are with him this morning. Last night was a restless night for him, so they increased some of the medication. We are waiting for the doctors to come to check in on him and talk about what is next. He just had his periodical lung treatment, which involves pumping some kind of medication down into his lungs and suctioning gunk out. He hates this. I can't imagine what it might feel like.
His lungs continue to heal. More steps forward.

Not a whole lot else right now. Small steps forward.

If you have the chance/have a Bible handy, read through Isaiah 36-38. It is remarkable to see the faith of King Hezekiah in two specific circumstances.
The king of Assyria comes to the walls of Hezekiah's city and tells him to surrender or die. He taunts Isaiah right in front of all of Hezekiah's own people. He shouts in front of the people that God had told him to attack Hezekiah, and that fighting was useless. Hezekiah's own people began to doubt him. There was slight hope.
But what was Hezekiah's reaction? He takes the letter that he got from the King of Assyria containing all this and runs up to the temple of the Lord. He lays the letter and his own body out in front of the Lord - he offers up to the Lord what is happening, and offers up himself. He lays prone toward the throne, with the letter spread out.
Secondly, Hezekiah is lying sick on his deathbed. The Lord himself tells Hezekiah to basically put his affairs with his family and heritage in order, becasue he was going to die soon. Hezekiah begins to weep in agony... and pleads to the Lord that he could be allowed to be with his family and his people longer. Notice that the Lord doesn't say, "chin up, it'll be alright on the other side." He also does not say "Well, this life doesn't matter so much anyway, so you may as well just accept your fate now." No. The Lord understands Hezekiah's sorrow, understands Hezekiah's heart for his people and for his life, and grants him 15 more years.
There is a lot I could say about this, but I will let you take it where you will.

So we recognize that the Lord recognizes and understands our pleas to him due to our sorrow... seen in so many places in this life. Through what is going on with Jacob, I am striking up so many conversations with people about their faith through their own harships. I don't believe that anyone will be exempt in this life from mind-altering, earth-shattering harship, however large or small it may seem by our standards. But maybe our reaction in the face of this should be falling to our knees, presenting the situation to the Lord. But also presenting ourselves to the Lord. Becasue falling to our knees doesn't mean apathy or simply sitting around while God takes control. Yes, he is in control. But maybe this "control," or maybe a better word is "Kingdom," or presence, or soveriegnty... maybe this thing is actually carried out through us. Through the people who have presented themselves before the Lord, surrendered themselves to live a life in the Spirit, the Presence, the Kingdom.
I don't care what religious background, what spiritual beliefs, what philosophical understanding you come from. For that matter, I don't care what your lifestyle is like. If you are joining into a movement for the sake of love, this body of prayer and support, if you are "praying for Jake," if you are a part of a community that is gathering for spiritual and practical support in an outpouring of love... then you are doing the very thing that God desires. You are beginning to release yourself, you are beginning to submit to something greater... you are presenting yourself before the Lord. We are all in this process. We are slowly lowering ourselves to the position of being prone before the Lord. Small steps forward. At this moment of brokenness is where we find true love and true life.

I'm not sure what I think about what I just wrote, because I myself fall short of this ideal. I resist to lay before the throne. Which is why I am a part of a Body that loves me enough to kick my legs out from under me when necessary.


In prayer with you all. Pray for endurance, especially my parents. Well, especially Jacob.

-Rob

Monday, July 13, 2009

Take a breath

Jacob is almost completely breathing on his own!

What a blessing it is to know that his lungs are healing. The assistance he is getting now is minimal. Over the past couple of days I have thought of my grandfather who suffered from emphysema where his lungs become stiff with fibers and become less elastic. It was so painful for him to breathe. How valuable is a simple breath. How thankful we are for Jacob's breath.

No surgery tomorrow. As of now the doctors want to give him another day to rest. They continue to dress and check his wounds and he will most likely go back in for more surgery on Wednesday.

As they have now taken him completely off the paralytic he is moving more. Showing his displeasure when they move him to change his bandages and adjust his body - still so helpless - still so much unknown. There has been discussion as to when they will remove the breathing tube. When a breathing tube is removed, sometimes the throat tends to react by swelling up and only making breathing more difficult, and making reinsertion of another tube quite difficult. They want to make sure that, based on the medication he is on and his state at the time, that this will not happen.



God continues to guide us and provide gentle encouragements. Though we are all quite weary - we are holding together and are seeing God move. Renee showed us a sample of the pictures many of you have sent in showing that you are praying for Jacob. I continue to get messages that are telling stories of what is going on and how God is moving in their lives.

God is moving you know...
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Heb 12:1-3

Declare your majesty - your glory - Lord through this moment through this journey.

Love and peace

Tom

Moving forward...slowly...

Last night marked two weeks since we got the phone call about Jacob. Two weeks. Lives for ever set in a different trajectory. Decisions and choices for our lives still need to be made but there is still so much uncertainty and still with what we know right now decisions will need to be different. Robbie starting his second year of college. Me finding a job. Debbie returning to work. Jensen starting 6th grade. And Jacob - so much uncertainty - I hope to call his school today and at least start the conversation about options for his senior year. He was so looking forward to his schedule. Again of course I need to stay present in "where we are" and "what we know" but also we need to step forward.

