Saturday, July 25, 2009

Balance and calm

Tomorrow marks 4 weeks of this journey - I am sure I have said this - most of you remember what we write better than me - I had no idea standing in the ER in Santa Cruz what we were in for - the blessings and well as the cursings. Here we stand day by day not sure what the next step holds and yet we walk - because of love.

I asked you to pray at about 9 for his fever - it did break - I left the hospital at about 10:45 and he was so calm and stable. All of his vital signs were good and he was peaceful. I am so thankful for who I left him with - such an angel - as well as God's angels in full attendance as well. "...and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds..." Thank you Lord. The presence of God is a mighty and powerful thing. When angles appeared in the Bible they usually first say "do not be afraid." There is more to fear in the presence of God than there is in this trial that we face. Hard to remember that - hard to look for and recognize God in this moment and yet he is there.

I had a moment from God today. It was through he touch of a young boy - I think he might be 5 who had come back to the burn unit for additional surgery. I watched from my room as he hugged nurses and visited with a family they made friends with. He was such a delight to watched - so badly scared - missing some of his fingers - with a tracheotomy, permanently on his neck. Ministry to my heart to see this boy - my boy will be able to function again - "and the peace of God" "do not be afraid". I was able to speak to him a bit with his family and I thanked them - thanked him for encouraging me - giving me hope.

Jacob is peaceful tonight - his body is healing. There is a balance that the nurses watch for keeping him in the right zone - an art not a science - God is the mix working as well - and there is a community - ever growing - that is in the mix, praying, caring, loving.

As I stood with Jacob tonight here is one of the verses that kept coming to my mind:
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. Paul in 2 Cor 4:6-10

hard pressed - not crushed
perplexed - not in despair
persecuted - not abandoned
struck down - not destroyed

God's not done so nor are we.

You know how to pray. More later - I'm tired and need some sleep.

Love and Peace

Tom (Jacob's Dad)
Fever is below 100. He is calm. Pray for the balancing act that they have to stay on top of: fever, blood pressure, meds coming down, etc. Keeping Jake comfortable but not too comfortable. Amazing wonderrful nurses.
At Jake's side. Debbie is gone for much needed Jensen time. Jake's fever is 103. Icing him down. So uncomfortable and in pain. Pray.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pacing Ourselves

It has been awhile since I have seen Jacob, and awhile since I have blogged. I saw him for 30 minutes today, and then was kicked out so they could change his bandages. Being exhausted, my Dad and I just headed back to the hotel. I think I have been in the room with him for a total of an hour over the course of the last 48 hours. I am trying to wean myself off of seeing him, as I am moving down to Biola again in 11 days. Its driving me crazy.
I don't know where to begin as far as medical updates, because I am constantly overwhelmed afresh with the prospect of how long he will be recovering. Which only pains me that much more that I am leaving in 11 days. In my mind, the idea of the tracheotomy was a small, short stepping stone to getting him off of artificial breathing. But he has been incapacitated so long, that he is apparently going to have to re-learn how to use his own lungs, how to speak through his neck, etc. I suppose this is just speculation, though, because we really have no idea what each day is going to hold. It may turn out that he is strong enough to breath on his own. We just don't know. The way the doctors were talking, however, suggested the tracheotomy tube being in his neck not in terms of days or weeks, but months. We have no schedule. No time-frames. Which, as I have iterated before, means large doses of patience and living in the moment.
They are still weaning him off of drugs. Meaning more and more withdrawals. Changing drugs. Slowly making steps toward him "walking out of there."
I guess at one point today he opened his eyes and blinked. And it is good to see him close his mouth almost all the way on his own every now and then.

And then, I find it insane that I am even saying these things. We are rejoicing at the most trite things. To what depths has Jacob been reduced? To what hell will others reach in their own journies? To what pit will our souls descend to? Yet even there, is He. How much deeper did Christ descend out of love for us?

