Saturday, August 22, 2009

Handles for the journey

Jacob had a bath - not a sponge bath mind you but a bath - they brought in a special gurney-bath thingy and were able to wash him up. Looking Marvelous. So get this - the doctors nurses were talking about getting him completely off the ventilator today since he did not need it anymore - it was there as a warning measuring his air inhale and exhale but not helping him to breath. So I guess Debbie started talking about that to him happening today and he listened and decided it was time. So he pulled it off. Debbie ran out to get the doctor who was still outside of his room and they came in and said, "okay, it's time." So the trach is still there but no hoses attached. He will also be hooked up to it at night for help and precaution until he is stronger and we are assured that he does not need it.

Big big steps moving forward.

During the bath and bandage change the doctors were also able to examine the wounds and are talking about surgery on Monday for his head and thumb. I am not yet sure what that means yet but apparently the heel can wait. I have been specifically praying for healing to both of those areas. Big steps forward.

Oh and with the trach out he should be able to begin to make some sounds - start to be able to talk to us.

I was thinking about how hard it must be for him to not be able to communicate to us what he is feeling - thinking - wondering about. I wonder if part of his tears and frustration involves that as well - only being able to mouth words - to weakly try to communicate through his lips. His voice will return and there will be time in the next few days for some sound but right now it remains frustrating - for him and for us. There have been times on this journey I felt like I had no voice - moving my lips with nothing coming out - trying my best but the wrong things coming out. Crying out in the dark; frustrated by utterances; words without sounds.

I felt that this morning. I received news of a friend who had met with tragedy. I had not seen him in many, many years - our paths diverged a long time ago. He was more than a friend - he was a mentor - a spiritual guide. He decided he was done here. Even writing that is hard, it pierces my soul - I have no idea what his journey had held the last 15 years that lead him to this choice. My prayer right now is for the family he left behind. That in the midst of this they would find a handle on hope - faith - love. A friend yesterday reminded me of what I have thought about for a while. Those three are deeply connected: hope/faith/love - layers around our heart that keep us from embitterment and despair - hardening of our heart. Those three tell us we are treasured, purposeful, remembered. In a limited sense they come to us through others but in unlimited power are available through God.

With Jacob and all this on my mind I was listening to a song this morning that reminded me of the Psalms that so often take about our "enemies." Most of us do not have people that we would consider enemies. More likely for us the enemies that we have are within us: memories, voices, feelings - those things that attack and drag us down. In the midst of Jacob's journey, I have received messages that have talked about these enemies; and I know them too. These enemies lead us to a hardening that wages attacks - leading us to the depths. The hardest person to forgive is ourselves.

Grace and forgiveness are the weapons that God has given us to fight back - so that we can walk in hope-faith-love. It can be so elusive and the enemy is always right there to pull us down and stab us. The enemy finds another way to get in - to remind us of our errors - question forgiveness - dilute grace.

God's forgiveness and grace is available; it restores our voice.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:1-10

As I long to hear the voice of my son - God longs to hear our voice - for us to speak to him - cry to him - sing to him. Yes with the same voice we curse and praise God - James talks about the power of the tongue and compares it to fire - words hold such tremendous power - inflict such pain. Faith-hope-love is that voice. In the midst of this journey those are the handles that God has given us - reminded us. The miracles we have seen lead us back to these. Grace and forgiveness is ample and sustaining. It is not always clear - rarely easy - but walking with God is far more sustaining than walking alone.

Tomorrow when despair tries to grab us again on this roller coaster- I know that many will remind me to hold on to faith-love-hope on this journey.

Tom (Dad)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hope remains...

Jake is overall doing well. It was a very good transition and time reviewing Jacob's condition with his new nurses and doctors. Definitely made us feel at home. Jake continues to respond to us. They allowed us to browse their DVD cart - we are in the Pediatric ICU so this includes Barney and Bob the Builder. I chose 5 or so DVD's to choose from and Jacob told me yes and no with his head and shrugged his shoulders for maybe. He is still Jacob - with particular taste in movies. I could not slip any by him that I would like but he wouldn't. We ended up with Batman Begins. He dozed in and out of the movie.

