Saturday, September 26, 2009

YHWH Love

It has been a good day - a lot of friends of Jacob filtered through. Jim and Sue (who were with Debbie each night at the hospital) came up and spent the day helping, helping, helping - with things we did not even know anyone could or would help us with. Debbie now has a Jim list for when he comes. Auntie Julie BBQ'd for us and Jake's friends and now we are all crashing. All in all an almost typical day - in the midst of medication etc etc. Though the week ahead has a lot of appointments and such - it feels like - at least to me - that we have a better handle on things. Of course I say that and it is Saturday - we will see what things are like on Thursday.

I thought I would share something that I wrote on June 6th in my journal.

YHWH Love

YHWH is true name for God. "I am that I am." God is love. YHWH love is the true essence or character of God. It is not love that is conditional but love that just is - exists.

Henri Nouwen said, "when the imitation of Christ does not mean to live a life like Christ, but to live your life as authentically as Christ lived His, then there are many forms in which a man can be a Christian." (The Wounded Healer, pg 99)

Can I move my life beyond simply living my life like Christ to a deeper authenticity of Christ?
Can I ever really act in authentic surrender of my own self to that of Christ? I think that at times I want so badly to be known as having a character of Christ that it becomes an ego centered striving rather than a fully humble surrender to the spirit of God. Are we able to "let the healing power of the risen Jesus flow through us to reach and touch 0thers, so that we may dream and fight and bear and run where the brave not go?" (Brennan Manning, The Furious Love of God, pg 104).

Am I striving for what Christ died for? Are we striving to create a Christ-like community that has at it's greatest, all-encompassing focus the intense, consuming YHWH love? YHWH love is spirit. Spirit is the presence of God. The presence of God is a consuming fire. When I act in YHWH love there is a patient-kindness-gentleness-humble reflection of the character of God. But rid the picture of YHWH love being sappy, prissy, gooey love. This is not the love that protects, is trustworthy, hopeful, persevering. YHWH love is the glorious radiance of a holy, holy, holy Father.

Paul screams to us and the Corinthians that YHWH love is majestically consuming but that we put a veil over it. Moses put a veil over his face, at first to protect the people from the brilliance of God's glory reflecting in his face. But then, as the glory faded, he kept the veil up keeping up the appearance of YHWH love. YHWH love is not hidden; it is authentic surrender of who we are to the majesty of God.
  • "For we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2Cor 3:18)
  • "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1Cor 13:12-13)
  • The love of Christ (YHWH love) drives us to live as authentically as Christ lived. For the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in YHWH love. (Gal 5:6)
As I read this again today, I wanted to share it because we have been the recipients of YHWH love. Unselfish, no-strings attached, acts of kindness in the midst of Jacob's Journey. It is our prayer that this would continue as we see those around us that are available to receive this same love.

Today Connor brought us about $2000 from the proceeds of the last benefit concert. What an unbelievable blessing. I met a friend at Bay Federal on Thursday and one of his co-workers gave me the sign that she used for her garage sale to benefit Jacob. On Friday the owner of Betty's Burger's emailed us and told us that they are all praying for us and want to bless us with a meal. (You have got to try the sweet potato fries). We are in the midst of working out a time for Jacob to meet Greg Hansen and his team who rescued Jacob - saved his life.

We have experienced over and over again YHWH love - I am that I am - nothing else can be said.

Tom (Dad)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Arizona Ice Tea and thoughts on unity

Blessings continue to come in the midst of the journey. 

Jacob got box yesterday from Arizona Ice Tea - inside was a hat and a t-shirt along with some instant tea packets and coupons. Very cool whoever did that - creative and cool. 

Debbie had a conversation with the principal at Aptos High School. We got approved to start Jacob on a computer-based classroom. He only needs three classes to graduate. I get to go in on Monday and meet with them to learn the system - put my CBEST to use! Jake and I talked today about making our kitchen nook our classroom - we get to use the table that he made in wood shop last year. Perhaps there are so many little things begin orchestrated behind the scenes that we do not see. 