I had a short but excellent conversation with a friend before the benefit concert on Wednesday night. He was paralleling Jacob's waking up experience with the idea of resurrection. Jacob will go through incredible, painful, mind-altering experiences and emotions and feelings as he comes to again. How crazy must it must be for Christ to have died, to have entered three days in the grave, the pit, HELL, the lowest point of human existence, and then to "wake up?" How revolutionary is this idea? How reality-changing? How earth-shattering? There is no way in hell (or heaven or earth for that matter!) that we can understand this, understand this paradox of the God of the universe dying as a human and coming back to life. Paradox isn't even a good enough word. But we can start with the idea of "restoration found in brokenness."
I think that many people, especially Christians, deprive themselves of necessary grief and heartache in the midst of pain. The fact that there is hope, that there is a promise of peace and restoration, does not offset the fact of sorrow, pain and despair. The WHOLE POINT, is that Christ entered INTO that very sorrow, pain and despair, not to tell us to not feel that way because everything will be all right, but to show us the hope in HOW MUCH HE LOVES US, by being with us in that pain.

How often do I stop and realize that I know nothing? Not enough.

The night of the concert was a weird night of emotions for me. So joyful in the midst of my friends, my good friends, Jacob's friends, all members of one community in love. Yet I was angry, in denial, and numb to the fact that it was because of Jacob's sorrow.
Being in the room with Jake today, I felt like we are entering a new phase. One that will take endurance, conditioning, resources, one where we will need to pace ourselves. Because it will be awhile. And all those things apply to Jacob the best. He is going to be taking such small steps compared to his normal lifestyle. Well, what is normal?

Currently listening to: This is Love by Cool Hand Luke ----

Is this love
or something to think of?

We fool ourselves for comfort,
we're swayed by every wind.
And if this isn't true love,
then we can just pretend.
But what is love?

This is love
that you would die for me.

Is this real,
or something to feel?

Confused by our emotions,
confused by what we see.
We trade in our patience,
for false security.
But is this love?

This is love,
that you would die for me.

When I'm falling down,
you save me.

This is how I know what love is.
And I'd die for this.

-Robbie

Perception of reality

Jake's face is looking good! It is so awesome to have is tube out of his throat and to see his face again. They cleaned him up a bit from the surgery and his is doing good. As we got there early This morning he was peaceful. About 10 he started shuttering, shaking, shifting in pain. His left arm looking for someone or something to damage. Vitals continue to be good - his fever is high.

They are hopefully keeping his pain and sedation meds up to give the grafts time to heal. His thighs are covered and most likely hurting for that is where they took the skin from. Starting tomorrow they will be bringing down the meds more which will move his body into more withdrawal. They will also be taking the tube off the the trach from time to time to test his breathing and to give his diaphragm a little exercise. It only takes 12 hours for the diaphragm to weaken being on life-support breathing machine.

One of the difficult things of this journey is that reality is much bigger than my perception. Isn't that so often the case? I look in the mirror and try to tell myself I have lost weight and then step on the scale and find out the opposite is true?

My perception of this journey has been in the context of days. Today as we approach the weekend of of the 4th week I am beginning to emerge to the reality that we are talking months - several months. I was in Jacob's room falling asleep this morning (at 9am no less - time to stop drinking decaf) and was visited by two medical professionals - one was a rehab doctor the other I think is a respiratory therapist. They are beginning to talk and prepare us for what rehab will be like when Jake begins to wake. As they assess where he is now and where we can get him.

My reality was hit by a cannon ball and blown out of the water. I will not pretend that I took it all in but what I got was that he may need to re-learn hot to breath, swallow, talk. The trach hole is not in there for a couple of days but much, much longer - depending on how his system responds as he comes out of the fog. I see Jacob back in the water surfing by September - but there is huge reality of the gravity of these wounds and the long and cavernous tunnel of recovery.

A new and dear friend posted this on her facebook: "wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness and it's power of endurance - the cheerful man will do more in the same time, will do it better, will preserve it longer than the sad or sullen."