Debbie and I are here in his room right now. Robbie left for work. My dad "Papa" is here. What has happened has dramatically changed all of our lives. I just got done reading cards and messages and am so overwhelmed. Jacob has been more active than before. He is completely off the paralytic but on other pain meds. One of the doctors was in earlier and he explained each medicine and what they do and how they interact and all of that. I cannot re-explain it to you - what we all want to know is the fact that Jacob is doing better. His lungs are healing. He is breathing more in his own. The Occupational Therapist was in working with his right arm and Jacob reacted more than I have seen him - grimace on his face - moving his left arm up - lifting his right leg. He did not like it. The pulmonary doctor said he is getting better. The plan is for surgery tomorrow to deal more with the burn areas.

Robbie and I went to see Star Trek last night. It was hard to totally focus; sent a text to check on Jake; almost walked out when I thought Captain Pike was going to be electrocuted. Constantly praying, thinking, missing Jacob. He would have mocked the movie - he always finds something stupid. He would have said "we should go to the beach not go to a movie."

As I read the letters, cards, messages, stories from people who are joining us on this journey, God continues to encourage me. I hear how God is moving in others lives and growing in their faith as we are.

Check out what 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 says:
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Though we are so overwhelmed in the midst of this journey and I absolutely hate what is going on with Jacob, seeing God move is so amazing, intoxicating, beautiful. God's Kingdom is at hand. As we pray together for Jacob, let's also pray together that we would recognize God moments in our day.

Heal our Son Lord
Meet us here today
We cry for mercy
We cry for grace
Gently touch him
Hold him, calm him
May our trust be faithful
We surrender and believe

Tom

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Drugs, drugs, and drugs & drugs

My dad, mom and I are sitting in the room with Jake. Still in the middle of a long period of waiting on the next step in this whole recovery process. They are currently changing up his medication, weaning him off of one and increasing others... too complicated to explain, but just know that it is part of the process of keeping him out of pain and helping him breathe, and that he is on some heavy medications. Straight trippin'.
At the moment he is not fully under... he is paralyzed, but aware and moving around a little bit. He has a fever, possibly associated with what they found to be the beginnings of infection on the wound on his butt. Nothing majorly dramatic, but just another facet of the process.
He is actually beginning to lift his left hand in a limp manner when he twitches. We thought that he might get the breathing tube out soon, but the pain medication he is on necessitates that they keep the tube in because the medication incapacitates his own ability to breathe. His lungs are still doing well, though.

I don't know how my parents are feeling, but I am overwhelmed by the prospect of the future. His recovery process, and where I fit into all that. As I have said before, I am learning what it really means to live in the moment. This moment. Right here in Jacob's room. Seeing this moment as God's Kingdom come, the promise of his Spirit, his presence, poured out on mankind through the death and life of Christ.
I am supposed to be down at college in LA August 5th. Even assuming that Jacob is doing well and stable by then, the idea of not being with Jacob during his recovery process kills me inside. Not to be there for him as a brother and a friend, rejoicing and mourning with him, helping him through emotional, physical and spiritual recovery. He has more than capable family and friends that could care for him without me... but he's my little brother. I want to show him that I drastically love and care for him. And I think that I need to be affirmed that he knows this.
But we will get to that bridge when we cross it... or something like that. I was thinking through this today, and there are so many unknowns about the future for my whole family. Which is why we live in this very moment, what this very hour holds. We embrace every opportunity, take whatever means necessary... because we have no idea what the future holds.

Generally speaking, I think that this is what the Kingdom of God is about... (by the way, "Kingdom" may carry negative connotations with it... it is a word I use to convey this idea of God's presence, his network, his very Love that permeates all things). Embracing the fact that the way of Christ is a revolutionary way to live compared to the standards of this world. It means loving no matter what the cost, even when people spit in our faces. It means that we don't live as if we need to "prepare," as if we need to read a certain point of growth, maturity, enlightenment or understanding before we are "ready," ready to live a certain way or "share our faith in a convincing way." It is not about convincing people to believe certain things. It is about introducing people to the Way that has changed your life, and is currently changing the world... through a love that is insane enough to descend into the very depths of hell and damnation simply to be with someone.
This is what Jesus proclaimed: the Kingdom of God is here, now, permeating everything... it is the promise of his presence, the promise of the Spirit, the very love and being of God, poured out on humankind.
The prophet Isaiah talks about this.