We finished the week off by Jacob only having to go to Kaiser in Campbell (30 minutes instead of 45) to give blood again. He and I are here at home. We just got done with medicine and therapy homework. The beginning of the week was much more hectic than the ending of the week. Next week we are at 6 appointments so far. All necessary. I think part of the adjustment is realizing that while we are home we are not yet home. We are still needing to make sure that we protect the time and focus on therapy and recovery - it is a full-time job. Any change causes time of chaos before we settle into routine. I think that one of the obvious parts of this whole journey is that routine is very elusive. Once we think we have a plan and have things and people settled in to routine, the roller coaster changes direction - a new door opens and we need to move through it. In these times of change we need to hold on to our foundation - commitment that is based on trust can weather the conflicts. I must admit that is so difficult. I act and react and want to control and get irritated when the plan that I think is right and that makes sense to me does not happen. 

I really appreciate what Robbie shared in yesterday's blog - that he can share that and be vulnerable about his helplessness and desire to care for us and be there for us is huge. It was hard for him to not get a hold of us by phone as easily and  when he did, it was a hard time. For him to learn and grow through this and to reach out to those around him who are available is part of being embraced by community. I can still remember almost 20 years ago when we lived in Africa at a boarding school and we heard that a dear friend had cancer. She and her family all had a huge part (and still do) of our lives and even getting us to Africa. There was nothing we could do - that is not true - we could pray. We are not helpless we are hopeful and God deeply loves and desire for us to seek him in conversation. 

As I talked to Robbie today it was cool to share the blessings of this week as well as the challenges. It is so cool to be able to mutually share our deepest vulnerability - this comes with time and building of trust - that is God's deepest desire for community. God does not desire cloned unanimity but unity in the midst of diversity and conflict - healthy conflict.  Just as Paul talks about the body being made up of different parts, his Church community is a symphony of individuals blended in beauty. (see 1 Cor 12) Disagreement is not a sin - perhaps how we handle our disagreement is or better yet how we hide our disagreement. 

In the midst of this time with Jacob - though the strain is enormous - part of the challenge is to continue to have healthy conflict with one another - oh how often I fail. Vulnerability and trust moves us away from defensiveness and begins to allow us to understand each other. Put that together with a plan for moving forward and essentially we are all in rehab. 

I think - if I counted right - we are on 13 weeks - 3 months on the 28th. Honestly we stopped counting. Does not seem that important anymore. What is important? Jacob is still Jacob. We are able to talk to him and laugh with him, cry with him and play games. His friends can come and hang out with him and we are starting school next week. In the midst of the continued recovery we are finding wholeness within brokenness. There are so many spiritual lessons in that statement. 

As for praying - continue with prayers for the thumb, depression, rehabilitation and that God would continue to reveal himself and Jake would discover a sliver of what God wants him to do with all of this. 

So blessed by your continued love and commitment to us. 

Love and peace in abundance, 

Tom (Dad) 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More and more hope

Sorry for the long post again, I was intending to make this one short. Read my ramblings if you have time.

Hello all. Seeing the difficulties that my dad, mom, Jacob and Jensen have been facing this week, I really just wanted to ask all of you to pray for them. It is hard for me (this is Robbie writing) to be down here at Biola, because I have actually been having a good week, feeling motivated, getting work and school stuff done.... and then I look back at my family and see such complete brokenness. Grueling hospital trips, unending medical attention from my mom to Jake, constant fear of what the future holds, and constant depression about what the present is like. It breaks my heart. It grieves me. So hard to see... in my opinion it appears to be more stressful than the many weeks in the hospital. One word that I have been exploring the meaning of non-stop: HOPE.

If Christians are to seriously take the promises of Christ, then we have a HOPE in RESTORATION... in things being set aright. One night this week my roommate and I went for a jog. We ran by this church, who had out on their sign: "John 3:16 - repent or perish!" We both expressed our extreme distaste for these types of Christians who find it appropriate to judge people who are not even held to their same standards. Even John 3:16 does not contain this message... it says "For God so LOVED the world..." the WORLD! All people, all of creation!