What timing as I had to escape the hospital in tears this morning. It is the attitude with which I approach all of this - the gratitude in my heart, the hope, the belief - not that it will all go according to the way I deem it should go. That is way to shallow. There is a bigger picture - a reality beyond my perception. If I wallow and as my wife put it this morning- flatten - I will miss the simple truth that healing and restoration is taking place and that the love and support of those around me is a gift that God is giving me to face and persevere in the midst of this trauma. That I might see the light in the eyes of my son regardless of any other injury and that I might hold him and love him in the midst of the storm. That I might lift the focus off of any pain I might have and be loving, available and present for my family through this time.

Praying together in the midst of this journey

Tom (Dad)

pray for rest

Jacob was really having a hard time up until about 10:30 and we finally felt like we could leave him. Pray for rest, recovery and healing. I know those are probably more of the same prayers but it helps me to try to sleep knowing that those of you who keep waking up will pray for our boy. So thankful for the strength you give us to continue on this journey.

Good night.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Peace in the midst of fire

"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being." Rev 4:11


Jacob is out of surgery and the doctor said that it went well. Where do I start?

I am having a hard time because I am overwhelmed by the multiple tragic wounds on his body. As they wheeled him back into the burn unit from surgery I saw my son laying curled and shaking on the bed. I also for the first time saw his head wound - so much greater than I had thought. Debbie has seen the wound before - since they had cut away the damaged skin from his scalp. The last time I had seen it was in the emergency room on the first night. I had pictured it being about the size of a silver dollar and the exposed bone about the size of a quarter. It is much much greater than that. Debbie said that I did not even see all of it.

Okay moving on from that - the surgery was a great success. They were able to put the trach in and remove the breathing tube. The great thing about this is the process of waking him up and seeing how he responds and how his body reacts without the invasiveness of the tube. The doctor said that boys especially tend to fight and hit and try to run out of bed as they continue to come off the medication. Since the trach is now in they can bring him down slower and will not be concerned about the invasive breathing tube.

They cleaned up the wounds and did grafting on his arm/side and rear. They were also able to do a graft on his back side with a Vacuum Assisted Closure (V.A.C) which helps the wound to heal faster and cleaner. The doctor said that Jacob has had every type of burn wounding bandaging that they do. Oh yea...way to go Jacob.

So, in the midst of this trial...this great pain, though we hurt and hate all of this, there is peace. I memorized this verse (tried to) on our way to Africa almost 15 years ago. I printed it out and kept it close knowing God has not abandoned...

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Love and Peace - Tom (Dad)
jake is out of surgery. "no problems, went well." Doc is talking to parents.

Surgery today

TV News regarding concert click here.

As of right now, Jacob's surgery is scheduled for today at noon - which may be one. I know you all will be covering him in prayer and that the doctors will have God working through them. Though I am scared I also see this as a necessary step forward. Removing his breathing tube and putting in the tracheotomy - needs to happen. "Let your request be made known to God...and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts..."

Honestly I find this strange conflict going on inside of me as we face this time with Jacob. Theology is our attempt to explain God. God is really beyond our understanding. He is infinite and I am finite. I have limitations. So my theology is a minuscule dot on the horizon of God. So much of what is going in cannot be explained with easy answers about the nature of God and how God works things out. Healing, miracles, prayer, faith, hope, etc from our perspective are much different that God's perspective.

So then what do I cling to at a time like this - when this "Great Pain" has invaded our lives. I get so caught up in this being about me - but it is first of all so much bigger than that and second of all more about Jacob than about me. What I continue to be able to cling to is this relationship that I have with God. This growing, unexplainable, spiritual friendship with the God of the universe. My faith that God did send his Son, that his Son Jesus did die for our sins, that I have faith in Christ, sustains me through this process. Trust is only truly trust in the midst of vulnerability. Releasing this "Great Pain" into the hands of not just any friend but one that is fully able to take control. This control is not always the way I think they should happen or how I would work things out but it is trustworthy.