For the palace is forsaken,
the populous city deserted;
the hill and the watchtower
will become dens forever,
a joy of wild donkeys,
a pasture of flocks;
until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness,
quietness and trust forever.
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
Isaiah 32

This is a passage associated with the Jewish expectation of the days of Messiah, their redemption, the days of the Christ. Is it not mind-blowing to consider this as a promise that we now have fulfilled? And paradoxical to think that now, in this moment, this is fulfilled?
So what are we waiting for? Why do we not engage this promise that we now have? Or maybe no matter what we do, God somehow works out his Kingdom regardless of our plans, regardless of the boundaries that we like to manufacture upon his Kingdom, thus making our own little Kingdoms.
Maybe it should change how we pray. Instead of praying for God to simply take care of something in a miraculous way, leaving us out of it, maybe we should so desire the things that we pray for to take place that we are ourselves willing to do whatever it takes for it to happen. Why do I pray, God, change the hearts of those people, but I have never introduced myself to them? Never engaged them for who they are? Never even seen their hearts to find out if they need changing?
We as Christians encase ourselves in the ivory towers of our own Kingdoms, assuming that we have found an answer that nobody knows about, thus approaching all others as inferiors. That is the exact opposite of what God did by becoming man in Christ. He literally emptied himself. Considered himself lesser. Became one of us. Bore our burdens. This is what we are to do with others. We, who claim to be followers of Christ, are to consider ourselves less than the ones who we attempt to serve, to show Christ to. It is only at this point that we will truly love people, that we will see their hearts, they will see the others hearts, and Christ's heart will be manifested to all.
Again, the Kingdom of God is so huge. It is far beyond the boundaries that mankind produces for it, turns into a product and delivers to Christian-consumers who are conditioned to regurgitate phrases and terminology that have become devoid of meaning (ok, I'm ranting. I'll stop :).
The key to understanding is that we don't need to understand. St. Augustine puts this in a very confusing way:
But, "Thou art still the same," and all things of tomorrow, and all beyond, and all of yesterday, and all behind it, Thou hast done today. What is it to me, though any comprehend not this? Let him also rejoice, and say, "What thing is this?" Let him rejoice even thus; and be content rather by not discovering to discover Thee, than by discovering not to discover Thee."

Hope that makes sense.

aaaaahhhhhoooooooooooooowowwowowoow.............. Lord. So your Kingdom is here, right now, in the room with us and Jake. We can attempt to define how all these things with Jacob and our family are a part of the greater "plan" or "purpose" that God has, that good things will come out of it... and I don't doubt this. But that does not change the tragedy. The horror of what is happening. And God is weeping right along side us for Jake.
So, God, I don't attempt to understand. I embrace your mystery. And I embrace whatever you have for me. Tonight, tomorrow, whenever. Each moment devoted to you. Each moment a part of the journey.
Father, heal Jacob. I submit.

-Robbie


Restless Night

Robbie and Jensen are still asleep. Debbie got up early and is at the hospital. She just called and said that it seems that Jacob had a restless night. She wants me to get some music in the room for Jacob. The nurse said that he is more aware now of sounds. Jacob being more aware means that he shakes his head back and forth and moves his left hand when they clean his lungs, move his legs, mess with the multiple tubes intruding his body. We are noticing the things he does not like.

They are reducing the paralytic medicine so he is moving more. While this is a good thing, it takes some getting used to movement. There is a bit of a blessing in seeing him at rest. At least our perception of rest. I know that within his body there is a fight going on for healing. I continue to pray that the Spirit of God would continue to minister to his spirit to comfort him, hold him, love him. It is good and necessary to come down off the paralytic we know that but as we move forward there is so much more to come - more healing but in the midst of that more pain - more hurt - more weariness. The realization that he will be more aware of what has happened, where he is...etc hurts my heart.

There is a cyclical nature in how we deal with grief and emotions in the midst of trauma, heartache, "trials of various kinds." It is good for me to remember that where I am right now is not where I will be emotionally tomorrow. That I will go through more cycles as things come up. In the midst my unemployment and job search we talked about it in terms of SARAH: shock, anger, resentment, acceptance, hope.

Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross developed a "grief" model as she worked with terminal patients. As with everything people have tweeked, developed, renamed it. For me right now, the important thing is not the actual stages but that it is cyclical. The Psalms reveal this type of cycle as well as David at times cries out to God in anger, depression, thankfullness...etc).

I was thinking about James, Mary and the rest of Jesus family watching the trauma that Jesus went through. God watched his own son go through such torment. I am sure that James thought of that pain when he wrote of finding joy in trials of various kinds, faith, perseverance and maturity. There is no way something like this cannot change you, grow you, develop you. I take that back - if I get stuck in depression-anger-resentment there will be change but the seeds of bitterness will take root and pull me down. Moving through the cycle to see the hope - see the love - see the faith - develops maturity.

I was reading 1 Thessalonians 1 this morning. I read it and really just read it. Then I went back and I began to see how beatifully it reflects on the community that is rallying behind Jacob's journey..."We always thank God for all of you mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Thes1:2-3) Take the time to read the rest of 1 Thes 1 because that really is only the beginning. God is moving through you - and we are hearing of your faith, love and hope which encourages our endurance for today at the hospital.

Heal our son Lord
Hear our cry
Work produced by faith
Labor prompted by love
Endurance prompted by hope

Tom