I am becoming increasingly convinced that the message of the hope of Christ is NOT a message that says "beleive the right things so that when you die you can get your butt into heaven and avoid hell." After all, even in the gospels we see that coming to Christ out of a pure fear of eternal damnation is not the right motive... John the baptist calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers for coming with this motivation! (He then goes on to employ the famous "fire and brimstone preaching" that so many today hate... it is interesting to note that this was not directed at un-believers, but at the religious leaders! At those who had an expectation that they were not living up to. They had forgotten about love. See this whole passage in context: Matthew 3) I am finding that the message of Christ is something closer to the idea that God is restoring ALL of CREATION.

Even if you are not a Christian... whatever beliefs you hold... look around you. It would seem that things are not the way they should be. At least in my opinion. Why would a 17 year old boy have to go through severe electrocution and month upon month of grueling recovery? That is not what his body was meant for. That is not what he was created for. This is a sorrowful time for my family and I. No one can tell me that I should not feel sad. This is a horrible situation. Was I meant for this? To feel this much pain? To see my younger brother like he is?
And yet there is so much greater pain all around us. SO MUCH. Why do miscarriages happen? Why are people born with deformities? Why do people lose limbs in horrific accidents, why do sons and fathers die in wars, why do buildings have planes crash into them, why are nuclear bombs drop on entire cities (sorry I'm not trying to be political)? On a calmer level, why do relationships rip apart? Why do families have to go through divorce? Why does revenge never cease? Is this how things should be? We can write it off easily... life sucks, just push through it... God doesn't care... He isn't there... I want to tell you: I do not beleive in a God who controls everything with an iron grip, who gives us this pain to get our attention or punish us, who sits in the heavens and decides who is good enough to get into heaven. This is a God who has been created by years of arrogant theology and misguided Bible reading. I beleive in the God who loves his creation so much, that he was willing to step out of his perfection and become one of us, become a human, and enter DEATH, the darkest point of human existence, for us. Neitzche saide "God is dead." In a sense, he is right. God DIED FOR US. Can you comprehend a perfect infinite being dying a human death? I can't.

Therefore, I have hope in restoration. This is not how things are supposed to be. I have no idea what a "life-after death" existence will look like... there are opinions all across the board... some Christian thinkers even conclude that there is none. So what do we beleive? We beleive in hope. We (at least I) trust that God has a plan, a plan for restoration. This has never been as important for me as it is now... that my brother will be restored, will receive a body made brand-new, that he will surf and bike and roll on the ground laughing.

I will leave you with yet another song from the Glorious Unseen:

THE HOPE THAT LIES IN YOU

We can hear the sound of all creation sing - a song to heal the earth
A song to spark a dream
Where are you optimists?
We need your strength in this
There's a stirring in your soul that cannot be controlled
This is the hope that lies in you
We can hear the sound of all the earth rejoice
with angels all around - lifting up their voice
Where are you hopeful ones?
Have we come undone?
There's a stirring in your soul that cannot be controlled
This is the hope that lies in you
Through all the questioning, you've been the hope in me
Despite uncertainty, you've been the only constant thing
When I'm struggling, you keep on loving me the same
This is the hope that lies in you
Come Down - we need your hope to come down
We need your grace to pour out
We need your love to shine down
We need the face of God now.

Rob (Jake's brother)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not done yet

Debbie and Jacob had to leave at 8 am this morning to make it to Kaiser for their first appointment. At the same time Jensen and I went the other way to get him to school on time. While it is great being home for the last five days - four of them were spent heading to appointments. I wish they would give frequent flyer miles for driving time. Today was especially hard in that Jacob had an appointment with the surgeon for his hand - makes him very nervous so he did not have a good nights sleep. Also they had to wait about 5 hours between appointments. Long, hard day. When they got home neither Debbie nor Jacob wanted to talk about he options for surgery. There are several and none of them sound - well lets face it they are surgery and each have challenges. They finally started to share and I got overwhelmed. Nothing has to be decided today but some of the options involve less than all of his thumb or less than full movement etc.