The only thing that I can truly control is my action and reaction.

1 Tim 1:9-12
This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men and especially those who believe. Command and teach these things. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.

I cannot get out of my head the youth last night with their "Jacob's Journey Crew" shirts on. There were so many of them. Though tragedy surrounds us - so much is unexplainable - we have before us examples of speech, life, love, faith and purity. The event last night blew my mind not just by the event - which was awesome but by the friends of Jacob who took their time and energy and money to reflect the heart of the Father in speech, life, love, faith and purity. God is moving in their hearts and the hearts of so many. As John says "perfect love casts out all fear."

Thanks for continuing to pray for us and for Jacob. In the midst of this also pray for Vin Tong who is facing surgery on his face tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Concert...



I did not know what to expect as I went to the benefit concert. A concert for my son, Jacob. My son that I wish could have been there. To hear people speak so highly of him and to honor him. So many people were there that I did not expect to see - nor did I even see everybody. I am so thankful for the friends that Jacob has in his life. As a parent you worry - as a former youth pastor - you know...so much of the choices that a teen will make when he is out of your sight is based on friends. Debbie and I are so thankful for Jacob's friends. Seeing them in action tonight - being integral parts of pulling the concert off. Thank you so much - we do not consider you friends but family.

Tired - tomorrow is big day. Surgery is tomorrow about noon. It will includes some skin grafts and cleaning. It is also the surger scheduled which includers the trach.

You know how to pray - let he chorus resound -

Love and peace

One


As the week goes on, I find myself more and more in a haze. Right now, "patience" for me means something close to being listless, just pushing forward without knowing where we are going or why we are going there.
Jacob is still under; just a big waiting game. The only bit of news is to ask for prayer for whatever tomorrow holds - possibility of more debriedement, and possibility of a tracheoctomy. He is also still undergoing withdrawals from the medications. Fever, sweating, shaking, etc.
But prayer is also needed for us, constantly, as a community, as one body that we have come together as. Every member is equally as valuable as the next. Every member holds an integral role that the rest are dependent on, no matter how small or large it appears.
To whatever extent you are following Jacob's Journey, and to whatever extent you agree or disagree with what is said, no matter what opinions I or anyone else hold - we are all a part of this body. Something is happening in Santa Cruz County, extending to a worldwide network. I can't describe or explain it. But tonight, the benefit concert for Jacob, will be a monument and a testament to this "thing." (If you would like more info on it follow the link at the top of the page, or here.) It will be a landmark along the roadside of this Journey that we are on. It is a testament to what is happening. People who are both following others on this journey and people who have not yet heard Jake's story will be here... but as I said, all are equally as valid in this body. Even those who don't know what is going on and never will.

There is a youth group coming down for the concert from Turlock, CA. They are in the midst of doing a "missions trip" to their local community, camping out in the city where they live in order to reach out to those who they live with. They are trying to stress to the kids this idea of community, body, unity... and they have seen it in our community. Here in Santa Cruz. So they are bringing the kids to Rio del Mar beach, the site of the accident, praying with them and reading snippets of the blog. Then going to the concert.

The grace and Kingdom of God, this community, this body, this One-ness, is so far beyond the boundaries that we like to construct for it. It permeates all things. I breaks down the barriers that we as humans put up between people we disagree with or look down upon. It truly is a message of hope and peace to mankind, where people organize for the sake of love and nothing else. I mean, just look at what God does. He comes out of his holiness, out of his loftiness, breaking down ALL the barriers between him and humankind, just to be with us. To make his home with us:

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
"I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Isaiah 57

And this one-nesss is all because of love.