There are moments that are still hard - frustration and tears - pain and sorrow. There is still hard stuff to come - surgery, rehab, off of medications, trach, stomach tube, etc. We are looking at possible surgery next week on his head and heal. Recovery - moving toward healing is a difficult process...never will there be complete healing but we have hope of restoration. Scars will remain changes to his body he is still with us - growing stronger each day.

That is all I have for tonight - I just wanted you to know that Jake is good - he is safe - he is not done - and he is hopefully sleeping right now. Hope remains.

In hope and faith

Tom (Dad)

Moving Day

We were told at 10:30 that we would have 4 hours notice before Jacob is moved and that if it did not happen by 6 it would not happen today. At 11:15 we were told that the transport would be here by noon. :p Our current nurses put a big slow down sign up and told them we need more time. So the bottom line is that we are now getting ready to move Jacob and are preparing that we will be on our way to the new digs by 3 or 4.

The unknown is hard. I think the fear is not that we will be getting inadequate care - some of the doctors and nurses here have trained there and done training for those that are there. Jim reminded me last night that "we didn't know any of these scrub-wearing angels either...maybe our family will just grow a little bit more..." I wrote him back that "we are expanding the journey to include a few more people." Again this has become like a home - the nurses, therapists, doctors, psychologist, nutritionist, case manager, janitors, other survivors and family members - I probably forgot someone but you get the idea - are known to us - not only in their professions but who they are as people. I had in my frame that Jacob would walk out of here - not wheel out of here.

But here we go our journey takes a literal change in direction and we will adjust to a new address, a little further away, but where they have complimentary valet parking. As Jensen would say "sweet-sauce."

My prayer continues to simply be, "God you are still faithful, you are still in this and this is right where you want us to be right now, in this moment. May Valley Medical Center be standing stone - a monument - on this journey as a reminder of how you have saved Jacob and restored him thus far. May your glory go forth and may we continue to be a blessing here and now there. We praise you God for continuing to reveal your self - allow us to see you more."

I cannot control much that is going on around me but I can control my reaction which is steered by my attitude - that I can choose which may not always change my action but does a whole lot to change my heart allowing God to sustain my joy.

We will keep you posted.

Tom (Dad)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Big Prayer Request

Today has been a "Jensen Day". I am with him and three friends at the Boardwalk. I keep wondering when I became the old man that followed the kids around and did not go on the rides. It is fun to watch them have fun and hang with them - neck surgery, back issues - no Giant Dipper appeals to me at this point. Take me to the kiddie rides with the grandkids (no not for a few years please).

Debbie called me earlier today and she was informed that Jacob may be moving to Santa Clara Kaiser as early as Monday. At this point he is stable enough to move and is not really as much a burn patient as he is a neurology and skin graft patient - along with rehab. So here comes the reactions again: Shock, Anger, Resentment, Acceptance, Hope. It really hit hard and freaked me out but we are insured by Kaiser and it is inevitable - it just hit a little hard. I keep telling myself, "God is still in this, do not fear what you do not know." Change is hard. This has become our home and the people are family. I wanted all of them to watch Jacob walk out of there and not wheeled out of there.

It has been a stress to deal with insurance - I found out in the emergency room at Dominican that our Cobra had ended because my former employer dropped their plan. It was retro two months. We had to choose between not having any insurance and paying for a really expensive insurance - yet with the nature and cost of Jacob's injury it is a fraction. Not having insurance would have allowed us to get on Medi-cal but I am not sure that is the best option. I wrote to Obama to ask him but he has not gotten back to me yet.

We are so thankful for the benefit, silent auction, raffles, garage sales, etc, etc. that are absolutely providing just what we need - allowing us to stay focused on Jacob and not totally break down and freak.

God is doing amazing things and Jacob is stable enough to move by ambulance - stop - drink that in - thank you Lord. Miracle after miracle, healing after healing, hope building up hope Jacob is getting better. It is hard right now that he is becoming aware of what is going on. Mouthing the words to me with tears, "I want to go home" breaks me - rips out my heart. For each of us I need to repeat over and over again, "right here, right now we are exactly where God wants us to be." Robbie at Biola. Tom and Debbie watching over Jacob. Jensen with friends and getting ready for school. Jacob moving toward recovery - stronger each day - either at Valley Med or at Kaiser. God is not done and the unknown is hard - change is hard - but the God who does not change knows exactly what is best even if it looks ludicrous to us.