This is the hard part of facing these next steps as we did with the head surgery - Jake is involved in the process - is aware (awake) for the conversation - Jake has an understanding of what he is facing - this is not what a 17 year old kid is suppose to be going through. He is sad - quiet - tender - scared. Though we comfort and care and hold him - I feel so stinkin helpless - so tired - so frustrated - so sad along with him. Days at the burn center where spent praying and hoping he would wake up - now I am finding myself wishing he were asleep. I do not pray for that though - I do have my boy back and that is so amazing - such a blessing - and yes I do tell him that everyday.



We are not done - God is still walking with us - but I find my prayers less desperate as in previous weeks. How easy it is when we come out of the foxhole to forget the desperate promises - the precious intimacy - the holy presence of the Lord. How easy it is to get caught up in errands and tasks and movement and not stop to focus on God. "Lord, I long to stand in your presence today - each day - not just in desperate times but in bountiful times."



So for those still with us - pray for Jacob's thumb. I will leave the specificity to you. I would stand by his bed and pray for his thumb. Back at the burn center the talk was focused on removing the thumb and replacing it with a toe. That is not the conversation now - it is more along the lines of how much use and feeling he will actually have. My prayer will remain that the Lord can restore his thumb. He has come this far - miracle upon miracle - one more Lord - save a thumb. My hope and desire is to see Jacob using his right hand once again.



“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”- Hebrews 10:35-36



Peace and love



Tom (Dad)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quickly

Thanks for the prayers...blood test when quite smoothly. Jacob said he only felt a little funny when he looked down at the blood. A lot of stress getting out of the house - Jake walked to the car with his cane. Very cool. Of course we are right there next to him. We are needing to adjust his meds due to the blood test. So although we are exhausted it does feel like we are on top of rehab. Two more appointments tomorrow. Long days - 3 hours in between appointments. Although all of this is a huge strain and adjustment we constantly praise God and tell Jacob how thankful we are for the fact that we have him and that he is going to be better.

Tonight we are bbq-ing for a few of his friends - so cool to have them all in our home hanging with Jake.

I need to get back to getting dinner ready - just wanted to let you know what is up as everyday I am reminded that many are still on this journey with us and we value that so very much.

Peace-hope-love

Tom (Dad)

And Happy Birthday Robbie - we miss you and love you.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Prayer: First Blood

Debbie took Jake to two appointments today and he has two more on Wednesday. Tomorrow they want him to come back in for a blood test to make sure the anti-biotics are at the right levels. It may sound small but we all watched Jacob being stuck multiple times trying to find the river. In times of stress the river gets smaller and Jacob becomes a pin-cushion making it even worse.

Pray for peace tomorrow - for Jake - and rest for Debbie. Pray that they find the vein the first time - FIRST BLOOD is our prayer.

Amazed by the support and thankful that we have so many who support us - no matter what our background or faith is we gather in love and caring for Jacob.

Blessed

Tom (Dad)

Un-burdening...

What a weekend with Jake! What a joy to be a part of his homecoming. What a blessing to have my birthday celebration with him.

Last week I wrote a blog on how I felt burdened. What a weekend it was with Jake... blessed in so many ways. I felt that burden lift. I am beginning to learn how to drop the burden. How to allow others to share the burden with me.

I stop here and do not know what more to write, because as I write that there is still this gaping wound in my soul. It is still SO hard. It was a difficult weekend. And yet, I can say that the burden is being lifted. I feel relief. And yet, it is probably harder than ever. I sit here in the RA office in my dorm (I am on duty) and have to physically choke down tears as I think about these things, while mentally pushing those thoughts out. I have to give myself specific times to break down. So how can it be that I felt relief coming out of this weekend? I really don't know. Because yes this weekend was a blessing in so many ways, but again it was hard. Indescribably hard to see the state that Jake is in and to know what is ahead.

In this blog, I have been talking a lot about redemption in brokenness. Strength in weakness. This morning I shared this passage with Jacob, a quote from Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians. (What a joy it is that this blog is coming out of a conversation that I had with Jacob!) Anyway, this passage intensely fits into what I have been talking about. It was a verse that I took to heart when I was 12 and we moved to Watsonville and I was having a hard time making new friends. Now I am starting to understand what it really means:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(Here is the context: 2 Cor. 12)

When I am weak, then I am strong.