"This is like the days of Noah to me:
as I swore that the waters of Noah
should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
and will not rebuke you.
For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,"
says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54


Our whole body needs prayer. Needs support. Not just Jacob's Journey... just one story as an example:

Angelic Navarro (Santa Cruz, CA) wrote
at 2:02pm yesterday
Hello All!
"I'm asking for Prayer for a boy who was an active part of Jacob's Benefit Concert. His name is Vin Tong and he is 15 years old... He is a wonderful dancer as you can see for yourself in the link below. Vin is the one who begins the dance, he's on the left side of the screen.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhTyYyAn_aI

I just found out, that last night after our last dance practice for Jacob's Benefit Concert, that Vin was hit by a car while riding his bike home. After spending the night in the ER they have discovered he has to undergo surgery for a fractured face.
Although Vin did not personally know Jacob, he helped me with his talents in editing the music, giving of his time for practice and meetings, and just unconditionally giving of himself towards Jacob's Benefit Concert Dance.
I humbly ask that as you pray for Jacob's Concert, and as you stand with all of us who are coming together as ONE, that you carry Vin in your hearts too.
Thank you!"

The Tong family has embarked on their own journey. So now I see, that Jacob's Journey, Vin's Journey, and all the other amazing stories I am hearing, are all part of the One Great Journey.


-Robbie

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Peace and Hope

As we wind down this evening, there is a sense of peace and hope. Fustrated that Jake is not awake yet and longing to have him talk to us, we continue to wait. Jake is resting right now-peaceful. Earlier as he moved about it seemed like he wanted to jump out of bed. I stroked his brow and held tight to his strong left arm. I gently lifted his left eyelid and spoke to him asking him to open his eyes. His right eye also opened slightly and I felt there was a distant recognition. It may have been my delusion but there is at glimmer. Thanks for continuing to pray and praise and worship the Lord with Jake on your lips and in your hearts. May tomorrow night be a concert of praise to our King.

New Newspaper Article

Just found a new newspaper article about Jacob and the upcoming concert tomorrow night. Click here: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_12880692

We are continued to be so amazed, blessed, humbled by the incredible support. Wishing Jacob could see the concert but at the same time wondering what he would think of all this. On the one hand he would love the attention and on the other he would hate it and tell us to get a life. We are all so very thankful for his life - and that each day, however slow it may be we see forward movement - no set backs.

We are still waiting - Jacob is still quite stable and is actually very calm and still. Which on one hand is awesome but on the other is frustrating for we know that he still has a lot to go through and we want him to go through the withdrawal and pain to be able to get to the point of looking at us. I have been spending my time today working through the Medi-Cal paperwork and trying to organize paperwork. Nice to be working with the administrative function of my brain to work on tasks.

Awaken, O my son, look into my eyes
O how I long to see your gaze
to have you recognize your daddy
I cannot even begin to describe
the depth of my love for you
Awaken, O my son, look into my eyes
Hold my hand and squeeze
whisper my name -
I so deeply desire to hear your voice
Lord of Heaven hear my cry
awake my son restore him today
my faith releases my faith believes
Holy Holy Holy Lord God almighty

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pray o Pray that Tuesday be a day of restoration

Robbie left me a note on my computer to blog about two things:
1. We are sensing this urgent prayer for Jacob to wake up tomorrow. Robbie has been writing in a journal to Jake each night. He said this: "I reached the end of my journal to him and feel a go-ahead to pray that there would be no more need to journal, because we will be able to communicate. Ask people to pray that he would wake up, tube out, be healthy...prayer for tomorrow."

2. Isaiah 54:9-10 Robbie wrote, "it is insane, mind-blowing that in this prophetic book that both scholars and casual readers alike consider to be about God's judgment and wrath on a rebellious nation, we find this verse is within that context:
9 "To me this is like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
never to rebuke you again.

10 Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,"
says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Here is a link to read the whole chapter:
Isaiah 54

That is from Robbie - the rest is from me. Robbie you may have to add a comment here when you get a chance.