Through all of that - you know better than I how you can pray. We love you.

God's love, peace, hope

Tom (Dad)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

where you are is where God wants you.

Jake rested for a few hours after the surgery - and then began waking up around 6pm. Honestly it is tough right now. He is waking up and more realizing what is going on around him - who we are, nurses, routines, which are going to hurt and won't hurt. He is mouthing words to us and I really think tonight he was telling me "I want to go home." Over and over I assure him that he is right where God wants him to be right now in this moment. It is the best place for him to be and that he needs to be patient with himself. I need to say the same words over and over again to myself. "Stop trying to go ahead of where you are right now in this moment."

I am tired and falling asleep but need to simply write something - helps me to sleep. God has brought us all on this journey to come to a point of knowing that the plan of God takes me where He wants - I may have other plans - very good and goldy plans but they are just ideas, they are not God's hand moving and knowing that he is the one really directing all of this.

Tomorrow morning I read James and am very excited about it.

Faith, love and peace

Tom Kirkendall

clear face...

Jake is resting now... surgery successful - no more tubes in his face. He looks so good.

Right before the surgery he got very agitated and I could see fear - heart wrenching fear on his face. I have seen it before each of the last days at different times but especially in the evening. I hate it - but also know it is reality and I need to stand there with him as he moves through it. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to come into consciousness and see blue-masked; blue-headed; blue-handed people with matching yellow smocks starting down at me. We usually pull down our masks to smile at him and allow him to see our faces.

Bandage changes which use to take over an hour are now around 15-20 minutes - tremendous healing Jake has gone through.

Psalm 20
May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. Selah

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
O LORD, save the king! Answer us when we call!

Jacob has come such a long way in 9 weeks - the road ahead is still unclear and undoubtedly filled with more entanglement - but from this view - there is relief, restoration, life.

Again, again and again - thanks for supporting us.

Love, peace joy...

Tom (Dad)
Good morning - Jake woke up about 3am again and has been responding quite well. He and Debbie watched some movies again - Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - My good friend Mike Conly is here now and Jacob gave mike a big genuine smile. He is now peaceful and resting. Doctors seem pleased with where he is at. He will have a procedure done this afternoon to remove the feeding tube from his nose and putting a pic line right to his stomach. They have also talked about turning off the respirator - he is breathing mostly on his own now anyway. More to come. Each step of faith is a lesson.

Peace, love, hope

Tom (Dad)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Still stepping forward...

In case you missed the last blog Jake had a seizure at about 12:45 today.

I had been with Jensen this morning and was working on stuff at home so I got here at about 1pm. My dad and our friend Lisa were in the room at the time. Lisa immediately came out and got Debbie and then called me. Leading up to this was an incredible morning of huge steps. He had mom lay down with him on the bed to watch Robin Hood: Men in Tights. (Classic Kirkendall boy movie - not a Debbie movie.) Jacob actually scooted over and put a pillow on the bed for Debbie. Earlier in the morning he had called the nurse into the room by snapping his finger and motioning with his finger. He also sat up and they had him sitting in a special hospital chair. Perhaps it was too much too fast and his body just said, "no more, take it easy."

The blessing is that he is still responding to us since then. I came in just 15 minutes after the event and he turned toward me when he heard my voice. The neurologists came in to check him out and he responded to most of his commands - though extremely tired. Everything still seems to be going in the right direction.

Reminder to me - he is still critical - he does still have long road - desperately we still need prayer. I got a call from Aptos High today - they have to drop him from enrollment since he won't be there 10 days after school starts. We can re-enroll when he is able. I know there was no way he would have been able to be there by Friday - but this stabbed at me. Hope is a so much deeper than optimism - it is a fearful encounter stepping into the unknown - with faith that though the next step holds mystery - God is still there. Henri Nouwen stated, " is not a static given but a mystery which reveals itself in the ongoing encounter between man and his world." (Wounded Healer, p 75) The value of life is in the next moment not in the last moment. But in the last moment our encounter with the love of God strengthens our hope, our love.