Don't really know what else to say. Here are the lyrics to the song I am listening to right now:

Don't wake me. I've fallen asleep.
Don't hate me. I have no relief.
This burden is shredding my soul.
This cycle is out of control.

You call me as your friend, as I drive these nails again.
I'm falling into you.
You call me as your friend, as I break your heart again.
I'm falling into you.

In a darkened room, this pain is complete.
In my selfish tomb, I smell the defeat.
Why do I medicate?
Why do I go back to the things I hate?
There's something broken in me - I must be soaking in my apathy.

You call me as your friend, as I drive these nails again.
I'm falling into you.
You call me as your friend, as I break your heart again.
I'm falling into you.

All who are found in this place; come to the ocean of grace.
All who have spit in his face; come and live!

You call me as your friend - my heart beats once again.
I'm falling into you.
You call me as your friend - I come alive again.
I'm falling into you.

-"Falling into you" by The Glorious Unseen

Love you Jake.

-Rob (Jake's brother)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quick good night - working on 4 hours sleep.

Jake is asleep - big day tomorrow with two therapists - he is not looking forward to it. But it is stepping forward. Jake continues to look better each day and do more and more on his own. He has a hard time seeing it but we see it and I remind him each day what he has overcome. So very thankful for him and for Robbie and for Jensen's empathy. Debbie has a very giving heart - she is full throttle in caring for Jacob - very proud of her.

Monday is coming soon and it is going to be a week of growth in the midst of challenge. I am praying that we see God tomorrow - even in the little things. He is right next to us with us in this battle - we need to fight to see him.

Whatever tomorrow may bring, Lord open our eyes that we may see you.

Goodnight my sons.

Tom (Dad)

Rough night to "normal"

Debbie was giving Jacob his midnight medication and dressing changes. Each time the meds are administered through the pic line it needs to be flushed with saline to clear the line. Deb who has gotten really good at administering the meds could not get it to flush. After trying a couple of different ways we called in and were told to go into the emergency room. The really fun part of all this is that we are 45 minutes from Kaiser. Yet there was no other option - we needed Jake to be on his anti-biotic. They changed the dressing and adjusted the line and we were back home at 4 am. Robbie woke me at 8 am to get up and ready to take him back to the airport.

There was a moment this morning - that things seemed to me to be quite peaceful. It was not that all things were okay as in free from trial and pain but a sense of tranquility as we sat out back on the deck among the redwoods.

There is no way for us free ourselves from heartache - though we long for it. There is no way for us to avoid pain. This notion of "normal" is more based on our expectations and longings to be free of pain than reality. Stuff happens both good and bad to "good" people and "evil" people. It rains on the just and the unjust. There are consequences to our choices no matter how noble or ignoble our intent. But there is also things that just happen to us.

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about windows and mirrors. Great leaders look in a mirror when things to do not go right taking responsibility for the error. In times of success and celebration a great leader will look through a window trying to find others to share or give credit. Conversely an average or "good" leader will find someone else to blame when things foul up and in times of success pump up themselves. Among other things he says that a leader has humble-resolve.

As you read Phil 2 you here Paul saying this very thing about Christ and how we should pattern our lives. That we should not think to highly of ourselves but live lives that sacrifice for others - not as wet blankets but from the strength and resolve of knowing our bent, our mission, our purpose. Jesus set that as model for us: he knew full well where he was going (the cross) and did not need to promote himself, aggrandize himself, or even allow his followers to do the same. He said, "I do not need the testimony of man."

One of the reason I mention this here is simply in how I look at Jacob. In his vulnerability, his heart is so tender, so loving, so kind. That is really what "normal" is really about. It might not make a lot of sense but "normal" is more about humble-resolve than it is about things staying the same. In the midst of change both good and hard life can still be normal as we release our perceived rights and stay on target with who we are becoming. We can't change what has happened but we can change our own attitude today and the steps we take for tomorrow.

As for tomorrow, we head back out to Kaiser to continue working with the therapists to move forward in humble-resolve on the path of rehabilitation.

In forward motion.

Tom (Dad)