Saturday, October 17, 2009

we are not done yet...

It is hard in the midst of pain to see clearly. I know that when my back has gone out I get very down and wonder if it is all in my head. I wonder if I just do some positive thinking that things will get better. Then I get down on myself for not having done something differently. A little later I lose sight of any thought that things will get better. That is my back - two weeks of pain - every couple of years. Enough to tell me that I need to do the things that I know I need to do and start out right again. (Kind of like flossing after the dentist - lasts for a while.)

The pain for Jake is in his limitations, anticipation of what is to come, frustration over not being normal. He hates being stared and little kids being scared of him, he wants to go to school. I have said all this over and over again - sorry. I guess I am just full of that - we are full of that. All I seem to know how to say today is that "we are not done yet..." We have our exercises, surgeries, steps to go through so that we might move forward. But we are moving forward.

I am not sure if I shared this before but I wrote it in August...

Grief is never far from my heart
ripping, pulling, tugging me down
gripping my heart and squeezing, sadness holds firm

This sadness rips apart my soul, my joy, my song
each moment of everyday this grief surrounds
I've no escape from the torment of this torture

In the midst of all despair, I simply remember
in a moment wherever I am I return
sadness moves toward joy as thoughts come back

My Lord, my God, I remember the vision, the encounter, the promise
I slightly raise my eyes and you are there
your hope, your joy, your arms open wide

In the deepest pain you are still there, restore my soul
turn my tears of sadness to greater joy
restore, renew, engage my soul in your salvation

Watch out all you people, stand back and see
the love of God surrounds me and longs for you
stand here in the midst of this pain, restore me Lord
-------------

Gentle reminders have moved in our direction that each of our stories are so amazingly connected. I have been reminded that community is vital for life and for restoration. We are intimately connected to each other and the stories that we share with one another are stories of hope and grace and presence. Community is far greater than just gathering together and sharing a meal or a story - it is sharing our story - it is breaking of bread as Christ broke bread. At the last supper as he and his disciples shared his last passover meal - it was a deep connection of a time that they were looking forward to. Not just a holiday dinner - it was life being shared together.

Today I received an amazing letter of a story - that connected to our story - the life of a man who's epic crossed our epic - it altered both our stories significantly. I guess I am still taking all of this in as I have been going back of stories that I have received over the last few months - stories of hope, tragedy, grace, heartache, etc. Stories of people who when facing "trials of various kinds" are faced with decisions. These decisions affect us for the rest of our lives.

In the midst of Jacob's story, we still have decisions each day that affect others - family and friends - Though it is overwhelming and though there are still times of confusion, anger, deep sadness - though we still question God, wondering if there could not have been a little greater wisdom in how things transpired - I pray that we will not lose the presence of God in the midst of the trial.

Hope is not the anticipation that all will go according to my plan; hope is the confidence that whatever comes tomorrow the presence of God is stepping with me through each moment.

Here is to hope,

Tom (JK Daddy)

Friday, October 16, 2009

blessed beyond belief

I am falling asleep right now as I sit here. I need to go to bed and told myself not to write - not sure I have a handle on my feelings right now. Jake and I spent some time crying and praying tonight. I remember the terror I had as I prayed for him to wake up and when he did he would realize what has happened - the state he is in. While on the one hand it is not as bad as it could be - for him right now he is struggling with his limitations. As a father it hurts bad - we all know it - we do not want our kids to hurt - when they are hurt we rush to fix it - care for it - take care of it. At this point we are slowly, inch by inch, walking through therapy. Doing his exercises to work his muscles and stretch his skin grafts. He is frustrated.

He told me tonight that he has so much regret. I was not sure what he meant at first - regret for mistakes? No, regret for his head, regret for his back pain, regret for his limitations, injuries, that he has not the freedom that he had before to throw his board in the truck and jump in the ocean and then hang out with friends - that he is not hanging out at lunch with his friends.

I do not write this to increase sympathy - for we are so amazingly blessed - we have so much to be thankful for - life is right in our midst. I remind Jake of that as through tears we also ask God for healing. I write to just describe what is going on...perhaps there is a lesson here for each of us that have the burden of "regret" that weighs us down. Slowly, ever so slowly we move forward. Asking God for strength, healing, help and we step forward. Steps are not easy but they move us closer to where we need to be.