Anger, sadness, fear punched me in the gut today at 1 o'clock. But life is still to come.

Love, Hope, Faith

Tom (Dad)
We are waiting for lab reports and doctors to talk to us. It appears at about 12:45 Jacob had a seizure. He is resting now. He recognizes our voices and commands to move around still.

A reminder that he is still critical. Roller coaster is not over. Prayer still desperately needed.

"Its me, Mom..."

"It's me, Mom..." I've said that to Jake slowly as I look into his foggy eyes for days. The past 2 days, I don't have to say it as much, Jake has opened his arms (right one shaky)and held me to him till I've cried into his neck - I am soooo proud of him!

On my personal inner life part, do not ask me why, but I find myself more exhausted and overwhelmed by the positive signs Jacob is showing than I was by some of his struggles! Change is so hard, even when it's wonderful change. I guess - I just have to say "thank you" - I will never stop thanking God for all of you who have saved him, prayed for him and us, have sent money, have sent notes, food, gift cards, cleaned our house, been loving us in ways we will never know about - thank you to those who have cared so well for Robbie and Jensen in ways we have not been able to - I have to trust that God knows who you all are and will strengthen your hearts, encourage you, give you courage and hope as we are being given...

August 19 from Sarah Arthur devotional, One Year Daily Grind

"The artist can, out of his own experience, tell the common man a great deal about the fulfillment of man's nature in living; but he can produce only the most unsatisfactory kind of reply if he is persistently asked the wrong question." - Dorothy Sayers

This curious quote helped me wade through some of the odd and convoluted responses Jesus gave to many of the questions he was asked. It's not that he was evading the issues by offering unsatisfactory answers, but that he was "persistently asked the wrong question." He was continually being asked to solve people's problems - e.g., "Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me" or is it right to pay taxes to Caesar?" etc - when the real issue was their salvation. So he never quite gave the answer people were looking for. The paralytic wanted physical healing, but Jesus offered him forgiveness of sins first. That's because the important question wasn't "will you heal my paralysis?" but will you heal my spiritual brokenness?"
Sayers wrote, "The artist does not see life as a problem to be solved, but as a medium for creation." I've made the mistake of looking at the whole story of Scripture in terms of a problem to be solved, such as the separation of humankind from God, whereas God may be looking at it through the lens of the artist. No wonder the "solutions" have always seemed slightly odd! Rather than abolishing sin and death immediately, God is using those realities as a medium for new creation, not as some sort of flu epidemic that needs the right vaccine. Each human life is a canvas, and all experiences, both good and bad, are crafted into he making of the overall picture. God will create something different of your life than of mine, and it will be beautiful and unique. But it probably will be messy and rather unsatisfactory too - from our limited perspective, anyway.
Meanwhile, we must not expect all our problems to be solved or our theological snarls to be unraveled. God isn't in the business of fixing old things; he is in the business of creating new ones.

Mark 2:1-12
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, "I tell you, 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!"


Debbie (Mom)

Monday, August 17, 2009

He rose...

Jacob had a very active morning and then I think must have spent himself a bit so he slept most of the afternoon. Around 5pm he was sleeping. I had borrowed a couple of videos from the surf shop he works at, Freeline. I had it playing and he opened his eyes a couple of times and seemed to like it and then went back to sleep. I started it a second time and maybe he was dreaming he was on the beach or something but he seemed to wake up sat up trying to get out of bed. He sat up on his own - struggling but on his own and seemed determined to get out that door. The nurse kept asking him if he wanted to get up and I was thinking don't ask him that unless you mean it. Next thing I know another nurse was in here and lowering his side railing helping him to sit up. But Jake did not want to sit up - he stood up. Forgot he was over six feet as he towered over the nurses. Dang he looked so good. Behind me doctors and nurses and gathered at his door greeting him and encouraging him. Each of the nurses gave him a high five after he was back in bed. He then did it again about 15 minutes later - moving faster than the nurses have time to get themselves gowned. After all of this I sat next to him on the bed for a long while which was very nice for both of us. He pulled on my hat - jiggled my belly - was a bit more and more of Jacob.