For the last several years through some very dependent times on God, I have held to and preached that we often get in the way of what God is trying to do. It is far more important for us to stand back and understand what God is doing and join Him in than it is for us to ask God to join what we are doing. By God's very nature he is alive and creating and acting. He did not set the world in motion and then disappear. Miracles happen - not by what we do but by what God does. Perhaps faith is not strength to get God to move mountains but faith is more about stop trying to to move the mountain ourselves and watch what God can and is doing.

In all that is going on with Jacob - I deeply want to step in and make things happen. I wonder right now in my spirit and after reading what Robbie wrote if we would let go - letting our requests and petitions to God be clear - and clearly watch for the wonder of God to restore Jacob: awake, tube out, healthy.

That does sound quite insane doesn't it? Faith is not about hanging on but letting God. Oh that is so very hard to let go of my son as Abraham let go of Isaac. Yet letting God to God should be easy because he is far more able than I am.

O Lord, our God in faith we let go in faith
Allow us to step back and to see your movement
In what has happened to Jacob, whom you love
these mountains have been shaken and the hills have been removed,
our world has been rocked
and yet your unfailing love for us will not be shaken
your covenant of peace is secure
you love Jacob more than his father
your compassion will not falter
As we rest tonight in your grace
we awaken in the morning to a day of restoration
to this we release in faith in you, O Lord our God.
Healing, power, restoration.

tom and robbie

Duct Tape and Baby Sock

Monday afternoon.
I had to think hard a bit ago what day it was. We have begun three weeks of this journey. Three weeks of Jacob being asleep. He hardly sleeps eight hours - especially if he is going to get up early to go surfing. I spent the morning getting tires on the truck and dealing with insurance things - trying to figure out the best course of action. As I was cleaning out his truck, I found a baby's sock. It was the sock that our friends gave us when Jacob gashed his toe at the beach on his birthday - I remember being so concerned about he gash and that it might need stitches - Jacob said it was fine and wanted to get back to his friends - we compromised - duct tape a baby sock around his big toe. I found myself wondering how that wound had healed. That sock is now hanging in his room. For some reason it makes me smile - thinking of the love of our friends - their sacrifice - and of wounds that can be patched easily.

Jake is moving forward - we are all still praying. Last night when we left him he was alternating between thrashing and resting - so sweaty and hot. Basically going through detox. Hoping and praying that Jacob will wake up soon. Earnest, longing and beseeching God to move his healing hand upon our boy.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Phil 4:6-7

Prayers are still the same as last night. For those that are also praying for our rest - thanks - I think God is answering a bit. We are a bit more refreshed today. Mondays always seem to be hard. It is a blessing to have so many holding us up. There is a mountain before us yet God is able and has not abandoned us. Rather each day we find his strength to empower - sometimes it is barely enough and yet other times it overflows.

Tom

Sunday, July 19, 2009

more baby steps

Roller Coaster - we heard it from day one - this is going to be a roller coaster ride. I definitly had it today.

Last night we had a youth ministry reunion with over 100 people in attendance. Very cool to see people that were impacted from a ministry 20-30 years ago. My sister Kirky went with me and we snuck in late and left a little early. So many people I wanted to see and hear about their lives - so overwhelming because there is so much focus on what we are going through and where Jacob is right now. Blessing for so much love and caring and so many people I was not able to talk to. I was just so exhausted.

This morning They took a CAT-scan this afternoon and I was able to talk to the doctor afterward about that and the tracheoctomy. They were able to confirm at this point there is no bleeding or further damage to brain. They found one small dot of grey at the injury point but they do not feel it is significant. As far as the tracheoctomy I grabbed a better understandng as to how this does move us forward in healing and takes pressure off of his throat and vocal cords and allows them to get the tube out. Later there will be a small scar on his neck - which of course Jake will wish was bigger.

Though difficult and frstrating this all is - and learning patience is a whole new level - we are seeing impprovement. Jake is moving along and healing.