Again I am tired and need to go to bed. But for those that still are with us and join us in prayer - here you go and thank you. A million times thank you. We are blessed beyond belief.

Tom (JK Daddy)

PS pray also as we share in the service on Sunday at Corralitos Community Church at 10:10 am.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

miracle is still right in front of us...

Electricity has been restored! What an amazing blessing. Sure we lost a bit of food from the fridge and freezer but honestly it feels kinda good to clean it out. I do admit I thought a lot about downed power lines over the last few days - praying and hoping that no one would end up at the Burn Unit at Valley Med. Not that I do not love those amazing people - thank God for them everyday but I do not want anyone to go through what Jacob is still going through. There are moments that I still hurt for him so very badly.

I started going back through the journey - reading - remembering - pulling it all together. How quickly we forget what we have been through. Sure some things will never be forgotten but fortunately the intensity of the feelings lessens with time. Somehow we need to keep some of that current - the desperate passion for God - the glad surrender - the releasing of control allowing community to uplift us. How can we have more community with each other without the tragedy? How can we just make a habit of coming alongside each other? We all have needs - loneliness, depression, fractured, wounded. We are so much better with each other as long as we do not play games with each other.

Honestly sometimes everyday life is much harder than times of trial - times of desperation - when you have to release control. In everyday life we have this illusion of control and the desperation for control. What is the balance between letting go and trusting God to move and stepping out in faith and action? So often waiting for me is long enough until I think God should do something and then acting. Honestly the phrase, "God helps those that help themselves" is not in the Bible - and yet we act like it is so Godly. This confronts me with my own integrity - I need to do what is right before God - no matter what I can get away with.


Everyday life can be hard. Communication. Meeting everyone's needs. Fulfilling commitments and obligations. Waiting on God and seeking him in the mundane, day-to-day activities. In a sense right now that is how things are with Jake. Being home you would think that so much is behind us - and obviously it is - yet there is so much more ahead. Just in the everyday life. Medications administered, rehab exercises, trying to do school with a lousy internet connection, dealing with the injured heel, hand, thumb, head, arm...

God is still right here with us. Yet we still long for the miraculous. We follow Jesus around as the crowds did and say do something fantastic that we have never seen before and then we will believe. Yet he is saying come lets have a meal together - let's go for a walk - let's just sit and talk. Is there nothing more miraculous than that? God wants to dine with us - he loves us and likes us and wants to spend time with us. Nothing in that is ordinary, mundane, or everyday. It is superfantastic, amazing, miraculous, divine.


Jake only has 4 more days of anti-biotics. The neuro-surgeon's office called to set up an appointment for next week. We are moving forward - not fast but we are moving. And Jacob is still Jacob. I was telling a friend the other day - he has no brain damage. There is nothing that we see - electricity went through his brain and there was no damage. Maybe the miracle is still right in front of us as we continue to ask for more miracles.


Grace and peace in abundance,

Tom (JK Daddy)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

darkness...lots of darkness...

We have not had electricity since yesterday morning at 9:23. Jake charged his little netbook at Papa's on his way to the doctor today. So I am borrowing that with a Verizon USB connection. If that does not make any sense to you it really does not matter. I just knew a couple of you would be wondering. Also I promised Jake I would be short and not wear down his battery.

Actually, honestly darkness seems to be a befitting word right now to describe things. We are trying with great difficulty to get a consultation with the surgeons for Jake's thumb and what one of them told me on the phone the other night the procedure that we are moving toward is a difficult one for Jacob due to the restriction for rehab on his arm.

I think that part of being home is suppose to be that he is better - the reality is very dark though with what he still has to come. Great sadness tends to grip each of us at different times and though we do not stay there - there still seems to be a darkness that lingers and affects each of us in different ways at different times.

Hope is still there though - it is not that everything will go our way - but clinging to the fact that God is still with us through this journey can bring us back to hope. Honestly right now today I feel like I remain in darkness which is hard. Relationships have changed. How we act and react to each other and how we plan our lives is forever different and not just a one time different - each day is different and needs to find a fine tuning adjustment. Honestly it does not always go well.