Each day shows improvement.

Just as I was writing the above line, Jake woke up. He had me sit on his bed for quite a while - as he did last night at this time he seemed to just overwhelmed at the reality of where he was: terrified. I sat with him grabbing my shoulder. Calming down. He is still on a lot of medication and is still coming in and out. But he is coming back - he is getting better.

This song, I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Louie Giglio and Matt Maher, keeps going in my head:

There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say it is well

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow no more pain
I will rise on eagle's wings
Before my God fall on my knees and rise
I will rise

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

And I hear the voice of many angels sing
Worthy is the Lamb
And I hear the cry of ev'ry longing heart
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

I will rise
I will rise

Love, peace, hope

Tom (Dad)

Crazy Day

Crazy day yesterday.

It was hard to let go of Robbie again...necessary pain. In the midst of joy with Jacob, it is so very hard...

Jacob is so aware of what is going on around him. He absolutely knows who we are and hears our voices and reacts. He cannot talk because of the trach tube (can we pray that we take that out this week?) and still has a feeding tube going through his right nostril down the back of his throat. You can tell he desperately wants water - his mouth is so dry. He is communicating and seeming to take in where he is and what he is doing. I showed Jacob a picture of he and his friends (they are covering the walls) - he smiled. He took my hand at one point and placed it on his head and I explained his wound - same with his right hand.

Right now as I write this I am at home. I am going to go down and Jensen soon in Capitola. Debbie is at the hospital and the nurses stopped her when she came in this morning as they in tears told of how responsive and aware Jacob was during the night.

It was hard for me to leave him last night. It is that same feeling of leaving your two year old crying with a sitter. As I told Jacob I was leaving, he was so distraught - pulling on me shaking his head no. The blessing of restoration is not always easy I guess. Soon he let go and calmed down and our friends Jim and Sue who have been so faithful by our side stayed with him. I called a bit later wondering if I should go back but he was asleep - he was peaceful.

Hebrews 12:7,12-13
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet,"so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

More later.

Peace, Love, Hope

Tom (Dad)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

More Hope...

Cool story that offers more hope...

I am back down in LA in my dorm room right now, but earlier today Jake was fairly active. Lots of little things that show that he can communicate with us, that he understands what we say, that he knows what is going on... but one thing stands out. He did give me a hug yesterday... but today he gave me a better one.

I bent down close to his face and decided to talk in a more quiet voice as opposed to the louder way that we tend to talk to make sure he hears. His eyes were half open but looking at me. I explained to him that I came up to see him for the weekend... that I came up from college... and that I was going back down later tonight... and that I was going to try to see him about once a month... and that I loved him. After I finished each of these phrases, he would nod his head quickly in understanding. Then I asked him if he would give me a hug before I left. Immediately he threw both his arms up, a little bit flailing, in the air, and I leaned down into his arms.

I saw hope, because I saw his love. I pray that he saw hope because he saw my love.

Robbie (brother)

Cloud of Witnesses

Jake continues to pull us and push us. The doctor asked him a bit ago to hold up two fingers. He tried. Then to make a fist. That was immediate! Ready to punch. He is moving around pillows, trying to pull off bandages, itching his nose. More signs of improvement...of life. He is active (at times difficult to keep his feet and arms in the bed) then gets groggy and doses...

It is slow but he is waking up. The improvement - the evidence of what is to hope for is encouraging and keeps us going - God encourages us in proportion to just what we need. It is incredible to know and remember that it is not just my prayers or Debbie or Robbie or Jensen - we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses supporting us, holding our arms up when we are weak, when we are tired, when we are scared.

We are surrounded by an amazing cloud of witnesses...

Reading Hebrews 12:1-3 is very encouraging and challenging...

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.