Specific prayers: that they will be able to take the tube out before they need to do the tracheoctomy. Continued healing on his burn areas and will save his thumb. Those are the miracles I am praying for and I know that you will pray along with me. Arm is seeming to be better - let's save the thumb Lord!

I was reminded by friends today about the miracles thus far - the grace that is being poured out and the stories of God doing amazing things in the lives of people through Jacob's Journey.

At the reunion last night, our friend Bob played and old song that we use to sing and it comes right from Philippians 2. Listening to it in lift of this journey shines a whole new light on these verses.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

In the midst of the this journey there is amazing unity, tender-compassion, etc etc etc. There is so much in those verses that speak loudly about what we are seeing. I am sure that you are seeing even more. This is the attitude that Christ calls us to and that we can take out and affect our community. What would it be like if we started treating people around us as though they were already forgiven? Christ died for us not while we were perfect but while we were sinning - blowing it big time. Instead of always having to act superior and always being right that we would be like Christ and forgivce.

Ending week #3 - not stronger - actually more broken - more opportunity to be restored.

Love, peace and grace

Tom

grip of grace

I find myself having a hard time moving forward today. Debbie just called me from the hospital and told me she signed a paper for a tracheoctomy. Sorry if I spelled it wrong. When she called I was looking at an entry I wrote back in May on my own blog that I never posted. Made some changes...thought I would share...finding myself feeling angry this morning...drained by all of this...Robbie put it well when he said our family is incomplete. I was thinking the same thing last night when we were lying on the bed - could not stop the tears - I had no words to pray. Comforted by the knowledge that so many others are praying - believing that God is able and yet so impotent in my belief.
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I fall on my back, exhausted, gripped by fear
this burden I face is more than I can bear
Forgotten, alone, in this season of pain
I would call out again but you forgot my name

Lord, I beg you please, stop this plague
It grips my heart, it won't let go
I don't get it Lord...so many are praying
Your people are crying out
Why won't you heal - why won't you answer
How can you do this to those who love you

We have seen miracles but not nearly enough
You healed a leper completely - a withered hand restored
you raised a cripple - a woman who would not stop bleeding
Lazarus was raised from the dead
What of this young boy - an innocent son
Where is grace in this moment?

And yet I wait...I call...I hope...I plea
Shine your glory, pour out mercy,
I wait on you, hold me, hide me, restore my faith
Steadfast, I remain, in your grip of grace

Your grip holds more power than I can imagine
Your grip abounds beyond my plea my childish hope
Your hand stops a sea, alters a mountain, forms a valley
Your hand created the first Adam - led the second to cross
Your hand suffered in the very hands that you created
Hysterical, murderous, foolish hands pierced your hands
Your grip appeared to weaken but never did - uncontained by the grave

Magnificent, Holy, too wonderful for me
I do not deserve your grip of grace
Sin forgiven, washed clean, I see
Holy, magnificent, wonderful face

In your hands, o Lord, I release my hold
trusting, hoping, loving your touch
your grip is not easy but the burden is light
for freedom is found in your grip of grace

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Wake up, Wake up my son and behold the face of those who love you.

Tom

Wake Up/Rest

(Some pictures of Jake and I that I love):



I woke early this morning with the urgency to pray that my parents would remain asleep, especially my mom. Last night all four of us (Jensen, my parents and I) prayed on the hotel bed together. Was not profound, was not deep, was not awe-inspiring - we were all beat down and reduced to laying before the throne of God. All I could think about the whole time was how we were missing someone. How our family was incomplete. Shattered.
As we pray for prayers of rest for ourselves, I can't help bu want to pray for the opposite for Jake, because he has to fight a battle in order to wake up. I think if one of the nurses had his way, he would just tie Jacob down, take all the medications off and yank the breathing tube out. But then the lung doctors tell them that this could still endanger the lungs.
But there is progress. He is completely off one more of the drugs as of yesterday. We will see what today holds in a few hours. I am sure my mom will be awake soon, but am hoping that my prayers hold her down longer to sleep in a little today. If any of you read this immediately, please do the same. The other day all I could think about is how I want to physically hug him. Hear him say to me "I love you, bro" after we talked on the phone while I was at college. When, God?