At the end of the day we must embrace forgiveness, grace, and hope in order to find peace - this comes through faith. I honestly have not done that well the last couple of days. Selfish pride weasels in and tells me I deserve something different - I deserve better. Yet this is the day and I must simply rejoice in where we are - remembering that my loss could have been greater is somewhat comforting but realizing that God is working and present is amazingly powerful.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:1-5

in great hope,

Tom (JK Daddy)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Serenity

Robbie writing... I just wanted to share some recent thoughts given what has been going on in my sphere of thinking and living recently.

I am really missing my family. I want to be home so bad. Feeling out of the loop with what is going on and out of touch is the worst feeling I have felt in a long time, especially after this summer when every waking moment was spent thinking about Jacob and my family. How can I consider myself benefiting the circumstances at home when 99% of my time is spent devoted to non-Jacob things? I know it sounds like I'm just depressed... but I think it is also a good practice in letting go. In realizing that what I think of as doing things "for" my family really just meant saturating my mind with thoughts of them, which I need freedom from. But still... it is so hard to see all that is happening at home and realizing that I am not a part of it. One thing, in particular, that seemed to slice my heart open was seeing a picture of my Dad, mom, Jake, Jensen, and some friends with the firefighters who got the award for saving him. Someone commented on it, saying, "What a great family photo!" I know my feelings may be unfounded, but man that hurt. (Not condemning whoever said that... just expressing my feelings).

I've been reading this book by a guy named Nate Larkin, about his journey. In it, I came across this prayer, which is typically associated with Alcoholic's Anonymous, but is in my opinion one of the most beneficial reminders for life:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."

As Nate sees it, one of the biggest problems with the church is that it leaves little room for people to talk about their sins in the present tense. We want victory, we want righteousness, so we talk as if we've sinned before, but now are OK, because God is good and Jesus defeated sin, so this time we are really resolved to not sin again. How many times do people make this resolution over and over again?

One of Nate's greatest insights from the book, that he heard discussed in an AA meeting, is that "abstinence is not sobriety." How else can someone not drink for a year and then go into a relapse? Just because we avoid sin does not mean that we are actually transformed into pure, restored people. Restoration and purity are all about the process - Jesus does not allow for us to merely avoid sinful acts. He wants us to search our hearts and become the type of people who act out of a heart of love. He wants us to dig deep and work through the heartache and the struggle, not stay on the surface and be content to say "God is good and Jesus defeated sin, so I don't need help and I can be happy all the time." This is why so much Christian morality has become laughable to others... because we focus on the outward acts.

All this to say, I have been led to the conviction that I can't do this alone. I can't live my life in isolation. I need to be honest with who I am, and genuine with the sins that I currently, and probably always will, struggle with. No one can do it alone. Which is why Christ's teachings were so centered around the theme of community.

Who do you have around you that you can be brutally real with? It is not easy at all to be vulnerable. It may always be awkward to bring up. But it is so necessary. I need serenity to accept what I can't change... (I'm not at home and a little out of the loop?)... I need courage to change what I can... (change my view on it? Realize that I have responsibilities here, and that Jake is being taken care of?)... And I need wisdom to know the difference. This wisdom comes through God... but is often manifested in the insights of those around us. Have the courage to surround yourself with individuals who will seek this wisdom with you.

Blessings of love, hope and peace...

Rob (Jake's bro).

Monday, October 12, 2009

More than we ask or think...

Monday was a school day for Jacob. We were home and found that the biggest challenge was staying on the internet. Since we are up in the mountains we have satellite internet service - better than dial up but frustrating. I think that every time there was an interruption in the signal the website for school shut us out. So each time Jake is in the middle of an assignment and it goes down he has to log back in. That would be okay but the program then shuffles the questions and he has to do it all over again. Frustrating. But we are taking one assignment at a time and trudging through. At some point we are hoping to pick up the pace.

Tomorrow he has 3 scheduled appointments: physical therapy, occupational therapy and podiatry. The podiatrist is to look at his heel - it has developed a sore and we need to look at how he walks now with his foot structure being a bit different from bone removal and grafts.

Also later this week we will be having a conversation with the surgeon for his thumb. I spoke to him on the phone tonight and we need to go over the options and make a decision as to what to do and soon, as what we do will also affect when we move forward with the next phase of his head surgery.