But you really cannot read those verses without reading what comes before - at the very least Hebrews Chapter 11...
By faith Abel..
By faith Enoch...
By faith Noah...
By faith Abraham...
They lived their lives by faith not fully realizing what they hoped for; seeing it from a distance, sometimes fuzzy, sometimes uncertain, perhaps a storm leads them off course. "they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on the earth...looking for a country of their own;" a place to call home - where everything that is hoped for is realized; where things are put right as they should be. They knew the heart of God and longed for his presence - his promises - the heavenly dwelling of God. "Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a place for them."
By faith Abraham and Isaac...
By faith Joseph...
By faith Moses...
By faith Rahab the prostitute...

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Now go back and read Hebrews 12:1-3 again...

we are surrounded by the power of God active and moving and seen in the lives of the faithful who hope for more of God, peace of God, restoring that which was promised and is working in and through the power of God through his son Jesus and the Spirit of God dwelling in those who have placed their trust and hope in the grace of God.

It may not always make sense. This right now does not make sense. But spiritual, extraordinary things rarely do.

Love, peace, hope

Tom (Dad)

The Hope that Lies in You

This is Robbie writing from my bedroom at home, up in Santa Cruz for the weekend.
I hung out with Jacob for a few hours yesterday. It is astounding the steps that he has taken in the last weeks since I've seen him. He is responsive, aware and at least semi-conscious of the people in the room, although he is still not fully processing the situation. But he is recognizing love. He is recognizing the hope we have for him. Sometimes that comes out in different ways (i.e. he'll throw a pillow across the room, shove us away... he really wants to get out of the bed). But the best way he has shown his recognition to me was the hug that he gave me. I could not help but let the tears come when he limply but firmly, while I was in his face saying hello and that I was up from Biola for the weekend, put his left hand around my neck and pulled my head down right next to his. He held me there until he became too tired to continue, and his hand weakly fell off of my neck. I then had the joy of helping three therapists sit him up and make a few attempts at standing him up. He is getting there... he responds to commands off and on, and has strength. His fevers are staying below 100. He knows we are there. He wants us close to him, but he also wants to just run out of the doors of his room. The hardest part is when he shows anguish on his face. Hang in there, Jakey... your day will come. The day you walk out of the hospital will be a national holiday to us, "The Day of Jacob."

There is hope. It is in us. It is in the smiles of the nurses that I see who are finding joy in their work with Jacob and love him. It see it in the faces of those who are loving and supporting us. I see it in the utter care of his loving nurses. Hope is found in this community, in this Body. It is where God's presence is resting on us. I think we tend to say that hope means that "everything will be ok." Well, a lot of times everything is not ok. What about those body bags that are wheeled out of hospital rooms? When we say that hope means "everything will be ok," I think that what we are really saying is that we should try and not feel the despair, shame, and horror and that we should feel happy all the time. THIS IS NOT HOPE. This is denying ourselves the pain and grief that we must work THROUGH, and it denies us the ability to be broken before God, so that he may work. Hope means something closer to this: even at your darkest hour, even in the depths of despair, when you are in the pit of hell, YOU ARE STILL LOVED. Therein lies hope. In the very moment of our brokenness, we still have acceptance, we still have God fervently calling out to us. And, if we fully understand the message of Christ and what he did for us, then we will see that actually, in our darkest hour, Christ is standing there right next to us. In a song I wrote the other day I termed it this way:

"You fall down
From the endless stars
To dive into
My bleeding heart
You lie next to me
In the filth and mud
And now I know the one true love."

This is especially relevant in the burn unit. Even after victims are healed, their scars remain. Forever. Many are scared to go outside, to let their distorted looks be seen. Yes they are healed... but is everything ok? Did everything turn out good and happy? Sadly, I think we tell them "no..." But the true message of hope, is that even in this place of unacceptance, of fear and insecurity, they are STILL LOVED. Hopefully not just by God, but by all of us as well.

This is a prayer I wrote for Jake the other day:

"Lord, your servant Jacob is lost. In your furious love, tear through the clouds, open up the heavens, and bring your presence down. Tear through the medication, tear through his disoriented coma, break through his wounds, sneak by his grief, and settle your hope and love deep in his soul. May he emerge renewed, redeemed, restored in who he is... because the major recovery will not be physical. "

-Robbie (brother)

disclamier: the title of this blog is taken from the album title of the artist "The Glorious Unseen." They are coming out with a new album August 25th. They are AWESOME.