Something I just said above I would like to expound on: "Last night all four of us (Jensen, my parents and I) prayed on the hotel bed together. Was not profound, was not deep, was not awe-inspiring - we were all beat down and reduced to laying before the throne of God."

I can reiterate the idea of redemption coming in brokenness; exaltation through humiliation; the hour of our deepest sorrow and sin being the very hour of our visitation; I can try to describe this to you as much as I want, but it means absolutely nothing until it is experienced. Before all of this happened, this was actually one of my favorite topics in my personal study and discovery - brokenness. Not necessarily a timeline of "brokenness, and THEN restoration," thus effectively making Christ's promises say "just wait for the good ending." But I was exploring the idea of "restoration IN brokenness...." the promises of Christ being fulfilled in our darkest moments, being realized here and now. Because redemption really was brought in the most horrendous of situations - the God of the Universe being reduced to the depths of sin and failure. I was seeing this type of thinking all over the place... in authors I like to read, in my own personal thoughts, in stories from other people... and most of all in the teachings of Jesus, in my long and grueling (and on-going!) reading of the book of Revelation, and most recently (currently) in the prophecies of Isaiah.
All this to say, it means nothing. It means nothing to say that you understand something, to be able to put it in words, but to not actually exist in that reality or know who God is in the midst of all that speculation, skepticism and intellectual pursuit. I would throw it all out in a heartbeat if it meant being with God in the capacity that I am with him now.
Because what is the point of the Bible? To study it, disect it, quantify it, systematize and suck out every "truth nugget," every verifiably correct statement within it? Or to be acquainted with the true Word above all other words, who is God made man, to fall into the swirling flood of the story of the love of God?
And what is the point of prayer? To elevate oneself to a periodic ecstasy of spirituality and ask God for things? To preface with "Dear God..." and end with "amen," and have everything in between be a deep and complex string of words meant to create some sort of emotional stir? Or to be in communion with God, which is ongoing?

We don't have to understand... we have to embark on the journey, embrace mystery and paradox and love.

Nowhere does Christ say "unless you believe all the right things and get your act together, you don't get to be with me." I will say it again: he is already with us! He came to us! If anything, Christ came for the doubters, the spiritually incompetent, the "lowly" irreligious.
What does Christ actually say about following him?

...any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Renounce all that he has... can I really even comprehend the scope of that?! ALL?! Including my preconceptions of "Christianity," including my spiritual thoughts, including my lofty intellectual claims... even including the thoughts contained in this blog right here and now...??!!! What the heck, God? You mean even all these things that we glorify as pertaining to you and following you, maybe even those should be discarded so that we can follow you better?
I think it is EXTREMELY important in our respective and communal journies to periodically, maybe even frequently, STOP, reevaluate and start from ground zero. Having the courage to admit, "I don't know a thing." Having the strength to REST in him, and not trust in our own ambitions to continue on in the journey.
I am in one of those places now. It is a huge relief. And it is frightening me out of my mind. Because there is an unimaginable God out there who at one point became like me because he loves me.

Oh, our Father, you know our cries, you know our words before we utter them. It is now almost 6 AM and my mom is still asleep. I praise you for that. Keep those vigil that must be alert, and keep those restful that are down in the dirt (hey thats a neat little rhyme).

-Robbie
Listening to: Heavy Hearted - the Glorious Unseen

What is the meaning of grace,
When it speaks to my darkest place?
Why do I always feel like I'm your disgrace?
I'm sick of saving face.
And when I feel so heavy hearted,
I know you're taking me back

And when you take me as I am
It's like the sunlight gracing the land!
And when I feel heavy hearted, please come and take my hand
Heavy hearted again... but so close to you.