So at this point the major prayer request is still...THUMB. Perhaps we are still able to see some miracles happen. We have seen so many and we have trusted God for so much - not perfectly at all but we still need to remain on our knees with open hands waiting, hoping, trusting that He is here - healing - working - answering. In the midst of all this I must say we are pretty overwhelmed for Jacob - not really for us - although that is there - more for Jacob - his burden is pretty heavy. Yet he is trusting and seeking God. He is open to the Lord and is taking in the stories as they come his way of others experiencing God through this journey.

We are not done yet. Which on one hand is completely frustrating and overwhelming and yet is amazingly comforting as we know while we are alive on planet earth we will have tribulation - trials - troubles - heartache. We will face more sickness, more death, more calamities in life. That is the nature of the world we live in. Yet in the midst of this we serve a God who meets in these moments - comforting, protecting, teaching - that we might grow closer and closer to him.

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever. Amen." Eph 3:20-21

Thanks,

Tom (JK Dad)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

still waiting

As we approach another week, we are still waiting for a call from the doctor with a time to meet to go over the MRI on Jake's thumb and to decide when to do the surgery and what to the surgery will entail. There are many options including partial amputation. A lot depends on how they feel the nerves are and have the potential to be. This is going to be a big hurdle to move through - to finally have the procedure done and to get on with rehab on his right hand. As I spread lotion on his right side - back, front, underarm, arm - I was overwhelmed as I looked at how small his right arm is...how skinny. Overwhelmed again as I focused on what was damaged - how badly.

How do you explain God to your son in this situation?

He tells me, "it could be a lot worse , but Dad, it could be a lot better." He knows God is in the midst of this but it is so hard to fathom what he is going to do with it. One step at a time, Jake.

In the midst of it he is also starting to catch a glimpse of how others are being affected by his journey. He seems to stay in neutral right now. I do not sense anger - more just despair - wanting to be normal. He wanted to stay with his friends as we visited a birthday party on Saturday - he just did not have the strength or stamina. He wants to go to sushi and not have people stare at him - he does not want pity.

Throughout this journey I have thought a lot about Abraham and Isaac. Pondering the conversation that they might have had going up to the offering with no sacrifice. What did Abraham say to Isaac as he bound his hands and placed him on the table and raised a knife to sacrifice out of obedience to God. Tonight I wondered what the conversation must have been like on the way down the mountain - sacrifice made - Isaac's life spared. I felt a little resentful. Although I know that I could not walk Abraham's journey - I could not have raised the knife - Isaac was not injured. His skull was still intact - muscles were not removed - skin was not burned.

That was though Abraham and Isaac's journey. This is our journey. Again I come back to what I do not want others to do: compare. God does not change. He is still in the midst of this. Jake and I talked about it a bit tonight - he wants to add some Bible reading to our school schedule. He is going to pick the book. Yes I am jazzed - he wants it - Dad is not pushing it. As we together walk toward this question of why - what are going to do with all of this God? Where are you leading us? What are the next steps?

God continues to encourage us. Simple messages that remind us that God is in the midst of all of this. One this morning made me cry a bit as I read it. A new friend who has joined this journey with us. As she began to pray for Jake - she was able to pray for herself - to turn back to God and to move away from some addiction that pulled her away - that gripped her by both wrists and both ankles and pulled her down. She is finding freedom again - turning to God and finding freedom.

As I wrote that last sentence - God whispered something to me: perhaps freedom is a big part of this journey for Jacob - that he might pursue God in the midst of his journey and find freedom. So often we think that pursuing God means constriction, narrow thinking, chains that restrict us. Pursuing God - the real God - should lead us to the Kingdom of God which is far bigger than we can even imagine. Finding God, surrendering to God, gives us freedom: grace, forgiveness, hope, and love. Releasing our hold - or as Robbie has written often - in brokenness we find wholeness.

Though this journey has brought pain and suffering
trial, tribulation, brokenness have been my companion
Surrender has brought freedom where I thought chains would be
peace has come where darkness wanted to crowd out hope

This journey has also brought joy and triumph
mercy, compassion have drenched my desert soul
Dancing has replaced mourning, singing replaced sorrow
life has been restored and hope shined forth as a beacon

Knowing full well this journey has not yet reached an end
we press on toward the goal with confidence and persistence
that we will see the face of God in the land of the living
we will experience the hand of God lifting us to himself

in Love and peace,

Tom (JK's Dad)